Feb 28, 2008

Tight packing for the middle passage

Slave ship Brookes during the middle passage

The capture of Africans and their transference to holding compounds in west Africa was the first stage of the operation. The transfer by ship to the Americas was the “Middle Passage,” with the transfer of surviving slaves to markets and plantations as the final passage.

The author of the words to "Amazing Grace" is established, but the melody was written by a guy who was the master of a slave ship to the Americas, and the source of the tune, the melody, is just stated to be "Unknown." The chances that he actually used the tunes from the Africans in the hold become overwhelming if you watch a really good black singer performing it (think Harry Belafonte, Paul Robeson, Muddy Waters) to sixty thousand black men of the Promise Keepers in a stadium and the entire audience humming and moaning the melody with the singer.
Note on revenge

Perhaps the best argument against revenge is that it’s entirely unnecessary. Tout s’arrangera. Things take care of themselves, of which one of the most stunning examples is African Americans themselves. They did not want to come here, after all, and no one forced you to ship them out to the western hemisphere in “tight packing,” or to make all that money out of them, and every single little bit of trouble they give you now demonstrates the relentless operation of divine justice. (Thank you, Mr. Dante Alighieri, of Florence, Italy.)

Note for the happily benighted

For the happily benighted who feel that our great-great-grandparents may have done this sort of thing but we know better, I offer the comment of an American general in Iraq, mystified by all the fuss about Abu Ghraib: “But they’re only Iraqis!”

Note on comparative value of human life

We absorbed the message of the BBC correspondent kidnapped in Gaza (three months of unrelenting daily petitions for his release by endless lines of the great and the good – he was eventually released unharmed) compared to the Al-Jazeerah journalists picked off – actually a full frontal assault with tanks on their hotel - and the hunt for the small girl missing in Portugal compared to the coverage given to small girls gang raped and murdered with their families in Iraq. We got the message, and screw you too, squire.
An interesting contrast

The Chinese Minister of Food and Drugs was executed last month, for permitting practices during his tenure that resulted in deaths from contaminated supplies. FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) follows precisely the same practices as the minister did in smoothing the path of the pharmaceutical companies in obedience to the law makers in congress. The possibility of personal responsibility, and possible execution, would certainly galvanize the head of the FDA into significantly better performance, as the patience of the population wears thin with repeated disasters. (If you’re off to the beach anywhere in the USA - except California outside LA - remember to keep your mouth shut to avoid eating turds from the leaking sewage pipes.)

Note on number of religions

I always thought there must be getting on for a hundred or so religions because I could think of a dozen or more, but about three years ago some one did a survey and recorded over 10,000 (ten thousand) world wide from the Afghanistan Animists thru the Zoroastrians. It would be true to say that nowhere are there people who do not have their own way of living, know what gods they worship, who owns things, what’s right and wrong, their culture/religion, their way of doing things.

Note on musical concerts

The Gamelan orchestra in Bali starts playing from the advertised beginning of the concert. They play mostly classical traditional pieces, with some limited improvisations allowed. They call the gamelan performance “the music of time.” People drift in and out, sit down and listen, and then leave again. When the last person has left and the place is empty except for the orchestra, the musicians pack up and go home.

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