This is an “extra Belmont Club post” for readers who are having a slow day. The video below takes some time to watch. But it is entertaining. It’s a presentation by a tester of Healthcare.gov, named Ben Simo, before it was rolled out.
Doubtless some of the problems he talks about have been fixed. But it does strongly suggest that when they rolled the Obamacare site out it wasn’t really ready for prime time.
One of the funniest moments comes when Simo tries to tell his employers about all the security problems he’s encountered and they advise him to call the Federal Trade Commission to report it. When Simo says that might not be appropriate they ask him to call the local police or the FBI. It’s funny until you realize the same mentality is protecting you from ISIS.
Those looking for something more substantial might want to read GK Chesterton’s The Ballad of the White Horse, which is about King Alfred the Great versus Guthrum the Dane. It is absolutely wonderful, and even though it is one of the longest epic poems in modern English, it is eminently readable. Chesterton’s virtuoso literary ability is chastening, for it stands as far above the average writer as the average writer stands above an illiterate. You will recognize many famous lines. One which you will have doubtless heard of is this bit about the Irish.
For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.
Ballad of the White Horse was one of sources of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. One of my favorite passages is the part where Alfred comes upon an old woman in the wood. In that high forest, in the space before his secret army musters, the great Christian king realizes that heaven was made, not for earls but the homeless vagrant.
“But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, labouring, lifts the world.
“Wherefore was God in Golgotha,
Slain as a serf is slain;
And hate He had of prince and peer,
And love He had and made good cheer,
Of them that, like this woman here,
Go powerfully in pain.
“A star of nowhere, a nameless star,
A light that spins and swirls,
And cries that even in hedge and hill,
Even on earth, it may go ill
At last with the evil earls.
“A dancing sparkle, a doubtful star,
On the waste wind whirled and driven;
But it seems to sing of a wilder worth,
A time discrowned of doom and birth,
And the kingdom of the poor on earth
Come, as it is in heaven.
“But even though such days endure,
How shall it profit her?
Who shall go groaning to the grave,
With many a meek and mighty slave,
Field-breaker and fisher on the wave,
And woodman and waggoner.
“Bake ye the big world all again
A cake with kinder leaven;
Yet these are sorry evermore—
Unless there be a little door,
A little door in heaven.”
The forest scene was a powerful image which made me think of elves. And the elves made me think of the Welsh. And night and elves and woods naturally suggested this old tune as background for Alfred and the old woman.
In the coming battles the Danes were turned away. Yet the fate of the newly scoured White Horse rings true also. For it was Chesterton’s idea that savagery would come again, the second time in the guise of cynical sophistication, in the form of “slaves without a lord”. It was perhaps a warning to our time; or it maybe to every time. We are never safe until we reach the little door to heaven.
“I know that weeds shall grow in it
Faster than men can burn;
And though they scatter now and go,
In some far century, sad and slow,
I have a vision, and I know
The heathen shall return.
“They shall not come with warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.
“Not with the humour of hunters
Or savage skill in war,
But ordering all things with dead words,
Strings shall they make of beasts and birds,
And wheels of wind and star.
“What though they come with scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them,
That they ruin and make dark;
“By all men bond to Nothing,
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed,
Too blind to be abhorred”
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Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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