The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Something Went Horribly Wrong

  (simultaneously posted at my live journal)

    A young woman went in the hospital for a "routine gynecological procedure". She was supposed to be out the same day. Instead she lost both her legs.

     Just reading the story is enough to enrage. Then you start reading the comments by all the racists and the right-wing trolls and the self-declared   "Christians" who assume the procedure was an abortion although there is no indication of such at all, and spew pious venom about "God's justice". The Christ that I was taught about would smite these people with a flaming 2X4.

     The anonymity of the internet has turned over some rocks in the collective national psyche. It is unpleasant to behold that which has scuttled out from that dark moist place.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On Supporting Our Troops

   "The cause for the fighting
     Has long been a ghost
     Malice and habit
     Have now won the day
     The honors we fought for
     Are lost in the fray"
    "Fires Which Burned Brightly"
     Gray Booker and Keith Reid

     One sees the phrase, "Support our troops" a lot on public forums during the holiday season. This is a noble sentiment. There are a lot of young men and women who will be spending Christmas in some of the most wretched and dangerous places on earth. It is right that they be in our minds and in our hearts.

    If you can, send them a package or give to one of the worthy organizations that does.
   Or send them cards and letters.
    But for the love of what ever God you pray to,

   Send them home.

    The blood of the brave is far too precious to squander for the mere saving of face.What remains of the original mission is far too nebulous to articulate or define.

   Bring then home and let them heal.

   Be seeing you

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Death March With Sleigh Bells

     Thanksgiving draweth nigh. That day when Homo Urbanicus assembles in tribal clusters to gorge upon the carcass of specially bred mutant flightless birds and divers nameless casseroles until, all but the hardiest shamble off to collapse into a tryptophan-induced torpor. This he does in preparation for the high holy day that follows:

                                                      BLACK FRIDAY

     It is then, with the first light of the rising sun, that they are drawn to the Mall (n, probably derived from maul no doubt in analogy to encounters with large predators). There devotees of the religion of Capitalism lay down offerings at the shrine of the patron saint of commerce, Adam Smith. This day begins the month long festival that ends with Christmas. During this period they will purchase various trinkets to exchange by means of complicated promissory notes. It is thought that this practice gave rise to the alternate name for the seasonal festival; Yule, thought to derive from the first first word of the common exclamation, "You'll be paying for this 'till Easter!"  The festival period is also marked in some tribes by a competition to out-do the neighbors in creating to gaudiest, most elaborate array of flashing lights and lawn ornaments. The competition ends with Christmas Day (Rumored to have once commemorated the incarnation of a deity. Just which one is lost to history ) or the first rotating brown out, whichever comes first. With this second feast day the tribe reassembles and dines on another roasted mutant flightless bird and exchanges the trinkets they have collected which are ornately wrapped and decorated.
    During the following week the decorations are left in place and the unconsumed remains of the roasted fowl are consumed in a variety of unpalatable forms. This ends with the Feast of the Circumcision on January first which is celebrated by drinking of Ale and watching several contests having to do with ritual combat for possession of a pigs bladder.
    The high holy days of winter end with this celebration. The next festival is the penance of Lent which takes the form of forty days of self-denial that begin with the first reminder notice from the credit card company.

     Be seeing you

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vox Populi

    The revolution may finally be beginning. The American people may, at long, long last, have finally have had enough. If this indeed turns out to be the case, let it be written here that the final weight that  broke the poor patient dromedary's back was not the hundreds imprisoned without a trial, not the wiretaps or the wars about to begin their second decade, but the TSA airport pat-down and the whole body scan.

     In San Diego a man refused to submit to either a body scan or a groin grope, and recorded the entire exchange with TSA on his cell. The airline pilot's union is urging all of its members to refuse body scans over concern for cumulative whole body radiation exposure.Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who captured the hearts of the nation when he successfully landed flight 1549  in the Hudson River without loss of life, has publicly come out against them. Now there is a campaign on the internet for a national day of refusing the body scan. If even ten percent refuse air traffic will be severely delayed or planes will take off half empty.

    Future would be despots take note. There is a lesson to be learned here. You may torture all the brown people you wish. Start a war or three on the flimsiest of excuses. Tap our phones and read our e-mail, but if after a decade of bloating our bodies with the high-fructose crap that passes for our food you let strangers peer beneath the facade and gaze upon our quivering flesh we will rise up with one voice and say "No!"

     The garden of Eden is long gone and we cannot bear the sight of what our own naked flesh had become. We are not about to allow your low rent brown shirts to see it...and don't even think about patting down my crotch let alone that of my children.

   Once the people learn that they can say no to the minions of the State I suspect they will like the feeling.

    You had better get used to it.

     Be seeing you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Some Thoughts On Veterans Day

    When I was a boy Grandmother still called the holiday by the original "Armistice Day". The name was changed during the reign of Joe McCarthy in 1954. Since two of Grandfather's brothers served in the American Expeditionary Force in France, she preferred to celebrate peace. Grandfather was one of Woodrow Wilson's "Four Minute Men". He would be called upon to intervene when the patriotic citizens decided to beat up a few squareheads (German-Americans). He was well suited for this task as a bilingual Lutheran minister. Grandmother used to show me the bronze medal and the parchment signed by President Wilson when the other boys wanted me to play at war with them to show me that men of peace were heroes too and got medals and everything. She was the last of that now extinct breed, a liberal Republican.
    Not long after Grandfather passed we went back to Chicago to visit his brother Sigmund who had survived the Great War by virtue of being in the hospital recovering when his unit was wiped out. I was told not to wake him suddenly or make loud noises behind him because he had something called "shell shock". He was a kind and gentle man who sent me a glass cigar tube filled with silver dimes every Christmas.
     In those days Veterans Day (The government says there is no apostrophe before the s. They don't even get to own that.) was a bigger holiday than Memorial Day. We still considered a live veteran to be more important than a dead one back then. Memorial Day was also called "Decoration Day" and it was when we solemnly went to the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of Grandfather and my mother. It was a day for all the dead.
    Now Veterans day is a minor holiday. Most of us don't even get the day off work anymore. Memorial Day is a big deal now because a dead soldier is a great symbol to invoke to stir up patriotism and support for the current war.

    They are a lot less expensive than those pesky living veterans too.

     We must honor while we can
     The verticle man
     Though we value none
     But the horizontal one.

     Be seeing you

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

About That "Christian Nation" Thing...

 Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

From The Treaty of Tripoli which was unanimously approved by the United States Senate on June 7, 1797.

Monday, November 8, 2010

At Last! Scientific Proof of E.S.P.!

    Daryl Bem is about to publish a paper on his blind testing of one hundred student volunteers at Cornell University for precognitive ability. Each student attempted 36 trials at predicting which of two curtains would appear on a screen side by side. The students would attempt to predict which curtain of the two concealed a picture rather than a blank wall. Amazingly, the results showed that the students were successful in predicting the correct location a statistically significant percentage more often than the norm, but only when the hidden pictures were erotic in nature. Non-erotic pictures  produced predictably average results.

For more on the study see the following article at H+ magazine:

Here is a link to a pre-publication copy of the paper from the author's web site:

   Be seeing you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Haiti: The Day of the Dead

   Haiti celebrated Fete Gede, the Voudoun day of the dead, for the first time since the earthquake killed a quarter of a million and left millions homeless. The festival is both a day of remembrance and an homage to Baron Samedi, the patron Deity of the dead and the graveyard. The following is from the Miami Herald by way of The Wild Hunt:

    Like many, he didn’t know exactly where their bodies were put to their final resting place. So he came to the Universal Tomb, an oversized gray and white concrete structure that long symbolized those who had died violent deaths under army rule. Now it is also symbolic of those killed in the quake as survivors placed flowers, beeswax candles and meals around it, pouring the coffee and perfumed Florida Water on the altar. As each approached the tomb, they knocked its walls with their open palms as if to announce their presence. “Sweetheart, I didn’t bring any cigarette or rum, but I am here,” said one man. 

       The people of Haiti are stoically bracing themselves as Tropical Storm Thomas closes on their island. At the same time Cholera is claiming hundreds of lives. We would do well to remember that no matter who we are or what our station, grief makes brothers of us all.

    For more see:
     Be seeing you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gulag America

    Chances are if you have a school age child one of his or her classmates has a parent in prison. One out of 28 children does and with education cutbacks class size is a lot larger than 28. This isn't because there is an increase in violent crime. That has stayed pretty constant as a percentage for the last thirty years. It is because we put people in prison for longer and for more things than any other country in the world. We have a higher percentage of Americans in prison than the Soviet Union had under Stalin.
     We have more people in prison than the 35 largest European countries combined.
      We pay $47,000 per year to house these people in illegally overcrowded conditions with substandard medical care. Both of these issues have resulted in repeated Federal court orders mandating an improvement of conditions which often end in threats by the court to order a mass release of inmates.
     By coincidence the California Correctional Officer's PAC has spent over $11,000,000 in political campaign contributions in the last seven years. About half of that went to Governors races.
    Now money is tight in California right now. State workers have been forced to play furlough roulette with Governor Schwarzenegger for over a year now. (some say this has more to do with union busting than economy.) The prison system makes up about 11% of the state budget.

       Why not try something different?

       The vast majority of non-violent crimes are either recreational substance use or unorthodox solutions to the problem of simply not having enough money to make ends meet.

     Well, lets  give them the money.

     Give them the $47,000 it costs to keep them inside for a year and kick 'em loose. Enroll them in a mandatory training program of their choice. We save the cost of the remainder of their sentence. Sure, some of them will go back inside and a few will OD on their chemical of choice. I'll bet you a bottle of single malt that if we try it we beat the 67% recidivism rate that goes with our current system of warehousing the under-class. Even with the same rate  we get to close 7 prisons and save millions of dollars a year. In addition, millions more go into circulation immediately and supply needed stimulation to the ailing economy.

    What have we got to lose? We have cut education, mental health and the Governator even tried to kill the accidental poisoning hotline. This makes at least a much sense as those draconian measures.

     Be seeing you

A quick note

I will begin regular posting as soon as my new computer is up and running. This one is freezing too often for me to post effectively.

Thank you for your patience.