August 1-7, 2002
The daughters of the imaginary Roman widow, St. Sophia or Holy Wisdom - popular personifications of the virtues brought into the world by her, or it. They are supposed to have been put to death at the ages of twelve, ten and nine, respectively.
Three of this morning's great Thai language broadsheets3 bring a grim message to the breakfast table: DON'T BE LATE FOR SCHOOL.
It seems that young Kittisak made it to the school gate after it was shut.4 Not wanting to have his name chalked onto the list of latecomers he decided to scale the fence and join his classmates before anyone was any the wiser. Unfortunately, he lost his footing and impaled himself on one of the sharp pointy parts of one of the railing uprights. From the photographs it appears that the rescue team had to cut out a section of the fence ... probably in order that young Kittisak and the impaler could be transported to the hospital in one unbroken 'chain of evidence'.
The elevator in my building carries the typical weight warning with which American and European lift riders are familiar ... but, with a difference; instead of allowing six people to ride in a box the size of a mid-range hotel closet we can fit 11 people into it, provided our combined weight does not exceed 750 kilos.5
1 No, I did not make this up.
2 This probably explains those 1934 Austrian related 'suspiciously-close-dates' of the last week or so.
3 The Bangkok Daily News, The Bangkok Sharp Blade and The Bangkok Fresh News (the latter two are very very rough translations of their Thai titles). I am sure that The Bangkok Rhat had a similar instructive picture on its cover ... but my newsagent was out of stock.
4 Thai schools, to make sure that they catch the tardy ones, lock the front gates just before the students gather in the forecourt to sing the national anthem.
5 Seven hundred fifty divided by eleven yields 68.2 kilos per person. Or, 150 pounds per liftee. Otis (USA) allows 175 pounds per person while Otis (Europe) shaves it to 75 kilos.
Oh my God! Am I the only one to see this conspiracy? And, it is 68 years after the fact.1
A lawyer who abandoned his career because he missed the point in an important litigation.2 His second choice of a profession, the missionary priesthood,3 was more fortunate. He founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. Eventually ill health obliged him to resign his bishopric and the active direction of his order; but as he was also a musician and a poet and a theologian, his time was not wasted, though he lived to be ninety.
OUR LATIN READER CALLS:
1 Yes, dear reader, go back ... day by day ... and check what happened in 1934. Yesterday Hitler became Reichsfuhrer ... the day before yesterday the murderers of Dollfuss were executed ... the day before that Doctor Schuschnigg was appointed Chancellor of Austria ... six days earlier Doctor Dolfuss was murdered ... .five days before that the German S.S. became an independent party. Oliver Stone, you have been chasing the wrong squirrel. ["Of course, Alf, there is a pretty good possibility that most people have in fact heard of these late summer '34 events; perhaps it is you who missed class the day that the topic was discussed."]
2 Something that would thin the ranks of American lawyers to the near vanishing point.
3 A lateral move, career wise.
According to tradition, this disciple was so fortunate as to be able to remove a nail from the hands or the feet of Jesus when He was taken down from the cross. He is also believed to have carved a crucifix now in the cathedral of Lucca; and Our Lord did His own face while the sculptor slept.
The freight traffic on the Chao Phya River is mostly barges; huge things ... usually three or four of them lashed together and pulled by a tug or two. The rest of the river traffic is made up of waterbuses, water taxis, sight seeing boats, dinner cruises and the odd private yacht. But every so often an acre or two of logs, loosely knotted to one another, gets pulled from the up-country forests to the sawmills south of Bangkok. This afternoon a particularly tight selection of timber passed my porch; it even carried several passengers in what appeared to be stadium floor comfort.
I am not sure of the year. But, the day was March 8th and it was the year that ex-President Harrison took ill (but did not die).2 Most of the clippings in the LATIN READER are from around this year. Reader help needed.
The cub reporter at the scene probably 'topped' his own story with "Mrs. Elizabeth Conick Mysteriously Set on Fire." Of course, the night editor nixed that for lack of sales voltage and re-headed it:
But, as was common in that part of the century, the editor eventually did allow a diminuendo of lines of type to cascade into the opening sentence. As you will see, dear reader, Mrs. Cornick became a "literal pillar of flames ... from head to foot ... terribly roasted and her clothing reduced to ashes ..."
Tomorrow, a Sunday, is the Feast of Saint Dominic Guzman. As THOCBDC will be at high evening services, tomorrow's journal may not feel the squirt of hot lead until the early hours of Monday.
1 We've visited Grinling before. Remember? His work is found in those Christopher Wren churches in London.
2 On March 9th The New York Tribune said that General Benjamin Harrison "was lying seriously ill at his home in Indianapolis ..." He was reported to have the 'grip'.
Wescott [He is a bit long today ... but the read is worth it]:1
Before his birth, his mother dreamed that she had given birth to a dog with a torch in its mouth; and his black and white followers, 'the Dogs of God,' have indeed worried the heretic wolves for centuries with sublime ferocity. In his youth, going with his bishop to arrange a royal wedding, he met an attractive cavalcade of papal emissaries, returning out of France to Rome, having tried in vain to convert the Albigenses. He advised them to strip off their magnificence and go barefoot and hungry to so austere a people. A humbler, holier mission was sent; those almost inhuman dissenters were not taken in by a show of poverty any more than by a show of wealth. Some years later Dominic went there himself, and used miraculous tricks to persuade them, throwing the true doctrine in the fire and taking the pages out unscorched, whereas the books of error simply burned. A few were impressed and converted; but, needless to say, innumerable heroes had to be thrown into the fire along with their writings before the one infallible church triumphed.
He met and admired, or wondered at, St. Francis; but the two brotherhoods which put an end to the sanctified egoism of the early monks were quite opposite in spirit; the Dominicans fought for orthodoxy, while the Franciscans labored, as the spirit moved them, for virtue.
Dominic cannot, indeed, be blamed for the squalors and terrors of the Inquisition; but it developed according to his irritable emphasis on theology and was animated by his characteristic Spanish fever - its painful business all done in rapt spasms of enthusiasm as if it were a pleasure.
When Nicolo Pisano was at work on his tomb in Bologna, one of his helpers who was a Dominican and could not be paid for his work, stole one of St. Dominic's ribs. He confessed it on his death-bed; but some other church had got hold of the precious thing and would never give it back.
The Week in Print. The Week That Was. The Week in Review. Yes, all the world's great newspapers have something along this vein: a Sunday delivered capsule of the last seven days of our history.2
Well, every Sunday a couple of the great daily mass circulation Thai language broadsheets pool the work of their best crime-beat photographers and put something together for a This Week in Bangkok3 ... a little post-breakfast read that allows Mom and Dad to graphically point out to the kids the dangers of not minding their elders. The end of July and the start of August was a particularly gruesome seven days for darkroom work. Here is a sampling ... cover to cover ... including a word from a 'sponsor':
1 I said that after skimming the first sentence and the last paragraph. The middle parts aren't really all that good ... except, maybe, for the penultimate paragraph: the one on how Dominic sort of fed the Inquisition.
2 The Times, Le Monde, The New York Times ... just to name three ... remind us of the major stories that helped shape the world since the preceding Sunday. Palestine, the world's economy, North Korea's thaw ... and more; the likes of this are the draw for these papers.
3 I'm not sure of its real name.
The Bangkok Daily News ... (or, it might have been one the other great BKK dailies) ... in its late 'after-school' edition published the story of a young girl who was born a monkey. Apparently her father shot and killed a monkey while his wife was carrying their yet unborn child. At this point the story gets a bit vague and confused ... but, from what the reporter can make out, this act of unjustified 'monkeycide' caused the child's mother to dwell a little too much on the furry dead thing. It seems that all this worry just showed the way ... and allowed some strange unnamed forces to meld the soul of the dead monkey with that of their still embryonic child. The upshot of all this is that the kid is now on a short leash4 ... and it just makes monkey noises ... and it tries to scamper into the jungle at every chance.
1 The first recipient of this $1,000 Lasker Award was the Little Rock, Arkansas (USA) poet Jeff Malostrom. His poem, entitled "Martin," was described by Soren Kierkegaard as the "finest set-piece of writing ..."
Martin sat upon a rock,
Staring at the clock.
He looked up at the sky,
And wished he'd never die.
Martin sighed and Martin cried,
Martin bolted and Martin tried.
But, in the end, Martin died.
2 In the Louis Malle film, DAMAGE, with Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche, there is a haunting resemblance between Malostrom's "Martin" and the young 'Martin' who, as the lover of Binoche's character (Anna) and the son of the would-be Cabinet Member (James), is betrayed " ... most savagely ... " by both his father and his lover. This, according to Franz Yortmann in THE FILM (Penguin Mini-Press, 2001).
3 "It's all a load of crap!" - Archibald Feldspar, in THE HORNET (July, 2001).
4 The day this photograph was taken the child (monkey?) was loosely leashed from her ankle to a chair.
It's late! Watcharee and I had dinner with Alex and Nuch over at the Shangri-La Hotel tonight. I didn't take my camera.
"So, Alf, what are you getting at? Are you leading up to a 'filler?"
Well ... I guess you might say that ... but, it's not without merit. I promise. Stick with me. I found this particularly interesting clipping in The Onion. Once you read it, dear reader, you'll have real second thoughts about how 'balanced' God is; hey, there is now mounting evidence that He is a full-blown Nut! And, if that is the case ... Jesus!
NEW HAVEN, CT - In a diagnosis that helps explain the confusing and contradictory aspects of the cosmos that have baffled philosophers, theologians, and other students of the human condition for millennia, God, creator of the universe and longtime deity to billions of followers, was found Monday to suffer from bipolar disorder.
Rev. Dr. J. Henry Jurgens, a practicing psychiatrist and doctor of divinity at Yale University Divinity School, announced the historic diagnosis at a press conference.
"I always knew there had to be some explanation," Jurgens said. "And, after several years of patient research and long sessions with God Almighty through the intercessionary medium of prayer, I was able to pinpoint the specific nature of His problem."
Bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder is a condition that afflicts millions. Characterized by cycles of elation followed by bouts of profound depression and despair, the disorder can wreak havoc on both the sufferer and his or her loved ones, particularly if it goes undetected and untreated for an extended period. Though the condition is estimated to affect, in one form or another, 5 percent of the world's population, Monday marks the first time it has been diagnosed in a major deity.
Evidence of God's manic-depression can be found throughout the Universe, from the white-hot explosiveness of quasars to the cold, lifeless vacuum of space. However, theologians note, humanity's exposure to God's affliction comes primarily through His confusing propensity to alternately reward and punish His creations with little rhyme or reason.
"Last week, I lost my dear husband Walter to the flood," said housewife and devout churchgoer Elaine Froman of Davenport, IA. "I asked myself, 'Why? Why would God do something like this, especially when He had just helped Walter overcome a long battle with colon cancer, and we were so happy that we finally had a chance to start our lives anew?'"
New York attorney Ruth Kanner also gained firsthand knowledge of God's wild mood swings.
"Last Saturday, on a gorgeous spring afternoon, I was jogging in Central Park with my daughter. We were marveling at the beauty and majesty of nature, and I remember thinking what a wonderful world we live in. Then, out of nowhere, I heard the gunfire," said Kanner, speaking from her hospital bed at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. "All they took was a measly $17, and for that, the doctors say my daughter will never walk again. If only Our Holy Father didn't have those mental problems, my precious Katie might not be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life."
Jurgens stressed that God's earthly subjects need to understand that, because of His bipolar condition, He is not in control of His actions and does not realize how they affect others.
"What He needs from us is understanding and patience," Jurgens said. "To paraphrase the words of the Lord God Himself, 'Humans, forgive Him, for He knows not what He does.'"
While such drugs as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft have proven effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder among humans, there is no modern earthly medicine that can be prescribed for a deity as vast and complex as God. Jurgens is in the process of forming a support group, "Living With A Bipolar Creator-Deity," for all of humanity to "get together and discuss their feelings about living in a universe run by an Omnipresent Loved One not fully in control of his emotions."
Jurgens said he believes God's essential condition is seasonal, as evidenced by the bursts of energy and elation associated with springtime and summer, followed by the decay and bleak despair of fall and winter. Sometimes, however, the condition cycles even faster.
"The average person with bipolar disorder may go through as many as 10 or 12 cycles of mania and subsequent depression in a lifetime. In severe cases, a sufferer may experience four or more per year, which is known as 'rapid cycling,'" Jurgens said. "We believe God suffers from the even rarer 'ultra-rapid cycling,' which would account for the many documented cases in which He alternates between benevolence and rage toward humanity within a matter of seconds. For example, last week, He brought desperately needed, life-giving rain to southern Mali while simultaneously leveling Turkey with a devastating earthquake."
Further evidence of God's manic-depression can be found in the Bible, in which the erotomania of the Song of Songs sharply contrasts with the sadness and existential despair of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Book of Job, Jurgens noted, marks the best example of His condition. The book begins with the bleak lamentations of Job and ends with a full-blown manic episode by God, complete with such classic bipolar symptoms as the illusion of omnipotence and delusions of grandeur.
"One of the major 'heresies' of Christian history is the Gnostic belief that the Creator, or 'demiurge,' of this troubled world is a blind, idiot god who is insane," Jurgens said. "This idea surfaces in many religious traditions around the globe. As it turns out, they were only half right: God has His problems like anyone else, but He is essentially trying His best. He just has a condition that makes His emotions fly out of control at times."
"So it's up to us to make the best of God's emotional problems," Jurgens continued. "Thus, mankind is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly."
Before opening this morning's mail I want to assure all of you ... good readers ... that Watacharee and I are fine and well. We are quite comfortable in our new apartment ... and, though sparsely furnished, it is a refreshing trade from our cramped days at The Gore Vidal Suite. The last batch of photos that I posted showed the place in a state of unrest; things are now tranquil, as all the bits and pieces have found comfortable places to sit and or hide. However, the view over the river remains pretty much the same.1
My AM post brought a surprise! Though the missive writer did not allude to yesterday's surprise news from Yale University that God was, is and always will be a Nut, the thrust of the message was definitely anti-science and pro-superstition.2 Now, dear reader, before you slam the book shut, hold on for a second. You see this 'epistle' came from The International Flat Earth Society.
Yes ... it's a flat earth we live upon ... not a sphere (according to these believers).3
And, this is their 'platform' (unedited by THOCBDC):
International Flat Earth Research Society
FLAT EARTH SOCIETY
Charles K. Johnson, President
Marjory Waugh Johnson, Sec.
Telephone: (805) 727-1635
PO Box 2533, Lancaster, CA 93539
Aim: To carefully observe, think freely rediscover forgotten fact and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions. To help establish the United States...of the world on this flat earth. Replace the science religion...with SANITY The International Flat Earth Society is the oldest continuous Society existing on the world today. It began with the Creation of the Creation. First the water...the face of the deep...without form or limits...just Water. Then the Land sitting in and on the Water, the Water then as now being flat and level, as is the very Nature of Water. There are, of course, mountains and valleys on the Land but since most of the World is Water, we say, "The World is Flat." Historical accounts and spoken history tell us the Land part may have been square, all in one mass at one time, then as now, the magnetic north being the Center. Vast cataclysmic events and shaking no doubt broke the land apart, divided the Land to be our present continents or islands as they exist today. One thing we know for sure about this world...the known inhabited world is Flat, Level, a Plain World. We maintain that what is called 'Science' today and 'scientists' consist of the same old gang of witch doctors, sorcerers, tellers of tales, the 'Priest-Entertainers' for the common people. 'Science' consists of a weird, way-out occult concoction of gibberish theory-theology...unrelated to the real world of facts, technology and inventions, tall buildings and fast cars, airplanes and other Real and Good things in life; technology is not in any way related to the web of idiotic scientific theory. ALL inventors have been anti-science. The Wright brothers said: "Science theory held us up for years. When we threw out all science, started from experiment and experience, then we invented the airplane." By the way, airplanes all fly level on this Plane earth. Our Society of Zetetics have existed for at least 6,000 years, the extent of recorded history. Extensive writing from 1492 b.c. We have been and are the Few, the Elite, the Elect, who use Logic Reason are Rational. Summed up, we are Sane and/ or have Common Sense as contrasted to the "herd" who is unthinking and uncaring. We have absorbed the Universal Zetetic Society of America and Great Britain, ZION U.S.A., the work of Alexander Dowie 1888, Wilber Glen Voliva 1942, Samuel Shenton, Lillian J. Shenton of England 1971. Zetetic: from Zeto, to seek and search out; Prove, as contrasted to theoretic which means to guess, to hope, to suppose, but NOT to 'prove'. Science 'proves' earth a 'ball' by 'scripture' words. We PROVE earth Flat by experiment, demonstrated and demonstrable. Earth Flat is a Fact, not a 'theory'! Our aim is not to 'disturb the herd' or wreck the Government, but rather to be an aid to the Elite Human Being in coming to KNOW earth flat...to then FREE his or her mind from such blind unreasoning 'theory-superstition' and so go on "to carefully observe...think freely...rediscover forgotten facts and oppose theoretical dogmatic assumptions." As Sir Fields, owner of newspapers in England, has said about us, "They are the Last pocket of individual Thinkers in English speaking world." I sometimes call myself the Last Iconoclast. Science is a false religion, the opium of the masses. I myself count it as a beginning of Sanity to confess 'the creation proves there was a Creator' so a God or Creator...Exists. From a life-time of study, of seeking out a proving things, from the study of 6,000 years of recorded history, from observation, from experience, from Common Sense Observation, have concluded the 10 Commandments are in fact good Laws of Living and Behavior for oneself and all in contact with you...truley 'Laws of Physics for Living.' That is my opinion. The Fact the Earth is Flat is not my opinion, it is a Proved Fact. Also demonstrated Sun and Moon are about 3,000 miles away are both 32 miles across. The Planets are 'tiny.' Sun and Moon do Move, earth does NOT move, whirl, spin or gyrate. Australians do NOT hang by their feet under the world...this is a FACT, not a theory! Also a Fact the Spinning, Whirling, Gyrating Ball World Planet, Globe Idea is Entirely 100% now and at all times in the Past, a RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE...a Blind Dogmatic Article of Faith in the Religion for the Blind unreasoning beast of prey. No earthly reason for a Sane, Upright Member of the Elite Elect Humans to subscribe to it. Also a Fact, today the Elite of Earth ALL live on the Flat World. Only the illogical, unreasoning "herd"...prefers the way-out occult weird theology of the old Greek superstitious earth a spinning ball! Both Copernecious and Newton, the inventors of the "modern" superstitions (400 year OLD modern) have said: "It is not possible for a sane reasonable person to ever really believe these Theories." Thus sayeth Newton-Copernecious. What sayeth THOU?
Associate Membership contribution of $10.00 a year, includes four (4) issue of FLAT EARTH NEWS and Membership Card. An 8 x 12 Color Certificate of Membership is $5.00 extra.
Sustaining Member $25.00 a year; Patron $100.00 and up.
One year of the quarterly (4 issues) FLAT EARTH NEWS and Membership Card and Certificate.
$5.00 single copy.
Each issue contains further proofs of the fact - earth IS flat. People of goodwill who seek the truth also known as the Facts are Welcome! We do not want members who are stupid, mindless, brute beasts with two feet whose only aim is to scoff or in some way 'harm' our work -- Facts, Logic, Reason, Sanity also known as commonsense, is our aim. In 30AD JC said ... seek and find the Truth and it will set you free. Free from the Pathological Liars ... the great pretenders who mislead all flesh and blood.
Are you a teacher of any kind in the education system? ______
I hereby affirm my aim in joining is not to harm, degrade, damage or defame this Society.
signed ______date ______
How did you hear of us? ___________________________
SPECIAL: FLAT EARTH MAP (as featured in Newsweek, 7/2/84) $6.00 postpaid; Membership, Certificate, and Map $20.00.
"Alf, ah ... you are stretching the filling a bit thin. Been busy with other things? Any chance you could toss in a picture of Gift? Any one will do. This flat earth thing is giving me a headache."
OK ... Paul, try to find one with a lot of skin.
1 Incidentally this view from the bedroom window captures the giant Coca Cola advertisement billboard far better than did our view from the 14th floor of The Oriental. As you can see, now that the World Cup is history the painters from Coke have another fresh canvas. What will they give us? Stay tuned.
2 THOCBDC has a long history of tolerating stupid views.
3 A splinter group (schism) claims that the sphere theory is a conspiracy by an international cartel of globe manufacturers and that, God or no God, the earth is a pancake. Mainstream believers suck God into it from Day One.