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"Church: A place in which gentlemen who have never been to Heaven brag about it to people who will never get there." - H.L.Mencken

InVerse

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Homestead

It was found in the fog that shivered
        the slivers of glass in the windows.
It was seen in the sheen of the moon
         on the unworn wood of the floor.
It spoke with the slow, patient clutching of light
         and tapped out the unknown codes of the flesh,
         the indistinct worm of the years and the shapes
         of desire, possession, and fate.
It was mute.

It was stitched in the spaces
         of the wind's alphabet.
It was clothed in cool hands
         gloved in wet weather.
It appeared on the paths
         that admitted no passage.
It's rachety rhythms
         were all made of match sticks.
It waited.

It's slashings were tattooed
         on drapes of dank velvet.
It's gibbering laughter inserted itself
         between doorway and jamb and continued to carve.
It's snickering plumbing
         rotted the dinner.
They had left, they had left.
         Indeed, they had left.
Of that all their objects would clearly attest.

Vanderleun : September 16, 14  |  Your Say (9)  | PermaLink: Permalink

American Studies

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Now the wintertime is coming,
The windows are filled with frost.
I went to tell everybody,
But I could not get across.

-- Bob Dylan | It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry

Chico, CA: Early September, 2007

This September, as in most Septembers, the days have been hot and parched here in the upper reaches of California's Imperial Valley.

This year, as in most years, wildfires have been stalking the region sealing the old folks, the ecosensitives, and the ever-proliferating hyper-allergenic inside behind their oxygen canisters, filters, and mounds of medications. The local TV weathermen make much of little, delivering the particulate count as if every second carbon atom spelled doom for untold numbers of weakened and afflicted Americans. It's all part of the shameful litany of vulnerability chanted so often that many previously tough Americans come to believe they are as insubstantial as moonlight at noon. It's how they live now.

The valved hum of the Highway 99 rolls relentlessly beyond the buttresses of the razor-wire fence and medical offices. The artery flows north and south through Chico, elevated until it drops down into the tabletop mesas towards Oroville on one end and the rolling walnut orchards towards Red Bluff. From both directions the road pumps into town, after the morning rush, the hardcore unemployed, the morbidly obese, and those obsessed with vapid shopping sprees in sleek aisles bracketed by cheap Chinese chintz. It brings them in to the all-you-can-stuff-in Country Town Buffets and the big box stores of Costco and Wal-Mart. Hard to figure that with so many working we can still have so many with nothing very special to do with their lives, but that is why we have daytime shopping networks and enough free parking at the mall to handle everyone who might, just might, show up on December 23rd. This is how we live now.

It's a Tuesday, six years thirteen years on from that much more memorable September Tuesday in New York City. To an extent, the qualities of today here in California mimic that day. Clear and calm and not all that hot. The light breeze moves the surface of the apartment complex's pool just enough to put a ripple on the clear water of the cool chemical soup. Every so often a car playing old rock anthems cruises into the parking lot with some half-heard lyric…. "Won't get fooled again?"…. too faint and quick to know for sure. The tennis courts bake in the afternoon sun but it is unlikely that they'll be used. They not much more than a selling point for a property purchase. It's how we live now.

Through the ground floor windows of the apartments here at night I note the proliferation of the large plasma screens washing the rooms they dominate in an endless retinal massage of football players, fools, and TV personalities such as an Oprah interviewing other TV personalities such as a Letterman in an endless round of media auto-fellatio. Mesmerizing meaninglessness. Just what the doctor ordered. Tomorrow, the expected sun and the expected heat and the expected high level of particulate boogey-men will be back to fade the parched concrete by the pool a still lighter shade of grey. Tennis courts and swimming pools can't hope to compete with pure plasma, xBox ecstasy, "social software," porn-on-demand and Grand Theft Auto. It's how we live now, a reality faded media gray.

Six years back the New York winter had faded the snapshot faces of "the missing" by February. Faded even those images their loved ones had sealed in plastic. Earlier than that (Was it before Christmas?) the spontaneous shrines of candles, keepsakes, images and children's sad art signed by whole "second, third, fourth grade class" that appeared in Penn Station and elsewhere across Manhattan had vanished over one weekend. Somewhere in the system officials had decided that enough was, at last, enough and had the tokens taken to wherever such tokens are taken. Perhaps the landfill in New Jersey where so much of the Ground Zero refuse, once hauled out of the pit, was taken to be sifted by ever-finer screens for something that resembled human remains. Perhaps that is where all those millions of pieces of fourth period art went. Or even more efficiently "disappeared." Difficult to know. Nobody was tracking the details. There were too many of them. That was how we lived then.

How we live now is in a space where the blood-oath "Never forget!" has been efficiently "disappeared" as well. Instead, the oath has become -- at most -- the question, "Have you forgotten?" popularized a year or so back by a maudlin Country and Western tune of large popularity but little distinction. Once a blood-oath becomes a question the answer is always -- for most -- "Yes."

For those who have not forgotten and who still hold to the oath of "Never forget," such an answer affirms only the shallowness and self-deceit of the growing mass of fellow citizens weary of war at six removes; of those eager to "move on."

And while this is neither unexpected nor incomprehensible, it is disheartening to see the shameless use of this urge daily -- most explicitly in the work of the media-traitors that compose the group of the same name; a group that seems always fully funded and well beyond any consequence as yet for their treason. A group for which "Pride in Treason" seems to be a checked "Yes" on the membership application. This too is how we live now.

Well, what of it? Let those diseased with decadence, dead of heart, steeped in cowardice, roiled by hate of that which nurtures them, and possessed of souls riddled with the chancres of the spirit brand themselves. The better to know them in a future time. Such beings always proliferate in the dark passages of history; and always play on the mindlessness of the masses. It is their insect nature. You can see it in the species from the maggot men of Palestine on up the mold chain to the preening Congressman prattling about "patriotism" while selling his country out for tin or a tickle. There will be more. Mark them well. It is how we live now.

How else should we live now that for most the first fear has faded and no more bad days have come their way? You can't promote a war of survival when your politics have only promoted a time of "perfect public safety here at home." The argument that "there have been no attacks" is not just a desperate demonstration of efficacy, but a perverse demonstration to the senses that there is indeed no real war upon us at all.

A war is not demonstrated by an absence of attacks on the homeland. Absence merely demonstrates the convergence, on a day to day basis, of somewhat effective methods of interdicting attacks, no little luck, and the forbearance of the enemy to engage directly what can be won more easily by disengagement. Enemies do not strike to enrage the foe, but to kill them in large numbers and break their will to resist. Absent the capability to do that, a wise enemy who thinks in Biblical spans of time will make few large moves and many minor ones. The London Blitz was such that no British citizen was in doubt that a great number of Germans were working night and day to kill him. A war of attrition against American soldiers in a distant land, with a casualty rate so insignificant that each killed or wounded soldier can be lionized, is hardly a war that presses home its lethality to the vast mass of work-crazed or leisure-soaked Americans.

The absence of enemy action at home is seen, over years, as the absence of an enemy, as an absence of intent, as no war at all.

One can easily fall under the spell of this month's cover story in the Readers Digest, "The Miracle of Sleep." One can be lulled into the illusion of peace on earth just sitting here by the swimming pool while the old man beyond the fence walks his dachshund from the comfort of his motorized wheel-chair, and his grandson in cut-offs and a t-shirt pedals lazy circles around him on one of those retro red Schwinns that is suddenly – like so many other ironic and harmless artifacts of the 1950s – back in style again. Back to the fifties with the aging children of the sixties – O paragons of cowardice -- in control of the Congress. It's how we live now.

War? Ask not what is it good for, but where is it? Ask also how long you think this luck will last?

Vanderleun : September 15, 14  |  Your Say (14)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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"In politics, unintended consequences are rare. By going after the weapons white suburbanites and rural people enjoy, Democrats obfuscate the real issue: Black young men killing black young men for profit in cities controlled by Democrats." -- Don Surber:

After 30 Years Of Lies, NY Times Admits "Assault Weapons Are A Myth" | Bearing Arms: The NY Times finally admitted that "assault weapons" are a made-up political term fabricated by anti-gun Democrats. Op-ed writer Lois Beckett also admitted that once the term was manufactured and used to outlaw a class of weapons that dishonest anti-gun Democrats had used to con an entire nation, nothing happened.

gerardvanderleun : September 15, 14  |  Your Say (4)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Companions

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In a hidden valley in the foothills of Utah's La Sal mountains, my old friend and I sat on his stone porch in the fading light and watched the sun disappear behind the soaring red rock of the Moab Wall ten miles to the west. As always from this perch along the fault line between basin and range, the view revealed four different American landscapes: desert, farmland, rolling ranch land and high mountains.

In the pasture to our right, the wranglers were bedding down the ranch's horses for the night. Up along the pine dotted cliffs on our left the last hunting hawks were circling. In front of us the impossible burnt orange of a Moab sunset swarmed up the side of the western sky.

As we sat there, cigars burning low and the Metaxa in the stoneware cups sipped slowly, our conversation ebbed into the long silences that wrap around you when the world puts on its very best end-of-day displays.

Then from very far away over the mountains behind us a faint, rising whoosh arced high overhead. Leaning our heads back we marked the contrail of an airliner slicing across the sky.

Through that still air the line of flight was marked from somewhere far to the east (Chicago? New York City? Further still?), and slanted down the slope of the sky towards somewhere far to the southwest (Phoenix? Los Angeles? Far beyond?). In the following moments while the night rose over the mountain behind us, more contrails appeared from the east arcing down behind the tinted thunderheads that moved towards us from the desert. Just before full dark we'd marked over a dozen, and they lingered, gradually expanded and then dissolved across all that empty sky.

"One of the things I remember about Seattle in the days following the Eleventh." my friend offered as the day faded out, "was the emptiness of the skies. No planes. For the first time I can remember, days with no planes."

"In New York," I replied, "we had planes. Fighters cut across the sky at all altitudes. You'd hear their sharp sounds slice through the air above you at all hours. You were glad to hear them. You slept better when you slept at all."

"Still, it was sort of peaceful in Seattle during those days," he replied. "Peaceful in an unnerving way. No noise from the air. No contrails."

He paused as the last light in the valley faded and the contrails high above still marked the sky like broad smudges on a blackboard.

"Well, they're back now," he said as the stars came on.

"Yes," I agreed. "They're back. For now."

Gerard Van der Leun : September 15, 14  |  Your Say (19)  | PermaLink: Permalink

The Stars Go Over The Lonely Ocean
by Robinson Jeffers

Unhappy about some far off things
That are not my affair, wandering
Along the coast and up the lean ridges,
I saw in the evening
The stars go over the lonely ocean,
And a black-maned wild boar
Plowing with his snout on Mal Paso Mountain.

The old monster snuffled, "Here are sweet roots,
Fat grubs, slick beetles and sprouted acorns.
The best nation in Europe has fallen,
And that is Finland,
But the stars go over the lonely ocean,"

The old black-bristled boar,
Tearing the sod on Mal Paso Mountain.

"The world's in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,"

Said the old father of wild pigs,
Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.

"Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
And the dogs that talk revolution,
Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
I believe in my tusks.
Long live freedom and damn the ideologies,"

Said the gamey black-maned boar
Tusking the turf on Mal Paso Mountain.

Click Here to Continue
gerardvanderleun : September 15, 14  |  Your Say (1)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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What a vile couple in all respects. This one has the class of a crocodile. When not exhibiting the worse fashion sense in the history of the White House, this denizen keeps busy telling Americans what to feed their children. Look what Michelle Obama wore this week | Entertain This!

And so it was that Barack Obama observed the anniversary of 9/11 by visiting something called Ka-BOOM!,

a non-profit that helps build playgrounds for children. Neither the President nor the First Lady nor anyone else in the 40-car motorcade appears to have thought it odd that, on the day the Twin Towers went Ka-BOOM!, America's Commander-in-Chief should be helping put children's toys in backpacks marked Ka-BOOM! From Kabul to Madrid, Bali to London, a lot of backpacks have gone Ka-BOOM! over the past 13 years, but evidently the thought did not discombobulate those who manage what the President calls his "optics". And so a day in which Islamic imperialists killed thousands of Americans by flying planes into skyscrapers has somehow devolved into a day for raising awareness of the need for better play facilities for children. Coalition of the Unwilling :: SteynOnline

gerardvanderleun : September 14, 14  |  Your Say (13)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Grace Notes

"And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you."

-- Don Henley

dove_rs.jpgThere's a lot of it being bandied about these days. Change, that is. Mostly in the realm of the Politics of life. Despite all the hand-wringing and introspection that goes on in this area, I've come to believe that the Politics of life are easy. It's the Poetics of life that are tough.

Changing your politics by either softening or hardening or completely reversing your positions on issues is such a simple intellectual feat that almost anyone, even politicians and lawyers, can manage it. At bottom, it is mostly a matter of viewing or "re"-viewing your internal map of how the world should be, and taking up those positions or opinions or policies that you believe will lead the world from "what it is" to "what the world should be."

Thoughtful and engaged citizens of the nation or of the world continually assemble and reassemble their political beliefs to resemble their visions of the world and its continual becoming. All of which implies, to a greater or lesser extent, some individual control over the creation of policies which determine -- to some degree -- political outcomes.

Politics is the great game of our globe. It is now and always has been the only blood sport played well by both warriors and wimps. This is as it should be since blood or treasure must often be spilled to obtain any one of many possible outcomes. In all this, change may be for the better or the worse, depending on where you stand, but change will come, have its way and send the butcher's bill.

And the butcher's bill will always be more than you imagined you would have to pay. In blood and in treasure, the stakes are fates.

All of that is hard and difficult and, more often than not, splits parties, factions, families and friends right down to the living bone. It is played in real time and with live ammunition. But none of it is mysterious. In the end it involves only the process of politics and, while the rules may be at times obscure, they can still be descried and codified.

Not so the changes of the darkest realm of our lives; that realm we know only dimly but tell ourselves, in our error, that we know well. This is the realm of the human heart; a place where change comes more slowly than wisdom accrues, and rolls below our conscious minds like a deep, underground river into which we have drilled, through the bedrock of our lives, the wells of love and the wells of hate.

We recognize and celebrate the deep wells of love within ourselves. So much so that we invite others, be they strangers, friends or lovers, to drink from them; to refresh themselves and thus know us as the kind of human being that can love and love deeply; that can make the deeper vows of love in life and, despite setbacks, still cling to them and draw strength from them. To close down and fill in one of these wells we open in ourselves to another is still seen -- even in this deluded age of no fault for anything -- a large failure in, and a waste of, life. This is as it should be. A deep love is known, by all who have had it granted to them, as the rarest of all moments of grace to be had in this world. Nothing can buy it and nothing replaces it. One can only nuture it or squander it.

We toast the couple who has made it to fifty years of marriage. We are, indeed, amazed these days when half that measure is achieved. We admire the parents who have a deeply challenged child and yet stick by and raise that child into all the happiness of which that child is capable. We honor all those who spend their lives in service to humanity and even, when that service passes all understanding, raise them up as saints, holy or secular.

The water from our deepest wells of love runs clear and clean. It refreshes the soul. Like all the great waters of this life it carries within it no taste at all other than that which is pure and which is true. Tasted once we carry within us forever a ceaseless thirst for more of it.

Then there are, because we are only human and caught halfway up the stairs between beast and angel, the darker wells of which we do not speak, but which run just as deep and just as ceaseless within our hearts.

These are the wells of the black and bitter water that we drink from at that awful hour of 4 AM in the soul. That hour when the bad phone calls arrive, when the arguments and the accusations twist in the soul, when nothing is satisfied and sleep is slight and the dawn delays.

Nothing good ever transpires in an argument carried past 2AM, and it grows almost lethal as it winds on until 4. It doesn't matter whether or not the argument is with another or just with oneself, let it run that long into the night and you will know -- cold and stained -- the darkest secrets of the self. And you will drink them down as night after night and year after year they are drawn up from the heart's core. And the water will be dank and false and carry an ever increasing taint of poison into your soul. Tasted once, you will have a ceaseless thirst for more of it.

I've been drinking my dark bitter glass from my secret well of hate in the dark hours on and off for what is now going on fifteen years. That's a strange measure since it marks just about the same length of time that I loved the woman and was married to her.

But I'm no addict. I'm no alcoholic of hate. No, not me.

Over time I no longer drank from this dark well nightly. I'd lost a couple of years to its intoxicating haze in the early 90s, but I emerged from that in time. Say what you will of the dark water, it did not rule my life, only -- from time to time -- my nights.

After some years had passed it surprised me to realize that I had not really thought of her for months. It was surprising to notice that my once nightly mantra of secret thoughts centered on all the wrongs done, and all the years of my child's life stolen from me, had retreated to a much more infrequent pattern. I was relieved that the thoughts that always spiraled down into the dark (where I would imagine the worst sort of things happening to the woman I once loved above all others) had faded to a sometime thing.

And there it stayed, a sometimes thing. A steady state of hate.

Of course, because it came up from a well of hate I had dug deep into my heart with my own hands, the sometimes thing was always the same thing on those random nights when it filled my sleeplessness. It was a thing fashioned from the shabbiest materials of my soul, all the cheap claptrap that I was capable of pasting to the mildewed walls, all the shoddy stuff that held me up as a heroic "sufferer" at another's hands, the eternal moist "victim of circumstance," the paltry, spurned lover. The husband who had been so unjustly cast aside that he had conveniently forgotten his own hand in the matter. The wronged father who could not be bothered to look at his own failures when the spite and the maliciousness was so clearly all on the other side.... On and on it went in a litany of wrongs unavenged. The trial was held and held again and the verdict on her "crimes against my humanity" was, according to the jury (that would be me as well) always guilty, guilty, guilty.

Then I'd siphon up another glass of black hate from the dark well of my heart, knock it back neat, and get on to my favorite part: punishment. I won't go into the punishments I would imagine except to say that I have an extremely vivid imagination and that being in the book and movie "American Psycho" would have seemed like an all expenses paid day at Disneyland by comparison. After all, it is the nature of hate to feed upon itself and, like all addictions, demand greater and greater quantities to become sated. Let's just say I ate my revenge slow and cold with a table knife.

And that was how my private little melodrama played in the showcase of my soul as a decade rolled by and I waited for it, like some perverted and worn Velveteen Rabbit, to become real. I'd hear of her from time to time but never in any great detail. I could have if I'd wanted to since I still retained connections with various members of her family. But I didn't ask and they didn't tell. In truth, so dark was the hate I held for her that I thought I didn't want to hear anything about her unless the news was bad -- very, very bad.

I honesty and deeply believed that about myself right up until the day I actually heard some very, very bad news about her.

It came in over the rumor mill of the telephone, just like the game of telephone. Somebody told somebody something. That somebody told somebody else something. And that somebody told me. It was a series of anecdotes four times removed from the subject. Little more than the thin gruel of gossip watered down and enhanced four times over.

The tale told was bleak and awful. It had all the things about it that I had, in my hate, been waiting to hear: disease, destitution, loneliness and ruination. My waiting cup was at long last filled to overflowing and handed to me.

And I could not drink from it. I dashed it from my lips. In one stunned instant I knew that everything I had been telling myself for nearly 15 years about my deepest feelings for this person had been one of the most carefully constructed and meticulously executed lies I have ever told. And one that I had told only to myself. One that I had believed.

It was in one moment revealed to me as a lie because my very first and deepest reactions to the awful news I had been waiting for for so long was neither the glee nor the jubilation I had always imagined, but the exact polar opposite of both these states.

My first reaction was one of shock, of concern, or wanting to know more, of thinking immediately of which resources I possessed that could be brought to bear to help her, no matter what the cost.

A second illumination followed almost instantly upon the first and I saw tumble through my mind a host of bright memories I had long thought erased forever. The roses by the cabin door in Big Sur where we had first become lovers. The nights above the fog moving over the Presidio in San Francisco. Her face leaning out of the window of her loft down on Duane Street in New York as she threw down the keys. The wedding at the Pierre in New York. The flat in Belgravia. The villa in the Algarve, the apartment in Paris and the village house up along the Western Front. Her hand crushing mine as our daughter was born. The picnic in the Boston Public Gardens in a blizzard of blossoms from the cherry trees. The Hanukkah/Christmas evening when I looked into our house in Connecticut and saw her and my daughter lighting the candles on the musical Menorah.

Everything that had been good and true and wonderful across all the years before it all went smash rolled back over me, much as they say life does before a drowning man. Only it didn't drown me. It pushed me up out of my chair, out into the sunlight on the dock, and there it.... Sat. Me. Down.

It sat me down beside the still waters of the inlet with a ringing in my ears. Then it cold-cocked me like a ball-peen hammer stroke to the third eye with the truth of what I had been drowning with hate for so long. What I'd been hating darkly was not her at all but what I had let happen, in all the small and large ways that you do, to destroy what we had had and would never have again. A sad and sorry and shabby truth to be sure. All the more sad and sorry and shabby for being, in the end, so very common and ordinary.

After about an hour of this, I got up and went back into the houseboat office and made a call. I knew enough about the ways of the "telephone game" to know that you verify rumors before acting.

In a day I got an answer back that, in fact, nothing very dire was happening at all. Life for her went on and, in the main, that life was good. No threatening diseases, no financial ruin, no more loneliness than is common to single people of a certain age, and that she enjoyed the steady love of our daughter. Some travel was in the offing and, on the whole, everything was all right. Examining some of the details of her recent life made it clear how rumor bred with rumor to yield a dire report, but like all gossip it was only a few flecks of truth that were expanded into a false tragedy. There was nothing in it that called out for my intervention and thus no need to alter the state of no-connection that had suited us both for so long. We'd both, as they say, moved mostly on. No need for change in that regard.

Change. There's a lot about it being bandied about in the political sphere where, as I mentioned, it comes easy enough. Less so, much less so, when it comes to the change of the heart.

And a change of the heart is, I suppose, what I've finally gotten out of the whole long, sad, sorry and sordid tale. In the weeks since this happened I won't pretend that the deep and black well in my heart has somehow been back-filled by God, made whole in some miraculous moment. I don't think God does plumbing like that. He probably sub-contracts it out to free-will and leaves the heavy lifting up to you. I do know that I've managed to cap that dark well at last and am busy carrying in stones to keep the lid on.

Just as well because I'm not going to drink from that bitter water again. You need the power of a lie to work that pump, and once you know the truth about yourself you've got no handle to work it with. But I'm going to keep piling on the stones. Just in case.

Vanderleun : September 14, 14  |  Your Say (42)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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Why send one-hundred-thousand bombs when you can send just one? POSidents and PUNdits say this war will take years. Nonsense, it's the work of an afternoon. If that.

It'll be sent sooner or later so why not now? Unless, of course, you don't really want to win. In which case, they'll send one to us just as soon as they put Pakistan in the bag.

gerardvanderleun : September 14, 14  |  Your Say (12)  | PermaLink: Permalink

American Studies

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I'm not at all sure which pagan religion my 10-year-old stepson belongs to. Perhaps it is the arcane cult of "Nintendoism" with its secret rites of "The High Priests of the Thumb". Perhaps he is an acolyte of "Transformerology," which evidently commands him to amass enough Legos to build a Romanesque Chapel in his room that is large enough for himself and two friends.

I am disturbed this unknown cult requires him to keep a graven image in his room that resembles a large square sponge with legs and a Satanic expression. From time to time, he is known to take trays of burnt offerings, in the form of charred circles of dough covered in melted cheese and a sauce as red as blood, into his room. The offering trays are later recovered, but there is no trace of the sacrifice, only vague stains of red on the sponge and rug beneath it.

I am not sure how or when he came by this religion. Perhaps he was converted during one of those dead of night gatherings known among his coven as "sleep-overs." Sure, they sound innocent enough, but I am positive that these are covens at which much arcane and secret knowledge is transferred.

No matter what the source or nature of his unknowable religion, one thing is clear about the dangers of it. He has become convinced that there is such a thing as magic. My fear is that he may be right.

I suspect this because I have witnessed this dark magic at work in my own home.

One often seen magical incident is what I have come to know as "The Ritual of the Spirit Shoes." In this ritual, he discards his shoes at any place in the house in the sincere belief that they will reappear lined up in pairs in his closet. This, you will be astonished to learn, is exactly what happens. They actually do appear in the closet within the next 24 hours. At times they even reappear, as if they sense they will be his choice of footwear for the day, next to the front door ready for his feet in a kind of reverse Cinderella moment.

I have come to understand that "The Ritual of the Spirit Shoes" is only one of the strange effects that comes about through the intervention of "The Magic Floor." This "force" seems to be able to cause any and all items of his clothing discarded at any point in the house to vanish only to reappear, clean and folded, in his drawers and closets.

I have tried to reproduce this effect for myself by discarding items of clothing here and there about the house, but the only magical effect this seems to have is to cause "the look" to appear on the face of my wife. After which, I collect my spurned offerings from "The Magic Floor."

By far the most stunning proof that my stepson's religion is dark magic with large mojo is what I have come to understand as "The Miracle of Toys and Games."

As a 10-year-old boy, my stepson has no job, no prospects of a job, and is currently doomed to be a member of the hard-core unemployed for an unknown number of years. Because of this, he does not enjoy positive cash-flow. In fact, if he has any cash-flow at all, it is decidedly negative.

Still, he seems to have an ever expanding level of possessions. No sooner does he obtain, through prayer, an X-Box than he calls out to his strange gods for a Playstation II and, poof!, it appears. It comes complete with several strange circles of shiny metal that he places in the slot on the Playstation altar for an extended periods of worship.

Objects of this level of expense must, it would seem, be chanted for intensely, and the chants repeated frequently, over a period of time. The more mundane items such as school supplies seem to be the fruits of silent prayer. Still, the miracle manifests itself on a daily basis when, without any tapping of his own horde of cash kept in a large brown cigar box, his possessions multiply around him.

All this happens behind his back and without any intervention from him while in a trance state. At this level of contemplation and meditation he receives visions from strange beings that appear to him hour upon hour. Observing him in this state I can only conclude he is channeling his arcane gods through some mystical conduit that he calls "The Cartoon Network."

I am not sure what messages he is receiving since those few visions I have been allowed to witness involves bizarre figures of a slightly oriental cast flying about on alien worlds. Other than flying and exploding, they are unmoving except for a vibrating crimson squiggle where their lips would be. I am not sure what gospel they are preaching. I am sure, however, that I there is a monthly tithe for this somewhere in my cable bill.

No matter. Although it is a bit unnerving to witness the magical power of my stepson's unknown religion, I am at least comforted to know that he, unlike so many of our materialistic children, has a rich and full spiritual life. That's so important in these days when the secular seems to be dominating so much of our culture. Since many of his friends seem to share the same religion, I am also gratified that he has chosen peers whose family's values also accentuate the spiritual.

Yesterday I thought that I would help my stepson take one of his first steps towards adulthood by getting him his own wallet. In this way I believed I could begin to show him how to be responsible for his own finances. On reflection I thought better of it. His religion is so powerful that he would simply take it into his room, mutter some words over it, expose it to the mystic rays beamed in via "The Cartoon Channel," and it would be transformed into "The Boys' Wallet of Wonder -- Money checks in, but it doesn't check out." He would always leave home without it.



[Note: First published ten years ago this month.]

Vanderleun : September 14, 14  |  Your Say (7)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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The Flag at Fort McHenry

This is the first known photograph of the American flag taken on June 21, 1873 by George Henry Preble. The flag was flown over Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland during an infamous battle between the British and the United States during the War of 1812.
At 6:00 a.m. on September 13, 1814, British warships began to attack Fort McHenry with guns and rockets in an attempt to take over the strategic Baltimore Harbor. For 25 hours American soldiers stood their positions, unable to do much but watch the British shoot at them. Their own cannons did not have the range to touch the British ships. The British, on the other hand, had longer-reaching guns and could hit the fort. However, they were wildly inaccurate. So the British sat in the harbor attempting to damage the fort while the Americans sat in the fort hoping their enemies’ guns would continue to be erratic. The British finally ceased their attack the next morning after using most of their ammunition. When the smoke cleared, only one British soldier was wounded while the Americans lost four and had twenty-four wounded.
The reason the attack on Fort McHenry is forever ingrained in the history books is because of one witness, a Washington lawyer, who wrote a poem about the attack. The poem, originally called “The Defense of Fort McHenry” but was later renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and became the United States’ national anthem. It was penned by Francis Scott Key who came to the fort to negotiate the release of a friend that was taken prisoner by the British. He witnessed the bombardment from a ship about eight miles away. Inspired by the sight of a lone, large American flag still waving strongly at the end of the battle, Key reflected what he saw in the famous poem: “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof though the night that our flag was still there.”
The oversized American flag he saw (shown in the above photo) was sewn by Mary Pickersgill. In anticipation of the British attack, she was given $405.90 to create the 30 by 42 feet flag. Pickersgill, a thirty-seven-year-old widow, had made ships’ colors and signal flags before and often filled orders for military and merchant ships. In making this particular flag, she was assisted by her thirteen-year-old daughter Caroline, her nieces Eliza Young (also thirteen) and Margaret Young (fifteen-years-old) along with Grace Wisher, a thirteen-year-old indentured servant. It took them seven weeks to make this flag along with a smaller flag.


Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

gerardvanderleun : September 13, 14  |  Your Say (3)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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New York, NY- WTC heavy winds cause a wind swept dust strom around the ring of honor at the bottom of ground zero during the one year anniversary of the tragic event. Photo: David Ryan

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

           -- Christina Rossetti

10,000 FEARED DEAD
-- Headline, New York Post, September 12, 2001

AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY I lived in Brooklyn Heights in, of course, Brooklyn. The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge on May 24 of 1883 transformed the high bluff just to the south of the bridge into America's first suburb. It became possible for affluent businessmen from the tip of Manhattan which lay just over the East River to commute across the bridge easily and build their stately mansions and townhouses high above the slapdash docks below. Growth and change would wash around the Heights in the 117 years that followed, but secure on their bluff, on their high ground, the Heights would remain a repository old and new money, power, and some of the finest examples of 19th and early 20th century homes found in New York City.

When I moved to Brooklyn Heights from the suburbs of Westport, Connecticut in the late 90s, it was a revelation to me that such a neighborhood still existed. Small side streets and cul-de-sacs were shaded over by large oaks and maple that made it cool even in the summer doldrums. Street names such as Cranberry, Orange and Pineapple let you know you were off the grid of numbered streets and avenues. Families were everywhere and the streets on evenings and on weekends were full of the one thing you rarely see in Manhattan, children.

Brooklyn Heights had looked down on Wall Street and the tip of Manhattan from almost the beginning. It hosted the retreat of Washington from New York City during the Battle of Long Island, the first major engagement of the Revolutionary War. To be in the Heights was to hold the high ground and all the advantages that position affords.

Brooklyn Heights today enjoys a kind of armed hamlet existence in New York. Outside influences such as crime, poverty and ghetto life don't really intrude. Since it has long been a neighborhood of the rich and the powerful of the city, it has been spared some of the more doleful effects of city life. It doesn't have walls that you can see, but they are there, strong, high and well guarded.

Traffic, that bane of New York life, is controlled in the Heights. To the west, the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, once planned to cut through the Heights directly to the Brooklyn Bridge, was rerouted by a deft application of money and power; placed below along the harbor. To the east, all traffic coming off the Bridge is pushed along Cadman Plaza to Court Street and off to Atlantic. This forms the eastern border of the Heights whose edge is further delineated by the ramparts of Brooklyn City Hall, Courts of all flavors and a rag-tag collection of government structures that exemplify the Fascist Overbuilding movement of the early 70s when, expecting 'The Revolution,' governments built towards gun-slits rather than windows. The south of the Heights is sharply drawn with Atlantic Avenue, a street given over to a long strip of fringe businesses and a corridor of Islamic-American mosques and souks and restaurants. The north is quite simply the Brooklyn Bridge and its approaches that shelter the now slowly evolving sector devoted to overpriced raw loft spaces and bad art known as DUMBO, for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass."

The best thing about the Heights is the Promenade. This is a long pedestrian strolling area that runs from Remsen on the south to Cranberry on the north end. It's a brick walk high on the bluff above the Expressway below. Over the baroque railing you can see far out into the harbor, beyond the Financial District and Wall Street on the tip of Manhattan, beyond the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island to the distant silhouettes of the cranes and wharfs on the Jersey Shore. You can see north up the East River past the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge to, maybe, the merest wisp of the Williamsburg Bridge. Across from the railings are a selection of gardens and backyards with water fountains and shaded benches. It is one of those hidden, off-to-the-side areas of respite that are secreted across all the seven boroughs of the city. You discover it by being taken to it by someone else who has already been there.

The Promenade is a fine place on any day but best on a Sunday afternoon when the weather is clear. Then you can stroll with your fellow citizens and catch a bit of the constant breeze or a bracing wind. Under most conditions, this wind is one of the best elements of Brooklyn Heights. Usually you just take it for granted -- as you do all the small mercies of life in New York City.

When the wind came from the south off the harbor those who lived on the Heights got to breathe the sea air first before the rest of the city had its way with it. And it usually did blow from the south even if there were days when it blew in from the west across the southern tip of Manhattan. At least, I think that it did on numerous days even if I only remember it from one.

I don't remember the wind from that day because it blew hard and long. The winter, spring and fall brought many blizzards and storms to the Heights with winds that would howl over the roofs and pulse in the chimney of my parlor floor apartment. In winter it would slam against the stones of the facade and rattle the windows while rolling snow so fine against the door that a dusty drift would work its way through the weather stripping and into the foyer by morning.

So if I think about the storms I can say they always came to the Heights on the big shoulders of a bigger wind, but I don't really remember any one of those winds. In my memory, I just assume they were there, a part of the storm. Winds always are a part of any storm. Just as the French say "Never a rose without a thorn," so "Never a storm without a wind."

Except once and then the storm came later. And even if that wind has now become a faint foreign breeze moving over a distant landscape of sand and rubble and blood, it rolls along still and will in time make its way back to where it began.

The wind came when the pillar of fire became, in what seemed a moment outside of time, a pillar of smoke. We had been standing on the Promenade that morning in our thousands watching death rage at the center of a beautiful September morning. It was a morning with a clear and washed blue sky; the kind of rare New York morning when you can believe, again, that anything is possible in that city of dreams that so often dissolve into disappointment.

Anything, of course, except the two towers whose peaks were engulfed in flames.

Anything, it would seem, but what we were seeing.

And it was a morning, as I recall, that had no wind at all. That was why the flames and the smoke from the flames went almost straight up into the sky, a long sooted streak that bisected one side of the blue sky from the other.

It was, except for this one insane thing happening in the middle of our panoramic view from the Promenade, a most beautiful day; made even more so by the absence of any irritating noise from passenger jets overhead.

The last two jets into New York airspace that morning would be the last for days to come. In New York you become so used to the sound of jets overhead in New York that you don't really hear them. What you did hear on that day was the silence of their absence. When the sound of jets came back later that afternoon it was not the sound of passenger jets but of F-16 fighters, and we were glad to hear them.

But in that mid-morning all we could see and think about were the souls trapped in the twin torches about a quarter of a mile away from us on the other side of the East River.

At a certain point in that timeless time you noticed that specks were arcing out from the sides of the buildings from just above or just below or just within the part that was in flames. Looking again you saw that the specks were people flying out from the building and plunging down the sides to disappear behind the shorter buildings that ringed the towers. You tried to imagine what must have been going on in the offices and rooms of that building that made leaping from 100 floors or more above the ground the "better" option, but you didn't have that kind of space left in your imagination. And so you looked on and watched them leap and distantly, silently fall, locked within that morning that had no time, in which all of what you had known, believed, and trusted in came, at once and forever, to a sudden frozen halt.

And then the first tower came down.

We've all seen, most of us on television, what happened next. We've all seen the dropping of the top floors into the smoke and then the shuddering impact and then the rolling and immense cloud of ash that exploded up the island of Manhattan overtaking thousands running north and laying thick slabs of ash over everything in its wake. The tape was played and replayed until, by order or consensus, it stopped being played. World Trade Center and north up the island -- center stage in death's carnival on that day.

That wasn't for me. I was part of the sideshow in Brooklyn Heights.

Lower Manhattan is a welter of thin 17th century streets lined with tall 19th and 20th century buildings. When you take the mass of two buildings the size of the Twin Towers, heat it to the point that steel bends, and drop it straight down into the center of this maze, it does not all go just one direction even if that's where the video cameras are. It moves out radially in all directions. Standing on the Promenade you are in front of many different channels for this atomized mass and the plumes of smoke and what it holds will come at you. And it did, very fast and very dark.

It seemed to come out of the streets that opened onto the South Street Seaport like some Titan's grime clotted fingers, and roiled across the river as if the distance was a few hundred feet rather than a few thousand yards. You saw what was coming and you turned to flee from this black wind with no storm, but there were thousands of others who had come to watch and they too were turning to run out of the exits from the Promenade that had, moments before seemed broad, but now impossibly narrow.

As the wind-driven cloud came over us and things became murky then dark, panic began and shouts and screams could be heard inside the dense smoke. Through some miracle, the crowd ordered itself and those who had brought children with them were eased out in the sudden darkness and others followed in a rapid order. The cloud lightened and then darkened again and the wind rose and fell away and came back. It rippled your clothing, and the smoke must have had a smell to it because it hurt the lungs when you breathed, but I don't remember the smell only the sensation of small needles in my lungs and the gray mucus that came up when I coughed.

The wind pummeled my back for the five minutes it took me to make my way to my apartment, get inside and shut the windows. I stood there at the windows and watched the others rush by, blurs in the smoke, and noticed when, as suddenly as it had come up, the wind died away and the air was almost still. The smoke and the ash still moved in the street outside and high overhead. The day was still darkened but the initial violence of the blast and the wind had passed.

In time, everyone had passed by as well and the street was empty except for the settling smoke. I looked outside the window where a Japanese maple grew and noticed that its wine-dark leaves were covered with small yellow flecks. I looked down at the sill outside the windows and saw the yellow flecks there as well.

At some point in the next few minutes it dawned on me that there would be few bodies found in the incinerating rubble across the river. I knew then -- as certainly as I have even known anything -- that all those who had still been in the towers had now gone into the flame and the smoke and that, in some way, the gleaming bits of yellow ash were their tokens, were what they had become in that plunging crematorium.

And I knew that all they had become had fallen upon us as we ran in the smoke; that we had breathed them in when the wind reached us; that they were covering the houses and the sills and the cars and the sidewalks and the benches and the shrubs and the trees all about us.

What they had become was what the wind without a storm had left behind. Now that the wind had passed everything was, again, silent and calm. The blue sky above the houses on Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights were beginning to emerge from the fading smoke as the breeze of the harbor shifted the plume away from us, moving it north, uptown, into Manhattan, leaving the Heights again as an elite enclave, above and to the side of New York City.

The yellow flecks remained, resting like small stars on the surface of everything in the Heights for three days until the first rains came on a late afternoon to wash them away. I walked out into that rain and back down Pierrepont Street to the Promenade where for months yet to come the fires would burn across the river.

The rain came straight down that day. There was no wind. As I walked down the sidewalk I noticed the rainwater washing those yellow flecks off the trees and the buildings and moving down the gutter to the drains that would take it on to the harbor and on to the sea. And that water was -- for only a minute or so before it ran clear -- golden.

Vanderleun : September 13, 14  |  Your Say (42)  | PermaLink: Permalink

5-Minute Arguments

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Via No Blood for Obama's Oil? キ zomblog

gerardvanderleun : September 12, 14  |  Your Say (11)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Myths & Texts

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The Annunciation, 2010

"How can I know what I think until I see what I say?"

I've been enjoying a correspondence with a young poet of late. There's nothing like writing to someone else who shares your interest in an arcane subject to draw out your own thoughts or reflections on that area. He recently finished a long work in which a number of formal issues regarding sestinas and sonnets arose. He asked for help on these problems and I agreed to help. Not because I know more, but because I've seen more.

For those who don't pay a lot of attention to the technical aspects of poetics, I can only assure you that if you commit yourself to a long poem with a number of its elements cast in classical forms (instead of just spewing your immediate issues across the page and breaking the lines at an arbitrary point), the job of "getting it right" increases exponentially. The only poets who do not know how hard this is are those that have never attempted it. And they are legion in this blighted age of writers' workshops and writing an inchoate slab of feelings down the bones.

The poet in question had finally come to the first end point of the work, submitted it to a publication, and was burned out. This is not uncommon. This morning he wrote, "May it be months before I ever write another d**m poem."

If only it were that easy. When you permit yourself to seriously attend to this faded art, you'll find over time that you are only finished with poetry when poetry is finished with you. That does happen. Sometimes for months or even years. This I know.

Then, after an unknowable amount of time, it returns -- usually at an inconvenient time and an incovenient place where it is not expected, not expected at all -- "...in a corner, some untidy spot." I've taken to thinking of these moments as "The Arrival" -- something that I've never actually written about before.

Why not? Because so few people are interested in the serious practice of this art, and because to write about it brushes up against the mystical. I am always suspicious of things that travel "into the mystic." Especially so when it involves my own experience.

But something in his tone made me want to overcome this; a regrettable impulse to both warn and instruct. So I wrote back to the young poet who prayed "may it be months before I ever write another d**m poem," with some thoughts of my own after many such prayers.

--{*}--

You beg for months off and you may get them. Then again, you may not. Frankly, you don't have a lot to say about it.

I think you'll find, or perhaps have already found, that the poems you'll end up liking best of all your work tend to arrive first and are written after. They don't come up out of the page, or out of an immediate experience. Instead they always tend to appear almost unbidden out of that state that Wordsworth captured when he wrote, "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility."

I've come to think of this experience as "The Arrival." It doesn't happen often but you know it when it does. The latest experience with "The Arrival" that I've had happened about three years ago.

It came on a Wednesday evening towards the end of first New York winter after 9/11. I'd worked late and taken the subway home from Penn Station. In an almost empty car I rode down along the spine of Manhattan, dipped deep under the East River, and rose up the long slope to the platform seven stories beneath Clark Street in Brooklyn Heights.

I took the elevator to the surface walked out of the Clark Street subway into about 2 inches of fresh snow collecting on cold sidewalks with more swirling down along the face of the wind. It was late and there was nobody else out on the two blocks I had to walk to my apartment.

In New York City during heavy snowfalls, the streets grow quiet. That evening was no exception save for the whoosh of infrequent cars on the boulevard off to the east, and the random humm of trucks on the expressway that ran along the river. Every so often, a car leaving the Brooklyn Bridge behind me would hit a steel plate in the road for a muffled, faint clang of metal on metal. There was a slash of wind above the roofs on the protected side of the street that kept the stronger wind off the East River from getting to me. These slight and distant sounds -- none so loud that I couldn't hear my steps moving across the snow -- merged into a kind of metronome of footsteps, tires, faint engines and wind, all with a distinct slow beat way down below.

At the end of the last long block, I had to turn right on Pierrepont Street towards the river. This brought the whoosh of the cars on the expressway up just a notch. The chill wind got an edge on it too as I turned into the swirls of snow, and my steps, slipping a bit in the shallow drifts, made a slight syncopation against the beat of the gusts. The snow was almost granular on the concrete and it gave my steps the sound you hear when tap dancers shuffle on sand.

Then as I passed under the streetlight I heard something say, "Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know..."

This was not 'said' so much as sounded -- a kind of echo under the wind at the back of my mind. Yet it was so distinct that I jerked around thinking someone was behind me, but of course there wasn't anyone there at all. It was just a phrase I had heard in the mind alone against the soft sounds of tires, wind, my own footsteps, and blowing snow.

I stopped, listened again, and it came back one more time, soft and distinct but with no whisper to it: "Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know..."

But what did I know? I knew, at that moment, no more than that single phrase, but having had the experience of "Arrival" at rare moments over the years, I recognized it for what it was.

I stood there for a several minutes straining to hear what the next phrase would be. But nothing else came. I was just standing by myself on a Brooklyn corner in the snow.

I remember thinking, perhaps saying out loud, "Okay. I hear that, but what, exactly, is it that I know?" No answer. There never is. It's not there for a conversation. It's come for a visit. It will talk to you on its own terms and in its own time.

Gradually I became aware that all I was doing was standing alone in the snow and getting colder. Not really a plan. I cut across the street, went up the stairs to my door, beat some of the snow off my coat, and went inside.

The first thing I did was go to my desk, grab a single sheet of paper, and write "Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know" across the top. Then I put it in the center of my desk and stared at it as if willing some secret, invisible writing to appear beneath the phrase. Nothing came up so I shrugged and went on to other more sensible things. As noted above, I'd experienced "Arrivals" before. I've learned not to push the moment if nothing else seems to be offered at the time.

Instead, I got out of my work clothes, took a long hot bath, changed into robe and pajamas, made a bite to eat and had a glass of reasonably good Bordeaux. Then I retired, watched some movie for an hour or so and fell asleep a bit after midnight.

At around three in the morning I was woken up by the experience of something that began as a dream but, as I woke, continued as that rare but not unknown form of waking dream where the room you are in can be seen clearly while the dream images cascade over it in a kind of superimposition. This lasted, as they always do, only about 30 seconds, then faded out and then I heard this:

"Within the smoke their ash revolves as snow,
To settle on our skin as fading stars
Dissolve into pure dust at break of day.

At dawn a distant shudder in the earth..."

That was it, but it was enough. I got up and went to my desk and wrote those four lines down underneath:

"Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know"

Then my mind stopped. I sat still and looked out the two large windows in my front room that opened onto Pierrepont street.

The wind had calmed while I slept and all had become even more silent than before. The snow was still swirling across the windows in the gold street light, building up on the branches of the trees, collecting along the ledges and window sills of the buildings across the way. I looked out at it for an indeterminate time and, in the silence, I listened very hard. And then I heard the rest of the poem arrive in order, pretty much as it stands now in:

The Missing

The poem has, of course, been planed, sanded, tweaked, waxed, dusted and buffed on and off over the years. I am not ready to, as they say, "abandon it" just yet.

At one point, Eugene Volokh convinced me to remove about 5 of the central stanzas for a collection of poems about 9/11 he was putting up on the web. At the time I agreed with his reasons and cut them. But over the years since, those cut stanzas have, one by two, come back in. It as if they insist on their rightful original places in the poem. I've come not so much to agree with them as to quit resisting them. They can be very assertive.

To make poems, I've found that it is possible to put yourself into a 'composing' state just by going to the work on a daily basis for three to six weeks. It's a dogged way of kickstarting the process and you'll waste a lot of ink, paper and time along the way. But it does work and that's the best thing that can be said for it. And I think that, once you are in the flow of the zone, a lot of respectable work is done that, with care and thoughtful revision, can become more respectable still. When you finally 'abandon' these poems you aren't sorry to have written them.

"Arrivals" are a different sort of beast entirely. They come when you aren't expecting them. They stay until they are finished with you. Then they leave.

Arrivals are very irritating to have around since they command all your attention to their needs and their mission. Simply put, their needs are not yours. You are, for the duration, the host and they are rude and demanding guests. You sleep when they let you. You eat fast and rather poorly at that. You consume a bit too much alcohol and far too much caffeine and nicotine.

Arrivals do not clean up after themselves and they depart without a word of goodbye. One moment they are there, the next moment they are gone in less time than it takes to see a spark. The strangest thing is that, when they do leave, you are not only sorry to see them go, you can't wait for their next visit.

Vanderleun : September 12, 14  |  Your Say (20)  | PermaLink: Permalink

TerrorWar

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Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know
Within that smoke their ash still falls as snow,
To settle on our flesh like fading stars
Dissolve into sharp sparks at break of day.

At dawn a distant shudder in the earth
Disclosed the flight of fire into steel,
The shaking not of subways underground,
But screams from inside flowers made of flame.

We stood upon the Heights like men of straw
Transfixed by flames that started in the sky,
And watched them plunging down in death’s ballet
Too far removed to hear their falling cry.

By noon that band of smoke loomed low
Upon the harbor’s skin and made us gasp;
A hand of smoke that in its curdled crawl
Kept reaching to extend its lethal grasp.

The harp strung bridge held up ten thousand souls
Who’d screaming run beneath the paws of death,
Like dusted ghosts that lived but were not sure
If they lived in light or only for a breath.

They’d writhed and spun within that storm of smoke
And stumbled out to light and clearer air,
To find upon the river’s further shore
No sanctuary other than despair.

The sirens scraped the sky and jets carved arcs
Within a heaven empty of all hope,
That marked its epicenter with one streak
Of black on polished bone where silver'd stood.

By evening all their ash had settled so
That on the leaves outside my window glowed
Their souls in small bright stars until the rain
Cleaned all of what could not be clean again.

We breathed that smoke that bent and crawled.
We learned to hate that smoke that lingered so.
We knew that blood could only answer blood,
And so we yearned to go but not to go.

Within that city shrines were our resolve.
We placed them where our grief would best anneal.
Upon our walls and trees their faces loomed
To gaze at us from time beyond repeal.

Their last lost summer faded into ash.
Their faces faded into name scratched stones.
Our years flowed into endless desert seas
Where warplanes prowled in search of bones.

In time their smoke and ash became but words
In stories told at dinner, told by rote,
Or in the comments made by magazines
For whom the "larger issues" were of note.

In time their faces faded with the rains,
The little altars thick with wax were scraped,
But still beneath clear plastic they endure
Reminding us that we have not escaped.

Their silence keeps me sleepless for I know.


* For the process of how this came to be written see The Arrival @ AMERICAN DIGEST

Vanderleun : September 12, 14  |  Your Say (15)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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[What follows is a slightly edited transcript of what I saw and how I felt on the 11th of September, 2001 from Brooklyn Heights in New York City. On that day I was posting to a West Coast Computer Conferencing system known as The Well. As a result, even though I was writing from Brooklyn Heights directly across the river from the Towers, the time stamp reflects PST. Real time is +3 hours.]

Tue 11 Sep 01 08:07

Saw the first tower collapse from the Promenade across the river in Brooklyn. Fine white and pale yellow ash everywhere. Lower Manhattan covered in smoke with ash still drifting down.

Military jets overhead every five minutes or so.

Lower span of Brooklyn Bridge jammed with people walking out of the city, many covered with white ash. Ghosts. The Living Dead. BQE empty except for convoys of emergency vehicles.

Sirens in all directions. Ferry ships emerging from the smoke heading to the Brooklyn shore riding low in the water fully loaded.

This is monstrous.

Deaths in the thousands in New York.

My body is trembling with sorrow and rage. I saw the first tower fall. Everyone in it would have been killed. This, all this, must be stopped. Those who have done this must be wiped out to the last.

War with whom?


Any and all terrorist organizations, foreign or domestic, must now be brought to a swift and complete halt no matter where they are located.

I watched this happen. The enormity of it cannot be communicated. Vile and bestial.

We need to destroy any and all capacity of anyone living anywhere to do anything like this ever again. There were thousands in those buildings. Thousands.


There is no justice swift enough or sure enough.

All that we have must be brought forward and used without restraint. This is an act of war beyond Pearl Harbor.

Military jets overhead again.

More ash on the street. I am cooled down. Way down.

This is pure evil.

*Tue 11 Sep 01 12:33 *

There is no World Trade Center visible from the Promenade. But you can smell it from there -- a sort of burnt stench as if someone lit newspaper in a trash can and then poured water on it. That kind of wet, burnt stench.

It is bright in the sunshine now except for where the Trade Centers stood, and there is still a plume of thick brown smoke smouldering up from there making the sun behind it look dim and oily.

Just now I saw three large military helicopters land across the river from the Heights on the big pad at the foot of Wall Street. People on the streets are talking quietly -- many of them on cells now that some of those nets are back up.

Everything is as quiet as it was this morning when I got up and began to take a shower.

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Vanderleun : September 11, 14  |  Your Say (69)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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Speaking just for myself, I think that we should hire the unemployed Ray Rice to punch the lights out of the next twenty TV, radio, or Web reporters -- from CNN to Fox to MsNBC -- that show that video clip and vomit out their feigned outrage one more time.

It's a tough job and a dirty job but it is clear that:

1) Ray Rice has the skill set and endurance necessary to the task, and....

2) America would actually enjoy seeing the video tapes of insects from Keith Olbermann to Rachel Maddow decked in an elevator over and over again.

Of course, that's just me. I could be wrong.

gerardvanderleun : September 10, 14  |  Your Say (8)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Now:

Now comes word from Judicial Watch that ISIS is staging just across our border in Ciudad Juarez, and that increased chatter has authorities alarmed that an imminent attack, possibly against Fort Bliss in El Paso, is coming. Oh, and Thursday is 9/11. Articles: Lives for Votes

Then: [First written and posted 2004-11-15 @ 09:51:14, but some nightmares never really go away on waking. Do they?]


Why take your nuke to town when just standing on the other side of the fence gets you all the way there?

Time Magazine is roiling the blogsphere with its warning of terrorist nukes to be smuggled into Mexico and from there into the the United States

Sharif al-Masri, an Egyptian who was captured in late August near Pakistan's border with Iran and Afghanistan, has told his interrogators of "al-Qaeda's interest in moving nuclear materials from Europe to either the U.S. or Mexico," according to a report circulating among U.S. government officials.

Masri also said al-Qaeda has considered plans to "smuggle nuclear materials to Mexico, then operatives would carry material into the U.S.," according to the report, parts of which were read to TIME. Masri says his family, seeking refuge from al-Qaeda hunters, is now in Iran.

And they would "carry material into the U.S.?" The question that occurs to me in that statement is: Why would they bother?

Once you have smuggled a nuclear weapon into Mexico what reason would you have to take another, bigger risk and try and get it across the border into the United States?

Wouldn't it be much simpler and more straightforward just to take the bomb to Juarez, get as close to the border as possible, and then detonate the device. Given the right set of conditions you could achieve your terrorist aims and never have to set foot in the United States. Why risk two security rings when you can risk only one?

Detonating a nuclear weapon in Juarez, Mexico is the same thing as detonating one in El Paso, Texas:

Walk seven blocks south from the heart of downtown El Paso and you’re on the bridge that empties into Avenida Juárez, the tourism center of Juárez, and you’re a few blocks from the city’s cathedral and main plaza. Nowhere else in the world are two major cities of two different countries so closely connected — or so easy to visit from either side. --El Paso Tourist Guide

What would be the advantages of Juarez/El Paso from a nuclear terrorist's point of view? There are several:

  • 1) A combined population of around 2.5 million people. Casualties would be high.
  • 2) A regional manufacturing center using cheap labor and access to the US market has drawn in GM, Sony, and many other plants and factories. Especially popular are plants that can operate with less regulation in Mexico than in the US, particularly chemical plants. The economic consequences would be dire.
  • 3) Right on the north-eastern nub of El Paso, about 7 miles from the border, you have the US Army's Fort Bliss.
    Fort Bliss is the home of the Air Defense Artillery Center of Excellence and is responsible for air defense artillery training of U.S. soldiers and various allied nation soldiers. It also the home of seven Forces Command warfighting units - the 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, the 204th MI Battalion, and the 978th Military Police Company. .... With 1.1 million acres, this post is bigger than the state of Rhode Island and can accommodate every weapon system in the Army. Excellent ranges and training area, coupled with the third longest runway in the nation, make Fort Bliss a premiere facility for training, mobilization and deploying combat forces. -- Global Security.Org
    Needless to say, a nuclear "event" could have severe consequences for the base.
  • 4) El Paso is Texas, the home state of the President of the United States and a deep red state as well. This would be a propaganda coup of the first order. The symbolism would not be missed by those who wish America harm.

All of which goes to show that the security of the United States doesn't start at the border, but south of the border, down Mexico way. I don't know what Homeland Security is doing about this, but if I was in the organization, I'd be very concerned about the ports of Mexico right now and be looking very hard at truck traffic coming north towards El Paso.

Then, of course, there's the Canadian border.

Vanderleun : September 10, 14  |  Your Say (22)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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gerardvanderleun : September 9, 14  |  Your Say (10)  | PermaLink: Permalink

American Studies

Yesterday I heard of a young mother who came downstairs early in the morning to find her fifth-grade son dressed for school but flat on his back in the middle of the living room staring in despair at the ceiling.

MOM: "What on Earth do you think you're doing?"

BOY: "I can't do it. I just can't go to school any more."

We all know how that small strike ended. Management made an offer ("Go to school or else."), and the union of one caved in with a few plaintive "But mom's.... "

I first thought that there was rough justice in that. After all, the thought of actually going on a ten-minute "I-won't-go-to-school" strike never would have entered my ten-year old mind. If it had I would not have heard the dreaded promise, "Wait until your father gets home." No, I would have heard the thermonuclear announcement, "I'm calling your father at work and telling him to come home right now." That one always alerted me that I had only one half-hour to get my affairs in order.

Today, after mulling the lie-down strike a little more, it seems to me there's more than a little to be said on the side of the fifth-grader's strike. After twenty years of schooling and more than thirty on the day shift, those early grades seem -- looked at through society's grubby glasses -- to be an idyllic time. After all, weren't they?

No real worries. No problems with the opposite or the same sex. No goals other than getting to Christmas break, Easter break or the long and endless summer. No money to make. No money, in fact, to speak of at all. All your expenses covered. No taxes. No sense of mortality. In short, the lost and golden land of childhood. We all think of it, once far removed from it, as some distant Edenic idyll.

But if we try and shift our point of view a bit, and if we try to remember all those things the haze of our twice-told childhood fairy-tales hides from us, we might see it -- just a bit and just for an instant -- from the point of view of the fifth-grade boy flat on his back in the living room staring at the ceiling in utter despair.

Here he lays. He's been going to this job of his for as long as he can remember. Unlike my experience which didn't start until kindergarten, today's boy has probably been working in the education industry since age 3.

They started him out on basic blocks and why he shouldn't nail somebody who took his cookie. Those are hard lessons. How to stack something up so it doesn't collapse in a heap at the first shudder in the earth. How to "share" your very limited and very personal resources. Why you don't just whack anyone who irritates you with the nearest blunt object.

These are basic lessons, and we forget how hard they are. Some of us don't learn them at all. Those people are either in prison, assembling bombs, or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Still, that's your entry level position in the educational-industrial complex at age 3. It's all downhill from there.

For years you get up at an ungodly hour and don't even get a chance to read the paper. Plus, no coffee at all. Not. A. Drop.

You are then pushed out of your home and either driven to your "office-complex" by a cranky chauffeur with complete control over you, or you get to ride with a few dozen of your more-or-less peers with different ideas of hygiene and levels of intelligence in a shaking tin box with no seatbelts, driven by some of the least intelligent members of your community. I'd be a nervous wreck by the time I got to the office, I'll tell you.

Once you do get to the office, your time to just goof off is extremely limited. No leisurely stints by the water cooler for you. No coffee cart with tasty pastries coming by after only an hour. Bladder issue? Raise your hand and get a note. Other than that you are never alone.

You get one break out in the dirt, with, I might add, no coffee. A couple of hours later you get a quick hit of really bad food that is the same this Wednesday as it was last Wednesday. After that, it's back to your office where they don't even have a little cube for you, but slam you together with 15 to 30 other slaves to the clock in a room fit only for 10.

In some huge gesture to your youth, they let your out of this joint at 3 in the afternoon. They tell you it's a "school day," but if you've been up since 7 and out at three, that's a full eight hours in my book.

Oh, and no chatting with your friends. Yes, you, pipe down. If not it's off to the CEO's antechamber for a quick and humiliating performance review. Daily if you don't snap out of it. If you really don't snap out of it, we're calling your father AND your mother to come here from work right now.

Perhaps you get to enjoy the mastery of your skills? Don't make me laugh. Master one thing and boom here comes another.

Comprehend fractions? That was so last week. Now do long division. Made a volcano that blew up on cue last week? Big deal. This week you are going to construct an Algonquin winter lodge diorama from scratch --- and it better have plenty of cotton balls for snow.

One o'clock. Your project for this hour is the basic structure of the cell. Okay, two o'clock, everybody stand up and turn to the person next to them and say, "Hola, como se llama..."

Day in day out, week in week out, year in year out ... you trudge off to this room crammed to the brim with bird's nests, flash cards, trilobites, pilgrim hats, Indian headresses, drawings and paintings in which the proportion of the head to the body is never right, but looks for all the world like an exhibit by demented Fauvists with no drawing skills whatsoever and a very garish color sense. Twice a day, everybody in this room is let out. Is it any wonder they run screaming into the sunshine?

You have no veto whatsoever over your co-workers, your working conditions, your hours, or your choice of when to do what tasks. Everyone does the same tasks at the same time for 55 minutes and then it is on to something new.

Did I mention the fact that you can't quit? If you try to quit they send the Gestapo to your home and track you down and haul you back.

There is, however, judgment. Oh, the judgment. Constantly tested. Constantly graded. Constantly up for criticism with your single allowable plea being, "Guilty. But with an explanation." It's like an annual review every week with no raises, ever.

And nothing, nothing you do, is ever quite good enough, is it? Except for that four-eyes up in the front row who always gets it done perfectly. No mistakes ever. You know, the kid who will be pantsed and then smothered with 30 co-workers backpacks out behind the backstop one rainy afternoon.

By the fifth grade, you've been in this dead end job for about seven years. If you're lucky, your pay has gone from a dollar to ten dollars a week. Get straight A's and you might get a bonus of one day at the local "Magic Kingdom." Then it's, "Okay, break's over. Everybody back on their heads."

I don't know about you, but that sounds like one of the worst jobs in the world. In fact, the more I think about it the more I want to lie down with that kid in the middle of the living room and say, "I just can't do it any more either."

It took me about 30 years to get to that point. I guess I'm not as smart as I was in the fifth grade. In fact, I'm sure of it.

Vanderleun : September 9, 14  |  Your Say (34)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Enemies, Foreign & Domestic

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Because I'm a bloody-minded man with a strong interest in justice delivered rather than delayed, one movie I enjoy seeing frequently is Shooter (2007). I enjoy it because at the end corrupt politicians and senators are shot to ribbons and then blown up and incinerated. These cinematic consequences satisfy my yearning for justice delivered to those who, in the real world, live lives that seldom have real consequences only re-election.

"Shooter" in summary, for those that have not seen it or read the book on which it is based, goes like this:

Bob Lee Swagger, one of the world's great marksmen and the son of a Congressional Medal of Honoree, is a loner living in the Rockies. He's left the military, having been hung out to dry in a secret Ethiopian mission a few years before, when he's recruited by a lisping colonel to help find a way that the President of the US might be assassinated in one of three cities in the next two weeks. He does his work, but the shot is fired notwithstanding and Bob Lee is quickly the fall guy: wounded and hunted by thousands, he goes to ground and, aided by two unlikely allies, searches for the truth and for those who double-crossed him. All roads lead back to Ethiopia.
Ethiopia? A scene late in the film illuminates that little incident:
What exactly happened in Africa? Somehow the villagers didn't think that an oil pipeline was a good enough reason to move their village to a place where the spirit gods didn't exist. So they asked them all nicely to move and when they didn't, they just killed them all?

No. They didn't ask. They just killed them.

So the next village won't need to be asked. They'll just go.

There is a mass grave with 400 bodies, men, women, children, under the oil pumping station 10 kilometres over the Eritrean border.

Ah well, it is just a movie, right? Oh, wait.

Big, Deadly Government: Mass Murder Committed to Game Kyoto "Credits"€™ Scheme

Armed troops acting on behalf of a British carbon trading company backed by the World Bank burned houses to the ground and killed children to evict Ugandans from their homes in the name of seizing land to protect against "€˜global warming,"a shocking illustration of how the climate change con is a barbarian form of neo-colonialism. The evictions were ordered by New Forests Company, an outfit that seizes land in Africa to grow trees then sells the "carbon credits" on to transnational corporations. The company is backed by the World Bank and HSBC. Its Board of Directors includes HSBC Managing Director Sajjad Sabur, as well as other former Goldman Sachs investment bankers...
This is, of course, a scenario in which Shooter would be very useful in delivering something other than a mild embarrassment in the news to the controlling executives of "New Forests," something in a full metal jacket rather than a dinner jacket.

But who among those charged with delivering justice in the world would really care about an African village? It is, for those who ride in the rich, sopping gravy bowl of Al Gore's Happy Green World, just a subject for tut-tutting on the way to the next international jet-setting hog-trough "Climate Change" convention.

"I say, Al, what exactly happened in Africa?"

In my fantasy of justice I like to think that these men and women who batten off the Global Warming scam will someday die in a fire. The only problem is that such a fire would probably also consume DC, Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Rome, Peking, San Francisco, etc. Maybe it's best to stick to the "One man. One bullet" scenario.

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Vanderleun : September 8, 14  |  Your Say (13)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Search American Digest

The Top 40


It’s time to quit worrying and learn to love the battle axe. History teaches us that if we don’t, someone else will.

A rule not ultimately backed by the threat of violence is merely a suggestion.
States rely on laws enforced by men ready to do violence against lawbreakers. Every tax, every code and every licensing requirement demands an escalating progression of penalties that, in the end, must result in the forcible seizure of property or imprisonment by armed men prepared to do violence in the event of resistance or non–compliance. Every time a soccer mom stands up and demands harsher penalties for drunk driving, or selling cigarettes to minors, or owning a pit bull, or not recycling, she is petitioning the state to use force to impose her will. She is no longer asking nicely.
Jack Donovan | Violence is Golden

Muslims are waging war

in South East Asia, The Middle East, Europe, Asia, North America, Russia and China. In what way is this not WW3? Wrath Of Gnon / Twitter

Perhaps it’s an ungenerous attribution,

but they can’t help finding tattoos obnoxious.
The tattoo seems to summon their eyes, to draw their focus even if they have other things they wish to think about. In that sense, a tattoo is narcissistic, and narcissism is coercive. It lives off of others’ notice, and when the narcissist fails to draw attention, he feels disturbed and wounded. Whenever we sense that need, we recoil from it.
A Theory for Tattoos | Mark Bauerlein | First Things

Despite being the greatest orator of the last thousand years,

he's a complete bust at selling anything but himself,
as comprehensively demonstrated in his first couple of years: see his rhetorical efforts on behalf of ObamaCare, or Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley, or Chicago's Olympics bid. When it comes to war, he suffers from an additional burden: before he can persuade anybody else, he first has to persuade himself. And he can't do it. So he gave the usual listless performance of a surly actor who resents the part he's been given.
Coalition of the Unwilling :: SteynOnline

Regardless if it's a gun or a marshmallow

if someone tries to prevent your ownership of anything at all they are trying to control you.
That person is genetically flawed and cannot be fixed and it will continually try to own you. There is only one remedy for this. Total and instant destruction at the source. Anything less is coddling and encouraging.
Ghostsniper commenting @ AMERICAN DIGEST

Why are all the excuses made for Islam?

Islam, after all, is a religion, and has been for over a thousand years.
You can call it a weird religion, a violent religion, an intolerant religion, not a “true” religion (whatever that means), but it certainly has claimed to be one quite successfully for all that time. Unlike the other Abrahamic religions which preceded it, and which have a text (the so-called Old Testament) that contains some violence and misogyny, Islam is steeped in both—positively marinated in them -- €”and those Muslims who don't espouse such things are not in the overwhelming majority.
-- neo-neocon

The post-Christian, post-modern man will not fight to defend himself.

He is psychologically emasculated and saturated with self-loathing.

Further, war will never be formally declared. You will not see the U.K. (whatever is left of it), France, Germany or the U.S. declare war on anyone, ever. That’s all over. For the U.S., that ended with World War 2. You all know that the U.S. never declared war in Korea, Vietnam, or anywhere else since World War 2, right? Additionally, while World War 3 grinds its way forward through time, and as millions upon millions die, the media will continually state that THERE IS NO WAR, and anyone who says that there is a war is just a loon. And the people will nod their heads, and the body count will rise, but it won’t be WAR you understand, because everything’s fine.
Octet | Barnhardt



The Headchopper Next Door

Mohammed would have been as happy rampaging around Iraq and Syria as a pig rolling around in dung.
ISIS is Islam. It’s the naked religion. There are no angels or djinns, no revelations, just piles of mutilated corpses and children playing with severed heads while other children are raped in prison cells. It’s Mohammed, but it’s also Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad and Gaddafi. Islam doesn’t end the cycle of tyranny and oppression. It is the reason that the cycle continues.
Sultan Knish:

“I was not ‘converted’ to the Church,

but made my way into it through what Newman calls illation — fragments of truth collecting in my mind through personal experience, conversations, knowledge of exemplars, and much reading and meditating.” - - Russell Kirk

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries!

"Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.
The effects are apparent in many countries, improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement, the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men."
-- Winston Churchill

This just in....

Obama Unable to Sleep After Learning Limbaugh Liked His Speech - The New Yorker

And, lo, it doth beginneth...

Christ Arrested for Assaulting Muhammed in San Rafael

If You Liked Vietnam, You’ll Love the War With the Islamic State

Young progressives of Barak Obama’s generation were taught by their professors that the Vietnam War was an evil undertaking few had the inclination to seriously study. Obama himself described it as one of the “dumb wars” when he was a candidate. There are no dumb wars; there are however, wars fought in a dumb manner. Our president appears to be embarking on one. | Small Wars Journal

Confucius Say:

A superior man, in regard to what he does not know, shows a cautious reserve.
If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.
The Rectification of the Names

And counting....

There Are Now 52 Explanations For Pause In Global Warming | The Daily Caller

You've come a long way, baby. [Bumped]

gaymuslim.png

And the latest leader of the band in the endless parade of perverts would be...
UK Soldier Converts to Islam, Gets Surgery, Becomes First Transgender Gay Muslim Woman

["I try to become more cynical every day, but lately I just can't keep up."]

Bogart from Above!

Mysterious Men Dropping From Helicopters In CA To Chop Down Marijuana Plants...

I love the smell of irony in the morning

A lawyer in the IRS ethics office is facing the possibility of being disbarred, according to records that accuse her of lying to a court-appointed board and hiding what she'd done with money from a settlement that was supposed to go to two medical providers who had treated her client....[Despite this] the office has dispatched Ms. McGee to lecture professionals about the importance of maintaining high ethical standards. - Washington Times

You're Not My Real Stepdad!

My real stepdad used to let me take the dirt bike out by myself all the time.
He gave it to me when he told me he was marrying my mom and explained that I should try to call him "Dad." Dennis was awesome. He even promised to take me hunting once, and he would have, if he didn't have to spend all his time and money on a good lawyer. He treated me like his own son through marriage. And unlike you, my real surrogate father raised me from the time my mother sat us down and told us that Dennis would be spending the night at our house from now on.
- America's Finest News Source

The Unitary Cult Theory.

This is when members of a mass movement, always jostling with one another for status within the movement, close the information loop,
excluding information from people outside the movement regarding a topic. The result is a piety contest where members of the movement stand up and commit increasingly extreme acts of public piety. As more and more members jump into the ring, the contest quickly spirals out of control resulting in these absurd public displays. Because the country is run by the Cult of Modern Liberalism, these piety wheels get maximum attention. The public is often sucked into the the false drama in the same way people get caught up in a TV serial. That’s gasoline on the fire. With Ferguson, the public has seen that drama too many times to stay interested for very long. The Gay Gayington story is too disgusting. This Ray Rice story gets more interest because the NFL is so popular and everyone can relate the story at the center of it
.The Z Blog

The great thing about World War 2 is that it ended

whereas the current conflict has been ongoing since September 11, 2001 with no end in sight.
The only thing worse than war is endless war, especially a war which nobody wins after decades of fighting. This is the kind of conflict which modern political leaders specialize in fighting: violence without ultimate effect, sacrifice without any tangible result; conflict without any milestones, guideposts or landmarks. A war that never ends on the quarterdeck of a battleship, but only in the slow drawing of the blinds.
Belmont Club サ World Views

Gays are 2.6% of the population, including Lesbians.

Not much to hang a sports league on.
But the motivation is essentially religious. Owners care more about being seen as one of the chosen, the Saved, the special, the “good White” who gloriously saves the downtrodden non-White, or Gay, or Muslim, or what have you, and thus performs the sado-masochistic (credit the tweeter Roissy/Heartiste retweeted) rituals of recycling, yoga, tofu, vegetarianism, jogging, etc. along with “racial cuckoldry” that makes up the religion of Racial Penance and Redemption.
Michael Sam and Denzel Washington: the Gay NFL and Black Equalizer | whiskeysplace

Europeans and their colonial descendants may pen laws of war, but only they are constrained by them.

In the real world outside the dinner parties of Washington D.C. and Brussels, there are no laws in war.
Islamic law which has regulations for which foot to use when entering a bathroom (the left foot) and which side to sleep on (the right) has very few laws of war that cannot be nullified by necessity or even whim. On the battlefield, Islamic jurisprudence is boiled down to, Do what thou wilt in the cause of Allah, that is the whole of the law.
Sultan Knish: Divided We Stand

Where did the future of 2000 go?

Ironically it rumbled along unnoticed under the public narrative.
For in the years since 2000, revolutionary new medical treatments, practical robotics, new nuclear energy technology, life extension and host of advances have made the future we no longer wanted attainable again. Quite without meaning to, North America became the energy capital of the world. With an Ebola epidemic ravaging Africa, the brightest source of hope came from a biotech startup with a dozen employees operating out of a California strip mall.
Belmont Club サ Rescuing the 21st Century

What POSident Obama Should Have Said

"My fellow Americans, we just completed the bombing of every ISIS target we can identify,
we have frozen their assets in this country and we have indicted all their conspirators and supporters in the United States. I want to thank the men and women of the USS George H.W. Bush, the entire Fifth Fleet, the airmen and women al-Udeid air base in Qatar, the Secret Service's treasury operations and U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of Minnesota and his staff, as well as the FBI special task force who assisted them in apprehending more than 100 militants in the Minneapolis area alone.
-- Don Surber

Lawrence Lessig

At the dawn of the Internet age, these faculty lounge philosophers were just about out of options.
Sitting around smoking clove cigarettes and talking about Che was seen as ridiculously out of step with the times. Making money, living the good life and jumping on the speeding train of technology was where the cool kids were at, not bookstores and coffee shops. This ever-present caravan of crazies that poses as the avant guard needed to figure out how to get in on the act. Guys like Lessig figured out how to attach themselves to the productive class by philosophizing about technology.
- - The Z Blog

And then I go to sites like Ace of Spades and they are still, STILL trying to parse Obama

and the Obama regime from the false premise that Obama and the regime are NOT the malignant, psychopathic (incapable of feeling shame or guilt), sworn enemy belligerents of the American people and milieu that they are.
What can Obama be THINKING?? How could he possibly be so INEPT? Well, what Obama is thinking is, “I’d sure like to smoke some crack and then be fellated by one of my male concubines. It’s been six hours since the last time I smoked crack and was fellated. I gots to get me some crack and fellatio. Somebody bring me some crack. And then **** my ****. ”
- - | Barnhardt

A terrorist organization that beheads Americans and posts the video needs to be annihilated, but this is not particularly difficult.

We cannot do the killing ourselves, except, of course, from the air.
We are too squeamish under the best of circumstances, and we are too corrupted by cultural relativism (remember George W. Bush's claim that Islam is "a religion of peace"?) to recognize utterly evil nihilism when it stares us in the face. In practice, a great deal of the killing will be done by Iran and its allies: the Iraqi Shi'a, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Assad regime in Syria. It will be one of the most disgusting and disheartening episodes in modern history and there isn't much we can do to prevent it.
14 Million Refugees Make the Levant Unmanageable

[Bumped] What on earth leads the Establishment to think America

can go into a country with a radically different and largely dysfunctional culture,
about which it knows virtually nothing, and “manage its transition to more democratic politics,” much less “rebuild societies that didn’t have any civic traditions?” Who do the Establishment think they are? Merlin? The Archangel Michael? The degree of hubris is astonishing. The United States, or any foreign power, has no more ability to do those things than we do of commanding the tide to recede.
The View From Olympus: The Origins of Our Distress | traditionalRIGHT

Short of actual credible threat of war by the United States,

Russia intends to possess the Cossack regions of the Eastern Ukraine
– a land bridge to their newly seized Crimean peninsula – and to insure against the seizure of the rest of Ukraine by NATO. Any American foreign policy that does not realize this is deluded. What we must be concerned about is the Baltic Republics, which are already NATO members and thus war trigger allies of the United States.
- - Jerry Pournelle

[And this is why having a craven coward as a faux-president is so dangerous.]

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

-- Barack Obama, January 31, 2009

“If we are part of Christendom, then we must fight the Islamics,

because they will attack us as soon as they think the odds favor them.
If they succeed in Boston, they will try the same thing in every one of our cities. Nor should you think the appeal of Islam will be only to blacks. They will shape and tune their message to white audiences as well, and they will penetrate them. They will use any means that work. Saudi Arabia used to pay tens of thousands of dollars to any American citizen who would convert to Islam.”
Victoria: Chapter 25 | traditionalRIGHT

Evil is ancient, unchanging, and with us always.

The more postmodern the West becomes
— affluent, leisured, nursed on moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multicultural relativism — the more premodern the evil among us seems to arise in nihilistic response, whether it is from the primordial Tsarnaev brothers or Jihadi John. We have invented dozens of new ways to explain away our indifference, our enemies hundreds of new ways of reminding us of our impotence. I suppose we who enjoy the good life don’t want to lose any of it for anything — and will understandably do any amount of appeasing, explaining, and contextualizing to avoid an existential war against the beheaders and mutilators, a fact well-known to our enemies.
Works and Days » Are the Orcs Winning?

If it's taxed, it must be California

After a number of days touring volcanoes on Oregon's amazing Route 97, I pulled into a border check station where a uniformed member of the state of California demanded to know if I had any concealed "produce" in my Cadillac. "There's a Fuji apple in the cooler," I said. "Go ahead," he said and waved us through into the long vallleys and fir-clad mountains and dried-up reservoirs of California.

Posting here will continue to be essays from the archives and occasional notes for a few weeks until I am settled. If anyone among my readers knows of any rental apartments or homes between Sacramento and Chico / Davis and Tahoe I'd love to hear about it at vanderleun@gmail.com .

Serial Monsters

Serial killers are pretty much proportionate to the population.
So out of 100 of them, about 72% are white (of which around 17% are hispanic), about 13% are black, 5% are asian, and about 5% are native American. So yeah, most of the killers are going to be white because the bulk of the population is still (despite what you might have read in the news or see in entertainment media) white in America.
Word Around the Net

10 Things about Murderers we Learned from “The First 48.”

Things we’ve never seen. We’ve never seen a murder done with a legally-bought firearm on the show.
We’ve never seen a murder where the firearm precipitated the crime. (It may have contributed to hotheaded urban “disrespect” killings). We’ve never seen a suspect who turned out to be someone from the gun culture — considering how standard that plot point is in TV, it seems to be a screenwriter fantasy of a piece with the same guys’ dread of “Eurotrash neo-nazis,” a group which has the virtue, from Hollywood’s viewpoint, of being too small and nonexistent to pursue a defamation action.
| WeaponsMan

'Imaginary Elegies: IV'

a_santamonicapiersign.jpg

This much I’ve learned
In these five years in what I’ve spent and earned:
Time does not finish a poem.
Upon the old amusement pier I watch
The creeping darkness gather in the west.
Above the giant funhouse and the ghosts
I hear the seagulls call. They’re going west
Toward some great Catalina of a dream
Out where the poem ends.

But does it end?

The birds are still in flight. Believe the birds.

-- Jack Spicer



The goal of Women’s Liberation is to wear each female down to losing all empathy for boys, men or babies.

By the time Women’s Studies professors finish with your daughter, she will be a shell of the innocent girl you knew,

who’s soon convinced that although she should be flopping down with every boy she fancies, she should not, by any means, get pregnant. And so, as a practitioner of promiscuity, she becomes a wizard of prevention techniques, especially abortion. The goal of Women’s Liberation is to wear each female down to losing all empathy for boys, men or babies. The tenderest aspects of her soul are roughened into a rock pile of cynicism, where she will think nothing of murdering her baby in the warm protective nest of her little-girl womb. She will be taught that she, in order to free herself, must become an outlaw.
Marxist Feminism's Ruined Lives



Anthony Watts reminds us of what the settled scientists were saying half-a-decade ago:

World Will Warm Faster Than Predicted In Next Five Years, Study Warns.
Duncan Clark in The Guardian laid it on as only a devout warm-monger can: The world faces record-breaking temperatures as the sun's activity increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than scientists had predicted for the next five years. Er, no. None of that happened. That was The Guardian on July 27th 2009
When Science is Settled - by Government :: SteynOnline

Things rarely end the way we think they will,

usually a low-probability event occurs, something it seemed safe to ignore, or at least to discount, until suddenly it wasn't.
Once the stuff of novels, the unexpected is now the stuff of life. It's what makes interesting times dangerous times. We're seeing a replay of 2008 but at the next higher level, not unstable financial outfits, not even unstable markets, but unstable regions of the world. Where we had banks fail we're having nations fail, at the near periphery for now but moving toward the core like Genghis Kahn at a gallop.
ol remus and the woodpile report

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