≡ Menu

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

Well, to be fair, we did tell them to put down their phones and go outside to play. A cinematic snowball fight shot on iPhone 11 Pro by David Leitch, who has directed: John Wick, Deadpool 2, and Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw.


“Best start putting first things first”

After my mother died in June, I was sorting through the papers in her small desk. It was an old-fashioned desk with a fold-down lid and lots of little cubby holes inside. She kept it to the right of the easy chair she liked to sit in so she could reach it without getting up.

At the back of the desk, there was a small locked cubicle. Opening that door with the key she left in the lock I found the old engraved nameplate from my father’s desk (“A. J. VAN DER LEUN”) propped up against a small glass container with a portion of my father’s ashes. My father died a relatively young man in 1972 from his third open-heart operation. My mother never married again and, as much as the family knew, never had a serious boyfriend. Instead, she kept my father close to her for nearly half a century. She was a one-man woman.

I took these ashes and his nameplate and put them carefully aside. Then I looked around her apartment where all the walls and tables and dressers held photographs of her family and her children and her friends. They were there in all their ages from my baby pictures up to the most recent marriages and births. Her mother and father were there also; as was her own family from their childhood in Fargo to their current homes there and elsewhere. In a special high bookcase across from her chair, my mother kept albums of the family sorted by year, or at times by epoch. She kept many pictures that I once had and that had all been lost in the fire.

My mother didn’t blink. Instead, she photographed everything she could and looked at them while sitting in her chair with my father at her right hand surrounded by images of those she loved most. Even if she did blink or drowse she was still surrounded by her family when she opened her eyes. Her home had become the interior of her memories in every room, on every wall. My brothers and I spent some days taking the pictures down and storing them away in boxes that I am now going through to salvage my own unblinking instants from the thousands she preserved.

Even at the end, my mother didn’t blink. Her son took her to see her 4-year-old great-granddaughter, she and Mimi talked for a bit, then Tom drove mom back to her room where she lay back in her bed and took a nap and then just extended it.

After her funeral in July, my brothers and I combined her ashes with my father’s and spread them onto the stream by the picnic table in the park where we all once went as a family over 50 years before. We were, for those few moments, a family again. In those few moments, we didn’t blink.


“I’m a full-service presidential candidate!” giggles Andrew Yang Shooting Whipped Cream Into Kneeling Supporters’ Mouths and locking in the Twink vote for 2020.


Yes, today,ClubOrlov types for me in great detail about “Avoiding the Coming Ice Age.”

Cyclical phenomena are the easiest to predict accurately. The prediction industry got its start many thousands of years ago, when priests and shamans started gazing up at the stars and the planets and lining up rocks to sight them in. They used the information they gained through their stargazing to accurately predict the best times to plant crops or go fishing. People were duly impressed by such feats and thought that this was some sort of magic. Sometimes they stayed impressed for thousands of years. In Ancient Egypt, for instance, they believed that the Nile wouldn’t flood and irrigate their fields unless the Pharaoh performed his rituals and mated with his sister to produce the next Pharaoh. That, by the way, is called “magical thinking,” and in some ways it continues to this day. In the United States, for instance, people believe that if the Federal Reserve chairman continues to perform his rituals their country won’t default on its debt and the money will flow forever…

AB testing of climate theories will definitively show that people will prefer theories that confidently predict global warming and associated calamities rather than those that predict more of the same or don’t predict anything in particular. But such testing may not even be necessary. Back in the 1970s climate theory predicted that the next ice age could start any year now, but that theory fell by the wayside some time ago. It just didn’t catch the public imagination the same way as global warming. Ice Ages is kid’s stuff about an acorn-obsessed squirrel named Scrat, whereas global warming is an adult, heroic genre that includes Mad Max and Waterworld. …

Ice age avoidance seems like a wonderful new priority. Climate scientists will still get to scare the shit out of everyone—enough to keep the grant money flowing—plus they’ll make themselves popular with all the people who are currently shivering from the cold and are finding their global warming message unimpressive. Of course, this is just a prediction based on my personal theory, so they should try AB testing it first.


Aftermath: Now they tell me…

PG&E Had Systemic Problems With Power Line Maintenance, California Probe Finds – WSJ “The identified shortcomings in PG&E’s inspection and maintenance of the incident tower were not isolated, but rather indicative of an overall pattern of inadequate inspection and maintenance of PG&E’s transmission facilities,” the report by the commission’s safety and enforcement division found.

Investigators also found that PG&E crews hadn’t climbed the tower that malfunctioned and sparked the Camp Fire since at least 2001, a violation of company policy requiring such inspections on towers that have recurring problems.

They concluded that a climbing inspection of the tower during that time “could have identified the worn C-hook before it failed, and that its timely replacement could have prevented ignition of the Camp Fire.”…

After the Camp Fire, investigators determined that a “C-hook” that held a heavy length of energized wire on the Caribou-Palermo line had failed. Another hook on a nearby tower had suffered significant material loss, the latest probe found, as years of weather and friction wore down the metal.

Investigators also noted that until September 2018, PG&E’s inspection form didn’t include any place to note the results of inspected hardware such as C-hooks.

“This raises the question of whether inspectors were evaluating cold-end hardware even when they performed climbing inspections,” the probe said.

My Paradise home last month one year after the fire.
First I was burned to the ground and now I’ve been erased.


What a wonderful replacement for the last first lady. And of course, Jeff Bezos’ blog, The Washinton Post, noted that she “had a bad coat.” I don’t know what to say about those suggest style points to Melania Trump, but I know they are some very ugly and misshapen trolls.


HT: Joe Brooks


Release Date: 1968 In response to Robert Kennedy’s assassination, Fred Rogers produced this primetime special [Not a Mr. Rogers Neighborhood episode] to help parents with this difficult tragedy and to give them ways to talk with their children about tragic events in the news.

Rogers, alarmed that America’s children were being exposed to unfiltered descriptions and images of the shocking event, had stayed up late to write it, with the goal of helping parents understand some of the emotions their children might be experiencing in the aftermath:

I’ve been terribly concerned about the graphic display of violence which the mass media has been showing recently. And I plead for your protection and support of your young children. There is just so much that a very young child can take without it being overwhelming.  Open Culture

Today, with America’s current celluloid sweetheart — aka Tom Hanks — giving us his impressions of this actual “gentle”man it’s important to get a take on the original and not to be duplicated Mr. Rogers.

This clip showcases the casual talent, deep empathy, and natural beauty of Betty Aberlin (aka Lady Aberlin).


While You Were In a Food Coma…

Maureen Dowd’s Brother appears annually in her column’s space. This is from this year’s Kevin Kontribution:  Opinion | Kevin Talks Turkey – The New York Times The Democrats have never recovered from the 2016 election when they nominated the worst candidate in political history and lost to a political novice. Their horror at Trump conjures Lady Macbeth crying in agony, “Out, damned spot.”

All of the Democratic candidates support Medicaid coverage of abortion and nominating only judges who endorse abortion rights.

As for the best and the brightest the Dems have to offer:

Warren/Sanders: If you combine the support of the two billionaire-bashing socialists, they lead the field. You might consider vacationing in Venezuela before committing to them or they could run together as the End of Days ticket.

Biden/Bloomberg: Like Bloomberg, Biden has been forced to grovel and renounce all past career accomplishments on crime prevention.

Harris/Booker: They’re having trouble lighting the spark, even with some black voters.

Klobuchar/Buttigieg: They are the two least crazy people in the field, which means they have absolutely no chance.

The Martin O’Malley Award to Beto O’Rourke for thinking a vague resemblance to the Kennedys, an Annie Leibovitz Vanity Fair cover and a 214,000-vote loss to Ted Cruz could carry him to the nomination.

The Best Selling Books They Didn’t see coming Take traditional publishing –please, I don’t want it. It had massive power in the beginning of the twentieth century. What it didn’t want to be seen, wouldn’t be seen. But d*mn it, sometimes the pesky reading public still got one in, still managed to make something a bestseller they didn’t see coming, still insisted on reading things that the increasingly closed-circle-leftist group that ran publishing didn’t think should be read.  So they ate faster. They tightened the circle. They hired and published only true believers, and when the laydowns crashed (guys, in the 70s a 75k laydown was considered bad and would end your career. Now?  Well, selling 3k to 5k is normal. 10k will get you fawned upon.  Now, these are hard copies of course. Traditional is notoriously bad at tracking ebook sales. They also price them not-to-sell.  So, who knows?) They made up stories about how TV and movies and then games were taking the readers away. (It’s funny, though, because they’re somehow magically re-appearing in indie.)  And when that stopped working they tried to force what they wanted to be the only thing read by going to the self-patting system of ordering to the net and telling the bookstores what to order.  That is in an interesting state of collapse, and the Earth-shattering Kaboom won’t be far behind.

Andrew Sullivan: Every now and again, it’s worth thinking about what the intersectional left’s ultimate endgame really is — and here it strikes me as both useful and fair to extrapolate from Kendi’s project. They seem not to genuinely believe in liberalism, liberal democracy, or persuasion. They have no clear foundational devotion to individual rights or freedom of speech. Rather, the ultimate aim seems to be running the entire country by fiat to purge it of racism (and every other intersectional “-ism” and “phobia”, while they’re at it). And they demand “disciplinary tools” by unelected bodies to enforce “a radical reorientation of our consciousness.” There is a word for this kind of politics and this kind of theory when it is fully and completely realized, and it is totalitarian. [continue reading…]


Sunday Morning Cartoons, Just Like the Old Days

HT – IOTW Report


The caption at NASA’s “Astronomy Picture of the Day” page reads: “Atlantis to Orbit.”

The filename of the picture reads: Nightlaunch.

And I am moved by the poetry of this most modern of images, not by the triumph of Reason which it seems to enshrine, but by that which is beyond Reason yet within this Nightlaunch all the same.

In thinking about this brief essay I could not help but think of a longer one by Doctor Bob at The Doctor Is In about a “civilized” European nation that cannot stop itself from taking the next step down into the pit; its people driven, as “reasonable” people always are, by the inexorable demands of “what is reasonable.”

In the work of Goya we see how that great soul, having walked the carnage cloaked landscapes of his era, came to understand the deepest cry of the Enlightenment: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos. [“The sleep of reason breeds monsters.”]

Ah well, the bones of the Enlightenment lie buried in a shallow grave somewhere along the Western Front. It had some nice ideals, but left us living rapt in the spell of Reason.

And now we are a “reasonable” society. Now we are a “scientific people” swaddled in a million theories of management — convinced that all of creation can be, somehow, managed through the limitless employment of Reason. Many of us, as we have seen in the past month, worship “intelligence uber alles,” that strange and deadly viral god of the mad mind that kills the soul long before it kills the nations that embrace it. We see the apotheosis of this worship leap up from the dazed lands of Europe. We see it arc across our own skies. We feel the sting of its acid rain on our upturned, stunned faces.

Reason. Its gifts are many. It enables us to raise “Atlantis to Orbit.” The poetry of that is only exceeded by the reality of it; by all that lies behind the sheer raw ability of the smart monkey to organize itself to achieve it — the mathematics and the metallurgy, the pulses in the silicon chips that hold and control the fire that slices up and beyond the sky. And the systems and wires and waves that bring these thoughts from my fingertips to your eyes now.

All these, and whole Alps of others, are the gifts of Reason.

But there are darker gifts of Reason; gifts revealed by the languor with which a whole people fall “half in love with easeful death.”

Why? Why abort this child? Because it is reasonable.

Why kill this old and feeble person? Because it is reasonable.

Why take from them according to ability and give to others according to need? Always because it is “reasonable.”

Reason commands it and Reason has, in this modern era, become a vengeful and a jealous god.

If it is true that the sleep of reason breeds monsters, can it not also be true that the constant wakefulness of Reason breeds its own peculiar hallucinations; its walking horrors?

We depend on Reason when we flip a switch, step on a brake, or seat ourselves in pressurized thin metal tubes that hover 40,000 feet above the earth and move at 500 miles an hour. This power would seem to argue that Reason should be trusted in all things, that the intelligence that runs up and down the synapses of our brains in an endless flickering web of electo-chemical space-time events is the ultimate arbiter, the final judge, the self-obsessed lodestone of our lives.

And yet… and yet…

And yet, hovering outside of Reason, we still somehow sense Immanence; we sense there is something more going on here, something vaster unfolding all about us, no matter how sternly Reason rules.

We sense Immanence, no matter how many times we are told the opposite; we sense that myth, legend, soul, magic, miracle and mystery still hold us, and that

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

And that,

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

As we now move more deeply into Advent, we move — in our long sweeping orbit about our home star — closer to the moments when that which is most deeply our gift and most certainly our curse is made manifest in the music of our being in a manner beyond all reason. And no matter what our faith — even if that faith is that there is no faith to be had — this turn of the year, this Advent, will inexorably bring us once again to the memory of the miracle made manifest all about us in every moment if we could but pause to see the forever present revelation.

Our Here.

Our Now.

Our miracle.

Impossible but actual.

Our actual existence on this most unlikely melding of earth, air, fire and water, fused far ago in a forgotten eternity from starstuff, and now circling a single sun swimming in some out-of-the-way arm of a second-class galaxy, where we lift Atlantis into orbit; where we seek to populate the stars in our searching.

On the one hand, it is clear that Reason demands that “We shall not cease from exploration,” while on the other it may well be that:

“… the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

And while nothing in our Book of Reason can tell us why, its endless banal chapters on irony would need to be excised were we to discover that all “Enlightenment,” all our “Age of Reason” has wrought is but a frail and flimsy ladder to the stars where we could at last put out our feeble hands “to touch the face of God.”

For Donald Sensing who put it in my mind, and for Solomonia who pointed me to the picture.

First published 2006-11-27


[HT:Doug Ross @ Journal: Top 10 Tweets from BadBlue Tonight, 11.29.19: Mainlining Typtophan Edition]