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"There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else."- James Thurber

American Studies

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When I lived in Manhattan, I never needed to know when winter officially arrived. I could count on one particular coworker to announce it. The official date changed every year, but he never failed to signify it by dropping by my office first thing in the morning, a Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, and saying, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how cold it is? Damn!"

Having just peeled off watch cap, ear muffs, scarf, gloves, and a ten pound top coat, I could -- while watching the sleet moving horizontally across the windows -- say with some conviction, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do believe how cold it is."

With this exchange, the first of a daily ritual that would be repeated between us for months without variation, I knew that winter had been declared open.

In New York City, there are really only two seasons -- "Winter" and "Street Repair." Winter was cold and inconvenient. "Street Repair" was hot and inconvenient. My coworker wasn't happy with either. Yet he never failed to announce the beginning of "Road Work." The official date changed every year, but he never failed to signify it by dropping by my office first thing in the morning, his Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, and saying, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how hot it is? Damn!"

He was a living, breathing, mind-numbing example of why the number two fantasy of people who work in offices is the ruthless slaughter of one or more of their coworkers. (The number one fantasy? I don't have to tell you. You know. And you should be ashamed of yourself.)

When I moved to southern California, this was one little daily irritation I was happy to leave behind along with "Winter" and "Road Work." Instead, I got only one season, "Traffic," but since you have to go to "Traffic" in order to be in that was okay. I no longer needed to kill my coworker, so that was a win.

In the hills above Laguna, however, I discovered another two seasons -- "No birds" and "Birds." That's otherwise known as "Not Spring" and "Spring." When the birds leave sometime around the Christmas holidays, you don't really notice it. At least I didn't until I passed a neighbor, a Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, on his daily constitutional and he said, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how quiet it is? Damn! Sure wish the birds would come back."

He walked on but I stopped and turned slowly to look at him. Brief memories of fantasized mayhem washed over my mind until I shook my head and thought, "No. Can't be. Just your imagination," and went on my way.

But, of course, what couldn't be, was. Over the course of the next few months, I'd pass this neighbor on our overlapping walks and he'd invariably say, just to be neighborly, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how quiet it is? Damn! Sure wish the birds would come back."

In time, of course, the birds, as birds will, did come back. I noticed it one day when, just at dawn, a bird woke me with a Bachesque series of trills and calls. A day or so later, when passing my neighbor on the hill, he said, "Boy, oh, boy, did you hear that bird this morning? Terrific!"

But nature is not decorative no matter how much we might wish it would be. Where you have one bird, you get two. When you have two, you get ten. And ten is just the prelude to a hundred or even more, as Alfred Hitchcock knew.

About a month after the first return of the birds, I was awakened by a cacophony of bird calls hooting and screeching at the first crack of light. I shrugged it off and went outside to get the paper from the drive way. My bird-loving neighbor lives diagonally across the intersection. I picked up the paper to go inside when I heard the sliding door to his deck open. I looked across and saw him in his underwear stagger sleepily out into the rising and falling cloud of colorful bird calls, wipe the sleep from his sad eyes, and shout out into the pristine morning, "Shut... UP!"

Even in paradise it seems that some people are never really happy. Must be the traffic.

Vanderleun : March 5, 15  |  Your Say (31)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Leonard Bernstein "conducting."

"Computer engineers are working on facial control for those who are disabled. I somehow doubt that they will ever get to match the precision and control Bernstein has with the Vienna Philharmonic."

gvanderleun : March 4, 15  |  Your Say (3)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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"Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." Abraham Lincoln: Second Inaugural Address. 1865.

gerardvanderleun : March 4, 15  |  Your Say (25)  | PermaLink: Permalink

“ISIS is no worse than the KKK” | Chris Hernandez

A certain strain exists within American society, a portion of our population who believes evil’s root causes are all white, male and Christian. This culminates in the amazing belief that Muslim terrorist organizations like ISIS, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people over just the last several years, warrant no special attention. Adherents of this belief continually downplay the blatant and obvious international threat posed by ISIS and its ilk, while simultaneously bringing up long-ago atrocities in a desperate attempt to find moral equivalence between Islamic terrorism and American culture. This desire to find something, anything, comparable to ISIS evil led even our own President to talk about the Crusades during a recent prayer breakfast.
Consider that for a moment. An army of Muslim fanatics is killing thousands of people, invading an allied country, executing prisoners in unspeakable ways and even televising the brutal decapitations of American citizens. And for no reason I can think of, our President brings up events hundreds of years old. Maybe in an attempt to convince us, “We’re just as bad.”
A few days ago the Huffington Post, mouthpiece of the “we’re evil too” crowd, published something – and I know this is nearly impossible to believe – far more ridiculous than normal. This is the title of their article:
KKK Was Terrorizing America Decades Before Islamic State Appeared
Continue HERE

gvanderleun : March 3, 15  |  Your Say (9)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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East London resident Martin Le-May captured this incredible photo of a baby weasel on the back of a green woodpecker in Essex, England, on Monday

As much as we’d all like to believe this is a wondrous tale of friendship wherein two mates go on an epic adventure featuring a baby weasel and his magnificent flying steed, sadly it’s NOT. It’s a photo of a weasel trying to kill a woodpecker. …

“As we walked we heard a distressed squawking and I saw that flash of green. So hurriedly I pointed out to Ann the bird and it settled into the grass behind a couple of small silver birch trees. Both of us trained our binoculars and it occurred that the woodpecker was unnaturally hopping about like it was treading on a hot surface.

Lots of wing flapping showing that gloriously yellow/white colour interspersed with the flash of red head feathers. Just after I switched from my binoculars to my camera the bird flew across us and slightly in our direction; suddenly it was obvious it had a small mammal on its back and this was a struggle for life.

The woodpecker landed in front of us and I feared the worst. I guess though our presence, maybe 25 meters away, momentarily distracted the weasel. The woodpecker seized the opportunity and flew up and away into some bushes away to our left. Quickly the bird gathered its self respect and flew up into the trees and away from our sight.

The woodpecker left with its life. The weasel just disappeared into the long grass, hungry."

Via Never Yet Melted サ Photo of the Week

Crystal Moment

by Robert P. T. Coffin (1892–1955)

Once or twice this side of death
Things can make one hold his breath.

From my boyhood I remember
A crystal moment of September.

A wooded island rang with sounds
Of church bells in the throats of hounds.

A buck leaped out and took the tide
With jewels flowing past each side.

With his head high like a tree
He swam within a yard of me.

I saw the golden drop of light
In his eyes turned dark with fright.

I saw the forest’s holiness
On him like a fierce caress.

Fear made him lovely past belief,
My heart was trembling like a leaf.

He leans towards the land and life
With need above him like a knife.

In his wake the hot hounds churned
They stretched their muzzles out and yearned.

They bayed no more, but swam and throbbed
Hunger drove them till they sobbed.

Pursued, pursuers reached the shore
And vanished. I saw nothing more.

So they passed, a pageant such
As only gods could witness much,

Life and death upon one tether
And running beautiful together.

gvanderleun : March 3, 15  |  Your Say (9)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Get a New Workout

"I’m going to give you more
Of what you’ve been asking for,
But... Oh....
With a little less camel toe.
I’m uninhibited,
As I’ve already exhibited,
So let them stare and gawk,
I’m going to do my Prancercise walk...."

In the beginning there was.... Prancercise: The exercise sensation that's sweeping the nation @ AMERICAN DIGEST

gerardvanderleun : March 2, 15  |  Your Say (14)  | PermaLink: Permalink

American Studies

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gerardvanderleun : March 1, 15  |  Your Say (8)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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It's always seemed to me that, no matter where I've gone in the world, any sane man of even modest intelligence who has gotten the merest shred of a slice of the white privileged lifestyle has enjoyed it immensely.

And wanted more.

This seems to be the case regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or sexuality.

Especially when they realize that there really is no color bar to white privilege, and hasn't been for some time.

Cash is king.

And has been for a long time.

gerardvanderleun : March 1, 15  |  Your Say (12)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Citizens

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Michelle Obama's Mirror: Missing Breitbart – Still

Three years after his death, and we’re still missing Breitbart. Why? Many reasons: because he was so good at exposing lies, half-truths and obfuscation, because nobody has stepped in to fill the void. Butt mostly because he was such a symbol of what we inherently know we need to beat back our generation’s evil empires, both foreign and domestic: a fighter, a no-holds-barred, take no prisoners sort of warrior.

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gerardvanderleun : March 1, 15  |  Your Say (1)  | PermaLink: Permalink

"A master doesn't retire. A master doesn't stop. They do it until they're dead."

Shokunin (Sho-koo-neen)

is a Japanese word used to describe an individual that aspires to become a master in their particular craft or art form. Ryan Neil falls firmly into this description, as he has been practicing the art of Bonsai for nearly two decades. In this short film, we get a glimpse at the broader thinking behind a professional American Bonsai practitioner, as well as some of the inherent challenges and aspirations that come along with the pursuit for bonsai mastery in America.
More at Ryan and Chelsea Neil's Bonsai Mirai

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gerardvanderleun : February 28, 15  |  Your Say (4)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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"And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:
One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see." And I saw.
And behold, a white horse."

"The Man Comes Around" is a song that I wrote, it's my song of the apocalypse, and I got the idea from a dream that I had — I dreamed I saw Queen Elizabeth. I dreamed I went in to Buckingham Palace, and there she sat on the floor. And she looked up at me and said, "Johnny Cash, you're like a thorn tree in a whirlwind." And I woke up, of course, and I thought, what could a dream like this mean? Thorn tree in a whirlwind? Well, I forgot about it for two or three years, but it kept haunting me, this dream. I kept thinking about it, how vivid it was, and then I thought, Maybe it's biblical. So I found it. Something about whirlwinds and thorn trees in the Bible. So from that, my song started and..." -- Johnny Cash
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gerardvanderleun : February 27, 15  |  Your Say (2)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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With that wonderful dead crab and wet kelp flavor.

Giant Frozen Waves Infused with Ice Slowly Roll in off the Coast of NantucketEarlier this week photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh was walking along the coast of Nantucket when he noticed something odd about the waves crashing on shore. The high temperature was 19°F (-7.2°C) and while the waves weren’t completely frozen, they were thick with pieces of ice, much like the consistency of a Slurpee, or an slushy, or an ICEE, or whatever.

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gerardvanderleun : February 27, 15  |  Your Say (0)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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San Francisco Debuts Human Waste Map What do you get when you visit San Francisco, the city with the highest tech and the lowest morals? If your answer is, "An online map showing block by block where the human excrement is", you'd be 100% correct! Every city has a crime map, showing block by block where crime is, but only San Francisco has a human waste map, showing block by block where to watch your step!
Catching up with me from years ago....
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San Francisco, the nation's leading open air exhibition of failed social policies, never fails to instruct one in the infinite disabilities of social utopianism. Although large sections of this city still retain their charm in the far or middle distance -- the swooping helicopter pan shot in from the Golden Gate; the brightly painted Cable Car cresting a backlit hilltop -- most soon lose all charm in close-up.

Example: A clear and crisp dawn in a small side street near Laguna and Hayes. Plantings in all the window boxes, well but not fussily painted facades. A few, very small, very well kept front yards. Clean curtained windows. All in all a pretty and quiet moment in the city's morning. Then, between two of the cars on the street and a bulging shopping cart on the curb, I noticed a man who has obviously slept rough for at least 200 consecutive days turning in a slow pirouette and gazing intently at the ground. Then he lowered himself delicately down between an Audi and an SUV.

Seeing no real reason not to stroll on past, I did and noted that the man, pants to his ankles, was relieving himself. I was to see this behavior twice in a single day in San Francisco. And I was in the better neighborhoods.

In the course of a random walk of four hours through the most touristed sections of the city, this scene was only the most unhappily memorable of a serious of disturbing moments. Perhaps they only disturbed because they were playing out against the postcards of my memories of San Francisco during the six years I had lived and worked there in the early 70s; against even deeper images of the city in the Summer of 1968.

Against memory any present day moment would pale as nostalgia took its toll. You'd be prepared, at the least, to be disappointed since feeling that the past is preferable to the present is a common human instinct. What you're not prepared to be is disturbed but yet not shocked. After all, you've read and heard about it for years. No matter. The actual San Francisco of the present is a clear reminder that the rap is not the territory.

The extent to which the homeless, the hard-core unemployed, the drunk and the addicted, and general shabby personalities of all kinds are deployed about the city is something to bring even the most hard-core liberal from elsewhere up short. If the myriad policies and millions man-years of effort, coupled with untold billions of dollars in funding deployed in San Francisco over the last four decades have created the current visible result, something is seriously askew with the city's basic social engineering. It is as if the entire region has spent 40 years and 400 billion building a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge on Ocean Beach intending to span the Pacific. A good intention, but a city's gotta know its limitations.

Strolling San Francisco past the blanket wrapped souls that sleep upright in bus shelters, past the ad-hoc shanty towns of clustered shopping carts, past lone men swaddled in sleeping bags on a stretch of stained concrete with only a fence and a warning between them and a few meager blades of grass; all this gives one a deep sense of unease and unmitigated tragedy after the 20th exposure. After the 50th they just fade into the background body count, one more item of the city's detritus -- the sudden sirens, the litter shuffled about by the wind, the hysterical graffiti and the crass billboard ads and signs announcing yet another source of 24 hour lap dancing, the pockets of schizophrenic pan handlers, the others. All just part of San Francisco's rich tapestry of diversification through stupefaction.

Seeing so many driven so low -- and this in what still passes as "the better neighborhoods" -- you have to wonder what happened to, and what is still happening to, the billions of public funds being compulsively shoved at this problem. Where has the money and time and good intentions all gone.

The best that can be said is that it has provided lifetime employment in various government and private agencies for those who would otherwise be part of the problem they have sworn to solve. In a way, although it is commonly thought that poverty creates homelessness, it is also as correct to say that agencies set up to combat homelessness have a deep and abiding interest in preserving it. This interest and these agencies are now such a permanent feature of our government that there is virtually no chance of disbanding or eliminating them. Ever. The best that can be done is to slow, if possible, the growth of their funding since increased funding primarily swells the size of their employee pool and thus perpetuates and enhances their power.

A cynical person might believe that THISF ( "The Homeless Industry of San Francisco)", which recently merged with the Free Schizophrenics Movement (FSM), exists not to curtail suffering but to expand its scope. After all, were the number of the homeless to actually diminish in San Francisco, the number of those serving the insatiable needs of this group would also be expected to fall.

A cynical person would believe that an institutionalized, unionized group with excellent benefits and a fine pension plan would never knowingly do anything that would lower its customer base. Indeed, it would be much more likely to make the description of its customer increasingly complex so that ever more people would be discovered to be lacking in basic social services.

A cynical person would believe that the industry's customer base in San Francisco was booming. Booming to the extent that this year, and the next, and the years that come after the years after, the nation, state and city will all require more and more money from the citizens to continue to not solve homelessness.

But I am not that cynical person. I see hope in the small things, the little signs on the street that not all the homeless wish to remain so; that some of them still possess the classic American entrepreneurial spirit.

Example: At night in the same day as dawn above. I am walking down Laguna Street towards Hayes with an old friend. We have just been to a party and to drinks after and are feeling very in charge of the night. As we walk down the block I can see we are coming up on a parking lot behind a chain-link, razor-wire capped fence. I notice something odd in the fence.

When we get up to it I can see it is a used -- very used -- fishing rod of uncertain vintage and battered aspect. Instead of fishing line, rough brown twine comes up through the line loops on the rod and dangles down from the tip about 11 feet above the sidewalk. On the end of the twine, is a used -- very used -- large Starbucks coffee cup. The twine is very carefully woven into the lip of the cup. On the cup itself a grimy 3x5 card is taped. Printed on the card in hasty letters is the word "Please."

That's it. Just hanging there in the middle of the block panhandling for its owner well out of standard pan handling hours. We glance inside and it's working. There's about three dollars in change at the bottom.

Cynical men would have emptied it out to feed the parking meters for their Escalades. Not having Escalades we just chipped in and strolled on by.

Still, it was nice to know that somewhere in the vast and increasing army of the homeless now occupying The Streets of San Francisco was at least one soul who pushed aside total dependency and chose, instead, innovation in his or her chosen field of endeavor. You'd think that the vast apparatus that exists to keep people from begging on the street could learn a bit about begging from this constituent. But then again, why should they? Getting more money to do less from San Franciscans these days is like shooting fish in a barrel; a large barrel and a lot of very fat-headed fish.

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gerardvanderleun : February 27, 15  |  Your Say (6)  | PermaLink: Permalink

5-Minute Arguments

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“I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which might be linked unto a system of gears where teeth have been filed off at random. Such snaggle-toothed thought machine, driven by a standard or even by a substandard libido, whirls with the jerky, noisy, gaudy pointlessness of a cuckoo clock in Hell.

The boss G-man concluded wrongly that there were no teeth on the gears in the mind of Jones. 'You're completely crazy,' he said.

Jones wasn't completely crazy. The dismaying thing about classic totalitarian mind is that any given gear, thought mutilated, will have at its circumference unbroken sequences of teeth that are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined.

Hence the cuckoo clock in Hell - keeping perfect time for eight minutes and twenty-three seconds, jumping ahead fourteen minutes, keeping perfect time for six seconds, jumping ahead two seconds, keeping perfect time for two hours and one second, then jumping ahead a year.

The missing teeth, of course, are simple, obvious truths, truths available and comprehensible even to ten-year-olds, in most cases.

The wilful filling off a gear teeth, the wilful doing without certain obvious pieces of information -

That was how a household as contradictory as one composed of Jones, Father Keeley, Vice-Bundesfuehrer Krapptauer, and the Black Fuehrer could exist in relative harmony -

That was how my father-in-law could contain in one mind an indifference toward slave women and love for a a blue vase -

That was how Rudolf Hess, Commandant of Auschwitz, could alternate over the loudspeakers of Auschwitz great music and calls for corpse-carriers -

That was how Nazi Germany sense no important difference between civilization and hydrophobia -

That is the closest I can come to explaining the legions, the nations of lunatics I've seen in my time.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

gerardvanderleun : February 26, 15  |  Your Say (2)  | PermaLink: Permalink

InVerse

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I.

Her sinewed arms bend oars downstream,
Her belly taut against the eddied swirls
And shifting shoals of sand and silt.

Soft plash of water against the hull,
As, on the lift of wind and loft of wave,
Her legs push and her breasts swell

To the slow rotating stroke on stroke
That guides her craft past rocks and reeds
Where bighorns graze and beavers slap the pool.

Her hair, rayed out, enfolds the sun.
Her downed thighs surge and shift
To the tempo of the current's heart,

And her shoulders roll, her shoulders roll
The long blue oars through shafts of sun,
Through canyons carved from time.

II.

Unknowing, and yet knowing, I boarded her silver boat,
Armed with maps and memoirs,with the latest equipment;
With the whole weight of the world compressed into a sack.
And we cast off when the sun slid above the canyon's rim.

All day we slid past walls of slate, the hawk our only witness,
Past pages of the Book of Earth no living soul could hope to read.
I lay upon the cushioned deck, soothed by the lull and surge of rapids,
And watched her eyes become the stream, as time was silenced by her touch.

Her face, at first quite modern, changed; Diana, mistress of the moon,
Emerged to meet my gaze.The air grew still. A silken shawl
Seemed draped upon the river's skin.The sun breathed in and paused.

It was then her voice, a whisper across a glacier, moved within my mind,
And in that place, removed from time, this timeless tale she told....

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Vanderleun : February 26, 15  |  Your Say (6)  | PermaLink: Permalink

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By Mail: Gerard Van der Leun | c/o Lake Union Mail | 117 East Louisa, #380 | Seattle, WA 98102

"So what?"

I do not see, or care, why it is thought my duty to like, or dislike,

groups because of their race, creed, color, sex, sexual aberration, or national origin. Nor do I think it their duty to like me. I especially do not understand why the federal government should decide with whom I ought to associate. But back to "So what?" Among its charms is that there is no answer to it, other than huffing and puffing and indignant expostulation. All of these amuse me. Used frequently, "So what?"would shut up people who badly need to shut up, or else force them to think. Not likely, as most apparently cannot. Fred On Everything



Canadians Are Spocking Their Fives

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Bank of Canada is pleading with Star Trek fans to stop “Spocking” its five dollar bills. Since Leonard Nimoy’s death, Canadian folks have been “Spocking” the hell out of the five dollar bill that features a portrait of Canada’s seventh prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier.Sir Wilfrid now sports, on certain bills at least, pointy ears, the signature Vulcan haircut and eyebrows and Spock’s mantra “Live long and prosper.” Never Yet Melted

At Wesleyan University, if you’re oppressed, there’s a “safe space” for you.

Just when you’d gotten the hang of LGBTQ, they go and triple the number of categories. Wesleyan University is now offering a “safe space” (formerly known as a “dorm”) for students of the LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM persuasions
, or, for those who need things spelled out, for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Flexual, Asexual, Genderfuck, Polyamourous, Bondage/Disciple, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism student acolytes. If you are so heteronormative as to see the word “FAG” in the center of that jumble, you will surely not be allowed into the “safe space,” known as Open House. Not Your Parents' Open House


“More research is needed,” say all the people who make money from such pointless research.

It should also be noted, for the benefit of credulous materialists, that the time and money invested in gathering and analyzing inconsequential health statistics subtracts from serious medical research into suspected causes of disease — including the hard and focused epidemiology that can usefully assist.
Resources for such work are always finite, yet almost everything I see flagged in the media is an example of resources bled away. A deeper note needs to be sounded, however, against the consistent tendency of all this “pop,” or more precisely, “crap science.” The target will ever be some innocent human pleasure; genuinely sinful ones with direct and potentially grave health consequences (sexual promiscuity, for instance, or sodomy), are shied away from, for fear of the politically correct. Cutting down : Essays in Idleness


If we sat down to think about what’s really important to us,

we might come up with qualities like fairness, kindness, responsibility, loyalty, and mutual respect. It seems like all of the major problems in the world are caused by a small contingent of bad apples, who simply shun these important qualities and ruin it for kind, responsible, honest and fair people like ourselves.
I think this is wishful thinking. The truth is that all of us — even those of us who feel like good people — are almost comically terrible at achieving these qualities, yet we expect them as a matter of course from each other and ourselves. Our incredulous response to scandal and selfishness suggests that we believe any of us could, at any moment, snap out of our self-interest and dysfunction, and make the world the place it should have been all along. This Just In: Humans Are Bad at Everything That’s Important


Nimoy: Spock Before Spock

A fascinating early performance by Nimoy, preceding Star Trek by three years,
is of the character Roger, in the American film version of Jean Genet's The Balcony, directed by Joseph Strickland (1963). While fierce combat among various parties in a civil war is raging outside a brothel, inside the prostitutes are acting out various fantasies with the patrons; the chief of police, played by Peter Falk, sets up one of the customers, played by Nimoy, in a scenario with the brothel's accountant, who is wearing a glittering, diaphanous gown, tempting him in a stark, rocky setting that evokes one of the planetary landscapes found later in Star Trek. The Smart Set: The Undiscovered Country - March 2, 2015


Sweet Briar Girls

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Sweet Briar girls seemed to us representatives of Yankeedom like exotic specimens imported from a distant, more tropical habitat.
But, though they were obviously the offspring of wealthier and more socially prominent families than most of ours, they were also clearly the products of a rural culture, and were more interested in talking about their horses and sport than in calculatingly sizing you up, in the manner of Vassar, as a potential husband and breadwinner. I remember having more fun at the Sweet Briar mixer than at any of the others I attended that year. Never Yet Melted サ Sweet Briar To Close Next August


So it pulls away from the station and into the tunnel and I’m thinking this can’t possibly get any worse.

Then our conductor starts to make an announcement about delays or something but I can barely understand him because he’s mumbling like an idiot.
And that’s when I notice that we’re now above ground, which is odd because this line doesn’t normally go over a bridge. Except I realize we’re not on a bridge—we’re on a barge heading out to sea. Then the conductor says something else, and this time I barely make out the words. He says, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are being held momentarily on a barge heading out to sea. Thank you for your patience.” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Sorry I’m Late, But This Morning’s Commute Was a Killer.


I'm installing this in all the supermarkets in a 20 mile radius of my house

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Obvious Plant

“Picking fights and causing trouble....”

In late January, Chinese authorities announced that they are considering formal charges against Pu Zhiqiang, one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers, who has been in detention since last May.
Pu’s friends fear that even a life sentence is possible. The crime? “Picking fights and causing trouble,” and other related offenses, on his microblog. Even amid a growing wave of repression under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the outlandish nature of these pending charges stands out. Pu’s short, Twitter-like posts to his Weibo account are unusual for their cleverness, but do not really stand out by the standards of the Chinese Internet. After the authorities’ list of allegedly criminal posts was leaked, comments like this appeared: “What’s so new? We’ve been talking like this for years” and “If these are crimes, can the prisons hold a few million more?” If the case results in a criminal conviction and a lengthy prison term, the effects on China’s Internet will be devastating. The casual sarcasm that has been the coin of its realm will suddenly become perilous, and self-censorship will become even more pervasive than it already is. Such an outcome, though, would be quite in line with the general chill on dissent that Xi Jinping has brought to China during the last two years. China: Inventing a Crime by Perry Link | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books


What Is America’s Worst Restaurant Chain?

And the winner is.....
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The biggest sin, in my eyes at least, is the stubborn refusal to just admit they are serving food of the lowest common denominator. Adding words like “artisan” and “handcrafted” is all smoke and mirrors to cover up the fact that most of the food is reheated on-site. It’s irony and BS of the highest degree, but hey, that’s marketing! - Chow / Food News

And so say we all....

Sometimes I think this blog could consist entirely of daily links to the writings of Richard Fernandez and some choice excerpts, and it would be a net gain for my readers. neo-neocon Catch up with Fernandez She's right. If there is a single genius revealed by blogging, it is Fernandez

Archaeologists find untouched ruins in their search for the Lost City of the Monkey God

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By the 1930s, there were rumors of a place in Honduras called the "City of the Monkey God", which was equated with Ciudad Blanca, and in 1939 adventurer Theodore Morde claimed to have found it and brought thousands of artifacts back to the United States to prove it. According to Morde, the indigenous people said a giant statue of a monkey god was buried there. He never revealed the precise location of his find as he feared the site would be looted and died before returning to the site for a proper excavation. | Ancient Origins

Russia: Another Dead Democrat

Before the murder Nemtsov had dinner at a restaurant on Red Square, just minutes from the bridge, with a female companion (who was with him when he was shot and survived the shooting unscathed).
It would have been impossible to know beforehand when they would leave the restaurant and where they would go next, without tapping into Nemtsov’s cell phone or lingering in the area waiting for them, which would have immediately attracted the attention of the ubiquitous surveillance cameras. (And of course Nemtsov, as a major opposition figure with a history of antagonizing the government, was likely under surveillance himself.) The killers were highly professional, judging from the accurate shots in Nemtsov’s heart, lungs, and head. They must have been confident of their impunity to act so boldly. The newspaper Kommersant has reported that the video surveillance cameras were not operating at the place of the shooting. They were allegedly “under repair.” by Amy Knight | NYRblog


“One day you’ll know what age feels like—that is, if you don’t die trying.”

The young’uns these days have no qualms about mocking the elderly, the near-elderly, and anyone at least a year or two older than they are.
And they do it in ways that would be considered unforgivably hateful if directed against, say, a gay black midget. Hating people merely because they plopped out of their mother’s punani a dozen or more revolutions around the sun before you did is not only tolerated among the young—it often seems to be encouraged. We witness endless torrents of scalding verbal acid flung at “old white men” whose demographic demise is celebrated as a historical inevitability and a triumph of justice rather than, say, some kind of quietly orchestrated genocide. -- Is it a Hate Crime to Call Madonna a Shriveled-Up Old Hag?


He's Got Some Balls

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What's up with that shoulder decoration?

Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God' A man has been accused of encouraging hundreds of followers to be castrated in a promise for them to become closer to God. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, an Indian pop-star and telepreacher with a reported wealth of more than $50 million, is being investigated after he allegedly manipulated around 400 men to get their testicles removed – according to India Today.

In the custodial state, however, the cops function as hyper-violent helicopter parents.

If a citizen is doing something the authorities think is unsafe or uncooperative,
the state sends in a swat team as a “show of force” or worse. There are over 50,000 SWAT raids a year in America. Most are for things like serving a summons or collecting non-violent parolees. The argument is the cops don’t know what they are getting into so for their safety they send in Seal Team Six.
This is the logic of the managerial class. Police departments have arrived at a bizarre sense of self-awareness where they no longer see themselves as part of the community. They stand apart from those they watch, like game keepers in a preserve. While their job is to keep the animals safe, their first priority is their own safety above all else, fueled by a deep distrust of those they supervise. The Show of Force at The Z Blog


Here you see the hive mind at work.

At some level, the author and his [Envirowhacko] coreligionists believe that the presence of even one non-believer keeps them from reaching the promised land.
Just as ISIS is focused on purifying their lands by ridding it of every last infidel, the modern liberal obsesses over the dwindling number of non-believers in the West. The other fascinating thing is that these utopians never take yes for an answer. That’s because they can’t. What animates their faith is the struggle. Gaia Worship at The Z Blog


A Target Rich Environment: Beyond Weslyan's LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM Safe House

Despite the seemingly all-inclusive aspirations of the LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM acronym, the university recognizes that not every student will feel comfortable in this new “safe space.”
To accommodate still further variations in student interest, Wesleyan’s Office of Residential Life offers a variety of unique living options. Farm House provides students “interested in the politics and culture of food production and sustainability a place to cultivate a mutualistic relationship with the earth that provides them with their lunch everyday.” Residents of Earth House can “espouse the values and principles of social ecology, deep ecology, and eco-feminism” while simultaneously “challenging traditional social structures and replacing them with new, creative and egalitarian alternatives.” African-American upperclassmen are welcome to apply to live in Malcolm X House, where they can dedicate themselves to “the exploration and celebration of the cultural heritage of the African Diaspora, both for themselves and for the larger Wesleyan community.” Turath House is for Arab, Middle Eastern, and Muslim students looking “to articulate their views and express and affirm their culture and religion without fear of harassment and discrimination.” Not Your Parents' Open House by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal 26 February 2015


The basalt principle of current American governance is that you can fool enough of the people enough of the time.

The smart can safely be ignored.
People with capacious and well-stocked mental larders are statistically insignificant. Thus candidates campaign by grinning and smirking, hiding whatever intelligence they may have, and professing sympathy for orphans and the downtrodden. In France, a candidate with the mind of a lawn chair would be held in contempt, but in America he is thought to be of the people, and authentic. Unfortunately, he is. Fred On Everything


"Maybe it pays to pick a fight with Obama."

Netanyahu more popular than Obama in the USA, according to Gallup 45% of Americans approve of Benjamin Netanyahu -- only 44% approve of Barack Obama, Gallup polls found.

The plant has the capacity to process 400,000 pounds of Dell's Maraschino Cherries a week.

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It also had the capacity to crank out large quantities of indoor marijuana.
Once investigators discovered a hidden room behind a flimsy wall in a basement storage room, they uncovered a grow-op that could hold 1,200 plants. When investigators unearthed a basement full of luxury cars, suspicions were aroused, and they then found some "suspicious shelving," which turned out to be a fake wall held fast by magnets. They opened the door and the rich, rank odor of marijuana burst from it.

That's when Mondella, who had been cooperating in the hours-long "inspection," ran into a nearby bathroom, locked the door, told his sister "Take care of my kids," and shot himself in the head.Maraschino Cherry Mogul Kills Self As Cops Discover Huge Marijuana Grow | Alternet



The New York Times readership, in a nutshell

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Gavin McInnes on Twitter:

We have the responsiveness of a corpse

We are conflict-averse. We want to be left alone but by ironic consequence, we will not be. As a whole we have tended to confuse Christianity with passivity, and civility with letting things slide, as if the whole message of the Gospels and the entire content of tolerant civilization consisted of taking punches on the chin and begging for more. Mein Kampf in the Piety Stall | Belmont Club

Is scientism defensible?

The Folly of Scientism @ The New Atlantis
Is it really true that natural science provides a satisfying and reasonably complete account of everything we see, experience, and seek to understand — of every phenomenon in the universe? And is it true that science is more capable, even singularly capable, of answering the questions that once were addressed by philosophy? This subject is too large to tackle all at once. But by looking briefly at the modern understandings of science and philosophy on which scientism rests, and examining a few case studies of the attempt to supplant philosophy entirely with science, we might get a sense of how the reach of scientism exceeds its grasp.



"Who is gonna make it? We'll find out in the long run / I know we can take it if our love is a strong one "

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Couple, Ages 108 and 105, Celebrate 82 Years of Marriage
Veillard starts his day at 5 a.m. and does five to seven pushups. For breakfast, he has a cup of tea, oatmeal and fresh fruit. Lunch and dinner consist of fish and fresh vegetables. The centenarians nap early and often. The couple do not leave their house except to see the doctor. Neither walks without assistance. But both are looking forward to celebrating another landmark in their life. Veillard also let The Journal News in on his secret for living a long and healthy life: “That’s God,” he said in French Creole.


Rock On

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Two hours east of Los Angeles, three hours west of Las Vegas,
and many miles from the nearest traffic light or roadside diner lies a single boulder in the Mojave Desert claimed to be the largest rock in the world—at least until 2000, when a large chunk broke off, neatly and without provocation. Now split in two, it is still called Giant Rock. Graffiti blackens the lower surface and ATVs roar nearby. There is an occasional tourist. CABINET // Mass Effect


We are a silly people ... a foolish people ...

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The dress that broke the Internet
A badly lit photograph of a $77 off-the-rack dress broke the Internet Friday, spawning arguments, memes and half-baked pseudo-scientific explanations over the viral frock's real colors. By some reckonings, Buzzfeed invented "viral," but its deputy news director, Jon Passatino, appeared truly surprised by just how many clicks the dress generated. He tweeted that it broke the site's traffic records, with more than 670,000 people viewing the post simultaneously at one point and garnering 16 million hits in six hours.


Here’s the job description:

Needed, a U.S. president able to confront a world in chaos,
rebuild shattered alliances, revive the country’s demoralized intelligence services and senior officer corps, manage foreign and domestic demands with a budget that will be drained for years by fantastically expensive debt servicing, and along the way restore public faith in an array of deeply politicized federal bureaucracies—Justice, HHS, EPA, Labor, Internal Revenue, the NLRB, FCC, EEOC, even the Federal Reserve. -- Captain America Won’t Save Us - WSJ


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