Random Shots: Fat Rulers in Lean Times

Against the Current, No. 20, May/June 1989

R.F. Kampfer

THE EMPEROR OF CHINA traditionally ate four meals a day, one for each province of China. If there was famine, civil war, or other disorder in any province, he had to skip that meal A system like that would eliminate the need for diet clinics in Washington.

Those who ran around crying that the sky would fall if Bush were elected are, at least, spared the burden of trying to explain why we didn’t live happily ever after if Dukakis had won.

When bosses show some smarts, they deserve the credit. This was the case with one factory owner who provided his workers with good, sturdy leather gloves. Naturally they disappeared rapidly as everyone took home a few pairs to keep in the car or work around the yard. Pilferage ceased after he had the next batch of gloves dyed bright pink.

Tales from the Wars

WHEN THE PERSIAN army advanced on Delphi, the priests of Athene Pronaea asked if they should fight for the temple or try to get the treasures to safety. The god replied that if the priests would get out of the way, he could take care of himself. He then sent an avalanche down on the invaders. If modem Moslems and Christians had that much faith, they would let their prophets defend their own reputations, and leave Rushdie and Scorsese alone.

Jan Zizka, the Hussite military genius, left orders in his will that his skin should be made into a drum, to frighten the enemy.

With Apologies to William Shakespeare

One reason for the decline of liberalism is that by the time one has finished reading the Sunday New York Times, there is little leisure for political activity.

Drug czar William Bennet has proposed that the Federal government launch a campaign against “recreational yuppie” drug users. That’s easily understandable. One very rarely meets a yuppie with an Uzi.

The recent spate of attempts to ban “assault-weapons” has led to their being sold in unprecedented numbers, with some types going for triple prices.

Cultural Revolutions

THE DEATH OF John Cassavettes mars the latest tragedy to mysteriously strike the cast of the Satanic film, “Rosemary’s Baby.” Ruth Gordon and Ralph Bellamy have also died, while Mia Farrow married Woody Allen.

The earliest known example of protective legislation was an edict of Caesar Augustus forbidding free Roman citizens to fight as gladiators in the arena. The fantastic sums won by successful gladiators tempted impoverished Romans, but it was considered bad for public morale to see citizens defeated by slaves or foreigners.

Watching what passes for an erotic movie on TV is like drinking decaffeinated coffee.

The clearest message we get from “Lonesome Dove” is that nobody with a lick of sense ever went past St. Louis.

Politics in Bad Odor

SUPPORTERS OF THE defeated government pay raise argue that politicians take a pay cut when they leave the private sector. The obvious solution is to slash the bloated salaries of corporate executives.

There has not been a massive public outcry against the hundred billion dollar savings-and-loan ripoff because a sum of that magnitude is beyond the comprehension of most people. If they had to pay $13.50 for a hamburger they’d be furious.

Having to quit smoking during a bout with the flu really sharpens your sense of smell. You notice all kinds of odors, most of which are worse than tobacco.

May-June 1989, ATC 20

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