Unremitting gloom all morn. Inauspicious start for August, and if there’s ever a month you could use “inauspicious” for, I suppose it would be August. No, July as well. Both named after men who probably had no belief whatsoever in auspices, and were also the heads of the state religion.

Every religion looks peculiar from the outside, but the Romans had everyone beat – partly because they were all over the map with so many kinds of gods, so many kinds of cults and mysteries, so many odd shifts from this to that depending on the whims of whatever addled lunatic had been plopped on the throne to the latest, hottest thing imported from the territories. And then hey, the Sun is God! Annnnd now it isn’t. You can certainly understand the appeal of monotheism to such a culture; if nothing else, it’s much tidier. But it’s the auspices I just don’t get. We released a bird, and it pecked at the grain! The battle is ours! Or studying guts. Okay. Someone had to decide that the gods, waaaay up in the clouds, were intimately involved with the doings of mankind, and had a certain curious interest and paternal relationship with us lesser beings. So how do they communicate with us? By hiding cryptic messages in the intestines of poultry. Then there’s the augurs of the sky – an auspice would climb to a high point, mark out quadrants of the sky, and wait for an eagle or some lightning. It seems preposterous.

And yet we think we know them. We’d like to think we could live there and understand it, that the familiar would outnumber the impenetrable. At least the general lines of the political struggles of the Republic-to-Empire period would be familiar, as well as the later periods of indebtedness and national penury. At least our political class is profligate on behalf of its constituents; if they were emptying the treasury to build an immense villa with a huge golden statue of the President, there might be unrest. Possibly not, though, if it was AWESOME.

Novel work now. And you’re thinking: well, this is pathetic. But no: Thirty-plus pages of updates await. Two revised sites you probably never saw, or if you saw them, it was 2000 AD. I’ve redone the Minneapolis Modern site, and kick it off with two substantial overhauls: The Last Howard Johnson’s in Town, HERE, and the rather strange and sad Deadburb USA, HERE. Have at it! See you around.

 

48 Responses to Revisiting Deadburb

  1. ExGeeEye says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like lions– I really do.

    But the Romans would have introduced me to them much more– intimately– than I would have found comfortable, or even interesting.

    And don’t get me started on togas– I had enuf of ‘em when I was in college, and they were optional.

  2. ExGeeEye says:

    (First. And second.)

  3. Jordynne Olivia Lobo says:

    Deadburb, USA: “”What was that thing? Some sort of planter, perhaps?”

    It was to hide unsightly garbage barrels. See, on the ground, the fading circular vestiges of the twin barrels’ long residence.

  4. chrisbcritter says:

    Speaking of HoJo – just had to get a shot of this:

    http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y164/ChrisBrame/P1100124.jpg

    Made by Winross; they made these little trucks for advertising promotions…

  5. chrisbcritter says:

    …and, coincidentally, here’s the other side:

    http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y164/ChrisBrame/P1100125.jpg

    Was it the free seconds that laid you low?

  6. hpoulter says:

    So the city condemned private property becasue they wanted to hand it over to a private owner who would pay more taxes on it? Beautiful. So much for the Constitution. Of course, that is the law of the land since the infamous Kelo decision. For all those who thinks “liberals” have anything at all to do with liberty and “conservatives” are all about favoring business over the little guy, it would be instructive to review the vote on that case.

    Majority:
    Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer

    Dissents:
    O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas

  7. Fred Baumann says:

    As is frequently the case in these Comments, hpoulter is o point.

    “Before the houses were demolished I swung by and shot a few rolls; the sight of these perfectly good 60s houses standing naked & empty behind wire fences was somehow disturbing, as if something horrible had happened here.”

    Something horrible did happen there. That could have been the street I grew up on, or Our Genial Host, or any of you. And that just ain’t right.

  8. S.T. Mum says:

    Yes, that could have been any number of neighborhoods in our area here. The last shot – the ‘replacement’ – however, wouldn’t show for me – maybe it’s our computer. The line about a day care being there, but no kids ever being on the playground – they’re probably not let out to play because they might hurt themselves on the equipment.
    That rabbit from an earlier picture looked domestic. Hope it fared o.k.

  9. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – interesting that the twin pillars of guilt the left uses to stifle debate are slavery and theft of ‘indian’ land. yet through property condemnation – and ‘progessive’ taxation – they manage to reimpose both.

    modern liberalism – it’s only a birkenstock stamping on human face forever

  10. wiredog says:

    There was a HoJos in Harrisonburg VA that held on into the late-80′s/early 90′s. Always stopped there when driving to Blacksburg or points south. No idea what, if anything, is in that spot now.

    I see from Google that the name lives on, but I think the restaurants are long gone.

    And, Oh my…

  11. Mxymaster says:

    Deadburb: It’s like Hedley Lamarr won, and chased everyone out of Rock Ridge, and didn’t even need Mongo because he’d bought off the mayor and the sheriff.

    This is America? I thought we were the country that rooted for the little guy against the king.

    Hope the bunny made out OK.

  12. Davis says:

    No broken glass. No graffiti. It must have been a nice neighborhood.

  13. Cory says:

    hpoulter:
    YTM

  14. Gibbering Madness says:

    ExGeeEye: If you were living in Rome in the summer with no air conditioning, you’d probably think that wearing a linen sheet would be mighty comfortable.

  15. Shinumo says:

    I grew up in colorado and had never even heard of HJ until I read “Welcome to the Monkey house” by Kurt Vonnegut. And that’s what I think of when I think of HJ.

    The rabbit picture makes me want to cry.

  16. As Fred Baumann notes above, something horrible did happen there.

    No more kings.

  17. JohnW says:

    Great jumpin’ jelly beans, but if that ain’t just a majorly depressing way to start the day… Thanks a heap for the downer.

  18. Winston says:

    What’s the tax base for the city going to be when Best Buy goes under? Makes me not want to trade with Best Buy anymore.

  19. Why would anyone suppose Julius and Augustus didn’t believe in auspices? They may have been enlightened fellows for their time, but “for their time” is a pretty hefty qualifier. We in our enlightened times were still holding pretty firmly to the concept of the Divine Right of Kings well into the 19th century — and that’s just Western Civ. Some “civilized” parts of the Middle East, they still have it.

  20. hpoulter says:

    Well, we know Julius ignored one really big auspice.

  21. Rob says:

    The Romans seem whacky about their religion to us, but it’s worth noting that they took it very, very seriously. Along towards the end of Xenophon’s book about the Ten Thousand, there is a point where they are in a bad spot: no food, no shelter, just several thousand guys sitting around in a field. Xenophon would not, however, allow them to move on until the auspices were right for travel. Day after day, they starved while Xenophon publicly sacrificed a chicken and allowed everyone to see the results. Finally, after about a week, they got a good bird and they could march on.

    Reading it, there is no hint of mutiny, just a mutual glumness that the Gods haven’t approved their next move yet and there is no choice but to wait. I don’t think many modern persons of religion would have that kind of conviction.

  22. Rob says:

    Xenophon was a Greek, not a Romain. Duly noted. The Greeks were just Romans, version 0.9, so I think the principle still applies.

  23. DerKase says:

    Deadburb:
    Heere thyre bee Plague & redd Death. Ye art Warned! Enter nott.

    Disturbing. I was also taken by the unbroken windows and lack of graffiti. Looks like a solid middle class neighborhood of the sort most cities long for. I’m guessing the minor destruction of brickwork was done by the wrecking crews in passing rather than spiteful owners on the way out. The owners probably mowed their lawn the evening before they were evicted.

  24. Ah Rob, if only. The Greeks idea of competing with a javelin was throwing for distance. The Roman idea of competing with a javelin was hitting a target. That’s why their empire lasted as long as it did. The Golden Age of Pericles? Not so long. Altogether I like the Greeks better, but the Romans could really git’er done.

  25. For the statist, the state comes first, whatever it takes to feed the beast. When they start running out of other people’s money, nothing is sacred. Try telling that to environmentalists and they will never believe you. If the state wants the revenue, the oil wells will be drilled and the coal will be dug up.

    Bunny knew the score, they were going to lock him up “for his own good” and he wanted no part of their “protection”. He knew there was still a place in this country where a rabbit could be free.

  26. DerKase says:

    The reason the Romans were able to conquer the Greeks was all the Greek internecine warfare. The Romans just marched in and picked off the Greek city states one-by-one in short order instead of being faced with a unified front (as the Persians were). Long after the Romans were in charge, Greeks were still at each others’ throats and Rome sent in the army to cracks heads numerous times when local rulers got uppity with their fellow Greek neighbors.

    Sure the Romans were great engineers and doers of great works, but mostly the doctors, scholars, teachers, etc in Rome — what today we would call ‘research scientists’ — were Greeks. It’s more a matter of whether you’re a fan of practical application (Rome) or theory development (Greek).

  27. swschrad says:

    Deadburb: “that thing” was a hidey-wall for the trash cans, actually. you see its commercial equivalent at the back of every greasy fast food joint.

  28. Rubo says:

    Deadburb: Quite a shame, there was probably two dozen empty strip malls or half empty malls to knock down and build their headquarters.

    So, the saying must be true. “Money talks.”

    Thanks James for recording this.

  29. DryOwlTacos says:

    Re: Deadburb. Yes indeed, it’s your property until somebody bigger wants it. And no one will stop them because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This happened a few years ago down the road from me in Arlington, Texas, when it was decided that Texas Stadium was “venerable” (and they venerated by tearing it down) and there should be a new gleaming football palace where there were already peoples’ homes. That’s why some locals call Cowboys Stadium the Eminent Dome.

  30. Will Overby says:

    Deadburb: Wow. That’s probably one of the best commentaries on modern American society I’ve ever seen. Poignant and disturbing.

  31. crossdotcurve says:

    The epistemic closure of conservatives is always a marvel to behold. Taxes, as a percentage of GDP, are at historic lows. Let me turn it over to Bruce Bartlett, former senior policy advisor to some guy named Ronald Reagan:

    “Revenue has been below 15 percent of G.D.P. since 2009, and the last time we had three years in a row when revenue as a share of G.D.P. was that low was 1941 to 1943.

    Revenue has averaged 18 percent of G.D.P. since 1970 and a little more than that in the postwar era. At a similar stage in previous business cycles, two years past the trough, revenue was considerably higher: 18 percent of G.D.P. in 1977 after the 1973-75 recession; 17.3 percent of G.D.P. in 1984 after the 1981-82 recession, and 17.5 percent of G.D.P. in 1993 after the 1990-91 recession. Revenue was markedly lower, however, at this point after the 2001 recession and was just 16.2 percent of G.D.P. in 2003.”

    But hey, thankfully we have the teaba…tea party to tell us that revenue increases can NEVER be part of any debt reduction plan for an increasingly ageing society. That’s NEVER EVER. As in, ignore all facts and changeing circumstances. Talk about a strange religion…

    This message has been brought to you by the reality based community.

  32. MJBirch says:

    Deadburb — wow, does that ever look like a Stephen King novel/movie waiting to happen!

    And what’s the name of the typeface, please? (for DEADBURB)?

    Were the owners compensated at all? If they were, I bet it was at the lowest possible sum the assessment agents could come up with!

    My mother’s family knows about eminent domain. They lived on a piece of ground called Cedar Point, where the Patuxent River debouched into the Chesapeake Bay. It was a natural harbor, 12 feet water depth right off the river bank and had the best farming soil in the county, what with all the topsoil coming down the river from the central section of Maryland and coming to rest at … Cedar Point.

    People owned nice homes facing the Chesapeake Bay. Helen Hayes’s father retired there. When she came to visit, she usually brought her daughter Mary who would then pal around with my aunt Margaret Ann. (They were the same age.)

    But my great-grandfather always said that the government had been drooling over this spot for years and was just waiting for a good excuse to take the ground and build a naval base.

    Well — the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the Government got the best excuse in the world for taking the ground. An early Christmas present, you might say. Pearl Harbor happened on December 7 and on Christmas Eve (yep, really), people found signs on their doors that said (in effect) we are building a naval air station here, please leave before January 1, thank you and do remember to shut the door behind you.

    Yes, people were compensated — at the lowest possible price. One great-uncle of mine owned a plot of ground facing the Chesapeake Bay. He once refused an offer of $2000 for it (which was a more significant sum of money in those days). The government gave him five hundred.

    Some time in the late 1970s (I believe) Patuxent Naval Base (as it is now known) sponsored a “Cedar Point Evening”. Someone had found a cache of all the photographs that were taken of the existing houses by the government before the Navy took over, so they could accurately assess the value of the properties and compensate the owners.

    I attended with my parents. That was an fun evening — truly! A lot of people were able to say which house had belonged to which family. The nicer homes by the Bay had become officer’s quarters and one of the original houses was bought by the Henry Ford museum, removed, and reassembled at Dearborn.

    What offended a lot of people was NOT the fact that these family homes had been appropriated, and in many cases, wiped off the face of the earth. Instead, they were miffed because the government photographer had made the whole area look like Tobacco Road. “There were some nice homes here!” they huffed, “why did the government take a picture of every outhouse and corncrib instead? Why did they make us look like a disaster area?” “To keep the cost of compensation down!” my father growled.

    Maybe so. What I still find interesting is that there was very little “they took our homes” resentment from the former residents. It was more “well, yes — it was pretty bad, but then we WERE at war” and “boy did that ever bring jobs and money to St. Mary’s County for the first time in two hundred years!” And even the oldest and most entrenched families will admit that the influx of construction workers and sailors did wonders for the gene pool.

  33. Rob says:

    By the way, here in Texas we just passed a law restricting eminent domain abuse (the state can only take property for public use, no longer for private use). If your state hasn’t, it’s time to call your legislator.

  34. swschrad says:

    @Rob: yeah, after the Cowflops pulled their little land grab, they passed the law. nobody can one up them any more.

  35. DensityDuck says:

    Imagine if someone 2000 years from now got ahold of a Book of Common Prayer, independent of all context or practice. They might well interpret it that Christian worship involved voluntary ritual sacrifice followed by cannibalism.

    Also, don’t forget things like physical intimacy specifically for the purpose of procreation, eating food that had been harvested from living organisms, personal control of transportation devices…

  36. hpoulter says:

    I see CDC is giving those darned straw men what-for again. It’s easy to think yourself a member of the “reality based community”, and not just a puffed-up pharasaical fuddy-duddy, when you are able to caricature the positions against which you are bringing the searing fire of your intellect.

    People who claim the TP are “against government” and radically against the very idea of taxation put me in mind of a parable.

    There was a very crowded lifeboat in the middle of Lake Michigan. It was becalmed and beginning to take in water throuhg hundreds of tiny leaks. Several passengers started using paper cups, their hands, hats, anything they could to stop the boat sinking. Suddenly a small but noisy (they had the bullhorn)group of passengers started attacking them. “My God, what are you doing?? Are you INSANE?? we need water to live!! Why are you ANTI-WATER???”

    We don’t know how the story comes out, but I know which side is “reality-based”.

    The problem is debt, not “fairness” and not corporate jets. The solution may involve taxes, but big tax raises right now would not solve the problem and will only make it worse (hgiher rates do not make correspondingly higher revenues, despite CBO assumptions). Tax simplification would in fact be much more conducive to higher revenues. If we don’t make real, big reductions in spending now, much higher taxes are in fact inevitable later, when we are ruined. But there is a reason the democrats in Congress did not submitted a single budget (in violation of the Constitution) when they were in charge, and have not since. It does not have to do with them being reality-based.

  37. DryOwlTacos says:

    crossdotcurve: Really?

  38. hpoulter says:

    “pharisaical” [sp] darn no edit button.

  39. Matt says:

    Crossdotcurve: Not-so-coincidentally, government spending as a fraction of GDP has not been so high since those same War Years. Of the current $14T US GDP, $3.8T is federal spending and $2.9T is state and local. Federal revenue as a fraction of the remaining $7.3T private economy is the relevant figure of merit, and it’s not very pretty.

    If you wish to be in the reality-based community, you have to look at things as they are. Closing the $1.8T budget gap via tax increase would require removing a full 1/4 of the remaining private-sector economy. This is simply not possible.

  40. hpoulter says:

    Iowahowk, one of the smartest and funniest people on the Interwebs, has the numbers here:

    Eat the Rich:

    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/eat-the-rich.html

  41. but, the Cowboys are God’s team so, I am sure it was OK this one time.

  42. swschrad says:

    @bgbear: they are the “god of effluvia”‘s team, and as such are entitled to get Herschel Walker back.

  43. S.T. Mum says:

    Tried again to see the result of the appropriated homes of Deadburb, and this time it loaded for me. All I could think of was when I looked at that thing was, they took people’s homes away for that? There wasn’t a nearly-dead strip mall in the vicinity they could have taken over?

  44. John says:

    The words that rise inside me as I look at Deadburb go something like What’s this, Russians “improving” the Ukrainian tax base? I think that American political discourse would be more colorful and persuasive if it routinely drew imagery from savage lands. (Consider, for example, how fun it would be to criticize illegal immigration by roguishly praising Spain for 300 years of visionary nationbuilding.)

    But maybe stuff like this is just too obscure. I find, for example, that illustrating hyperinflation and Why We Are A Candidate For It is not at all helped by descriptions of 1980′s Latin America – and most people think they know Latin America. Latin America was a great punching bag. The U.S.S.R. was just the opposite: it enjoyed a diamond-hard prestige, and trying to make deportations and confiscations sound bad merely by saying Shoot, a country whose TV’s exploded and whose cars’ windshield wipers had no blades did THAT has no rhetorical force.

  45. Bob Lipton says:

    They seem to have been frightened by a Charles Addams cartoon, Jeff.

    Bob

  46. Andy says:

    My family knows all to well the effects of “eminent domain”.
    My great aunt had a large piece of property her father had homesteaded and a large century-old home that she had lived in her whole life. When she was 100 years old in 1950, the state of Indiana decided to put a tollroad through her property. Their compensation to her? They declared “eminent domain”, condemned the property and gave her a dinky little house and named a small residential street after the family. She died of a broken heart three years later. How much longer would she have lived if they had not done this? To this day our family NEVER uses that tollroad. And here’s the real kicker: the state of Indiana no longer owns that tollroad. A foreign company does. So the revenues from it now go into the pockets of some other country.

  47. Lisa from Montana says:

    I lived in Richfield when the city undertook that evil project. I was living in an apartment and would have given my left arm for any one of those nice houses. It was a horrible thing to do and I hope that decision haunts the dreams of those that made it happen.

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