Podcast #10–J.Q. Useless Guest Appearance on The Alembic Files: “Poetic Perplexities, Part 4”

English: September Massacres during the French...

English: September Massacres during the French Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Podcast #10 of Thoughts from a Useless Eater is another guest appearance by J.Q. on The Alembic Files, for Part 4 of the continuing series “Poetic Perplexities: Emerging Visions of Global Empire?” In this segment, J.Q. joins Al and Theo to continue the discussion of the poet Philip Freneau, zooming in on some of the historical highlights of the French Revolution. In examining this historical timeline, the intent is to gain more of a handle on the implications of a figure like Freneau being a supporter of the French Revolution (at least in its early stages), as “hooked in” as he was with highly influential members of the early Democratic Republicans—a single party that is in fact the root of the two-party system in the U.S. today.

As we delve into some of the more astonishing aspects of the French regime under the influence of Robespierre, such as the promotion of The Cult of Reason as a state-sanctioned, atheistic (but with strongly neo-pagan elements) “state religion” to replace Christianity, and the use of fears of terrorism as a justification for the increasing role of the Committee of Public Safety as the primary instrument of state control, are we seeing elements of a vision for the direction of American government and society among at least some of the Democratic Republicans? And are we, perhaps, seeing something almost “prophetic,” in terms of observing elements of a roadmap that in some sense may still be followed by factions within the American power structure today?


Related texts:



Podcast #9 – “When the World Stopped Making Sense,” Part 3


English: Photograph of Abraham Flexner

English: Photograph of Abraham Flexner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part 3 of “When the World Stopped Making Sense,” a continuing series within Thoughts from a Useless Eater–the podcast that seeks a better understanding of “the way things really are in the world,” from a Christian perspective.

In this segment, J.Q. Useless continues a multi-part examination of construct that he calls “material, middle-class fake rationality,” a way of looking at the world that was arguably promulgated to those in American society beginning with the post-World-War-II “baby boom” generation. It’s a worldview centered on ideas of naturalistic/scientific rationality, of a supposedly free-market economic system that allegedly operates according to a “fair set of rules,” and of a society with a social contract in which people who work hard and “play by the rules” can expect to be rewarded with a decent standard of living–a worldview in which the individual can rely on his or her own strengths under a social structure said to have been set up with the best interests of the individual in mind.

J.Q. continues the breakdown of this worldview into ten component parts, examining issues that point to the construct’s arguable invalidity and deceptiveness. As he discusses the third and fourth of the ten characteristics of the model, he touches on issues related to the rapid advances in the 20th century in medicine and technology, examining the extent to which these advances have lived up to their promise of being beneficial to the common man and the quality of life of the individual. Over the course of this discussion, J.Q. touches on The Flexner Report, a study sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation that was instrumental in changing medical education in the United States and by extension, the emergence of allopathic medicine (the pharmacology-oriented branch of medicine practised by those who hold the M.D. Degree) as the dominate mode of medical practice, at one point nearly extinguishing alternative approaches such as homoeopathic, holistic, chiropractic, and osteopathic medicine.

Critiques of the Flexner Report have not by any means been confined to the “fringe” or “conspiracy” realms. As a salient example, J.Q. discusses a retrospective analysis published in 2010 in The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. He then moves on to a key text from a more vociferous opponent of the Flexner Report and its impact on medicine: Emanuel M. Josephson, M.D., a New York City physician and author works viewed as central texts among many American conspiracy theorists, who alleges that Rockefeller and allied industrialists exploited the Flexner report’s findings to re-shape medicine to the benefit of the emerging pharmaceutical industry and, by extension, to the financial benefit of a monied elite as part of an ongoing effort to further consolidate power and influence.

The fourth characteristic of J.Q.’s model concerns the advances of science and technology and the almost religious faith the American middle class began to place in them. Through a mix of examples at the personal and societal level, J.Q. makes the case that this faith in science and technology had its peak in a period that began in the years following World War II in the United States but began to shatter some 25-30 years later as limitations, exposed through such developments as the emergence of drug-resistant infectious origins and insidious side effects of drugs whose introduction into the population may have been inappropriately accelerated for pecuniary motivations, and emerging questions about the efficacy and possible hazards of vaccines.



Thomas Duffy, M.D. “The Flexner Report – 100 Years Later.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 84(3), September 2011. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3178858/.

Emanuel M. Josephson, M.D. Your Life is Their Toy: Merchants in Medicine. New York: Chedney Press, 1948. Available at http://www.amazon.com/Your-Life-Their-Toy-Merchants/dp/B0007EL4NQ.

Contact the show at jquseless@aol.com or visit https://uselesseatersinstitute.wordpress.com


Podcast #5: J.Q. Useless Guest Appearance on The Alembic Files with A.L. Aric

Joel Barlow

Joel Barlow, co-author of The Anarchiad (Photo credit: dbking)

Poetic Perplexities: Visions of Global Empire? Part 2

It is widely understood that artists, including poets and prose writers, possess an acute “cultural radar” that enables them to sense what may lie ahead. How long after the federation of the 13 states did they envision this new country as a possible candidate for empire? Join A.L. Aric as he hosts J.Q. Useless on The Alembic Files, in this second of a multi-part series looking into this question. This segment focuses centrally on The Anarchiad, a long-form satirical poem supporting the Federalist cause and the ratification of the new constitution, published serially in New England newspapers by The Hartford Wits, a group of poets who first began collaborating when they formed a literary society at Yale University. The discussion also touches on other topics of the time such as Shay’s Rebellion and the racist attitude of New England elites toward the American Indian population.


Literary excerpts to be covered:





Podcast #4: J.Q. Useless Guest Appearance on The Alembic Files with A.L. Aric


Jedidiah Morse, 18th-Century American minister, geographer, educator, author and–last, but not least–conspiracy theorist, in a portrait painted by his son, Samuel Finley Breese Morse.

Poetic Perplexities: Visions of Global Empire? Part 1

It is widely understood that artists, including poets and prose writers, possess an acute “cultural radar” that enables them to sense what may lie ahead. How long after the federation of the 13 states did they envision this new country as a possible candidate for empire? Join A.L. Aric as he hosts J.Q. Useless on The Alembic Files, in this first of a multi-part series looking into this question.


Literary excerpts to be covered:




Barbarous Founders and Other Strange, Early Morning Insights

I’m an early riser nowadays. Or at least my alarm goes off pretty early, usually 4:00 or 4:30 a.m.

Portrait of George Washington.

Portrait of George Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On good days I’m up and about by 5:00. On less good days it’s more like 6:00, 6:30, 7:00. I’m usually out of the house somewhere between 7:30 and 8:00 But earlier is better.

Why? For a variety of reasons, the main being, I have to admit, that I’m just plain SLOW in the morning.

But there are other reasons too. If I’m able to get up early enough, it’s an opportunity to take some time on my own to do some things that are hard to get to any other time–like Bible reading and prayer (both much less often than I should, unfortunately), blogging, doing research, and so on.

One thing I usually do, just as soon as my alarm goes off, is pop on my headphones and hop onto TuneIn radio on my smartphone to see whether anything interesting is happening on Coast to Coast AM. I listen to it on a California station that’s still playing the early hours of the show at the time I’m usually waking up here on the east coast. So when I want to, I can usually catch most of the show.

Yeah. I know. Coast to Coast is totally commercialized, co-opted entertainment, “controlled NON-opposition” at best, and an obfuscatory, disinformational distraction at worst. And most days it’s the usual UFO crap that I have little interest in, or the New Age crap from which I am utterly repulsed, not only for spiritual reasons but for intellectual reasons as well.

But that’s another story. The reason I listen is that at least a couple times each week they’ll have a guest on who’s worth listening too. And I also like the part-time hosts a lot better than I like Noory–like John Wells and even George Neff, who are much more up front in talking about matters of New World Order and creeping totalitarianism in the U.S. No, you’re not likely to hear things on Coast that you hear in the fringier corners of alternative talk radio, but sometimes that can be a good thing too.

So this morning was one of those mornings when there was an interesting guest on. It was Beirne Logan, talking about his new book: Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency. It sounds like a really good read, of a deep-history, “stuff they don’t teach you in high school or college” sort of ilk.

The one segment that really caught my attention and even gave me the heebie-jeebies was a discussion between Logan and Neff about how Washington wasn’t at all afraid, when he deemed it necessary, to engage in very brutal torture against enemy British soldiers the Americans had taken prisoner, partly because he know for certain that the British were sometimes doing the same thing to our guys. Washington apparently had to show that he would stop at nothing in the fight for his cause. And apparently he backed it up.

The heebie-jeebies moment actually came from an odd, disturbing historical tidbit (perhaps an unfortunate word choice, as you’ll soon see) that Neff brought up, almost out of the blue. He said he had heard stories of how Washington’s men would sometimes cut the skull of a British prisoner, pull out pieces of his brain, and hand the brain pieces to the prisoner while he was still alive.

Sickening, yes. But apparently the British did the same kind of thing too. We hear stories about how much more formal and rule-bound warfare was in those days, and that the Americans took advantage of that by using more guerrilla sorts of tactics. You’ve heard those stories about American troops making a surprise attack on a British brigade that was standing still, playing the ceremonial fife and drum, waiting for our guys to advance in a similarly formal manner.

But maybe all that was just fairy-tale grade-school textbook mythology anyway. If the formality and rules of engagement were still an issue, apparently there wasn’t an analogue in terms of how prisoners were to be treated–because atrocities were purportedly committed on both sides that would make Gitmo look like an amusement park.

Hearing that really got me thinking about that period of history from the perspective that, in the larger scheme of things, our founding fathers were arguably not that far removed from barbarism on certain levels. And yet they had the “enlightened” intellect to come up with something with the subtleties of the checks and balances in our Constitution.

But, somehow, when you put that together with the more barbarian elements, maybe it’s not so surprising that you can make a good argument that those checks and balances and rights and liberties built into the Constitution may in reality have just been window dressing on a document that created a consolidated power structure with the potential to evolve into a tyrannical monstrosity.

I’m not quite ready to draw firm conclusions, on either the vestigial barbarism angle or on the question of possible hidden agendas among the authors of the Constitution. What does become clear, however, when you face tidbits of history like these, is how little we really know about our history and about what the true state of mind was of our founders.

There are still more questions than answers. And the only thing I can say with any sense of near certainty is that it’s just more evidence that, indeed, what we were taught in school must not have been anything even close to the real deal.