Monday, December 13, 2021

The Strange Case of Anna Diplosis And The Frotteur




How on earth did I, a 73 year old rookie scribbler, stumble-trip and fall, over the term "anadiplosis"?

I knew her in high school? Her father rand a diner in Jersey?

The real story is that I was looking on Coursera for some creative writing classes I could audit for free and there was one from the University of Michigan, very high brow, very chi chi, and they said they used anadiplosis in their teaching of character. 

I figured that anyone throwing around five dollar words that were even not in my Webster's New Lexicon Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language was some PhD literature perpetual candidate-always called, seldom chosen-getting their intellectual rocks off on strangers like a frotteur in the subway.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Slouching Towards Kabul


Slouching Towards Kabul: Echoes of Saigon.

I had a long talk with my lad yesterday-well, I always think of him as a lad although he's on the dark side of fifty. He's also a retired military combat medic, veteran of two tours in Assghanistan and he wonders as do (I think) all veterans and many Americans:
"What the fuck was it for? Why did our friends die? Will anyone remember the Afghan kids we patched up who picked up unexploded Russ ordnance disguised as toys and pens? Will anyone remember the Afghan cop who forgot himself and rumbled back like a man to the talib, and whose brother was kidnaped and had his head mounted on a pike for the Americans to see?"
For those of us drifting into old age I had an awful twinge as I recalled the photo of people on the roof of the embassy in Saigon trying to get aboard the last Huey. The veterans of that war asked the same question: "What was it for? Why did our friends die?" but they came back to an America so culturally adrift and doped up that they shamed those who wore the uniform. And as it turned out their righteous anger was turned to political advantage and directed, not against the generals and the politicians, those who sent the boys there, but against those who marched in the streets against the war in the first place.
And yet, as this was all taking place, pop culture wallowed in prurient tropes of GI Joe toys and Rambo flicks, making the vets out to be homicidal crazies running amok in a thousand nameless jungles, wasting gooks and going psycho with belt fed M60s fired from the hip.
In reality those veterans were just like you and me except they were people who were tasked with a lousy job for reasons nobody now believes were worthwhile, and they did it as well as they could, each according to their lights.
Shameful, awful times.
It was reminiscent of Kipling's "Tommy Atkins" where he illustrated that it was "thank you Mister Atkins when the troopship's on the tide" but the soldier couldn't even buy a beer in uniform.
So, as we chatted I thought about all this.
Uncle Sam is cutting and running. He's skipping town in the night with his carpet bag. He left a trillion dollars in blood and treasure poured out among the rocks and stones of that unforgiving place.
At one and the same time as we struggle to craft a bill to rebuild our rusting bridges and shattered highways, and we're faced with the consequences of a fifty year policy of deindustralization that has left large swathes of America penniless and crime ridden, I am quite sure that there are people in those places who are asking "Why did you do this when the need was in Detroit? Cleveland? Pittsburgh? Buffalo? Akron? Eastern Kentucky? Southwestern Virginia?"
Back in the early seventies I was working in an auto parts store and I met a man who said "In a future time we won't make anything we won't build anything, we won't fix anything. All we'll do is sell insurance to each other." I laughed at the time but he was quite right.
The problem with people who can see the future is that the rest of us cannot.
See, I think the two things are related and I believe firmly that the two worst policy mistakes of the 20th century-legitimating the brutal and racist kleptocracy that is China and selling out industrialized America for the crack of Milton Friedman style "free trade", Nafta style-are in some measure responsible for the hog manure pit we find ourselves wallowing in today
I think that the issue at its root is policy-bad policy made in Washington and in Moscow and Ottawa, in London and Paris and Kiev and Beijing and in Tokyo and in New Delhi and in Islamabad and in Istanbul, in Tel Aviv and Cairo and Algiers and Teheran and Pyongyang and Damascus and in every other damned capital in the known world, made by people who either can't see the ten-twenty-thirty year consequences of their bad decisions or don't give, as my brother in law used to say, a flying fuck on a rolling doughnut for the consequences.
The Vietnam veterans knew this. But as they have aged out and died off the lessons were forgotten in everyone's rush to be dot com billionaires Jeff Bezos style and devil take the hindmost.
As Gordon Gecko said "Greed is good." But that's short term. 
Crack is good too. But it has consequences 
And here we are. As Yogi Berra called it, 'deja vu all over again'.
I can only hope that the veterans take this to heart and realize that America is a work in progress, and that their experiences and loss translate into saner and better policy for the people who aren't even born yet.
Or else we'll get to do it all again thirty years from now.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Latest From The Poopoo Papers.

 W're reliably informed by the fine folks at Current Biology that, having plowed through a pile of 230 million year old dinosaur crap they have discovered a new species of beetle which, thankfully, is not alive.

Mr. Martin Fikacek, a major entomologist at National Sun-yat Sen University in Taiwan, ROC, made the discovery and he thinks it's a big deal. He opines it was a snack for whatever shat it out.

I mean, what could be more important than digging through piles of fossilized dinosaur crap?

You can read about it here.

The Poison Papers Update.

 It's been a little while since I blogged but for an update I got through chemo and had a recurrence this year after getting the Pfizer vaccine for covid 19. 

So now I'm taking Imbruvica and waiting to see if my insurance will cover it. If not I will not be able to afford it at $16 grand a month.

I'm hoping to get caught up here in a little bit so stay tuned. The channel is going live.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The poison papers-day one.


The poison papers-day one

I was on the slab from about 11:00 to 3:00 getting the Mobil High Test juice. As they hooked me up I was thinking "Now. Go in there and kill those little bastards or chase them out of the neighborhood."

Some weird things happened. I uncoupled myself from the lunar launch mast for a trip to the loo and I ended up pissing myself a bit. Mucho embarrassmento.

But things dry up. Figured out the channels with the remote. It had been on faux news and I can't think of anything worse to fry your brains with when getting chemo.

The two compounds are rituxin and bendamustine so I won't get peripheral neuropathy again, The vincristine I got the last time made pooping a mind altering experience I've no wish to repeat.

I was told I would see the results shortly and the lymph nodes seem to be reducing themselves in size and texture.

About the only side effect I have noticed is my ears are ringing a bit, but-and maybe this was just because it was a nice day out-my vision seemed clearer and more acute.

So back tomorrow for another armload and a cameo appearance for something called neulasta om Thursday, then a month off.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Dark Shadow emerges again.

 The Dark Shadow Reemerges.

It has been a long time since I posted anything here but I will keep a running log of my experiences with a new round of chemotherapy for the same old shit.

That's right folks, my lymphoma has reemerged from wherever it was hiding. A biopsy and a couple dates with the oncologist and I will be undergoing a new set of experiences starting on Tuesday.

I think the bastard took advantage of me while I was in covidville and weaker than normal.  I'm still not completely recovered from that as I lost about 20 pounds and I'm really weak in the knees.

This time it'll be different.  No cyclophosphamide and no vincristine. The peripheral neuropathy is no fun and I'm lucky I only had it in my feet.

It will be two days back to back, and then a month off and repeat. In the meantime I have some antivirals and sulfa to take because my immune system is a pathetic pile of crap.

So. Onward we go.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Magic Number

In the beginning was the lottery....

Wait a minute.

When I was a young buck with my first real job working at Fedders in Edison, there was a guy named Raoul who was, in the parlance, a numbers runner.

Every morning around first coffee break he'd come around and take everyones' bets on the numbers. There were a lot of players on the chassis line where I worked.

A little explanation. The numbers or "policy" was a daily lottery operated by organized crime. What you'd do is pick three numbers and play a quarter dollar. The payoff was 600 to one, so that bet could win you $150.

People had their lucky numbers and played them regularly. You could "box" the numbers, i.e., play them in any sequence they appeared. Say your pick was 1, 2, and 3. You'd play combinations.:


I might have missed a few.

The winning number was usually the last three digits of the number of stocks traded that day or the handle at Aqueduct as listed in the New York Daily News or other fine newspaper.

The odds were pretty decent that you'd take home a roll of cash, the game was honest, and it was customary to tip Raoul a $20 bill if you won.

But it was bad, because it was illegal, and certain Italian gentlemen ran it.

Then we had the New Jersey lottery, the odds were longer, bit it was good, because it was the government that was picking your pocket. Then we had casino gambling in Atlantic City which was even gooder because it was a state franchised operation.

Then, we had the Powerball and Megamillions, where the odds are infinitesimal, there's no real chance of winning, pathetic people stand in line to lay down their social security checks against a chance but it's better because it is Fair and Honest and Could Not Possibly Be Corrupted because it was All Nice and Legal.

But Eddie Tipton knew better.

Eddie Tipton was a computer geek with a checkered past who, somehow, ended up as the security director for the Multi State Lottery Association.

He had a felony jacket all right, but even though a person cannot work for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, you can work for the MSLA just fine.

Tipton, it seems, wrote the software for the random number generator that is supposed to Make Sure Everything Is Above Board And Honest To A Fault.

As he tells it on a whim he inserted code which allowed him to set winning numbers on any given day and it worked like a charm. I think Eddie was an inherently criminal guy who tumbled over a really big score, and like other criminals he didn't know when to quit.

In 2005 he suggested to his equally larcenous brother who was taking a trip to Colorado that he should play certain numbers on certain days and something nice3 was sure to happen.

And it did. Eddie's brother Tommy through a straw man split a three way win worth 4.6 million dollars with two innocent bystanders.

But things went bad. Tommy fell from a tree while, improbably, hunting Bigfoot, and came to the attention of the Effa Bee Eye about why he was trying to exchange $450,000 in consecutively marked bills.

Eddie wasn't finished yet.  Eddie eventually was instrumental in obtaining $24 million or more-nobody really knows how much or where it's hidden-in rigged lottery prizes.

In 2010, a Hot Lotto winning ticket in Iowa worth $16.5 million went uncashed for nearly a year until Robert Rhodes, who should have known better, tried to redeem it on behalf of an anonymous trust.

That's when the wheels came off the project.

It's a fascinating story, and you can read about it here.

Twelfth Year Of Dougloids

Here we are and this is the twelfth year we've been publishing the Dougloid Papers and as is customary we add the photograph of the cranky kid who is our mascot.

I'm guessing he is probably a cranky adolescent these days thinking about the stuff that cranky adolescent boys muse over while they're pretending to have their noses in a book or paying attention to the schoolmarm.

I've started writing a story in the noir fiction genre, and it looks like it could be a novella. All I'll tell you about it is that it's the tale of a slightly dodgy ex military police investigator veteran of the Korean war who looks up an old barracks pal and rapidly finds himself  deep in a pool of crap. It has to do with murders, gunplay, a road trip to Los Angeles and the quest for a small time hoodlum who made a big score by accident.

The title is "Rocket 88" and of course it features a hot rodded Oldsmobile Rocket 88.

That's the creative effort. There are also some legal type writings in the works.

Yr editor is currently without a teaching gig as of last December 17.

That was a Monday and as usual I graded papers and assignments, posted the week's grades, read up on the topic du jour for the week, created a power point for my students, and did a bit of research.

All that took place in the morning and about 4:30 in the afternoon I logged onto my faculty email to find a notice from the administration that Vatterott College had closed in its entirety, effective immediately, thus hanging out to dry anyone who depended on their job, a cohort of students, and all the instructors.

Talk about a head snapper....I'll be following the story with interest as I scuffle around for another teaching gig but I do have a significant backlog of guitar amps to repair and a number of long term projects to work on.

 I'll stay occupied.

I get my next month visit with the oncologist to see whether I renew my lease for another six months. I am hopeful and I feel good physically, or as well as a 70 year old guy can feel.

An acquaintance of mine  has cut off all contact with me, and I expect it to be permanent unless something changes on on the other end and they decide that I'm worth talking to, even if it's just for information like "Any hereditary diseases I should know about?"
We do have them, y'know, and a weakness for the healing grape runs deep among the women of this family. It's something to talk about. The first step in dealing with something, anything, is to acknowledge its existence and speak out.

I remain hopeful. I was listening to George Mitchell talking today on IPR about negotiating the Good Friday Accords in Ireland, and that seemed to be considerably more difficult than this ought to be.

It turns out I'm not the only one in this pickle, and it seems that communicating through social media makes it easy to dump people who are inconveniences.

Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven as it is said.

Stick around. There's more to come.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Greetings of the season

I've been having a chat with one of my pals from el Norte today who, had things been different, might have ended up on a slab instead of being a productive and creative fellow. He's doing OK.
It brings to mind a couple of thoughts.

This is, as the Bard said, "the winter of our discontent."

I am an American right to the marrow, and I can't think of any place I'd rather be, with all its faults, and there are many. Any laundry list of sins and crimes would be incomplete and leave something unsaid. In fact, no nation in recorded history can expect a 'no bill' from G-d's Grand Jury.
I've no use for 'summer soldiers and sunshine patriots' as Paine called them, and I will refer to this again.

What we need are pioneers: strong men and stout hearted women with backbone and grit who will tackle the trials that lie ahead for the American project, knowing that in all likelihood they will not live to see the work completed.

Chickenshit people who'd bugger off to the first Greyhound or Boeing to anywhere will be weighed in the balance and found wanting, so to speak. To them I would say "Get the fuck gone, then. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Stay in Lotus Land."
Or, as Cromwell said to the Rump Parliament, "You have sat here too long for any good you may have done. In the name of G-d go, and let us have done with you."

The work is piling up-the burdens are heavy. But as long as we have faith in the genius of the American Project, all will turn out well.

Thomas Paine said it well in another cold December all those years ago. Here' in full, is The Crisis.
Take it away, Tom.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own [NOTE]; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.
'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.
As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles. Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.
I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes centred in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.
I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.
But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.
I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.
America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.
Quitting this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.
There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.
I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils - a ravaged country - a depopulated city - habitations without safety, and slavery without hope - our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.
December 23, 1776
The present winter is worth an age, if rightly employed; but, if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the evil; and there is no punishment that man does not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.