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  • Jim Costa

Jim’s Daily Rant. The Sand Pebbles And The Price Of Silver.

This morning I was reminded of how screwed up my early education was. When I was about nine I got addicted to reading. I came from a family of ten kids so there wasn’t a lot of money for books. My father tried selling encyclopedias a short time and we ended up with a set. I must have read them at least three times out of boredom. Then I hit the jackpot. I had a school friend in the neighborhood whose Father was a chemist and Mother was History teacher. They were drowning with books for kids about science and history! My school books could never compete with those.

Today I watched the podcast $300 SANDWICHES AND $2,000 SILVER — BIX WEIR. I made it 4 minutes into his podcast and felt the anger build in me as it did around my senior year in High School. Because I had a car and worked, every weekend I either took a date dancing or to the movies. I especially loved movies based on history.

As we watched the 1966 movie The Sand Pebbles, staring Steve McQueen, I found myself mad as hell just steaming through the whole movie. It had a great personal story and excellent acting. I was totally engrossed in it. But wait until you hear why I was so pissed.

The story was about a young US Navy chief stationed on a river patrol boat in China during the Boxer War (circa 1920). He was proud to serve his country as a machinist. In the end he no longer knew why he was in China and realized how complicated love and the world could be. Life wasn’t as simple as he had thought.

So here is why I was so pissed. In my young mind, England opened trade with China and began selling opium there in exchange for gold and silver from the addicted. Until England came along there was no drugs in China. When it became so lucrative, the US began trading there as well and some also entered into the drug trade. China rebelled to save their people. The West called it the Boxer Wars (China-man with a raised fist) and China called it the Opium War.

None of that was mentioned in the movie, it was just the good ole US spreading good will. But I knew the wealthy were using the government to sell drugs there. And the people portrayed in this movie all paid the price of that lie and criminal acts.

P. S. After my last two Rants about getting upset watching movies on dates, I think I now know why I never got laid in High School! I should have been seeing romances.

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