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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Archives for: September 2007

Evergreen Marseillaise

In all cultures and at all times, it has been the youth that was the bearer of changes, always eager to wave the flags of revolution and always willing to sacrifice the status quo for a more progressive milieu. After all, the future is primarily theirs, so it is natural that they should decide what ideas will populate its political balcony.

In November 1989, about 20 years after the Soviet tanks crushed the fledging democracy in Czechoslovakia, I was standing at Prague's Wenceslaus Square and I could not believe what I was seeing. After years of standing silent, and reluctantly enduring the staged manifestations of the ruling establishment, the historical square was abuzz with the new blood. Thousands of college and high school students went out in full force and they chanted for freedom until their cautious parents came along. And then in a few short weeks the communism was over. Thanks to the generation that never knew the futility of fighting the Soviet occupants. Thanks to the kids who never got their fingers burned on the regime's insidious stove.

Any time I come to a Ron Paul event, I notice that I am one of the older folks there. Ron Paul may be a doyen of this campaign, but his supporters are some of the youngest, and also the most passionate and caring elements of this presidential pre-season. And in some cases the prettiest ones, too - an attribute whose persuasive potential should not be underestimated. Sure every now and then you get an occasional conspiracy nut thrown in, but the message of the demographics is clear: the new generation is getting fed up with the political Status Quo. If there is a web site rigged for younger audiences, Ron Paul is there. Whatever the format may be, from .mpeg to .aiff, his is words resonate through the hallways of all the new media - Facebook, MySpace, MeetUp, YouTube, independent blogs.

It is mind-boggling that a man who is a constitution stickler and an advocate of ideas put forth by founding fathers centuries ago should be regarded as a radical, but large throngs of twenty-somethings drawn into his orbit speak volumes about the revolution he represents. Perhaps, it is a testament to how far this country has strayed from the ideas upon which it was once built.

Blast from the Past

If you feel that your inner British accent doesn't get enough exercise, consider attending your local Renaissance Fair.

Maryland hosts the second largest festival in the country, and since I never saw one first hand, I convinced two of my friends to take an hour long trip from DC to a leafy grove near Annapolis, which has been permanently morphed into a charming Elizabethan village. We left our car in a large meadow moonlighting as a parking lot and stepped through a gate emblazoned with a coat of arms into the age of artisans, dancers, jugglers, merchants and witches. Into the age devoid of electricity and sub-prime mortgages. Into the age of story telling and axe throwing.

Of the latter I partook myself, and I can vouch that no amount of time spent in front of a computer screen playing Doom can match the simple pleasures of launching a robust hatchet towards an unsuspecting chunk of solid wood. You almost feel obliged to utter a deep guttural scream as you dispatch the lethal implement. And during its flight, just for a second, you get to feel like Mel Gibbson in Braveheart, or like a complete fool - depending on your hurling skills.

And if you ever get tired of endless shoppes catering to "upwardly noble", you can always wander around and wonder. How are these brittle vultures made out of mussel shells supposed to survive the journey back? Do all these men in tights feel comfortable? How do the rock climbers feel attacking the ramparts? Why doesn't the fashion industry make better use of wench grade cleavage? Is it legal to protect your property with a slingshot and a crossbow? Where did schoolboys learn the proper etiquette of being knighted?

As you muse on these mysteries, you'll come to the village center: a stadium like arena bedecked for a bout of well staged jousting. This is the true heart of the Fair, with knaves running around the court and picking up tossed weaponry and with fair ladies announcing the results from a balcony. We were sitting behind a group of very properly dressed young ladies who were quite enthusiastic about one particular group of knights. They made their rooting preferences clear by tireless chanting: "H-R-E! H-R-E!". If you didn't know where you were, you'd think they were enjoying a homecoming football game. I was curious what is this H.R.E.? It was revealed to us only at the end of the festivities when one of the girls screamed at the top of her lungs: "Holy Roman Empire Rules!". How simple.

So what makes people wear preposterous costumes and trinkets and indulge in obsolete pastimes? I guess life is short and we long to be part of a larger context. We eagerly identify with our cultural roots and make them part of our existence. In doing so, we hope to extend our modest life span by a few centuries. And in a sense it works. The renaissance fair is like a pain killer for our mortality.

fair

Behold the Future

Spammers are a resourceful bunch. They figured that most email applications display the most recent (read the ones with the "highest" date) arrivals first and in their effort to beat hundreds of other spammers, they started postmarking their e-mails by higher and higher years. When I opened my Junk folder today, I was surprised to find few specimen coming from as far as 2038. Since the opportunity to peek into the future is rare, I would like to share a few of these emails in the hope of shedding some light into the direction in which the western civilizations might be going in the next few decades.


Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2038 17:59:59 -0800
From: "Hookup Tonight"
Subject: SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: Get Some Tonight...

I guess the oldest profession will never die. But on the other hand, it is encouraging that carnal matters will still be attended to in the old fashioned way in 2038, rather than having them delegated to a sequence of virtual reality skits unfolding in some superfast mainframe. "Hal, what are you doing?"
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Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2038 19:03:35 -0800
From: "Bill Consolidation Specialists"
Subject: Extra cash before your next paycheck

What? A paycheck? I thought we'd just have a magnetic strip in the back of our head recharged by our employer's taser gun.
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Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2038 14:32:06 -0500
Subject: Learn to make money using google
From: "Google Business"

Note to myself: Buy some Google shares (sell around 2038)
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Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2037 08:15:32 -0800
Subject: Im bored, can you help me?
From: "Lisa"

No way! Lisa is bored in 2038? With all the trips to the Moon and back, with all the hunky pleasuring androids parading in front of her, with the plethora of 3D smell enabled movies? "Pirates of the Caribbean 37" anyone?
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Date: Sat, 12 Sep 2037 13:13:52 -0800
Subject: NEW Kind of Oreos : Cakesters - the Soft Snack Cakes!
From: "Oreo Cookie Samples"

Oreo cookies may outlive the civilization as we know it. Once in the future, aliens will wonder what kind of people left the OREO cookie jar behind.
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Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2037 20:03:46 -0800
Subject: $1000 Busch Gardens Gift Card!
From: "EliteGiftGroup"

Gosh - what an opportunity! The way the inflation is going, I'd say $1000 might buy the whole lollipop in 2037.
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Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2037 16:58:46 -0800
Subject: Come join our web cam
From: "Cam Girls!"

Luring guys with a web cam? What is this? A den of naughty historians?
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Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2037 08:26:27 00100
Subject: Money is available
From: "Grant Funding"

That is comforting for the global financial systems. I wish I could forward this message to the Bear Sterns Hedge Funds.
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Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2037 16:41:57 -0500
Subject: 10k Scholarship Deadline is August 15 - Apply Now
From: "10K Scholarship Giveaway"

Man - there used to be a time you could apply for a scholarship like a year ahead. Now you have to apply NOW for a scholarship that will take place in 30 years? What are they going to do with it then. Try to decipher it by a team of scholarly egyptologist?
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Date: Wed, 6 Mar 2030 22:13:17 -0800
Subject: Speak Your Mind
From: "NPD - Speak Your Mind Survey"

What? People of the future will speak their minds? Scary! And I thought that the Golden Age of Political Correctness would last forever.

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