Wednesday, August 26, 2009


He flies private planes for several wealthy families ...

In all wars of liberation, some portion of the local population casts it lot with the foreign forces. Civil Air Patrol commander Long Nguyen's (pictured right) father was one of those people.

The Seattle Times reports: "Because his father had worked for U.S. forces, helping to find soldiers and airmen missing in action, his whole family was evacuated. They were among the first wave of Vietnamese refugees to come to Washington that summer [of 1975]."

I see a bitter irony in how Long Nguyen now makes his living: "His day job is a freelance mix: He flies private planes for several wealthy families who need [sic] a pilot to ferry them to the San Juans or up and down the coast ..."

Here's some background on the American war in Vietnam. Just months before the end of World War II, Japanese troops took control of an area that the French imperialists who had previously occupied it called Indochine française.

With the Japanese surrender in August 1945, the nationalist Viet Minh forces took control of parts of their homeland, which they called Việt Nam. Since 1941, the Viet Minh had enjoyed official support from the US government in fighting their common enemy, Japan, but that changed with the end of the war. The French wanted their colony back and, disregarding the Atlantic Charter, the US government supported the French. Before 1945 was over, the US was facilitating a French reconquest by transporting French soldiers to Vietnam on US troop transport ships.

In the "The Anti-War Movement We are Supposed to Forget," professor H. Bruce Franklin describes the period:
Those Americans who knew anything about Vietnam during World War II knew that the United States had been allied with the Viet Minh, the Vietnamese liberation movement led by Ho Chi Minh, and had actually provided some arms to their guerrilla forces, commanded by Vo Nguyen Giap. American fliers rescued by Giap's guerrillas testified to the rural population's enthusiasm for both the Viet Minh and the United States, which they saw as the champion of democracy, antifascism, and anti-imperialism. American officials and officers who had contact with Ho and the Viet Minh were virtually unanimous in their support and admiration. The admiration was mutual. In September 1945 the Viet Minh issued the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, which began with a long quotation from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The regional leaders of the O.S.S. (predecessor of the C.I.A.) and U.S. military forces joined in the celebration, with General Philip Gallagher, chief of the U.S. Military Advisory and Assistance Group, singing the Viet Minh's national anthem on Hanoi radio.

But in the following two months, the United States committed its first act of warfare against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. At least 8 and possibly 12 U.S. troopships were diverted from their task of bringing American troops home from World War II and instead began transporting U.S.-armed French troops and Foreign Legionnaires from France to recolonize Vietnam. The enlisted crewmen of these ships, all members of the U.S. Merchant Marine, immediately began organized protests. On arriving in Vietnam, for example, the entire crews of four troopships met together in Saigon and drew up a resolution condemning the U.S. government for using American ships to transport troops "to subjugate the native population" of Vietnam.

The full-scale invasion of Vietnam by French forces, once again equipped and ferried by the United States, began in 1946. An American movement against the war started to coalesce as soon as significant numbers of Americans realized that Washington was supporting France's war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.*
France's war ended with the ignominious defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954; the US war continued to escalate until it, too, was defeated in 1973.

* A more complete description appears in Franklin's book, Vietnam and Other American Fantasies (UMass Pr. 2001) pp. 49-50.

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My (Real) Resume

That is not my real name
My name is
My name is

I would not be an asset to your company
Nor to anything or anybody else
I am a dreamer
A waster of time
A thinker of long thoughts
A player of solitaire

I only want you to hire me
Because I need the money
And I only need the money
Because as Grace Paley says
Everyone has to make some kind of deal to survive

I started out the same as you
A baby--fat and confident
My mother was a receding marble statue
My grandmother warm but too soon gone

I have a terrible stutter
And I can't hear very well
I don't like the telephone
I never learned to type without looking
So I can't type very fast

I think we are on a continuum
Even you with your manager's lenses

I want to know why
The corporate mentality sucks so bad
Why it expects people
To do without windows
Or decent lunches
Or talking to one another

I want to know why
When there are 713 references in the Bible
To feeding the poor, being kind to strangers
And protecting orphans
You only focus on one in Leviticus
Which is an instruction to the priest class anyway

These are the things I'm interested in
And which I will secretly research
On the company computers

I'm smart and I'll do your work
But don't expect me to care about it.

Source: Elizabeth Romero. "My (Real) Resume." Real Change (Vol. 16, No. 34), July 29, 2009. p. 10.

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Quotable: Madness

MAD, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that they themselves are sane.

Source: Ambrose Bierce. The Devil's Dictionary (1911).

The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson: I am afraid, sir, you have a rather weak grasp of reality.

Baron Munchausen (defiantly): Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.

Source: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Columbia Pictures, 1988.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it might be.

Source: The character of Miguel de Cervantes in Man of La Mancha. From "Don Quixote as Theater" by Dale Wasserman in Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 19.1 (1999): 125-30.

Perhaps the mission of those who love mankind is to make people laugh at the truth, to make truth laugh, because the only truth lies in learning to free ourselves from insane passion for the truth.

Source: Character of Brother William of Baskerville (Seventh Day, Night) in The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

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Friday, August 14, 2009


Quotable: Books

Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we musn't ask ourselves what it says, but what it means.

Source: Character of Brother William of Baskerville (Fourth Day, After Compline) in The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.

Source: Of Studies by Francis Bacon. Quoted in The Key to The Name of the Rose Adele J. Haft et al (Univ. of Michigan Pr., 1999) p. 177.

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