Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Kurt Vonnegut wrote this in 1965 (Good Morning Mr. Rosewater).

I repeat: 1965.

Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest and industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked for a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American Dream went belly up. turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited , filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.


[An allegory or fable. Imagine breaking through the police line; imagine being interrogated by some nervous executives of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, or JPMorgan Chase, on some 42nd floor.]

Footsteps behind her back; expensively creaking bison-leather brogues. Men clad in aluminosilicate glass and stainless steel. Babbling in their tower.

How did she get here, all tied up in an Aeron chair with sickeningly blue Ethernet cables, and such breathtaking view? Deep below her: the corpse of the American Dream, bobbing on the currents of the East River.

This you must understand, they say.
(They flip through the pictures on her phone.)
Some of us work on the plantation.
Some of us own the plantation.
Face it, woman.
Facts are facts.
We own the plantation.

What better plan than telling the truth?

Let me read you from today?s headlines, she says. Zoo owner sets exotic animals free, kills himself.

(They are not moved. They do not understand.)

Here, she says, is what I want my son to know. (Not that I?m telling him; I want his life to teach him.)
One. You are your heart. You?re not your wallet. But open both to those in need.
Two. Money cannot be made. Making money does not generate wealth. But if you make conversation, if you make friends, if you make love, there is more laughter, more happiness, more goodness, more kindness, more caring in the world.
Three. For whoever?s sake, young man: Do give a damn.

Yeah, yeah, they say. Not how the world works, missy. We?ll get to him; we?ll teach him; we?ll tame him. (Face recognition software unleashed on photos of a three-year old.)

Outside the window, unabashed and soaring on the rising storm ? the sweetest tune, a thing with feathers, summoned and submitted to a candid land.

Four. Give a damn.


Best thing I've read in a while. By Lemony Snicket, on -- do read all his 13 points:

5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.

10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.