Monday, December 31, 2012

Turtles - All the Way

I could just repost what I wrote last year.  Nothing much has changed, which is what you'd expect.  Indeed, that was much of the point then.  

I began with the first sentence of Americana, Don DeLillo's first novel.
Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year.
Before I was done, I'd quoted from Dickens, Spenser, Shakespeare, and The Fantastiks.  As I said, I could just repost it.  Or, frankly, what I wrote at the end of 2010, though that actually referred to specific events of the year.

I'm not doing that.  Not reposting 2011's farewell - or 2010's for that matter.  You can go back and read them.  They're still apt.  But it's another year and time to say it again.  The same thing but different.

In his Introduction to a 1959 reissue of his 1938 anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo explained that he'd considered revising or reworking the book in light of World War II and McCarthy and the Cold War and all the stuff that had happened in the previous decades.  But he decided not to do that.
I've let it remain as it was to see what it is.
Of course.  

As Antonio says in The Tempest, What's past is prologue.  And then there's T.S. Eliot, from Four Quartets.
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
The Romans understood it.  January, after all, is named after Janus, the two-faced god who looked forwards and back at the same time.

Gary Trudeau had a character describe the 1970s as a "kidney stone of a decade."  The thing is, that's true of every decade.  And every year.

Yet, somehow, we go on.  To fight the same fights, sticking the same fingers in the same holes in the same dykes.

Scott Greenfield wrote about how Patrick Leahy abandoned his effort to require warrants for e-mail because, gosh, If the FBI needed to get a warrant before reading your e-mail it would have to work harder.  Besides, you have nothing to hide. 

What else is new?

California voters modified three strikes but didn't abolish the death penalty.  Colorado might shut it down next year.  Florida put 21 people on death row; that's more than any other state.

Texas killed more people than any other state.  Again.

Adam Lanza killed more people than Texas did.

Gitmo is still open.  The man who promised to close it within a year of his election in 2008 was elected President again.  This campaign he didn't talk about Gitmo at all.

Your Fourth Amendment rights are a bit weaker than they were a year ago.  There are a few more lawsuits you don't have standing to bring.  There are still more new crimes.  People are still being charged with violating the old ones, too.

In 2013 we'll be defending the same turf we were this year.  

The drones will still be flying.  And killing people.

Some prosecutors will hide evidence.  Cops will lie on the witness stand. Innocent men and women will go to prison.  Guilty ones will go free. 

Obama will not suddenly become generous with pardons.

Congress won't get a lot done, but much of what they do manage will be bad.

Defending the accused, the reviled, the damned will still be a noble profession.  Sadly, it will also still be a necessary one.

In Caesar and Cleopatra, George Bernard Shaw has Caesar say
[M]urder shall breed murder, always in the name of right and honor and peace, until the gods are tired of blood and create a race that can understand.
As I said, 2013 will be a lot like 2012.  Which was a lot like 2011.

Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time begins with this story.
A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”
From which I took the title of this post.

Thanks for reading.  See you next year.

1 comment:

  1. Jeff,

    it's always intriguing to read your blog!

    See you next year!