An Elegant Time-Waster ~ Late Afternoon Thoughts

It’s been awhile since I posted one of these ….. here’s the description where I found this charming game ….

“It’s the classic trick to avoid English homework: Don’t read the book, just play the video game. Wait, what? That’s right: Two game developers have created a charming 8-bit Nintendo version of “The Great Gatsby,” and it could be the first time a masterpiece of American literature has ever been merged with a little electronic man collecting coins and killing bad guys. You play Nick Carraway as he searches for Jay Gatsby, leaping from platform to platform as you fend off demented flapper girls and tray-wielding waiters with your magical flying hat. So basically, it’s exactly like the book.”

And I thought, with The Great Gatsby movie either doing well, or completely “bombing” – depending on who you read – this might spark some interest ….

If you don’t want to play the game, here’s a video of someone else playing it.  Oh, that’s right – I now have to say spoilers to the game if you watch the video.  (Sheesh….)

And here’s the game …. enjoy!!!!

The (insert group here) "Problem" ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Forgive the shift in tone from yesterdays warm romanticism (which I will return to) and previous posts about integrity, childlike enthusiasm and such. I had been out and about all day, and came home and opened my emails to see what people had sent, and to enjoy the communication I’ve had/I have with some of them.

There was one email from a name I didn’t recognize. Normally if it’s someone I don’t know – or the header is wrong, I hit the delete quite quickly. This header referenced Amore and Poison to Medicine. Ah, a reader…no problem then. But, there was a problem. I guess I have somewhat “made it” in the blog world,
as I received my first “hate” mail letter today. Right at the start I was hit with that old chestnut “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” (My reaction to that statement EACH time I hear it: Of course, He did. If He hadn’t, neither I nor those that espouse that kind of nonsensical rhetoric would be here, would we?)

And it went on from there … most of it I had read/heard other places (including a variation of Fred Phelps battle cry “God Hates F*”), so I figured this was probably a person without an original thought in his head. A perfect follower of whoever had the loudest voice, and the most compelling sound bites …until:

The end of the letter gave me pause. A great pause…

“Eventually, there will be no more problems with your kind. The change is coming and it will be for good.”

Take a good look at that again, doesn’t the phrase “no more problems with your kind” stand out? It almost hit me across the head when I read it. That phrase has fueled great controversy in the past — the Nazi’s and the “Jewish problem,” the bigots of the American South and the “N* problem.” and most recently for me – the church I WAS attending and the “(denomination) church problem.”

The Chicago Sun-Times had an op-ed in January titled “beware the american fascists…” by Chris Hedges in their Sunday Controversy section, however, you can’t find it there. You have to go to to read the original: “Christianists on the March.

Disclaimer: I do not necessarily like some of the tone and language used in the original article, but the points raised far outweigh the sometimes “rant” style of writing.

Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, told his students that when we were his age—he was then close to 80—we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”

The warning, given 25 years ago, came [when public religious leaders] began speaking about a new political religion that would direct its efforts toward taking control of all institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government.

Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global Christian empire.

This call for fundamentalists and evangelicals to take political power was a radical and ominous mutation of traditional Christianity. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.

Dr. Adams was in Germany 1935-36 when the Nazi’s were coming to full power. The corollaries between that time in Germany and today in the US are remarkable.

Adams saw in the Christian right, long before we did, disturbing similarities with the German Christian Church and the Nazi Party, similarities that he said would, in the event of prolonged social instability or a national crisis, see American fascists rise under the guise of religion to dismantle the open society.

He despaired of U.S. liberals, who, he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and allure of evil or the cold reality of how the world worked. The current hand-wringing by Democrats, with many asking how they can reach out to a movement whose leaders brand them “demonic” and “satanic,” would not have surprised Adams.

Like Bonhoeffer, he did not believe that those who would fight effectively in coming times of turmoil, a fight that for him was an integral part of the biblical message, would come from the church or the liberal, secular elite.

The…right has lured tens of millions of Americans, who rightly feel abandoned and betrayed by the political system, from the reality-based world to one of magic… This mythological worldview…creates a world where facts become interchangeable with opinions, where lies become true—the very essence of the totalitarian state.

It includes a dark license to kill, to obliterate all those who do not conform to this vision, from Muslims in the Middle East to those at home who refuse to submit to the movement. And it conveniently empowers a rapacious oligarchy whose god is maximum profit at the expense of citizens. We now live in a nation where the top 1 percent control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined, where we have legalized torture and can lock up citizens without trial.

Arthur Schlesinger, in “The Cycles of American History,” wrote that “the great religious ages were notable for their indifference to human rights in the contemporary sense—not only for their acquiescence in poverty, inequality and oppression, but for their enthusiastic justification of slavery, persecution, torture and genocide.

George Santayana from Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense (1905!!):
‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

All that said, I have a strong belief system – some of which aligns with what is being called the “religious right”. Some aligns with what is being called the “godless left.” So I have grounds and knowledge to be able to speak to most issues. As to the letter I received that caused tonights post, I did send an email back. I gently took issue with some of the statements he made, suggested that he really needed to search his heart and the Word to form his own opinions and seek/see the truth for himself. I even offered some places in scripture to look.

As far as the end of the letter to me, my tone changed – and I offered him my thoughts and some of the article I have quoted here – and the link to the entire article. However, based on the tone and some of the rhetoric of the original – he might be more turned off than helped. Which is going to another post…

Chris Hedges a graduate of Harvard Divinity School,
worked for The New York Times,
is the author of
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

A Modern Fable and Moral ~

Once upon a time – not so long ago, you became the ruler (through a battle of might and money) of a mighty kingdom. It was a kingdom with fabled history, long term residents and mighty stories of valor and bloodshed in the name of victory. Your kingdom grew and expanded. It was necessary to bring others into the kingdom, so you opened your stored land to all who wanted to be a citizen. Your numbers grew and grew. Eventually, you reached a landmark of 8,000,000 (give or take a few – those census takers never were accurate) and all was good. Your citizens participated in events, lived their lives and carved great names for themselves in battles mighty and small. They did tasks you presented them, and participated in on-going quests for magical items and heroic markers of great value. They explored the vast lands of your country and make in-roads against their enemies. And, most important, they all paid the taxes levied against them monthly so that your kingdom (and it’s subsidiaries) could run smoothly and efficiently. While the tax was not terribly onerous, it none-the-less was collected monthly and those failing to pay the tax would find themselves banished into the outer darkness, where there would be gnashing of teeth and vague threatening utterances given voice.

But then, perhaps influenced by the lords of the realm, you decided to make life for citizens somewhat easier and more enjoyable. You allowed access to gifts that would allow them to do their tasks somewhat easier and allow tapping into the royal wisdom much easier. Had you consulted your seer of the month or even consulted ancient histories of realms such as yours, you might have avoided sorrow and unhappiness.

Alas, as with all societies, there were miscreants and misfits that tried to wreak havoc on the citizens of your fair land. There were those that learned the black magick arts of creating things they did not earn, or getting those that had to give unto them through great trickery and stealth. There were those that made great profit from the labour of others – who they paid only a pittance for their hard and often difficult work. There were those that deliberately scammed the citizens and took what they should not have. There were those that deemed ordinary labor too menial for their constitutions, and devised evil and devious ways of getting around the work that most citizens, while not always excited about what had to be done, were willing to forge ahead for the reward at the end.

You decide that perhaps these miscreants were not worthy of much attention or execution. However, as the fortunes of your citizens began to be impacted, and the economy of your land began to suffer – something had to be done. This also began to impact the social structure of the kingdom, labels and bigotry began to run throughout the kingdom creating strife and causing problems for your lords of the realm trying to keep peace and show others paths they needed to follow.

Finally, the summary executions began – small at first but gaining in momentum and numbers. You decreed that bigotry had no place in your kingdom and those that engaged in such were summarily banished…some for only a short time, others found themselves in outer darkness permanently. Again, through dark arts and black magick, some enemies of the realm found a way to pervert your kind gifts and steal information from your citizens that threatened their very lives and existence.

Scrolls of sorrow and woe began to arrive. Eventually, they began to pile up. All would have been well, but in the name of efficiency and better return on the taxes imposed – you had cut back on palace staff. You had given another company in another land control of the power source for the kingdom and removed certain lords of the realm as being redundant and unnecessary.

The gifts had become a liability, and something must be done. Through patience and subterfuge, the gifts were repaired, and most of the damage stopped. But what of those who had suffered. That remained the perplexing question. Through the living histories of the realm perchance the truth could be known, and the wrongs made right – but who would go through those histories to compare and note? There appeared to be no one capable or interested in the daunting task. And worse yet, it appeared that some of those histories might have been damaged and/or missing.

What should you do? How to make it so that you and your citizens may live happily ever after.

This fable is actually about what is arguably the world’s most popular on-line game. World of Warcraft. I started playing shortly after the game emerged from beta and was a constant citizen until recent events forced me back to a very ancient computer (I found a spread sheet that Noah used to plan for animals on the ark) that could barely connect to the Wold of Warcraft website without crashing. (side note: anyone wishing to donate a computer – we can work out payment!)

Recently Chockoblog (a great conservative blogger!!!!) posted this on his blog and he and I had a slight comments discussion on another blog. Since then, we’ve communicated a bit more and I realized that my comments were not as helpful as they could have been – especially after I read this article

As I have looked around the horrendous amount of poor customer service that seems to be rampant today, this was – at first, just another example of shoddy service disguised as “helping.” But having strong ties to this game and what happens within the game, I realized it is more than that. There have been several notable instances where Blizzard made poor choices and ended up backing-down in a firestorm of controversy.

Add-ons have been a problem for games since the beginning, however – as far as I am concerned if an add-on is “allowed” as acceptable, then the company should at least try to help those who were affected negatively by the results. Merely sending out “cut-and-paste” responses doesn’t make the situation go away.

I also have to admit that I was offended (yes – that’s the word) by the inclusion of the advertisement for the WoW expansion in the “tough luck player – we’re going to/can do nothing to help you.”

Research is always a problem in computer games and for the simple reason there is so much information tucked away in those wonderful main-frames that getting to it can be a major problem. However, it can and should be done in cases where the company has allowed something to occur. Of course there is always going to be fraudulent letters and fraud postings (remember all the “so-and-so died last night playing WoW their favorite game” on the boards?) But those can be sifted out and the nuggets of truth and problems remain.

From where I stand, staffing is the issue. There have been cutbacks in customer service staff around the world in many industries. Others have tried to solve the problem by outsourcing to another country … usually with less than stellar results (other than a huge saving for the particular company).

I’m to the conclusion that the only methods left are to continue to refuse to accept less than acceptable answers. By the way, unless you have spectacular writers “cut and paste” responses simply don’t work. And the other way is make known the problem as far and wide as possible. In my own small way I hope this can help your friend Chuckoblog. And let them know that – for what it’s worth – they have my total sympathy and understanding. And for Blizzard?

Moral of the story:
Those who rule need to be careful that the citizens do not become terribly upset. There probably won’t be a revolt, but there can be migrations to distant or not so distant lands that offer more of what is being sought. there can also be town criers in distant parts spreading the tales of woe, which might cause potential citizens to question moving.

Two final thoughts:
1) If Germany passes the law concerning violent games – it would become illegal and punishable for anyone to distribute or PLAY violent games. I’m afraid that the way it is currently worded World of Warcraft would fall into that category. Also, Germany is trying to get the rest of the EU to go along. Heads up Blizzard …
2) If anyone sees my poor lonely Horde ‘Lock Anugamma – give him a hug for me and let him know that I will be back with him as soon as possible!

Early Morning Thought ~

Jane Eyre Takes To Cyberspace
by Chella Courington

Tired of midnight screams in drafty rooms
she imagines a jaunt down lover’s lane
like a walk on the moors
to distract her dampened spirits

if she can make it on
through questions
more questions than any governess agency
dares to ask.

She wants to speak the truth
though truth often brings her trouble.
So this time she’ll slip
into white lies.

Plain? Not Very
Exciting? Somewhat
Sexy? Very

Lying is fun.
She can turn herself into a babe
by clicking keys.

Who cares if Rochester waits for her
the other side of a burning house.

She’s sick of gloom
of being the model of every wallflower
in every century.

A hot young star
even Barbie would emulate.