Last updateTue, 24 Apr 2018 5pm

The Great Depression: A record more relevant than today’s electronic media present might come from one who was there, unready and puzzled

Early last Saturday a sombreroed older man bought three cigarettes at Nacho Gutierez’s ample Aborrotes El Oso across from the Jocotepec municipal market. In line at the cash register a woman asked for two aspirina. Just down the street a bit later a child peeked over the splintered counter of a tiny store to ask for seven pesos of manteca (lard).

Awash in hurricane-fed rains, cerro campesinos say ‘The earth does not lie,’ using ancient and new ways to deal with it

Paco Estrada Ruiz stood in a light rain Monday morning, swearing quietly. He is part of a family clan of campesinos whose ample, but modest ranch sets mostly on a steep twist of Jalisco highlands southeast of Guadalajara. It was a region treated unkindly by weather this growing season. Paco spat into the drizzle. Sunday had smiled with a convincingly lying sunny sky. Today’s rain was swearworthy, but not totally unexpected this loco year.

Mexico welcomed the US prohibition, which brought investors, fun-seeking visitors and boosted binational relations

Ken Burns, whose 1990 television series on the U.S. Civil War changed the way documentaries were perceived, presented a five-and-a-half-hour production, “Prohibition,” on the PBS network last week.  Many readers may have heard vivid tales of that 1919-1933 period. Older relatives have told children and grandchildren those stories for decades, a history that has been passed down. It was called a “disastrous experiment,” one that numerous cultural analysts and journalists are noting is clearly pertinent today. Many refer to philosopher George Santayana’s admonition about “learning from past or being condemned to repeat it.”

Myths, dicey things, can unite a nation or lead to a self-delusion. Some are clearly fabricated and used to mislead

Soldiers — celebrated with soaring hosannas that foster myths once war is over — have been treated by their commanders for much of history as what in now known as “cannon fodder.” Military personnel, during most of the world’s great wars were issued no IDs, so identification of the dead, was chancy. Identification tags, weren’t issued until sometime in 1914.

All nations, certainly Mexico, cherish myths; and some, everywhere, have a hard time enduring close historical investigation

All societies and individuals possess, consciously and unconsciously, a lexicon of myths. Historically, most youngsters embrace a central myth of youth — they are invincible — apart from their societies’ widely held concepts of immortality in various forms. Some myths come from a dense pre-historic past.

In Western cultures other myths are made immortal themselves by Greek, Latin and biblical literature. While a great many people today believe myths are no longer useful, they operate in cultures that deny them while subliminally utilizing them. The iconic “modern” example of course is George Lucas’ artful use of Goethe’s instructive Faust myth in “Star Wars” and its myriad cultural offspring about the universal hero. And in our modern midst are judges clad not in business suits, but draped in “magisterial” robes straight out Greek mythology and time. If being a judge in modern society were considered a mere “role,” the garb would be a CEO’s pin-stripe suit. “For law to hold authority beyond mere coercion, the power of a judge must be ritualized, mythologized. As does much of modern life today, from religion and war to love and death,” one cultural analyst has pointed out.