Sectarianism In Europe; Fear Of Foreigners


By T.K. McNeil

The Roots of Difference

Fear of others is a problem as old as humanity

Fear of others is a problem as old as humanity

Human beings are tribal. By definition. Whether it is literally in the context of a family, or a tribal group, or a nation, there is always an “in” group.  And as the Newtonian law of opposites tells us, there is also an “out” group. There has always been a fear of foreigners. Also known as xenophobia. Such is a biologically determined certainty.

Persecution  Of “Out” Groups

What is not certain, or even particularly static, are the qualities that separate the “in” groups and the “out” groups. There are some factors common to many situations but no single indicator that determines whether a group is accepted or rejected. Not even what is called “race” or “culture.” There being cases of persecution between groups of similar if not the same, or close cultural and racial backgrounds. On going hostilities have existed for thousands of years.

A Classic Rivalry

Nowhere is this basic fear of foreigners between similar cultures clearer than the history of war between European nations. Something that dates back over 7,000 years. Including noticeable examples such as the adversarial relationship between the city states of Athens and Sparta, which remained snippy even when both were threatened by the full might of the Persian Empire.

White As Snow

Simo Hayha was a snipper responsible for no less than 500 Russian deaths in 3 months

Simo Hayha was a Finnish sniper responsible for no less than 500 Russian deaths in 3 months in early WWII

The fear of foreigners was palpable during the Winter War. The general term for the failed attempt by the Soviet Union to invade Finland at the beginning of World War II. Famous for both its short duration, three months, and the mighty Soviets were soundly beaten despite having nearly three times the troops and equipment of the Fins. During the war,  a single Finnish sniper, Simo Hayha, nicknamed “The White Death” because he dressed in all white camouflage achieved heroic status.  Hayha earned 505 confirmed kills, some sources claim 542 confirmed kills, over the three-month period.

Neighbor Versus Neighbor

Not to mention the xenophobia-stoking door-to-door attempts of the newly liberated Serbians to take over their neighbors after the collapse of Soviet Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. What is now known as the Yugoslav Wars. The last of these being the infamous invasion of Albania in 1999. A major war crime by white Europeans against other white Europeans that saw the leader of the Serbian government, Slobodan Milosevic, ousted by his own military.

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Understanding Brexit, (Or Maybe Not)


By T.K. McNeil and D.S. Mitchell

A Bit Of History

The European Union encompasses 28 countries, covers over 1,500,000 sq miles and has a population of over 515,000,000

The European Union covers over 1,800,000 sq miles and is home to 515,000,000 people.

If Americans are to understand Brexit we need to fill in a bit of history. So, here we go. The European Union is made up of 28 countries, including the UK. It covers over 1,800,000 square miles with a population of over 515,000,000.

Alternative To War

The EU was originally developed as a means to thwart war. As a reminder, the continent had been the powder keg that launched two world wars within 25 years in the early part of the twentieth century. After WWII a consensus developed that if countries worked together and were inter-dependent trading partners there would be less chance of another world war.

From A Small Start

You’re doing great, just hang in there. Because, understanding Brexit will take at least a couple more paragraphs. The European Union (EU) can directly trace its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC/Common Market) formed in 1951 by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.  It was another 22 years before the UK joined the then European Economic Community on January 1, 1973 with Denmark and Ireland. Since then the European Union has nearly tripled in size, and for the most part flourished.

A Single Market

NAFTA is not the EU.

NAFTA is not like the European Union

In the United States we are familiar with NAFTA. NAFTA is not like the EU. Understanding Brexit is more complicated than what we here in the U.S. are familiar with. Each country choosing to join the EU pays an entry fee. After that first fee there are annual fees based primarily on each country’s national GDP. In return, they become members of a team who gain special advantages by working together. This includes being part of a “single market”. In other words, the countries within the union can trade without tariffs or duties with one another and people can move around freely, as if the “union” was actually just one big country.

Four Principles of Freedom

Whoa. That’s definitely different from what NAFTA does. In fact, the European Union is based on Four Principles of Freedom; the free movement of goods, services, people and money. Interestingly, the EU has its own parliament headquartered in Strasbourg, France. Indeed, laws are passed by its parliament and it has its own currency (the Euro). The UK unlike many of the other member states upon its entrance into the union chose to stick to its own pound and pence monetary system.

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Three Days Off-Grid, Me and The Mueller Report

Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of the most dramatically beautiful lighthouses in the country. Just a mile or two from Sea Breeze cottage

Heceta Head Lighthouse one of the most dramatically beautiful lighthouses in the country. Just a mile or two from Sea Breeze cottage. Oregon’s “Emerald” coast has surprises around every turn of the road. Go Off-grid

Three Days Off-Grid; Me and The Mueller Report

Just a Little Insanity

By D.S. Mitchell

Ocean Diver

My bags were packed and loaded in the car for an off-grid get away

My bags were packed and loaded in the car for an off-grid get away at the Oregon coast.

The beach house was reserved. My bags were packed and loaded into the car. The plan was to pick up my favorite partner in crime at 10:oo a.m. for a few days away from Castle Gerimortis. The ad promised off grid quiet. No cell phones, no television, no internet. I went to bed eagerly anticipating the time away. I woke up about 3:30 a.m. from a dead sleep making ocean diver sounds that reminded me of the song, Aqualung.  After coughing up half of my right lung, or maybe it was my left lung, I laid back on the bed and focused on my funeral plans.

Too Hot To Handle

My cheeks were on fire, and the back of my hand was singed as I touched it to my forehead. Maybe I should take my temperature? Where had I put the thermals? No, the thermostat.  No, no, the thermometer. Where had I put the thermometer?

Dog Clippers And Souvenirs

Remembering that I haven’t had a fever in at least 20 years made me question if I even owned a thermometer. After stumbling about the bathroom in fevered confusion, pulling drawers in and out. I finally found the damn thing in the bottom of the drawer with the dog clippers, and a souvenir from a 420 celebration three years ago. It was one of those glass and mercury affairs that they haven’t made since Woodstock.


OMG, my temperature was 101.6

I must be dying. My temperature was 101.6.  

After cleaning with soap and water I stuck the old glass stick in my mouth and waited. I knew I’d need to wait at least three minutes for a result. Such co-ordination of knowledge and action failed me. With fiery anticipation after a mere minute, I pulled the thermometer from my mouth. OMG it had already registered 100.9. Oh, no. Now I had to shake it down and start all over, because I knew my true temperature must be much higher.

Waiting For The Rapture

I went back to my bedroom, located my cell phone and set the timer. I laid down on the bed. Remembering the school nurse always said, “keep your lips closed tight.” Following that advice from childhood I laid there waiting.  When the phone beeped, I jerked it from my mouth and turned it over on its side, adjusting it to the light I saw a reading of 101.6. I put the thermometer on the bedside table and closed my eyes, waiting for the rapture.

Beyond Zombie-dom

I must have passed out from lack of oxygen to the brain. At 8 o’clock I was summoned back from zombie-dom by a fit of coughing severe enough to loosen my back teeth.  Apparently, death was not as close as I had hoped. My fever seemed to have broken and I found myself staring out the window as dry-mouthed as a desert wanderer and as tremulous as a puppy who had just missed the newspaper. I wondered if I could stand up. Maybe I should at least wait until the latest round of the chest splitting coughing passed. Once the most recent coughing spasm subsided, I was ready to stand.

Sun And Surf

Spring Breakers had nothing on me

Spring Breakers had nothing on me. I was going to be off-grid on Oregon’s Emerald coast

Mustering the strength of a college freshman headed to Virginia Beach for Spring Break I forced my feet to the floor and was reassured that the spinning room had not effected the solidness of the planks under my feet.  I may not be a college freshman, but the thought of sun and surf urged me forward.  I slipped on a black T and canvas colored shorts. The outside temperature at the mountaintop was hovering at 40 degrees, but I have a great heater in the car. I debated my ability to drive. I guess we would soon find out. The next thing I see is Dave grinning at me, saying, “Hey, Sweetie.”


With Dave behind the wheel we left Portland weirdness for the promise of sunshine on Oregon’s Emerald Coast. The “southern” coast in my vernacular. Our destination, Yachats. Pronounced, Ya-hots. It is usually warmer and less windy than the much closer northern Oregon beach towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach. I bury my head in a pillow and cough my way from the 217 on-ramp to the I-5 Interchange.  I had loaded my makeup bag with a shitload of over-the-counter medications scavenged from my medicine cabinet. Airborne cough drops, Tylenol, sips of cherry Robitussin, Vitamin C gummies, Airbore immune support gummies, and a Super B-complex supplement whose tablets smell like a 5 day old decomposing corpse.

Sea Breeze Cottage

Sea Breeze cottage had a great view of the ocean

Sea Breeze cottage had a great view of the ocean

Nearly four hours later I open my eyes as Dave turned into the driveway of Sea Breeze cottage. The cabin, although sitting on the east side of 101, has a lovely surf view, and the charm of a cottage built over a summer vacation by dad and junior in 1950. Dave the man, unloaded the car, while I wandered uselessly supervising the placement of every suitcase, and pillow.  I grabbed another handful of Vitamin C gummies and fussed and complained as he nodded and grimaced.

In It Goes, Out It Goes

I had read in a medical textbook several years ago that it is impossible to overdose on Vitamin C because your body cannot store the vitamin, any excess Vitamin C is automatically excreted through the kidneys. So, no worries.  Eat away I decide. There does seem to be significant anecdotal evidence supporting high doses of Vitamin C to shorten cold symptoms. At this point I’d try anything, including experimental drugs.

Just The Ticket

That first night at the cabin I fell asleep with little effort. Self-medication in this case appeared to be just the ticket.  My fever broke and I woke up shivering on a damp sheet. Dave was banging doors and proclaiming dog walking time as I shifted from my world to his. Was I imagining it, or could I actually breathe through my nose? I gave it a second attempt.  Hell, yeah. Now if I could just rid myself of that paper crackling sound my chest made every time I took a breath.

A Tug A War

And the winner was the littlest dog

In the man vs dog contest the winner was the 10 lb demon dog

When Dave got back to the house, he launched into a story of animal vs man. He said he would be driving into town now if the dog hadn’t put up an extraordinary fuss when it looked like the morning walk would be delayed. He described a leash tugging affair between a 180 lb man in caffeine withdrawal and a 10 lb demon with a biological urge. The 10 lb demon had won the battle. The image brought a smile to my face.

No Coffee

“Hey,” he said, “you look better. But, you sound like hell. I was going to let you sleep and drive into town and get a coffee, but now you’re up. Feel like a drive? There’s no coffee in the cabinet and we didn’t bring any.”

Close To Criminality

Hearing the call to action we headed up Highway 101 to Yachats “city” proper.  A rustic timbered bistro sat on the ocean side of the highway beckoning us in. When we stepped inside, I was disappointed. The building sat right on a cliff overlooking the exquisite beauty of the Pacific Ocean and the builder had put the kitchen where the picture windows should have been. I would say such an act is close to criminality. We skipped the croissants and breakfast bars and paid for two coffees to go.

Reams Of Paper

The television was showing images of the newly released Mueller Report

All the television channels were showing images of the newly released Mueller Report

As I watched Dave putting his sixth coffee creamer into his coffee cup I was distracted by a television playing in an adjacent room. I walked to the threshold where I could get a better view of the TV screen. A Breaking News story was playing. The sound was turned off. From what I could see ABC news chief anchor, George Stephanopoulos, was sitting at the news desk with a group of men and women. The gathered group was shuffling and reshuffling reams of white papers covered with multiple yellow stickies. I could see other pages were blacked out and lay discarded on the desk.  “The Mueller Report” banner ran in red under the action. I stood gawking at a silent screen.

Fucking Friday

I stepped back, turned, and grabbed Dave by the arm to get his attention, nearly upsetting his coffee cup. “Fuck, Dave. No cell phone. No streaming TV.  We are fucking Robinson Crusoe and Friday”. My voice, harsh from two days of coughing, was rough-edged and irritable. The couple at the table next to the window looked in my direction, but looked away quickly when I sent a laser-eyed response to their unwanted attention.  Sometimes people just know, when it is best not to engage, or comment, and I approved of their renewed interest in their food.

“No Amenities Beach”

D.C. Comics, Wonder Woman

D.C. Comics, Wonder Woman from 1941-42

Dave, obviously taken back, said nothing. Apparently, he too was reluctant to engage, or comment on public madness. Climbing back into the rig, I continued, “No I’m fucking serious, what the hell are we doing at the beach? Not even a regular beach. We are at No Amenities Beach.  Why these three days, of all days, do we decide it would be cool to go off grid? We never go off grid! OMG, off grid. Off grid!  If I wasn’t the editor, I’d fire my fucking ass.”

I continued ruminating as we headed south, “How the fuck could this happen? The hottest news story of the last century and we are in the fucking middle of Nowhere Beach.”

Dave turned toward me and said carefully, “Look, the sun is shining, the coffee is good, we are in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and there are at least 300 VHS movies back at the cabin. Time to forget Calamity Politics, Trump’s tragic opus, the Republicans and the Russians. We can save the Republic tomorrow, Wonder Woman.”

I clicked my two gold bracelets together and winked at my bearded chauffeur, “Thanks, Steve Trevor. There is always tomorrow.”


Consensus Future, Cultural Nostalgia & The Rise of the New Populism

The future is coming while we are looking backwards

“We look at the present day through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future”. Marshall McLuhan



By T.K. McNeil

“When I pronounce the word future the first syllable already belongs to the past” Wistawa Szmborska

Future Concerns

Of all human concepts, the future is among the most pervasive

Of all human concepts, the future is among the pervasive.

Of all human concepts, the future is among the most pervasive, as well as the most powerful. The basis for the concern around children as well as the justification for some horrendous acts. It is also one of the least certain and most fraught with problems.

Consensus Future

“Consensus future” refers to the visions of the future most people agree on. Largely because they are the visions that we have been given through culture. This includes the notion of cloning, first presented in a major way in the 1993 film Jurassic Park. And self-driving cars, have  been a common futuristic theme in popular culture since at least the 1960’s. Just think Batman. The majority of technology trends are imagined and created on consensus future.

Ballardian Banality

British science fiction writer created future worlds.

British science fiction writer J.G. Ballard created future worlds.

One of the biggest issues with future forecasting, particularly in terms of technology trends, is the fundamental unpredictability of both people and markets. Even a brief glance at the history of technology trends reveals an essential inability to show where trends are going to go, as well as a strong tendency towards normalization. One of the sharpest observers of this latter trend was the British science fiction author J.G. Ballard. Ballard created future worlds at the height of the future craze of the mid-20th century that were remarkable, mostly for the basic lack of surprise shown by the characters to the technology that surrounded them. Embryonic proof of the consensus future.

Manufactured Normalcy

One of the lesser known theories in terms of futurism is “manufactured normalcy”. With regard to technology trends, this term refers to the tendency of people to adapt quickly to any new piece of technology. The first period of excitement getting shorter as the turnaround between new models continues to decrease. It has, in fact, been argued that such surprise, or “future shock” as term by sociologist Alvin Toffler in his 1970 book of the same name, has largely subsided, if it ever existed at all. This happens even if the technology in question is not actually boring, or at all commonplace, and tends to apply, especially to things inside the consensus future narrative.

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Year of the Cat (w/lyrics)- Al Stewart-1976

Hey guys, I am alone in the office today, which means I am the only one on disc jockey duty. It is raining and the mist is rising off the lake. Very romantic and I’m feeling pretty nostalgic. So, today from the jukebox comes a mysterious song by Al Stewart from 1976. If you are old enough, you might remember who Peter Lorre was. Enjoy-Darlene

Al Stewart "Year of the Cat" jukebox choice of the day

Al Stewart “Year of the Cat” jukebox choice of the day.

A Different Shade Of Paranoid




by T.K. McNeil

Definition: “Xenophobia means having a PHOBIC ATTITUDE towards strangers or the unknown. It comes from the  Greek words (xenos), meaning foreigner/stranger, and (phobos), meaning fear. This term is widely used to describe the fear of others, or dislike of foreigners, or people who are different to oneself.”

Fear –A Renewable Resource

It used to be the "others" were anyone outside the cave

It used to be the “others” were anyone outside the cave.

Fear of the other is a primal reflex. From the early days of the species, mistrust of “outsiders” has been with us. Except at that time, ‘outside’ referred to the darkness outside the cave. Experts have indicated that the human species have since “evolved” from this early state of fear. But, like the tailbone, remnants of these origins remain to the modern-day.

Fear of the Bomb

It wasn't long before the Soviets had the bomb

It wasn’t long before the Soviets had the bomb

In the 1940’s the fear of others was mobilized to fight Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In terms of WWII and the Cold War that followed, that innate distrust of outsiders got kicked up a couple notches. . The American propaganda machine ginned up anti-communist rhetoric and kept hatred and fear of others morbidly alive. We of course were being prepped for the expected war against communism. But, OMG, this still hale and hearty Soviet Union showed very quickly that they too could build “the bomb.” And topping that, they could also fire a ballistic missile that would level Washington, D.C. along with Chicago, Seattle, and Denver as starters.

Before the Bomb

Lenin was the leader of the Russian Revolution

Lenin was the leader of the Russian Revolution

While the specter of mutually assured destruction certainly made things worse, fear of a Communist take-over goes back to the Russian Revolution. In fact, much of the anti-communist sentiment had its roots in the anti-union movement of the 1920’s. When teamsters and autoworkers fought to unionize, the Bolshevik’s were blamed. Typical manipulating of fear of others. Fear-mongers spinning increased union activity into an insidious Communist plot. Tapping into fear of others, as well as fear of new ideas has been a tool of politicians right or left since time immemorial. Intensifying hatred, so easy, so convenient, so useful. The drum beat of fear of others, is likely to go unchanged because it seems to work so well.

Cold Shoulder

1960 Khrushchev at the height of the cold war was banging his shoe on the table at the UN

1960 Khrushchev at the height of the cold war was banging his shoe on table at the UN

After the United States and the Soviets started their arms race, the threats were kicked up.  At least in the United States. It is actually difficult to know what the Soviets were saying about America, there being few reliable sources of Russian translation from the time. Though we can assume it was likely not complimentary. We do have film of Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev, at the UN, threatening the destruction of the United States. He slammed his shoe on the table and proclaimed he would bury America. So, it sounds like there were lots of theatrics for the Russian television audience as well as the American.

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