Note from the Editors

This past Saturday, we were treated to the lynching of Saddam Hussein; a 500-pound 24-carat gold coffin for James Brown; and the circling of the wagon by a white gerontocracy (that once supported Saddam, by the way) around ol' Gerry Ford. The barbarity of Mr. Hussein with a noose around his neck on the front page of the New York Times and the Washington Post was well articulated by an appalled reader of the paper of record: "Why don't we just bring back the guillotine while we're at it, or better yet, borrow some jihadist's sword and behead him that way?" Children will undoubtedly have enjoyed the circus of crime and punishment -- and a video game is on the way, certainly to profits galore. Old white (and all powerful) men, gold-plated opulence, and sheer barbarity... Here's to a New Year and a debased culture won over by McDonald's and Wal*Mart.

Time again for our Infamous Predictions™. Better to laugh at the latest trilogy of our cultural debasement than espouse it, no? Interestingly, our silly predictions turn out to be right on mark more often than not; which is no surprise when twenty-five percent of Americans think that 2007 will see the second coming of Christ, and 19% think that evidence of extraterrestrial life will be discovered... Follow them in time and prove us wrong.

From the silly to the sublime, in light of the powerful essays by Michael DeLang, Martin Murie, Bruce Patterson, and Philip Greenspan, you may want to read Jan Baughman's down to earth (and heart) sharing of her angst. Gerard Donnelly Smith speaks on behalf of a besieged profession that is much in need of respect. Milo Clark, as he does so often, makes good sense and a worthy read. Charles Marowitz, Peter Byrne, and Guido Monte continue to bring a cultural perspective in an otherwise-uncultured era, and the author of the Blips wished there were no Martians to report on the paucity and destruction of our own polity, family and otherwise. Your letters, as usual, conclude this edition. May 2007 be a peaceful and healthy year to you all.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


Swans' Definite Predictions

SWANS:  2007 Predictions

As Lewis Mumford (1895 - 1990) once said, "Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life's absurdities by thinking absurdly about them." So here we go again: Welcome to our Infamous Predictions™.   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Jan Baughman:  The Soldiers Among Us

There is a topic that has weighed heavily on my heart and mind this past year; something about which I've been unable to write because thinking of it fills me with such an overwhelming sense of anxiety and impending doom that I'd much rather avoid it. . . . Earlier this year, my 19-year-old nephew joined the Marine Corps.   More...


Michael DeLang:  Failure And Truth

At his swearing in ceremony, Robert Gates, the incoming Secretary of War (referring to this appointment as Secretary of Defense is like calling Fox News the Ministry of Truth), declared that "Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come." This is, in my opinion, a right and proper assessment of the consequences of the American military occupation of Iraq.   More...


Martin Murie:  Empire And Glory

A few days ago a veteran posted a Letter to the Editor of the Plattsburgh Press Republican adamantly opposing war. One of his sentences struck me as a well-cut gem: "War is the handful of the few who direct the many to slaughter in the name of patriotism and salvation." The power behind this sentence was his experience on battlefields, where the bodies lie, the bodies of dead of both sides, civilians and soldiers.   More...


Bruce Patterson:  A Good Start

After I returned from Vietnam in 1968, my dad and I argued about politics all of the time. We argued about the war, of course. I thought the war was a crime against humanity and my dad thought, well, welcome to the real world, son.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  What Happens To The Decent Kids Who Enlist

"I gave them a good boy, and they sent me back a murderer," was the shocking statement Paul Meadlo's mother made to Seymour Hersh, who came to interview the boy -- one of the GI's who participated in the My Lai massacre. The United States military has long prided itself on molding raw recruits into hardened soldiers.   More...


Gerard Donnelly Smith:  The Insurgent Word: Education

Once, a history professor on the Marxist list said that you can't radicalize students; he did not believe one could, considering the solipsism, apathy, and consumer mentality of youth. Yet radicalize them, we must.   More...


US Elections & Democracy

Milo Clark:  2007

My first and then enduring sense is that 2007 will be a year of surprises.   More...


Arts & Culture

Charles Marowitz:  Do You Know The Way To San José?

The Fairmont Hotel rests comfortably on a hill overlooking the main part of San José as if it were an antique mosque where CEOs gather at regular intervals to formulate the doctrines that will determine their country's technological future.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Peter Byrne:  The Turkish Man Mountain

When a sharp look into an enigmatic country finds literary expression, sell-by dates have no relevance. Erendiz Atasu teaches science in Ankara and writes on feminism. The Other Side of the Mountain, ably translated, is her first novel.   More...



Guido Monte:  medianoche

Once Terence's Chremes: humani nil
a me alienum puto, 'all that's human,
  it isn't far from me'—
  but Hesiod's visiting angels: idmen   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #46, from the Martian Desk

"We can keep from a child all knowledge of earlier myths, but we cannot take from him the need for mythology."
—Jung, Symbols of Transformation, 1912

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk, from a Marine enlistment much too close to home; to preserving our non-negotiable way of life; a simple but spoiled holiday, not courtesy of the Mall; and wondering where Neruda is when we need him.   More...


Letters to the Editor


Words of encouragement and signs of hope from John Catalinotto; a French election endorsement Royal; Peak Oil as explained by Tom Whipple, and more.   More...



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SWANS - ISSN: 1554-4915
Created: January 2, 2007