Random Shots: The Little Sect that Time Forgot

R.F. Kampfer

GARRISON KEILLOR, host of the “Prairie Home Companion,” was brought up as a member of a very strict fundamentalist sect called the Plymouth Brethren. The only other celebrity ever to come out of this obscure cult was the infamous Aleister Crowley, who achieved worldwide notoriety during the 1920s for his indulgence in witchcraft, sexual orgies, recreational drugs and similar diversions. (He once wrote to Trotsky, offering to destroy Christianity, for a price, but Trotsky said he’d rather do it himself.) Maybe there’s more going on in Lake Wobegon than we’ve been told.

In the next volume of Jean Auel’s prehistoric series, Ayla will probably invent the food processor and the computer.

A new entry on the toy market this year was the Baby Jesus doll. Comes in Black, white and Latino models, with detachable glowing halo. If it sells, can Teenage Jesus action figures be far behind?

Hidden From History

DURING THE 19th century, a couple sued a railroad over the accidental death of their two-year-old son, stating that the boy could run errands to the value of $2 per month. The suit was denied by a judge who ruled that a child of that age was worthless.

In the Greek and Roman religions, Hermes and Mercury were the patron gods for both businessmen and thieves. St. Nicholas played the same dual role for Christians.

During the Boer War of 1899-1902, about 7,000 Boer men were killed in combat. At the same time, over 26,000 Boer women and children, plus 13,000 of their Black servants, died of starvation and disease in British concentration camps.

Most Marxists these days would probably rather avoid mentioning the fact that Marx and Engels supported the Boers in their war with England.

Nations originally claimed sovereignty over the ocean within three miles of their coasts because that was the extreme range of their coastal artillery.

The Mandarins are said to have made the written Chinese language as difficult as possible, so that whatever dynasty seized power in China would have to depend on the Mandarins to handle the paperwork of the imperial bureaucracy.

Following the retreat from Dunkirk, the British Army was so short of rifles that some members of the Home Guard were issued spears, fashioned from old bayonet blades welded to lengths of pipe. The idea was to get underneath German paratroopers and impale them as they landed. Most of these embarrassing reminders of British unpreparedness were destroyed as soon as rifles could be found. As a result, these crude weapons are now valuable collector’s items to World War II buffs.

Sports Snorts Shorts

THE “THUNDERDOME” gladiatorial game portrayed in “Mad Max III” has been turned into a game show on Australian television. Casualties for the first season have included a broken leg, broken angle and other injuries. The ratings are going right through the roof.

The Drug Enforcement Agency first became suspicious when several baseball players were seen lying down on the field, trying to snort up the baselines.

Since Gatling guns cycle by mechanical means rather than recoil, gas or blowback, they are not technically machine guns, and are perfectly legal for private ownership. Be the first one on your block to get one. Imagine the surprised look on your friends’ faces as you cut a bloody swath through their midst.

Shop Talk


How can I discourage my foreman from hanging around my job all the time?

Gentle Reader,

Use reverse psychology. Every time your foreman comes within range, call him over. Tell him you need a new pair of gloves, impact wrench, johnson rod or whatever. Suggest ways that the job could be improved, all requiring massive additions of manpower and machinery. Let a few jobs go by while you talk.

Seek out your foreman at lunch and break time to reminisce about how things were done “back at Dodge Main.” If he is even slightly younger than you, address him as “Sonny.” Very soon he will go the long way around to avoid coming near you.

One way that early industrial workers used to give themselves a break was by throwing their wooden shoes, or sabots, into the machinery. From which we get the word, “sabotage.” The wooden shoe was one of the symbols of the IWW.

The “round robin” was an early form of petition with the grievance in the middle and the signatures spaced around the edge like spokes on a wheel. So that nobody’s name would be first on the list.

In order to circumvent the regulations about the rations to be issued to their crews, some British Navy captains during the Napoleonic War would issue an order that a pound of food, aboard that ship, would only contain fourteen ounces.

Favorite Quotes

“LEONTIEV HAD mildly rebuked the French poet by calling him a decadent vermin who had wormed his way into the Movement through systematic double-dealing and deception.”–Arthur Koestler, The Age of Longing

In Belfast they tell of a young British officer who encountered an old Catholic woman being harassed by some UDF thugs, and stopped to reprimand them and set her free. ‘Thank you sir,” she said (brogue deleted), “and bless you. May you get the coolest spot in Hell.”

James Connolly used to illustrate the difference between slavery and capitalism by telling of the slave who was ordered to climb a rickety ladder to mend a roof. “If I break my neck,” said the slave, “you stand to lose $1,200. But you can hire an Irishman to do the job for a dollar a day, and if he falls, you won’t even have to bury him.”

March-April 1986, ATC 2

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