Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oysterman Go On Strike

The Eastpointer

Oystermen Go on STRIKE!

By Richard E. Noble

Not too many people probably remember this incident but there was an actual labor strike right here in Franklin County. Someone said that it was the largest labor strike ever in Franklin County. Oystermen in Carrabelle, Eastpoint and Apalachicola picketed every dealer in Franklin County, 24 hours a day for a number of days. I remember the strike lasting a couple or three weeks but my wife says that it was a matter of days. To be honest I don't recall how long it actually lasted.

Strangely enough labor strikes here in America are not often remembered favorably by the towns, cities, or businesses that were struck. America's historians give labor strikes and protest a very short and terse recording.

I became personally interested in labor strikes several years ago. I found a book at a yard sale that mentioned my hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts. It credited my hometown with being the scene of one of the biggest and most influential labor strikes in American history. I wondered why I had never heard about it. I was raised in Lawrence and spent 27 years of my life there. How was it that I had never heard of the famous, most documented strike in all of American history? It seemed very strange.

I decided to research the Bread and Roses strike and other important labor strikes throughout American History. I have now accumulated a few hundred pages and I will be publishing a book on this subject.

I thought initially that I would write a book on every important labor strike in American history. In my naiveté I thought that there may have been 50 or so major labor strikes from the colonial period up until today. There were thousands - tens of thousands! Workers were machine-gunned, brutalized, harassed and murdered right here in America - as they are today in third world countries around the world where the battle for respect and fair wages continues.
What I hadn't realized was the fact that there has been a war going on here in the brickyards and parking lots of America ever since this country began. And what is even more amazing nobody seems to know about it. It certainly isn't being taught in our public schools or universities. As far as I know only Cornell University offers a degree program in the study of American Labor in the United States.

Contrary to common knowledge if it were not for the protests on the part of working people throughout American history what most of us have and enjoy today and consider a part of the greatness of America and its Dream would not be.

For example the eight hour work day, the forty hour work week, the paid vacation, any kind of medical insurance or retirement plan, public school education, social security, workmen's compensation, jobs for women and blacks, child labor restrictions, sanitary and healthy work places, decent non-toxic living areas, freedom of speech and the right to assemble, collective bargaining, the right to protest, freedom of the press, decent pays and benefits for soldiers, policemen and firemen and the list could continue. It would not be a stretch to credit the GI Bill and the establishment of the middle class to the efforts of blue collar soldiers who returned from World War II and continued the fight for fair pay and respect right here at home.

All the basic rights that we cherish were pounded into laws here in the streets, alleys and industrial parking lots of America. It was slave uprisings, runaway indentured servants, suffragettes, Planned Parenthood organizers and birth control advocates. It was labor organizations - socialist, communist and capitalist that changed the American Family and the life conditions for all Americans.

So, I was just thinking about that strike in Franklin County. I wonder if anybody kept a record of what actually happened. I wonder if anybody today cares that there was a time when a few thousand seafood workers right here in Franklin County were parading up and down the streets fighting for fair wages and respected treatment?

I remember telling several of the dealers at that time that this was the time for them to join in with their workers so that they could present a united front against all the problems that were coming down the road from the State and Federal government. They didn't.

All of those dealers are now out of business. Some of them sold out or bailed out, others went bankrupt or just gave it up. I often wonder if they would still be in business here in Franklin County if they had nurtured those two or three thousand striking seafood workers. Would two or three thousand contented workers fighting for the dealers' rights to stay in business have made a difference? Instead they won the strike against their workers and were able to cut oystermen’s wages (bag prices) but they lost the war - and their livelihoods.

Yes, Labor in America has an interesting history. You should read about it - if you can find a book on the subject. I have been hunting for years now. I have salvaged a large collection but you won't find any of them at your local bookstore. The whole story of the American labor movement seems to be a big secret.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Settling Down in Eastpoint

The Eastpointer

Settling Down in Eastpoint

By Richard E. Noble

We lived in a local Eastpoint campground for about 3 or 4 years before we decided to settle down here. To be truthful I think it was my wife who longed for roots more than I did. They accuse women of being "nesters." My wife is definitely a nester - but that is one of her qualities that attracted me to her. She was able to turn every place that we ever lived into a "home." It didn't matter if it was a tiny efficiency apartment in Miami or the back half of a Chevy van.

When she suggested that we start looking around to buy something, I went along for the ride. We owned 40 acres in Arkansas that was just sitting there doing nothing. So why couldn't we own an acre or two here in Eastpoint - even if we never used it?

Surprisingly, there wasn't much for sale here in Franklin County in those days. Rumor had it that all the "locals" who were land owners were saving their land for the day when the prophesied boom arrived. There were very few realty offices and even fewer for sale signs.

We got the name of a couple of prosperous locals and went knocking on doors. I remember one place in particular. It was a nice home, but really nothing compared to the mansions we had all around us in Miami. We were told that this family was the wealthiest in Eastpoint and that they had carpets that were 2 inches thick on their floors. This was meant to be very impressive. Since nearly everybody in Eastpoint oystered for a living we felt no dishonor in approaching the front door of this Eastpoint "mansion" with the 2 inch thick carpets in our white boots and working garb.

We knocked on the front door, a lady peeked out at us through a side window - she didn't appear to be all that excited about our presence. She opened the door a crack. While she looked us up and down, we asked if she had any lots for sale. She looked at us as if we were making a joke. She said no and immediately closed the door.
It seemed that oyster people were not considered good risks back in those days. We actually had enough cash to buy an acre lot just about anywhere in Eastpoint. We didn't want to spend all of it, though.

We got the name of a local Realtor who had the reputation of being willing to sell property to oystermen - and on time. His name was Ben Watkins and he had an office in the old Gibson Hotel building. The Gibson had been condemned and was about to be torn down when Mr. Watkins rescued it.

We went over to his office and he actually took us out to look at some of the acre lots he had out on the Wilderness Road - oyster boots and all. The lots were very reasonable. It fact we could have bought two or even one 5 acre lot.

We then heard about a man who owned a campground out on the east edge of Eastpoint. He had cleared some land behind his campground and he was also willing to sell to oystermen on time. He had a son-in-law who oystered for a living.
He had three lots available on a dirt road out behind his campground. The road was called the old Escape Rd. We liked the less populated neighborhood. We picked out a lot and made a down payment.

For awhile we just made payments and went out and picnicked on our new lot. It took us about a year to get a septic and a light pole. Then finally we moved from the campground to our lot. We pulled our travel trailer out there and camped. Then a hurricane came and shut the bay down for a whole year. We somehow found part-time work, continued to make our payments and got by with the help of our savings. It was another two or three years before our new mobile home came rolling down our dirt road to be set up on our lot.

Our trailer home was the no frills model - no furniture, no nothing. Our living room was filled with our old lawn furniture. It took another three years before we had our new home and property paid off - we even had a few pieces of conventional furniture by that time.

We have a scrap book with pictures of our mobile home coming down our dirt road to be set up. We have pictures of every new porch or addition that we ever made to our home.

Now we have lived in this little mobile home for 20 to 25 years - rent free. This place doesn't owe us a nickel. Nevertheless, I have been told over the last ten years that my "property" is worth from $100,000 to $200,000. My mobile home is worth nothing but the ground under it is supposedly worth all this money.

I must say, this is all very, very strange.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

David Hume (1711-1776 A.D.)


By Richard E. Noble

David started off, it seems, a very poor little boy, but through his Scottish thrift and frugality he ended up quite self-sufficient. David became an avid reader and lover of books. His main reading interest became Philosophy. Philosophy, they tell us is love of learning, but one of its roots is really man's intellectual search for, and argument over the possible existence or non-existence of God.
David is labeled 'the believing disbeliever.' In his autobiography he claims an abiding belief in God, but all of his writing is to the contrary. I think that it can be said about David that he believed in God, he just didn't believe in everybody else's God. He claimed all religion as superstition, all truth as unfounded, all science as folly, and all reason, for the most part, unreasonable.
Hume was the Socrates of his time. Another man who could prove that the entire world knew nothing and that he knew even less. Bertrand Russell says that David Hume must be wrong somewhere because if he is not then there is no basis for any type of human knowledge. He must be wrong says Bertrand, but even old Bertrand doesn't know where.
From the age of nineteen to twenty-three David suffered from serious depression. When he went to his doctor about it, the doctor laughed and told David that he had caught the disease of the 'learned.'
David then wrote his first book, 'a Treatise on Human Understanding,' a book which no one read, and even worse, no one bought. One fellow did like his book though, the third Marquis of Annandale. He was a super wealthy guy and he lived in a mansion at a place called Weldhall. He sent for David to become his private tutor. There was only one thing wrong though, the Marquis was as nutty as a fruitcake. He was locked up in the castle and guarded by people who were paid to push him off the deep end, so that other influential people in high places could steal his bucks. This guy was kind of like the Howard Hughes of his day. Old Davie should have written a book about his year at the castle with this guy.
But Davie was growing and had to move on. Davie really, really grew. Obviously developed an eating disorder and got very large. He liked the girls but they considered him a flabby kneed, blubbering joke. So he ended up hanging out at places that didn't really enhance one's personal moral reputation. He made friends with Rousseau. His previous training at the castle of the nut-cake probably helped him greatly, here.
In any case, he saved his money, became pretty well off, got a government job here and there, and wrote more books that annoyed the general public.
With all of his eccentricities he seems like a pretty interesting fellow nevertheless. I am going to put him on my reading list. Oh yeah, and like everybody else, eventually he died also, despite any 'reason' to believe that he wouldn't. It seems that, at least with regards to death, the inductive process was substantiated once again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Does Anyone Want to See My Scar

The Eastpointer

Does Anyone Want to See My Scar?

By Richard E. Noble

Recently I had major surgery for colon cancer. Everything so far has turned out reasonably well. My recuperation is progressing slowly but positively. But I had an experience while in the ICU that was quit devastating. I have never heard anyone tell of having such an experience. I've decided to write about here so that others will be warned.

In the ICU the patients are automatically given pain medication to aid in their recovery. I was told that I was receiving a derivative of morphine.

By my second day in ICU I was experiencing hallucinations - I was seeing strange things with my eyes wide open. I saw massive colonies of ants crawling all over the ceiling tiles. I saw spiders and cockroaches in the lace of the devideing curtains. When I closed my eyes, I was transported to another world. I can only compare it to drawings that I had seen in Dante's Inferno. There were strange demons everywhere. They were pretending to be doctors, nurses and staff. Their faces and shapes would distort and change by the second. When I would open my eyes they would disappear. So I had my choice, I could keep my eyes open and watch the bugs or I could close my eyes and see the demons.

I told this to my wife. I was aware that I was hallucinating. She told the doctors and I think they tried to adjust my medication.

What I was not aware of was that I was having audio hallucinations also. I was hearing conversations that were not taking place.

On one occasion, I heard my wife and her sister talking at the nurses’ station. They were being told that our insurance was no good and that we were not covered. My wife and her sister were debating with the staff.

The next day when my wife and her sister came to visit, I asked them if they got the insurance problem straightened out. They said that there had been no problem and that they had no discussion with anyone to the contrary.

On another occasion, I heard my wife crying outside my room. They had told her that I wasn't going to make it and that she should go into my room and see me before I was gone. My wife was crying and said that she could not face me. I remember calling out and asking her to come in so that I could comfort her.

I next found myself becoming paranoid. Everyone was talking about me behind my back. I even began to suspect my wife of lying to me.

I requested that the pain medicine be shut off. I was told that it would now be administered at my request. As the pain increased I didn't know what to do. I finally called the nurse and asked her to give me something. She returned with a huge hypodermic needle. When I asked her what was in it she said morphine. I told her that I didn't want to become a drug addict. What I really needed was some sleep. Could she please get me a sleeping pill of some sort. She said she would have to call my Doctor. The Doctor recommended Ambien.

With the addition of one Ambien pill to my system, I went completely out of my mind.
The ICU was transformed into a war zone. The staff were all druggies. They were all walking around smoking strange pipes and shooting themselves up with drugs.

I decided that I needed to get out of there. I stripped off all my IVs and paraphernalia and headed for the front door. They captured me and strapped to my bed. They tied me down with old socks and they were shooting me up with everything under the sun.

I told them that I wanted to leave. They said that it was too late for me to leave. Now that I knew what was going on in this ICU, I would have to be killed.

They pulled my bed out to the edge of the floor. I looked down onto a lower floor. Our floor had caved in. I asked them what they were going to do with me. They told me that they were going to light my bed on fire and then push me off the edge of the floor. When I would hit the floor below, my burning bed and body would set off all the oxygen bottles on the first floor and the whole building would then explode.

A moment or two later they set my bed on fire and pushed me off the second floor.
The next thing I remember I opened my eyes and there before me was the smiling face of my loving wife. I told her to pull the curtain open quickly. I expected to see the bombed out remnants of the ICU. Instead I saw a staff and office functioning as usual.

On my chart they put down that I had experienced an allergic reaction to Ambien. But what about the morphine? I have been telling everybody who will listen but nobody seems all that concerned. My wife told me that all the folks visiting and waiting to see the patients in ICU all told her that my experiences were not unusual. I find that very difficult to believe.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Health Inspector and a Tuna Fish Sandwich

The Eastpointer

The Health Inspector and a Tuna Fish Sandwich

By Richard E. Noble

Spending most of my life in the food service industry, I've met a good many Health Inspectors. But Health Inspection around the USA is by no means a uniform thing. In my experience it not only varies from state to state but from neighborhood to neighborhood. And when you get down to enforcement and interpretation of the laws, it varies from inspector to inspector.

I've met Health Inspectors in big restaurants in Miami. I've met Health Inspectors in chicken factories in Arkansas. I've met Health Inspectors in Meat Processing plants in Massachusetts. I've met them in my butcher shop, in my sandwich shop, at my ice cream stand and in my ice cream parlor right here in uptown/downtown Carrabelle. You would think that with all the health Inspectors we have all over this country, we would have a fairly safe and healthy food supply. But if you have been watching the news lately, you know that we don't. Unfortunately we don't have any Health Inspectors in Mexico or Honduras - or China and India for that matter. Ah yes, another of the "benefits" of the "Global Economy."

But today I am not thinking globally but locally. I'm thinking of a rather nice, conscientious fellow that once came to inspect my shop over in Carrabelle. This gentleman was all business. He checked everything. He had gauges and thermometers - he inspected inside the building and outside the building. In his previous career he must have be a bacteriologist or a scientist of some sort. He certainly had attention for the details.

But I am happy and proud to report that my little shop impressed him. Twice he found no violations at all in my shop. He told me that didn't happen often. He advised me to buy a frame and pin his squeaky clean reports on the wall in the dining area where my customers could see them. And I did. When he returned on his next visit and saw that I had followed his instructions, he was thrilled.

But every month he had something new. There was no way to get ahead of this game. These Inspectors were thinking up new plays every day. On this particular occasion that I have in my mind, my man was into pre-prepared salads - like chicken salad or tuna salad. If you had a bowl of chicken salad in your refrigerator, he wanted to know how long it had been there. Any of these type salads would have to be labeled with a date indicating the day they had been prepared.

My wife and I had already conquered this problem. Since we were a little store in a small community, we had to prepare things in very small batches. In fact, my goal was to have a large menu with everything prepared to order - quickly. This was not easy to do. I had worked in a kitchen in the navy preparing food for an "army," as they say. And in Miami and Fort Lauderdale the restaurants I managed had daily waiting lines. My problems prior to Carrabelle had always been not having enough and running out. In Carrabelle I had the opposite problem. I had to devise a large menu to encourage daily business from the same customers and control the waste. I couldn't make a gallon of tuna salad and then end up throwing half of it away.

When it came to the tuna salad, for example, I bought individual cans of white meat albacore tuna - just enough for one sandwich and I mixed the sandwich up with the other ingredients when I got an order.

Well, it seems, the health department was into tuna salad this month. My bacteriologist/inspector had studied my menu and saw that I had a tuna salad sandwich listed, but while searching my prep wagon and refrigerators he found no prepared tuna salad.

"Where do you keep your tuna salad?" he demanded after looking everywhere possible.

"I don't prepare any tuna salad," I told him.

He rushed over to a table and grabbed up a menu. He opened the menu and pointed to my fresh and delicious tuna salad advertisement on the menu.

He finally had me. I could see the gleam in his eye. I must be hiding the tuna salad out in the trunk of my car or some other unhealthy, suspicious place.

"Yes, I have a tuna salad sandwich on the menu but I make it to order."

"How do you do that?"

I took him to my food preparation cart. I lifted a small can of Albacore tuna from the shelf. I showed him a mixing bowl. I pointed to all the various other ingredients that were already in my cart to be used for tossed salads and other sandwiches.

He was totally beside himself. "Wow, that's the best idea I have ever seen," he exclaimed. Obviously he was not an ex-restaurant owner. He probably never worked in a commercial kitchen in his life. When he left my shop that day he promised to bring his wife with him on his day off and get two tuna salad sandwiches.

I couldn't help thinking how strange this all was. Here we were in an age of the local, restaurant chief where the trend was towards home-made everything; where the goal of the small restaurant owner was to give his customers the experience of their life with his own personal secret recipes - homemade sauce, homemade bread and rolls, fresh local ingredients, home grown herbs and spices. And here was the man from the Health Department totally ga-ga over a tuna fish sandwich prepared directly from the can.

Do you think we need some co-ordination here or what?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

James Buchanan (president from 1857-1861, 15th)

U.S. Presidents

Richard E. Noble

James Buchanan was obviously a very intelligent man. This being blatantly exhibited by the fact that he remained a bachelor his entire life.
The Dred Scott case and decision rendered by Judge Taney was completed in the early weeks of the Buchanan administration. Buchanan agreed and encouraged Taney's decision and felt that this would settle the affair. He was clearly an appeaser to the slavery side of the issue, and was elected by a strong support from the South. He was the last of the pre-Civil War appeasers. I often wonder what decision a peaceful man could have made at the time to avoid a Civil War. It does seem upon reading that the only solution that would have kept white Americans from killing other white Americans would have been the perpetuation of the condition of slavery. And if this were the decision taken by white folk, would slavery have just faded away eventually, or would it still be with us today?
The black slave population even with help from free blacks certainly could never have freed themselves, not then and not by the 1950's or 60's either.
Buchanan (along with Abraham Lincoln and George W.) did not win the popular vote.
The Mormons in the Utah territory were acting up. They massacred a bunch of California settlers. So James went out there and had a private talk with Brigham Young, and somehow calmed things down.
John Brown and family had tired of murdering folks out in Kansas and decided to come back East to Virginia and murder a few at Harper's Ferry. He was captured and hung, which seems fair enough to me. John Brown became a symbol for lack of compromise on the issues in both the North and the South. If we can consider Harriet Beecher Stowe as the radical mother of the Civil War, then maybe we can consider John Brown as its radical father.
After Abraham Lincoln's election and before Buchanan's exit from the office, the South pretty much seceded from the Union. South Carolina seceded before Christmas and shortly thereafter Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas did the same. Technically the war had began, but Buchanan still hoped for peace. He counseled the South to take no further action and just wait and see what Abe might be up to. Maybe he wouldn't be as bad as they thought. By February 9th a constitutionally illegal provisional Confederate government had already been set up and federal forts and arsenals were being captured all over the South. South Carolina then attacked Fort Sumpter. So now the war was on whether Abe liked it or not.
Buchanan, because of his peacemaker status and temperament, and his inaction with regards to putting down the uprisings in the South before he left office and Lincoln took over, was somehow blamed for the war. He should have gone in, like Andrew Jackson or Zackary Taylor had promised that they would do at the first sign of an upheaval, and kicked butt. Even old Abe bad-mouthed him on that account. Buchanan's final words in a volume defending his presidency were..."whatever the outcome may be, I shall carry to my grave the consciousness that I at least meant well for my country."
Ah yes, I'm sure he did, and don't we all.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Harvester of the Sea

The Eastpointer

Harvester of the Sea

By Richard E. Noble

If you have lived in Franklin County for any length of time, you have probably heard a seafood worker compare his life to that of a farmer. The first time that I heard such a comparison, I smiled, thinking it to be, more or less, a joke or another example of misplaced logic.

But over the years of working as a seafood worker, I began to feel some of that spirit myself.

Many oystermen, shrimpers, crabbers and fishermen will refer to what they do for a living as "a way of life." That is a phrase that I have often heard farmers use - maybe you have also.

Seafood workers look at Mother Nature as a business partner. Mother Nature can be a rather difficult boss sometimes but overall, she makes the rules and provides the income. I have never seen a seafood worker complain about the demands put upon him because of the perils of Mother Nature. Farmers have pretty much the same attitude.

Seafood workers are oftentimes more environmentally conscious than farmers. Seafood workers deal with Mother Nature in the raw - no pesticides, no sprays, no fertilizers and not too many sophisticated adaptations benefit their industry.
When they came to Franklin County with the modern farming techniques of aquaculture, it was rejected primarily because of its "unnaturalness."

I was always amazed at how the seafood workers responded to natural tragedy. They never seemed to get upset. They always wanted to go back to work as soon as possible. If they had a boat wrecked, they patched it; if a motor failed or went under they cleaned and fixed it. They seemed a rather unflappable group - rather old-fashioned and ever convinced of the "old ways."

So it especially interested me the other day when I read an article about a 1962 Nobel Prize winning economist, Amarta Sen, who discovered that there was an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produced per hectare. It seems that the smaller the farm the greater the yield. And recent more in-depth studies are confirming Sen's research.

This notion is contrary to conventional wisdom - and contrary to the wishes of Agri-bis Inc.
I remember discussing this years ago here in Franklin County. I suggested in a letter to the editor that the old fashioned tonging method of harvesting oysters may actually be more productive, more efficient and of more social benefit than dredge or machine harvesting. My notion was that in some cases small, inefficient and even primitive might actually be better in the long run than big, efficient and mechanized.

It is difficult to believe that some guy with an ox and a handmade plow can out produce an Agri-bis international conglomerate on a per hectare basis but studies in Turkey, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Philippines, Brazil, Columbia and Paraguay stand testament to the notion. Land reform in Japan and South Korea, where large farms were broken up after World War II and divided among small farmers, have been said to be an economic miracle - and a similar result is said to be happening in China. The opposite is the case in the U.S. and Western Europe - the big are growing while the small are disappearing.

I also remember reading about the "unexplainable" circumstance that was taking place in Communist Russia a few years back. The Russian peasants were given the right to grow their own personal vegetable gardens in their free time away from their full-time jobs on the big collective state run farms. It seems that the individual peasant gardens were quickly producing a large surplus that the peasants were selling on the side in the black market. The Russian government had no explanation.

When I was studying economics in school, I remember a concept that was called "the point of diminishing returns." This economic principle fostered the notion that something could only grow so big before it began to diminish in results - before people began to bump into one another or before "big" got to "unmanageable."

When we read our economic history books we find the same notion being advanced and re-advanced from Adam Smith to Galbraith.

There was a time in America when we wanted to bust up trusts and monopolies. But today we have redefined monopolies and disassociated them from "bigness." A monopoly for example is a big business that controls the peanut butter industry from the peanut in the field to the consumer in the market place. But by today's definition if a big business has controlling interests in not only peanut butter but jelly and white bread also, it is technically not a monopoly or a trust - and it is a good thing and not a bad thing. It is a good thing because as we have all been conditioned to believe (erroneously) - big is always better and small is inefficient and wasteful.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Why War?

Mein Kampf Chapter 17 Part 1

Why War? Conclusion Part 1

By Richard E. Noble

I began this work with a number of questions; Why war? Why the Jews? How Adolf? What did Adolf actually say? Where was he coming from historically, philosophically, and theologically? Reading the book has led to another question that has always bothered me. Where did Adolf get his money?

I don't know if I have gotten any real answers to these questions, but I think that I have discovered many insights, and have developed a clearer understanding of Adolf and where he stood. I think that I know Adolf a lot better.

Although, he is not really the type of individual that I would normally want to know better.

In conclusion I would like to review these insights primarily for my personal benefit.

Why War?

Reading Adolf has caused me to do considerable other readings and investigations.

Reviewing the History of Mankind and observing his behavior makes it clear that the real question here is not Why War? War seems to be as much a part of the human adventure, as breathing. I read briefly an account by someone who said that man initially was not a belligerent beast, and that the basic nature of man was really one of love and cooperation. If this is true the history books do not tell the same story. The question Why Peace? would seem much more appropriate, viewing man from the scope of recorded history. In this regard, Adolf should be judged as very much on the mark with his attitude towards War.

Historically Adolf was certainly a conservative and a traditionalist. He believed in War, and the power of might in much the same vein as Alexander the Great, Constantine, Julius Caesar and all the rest - including many modern day Americans. If Adolf read History books which it seems that he did, they did not repulse him. They only served to feed his fire. He loved the killing and the conquering, and certainly considered himself to be one of a long line of conquering heroes. The dead bodies, persecutions, murders, rapes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the past great rulers, are only read about in the footnotes of history books, says Adolf. All that is truly remembered is the great monuments, buildings, and the length of their reign. Adolf would have a thousand year Reich, and create a wealth of Temples to be remembered.

Adolf was consistent with history. Why try to deny War, he offered. Why not glory in it and its heritage of bravery and tradition. People who seek peace, and the preservation and cooperation of all, are not only stupid fools who are unaware of the history and tradition of mankind, but cowards who don't even have the guts to fight for their own survival. Those who are not willing to fight must resign themselves to the fate of extinction.
Maybe this is exactly what has happened to them and their kind throughout the centuries.

The argument between the alternatives of peace and war seem to be never ending.

Why peace?

Where did the notion of peace come from? Eisenhower seemed to feel that the common man wanted peace but their governments were forever bent on war. I think that when Warrior leaders saw opposing armies who held the threat of cutting down their enemies in proportionate numbers, many a ruler was forced to contemplate the advantages of Peace, i.e. the Upanishads. Many religious leaders often began their careers appalled by the horrors of violence and war.

They spoke out on behalf of peace and love. Very shortly they were either killed or replaced by the more violent, or were themselves converted to or entrapped by the power that they had engendered with their own teachings. Then, they were turned to the road of violence themselves.

But are the masses led to War against their will, or do they too find satisfaction in the pillage, battering, and self destruction? Is it not the Kings and Princes, not the lords and nobles, not the dictators and presidents, not the politburo, parliaments, and congresses but the nature of the beast himself or herself? Are we innately self destructive? Are we innately hostile, and aggressive? Is the killing of others more or less the expression of our own death wish? And then, if so, why is it that we seek death, and self destruction?

I make the case that this self-destructiveness stems basically from the fact that we are a product of an arbitrary existence. No one asked to be born. Yet we are all here. And then, usually very early on, we learn that we can 'not be here' by a caprice. We can not be here with no consultation. We must, by necessity, be here, with, by and because of the hand of the 'Unknown.' This proposed fact is the stimulus behind all theologies, all mysticisms, all religious beliefs. The questions brought to mind because of this realization are the basis for all of philosophy. Who, What,

Where, Why, How?

But why does this mystery lead to hate and violence? Could it not lead us to excitement and curiosity?

Death, disease, suffering, pain; these things frighten us. When we see them attack our loved ones they make us angry. We want to strike back at the culprits, or culprit. But there is no culprit, or He is too powerful for us to challenge.

I think of this analogy. A person ties a dog out to a tree in the back yard. The dog is trapped there against his will (life). He may or may not necessarily become mean, but then each day he is also kicked or beaten with a stick, or if not beaten, threatened, screamed and yelled at (abused). I doubt that any dog worth his salt wouldn't eventually become aggressive, if not out right mean.

As human beings, we are placed in the cage of life. We are prodded with the sticks of pain, suffering, hunger, helplessness, sickness,loneliness and disease. We are then threatened and goaded as Edgar Allen Poe describes for us in his "Pit and The Pendulum,"BY the Pendelum, second by second, minute by minute, ticking away our very existence - the never ending threat of death, and our possible extinction. Worse yet, by the constant and repetitious prodding of an eternity of more pain and anguish. Along the way, least we forget, someone next to us is struck down, a friend, a relative, a stranger. Mark Twain and others discuss this very feeling in many of their more serious written contemplations. Isn't War nothing more than a passion play re-enacting the trauma of our very lives. Men forced into situations filled with pain, death, and the burning frustration of being controlled by un-asked for circumstances?

Every dead body a reminder of our own destiny. Pain, suffering, and possible extinction at every corner, all brought to the foreground where it must be confronted and not denied, ignored, rationalized, or sublimated. All the lies and fantasies are obliterated, and now one must face life in its raw cruelty.

For Adolf, to face the Executioner bravely and eye to eye, seemed the most courageous of acts, and to give up ones own existence for a comrade or for a cherished cause, the ultimate sacrifice. He saw in the act of standing up to death, a man's greatest moment of courage. And from that time on he tried to recreate this experience in his own life and everyone else's. We can only wish that he had gotten involved in literature as opposed to politics. We might have had a great novel, instead of a great war.

In my brief reading into psychology and the psyche of man and men and women, I have seen a common occurrence - people re-living and re-enacting in their daily lives the emotional traumas of their past life. Over and over, they go about recreating on their own the basic experience of their initial trauma. For example a young boy loses his mother - a mother whom he loved dearly. He then proceeds to go through life building loving relationships with women, only to eventually destroy these relationships at some point along the way. It almost seems that he is recreating the tragic feelings of that initial loss. Not until it is pointed out to him that he is doing what he is doing, or he comes to a personal realization of what he is doing, is he able to deal with his problem and correct it.

That is what I am trying to do here. The situation seems so obvious to me, but yet mankind throws up one defense mechanism after another. One fantasy, one delusion after another, but no matter how well intended, these attempts at escape almost invariably lead to the same round-a-bout re-enactment. It seems to me that the real answer here is to face the reality of our situation here as living/dying creatures and somehow learn to deal with it in a mature intelligent way. You can't run and you can't hide, but you don't have to kill yourself or others because of it. You don't really have to seek death out. It will find you and everyone else soon enough. In the mean time there is so much to experience, to learn, to enjoy. There is no need to think of one's self as a coward because he doesn't seek out death or fabricate situations and scenarios that promote it in our personal lives, as well as the lives of our nations. Relax, my friend, relax.

Why War?
The military industrial complex and the military itself?
When we talk about our forefathers and what the first settlers really wanted in relation to a new nation, it can become interesting. In the beginning, most Colonists didn't want a military at all. They didn't want a Navy or a standing Army. Their argument was that the fact of a military in itself was basically an act of war. If you had no intention of attacking others why did you need an organized Military structure at all? Well how about self defense, you ask? That is why every colonist had a rifle at his back door, and why they had a voluntary neighborhood militia. Ah yes, in the good old days before the advances in weaponry, I suppose that this could seem reasonable. Today we would all need, at our back door, intercontinental ballistic missiles, tanks, computer guided rockets and atomic bombs. In those days the Americans had the most sophisticated weapon on the market, the long rifle. With the long rifle that they used primarily for hunting they could shoot something at a great distance with accuracy. This came in very handy in the American Revolution where the colonist hid at a distance behind trees and picked off the British. The British were armed with their short range inaccurate military issue rifles. They were thus forced to line up in rows and fire in unison in order to blanket an area with shot in the hopes of hitting something.

But this was the good old days when they didn't believe in military. They didn't believe in taxes. They believed in independent states as opposed to strong centralized government. They hardly believed in having a government at all.

But, as Adolf has said, it does little good to talk about what used to be, one must look at the facts as they stand today.

In reading Adolf, it would be impossible not to notice that he is a militarist. This he makes quit obvious. But, it seems, that since every nation in the world recognizes the need for a strong defense, militarism has become pretty much a way of life. There is no doubt in my mind that it is Adolf's militaristic attitudes and prejudices that were the primary causes of his aggressive behavior in Europe. But because we all look at a military as absolutely necessary to the protection of our homes and families, we simply overlook this fact, and in our attempts to find a solution to the question of 'why war' we look elsewhere.

The perfect example here would be the Nuremberg trials initiated by Harry Truman.

The first question about the Nuremberg trials that I have is; Were they established for the purposes of laying a ground work for an international law, and to punish acts of aggression and crimes against humanity; or were they orchestrated primarily for political purposes advantageous to the goals of the burgeoning cold war?

World War II was primarily a political misconstruction, precipitated by the politics of anti-communism. Aside from that, what were the accomplishments of the Nuremberg trials? Well, aggressive acts of war were declared illegal, internationally. For the first time in History it was decided that War, other than in self-defense, was a crime, and that the attitudes of militarism which advance the glory and righteousness of dominance and aggression preached by Adolf and other militarists were immoral and socially indefensible.

Secondly, it was judged that certain atrocities or types of atrocities even in war were ultimately the responsibility of the individual. And that individuals could and should be held accountable. But the main issue of war was not even discussed.

Namely; to what degree is the Military and the military establishment and the military industrial complex itself to be held responsible? This question was not even asked or considered. This should have been the main thrust of the entire program at Nuremberg. A paucity of the military elite were executed, but not one arms merchant received more than a slap on the hand, nor was any of their possibly sinister war time activities ever brought to the foreground. Alfried Krupp, probably the biggest and most powerful war merchant in the world, had a short stay in a German prison. My guess is he was more than likely treated as Adolf was in his stay in prison; like a celebrity, and national hero as opposed to a criminal. Krupp emerged from his short stay in a German prison, to then become, the richest man in the world. He 'consulted' on the construction of munitions technology all over the world. If we accept that aggressive war is a crime, once again it seems that the old adage that crime doesn't pay, bites the dust. This is without considering any of the accusations against Krupp on count number two; crimes against humanity.

One of the problems that I see in reading about Nuremberg is that for the most part we had the military establishment judging the military establishment. To watch the Militarily inclined and indoctrinated try to put themselves on the couch of self-analysis and moral judgement almost becomes humorous. As far as I can see the Nuremberg trials left the military and the military establishment with hardly a bruise. On deciding that aggressive war was a crime, they were able to draw a line and document a case against the Germans. But, even on this issue, nothing was brought up about the possible collusion with regards to the financing and motivation of Adolf on his road to aggression by independent factions inside and outside of Germany. Today, a half a century later, we are just beginning to investigate the question of who financed Adolf Hitler. The answers are getting quit embarrassing for a lot of peoples and nations.

On the second issue of crimes against humanity, and the responsibility of the individual the line is a good deal less visible. The Russians hardly wanted to bring up the subject of atrocities, and the question of the slaughter of the entire Polish officer’s corps was declared out of bounds. On the issue of determining the individual responsibility with regards to the decision of killing innocent civilians, drawing a line was never even discussed. The indiscriminant carpet bombing of large cities, industrial or otherwise, not to mention the atomic bombing of urban metropolises and the executing of entire communities for possible guerrilla activity, never made the ballot box. Even the concentration and extermination camps, became very difficult to discuss. The bottom line is that it is very, very, difficult to fight, or conduct a 'humane' war devoid of passion, hate, injustice and even atrocity.

In my point of view, in any attempt to lessen the propensity of the human race towards war, the military structure, goals, training, and basic system must be reconsidered. In the United States they should be considered and redefined according to our principles as outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and put in their place with respect to our faith in our democratic principles. In other words, I believe in democracy and, in this light, I believe in the complete democratization of the Military structure. The basic philosophy of Militarism as exemplified in Mein Kampf and articulated by Adolf is still the basic handbook for militaries throughout the world. Reading the letters or memoirs of General Patton, or Romel, or Montgomery, or MacArthur, or DeGaulle, or Sadamn Hussein will probably reveal more similarities with this work of Adolf than disagreement, at least in military principle.

Secondly, something must be done with regards to the military industrial complex. We have what we call the separation of 'Church' and state; we must devise some serious separation between the Military and the Arms manufactures, and the military and the political structure.

How all of this should be accomplished will take better minds than mine, and a good deal of intelligent thought, by historians, philosophers, theologians, moralist, sociologists, Generals, serious politicians, and all peace loving people of the world. I don't have the answers but if war is ever to be overcome this is one direction that must be taken. Not to face these issues is to circumvent the roots of the problem entirely.

In analyzing the question of why war, or why anything for that matter, we inevitably get involved in the how and not the 'why'. At best, man seems to be able to investigate the 'how' and very rarely, if ever answers the question of 'why'. Why God? Why Evil? Why Man? Why Reason? Why the universe? Why Death? Why Suffering? Why hate? Why Love? Why war? Why sex? To be honest I don't think that we know the why of nearly anything, and only a slight smattering of the how of very few phenomena. Yet the human race runs around glorying and praising itself on its very few minor insights, which have been proved throughout history to never have been entirely correct once stated. If I were to make a statue representing the whole human race, it would be a caricature of an over inflated, pompous braggart, so full on the fat of his self-righteous delusions that he is totally incapable of seeing the truth, and wouldn't recognize it, if it stepped up to him and slapped him in the face.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dreaming War

Dreaming War

Gore Vidal

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

Mr. Vidal, well known and much despised by many on the right, makes the case of "conspiracy" within the present Bush administration. He points out the major oil connections of all the main players - Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush Sr., Bush Jr. and others. He explains the Bush connection to Osama ben Laden and Al Quida. He links a possible 911 conspiracy to the historical conspiracy traditions - Pearl Harbor and FDR and Wilson and World War I. He connects oil to Afghanistan (Unocal pipe line) and to a "possible" invasion of Iraq. He tells of the training of the Taliban and Al Quida by the Reagan administration and the American Special Forces and the CIA. He goes on and on and on - and from what I can see many of his claims with regards to the present Bush and his administration have now been exposed as fact by even the main stream media.

At some points he begins to sound like the Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reily of the left. He is so maligned and persecuted. He goes on once again harping on poor Sally Hemmings. His views on FDR and his Pearl Harbor conspiracy and the uninformed General and Admiral in command at Pearl Harbor are not substantiated. I've read most of the material and Vidal is just in claiming that there is a vast supply of literature on this subject. But he neglects to mention that most of this vast supply of literature does not support his theory. Certainly for every pro there is an equally valid con. It may be true that Japan was pressured but they certainly had other options besides a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. It is equally difficult to accept that FDR could knowingly sacrifice and willingly execute 3000 American soldiers to gain entrance into World War II. General Marshall's account of the situation at Pearl Harbor is the best and simplest explanation I read so far. With regards to FDR, Mr. Vidal sounds like a Republican.

He continues to wander and somehow ends up on the atomic bomb and Harry Truman. In this case much of what he claims seems to be supported by historians and researchers - but the facts are never stated as salaciously as Mr. Vidal's interpretation. It is difficult to demonize old "give 'em hell" Harry. Harry may have been wrong but one can hardly doubt that when wrong he was not sincerely and wholeheartedly wrong. I find it difficult to accept that Harry was deceptively or clandestinely or conspiratorially wrong.

There are other parts of his book that have not gotten as much attention. They may be true but because of Mr. Vidal very opinionated nature, I would imagine that most readers discount his validity.

Gore Vidal is a novelist but I have only read his political essays and his political commentary. I enjoy reading Mr. Vidal on politics because he is always outspoken. Every time I read one of his books, I discount 50% of what he has to say as left wing propaganda but invariably one also finds sufficient food for thought.

Believe it or not Mr. Vidal thinks that nearly everyone in the USA pays too much in taxes. He points out that over 50% of all federal spending goes to the Pentagon and Military spending in general. He is not happy with the 1% of Americans who own almost everything in America - and a good deal of the rest of the world.

The subtitle of this book is Blood for oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta. On this particular issue he has a very good case. He should have stuck with his Bush criticisms. Once he climbed into his personal fantasies about American history, I would guess that he lost most of his serious audience.

Monday, September 01, 2008

No Pizza in Franklin County

The Eastpointer

No Pizza in Franklin County

By Richard E. Noble

When we first arrived here you could not buy a pizza in the entire Franklin County - no pizza house, east or west. The first Pizza Parlor to open up here was Risa's Pizza in Apalachicola. It was opened by a nice fellow and his wife from St. Joe. He had worked for one of the mills in St. Joe for a number of years and was laid off. He eventually sold out and went back to St. Joe when they called him back to his old job - he couldn't give up all the benefits he had accrued at the mill.

Not too long after Risa's opened, BJ's opened up out on the Island. They both sold a good pizza but most of us Eastpointers went over to Risa's because it cost two dollars to get over the St. George Island Toll Bridge. Two dollars, man! Can you believe it?

Carol and I went out to the Island maybe once a month as a kind of adventure. There wasn't really all that much out there. The biggest attraction for us was a place called the Dingy. It had a real Island atmosphere. All that you had to do was sit down at the little bar and you were in the middle of a conversation. The Dingy was mostly working people while Harry A's had a more sophisticated reputation. Of course, sophisticated in Franklin County was a rather tenuous thing.

Other than some construction jobs and some fancy homes, the Island had very little to offer. There was a parking lot at the east end and you could walk or drive down to the cut on the west end, if you chose to.

Apalachicola was worse - it was a ghost town. The main street on both sides of highway 98 looked like it was permanently ready for the next hurricane – many of the windows were boarded up. Everything was closed down and empty.
If you wanted a hamburger you could go east or west from the Hub of Eastpoint. We almost always went to Johnny's over in Carrabelle.

Johnny's was on the water side of 98 in Carrabelle in a modest building. Everybody was friendly over there - unlike the Grill over in Apalach. The Grill before the new folks took it over was a rather strange experience for "foreigners" like us.

When you walked into the place there was a big round table to the rear on the left side if your back was to 98. At this table “lived” a community of ten or so older looking men. They were always there. I really don't know what they were doing there. We figured that they were the homeless relatives of the owner.

They never seemed to be eating anything. They all drank coffee. On one occasion I was rather surprised to overhear one of them request an order of toast. They had to wake the cook up to make it.

No matter who walked in the door, this whole table turned around and stared at them. As a potential customer one couldn't help but have the feeling that you were under suspicion. We felt so icky going in there that we avoided the opportunity whenever possible.

Today's Grill is one of the busiest restaurants in Franklin County. And the new owners are very friendly – in fact, I once worked there. They boast serving the largest fish sandwich in the world – and I was there when they devised that idea.

There was no place to eat in Eastpoint until Mom opened up. Mom's was unique. It was located where the pawn shop is now. If there were more than two cars parked out front, you might just as well skip breakfast.

Mom had a problem with organization. First you would get your eggs - but now your coffee cup was empty. As Mom put down your eggs, she apologized for the toast and would promise you another cup of coffee as soon as it was ready. She would then go and get it ready. Then came the grits. Mom would, of course, have to run and get you some butter. The butter would sit on top of the grits like a polar bear on an ice burg. When the toast came, Mom would agree to put your grits in the microwave. Mom would remember your grits at just about the time you were standing at the cash register to pay your bill. Breakfast was always an experience at Mom's. Everybody loved her - she tried so hard.

On that rare occasion that we went out to eat and bought something more expensive than a hamburger and French fries or a breakfast of grits toast and eggs for 99 cents, we went out to the lodge - not the prosperous Bay City Lodge that is owned by Jimmy Mosconis (which is great!) but the Breakaway Lodge that is now gone as far as I know.
I never bumped into a fellow oysterman at a restaurant until Sharon's opened up in Eastpoint a few years back. It is now gone also. Despite rumors to the contrary most oystermen didn't make enough money to be eating dinner out at a sit-down restaurant.

The Gibson Inn was condemned when we first arrived. They were going to tear it down. I understand that is the reason Mr. Ben Watkins bought the old hotel. He then found some investors who, with the help of a State historical grant, turned the abandoned building into a tourist destination. I actually feel the remodeling of the Gibson Hotel was the turning point towards prosperity here in Franklin County.

The Gibson attracted a whole new group of investors and entrepreneurs who started buying and remodeling all of Apalachicola - and from there things seemed to snowball into the thriving Goliath that we enjoy today.

Living in a Trailer Home

The Eastpointer

Living in a Trailer Home

By Richard E. Noble

"I don't think that they should allow people to live in those trailer homes."

My sister, calling me from San Diego, California, said that to me the other night on the phone. And she knows all too well that I have lived in my trailer home for over 30 years now. Sometimes it is hard to believe what a family member will say.

I didn't get angry or even annoyed; I decided to practice my Socratic Dialogue techniques.

"And why do you say that, my dear sister?" I enquired Plato-like.

"Well, you know why! Every time there is a storm somewhere they show some trailer park in a shambles. It's ridiculous! Those trailer homes aren't safe to live in."

"Well, I've been living in a trailer home for thirty years now and I'm still here."

"You've been lucky."

"I've been lucky? And this is coming from a person who lives in California, the land of mud slides, earthquakes, forest fires and collapsing bridges? As I remember last year, you had a fire that surrounded your entire area. You told me that you had to evacuate your condo. I couldn't contact you for three days."

"Well ..."

"Well what? Because you were living in a condo you were safer from the surrounding flames than you would have been if you were living in a trailer home?"

"No, I guess not"

"And if it had been an earthquake you would have been safer in your fancy condo than in a trailer home?"


"And it is safer to be in a condo during a mud slide?"

"No, but what about a hurricane?"

"Well, there is plenty of warning that is given when a hurricane comes. We've always had plenty of time to leave the area if we felt endangered. We've had several hurricanes come through here and we're still here and so is our trailer home."

"But what about a tornado?"

"Do you think that a person is safer in a conventional home than he is in a trailer home in the event of a tornado? A tornado doesn't care if something is made of cement, brick, plastic or steel - a tornado will rip anything apart and it doesn't come with a week or two of warning advisories."

"I know. But when all those trailer houses get destroyed, it cost those insurance companies millions of dollars. They don't even want to insure trailer homes anymore."

"You're right. But I don't think it is because the insurance companies are worried about saving lives. I think that it is because they would like nothing better than to see all the trailer homes disappear so they could be replaced by million dollar apartment structures like yours, or a pile of fancy homes paying them big premiums like out on St. George Island. You know the last close call we had here in Franklin County, our trailer home was still in tact. Our only damage was to the screens on our porch. The Island was a wreck. My wife and I went out there with our boat trailer and gathered up enough building supplies laying out on the roads to build two out-building here on our property. We paid trailer insurance for over 20 and never made a single claim.

"When there is a storm and the insurance companies pay out millions - most of that money goes to home owners not trailer parks. To replace the cost of one 3 million dollar home out on the Island every trailer in Eastpoint would have to get blown away. The reason insurance companies don't want to insure trailers is the same reason they don't want to insure sick people - they can't make any money off the poor and the sick. They're a busiiness! Businesses want to make money - they aren't the United Fund, Red Cross or the Salvation Army you know."

"I know. But that is the way it is."

"Well, let me tell you something else. If it were just safety and cost, they wouldn't allow anybody to live in anything but a trailer or some other cheap expendable type living structure around here and the water's edge. If it was just a matter of safety and cost, they wouldn't let anybody build an expensive home on a barrier island or along a coastal area. It wouldn't matter if it was elevated up on stilts or not. It is all a matter of premiums and profits - not people, safety, and costs. Sure a trailer home can blow away but if they kept them cheap and affordable they could be insured for a small cost and replaced when and if a few of them get blown away every twenty or thirty years."

"Well, how come they kept telling us on the news about the danger of these cheap trailers?"

"Who do you think owns the TV stations - trailer park operators or insurance companies and big investors? My dear sister, if it weren't for this trailer home Carol and I would never have had any home. It isn't the most beautiful home on the block even in Eastpoint, but we have had a good life here and a lot of fun playing house in this cheap little pile of tin. Now the insurance companies want to charge us $3,000 a year to insure a $10,000 trailer. They don't want to help us; they want to get rid of us!"