|"Glad You Dead You Rascal You," by Herbert Singleton (Smithsonian American Art Museum)|
I was looking over old columns to see if I ever wrote anything worthwhile about the latest denizen of hell, Henry Kissinger — short answer, No — when I came across this, written as Yasser Arafat was dying. It still remains current, alas, though I did wince a the part about him having children's blood on his hands. Not the PLO monopoly that it used to be. The part about the budget amazed me — though I'm not sure if that's because I used to get a copy, or that I would then read it. And the God Force stuff is just fun. Back then, the column filled a page, and I've kept the original headings.Opening shot
I hope that Yasser Arafat gets better. In fact, I'm pulling for a complete recovery. Even if he's dead by the time you read this, I hope he springs back to life. Re-incarnates. Because there is something deeply unfair in the prospect of his dying surrounded by friends and family in a hospital bed in Paris. Not when, if there were any sort of justice in the world, he would perish lying on his side on a gravel street, howling without company or comfort after having a long splinter of metal blasted through his eye.
The man is a killer. Not only has he killed people himself, personally, but he plotted and organized murders of hundreds of victims. He is one of the authors of a philosophy of random murder that has inspired millions. That he spent years as a sham statesman, received in the White House and heaped with honors is one of the mind-boggling ironies of our ironic age. The man was given the Nobel Peace Prize, which washed away whatever shred of worth that might have clung to the once-respected bauble after they gave it to Henry Kissinger. They might as well pack the thing in a box of manure and straw when they hand out the next one.
Arafat's worst crime? He betrayed his own people. He could have led them to peace, and instead led them down a blind alley to self-destruction and disaster.
When he dies — any moment, judging by the reports — the news media will no doubt focus on Arab mourning. And there will unfortunately be a few Jews leaping around in Jerusalem, grinning and cheering and burning Palestinian flags, though that really isn't our style. But someone should point out what a shame it is to see Arafat go, as opposed to lingering horribly for a long, long time -- maybe just an hour for every child he had a hand in maiming. Because his manner of death is an affront to justice. It makes the most devoted agnostic yearn for a vengeful God and His furnace of hell.
Your tax dollars at work
The $5 billion-plus-change Chicago city budget landed with a thud on my desk Tuesday.
It's not supposed to be light reading, but I couldn't help skimming its thousand or so pages.
What struck me was the wide range of occupations found among the city's 35,919 budgeted jobs, from Mayor (who pulls down a cool $209,915 a year) to the guy who picks up dead rats for the Bureau of Rodent Control (title: "Dead Animal Recovery," which would make a fun business card; wage: a not-bad $26.40 an hour).
That's about a dollar an hour more than a Tree Trimmer gets in the Bureau of Forestry (I know we have lots of trees, but "Bureau of Forestry"? Urbs in Hortis indeed).
The list goes on and on. Iron Inspector. Assistant Cable Administrator. Lamp Maintenance Man. Asphalt Raker. There are Caulkers and Steamfitters at the Bureau of Administrative Support, which also employs Hoisting Engineers and Stationary Firemen (who are, I would guess, paid less than firemen who are required to occasionally move).
A few touches seem positively czarist. The Mayor's Office of Special Events has a Director of Protocol who oversees a staff of three. The Bureau of Streets has a Chief Voucher Expediter.
I could fill this column and four more with tidbits gleaned from the budget -- do you know we plan to spend $3 million next year for the electricity used by traffic signals? You do now.
Save it for Sunday school
This may come as a surprise. But I don't believe in electricity. Not in the conventional sense, of charged particles conveying energy. That is a lie forced on children in public school.
I don't think I've mentioned this before, perhaps because the subject never came up.
No, in my eyes, what comes out of your electrical socket and runs your toaster is God Force, the ineffable benevolence and power of the Lord Almighty put to practical use for the benefit of mankind.
I find that makes a lot more sense than the so-called conventional theory of "electricity" -- and it's only that, a theory. I mean, where's the evidence? You can't even see the stuff.
You might think that I'd have a hard time persuading others to consider my God Force view of electrical power. But I'm encouraged by the headlines. Down in Georgia, the courts are trying to figure out whether the government can slap a warning label on the biology textbooks, pointing out that evolution, like electricity, is only one in a range of possibilities, and we need to keep an open mind.
Lest you think this debate is limited to Southern backwaters, up in Wisconsin, the Grantsburg city school board has changed its science curriculum to accommodate the teaching of creationism, so as not to limit science classes, in the words of their superintendent, to "just one scientific theory.'
I'm all for that. Isn't that what education is:? Expanding our knowledge? Why not explore many options instead of cleaving to one party line? Just as the creationist origins of life should, of course, be taught in public schools alongside the theory of evolution preferred by atheists and a few activist judges, so I believe that my God Force electricity view should have widespread public airing. Teach both, and let the students decide!
Not that I expect the struggle to be simple. For years, I've been trying to get schools to teach, alongside the standard canard that men landed on the moon, the very real possibility that the Apollo landings were a hoax. So far they have resisted. These supposed "teachers" can be so stubborn that way.
— Originally published in the Sun-Times, Nov. 10, 2004