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the column of lasting insignificance: Jan. 19, 2013
by John Wilcock

ONCE AN IDEA forces its way into the public domain, it can never be pushed back; it will only grow and spread, eventually fulfilling itself, even if it takes a long time. Consider, for example, the case of marijuana which as early as the Sixties we knew would one day become at least quasi-legal. (In the underground press, we used to joke that whatever we wrote about was likely to be on Time’s cover two years later). Currently there’s another hitherto impossible idea that’s finally beginning to surface: the idea of freedom coming to China. “It’s clear that reforms are critical for maintaining China’s stability” wrote the Nation in one of numerous similar assessments in contemporary magazines that followed the transfer to power in that country from one set of geriatrics to another.
    Veteran BBC correspondent John Simpson writes in the Spectator of his recent visits to Beijing cafes hearing “intelligent young people telling me that the Communist Party has nothing that appeals to them and they couldn’t care less what it decides.” What on earth do China’s leaders have to offer them?” he asked. And veteran China hand James Fallow adds: ”The ‘shut-up and look at your pay check’ approach that has worked for people who remember China’s backwardness may not work for their children”.
    And hooray for the journalists on the Chinese newspapers who are beginning to question, if not defy, orders from Beijing to print censures with which they don’t agree.
    So, finally, the previously unthinkable is being thought: maybe one of the increasing number of protest demonstrations (nearly 200,000 across China last year) will catch a spark, find a leader and gather enough momentum to instigate a revolution for the people. “Once all struggle is grasped” said Mao Tse Tung, “miracles are possible”.
    Meanwhile, as history will note, by declining to lower our national debt, Congress has decided to hand over world leadership to China, from whom we will continue borrowing the funds to keep us afloat.

OBAMA’S POT PROBLEM explains Rolling Stone is that federal agents like the DEA “are staffed with hardliners who have built their careers on going after pot”. What will the Feds do in response to the growing acceptance of the blessed herb? “Advocates of legalization are hoping that the Obama administration will recognize that it’s on the wrong side of history” writes Tim Dickinson, suggesting that before major changes kick in there may be a time for some kind of a truce between the government and states that have voted for legalization (WA and CO). “There’s no inherent need for a knee-jerk Federal response” says Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelman, whom RS has described as "the point man for drug-policy-reform efforts. “When it comes to pot, the government is both impotent and omnipotent” Dickinson writes. It’s within President Obama’s power to shut down DEA raids and order the Justice Department to make enforcement of marihuana laws the lowest priority. And with an eye on his legacy he should treat pot prohibition like another costly misadventure, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a boxed-off personal note imploring the president to “end this war”, RS publisher Jann Wenner termed it “a sham, a folly, a colossal waste of money and human potential”, a prohibition that last year wasted nearly $8bn and caused the arrest of 750,000 Americans. “And, Mr. President, you can end it with a few strokes of your pen”.

A WIN FOR EITHER SIDE in Syria’s civil war would be disastrous according to Glenn E Robinson, writing in Current History, where he suggests that a regime victory would leave the country totally isolated but for the tenuous lifeline offered by Russia, China and Iran. And a third round of civil war would loom in the future because “the regime would never allow the majority population to essentially vote it out of power”. On the other hand, regime collapse would likely bring out Islamic rule which would “almost certainly lead to significant levels of revenge killing…(and) the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Syrian Christians”. From America’s perspective, writes Robinson, an associate professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School, a continuing civil war maintaining a rough balance of power, would result in a peace brought about by compromise. But obviously it’s a tragedy that Bashar al-Assad can’t see that the logic of history verifies that he can’t possibly win the civil war.

NOT A SINGLE TERRORIST has been caught by the intrusive Transportation Security Administration despite its $8 billion budget writes Charles Keany in Businessweek. “All this spending on airline security is worse than wasteful” he charges, because not only have the ubiquitous searches turned US travel into an ordeal, but they have led many passengers “to ditch flying in favor of driving which is statistically far more dangerous”—an additional 242 traffic deaths a month, according to s Cornell University survey.

THE GENERALS, Thomas E. Ricks’ book of that title, explains that some of our military troubles are that however badly they perform, commanding officers just don’t get fired any more. He compares this with World War II when 600 officers were relieved by General George Marshall and Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower advised George Patton “to be cold-blooded about removing inefficient officers”. Reviewing the book in the weekly Standard, Tim Kane writes that officers are chosen today by “a faceless bureaucracy”. Leadership training programs are wasted, he maintains, because of “the refusal to distinguish or promote talent. The Pentagon has perfected teaching judgment to its officers but has abdicated passing judgment upon them”.

THE YEAR-END LOGJAM of movies being released puts earlier releases at a big disadvantage when it comes to voting for the Oscars writes the Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg. So he suggests that the Academy divide the year into two portions, asking members to vote for five ‘best’ films in each period. “That would give studios a tremendous incentive to release quality movies throughout the year”. Feinberg also urges the Academy to reach out more to the general public, maybe even being invited “in a limited degree” into the Oscar voting and the show itself.

A BIBLE ISN’T REQUIRED for the inaugural ceremony, although tradition decrees that one be used. President Obama, as in 2008, will take the oath of office on the same bible used by Lincoln in 1864, but it’s not that the Constitution requires it. Over the years, the ritual has “taken on some of the trappings of what the scholars call ‘civil religion’” explains Rob Boston in Church & State, a monthly newsletter devoted to keeping the two apart. “In an era in which many people feared the power of God more than the state” he writes, “swearing an oath on the Bible made a certain amount of sense…. failure to tell the truth meant more than time in jail; it put your immortal soul at risk”.

THE WILCOCK WEB: The Pentagon is finally starting to admit two truths: That the US can’t possibly win in Afghanistan while they’re there, and that The Taliban will regain control as soon as they leave….Meanwhile, if we capture any of the brave warriors who’ve been killing nurses doing vaccinations, the best way to teach them what they need to know, would be to shoot them with the polio virus instead of bullets….…..”There was a time in the world” says CBS reporter Lara Logan, 41, “when we honestly thought if people just know this is happening, nobody will stand for it…". When somebody marches into a movie theater and shoots 80 people, why is it necessary to hold a hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence for a trial?.....All it took was the introduction of tweetings to demonstrate what a petty, petulant nitwit Rupert Murdoch is. A typical Murdoch moronity: Why is Jewish-owned press so consistently anti-Israel?..... Mexico’s new president wants to change the country’s official name (Estados Unidos Mexicanos) into simply ‘Mexico’ ….“a word unprintable here” was the New York Times reference to an expletive used on the cover of some women’s magazine. How ridiculous! A word that’s the whole reason for the story and the paper can’t say what it is?.... …..,.Spending excessive time on Facebook enhances self-esteem, reports the Journal of Consumer Research, which in turn results in “increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit card debt”…..... … Reviewing Quentin Tarantino’s violent movie Django Unchained, the National Review commented: “He is a clown selling tickets to slobs”….Isn’t it about time that churches paid taxes on their billion dollars-worth of property ?…. When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion ….Although they will still need to seek their husband’s permission, Saudi Arabian women with three years’ experience and a law degree will now be allowed to practice in that country’s courts…..“Don’t judge folks by their relatives” says The Ol’ Farmer… ….A teacher in every gunshop teaching morals, suggests Larry Russell, would be better than a gun in every school…. Italian fashion partners Domenico Dolce and Stefino Gabana are on trial

Loo with a View
AARP Bulletin

for tax evasion….…A one-way glass window allows users of this toilet (at right) in Sulphur Springs, TX, to admire the outside scenery while attending to more urgent matters ….….The big winners in the election of course, reports the Media Watch Group’s Extra were the ad agencies, DC consultants and media companies with CBS alone reporting an additional $180million in profits…. Although it receives $30,000 ‘sponsorship’ fees every time a star is inducted, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is requesting more from the studios to do necessary repairs and upgrading to the 15-block attraction…. Three hundred production companies, mostly lacking both funds and modern equipment, standing by ready to launch Sierra Leon’s movie industry (Sollywood), seeking to emulate Nigeria’s Nollywood, which earns that country $250m per year…. Is there such a shortage of abandoned children in the US that anxious couples have to go to other countries to adopt?....”We must teach future leaders that political courage is not political suicide”—Arnold Schwarzenegger (1947- )




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A Guide to Occult Britain

Forty years ago the second of my three books about magic was published, A Guide to Occult Britain (Sidgwick & Jackson) covering a wide range of sites from Stonehenge to Loch Ness and King Arthur country to the witches of Pendle Hill. It is now available as an eBook on amazon.com.

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A Budget Travel Pioneer on a Time When $5 a Day Was Real (Frugal) Money
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Village Voice and Interview cofounder John Wilcock was first drawn into the milieu of Andy Warhol through film-maker Jonas Mekas, assisting on some of Warhol’s early films, hanging out at his parties and quickly becoming a regular at the Factory. “About six months after I started hanging out at the old, silvery Factory on West 47th Street,” he recalls, “[Gerard] Malanga came up to me and asked, ‘When are you going to write something about us?’” Already fascinated by Warhol’s persona, Wilcock went to work, interviewing the artist’s closest associates, supporters and superstars. Among these were Malanga, Naomi Levine, Taylor Mead and Ultra Violet, all of whom had been in the earliest films; scriptwriter Ronnie Tavel, and photographer Gretchen Berg; art dealers Sam Green, Ivan Karp, Eleanor Ward and Leo Castelli, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Henry Geldzahler; the poets Charles Henri Ford and Taylor Mead, and the artist Marisol; and the musicians Lou Reed and Nico. Paul Morrisey supplied the title: The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol was the first oral biography of the artist. First published in 1971, and pitched against the colorful backdrop of the 1960s, it assembles a prismatic portrait of one of modern art’s least knowable artists during the early years of his fame. The Autobiography and Sex Life is likely the most revealing portrait of Warhol, being composite instead of singular; each of its interviewees offers a piece of the puzzle that was Andy Warhol. This new edition corrects the many errors of the first, and is beautifully designed in a bright, Warholian palette with numerous illustrations. The British-born writer John Wilcock co-founded The Village Voice in 1955, and went on to edit seminal publications such as The East Village Other, Los Angeles Free Press, Other Scenes and (in 1970) Interview, with Andy Warhol.