© americanifesto / 場黑麥
Television is the creative person's bane, a threat greater than most others are. Watching TV feeds the human need for companionship without ever really satisfying it and crushes creative capacity by tricking the brain into thinking it is doing something and being productive when it is just sitting idle. Creativity, power, assuredness, and passion all reside in the 2nd and 3rd chakras, the lower half of the torso that extends from the breastbone to the genitals. Look down at your own belly for a moment. Can you see your belt-buckle or waistband as it sits atop the pelvic bone? Can you feel and move the abdominus erectus, that muscle that runs from the bottom of the breastbone to attach to the top of the pelvis? If you cannot, you are not alone – more than a third of all Americans are obese, and many of these individuals carry a large portion of this additional weight in the lower halves of their torsos. The decision to sit down and watch television has disastrous consequences on the 2nd and 3rd chakras – it numbs and dulls them, confusing and stifling the free flow of energy through the regions of the core, an area central to living the best of possible human lives. Man is a gullible animal; after seeing just a few commercials related to food he will get food from his kitchen and eat that food (without focusing on what he is eating) while staring longingly into the beautiful bright lights of his TV set. If he repeats this sequence often enough he will get fat, and his increased girth will further stifle the free flow of energy through the region of his core and exacerbate the unhealthiness that stems from a lack of regular exercise and from a preference for prepackaged foods ready to eat over meals carefully and consciously crafted. Persons who wish to lead lives full of creativity and passion avoid watching television; they know that there are more constructive ways to fill their time than by staring at an electric light-box; they paint, draw, dance, or write; they make educated and intelligent decisions about what to eat and what to put through their orifices of eye and mouth and ear instead of numbing out the intestines by shoveling in as much sugary and salty and fatty foods as the gut can handle without bursting; they lead happy lives untethered from groomed and glossy but ultimately vacuous material. Downtrodden and passionless masses of the world, awake! Turn off your television sets! Humanity, and Mother Nature, need you now more than ever. Aho.
© americanifesto / 場黑麥
At the International criminal court in Den Haag today the Glorious Republic of Grigovia filed suit against both the United States of America (USA) and Israel, alleging that these nations willfully and indiscriminately used chemical weapons against civilians. Basing its lawsuit on sound and verified data (see also here, here, and here) proving that America's Armed Forces used chemical agents in 2004 during its illegal occupation of Iraq, and on proof that in 2009 Israel saturated civilian targets in Gaza with white phosphorus, Grigovia seeks to strengthen the world-wide ban on the use of chemical weapons. Furthermore, the framers of the legal action aim to secure reparations and damages for the tens of thousands of victims of the chemical weapons used by the USA and Israel, mutated and mutilated individuals who suffer the day-to-day effects of this criminal behavior. “The time has come for the silent to be heard, for war criminals to come to justice,” said Grigovian foreign minister Dr. Eiyast Hyuyend. “These crimes would have likely have gone unpunished if America in its insantiy had not just a few weeks ago given the use of chemical weapons as its primary reason for wanting to invade the sovereign nation of Syria. War crimes are not subject to statues of limitation; the architects of the destruction and enslavement of the Iraqi people shall pay for what they have done.” Primary defendants in the case are former U.S. president George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. Grigovia is one of but a few nations proud and courageous enough to repeatedly stand up to American and British tyranny. Given the ongoing and blatant disregard for Justice, humanity, and international displayed by the USA, few people expect America to suddenly start acting honorably.
© americanifesto / 場黑麥
The founders of America were influenced primarily by two religions: Christianity and Hellenistic polytheism (see here). Our halls of government are festooned with plaques referencing the Christian texts (see here); let those same halls ring with praises for the people of this land who display the virtues of those gods that filled the minds of Thomas Jefferson and his ilk. In the Christian tradition, achievements made by non-Christians are often ignored, trodden down by praises sung to individuals who sacrificed solely for the cause of that religion, individuals who labored for what is seen by that religion as positive change. The ancient Greeks, however, understood the importance of balance and were less partial to positivity – indeed, they often preferred waiting to see how the chips would fall to the practice of judging actions based solely on how they helped to expand the scope of a particular faith. In the ancient Greek world, men who in battle displayed the guile, the craftiness, the ferocity, or the cunning of goddess Athena were said to be the embodiment of that god, to be filled with her spirit. Great fashion designers were hailed as exhibiting the virtues of Arachne, the goddess of the seamstress, while skilled orators were said to be filled with the essence of Hermes, the god of public speaking.
I hereby propose the creation of a group to determine, via a thorough and national vetting process, those Americans who in our times are most filled with the spirit of the Greek gods who so significantly influenced the founders of this nation. Great generals will receive the Laurel of the Owl and Shield for displaying heroic endeavor and cunning battle strategy, characteristics of goddess Athena. Great poets and authors will receive the Laurel of the Arrow and Lyre for displaying the poetry and truthfulness attributed to god Apollo. Great diplomats and merchants will receive the Laurel of the Winged Boot for exhibiting the diplomacy and cunning wiles attributed to god Hermes. Great societal disruptors and street artists will receive the Laurel of Helm and Spear for their civil disorder and manly courage, attributes they share with god Ares. Many other gods exist in the Olympian pantheon, and many more Laurels will be issued. The awards will be distributed in recognition of achievements that in significant and measurable ways affect the course of the nation, be they the actions of a spray-painting mad genius or the destruction of a Taliban outpost by special forces operatives dodging bullets in the torn landscape of Helmland province.
The concept of the Laurel of Godlike American Achievement will celebrate people from all castes, all groups, all races, and all religions. It will allow us to select from within our midst those individuals who exhibit the virtues we hold most dear, such as inventiveness, risk-taking, motherhood, and skateboarding where skateboarding is prohibited. It will whip the masses into a great churning froth of Happiness by giving them something to which to aspire, such as vast knowledge of the woodland arts (Artemis), skill in metalworking and sculpture (Hephaestus), and zeal in celebrating eternal youth (Dionysus), aspirations other than those based purely on the accumulation of capital or on the ability to repeat the same religious mantras for years on end. Your suggestions are welcome; your readership is appreciated; your hope springs eternal.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
At one time, Sarah Palin made reference to the Statue of Liberty (see here). By doing so, Ms. Palin gave her tacit support to the notion of the goddess Liberty, a deity from times of old whom the American people have now fully adopted. Fair and gracious Liberty is not the only deity whom we praise, however – the goddess of Justice, or Iusticia, graces our city seals (see the seal of the borough of Hanover, PA), and we etch her likeness into the stonework of our highest halls of justice (see here). Every time a person wears running shoes with a certain swoosh on them, he sings praises to the Greek goddess of victory, fair and swift Nike. Our connection to ancient gods runs so deep in this country that even our Declaration of Independence makes the right to Happiness unalienable, a right as often as not personified by brightly-shining Felicitas (or Tyche), goddess of joy and good fortune.
To utter the name of a god is to give that god power in our minds and in our lives, such as in Jewish and in Muslim rituals. For example, every time we say the word Wednesday, we pay homage to the god Wotan (deity of wisdom and poetry) for whom the day was named; on Thursday and Saturday we pay homage to Thor and Saturn (the gods of fertility and of the harvest, respectively), deities that hail from separate realms and distant times, gods who still inspire us today. It is good to have as many gods as one can have on one's side; when going to a place of worship and saying prayers to a particular god, remember that at many times throughout the day one is also sending up praises to the other gods whose names one often utter (though one might not realize that one is praising them with one's choice of shoes or words). Similar to the concept of polyamory (the capacity to be in love with multiple people), we speak of a capacity to love and worship many different gods, calling it polytheism. For an example of polytheism, see the practices of Roman Catholics, who pray to one god when traveling (Christopherus), to a different god when competing athletically (Sebastian), and to a third deity (Gabriel) when working in the postal trades.
There is no limit to the number of gods you can have working for you, or looking out for you, just as there is no limit to the amount of goodness and virtuous action you can perform during your lifetime. Consider maximizing your coverage by increasing the spectrum of gods to whom you pray; you will be surprised at the results.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
When the U.S. American states were created, their populations were far smaller than they are today. In the centuries since this nation's inception, it has acquired areas legally, annexed territories by force, bought a region or two, and stolen vast tracks of landscape from numerous First People tribes. Most often, these regions were first broken down into manageable sizes before being given names and assigned stars on the flag. If they had been incorporated at their original sizes, we would now have one state reaching from Baton Rouge to Bismark and another from San Diego to Seattle. Instead of one state legislature and one governor answering to a hundred million people, today's much smaller states allow more people to have a greater role in determining for themselves the course of their lives. In this instances, as in a number of others (think babes, booze, and brats), more is better, and more states would lead to better lives for everyone alive today as well as for the many generations yet unborn. (Immediately, the author objects to his own argument on the grounds that, in the long run, more babes or booze or brats rarely make a person's life better.)
If, for example, we were to split California into three different states (northern coastal, southern coastal, and inland), the populations living in these areas could more effectively band together for the protection and propagation of their own interests instead of being tethered to societal groups with whom they have little in common. Furthermore, a smaller state would allow for greater and more fruitful citizen participation in society: in his lifetime, a man could get to know most everyone in a smaller community and create bonds with the few hundred thousand people living therein, whereas the idea of casually meeting and mingling with everyone in a state of 30 million (plus) souls is unfeasible to the point of being absurd. Today's Californian who desires to become acquainted with all of the people whose driver's licenses resemble his faces a daunting and nearly insurmountable challenge; dispirited and perplexed, he retreats behind the all-too-penetrable defenses of his meager abode and purees his mind watching seven hours of television a day.
As to the preferred size for new states, we humans already self-segregate by moving to cities with greater frequency and in larger numbers. City-sized states would allow for more efficient use of a political representative's time: if his constituents numbered in the two hundred thousand, he might feasibly speak to each one of them at least once a year (by addressing large gatherings of them at public events), whereas, today, governors and legislators struggle constantly with the challenge of trying to speak to even a small fraction of the people whose lives they are supposed to be governing let alone for whom they are expected to draft legislation impartial and beneficial to all. In addition to allowing for a better allocation of resources, reducing the population sizes of states by splintering them into more and smaller entities would provide greater political power to people not living in cities; it would negate situations we currently face in which the voices of far-flung rural residents are drowned out by the opinions of massed and motivated urbanites. The author fears, however, that we U.S. Americans must crawl to the end of the rabbit hole we have already entered and continue to suffer in brazen exacerbation the current trend of Homogenization To Enhance Corporate Profits that piggybacks on the disenfranchisement of great masses of citizens until such time as we come to recognize it for its dangerous and inherent inhumanity, and rid ourselves of it peacefully, and for good. Mahalo.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
(This excerpt is said to belong to a lost passage of Herodotus's book, the Histories, regarding the Yaelong tribes that reside in the country known today as Grigovia.)
And then, after the emissaries from the East had finally left, and while our party was preparing to make camp for the night, men dressed in strange garb – brightly mottled animal skins – stole silently from the brush, as if they were spirits. We had chosen the grounds to rest because they neighbored cool, flowing springs, and because they sat in a small valley that our native guide said would shelter us from the heavy, dangerous winds for which the region is known. As soon as these men appeared, our guides' women, who otherwise never spoke, wailed in unison, and, cowering fearfully, begged us not to touch them, lest, the women claimed, we become tainted by their strange and powerful sorcery. After much difficulty in finding a common tongue, we, however, were able to speak with these spirit-like men, who called themselves Jailun; they were interlopers just as we were, and had no plans to kill us for trespassing on sacred ground, as we had initially feared. They told us of their home in a mountainous region with many valleys that lay north of the lands of the Eastern emperor, whom they knew well, as he had tried, they said, repeatedly yet each time unsuccessfully, to subjugate them – first by warfare, then by bribery, and then by arranged marriages. Each time they had denied the emperor his advances, and stayed always free of the yoke of foreign rule – by warring with him, by refusing his gifts, and by putting to death the women he sent to live among them. While we were breaking bread with these quiet men, who were all armed with slender poles-axes and curious weighted throwing ropes, a male child – the son of a lesser guide – was carried off in the talons of a mighty eagle, and never seen again. All who had witnessed the event agreed that it was a bad omen, and a warning not to walk with a loping gait similar to that of the abducted child.
場黑麥 mentiri factorem fecit
I no longer use a washing-machine powered by electricity. Instead, I have developed a series of buckets in which I clean my clothes, a system that works fairly well. To start, I fill up an old cat litter bucket – one that is clean, squat, and wider than the average 5-gallon contractor's bucket – with the clothes I wish to wash, a dollop of detergent, and water. Usually, I allow this brew to sit for many hours so that the soap and water can impregnate the fibers and make cleaning easier. Such long soakings (which make up phase 1) work fine in summer; in winter, however, they find me cleaning my clothes in the evenings, the cold and the dark conspiring with the dirty, frigid water in which my garments have been sitting to make for a miserable task. Now, I process a load in one go, the wash and the rinse cycles following one another closely rather than being spaced out over an entire day.
I agitate the clothes in the squat bucket by poking one side down with a long bamboo pole (a broomstick will also work during this, phase 2), forcing the items down on one side, which pushes them up on the other and allows me to mash the garments together thoroughly. After I see a particular shirt or item for the third or fourth time, I put aside my stick and drop a skinnier bucket into the squat one (skinnier in that its bottom goes all the way down to the bottom of the wider bucket), this one with many holes drilled into its bottom and sides. I sit on the top of the skinner bucket, thus forcing the water from the clothes using my own weight. Once I am satisfied with this rudimentary straining, I take the skinnier bucket back out and resume poking at the clothes with the stick, rotating them around and around until they seem well agitated. (The water at this point will be oily, brownish, and filled with tiny particles of sweat, skin, and dirt.) I usually agitate and strain at least three times before dumping out what water I can and moving on to phase 3.
Phase 3 involves putting the skinnier bucket back into the squat bucket but then flipping both over together so that the water runs out. Then, I sit on the bottom of the squat bucket, using my own weight to strain the clothes against the skinnier bucket (which, again, has holes drilled into its bottom and sides). This forces much of the remaining water out of the clothes; I get even more out by rocking back and forth and by shifting position on the bottom of the squat bucket, which allows trapped pockets of water to escape. I generally give the clothes a visual check at this point, and a close smelling, to see if they need a third rinse or if the are clean enough to move on to phase 4. This last phase involves taking the wet items from the squat bucket and hanging them up to dry on my clothes-spider, a retractable hanger that perches at the edge of the deck far enough from the house so that the water dripping from the clothes does not seep into the foundation or moisten the siding. I usually leave the clothes there to drip their remaining moisture onto the grass; if I am lucky, they get an additional rinse from the rain. Once the clothes are mostly dry, I move them to lines under the roof of the upper, front porch, where they are allowed to dry fully before being taken in, folded, and put away.
Cleaning clothes in the manner described above takes more time than with an electrical washing-machine; it uses virtually no electricity, however, it is all but silent, and it provides the washer with a good upper-body workout. The cost for the buckets, soap, and poker is less than $20, but the ability to wash one's clothes – without electricity or undue physical strain – is nearly priceless. Regain a slice of independence through honest effort! Mahalo.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
The Grigovian government today issued a sharp rebuke of U.S. American efforts to sell arms to bands of Islamic extremist operating on the fringes of its western province of Tera Pyltannia, which borders Iran. Independent reports verify that operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been working ceaselessly to provide weapons to a loose collection of tribesmen known as al Qusuf. Once allied with Grigovia's own indigenous Yaelong tribes, al Qusuf were expelled from the country after briefly instituting orthodox Sharia law back in the 1840s and subsequently abusing the rights of thousands of peaceful peasant women. “For nearly all of this region's recorded history, al Qusuf have been causing trouble,” said Dr. Ulantha Grossman, professor of Central Asian history at Queen Pylta the Terrible University, in Pyltagrad. “By all accounts, the members of al Qusuf are bad, dangerous people whose tools are repression, fear, and murder. The American government appears to be growing increasingly desperate in its attempts to destabilize the Iranian government prior to its impending violation of the latter nation's sovereignty. If this is how the Ynki spreads freedom and democracy, we want no part of it.“
Grigovian scouting parties recently captured dozens of rocket-propelled grenades as well as surface-to-air missiles capable of punching a modern fighter jet out of the sky, all of them stamped “Made In America.” Scores of individuals attempting to deliver these sophisticated weapons systems to contacts in the various al Qusuf militias were arrested, temporarily hobbled, and sent back to Washington with stern warnings against further unwarranted meddling. (In accordance with a longstanding national law, members of al Qusuf found within the borders of Grigovia are given the chance to flee; if they refuse, they are strangled to death.) “We have little control over how the American government treats the Iranians to our west or the Afghanis to our south,” said Pendogarst Ulyind, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Grigovian Border Defense Forces, from a network of well-provisioned caves somewhere in the mountains east of the Iranian-Grigovian border. “We as a people learned enough from being treated as a doormat for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, however, to recognize clandestine foreign intervention for what it is – outright intrusion on our national sovereignty as well as a threat to regional stability.”
At least a dozen CIA operatives were carrying dossiers containing detailed information in languages familiar to al Qusuf about sites crucial to Grigovian infrastructure. “From the contents of these dossiers we conclude that U.S. American intelligence agencies are planning also to destabilize our own country's democratically elected government,” said Piendoyast Tormund, deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the state of Grigovia. “My office has already begun to draft a binding United Nations resolution that aims to curtail Ynki activities here in Central Asia, and we are working with Russia Today and al Jazeera to draw attention to the fact that the U.S. appears to be arming forces hostile to Liberty and the rule of law in places beyond its own borders, which violates numerous international statutes as well as its own legal code.” The Glorious Republic of Grigovia shares more than a hundred kilometers of mountainous, largely inaccessible border with Iran. In recent years, the nation has resisted nearly a dozen ham-fisted attempts by American consortia and corporations to gain control over its vast resources of rare-earth minerals.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
Having spent the past year experimenting on his friends and family (without their consent, of course) and probing just how far he could push an ego until it fought back, this liesmith finds that many Americans have grown accustomed to a person baring his soul and spilling his guts at the drop of a hat, and that baring and spilling is now so commonplace that it causes a stir if does not occur as expected. Instead of being a rare, cathartic event during which one party helps the other deal with or process a traumatic or important event, baring and spilling has become as routine as saying Thank You to a door held open out of politeness – if it does not occur, the person who refuses to bare and spill is looked upon with contempt, and treated with disdain. (This bad habit has an evil twin: that of saying “I Love You" 70 times a day to persons one doesn't really love quite enough to merit saying it to them constantly.) Taking his experiment one step further, the author has stopped baring and spilling to persons to whom he had previously talked unfettered about everything, which has lead to a variety of changes in a number of relationships.
In part, he blames daytime television shows for this overall shift in American habits; their tendency to thrust behavior previously reserved for the therapist's office before the eyes of emotionally-repressed Ynki housewives seems to have helped convince these women to search for the same kind of emotional release in their relationships with girlfriend and husband. (Rarely if ever do the daytime hosts warn of or outline the risks associated with undertaking psychological counseling on one's own.) Guests to these talk shows would routinely break down, releasing their pent-up angers and fears and joys and proclaiming how wonderfully purified they felt after having bared their souls. Housewives whose lives are often ruled by routine soon became addicted to the idea of release and emotional excitement without fully understanding the dangers associated with unassisted, amateur psychology. Some stones are best left unturned, and some secrets were never intended to leave the mental closets in which they reside, but the addiction to backyard pseudo-psychology grew, and spread; it has become so intricately enmeshed in our current society as to be one of its more common features. Today, we seldom accept statements at face value or respect the right of our counterpart to his modicum of privacy, preferring rather to keep prying and peeling back the layers until – for good or ill – we have peered into the tenderest folds of our victim's most dark and dismal core. (The author is guilty of this behavior, just like most other Americans.)
People who pry so incessantly rarely care about helping others lessen emotional turmoil or improve mental well-being; they care more about the power they feel watching a being just as fragile as they are flounder about before he descends into a spiritual malaise of his own making. How, though, might one avoid the trap of the pseudo-psychologist and maintain a pure and honest heart? By staying quiet, politely refusing to play along, and keeping one's business to oneself. We who understand the raw and awesome power of full disclosure, therefore, sparingly spill and barely bare; some beasts are simply best left chained.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
I have an interesting relationship with movies. I have come to understand that when I was a teenager I would watch movies in order to escape from the reality of living under a genius-level, PhD-holding, self-despising, alcoholic father. Some movies I have watched so many times that I can run the dialogue almost word for word, delivering cadence and timing nearly perfectly. (Among these are The Hunt For Red October & The Untouchables.) The ability to memorize and regurgitate long portions of dialogue is one that serves but a few purposes; I am not currently working as an actor, and so my skills in this area are limited to entertaining myself by regurgitating long portions of dialogue while watching my favorite movies. Additionally, I have found that I can recall, even months or years later, who starred in a particular movie when all I saw of that movie was its trailer, one time. Having pondered upon these curious powers, I realize I tend to use them mostly in social situations when speaking to others similarly endowed. My skills, however, carry over to the realm of books; I can recall in great detail portions of books as well as give extensive summaries – without prior planning – of their contents. Again, my recall abilities endure for years, even decades, after having read a book I enjoyed. To what end do I employ these gifts today? I use them most when smithing lies about one of my favorite Central Asian countries: Grigovia. Heavy hangs the crown, white grows the hair that frames it.
© americanifesto / 場黑麥
blog updated Mon, Wed, & Fri
Among other things I am barber, bicyclist, surfer, vagabond, writer, and yogi.