“If Americans Want To See the Devil, Let Them See”

After the FBI deflected from their own negligence in the Parkview Florida school slaughter by indicting 13 Russians on Friday for interfering in the presidential election, and after President Trump used the FBI admission that it “dropped the ball” to deflect from his own ongoing malfeasance, a high level Russian said it best: “If Americans want to see the devil, let them see.”

One of the best studies of good and evil by an American writer is Herman Melville’s novella, “Billy Budd.” It was completed in 1891, the year Melville, arguably America’s greatest writer, died.

Rife with Christian symbolism of the fall of Adam and the crucifixion of Christ, Billy Budd is nonetheless a subtle philosophical treatise on the nature and operation of good and evil in man.

Melville symbolically drops Budd into hell on earth, when he’s impressed onto a late 18th century British warship from a merchant ship ironically named the “Rights-of-Man.” Yet Billy quickly wins the respect and hearts of the crew and captain, and is promoted in rank.

The Billy Budd character is simplicity and innocence itself, the way young children are guileless and without artifice. Thus Melville’s depiction seems a rejoinder to Jesus’ injunction: “Truly I tell you, unless you return and become like children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

Events unfold with tragic inevitability as the sinister John Claggert singles out Billy Budd for mistreatment and destruction. In the climactic scene, Claggert accuses Budd of masterminding a mutiny.

Captain Vere confronts Budd with the charge in front of his accuser. Overcome with strong emotion, Billy loses his power of speech, and is unable to answer with words. He strikes Claggert with both of his fists with such fury and force that he hits his head on the corner of a beam, and is mortally wounded.

An evil smile creases Claggert’s lips as he fades into unconsciousness. He has achieved his aim, knowing that Budd will be hanged for striking a superior officer.

As the arbiter of authority, the captain puts duty before justice, head before heart. After a tortuous court martial presided over by the captain and three officers of the ship, Billy Budd is hanged. To the end he bears no grudge, and his last words are: “God Bless Captain Vere!”

Melville’s story is more ambiguous than Peter Ustinov’s movie by the same name. But the last words of the film hold up very well: “Justice will live as long as the human soul; the law as the human mind.”

Claggert’s view of humankind is one that many, if not most people in the West now share—unregenerate, self-serving, and incorrigibly base. In this view, human nature is ineluctably derived from the predator/prey archetype in nature.

Melville shows that such a worldview doesn’t just lend itself to evil, but is one of the wellsprings of it. It’s the view of conservative intellectuals in America, who utter nonsense such as, “Society is not a battlefield but a jungle with unexpected connections and migrations.”

The unanswered and unaddressed question in Billy Budd is the relationship between good and evil. Are they two sides of the same coin, as depicted in the novella and film, or are they completely distinct and unrelated phenomena?

They are completely distinct. Evil does not flow from or exist in nature, as most people believe. Nor is it a supernatural phenomenon. Evil is a byproduct of the wrongful use of ‘higher thought,’ a characteristic of consciousness as we know it.

If Claggert signifies Satan, what does Captain Vere represent? Vere obviously stands for societal order, though not in a heavy-handed or simplistic way. He is an intellectual and decent man, and his argument for the necessity of Budd’s execution goes against his own sentiments.

In the movie, and to a more uncertain degree in the book, evil prevails. The crew is only informed Budd’s execution as the charge is read with the noose around his neck. “Where’s Claggert?” asks a crewman as the crew is assembled to watch Budd hang. “He’s here,” says a wise old sail maker.

Man is the creature that divides and fragments without end. Hell is the stinking and shrinking space of all the Claggerts who desperately need their vicious-circle worldviews confirmed.

Another world is possible, though not through ideals and activism, which at best hack at the leaves of evil, but only through self-knowing and transmutation in the individual.

Martin LeFevre

Link to Billy Budd: http://mseffie.com/assignments/billy_budd/Billy%20Budd%20Text.pdf


New Addition to The Marine Area of the Children’s Museum in San José

Costa Rica Entertainment – The Marine Area of the Children’s Museum in San José has a new feature. Drawings of marine species, such as turtles, crabs, fish and stingrays come alive in the virtual aquarium.

The attraction has been described as “magical.” Children get to have fun coloring and then scan their creation only to moments later see the very drawing they made come alive in the virtual aquarium. It will even become animated, moving with depth.

The idea behind this activity is that little ones will gain awareness and learn the importance of taking care of marine resources. There is a great need for people of all ages to generate interest in the ocean and participate in taking care of it.

Personnel from the museum are proud of this new application because we are the only country in Latin America that has it. It boasts a pleasant environment, vivid colors, a new access ramp, and playful fish. There are many resources for education and entertainment.

It’s open Tuesday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm and Weekends from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Admission is ¢2,000 for children and ¢2,200 for those over 15 years old.

For more info, visit CR Children’s Museum on Facebook or call 2258-4929.

UK Bolsters Position as Costa Rica’s Top European Market

Costa Rica Travel & Tourism – The Central American country of Costa Rica attracted 6.7% more UK holidaymakers in 2017.

The growth over the previous year to 76,173 strengthened the position of the UK as the nation’s largest source market in Europe.

Germany (70,960), France (69,803) and Spain (69,782) followed the UK in 2017 visitor numbers to Costa Rica.

The UK was also the biggest European source market of visitors to Costa Rica in 2016 (71,392), one year after British Airways started direct flights between Gatwick and San José.

Travellers from Ireland also grew, with arrivals up by 8.6% year-on-year to 4,321. Costa Rica attracted almost three million worldwide visitors in 2017, up 1.2%.

Rob Wilson, UK representative of the Costa Rica Tourism Board, said: “We are extremely pleased to see the continued growth of visitors from the UK to Costa Rica, helped greatly by the BA route.

“The green Central American country is truly making a space for those interested in unique wildlife and stunning landscapes. With these natural assets, we expect this growth to continue in the future.”

From Travel Weekly

10 Gmail Extensions That Boost Productivity

Technology News – There’s a reason Gmail has become so popular — it’s free, it’s easy to use and it keeps evolving. To top it all off, Gmail offers even more improvements through the use of extensions, which are optional, user-installed upgrades that add new features or improve on features that already exist within the platform.

These are some of the best Gmail extensions available, giving you the information, the tools and the ability to improve your productivity and make your life easier:

  • Gmail Metrics. How much time do you really spend on email? Chances are, it’s more than you think. With Gmail Metrics, you can learn valuable information about your email habits, including how much time you spend writing and reading, and how many emails you send and receive each day — as well as from whom. It’s the first step in mastering email productivity, and is even more valuable when used to monitor team email productivity.
  • Boomerang. Boomerang enables you to set a “boomerang” on sent emails, which reminds you if they aren’t replied to after a certain amount of time. It’s the perfect tool for preventing conversations — such as those with employees, colleagues, vendors, clients, and sales leads – from falling through the cracks.
  • Streak. An extension geared toward sales teams, Streak allows you to turn Gmail into an interactive CRM. It may take some time to get used to the new layout of your inbox, but it allows you to organize your sales funnel, track and manage your leads, set reminders for follow-ups and appointments, and collaborate on various tasks.
  • Todoist. Todoist is an extension designed to turn your email inbox into a complete task management system. You can convert all your emails into individual tasks, which you can then aggregate and check off, one by one, until you reach your goals for the day or week. If you struggle to keep your inbox free from clutter, or if you often miss responses, this is the extension for you.
  • ActiveInbox. ActiveInbox is another app that lets you turn all your messages into tasks, which you can then sort, organize, prioritize, and track to make sure you’re getting things done. You can group tasks into projects, and measure your effectiveness — not to mention making sure you don’t leave anything incomplete or neglected.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Formerly known as Rapportive, this is an email extension for salespeople, or anyone who wants to learn more about who they’re emailing. It draws in information on all your email contacts, linking automatically to social media sites to pull in details that may be relevant to your job. If you’re especially forgetful, or if you just need more details to do your job well, it’s a beneficial addition.
  • HelloSign. If you’re tired of signing documents by printing, signing, and scanning, or dealing with document managers, HelloSign is ideal for you. It allows users to sign documents right from Gmail—no extra steps required.
  • KeyRocket. If you like saving time with shortcuts, check out KeyRocket. KeyRocket observes all your actions within Gmail, and when you take an action that could be done faster with a keyboard shortcut, it alerts you. It’s a fast way to learn all the shortcuts that Gmail has to offer.
  • Ginger. Have you ever sent an email with an embarrassing typo? Ginger will make sure that never happens again; the extension will check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and overall sentence structure. It even offers limited translating abilities for 40 different languages.
  • Followup.cc. Followup.cc is an extension that allows you to draft emails to schedule and send at any time in the future. You can also send yourself reminders to follow-up with your main contacts, and see if and when your emails are read.

ou’re going to spend at least half your day managing, sending and reading emails, so why not make the most of it? Use these extensions to streamline your experience and spend more time on the tasks that make better use of your skills. Many are free or offer a free trial for a limited time, so what have you got to lose in experimenting?

by Jayson DeMers, NBCNews.com

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Book on Links Between Literature & Cinema in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Entertainment – Sociologist Bernardo Bolaños Esquivel and philologist Guillermo González Campos bring us an exciting new book exploring the links between literature and cinema in Costa Rica.

The country has long been represented in both cinema and literature. The men analyzed 50 representations and developed their research of the extensive relationship between the audiovisual and Costa Rican literature into 193 pages.

Costa Rica has defined itself in various artistic works. Some of the works considered include the TV series Marcos Ramírez (1979) and the film Caribe (2004).

The book “De tránsitos, imágenes y sentidos: Literatura y producción audiovisual en Costa Rica” will be presented by its authors today at 7pm in the Centro de Cine.

Central Americas Best Cross Country Runner Hails From Costa Rica

Costa Rica Sports – Jenny Méndez, a tica, is now the best Central American cross country runner, after completing 10 kilometers in 39 minutes and 27 seconds, according to the official results.

The women’s competition was held this Saturday in El Salvador. There at the XII Central American Championship and Pan American III she was crowned Central American champion.

She competed in both championships, against runners from North and South America. The Tica, Colombian by birth, was 25th in the race but first among the Central Americans.

Méndez also won in the 4×1 relay race, along which the ticos Álvaro Sanabria, Noelia Vargas and Jorge Prendas.

Costa rica added four gold medals and two silver, ending up as the best in Central America.

Hospital of the Soul” in Costa Rica

Costa Rica News – Cult or help in Costa Rica?

The College of Psychologists is concerned about therapies offered at the “Hospital of the soul,” a center linked to a church in Tibás. It offers healing without specifying the type of professionals there to help.

There is secrecy about the center, as its personnel refuse to give interviews, only saying that the place focuses on spiritual healing, not physical healing. Still, it appears people are going there and abandoning traditional therapies while waiting on miracles.

There have been over 70 complaints filed against it with the Public Ministry for reasons such as the use of alternative therapies like quantum therapy and Germanic medicine and even the misuse of stem cell treatments.

The “prophet” in charge believes that when people graduate the program they are healthy and able to heal their pain. Prayer is promoted as a way to achieve miraculous physical healings.

While having faith and spiritual clarity is generally a positive thing, no religion should promise miracles in exchange for abandoning treatments.