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16th of April, 2024



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Ye Olde Ramblinge Post

Let’s ramble a bit, shall we? And I apologize for using ‘Ye’ as if it was an old word for “The”. ‘Ye’ as a definite article is a typographical band-aid from the renaissance. You see, the word ‘ye’ is actually the middle-english word for “y’all”, that is, second-person plural. As in, “O Come, all y’all faithful”. Before the advent of movable lead type, English had a couple of extra letters. There was a weird-looking lower-case theta that looked sorta like a Y that was used to write the “th” dipthong. Anyway, all the printing equipment during the Gutenberg times was imported to England from continental Europe, and was sadly devoid of the extra English letters, so they started using letters that sort of matched, giving us Ye Olde Publick Restroome, for example. Sad, really, but you should see the contortions you have to go through, now that the tables have turned, in order to print exotic letters like the German umlauted ones, Ä,Ö, and Ü. Well, they screwed us with the printing press, let’s see how they like 7-bit ASCII.

The printing press was the death knell of the theta, along with most of the Greek holdovers in Romanized lands. But still, they consider themselves the Old World over here. Germans tend to look at America as a mischievous young land, struggling through its teenage years. Never mind the fact that the United States was a successful constitutional republic when Germany was still a part of the Holy Fucking Roman Empire; it’s really all a state of mind. Politically speaking, Germany is only about 12 years old, having been formed shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall. Before that, it was two countries. 60 years ago, it was part of a decaying state known as the Third Empire, following the First (Holy Roman) and Second (the Kaiserreich). Apparently, and perhaps appropriately, the Weimar Republic of the transbellum years doesn’t count. It wasn’t technically an empire, so maybe that’s why.

So, what are we in now, the Fifth Reich? Sixth? It’s all such a blur. But how do you measure the age of such lands? If politically, then obviously the United States is one of the older countries around. Many of the cities here in Europe are extremely old, but does that really justify the title, “the Old World”? Echota, in Georgia, was founded by Indians over 30,000 years ago. Of course, they never even discovered the wheel until some carpetbaggers rolled a conestoga over them, but productivity and scientific advance are apparently no gauge.

What prompted this anyway? I think it was this post at Hog on Ice. I’ve been to the American cemetery in Luxembourg, and it’s devastating to behold. Neat rows of white crosses and Jewish stars, as far as the eye can see, tended lovingly all these years, each square foot a sincere and touching thank you from the soul of Europe to us descendants of the soldier that sleeps below it. I looked at that cemetery for a few hours, and was moved. Then, I drove a ways down the road and saw another sign, smallish with white text on a brown field, which read simply, “zu den deutschen Gräbern”. I followed it, and found myself in a patch of forest, closed off by a stone gateway. I went through the gate, and beheld a quiet, green meadow with thousands of simple headstones. There were no American flags, and no golden statue promising everlasting peace or gratitude. There were just the stones, well-tended by gardeners but otherwise ignored. On no headstone could you find a name, or a rank, or a birthplace, or even a date. There were just the words, “Ein Deutscher Soldat” engraved. I knelt down and place my hands on one of the crosses (there were, of course, no stars as headstones), and pressed my head against the stone.


Bob Baird

Rube... that was beautiful. You have a touch of Tom Waits that I couldn't see when you were house painting.


Sandy other words for it..

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