the best things in life

Barack Obama [on TV]: It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled…
Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt): Ah, yes, we’re all the same. We’re all equal.
Obama [on TV]: … that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America.
Cogan: Next he’ll be telling us we’re a community, we’re one people.
Obama [on TV]: In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.
Driver (Richard Jenkins): Had yourself quite a party.
Cogan: I do the best I can. [to the bartender] Beer.
Driver: So everything is under control, I take it, at long last?
Cogan: You know, for someone I’m trying to help out and everything, you’re awful hard to get along with. Could’ve made you drive up to see me, I didn’t have to come down here. I’m trying to be nice to you.
Driver: You’re trying to be nice to me?
Cogan: Sure, I’m a nice guy. I like to make things easy on people, do people favors now and then.
Driver: Do me a favor: don’t do me any favors. I see how you work.
Cogan: Tell you what, just give me the money.
[Driver hands Cogan an envelope.]
Cogan: Excuse me.
Driver: Are you gonna count it?
Cogan: I gotta take a leak. Leave me alone, all right? Have another ginger ale, for Christ’s sake.
Obama [on TV]: … from beyond our shores, parliaments and palaces, those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared. Tonight we’ve proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope. [crowd cheering]
Crowd chanting [on TV]: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
Driver: Feel better?
Cogan: No. There’s only 30 in there.
Driver: Three guys. Yeah, I had to ask them if I should pay you for the kid. But, you know, they said I should, so.
Cogan: They were right too. That’s only ten a piece.
Driver: Correct.
Cogan: The price is 15.
Driver: Dillon charges 10. Recession prices. They told me to tell you that too.
Cogan: I made a deal with Mickey for 15.
Driver: Yeah, yeah, but the way they got it, Mickey got in a fight with a whore, the dumb shit, and now they got him in the can, and you’re filling in for Dillon and you get what Dillon gets, no more. Talk to Dillon. Take it up with him.
Cogan: Dillon’s dead. Dillon died this morning.
Driver: They’re going to be very sorry to hear that.
Cogan: Sure, sure, they are. It’s gonna cost them more.
Driver: You know, this business is a business of relationships.
Cogan: Yeah, and everyone loved Markie.
Driver: You are a cynical bastard, you know that?
Obama [on TV]: … to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that out of many, we are one.
Driver: You hear that line? Line’s for you.
Cogan: Don’t make me laugh. We’re one people. It’s a myth created by Thomas Jefferson.
Driver: Oh, now you’re gonna have a go at Jefferson?
Cogan: My friend, Jefferson’s an American saint because he wrote the words, “All men are created equal”, words he clearly didn’t believe, since he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He was a rich wine snob who was sick of paying taxes to the Brits so, yeah, he wrote some lovely words and aroused the rabble and they went out and died for those words while he sat back and drank his wine and fucked his slave girl. This guy wants to tell me we’re living in a community. Don’t make me laugh. I’m living in America, and in America, you’re on your own. America’s not a country. It’s just a business. Now fuckin’ pay me.
[♪ Barrett Strong: “Money (That’s What I Want)”]
♪ The best things in life are free ♪
♪ But you can give them to the birds and bees ♪
♪ I need money ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ Your love gives me such a thrill ♪
♪ But your love don’t pay my bills ♪
♪ I need money ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ Money don’t get everything, it’s true ♪
♪ But what it don’t get I can’t use ♪
♪ I need money ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ Money ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ Lots of money ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ Whole lot of money ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ Uh-huh ♪
♪ That’s what I want ♪
♪ That’s what I want… ♪
♪ That’s what I want… ♪

the texas defense

In criminal law, the claim that the deceased victim “needed killing” is known as “the Texas defense”, also designated as “misdemeanor homicide”. On Wednesday, 27 August 2014, a jury acquitted David Barajas of murder at the Brazoria County Courthouse in Angleton, Texas. Barajas had been accused of fatally shooting one Jose Banda in December 2012 near Alvin, minutes after a car driven by Banda hit a truck that Barajas and his two sons were pushing after it ran out of gas, killing twelve-year-old David Jr. and eleven-year-old Caleb. Although Banda was found slumped in his seat at the crash site, with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit and a bullet wound to the head, no witnesses saw a shooting, and no weapon was ever recovered. As the case was about to go to trial, Texas media picked up an analysis by kibitzing Houston defense attorney Joel Androphy: “It’s not the right way to do it, but jurors a lot of times make judgments based on moral responsibility, not legal responsibility.” Amplifying this point, the commentariat cited a case two years earlier, when the grand jury in Lavaca County, Texas, declined to indict the man who admittedly pummeled to death the alleged molester of his 5-year-old daughter.

The Texas defense is arguably a misnomer, given that its definitive statement is found in a 1870 appellate court ruling in Kentucky:

Speaking of assured and continual danger to life, this court, in the case in 2 Duvall, defined the principle of self-defense as follows: “Like the sword of Damocles, the threatened danger is continually impending every moment and everywhere. The threatened man may be waylaid or otherwise attacked unawares without the possibility of defense or of escape, and may never, day or night, feel safe, or actually be so, while his enemy lives, who whenever he may see him or wherever he may find him may be anxious and able to kill him. And does either human or divine law require such prolonged agony and peril; or can the best and most prudent men suicidably forbear to strike for riddance, if they have the courage to defend themselves, in the only way of secure and lasting escape?”
    Now if a man feels sure that his life is in continual danger, and that to take the life of his menacing enemy is his only safe security, does not the rationale of the principle as thus defined allow him to kill that enemy whenever and wherever he gives him a chance and there is no sign of relenting? But before a jury should acquit they should be well satisfied that the killing was not the offspring of bad passion, but solely of a thorough and well-founded belief that it was necessary for security. And here lies the danger of misapplication. It is difficult to be assured that the act was thus necessary and done in good faith. Of that, however, the jury and not the court must judge; and in that judgment they can not be too self-poised and careful before they conclude that the peril of the accused was imminent and incessant, and that he, well assured of it, honestly believed that his only safe remedy was to destroy the power to execute the threats. And if he was authorized to believe and did considerately apprehend that his own exile or the death of his persevering enemy, watching to kill him, was, like the tabula in naufragio, the only safe mode of rescue, might he not lawfully choose his remedy and throw his enemy overboard? Why should he be required still to wait an assault and to endure longer haunting and hazard when he might at any moment become the victim of his own forbearance, and when self-defense might be impossible or unavailing? Why let the sword still hang over him? Why not remove it out of sight when he may, and not passively linger until it unexpectedly falls and strikes his heart unresisted? The recognition of the perfect right to do so in such a crisis appears to us consistent with both principle and policy. It seems to us conservative. It might afford more security and prevent more assassinations than the lame law of punishment ever could, and the manly and opportune assertion of this universal birthright may teach the reckless who thus maliciously beset the pathway of the peaceable that they will be likely to bring destruction on their own heads. This preventive principle will go hand in hand with civilization and philosophical jurisprudence as a palladium of personal security and social order and peace. Properly guarded, it may do more good than harm.

Carico v. Commonwealth, 70 Ky. (7 Bush) 124 (1870)

A more casual application of the same principle took place in the same year, well above the Mason-Dixon line in Anderson, Indiana:

    Louis Titherington was a cab driver who lived in the house now occupied by Dr. J.W. Fairfield as a sanitarium at the corner of Meridian and Thirteenth streets.
    Titherington went to his home on the 19th of October, 1870, in an intoxicated condition and became engaged in an altercation with his wife and sister-in-law, a Miss Jenkins, who lived in the family. He was in the act of severely chastising Miss Jenkins, and, it is said, had whipped his wife, when Daniel Jenkins, her brother, came into the house and ordered him to desist in his abuse, when he turned upon Jenkins and made threats of violence, whereupon Jenkins drew a revolver and opened fire upon Titherington, filling his body with leaden missiles, causing almost instant death. Jenkins was placed under arrest and indicted by the Grand Jury, and on a trial in the Circuit Court was acquitted on the ground that the killing was justifiable.
    On the trial was exhibited a large lock of hair which Titherington had pulled out of the head of one of the women. Titherington was a familiar personage on the streets of Anderson for a quarter of a century, having been at one time a half owner of the bus and transfer line, which was a good paying property.
    “Lew,” as he was known by the people, was not a bad man when not drinking, but disposed to be unruly when imbibing to excess. He was mixed up in a great many street fights and other troubles, the result of too much liquor. His headquarters for many years before his marriage was at the old United States Hotel. He was known by every traveling man from New York to San Francisco who stopped in Anderson.
    John Alderman was for many years his partner and they made money fast and spent it with lavish hands. One of the jurors who tried Jenkins said after the trial was over that “the jury thought that he was not exactly justified, but that Titherington needed killing anyway, and that they just voted to let him off.”
    Neal Daugherty was City Marshal at the time of the killing and arrested Jenkins. Andrew J. Griffith was Sheriff and Randle Biddle his deputy.
    Titherington left a widow, but no children. He was a brother to Robert Titherington, who yet lives in Anderson.

—John La Rue Forkner and Byron H. Dyson, Historical Sketches and Reminiscences of Madison County, Indiana, 1897, pp. 511-512

    Unsurprisingly, the Texas defense was popular with the Texas Rangers. In his memoirs, James B. Gillett describes its application to a fellow Ranger:

After our return from our month’s scout in Mexico, Captain [George W.] Baylor received a new fugitive list from the Adjutant-General, and in looking over its pages my eyes fell on the list of fugitives from Hamilton County, Texas. Almost the first name thereon was that of James Stallings with his age and description. I notified Captain Baylor that Stallings was a fugitive from justice. Baylor asked me what Stallings had been indicted for and I replied for assault to kill.
    “Well, maybe the darned fellow needed killing,” replied the captain. “Stallings looks like a good ranger and I need him.”
Not many days after this I heard loud cursing in our quarters and went to investigate. I found Stallings with a cocked pistol in his hand standing over the bed of a ranger named Tom Landers, cursing him out. I could see Stallings had been drinking and finally persuaded him to put up his pistol and go to bed. The next morning I informed Captain Baylor of the incident, and suggested that if we did not do something with Stallings he would probably kill someone. The captain did not seem inclined to take that view. In fact, I rather believed Captain Baylor liked a man that was somewhat “on the prod,” as the cowboys are wont to say of a fellow or a cow that wants to fight.

—James B. Gillett, Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875-1881, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1925, pp. 264-265

Melville Davisson Post, a prolific chronicler of crime in Harrison County, West Virginia, provided a popular account of the Texas defense in 1897:

If a Mexican was so short-sighted as to slip his knife into a tenderfoot, some one shot the Mexican, and the crowd “lickered up.” If the faro dealer killed his man, it was usually because the man needed killing, and certainly the faro dealer was the best judge of this. On the contrary, if one shot the dealer, this was considered a public calamity, demanding an explanation, since the dealer was a quasi public functionary, and the convenience of the citizen required that the game should continue. One’s life was perhaps the cheapest thing below the Central Pacific Railroad, and it was entirely the duty of the individual to see that it was maintained. If one was unsteady on the trigger, or caught napping on the draw, one was held to have died by virtue of contributory negligence.
    To be sure there was law, and machinery for its execution; but the machinery was liberal, and had ideas of its own, and the law adhered with supreme unconcern to its maxim—De minimis non curat lex.

—Melville Davisson Post, The Man of Last Resort, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1897, pp. 62-63

In 1906, Ambrose Bierce pointed out the deficiency of the underlying principle: “HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another—the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.” And yet no advantage of the lawyers is to be lost on the blameless slayer. As a red-blooded American, I wish and hope for naught but praiseworthy homicides to take place in our fair land. Short of that, may all our righteous homicides be found praiseworthy by the juries of our peers.

long after heraclitus

Das Ziel des Rechts ist der Friede, das Mittel dazu der Kampf. So lange das Recht sich auf den Angriff von Seiten des Unrechts gefasst halten muss–und dies wird dauern, so lange die Welt steht–wird ihm der Kampf nicht erspart bleiben. Das Leben des Rechts ist Kampf, ein Kampf der Völker–der Staatsgewalt–der Stände–der Individuen.
    Alles Recht in der Welt ist erstritten worden, jeder wichtige Rechtssatz hat erst denen, die sich ihm widersetzten, abgerungen werden müssen, und jedes Recht, sowohl das Recht eines Volkes wie das eines Einzelnen, setzt die stetige Bereitschaft zu seiner Behauptung voraus. Das Recht ist nicht blosser Gedanke, sondern lebendige Kraft. Darum führt die Gerechtigkeit, die in der einen Hand die Wagschale hält, mit der sie das Recht abwägt, in der andern das Schwert, mit dem sie es behauptet. Das Schwert ohne die Wage ist die nackte Gewalt, die Wage ohne das Schwert die Ohnmacht des Rechts. Beide gehören zusammen, und ein vollkommener Rechtszustand herrscht nur da, wo die Kraft, mit der die Gerechtigkeit das Schwert führt, der Geschicklichkeit gleichkommt, mit der sie die Wage handhabt.
    Recht ist unausgesetzte Arbeit und zwar nicht etwa bloss der Staatsgewalt, sondern des ganzen Volkes. Das gesammte Leben des Rechts, mit einem Blicke überschaut, vergegenwärtigt uns dasselbe Schauspiel rastlosen Ringens und Arbeitens einer ganzen Nation, das ihre Thätigkeit auf dem Gebiete der ökonomischen und geistigen Produktion gewährt. Jeder Einzelne, der in die Lage kommt, sein Recht behaupten zu müssen, übernimmt an dieser nationalen Arbeit seinen Antheil, trägt sein Scherflein bei zur Verwirklichung der Rechtsidee auf Erden.
    Freilich nicht an Alle tritt diese Anforderung gleichmässig heran. Unangefochten und ohne Anstoss verläuft das Leben von Tausenden von Individuen in den geregelten Bahnen des Rechts, und würden wir ihnen sagen: Das Recht ist Kampf – sie würden uns nicht verstehen, denn sie kennen dasselbe nur als Zustand des Friedens und der Ordnung. Und vom Standpunkt ihrer eigenen Erfahrung haben sie vollkommen Recht, ganz so wie der reiche Erbe, dem mühelos die Frucht fremder Arbeit in den Schoos gefallen ist, wenn er den Satz: Eigenthum ist Arbeit, in Abrede stellt. Die Täuschung Beider hat ihren Grund darin, dass die zwei Seiten, welche sowohl das Eigenthum wie das Recht in sich schliessen, subjectiv in der Weise auseinanderfallen können, dass dem Einen der Genuss und der Friede, dem Andern die Arbeit und der Kampf zu Theil wird.
    Das Eigenthum wie das Recht ist eben ein Januskopf mit einem Doppelantlitz; Einigen kehrt er bloss die eine Seite, Andern bloss die andere Seite zu, daher die völlige Verschiedenheit des Bildes, das beide von ihm empfangen. In Bezug auf das Recht gilt dies wie von einzelnen Individuen, so auch von ganzen Zeitaltern. Das Leben des einen ist Krieg, das Leben des andern Friede, und die Völker sind durch diese Verschiedenheit der subjectiven Vertheilung beider ganz derselben Täuschung ausgesetzt, wie die Individuen. Eine lange Periode des Friedens – und der Glaube an den ewigen Frieden steht in üppigster Blüthe, bis der erste Kanonenschuss den schönen Traum verscheucht, und an die Stelle eines Geschlechts, das mühelos den Frieden genossen hat, ein anderes tritt, welches sich ihn durch die harte Arbeit des Krieges erst wieder verdienen muss. So vertheilt sich beim Eigenthum wie beim Recht Arbeit und Genuss, aber für den Einen, der geniesst und im Frieden dahinlebt, hat ein Anderer arbeiten und kämpfen müssen. Der Frieden ohne Kampf, der Genuss ohne Arbeit gehören der Zeit des Paradieses an, die Geschichte kennt beide nur als Resultate unablässiger, mühseliger Anstrengung.
    Diesen Gedanken, dass der Kampf die Arbeit des Rechts ist und in Bezug auf seine praktische Nothwendigkeit sowohl wie seine ethische Würdigung auf dieselbe Linie mit der Arbeit beim Eigenthum zu stellen ist, gedenke ich im Folgenden weiter auszuführen. Ich glaube damit kein überflüssiges Werk zu thun, im Gegentheil eine Unterlassungssünde gut zu machen, die sich unsere Theorie (ich meine nicht bloss die Rechtsphilosophie, sondern auch die positive Jurisprudenz) hat zu Schulden kommen lassen. Man merkt es unserer Theorie nur zu deutlich an, dass sie sich mehr mit der Wage als mit dem Schwert der Gerechtigkeit zu beschäftigen hat; die Einseitigkeit des rein wissenschaftlichen Standpunktes, von dem aus sie das Recht betrachtet, und der sich kurz dahin zusammenfassen lässt, dass er ihr das Recht weniger von seiner realistischen Seite als Machtbegriff, als vielmehr von seiner logischen Seite als System abstracter Rechtssätze vor Augen führt, hat meines Erachtens ihre ganze Auffassung vom Recht in einer Weise beeinflusst, wie sie zu der rauhen Wirklichkeit des Rechts gar wenig stimmt – ein Vorwurf, für den der Verlauf meiner Darstellung es an Belegen nicht fehlen lassen wird.
    –Rudolph von Jhering, Der Kampf um’s Recht, 1884
The end of the law is peace. The means to that end is war. So long as the law is compelled to hold itself in readiness to resist the attacks of wrong—and this it will be compelled to do until the end of time—it cannot dispense with war. The life of the law is a struggle,—a struggle of nations, of the state power, of classes, of individuals.
    All the law in the world has been obtained by strife. Every principle of law which obtains had first to be wrung by force from those who denied it; and every legal right—the legal rights of a whole nation as well as those of individuals—supposes a continual readiness to assert it and defend it. The law is not mere theory, but living force. And hence it is that Justice which, in one hand, holds the scales, in which she weighs the right, carries in the other the sword with which she executes it. The sword without the scales is brute force, the scales without the sword is the impotence of law. The scales and the sword belong together, and the state of the law is perfect only where the power with which Justice carries the sword is equalled by the skill with which she holds the scales.
    Law is an uninterrupted labor, and not of the state power only, but of the entire people. The entire life of the law, embraced in one glance, presents us with the same spectacle of restless striving and working of a whole nation, afforded by its activity in the domain of economic and intellectual production. Every individual placed in a position in which he is compelled to defend his legal rights, takes part in this work of the nation, and contributes his mite towards the realization of the idea of law on earth.
    Doubtless, this duty is not incumbent on all to the same extent. Undisturbed by strife and without offense, the life of thousands of individuals passes away, within the limits imposed by the law to human action; and if we were to tell them: The law is a warfare, they would not understand us, for they know it only as a condition of peace and of order. And from the point of view of their own experience they are entirely right, just as is the rich heir into whose lap the fruit of the labor of others has fallen, without any toil to him, when he questions the principle: property is labor. The cause of the illusion of both is that the two sides of the ideas of property and of law may be subjectively separated from each other in such a manner that enjoyment and peace become the part of one, and labor and strife of the other. If we were to address ourselves to the latter, he would give us an entirely opposite answer.
    And, indeed, property, like the law, is a Janus-head with a double face. To some it turns only one side, to others only the other; and hence the difference of the picture of it obtained by the two. This, in relation to the law, applies to whole generations as well as to single individuals. The life of one generation is war, of another peace; and nations, in consequence of this difference of subjective division, are subject to the same illusion precisely as individuals. A long period of peace, and, as a consequence thereof, faith in eternal peace, is richly enjoyed, until the first gun dispels the pleasant dream, and another generation takes the place of the one which had enjoyed peace without having had to toil for it, another generation which is forced to earn it again by the hard work of war. Thus in property and law do we find labor and enjoyment distributed. But the fact that they belong together does not suffer any prejudice in consequence. One person has been obliged to battle and to labor for another who enjoys and lives in peace. Peace without strife, and enjoyment without work, belong to the days of Paradise. History knows both only as the result of painful, uninterrupted effort.
    That, to struggle, is, in the domain of law, what to labor, is, in that of economy, and, that, in what concerns its practical necessity as well as its moral value, that struggle is to be placed on an equal footing with labor in the case of property, is the idea which I propose to develop further below. I think that in so doing I shall be performing no work of supererogation, but, on the contrary, that I shall be making amends for a sin of omission which may rightly be laid at the door of our theory of law; and not simply at the door of our philosophy of law, but of our positive jurisprudence also. Our theory of law, it is only too easy to perceive, is busied much more with the scales than with the sword of Justice. The one-sidedness of the purely scientific standpoint from which it considers the law, looking at it not so much as it really is, as an idea of force, but as it is logically, a system of abstract legal principles, has, in my opinion, impressed on its whole way of viewing the law, a character not in harmony with the bitter reality. This I intend to prove.
    –Rudolph von Jhering, The Struggle for Law, translated by John J. Lalor, 1915

it hurts me more than you

Of course the Connecticut shooting spree is a uniquely tragic event, and it is vital that we never lose sight of the human tragedy involved. However, we must also consider if this is not also a lesson to us all; a lesson that my political views are correct. Although what is done can never be undone, the fact remains that if the world were organised according to my political views, this tragedy would never have happened.

Many people will use this terrible tragedy as an excuse to put through a political agenda other than my own. This tawdry abuse of human suffering for political gain sickens me to the core of my being. Those people who have different political views from me ought to be ashamed of themselves for thinking of cheap partisan point-scoring at a time like this. In any case, what this tragedy really shows us is that, so far from putting into practice political views other than my own, it is precisely my political agenda which ought to be advanced.

Not only are my political views vindicated by this terrible tragedy, but also the status of my profession. Furthermore, it is only in the context of a national and international tragedy like this that we are reminded of the very special status of my hobby, and its particular claim to legislative protection. My religious and spiritual views also have much to teach us about the appropriate reaction to these truly terrible events.

Countries which I like seem to never suffer such tragedies, while countries which, for one reason or another, I dislike, suffer them all the time. The one common factor which seems to explain this has to do with my political views, and it suggests that my political views should be implemented as a matter of urgency, even though they are, as a matter of fact, not implemented in the countries which I like.

Of course the Sandy Hook massacre is a uniquely tragic event, and it is vital that we never lose sight of the human tragedy involved. But we must also not lose sight of the fact that I am right on every significant moral and political issue, and everybody ought to agree with me. Please, I ask you as fellow human beings, vote for the political party which I support, and ask your legislators to support policies endorsed by me, as a matter of urgency.

It would be a fitting memorial.

the rabbits and the goats

Once there was a great clover meadow divided into two equal parts by a clear river which ran between. One field was the home of the grey rabbits, the other of the white rabbits. Each one had enough; none had too much, and all were happy.
    One day four white goats came to the field of the white rabbits and four black goats to the field of the grey rabbits, and the goats said to the rabbits: “This field is ours. Do not touch a stalk of clover.” “Who gave you the land?” asked the rabbits. “Our God and yours. The Man who lives on the Hill,” answered the goats. “Oh!” said the rabbits.
    Presently some of the older rabbits got together and, with noses twitching, nervously asked the goats: “Where shall we go and how shall we live?” “You cannot go anywhere,” said the goats, “and if you will cut clover for us we will give you enough to keep yon alive, unless you are greedy. The greedy must die.” “Oh!” said the rabbits.
    So the four white goats divided one field into quarters, each taking one as its own, and the four black goats divided the other field in the same way, and for a long time the rabbits brought the goats the hay which the goats sold to the pigs who lived on an island in the river. The goats became very fat and prosperous, but the rabbits had hardly enough to eat. The rabbits continued to have large families and grew more and more numerous, so that the clover allowed by the goats was not enough and the rabbits were starving. Some of the rabbits then said: “Brethren, four goats cannot harvest this clover. We do all the work. Let us stand together and refuse to labor unless we get more clover and shorter hours.”
    So the rabbits formed a hundred and thirty-seven unions, so that each rabbit could find a union tor its kind. There was a union for rabbits with a spot on the right fore-foot, and a union for rabbits with a spot on the left fore-foot, and so on, for all manner of rabbits, including lop-eared rabbits and blind rabbits. Sometimes the rabbits with a spot on the 
left fore-foot would walk out and sit by the edge of the field and look at the clover and refuse to work unless given more clover and shorter hours. This action was called “a squat.” Sometimes the rabbits with a spot on the right fore-foot would walk out on a squat. Sometimes it would be the lop-eared rabbits, or the three-toed rabbits, or the blind rabbits, or whichever was hungriest, and the others would do the work for the goats till those out on a squat would get so hungry looking at the clover they would, one by one, slip back into the field and go to work, and sometimes, if the crop was very big and the pigs were squealing for clover, and business was good, the goats would give the squatting rabbits a little more to eat and shorter hours.
    But when the rabbits had bred to such a multitude that there were more rabbits than were needed for the work, poor, hungry, mangy or scabby rabbits would offer to work for less clover, and then the whole thing would be in a dreadful uproar; the union rabbits would squeal “Scab!” at the poor mangy rabbits, and the goats would bleat: “Let them alone. We have a God-given right to have them work for us for less clover.” And all the other union rabbits, left-foots, right-foots, fore-foots, hind-foots, lop-ears and so on — all except the ones who were squatting — would go on harvesting the goats’ clover for them, but crying continually: “Scab! Scab! Scab!”
    Things went on this way for a long time, the white rabbits and the grey rabbits getting poorer and poorer, and the white goats and black goats getting fatter and fatter. But presently the black goats and the white goats quarreled over which should furnish clover to the pigs. The black goats declared war on the white goats, and each shouted to their own rabbits: “Quit working for us now for a while and come fight for us”; so the white rabbits rushed at the grey rabbits and the grey rabbits rushed at the white rabbits and they killed each other, squealing strange squeals: “Patriotism!” “Fatherland!” “Our Country!” “Our Flag!” “The Goats forever!” “God bless our Goats!”

    The goats wept and gave a little clover to the orphan rabbits, and hung small yellow bells on the two-legged and three-legged rabbits who had lost legs in the war, so these rabbits sat all day tinkling their bells and were fed by the other rabbits and were greatly venerated for their intelligence.
During the war the white goats sent for white foxes to fight for them, and the black goats sent for black foxes to fight for them, and the rabbits were glad and said: “We will feed the foxes who fight for us.” After a long and bitter war, and the killing of many rabbits, peace was declared between the black goats and the white goats and they divided the Pigs’ Island between them by a solemn treaty, and were fatter than ever.

    So the rabbits, white and grey, went back to their fields to work, only each had to labor harder because there were so many crippled rabbits and so many foxes to support. The rabbits were thus harder worked and poorer than ever, but every time they grumbled or one of their unions squatted the goats set the foxes on them and drove them back to work.

    Things became so unbearable that an old grey rabbit called all the rabbits together, white and grey, and said to them: “Are we not all rabbits? Are we not all brothers? Are we not all enslaved? Our mistake was in admitting the right of the goats to own the land, because that has enslaved us. We must live from the land. Without it we die. Our remedy is to undo this error and to assert that not even our God, the Man on the Hill, can give away the ownership of the fields. They must be as before, open and free to whomsoever will use them. If the goats want clover, let them get what they can use, and no more. The same with the pigs, and the same with rabbits; and as for rabbits killing each other, it is worse than wicked — it is foolish.” “But,” said a large white rabbit, “what will become of the foxes?” “Let them die,” said the grey rabbit. “But they won’t die. They will eat us,” said the white rabbit. “No,” said the grey rabbit, “there are many more of us, and we can kick powerfully if we want to. Moreover, unless we work for the goats, how can they buy the chickens they feed to the foxes? Foxes cannot eat clover.” “But how are we to do this? The goats are larger than we are,” said the white rabbit “Easily,” replied the grey rabbit; “let us unite in one great brotherhood. Not lop-eared or blind rabbits, but just rabbits, all rabbits, in one common band. Then let us say to the goats; ‘We will harvest no more clover for you. Work yourselves, or starve. We deny your ownership of the fields. We will help ourselves.’ Oh, my brothers,” he added, “see this mutilated ear which was chewed by a white rabbit while each of us was fighting for the goats, he for the white goats, I for the black. Let it be so no more. Let us all get together as one band of brothers. Let us break this ownership of our fields by the goats, and then no more shall our little ones starve in meadows of abundance.” “Very fine words,” said the white rabbit, “but only words. Do not listen to him. He is a visionary. A dreamer. Labor is not vision. Labor is life. Life is labor. Let us all go back to our jobs. That is life. We can from time to time squat and kick as before, separately and independently, for more clover and shorter hours. That also is life. Anything beyond a little more clover or shorter hours is vision, and sensible rabbits will not bother with it.”
So the rabbits all returned to labor for the goats, while the foxes watched them from the shade.

korean kagemusha wannabe

Gwanghae, The Man Who Became King, distributed internationally as Masquerade, is billed by its distributors as a ”2012 Korean Historical Movie version of [Mark Twain’s] ‘The Prince & Pauper’“. I saw it on 22 September 2012 at CGV Cinemas in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, a reliable local venue for the latest Korean film releases.

Last seen two years ago as a secret agent opposite Choi Min-sik’s superhuman sociopath in Kim Jee-woon’s superb neo-Elizabethan revenge tragedy I Saw the Devil, Lee Byung-hun plays both titular characters: Prince Gwanghae, the ill-fated fifteenth king of the Joseon Dynasty, and Ha-sun, the lowly comedian pressed into service as a stand-in for the monarch who faces the threat of assassination. This speculative fiction draws upon an episode in the eighth year of Gwanghaegun’s reign, when the court chronicles omit all records for the fortnight that followed his statement, ”Do not put on record what is meant to be hidden.“ The central conceit of the plot is that the king’s loyal and able adviser Heo Gyun (Ryoo Seung-Ryong) forced Ha-sun to impersonate Gwanghaegun while he recovered a coma after an apparent poisoning attempt. While this contemptuous potentate starts out by micromanaging his puppet through his official court functions, he soon develops an appreciation of Ha-sun’s patriotic and humanitarian concerns for the kingdom and its subjects. Meanwhile, the head of an opposing Greater Northerner faction, Park Chung-seo (Kim Myung-gon), the Queen Consort Lady Ryu (Han Hyo-joo), and the king’s bodyguard Captain Do (Kim In Kwon), all become suspicious of the sudden shift in the king’s behavior.

Said to have been filmed in the real historical palaces in Seoul, the movie combines lavish mise en scène with competent direction of fine actors playing strong characters in a familiar story. While not quite Kagemusha caliber, being far more affected than Kurosawa’s masterwork, it makes for a compelling spectacle in its own right, marred slightly by Ha-sun’s tendency to emote by shedding tears on demand. The climactic confrontation between Captain Do and a band of assassins dispatched by the recovered king to retire his stand-in with extreme prejudice, is especially notable as a vivid illustration of the vital difference between slashes and cuts in a sword-fight. I recommend this movie to all fans of international costume drama.