Saturday, August 19, 2017

Some Blasts From the Past

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

[Bloggaramians: Blogarama renders the links in my columns useless. Please click on View original (above) to solve the problem/access lotsa columns.]

Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder)
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"First of all, you can make the argument that there's no such thing as the past. Nobody lived in the past. -David McCullough


Dear (eventual) Stickies & Great-Grandstickies, 

Submitted for your consideration:

-- Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808 - 1890), according to Wikipedia, was a successful French critic, journalist, and novelist. He was also an avid angler and influential floriculturist. Oh, and he said, "the more it changes, the more it's the same thing." This is rendered in English as, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Ain't that ironical? A reasonably well-known (in his day anyway) French intellectual that, until recently, I (and I'll betcha a bottle-a-pop, most people) had never even heard of, crafted an epigram that's probably been repeated at least a half a kabillion times.

It's not even his best shtuff. As to abolishing capital punishment, he said, "Let the gentlemen who do the murders take the first step."

I realize that nowadays that quote would trigger Snowflakes and enrage tweeters for his blatant sexism. After all, women are just as capable of murder as men. Also, everyone knows that female and/or gender challenged hitpersons are paid less than their heterosexual male counterparts.

Still, it rocks.      


-- Speaking of the more things change thing -- from The Elements of Political Economy by J. Laurence Laughlin, published in 1887.

"That body of people certainly is the strongest and the happiest in which each person is thinking for himself, is independent, self-respecting, self-confident, self-controlled, self-mastered. Whenever a man does things for himself he values it infinitely more than if it's done for him and he is better for having done it...

"If, on the other hand, men constantly hear it said that they are oppressed and downtrodden, deprived of their own, ground down by the rich, and that the state will set all things right for them in time, what other effect can that teaching have on the character and energy of the ignorant that the complete destruction of all self-help?"

[Gentlereaders, for the record, I insincerely apologize if Mr. Laughlin's use of the word ignorant in the last sentence of the quotation above if it triggered any H. sapiens due to _______.]



-- The Wall Street Journal, as I've stated elsewhere, is my personal paper of record. A phrase, Dear Stickies, that may no longer exist by the time you read this. I'm so old that I can remember happily paying a buck for the dead trees edition when the local papers were still selling for 50 cents or less. In fact, I'm so old that I can remember when typewriters had a ¢ key.

In fact, I'm so old that I...

[Marie-Louise! quick! a little help here, he's already wandering off!]

Thanks, Dana, I'm OK.

Sorry, when I stopped at a convenience store to buy a copy the clerks found the price of the WSJ so shocking they would often feel free to call attention to my folly. Why would anyone pay a dollar for a newspaper? The reason I did was because of the high quality of the reporting, and, they did (and do) strive for objectivity.

Actual objectivity. As opposed to...

The -- given that we're on the side of the angels (not that we're backward enough to actually believe in angels) having adopted unassailable, righteous, core beliefs that are beyond debate, we reserve the right to color all of our reporting with these principles and still claim objectivity because we're on a mission from God (not that we're backward enough to actually believe in God) to enlighten all the maroons who still cling to guns, religion, etc. in spite of our selfless efforts -- school of journalism.

Here's hoping, Stickies and gentlereaders, that this continues. Since they've been doing what they do since 1889, and unlike many of their competitors (as in other newspapers), are thriving, I'd say the odds are in my favor.

They're primarily focused on real news and (like me) are mostly oblivious to the latest pearls of wisdom offered up by this week's show biz royalty for the guidance of the little people.

Incidentally, they now charge $4 for the dead trees edition, a  bit less if you have it delivered, a price I would still happily pay (if I could afford it). I do semi-happily (I'm, uh, frugal) pay about $30 a month for the online edition. There's no shortage of advertising but it's (mostly/usually) not particularly aggressive.

Aggressive? Yes, I refer to allegedly free sites that keep getting in my face via messages that take over the screen and/or videos with a mind of their own. Also, somehow, the Journal makes money without clickbait. Go figure...

However, this is the Dizzinformation Age and they offer almost too much (and constantly updated) content. I read it every morning but If I happen to stop back a few hours later I may be presented with a different paper. A hard copy, once a day, provided me with the comfy delusion that I had some control over my life and had a clue as to what's going on the world.

[Heads up, Marie-Louise, he's this close...]

I'm fine Dana. I've craftily established why I like the WSJ while simultaneously pointing out that high quality, objective, real (celebrity, clickbait free) news is still available while simultaneously touching on one of my obsessions....

[Which is?]

The Information Age is also the Dizzinformation Age.

[Digression: Gentlereaders, the WSJ lives behind a paywall but does permit the sharing of articles via social media. I occasionally post one (and other shtuff) on the Crank's Facebook page. Cranky don't tweet.]


-- There's a tab on my simple, uncluttered, easily navigable, pop up free, ad-free website labeled Please Read This If You're New Here. It explains why I write these letters and where I'm coming from. From what I can tell (I'm technochallenged) it's not accessed all that often. Apparently, my gentlereaders aren't as interested in me as I am.

Early on I offer up a lengthy quote from Sir Kenneth Clark, a British art historian that was the "star" of a BBC produced television series, Civilization and who subsequently released a book of the same name based on the scripts he wrote for the series, in 1969.

I reproduce it here for two reasons. First, for my gentlereaders, some of whom (I hope) may find it as inspirational as I do. Second, for the Stickies. I fully expect you all to at least attempt to watch the video of the show if you can find it and/or read the book.

At a minimum, I insist that you read the quote that follows at least once a year, on my birthday. Otherwise, I'll come back and haunt you and yours. I'm considering implementing a curse as well.

"At this point I reveal myself in my true colours, as a stick-in-the-mud. I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time. I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology. I believe that in spite of the recent triumphs of science, men haven't changed much in the last 2,000 years; and in consequence, we must still try to learn from history. History is ourselves. (Original does not have a paragraph break at this point, sorry Sir Kenneth.)

I also hold one or two beliefs that are hard to put shortly. For example, I believe in courtesy, the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people's feelings by satisfying our own egos. And I think that we should remember that we are part of a great whole. All living things are our brothers and sisters. Above all, I believe in the God-given genius of certain individuals, and I value a society that makes their existence possible."

And I'm an agnostic, go figure. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.


[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

If there are some readers out there that think my shtuff is worth a buck or three a month, color me honored, and grateful. Regardless, if you like it, could you please share it? There are buttons at the end of every column.]


©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

If you're reading this on my website (where there are tons of older columns, a glossary, and other goodies) and if you wish to react (way cooler than liking) -- please scroll down.