Tracker Pixel for Entry

Cultural Stagnation

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | May 8th, 2019

Will we ever be done with religious bullies?
Unless the scientists are terribly wrong, life on Planet Earth started about 3.8 million years ago. At 2.59 million years ago, glaciers and ice sheets covered 30% 0f the earth’s surface. The future sites of three major European cities, London, Paris, and Berlin, were in the middle of a huge polar desert where nothing grew. Where there was some warmth, mammals, reptiles, and other life forms were wiped out by the cold and replaced by creatures such as large beavers, woolly rhinos and mammoths, moose, and reindeer.

Then we humans appeared in Europe from Africa about 1.8 million years ago. According to some, the Garden of Eden was — some place. I think I have set a world record, covering 2 million years of our history with 130 words.

In the modern period our close cousins the Neanderthals immigrated to Europe from Africa 400,000 years ago. Scientists say that bone and DNA evidence prove that Neanderthals and us consorted in caves and had some “very special bastards” called Homo Erectus. There goes another 1.4 million years. Neanderthals went into a severe decline 40,000 years ago and today are probably found only in democratic parliaments and congresses. We now have 7.6 billion humans on earth with plans to have 10 billion by 2100—if a livable planet is still around.

The reason I’m boring you with a history lesson: I’m trying to understand why we humans have created thousands of religions over the last 40,000 years that continue to develop cultural schemes that end in constant conflict.

Science keeps whittling away what we disagree on. The latest U.S. research indicates that the fastest growing religious group in the U.S. is the “non-religious.”(!) If we look at the wars and constant conflicts in the world today caused by the seven greatest religions, we should name the religions as we name pro wrestling teams: Christian Crusaders, Islam Mujahidin (guerilla warriors), Buddhist Bonebreakers, Hindu Harassers, Confucian Conquerers, Daoism Devils, and Jewish Jihaders.

We have religious wars on five continents in perpetuity and we don’t like each other on Antarctica or the Arctic. Can you imagine the trouble Mormon Matthew Easton got himself into at his graduation, when during his address as valedictorian at Brigham Young University, he said: “I’m proud to be a gay son of God!”?

On to two culture wars: homosexuality and abortion
Anyone who was at Valley Forge or who has studied the American Revolutionary War knows that Prussian GeneralFriedrich William von Steuben, the man who helped George Washington develop the army that defeated the British, was gay. Ambassador to France Ben Franklin, who had spent a great deal of time in Europe and knew many generals, kings, and emperors, knew of von Steuben’s military experience and personal background and recommended him to Washington.

Although called a general, Washington knew virtually nothing about military affairs or tactics. Baron von Steuben is often credited with creating our army and winning the war.

Now there is another interesting angle about Washington’s staff. General Casimir Pulaski of Poland joined our forces in 1777 as a horse cavalry expert, also recommended by Franklin. Pulaski was raised in an aristocratic Polish Catholic family and fought against the Russians prior to his employment in the U.S. He helped us fight the Brits at Brandywine, Pa., and is credited with preventing the capture of Washington in our defeat at that battle. Pulaski was fatally wounded at the siege of Savannah in 1779 and died aboard ship. A Savannah monument was erected in 1854 to celebrate his heroism.

Recently the monument containing Pulaski’s bones in a steel box had to be moved because of road construction. Forensic anthropologist Charles Merbs from Arizona State University and physical anthropologist Dr. Karen Burns from the University of Georgia were given permission to examine Pulaski’s bones. Burns examined the body first and then told Merbs: “Go in and don’t come out screaming.” Merbs came out and said: “The skeleton is about as female as can be!” The two experts determined from the science of genetics and gender fluidity that Pulaski was a woman or was born intersex. (Remember: intersex humans are born with both sets of genitals.) DNA tests confirmed it was Pulaski’s body.

People who wrote about Pulaski said he was very private and deeply driven, a fierce fighter, and a very skilled horseman—who never married or had children. About 2% of babies are born intersex. Merbs thinks Pulaski was an intersex person: “I don’t think, at any time in his life, did he think he was a woman. I think he just thought he was a man, and something was wrong.” Pulaski, considered a Polish-American hero, is honored each year at the Casimir Pulaski Day parade in New York City. If you think gays Michelangelo, St. Augustine, and Ludwig Beethoven were all under the power of Satan…..Please think again.

Would God send the smartest man in the world to hell because he was gay?
Last year I read Walter Isaacson’s brilliant biography of Leonardo da Vinci because I had marveled at his biographies of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein. If I were teaching literature, history, science, art, or psychology, I would have students read those three biographies and spend a quarter or semester discussing their lives, achievements, disappointments—and phobias.

Steve Jobs was an arrogant-asshole-genius who fused art, science, mathematics, and fanatical drives into giant Apple. For a long time he would not support, accept, or even tolerate his own daughter.

When Albert Einstein was three his nanny told his parents he would never amount to much because he had difficulty communicating and was a bore. He started his professional life working in a patent office. Rather boring work for a physics genius. He later sent that letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt describing a weapon he could make out of atoms. While teaching at Princeton he would often take out a 17-foot wooden sailboat given to him by a friend and sail many miles out in the Atlantic at night, without a life preserver or the ability to swim. Amazingly, he always returned.

Leonardo da Vinci’s face is imaged on the cover of the May issue of National Geographic with this description: “A Renaissance Man For the 21st Century.” We celebrated his 500th birthday on May 2nd. Besides painting the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, he was -- and is -- considered to be an expert in the following fields: botany, geology, hydraulics, architecture, engineering, costume design, geometry, cartography, optics, and anatomy.

Art historian and Leonardo scholar Martin Kemp is quoted in the article: “Not one of his predecessors or contemporaries produced anything comparable in range, speculative brilliance, and visual intensity. And we know of nothing really comparable over succeeding centuries.”

There is no doubt among historians that Leonardo was gay and spent his whole life with men. He was arrested for sodomy twice but the charges were dropped.

He loved all animals. When he ran across animals or birds in cages in the markets he would buy them, open the cages, and let them go. Evidently Satan didn’t follow him around much. I don’t think Jobs or Einstein will be celebrated on their 500th birthday if we are around. Read Isaacson’s three bios and the National Geographic article. They say a lot about our culture.

Abortion: the other major culture war
Homosexuality has been part of the human condition since Lucy—or Adam and Eve—stalked the plains of Africa. Abortion has been around that long also, although written information about contraceptives and abortion is only about 4,000 years old.

Women used various tools, magic herbs, and violent exercises to abort fetuses, and cow dung and other fascinating substances as contraceptives. If interested, Google the subjects.

Let’s get modern with abortion. Let’s hear the story of 52-year-old Deborah Copaken in the July 31, 2018 article in The Atlantic titled “Three Children, Two Abortions.” Her medical file may be similar to the files of millions of American women. Deborah has had 11 surgeries, eight of which were related to five pregnancies: one adenoidectomy, one appendectomy, two D-and-C’s, one frenectomy, one hysterectomy, one inguinal-hernia repair, one meniscectomy, one Morton’s-neuroma repair, one trachelectomy, and one vaginal-cuff-dehiscence repair. She has had three live births and two abortions.

She writes: “These numbers do not tell the whole story, either about my health or about the gap between births two and three. And it is in the delta between all these numbers…wherein everything I hold dear about Roe v. Wade resides: a woman’s right to choose what’s right for her, her family, her body, and her life at the time she finds herself pregnant, whether intentionally or not.”

How many state legislatures, all dominated by ignorant men who about pregnancies experience only the thrill of ejaculation, have passed “stoopid wimmin” laws trying to restrict or eliminate abortion?

Deborah describes her first abortion at age 17: “The day when you find yourself six weeks pregnant at 17, as I did, is not a joyous day, particularly after doing the right things, birth-control-wise, including getting yourself fitted for a diaphragm at Planned Parenthood.

“For one, you can’t have a baby. You’re still a baby yourself. You would cause permanent emotional damage to a child, in not wanting to have one, never mind you have neither the skills nor the means to raise one properly.

For another, you’ve just been admitted to college, and though you love your high school boyfriend dearly, you have no idea who you are or what you want out of your love or life. Plus raising a child in a freshman dorm was never part of your plan. Nor your college’s.

And adoption for you is out of the question. The pain of handling over your child to another person would, you know, become a lifetime of ‘Little Green’ sorrow.” (How many men in those state legislatures have experienced these thoughts?)

Seventeen years later Deborah is now 34 and a married woman with two children ages 5 and 3, both planned. She’s about to publish her first book. Deborah and her husband both have jobs but she does most of the domestic chores and child care because he is very busy with his job. Then one day she discovers she is pregnant again. But she had an IUD inserted after her second child to prevent another pregnancy! In the ultrasound office, workers are somewhat surprised to see IUD and embryo on the same sonogram. She and her husband decide to have another abortion. She decides to try a diaphragm again.

At age 39 she is pregnant again. More financially able to provide for a third child, they decide to have it, even if it is a diaphragm baby.

Every person in this pro-choice or pro-life culture should read her article. The problems with health care, finances, and child care are also discussed.

She ends it with this powerful statement: “To be alive and human is to be in favor of life, but to bring an unwanted child into this world—or to force any woman to do so against her will, her health, her future, her finances, or her well-being, because that is your moral stance, not hers or her doctor’s—is not pro-life. It is control wearing the mask of virtue.”

A task for pro-lifers: think of the life Deborah might have had with five children instead of three—using her timelines.

Recently in:


Women in Bad Lands

by C.S. Hagen

THE BADLANDS – “I just want to flip the proverbial bird to North Dakota as I leave,” Sarah Gulenchyn said. She took a last drag off her American Spirit – burned quick to the filter – before stamping it out. The door to…



by Ryan Janke

In a remote area along the Sheyenne River just southeast of Sheldon, North Dakota lies a sleepy patch of land that comes to life this week as the High Plains Regional Rendezvous kicks off this Saturday.The rendezvous is a week-long…

Thursday, June 20, 6:30 p.m.Zandbroz Variety, 420 N Broadway, FargoNDSU Press and Zandbroz Variety are teaming up for an author event you won’t want to miss. The author event features Denise K. Lajimodiere and the launch of her…

I think Steve Earle described the current state of pop country music best when he said, “The best stuff coming out of Nashville is all by women except for Chris Stapleton," he said. "The guys just wanna sing about getting f***ed…


​American Prophet

by Ed Raymond

Bob Dylan: “You Better Start Swimmin’ Or You’ll Sink Like A Stone”I was shocked when Hibbing native Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. I think he was, too. I had always enjoyed his songs as great…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

I spend a lot of time roaming the prairie in search of finding hot spots off the beaten path. Needless to say, one can become a bit parched by spending so much time on the dusty trail. Sometimes you just need to stop for a bite to…

When asked to describe the sound of Green Blue, Minneapolis based musician Annie Sparrows formerly of the Soviettes and Awesome Snakes laughed and said, “Our friend came up to me after a show and he said ‘Do you like Belle and…

Joining several recent titles that consider, among other things, gentrification and race in the San Francisco Bay Area, Joe Talbot’s feature directorial debut is left of the dial compared to the frequencies of “Blindspotting”…

With all the coverage of artists in the Fargo-Moorhead area in the High Plains Reader, it can unfortunately be easy to forget that the rest of the state hosts their own fair share of artistic talent. Take, for example, Fargo’s…

By Amber WesterengMinnesota State University Moorhead’s (MSUM) Straw Hat Players has performed more than 300 shows during their 56 years and has groomed more than 2,000 actors, technicians, and crew for careers in the theatre…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

If you’re from the region you may have sipped, sampled or caught word of a libation often referred to as “red eye” or “wedding whiskey” at some point. In fact some of our friends of German Russia descent swear by it. If…

Even though it might not feel like it--summer is upon us and festival season is on in full force! Our staff has poured their blood sweat and tears into our top festival picks of the summer. To make it easier on all involved we’ve…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

By Zach Nerpelzachnerpel@gmail.comSometimes there is no compromise to be made, especially when those who you presume to level with are those who would lock you up for even questioning their authority. There is no "middle ground" in…