Monday, July 28, 2014

On sports and the world burning

Times are rough, as I'm sure they are for most people out there. Will be posting some essays, as well as the short novel I promised in the next month or so. Nevertheless, I do hope that this fall to winter will bring a few more books (a new one as well as the end of the Gods Fail series). I will, as I said before, get up the shorts (sometimes fiction, sometimes not) that will tackle more current events as they come up. I'll rely on my readership to see if the fiction posts need to be labeled as such, but as it stands unless someone says otherwise, I'll leave it as it is.

Spent some time watching the World Cup (partially hoping that the teams I liked fell off so I could work more), and it seemed almost perfectly timed with the events (especially in Iraq with the ISIS, but also in Brazil itself, what with all her downtrodden peoples) that appeared to signify a world burning down. But I watched the World Cup, nonetheless, and it helped assuage the pain of seeing other parts of the world burning (which I'm sure—in one way or another, with one tribe picked or another—that most Americans feel as well). 

What of it, you say (or perhaps uwotm8*)? Thing is, one always thinks back on the oft-stated anecdote that Roman rulers (Nero being one) used entertainment to shift the mob's attention away from creeping autocratic laws or the downfall of the Empire itself. This always seems like a reason for anyone with a pet issue to point to; to highlight vapid superficiality (in the form of chasing some sort of entertainment) as the reason that their issue is being ignored. The smarter ones will point to someone in power who is using this entertainment to make sure they can take away some freedom or oppress someone somewhere.

I'll admit that this appears to be an easy out when one's frustrated (and I've even thought it at one time or another). And though I'm sure it's been used to some effect in history, it's rarely the entire story.

For I spent some time away from the issues watching eleven grown men bounce a ball amongst them and was entertained. But though one forgets, it's not for long. And when I have a Twitter feed, or Facebook feed, I know how annoying it is to read someone's feed when it's just about one subject—no matter how valid that subject may be. Something to be said about humanity needing variety (being wary of obsessiveness)? Or perhaps that of my upbringing and needing variety? (I don't expect the same thing from really serious fiction). I know I make sure that my own digital spouts to the world have a variety of issues included.

And what of this? That entertainment is needed to be able to take the full brunt of that which the world throws at us? It's never bad to laugh when in the midst of something horrible. The human spirit demands it. So I think that all the statements (none ever claimed to be that informed) that point to entertainment as some talisman where people lose their desire for a better life seem ill-informed now (would the Tunisians have not revolted if they had Youtube streaming everywhere—ignoring, of course, the improved infrastructure that such a world would have required?).

Update: While we're on the topic of Romans and comparisons to what America is (note all columns on most buildings are indicative of a pining for a Rome... or Republic or Empire?). Here's a great article and interview on the matter.  And while you're at it get the book:
Are We Rome?

Update Feb2015:  So I've recently read a pdf by Glubb on Empires. It talks about some of what I discussed here (with regard to the Romans being decadent when their Empire was crumbling): that we focus on the frivolous when things are bad, and we value selfishness over the group (hence the frivolousness) hence the increased crumbling of our own society. Interesting that he sees parallels in not only the Roman Empire but all others: the lamentation of those young folks being horrid and doing silly things is there for all to see. But what then of those lamentations when an Empire is expanding? Are they not there?

What Glubb says, though, seems to also fall into a conservative dream scenario: don't mix, don't stop being militaristic and don't let women into the workforce. Those parts seem easy to take apart. I would like that take down to be done by a historian, though. He also ignores China and India for the most part. But this, for now, provides some fuel for what I initially said: watching sports while the world is burning is a facet of declining Empire...

*Footnote: That perhaps people should use more and more internet slang in writing. Not necessarily as the bulk of the narrative, but at least in the areas that attempt to mimic such parts: such as the internet itself (don't see usage of the internet itself in much writing, at least that which I've read). 

Thanks for reading. As always, you can contact me at if you have any questions or wish to discuss something. Look forward to hearing from you.

Also, next short will be labeled: Better men have lost bigger bets

Some other articles that might pique your interest (ostensibly on all matters global or books):
#This one is on the global conflict of the West and Islam as seen through the lens of the Rushdie affair.
#This one is a list of the five best science fiction novels out there.
#This one is an article about drone warfare and its effects on the world.
# This one is about reading news in today's world. The solution is that global is better.
#This on is an article with links to matters of the Iraq war and players not commonly known.

My book: Ministry of Bombs is an exciting and unconventional take on the War on Terror.

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  1. Nice article. It's something we all feel guilty about from time to time. But it's built in. A person cannot care about that which is far away until it really matters. Sounds cruel, but that's the way it is. Some of us know that there's no power to change much. So we make do. And we use the tools we have to make life around us better. Is that so bad?

  2. I've heard this before & I see the point being made. We can only care for so much in our lives. We should not be guilty for being normal. During the World Cup it was better to watch and at least provide some monies to Brazil, is this not true? We vote with our money.

    1. Not a valid argument, sir/maam. Vote with our money? What sort of freshman year libertarianism is that? This is part of the problem with the world today: that somehow everyone in this country, as well as countries around the world, seem to have bowed down to the fact, without thought, without discussion, to the nefarious fact that money should rule us.

      Tell me where in the Constitution does it say that money is the vote? Oh, nowhere? Of course. We somehow have allowed this idea of money is greater than everything to supplant hundreds of years of learning (through blood might I add) about democracy and defeating powers within and outside a nation until there's something called real freedom.

      No conspirator, I, but I sometimes wonder if some powerful folk somewhere are playing games with us with these turns of events

  3. #2 , that is. Good article, though the thing is the Romans when they had their circuses of gore were being given something by their government (nothing like the government of today, so not really the same thing) to keep their minds off other things, but to be fair, nowadays we choose (kn other words the market gives it to us because we are willing to pay, each fan is the willing actor) to go to events (big difference when compared to events where the government is using the sports as something to distract, it seems like it happens today). Perhaps you're right that it's a matter of not focusing in on things that actually matter, or knowing that something else can't change, but it's most likely that we just like sports, right? And we want to spend our time on such things.


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