Random Shots: Ghosts in the Machine

Against the Current, No. 9, May/June 1987

R.F. Kampfer


Can you recommend any videotapes that might contribute to the education of a preschool child? –Progressive Parent

Gentle Reader,

The VCR can be a valuable tool for turning the typical barbarian toddler into a creature fit to live indoors. It is indispensable, however, for the parent to play an active role in the educational process, translating sophisticated ideas into concepts that their rudimentary reptilian minds can grasp. For example:

• Show the child a tape of Aliens. Explain that these creatures live inside the VCR. If the child touches any buttons, they may leap out of the cassette slot and grab its face.

• Allow the child to watch adults change into werewolves in The Howling. Explain that this is why the child must never enter the parental bedroom at night.

• Tell the child that refrigerators sometimes contain dismembered bodies, as in See You Next Wednesday. It would be wiser not to touch anything in the kitchen.

The imaginative parent can find an educational aspect to even the most enjoyable trash.

Since General Motors Chairman Roger Smith is so fond of Japanese-style management, he should be prepared to do the honorable thing to atone for his mismanagement at GM last year.

Lifestyles of Famous People

A NEW YORK TIMES article, explaining why investment bankers find it difficult to survive on $600,000 a year, refers to such things as private schools, designer clothing and Manhattan housing. Cocaine is never mentioned, even though it flows like Perrier on Wall Street.

First Contragate, then Pearlygate, now Tailgate. Where will it end?

Anarchist heroine Emma Goldman once expressed her displeasure with a presentation by a comrade (and former lover) Johann Most by flogging him off the podium with a horsewhip.

While studying conditions among British coal miners in 1936, George Orwell found that they lived mostly on canned meat, white bread, margarine, potatoes, tea, and about three pounds of sugar a week. Except for their teeth, they were “magnificent physical specimens.”

Sex, God & Country

THE MARINE CORPS is looking for a few good eunuchs.

Meanwhile, the State Department is looking for a few patriotic hookers.

Despite all the advances that have been made in spy satellites and listening devices, you can’t beat that old hands­ on craftspersonship.

If they can’t get the Marines to “Just Say No,” good luck with the teenagers.

Reagan says that sex education in public schools should treat sex as a moral issue, “not just a physical thing such as eating a ham sandwich.” In some neighbor­ hoods, eating a ham sandwich is a moral issue.

Everything the Religious Right is demanding: illegal abortions, underground pornography, public school prayer, gays back in the closet, was taken for granted in the 1950s. We know what that led to.

In the April 1932 edition of Weird Tales, fantasy-writer Seabury Quinn tells how the Soviet Union promotes “by flattery or outright bribery … fanatical religious sects which aim at the abolition of innocent amusement … to make the churches hateful to all liberal-minded people.” Could Jim and Tammy be fronting for Boris and Natasha?

Final Thought

IT WAS ROSA Luxemburg who said that a group which takes a position of “All or Nothing” is usually looking for an excuse to do nothing.

May-June 1987, ATC 9

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