Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Hobo Philosopher
Rice Cakes – Yummy, Yummy.
By Richard E. Noble
My wife, over the past 30 years, has probably been on every diet known to mankind. For the first 15 or 20 years I went along with her. I've eaten almost anything in the name of fidelity and loyalty. But in recent years I have become a follower of Omar Khayyam. Omar's bible is the Rubaiyat. You know ... A loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and thou; Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.
I don't know exactly what it was that my wife did that brought me to my first serious reading of Omar Khayyam's the Rubaiyat but I think it was the rice cakes.
A rice cake was the first food product that ever made me regret eating. I found myself, not only reluctant, but annoyed by the act of chewing. For the first time in my life I truly understood how hunger could be a bad thing. The rice cake is a food engineering failure. Those scientists who work at the artificial, commercial, synthetic food laboratory are true geniuses. They can make cardboard edible and even digestible and most of the time they can make almost anything taste like chocolate. But they failed with the rice cake.
As I was chewing my first rice cake my brain was asking my mouth; What is going on here? Aren't we supposed to be spitting this out? My teeth and tongue had a slowdown strike. My stomach, small intestine and duodenum went into a huddle. The conclusion that they arrived at was a question that they forwarded to my brain. Their e-mail said; If this guy decides to start eating mud, AstroTurf, or plastic wrap are we required to digest it? Do we have any rights here?
It seems to me that along with an immune system and all those other involuntary type things we have going on in our bodies there should be a this-is-repulsive system.
I started putting peanut butter, jam, jelly and real butter on my rice cakes but somehow the rice cake was able to contaminate even these few of my favorite things. I tried to wash it down with a cold Miller's. Can you imagine going to a bar and instead of peanuts they put rice cakes on the bar for snacking?
A rice cake is an anti-food. It can annihilate other food and destroy a person’s desire to eat. If you eat only rice cakes you will die. Rice cakes drink all the water in your body, dehydrate your internal organs and then kill you.
I have read that they are working on a spinach flavored rice cake. These people are sick.
I think that I could eat a cup of uncooked, bleached, white flour and enjoy it more than eating a rice cake.
In Japan they have made eating into a suicide sport. They eat these fish that are poisonous and will kill you but they eat just a little so that they can dangle on the edge of life and death. They like to feel the "tingle" of the unknown - the hand of eternity on their shoulder. If I was the manufacturer of rice cakes, I would send them to Japan. In Japan eating is "to die for." Eating rice cakes might become a competitive spot in Japan.
Has anybody thought of a rice cake tossing festival? Are rice cakes biodegradable? I'll bet rice cakes don't go bad. If you made a bird feeder out of rice cakes, I'll bet no bird would touch it. My cats won't eat rice cakes. For that matter I'll bet that rice cakes don't grow mold. I think rice cakes are a bi-product of Styrofoam. I don't believe that rice cakes are really a food.
I think if you handed out bags of rice cakes to the starving around the world, the poor would lie down on the bare ground, cover themselves with the rice cakes and die. Either that or they would bust all the rice cakes open hoping to find food inside.
Compared to rice cakes soy protein burgers are delicious. I even tried frying rice cakes in bacon fat and mixing them with scrambled eggs and melted cheese. Even the dog wouldn't eat it.
I've been thinking of bringing rice cakes to the nursing home. Old people can find a use for anything - plastic bags, used aluminum wrappers, old string, paper clips, plastic bottles, oyster shells, maybe the old people could do something creative with rice cakes.
Hey what about powdered rice cakes on a fire ant hill?
“A Little Something” is R.E. Noble’s first book of poetry and it is now on sale at Amazon and locally at Downtown Books along with Hobo-ing America, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Farther and Thy Mother. Richard Noble is a freelance writer who has lived here in Eastpoint for nearly 30 years.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
By Richard E. Noble
The most difficult time that I remember in my career as an oysterman was not caused by Mother Nature. It was brought to us oystermen by the State of Florida in the form of “check stations.” Of course the State was trying to help us out. And as strange as it seems most oystermen and dealers agreed with the State’s premise as to why these check stations should be established.
Historically most oystermen in Franklin County caught oysters that were two and a half inches or larger despite the three inch size limit law. But as the season went on and the beds got scrappier and scrappier, the oysters started shrinking.
The catching of small oysters was always a hot topic among the dealers and the oystermen in Franklin County. Many oystermen wondered why so many dealers bought the tiny oysters. Some oystermen went so far as to charge the dealers with calling the Marine Patrol on occasions to “tighten” up all their catchers. With this technique, instead of a dealer simply refusing to buy small oysters from a sorry catcher, almost any oysterman could get a stiff fine for not catching all three inch oysters. Even the best oystermen couldn’t make a living catching all three inch oysters at the traditionally low boat price for oysters of $4.00 to $4.50 per bushel. Finally for the benefit of us all, the State was going to step in and make things right.
Their plan was to set up check stations. Every boat’s oysters would have to be checked and tagged before they were brought to a dealer house. For a time on Catpoint there was a check station at the old ferry dock and at another time they had the check station in the channel behind the breakwater.
All at once the positive attributes of oystering for a living were stripped away. No longer could an oysterman work any day of the week. It was Monday through Friday - just five days a week. In the past it often took seven days to pick out four or five days that were tolerable for oystering. Now you had five days. If it was stormy two of those five days, you were just out of luck. Often times after bad weather oystermen would work seven days or even fourteen days straight to make up the losses in their paychecks. Now if you got behind you stayed behind. And if I’m not mistaken for a time the bay was only open four days per week and there were restrictive bag limits.
Another alternative was to work from sunup to sundown - maybe twelve or thirteen hours in a day. But this was no longer possible either. The check stations closed at four or five. The hourly wage earners working on the check stations couldn’t be allowed to earn overtime. Consequently five hundred to one thousand independent businessmen (oystermen) were forced to work the hours of the State’s hourly wage workers.
But this aggravation was small compared to the social consequences. We had more Marine Patrol stationed here than they had in Miami. And I know that the Marine Patrol who were here at that time will not agree but many of them became overzealous in their duties. Some of the Marine Patrol officers were actually local residents and relatives of some dealers. Their tendency was to settle up old grudges if at all possible. Some of the hired hands working on the check station barges got somewhat intoxicated with their new positions of power. The oystermen called them “Rambos.”
It was a very lack-luster period in the history of oystering. And after all was said and done, it turns out that the basic premise of the three inch oyster was invalid. The mortality rate of the oysters after reaching two and a half inches is substantial. Just to make the point for example, if 90% of oysters reach the two and half inch size only 30% or 40% might live to be three inches. The number of bags caught per oysterman dropped appreciably. Consequently the price of oysters went up considerably. I think at one time they were as high as $25.00 per bag or bushel.
During this period, many oystermen actually made more money. But there were many others who were not capable. Some started hiding bags of undersized oysters under their floor boards. Others started a late night shift - going out in the evenings.
The Marine Patrol had their hands full and, of course, this led to some of their abusiveness. Overall, I would say that this time period was the worst memory of all my oystering days. The fun was gone from the job. Police were everywhere and oystermen felt like criminals. Every oysterman was suspect. There were so many Marine Patrol officers that Eastpoint felt like a large prison.
After all was said and done I don’t think the dealers were happy. I know the oystermen weren’t happy. I really don’t think that most of the Marine Patrol were happy either. They had a dirty job and they got very little praise or support. It was a bad time all around. The attitudes of everybody involved in the seafood business soured.
“A Little Someting” is R.E. Noble’s first book of poetry and it is now on sale at Amazon and locally at Downtown Books along with Hobo-ing America, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Farther and Thy Mother. Richard Noble is a freelance writer who has lived here in Eastpoint for nearly 30 years.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Silas Deane and Colonial Arms
By Richard E. Noble
Silas Deane was born in Groton, Connecticut. His father was only a blacksmith but he managed to get the boy to Yale where Silas received his law degree. Silas was a very ambitious young man. He married well, not once, but twice. His first bride was a widow and her late husband was a merchant. Silas took over the business. After his first wife died he met and married the granddaughter of a former governor of Connecticut. This must have peeked Silas’s interest in politics. He became a delegate to the first and second Continental Congress.
In 1776 Congress sent Deane to France. He was the first American to represent the American Colonies abroad. He also had a rather clandestine mission. The Americans wanted him to purchase war materials and arms for the upcoming battle. In France, he was secretly hooked up with a playwright, named Beaumarchais and a dummy company called Hortalez and Company. The French were on shaky terms with the British. They wanted no publicity with regards to their helping British Colonies to revolt. The French King was not ready for a war with England at the moment.
Beaumarchais ... The courtly gentleman of ‘wit and genius’ as Deane called him, sold gunpowder to Americans at a 500 percent markup and sent bills of lading with the shipments indicating these were not gifts. Muskets discarded by the French army and given to Beaumarchais for nothing were passed along to the United States at half their original cost. Robert Morris, another well known Patriot, told Deane before he left Philadelphia ... “If we have but luck in getting the goods safe to America the profits will be sufficient to content us all. Late in 1777 Congress got the bill from Hortalez and Company for 4,500,000 livres. It was authorized by Deane. The Congress decided to call Deane home for a little talk.
Congress, through the year 1778 had been having a little difficulty with scandals of a similar nature. A Dr. William Shippen, head of the medical department, seemed to have a good deal of extra money from his negotiations in hospital supplies. Then there was Thomas Mifflin an army quartermaster-general who had done a little too well at his post. And good old General Nathanael Green was rumored to be making a rather quick fortune. “By late 1778 the American Revolution for many had lost the quality of a crusade. Those who had prospered on wartime contracts now rolled about Philadelphia in gaudy coaches.
While the ragged continental army survived on half rations, slim supplies and often no pay, the city’s rich, many of them friends of Deane, dressed their women in finery and loaded their tables with delicacies. John Adams was worried. He feared that the publicity from all these money scandals and profiteering could result in an actual civil war.
Deane had a couple of other scams going at the time. Deane would use his political connections in France to ship goods without declaring what the cargo was. If the ship would arrive safely, he would declare it private - his personal goods. If the ship sunk, or the goods were damaged, he would declare it a U.S. government cargo. On top of that he seemed to have a little gambling problem. One of the more interesting gambling casinos of the day were the insurance companies. The insurance companies would insure anything. They would even give you odds on current events. You could “insure” yourself on the possibility of an upcoming war, or who might win or lose the present war. Deane being an “insider” in the political shenanigans going on between France and the Colonies had been doing quite well in many of his “insurance” ventures.
When Deane got back home a big brouhaha erupted. The inspectors asked to see the account books, only to find that Deane had “forgotten” them in Europe. Tom Paine who had proudly taken the position of Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Congress in the American War, at no pay I might add, had privileged information in his files. These privileged files clearly stated that the King of France had donated the bulk of these materials to the Colonial war effort, free of charge. When Tom pointed this out to the investigating committee, he was called a liar. Deane not only called Tom Paine a liar, but he went to the newspapers with his side of the story. Paine demanded an apology from Deane. When Deane refused, Paine went to the newspapers himself. Deane then demanded an apology and a retraction from Paine. Paine proceeded to document his allegation to the committee and the newspapers with information from his privileged files. This mess caused the president of the Congress, Henry Laurens, to resign and the French ambassador, Mr. Gerard, to have convulsions. If the King of England found out that the King of France had been supplying arms to the Colonists, the English would attack the French immediately.
Now Mr. Gerard entered the committee room and the newspaper columns. He demanded that Paine denounce all such accusation about his beloved France and its proper King. The French government would never, never do such a thing, and certainly not the King. Tom Paine had made this whole thing up. In private, Mr. Gerard was not at all upset with Mr. Paine. He even offered to put Tom on the French payroll as a propagandist for French causes in the Colonies. In public, though, he was “hot.”
Paine had P.O.ed a number of other people besides Mr. Gerard; both Robert and Gouverneur Morris where not happy with Tommy. Gouvernouer Morris was a friend of Deane and Tommy had insinuated that such notables as Robert Morris might actually be in on some of the ill-gotten gain themselves. Needless to say Paine was asked to resign. Paine resigned from the committee, but not as a journalist. He continued to defend himself and attacked publicly several prominent members of the committee who had forced his resignation; Gouvernor Morris, John Penn, William Drayton, and others.
Paine was disgraced and ostracized and Deane went back to France. As Deane bumped about Europe, he was approached by the British to write home to some of his influential friends encouraging the Colonies to capitulate with the British. The British double-crossed Deane and had the letters printed in occupied New York. Immediately Deane became a traitor and Paine, once again a hero. Deane was forced to remain in Europe. He took to alcohol and most likely gambling. He went broke. Finally, after a number of years, a relative in the Colonies agreed to pay his passage home. He died mysteriously aboard the ship. Some say he committed suicide; others say that he was poisoned. If he was poisoned, it was probably by a guy named Edward Bancroft who is alleged to have been a double agent.
Bancroft was an old friend. They were involved in many an “insurance” deal together. Bancroft had done quite well in the espionage game and may not have wanted the publicity that an old, wimpy, soul searching Deane might have engaged in upon returning to his home land. *
* “Paine” David Freeman Hawke. . . Harper & Row
* Three works used in this essay; “After the Fact”, James West Davidson & Mark Hamilton Lytle.... “Paine” David Freeman Hawke... The Oxford History of the American People, Samuel Eliot Morison.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Roosevelt and the Great Depression
By Richard E. Noble
Roosevelt comes in with a bang. He wins the popular vote by over seven million and the electoral vote 472 to 59 - not only that, but the Democrats sweep the house and the Senate. They now control two thirds of the Senate and three quarters of the house. Why?
The U.S. government, the capitalist system, and all of its institutions are in the state of collapse. The American monetary system has failed, the banking system has failed, the Stock Market has failed, agriculture has failed, industry has failed, the educational system has failed, labor and management are at war, housing has failed, and medical and hospitalization has failed. No matter where one looks out upon the horizon, one sees chaos, collapse and corruption.
Whether this is all a part of a super-wealth conspiracy to bankrupt the middle class and thus control them, the poor, and the rebellious working class; or the built-in inevitability of an unrestricted competitive system; or just the workings of fate, the people of the United States were desperate.
Since Hoover took over the reigns of state everything had degenerated and the Republicans seemed to have no answer.
They weren’t in favor of reform, relief, or revolution. Their only answers were poverty, police and Providence. The Republican Party had been in a state of known and visible corruption since the days of Ulysses S. Grant.
Roosevelt not only had the hearts and minds of the people but the Congress and Senate also. He was given the powers of a president at war and for the first four years they passed just about everything that he proposed.
Roosevelt had promised to try anything and if it didn’t work, try something else.
Hoover didn’t leave the vault as low as Benjamin Harrison had left it for Grover Cleveland, but he did his best to leave Roosevelt with as little as possible. In the four months between Hoover’s loss at the polls and Roosevelt’s inauguration, it seems that Hoover and his buddies did their best to leave Roosevelt with out a dime to work with.
The first thing Roosevelt did was to take hold of the money supply. He took the nation off the gold standard which even had Europe screaming foul. He stopped all gold from leaving the country, and pulled all gold certificates from circulation. He made owning gold illegal. He reduced the gold reserve backing on the American paper by nearly fifty percent, thus enabling him to double the amount of paper money in circulation.
The rich were now taking all of their money out of circulation and hiding it, or investing it in more prosperous foreign countries. If that Communist, Socialist, Dictator Roosevelt was going to take up the side of those lazy, poor, good for nothings who were trying to ruin this country, he wasn’t going to do it with their money.
Roosevelt did everything he knew to increase the revenue of the Federal Government, even cutting government salaries and wages, and then spent it as fast as he could on programs to put people to work or relieve those without work opportunities. By 1938 he had put all of the 15 million unemployed to work temporarily and half of them permanently.
He set up federal mortgage and loan companies that basically bought up mortgages and loans from the banks and returned them to the borrowers at rates of payment that they could afford. He did the same for small businessmen and farmers, plus guaranteed the sale prices of farm commodities. The government even bought the farmer’s surplus and gave the excess pork, butter, and bread etc., to the unemployed.
He got the banks straight and guaranteed deposits up to five thousand dollars. He subsidized medical care and tried to establish federal health care insurance. He plugged the holes in the Stock Market with a Securities and Exchange Commission that guaranteed a stock’s legitimacy. He put Joe Kennedy in charge of the operation. When critics asked him why he put the biggest thief the business world and the Stock Market ever knew in charge of the whole deal; the big bad wolf right inside the chicken coop ... he laughed and told them that it takes a thief to catch a thief.
He passes a National Industrial Recovery Act which set up public works projects, fair trade practices among business, and gave workers the right to strike and demand that bosses arbitrate grievances. Prior to this, strikes by workers were considered illegal and troops were sent in to break strikes and punish workers.
He opened up trade relations with Russia by recognizing the Soviet Union, the existence of which had been denied by the U.S. since 1917. This puts fire to the notion that America really had a communist in the White House.
He set up an emergency housing division that cleared slums and built public and private homes.
He tried to build up the Navy and the Air Force by proposing the Vinson Naval Parity Act but congress refused to appropriate the money. The country is so much against war or our entry into a war that in 1938 they try to pass the Ludlow Resolution. This resolution would not only deny the executive, but the congress the right to declare war without a national referendum except in case of invasion.
He passed a graduated income tax - charging millionaires up to 75% on every million after their first.
He starts a Federal Arts Project, a Federal Theater Project, a National Youth Employment Project; he even commissions history and science research and a writer’s project. He regulates the health and sanitation of food and meats, and drugs.
He starts building dam and river projects in Tennessee, Colorado and in Michigan, the Saint Lawrence Seaway; and in 1936 even the beleaguered Bonus Army that Hoover had beat-up gets the adjusted Compensation Act passed over F.D.R.’s veto, and over 1,500,000,000 in benefits are paid out to over three million veterans.
It seems that up until this period in time the country was allowed to progress without rhyme or reason or rule and regulation. There had been no referee, no judge of fair play, and nobody who cared or who could do anything about it. Roosevelt came and America had its Moses, the law giver. He had a law, a plan or a program for everything.
In his first eight years his only opposition seemed to be the Supreme Court. They had been placed in their positions before he got control. They tried their best to declare unconstitutional everything that he attempted. But as fast as they declared it unconstitutional, the legislature passed a different but similar law to replace it.
By 1938, the Right wing Republicans had finally gotten together with the Klu Klux Klan Democrats from Dixie and the tide began to turn. In the 1936 presidential election Roosevelt won by the largest electoral victory in a contested race in history ... 503 to 8. And even though 80% of the nation’s newspapers came out for and supported Governor Landon, Roosevelt won the popular vote by over eleven million. But with the mid-term elections of 1938 the Republicans recovered 81 seats in the house and 8 in the Senate.
War was coming.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Oystering the Old Fashioned Way
By Richard E. Noble
If I'm not mistaken, it was after hurricane Elena ran back and forth off the Florida panhandle that we were forced to seek work elsewhere once again. By this time we had a new flat-bottomed Hatfield built boat, a roll-on boat trailer and our trusty Johnson 40 Workhorse model motor.
Our Johnson Workhorse was a pull start, with no tilt and trim, but it was the best working motor we ever had. It took some power to pull that crank rope but it cranked every time on one good pull. It was simple and easy to repair. It even came with an on board tool kit. That was my favorite motor. I'm sure they don't make it any longer. It was too simple and too practical. It was like the old model T - it never stopped. You could fix it yourself, repair parts were cheap and like the old model T, it bored everybody. So they improved it. Now you can buy one that needs to be repaired every time you want to use it, the parts are unaffordable, and no one in the neighborhood can fix it. It fact the man who can repair it has to be a certified electrical engineer. But the worse they make them the more Americans seem to buy them. The miracle of marketing, I guess.
In any case, Cat Point was closed, and the word around town was that the beds were like concrete anyway. One old timer told me that the cure was for a bunch of oyster boats to get out there and pull bedsprings back and forth across the bottom. He said that is what they did back in the “olden” days.
We packed up and went down to Horseshoe Beach. We could have gone to Alabama or Mississippi, but we thought that we would run into fewer problems in Horseshoe. The dealer down there allowed us to park our van camper out in back of his oyster house.
There was a little village of Eastpointers down there. They were in the bushes, out in the woods and out on the islands - any place that could be had for free. Nobody bothered us.
The tides were really something down there. You had to time your trips in and out. If you weren't up early enough in the morning, and the tide had gone out, you didn't get out. If you worked too long into the evening and the tide was gone, you slept out in the woods or on your boat. Carol and I watched the tides. We had some close calls both going out and coming in where we had to climb out of the boat and push it over the shallow areas. But with our new Hatfield flat-bottomed boat, we could float in 6 inches of water with twenty bags of oysters on board. We had a big advantage there.
They had no problem with any of us oyster people down at Horseshoe because they really didn't have any oysters there. They had no cultivated beds, I guess I should say. You had to rig yourself up a rope and chain with a bobber tied to the end that didn't have the chain. You would go out into the bay and then putts around for an hour or two dragging that chain behind your boat. When the chain started grabbing and pulling, you threw out the marker. Then you turned the boat around and pulled up on your marker and dropped in your tongs and scrapped around.
Amazingly enough sometimes we caught 10 or 15 bags on a spot two boat lengths long and one boat length wide. It was oystering the old fashioned way - you earned it.
I don't remember much about the Horseshoe Beach area because, for the most part, all we did was work. But the man down there paid us regularly and the bank cashed his checks. There was a grocery store and a barroom and that was about it. The people who lived there fished, they didn't oyster. So we were no problem to them at all. Most of them couldn't believe how many bags of oysters us Eastpointers brought in every day. They thought we were growing them out there.
As soon as we heard that they were going to let the oystermen back out onto Cat Point we came trucking home. For at least one week, I think we were the only boat out on Cat Point. The bottom was like concrete and it was mighty scrappy - but it was as good as Horseshoe and we were home.
One day channel 6 News pulled up along side us. They wanted to do a story. We told them that we were catching a few - maybe 8 to 12 bags a day and that evening we were on the TV.
Well, everybody from Eastpoint must have been watching in Horseshoe, Alabama and Mississippi because by the end of that next week the oyster boats were once again scattered all over Cat Point. Within a month or two the bottom seemed pretty much back to normal. Oystering was scrappy - but everybody was home. It felt good to see all the boats out on the bay once again. Eastpoint had been like a ghost town for a few months. I don't know what the few local businesses did, but they had to be hurting. In those days Eastpoint and oyster boats was synonymous - no oyster boats, no Eastpoint.
A Little Something is R.E. Noble’s latest creative output. It is a book of poetry with prose. It is for sale on Amazon along with Hobo-ing America, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. Richard Noble is a freelance writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for 30 years.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Chapter 18 - Final Conclusion
By Richard E. Noble
Well, in our quest for culprits with regards to this question, we certainly have a good number of suspects.
The Military Industrial Complex must be considered number one on any list. Those that argue that there is an economic conspiracy going on for the promotion and continuation of war by those involved and connected to the Military Industrial Complex have a substantial argument.
This theory might well go back to the Roman Empire for all that I know. Tom Paine had a similar notion and linked it to the royal families and the Kings of his day. Karl Marx then helped promote the notion, but his was no voice screaming in the wilderness. There were plenty of others offering support.
The notion that war is a political method of promoting domestic tranquility also plays its part in this theory. This notion being, that it is inappropriate for any reasonably loyal citizen to be promoting discontent at home when his country is engaged in war. It then follows that when a government finds its citizens acting up over one popular issue or another, a way to quell the riots and discontent is to start a war or get involved in one, some way or another. This technique goes back to Julius Caesar. He used the technique himself and later warned the Roman Citizens about the idea.
World War I becomes pivotal with regards to these arguments. The case was dramatically presented after the war by numerous investigators, journalists, novelist, intellectuals and scientists. All of their various types of exposure of this issue led to the greatest peace-nick movement in the history of Mankind. People like Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell along with thousands of other prominent people, and millions of not so prominent people, lined up on this side of the argument. Their arguments are substantial. There is no doubt that a strategy for promoting arms sales during this period was to stimulate conflict and antagonisms between nations. This is substantiated time and time again in the literature of the era. Even to the point of arms sellers mining the harbors of potential costumers and blaming it on their neighbors, and owning and operating newspapers and magazines promoting violence and aggressive action in international disputes. Read any book of the period chronicling the history of these Merchants of Death and you will find substantial information with regards to arms merchants promoting War for personal gain. It was a standard practice.
People like Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler, with equal or even greater support, lined up on the opposite side of this issue. Hitler would be the defender on the far right or far left of this issue, depending upon your politics. As you have just learned, he proposed, philosophically, that war was "good."
Winston Churchill was closer to the center on this issue. He proposed that war was not "good," but necessary. A nation must be ever prepared and constantly vigilant. Consequently, both Adolf and Winston were a boon to the Armament Industry and the Military Industrial Complex.
The Military Industrial Complex would have to be considered a victor in the World War I struggle. After the War it continued to prosper. It may have shifted from one location on the globe to another, but certainly there was no down turn in military investment and research and development after World War I.
The period between World War I and World War II was merely a regrouping and rearming period on the part of the World combatants. The International Military Industrial Complex was alive and well. World War II substantiated the Military Industrial Complex once and for all. It was clearly now, the biggest business enterprise in the world. Every country contributed to this industry's prosperity without question. The Cold War theory sealed the war preparedness issue once and for all in the United States and elsewhere. There would be no cutting back in war expenditure and Military budgeting from then on. But the atomic bomb made things a little frightful. Now the game of War and its profitability was more than just a few million innocent lives or the dominance of one culture over another. If the whole world were to be destroyed in a nuclear confrontation, even the Military Industrial Complex could be put out of business. There may be money to be made on the sacrifice of some lives, but there is no profit in the sacrifice of EVERYBODY'S life.
A new strategy had to come about or be developed. Thus the concept of limited war was born. With this idea we could still have war and its residual gains, but limit the possibility of bankruptcy on the part of all humanity and the entire international industry of war.
Form the point of view of the International Military Industrial Complex (if there be such a unified, organized monster) Korea was good, Vietnam was great. Small conflicts anywhere and everywhere are fine. Things and conflicts that engage the world, piece by piece, are o.k. Things that have the portent of total destruction are bad. Little wars are "good," total War (Adolf's idea) "evil." Getting 'mad' is good; getting totally-mad is insanity (madness).
Saddam Hussein causing a war by invading Kuwait is o.k., but Saddam Hussein setting off a biological confrontation that could lead to the unstoppable spread of infection and disease which could eventually lead to the destruction of all mankind ... bad. If Saddam Hussein is the kind of guy who says; "If I go, I'm taking everybody else with me," he would have to be stopped even by the International Military Industrial Complex.
With the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia we really had a bad time coming for the International Military Industrial Complex. It looked like peace was going to break out in huge areas. In the U. S., they were talking of a "Peace Dividend" of all things. The International war machine was falling on the Dow Jones or whatever. Taxpayers wanted their money back, or put into other areas. If this trend were to continue the Bombs and Bullets guys were going to take a big hit. There would be bankruptcies, slow downs and big cut backs, along with serious re-organizations and diversifications. They certainly were not going to go out of business. There was no future scarcity of "small conflicts" to worry about. The whole damn world had not been struck by the peace and love culprits. The Industry was basically still solvent, but there would definitely be some "down-sizing."
Then comes 9/11 and the War on Terrorism. If Osama bin Laden had been working for the International Military Industrial Complex, he would have been kicked upstairs, given stock options, and a huge bonus. Osama killed over three thousand Americans, but he revived the world's greatest industry. I certainly can't read the mind of a man like Osama bin Laden but if his goal was to stifle any world peace movement, and promote the perfect replacement theory for the world's loss of the Cold War principle, he did well.
Now we have the "War on Terrorism." From the point of view of an International Military Industrial Complex, I can see nothing greater happening. Vietnam was a limited war that required great investment and seemed to be going on forever. The War on Terrorism is a limited war in every country in the world that will continue FOREVER. The International Military Industrial Complex has just been granted a contract for perpetuity, in a War where the location is everywhere, and the profits are infinite.
Now, interesting enough, war has become "democratized." We're not going to get the right to vote on anything, but all nations and people will be able to participate equally. The "draft" has ended. No longer is it necessary for the purpose of promoting the Industry that concentrations of particular people die in particular areas. People can be sacrificed to the cause randomly, anywhere, and at any time. Any action, anywhere and at any time, will serve the purpose of stimulating the sales of the Industry. We will never grow tired of an endless involvement in a particular area again. Whenever interest and public support wan, a new area can be hit and fresh blood injected into the Industry.
If all of this is true and such an international conspiracy actually exists, then, of course, the Military would be next on our list of accomplices. For those who, like Adolf, not only favor war, but consider it, not only inevitable, and profitable, but basically "good," there is no problem. There is really nothing to be concerned about. If you are like Adolf, not afraid to die, and you consider anyone who is afraid to die a coward, and that war is glorious, and death all a part of God's plan for the perfection or purification of the species - you have no problem with this. You might want to be aware of where the next terrorist strike might occur to prolong your excitement and enjoyment in the "glory" of war, or possibly to keep your own children away from a too early and needless death. But, one could always have another child for that matter, I suppose. Most of us would like to think that people with this pattern of thought do not exist, but the history of humankind proves the contrary.
For those of us who are not of the Adolf mentality and would like to combat this Conspiracy, granted that any such type conspiracy actually exists, what do we do?
First, we would have to verify the conspiracy so that all like minded people would be brought to the side of the "Cause." As in catching any criminals, evidence would have to be brought forward: documents, files, written statements, recording, wire taps, etc. After World War I just such information was brought forward, and published. But as far as I know, no one was ever prosecuted and nothing was ever done. After World War II no investigation of complicity of Industry or the Military Industrial Complex ever even got off the ground. A play, here and there, surfaced and rumors and innuendo abounded, but nothing happened. Instead of an investigation into the possible financial perpetrators of World War II; or a Military Industrial Complex Conspiracy promoting War for profit, or an investigation into companies who sold to the enemy during wartime or made excess and exaggerated profits during the war, never mind any investigation into any business or groups who assisted Adolf in his rise to power, we got McCarthy. We got a witch hunt for a bunch of nobodies, supposedly involved in criminal behavior for the purpose of promoting some nebulous political creed, or utopian ideology. Even if we did seek out Reds and Commies, why didn't we have even more if not equal enthusiasm for eking out Nazis? American companies, who tried to sabotage our victory over Germany and Japan; who worked actively here at home for the cause of our actual declared ENEMIES, rather than, or at least in addition to, those who may have been sympathetic to our ALLIES.
Interesting enough Alger Hiss was the head of one such committee investigating war time complicity of American companies with Nazi Germany. Henry Morgenthau supposedly had conducted just such enquiries, and had records complied on just such Americans and such American businesses. As far as I know this information is on file in the Morgenthau papers and the F.D.R. Presidential Library, if anybody is really interested. Why isn't or hasn't anyone been interested, I have always wondered?
But given that all of this about our past and the nebulous involvement of despicable industries around the world were implicit in, not only initiating and being complicit in war and its promotion, what has that got to do with Osama Bin Laden and our present war on Terrorism?
This brings us to "Why War" theory number Two or part "B."
Osama Bin Laden, as I understand it, is a spiritualist, or a religious zealot.
Adolf believed (see Hitler's faith in introduction) that he was a messiah or prophet from God. I don't think that there is really any doubt about this. His God was a confusing amalgamation of Christianity, War, Science and racial supremacy. Osama Bin Laden is the traditional religious Zealot. Osama considers himself a prophet from God who has been assigned the religious task of purifying the spiritual condition of mankind here on earth through the conversion and/or eradication of the infidel or spiritually unclean, or non-believer. There is absolutely nothing new here. If we consider Adolf a step back in time to barbarism, Osama is also a step back into the Dark Ages and the realm of spiritual revelation, religious mysticism, superstition, black magic, and voo-doo. Just as it was difficult for right wing political extremists to separate themselves from David Duke and Adolf Hitler, so too is it difficult for the religious right to separate themselves from Osama bin Laden. Their messages are based on the same ignorance and mistaken logic. They try to separate themselves by splitting hairs but the connections are clearly there in their philosophical foundations and only differ in extremes.
What are these connections? One, is that Belief or Faith rules. Osama, the Pope, Billy Graham, the local parish priest and minister all agree on this basic concept. As long as faith rules over common sense, reason, logic and legitimate scientific enquiry the human race has a big problem.
Second, are the notions that Good and Evil are black and white and not various shades of grey. This concept eliminates any area for discussion. It often turns "different" people into "evil" people and has been a big problem throughout human history. Witch hunts, the establishment of heretics and infidels who must be punished and destroyed, Crusades, Pogroms, purges, genocides, racism and the like are all the product of this type of thinking.
Thirdly, is the notion that there exists an "invisible" world. This invisible world is housed by invisible creatures, who have invisible souls, and inhabit invisible kingdoms, in an invisible Universe. The notion that this is the "truth" and not simply a fanciful hope or wishful dream is not a solution to the problems of mankind but a very, very big problem.
We might look at Hitler as a sort of Existentialist Osama bin Laden. Hitler brought "perfection" into the area of actual human attributes, blond hair, blue eyes, good abs and firm butt. Osama brings us back to the purification of the "soul." The problem for a lot of people here, especially religious people, is if Hitler and Osama are steps backward, what are steps forward?
So, "Why War?" brings us once again to Religion.
Religion is nothing more than primitive and misguided Philosophy. Where Philosophy took the path to logic, reason, and science; religion took the path more traveled to voo-doo, mystical right, and revelation. There is absolutely no substance to revelation, no matter who it was revealed by, nor when it was revealed. Revelation is "hear-say"; it cannot be considered any more or any less.
Religion is one of the most difficult of human qualities to deal with. Religion, as a primary tenet, abandons reason, and embraces faith. Where reason ends, faith begins. I would even begin to accept this logic if it were not for the fact that most Religions give up on reason far too soon. If we took up faith when and only after we had exhausted all reason, we still could be in the ball park. But, unfortunately Religion gives up Reason, often before any reasonable discussion has even begun.
Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler bring us a logic that offers no alternative to War. Adolf says fight or convert to my side or die. He even goes so far as to say that many of you will not even be allowed the privilege of conversion. You will fight or not fight, but you will die. So how does a reasonable man deal with this? There are no choices here. As long as there are people who profess and espouse such a philosophy, war is inevitable.
Gandhi offered the philosophical argument of peaceful resistance. I have no doubt whatsoever that Adolf Hitler would have killed Gandhi and every one of his followers.
So Adolf Hitler and Osama Bin Laden make even the involvement of the International Military Industrial Complex superfluous. Even if there is an Industry supporting and even encouraging such people, exposing and dissolving these industries, though a definite step in the right direction, will still not cure the problem that such people exist and continue to gain followership.
It seems an impossible task to stamp out the ignorance of Religion, but working against the ignorance of religions that profess a philosophy of abuse and destruction with no optional alternative for disagreement should be a possible goal. Trying to promote compromise among reasonable, rational individuals is difficult enough. Trying to keep the peace between the clinically and criminally insane is a job for straight jackets, tranquilizer darts, and anesthesiologists.
This leads us to part three of "Why War?." What is there in the psychological make up of the human condition of man that leads him so easily to seek the destruction of others and even himself? Mankind has traditionally flocked to war as a moth to a flame. Why?
My contention is that man is twisted or naturally bent towards anger. He is bent in this direction due to his life circumstance - the same life circumstance that exist for all humankind.
Man's creation has been arbitrary. He is alive due to no exercise of his will. He was given no choice. Now if the conditions here were just hunky-dory for each and everyone, the resentment could possibly be dissipated somewhat. But nothing can remove the fact of the injustice of Creation. All material happiness will still not overshadow the inevitability of death. Even an eternity of ice cream cones and chocolate cake can not compensate for the basic injustice of Creation, and a life filled with death, pain, and the emotional suffering that must be endured while watching our loved ones suffer. There can be no payment that can justify, substantiate or ameliorate these wrongs. All religions hold life as unjust or unfair and propose some sort of compensation. Among the compensations are: heaven, reincarnation, eternal existence, nirvana.
Why life is unjust or unfair does not always have a religious explanation. Judeo Christianity offers the tale of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Other groups have proffered other explanations, but none deny the fact of the unjust or unfair or painful circumstance of human existence.
I have no explanation or compensating rationale. But it is clear to me that one will not have peace inside himself without coming to grips with the reality of this condition, with or without an accompanying compensating rationale.
This is the first basic, objective FACT of life. Life is an injustice. Being on the negative end of this injustice makes a person angry. I don't see any way around this. Now if the circumstance of this existence is made pleasant, certainly this anger will be ameliorated. The more unpleasantness that is heaped onto one put into an unjust circumstance, the more anger he is going to have to deal with. Recognizing this justifiable anger and figuring a way to deal with it rationally is the problem of everyone. Some people are just blessed with a compensating nature, others a more favorable and tolerable circumstance, but whatever, the problem is real and exists for everyone either consciously or subconsciously. Some can accept a simple answer. Some can accept a lie. Some can accept an illogical answer. But everybody answers the fact of the matter in one way or another. For some, the whole problem is subconscious. For some the answer is in the social condition. But from a philosophical or psychological point of view, it is the intellectual recognition of this as a fact of life. Is it true or untrue that life is unfair and consequently unjust?
I remember reading in a Western, one character saying something about Billy the Kid or somebody, "What the Hell is he so mad about?"
"Aug!" The other guy moans. "He's still pissed about being born."
Bingo! Right on the money. No joke. That's it - being pissed about being born. This is where all the hatred starts. And from here it either grows or is ameliorated by love, joy and other of life's little compensations or it isn't.
So, from day one mankind comes into this world with a chip on his shoulder. His psychological, theoretical, and philosophical bent is towards the negative. He is fearful and without information. From here on his fears are either encouraged or smothered. But even with the tenderest treatment, he will never be secure. He is always subject to pain, injury, death, and attack. All of these feeling must be dealt with. But before one can deal with these things one must be aware of them and recognize them as real and legitimate.
All religions have been an attempt to compensate for the fear and shock of the obvious perils and insecurities brought on by man's un-requested existence and unjust creation. In trying to compensate for this unjust circumstance, religions, in my opinion, only make the matter worse. Mankind has clearly been placed in an abusive situation - life. Instead of recognizing the abusiveness of this situation and dealing with it somehow, religious philosophy continues to heap abuse upon the victim. Obviously, if there is a God and a Creator, He is the abuser in this situation. Religion refuses to blame God or recognize this notion of God as the perpetrator of the injustice of Mankind, but instead blames the victim. Just as abused wives and abused children heap the burden of blame upon themselves, so too, does Mankind and his moral agencies heap the blame on themselves. The rationale being, that if I am undergoing something terrible, obviously I must be deserving of such treatment; if I weren't deserving of such treatment, it wouldn't be happening to me. From the very beginning Man is conditioned to abuse. This, as I see it, is the beginning of the sado-masochistic cycle of the human condition. When we observe this type behavior in abused children or abused housewives or even husbands etc, we try to point out to these people that they are sick and need to recognize their sickness. This is usually met by what the psychologists call "resistance," or "denial." In the case of Mankind the response is the same. Mankind seems to be caught in a catch 22 type of logic. Either he is "good" and His Abuser is "bad"; or he is "Bad" and His Abuser is "good." Traditionally Mankind has accepted the later philosophy or outlook.
Mankind, through his religious thinkers, has thought up many a confusing and complicated rationale to try and somehow reconcile his hope and instinctive notions about his own goodness and the equal goodness of his Creator. The story of Adam and Eve and other such tales of woe are the result. These are obviously the irrational ranting of the borderline insane. These tales are all self-contradictory, irrational and logically impossible, but they persist. But then if these tales are all irrational and insane what is the truth?
The truth is that all of Mankind has been placed in perilous and dangerous circumstances for reasons that are at this point in time unknown and indeterminable.
This fact has driven some to total insanity. Most of the founders of our modern day religions had been driven out of their minds by their contemplation upon this dilemma. And just like men in insane asylums, they have taken on non-rational behavior patterns. They've experienced convulsions, fits, delusions. They've heard voices. They've talked with devils. They have tortured themselves, and sought their own suicide and self-destruction. They've had hallucinations. They've seen visions. They have spoken with trees, clouds, the moon and the stars. These are all the exhibited patterns of the institutionally insane.
But what about God? Is there such a thing or isn't there?
Accepting the basic fact of life, which is, that life is basically an abusive situation that must somehow be dealt with, what reasonable conclusions can be drawn?
Well, Bertrand Russell and other philosophers came to the conclusion that since "evil" did certainly exist, God must be possessive of this negative quality. God, if such an entity does exist, would then have to be evil. Bertrand chose not to believe in a God that was evil, so therefore concluded that God could not exist.
I think that Bertrand was logical. I think another logical and reasonable attitude to adopt would be that of Herbert Spencer and many other philosophers. The concept of God is beyond the ability of the rational mind, therefore the answer to the question, Does God exist; or is there a God, is I don't know.
Now, interestingly enough, many religious thinkers and philosophers opting on the side of God's existence begin their defense of this position with the argument that God is beyond human understanding. This would be fine, except that they follow this conclusion with the notion that since God is truly beyond human cognition, He can then only be understood and determined through "Revelation."
Well, if you can't even determine logically that there is a God, how can you possibly then come to the conclusion that some existing document was written by such an unfathomable unconfirmed suspicion? These people are, in my opinion, the people who are the most dangerous to the safety of mankind. As long as their "revelations" lead them to conclusions of truth, justice, fair play and kindness, we can all breathe fairly safely. But when and if these type individuals become violent and abusive, they must be subdued and institutionalized.
Adolf was an abusive creature. As with all of us, he started off abused by the basic life situation. This basic direction towards abuse and hostility and sado-masochism was encouraged by life and his social condition. Abuse was then further entrenched into his personality by World War I. He may also have been abused in his home and personal life. I don't know. It is certain that he felt his social status to be an abusive one. He was obviously not placed in the economic circumstances suitable to his personal character, ego, and intelligence. His artistic creativity was rejected by the university in Vienna. He couldn't find a decent job. Poverty struck him and his countrymen. The world then saw fit to further abuse him and his countrymen at Versailles, he reasoned. He decided to strike back, to heap abuse onto abuse. He would pay back his abusers with double and triple the abusive intensity, if he could.
But heaping abuse onto others brought on guilt, sorrow and regret. If these tendencies couldn't be stifled this sadomasochistic cycle would be brought to an end, and the resulting irrational satisfaction would be lost. So, this would have to be overcome or the abusive sadomasochistic behavior could not continue and bring with it its personal satisfaction. Adolf then thought up his compensating notions of "elitism." Elitism carried to extremes of intensity, led him to "racism."
Elitism is taking the basic fact of life that some people are superior to others in one ability or another, and turning it into a class privilege and right of destiny. Racism is elitism taken to the irrational notion that a whole group of people are superior to masses of other people due to some general accident of Mother Nature; size of feet, structure of skull, shape of hands, size of penis or breasts. In Adolf's case, the color of one's skin, augmented by one's supposed historical place of origin were used as the defining qualities. He elaborated on this elitist theory until he came to the final conclusion that the entire world was the potential right and inheritance of the German people and that all other creatures on the planet should be subject to slavery, incarceration, or elimination.
Adolf incorporated elitism and racism into a part of his methods of retribution and War. His goal was to literally turn all of these ideas into a "Faith." And what is Faith but the indoctrination of the acceptance of the irrational, or the acceptance of the "truth" of facts which don't make sense, or are beyond reasonable or rational explanation.
To enforce and organize his abusive goals, Adolf then added to his notions of elitism and racism; authoritarianism, Militarism, nationalism and anti-Semitism. Adolf was simply an abusively creative person. He actually created his own abusive system. He utilized a number of already established abusive structures and institutions, and then added his own inventions.
Why War? Conclusions:
1) Man is basically an abused creature. Being incapable of any logical explanation for this abuse, he incorporates through his institutions (religious, political, military, economic and social) irrational but abusively consistent explanations for his unfathomable dilemma. Thus a pattern of emotionally satisfying, sadomasochistic behavior is incorporated into his folkways, mores, and societal structures.
Recognize the problem. Confront it intelligently. Remove abusive tendencies and established patterns of abusive behavior from various traditional institutions, and personal everyday life situations. Incorrect, illogical and abusive thinking must be abandoned, replaced, or corrected.
Religion needs to be re-thought - all religions.
The military needs to be revamped, and restructured with an eye for removing the obviously abusive but traditional training procedures and extreme irrational discipline, and inconsistent and undemocratic procedures removed.
Governments must be more democratic, more representative, more generous, or more tolerant of different ideas.
Poverty, famine and starvation, slums, ghettos and other abusive conditions must be improved and eventually eradicated. Tolerating abusive conditions simply conditions abusive people.
Rational education must be improved, and spread through all the nations of the world. Ignorance promotes superstition, illogic, faith beyond reason, falsehood, lies and grave susceptibility to abusive tendencies.
People who are violently abusive to themselves and others must be separated, maintained and contained.
Each person can start with himself and then spread the program to those within their influence. We will then see if intelligent, reasonable behavior has the same capacity to grow, prosper and spread with equal the speed and vitality as ignorance and abuse.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Capitalism - An Innocent Fraud?
Richard E. Noble
"When capitalism, the historic reference, ceased to be acceptable, the system was renamed. The new term was benign but without meaning."
And so says John Kenneth Galbraith in his book Innocent Fraud. The substitute explanation was The Market System which Galbraith states is benign and meaningless. Professor Galbraith suggests that the "Corporate System" would better define the American experience or evolution than the old "Capitalist System."
I'm not sure if Mr. Galbraith is stating that the U.S. no longer has a Capitalist System and that what once was a Capitalist System is now better described as a Corporate System or he is simply debating with the acceptability of the terms.
A Capitalist System is most often defined, as a non-governmental system. A system owned and operated by individuals and that functions independently of governments - a system that is the antithesis of feudalism, socialism, communism or whatever. It is supposedly a "free" laissez faire economic system. There are those who contend that such a system is "real" and others who consider the whole concept to be a platonic fantasy.
I am with the non-platonic school both in philosophy and economics. I do believe that powerful individuals, Capitalists, have owned the capital goods and natural assets of our nation. I do not believe that this ownership necessarily constitutes a "system" - whether that so called system is economic, social, political or otherwise.
We have always had powerful individuals who owned America's assets. In today's world it may be corporations who own America's assets, as Mr. Galbraith explains. But this ownership does not constitute any system or necessitate any dogma. It is simply a statement of what is or what has been.
Mr. Galbraith contends that by calling our system a "Free Market System" it is implied that this system is amorphous and harmless and uncontrolled. It operates much like a force of nature or by Divine whimsy. Mr. Galbraith considers this notion, concept or dogma to be fraudulent. He considers our system and what we once called the Capitalist System to be a managed and contrived system. It is manipulated and operated by large corporations and, more specifically, their managers, CFOs, CEOs and executives. He goes on to explain that owners, shareholders and boards of directors are not important - managers and executives run the show.
This is all interesting to the economists and the intellectuals but the talk down here in the street where I live is always about socialism, communism and capitalism. If it is capitalistic it is good, if it is socialistic it is government controlled and if it is communistic it is war.
We are all positive that we do not live in a communist state. Most of us think that we have and still do, live in a capitalist state. The vast majority of us are very fearful that our free capitalist state might one day be turned into a socialist state.
But what is a socialist state?
Galbraith contends that it is termed socialistic when the public sector infringes on the private sector, but what, he asks do we call it when the private sector infringes on the public sector. As an example of the private sector infringing on the public sector he cites the Military Industrial Complex and its “privatization.”
This is an interesting point. When taxpayer money is used to shore up or subsidize Military research, or to pay for storage costs, or to absorb the costly rent on huge warehouses or factories, or to pay for civilian armies (Blackhawk etc), or to pay for civilian cafeterias to feed troops at war or at peace – is this not socialism?
What about when taxpayer’s money is used to bail out banking fraud? What about when taxpayer’s money is used as incentive to business and corporations or even overseas suppliers? Is it not socialism also? Is there any large corporation still functioning in America that is not assisted by the government and the taxpayers?
Let’s face it, socialism is the name of the game – capitalism is the fantasy.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
By Richard E. Noble
We first learned about pier fishing on our adventure Hobo-ing America. When we were bumming around America a convenient seaside pier offered several advantages. The first was, of course, fish, crabs and whatever other type of seafood drifted around under the pier. The next big advantage was free camping. Most piers encouraged all night fishing - or at least didn't discourage it. If the parking was limited at the pier there was usually a tavern or cafe nearby with a friendly owner who welcomed customers and strangers. We camped for a week at a bar and sandwich shop across the street for a beautiful pier in Oceanside California. We caught all kinds of fish, stone crabs, and we ate delicious yellow tailed tuna that we bought from a guy who had a mobile stand and smoked it right there on the pier. There was also a small diner at the end of the pier where we drank coffee and took a break from fishing every few hours.
When we retired from oystering, we retired from boating. A nice fellow invited us out on his deepwater fishing boat a few years after we sold Hobo's Ice Cream Parlor. As Carol and I sat on a bench seat with our butt bone being pounded into our sculls, we looked at each other with the same thought in mind, Why are we doing this? We caught a few fish that day but that was the last time we went boating.
We haven't been out on a boat in over 10 years now - but we still fish regularly. We love the Eastpoint fishing pier - and we haven't been skunked yet. Every year we fill our freezer with spotted trout, silver or sugar trout, crokers, flounder, whiting and maybe a few nice redfish if we happen to be lucky. Last season we even caught several messes of Spanish mackerel.
We buy some frozen or fresh shrimp at the local bait and tackle shop in Eastpoint – Fisherman’s Choice. We get our rigs and weights there also. I like the two hook leader with the weight at the bottom. Carol uses the one hook rig. It is the same kind of a rig that you would use for fishing in the surf. We buy #4 long shank hooks and a one ounce weight. We bring a five gallon bucket that we drop off the edge and fill with bay water to wash our hands, a net on a long rope that we designed ourselves for bringing up those big ones, a cooler with ice cold drinks and beer that doubles as a fresh fish carrier, two or three fishing poles, a tackle box, and at least one collapsible cloth chair.
And there we sit or stand - cold drinks, snack food, plenty of nice people to talk to, no waves, no expensive gasoline, no boat to wash, no two hour ride out to the "secret" fishing spot, no motor problems, no trailer, no coast guard, no Conservation man, no tow boats, no boat insurance, no licenses, no jammed props, no seasickness, no problems.
We consider ourselves "professional" pier fishing people - but there are people out there who are much more sophisticated than us.
We cart all our paraphernalia out onto the pier with an old handcart or warehouse dolly. Some folk have two and three hundred dollar wagons complete with pole holders and fish cleaning boards. We saw two pier professionals last weekend who both had hydraulic carriers on the back of their SUVs. When they were done fishing they simply wheeled their wagons onto their hydraulic carriers - cooler, tackle box, poles and all, elevated their lift and headed back to Georgia, Alabama, Marianna, Panama City or wherever. One lady even had an electronic beeper on her reel that beeped and flashed when she was getting a bite.
Pier fishing supplies us with all we need - a little exercise walking out, usually a cool ocean breeze, a pleasant view of our beautiful bay and estuary, a spectacular sunset, the fun of catching fish, the joy of eating a batch of sautéed, baked or fried fish fillets, limited expense, nice people who enjoy similar excitement, comfort and a firm place to stand - no Dramamine necessary.
I have to laugh sometimes when I see boats pull up right next to the pier. They have the whole bay but where do they come? Right to the pier. The boats are rocking this way and that. When they hook a fish everyone falls all over one another. They are all wearing these three hundred dollar life preservers that are so bulky they can barely manage their poles. Carol and I just smile. What a pleasure it is to be a professional, BOAT-LESS pier fisherman. We've got it made.
Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother, Hobo-ing America and A Summer with Charlie are books written by Richard E. Noble. They are all for sale on Amazon.com. Richard Noble is a freelance writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for 30 years. If you would like to stock his books in your store or business call 850-670-8076 or email Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org.