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Farewell, Content: Another Holiday Ruined Before It Was Quite Gone

As a teacher, one enjoys a slightly longer holiday than most people–though”enjoy” may be used somewhat rhetorically, considering that our entire break is often divided between seeing our families and racing to prepare for classes saddled upon us with little warning.

The family reunions, at least, should be pleasant… shouldn’t they?  Not always.  But do they have to end like this?

Your last evening with the person you raised from the cradle, and whom you may not see again for half a year… and he and Auntie fight over what movie to watch.  Auntie gets up and announces that she’s returning to the hotel.  Well, you can’t have that… so you try to make peace, to introduce compromise.  You think you’ve pulled it off.  Yet you can see that College Lad is still smarting from the treatment.  He wants to remain civil, but… but this eventually requires his departing to say his goodbyes to a high school friend.  Doesn’t know when he’ll be back.  You wait up, fighting to keep your lids open and listening to Auntie ramble on about you know not what.  Finally you surrender, send Auntie away with apologies, and pass a very uneven night which only partially relieves your exhaustion.

Why do these things happen?  Did they always happen so, or was there once a Silver Age when family members were all politeness and consideration?  I find myself asking more and more if life was once better as I get older.  Many times, a little reflection strongly recommends the answer, “Yes!”

In this instance, though, I’m skeptical.  After all, I’ve had my own run-ins with “the family”.  I spent one Thanksgiving evening about ten years ago walking around the neighborhood in the rain because of a tantrum thrown by someone over having to forsake the Dallas Cowboys game for the dinner table.  And in this instance, I think my boy’s response was similar, and similarly guiltless.  He had been rudely issued an ultimatum and identified his mounting annoyance soon enough that he vacated the premises before more words leaked out.  That was the better choice.

But why do these things ever happen at all?  They’re not supposed to happen, are they?  Something in me wants to believe that it’s just our family–that we somehow got a raw deal; but I’ve heard too many stories from others to think that peace reigned supreme behind all of those warmly glowing windows drifting past me on a rainy Thanksgiving evening.

If a wagon has a wheel that’s out of kilter, the wagon still rolls.  But it grows ever more wobbly the farther it goes… until, eventually, the wheel breaks free in a great crash.  So it is with people and their oddities.  The older they get, the better they learn to protect and indulge their strange tendencies, and the more out-of-whack these grow.  We’re supposed to acquire wisdom with age, but it doesn’t always happen; and, indeed, I’m afraid it rather rarely happens.  Especially if we fall into the habit of giving into ourselves and making adaptations instead of corrections, we become more like spoiled-brat children just when we were supposed to have become wise elders.

I hope I never learn to protect my little lunacies that well.  I’d rather die early than live to be a cranky old fool.

The Robot and the Helot: Neither Side Gets It

I read a story today about a Canadian study that found living in close proximity to heavy traffic bad for your health.  The toxic emissions and stirred dust were not the only suspected culprits.  Interestingly, noise was believed to be a major factor in (for instance) the relatively high incidence of dementia among those dwelling less than 70 meters from traffic arteries.  Now, 70 meters is about the length of a football field!  Many of us live much closer than that to constant roar and rumble.  It’s a sad discovery… or a disquieting theory, if you prefer; but it also makes me smile.  I’m not amused because an inner sadist rules my tastes, but only because I’ve been warning people about this sort of thing all my life–admittedly, on the basis of mere intuition.  I never had a study behind me before.  And there also appears to be no corroborative study behind this one.  Why not?

Well, because it’s just junk science, some would say.  The academics are at it again, trying to drum up alarm against the innovative, high-tech free market that has driven unimaginable economic growth around the planet for two centuries and virtually eradicated poverty in First World societies.  Or… it might also be that the corporations and their government mouthpieces responsible for most grants to academic researchers would never hear of anyone cracking the lid on such a Pandora’s Box–not on their dime!

Conservatives–or people who style themselves conservative–need to get their act together.  Driving peace and quiet out of our communities was never a conservative undertaking: it was always definitively subversive to the established, traditional way of life.  To argue that mankind must adapt to the fits and belches of mechanization, even though machines were supposed to improve life for mankind, is to be a marketplace progressive–an advocate of any product or sales strategy that produces material wealth.  This vector is soon (as in about three decades) going to lead us straight to the point where we fuse with robotic technology.  Would anyone like to explain to me how such a trajectory may be described as conservative?

But the other side appears to be just as clueless.  I recently finished watching a Netflix documentary titled Killswitch about the all-too-effective efforts of big government and its private-sector cronies to suppress the free and open circulation of information.  The case is quintessentially libertarian; and, except for the side of it which pertains narrowly to national security (e.g., keeping a secret nuclear deterrent under wraps so that bad guys won’t labor on developing the next generation of horror), I’m entirely on board with the argument.  But why does every free-speech champion in the flick believe that more government offers an answer?  Just because suppression often begins in a private-sector, mega-corporation lust to maximize profits doesn’t mean that the public sector is our savior by default.  On the contrary, the hard fact that government hacks are always up for sale is what confers upon businesses the power to suppress.

I don’t know what the ultimate answer might be, or if it exists… perhaps some genuine and informed kind of populism: but its thrust must be to insist that regulators back off rather than that they pile on with more “well-intended” regulation.

The documentary’s blindness to this most basic of facts made me want to chuck my TV out into one of those busy streets around my house.  I could claim dementia as my defense.

I Hate Being “Protected”

My brother-in-law warned me that building a house in North Georgia is likely to be an expensive proposition, thanks to all the tests and inspections required by county building codes.  One of my brilliant ideas as I cast about for how to design the place was to minimize windows on the first floor and keep them small and high.  I’ve been burglarized before: it’s not a pleasant experience.  A multi-story house could be relatively economical since rooms built upon rooms make the most frugal use of construction materials–but such a dwelling would also reduce the surface area that offers easy access to casual break-ins.  Just keep those first-floor windows as inconvenient as possible for intruding bodies!

Now I’m wondering if I won’t have to scrap that part of the design–because I’m pretty sure that the county incarnation of Big Brother will want us to be able to escape the house readily in the event of fire.  I’m more worried about uninvited guests coming in than I am about the occupants finding a quick way out.  (I’ll have a basement, and smoke doesn’t travel downward.)  Nevertheless, I would lay even money that the code will preempt my personal concerns with the all-foreseeing mandate of an all-knowing bureaucracy.  I’m not handy enough to build a house on my own, and any construction crew will be forced to follow regulations; so they have me.

Now, I can always shutter points of extreme exposure or otherwise short-circuit the code once I’m in the house.  But my point in making today’s observation is just this: do-gooders often do more harm than “bad agents” when they have insufficient evidence and, at the same time, arrogantly suppose themselves to be experts.  You can see this playing out at every level of government from the very local to the international.  Somehow, the arrogant intruders are eligible for unlimited forgiveness because they have pure motives.  (I’m not unaware that many of them have very venal motives, by the way; a lot of petty inspectors and vendors of needless accessories make bundles of money off of stuff like building codes, thanks to their unions’ generous donations to certain campaign coffers.  Yet let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the motives are pure.)

I don’t like such people.  Go ahead and call me a hater: I hate such people.  I hate people who grind you under their boots in order to “do good” for you–in order to save you from your own stupid self.  I hate ’em–I won’t pretend otherwise.  They’re not nice human beings.  They’re imperious and self-righteous.  Their public-spiritedness is a mere pose upon which they greatly pride themselves, like an admiral in full uniform primping before a mirror.  If we wretched imbeciles didn’t exist, they’d have to invent us.  They need someone to “save”… and you and I will do just fine.

To hell with that.

Auld Lang Syne… Just Move On

During my long car ride to the eastern seaboard a few days ago, I was able to wile away many hours by scribbling.  Among other things, I ground out a poem answering an invitation to attend my high school class’s forty-fifth reunion.  I’ve posted the whole poem under a pseudonym on another site.  None of my quondam classmates will read it there… and none will read the final fragment here.  (When I notified the whole group of a book I’d published through Smashwords two summers ago, four said that they had bought or would buy a copy, not knowing that I’m automatically informed of sales.  There was one purchase.)  The poem’s first part represents the invitation, full of “school spirit” and almost clad in a letter-jacket.  This brief portion is my answer:

Appreciate the thought

(If no more deep it went

Than matching roster spots

With invitations sent).

 

Someone of your name once

Knew someone who had mine.

Their boyhood, by a chance,

Shared common place and time.

 

They went their separate ways…

Or one stayed, one left town.

With him, he took my name—

But ditched his cap and gown.

 

And how he sought his god,

And what truth found him bare

And dressed him for the road—

That’s nothing I will share.

 

The boy I was is dead—

The one you thought you knew.

Your kindly card was read

To something in a tomb.

 

Me, I remain alive—

But not where beads are pearls.

Appreciate your time.

Right name, but not right world.

 

 

The Fight for Right Has Only Armies of One

A young man who shall remain unnamed recently explained to me his secret of success on Linkedin.  He contacts dozens of mates at his college whom he has not necessarily ever met, expresses a willingness to endorse their special skills on the website, and invites them to do the same on his page.  Result: lots of endorsements.  Problem: the endorsements are largely fake.  But the problem was mine, as I sat listening.  Virtually no one else today seems to care about such picky moral details.

It’s easy for someone in my position to opine grandly, “The Golden Age has yielded to the Age of Lead and Ash.  These young ones… the only reason they’re innocent is that they can’t conceive of a moral principle.  They like little savages!”  Yes… and whose fault is that?  The generation that raised them, perhaps?

I just returned last night from an exhaustive trip to look over some acreage that I’d like to buy, four states away.  I thought that I had booked a hotel at a really great discount through AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens.  And indeed I had… but no thanks to AMAC, whose Internet link had essentially routed me through some existing service like Travelocity–where your reservations are prepaid and inalterable.  The Association had not really created a special discount for its members, in other words: it was parasitizing online resources that already existed, and charging a membership fee to do so.  It happened that I finished my business a day early, and of course I didn’t want to blow the expense of another night’s stay.  When the hotel staff insisted that my giving thirty hours’ notice made no difference–that I was paid up for the full time whether I liked it or not–I called AMAC for some back-up support.  The date was Friday, December 30–a work day even for the notoriously vacation-happy USPS; yet I heard nothing but recorded messages.  Now, if I were still a member of AARP, my discount would have been locked in and I could have adjusted the days of my stay as long as the hotel received due notice… and a live person would have answered my calls.

I left AARP because I intensely disliked its backing of big-government causes with my membership fees.  AMAC explicitly advertises itself as the freedom-loving, small-government alternative.  Forgive me if, at the moment, I consider it little more than a scam.  I’m reminded of the very worst con I ever fell for in my life, wherein I lost $5,000.  The operation styled itself CBC (for Christian Businesses C… something-or-other).  I was about to lose my current job, and the soothing, somewhat fulsome promises and good humor of the Elmer Gantry CEO made me think what I really wanted to think: that here was a brother in the faith who had no stronger motive than helping out people in my precarious position.  Boy, did I get screwed!

There are a lot of “bad agents” in the world right now, and “men of good will” (as the French say) want to oppose them.  They want to be on the right side, and they–we–will likely rally round anyone who cries, “Out on thee, vile person!”  We think we’re showing solidarity against the forces of corruption.  Only problem is that being the standard-bearer of the virtuous opposition creates all kinds of opportunity to exploit and scam.

I’ve pretty much decided that there is no virtuous opposition… almost never.  Most of the good wars you wage must be fought alone.  As soon as you put on a uniform, you start to melt–imperceptibly–into the ranks of more bad guys.

Verify before you trust–and then trust no more than you absolutely need to.

How Should a Christian Handle Islam These Days?

The student who encouraged me to begin this blog as a means of promoting my literary ambitions is a devout Muslim.

Qanta Ahmad, author of a book I’ve just finished (In the Land of Invisible Women), is a fully credentialed M.D. who frequently and publicly criticizes the Saudi oppression of women… and she is also a devout Muslim.

Zudhi Jasser, another M.D. and author, likewise often chastises radical Islam as a FOX News contributor… and is likewise a practicing Muslim.

Abortion is not tolerated in the Muslim world; neither is homosexuality.  Though the Christian approach to such behaviors is (or should be) more nuanced than outright condemnation accompanied by severe corporal punishment, most denominations today will not so much as imply that pulling the plug on the unborn is in any way wrong, or that same-sex ménages –and even marriages–are more a reaction to past abuse than a healthy expression of developing identity.

And yet, the Koran is full of passages that advise (not to mention enjoin) persecuting (not to mention slaying) the infidel… and yet, the Old Testament is full of passages where God is said to slaughter the enemies of the Jews–man, woman, and child–or to command their slaughter.

Yet in 2016, Jews and Christians do not read these passages literally and obey them to the letter, for the most part.  A woman in my neck of the woods attempted to kill her three young sons a few years back (and succeeded in killing two) because, so she said, she was following the counsel of Deuteronomy 19.  She was treated as criminally insane–and rightly so.  Why, then, does terrorism remain a predominantly Muslim problem?

Most Muslims will never harm anyone–yet far too many seem unwilling to judge terrorist acts harshly in opinion polls.  How many American Christians, though, are disturbed by the Obama Administration’s escalating use of drone strikes in an orgy of killing that has left perhaps a thousand non-combatant children dead?

I would like to write much more about Qanta Ahmad’s book, and especially her understanding of Islam, at a later time.  She seems to be inspired with a keen sense of right and wrong, and to impose this sense as a filter upon her reading of the Koran.  One might say that she is deluding herself… but do not humane, upright Christians filter parts of the Old Testament in the same way?  Must they not?  Is not our common conviction as Christians that God has entrusted to the fastnesses of our soul the spirit of truth, such that holy writ only teaches us explicitly what the wind had already whispered to us?  And does that spirit of truth, then, not sometimes enlighten us in the interpretation of passages somewhat tarnished by cultural distortion?  And if this is so, then should not a Muslim, as a human being, have sufficient hearing to detect the same whisper in interpreting different passages?

I think there are more evil men cloaking their designs in Islamic piety right now than in the parallel pieties of a pseudo-Christianity.  We in the Christian world enjoy the odd luxury of being reviled by most members of our ruling class–a luxury which we should embrace more vigorously.  It is good to be reviled by the vile.  Islam has not achieved the same clarity, and appears to have a long way to go.  I have a feeling that we can help out more by calling any bad act by its name than we can by categorizing it first as the work of a Christian or a Muslim.

Three Things, and a Fourth

It’s not just every generation that believes its toys and trappings and ways to be wholly natural, and to have been around since the dawn of time.  Even well within generational parameters, we tend to forget that trends and fads in which we get swept up weren’t around when we were children.  Take three rather insipid phrases:

Back in the day.  I rate this one as maybe ten years old. Certainly no one was saying it in 1998, and I think its birthday is probably more recent by several years.

So… The use of this little conjunction indicating the approach of a result clause to begin a response where no clear condition precedes it in the speaker’s utterance is, perhaps, five years old.  Maybe a tad more.  You would always have said in the late, not-so-great twentieth century (and the other “so”–the adverb–appears in my hyphenated modifier), “The shoes wouldn’t fit, so [as a result] I sent them back.”  Today we hear interviewers launch long questions to which guests respond with an initial “so”.  “The market seems unconcerned about the national debt.  Could it be that the risk you identify is all a matter of perception?”  “So… we need to understand that every economy in the world is at least as fragile as ours.”  Very, very fuzzy connecting.

Not so much.  Employing this phrase to express, “Not at all!” in ironic understatement has been going on for about five years, as well, by my reckon.  Again, you certainly would not have heard it in 2002, and I don’t think even 2007 saw its birth.  It’s of great interest to me that oral societies engage in such understating (the fancy technical term for which is litotes) all the time.  When Oedipus was struck by an arrogant charioteer (his father, as he unfortunately failed to realize at the time) and recompenses the man by killing him, he proudly recollects, “He didn’t pay me back the same amount.”  Gaelic bards would often praise a chieftain by declaring something on the order of, “Not light was his blow,” or, “Not timid was his step into battle.”

Some of our latest coinages do indeed suggest to me that we’re slipping back into a pre-literate habit of thinking and feeling.  Our electronic gadgets are luring us ever farther from the productive challenges of writing.  That’s a topic for another day.  All I mean to say now is that we should remember how much in flux are the comfy little customs and habits with which we surround ourselves.  Especially when we seek to travel back in history or far afield into another culture, we should attempt to erase from our consciousness all the shallow presumptions we make.  Phrases that we ourselves once spouted at least once a day (like the mysteriously sports-indexed curiosity, “the whole nine yards”) have utterly vanished.  Why, then, should we expect another culture to comprehend our perplexity about how to label restrooms, which is… what?  About a year old?

The disturbing truth is that we’re most willing to let go of moral principles grounded in human nature and common sense, while our fads represent those habits to which we demand a right as “human beings”, of all things!

On the Absence of Gears in the American Psyche

I don’t review movies, and I’m not even going to try to defend The Assassin as a film.  It sits at one star on Netflix, which means that the vast majority of the few who have seen it must positively have hated it.  The rank and file of the American public usually does detest anything that garners an award at the Cannes Film Festival, or is otherwise decked in artsy laurels.  Sometimes I’m one of those people.  For instance, I don’t see anything creative or inspired about placing a crucifix in a jar of urine.  If that’s art… then flush it.

The avant garde‘s pseudo-intellects have brought this upon themselves.  When they actually award a worthy creation, their verdict suffers from a bad case of Boy That Cried Wolf Syndrome.  The sensitive, delicate people with rainbow colors mingled in their spiked hair and pondering over a Starbuck’s which gender pronoun and restroom to patronize today cheat themselves of a chance ever to be taken seriously by compromising their credibility in a thousand frivolous matters.  The Assassin really is a work of art–even if it did win awards.  I say this having given the film four stars out of five.  I withheld the fifth because I could never fathom the motives behind the plot or, frankly, locate much of a plot.  Some of my confusion–perhaps most of it–is likely a product of my cultural limitations: I’m sure things would have made more sense if I were Chinese.

Nevertheless, I’d be willing to bet that what bothered the great American audience the most wasn’t obscure motivation or buried transition, but rather the extraordinary degree of stillness and silence from one end to the other of this film.  Productions like House of Flying Daggers and Red Cliff did very well on Netflix, despite being drenched in exotic oddities.  Characters talked.  Things happened.  When Assassin offers intense combat scenes (and there are a few), they tend to melt into other scenes while the outcome is still in question.  Far more typical are studies of brooding courtiers shot behind waving veils, panoramas of mountains or forests in the morning mist, and sequences of the conflicted assassin herself standing still as a slender statue or meandering meditatively through a field.

I found the result mesmeric.  I confess that I came back to it over a period of days.  Consuming twenty-minute or half-hour stretches was a welcome escape from the all-too-hectic pace of the holidays.  And I watched alone, so that I wouldn’t have to listen to the complaining of family members.  I still don’t really know what I saw: I just know that seeing it admitted me to a trance-like state.

The way Shu Qi’s character was able to absorb all the silence and stillness into her being, into her beautifully brooding face without hope that seemed to incarnate the landscape, fascinated me.  Having studied and written about myths of journey to the Other World all of my professional life, I couldn’t help reading in her much of the shamanic outcast who is able to drift back and forth across the life/death interface.  I might almost hazard that the movie sees the land of the living from the boundary of the dead, where voices have grown inaudible and deeds have lost all their haste and purpose.

Okay, maybe not in the running for your favorite Christmas movie.  But hated it?  Everyone who has watched The Assassin on Netflix has hated it?  Can we not content ourselves with saying, “I’m just not in the mood for this right now,” or, “Something’s going on here that I just don’t understand.”  How about two stars, at least?  Do you have to hit the “terminate” button on everything that doesn’t offer explosive car wrecks to a heavy-metal soundtrack?

That’s what really nags at me: the one star.  I’m reminded of the story about Bum Phillips after the Oilers won the Superbowl.  He ordered champagne, was told that the bottle brought to him was twenty years old, and complained, “Hey, this is a celebration!  Bring us the new stuff!”

I wish we had a gear for stillness and silence.  It would come in handy for Christmas, especially.

Two De-Politicized Thoughts About Terrorism

More than a day later, mainstream news outlets in Germany have only barely resolved–and only after receiving the blessing of their PC puppetmasters in Brussels–to call the Berlin marketplace slaughter a terrorist attack.  Nine bystanders were killed, and at least fifty more wounded, when a tractor-trailer plowed through a crowded shopping area in an attack distinctly reminiscent of the slaughter in Nice, France, a few months ago.  The legal driver, officially employed by the Polish trucking firm, was found stabbed to death in the passenger seat, and a 23-year-old Pakistani immigrant was apprehended fleeing the scene.  Yet the Deutsche Welle source from which I garnered details dropped the word “Polish” so often that one might have concluded the assault to be payback for the Third Reich’s leveling of Warsaw.  Oh, and a semi-automatic handgun was found in the cab.  It wasn’t used in the butchery–but we needed to know that the perp possessed such a forbidden item.

I’m really, really tired of politicized news, and I want to abstain from contributing to Such toxic slop in this space.  Allow me, then, merely to make two observations about terrorism which I’ve been repeating (to the interest of no one, apparently) since 9/11.

Observation One: massive, mounting unemployment is the inevitable destiny of unskilled laborers as the Industrial Revolution advances into its fully automated stage.    Young people were being siphoned off of farms and into cities as early as the late seventeeth century.  They could not always find employment, and what they found did not always pay a livable wage or escape the cyclical lay-offs integral to the free market.   They were never in any danger of being permanently replaced by robots, however. Now their descendants are in just such a pickle.  About the only work available to an uneducated street urchin is kidnapping and ransoming rich people or… growing and selling dope.  Ironically, the latter signals a return to agriculture.

Observatio Two: our high-tech world is encircling us in risk as sure as a python coils around its prey–yet we just keep calling for more coils.  We put ourselves in missiles filled with highly flamable explosive… and congratulate ourselves on modern air travel.  We build skyscrapers that may soon reach a mile into the clouds, if the one planned in Hong Kong gets off the drawing board… and we celebrate our economical use of space.  We construct major cities on seismic fault lines or along tsunami-prone coastlines… and we admire the view.  Soon our cars will be driven for us via satellite… and at this very instant I am wondering why my TV won’t pick up any channels.  We never ask before surrendering ourselves and our families to a new technology, “Now, how might this be abused by an evil mid?”  Never.  Always full speed ahead… and then we’re shocked when some unemployed, vindictive punk throws a wrench in the power grid.

At least some pieces of the terrorist puzzle are put on the table by the nightmare-rich potential of our surging, all-but-ungovernable technology.  Why can’t we use our high tech to irrigate the young punk’s ancestral desert, and send him home to farm?  But no, the great rivers of India and China are now too polluted to grow anything but killer bacteria; and as for the Middle East, the only rivers of any interest to us there run black.

Pharaonic Egos Balancing on Sphinxian Riddles

I watched something about the Egyptian Sphinx on Netflix the other day during my afternoon workout.  I should say that I watched with half-attemtion, because I don’t remember any names or titles; and I’m not going to look any of them up, though I easily could, because pinpoint accuracy is not relevant to my intent.  What I mean to show, rather, is that I could poke holes in the Alpha Tenured Professor’s case even while counting my push-ups.

An Academic Maverick made the simple observations early on that the Sphinx’s head is far too small for its body; that the body is that of a lion; that the body’s stones show clear signs of water erosion while the head is comparatively clean-cut; and that the monument would therefore have originally represented a lioness and have been constructed before any of the pyramids, the human head being added much later and–of course–shrinking the original lion’s noggin.

This cluster of theories dribbles challenge all over Egyptologist orthodoxy, apparently (and you may take my metaphor as aquatic, or you may picture a male feline marking out turf: the latter is much more appropriate to academic protocol).  Alpha Tenured Scholar made his appearance immediately after Maverick’s, and his mug ruled over the rest of the flick like a bust of King Tut.   Scholarly Maverick’s theories are balderdash (Alpha argued) because 1) the Sphinx would have been built downstream in a flood plain if the walls of the pyramids hadn’t been previously constructed; 2) there would have been tools lying about such early construction, for some unexplained reason; 3) the stones in the Great Pyramid were plainly quarried from the pit in which the Sphinx’s body nestles, proving that the Great Critter was a cleverly carved leftover; 4) the Sphinx aligns with the Great Pyramid to mark equinoctial events; and 5) representing Pharaoh X on a lion’s body would have expressed appropriate reverence to the Sun (for arcane ritual reasons), now that his pyramid had been built.

From various awkward positions on my sides and back, I wondered 1) why Professor Alpha thinks that the Sphinx did not suffer water damage when the erosion is evident up to its neck; 2) why any tools could not have been carried away by the water, if not leaving them lying about would grossly have violated Egyptian etiquette; 3) why the stones from the Sphinx’s pit could not have been used on the Great Ptramid in afterthought (lifting out blocks being, at the time, the preferred technique of roughing out the enigmatic creature’s figure); 4) why one structure necessarily had to be built before the other to produce whatever celestial alignment was desired; and 5) how a given sacred structure of an agrarian, proto-literate culture anywhere in the world could possibly have nothing to do with solar or seasonal cycles.  Such alignments are still discernible in the Native American mounds up and down the Mississippi Valley, and in Chaco Canyon.

In particular, how is it that the Sphinx’s head is so bloody small?  Never really answered that one, did we?  And back to Numero Tre… how did the quarriers just happen to leave a huge island in their pit that was just the shape of a lioness’s recumbent body if the original intent was not, in fact, to make the Sphinx?

What’s pompously styled scholarship is often no more than fashioning shapes out of fluffy clouds… and then promoting or firing people around you on the strength of their agreement or disagreement.  The one or two really obvious, slap-in-the-face facts sometimes get ignored completely as Professor Pharaoh and his minions labor to erect a lasting monument to his brilliance.

Believe me: whatever we know about the distant past is likely to be found in the pile of “things we don’t know that we know.”  Our explanations are so sloppy and incoherent that entire TV serials are made interpreting all the mystery as evidence of extraterrestrial visitation.  Sure… makes as much sense as the “scholarship”.