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"The mosquito is the state bird of New Jersey."- Andy Warhol

Bird Dog: "For all you do, this one's for you."

gerardvanderleun : December 20, 14  |  Your Say (7)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Newgrange.jpg

Deep inside the world's oldest known building, every year, for only as much as 17 minutes, the sun -- at the exact moment of the winter solstice -- shines directly down a long corridor of stone and illuminates the inner chamber at Newgrange.

Newgrange was built 1,000 years before Stonehenge and also predates the pyramids by more than 500 years.

Lost and forgotten along with the civilization that built it, the site was been rediscovered in 1699. Excavation began in the late 1800s and continued in fits and starts, until it was undertaken in earnest in 1962. It was completed in 1975.

NEWGRANGE.jpgSeen as a tomb, the function of Newgrange in regards to the solstice wasn't known until 1967 -- and then by happenstance acting on a hunch. It was in December of 1967 that the astronomical alignment was witnessed and understood:

Michael O'Kelly drove from his home in Cork to Newgrange. Before the sun came up he was at the tomb, ready to test his theory.

'I was there entirely alone. Not a soul stood even on the road below. When I came into the tomb I knew there was a possibility of seeing the sunrise because the sky had been clear during the morning.'

He was, however, quite unprepared for what followed. As the first rays of the sun appeared above the ridge on the far bank of the River Boyne, a bright shaft of orange light struck directly through the roofbox into the heart of the tomb.

'I was literally astounded. The light began as a thin pencil and widened to a band of about 6 in. There was so much light reflected from the floor that I could walk around inside without a lamp and avoid bumping off the stones. It was so bright I could see the roof 20ft above me.

'I expected to hear a voice, or perhaps feel a cold hand resting on my shoulder, but there was silence. And then, after a few minutes, the shaft of light narrowed as the sun appeared to pass westward across the slit, and total darkness came once more.'

Since that time, people from all over the world have made the pilgrimage to Newgrange to bear witness to this ancient ritual begun over 5,000 years ago and only brought back into the light for the last 40.

The unknown makers built well. And they built for a very long time:

Five thousand years ago, the people who farmed in the lush pastures of the Boyne Valley hauled 200,000 tons of stone from the river bank a mile away and began to build Newgrange. At the foot of the mound, they set ninety-seven massive kerbstones and carved many of them with intricate patterns. Inside, with 450 slabs, they built a passage leading to a vaulted tomb, and placed a shallow basin of golden stone in each of its three side chambers.

Like so much else from the Age of Myth the "why" of it all at Newgrange will never be known. The people who took 20 years to move 200,000 tons of rock left us no clues beyond the spiraling runes cut into the rock. Like all the mysteries that emerge from time with no footnotes, it is left to us to make what meaning we can from them. But perhaps this one monument from the Age of Myth gives us, every year, one small hint.

No matter what time and the universe can throw at us, we still go on. To remind ourselves that we have and shall endure and prevail, we still mark our small planet's turn around our home star. We mark it with ceremonies every year when, at this moment in time, the sun begins to rise higher to warm us again in our small patch of heaven. And we are still here to bear witness, no matter how shrill the Acolytes of Zero, to the mystery and the gift. We're a tough race and a rough species. It will take more than a few degrees centigrade, one way or another, to finish us.

The light of the solstice pierces to the heart of the tomb at Newgrange, and then, soon after, the Light of World arrives. Two moments that remind us of the many manifest miracles of God. Reminders that no winter is without end and that The Gift is given to us again. If we can but receive it.

Vanderleun : December 20, 14  |  Your Say (40)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Via Word | Western Rifle Shooters Association

gerardvanderleun : December 19, 14  |  Your Say (0)  | PermaLink: Permalink

The Worst of MSNBC in 2014 | Washington Free Beacon by David Rutz

MSNBC in 2014 was so much like other years: low-rated and highly ridiculous. New hosts made their debuts and didn’t disappoint. Joy Reid offered an on-air “trigger warning” that Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) would utter the unforgivable term “Redskins,” while Ronan Farrow led a discussion on the racial diversity of emojis, among their more sterling segments....
Al Sharpton had a hell of a time with the teleprompter for the fourth straight year, celebrating National Breast Awareness Month and saying “nothing compares to Nazi Journey, Germany.” Ed Schultz, firmly entrenched on weeknights after being temporarily benched in 2013, delivered gems like telling Obama to “bring it from your loins” and saying not raising the minimum wage was as racist as Donald Sterling. Alex Wagner, now the wife of Obama’s former head chef, complained the IRS was the group actually being targeted, despite the agency being under investigation for its scrutiny of conservatives.
Again, the burning question of 2014 remains, "If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we get a drone strike when we really need one?"

gerardvanderleun : December 19, 14  |  Your Say (3)  | PermaLink: Permalink

adalimelt.jpg

SlowDead this morning. evening Very much so. Server load Dali's problems at the host persist. Der elves be verking on it.

UPDATE:

[SERVERS] Dali issues ← Hosting Matters Status Page (Remote) Dali was not just surreal in real life: Dali’s namesake server is generating hardware-related notices in the system logs that are creating sustained load averages with occasional spikes that result in various services shutting down and restarting. The issues we are seeing are not in line with what we would expect to see with the rather moderate number of errors. We began notifying clients with data on that server about emergency migrations to other servers within the network earlier.
Some issues persist and we may have lost some comments made in the last 10-12 hours.

Sigh....

gerardvanderleun : December 19, 14  |  Your Say (5)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Drive-By

Any resemblance to my family's Christmas dinners is a slur on our reputations and will be answered by lawsuits that will give our enemies a permanent facial twitch.

gerardvanderleun : December 18, 14  |  Your Say (1)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Luc Bergeron (aka Zapatou)

has put a gigantic sampling together for his annual supercut “Best of Web”. This year he’s stitched together a whopping 233 viral video clips to create 6 minutes of non-stop action.

What were they all? Go here for the Official list of Best of Web 7

gerardvanderleun : December 18, 14  |  Your Say (4)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Note: This essay was written September 4, 2004 -- In another life. In another place. In another time. But then, given Pakistan today, not really another place or another time after all.



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handwithcrucifixbeslan.jpgThe boy that lies in his father's lap covered with crusts of blood gazing upward at nothing, nothing at all except his own pain.

The soldier with the unlit cigarette carrying the little girl in filthy underwear with a long smear of blood across her nose and down her chin.

The child's small hand with the dry pool of blood in the palm and the small gold crucifix lying in it.

The stretcher being run past the camera carrying what might, under the burns and the blood, be a young girl.... and another, and another, and another, and another, and another....

I began to gather these images yesterday, I think. Or was it the day before? I'm not really sure. The cascade of outrages, the piling of atrocity on top of atrocity, has become so unremitting that it is sometimes difficult to know where one episode of evil ends and another begins.

The waves keep coming and, because they are always to your back, they keep slamming you down into the hardpacked sand. You pick yourself up and spin around to face the next wave, but this sea of evil is cunning and the next wave will always come from behind your back no matter which direction you face. All you can know now is that there will be another one, and it will come at your back in the way the bullets came for the backs of the children in Russia.

Because I am both too old and too distant to either pick up a weapon to defend, or offer help and comfort to the wounded or the dying, I am forced back on silly, futile, small gestures such as gathering images of the atrocities. In this I disgust myself and, like those who did not stand with Henry V, hold my manhood cheap.

I thought that, perhaps, I could gather enough of them and arrange a kind of gallery as a testament, my own small memorial, to the children who were shot in the back or otherwise slaughtered by the diseased "militants" who thought nothing of these lives taken for their vile cause and their vile god. Somehow I would, I imagined, at least bear my own small witness among the millions of others doing the same around the world tonight.

And so I collected the images. I selected ones that showed the fascist smirk that always rises dark above any slaughter of innocents. I selected ones that revealed the courage of those who would try to rescue them. I found and saved some that revealed the chaos and sharp edge of the moment when all that a child may have in front of him is ripped out of him. I saved 10 images, saved 20, saved 40 and then came to the 41st photograph and stopped.

I stopped because in that one image, grainy, indistinct and from the far side of the world in a situation I could not imagine, I saw the one thing I was not expecting to see at all.

No, that's not it. It was not what I saw but what I recognized.

What I recognized was something that I could not see in the picture, but a recognition that came to me through the picture. I knew it immediately and at such a deep level that my first reaction was to look away, to go on to the next picture no matter what it was, to determine to never look at the 41st picture again.

But of course I did. I did because I had no choice. I had no choice because within this one picture I could see two separate episodes of my own life somehow together in one image that depicted an outcome that terrified me to the core of my being.

This is the picture I could not look at. This is the picture I must look at. I will try to explain -- not really to you, but to myself -- why it terrifies me more than all the other pictures.

She kneels among the dead children. She has long black hair pulled back and dresses in a loose black dress as she kneels at the head of her dead boy. She reaches out to touch, or perhaps arrange the hair, of her dead child. Her dark hair is parted in the middle and her arm seems to also be downed with dark hair. Her eyebrows too are dark and her skin olive. If I were to see this woman in another context, in a different and less death dominated photograph, at this focus and at this distance, I would think, for at least a long moment, that I was looking at my first wife.

She had this build, this coloring, the predilection for black clothing, and even an echo of the features of this woman since her ancestors came to America from the Balkans. She too would pull her hair back so. And she had, as I recall, the same ability to make a gesture that was at once strong and yet gentle when reaching out to touch our daughter when she was as young as the small dead boy that this woman caresses.

The life I had with my first wife was all long ago, and now I live far away in time, space and spirit from that woman as well as from that daughter. Now my life's setting is a small town, an ocean to the west, and a woman as different from my first wife as the sun is from the moon. And someone else as well.

In this life there is, to my continuing delight, a child. He's bright and funny and breathtakingly striking ten-year old boy so topped off with life and joy that he can stop your heart. At the present time, my step-son is fond of Nintendo, not at all fond of girls, keen for a swordfight about every ten minutes of his waking life, and both depressed and elated at the advent of the 5th grade at the opening of his school next week. If I could show you a picture of him you'd agree that he's a very promising young man.

And I can show you a picture of him.

He's up there, just above, my first wife's hand is touching him. Look carefully. You'll see him and her both. Together in one instant, in one impossible image.

If you are a parent, you know as all parents know, the single darkest and most secret fear of all. You know what I mean. Yes, that one. The one we never mention. The fear that it is forbidden to speak of. The one we don't speak of ... ever. The one that we push out of our thoughts before it even finishes forming. It is the fear you see there in that photograph. The photograph that shows you looking down at your murdered child.

That's what I saw in the photograph. I saw a wife and a son -- not mine, I knew, but mine just the same -- frozen forever in an instant that I prayed would never come to me, that would remain just what it was, a photograph of a woman and a child I recognized but did not know.

At some point in the last few days, I put my arms around my wife as we both looked out the kitchen window. From our small window you can see across the green and brindle hills down to the ocean where the slow Pacific swells roll onto Main Beach where a volleyball game is always on the schedule and the seagulls and surfers share the waves.

"Every single day," I said, " I thank God above that we are all here, in this good place, close to each other and still kept safe from things like those going on in Russia."

Next week my stepson will walk up the hill and take the bus to his first day of school. Seats will be assigned. He'll be given books and lists of supplies he must have. Nothing unusual will happen. In the afternoon, he will come home. My wife and I will have dinner with him, he'll do his homework and go to bed. It will be like that day after day. An ordinary life in an ordinary town in an ordinary time.

And the years will flow by and he'll go from strength to strength, from one bright moment to the next. His mother and I will watch him move ever upward into life as he gradually grows away from us and into his own life. This is how it was meant to be and how it will be. He will never be found in a photograph like the one I saw today. There's no place for him in the 41st photograph, the one I couldn't look at but saw just the same.

I am willing to do anything, anything at all, no matter what it may be, to keep him out of that photograph. That's my answer to what I saw. My question is, "Are you?"

Vanderleun : December 17, 14  |  Your Say (30)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Coming soon enough to a city near you. Because.... "it's judgment that defeats us."

132 children shot dead as Taliban gunmen storm military-run school in Peshawar in Pakistan The young boy described how, after they burst in shouting 'Allah-o-Akbar' - which means 'God is greatest' - one of them shouted: 'There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them'.

He said: 'I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.' Khan said he felt searing pain as he was shot in both his legs just below the knee. He decided to play dead, adding: 'I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn't scream. 'The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again. 'My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me -- I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.'

Kurtz: I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen.

But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror... Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies! I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it... I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God... the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us. Apocalypse Now (1979) - Quotes - IMDb

gerardvanderleun : December 16, 14  |  Your Say (18)  | PermaLink: Permalink

I'll see whatever diversity twerking pop culture you got and raise you three Celtic women.

gerardvanderleun : December 16, 14  |  Your Say (7)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Grace Notes

gerardvanderleun : December 15, 14  |  Your Say (9)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Okay, this holiday lights thing might just be getting a wee bit out of hand.



"Welcome to the houses on Manning Street.
We have 16 houses with Christmas lights coordinated to music. Christmas songs will change and be added through the weeks. We are also playing the music throughout the neighborhood so people can walk or you can tune your car radio to 92.5."
Yucaipa Christmas

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

Seems some people in Berkeley want to have the army in their city ..... Oh really? Is that what they want? Well, they need to be careful what they wish for.

Speaking as someone who has been in Berkeley when the army showed up; someone who's been shot at, chased through the streets, and then gassed from helicopters, everybody out and about in Berkeley might want to just shut up, go home, sit down and chill out.

This is how the army in the cities rolls. And it gets worse.

Well, I seen the fires burnin'
And the local people turnin'
On the merchants and the shops
Who used to sell their brooms and mops
And every other household item
Watched the mob just turn and bite 'em
And they say it served 'em right
Because a few of them are white,
And it's the same across the nation
Black and white discrimination
Yellin' "You can't understand me!"
'N all that other jazz they hand me
In the papers and TV and
All that mass stupidity
That seems to grow more every day
Each time you hear some nitwit say
He wants to go and do you in
Because the color of your skin
Just don't appeal to him
(No matter if it's black or white)
Because he's out for blood tonight

You know we got to sit around at home
And watch this thing begin
But I bet there won't be many live
To see it really end
'Cause the fire in the street
Ain't like the fire in the heart
And in the eyes of all these people
Don't you know that this could start
On any street in any town
In any state if any clown
Decides that now's the time to fight
For some ideal he thinks is right
And if a million more agree
There ain't no Great Society

Blow your harmonica, son!

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

"I'm not a singer. I'm a shouter." -- Grace Slick

gerardvanderleun : December 11, 14  |  Your Say (3)  | PermaLink: Permalink

The Amazing Grace Christmas House was located in Pleasant Grove, Utah and designed and programmed by Richard Holdman. A small little charity box placed in front of the display has raised more than $40,000 for the Utah Make-a-Wish Foundation. The display started in 2006 but traffic became too much of an issue and is no longer running.

You doubt me? Here's the complete show from 2010 in all its 15 glorious minutes of relentless inevitability. You can see why it had traffic backed up on the interstate all the way to Salt Lake City:

Click Here to Continue
gerardvanderleun : December 11, 14  |  Your Say (1)  | PermaLink: Permalink

The best. Just the best! A group of high school students gave the crowd a treat when they imagined how a group of monks under a vow of silence might put on a Christmas program.

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

Grace Notes

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Were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt.

         -- T. S. Eliot, "The Journey of the Magi"

Theirs was the Age of Myth; a world where night was not dimmed by the web of lights that now obscures the stars. Their nights were lit by flaring torches, dim oil lamps, guttering candles; by the phases of the moon and the broad shimmering river of the Milky Way. As the sun declined and night ascended, life withdrew into shuttered and barred homes. Only the very rich or the very poor were abroad in the dark.

The night sky, now so thin and distant, so seldom really seen, was to them as thick and close as a handful of coal studded with diamonds. They could turn it in their mind's eye even as it turned above them. They reclined on their hill sides, their roofs, or in rooms built for viewing and marking the moon and the stars. They watched it all revolve above them and sang the centuries down. They remembered. They kept records and told tales. They saw beings in the heavens -- gods and animals, giants and insects, all sparking the origins of myth -- and they knew that in some way all was connected to all; as above, so below, "on Earth as it is in Heaven". They studied the patterns of it all and from those repeating patterns fashioned our first science, astrology.

And, like all our other celebrated sciences since, they looked to astrology to give them hints about the future, about what they should do, what they should expect, what they should become. They looked to their science then, as many look to their science now, to remove their doubt.

In time stronger, more intricately argued sciences would rise upon the structures of the proto-sciences of astrology and alchemy; sciences that chained demons with data. These new data-based sciences would push the first sciences into the realm of myth, speculation, superstition and popular fantasy. And, as it is with our advertising, promise, big promise is the soul of our brave new sciences.

The new sciences, you see, are much, much more about "Reality" than the old sciences. They will never be tossed aside as so many playthings of mankind's youth. The authority of our astronomy, our biology, our physics, our chemistry and others is, we fervently believe, as certain as the pole star. Unlike astrology and alchemy, they will never be questioned; they will be built upon.

It is a central tenet of our faith in science that the new will encompass the old in one endless and eternal conservation of sense and sensibility. In this cathedral we worship a database. We can see outward to the edge of what is, and downward into time was to (almost) the moment of Creation. We can see inward into (almost) the mute heart of matter. We have the proven method. We have the hard evidence. We know that nothing is, in time, beyond our knowing. All doubt has been removed. We are the Alpha and Omega. Our science is now as eternal and as deeply grounded in truth as... well, as astrology was in 5 B.C.

Somewhere around 5 B.C. three of the world's leading astronomers/astrologers noticed something unusual in the sky. It could have been a comet. It could have been a supernova. It could have been a rare conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. Whatever it was, it was strange enough for them to travel towards it. Or so it is said. Or so it is written. Or so it is remembered from the time of myth.

Myth or history? What is the reality of this road trip towards an obscure birth in a wretched town, during a not very pleasant passage in history, over 2,000 years in our past?

We do not know. We cannot know. As it is in so much else that we ignore it is not given to us to know.

We have only shards of pottery and fragments of texts snatched from desert caves or teased out of the soil with tin trowels and brushes. We have only the sifted detritus of history; a global jigsaw puzzle where ninety-nine percent of the pieces have long gone to dust.

Our past is a handful of ashes. It is beyond our gift to ever know the difference between an inspiring folk tale and the eyewitness accounts of something that, even today, would occupy the realm of the miraculous. For today, in the realm of the mysteries, we no longer have any time for the good or the beautiful; we have no time for miracles. We have only time for denigration.

In 2004 Time and Newsweek, endeavored, in their ham-fisted way, to gin up some circulation with articles that purported to "examine" the miracles surrounding the intersection of the divine with a world now buried two millennia deep in the ash of the Earth. We shall probably see the same sort of thing this year. The cheapening of the spirit in this culture,"the expense of reason in a waste of shame," by those whose lamp of the soul burns low, is now as predicable as the winter solstice.

In the manner of these publications, and the habits of the sodden intellects that grind them out for small silver, a lot of time was spent on the "question" of the Virginity of Mary, the mother of Christ. It's a scurrilous bit of work. A "hit piece" on Mary, in the jargon of the magazine trade. For all the preening of these publications, the articles were just two chunks of thinly veiled anti-Christian porn, sops to secular hedonists in search of a cheap thrill by imbibing another hit of their favorite pap. These kinds of magazine articles always strike a chord of sadness in me, because I know at last the true cost of creating them. They are a curious kind of self-damnation in life, and, as a result, a waste of life.

Beneath all the buffed prose and appeals to experts and phoned-in quotes from scholars, the articles rose to little more than the coarse chortling of fraternity boys in the early drunken hours of the morning: "A virgin? Right! Sure. Any wife'd tell her husband that if she suddenly..."

In the offices of Time and Newsweek, there is no room for wonder beyond the fact that, for fewer people every passing year, they are still publishing and still making payroll. So far. Anything else, anything that might have within it the spark of the divine, is fit for nothing except denigration. This belief squats at the cold dead center of their editorial philosophy, a philosophy they share with untold millions of our coarsened fellow citizens. And still they cannot comprehend why year after year, no matter how cheap they price their subscriptions, their circulation continues to decline. In none of their editorial meetings do any of those attending look about them and declare that they have become "an alien people clutching their gods" in a land that finds them more and more dispensable.

We will leave them in their conference rooms high above the Avenue of the Americas, and wish them a "Happy Holiday. Have a good one." It is far more interesting to ponder, instead, those ancient ancestors who had no doubts that what they had seen in the heavens was unusual enough to travel.

In 5 B.C. "travel" was not something undertaken lightly. It involved, across distances that would seem trivial today, risks of life and death at every turn. It required wealth and endurance. Few traveled for pleasure. To travel at all required a motivation far beyond the ordinary. So, at the very least, while we cannot know what was in the sky in those days, we can be certain it was something very unusual.

In his short story, "The Star," Arthur C. Clarke's Jesuit narrator of the far future discovers the remnants of a civilization destroyed by a violent nova so that its light might announce the birth of Christ on Earth. The story has that ironic twist that is popular with authors and pleasing to readers. I remember it as making an impression on me when I was around 12 years old. But the story does not age well because the science of it, like all science, does not age well. The story is just 53 years old.

In 1957, when I was twelve years old, we all lived in a far smaller universe with far fewer stars for God to destroy by way of cosmic birth announcements. Now that the inventory of His stars has increased a billion fold, I think it is safe to say He could have found one to suit His purpose that didn't involve destroying a blameless alien race. He could simply pick one deeper in the field and, well, ramp up the volume. That sort of thing is just an afterthought once You've got omnipotence. It might even do double duty if You could use a star in an area that might need a few more heavy elements across the next brief one or two billion years of Your plan.

Sages and mystics, Eliot and Clarke, and a host of others have all had their turns with the story of The Star. In the end it remains what it was when it began, a story. The story of a road trip by three astrologers, kings, wise men. A journey by men who saw something special in the heavens and determined to follow it wherever it led, no matter what the cost.

To see something special. To see something beyond yourself and your imaginings. To follow it wherever it leads. To always remain prepared for miracle. That is the inner music of the story of The Star. Like all stories that survive, it is the music of the heart and not of the head, and like the heart, it will endure.

"Were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt."

To have "evidence and no doubt." That is what those that put themselves forward as our "wise men" seem to propose to us day after day from their sterile rooms high above the avenues. They have the "data" from which we should derive, they insist, doubt about all that for which they have no evidence, no data.

First and foremost in their blinded vision is their iron requirement that we should doubt the original myths that have made us and sustained us as individuals and as a people across the centuries. In their pointless world, they would have us cast off the old myths and embrace their "new and improved myths -- complete with evidence;" myths made of purposeless matter "hovering in the dark."

And seeing what these "wise men" have become, we turn. We turn away.

Instead, every year a bit more it seems, a tide has shifted in the hearts of men and we turn like a lodestone to the deeper myths of the human heart; that place where The Star will always shine -- always within and yet always beyond us. In the end, the Mystery is the Gift.

Vanderleun : December 11, 14  |  Your Say (57)  | PermaLink: Permalink

gerardvanderleun : December 10, 14  |  Your Say (5)  | PermaLink: Permalink

inyourpocket.jpg

In only 30 years capitalism made everything in this picture fit into your pocket.

It’s a turnaround jump shot
It’s everybody jumpstart
It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
Medicine is magical and magical is art
Thinking of the Boy in the Bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart.....

gerardvanderleun : December 9, 14  |  Your Say (6)  | PermaLink: Permalink

5-Minute Arguments

Discovered in the House of Eratosthenes "This clip didn’t make it on to SNL this weekend…it was, as they say, 'cut for time'."

gerardvanderleun : December 9, 14  |  Your Say (7)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Search American Digest

The Top 40


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

To ride in a car marks you as an official, but the model, color, and size will vary according to your importance.

At the bottom levels one finds Russian, Czech, and Chinese medium-size cars, cream-colored or gray; at the top, one has long black Hung-ch’i limousines, with tulle curtains that conceal the passengers from the crowds.

Peking is thick with these capacious hearses; their blinded windows have an aura of august mystery, suggesting at the same time the Coach of the Holy Sacrament and the limousines that Arab sheiks shuttle their harems around in. One of the favorite pastimes of Peking people—they do not have many—is to crowd around the entrance of the Peking Hotel or near the Great Hall of the People on gala nights to see the long processions of official cars go past with drawn curtains. Those people, one feels, have no envy or bitterness—they have the experience of three thousand years of despotism—but only the normal curiosity of gapers who try to glimpse, however fleetingly, the faraway magical world where their mysterious rulers live.
Chinese Shadows: Bureaucracy, Happiness, History | ChinaFile



Do Elephants Have Souls?

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The birth of an elephant is a spectacular occasion.
Grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins crowd around the new arrival and its dazed mother, trumpeting and stamping and waving their trunks to welcome the floppy baby who has so recently arrived from out of the void, bursting through the border of existence to take its place in an unbroken line stretching back to the dawn of life. After almost two years in the womb and a few minutes to stretch its legs, the calf can begin to stumble around. But its trunk, an evolutionarily unique inheritance of up to 150,000 muscles with the dexterity to pick up a pin and the strength to uproot a tree, will be a mystery to it at first, with little apparent use except to sometimes suck upon like human babies do their thumbs.
Caitrin Nicol Keiper - The New Atlantis

The kids, with their smartphones and sharing economy, are just a bunch of addled-minded commies, high on stupid.

Uber strikes me as one of the pet rock businesses of post-reality America.

By that, I mean it is is a fun fad that people get rich from, but otherwise is not a real business with staying power. The reason is they are basically making money by deception. Part of that deception is cost shifting. They shift the operating costs of a taxi company onto the drivers, cell phone carriers and general society.
Uber Rape at The Z Blog



The magic of these pallets is the magic of abstraction.

Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a “unit load”

—standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency; the gains are so impressive, in fact, that many experts consider the pallet to be the most important materials-handling innovation of the twentieth century. Studies have estimated that pallets consume 12 to 15 percent of all lumber produced in the US, more than any other industry except home construction.
CABINET // Whitewood under Siege



Grandma’s expertise in nutrition dates back to the 60s.

By the mid 70s, she had written several self-published mimeographed books on nutritional intake and vitamins.

Around then or possibly earlier, I think, she started to poison people..... At first, my mother was the only one who’d refuse to eat Grandma’s food, and I thought she was being paranoid. Then I started noticing that every time I went to Grandma’s, I’d pass out on the couch or on the train on the way back to the city.
What Do You Do When You Think You Have a Murderer in the Family? | VICE | United States



The White Ghetto

Driving through these hills and hollows,
you aren’t in the Appalachia of Elmore Leonard’s Justified or squatting with Lyndon Johnson on Tom Fletcher’s front porch in Martin County, a scene famously photographed by Walter Bennett of Time, the image that launched the so-called War on Poverty. The music isn’t “Shady Grove,” it’s Kanye West. There is still coal mining — which, at $25 an hour or more, provides one of the more desirable occupations outside of government work — but the jobs are moving west, and Harlan County, like many coal-country communities, has lost nearly half of its population over the past 30 years.
There is here a strain of fervid and sometimes apocalyptic Christianity, and visions of the Rapture must have a certain appeal for people who already have been left behind. Like its black urban counterparts, the Big White Ghetto suffers from a whole trainload of social problems, but the most significant among them may be adverse selection: Those who have the required work skills, the academic ability, or the simple desperate native enterprising grit to do so get the hell out as fast as they can, and they have been doing that for decades. As they go, businesses disappear, institutions fall into decline, social networks erode, and there is little or nothing left over for those who remain. It’s a classic economic death spiral: The quality of the available jobs is not enough to keep good workers, and the quality of the available workers is not enough to attract good jobs. These little towns located at remote wide spots in helical mountain roads are hard enough to get to if you have a good reason to be here. If you don’t have a good reason, you aren’t going to think of one.
-- Kevin Williamson, National Review Online

Normalizing relations with Cuba will not,

as Sen. Marco Rubio passionately put it in these pages, grant the Castro regime “legitimacy.”

Nothing can grant it legitimacy. Fidel Castro ruined his country for a dead ideology and the whole world knows it. It may be closer to the truth to see the Castro brothers’ eagerness for normalization as an admission that they’ve run out their string. They’ve lost everything that kept them alive, from the Soviet Union to once-oil-rich Venezuela. The Castro government is stuck. Their economy is nothing. They have no strength. They enjoy vestigial respect from certain quarters, but only vestigial. They’ve lost and they know it.
The Cuban Regime Is a Defeated Foe - WSJ



Like a bearded nut in robes on the sidewalk

proclaiming the end of the world is near,

the media is just doing what makes it feel good, not reporting hard facts. We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears. It’s not sensible to listen to it … Personally, I think we need to start turning away from media, and the data shows that we are, at least from television news. I find that whenever I lack exposure to media I am much happier, and my life feels fresher.
The Gell-Mann Effect



The Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

The Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows.

You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
-- Michael Crichton



What Do You Get for the Man Who Has Everything?

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Hurt Locker (Fake Defusable Bomb) Kit After assembly, press the start button and then you will see two colors flicker in sequence. Do not forget them and quickly look up the third color with the color sheet in your hand. Remember you've got only 15 seconds!

Stooges. Seriously.

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The Tragic And Twisted Tale Of The Three Stooges The internal mechanism of The Three Stooges is deceptively simple.
It’s based on the premise that all of them are stupid, but some are more stupid than others. Moe, with his gravelly voice, permanent scowl and menacing helmet of bowl-cut hair, was the leader, invariably the under-boss entreated with overseeing whatever hopelessly doomed endeavour the Stooges found themselves pursuing (and whatever it was, you can bet it involved heavy objects and the potential for maximum mayhem; plumbing, not surprisingly, was a favourite Stooge profession).
Curly, his hulking frame bursting out of a too-small suit, was the irredeemably incompetent man-child, the knucklehead’s knucklehead and recipient of most of Moe’s abuse — a litany of punches, slaps and smacks, bonks on the head and, quintessential Moe, the twin-pronged poke in the eye. (Moe actually had his brother Shemp to thank for his signature move. Once, during a card game, Shemp became so convinced that Larry was cheating him he leapt up and poked him in both eyes. Moe made a note of it and duly incorporated it into the act.)
Larry, too often underestimated, was the all-important bridge between Moe’s authoritarian bully and Curly’s babyfaced clown. An easygoing simpleton, Larry was the essential, non-threatening intermediary, and he brought a special genius to the role. “As in Waiting For Godot,” writes Ted Levitt in his essay Larry: The Existential Stooge, “if Curly and Estragon are body, Vladimir and Moe are the intellect, then they are waiting for Larry in order to be complete, to have a sense of their own existence.” Of course, he also got hit in the head with a wrench now and then, too.


Close But No Cigar [Bumped]

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Updated: Clinton with "Butterface" Catsimatidis , The Early Years

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"Uncle Bubba"


The Left hates the light because their deeds are evil.

The Jihad and the Soviets are utterly, absolutely, entirely, hysterically, insuperably and supremely devoted to falsehood.

Whereas I am truthful. All their bombs and guns and tanks, their money, their armies, their suicide bombers do not frighten the Left, because the Left literally cannot imagine physical danger, nor more than Veruca Salt can do, and for the same reason they cannot. They are spoiled brats. Brats always get their way. But telling Veruca Salt the truth about the state of her soul, and her conscience will prick her, and that is the one pain she cannot fight or tolerate. The Left hates the light because their deeds are evil.
What Wages Pay the Unpaid Apologists for Utter Evil? | John C. Wright's Journal



“Do not underestimate,”

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he instructs, “the pleasures of reading.
The satisfactions of the book, in the age of social media and proliferating cultural choices, are very singular.” The pleasures of reading morph into the aesthetic delights of print and paper. Reading a favourite novel on a screen is like tasting a vintage wine through a straw. The unintended consequence of the ebook, Daunt reports, has been to make many readers return to the hardback.
Whisper it quietly, the book is back … and here’s the man leading the revival

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Have You Seen Me?

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"Each step was so small, so inconsequential..."

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Probably Means Nothing

Russian Food Suppliers Have Begun Halting Shipments | Zero Hedge Russia's Vedomosti reports, citing vegetable producer Belaya Dacha, juice maker Sady Pridoniya and others, Russian suppliers are suspending food shipments to stores because of unpredictable FX movements. And it is about to get worse: very soon Russians may have to live without imported alcohol because at least on supplier of offshore booze.



A Billionaire Dinosaur Forced Me Gay

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The year is 2014 and dinosaurs have gained control of the world economy
due to exceptionally accurate stock predictions. After graduating from NYU with a business degree, John is hired to be the assistant for one of the largest trading firms on Wall Street. His boss, the CEO of the company is highly regarded as the best businessman of the century. Only difference is that he is a dinosaur!
- by Hunter Fox.

The Jew today is called on to forget.

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To light the menorah on Chanukah is to pass on a signal fire that has been kept lit for thousands of years.
From the first holiday of Passover, after which the freed slaves kindled the first Menorah, to the final holiday of Chanukah, that light burns on. The historical cycle of Jewish holidays begins with Moshe confronting Pharaoh and demanding the freedom of the Jewish people. It ends with the Maccabees standing up to the tyranny of Antiochus and fighting for the right of the Jewish people to live under their own rule on their own land. The lights of the menorah embody the spirit of the Jewish people. A spirit that has outlived the atrocities of every tyrant. In the heart of the flame that has burned for a thousand years lives the soul of a people.
Sultan Knish: A Dangerous Holiday

GENERAL DYNAMICS (Astronautics) SPACE CARDS

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- an album on Flickr
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Conservative Republicans Take It In the Shorts. "But.... but.... we won!"

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Van_der_Leun | Twitter
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The New Churchill

The house itself is like a woman grown old, missing a few teeth, gone thick and manly.

But you can tell the ruin used to be something. The old frame shows something of the heretofores. I heard tell a captain of local industry built it to prove to everybody that he had finally made it big in this old world. He said prove it to everybody, but really meant to himself, I'll bet. The bank took it from him the minute a dark cloud appeared on the horizon, and showed him that the world has no opinion.
Sippican Cottage



Depravity will keep going as far as it will go.

Terrorism, like all perversions, needs stronger and stronger stimuli to achieve the same result. The door to hell is self-sealing. The damned vie with each other to burrow deeper into it. Upstairs, Downstairs | Belmont Club



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