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the column of lasting insignificance: May 17, 2014
by John Wilcock

“Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition, is yet to be developed.”
—Abraham Lincoln

The following appeared as lead stories
in May in prior years

“I think we are reaching a point where the technology needs to be controlled in some way. I think every person will feel the need (for) some time of silence. We are too connected. There’s noise in our heads all the time.”
—Isabel Allende interviewed by Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times

MORRIS DEES AND HIS Southern Poverty Law Center have been media heroes for more than 40 years fighting against racism and segregation and battling for immigrants and civil rights in all its forms. “Even the SPLC's severest critics give the center's lawyers credit for providing high-quality legal services that have resulted in tangible legal changes” writes Charlotte Allen. But now some of those critics have their say in her story in the weekly Standard where their gripes focus on Dees himself whom they call “a shyster…a con-man,…King of the Hate Business… and an indisputable genius at self-promotion”. The Center's 76-year-old founder, who lives in what the Montgomery Advertiser describes as a “lavishly appointed neo-Mediterranean home” is said to be a multi-millionaire from direct-mail sales of everything from doormats to cookbooks, and the SPLC is called, “a Charity of Riches”. Specifically, the organization is reported to have expenses of $26 for every $100 raised (compared to the ACLU Foundation's $11) and to be sitting on $256million, dispensing only $24.9m last year of the $38.5m raised. “It has transformed itself into an all-purpose anti-hate crusader, labeling 1,007 different organizations across America (including the) category ‘general hate’” the magazine says.
May 18, 2013

“The Republican platform is about deregulation, drill baby drill, frack baby frack, cut that wood, lay that pipe, mine that coal, ditch the EPA...ditch standards…global warning is a hoax,,and that every man is entitled to any amount of money he’s able to amass, no matter what the consequences to ‘his’ human worker bees or the planet.”
—Chris Jensen in the VCReporter

SAME SEX MARRIAGE is beginning to have unexpected consequences, just as some critics foretold. The latest response is from the Muslim community who see it as a justification for the polygamy that their religion has always favored. “Islam sanctions polygamy—more specifically, polygyny—allowing Muslim men to keep up to four wives at once” says the National Review, pointing out that in France there are estimated to be as many as 20,000 polygamous families, and in the UK, men with extra wives receive extra benefits. “The opportunity presented by the redefining of marriage make it very likely that direct appeals for official recognition will ramp up over the next decade, as more Muslims join vocal non-Muslims already laying out the case that polygamists deserve no fewer rights than gays” writes David J. Rusin of the Middle East Forum. “Almost nine in ten Americans still see the practice as morally wrong. However, neither bureaucratic obstacles nor public exposure of the social ills accompanying polygamy will deter polygamous Muslims from seeking what they desire”.
May 19, 2012

“Virtually all US senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1% when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1% and know that if they serve the top 1% well, they will be rewarded by the top 1% when they leave office.”
Joseph E. Stiglitz in a hard-hitting piece about the plutocrats who really own this country: “One big part of the reason we have so much inequality is that the top 1% want it this way.
--from the May Vanity Fair, a magazine that is sometimes under-estimated

IT WON’T BE LONG before the world comes to appreciate that artist Al Weiwei, is one of the most important people in it. China is a powder keg approaching the “explosion point” says former Communist Gao Wenquian, now living in New York, who forecasts the artist that could be the match to ignite it. “He had to be snuffed out”. In the style of all important artists with a conscience, Weiwei, 53, has been provoking his government to respect human rights and uncover corruption and now, not for the first time, he has been arrested. His politics have become his art, writes Barbara Pollack, author of a book about the Chinese art world. “What he has done is really quite heroic” she told Newsweek. “Many people felt he was emerging as a leader of a protest movement”.
May 14, 2011

“We don’t really resolve conflicts. We establish deterrence…We saw in 1945 what two nuclear bombs are capable of but we keep making more and more powerful ones ….. But someone radical enough who thinks it is worth his while and perhaps the way to secure his place in heaven too, will ultimately use it, and the framework will fall apart. We are in a state of escalation.”
—Avinadav Begin; author of The End of Conflict

Ham House
Ham House - A 17th-century painting of Ham House by Henry Danckerts.

SEX IN STATELY HOMES is the latest gimmick by the prolific publishers of “romance” novels, Mills and Boon, which issues eight new novels each month to subscribers and bookstores. (Each month the books left unsold in the stores are pulped). Under a deal with Britain’s National Trust (which preserves many of the country’s historic, but cash-short, homes) the publisher will start producing novels set in these celebrated mansions, fictionalized versions of real romances. The first (reports The Bookseller) is set in 17th century Ham House on the banks of the Thames in Surrey. Scandalous Innocent by Juliet Landon weaves the story of the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale, with that of the fictional Phoebe, “a beautiful scandal magnet who falls for the duke's personal secretary, Sir Leo. Trysts and quarrels occur inside the walls of the property, with its sculpted gardens playing host to stolen kisses”.
      Landon, who has written 20 novels for Mills & Boon, said that she followed her characters "right into the bedroom". "I never close the door on them," she said. "In a story of that kind you can't be coarse, so I write very carefully, and metaphor comes in, but I do give quite a lot of detail … There's plenty of sex.”
      John Stachiewicz, publisher at the National Trust, said the collaboration would celebrate the 400th anniversary of Ham House, as well as raising money for the restoration of silk hangings at the property (50p from each copy of the novel sold at National Trust properties will go to the institution).
        "Our visitors love a good story about the romance of the houses and the history of the families [and] these houses have seen a lot of action," he said.
May 14, 2010

JW is taking some time away to mend in hospital and looks forward to returning soon.

Bakewell (part 2), its mayor, and its pudding...

National Weed (1974, issue #3)

it's here...
Marijuana—The Weed That Changed the World

Bakewell and Chatsworth 2013 (part 1)


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