Saturday, 7 October 2017

Epic of Gilgamesh: Poem One

A long time ago, off in the lands of the age of Sumerians, we had a bunch of pretty creative folks.  That's over 4,000 years ago, and likely going way past that point.

The locals of the time got around to the art of telling stories....more or less to entertain folks.  You do that when there's no TV, radio, or internet.

Now, it has to be said that these were of the Hemingway or Steinbeck type story-tellers....that they got hooked on a decent story, and there have been literally dozens of variations of the story told.

So, we come to what is referred today as the 'Epic of Gilgamesh'.  It survive mostly because we've found tablets which lay out this story.  This version which survives is done in the poem method, and it makes some folks think that it was done to preserve the story in one simple constructed story and prevent forty different stories being manufactured.

The original version?  Translated into English....Surpassing All Other Kings.

The first tablet lays out the story, and I'll tell in a basic fashion....without the poetry or fine words...just in plain-speak....southern-style.

Out yonder in the lands....there lays this land of Uruk.  There was a king of the region and his name was Gilgamesh.

Folks tended to respect Gilgamesh because he was two-thirds god and one-third man.  Now, usually some engineer or intellectual guy from the audience would halt the story-telling and say you can only fifty-percent X and fifty-percent Y.....or you could be one-quarter this, and one-quarter that....etc. just have to accept the fact that Gilgamesh, for the purpose of this story....was a one-third, two-thirds kinda of guy.

Course, this would bring up the next would you know that he was only one-third man?  Well, it's just a story....don't get all tangled up on this.

So, we get back to this story.

Its safe to say that things weren't great in the land of Uruk, and some folks felt that Gilgamesh was oppressive in nature.  At this point from the audience, the engineer would mean like Trump?

No....not like Trump.  Gilgamesh had invented some method of understanding that it was fine if he slept with women on their wedding night.  No one is saying he had 'seconds' or 'thirds'....that he had this understanding.

Questions from the audience would arise again....what if there were twenty women getting hooked up this Saturday?  Well....this is just a story.  There just isn't any king-like guy going around and hooking up with twenty women in one night.

Now I should point at this point that the tablet where this part of the story would have some more a bit broke, and we are left to wonder what the heck happen to Gilgamesh on these special nights., but the information just ain't there.

Guys were complaining as well....mostly over too many physical tests or events...or through too many construction projects in his land.

So, as folks pleaded with the Gods (plural) to fix this Gilgamesh business....they responded.....more or less.

Way out in the rural regions of Uruk...there was this rather non-intellectual guy...a plain regular sort of dude, who went by the name of Enkidu.

Legend has it that Enkidu had a pretty nifty beard, and had a fair amount of body hair (something women admired in those days).

The few folks who knew Enkidu....spoke of his preference for the life of simpleness, living under the stars, and sipping spring-water.  Some local hunter had a problem with Enkidu because he was always springing his traps.  We don't know what kind of critters the hunter was going after but it appears to be small game....not tigers or lions.

The hunter guy then told the sun-god Shamash about Enkidu.

No one knows much about this sun-god dude but he was popular.

An arrangement was made with Shamash, who felt that Enkidu could be brought into the real world....taught a few things....put on some clothing....become more sociable.  In order to make all this happen.....Enkidu is introduced to a gal called Shamhat.

It's safe to say that Shamhat was a bawdy gal....a lady of the evening....or a harlot.  The poem doesn't go into details.  We don't get the description like Steinbeck would give....golden flowing hair.....legs that drive a man crazy....or million-dollar lips.

It's hard to say how young men around the campfire and hearing the Gilgamesh story imagined Shamhat.  It was probably a five-star lust scene and guys just making up different images of her.

Shamhat had the sole job of teaching Enkidu manners.  As the story goes....after seven nights in some tent with Shamhat....Enkidu emerged half-way to being civilized.  How this is possible, is left out of the story, and probably discussed later by various men sipping wine and offering observations over Enkidu.

Enkidu left out of the love-tent business and headed off to a shepher'ds camp to get the rest of the lessons.

What's generally said then, as we conclude chapter that Gilgamesh woke up from some dream about the arrival of someone to change his life.  No, it's not Shamhat, if you were thinking that.

End of the first poem over this story.

Now, I admit...there's a whole lot of information left out and I suspect that there are other tablets out there with a better version....probably racier and a bit more sensual in nature, but that's the one and only version dug up so far.

Money Laundering

After the hype of the Vegas shooting....the term money-launderer has been uttered a couple thousand times.

For the benefit of folks who don't grasp the amount of money being shifted around in the underground economy......some numbers ought to be mentioned.

In the first decade of this's generally believed that one trillion got moved out of China alone.

It's believed that three-quarters of a billion got moved around by Russians to situations outside of Russia.

It's estimated that almost half-a-billion dollars left Mexico. 

It's estimated that a third-of-a-billion dollars left Malaysia. 

Its estimated that a quarter-of-a-billion left Saudi Arabia. 

You can add it up, but's around fifty billion dollars a month during this entire decade....that money had to move around without being noticed.

Around the US?  No one ever wants to sit down in front of Senators and talk over the issue, with numbers.  You have to figure that at least 100,000 individuals are working around the launder money in the US. 

It has to go into fake companies or business operations, or fake apartment buildings, and come out clean at the other end to be used for real cash assets for people.....or be moved overseas where it's laundered into another country's banking system.

What you need to take out of this?  For a period of a decade (2000 to 2010)....roughly three trillion dollars were likely moved around the globe quietly by a number of individuals.  And I would imagine for the period of 2010 to's probably double that amount. 

Maybe the End of the Bergdahl Episode

This past week, if you went to page two news out of the US....there's this story over Sargent Bergdahl.  He's the guy who felt the Army was doing him wrong, and just decided one day to walk out the back of a Army post in Afghanistan....then being captured by the law-lords of the region, and held as a captive for five years.  Thankfully, President Obama and team decided to trade some Gitmo folks for him.  Sadly, the Army didn't feel any positive stuff over his adventure and charged with some crimes.

This week, Bergdahl said he'd accept a guilty deal without a lot of court action, over the charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Generally, you could get five years max for desertion, and life in prison for misbehavior before the enemy.  The judge will make the final decision. Some folks feel that he ought to be shot.  Some folks feel like the guy, having spent five years in some Taliban-like prison deal....ought not get much more than five years of Army prison.

Why avoid the court action?  I think he had five years in the Taliban-like setting and got his rational sense back into his system. 

What I'd give the guy?  I'd give him a fifteen-year prison sentence, with five of those hooked to credit with the time in the prisoner setting with the Taliban folks, leaving him ten full years in the Army prison.  If you look over his attitude and intelligence's kinda obvious that the Army should have dumped him by the fourth month of service.  He just wasn't Army-material.  Taking him off to Afghanistan?  Big mistake on their part.  Maybe if he'd gone through a six-month long boot-camp period and really gotten orientated about the team-concept.....things would have worked out.  He wasn't motivated or capable of handling Army-life.  I'd take a guess that a quarter of the American population would not be capable of handling three years in the Army. 

As for his future after leaving the Army prison-life?  I just don't see this guy doing much more than flipping burgers or stocking shelves at some grocery.