What does it feel like to be alive?
Living, you stand under a waterfall. You leave the sleeping shore deliberately; you shed your dusty clothes, pick your barefoot way over the high, slippery rocks, hold your breath, choose your footing, and step into the waterfall. The hard water pelts your skull, bangs in bits on your shoulders and arms. The strong water dashes down beside you and you feel it along your calves and thighs rising roughly backup, up to the roiling surface, full of bubbles that slide up your skin or break on you at full speed. Can you breathe here? Here where the force is the greatest and only the strength of your neck holds the river out of your face. Yes, you can breathe even here. You could learn to live like this. And you can, if you concentrate, even look out at the peaceful far bank where you try to raise your arms. What a racket in your ears, what a scattershot pummeling!
It is time pounding at you, time. Knowing you are alive is watching on every side your generation's short time falling away as fast as rivers drop through air, and feeling it hit.
Annie Dillard (An American Childhood)
Miss Bridgerton,” he said, “the devil himself couldn’t scare you.”
She forced her eyes to meet his. “That’s not a compliment, is it?”
He lifted her hand to his lips, brushing a feather-light kiss across her knuckles. “You’ll have to figure that out for yourself,” he murmured.
To all who observed, he was the soul of propriety, but Hyacinth caught the daring gleam in his eye, and she felt the breath leave her body as tingles of electricity rushed across her skin. Her lips parted, but she had nothing to say, not a single word. There was nothing but air, and even that seemed in short supply.
And then he straightened as if nothing had happened and said, “Do let me know what you decide.”
She just stared at him.
“About the compliment,” he added. “I am sure you will wish to let me know how I feel about you.”
Her mouth fell open.
He smiled. Broadly. “Speechless, even. I’m to be commended.”
“No. No,” he said, lifting one hand in the air and pointing toward her as if what he really wanted to do was place his finger on her lips and shush her. “Don’t ruin it. The moment is too rare.
Julia Quinn (It's in His Kiss (Bridgertons, #7))
The 'Other Half' is the word. The 'Other Half' is an organism. Word is an organism. The presence of the 'Other Half' is a separate organism attached to your nervous system on an air line of words can now be demonstrated experimentally. One of the most common 'hallucinations' of subject during sense withdrawal is the feeling of another body sprawled through the subject's body at an angle...yes quite an angle it is the 'Other Half' worked quite some years on a symbiotic basis. From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may have once been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word.
William S. Burroughs (The Ticket That Exploded (The Nova Trilogy #3))
I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, "Kill them all, and let God sort them out." A bumper sticker read, "God will judge evildoers; we just have to get them to him." I saw a T-shirt on a soldier that said, "US Air Force... we don't die; we just go to hell to regroup." Others were less dramatic- red, white, and blue billboards saying, "God bless our troops." "God Bless America" became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, "God bless America--$1 burgers." Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles.
This burst of nationalism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thirst for intimacy... September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual, and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community- for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to be alone in their sorrow, rage, and fear.
But what happened after September 11th broke my heart. Conservative Christians rallies around the drums of war. Liberal Christian took to the streets. The cross was smothered by the flag and trampled under the feet of angry protesters. The church community was lost, so the many hungry seekers found community in the civic religion of American patriotism. People were hurting and crying out for healing, for salvation in the best sense of the word, as in the salve with which you dress a wound. A people longing for a savior placed their faith in the fragile hands of human logic and military strength, which have always let us down. They have always fallen short of the glory of God.
...The tragedy of the church's reaction to September 11th is not that we rallied around the families in New York and D.C. but that our love simply reflected the borders and allegiances of the world. We mourned the deaths of each soldier, as we should, but we did not feel the same anger and pain for each Iraqi death, or for the folks abused in the Abu Ghraib prison incident. We got farther and farther from Jesus' vision, which extends beyond our rational love and the boundaries we have established. There is no doubt that we must mourn those lives on September 11th. We must mourn the lives of the soldiers. But with the same passion and outrage, we must mourn the lives of every Iraqi who is lost. They are just as precious, no more, no less. In our rebirth, every life lost in Iraq is just as tragic as a life lost in New York or D.C. And the lives of the thirty thousand children who die of starvation each day is like six September 11ths every single day, a silent tsunami that happens every week.
Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical)
Deven tilted his head again, set down his glass, and said, "Any fight between us, my Lady, will be short and unpleasant."
"Just like you." Miranda bit back.
Then Deven laughed.
Miranda didn't, but she felt the tension in the air dispel and sat back with her wineglass.
"I like her," Deven told David. "She's bright and fearless, just like they say. Give her fifty years and she'll be a force of nature.
Dianne Sylvan (Shadowflame (Shadow World, #2))
Three years before the terrible events of September 11, 2001, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Robert Bowman, who had flown 101 combat missions in Vietnam, and then had become a Catholic bishop, commented on the terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In an article in the National Catholic Reporter he wrote about the roots of terrorism: We are not hated because we practice democracy, value freedom, or uphold human rights. We are hated because our government denies these things to people in Third World countries whose resources are coveted by our multinational corporations. That hatred we have sown has come back to haunt us in the form of terrorism. . . . Instead of sending our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so we can have the oil under their sand, we should send them to rebuild their infrastructure, supply clean water, and feed starving children. . . . In short, we should do good instead of evil. Who would try to stop us? Who would hate us? Who would want to bomb us? That is the truth the American people need to hear.
Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present)
Bullets chew up the earth on either side of the PJs sending gouts of dirt into the air. Rounds thwack into the wreckage behind them sounding like dull, muted bells. As bullets streak past them the PJs’ conversation mostly consists of short, disjointed exclamations like, “Holy Shit!” and “Can you fucking believe this?” Their situation is very unnerving and they squish against the rock, trying to get small.
William F. Sine (Guardian Angel: Life and Death Adventures with Pararescue, the World's Most Powerful Commando Rescue Force)
One also, in our milieu, simply didn't meet enough Americans to form an opinion. And when one did—this was in the days of crew-cuts and short-legged pants—they, too, often really did sport crew-cuts and trousers that mysteriously ended several inches short of the instep. Why was that? It obviously wasn't poverty. A colleague of my father's had a daughter who got herself married and found that an American friend she had met on holiday had offered to pay the whole cost of the nuptial feast. I forget the name of this paladin, but he had a crew-cut and amputated trouser-bottoms and a cigar stub and he came from a place called Yonkers, which seemed to me a ridiculous name to give to a suburb. (I, who had survived Crapstone… ) Anyway, once again one received a Henry Jamesian impression of brash generosity without overmuch refinement. There was a boy at my boarding school called Warren Powers Laird Myers, the son of an officer stationed at one of the many U.S. Air Force bases in Cambridgeshire. Trousers at The Leys School were uniform and regulation, but he still managed to show a bit of shin and to buzz-cut his hair. 'I am not a Yankee,' he informed me (he was from Norfolk, Virginia). 'I am a CON-federate.' From what I was then gleaning of the news from Dixie, this was unpromising. In our ranks we also had Jamie Auchincloss, a sprig of the Kennedy-Bouvier family that was then occupying the White House. His trousers managed to avoid covering his ankles also, though the fact that he shared a parent with Jackie Kennedy meant that anything he did was accepted as fashionable by definition. The pants of a man I'll call Mr. 'Miller,' a visiting American master who skillfully introduced me to J.D. Salinger, were also falling short of their mark. Mr. Miller's great teacher-feature was that he saw sexual imagery absolutely everywhere and was slightly too fond of pointing it out [...]. Meanwhile, and as I mentioned much earlier, the dominant images projected from the United States were of the attack-dog-and-firehose kind, with swag-bellied cops lying about themselves and the political succession changed as much by bullets as by ballots.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Ma'am," he said, reaching for the door. He held it open, his posture as erect and sturdy as a pole.
I eyed the man's uniform, the pins and badges that signified his military rank and position. At that moment I felt opposing forces wash over me, clashing internally like a cold and warm front meeting in the air.
At first I was hit by a burning sense of respect and gratitude. How privileged a person I was to have this soldier unbar the way for me, maintaining a clear path that I might advance unhindered. The symbolism marked by his actions did strike me with remarkable intensity. How many virtual doors would be shut in my face if not for dutiful soldiers like him?
As I went to step forward, my feet nearly faltered as if they felt unworthy. It was I who ought to be holding open the door for this gentleman—this representative of great heroes present and past who did fight and sacrifice and continue to do so to keep doors open, paths free and clear for all of humanity.
I moved through the entrance and thanked him.
"Yes, ma'am," he said.
How strange that I should feel such pride while passing through his open door.
Richelle E. Goodrich (Slaying Dragons: Quotes, Poetry, & a few Short Stories for Every Day of the Year)
to have a physical body and to work with it and to work with the forces of nature to mold it into the highest expression of joy, and to keep it always by using it to learn how to overcome disease, impairment and as today’s cutting edge, non-funded, objective, purposeful science says, one day, even death? What if short-term excitement and intensity created by the overblown desire to win at all cost could be replaced by a more durable excitement in an intensity springing from the heart of the physical athletic experience itself? It would soon be discovered that sports and physical activities reformed and refurbished with integrity, not buy-offs are the best possible path to personal enlightenment and social transformation for this new millennium.
Don Tolman (Air, Fire, Earth & Water)
Even in former days, Korea was known as the 'hermit kingdom' for its stubborn resistance to outsiders. And if you wanted to create a totally isolated and hermetic society, northern Korea in the years after the 1953 'armistice' would have been the place to start. It was bounded on two sides by the sea, and to the south by the impregnable and uncrossable DMZ, which divided it from South Korea. Its northern frontier consisted of a long stretch of China and a short stretch of Siberia; in other words its only contiguous neighbors were Mao and Stalin. (The next-nearest neighbor was Japan, historic enemy of the Koreans and the cruel colonial occupier until 1945.) Add to that the fact that almost every work of man had been reduced to shards by the Korean War. Air-force general Curtis LeMay later boasted that 'we burned down every town in North Korea,' and that he grounded his bombers only when there were no more targets to hit anywhere north of the 38th parallel. Pyongyang was an ashen moonscape. It was Year Zero. Kim Il Sung could create a laboratory, with controlled conditions, where he alone would be the engineer of the human soul.
Christopher Hitchens (Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays)
She could smell the wrongness in the air and it made her wolf nervous. It felt like something was watching them, as if the wrongness had an intelligence— and it didn't help to remember that at least one of the people they were hunting could hide from their senses.
Anna fought the urge to turn around, to take Charles's hand or slide under his arm and let his presence drive away the wrongness. Once, she would have, but now she had the uneasy feeling that he might back away as he almost had when she sat on his lap in the boat, before Brother Wolf had taken over.
Maybe he was just tired of her. She had been telling everyone that there was something wrong with him...but Bran knew his son and thought the problem was her. Bran was smart and perceptive; she ought to have considered that he was right.
Charles was old. He'd seen and experienced so much—next to him she was just a child. His wolf had chosen her without consulting Charles at all. Maybe he'd have preferred someone who knew more. Someone beautiful and clever who...
"Anna?" said Charles. "What's wrong? Are you crying?" He moved in front of her and stopped, forcing her to stop walking, too.
She opened her mouth and his fingers touched her wet cheeks.
"Anna," he said, his body going still. "Call on your wolf."
"You should have someone stronger," she told him miserably. "Someone who could help you when you need it, instead of getting sent home because I can't endure what you have to do. If I weren't Omega, if I were dominant like Sage, I could have helped you."
"There is no one stronger," Charles told her. "It's the taint from the black magic. Call your wolf."
"You don't want me anymore," she whispered. And once the words were out she knew they were true. He would say the things that he thought she wanted to hear because he was a kind man. But they would be lies. The truth was in the way he closed down the bond between them so she wouldn't hear things that would hurt her. Charles was a dominant wolf and dominant wolves were driven to protect those weaker than themselves. And he saw her as so much weaker.
"I love you," he told her. "Now, call your wolf."
She ignored his order—he knew better than to give her orders. He said he loved her; it sounded like the truth. But he was old and clever and Anna knew that, when push came to shove, he could lie and make anyone believe it. Knew it because he lied to her now—and it sounded like the truth.
"I'm sorry," she told him. "I'll go away—"
And suddenly her back was against a tree and his face was a hairsbreadth from hers. His long hot body was pressed against her from her knees to her chest—he'd have to bend to do that. He was a lot taller than her, though she wasn't short.
Anna shuddered as the warmth of his body started to penetrate the cold that had swallowed hers. Charles waited like a hunter, waited for her to wiggle and see that she was truly trapped. Waited while she caught her breathe. Waited until she looked into his eyes.
Then he snarled at her. "You are not leaving me."
It was an order, and she didn't have to follow anyone's orders. That was part of being Omega instead of a regular werewolf—who might have had a snowball's chance in hell of being a proper mate.
"You need someone stronger," Anna told him again. "So you wouldn't have to hide when you're hurt. So you could trust your mate to take care of herself and help, damn it, instead of having to protect me from whatever you are hiding." She hated crying. Tears were weaknesses that could be exploited and they never solves a damn thing. Sobs gathered in her chest like a rushing tide and she needed to get away from him before she broke.
Instead of fighting his grip, she tried to slide out of it. "I need to go," she said to his chest. "I need—"
His mouth closed over hers, hot and hungry, warming her mouth as his body warmed her body.
"Me," Charles said, his voice dark and gravelly as if it had traveled up from the bottom of the earth,...
Patricia Briggs (Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3))
We know, however, that the mind is capable of understanding these matters in all their complexity and in all their simplicity. A ball flying through the air is responding to the force and direction with which it was thrown, the action of gravity, the friction of the air which it must expend its energy on overcoming, the turbulence of the air around its surface, and the rate and direction of the ball's spin. And yet, someone who might have difficulty consciously trying to work out what 3 x 4 x 5 comes to would have no trouble in doing differential calculus and a whole host of related calculations so astoundingly fast that they can actually catch a flying ball.
People who call this "instinct" are merely giving the phenomenon a name, not explaining anything. I think that the closest that human beings come to expressing our understanding of these natural complexities is in music. It is the most abstract of the arts - it has no meaning or purpose other than to be itself.
Every single aspect of a piece of music can be represented by numbers. From the organization of movements in a whole symphony, down through the patterns of pitch and rhythm that make up the melodies and harmonies, the dynamics that shape the performance, all the way down to the timbres of the notes themselves, their harmonics, the way they change over time, in short, all the elements of a noise that distinguish between the sound of one person piping on a piccolo and another one thumping a drum - all of these things can be expressed by patterns and hierarchies of numbers. And in my experience the more internal relationships there are between the patterns of numbers at different levels of the hierarchy, however complex and subtle those relationships may be, the more satisfying and, well, whole, the music will seem to be. In fact the more subtle and complex those relationships, and the further they are beyond the grasp of the conscious mind, the more the instinctive part of your mind - by which I mean that part of your mind that can do differential calculus so astoundingly fast that it will put your hand in the right place to catch a flying ball- the more that part of your brain revels in it. Music of any complexity (and even "Three Blind Mice" is complex in its way by the time someone has actually performed it on an instrument with its own individual timbre and articulation) passes beyond your conscious mind into the arms of your own private mathematical genius who dwells in your unconscious responding to all the inner complexities and relationships and proportions that we think we know nothing about.
Some people object to such a view of music, saying that if you reduce music to mathematics, where does the emotion come into it? I would say that it's never been out of it.
Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently, #1))
The sorceress walked a short distance away, her rounded hips swaying. She lifted her hands, fingers moving as if plucking invisible strings. Bitter cold flooded out, the sand crackling as if lit by lightning, and the gate that erupted was massive, yawning, towering. Through the billowing icy air flowed out a sweeter, rank smell. The smell of death. A figure stood on the threshold of the gate. Tall, hunched, a withered, lifeless face of greenish grey, yellowed tusks thrusting up from the lower jaw. Pitted eyes regarded them from beneath a tattered woollen cowl. The power cascading from this apparition sent Equity stumbling back. Abyss! A Jaghut, yes, but not just any Jaghut! Calm – can you hear me? Through this howl? Can you hear me? An ally stands before me – an ally of ancient – so ancient – power! This one could have been an Elder God. This one could have been…anything! Gasping, fighting to keep from falling to one knee, from bowing before this terrible creature, Equity forced herself to lift her gaze, to meet the empty hollows of his eyes. ‘I know you,’ she said. ‘You are Hood.’ The Jaghut stepped forward, the gate swirling closed behind him. Hood paused, regarding each witness in turn, and then walked towards Equity. ‘They made you their king,’ she whispered. ‘They who followed no one chose to follow you. They who refused every war fought your war. And what you did then – what you did—’ As he reached her, his desiccated hands caught her. He lifted her from her feet, and then, mouth stretching, he bit into the side of her face. The tusks drove up beneath her cheek bone, burst the eye on that side. In a welter of blood, he tore away half of her face, and then bit a second time, up under the orbitals, the tusks driving into her brain. Equity hung in his grip, feeling her life drain away. Her head felt strangely unbalanced. She seemed to be weeping from only one eye, and from her throat no words were possible. I once dreamed of peace. As a child, I dreamed of—
Steven Erikson (The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #10))
If we start to think about trust as a public good (like clean air and water), we see that we can all benefit from higher levels of trust in terms of communicating with others, making financial transitions smoother, simplifying contracts, and many other business and social activities. Without constant suspicion, we can get more out of our exchanges with others while spending less time making sure that others will fulfill their promises to us. Yet as the tragedy of commons exemplifies, in the short term it is beneficial for each individual to violate and take advantage of the established trust.
I suspect that most people and companies miss or ignore the fact that trust is an important public resource and that losing it can have long-term negative consequences for everyone involved. It doesn't take much to violate trust. Just a few bad players in the market can spoil it for everyone else.
Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions)
Couldn't I come along with you? I've been trapped inside for days now and I need some sunshine and exercise. If you're really busy today, maybe I could hhelp. It's not as if I'm a greenhorn who'd get in your way."
"This isn't a good idea, Freckles, and you know it."
The feisty redhead grinned. "I admit I'm somewhat ignorant on the subject, but I've never heard of doing "it" on the back of a horse."
A roguish grin dangled from the corner of his mouth. "Sweetheart, you'd be surprised where...Never mind."
Though he'd tried to sound gruff, Willow detected a slight wavering in his determination. "I'll promise not to attack your body, if that's what you're worried about." She started laughing.
Moving closer, she backed him against the door. Then tilting her head, she hit him full force with her big blue-green sparklers. Her lips parted in a very seductive, very naughty smile.
"Please, just a short ride?" She toyed with the edge of his black leather vest, the backs of her fingers sliding up and down his chest.
Rider sucked in a gulp of air. "Dammit, woman,what's Mrs. Brigham been teaching you? Stop that!" He batted her hand away, laughing despite himself. He was beaten and he knew it.
"Well?" She smiled slyly.
He grasped her arms and set her away to a safer distance. "All right, all right. I give up. I'll take you for a ride." When her face lit up,he raised a cautioning finger and hastened to add, "On one condition. You have to keep yours hands to yourself. No touching!"
"Yes! I promise!" Willow threw herself into his arms and pulled his face close for a brisk buss on the cheek. Then she sprang free and skipped past him to the door. "I kow, no touching. That was just a thank you. Hurry up, I'm all ready to go."
Following in her wake, Rider groaned, "Yeah,so am I-in more ways than one."
"What did you say?" she called back.
"I said you were a little flirt!"
She gave him an innocent smile over her shoulder and sprinted off to saddle Sugar.
Charlotte McPherren (Song of the Willow)
The ‘Other Half’ is the word. The ‘Other Half’ is an organism. Word is an organism. The presence of the ‘Other Half’ is a separate organism attached to your nervous system on an air line of words can now be demonstrated experimentally. One of the most common ‘hallucinations’ of subject during sense withdrawal is the feeling of another body sprawled through the subject’s body at an angle…yes quite an angle it is the ‘Other Half’ worked quite some years on a symbiotic basis. From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may have once been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word. ― William S. Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded. (Grove Press January 12, 1994) Originally published 1962.
William S. Burroughs (The Ticket That Exploded (The Nova Trilogy #3))
Here’s how to do it: First, sit down, get comfortable, and close your eyes. Make sure you’re in a position where you can freely expand your lungs. Wim suggests doing this practice right after waking up since your stomach is still empty. Warm up by inhaling deeply and drawing the breath in until you feel a slight pressure. Hold the breath for a moment before exhaling completely, pushing the air out as much as you can. Hold the exhalation for as long as you can, and then repeat this fifteen times. Next, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth in short, powerful bursts, as if you’re blowing up a balloon. Pull in your belly when you’re exhaling and let it expand when you inhale. Do this about thirty times, using a steady pace, until you feel that your body is saturated with oxygen. You may feel light-headed or tingly, or you may experience a surge of energy that’s literally electric. Try to get a sense of which parts of your body are overflowing with energy and which ones are lacking it—and where there are blockages between these two extremes. As you continue breathing, send the breath to those blockages. When you’re done, take one more big breath in, filling your lungs to maximum capacity, and then push all of the air out. Hold this for as long as you can and try to feel the oxygen spreading around your body. When you can’t hold it anymore, inhale fully and feel your chest expanding. Hold it again, sending energy where your body needs it. Bonus points if you do what Wim had me do when we demonstrated this technique onstage at our Bulletproof conference—as you are holding your lungs empty, count how many push-ups you can do before you have to breathe again. I got to twenty! It seems impossible, but you can do it, and that short bit of low oxygen forces your body to better deal with lower-oxygen environments. I recommend you research Wim’s work and watch one of his many videos online demonstrating his breathing technique. I don’t think it works as well as mechanically filtering oxygen out of the air you breathe, but the Wim Hof technique is absolutely free, totally portable, and Wim is capable of things I could never do! His breathing method helps your body adapt to bursts of oxygen and puts you more in tune with the way your body uses your breath to create energy. It also makes you more resilient to cold temperatures, but there is evidence that cold temperatures themselves are good for your mitochondria.
Dave Asprey (Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks)
On August 18, 1941, Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr. of the Royal Canadian Air Force took a new airplane, the Spitfire Mk I, on a test flight.
Magee had received his wings as a pilot only two months earlier. As he flew the Spitfire up to new heights of 33,000 feet, he felt inspired to write a poem that has now become the official poem of both the Royal Canadian Air Force and the British Royal Air Force. Short films have been created with this poem as a basis. In its entirety or in part, the poem can be found in songs, on headstones, in presidential addresses, in museums, and in eulogies. Some have even used it as a prayer.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds—and done a hundred things You have not done—wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long, delirious blue I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew. And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high, untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Ryan W. Quinn
The soldiers had been entrenched in their positions for several weeks but there was little, if any fighting, except for the dozen rounds they ritually exchanged every day. The weather was extremely pleasant. The air was heavy with the scent of wildflowers and nature seem to be following its course, quite unmindful of the soldiers hiding behind rocks and camouflaged by mountain shrubbery. The birds sang as they always had and the flowers were in bloom. Bees buzzed about lazily.
Only when a shot rang out, the birds got startled and took flight, as if a musician had struck a jarring note on his instrument. It was almost the end of September, neither hot nor cold. It seemed as if summer and winter had made their peace. In the blue skies, cotton clouds floated all day like barges on a lake.
The soldiers seemed to be getting tired of this indecisive war where nothing much ever happened. Their positions were quite impregnable. The two hills on which they were placed faced each other and were about the same height, so no one side had an advantage. Down below in the valley, a stream zigzagged furiously on its stony bed like a snake.
The air force was not involved in the combat and neither of the adversaries had heavy guns or mortars. At night, they would light huge fires and hear each other's voices echoing through the hills.
From The Dog of Titwal, a short story.
Saadat Hasan Manto
The important thing is that short and strenuous reverence be paid to the spirit of discipline. Three things keep a body of troops in fighting form: fighting spirit, strength and discipline. Fighting spirit – as I have said before – is the least easy to influence. It is the great prerequisite and justification of war – the spirit of the race and of the blood pledged to the last drop. There lie the roos of the strength whose full development is dependent on outward conditions, fresh air nourishment, clothing, and a lot else. When this soil fails fighting spirit is like a seedling plated in arenaceous quartz – it goes on growing for a while of its own resources and then gives out. It is a tragic destiny when a great enterprise comes to grief from this cause. Finally, the purpose of discipline is to economize and direct the two elements so that they are brought to bear on one aim with overwhelming force. It is a means, not an end; it is in seeing it in its true proportion that the real fighter is distinguished from the soldier. It is one of the danger-points of the Prussian system that it easily loses sight of the spirit in the letter and of real strength in the empty show of it. One of the most terrible apparitions is the sheer drill-master – a machine that goes by clockwork. It is bound to break down for the mere reason that in war there is no rule but the exception.
Ernst Jünger (Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Warfare of 1918)
If man had wings, he would have polluted the sky.
Houston we have a problem.
The era when scientific progress seemed unstoppable has stopped today, showing the weaknesses of governments and peoples to the whole world in the face of any virus. Fifty years ago the question that afflicted some "powerful" states, concerned the ability to reach the mysterious space, an undertaking that, given the age, seemed increasingly difficult. Today, however, the biggest mission the world is facing is to survive, trying to make people holed up in their homes.
But where is the meaning of all this? How did we go from the time when everything was possible and the economy seemed unstoppable, to that in which there are no ways to produce simple masks in a short time? Why did we spend almost a century trying to reach the Moon, Mars and the whole Universe, rather than taking care of our fellow men and our planet that collapsed towards extinction minute by minute?
It is certainly no coincidence that while the world is facing a Covid-19 pandemic, NASA is committed to managing the upcoming "Mars 2020" mission with launch scheduled for 17 July 2020. The main objective of this new mission it to look for traces of possible Martian microbes and collect soil samples.
You would agree with me in affirming that the sense of the space mission, nowadays, could look more like a demonstration of man's superiority over nature and towards the unknown, than a journey to get to know and understand the infinite mysteries of space and its planets?
There is something within our world that pushes us to never appreciate what we have, to want more and more, to the point where we begin to sacrifice the most important and indispensable things, in order to reach questionable new horizons. In this way, governments prefer to invest in weapons rather than in health, in multinationals, rather than supporting education, in space missions rather than taking care of our environment, making the world unprepared for an emergency like a pandemic.
And here we are, while fifty years ago we were with our eyes glued to a screen and our breath suspended in order to become witnesses of the Apollo 13 mission, today we stare at our televisions while we see the hundreds of thousands in the mouth of death that our world has to spare them. And so, while we have to deal with our indifference and our mistakes, Mother Nature, who for centuries and centuries has been disfigured of all beauty, today comes back to life, showing herself more alive than ever.
Nature is regaining its footing and repopulating lands and seas, cities are less polluted and finally you can breathe clean air. Once again, our planet shows us how powerful it is and how it can put man in his place in a few moments.
So, for the umpteenth time we are forced to face the fate that we built with indifference and arrogance, forgetting about our eternal vulnerability.
Yes Houston, we still have a problem. It's called "human ignorance" disguised as a philosophy of futility.
Wondering how I would make it through a hand-to-hand duel, I glanced around--and just then I saw one of Galdran’s equerries fall from his saddle, his banner-spear spinning through the air toward me. Instinctively my free hand reached up and I caught the spear by the shaft. Ignoring the sting in my hand, I jammed my sword into its sheath and started whirling the spear round and round, making the banner snap and stream as my prancing, sidling horse circled round my brother. Horses turned their heads and backed away; no one was able to edge up and get in a good blow at Bran, who swayed in his saddle, his bad arm hanging limp. The warriors fell back, and no one swung at me.
Dimly I became aware of an ugly, harsh voice shouting over the crash and thuds of battle. Keeping the banner whirling, I guided my horse with my knees and risked a glance back over my shoulder--and looked straight into Galdran’s rage-darkened face. He said something, spittle flying from his mouth, as he pointed straight at me.
A moment later a flicker of movement on my immediate left caused me to glance round. Shevraeth was there, next to me. “Fall back,” he ordered, his voice sharp.
“No. Got to protect Bran--”
There was no time for more. The Marquis was beset by furious attackers as the King shouted orders from a short distance away. Then more riders appeared from somewhere, and for a moment everything was too chaotic to follow. I found myself suddenly on the edge of the battle; there were too many fighters on both sides between my brother and me. Too many fighters in the liveries of the Baron and the King. Despair burned through me, cold as winter ice.
We were losing.
Then my horse plunged aside, I shifted in the saddle, and I found myself face-to-face with Galdran. He glared at me with hatred; I had this sudden, strange feeling that if we had both been small children facing each other in a village squabble he would have screamed at me, It’s all your fault!
His lips drew back from his teeth. “You, I will kill myself,” he snarled, and he raised his great, flat-bladed sword.
I cast away the flimsy spear and drew my sword just a scarce moment before Galdran struck. The first blow nearly knocked me out off the horse. I parried it--just barely--pain shooting up my arm into my back. My arm was numb, so I used both hands to raise my blade against the expected next blow.
But as Galdran’s sword came down toward my head, it was met by a ringing strike that sent sparks arcing through the air. I looked--saw the Marquis, hair flying, horse dancing, circling round Galdran and forcing his attention away. Then the two were fighting desperately, the King falling back. I watched in fascination until two of the King’s guards rode to Galdran’s aid, and Shevraeth was suddenly fighting against three.
It seemed that the Marquis was going to lose, and I realized I couldn’t watch. Remembering my brother I forced my mount round so I could ride to his aid. But when I spotted him in the chaos of lunging horses and crashing weapons, he was staring past my shoulder, his eyes distended.
“Meliara!” he yelled, trying to ride toward me.
I turned my head, saw the Marquis now fighting against three guards; and once again the King was coming directly at me, sword swinging in a blur. I flung my sword at him and ducked. A blow caught me painfully across the back of my helm, and darkness rushed up to swallow me.
Sherwood Smith (Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1))
I'm unaccustomed to being cooped up all day-I really must insist that you permit me to enjoy a short walk."
"Not on your life," Fletcher growled.
From the sound, Breckenridge realized the group had moved closer to the tap.
"You don't need to think you're going to give us the slip so easily," Fletcher said again.
"My dear good man"-Heather with her nose in the air; Breckenridge could tell by her tone-"just where in this landscape of empty fields do you imagine I'm going to slip to?"
Cobbins opined that she might try to steal a horse and ride off.
"Oh,yes-in a round gown and evening slippers," Heather jeered. "But I wasn't suggesting you let me ramble on my own-Martha can come with me."
That was Martha's cue to enter the fray, but Heather stuck to her guns, refusing to back down through the ensuing, increasingly heated verbal stoush.
Until Fletcher intervened, aggravated frustration resonating in his voice. "Look you-we're under strict orders to keep you safe, not to let you wander off to fall prey to the first shiftless rake who rides past and takes a fancy to you."
Silence reigned for half a minute, then Heather audibly sniffed. "I'll have you know that shiftless rakes know better than to take a fancy to me."
Not true, Breckenridge thought, but that wasn't the startling information contained in Fletcher's outburst. "Come on, Heather-follow up."
As if she'd heard his muttered exhortation, she blithely swept on. "But if rather than standing there arguing, you instead treated me like a sensible adult and told me what your so strict orders with respect to me were, I might see my way to complying-or at least to helping you comply with them."
Breckenridge blinked as he sorted through that pronouncement; he could almost feel for Fletcher when he hissed out a sigh.
"All right," Fletcher's frustration had reached breaking point. "If you must know, we're to keep you safe from all harm. We're not to let a bloody pigeon pluck so much as a hair from your head. We're to deliver you up in prime condition, exactly as you were when he grabbed you."
From the change in Fletcher's tone, Breckenridge could visualize him moving closer to tower over Heather to intimidate her into backing down; he could have told him it wouldn't work.
"So now you see," Fletcher went on, voice low and forceful, "that it's entirely out of the question for you to go out for any ramble."
"Hmm." Heather's tone was tellingly mild.
Fletcher was about to get floored by an uppercut. For once not being on the receiving end, Breckenridge grinned and waited for it to land.
"If, as you say, your orders are to-do correct me if I'm wrong-keep me in my customary excellent health until you hand me over to your employer, then, my dear Fletcher, that will absolutely necessitate me going for a walk. Being cooped up all day in a carriage has never agreed with me-if you don't wish me to weaken or develop some unhealthy affliction, I will require fresh air and gentle exercise to recoup." She paused, then went on, her tone one of utmost reasonableness, "A short excursion along the river at the rear of the inn, and back, should restore my constitution."
Breckenridge was certain he could hear Fletcher breathing in and out through clenched teeth.
A fraught moment passed on, then, "Oh, very well! Martha-go with her. Twenty minutes, do you hear? Not a minute more."
"Thank you, Fletcher. Come, Martha-we don't want to waste the light."
Breckenridge heard Heather, with the rather slower Martha, leave the inn by the main door. He sipped his ale, waited. Eventually, Fletcher and Cobbins climbed the stairs, Cobbins grumbling, Fletcher ominously silent.
The instant they passed out of hearing, Breckenridge stood, stretched, then walked out of the tap and into the foyer. Seconds later, he slipped out of the front door.
Stephanie Laurens (Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue (Cynster, #16; The Cynster Sisters Trilogy, #1))
Good to know,” Reacher said. “Tell your uncle no laws have been broken. Tell him he’s been paid for the room. Tell him I’ll see him later.” The guy on the right uncrossed his arms. The guy on the left said, “Are you going to be a problem?” “I’m already a problem,” Reacher said. “The question is, what are you going to do about it?” There was a pause, hot and lonely in the middle of nowhere, and then the two guys answered by brushing aside their coats, in tandem, casually, right-handed, both thereby showing black semi-automatic pistols, in pancake holsters, mounted on their belts. Which was a mistake, and Reacher could have told them why. He could have launched into a long and impatient classroom lecture, about sealing their fates by forcing a decisive battle too early, about short-circuiting a grander strategy by moving the endgame to the beginning. Threats had to be answered, which meant he was going to have to take their guns away, because probing pawns had to be sent back beaten, and because folks in Mother’s Rest needed to know for sure the next time he came to town he would be armed. He wanted to tell them it was their own fault. He wanted to tell them they had brought it on themselves. But he didn’t tell them anything. Instead he ducked his own hand under his own coat, grabbing at nothing but air, but the two guys didn’t know that, and like the good range-trained shooters they were they went for their guns and dropped into solid shooting stances all at once, which braced their feet a yard apart for stability, so Reacher stepped in and kicked the left-hand guy full in the groin, before the guy’s gun was even halfway out of its holster, which meant the right-hand guy had time to get his all the way out, but to no avail, because the next event in his life was the arrival of Reacher’s elbow, scything backhand against his cheekbone, shattering it and causing a general lights-out everywhere.
Lee Child (Make Me (Jack Reacher, #20))
I cooked with so many of the greats: Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Wylie Dufresne, Grant Achatz. Rick Bayless taught me not one but two amazing mole sauces, the whole time bemoaning that he never seemed to know what to cook for his teenage daughter. Jose Andres made me a classic Spanish tortilla, shocking me with the sheer volume of viridian olive oil he put into that simple dish of potatoes, onions, and eggs. Graham Elliot Bowles and I made gourmet Jell-O shots together, and ate leftover cheddar risotto with Cheez-Its crumbled on top right out of the pan.
Lucky for me, Maria still includes me in special evenings like this, usually giving me the option of joining the guests at table, or helping in the kitchen. I always choose the kitchen, because passing up the opportunity to see these chefs in action is something only an idiot would do. Susan Spicer flew up from New Orleans shortly after the BP oil spill to do an extraordinary menu of all Gulf seafood for a ten-thousand-dollar-a-plate fund-raising dinner Maria hosted to help the families of Gulf fishermen. Local geniuses Gil Langlois and Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard joined forces with Gale Gand for a seven-course dinner none of us will ever forget, due in no small part to Gil's hoisin oxtail with smoked Gouda mac 'n' cheese, Stephanie's roasted cauliflower with pine nuts and light-as-air chickpea fritters, and Gale's honey panna cotta with rhubarb compote and insane little chocolate cookies. Stephanie and I bonded over hair products, since we have the same thick brown curls with a tendency to frizz, and the general dumbness of boys, and ended up giggling over glasses of bourbon till nearly two in the morning. She is even more awesome, funny, sweet, and genuine in person than she was on her rock-star winning season on Bravo. Plus, her food is spectacular all day. I sort of wish she would go into food television and steal me from Patrick. Allen Sternweiler did a game menu with all local proteins he had hunted himself, including a pheasant breast over caramelized brussels sprouts and mushrooms that melted in your mouth (despite the occasional bit of buckshot). Michelle Bernstein came up from Miami and taught me her white gazpacho, which I have since made a gajillion times, as it is probably one of the world's perfect foods.
Stacey Ballis (Off the Menu)
refuge imagine how it feels to be chased out of home.
to have your grip ripped. loosened from your
fingertips, something you so dearly held on to.
like a lover’s hand that slips when pulled away
you are always reaching. my father would speak of home. reaching.
speaking of familiar faces. girl next door
who would eventually grow up to be my mother.
the fruit seller at the market. the lonely man
at the top of the road who nobody spoke to.
and our house at the bottom of the street
lit up by a single flickering lamp
where beyond was only darkness. there
they would sit and tell stories
of monsters that lurked and came only at night
to catch the children who sat and listened to
stories of monsters that lurked.
this is how they lived. each memory buried.
an artefact left to be discovered by archaeologists.
the last words on a dying family member’s lips. this
was sacred. not even monsters could taint it.
but there were monsters that came during the day.
monsters that tore families apart with their giant hands.
and fingers that slept on triggers. the sound of gunshots
ripping through the sky became familiar like the tapping
of rain fall on a window sill. monsters that would kill
and hide behind speeches, suits and ties. monsters
that would chase families away forcing them to leave
everything behind. i remember
when we first stepped off the plane.
everything was foreign. unfamiliar. uninviting.
even the air in my lungs left me short of breath. we came here to find refuge. they called us refugees
so, we hid ourselves in their language
until we sounded just like them.
changed the way we dressed to look just like them.
made this our home until we lived just like them
and began to speak of familiar faces. girl next door
who would grow up to be a mother. the fruit seller
at the market. the lonely man at the top of the road
who nobody spoke to. and our house
at the bottom of the street lit up by a flickering lamp
to keep away the darkness. there
we would sit and watch police that lurked
and came only at night to arrest the youths who sat
and watched police that lurked and came only at night.
this is how we lived. i remember one day i heard them say to me
they come here to take our jobs
they need to go back to where they came from
not knowing that i was one of the ones who came.
i told them that a refugee is simply
someone who is trying to make a home.
so next time when you go home
tuck your children in and kiss your families
goodnight, be glad that the monsters
never came for you.
in their suits and ties.
never came for you.
in the newspapers with the media lies.
never came for you.
that you are not despised. and know that deep inside
the hearts of each and every one of us
we are all always reaching
for a place that we can call home.
J.J. Bola (REFUGE: The Collected Poetry of JJ Bola)
. . . Hoffman-La Roche [the manufacturer of Rohypnol] declared that alcohol was the number one date-rape drug. . . . they put the onus on women to protect their own drinks and avoid assault. There was an air of 'Well, if you left your drink unattended. . .' or 'Well, if you didn't go out drinking. . .' as if sexual assault was not an intentional crime but rather some kind of arbitrary force of nature, like a heavy rain, that could be avoided with good planning. Spiking someone's drink sounds innocuous, but it is nothing short of evil.
Mallory O'Meara (Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol)
HT-1 This point is difficult to access, as it is well protected by the structure of the human body. HT-1is a bilateral Vital Point that is located in the armpit at the junction of the inner arm with the torso. It is associated with the Heart Meridian and is the point that the internal aspects of that meridian leaves the inner torso and emerges close to the surface of the skin. It does not have a direct connection to any Extraordinary Vessels, but is highly sensitive to attack. Traditional Chinese Medicine state that this is a no-needle point in many related textbooks. On the surface, this point would appear to be a difficult one to access during an altercation, but it is accessible. HT-1 becomes easily accessible if the opponent’s arm is raised, which occurs in the short instances that they are throwing a punch. A quick finger thrust or one-knuckle fist strike can easily activate it, but it requires a fair amount of precision to land. Combat science teaches us that precision generally diminishes during an altercation, but I add the above variant for those that would be willing to put in the training time for achieve such a strike. Just remember that the likelihood of landing such a technique during an actual altercation is remote, even with copious amounts of practice. A more realistic attack to HT-1 is when you have used your opponent’s arm to take them to the ground. Once established, as a generally rule of thumb, it is advised that if you have established control over an opponent’s arm that you should maintain that control until you deliver a blow that ends the fight. So, with that in mind, one of my favorite attacks to HT-1 after driving an opponent to ground while having established and maintained arm control, that you jerk the arm towards yourself as you throw a kick into this Vital Point. The type of kick will be dependent on the positioning of your opponent. If he is bladed on the ground (laying on one side with the arm you control in the air) a hard side kick or stomp works well. If the opponent starts turning, or squaring his shoulders towards you as he hits the ground in an attempt to regain his feet, then a forceful forward, or straight kick, can work. I would suggest working with a training partner to determine the various configurations that a downed opponent would react when you maintain control of one of their arms. Notice that I did not advise that you kick your training partner in HT-1, which is ill advised since it theoretically can cause disruptions to the heart and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory even death. Again, this technique is not for demonstration or sport-oriented martial arts, but mature and thoughtful training practice can provide a wealth of knowledge on how best to attack a Vital Point, even if it is not actually struck.
Rand Cardwell (The 36 Deadly Bubishi Points: The Science and Technique of Pressure Point Fighting - Defend Yourself Against Pressure Point Attacks!)
In June 1944, Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe, had to make a crucial military decision. He knew the invasion of Normandy would be costly under the best of circumstances, and the circumstances were far from ideal. If the invasion failed, thousands of troops would die in the effort, and the humiliation of defeat would demoralize the Allies and hearten the Axis powers. Nonetheless, Eisenhower was prepared to assume full responsibility for the possibly catastrophic consequences of his decision to go forward. He wrote out a short speech he planned to release if the invasion went wrong. It read, in its entirety: Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and the troops have been withdrawn. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the Air [Force] and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.30 After writing this note, Eisenhower made one small but crucial change. He crossed out the end of the first sentence—“the troops have been withdrawn”—and replaced that passive construction with “and I have withdrawn the troops.” The eloquence of that I echoes down the decades.
Carol Tavris (Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts)
In the rein of ignorance, the constant state of war which lasted for twenty years did not stop a certain amount of rationality that allowed this writings.
And young men are accustomed from the first to idleness, effeminacy and frivolity, coming eventually to the business of life with empty heads and hearts crammed with false ideals…less credit and wealth, less dignity and prestige. They display vanity, but legitimate pride never. The men of pleasure are well received in society because they are light-hearted, gay, witty, dissipated, easy-going, amateurs of every pleasure.
The fair dames of the period resorted to every means to stimulate their sensibilities. They seek excitement in dissecting dead bodies. “The young Contesse de Coigny was so passionately fond of this dreadful study (Anatomy), that she would never start on a journey without taking in the boot of her traveling carriage a corpse to dissect, just as one takes with one a book to read.” – Mme. de Gengis, Mémoires, vol I.
This mania for dissection was for some time extremely fashionable with ladies of quality.
On these ridiculous types was built up the whole school of impotent and despairing lovers, who under a nauseous pretence of being so romantic and interesting, prolonged for half a century longer the silly affectation of sentimental melancholy, in other words, a green-sickness of skepticism complicated with pulmonary consumption!
A familiar axiom of economic science declares that “every vicious act is followed by diminution of force.”
The Mousquetaires had began by displaying a most laudable zeal, but it was soon discovered that these gentlemen were better at noise than real work.
“The deterioration of type among noble families,” says Moreau de Tours, “is noted in numerous writers; Pope remarks to Spencer on the sorry looks of members of the English aristocracy in his day; and in the same way physiologists had even earlier noted the short stature of the Spanish grandees at the court of Philip V.” As for Frenchmen, long before 1789, they were amongst the poorest specimens of humanity, according to the testimony of many witnesses.
The practices of the man of pleasure, the libertine modes, in full completeness, count at most only some forty years of life, – after which the reign of hypocrisy sets in.
Thus ends the Sword.
A progress of degradation with glowing phraseology, cajoleries and falsity. They put on exaggerated airs of mock-modesty, and assume a scornful pose before their admirers, all the time longing to be noticed. The old punctilious sense of honor have ceased to exist while finally the practices of the man of pleasure, the libertine modes, in full completeness, count at most only some forty years of life, – after which the reign of hypocrisy sets in.
Edouard de Beaumont (The Sword And Womankind: Being A Study Of The Influence Of The Queen Of Weapons, Upon The Moral And Social Status Of Women (1900))
Photographs from Distant Places
In distant villages,
You always see the same scenes:
Small local shops.
Just basic the things humans need
To endure life.
‘Can you stay with me forever?’
She asked him in the airport,
While hugging him tightly in her arms.
‘Sorry, I can’t. My flight leaves in two hours and a half.’
He responded with an artificially caring voice,
As he kissed her on her right cheek.
I was walking in one of Bucharest’s old streets,
In a neighborhood that looked harshly beaten
And severely damaged by development and globalization.
I saw a poor homeless man
Combing his dirty hair
In a side mirror of a modern and expensive car!
The shape and the color of the eyes don’t matter.
What matters is that,
As soon as you gaze into them,
You know that they have seen a lot.
All eyes that dare to bear witness
To what they have seen are beautiful.
A stranger asked me how I chose my path in life.
I told him: ‘I never chose anything, my friend.’
My path has always been like someone forced to sit
In an airplane on a long flight.
Forced to sit with the condition
Of keeping the seatbelt on at all times,
Until the end of the flight.
Here I am still sitting with the seatbelt on.
I can neither move
I can’t even throw myself
out of the plane’s emergency exit
To end this forced flight!
After years of searching and observing,
I discovered that despair’s favorite hiding place
Is under business suits and tuxedos.
Under jewelry and expensive night gowns.
Despair dances at the tables where
Expensive wines of corruption
And delicious dinners of betrayal are served.
Oh, my poet friend,
Did you know that
The bouquet of fresh flowers in that vase
On your table is not a source of inspiration or creativity?
The vase is just a reminder
Of a flower massacre that took place recently
In a field
Where these poor flowers happened to be.
It was their fate to have their already short lives cut shorter,
To wither and wilt in your vase,
While breathing the not-so-fresh air
In your room,
As you sit down at your table
And write your vain words.
Under authoritarian regimes,
99.9% of the population vote for the dictator.
Under capitalist ‘democratic’ regimes,
99.9% of people love buying and consuming products
Made and sold by the same few corporations.
Awe to those societies where both regimes meet
to create a united vicious alliance against the people!
To create a ‘nation’
Of customers, not citizens!
The post-revolution leaders are scavengers not hunters.
They master the art of eating up
The dead bodies and achievements
Of the fools who sacrificed themselves
For the ‘revolution’ and its ideals.
Is this the paradox and the irony of all revolutions?
Every person is ugly if you take a close look at them,
And beautiful, if you take a closer look.
Just as wheat fields can’t thrive
Under the shadow of other trees,
Intellectuals, too, can’t thrive under the shadow
Of any power or authority.
We waste so much time trying to change others.
Others waste so much time thinking they are changing.
What a waste!
October 20, 2015
Louis Yako (أنا زهرة برية [I am a Wildflower])
Thus FDR, being a shrewd, smart sonofabitch now in his third term as President, knew that despite the cries of the isolationists who wanted Amer ica to have nothing to do with another world war it was only a matter of time before the country would be forced to shed its neutral status.
And the best way to be prepared for that moment was to have the finest intelligence he could. And the best way to get that information, to get the facts that he trusted because he trusted the messenger, was to put another shrewd, smart sonofabitch in charge-his pal Wild Bill Donovan.
The problem was not that intelligence wasn't being collected. The United States of America had vast organizations actively engaged in it-the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the Military Intelligence Division chief among them.
The problem was that the intelligence these organizations collected was, in the word of the old-school British spymasters, "coloured." That was to say, the intel tended first to serve to promote the respective branches.
If, for example, ONI overstated the number of, say, German submarines, then the Navy brass could use that intelligence to justify its demands for more funds for sailors and ships to hunt down those U-boats. (Which, of course, played to everyone's natural fears as the U-boats were damn effec tive killing machines.)
Likewise, if MID stated that it had found significantly more Axis troop amassing toward an Allied border than was previously thought, Army brass could argue that ground and/or air forces needed the money more than did the swabbies.
Then there was the turf-fighting FBI. J. Edgar Hoover and Company
didn't want any Allied spies snooping around in their backyard. It followed then that if the agencies had their own agendas, they were not prone to share with others the information that they collected. The argument, as might be expected, was that intelligence shared was intelli gence compromised.
There was also the interagency fear, unspoken but there, as sure as God made little green apples, that some shared intel would be found to be want ing. If that should happen, it would make the particular agency that had de veloped it look bad. And that, fear of all fears, would result in the reduction of funds, of men, of weapons, et cetera, et cetera. In short, the loss of im portance of the agency in the eyes of the grand political scheme.
Thus among the various agencies there continued the endless turf bat tles, the duplications of effort-even the instances, say, of undercover FB agents arresting undercover ONI agents snooping around Washington D.C., and New York City.
W.E.B. Griffin (The Double Agents (Men at War, #6))
Shortly before nine, Edwards returned to the air. In a quavering voice he pleaded with his listeners to believe him: “This is no maneuver. Japanese forces are attacking the island. This is the real McCoy!
Ian W. Toll (Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941–1942)
The ax fell on programs that could not muster strong support from Congress, industry, international allies, or the secretary of defense and his staff. In short, political wheeling and dealing, hidden agendas, and turf battles determined the future Air Force, rather than carefully weighed visions.
James G. Burton (The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard)
After nightfall, when most of the American planes had been taken aboard, a new formation of planes arrived over the task force. First, the drone of their engines could be heard above the cloud cover; then they slipped into view, at about the height of the Lexington’s masts. “These planes were in very good formation,” recalled Lieutenant Commander Stroop. They had their navigation lights on, indicating that they intended to land. But many observers on both carriers and several of the screening vessels noted that something was awry. Captain Sherman of the Lexington counted nine planes, more than could be accounted for among the American planes that were still aloft. They were flying down the Yorktown’s port side, a counterclockwise approach, the reverse of the American landing routine. They were flashing their blinker lights, but none of the Americans could decipher the signal. Electrician’s mate Peter Newberg, stationed on the Yorktown’s flight deck, noticed that the aircraft exhausts were a strange shape and color, and Stroop noted that the running lights were a peculiar shade of red and blue. The TBS (short-range radio circuit) came alive with chatter. One of the nearby destroyers asked, “Have any of our planes got rounded wingtips?” Another voice said, “Damned if those are our planes.” When the first of the strangers made his final turn, he was too low, and the Yorktown’s landing signal officer frantically signaled him to throttle up. “In the last few seconds,” Newberg recalled, “when the pilot was about to plow into the stern under the flight deck, he poured the coal to his engine and pulled up and off to port. The signal light flicked briefly on red circles painted on his wings.” One of the screening destroyers opened fire, and red tracers reached up toward the leading plane. A voice on the Lexington radioed to all ships in the task force, ordering them to hold fire, but the captain of the destroyer replied, “I know Japanese planes when I see them.” Antiaircraft gunners on ships throughout the task force opened fire, and suddenly the night sky lit up as if it was the Fourth of July. But there were friendly planes in the air as well; one of the Yorktown fighter pilots complained: “What are you shooting at me for? What have I done now?” On the Yorktown, SBD pilot Harold Buell scrambled out to the port-side catwalk to see what was happening. “In the frenzy of the moment, with gunners firing at both friend and foe, some of us got caught up in the excitement and drew our .45 Colt automatics to join in, blasting away at the red meatballs as they flew past the ship—an offensive gesture about as effective as throwing rocks.” The intruders and the Americans all doused their lights and zoomed back into the cloud cover; none was shot down. It was not the last time in the war that confused Japanese pilots would attempt to land on an American carrier.
Ian W. Toll (Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941–1942)
Here I come to ground, he thought. I thought I must succeed, because my hopes were so high, and I have failed. I thought I must win, because my cause was just, and I have been defeated. It was all air, words, talk, lies: and the steel chain that brings you up short two steps from the wall. For five years he had been sick for home, and now, forced to it as a fugitive, he must come to it knowing that he had no home.
Ursula K. Le Guin (Malafrena: A Library of America eBook Classic)
The formula proposed, as I told you, is energy equals the mass times the speed of light squared, and light is very fast indeed. So that with only a little matter, if any of its energy were released into the world…' She shook her head. 'Of course the strong force means that would never happen. But we continue to investigate this element alactin, that the Travancori physicists call Hand of Tara. I suspect its heartknot is unstable, and Piali is beginning to agree with me. Clearly it is very full of the jinni, both yin and yang, in such a fashion that to me it is acting like a droplet of water held together by surface tension, but so big that the surface tension is just barely holding it, and it stretches out like a water drop in the air, deforming this way and that, but held together, just, except for sometimes, when it stretches too far for surface tension, the strong force in this case, and then the natural repulsion between the jinni makes a heartknot split in two, becoming atoms of lead, but releasing some of its bound power as well, in the form of rays of invisible energy. That's what we are seeing on the photographic plates you help with. It's quite a bit of energy, and that's just one heartknot breaking. What we have been wondering what we have been forced to consider, given the nature of the phenomenon – is, if we gathered enough of these atoms together, and broke even one heartknot apart, would the released qi break a lot more of them at the same time, more and more again all at the speed of light, in a space this big,' holding her hands apart. 'If that might not set off a short chain reaction,' she said.
Kim Stanley Robinson (The Years of Rice and Salt)
Quickly, reality set in. It was obvious that we had suffered heavy casualties, but I still did not know exactly what caused the attack. Shortly thereafter, someone reported to me that a large truck had penetrated our perimeter south of the BLT’s headquarters from the direction of the airport’s main terminal. The driver had rammed through the sergeant of the guard’s post in front of the BLT building’s entrance and detonated the truck’s payload in the lobby. The explosive force of the blast caused the concrete, steel-reinforced four-story structure, which was considered one of the strongest buildings in Lebanon, to completely collapse. Its total devastation was astounding. I took in this carnage as cries for help pierced the air.
Timothy J. Geraghty (Peacekeepers at War: Beirut 1983-The Marine Commander Tells His Story)
1 It was early December. The streets of Milan glistened with Christmas decorations, with people coming and going carefree, carrying elegant shopping bags. It was past eight, and several minutes earlier I had closed behind me the door of Passerella, the modelling agency I ran. I had let my assistant, Giovanni, file the photos of the new faces we had initially chosen for Dante’s summer collection. He was an up-and-coming designer. The minute I walked down Monte Napoleone, one of the city’s most commercial streets, the chilly air forced me to wrap up well in my brand new light green coat. An original piece of cashmere, the five letters embossed on its lapel making it even more precious in that cold weather. My fingers contentedly groped for the word “Prada” before I stuck my hand into its warm pocket, while clutching my favourite handbag tight. A huge red ostrich Hermes where you could find cosmetics, scarves, and accessories, which I could use throughout the day, giving a different twist to my appearance. I wanted to walk a little bit to let off steam. My job may have been pleasant as it had to do with the world’s most beautiful creatures, men and women, but it wasn’t without its tensions. Models went to and fro, trade representatives looking for new faces, endless castings, phone calls, text messages, tailors, photographers, reports from my secretary and assistants—a rowdy disorder! I had already left the building where my job was, and I was going past another two entrances of nearby premises, when my leg caught on something. I instantly thought of my brand new Manolo Blahnik shoes. I’d only put them on for the second time, and they were now falling victim to the rough surface of a cardboard box, where a homeless man slept, at the entrance of a building. My eyes sparked as I checked if my high heels were damaged. On the face of it, they were intact. But that wasn’t enough for me. I found a lighter, and tried to check their red leather in the dim light. Why should the same thing happen over and over again every time I buy new shoes? I wondered and walked on, cursing. Why had that bloke chosen that specific spot to sleep, and why had I headed for his damn cardboard box! As I held my lighter, my angry gaze fell on the man who was covered with an impermeable piece of nylon, and carried on sleeping. He looked so vulnerable out in the cold that I didn’t dare rouse him from his sleep. After all, how could I hold him responsible in this state? I quickened my gait. Bella was waiting for me to start our night out with a drink and supper at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the imposing arcade with a dome made of glass, its ambience warm and romantic. Bella’s office was nearby, and that meeting place was convenient for both of us. That’s where we made up our minds about how to spend the night.I walked several metres down the road, but something made me stop short. I wanted to have a second look at that man. I retraced my steps. He was a young man who, despite his state, seemed so out of place. His unkempt hair and unshaven face didn’t let me see anything else but his profile, which reminded of an ancient Greek statue, with pronounced cheekbones and a chiselled nose. This second time, he must have sensed me over him. The man’s body budged, and he eyed me without making me out, dazzled by the lighter flame. As soon as I realised what I had done, I took to my heels. What had made me go back? Maybe, the sense of guilt I felt inside my warm Prada coat, maybe, the compassion I had to show as Christmas was just around the corner. All I knew was that a small bell jingled within, and I obeyed it. I walked faster, as if to escape from every thought. As I left, I stuck my hand in my bag, and got hold of my mobile. My secretary’s voice on the other end of the line sounded heavy and imposing. Giovanni wasn’t the embodiment of “macho” man, but he had all it takes to be the perfect male. Having chosen to quit modelling, he still looked gorgeous at the age of
Charlotte Bee (SLAVE AT MY FEET)
Agustín Parlá Orduña was among the early Cuban aviation aces. He was born in Key West, Florida, on October 10, 1887, and received his early education there. After Cuba was liberated from Spain, the family returned to Havana, where he continued his education. On April 20, 1912, he received his pilot’s license at the Curtiss School of Aviation in Miami. On July 5, 1913, when the Cuban Army Air Corps was formed, Agustín Parlá was commissioned as a captain in the Cuban Armed Forces.
On May 17, 1913, Domingo Rosillo and Agustín Parlá attempted the first international flights to Latin America, by trying to fly their airplanes from Key West to Havana. At 5:10 a.m., Rosillo departed from Key West and flew for 2 hours, 30 minutes and 40 seconds before running out of gas. He had planned to land at the airfield at Camp Columbia in Havana, but instead managed to squeak in at the shooting range, thereby still satisfactorily completing the flight.
Parlá left Key West at 5:57 in the morning. Just four minutes later, at 6:01 a.m., he had to carefully turn back to the airstrip he had just left, since the aircraft didn’t properly respond to his controls. Parlá said, “It would not let me compensate for the wind that blew.” When he returned to Key West, he discovered that two of the tension wires to the elevator were broken.
On May 19, 1913, Parlá tried again and left Key West, carrying the Cuban Flag his father had received from José Martí. This time he fell short and had to land at sea off the Cuban coast near Mariel, where sailors rescued him from his seaplane.
During NASA’s first fifty years the agency’s accomplishments were admired globally. Democratic and Republican leaders were generally bipartisan on the future of American spaceflight. The blueprint for the twenty-first century called for sustaining the International Space Station and its fifteen-nation partnership until at least 2020, and for building the space shuttle’s heavy-lift rocket and deep spacecraft successor to enable astronauts to fly beyond the friendly confines of low earth orbit for the first time since Apollo. That deep space ship would fly them again around the moon, then farther out to our solar system’s LaGrange points, and then deeper into space for rendezvous with asteroids and comets, learning how to deal with radiation and other deep space hazards before reaching for Mars or landings on Saturn’s moons. It was the clearest, most reasonable and best cost-achievable goal that NASA had been given since President John F. Kennedy’s historic decision to land astronauts on the lunar surface. Then Barack Obama was elected president. The promising new chief executive gave NASA short shrift, turning the agency’s future over to middle-level bureaucrats with no dreams or vision, bent on slashing existing human spaceflight plans that had their genesis in the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush White Houses. From the starting gate, Mr. Obama’s uncaring space team rolled the dice. First they set up a presidential commission designed to find without question we couldn’t afford the already-established spaceflight plans. Thirty to sixty thousand highly skilled jobs went on the chopping block with space towns coast to coast facing 12 percent unemployment. $9.4 billion already spent on heavy-lift rockets and deep space ships was unashamedly flushed down America’s toilet. The fifty-year dream of new frontiers was replaced with the shortsighted obligations of party politics. As 2011 dawned, NASA, one of America’s great science agencies, was effectively defunct. While Congress has so far prohibited the total cancellation of the space agency’s plans to once again fly astronauts beyond low earth orbit, Obama space operatives have systematically used bureaucratic tricks to slow roll them to a crawl. Congress holds the purse strings and spent most of 2010 saying, “Wait just a minute.” Thousands of highly skilled jobs across the economic spectrum have been lost while hundreds of billions in “stimulus” have been spent. As of this writing only Congress can stop the NASA killing. Florida’s senior U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, a former spaceflyer himself, is leading the fight to keep Obama space advisors from walking away from fifty years of national investment, from throwing the final spade of dirt on the memory of some of America’s most admired heroes. Congressional committees have heard from expert after expert that Mr. Obama’s proposal would be devastating. Placing America’s future in space in the hands of the Russians and inexperienced commercial operatives is foolhardy. Space legend John Glenn, a retired Democratic Senator from Ohio, told president Obama that “Retiring the space shuttles before the country has another space ship is folly. It could leave Americans stranded on the International Space Station with only a Russian spacecraft, if working, to get them off.” And Neil Armstrong testified before the Senate’s Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee that “With regard to President Obama’s 2010 plan, I have yet to find a person in NASA, the Defense Department, the Air Force, the National Academies, industry, or academia that had any knowledge of the plan prior to its announcement. Rumors abound that neither the NASA Administrator nor the President’s Science and Technology Advisor were knowledgeable about the plan. Lack of review normally guarantees that there will be overlooked requirements and unwelcome consequences. How could such a chain of events happen?
Alan Shepard (Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America's Race to the Moon)
Two in the chest, one in the head. First you stop ‘em, then you drop ‘em.”
The armored man spun around, raising the short, lethal submachine gun to his shoulder.
Rebecca’s pistol roared again.
The two shots struck the man center mass. Even through the heavy Kevlar, the impact was enough to throw off his aim and force him to stumble backwards. The submachine gun fired, sending a trail of sparks across the hood of the SUV. Rebecca didn’t move. She kept her eyes on her target and used the man’s split-second pain and distraction to line up her third shot.
The man’s head snapped back. A stream of crimson exploded though the air, jetting from under the rim of his helmet.
He collapsed to the ground
Andrew Warren (Fire and Forget (Thomas Caine #3))
We don’t want to get off the main road,” I said. “There’s way too many tack weeds out there.”
“Those stickers are worse than real tacks,” said Henny. “Maybe we should leave our bikes and walk. I don’t want to take any chances.”
That’s the trouble with having such a nice bike, with so many terrific gadgets. Henny doesn’t like to ride unless conditions are ideal, like maybe around a newly paved parking lot.
“Henny,” I said. “It’s definitely time for us to move on. Your inner tubes will be safe if you just stay on the highway. Besides, it will be cooler with a breeze blowing in your face.”
Henny got back on his bike and slowly pedaled it up to a speed past wobbly but short of smooth and comfortable. “This is not a breeze,” he called up to me. “This is hot air being forced up my nostrils. This is hot air drying out my already parched throat. Water. I need water.
Brenda Z. Guiberson (Turtle People)
they contain the essence of the plant from which they were extracted. Actually, the term essential oil is short for the original term ‘quintessential oil’. This is based on the Aristotelian idea that all matter is made up of four main elements (water, earth, air, and fire). Additionally, there was the fifth element, the quintessence, which was considered to be in spirit form or rather life force. Evaporation and distillation were viewed as ways of extracting the spirit from the plant. This has been reflected to even today’s world where we can see the word ‘spirits’ being used to describe distilled alcoholic drinks such as eau de vie, whiskey and brandy. In the current days, the idea has been let go of since we know that essential oils are actually
Matt Hall (Essential Oils: Detailed Essential Oils For Beginners Guide For Physical and Emotional Health - Including FREE 50 DIY Essential Oil Recipes ebook)
You look beautiful, Alex. All grown up.” Blackmoor’s grey eyes darkened, narrowing on the garment in question, then rising to meet her gaze. The look in his eyes was one she’d never seen before, and it sent a tremor of excitement through her as she felt heat rising in her cheeks again. He looked away, then back again, and the emotion she had seen there was gone, so quickly that she couldn’t be certain it was ever there to begin with. She forced a smile, attempting to bring the conversation back to the realm of the comfortable. “Thank you, my lord.” “If I may speak frankly?” “Certainly.” “I know you want to try out all your lessons, but take care with whom you test your skills. I noticed how Stanhope was looking at you earlier.” “Lord Stanhope was a charming partner.” Alex met Blackmoor’s eyes, daring him to disagree. “I’m certain I don’t know to what you are referring.” “I think you know all too well to what I’m referring. Any man would have to be blind not to notice you. This dress is designed to lure a lion. I assure you that particular lion will bite.” “What are you saying?” “Simply that I would prefer not to have to play protector tonight. I merely caution you to think twice before getting wrapped up with Stanhope, or any like him.” Alex’s spine stiffened in response. Her tone turned frosty. “As usual, my lord, your caution—or shall I say interference?—is unnecessary. Need I remind you that I’ve been managing Freddie Stanhope since he was in short pants?” His chuckle held no humor. “Take my advice, Alex. Your ‘Freddie’ is no longer in the schoolroom. And you’re out of your league if you think you can, as you say, ‘manage’ him. Just because you wear a gown that marks you as all grown up doesn’t mean you are prepared to take him on.” Alex’s temper flared. “I require neither your advice, nor your opinion, my lord. I would thank you to remember that, besides the fact that you’re not that much older than I am, I already have a father—and three brothers. I hardly need another overbearing male telling me what to do and with whom to do it.” “More like what not to do. And with whom not to do it.” She inhaled in a sharp intake of air, eyes narrowing, and made a move to leave him mid-waltz. To an outside observer, nothing changed about their movements—but Alex felt Blackmoor’s arms turn to stone around her. He held her fast, and tight, and his voice lowered. “You will finish this waltz with me, Alexandra. I will not allow you the pleasure of giving me a set-down at your first ball.” Recognizing
Sarah MacLean (The Season)
They came with a massive force of numbers: to rip apart the veil of existence that few knew even existed. They tore their way into our world relentlessly, and once they breathed our air and stood on the soil of our homelands, they killed and maimed, surging from their rifts in numbers incalculable. Their troops on the ground were supported by winged creatures never intended for our world. The monsters swooped from the darkness beyond, filling the sky with dark silhouettes like bats, only much more dangerous. Never before had humanity faced such a force of evil and no one was immune to their violence.
Cailee Francis (Sensuality in the Darkest of Times: A Short Story)
Making my way across the restaurant to clear off an empty table, my body froze and all the air left my lungs in one hard rush when I heard him directly behind me. “To refresh your memory, sweetheart, you belong to me.” Please let this be a nightmare. His large hand touched my lower back as he came up to my side and my body began shaking. “Long time, no see,” he said, and lowered his voice. “Hiding, Rachel?” Oh God, did Candice tell him where I work? “Leave me alone.” I hated how small my voice sounded, but I couldn’t force out anything more than a whisper. I refused to look over at him, and when he stepped closer, I dropped my head to stare at the floor. His other hand came up to my stomach and brushed gently back and forth, just above the top of my shorts, and I prayed I wouldn’t start dry-heaving in the middle of the restaurant. “Never. I gave you the summer to realize that you needed me, wanted me. Obviously you need more time, but make no mistake, you are mine. What I’m not okay with is someone else touching you. Kissing you.” “Please leave.” “Who is he, Rachel? Boyfriend? Fuck buddy? And before you answer that, know that either of those two answers would be the wrong one.” “Rach, everything okay here?” Kash grabbed the arm farthest from Blake and pulled me into him. Blake’s fingers dug into my back momentarily, but he let me go. I still couldn’t take my eyes off the floor. “Everything’s fine. We were just catching up for a second,” Blake answered. His voice had dropped the threatening tone and was the smooth and silky voice everyone else knew and loved. “I haven’t seen Rachel since school ended.” “Babe . . . ,” Kash whispered softly. Blake’s arm shot out in front of me and I cringed back. “Blake West. Rach and I go way back.” “Logan . . . Hendricks. Rachel’s boyfriend.” He accepted Blake’s hand and shook it hard once before dropping it. “You’re a very lucky guy,” Blake said tightly. “Rachel is extremely picky when it comes to dating and has broken more than a few hearts with her rejections.” No one said anything as I was caught in the middle of a testosterone-filled staring contest. Kash’s hand ran up and down my back slowly and Blake finally cleared his throat. “It was good to meet you, Logan. Take care of Rachel for me, will you?” He took a step closer and Kash’s hand stopped on my back. I could feel his body vibrating as it tensed up. “I’ll be talking to you very soon, Rach.” As
Molly McAdams (Forgiving Lies (Forgiving Lies, #1))
In Florida we got to hang out with some of America’s finest at Eglin Air Force Base. The army Rangers there had been clearing a section of bush for doing operations and had encountered a huge eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Diamondbacks grow to be the largest rattlers anyway, but this one was big for another reason: She was pregnant. Not long after the Rangers’ reptile handlers had transported her back to a holding facility, she gave birth.
We watched as the newborn rattlers worked their way out, lay still for a short moment, and then immediately began striking at everything and anything nearby. Although it was a great defense mechanism, in case a predator was about to eat them, it appeared pretty comical. Bite, bite, bite, strike, strike, strike. Then they would curl up and hide for a while. Soon enough it was back on the offensive: bite, strike, bite. They were all fang, and trying to look tough. An interesting way to greet the world.
Steve and I scooped up the baby rattlesnakes and held them until they went through their strike phase. We made sure to set them down before they went back to their frenzied biting.
“What happens if you’re bitten by a venomous snake while you are breastfeeding?” Steve asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. “I’d probably have to stop breastfeeding, right?”
“Just be sure not to get bitten,” Steve said.
“Deal,” I said. I scooped up a little wet rattler, talked to the camera, then set the snake back down. Boing, boing, boing went the baby rattler, jumping madly around, trying to bite everything. Even the Rangers laughed.
Once the Rangers had completed their training mission, all the dangerous wildlife they collected (including the rattlers) would go right back where they came from. We were very proud to have worked with some of America’s heroes.
Terri Irwin (Steve & Me)
AT 3:00 P.M. SHARP on August 23, 2012, Colonel Edgar escorted the two men into Mattis’s office on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. The sixty-one-year-old general was an intimidating figure in person: muscular and broad shouldered, with dark circles under his eyes that suggested a man who didn’t bother much with sleep. His office was decorated with the mementos of a long military career. Amid the flags, plaques, and coins, Shoemaker’s eyes rested briefly on a set of magnificent swords displayed in a glass cabinet. As they sat down in a wood-paneled conference room off to one side of the office, Mattis cut to the chase: “Guys, I’ve been trying to get this thing deployed for a year now. What’s going on?” Shoemaker had gone over everything again with Gutierrez and felt confident he was on solid ground. He spoke first, giving a brief overview of the issues raised by an in-theater test of the Theranos technology. Gutierrez took over from there and told the general his army colleague was correct in his interpretation of the law: the Theranos device was very much subject to regulation by the FDA. And since the agency hadn’t yet reviewed and approved it for commercial use, it could only be tested on human subjects under strict conditions set by an institutional review board. One of those conditions was that the test subjects give their informed consent—something that was notoriously hard to obtain in a war zone. Mattis was reluctant to give up. He wanted to know if they could suggest a way forward. As he’d put it to Elizabeth in an email a few months earlier, he was convinced her invention would be “a game-changer” for his men. Gutierrez and Shoemaker proposed a solution: a “limited objective experiment” using leftover de-identified blood samples from soldiers. It would obviate the need to obtain informed consent and it was the only type of study that could be put together as quickly as Mattis seemed to want to proceed. They agreed to pursue that course of action. Fifteen minutes after they’d walked in, Shoemaker and Gutierrez shook Mattis’s hand and walked out. Shoemaker was immensely relieved. All in all, Mattis had been gruff but reasonable and a workable compromise had been reached. The limited experiment agreed upon fell short of the more ambitious live field trial Mattis had had in mind. Theranos’s blood tests would not be used to inform the treatment of wounded soldiers. They would only be performed on leftover samples after the fact to see if their results matched the army’s regular testing methods. But it was something. Earlier in his career, Shoemaker had spent five years overseeing the development of diagnostic tests for biological threat agents and he would have given his left arm to get access to anonymized samples from service members in theater. The data generated from such testing could be very useful in supporting applications to the FDA. Yet, over the ensuing months, Theranos inexplicably failed to take advantage of the opportunity it was given. When General Mattis retired from the military in March 2013, the study using leftover de-identified samples hadn’t begun. When Colonel Edgar took on a new assignment as commander of the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases a few months later, it still hadn’t started. Theranos just couldn’t seem to get its act together. In July 2013, Lieutenant Colonel Shoemaker retired from the army. At his farewell ceremony, his Fort Detrick colleagues presented him with a “certificate of survival” for having the courage to stand up to Mattis in person and emerging from the encounter alive. They also gave him a T-shirt with the question, “What do you do after surviving a briefing with a 4 star?” written on the front. The answer could be found on the back: “Retire and sail off into the sunset.
John Carreyrou (Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup)
May 12. I have had a slight feverish attack for the last few days, and I feel ill, or rather I feel low-spirited. Whence come those mysterious influences which change our happiness into discouragement, and our self-confidence into diffidence? One might almost say that the air, the invisible air, is full of unknowable Forces, whose mysterious presence we have to endure. I wake up in the best of spirits, with an inclination to sing in my heart. Why? I go down by the side of the water, and suddenly, after walking a short distance, I return home wretched, as If some misfortune were awaiting me there. Why? Is it a cold shiver which, passing over my skin, has upset my nerves and given me a fit of low spirits? Is it the form of the clouds, or the tints of the sky, or the colors of the surrounding objects which are so changeable, which have troubled my thoughts as they passed before my eyes? Who can tell? Everything that surrounds us, everything that we see without looking at it, everything that we touch without knowing it, everything that we handle without feeling it, everything that we meet without clearly distinguishing it, has a rapid, surprising, and inexplicable effect upon us and upon our organs, and through them on our ideas and on our being itself.
Guy de Maupassant (The Complete Short Stories)
Right up to the closing years of the eighteenth century... scientists everywhere searched for, and sometimes believed they had actually found, things that just weren't there: vitiated airs, dephlogisticated marine acids, phloxes, calxes, terraqueous exhalations and, above all, phlogiston, the substance that was thought to be the active agent in combustion. Somewhere in all this, it was thought, there also resided a mysterious élan vital, the force that brought inanimate objects to life.
Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything)
It’s all right, Alera. I don’t need a family.”
“Maybe you don’t need one,” I said with a shrug, playing with the fabric of the quilt that lay between us. “But you deserve one.”
I thought for a moment I had hit a nerve, but instead he made a joke out of it.
“Just think--if I’d had Koranis as my father, I might have turned into him by now. I’d be brutish and pretentious, but at least my boastful garb would distract you from those flaws. Oh, and this hair you love? It would be gone.”
I laughed at the ounce of truth in his statement, then fell silent, for some reason feeling sadder about his situation than he was. He reclined upon the pillows, considering me.
“You know, in Cokyri, fathers don’t raise their children. I think maybe it’s better that way.”
“How can you think that?” I asked, troubled by the decided tenor of his voice, and he sat up again, not having expected this reaction from me.
“Your father controlled you and forced you to marry Steldor. How can you disagree with me after living through that?”
“Because…” I faltered. “Because I love my father for all the good things he’s done. Because he made me laugh when I was a child. That’s what I think about when I see him. Not his mistakes.”
“I couldn’t forgive him like you do.”
“Could you forgive me? I mean, if I did something awful.”
Narian did not immediately respond, unsettling me, but it was in his nature to weigh all things.
“I don’t know,” he slowly answered. “But I would still love you.”
He looked at me, an epiphany in his eyes, finally understanding my connection to my family. Then his expression changed, and I knew he was going to raise a difficult issue.
“Explain this then. If that is how families are supposed to function, and you would forgive your father anything, and clearly my mother would forgive me anything, then Koranis fails because he won’t accept me. The women, you and my mother, are loving, but the man fails.”
“Yes, but not all men fail.”
“Prove it. Your father sold you into marriage, and the only father figures I’ve known have respectively made my life hell and rejected me.”
He lay back once more, watching me, and though he had caught me off guard, I was determined to make my point.
“Cannan is a just and fair man.”
“Whose son is Steldor.”
“Who has faults, yes--”
“As all men do.”
Frustrated, I threw my hands in the air. “Are you going to keep interrupting me?”
“No, he said apologetically. “Go on.”
“What about you? Am I, the woman who is in love with you, supposed to believe you’re a terrible person when I know better?”
“I would be a terrible father,” he said, shifting onto his side.
“Come, Alera, you have to admit it.”
“I don’t have to admit anything, especially when I think you’re wrong.”
“On what grounds?”
I was so exasperated I wanted to tear my hair out. And his bemused visage only made it worse.
“Because I saw you with that little girl this afternoon! You were perfect with her. And if you can be perfect with a stranger’s child, how could you be any different with our own?”
“It’s different raising a child than talking with one,” he contended. “I never had a father, Alera. No one taught me how to be one.”
“And did anyone teach you how to love me?”
This stopped him short. “No.”
“Well, you’re pretty good at it. So be quiet, and accept that our children are going to love you.”
Narian’s eyebrows rose, and I started laughing. Taking my hand, he pulled me toward him and I lay down beside him, mirroring his position.
“I’m sorry for yelling at you,” I murmured, giving him a light kiss.
“You never know where a conversation is going to take you,” he said, gazing into my dark eyes. “I’m rather glad you did.
Cayla Kluver (Sacrifice (Legacy, #3))
Now, on August 9, 2151, just six days short of Mercury’s fearsome perihelion, a bloated Sun three times the diameter of the one seen from Earth crawls towards its searing noon. The day has lasted over nine hundred hours from sunrise, baking the surface of Mercury to temperatures that would turn many metals to pools of shimmering liquid. There is no air in Mercury’s jet-black sky to carry the heat away to cooler climes; the atmosphere escaped into space long ago, forced away by the intense heat and silent solar wind. The
Mark Anson (Below Mercury (Clare Foster, #3))
In Libya in 2011, fourteen NATO members and four partner countries prevented Muammar Qaddafi from carrying out a promise to slaughter tens of thousands of his own people—and then they removed him from power. France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and others struck 90 percent of all NATO targets. Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Greece, and Romania enforced an arms embargo at sea. Sweden, not a NATO member, contributed naval and air force personnel and equipment. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco also contributed.18 There was not a single U.S. casualty.19 The point is not that Washington should persuade others to do all the heavy lifting. NATO jets were able to hit their targets only because U.S. cruise missiles had already wiped out Libya’s air defenses. When Europeans ran short on precision-guided missiles, Washington sent them more.20 Without the United States, there would have been no mission. Critics carp that while NATO rid the world of a dangerous monster, it hasn’t created a stable Libya. That charge misses the point. From a Moneyball perspective, the goal was not to bomb Libya into democracy, start a war, or launch another improvisational bout of nation-building. It was to give Libyans a chance to escape the fate Qaddafi intended for them, and to enable them to begin the long-term process of building their own future.
Ian Bremmer (Superpower: Three Choices for America's Role in the World)
I made a date with her for the following week. Mid-week, I went for a ride in a T-28. The engine failed, the pilot slid the plane into the sand of the Mojave out near El Centro, and I slid into a hospital bed for about ten days at North Island Naval Air Station. While I was in the hospital, the CARDIV left for WestPac. I called Marguerite and told her what happened and that I wanted to see her again. I’m not sure she believed me, but agreed to another date. Unfortunately it had to be a short date because I had to head for Norton Air Force base to catch a flight for Hawaii, to meet up with the CARDIV.
W.R. Spicer (Sea Stories of a U.S. Marine, Book 1, Stripes to Bars)
The players rose as one into the air, ignoring the Quaffle and dodging the Blooders. Both Keepers abandoned the goal baskets and joined the hunt. The poor little Snidget shot up and down the pitch seeking a means of escape, but the wizards in the crowd forced it back with Repelling Spells. Well, Pru, you know how I am about Snidget-hunting and what I get like when my temper goes. I ran on to the pitch and screamed, ‘Chief Bragge, this is not sport! Let the Snidget go free and let us watch the noble game of Cuaditch which we have all come to see!’ If you’ll believe me, Pru, all the brute did was laugh and throw the empty birdcage at me. Well, I saw red, Pru, I really did. When the poor little Snidget flew my way I did a Summoning Charm. You know how good my Summoning Charms are, Pru – of course it was easier for me to aim properly, not being mounted on a broomstick at the time. The little bird came zooming into my hand. I stuffed it down the front of my robes and ran like fury. Well, they caught me, but not before I’d got out of the crowds and released the Snidget. Chief Bragge was very angry and for a moment I thought I’d end up a horned toad, or worse, but luckily his advisers calmed him down and I was only fined ten Galleons for disrupting the game. Of course I’ve never had ten Galleons in my life, so that’s the old home gone. I’ll be coming to live with you shortly, luckily they didn’t take the Hippogriff. And I’ll tell you this, Pru, Chief Bragge would have lost my vote if I’d had one. Your loving sister, Modesty
J.K. Rowling (Quidditch Through the Ages)
1934 it became apparent that the Germans were swiftly rearming, the leader of the British Labour Party vowed “to close every recruiting station, disband the Army and disarm the Air Force,” and he got his candidate elected by saying so.7 The Peace Ballot, a national survey of public opinion, was distributed throughout Great Britain in 1935 and a majority of those polled stated that while they supported collective national security, they did so only “by all means short of war.” At a time when Hitler was
Winston Groom (1942: The Year That Tried Men's Souls)
Short story: The true and incredible tale of David Kirkpatrick, a Scottish ex-boy scout, and miner, serving in WW2 with 2nd Highland Light Infantry and the legendary elite corps 2nd SAS. A man who becomes a hero playing his bagpipe during a secret mission in Italy, March 1945, where he saved the lives of hundreds just playing during the attack.
After he fought in North Africa, Greece, Albania, Sicily and being reported as an unruly soldier, (often drunk, insulting superiors and so on) in Tuscany, 23 march 1945 he joined as volunteer in the 2nd Special Air Service ( the British elite forces), for a secret mission behind enemy line in Italy.
He parachuted in the Italian Apennines with his kilt on (so he becomes known as the 'mad piper' ) for a mission organized with British elite forces and an unruly group of Italian-Russian partisans (code name: 'Operation Tombola' organized from the British secret service SOE and 2nd SAS and the "Allied Battalion") against the Gothic Line german headquarter of the 51 German Mountains Corps in Albinea, Italy. The target of the anglo-partisan group's mission is to destroy the nazi HQ to prepare the big attack of the Allied Forces (US 5th Army, British 8th Army) to the German Gothic Line in North Italy at the beginning of April. It's the beginning of the liberation of Italy from the nazi fascist dictatorship.
The Allied Battalion guided by major Roy Farran, captain Mike Lees Italian partisan Glauco Monducci, Gianni Ferrari, and the Russian Viktor Pirogov is an unruly brigade of great fighters of many nationalities. Among them also not just British, Italian, and Russian but also a dutch, a greek, one Austrian paratrooper who deserted the German Forces after has killed an SS, a german who deserted Hitler's Army being in love with an Italian taffeta's, two Jewish escaped from nazi reprisal and 3 Spanish anti-Franchise who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War and then joined first the French Foreign Legion and the British Elite Forces.
The day before the attack, Kirkpatrick is secretly guested in a house of Italian farmers, and he donated his white silk parachute to a lady so she could create her wedding dress for the Wedding with his love: an Italian partisan.
During the terrible attack in the night of 27th March 1945, the sound of his bagpipe marks the beginning of the fight and tricked the nazi, avoiding a terrible reprisal against the civilian population of the Italian village of Albinea, saving in this way the life of hundreds
The German HQ based in two historical villa's is destroyed and in flames, several enemy soldiers are killed, during the attack, the bagpipe of David played for more than 30 minutes and let the german believe that the "British are here", not also Italian and Russian partisan (in war for Hitler' order: for partisans attack to german forces for every german killed nazi were executing 10 local civilians in terrible and barbarian reprisal). During the night the bagpipe of David is also hit after 30 minutes of the fight and, three British soldiers of 2nd SAS are killed in the action in one of the two Villa. The morning later when Germans bring their bodies to the Church of Albinea, don Alberto Ugolotti, the local priest notes in his diary: "Asked if they were organizing a reprisal against the civilian population, they answered that it was a "military attack" and there would.
Mark R Ellenbarger
What the f**k is this?”
Trevor didn’t rise to the bait, as he hadn’t for the last several days. Calmly, he asked,
“This.” Edgard threw the pristine, custom-made saddle on the ground within Trevor’s peripheral view.
Shit. How had Edgard found it? And why in the hell had that bastard gone snooping around instead of figuring out what was wrong with Meridian like he’d promised?
“Trev? I asked you a question.”
“You know damn good and well what it is, Ed.”
“I figured you would’ve gotten rid of it by now.”
“Well, I didn’t.”
Edgard practically growled, “That don’t tell me why you still have it. That don’t tell me nothin’.”
Trevor turned his face toward the opposite fence to gaze across to the mountains. His reasons for keeping the saddle seemed sentimental, sloppy and stupid now, but he’d be damned if he’d share those reasons with anyone, least of all Edgard, the man responsible for those feelings.
Bootsteps made a sucking sound in the muck of the corral as Edgard closed the short distance between them. “I ain’t gonna drop it. Answer me.”
“Fine. You said I could do whatever I wanted with it. So I kept it.”
“You didn’t use it at all, did you?”
Trevor shook his head, keeping his eyes averted.
“I have plenty of other saddles, saddles I like better.”
“That’s a piss-poor excuse. Try again.”
He stayed mum, wishing the damn mud would open up and swallow him like a sinkhole.
“Were you hoping if you kept it I’d come back?”
Trevor’s heart said yes but his mouth stayed tight as a rusty hinge.
“Answer the f**king question, Trevor.”
Edgard’s arrogant streak snapped Trevor’s forced patience. “What do you want me to say? It’s obvious I saved the goddamn saddle.”
“Because it reminded me of you, all right?” He kicked a chunk of mud and stalked away. “Fuck this and f**k you.”
Edgard rattled off something in Portuguese, something Trevor vaguely remembered as being a plea. Or was it a threat?
Dammit. His feet stopped. Trevor’s gaze zeroed in on Edgard, who’d circled him until they were standing less than a foot apart.
“Tell me why.”
Be cruel, that’ll nip this in the bud once and for all.
“I didn’t keep the f**kin’ thing because I had some girlish goddamn hope you’d come back lookin’ for it like Cinderella’s lost glass slipper, and we’d pick up where we left off after you left me.” He locked his eyes to the liquid heat in Edgard’s, not allowing the man to look away. “Especially after you made it crystal clear you weren’t ever comin’ back.”
Angry puffs of breath distorted the air between them.
Several beats passed before Edgard retorted, “But I am here now, aren’t I?”
“What? Am I supposed to be flippin’ cartwheels about that fact? I don’t know what you want from me, Ed. Take the saddle back if that’ll make you happy. I’ve got no use for it. I never did.” Angry, disgusted with himself, Edgard, and the whole uncomfortable situation, Trevor spun and walked toward the barn.
Edgard laughed—the taunting, soft laughter that was guaranteed to raise Trevor’s hackles and his ire. “It’s that easy for you? To get pissed off and walk away?”
“Yep. You’ve got no right to act so goddamned surprised since it’s a trick I learned from you, amigo.”
Not two seconds later, the air left Trevor’s lungs as Edgard tackled him to the ground. Trevor rolled to dislodge the man from his back; Edgard countered, took a swing and missed. Trevor bucked and twisted his shoulders, but Edgard anticipated the move and used the momentum against Trevor to try and shove Trevor’s face against the fence.
Before Edgard cornered him and held him down completely to land a punch, Trevor rolled again and pushed to his feet. A noise echoed behind him, but he ignored it as he fisted his hands in Edgard’s shearling coat, dragging him upright until they were nose to nose.
Lorelei James (Rough, Raw and Ready (Rough Riders, #5))
The organization of high-tempo air operations from carriers remains an extremely challenging proposition even today, but in June 1942, the Japanese were world leaders in this field. Their fleet carriers would typically hold about 90 aircraft, confined into a very tight space. There were two hangar decks, with lifts connecting them to the flight deck above. Japanese ground crews were very well trained, with the result that they could turn around aircraft much faster than their British or American counterparts. Nonetheless, these were crowded ships, and they were already coming under attack from the Midway-based American aircraft. Furthermore, in addition to switching armament for Nagumo’s reserve bomber force, the crews were maintaining a rotating force of covering fighters. There were always Zeros on deck waiting to take off, being refuelled, or just having landed. Hoisting heavy torpedoes into the bomb bays of the Kates was also a very skilled operation that only specialist torpedo armorers were able to undertake. In short, this was a recipe for delay and confusion, even given the superb quality of the Japanese ground crew, and as Nagumo changed his mind twice in the span of less than an hour, the issues the Japanese faced on the carriers were exacerbated.
Charles River Editors (The Greatest Battles in History: The Battle of Midway)
Christopher reached out to pet Hector, who nuzzled against his hand. His gentleness with the animal was reassuring. Perhaps, Beatrix thought hopefully, he wasn’t as angry as she had feared
Taking a deep breath, she said, “The reason that I named him Hector--”
“No,” Christopher moved with startling swiftness, trapping her against the post of the stall. His voice was low and rough. “Let’s start with this: did you help Prudence to write those letters?”
Beatrix’s eyes widened as she looked into his shadowed face. Her blood surged, a flush rising to the surface of her skin. “No,” she managed to say, “I didn’t help her.”
“Then who did?”
“No one helped her.”
It was the truth. It just wasn’t the entire truth.
“You know something,” he insisted. “And you’re going to tell me what it is.”
She could feel his fury. The air was charged with it. Her heart thrummed like a bird’s. And she struggled to contain a swell of emotion that was almost more than she could bear.
“Let me go,” she said with exceptional calm. “You’re doing neither of us any good with this behavior.”
His eyes narrowed dangerously. “Don’t use your bloody dog-training voice on me.”
“That wasn’t my dog-training voice. And if you’re so intent on getting at the truth, why aren’t you asking Prudence?”
“I have asked her. She lied. As you are lying now.”
“You’ve always wanted Prudence,” Beatrix burst out. “Now you can have her. Why should a handful of letters matter?”
“Because I was deceived. And I want to know how and why.”
“Pride,” Beatrix said bitterly. “That’s all this is to you…your pride was hurt.”
One of hands sank into her hair, gripping in a gentle but inexorable hold. A gasp slipped from her throat as he pulled her head back.
“Don’t try to diver the conversation. You know something you’re not telling me.” His free hand came to the exposed line of her throat. For a heart-stopping moment she thought he might choke her. Instead he caressed her gently, his thumb moving in a subtle swirl in the hollow at the base. The intensity of her own reaction astonished her.
Beatrix’s eyes half closed. “Stop,” she said faintly.
Taking her responsive shiver as a sign of distaste or fear, Christopher lowered his head
until his breath fanned her cheek. “Not until I have the truth.”
Never. If she told him, he would hate her for the way she had deceived and abandoned him. Some mistakes could not be forgiven.
“Go to hell,” Beatrix said unsteadily. She had never used such a phrase in her life.
“I am in hell.” His body corralled hers, his legs intruding amid the folds of her skirts.
Drowning in guilt and fear and desire, she tried to push his caressing hand away from her throat. His fingers delved into her hair with a grip just short of painful. His mouth was close to hers. He was surrounding her, all the strength and force and maleness of him, and she closed her eyes as her senses went quiet and dark in helpless waiting. “I’ll make you tell me,” she heard him mutter.
And then he was kissing her.
Somehow, Beatrix thought hazily, Christopher seemed to be under the impression she would find his kisses so objectionable that she would confess anything to make him desist. She couldn’t think how he had come by such a notion. In fact, she couldn’t really think at all.
Lisa Kleypas (Love in the Afternoon (The Hathaways, #5))
Yo momma is so fat… when a bus hit her she said, “Who threw the pebble?” Yo momma is so fat… when she puts on her yellow rain coat and walks down the street people shout out “taxi”! Yo momma is so fat… she uses the interstate as a slip and slide. Yo momma is so fat… you could use her bellybutton as a wishing well. Yo momma is so fat… the government forced her to wear taillights and blinkers so no one else would get hurt. Yo momma is so fat… she supplies 99% of the world’s gas. Yo momma is so fat… when she goes to Taco Bell, they run for the border! Yo momma is so fat… she rolled out of bed and everybody thought there was an earthquake. Yo momma is so fat… when God said, “Let there be light,” he had to ask her to move out of the way. Yo momma is so fat… she has more chins than a Chinese phone book. Yo momma is so fat… she jumped in the air and got stuck. Yo momma is so fat… she's got to wake up in sections. Yo momma is so skinny… Yo momma is so skinny… she can hang glide with a Dorito! Yo momma is so skinny… she swallowed a meatball and thought she was pregnant. Yo momma is so skinny… she turned sideways and disappeared. Yo momma is so skinny… she hula hoops with a cheerio. Yo momma is so skinny… she has to run around in the shower just to get wet. Yo momma is so skinny… she don’t get wet when it rains. Yo momma is so skinny… her nipples touch. Yo momma is so skinny… she has to wear a belt with her spandex pants. Yo momma is so skinny… she can see through peepholes with both eyes. Yo momma is so skinny… she can dive through a chain-linked fence. Yo momma is so skinny… she uses cotton balls for pillows. Yo momma is so old… Yo momma is so old… she knew the Great Wall of China when it was only good! Yo momma is so old… that her bus pass is in hieroglyphics! Yo momma is so old… she was wearing a Jesus starter jacket! Yo momma is so old… her birth certificate is in Roman numerals. Yo momma is so old… she ran track with dinosaurs. Yo momma is so old… she knew Burger King while he was still a prince. Yo momma is so old… her birth certificate says expired on it. Yo momma is so old… she has a picture of Moses in her yearbook. Yo momma is so old… that when she was in school there was no history class. Yo momma is so old… her social security number is 1! Yo momma is so old… I told her to act her own age, and she died. Yo momma is so short… Yo momma is so short… she does backflips under the bed. Yo momma is so short … she can play handball on the curb. Yo momma is so short… she can use a sock for a sleeping bag. Yo momma is so short… she can tie her shoes while standing up. Yo momma is so short… she can sit on a dime and swing her legs. Yo momma is so short … she has to use a ladder to pick up a dime. Yo momma is so short … she poses for trophies! Yo momma is so short… she has a job as a teller at a piggy bank. Yo momma is so short… she has to use rice to roll her hair up. Yo momma is so short… she uses a toothpick as pool stick. Yo momma is so short… she can surf on a popsicle stick.
Various (151+ Yo Momma Jokes)
Under these circumstances the most anodyne book was a source of danger from the simple fact that love was alluded to, and woman depicted as an attractive creature; and this was enough to account for all—for the inherent ignorance of Catholics, since it was proclaimed as the preventive cure for temptations—for the instinctive horror of art, since to these craven souls every written and studied work was in its nature a vehicle of sin and an incitement to fall.
Would it not really be far more sensible and judicious to open the windows, to air the rooms, to treat these souls as manly beings, to teach them not to be so much afraid of their own flesh, to inculcate the firmness and courage needed for resistance? For really it is rather like a dog which barks at your heels and snaps at your legs if you are afraid of him, but who beats a retreat if you turn on him boldly and drive him off.
The fact remains that these schemes of education have resulted, on the one hand, in the triumph of the flesh in the greater number of men who have been thus brought up and then thrown into a worldly life, and on the other, in a wide diffusion of folly and fear, an abandonment of the possessions of the intellect and the capitulation of the Catholic army surrendering without a blow to the inroads of profane literature, which takes possession of territory that it has not even had the trouble of conquering.
This really was madness! The Church had created art, had cherished it for centuries; and now by the effeteness of her sons she was cast into a corner. All the great movements of our day, one after the other—romanticism, naturalism—had been effected independently of her, or even against her will.
If a book were not restricted to the simplest tales, or pleasing fiction ending in virtue rewarded and vice punished, that was enough; the propriety of beadledom was at once ready to bray.
As soon as the most modern form of art, the most malleable and the broadest—the Novel—touched on scenes of real life, depicted passion, became a psychological study, an effort of analysis, the army of bigots fell back all along the line. The Catholic force, which might have been thought better prepared than any others to contest the ground which theology had long since explored, retired in good order, satisfied to cover its retreat by firing from a safe distance, with its old-fashioned match-lock blunderbusses, on works it had neither inspired nor written.
The Church party, centuries behind the time, and having made no attempt to follow the evolution of style in the course of ages, now turned to the rustic who can scarcely read; it did not understand more than half of the words used by modern writers, and had become, it must be said, a camp of the illiterate. Incapable of distinguishing the good from the bad, it included in one condemnation the filth of pornography and real works of art; in short, it ended by emitting such folly and talking such preposterous nonsense, that it fell into utter discredit and ceased to count at all.
And it would have been so easy for it to work on a little way, to try to keep up with the times, and to understand, to convince itself whether in any given work the author was writing up the Flesh, glorifying it, praising it, and nothing more, or whether, on the contrary, he depicted it merely to buffet it—hating it. And, again, it would have done well to convince itself that there is a chaste as well as a prurient nude, and that it should not cry shame on every picture in which the nude is shown. Above all, it ought to have recognized that vices may well be depicted and studied with a view to exciting disgust of them and showing their horrors.
Joris-Karl Huysmans (The Cathedral)