Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Things Fall Apart
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
William Butler Yeats, 1919
We need to give serious consideration to the consequences of doing nothing or too little to confront the current economic and financial crisis. The Senate Foreign Affairs Committee just held hearings on the consequences of the Economic Crisis on international stability. The new Director of National Intelligence, shocked the Congress when he reported that the number one issue threatening our national security is the economy, making the current crisis the highest priority for intelligence collection. Daily, we hear of increasing signs of unravelling. Galloping unemployment and economic slowdown. Rioting in small island paradises like Madagascar and Guadeloupe. We seem to be at a tipping point between recession and some form of depression. Could economic slowdown lead to social and political chaos? What will happen in more "fragile states" than the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia? It is common knowledge that the Great Depression led to the rise of Fascism, Nazism and Japanese militarism and World War II. How do human beings react to shortages of food, fuel and energy.... and of hope? What are the lessons of the conditions that lead to extremism and terrorism? It is easy to believe that today's comfort and stability will continue on in some linear fashion. Had we not built the perfect economic and financial system, the wonder of the world? Yet, can you not already feel that something is slipping? World events do sometimes go off a cliff.
That is why it is totally irresponsible for politicians to play partisan political games with a solution to the economic and financial crisis. I do not think the American people will tolerate that for very long.
The Deacon's Masterpiece or The Wonderful "One-Hoss Shay": A Logical Story
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then of a sudden it -- ah, but stay,
I'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,Frightening people out of their wits,
--Have you ever heard of that, I say?
Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.
Georgius Secundus was then alive,
--Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock's army was done so brown
,Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on that terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.
Now in building of shaises, I tell you what,
There is always a weakest spot,
--In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In pannel or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, throughbrace, -- lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will,
--Above or below, or within or without,
--And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,
That a chaise breaks down, but doesn't wear out.
But the Deacon swore (as deacons do,
With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell yeou")
He would build one shay to beat the taown'n' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun';
It should be so built that it couldn' break daown:
"Fer," said the Deacon, "'t's mighty plain
Thut the weakes' place mus' stan' the strain;'n' the way t' fix it, uz
I maintain, is only jest'T' make that place uz strong uz the rest."
So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That couldn't be split nor bent nor broke,
--That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the the straightest trees
The pannels of whitewood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;
The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum,"
--Last of its timber, -- they couldn't sell 'em,
Never no axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips,
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Throughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he "put her through,
""There!" said the Deacon, "naow she'll dew!"
Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren -- where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!
EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; -- it came and found
The Deacon's masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hindred increased by ten;
--"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came;
--Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arive,
And then come fifty and FIFTY-FIVE.
Little of of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.I
n fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it. -- You're welcome. -- No extra charge.)
FIRST OF NOVEMBER, -- the Earthquake-day,
--There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavor of mild decay
,But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn't be, -- for the Deacon's ar
tHad made it so like in every part
That there wasn't a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thillsA
nd the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less or more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And the spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!
First of November, fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
"Huddup!" said the parson. -- Off went they.
The parson was working his Sunday's text,
--Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the -- Moses -- was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill.
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill,
--And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half past nine by the meet'n'-house clock,
--Just the hour of the earthquake shock!
What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once,
--All at once, and nothing first,
--Just as bubbles do when they burst.
End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
Logic is logic. That's all I say.
Oliver Wendall Holmes (1809-1894)