A Military Man


Jack wrote this in August, 2005:

The man in this picture is my old friend Richard Sturm.

Richard died in December, 2004, in Port Lavaca, Texas.

Richard was a 100% disabled veteran of the United States Army. From 1964, until his death he spent his entire adult life in and out of Veterans hospitals. When he wasn’t in a hospital he was usually in a café somewhere drinking coffee and being friendly with anyone who’d give him the time of day.

Or he was with me, camping, fishing, seeing the sights, singing, passing the time. That happened less than he’d have liked, probably more than I’d have preferred. Richard wasn’t an easy man to be around.

Before he volunteered for the Army he was a patriotic youth, intelligent, dynamic, from a family of super-achievers. He graduated from high school with honors, well liked and respected by his teachers and classmates. A young man with a future. Then he joined the US Army.

In 1964, he was stationed in Massachusetts with the Army Security Agency. Without his knowledge or consent, he was selected for an experiment by the career military men who were his superiors. He was given a massive dose of LSD. He sustained permanent brain damage as a result.

Richard spent several months in a mental ward of an Army hospital, presumably under observation by the powers-that-be, to see what they’d wrought. Then they gave him is medical discharge, released him from service and from the hospital, and sent him home without confiding to anyone what the problem was and why it happened.

Several years later after he’d been examined, had his thyroid removed, given electric shock treatments, everything the puzzled medicos could think of to try and improve this mysterious condition, his brother, an attorney, came to suspect something of what had happened. The stories of events of this sort had begun to creep out of hiding and into the press.

A formal demand was made for release of his records, and finally the story came out.

Richard wasn’t injured defending his country. He didn’t get his skull fractured on some battlefield by enemies. He was betrayed by the career military men of his own country, officers and enlisted men, whom he’d given an oath to obey and defend. He served in good faith, and he was betrayed by his country.

Some have noted on the threads that I don’t have an automatic high regard for career military men. They’re correct. Richard’s just an extreme example of thousands of men who’ve been killed, injured, disabled by irresponsible, insane, and idiotic decisions by men who make a career of blindly following orders without thinking, weighing consequences, not feeling any remorse so long as they were ordered to do it.

Like good little Germans.


Ask Old Jules: Caring what people think, Not caring about money, Intellectual decline of the US, Philosophical questions, How to repay someone who saved your life

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules,  would you say its human nature to care what others think? Many people try to not care but, it is really hard to not care. Why is this?

I don’t believe it’s human nature [which would result in something akin to a unanimous set of views]. But society has learned a lot over the past century about how to condition human beings to think in lockstep with those around them. It manifests itself in ‘caring what others think’ and feels natural enough for those who’ve responded to the conditioning to cause them to believe it’s human nature.

I don’t care about money and material things? 20 year old guy and I just can’t bring myself to care about money, material possessions and careers. The only reason I work for money is to get by, otherwise I couldn’t give a shit less how much money I make a year or how many expensive things I own.  Am I in for a rough life ahead because I don’t care about money and material things?

20 is probably a bit premature to believe you’re able to recognize what’s BS and what isn’t. Even though a lot is, discerning which is and which isn’t takes more times around the block than you’ve experienced. Not to suggest triple or quadruple times around the star will give you a solid handle on it. It won’t.
But listening and watching with an open mind helps a lot, as opposed to ‘knowing’ too much at any given time to allow yourself the option of noticing what you might have otherwise been able to learn.
Probably it doesn’t have a bearing on whether your life will be a tough one or won’t. It’s a middling good shot it will be tough. Most are for those who don’t manage to pull off ‘numb’ as a state of being.

      Old Jules, when and how did the intellectual decline of United States start?
I’m more concerned of the current generation which seems duller and more inert than previous generations.

My personal thought is that educational decline began immediately after WWII with the WWII baby boomers hitting the school systems unprepared for them. I started grammar school in 1949 and by the time I finished high school I had to admit my parents were better educated than myself in many areas even though neither had gone to a university. Both of them could read [and had read] Cicero and Pliny in Latin, for example.

When television first came to my area in 1957-1958, I think things declined more rapidly and the manifestations of poorer education were complicated by everything that went with television entertainment.

But the death-knell, I believe, came with the advent of ‘canned laughter’ which came on the TV with sitcoms late 1960s-early 1970s. At the time there was a lot of noise from psychiatrists and psychologists about potential of training the mind to be voluntarily brainwashed by canned laughter, rendering it malleable to television ‘training’ in habits of thought.

Now a lot of generations have seen infants staring at television and trained not to think, beginning with whether it’s funny, but listening for the hive, the tribe, the artifact of conventional or popular [by the sound of laughter] wisdom.

It’s no damned wonder they can’t think.

Old Jules, I need some deep, hard to answer philosophical questions? Like “Are we real?” et cetera. Something that I will have to think about all day. Oh and please introduce me to some interesting philosophies!

Do some thinking about the concept of ‘now’ or ‘the present’ and get what you believe it is firmly fleshed out in your mind. Then try to chase your thoughts upstream to a place where it isn’t ‘the past’.

You can’t do it. So the question isn’t, does ‘now’ or ‘the present’ exist… it doesn’t. Before you can form a microscopic piece of a thought it’s already past.

The question is, what are the philosophical implications of a reality where ‘now’ doesn’t exist. Where are those things you think you’re thinking coming from? Do you believe you actually can extrapolate anything about the ‘front’ side of human thinking?

Old Jules, if someone saved your life, how would you repay them?

I’d be fairly hacked off if someone intruded in my affairs that way without knowing whether I’d wish it or wouldn’t. I’ll live as long as I’m able, but when the time comes I don’t want any busybody doooogooder blocking the road out. I had my life saved once a few decades ago and was grateful, thanked him repeatedly, but I didn’t have so many miles behind me yet.

Life is full of surprises

Jack wrote this in August, 2005:

Life is a more-or-less constant source of learning, and if you hold your mouth right, amusement.  So’s the lottery forum.  A person can learn about numbers, lotteries, about other people and their thoughts and motivations, and there’s even an occasional surprise about one’s self.

Last night or the night before a European gent was on one of the threads teetering on the brink of umbrage.  Seems the guy actually believes Americans put Hitler into power, that the 3rd Reich was somehow the product of efforts by the US.

Naturally the conversation didn’t linger.  It was painfully clear this wasn’t a subject that could be discussed without some angry words being exchanged.  That was obviously his state of mind, and I could feel my own gorge rising just reading his inane, almost unbelievable remarks.

Whew.  How in the name of anything anyone could conjure up as truth could a sane human being come to believe something along those lines?

I’ll tell you how.  He wants to believe it.

That’s mostly how we all come  to believe what we do.  We have an abundance of information sources…. our parents, our teachers, preachers, scientists, government officials, friends.  And everything any of them ‘knows’, they heard from someone else.  They regale us with their facts, and we sift through them and draw from them the ones that best suit our own dispositions.

So there is obviously a body of opinion somewhere in Europe that’s constructed an edifice of ‘fact’ that allows people who wish to believe that way to go right on ahead and believe it.

Sort of reminds me of a guy I knew a long time ago, a lunatic, who believed Communism was created and maintained by ‘The International Zionist Conspiracy’.  Had a whole roomful of pamphlets and posters someone ELSE had put together to support this pile of drivel presented as truth.

Interestingly, tonight brought another insight into human abilities to wrap preferences around factoids.

Ah well.  I suppose I’d best not go into that one.

But I promise you, I love every minute of it, once I get over being stupefied, being tempted toward the seed of anger.  What’s not to love about us humans, after all.


Dragon Morning

3.22.03 and back ups 1019

Dragon Morning

Soft rain of star noise
Patters on the dawn
Tin roof

He listens
Half awake
Slowly redefining
This reality
From the mist
Of dreams

Of spear point
Of dragons slain
Of noble quests

And virtue
Never owned


From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack  Purcell

A roller-coaster ride in life


Jack wrote this in August, 2005:

This man is Jack Swilling.  The founder of Phoenix, Arizona.

Anyone who believes there are limits to what a determined human being can achieve should learn a lot more about old Jack Swilling.

He came west on the run from the law, as did so many of our ancestors.  It’s thought he killed a man in Texas, quite possibly another in Georgia before he went to California.  There, it’s certain the lawmen had a few questions for him about another man who died in a violent confrontation before he crossed the Yuma River into the Arizona Territory.

Jack worked a while for Butterfield Stage Lines, then hung around Tucson for a while when it was at one of the low ebbs, filled mostly with people somewhat like himself.  But in 1860, he headed east with unsung Texas hero, Jacob Snively and ten other men to do some prospecting.

Snively was one of the three men who actually found the placer at Pinos Altos and began the gold rush there.  But Swilling and Snively had a long way to go together from there.  The Civil War brought a Texan invasion up the Rio Grande.  Both Swilling and Snively joined, commanded troops during the Confederate invasion of Arizona and the occupation of Tucson by the forces of Sherod Hunter.

Jack Swilling commanded the unit that confronted the California Volunteers, near the Yuma Crossing, fought the westernmost battle of the Civil War.

Eventually, Swilling headed back into Arizona with the Joseph Beddeford Walker party, prospected, examined the ruins of an ancient irrigation system, and designed a new one around it.  That was the beginning of Phoenix, Arizona.

In 1871, Jacob Snively was shot off his horse during an Apache ambush at Vulture Gulch, Arizona.  He was abandoned wounded by his companions and tortured to death.  A few days later, his old friend Swilling was part of the party to visit the site and bury the remains.

Swilling prospered for several years, but his body had suffered a lot of injuries and as he aged began to show the wear.  He had a lot of pain.  He became addicted to laudenum.

Seven years after Snively’s death, Swilling felt haunted by the thought of his hasty burial.  He journeyed to Vulture Gulch to reclaim the remains for reburial at his ranch near Gillette, Arizona.  While he was in the process of all this, a stage was robbed.  Swilling was blamed.

Jack Swilling died in prison awaiting trial.  After his death the facts came out, the identities of the actual hold-up men were established and verified.

Between the two of them, Swilling and Snively are, to my way of thinking, among the most amazing, unbelievable men in US history.  They were two men who kept coming a long time after most men would have hunkered down and quit.


An economic whisper

Jack wrote this in August, 2005. I wish I knew what the price of gas was that he was writing about.

Sometimes I’m almost tempted to read the newspapers or even watch television.  The insanity usually passes quickly, but it happens.

That’s sort of where I am this morning.  Sniffing the air, twitching my ears and nostrils, finding myself on the brink of investigating something that is none of my business, something that is outside my ability to have any influence on it, something I could find myself getting angry about, nevertheless.

I’d noticed gasoline prices hanging around a fairly high level for some time.  My mind toyed around with it in the background, couldn’t help it, I suppose, feeling around for an explanation.  Tossed it off as something outside my range of interest, something to be ignored and lived with.

But yesterday when I went down to Bernalillo to buy a couple of PB tickets for the $3 million dollar jackpot they’re running at the moment, I couldn’t help noticing the pump prices.  It was an eye-catcher.

I assume this is true everywhere in the US.  I saw it at all the other stations down there after I once began looking.

The highest gasoline prices I’ve ever seen in the United States.

Six decades of price wars, wars, oil embargoes by the folks in turban country….. I’ve never seen anything approaching this before.

Which, naturally leads me to wonder what’s going on.  And wonder what is going to happen to fuel oil prices this winter.  Electricity.  What’s to happen in the stores when the price of transport gets translated into the price of bread.

Someone mentioned this on a thread yesterday.  DVdiva, maybe.  Spoke of it in the context of the astronomical price of housing.

So.  We have become a country with no industry to speak of, a country with no industry.  We’ve become a consumer economy, but our dollars have no meaning outside the context of commodities we produce that are worth something to someone.  Dollars have no value unless they can buy products, and they derive their value from products produced inside the US, products that can be traded to some CHICOM gent for the rubber monster toys he produces and sends to us.  Traded to some guy in a robe and turban with a lot of gold hanging off him for a barrel of oil.

And, of course, there’s now the fact that people gas up, gnash their teeth, walk inside to take a bath in the wallet department, and then, while the drums point and the audience waits with baited breath, while the chorus girls pause, right leg lifted,  yeah, right then when he feels the pinch of something happening that’s entirely beyond his ken, he has to make a choice about whether to buy a lottery ticket.

Those lotteries are going to have to scrape around before too long, be satisfied what’s scraped off the bottom of the pot after the groceries, gasoline, insurance, and a six pack of Jim Beam.

Can’t help wondering if the chickens are finally coming home to roost, or whether this is just something related to the war we’re fighting somewhere, something that will pass and soon be forgotten.


A bit later, he wrote this:

Got hold of a newspaper to try to figure out what’s happening with these gasoline prices.

“Merrill-Lynch economists estimate that every penny-per-gallon increase at the pump drains about $1.5 billion out of the consumers’ pockets.  That means the increase in gasoline costs this year has reduced the amount consumers have to spend on other items by about $90 billion.

However, that drag on consumer spending has been offset by low long-term interest rates, which have spurred homeowners to refinance their mortgages and spend the savings.

So far, analysts note little indication has suffered and say inflation expectations are different.

Oil shocks in the 1970s and 1980s occurred at a time of sharply rising inflationary pressures, prompting aggressive interest rate increases.”

Naturally, I find that pretty comforting.  We don’t have to anticipate a lot of inflation, so there’ll be roughly the same amount of money circulating.  Likely as not the price of coffee, which I noticed had gone up almost double, will drop again because nobody’s going to have any money to buy any of it.  Same with everything else that involves transport (fuel costs).

But it’s been a hot summer.  We’ll all welcome this cold winter we’ll be able to enjoy better because the summer was so hot.

I’m glad I don’t understand economics.



The Canyon from Horseback


The Canyon from Horseback

The young don’t know enough
About being young
They squander youth
And never know ’til later.

Any lad of twelve will testify
An eight-year-old can’t even qualify
To be a child
At eighteen our own ignorance
At fifteen is finally written
In language we comprehend:
We know the score
Reality’s the icing on the cake
Of youthful fantasies;
When the young grow old
They know a lot
About being young
But almost nothing
About being old.

From Poems of the New Old West
Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Ask Old Jules: Pornography, Living in the present, Best philosophy of life, Common sense or genius, Greatest lie ever told

Jack at 24 Camino los Altos

Old Jules, do you believe adult movies are damaging to the mind and souls of humans? I believe adult movies are damaging to social skills and relationships. Do you believe this about pornography?

I believe you believe it. I believe the people participating in such movies voluntarily are in a better position to choose for themselves than you are to choose for them.

How’d you come by your belief? Been there and found yourself damaged in your social skills? Were you a paragon of social skill, then lost it concurrently with having group sex with one or another animal or human, then on the internet for others to admire?

Or are you referring to people watching it? If so, what evidence have you experienced suggesting you’d be more socially acceptable if you didn’t watch so much porn?

Try laying off it a while and see whether it helps.

Old Jules,  if we all lived in the PRESENT NOW and got rid of the concept of time, would life be better? Of course time will still exist because the planets are moving but if we stopped living our life according to time and instead only ever considered the present moment, the now, with no thought or concern for the future at all, just living for the very same moment that we’re all aware of. Would life be better?

The now is a massive object of endeavor even to find. Try chasing your thoughts forward to it. You can’t complete a microscopic piece of a thought in the now. Everything you believe you’re thinking is what you believe you thought in something you define as now, but it happened so quickly you’ve no justification for even believing ‘now’ exists except as an artifact of something in the future.

If you can’t find the now there’s not a chance worth considering you can ‘live’ in it.

Old Jules, what would be the best philosophy of life?

Be exceedingly careful what you know because inevitably the bulk of it won’t be true. Examine where you came by everything you believe you know, every opinion. If it’s hand-me-down, picked up from something someone told you, slip it down a few notches in your ratings and withhold judgement pending further observation. Beliefs and what you believe you know are fences you build around your mind, doors you deliberately close to examination. You can condemn yourself to being surprisingly dense by knowing too much, and it happening to be false.

Delight in your life, make an adventure of it and be grateful for everything.
The good, bad and ugly. It all helps season the soup that will eventually be you.


Old Jules, how is common sense mistaken as being a genius characteristic?

Human individuals almost universally believe they, personally, have common sense along with the ability to recognize a dearth of it in other individuals [who happen to disagree with them on some issue].

The general run of human beings are so far removed from genius they’ve no means of recognizing it, but they hold out the possibility that anyone who shouts their own perception of common sense from the rooftops is probably a genius.

Old Jules, what is the greatest lie ever told?

1] Human beings want peace
2] The Judeo-Christian-Muslim diety is a god of love
3] Christianity is a religion espousing love
4] Human beings ‘have to fight for peace’
5] Governments care about their citizens
6] Politicians are honest
7] The policeman is “your friend”

Take your pick.


Let’s go to war about war

Jack wrote this in August, 2005. I am scheduling this post during the summer of 2020.  I wonder what Jack would have said now about America being a place where people can still express their ideas. 

We’re in a time when a lot of Americans are going to have differing opinions about whether we should be fighting in the war we’re fighting now.  We all came to whatever position we occupy on the issue from different directions.  We’ve arrived in different places.

Beginning any discussion about this war we’re fighting with the inference that people who differ in their opinions are dupes, tools, being used by ‘liberals’, or ‘war mongering conservatives’ isn’t condusive to any discussion at all.

About the only thing America has left of some idealized America of the past is that people can still express their ideas, mostly without fear of being arrested or mobbed.

I’m planning to continue expressing mine without calling any names, without implying anyone’s a fool for holding a differing opinion.

There’s no moral high-ground to be attained by any of us for waving our past military experience around, the friends and relatives we lost in some forgotten war.

That one’s already behind us.

We can learn from the divisiveness it caused in this country, if we’re lucky, and leave the airwaves open for differing opinions without rancor.


Ruidoso Steak-House

Ruidoso Steak-House

Glanced at her reflection
In the plate-glass window
New squash-blossom turquoise
Sassy Stetson
Patted 50ish blonde curls
And wished
They’d eaten at the casino

Valley of the Mountain Gods

Where this didn’t happen
Wrinkled pretty nose

“Don’t give him anything
He’ll just get drunk!”

Stage whispered
To her Houston lady friend
As though he wasn’t there

She was right of course
Except the old man Mescalero
Was already drunk

He turned away
Then turned back and mumbled

“Sing the Song of Life each day
Or when the time arrives you won’t know how
To sing the Song of Death.”

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell