Archive for December, 2012


December 30, 2012


And, now, for a complete change of pace, and without apology to Oliver Stone:


Alexander III of Macedonia was born in 356 B.C., on the sixth day of the month of Lous. (1)  He is known as Alexander the Great because he killed more people of more different kinds than any other man of his time. (2)  He did this in order to impress Greek culture upon them.  Alexander was not strictly a Greek and he was not cultured, but that was his story, and who am I to deny it? (3)


1 That is what the Macedonians called the month of Hecatombaeom, Plutarch says, and he ought to know.

2  Professor F.A. Wright, in his Alexander the Great, goes so far as to call him “the greatest man that the human race has as yet produced.”

3  He spoke what was known as Attic Greek.


Alexander’s father was Philip II of Macedonia.  Philip was a man of broad vision.  He drank a good deal and had eight wives.  He subdued the Greeks after they had knocked themselves out in the Peloponnesian War and appointed himself Captain General so that he could uphold the ideals of Hellas.  The main ideal of Hellas was to get rid of Philip, but he didn’t count that one.  He was assassinated in 336 B.C. by a friend of his wife Olympias. (4)

Olympias, the mother of Alexander, was slightly abnormal.  She was an Epirote.  She kept so many sacred snakes in her bedroom that Philip was afraid to go home after his drinking bouts. (5)  She told Alexander that his real father was Zeus Ammon, or Amon, a Graeco-Egyptian god in the form of a snake.  Alexander made much of this and would sit up all night boasting about it. (6)  He once executed thirteen Macedonians for saying he was not the son of a serpent.


4  After Philip’s death, Olympias had one of his wives boiled alive.  Shows what she thought of her.

5  Having real snakes at home does an alcoholic no good.  It just complicates matters.

6  He got so he believed it himself.


As a child Alexander was like most other children, if you see what I mean.  He had blue eyes, curly red hair, and a pink-and-white complexion, and he was small for his age.  At twelve he tamed Bucephalus, his favorite horse.  In the same year he playfully pushed Nectanebo, a visiting astronomer, into a deep pit and broke his neck while he was lecturing on the stars.  It has never been entirely proved that Alexander shoved the old man.  The fact remains that they were standing by the pit and all of a sudden Nectanebo wasn’t there any more.

For three years, until he was sixteen, Alexander was educated by Aristotle, who seems to have avoided pits and the edges of roofs.  Aristotle was famous for knowing everything.  He taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking.  This is true only of certain persons.  He also said that the sheatfish is subject to sunstroke because it swims too near the surface of the water.  I doubt it.  In spite of his vast reputation, Aristotle was not a perfect instructor of youth.  He had a tendency to wander, in the classroom and elsewhere.  He didn’t keep his eye on the ball.

With a teacher like that, one’s values might well become warped.  On the other hand, even Aristotle couldn’t help some people. (7)  As soon as he had finished reading the Nicomachean Ethics, Alexander began killing right and left.  He exterminated the Theban Sacred Band at the Battle of Chaeronea while his father was still alive, and then got some fine practice killing Thracians, Illyrians, and such others as he could find around home. (8)


7  Some years later, when Aristotle asked his former pupil to find out what caused the rising of the Nile, Alexander answered correctly, stating that it was caused by rain.  This pleased Aristotle very much, as he had worried about it for years and had almost given up in despair.

8  The Thebans were only Boeotians, generally regarded as oafs.  Plutarch, however, denies this with some heat.  Plutarch was a Boeotian.


He was now ready for his real career, so he decided to go to Asia where there were more people and more of a variety.  After killing a few relatives who might have claimed the throne, (9) he declared war on Persia and crossed the Hellespont to preach Hellenic civilization.  The Greeks were embarrassed about this, but they couldn’t stop him.  They just had to grin and bear it.

Asia proved to be a regular paradise.  In no time at all Alexander had killed Medes, Persians, Pisidians, Cappadocians, Paphlagonians, and miscellaneous Mesopotamians. (10)  One day he would bag some Galatians, the next he would have to be content with a few Armenians.  Later, he got Bactrians, Sogdians, Arachosians, and some rare Uxians,  Even then, an Uxian, dead or alive, was a collector’s item. (11)


9        He had connived at the liquidation of Philip.

10    “He boldly proclaimed the brotherhood of man.” – F.A. Wright.

11    The Uxians, or Huxians, may have been the ancestors of the Loories.


Alexander put an end to the Persian Empire by defeating Darius in three important battles.  This Darius was not the Darius, but only Darius Codomannus, or Darius III, who had been placed on the throne by Bagoas, a eunuch. (12)  Bagoas had poisoned Artaxerxes III and his son Arses and had in turn been poisoned by Darius, just to be on the safe side. (13)  Darius was easy to defeat because you could always count on his doing exactly the wrong thing.  Then he would whip up his horses and try to escape in his slow-moving chariot.  He did this once too often.


12    The name Bagoas is a shortened form of Bagadata, meaning Given by God.  It was often applied to eunuchs for reasons I have been unable to check.

13    Xerxes I was poisoned by the eunuch Aspamithres.


The Persian army was all out of date.  It relied chiefly upon the Kinsmen, who were allowed to kiss the King, and the Apple Bearers, or royal guard, who had golden apples on the handles of their spears.  Darius believed that if he kept adding more Apple Bearers to his army the Persian Empire would never fall.  But life is not like that.  Apple Bearers are all right, if you know where to stop.  After a certain point is reached, however, the law of diminishing returns sets in and you simply have too many Apple Bearers.

Darius also had chariots armed with scythes on each side for mowing down his enemies.  These did not work out, since Alexander and his soldiers refused to go and stand in front of the scythes.  Darius had overlooked the facts that scythed chariots are effective only against persons who have lost the power of locomotion and that such persons are more likely to be home in bed than fighting battles in Asia.

Alexander’s best men were his Companions, or heavy cavalry, and his Phalangites, or improved Hoplites, who composed the Macedonian phalanx.  There was some doubt about what the Hypaspists were expected to do.  They acted as Peltasts at times and they could always run errands.  Alexander never advanced without covering his rear.  The Persians never bothered about that, and you see what happened to them.

At the Battle of Issus, Alexander captured Darius’ wife and two daughters and the royal harem of 360 concubines (14) and 400 eunuchs.  He snubbed the harem, as did his inseparable friend and roommate Hephaestion, but the soldiers obtained many beautiful rugs.  Alexander’s project more than paid for itself, for he acquired valuables worth 160,000 Persian talents, or $280,000,000, in the cities of Susa and Persepolis alone.  Unfortunately, much of this was stolen by Harpalus, a cultured Greek serving as imperial treasurer.


14     Eunuchs were widely employed as royal advisers, as they had more time to think.


Alexander spent the next nine years fighting more battles, marching and countermarching, killing people at random, and robbing their widows and orphans. (15)  He soon grew tired of impressing Greek culture upon the Persians and attempted to impress Persian culture upon the Greeks.  In an argument about this, he killed his friend Clitus, who had twice saved his life in battle.  Then he wept for forty-eight hours.  Alexander seldom killed his close friends unless he was drunk, and he always had a good cry afterwards. (16)  He was always weeping about something. (17)


15    Among the Persians, sixty or any multiple of sixty was regarded as lucky.

16    He was often extremely brutal to his captives, whom he sold into slavery, tortured to death, or forced to learn Greek.

17    He evened an old score by hanging the historian Callisthenes, a grandnephew of Aristotle.  Callisthenes refused to prostrate himself in the Persian fashion, then Alexander refused to kiss him, and things went from bad to worse.


Bucephalus died of old age and overwork in India, and the soldiers, who thought the whole business was nonsense, refused to march any farther. (18)  Three fourths of the soldiers died of starvation while returning through the Gerosian Desert, but some of them finally got back to Susa and broke training.  At this point, Alexander and Hephaestion felt it was time to stop fooling around and get married, and they decided to marry sisters, so that their children would be cousins.  Wasn’t that romantic?

The girls they chose were Statira and Drypetis, the daughters of Darius, who had been waiting around ever since the old Issus days nine years before.  I never heard how these marriages turned out.  All of Alexander’s biographers say that his nature was cool, if not perfectly frigid. (19)  He is said to have sinned occasionally, but he never quite got the hang of it.  He was not unattractive, if you care for undersized blonds. (20)  His physique was reported to be all right, what there was of it. (21)  I have found no description of Hephaestion’s looks, but I gather he was tall, dark, and handsome.


18    Alexander did not conquer the world, by any means, since he had never been in Italy, Gaul, or Spain, to mention a few places.  He might have spared the tears about that.

19    Alexander had always been kind to Bucephalus, after whom he named a city.  He named another after his dog Peritas and seventeen after himself.

20    “From the weaknesses of the flesh, to which many great men have been subject, he was almost entirely immune.” – F.A. Wright.

21    There is probably no truth in that story about Alexander and Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons.  Still, Thalestris usually got her own way.


Nothing much happened after the doings at Susa.  Hephaestion died a few months later of drink and fever.  Alexander passed away in Babylon from the same causes in the following year, 324 B.C.  He was not quite thirty-three, and he had been away from home eleven years.  He might have lived longer if he had not crucified his physician for failing to cure Hephaestion.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Alexander’s death left Macedonia rather at sixes and sevens.  Roxana, Alexander’s Bactrian wife, had Statira and Hephaestion’s widow murdered and thrown down a well, and Sisygambis starved herself to death.  Olympias executed Alexander’s illegitimate and feeble-minded half brother Arrhidaeus and forced his wife to hang herself.  Cassander executed Olympias, others murdered others, and it was all quite a mess.

Alexander’s empire fell to pieces at once, and nothing remained of his work except that the people he had killed were still dead.  He accomplished nothing very constructive. (22)  True, he cut the Gordian Knot instead of untying it according to the rules.  This was a silly thing to do, but the Gordian Knot itself was pretty silly.  He also introduced eggplant into Europe. (23)

Just what this distressing young man thought he was doing, and why, I really can’t say.  I doubt if he could have clarified the subject to any appreciable extent.  He had a habit of knitting his brows.  And no wonder.


22    He is said to have smelled like violets.  I heard different.

23    But see F.A. Wright on Alexander’s work “above all as an apostle of world peace.”


(1950) The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, New York: Holt. Edited by Fred Feldkamp. Illustrations by William Steig.

Harvest Night. Roman Nights series. ROMAN NIGHTS


December 23, 2012
Alien Wedding Cineplex.“Among the Arabian philosophers, Averroes has been accused of despising the religion of the Jews, the Christians, and the Mahometans. Each of these sects would agree that in two instances out of three his contempt was reasonable.” - Edward Gibbon.

Alien Wedding Cineplex.
“Among the Arabian philosophers, Averroes has been accused of despising the religion of the Jews, the Christians, and the Mahometans. Each of these sects would agree that in two instances out of three his contempt was reasonable.” – Edward Gibbon.


Our story begins – for it is literally our story, the story of humankind – about three million years ago in an African gorge in Tanganyika.  To the west is towering Mount Kilimanjaro, but here in Olduvai there is desert where once it was savannah teeming with antelope and zebra, wildebeest and all manner of animal treasures – some still with us and those now extinct.   In the midst of this was a hunting, gathering troop of advanced apelike creatures, one of whom, a female we call “Lucy” was the recipient of a rare mutated gene that made her the first human.  All human females carry that gene.  It is not present in males.  Left to the males, humankind would revert to apedom.  No wonder the ladies are considered a “civilizing influence.”  Hell, there wouldn’t be any civilization at all without them.  No man would ever think of building a chair when he had difficulty mastering the stick in the termite hole when trying to obtain a little protein.

If we had a time lapse film of the species from its beginning, we would see Lucy’s descendents evolving and expanding up out of Africa into the Middle East, hence to Europe and Asia, thence all over the planet.  The genetic material that makes human beings white, brown, black, yellow or red is a tiny marker in our genetic makeup.  Everything else is the same. We are identical in every other genetic respect.  We all come out of Mother Africa.  That should make us a tolerant, peaceful species, but we’re not.  We’ve fought and killed each other from Lucy’s day on, often over “proper” melatonin levels.  We form and maintain select groups as the “best” and attempt to destroy any one or any thing (including ideas) that threatens our belief in the holy righteousness of our own brand of blind ignorance.  We are all entitled to be ignorant and superstitious.

There is, in reality, only we and us.  It is apparently hard for red-necked hate-filled crackers, suicide bombers, militants of every stripe, ultra-Americans and other “special” groups to admit that they are just part of the human race.  “Otherness” is a big issue for them.  It is only by denying the humanity of their victims that they are able to do such savagery upon them, and by denying their own humanity that they are able to be so ruthlessly cruel. In Rite of Passage, Alexei Panshin wrote that there are “no spear carriers in real life.” A spear-carrier is the guy in the opera or movie who is stabbed as the hero goes by to save the maiden; the one who falls off the parapet feathered by an arrow.  They are anonymous, often faceless and assuming soulless creatures to be killed at will for dramatic effect.  They are not other people, but props to make the hero look good.

That’s why the military concentrates on “doing a job of work.”  Moving boulders, or whole villages, or killing whole peoples is easier when they are objectified as things subject to our divinely directed whim.  When one’s “cause is right,” because “God is on our side,” and “we must protect our way of life,” murder is most “holy”.  Sadness to relate, we still seem to be comfortable with that, and remain irate about our inherent equality.  What’s the real problem?  Nobody’s really all that special.


“I am bored by people who keep returning life to a moral plane, as if we were reducible, now, to some Biblical concept or its opposite, as if all our history and prehistory had not conditioned us for what we’ve become.  It’s enough to make a moral nigger out of a man.  The niggers are down there, no doubt about it.  But Jack didn’t put them there and neither did I.  When we get off the moral gold standard, when the man of enormous wealth is of no more importance to anybody than the man in rags, then maybe we’ll look back to our own day as a day of justifiable social wrath. Meantime, the game is rising, not leveling. Jack taught me that. Cured me. (Brother Wolf, are you listening?)” – William Kennedy, LEGS

“Never judge a book by its cover unless it’s red.”  Leo Gorcey, Bowery Boys.

“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” Gandhi.

Meaning of Life var.

Meaning of Life var.


December 5, 2012
Victory is a State of Mind

Victory is a State of Mind

There Will Be Blood Spilled If the Republicans Keep Matching Their Message with Violent Talk Frameshop By Jeffrey Feldman

Rather than recoil at violent language, GOP leadership seems to see it as a chance to turn out votes. 

Words matter–and they matter even more when they are violent words.

When Americans threaten to use firearms to enforce their political views, the violent threats carried by that language undermines the system of public debate on which our system depends. Healthy political debate can sustain a great deal of anger and passion, but it cannot sustain repeated threats of violence and calls for violent assault as a form of political engagement.

It is time for right-wing political talk of violence to stop before passions turn to bloodshed.



The Republicans are bought into the craziness at a very deep level.  They will not get better.  They will explode or fizzle out, but they will not get “well.”  These sick puppies prefer revolution and the overthrow of the United States government to honest political dialog and debate.  We really need to put these crazies into the booby hatch. At very least, we must stop giving them political credibility. The political instrument of moneyed elites, and a retrograde societal force, the GOP today is more negative than ever. Its agenda, if fully implemented, would prove catastrophic. Here’s what an unfettered Republican Party would do “for” America:

1)      Greatly reduce or entirely eliminate taxes on the rich, forcing working families to make up revenue shortfalls.

2)      Bust labor unions, and prevent collective bargaining for wages and benefits.

3)      Stubbornly deny the climate change while pumping more pollutants into the environment from dirty industries and practices.

4)      Remove regulations on investment banks and credit card companies eroding consumer protections.

5)      Continue to criticize and under fund public education, advocating private schooling instead, to dumb workers down.

6)      Outlaw abortion, under a moral guise, impelling thousands of functioning females to perish because of sexist denials of their basic rights.

7)      Continue to recite a Pledge of Allegiance whose last six words are “with liberty and justice for all,” while harrassing homosexual citizens.

8)      Speak often and loftily of freedom, but engage in neo-McCarthyite witch hunts, Red-baiting name calling, and a host of Patriot Act sins against the U. S. Constitution in the name of “national security.”

9)      Bully the world with US aggressions on foreign soil, kill countless thousands of innocents, waste billions of badly-needed dollars, and make us hated around the planet.

10)  Generally drive down the income levels of America’s working-class majority, as a cost-saving corporate measure, dooming society to economic ruin!

11)  Lie about affordable health care for all, creating a national security threat by fooling some Americans into thinking that public health care is a godless socialist attack on basic American freedoms.

12)  Unleash de facto ethnic cleansing against 12 million immigrant men, women, and children, blaming them for hardships experienced due to capitalist excess.

13)  Shamefully try to lend credence to their avarice and social irresponsibility by revising the Bible to obscure passages that place human need before abject greed as one conservative group is really trying to do!

14)  Support intensely bigoted hatred that has crazed extremists dreaming of literally tearing Barack Obama to pieces and gassing all liberals.

15)  Place the livelihoods and lives of over 300 million Americans in the hands of incompetent ideological “purists” such as Sarah Palin.

While there are certainly Democrats who’ve yet to show spine in furtherance of vital change, let’s be absolutely clear about the unmitigated disaster that would follow if Republicans, in their present ultra-rightist incarnation, ruled our country exactly as they wickedly wished.

We Move to Amend.We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

  • Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
  • Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count.
  • Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.

Signed by 281,821 and counting . . . CONTACT: of useful information and contact links.