Sunday, June 15, 2003

Sue, of course, was at least a dozen years his senior, and her sexual tastes didn’t incline to men of any sort, must less bashful young physicists who thought a lengthy chat on the subject of mu-meson interactions was an invitation to physical intimacy. Sue had explained all this to him a couple of times. Ray, supposedly, had accepted the explanation. But he still have her mooncalf glances across the sticky cafeteria table and deferred to her opinion with a lover’s loyalty.

Robert Charles Wilson, The Chronoliths (79)

Roman Catholics, whose church sanctioned moderate drinking, were much less likely to support the crackdown on alcohol. Indeed, Prohibition has often been viewed as a cultural conflict between rural Protestants and urban Catholics, many of them recent immigrants. Support for the temperance movement certainly was reinforced by suspicion of, if not outright hostility toward, immigrants whose cultures accepted alcohol. These included Eastern European Jews and German Protestants as well as Catholics from countries such as Ireland and Italy. For their part, the immigrants were puzzled and irked by the black-and-white views of the so-called temperance movement. “For many immigrants,” writes historian Thomas R. Pegram, “prohibition revealed a strain of American fanaticism that dismissed the moderating influences of tradition, family and individual self-control and insisted on the humiliating restrictions of legal compulsion. Such feeling prompted [an] Iowa German in 1887 to complain that ‘a few fanatics who indicate that they themselves don’t have the moral backbone to look at a glass of beer, or pass a saloon without getting drunk, come along and tell me that I am incapable of behaving myself or keeping sober, and so they propose to take care of me by law.’”

Jacob Sullum, Saying Yes (80-81)
This was my America, a lost America where men were slaves to silence and inadequacy, where poverty was a condition of failure. My father, out of shame for our modest means, could hardly bring himself to talk to me. He hid away like a piece of furniture, watching the ball game on TV and eating Cheez-Its from the box. His problems seemed heavy and hard to bear. He never gave me the opportunity to understand. He was just looking in the other direction. And while he was, I was hanging with Gil.

Travis Hugh Culley, The Immortal Class (41)

Friday, June 13, 2003

The dimpled bone hilt of a throwing knife showed behind her neck, from a sheath sewn into the field jacket, and she was wearing warsaps – fingerless leather gloves with black-metal insets over knuckles and palm edge – secured by straps up the forearms. For the rest, standard gear: lace-up boots with composition soles; thick tough cotton pants and jacket, with leather patches at knee and elbow and plenty of pockets; helmet with cloth cover; a harness of laced panels around the waist that reached nearly to the ribs, and supported padded loops over the shoulders. A half-dozen grenades, blast and fragmentation. Canteen, with messkit, entrenching tool, three conical drum magazines of ammunition, field dressing, ration bars, folding toolkit for maintenance, and a few oddments. Always including spare tampons: “If you don’t have ’em, sure as fate you gonna need ’em, then things get plain disgustin’.”

S. M. Stirling, The Domination (73)

I can do anything. I can impress a client with a smart-ass comment or a nasty weather report delivered in good humor. I can hang out and curse about politics with the stockholders. So long as I am forthright and honest, I can pull a CEO out of a crowded elevator, take his place, and let the doors close between us. It is as if there is a certain space around me, like a force field, that human bullshit just can’t penetrate. It protects the urgency of my deliveries by telling people to get the hell out of my way. When the force field’s up, I am untouchable, and everyone knows it. It is a matter of respect. Moving at the speed of commerce, shoveling through all the scales of humanity at once, saving a little bit of the world all day long, I deserve at least that much respect.

Travis Hugh Culley, The Immortal Class (31-32)

Thursday, June 12, 2003

The Hebrew Bible specifically praises the mood-altering effects of alcohol. A parable in Judges has the trees asking the grape vine to be their king. The vine is not interested in the job, saying “Have I stopped yielding my new wine, which gladdens God and men, that I should go and wave above the trees?” Psalm 104 cites “wine that cheers the hearts of men” as a blessing from God. Proverbs speaks approvingly of alcohol as a comfort to the downtrodden: “Give strong drink to the hapless and wine to the embittered. Let them drink and forget their poverty, and put their troubles out of mind.” Wine figures prominently in the poetry of the Bible, perhaps most tellingly in the Song of Songs, where the lovers repeatedly declare that their mutual affection is better even than wine.

Jacob Sullum, Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use (58)

The effort of rage exhausted him; he fought the temptation of a collapse back onto the four-poster bed. Instead, he forced his muscles into movement walking to the dresser and splashing himself with water from the jug, pouring more from the spirit-heater and beginning to shave. Sometimes he thought she was more trouble than she was worth, that he should find a good orderly, and only send for her when he needed a woman. You expected an untermensch to be stupid, but it was that, five months now since he had grabbed her out of that burning schoolhouse in Tula, and she still couldn’t speak more then a few words of German. His Russian was better. And she was supposed to have been a teacher!

S. M. Stirling, The Domination (63)

While these masses groan over the decisions they have made and the responsibilities they have undertaken, I float above. I am free of their ideas of good and bad, rich and poor, right and wrong. As an uncommon laborer I may not amount to much in their eyes, but I am free of their judgment. I am sometimes seen as a social misfit, a freeloader, a junkie, but I am also envied for the color, the vigor, the picture of America I can find while they push their way through the weekday treadmill routine.

Travis Hugh Culley, The Immortal Class (7)