Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Tutorial: Many Uses of an AK Magazine



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 31, 2014 6:29 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boring Military Graduations Vs Not Boring Military Graduations

This year, Air Force trounces Army:

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 31, 2014 1:39 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Don't Blink

"Best start putting first things first."
"Trust me friend a hundred years
Goes faster than you think
So don't blink"

This one goes out to my mother, still running deep and clear in the midst of her 99th year.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 31, 2014 12:49 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Unreading List

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Posted by gerardvanderleun May 30, 2014 9:37 PM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On that lasting contribution to American culture from Mexicans and Mexican-Americans: The Bouncy Car.

Photographer Nathanael Turner Takes A Little Trip to a Lowrider Convention in Los Angeles - Feature Shoot

Festivities include vendors selling chrome parts, airbrushed t-shirts, food trucks and live concerts blasting away over the crowds. Though easily seen as a boastful ego-trip, show car owners frequently craft their automobiles in honor of some one close to them. Whether a lavish semi-nude portrait of a beloved wife on the hood or a gilded tribute to a deceased family member, each vehicle represents the hard work and dedication of a craftsman unlike no other.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 30, 2014 6:15 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Ross Sisters - 1944

Such a dance!

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 30, 2014 4:55 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Detroit Dissolving: "A Hurricane Without Water"

Contrast and compare the years since 2009 in Detroit according to Google and Bing: GooBing Detroit

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Survey: Detroit Needs $850 Million Just to Clear Abandoned Homes

With a new wide-ranging survey of every lot and building in Detroit, the once burgeoning Motor City is being told that it will have to spend $850 million to dig itself out of the blight infesting the city. And that is just the first step.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 30, 2014 11:48 AM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Big Pictures

The Many Ghosts Of Bokor Hill Station Fewer than 20 years had passed before the town was abandoned once again, with the Khmer Rouge as Bokor Hill Station’s new tenants. Despite a Vietnamese invasion in the late 1970s, the Khmer Rouge refused to vacate Bokor Hill, keeping the old resort town as one of their last communist strongholds.

Maggie's Farm Deer Stand

Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings:The book is to be read "as with all miscellanies... not... straight through... Rather we would like the reader to dip into the pages at random, just as one plays with the shifting patterns of a kaleidoscope"; and that "legends of men taking the shapes of animals" have been omitted.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 30, 2014 11:28 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dark Matter

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Dark Matter

for Tom Mandel (1946-1995)

Love must see all things that are,
But not with any eye.
Dream must rise from darkling waters,
Yet still gloss clear and dry.

The heart must mimic life lived large
In its sentences and fate;
Accepting time must finally halt,
And enter through the gateless gate.

The body, all its time undone,
Must yield itself to air.
The soul, a dream no longer dreamed,
Must rise upon the spiral stairs,

That lead up to that heart of light
Which circles in that storm;
Where one eye sees all things that are,
Where that which is, is born.



Posted by Vanderleun May 30, 2014 1:54 AM | Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
All Dogs Go to Heaven: Dean Potter BASE Jumps With His Dog

Good dog. Very good dog.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 29, 2014 8:49 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
America: The New Anthem

And afterwards ..... with any luck......

.... but never forget....

The past is a bucket of ashes.

1

The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.

2

The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

3

It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
… and the only listeners left now
… are … the rats … and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, “Caw, caw,"
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest
over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,"
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.

4

The feet of the rats
scribble on the door sills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

-- Carl Sandburg, Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 29, 2014 6:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pumping Iron with Marilyn Monroe

Working out evidently always came first for Miss Monroe. Here you can see her strenuous set of bench presses and the result. We present these images in the hopes of inspiring our fellow Americans to a greater awareness of the necessity of fitness.

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In this widely familiar portrait, Marilyn Monroe wears a white evening gown and stands with her back against two walls,

one dark, the other light, her eyes half closed and her dark, lipsticked mouth partly open. Yet Halsman deftly avoided any explicit representation of the true subject of the picture. Using the euphemistic language of the time, Halsman’s assistant admired the photographer’s ability to make “suggestive” pictures of beautiful women which still showed “good taste,” emphasizing “expression” rather than “physical assets.” And then the assistant added, “Halsman is very adept at provoking the expression he wants.”
MARILYN MONROE by Halsman @ The Selvedge Yard



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 29, 2014 10:00 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It begins in the Ukraine. It ends in the nuclear immolation of Washington D.C.

You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o' the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length
Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,
Making not reservation of yourselves,
Still your own foes, deliver you as most
Abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,
For you, the city, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 29, 2014 8:46 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Everything You Cannot Know About Obama Is In This Photograph

What are ordinary Americans to make of this strange man-child who has, through sloth and design in the media, sloth and inattention among the body politic, and cupidity, corruption and chicanery within his dark political machine, risen to dominate the landscape? What are ordinary Americans to make of this most un-American of all our erstwhile leaders; a man profoundly ungrounded in the American earth? It is a protean question, painful and difficult to contemplate, to which ordinary Americans will give but a partial answer this November.

In the meantime, there will be an ever increasing addition of possible answers and pondering added to the already towering tsunami of non-information available on the subject of Obama. It is by now a commonplace that never has so little been known about so pivotal a figure in our history. In this case partial ignorance leads not to bliss but rather an opera buffa that is sung in the key of existential distress and portends a finale that is not "a comedy tonight," but a Roman Tragedy replete with fire and blood.

Conspiracy abhors a vacuum and we've had more than our share of theories, speculations, dire warnings, and dark murmurings about a leader's life that is, in many ways, less documented than the undocumented Democrats oozing across our southern borders.

  • He is /is not a natural-born citizen.
  • His mother was / was not a harlot.
  • His father was / was not a man named Obama.
  • His mentor was a black Communist pornographer/poet.
  • His mentor was a crazed, race-hustling preacher on the make in Chicago.
  • His mentor was a bitter Red agitator with an sheaf of techniques for destroying the country.
  • If we knew his college grades we'd see how brilliant he is.
  • We don't know his college grades because he's much less brilliant that he seems.
  • He wrote his books.
  • He couldn't write a rubber check.
  • His books are the accurate transcript of his life.
  • His books are carefully crafted legends.
  • He's out to rule the world.
  • He's just another hack politician in the iron mold of corrupt Chicago pols since time immemorial.

With Obama the best that can be said is, "All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned." We simply do not know enough, even now, to know who this stranger among us is. We sense, dimly at first, but with increasing conviction that he does not mean us well and that he is controlled by some strange amalgam of interior compulsions. The hallmarks of his administration's actions and his speeches seem to be to do many small but insidious things in deep background, a few large and destructive moves in the foreground, give as few details as possible, take no questions, and, if a question is taken, to give no answer. It is an administration that sees no foreign enemies, only domestic ones. Theories about his history and his current character and motives abound as facts fade. The chances are that when he departs the stage most will still say, "Who was that masked man?"

We could ask, in the words of Sinatra, whether this man with the power is "a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn or a king?" But we'd get no answer that would satisfy. We might as well read tea leaves, read auguries from the flights of flocks, divine answers from sheep's entrails, or descend into the subways and read the words of the prophets on the walls between the stations.

Or, in the spirit of divination that has lately gripped the nation, we can simply look at a photograph from a simple time in the man-child's life. As the writer said in Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, "Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school."

Or in the sand on a beach in Hawaii:

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A toddler sitting and laughing on the shoulders of his grandfather, who would become the only father figure the child would ever know. Perhaps it was while looking at this picture that Obama or his ghost writer came up with, in Dreams From My Father, “One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my grandfather's shoulders as the astronauts from one of the Apollo missions arrived at Hickam Air Force Base after a successful splashdown." The shoulders of the grandfather seem to loom large in the legend.

The photograph holds, as so many people’s photographs do, one of the happy moments. But I’d like to see the next few moments. I’d like to see what happened next after the laugh. I’d like to see what that boy in the background with the stick raised as if to throw it at the heads of the toddler and grandfather in the foreground did. Did he let it fly? Did it strike the laughing toddler in the back of the head? Did an abrupt attack from behind form a lasting impression? Or did it miss? Or was it merely a brief gesture signifying nothing?

One can imagine all sorts of next moments but know none of them. Which is, of course, the problem with the burgeoning field of “Obama Historical Studies.” This man’s personal history is simply a collection of small tokens separated by vast swathes of time empty of data and detail. The one thing we can be certain of is that these empty spaces, these profound absences without leave, are not due to happenstance but due to design.

Later in the dubious “autobiography,” the aptly short-titled Dreams, we stumble across this statement: "I’d arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they'd leave me alone so long as I kept my trouble out of sight."

Maybe that’s how it works still. Maybe that's at the root of the grand bargain made between this man and the media and those that voted him power. He keeps his trouble hidden and many decide to just leave him alone and live with him. That would explain the curious silence that soaks sheaves of his erstwhile supporters that are not currently getting checks cut by the Obama Booster Industry. It’s the policy of a profound invert, “I don’t tell so you don’t ask.”

At this point, trying to understand who or what Obama was is like peeling an onion. You unwrap layer after layer and when you reach the core you have nothing; you have the Oakland of American politicians, a man who has no there there.

This is the central fallacy and futility of "Obama Studies." You cannot, in the end, understand a person as carefully crafted as Obama by examining the past. He has no past. He’s the man upon the stair that was not there. You can only understand Obama in the present by looking at what he and his minions do.

Once your attention is directed away from the past and into the present it all becomes as simple as that snapshot from the beach. What one sees is a man of dubious ancestry rising on the shoulders of a previous generation, stalked by a paranoid fantasy , and becoming, as a result, a bad man with an evil intent, supported by a rag-tag collection of apparatchiks, with a megalomaniac design for a bleak future; a man that does not stand with his feet planted in the American soil, but forever in the backwash of the slow Pacific swell on its most distant shore.

But in the end it is also clear that this man is not wholly someone who has been invented by himself or others in the shadows, but by us as a country and a culture. Simply put, this leader who cannot lead is the fruit of our more than 50 years of downward drift and rising degeneracy. In this we are like the happy toddler on the beach waiting for a stick in the back of the head to wake us up or put us down like an old dog; like, as Ezra Pound wrote so long ago, "an old bitch gone in the teeth, a botched civilization."



Posted by Vanderleun May 29, 2014 1:50 AM | Comments (42)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Revelations 6:12: "Ghostbusters"-Ray and Winston Talk Religion

Revelation 6 12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

"Ray, has it ever occurred to you that the reason we've been so busy lately is because the dead have been rising from their graves...." (Fade up music, out on a pan shot showing the twin towers of the World Trade Center.)



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 28, 2014 4:41 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bigger Tents: On Rebranding "CONSERVATIVE" and "REPUBLICAN" with "AMERICAN"

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An American, one of the roughs, a kosmos,... No sentimentalist .... no stander above men and women or apart from them...
-- Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855)

“I am not an American, I am THE American.”
-– Mark Twain

Remember when Hillary Clinton, during her last attempt to rule the world, stopped calling herself a “liberal” and rebranded herself as a “progressive?”

I do.

It was Clinton's desperate attempt to crawl out from under the vast heap of crap she and all the other “liberals” had piled on themselves -– notably during her own husband's administration. And who, when trying to run, wanted to have that old "liberal" ball and chain around her thick ankles? Not Hillary.

By 2007 “Liberal” had become so drenched in sewage liberals could only clean it through “rebranding.”

The new/old brand name chosen was 'progressive.'

And it worked for them -- and for Obama -- just long enough to get them elected the first time by a credulous public who had seemingly never heard "progressive" before.

“Progressive...” it sounded so, well, hopeful. It was, after all, not "trans-" but "pro-"gressive.

After all, who can be against “progress?” Who is not pro "pro?"

Who, that is, except the vast majority of older Americans who had seen the wreckage that the progressives' “progress” had wrought wherever it touched down on the American landscape.

Still, the recloaking of ye olde “liberal” wolves inside of the “Progressive Sheeps' Clothing” worked well enough with the young and stupid as well as the old and malicious.

"Progressive" caught on because it junked “liberal” but didn't say “socialist.” At least not in so many syllables.

That was then. Now, of course, “progressive” as a brand has become synonymous with cheats, control-addicts, the walking brain-dead, and the power junkies that want to tell you all about the bad McDonalds Happy Meals in condom chewing San Francisco.

Today "Progressive" is as dead as Hitler's charred corpse smoldering in a ditch outside the bunker on Pennsylvania Avenue. But “progressives” don't know they're crispy critters because they can't entertain any ideas that were minted ye olde Soviet Union. So let's let them keep it.

Let those bitter aging boomers cling to their Darwins and their "progressive" programs and labels. Progressives, after all, are the queens of worthless labels.

What we need to do is a little “rebranding” of our own in order to blunt the brain-dead attacks that keep coming from the attack poodles of the left. Attacks that when examined are all aimed at the label “Conservative” or “Republican.”

"Conservative." "Liberals." These two categories are not the same. Not all “Conservatives” are “Republicans,” and – unfortunately for the life expectancy of the Republican party – not all “Republicans” are “Conservative.”

Let's dump both brands.

I don't know about you, but I do not consider myself either a “Conservative” or a “Republican.” Never have. I consider myself to be one thing and one thing only:

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I AM AN AMERICAN.

Always have been.

Always will be.

Nothing less.

Couldn't be anything more.

To call me a Conservative is to miss the point.

To call me a Republican is to mistake me by a mile.

To call me an AMERICAN is to know me down to the bone. I suspect this blunt fact is true of all those who term themselves “Independents,” all those who call themselves “Conservative,” all those who joined the Tea Party, they and all the others who,

Came from the hills and mountains, 

The valleys and the plains
,
Some were kind and gentle, 

And some too wild to tame.

That's who we are and that's who we shall always remain -- Americans.

A single, obvious, and overarching word to cover a wide, wide tent:

Americans.

Americans all regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin.

Let's rebrand ourselves from this point forward:

When you are called a Conservative, you reply, “No, I am an AMERICAN.”

If someone tries to tar you with the label “Republican,” you must correct them by saying, “No, I am an AMERICAN.”

If they say you are arguing from Republican or Conservative views, point out to them that you are arguing from AMERICAN views only.

Do that consistently and we can all look forward to future disputes and elections that pit the “Progressives” against the AMERICANS. I know which way I'd bet.

It's a big country. If we call ourselves "AMERICANS" we're going to need a bigger tent.

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Failing to fetch me me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop some where waiting for you

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass [1855]

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 27, 2014 11:38 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
There Is No Other Stream

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“Although the sight of water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason; just on this side of the stream lay the lion.

It lay with its head raised and its two fore-paws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square. She knew at once that it had seen her, for it eyes looked straight into hers for a moment and then turned away– as if it knew her quite well and didn’t think much of her.

‘If I run away, it’ll be after me in a moment,’ thought Jill. ‘And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth.’ Anyway, she couldn’t have moved if she had tried, and she couldn’t take her eyes off it.

How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.

‘If you’re thirsty, you may drink.’

They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken.

Then the voice said again, ‘If you are thirsty, come and drink,’ and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realized that it was the lion speaking.

Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in a rather different way.

‘Are you not thirsty?’ said the Lion.

‘I’m dying of thirst,’ said Jill

‘Then drink,’ said the Lion.

‘May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?’ said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

‘Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?’ said Jill.

‘I make no promise,’ said the Lion.

‘Do you eat girls?’ she said.

‘I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,’ said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

‘I daren’t come and drink,’ said Jill.

‘Then you will die of thirst,’ said the Lion.

‘Oh dear!’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. ‘I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’

‘There is no other stream,’ said the Lion.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 27, 2014 10:55 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Cosmos On Weed with Neil deGrasse Tyson + The New "Scientific Method"

HT: HappyAcres

Meanwhile, elsewhere in "Science Today:" Never Yet Melted » The 97% Myth

In the Wall Street Journal, Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer look at the evidence, and find that the oft-repeated claim that “97% of climate scientists” subscribe to a belief in Catastrophist Anthropogenic Warmism is just as empty a claim as the newspaper headlines about melting glacier and Polar icecaps.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun May 27, 2014 8:57 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
See America by Steve Thomas

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Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 26, 2014 11:38 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: ”If you want to change the world....” Ten Lessons from Seals Training

“If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”

Remarks by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17:

To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.

So, here are the ten lesson’s I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.

Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.

If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.

It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection.  It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day.  It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews.  Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.

Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.

In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.

Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain.  Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.

For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.

You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.

If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35.  There were now six boat crews of seven men each.

I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them—no one was over about 5-foot five.

The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish America, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.

They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews.

The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.

But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimming faster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.

SEAL training was a great equalizer.  Nothing mattered but your will to succeed.  Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.

If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 26, 2014 9:35 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Small Flags

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Army Capt. Ed Arntson, of Chicago, kissed the grave of Staff Sgt. Henry Linck in Arlington, Va., National Cemetery Thursday. Staff Sgt. Linck was killed in Iraq in 2006. Armed forces placed flags at more than 300,000 gravestones ahead of Memorial Day.

The cemetery at the top of Queen Anne in Seattle is busy this weekend. This even though a cemetery under all circumstances is seldom thought of as a busy place. We haven't had busy cemeteries since 1945. Since then the long peace and its sleep was only briefly, for a few years every now and then, interrupted by a small war. The cemeteries fill up more slowly now than ever before. And our sleep, regardless of continuing alarms, deepens.

These days we resent, it seems, having them fill at all, clinging to our tiny lives with a passion that passes all understanding; clinging to our large liberty with the belief that all payments on such a loan will be interest-free and deferred for at least 100 years.

Still, the cemetery at the top of Queen Anne does tend to take on a calm, resigned bustle over Memorial Day weekend, as the decreasing number of families who have lost members to war come to decorate the graves of those we now so delicately refer to as "The Fallen." They are not, of course, fallen in the sense that they will, suddenly and to our utter surprise, get up. That they will never do in this world. For they are not "The Fallen," they are "The Dead."

In the cemetery at the end of my street , of course, all the permanent residents are dead. But those who are among the war dead, or among those who served in a war, are easily found on this day by the small American flags their loved ones who still survive place and refresh. In this cemetery atop Queen Anne hill in Seattle, the small flags grow fewer and smaller with each passing year. It is not, of course, that the size of the sacrifice has been reduced. That remains the largest gift one free man may give to the country that sustained him. It is instead the regard of the country for whom the sacrifices were made that has gotten smaller, eroded by the self-love that the secular celebrate above all other values.

As you walk about the green lawn and weave among the markers, the slight breeze moves the small three-colored flags. Some are tattered and faded. Some are wound around the small gold sticks that hold them up. You straighten these out almost as an afterthought. Then the breeze unfurls them.

Here and there, people tend the grave of this or that loved one; weeding, washing, or otherwise making the gradually fading marks in the stone clear under the sky. Cars pull in and wind slow, careful on the curves, and park almost at random. An old woman emerges from one, a father and son from another, an entire family from yet another. They carry flowers in bunches or potted and, at times, gardening implements and a bucket for carrying away the weeds. It's a quiet morning. Nobody is in a hurry to arrive and once arrived to leave.

When I lived in Villers-Cotteret , between Compaigne and Soissons, along the Western Front in France, the cemeteries were as quiet but on a scale difficult to imagine unless they were seen.

In the Battle of Soissons in July of 1918, 12,000 men (Americans and Germans) were killed in four days. Vast crops of white crosses sprouted from the fields their rows and columns fading into the distance as they marched back from the roadside like an army of the dead called to attention until the end of time. American cemeteries merged with French cemeteries that merged with German cemeteries; their only distinction being the flags that flew over what one took to be the center of the arrangement. I suppose one could find out the number of graves in these serried ranks. Somewhere they keep the count. Governments are especially good at counting. But it is enough to know they are beyond numbering by an individual; that the mind would cease before the final number was reached.

To have even a hundredth of those cemeteries in the United States now would be more than we, as a nation, could bear. It would not be so much the dead within it, but the truth that made it happen that would be unbearable. This is, of course, what we are as a nation fiddling about with on this Memorial Day. We count our war dead daily now, but we count mostly on the fingers of one hand, at times on two. Never in numbers now beyond our ability to imagine. This is not because we cannot die daily in large numbers in a war. September 11th proved to us that we still die in the thousands, but many among us cannot now hold that number as a reality, but only as a "tragic" exception that need not have happened and will -- most likely -- never happen again.

That, at least, is the mind set that I assume when I read how the "War on Terror" is but a bumper strip. In a way, that's preferable to the the mind set that now, in increasing numbers among us, prefers to take refuge in the unbalanced belief that 9/11 was actually something planned and executed by the American government. Why many of my fellow Americans prefer this "explanation" is something that I once felt was beyond comprehension. Now I see it is just another comfortable position taken up by those for whom the habits of automatic treason have become just another fashionable denigration of the country that has made their liberty to believe the worst of it not only possible but popular.

Like the graves in my local cemetery, these souls too bear within them a small flag, but that flag -- unlike their souls -- is white and, in its increasing rootedness in our body politic signals not sacrifice for the advancement of the American experiment, but the abject surrender of their lives to small spites and the tiny victories of lifestyle liberation.

In the cemetery at the end of my street, there are a few small flags. There are many more graves with no flag at all, but they are the ones that the small flags made possible. Should the terrible forests of white crosses ever bloom across our landscape -- as once they did during the Civil War -- it will not be because we had too few of those small, three-colored flags, but because we became a nation with far too many white ones.

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The grave of James A. Wilmot, Pvt 49th Spruce Squadron, World War I. Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Queen Anne, Seattle

[Originally published Memorial Day, 2007]



Posted by Vanderleun May 25, 2014 1:35 AM | Comments (62)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Alan Tate's "Ode to the Confederate Dead"

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The Gray and the gray. "Confederate veteran reunion, Washington, 1917"

Row after row with strict impunity
The headstones yield their names to the element,
The wind whirrs without recollection;
In the riven troughs the splayed leaves
Pile up, of nature the casual sacrament
To the seasonal eternity of death;
Then driven by the fierce scrutiny
Of heaven to their election in the vast breath,
They sough the rumour of mortality.

Autumn is desolation in the plot
Of a thousand acres where these memories grow
From the inexhaustible bodies that are not
Dead, but feed the grass row after rich row.
Think of the autumns that have come and gone!--
Ambitious November with the humors of the year,
With a particular zeal for every slab,
Staining the uncomfortable angels that rot
On the slabs, a wing chipped here, an arm there:
The brute curiosity of an angel's stare
Turns you, like them, to stone,
Transforms the heaving air
Till plunged to a heavier world below
You shift your sea-space blindly
Heaving, turning like the blind crab.

Dazed by the wind, only the wind
The leaves flying, plunge

You know who have waited by the wall
The twilight certainty of an animal,
Those midnight restitutions of the blood
You know--the immitigable pines, the smoky frieze
Of the sky, the sudden call: you know the rage,
The cold pool left by the mounting flood,
Of muted Zeno and Parmenides.
You who have waited for the angry resolution
Of those desires that should be yours tomorrow,
You know the unimportant shrift of death
And praise the vision
And praise the arrogant circumstance
Of those who fall
Rank upon rank, hurried beyond decision--
Here by the sagging gate, stopped by the wall.

Seeing, seeing only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire

Turn your eyes to the immoderate past,
Turn to the inscrutable infantry rising
Demons out of the earth they will not last.
Stonewall, Stonewall, and the sunken fields of hemp,
Shiloh, Antietam, Malvern Hill, Bull Run.
Lost in that orient of the thick and fast
You will curse the setting sun.

Cursing only the leaves crying
Like an old man in a storm

You hear the shout, the crazy hemlocks point
With troubled fingers to the silence which
Smothers you, a mummy, in time.

The hound bitch
Toothless and dying, in a musty cellar
Hears the wind only.

Now that the salt of their blood
Stiffens the saltier oblivion of the sea,
Seals the malignant purity of the flood,
What shall we who count our days and bow
Our heads with a commemorial woe
In the ribboned coats of grim felicity,
What shall we say of the bones, unclean,
Whose verdurous anonymity will grow?
The ragged arms, the ragged heads and eyes
Lost in these acres of the insane green?
The gray lean spiders come, they come and go;
In a tangle of willows without light
The singular screech-owl's tight
Invisible lyric seeds the mind
With the furious murmur of their chivalry.

We shall say only the leaves
Flying, plunge and expire

We shall say only the leaves whispering
In the improbable mist of nightfall
That flies on multiple wing:
Night is the beginning and the end
And in between the ends of distraction
Waits mute speculation, the patient curse
That stones the eyes, or like the jaguar leaps
For his own image in a jungle pool, his victim.

What shall we say who have knowledge
Carried to the heart? Shall we take the act
To the grave? Shall we, more hopeful, set up the grave
In the house? The ravenous grave?

Leave now
The shut gate and the decomposing wall:
The gentle serpent, green in the mulberry bush,
Riots with his tongue through the hush--
Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!

-
Ode to the Confederate Dead



Posted by Vanderleun May 24, 2014 4:06 AM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Story of My Life - ThePianoGuys

To have had these moments, all these moments, no matter what came before or what came after.... was to be blessed.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 23, 2014 4:05 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mirror Mirror

IS981-067.jpgThose damn Chinese commies are at it again! We all know that the omnipresent tag on goods "Made in China" means cheaper, shoddier, and at times dangerous to small animals, children, morons and democrats. But since cheaper trumps shoddy and risky, we swipe the debit card and take them away regardless of what may be their hidden intent, which is to undermine the American way of life. Nowhere is this more apparent than in that most insidious product now coming out of the slave cloning pens of Peking and roboticized neuro-protein vats of the Matrix caverns beneath the Gobi desert, the Chinese mirror.

It seems that, when I wasn't looking, secret Chinese agents replaced my trusted and faithful American bathroom mirrors with a mirror "Made in China." It is a hideous substitution and one that would go unnoticed except for the fact that from time to time I look in my mirror for this or that grooming ritual. When I do I know that the mirror has become a Chinese mirror because the effect is immediately and consistently horrifying. Briefly put, the person in the mirror is someone that does not resemble me at all. I don't know how he got in my mirror but he's got to go.

Like all of us, I have a perfectly good idea of what I look like in my mind's eye. It is, indeed, so perfect that I haven't had any good reason to renovate it for over thirty years. Unlike the Chinese mirrors in my house, my mind's eye knows that I have a well-cut chin, assertive full-face and sharp in profile. It does not add the two or three secondary chins that the Chinese mirror, through some Fu Manchu optical magic, slaps on.

In my mind, I am quite safe in the knowledge that my brow is unfurrowed and that the lines around my eyes are only there for a brief moment during laughter. The Chinese mirror seems, especially in the morning, to be able to carve in the brow lines with a dull chain saw and make the lines around the eyes resemble the cracks seen in ill-maintained Dutch portraits from the age of Rembrandt. How the Chinese manage timed optics in ordinary cheap mirrors is beyond me, but they probably stole it from an American inventor and professional sadist.

Another power of the cheap Chinese mirror is the ability to actually amplify gravity. I know to a certainty that my face is as it was 30 years ago (the last time I really checked) well structured and taut as a snare drum in a high school marching band. The Chinese mirror in my bathroom seems to emit some sort of force field that actually makes it appear that my face has fallen towards the center of the earth. If a Chinese mirror can do that to my face I hate to think of what the similar technology could do to the fighters and bombers of the USAF. Not only that but the mirror can also puff one's face outward while dropping it at the same time. Sheer twisted genius!

Finally, the Chinese mirror, through some sort of uncanny symbiosis between its fun-house surface and advanced microchips grown in the organ banks of Chinese prisons, actually has the power to project brown age spots onto my skin and have them follow me around in the mirror no matter how I twist and turn my face. Very spooky and very persistent since no matter how much I scrub my face and the mirror the spots seem to stay exactly where the mirror places them on first glance in the morning.

I've considered scrapping the Chinese mirror and spending the monumental sums that a high-quality French mirror would cost so that I could see myself again as I know I am, but I am a cheap bastard and have decided not to give the French the money or the Chinese the satisfaction. I've looked around for an American mirror but I've discovered there are only two areas of the country that manufacture them any more; five blocks in the West Village near "The Ramrod," and the Castro District in San Francisco. Made by the Rainbow Glass Blowers and known as The Dorian Gray in New York and The Oscar Wilde in the Castro, the mirrors ar more affordable but do no reflect you as you are but only as you would be if you were more fabulous.

Since I'm now about as fabulous as I get I'm sticking with the lying, cheating Chinese mirror.

But I do have some standards.

I recently crossed a picket line of impossibly rich progressive busybodies at Walmart and bought a full length Chinese mirror. I did so because of complaints that it was impossible in my house to see if what one was wearing matched one's accessories. Why seeing yourself full-length before going out is important I don't really understand. I've always thought that if you have your shirt, shoes, boxers and pants on you're pretty much good to go. (Socks optional.) Nevertheless I am reliably informed by GynoAmericans of all persuasions that a full-length mirror is something no home should be without.

So, I broke down and got the full-length Chinese mirror from the Walmart toxic waste dump department, carried it home and installed it in my closet where it seemed it would do the most good.

It did not occur to me that this mirror, being four times the size of the bathroom Chinese mirror, would have four times the power. Indeed, it seems to have the power of teleportation. I say this because the very next morning when I opened the closet to dress I discovered that the mirror had somehow brought into my home a strange man who seemed, in the midsection at least, to be six months pregnant.

That mirror and the stranger it held is now in the recycling bin marked "Hazardous Waste." Me? I'm writing to some contacts at Disney to see if I can get one of those Mirror Mirror On the Wall items from Snow White. After all, if it worked for the Queen....



Posted by Vanderleun May 23, 2014 3:39 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Almost missed my flight out of Seattle this morning....

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Posted by gerardvanderleun May 23, 2014 2:57 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Problem with White Folks Is -or- "29 Pitfalls of Working With White People"

More racial "healing" from those fine, fine folks who call themselves "progressives."

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Published by The Beyond Diversity Resource Center

The Red Box Diversity System offers an approach to learning about workplace diversity that is unique and available only from the Beyond Diversity Resource Center:

Engaging and enjoyable program
Exercises completed in 30 minutes
In-depth exploration on diversity concepts
No lectures or training seminars
Adapts to fit each organization and each employee
Low cost per employee
Proven effective for teaching essential diversity skills
Employees will learn and practice the following diversity skills:

Cultural self-awareness
Empathizing with others
Learning by interaction
Avoiding Stereotypes
Relating to others who are different
Being more flexible
Tolerating cultural ambiguity
Knowledge of how culture shapes world view
Learning about other cultures
Being less judgmental
Communicating more effectively
Listening and observing others
Adjusting to feedback from others
Being appropriately consistent

Group That Made Anti-White Pamphlet Received DOJ Grants | The Daily Caller

In fiscal year 2011, the center received a $250,000 grant from the Office on Violence Against Women, which falls under the DOJ.

In Aug. 2012, they received a $249,479 grant from the Office for Victims of Crimes to conduct “National field-generated training, technical assistance, and demonstration noncompetitive continuation projects.”

According to the DOJ’s 2012 program plan, Beyond Diversity Resource Center partnered with the school of social work at Rutgers University on a “demonstration project” that involved providers of victim services from across the country.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 22, 2014 11:24 PM | Comments (38)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Alternative Energy Breakthrough



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 22, 2014 10:41 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Should Obama Blow The Silver Horn The Founding Fathers Left In Case The Country Ever Needed Them?




Posted by gerardvanderleun May 22, 2014 9:27 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In Their Own ****ing Words: This Perverted ****ing Administration



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 21, 2014 4:57 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Internet Machine / Internet Archive

In this film I wanted to look beyond the childish myth of ‘the cloud’,

to investigate what the infrastructures of the internet actually look like. It felt important to be able to see and hear the energy that goes into powering these machines, and the associated systems for securing, cooling and maintaining them. What we find, after being led through layers of identification and security far higher than any airport, are deafeningly noisy rooms cocooning racks of servers and routers. In these spaces you are buffeted by hot and cold air that blusters through everything.
Internet machine – Timo Arnall

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 21, 2014 12:04 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
At Lindbergh's Grave

On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St. Louis from Roosevelt Field, near New York City, at 7:52 A.M. He landed at Le Bourget Field, near Paris, on May 21 at 10:21 P.M. Paris time (5:21 P.M. New York time).

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"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."

-- Psalm 139

That long green swell that sears my eyes
As I drowse on this bed of black stones,
Is it the Irish coast rising in the dawn
Beyond the brushed silver of my cowling
Where, throughout the night, I trusted
Not in some desert God's directions,
But like all fools who dreamed my flight
In the calibrated compasses of man?

That rushing sound, is it the crowd at Le Bourget,
Swarming past the barriers and lights
To scavenge my Spirit; to lift me up
Into the air that only heroes breathe?
Or is it the age-old sigh of sea on stones,
Known to those who pace the shingle
And the swirled black sands that wrap
These impossible islands in a shawl of waves?

That painting daubed on the chapel's window --
Not the roselined mandala at Chartres
Where flame in glass misprisoned sings --
But a cruder Savior, bearded, browned, and popular;
An icon obtainable to plain sight, a trim God
Limned flat upon the glass in dull gesso,
And, when light moves behind it, looking down....
Is this the sign in which, at last, we conquer?

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Conquer? I'd laugh the laugh of stones
Had I but eyes to see and lips to breathe.
No, I am content with my reduced cathedral
Here above the ocean where man and apes
Together waltzing lie, having done at last
With all horizons, having done at last with sky.

If you would see me now pass by
The small green church where ancient banyans
Bloom with shade and guard
The tower and the bell which you
May toll for you or me, or other souls
Not yet delivered to the stars and sea.

And then, retreating, mark the tree
Whose tendriled branches hold but air,
And shadow both the church and stones
Beneath which wait both apes and men
Who, foolish with their hunger for the air,
Swung branch to branch up all the eons
And, letting go at last, they learned --
Through my night's leap -- to rise.

Sea, stone, tree, ape and Savior:
These now my long companions are.
Better here, I think, in this dank green
Cartoon of Paradise, this slight-of-hand Eden;
Better here beneath the pumice stones
Where strangers drop a wreath a year.

Better in here deep than out there wide --
Hovering over the pillaring waves alone,
Suspended between the old world and the new,
Trusting in man's compass to guide me home;
Descending down the sharp cold blade of dawn.
Better, much better, in here at last to wait
In here where the shawl of the waves below
Enfolds that fire they could never snare.

         -- At the Palapala Ho'omau Church, Hana, Maui

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Composed and photographs taken on site. Hana, 2003 Lindburgh flew the Atlantic and opened up the skies 86 years ago this week. May 20–21, 1927. An inch of time but all is "changed, changed utterly."



Posted by Vanderleun May 21, 2014 2:54 AM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Essential Innovations: Can These $20,000 Houses Save the American Dream?

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Built in 2009 in Newbern, Hale County, Alabama. Dave’s House, a shotgun vernacular with gables over the short ends, derives from Frank’s House; monthly utility bills average $35.

Rural Studio builds brand new $20,000 houses in Alabama. "Rural Studio launched its affordable housing program in 2005.

We were eager to make our work more relevant to the needs of west Alabama, the Southeast, and possibly the entire country. We looked at the omnipresent American trailer park, where homes, counterintuitively, depreciate each year they are occupied. We wanted to create an attractive small house that would appreciate in value while accommodating residents who are unable to qualify for credit....Our goal was to design a market-rate model house that could be built by a contractor for $20,000 ($12,000 for materials and $8,000 for labor and profit)—the 20K House, a house for everybody and everyone. We chose $20,000 because it would be the most expensive mortgage a person receiving today’s median Social Security check of $758 a month can realistically repay. A $108 monthly mortgage payment is doable if you consider other monthly expenditures. Our calculations are based on a single house owner, because 43 percent of below-poverty households in Hale County are made up of people living alone. That translates to a potential market of 800 people in our county..... So far Rural Studio has designed 12 versions of the 20K House. The houses that we build each year are academic experiments, given away to local residents in need. We find the clients for 20K Houses the same way we do for our client houses. We hear about people in need from mail carriers, church pastors, local officials, and others. In deciding who to choose, we trust our gut. Our clients are always down on their luck and often elderly, and our homes add immensely to their quality of life. As with our client houses, the 20K House instructors maintain strong relationships with the new homeowners. In order to improve the 20K Houses each year, we observe how our clients inhabit and use their new homes. Their homes, as with client houses, carry their names."

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Built in 2008 in Greensboro, Hale County, Alabama, Roundwood House was an experiment in building the structure of a small, affordable house with locally sourced loblolly pine thinnings. At 532 square feet, it includes a 110-square-foot porch.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 20, 2014 11:05 AM | Comments (27)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Proof that in America anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

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Fortunately for me everything here is on my diet. Unfortunately for me it will also turn me into the Ghostbusters' Stay Puft marshmallow man just before they cross the streams and reduce me into a gigantic 'smore. (Which is also on my diet.)

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 20, 2014 10:02 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Wear Sunscreen" [And Lubricant] **

Congratulations, class of 2014: You’re totally screwed! In sum, you paid nearly sixty grand a year to attend some place with a classy WASP name

and ivy growing on its fake medieval walls. You paid for the best, and now you are the best, an honorary classy WASP entitled to all the privileges of the club. That education your parents got, even if it was at the same school as yours, cost them far less and was thus not as good as yours. That’s the way progress works, right?
Actually, the opposite is closer to the truth: college costs more and more even as it gets objectively worse and worse. Yes, I know, universities today offer luxuries unimaginable in the 1960s: fine gymnasiums, gourmet dining halls, disturbing architecture. But when it comes to generating and communicating knowledge—the essential business of higher ed—they are, almost all of them, in a frantic race to the bottom.


**"Wear Sunscreen": The Story Behind the Commencement Speech That Kurt Vonnegut Never Gave: Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune columnist and Brenda Starr cartoonist, wrote a column entitled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.” In her introduction to the column she described it as the commencement speech she would give to the class of ’97 if she were asked to give one.... a column that was written, according to Schmich, “while high on coffee and M&Ms.”



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 19, 2014 11:19 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Errand Gleanings

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Sunday afternoon is the time I spend shopping for the week's basic groceries, as well as for those items that have to be prepared from ingredients as fresh as can be obtained in the present day supermarkets. These present day supermarkets are, if you've been on the planet longer four decades, breathtaking in the kinds of packaged foods, fresh meat and seafood, and fresh produce.

In these cathedrals of commerce it seems that every month more and more items from throughout the world are on offer. Ghee! You can now buy ghee in jars. It is true that some special cheeses seem to be coming in at $40 per pound and that the one ounce package of sliced dried mandarin oranges works out to $65 a pound. These items are there if you are so drenched in disposable income that nary a thought of the price to value absurdity of it all can emerge to shimmer the surface of your seething cranium.

From blackberries air-dropped from Peru and pre-stuffed Turducken's in the freezer rows to the "local sustainable organic" food items that are four times the price of their more plebeian corporate varieties, the sheer variety is staggering to someone who can remember when an orange in the toe of one's Christmas stocking was a very hard to obtain and expensive fruit for that season.

Besides these somewhat obvious but always striking impressions of how America fares in its current position as the top of the food chain, three other things struck me as I went to three, yes three, different supermarkets on this fine Seattle afternoon in late Spring of the year of our Lord 2014.

First, as a friend remarked a couple of weeks ago, "Every woman in America seems to have gotten the personally addressed memo concerning very tight jeans and/or leggings. This includes the 90% of American women who, if caught dead in them, would die; and yet they too seem to have joined the Cult."

Second, while a warming Spring brings out a very fine parade of nubile ladies in various stages of revealing and "en déshabillé" clothing, it also reveals Winter's crop of thoughtless, tasteless, and usually revolting fresh tattoos on areas of the body heretofore thought untattoable. One unfortunately memorable one seemed to be located at above the "tramp stamp" position and was a kind of winged velociraptor baby with a bloody beak breaking out of an egg. It gave one pause. And then one walked on.

Third was the advent of a new parting phrase from supermarket cashiers. Usually they inguire as to the manner in which your day is going, something to which I invariably answer with an upbeat "Great. Thanks for asking" just to be polite. The ringing up of one's groceries then takes place and one pays, as one pays for most things in today's suddenly cashless society, with a debit card. Then the receipt whirrs out of the machine at the end, after it has transmitted the contents of your cart to the supermarket's headquarters, the local police, and the host of three letter interested parties in the government, and the cashier usually just thanks you by name after glancing at the receipt.

Today this was as it always is but with the addition of the trenchant phrase, "Thanks for coming in."

Three different cashiers at three different supermarkets on three different levels of retail demography -- working class, middle class, and upper middle class -- all saw fit to say the exact same phrase, "Thanks for coming in."

An alien visitor to our planet might think that's simply a coincidence of phrasing, but I take it to be the beginning of some bit of customer-stroking fluff that depraved retail consultants started telling their corporate customers in order to have something to justify their many, many thousands in annual billings. They probably came up with some study that showed that of every 100 customers that you said "Thank you for coming in" 15% more came in again.

It's bullshit of course, but retail and marketing in the food industry needs a constant stream of fresh bullshit if it is to keep its profit line up. Just as things done to transmogrify kale work as this year's chipotle, so does "Thanks for coming in" operate as the new "Have a nice day."

Listen for it at a supermarket near you.

Soon to be a major motion picture.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 18, 2014 5:00 PM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Six Days of Creation by M. C. Escher

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"And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. "

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“Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

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“Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”

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“Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth.”

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“Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”

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“Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”



Background: At the end of 1924, Escher and his new bride purchased a house under construction in Frascati, a small town outside of Rome.
The house was finished in March, 1925, but the couple did not move in until October. Shortly after Escher moved into his new home outside of Rome, his brother was killed in a mountaineering accident, and Escher had to go to the site to identify the body. After this tragedy, Escher produced his famous Days of Creation woodcuts.
M.C. Escher Biography



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 18, 2014 12:05 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Saturday Matinee: Roy Rogers - Hoppy, Gene And Me We Taught You How to Shoot Straight

Well the prairie sky is just as blue
And life's like a rainbow
Just like you, he'll be a saddle pal
To Hoppy, Gene and Me

Hoppy, Gene and Me
We taught you how to shoot straight
You were going to be a cowboy
That's how it had to be

Your stories from the silver screen
Now most of them forgotten
Double feature Saturday's
With Hoppy, Gene and Me

(Yodel to end)

"Hoppy, Gene and Me" (1974) peaked at number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As for Roy Rogers (aka Leonard Franklin Slye), Dale Evans, Trigger, Bullet, Nelly Belle,and the Sons of the Pioneers it was all a "Yodel to the end" for them.

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Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 17, 2014 2:02 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How We Live Now #325

What we do.

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How it was done.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun May 16, 2014 11:15 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bill Whittle: Gaslighting

You're not crazy. The Obama Administration will just keep GASLIGHTING you until you think you are.

"Psychologist Martha Stout states that sociopaths frequently use gaslighting tactics. Sociopaths consistently transgress social mores, break laws, and exploit others, but are also typically charming and convincing liars who consistently deny wrongdoing. Thus, some who have been victimized by sociopaths may doubt their perceptions.

"In the movie, Ingrid Bergman’s character is saved when a sympathetic detective notices the gaslights are being dimmed as well. That’s all it takes, you see: one other person to see and hear what you are being told you are crazy for claiming to see and hear. That’s why – as in the movie – the victim (that would be us) has to be isolated from other people with different perspectives because all it takes is ONE independent verification of the gaslights dimming and the entire evil, larcenous, cruel, murderous scam falls away to dust.

"So here’s your verification, so go forth and spread the word. You’re not nuts.

"He’s nuts." - - Transcript @ Truth Revolt

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 15, 2014 8:57 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Greatest Show Off Earth

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My up-close and personal relationship with Saturn is brand new. Sure, I'd seen the pictures and the "artist's conceptions" all my life. I'd read the stories, both science and fiction, and I believed. I believed in Saturn. I had faith.

I had faith that Saturn existed and that it had the rings that made it the single most miraculous object in the solar system, save Earth -- which may also be, except for our belief and faith in numbers, the single most miraculous place in the universe.

But my belief in Saturn and its rings was just that, "belief." After all, I had never actually seen Saturn -- only pictures and paintings. Saturn to me was only hearsay. That all changed a month ago thanks a friend with a passion for astronomy and actual possession of a serious telescope, coupled with a moonless night at the edge of the pacific here in Laguna Beach.

With the events of the last year, I've often taken to mouthing a phrase picked up from someone else to give people a snapshot of my current take on our world in 2004. It goes, "I try to become more cynical every month but lately I just can't keep up." It's so arch, so deftly faux-ironic yet yielding a bouquet redolent with a whiff of the flaneur and just a smidgen of edge. It's a fine whine of recent vintage that's just about as toxic to the truth about my inner life as a fresh, chilled pitcher of Jonestown Kool-Aid.

We often take up catch-phrases like the one above and use them as an Etch-A-Sketch display of our souls; our means to signify ourselves to others without really having to engage them. If we do it too much, who we are fades out of sight to others and we are like the sailor on the far horizon flapping out semaphore code about our inner self. Then we become distressed when others only see the code and not the man in full. But it is of our own doing and sometimes we get so far inside the code that we can't step out of it, step closer into the light, stand and unfold ourselves. Sometimes, it takes something the size of a planet to knock us out of orbit and back down to the surface of the planet we inhabit.

I needed a planet, and for my sins, I got one.

My friend and I had had one of those solid guy meals composed of a good wine and a choice of pizza. Then we went outside on the terrace where a shrouded shape stretched up against the backdrop of ocean and night. His house is on the edge of the town overlooking the beach and the sea so it affords, except for the part of the sky taken up by the house, a fair chance of seeing what's up there.

Light pollution is a problem I suppose since we are surrounded by a busy highway and a town whose other houses and street lights stretch up the hills around and behind, but the seeing is better than it would be in, say, my last home in Brooklyn Heights. Besides, it didn't have a serious telescope pointed up at heaven. Telescopes are popular in New York, but they are seldom pointed up.

The evening haze had peeled off the sky and there was no moon. I looked out at the sea as he took the covering off the telescope and went through the rituals required to prepare the instrument. If this had been a decade or so ago, there would have been a long period of lining the telescope up, but this is the computer/GPS age and it was merely a matter of him entering some figures into a keypad and pressing "Enter." The instrument hummed and swung across the sky through a small arc and stopped.

He bent over the eyepiece and moved the focus knob, then he stepped aside and let me take a look.

I pressed my eye against the mounting and saw.... well, I saw a pale, yellow smudge in the center a dark circle. Then I moved my thumb and forefinger just a bit and in an instant the smudge became a sharp, golden shape. And then, because it had rings, what the shape was became known to my mind -- the planet Saturn. Real time. Real sky. Real life.

Saturn seen at last not as a picture taken by someone else and printed in a magazine or a book; an image passed on and fobbed off as the real deal. Not a drawing or a painting, a sketch or a story, but Saturn itself. And not Saturn with a ring around it, but Saturn with multiple rings that you could see with your own eye; Saturn streaked with colored bands of gas that wrapped across the surface of the planet. Saturn seen with the naked eyes. My eyes.

Saturn. Right there in the exact center of the sky.

There's a time when you start to approach the near side of fifty when you begin to suspect, if you've lived a reasonably active life, that you don't have as many "Firsts" in front of you as you have behind. When you pass fifty and close on sixty, you're sure of it. That's probably what compels a lot of people to travel compulsively about the world -- the thought that if you can move around a lot, you can somehow pile more "Firsts" into your experience and somehow extend your "Life List of Things To Do Before...."

This can work, but more often than not you are simply seeing things that are new versions of other things, but not Firsts. Firsts are rare because once you've had them, everything like them that comes along later are simply seconds; sometimes better than the Firsts, but seconds all the same, and you make you peace with that.

First love, first car, first child.... these are the pearls of great price on the string of your life and that's why you remember them and cherish them. And you use them up, one at a time. Although they came in a cascade at the start, they become more rare as the road winds on. When you get one, especially when you don't expect it, it makes you take a break by the side of the road to make sure you remember and value the gift.

The moments after Saturn first swam into focus were like that. Absent repeating some varieties of dubious experience, I'd thought I was immune to actually feeling something intellectual that can only be described as a physical thrill, but I was wrong.

As I gazed on Saturn I felt everything I had ever read, or seen or thought about the planet come racing back out of places in my mind long discarded or left behind with a jolt. The books read in childhood, the films seen, the cornball space operas like "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" or "Space Patrol" that were the most essential part of my childhood's television hours, all the fact and the fantasy, the lectures and the lessons in which Saturn figured came tumbling up out of my memory at a rate of speed I hadn't thought possible. And my body felt as if something had reached effortlessly out across two billion miles and run an electrical charge right down the center of my spine.

I imagine this is what people mean when they talk about a conversion experience.. a sharp, clear moment when faith becomes real, becomes concrete. If your god has become science, there's nothing like a big hit of real science to make you rethink what you think you know about God.

It's easy to say, "Well, of course Saturn was really there. Everyone told you it was and showed you the pictures for decades. Did you think they were kidding you? Did you think it was all some sort of nifty mural painted on a black backdrop and that sooner or later it was all going to be turned around to see that, well, we were just kidding?"

Of course not, but it does remind me that the essence of science, the foundation of all our knowledge that is as sure and certain as we can make it, rests on the simple act of going where we need to go and seeing for ourselves. In "The Waking," poet Theodore Roethke sums up the inner sense of this going with,

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow....
I learn by going where I have to go.

If we can't see for ourselves, we then set to work figuring out how to make instruments and theories and technologies that allow us to, ultimately, just see for ourselves.

In the end, this need, this ceaseless drive, is what makes us who we are -- the smart monkey that figures out how to see for itself, the upright ape made in the image of the inconceivable that follows a solitary path that leads us... where?

I like to think that if we can only look out far enough and look in deep enough, we'll finally see for ourselves the proof of the miracle, and understand that miracle enough to know that its worth hanging around to see more of it unfold, day after day and night after night.

After all, what are we looking for down all the years if not the place when we cease to believe and come to know? Many people like to believe that we'll know after we die, but many others would rather have the information just a bit sooner.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be---
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

-- Robert Frost

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Posted by Vanderleun May 15, 2014 7:50 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Evolution Of Visual Effects

1878-2014: in chronological order (More or less.)

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 14, 2014 9:58 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Want to See the Real "New Normal?"

This is the real "new normal." Accept no cheap substitutions raised up out of shadow.

"Barefoot Blue Jean Night"

A full moon shinin' bright
Edge of the water; we were feelin' alright
Back down a country road
The girls are always hot, and the beer is ice cold

Cadillac, horns on the hood
My buddy Frankie had his dad hook him up good
Girls smile when we roll by
They hop in the back, and we cruise to the river side

(Whoa-oh)
Never gonna grow up
(Whoa-oh)
Never gonna slow down
(Whoa-oh)
We were shinin' like lighters in the dark
In the middle of a rock show
(Whoa-oh)
We were doin' it right
(Whoa-oh)
We were comin' alive
(Whoa-oh)
Yeah, caught up in a Southern summer, a barefoot, blue jean night

Blue eyes and auburn hair
Sittin' lookin' pretty by the fire in a lawn chair
New to town, and new to me
Her ruby red lips was sippin' on sweet tea
Shot me in love like a shootin' star
So, I grabbed a beer and my ol' guitar
Then we sat around till the break of dawn
Howlin' and singin' our favorite song

(Whoa-oh)
Never gonna grow up
(Whoa-oh)
Never gonna slow down
(Whoa-oh)
We were shinin' like lighters in the dark
In the middle of a rock show
(Whoa-oh)
We were doin' it right
(Whoa-oh)
We were comin' alive
(Whoa-oh)
Yeah, caught up in a Southern summer, a barefoot, blue jean night.....

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 14, 2014 3:49 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Outer Dark

Imogen Holst recalls a 1918 performance by the London Symphony Orchestra: “But it was the end of Neptune that was unforgettable, with its hidden chorus of women’s voices growing fainter and fainter in the distance, until the imagination knew no difference between sound and silence.” - – Futility Closet



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 14, 2014 2:00 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lieutenant Reagan

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"Ronald Reagan enrolled in a series of home study courses sponsored by the U.S. Army as early as 1935

and enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in April 1937 and was posted as a Private with the 322nd Cavalry (Reserve) at Des Moines, Iowa. Due to his studies prior to enlistment he was quickly promoted to Second Lieutenant in May of the same year. Reagan moved to Southern California not long after this to pursue his acting career and transferred to the 323rd Cavalry. Both the 322nd and 323rd were part of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 66th Cavalry Division.
"Reagan’s acting career was at its height when the United States entered World War Two and as a member of the Reserves he was not eligible for the draft since it was only a matter of time before he would be called to active duty. This occurred in April of 1942. Activation subjected Reagan to a more stringent physical examination than the Reserves and his eyesight proved bad enough to prevent his service overseas. Many of Reagan’s critics imply that somehow he managed to avoid being sent overseas during the war but this is either due to ignorance of how the Army actually operates or outright vindictiveness. The Army decides what they need you to do and where they want you and there you go."
サ Blog Archive サ Two for the Gipper



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 13, 2014 11:57 PM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Must See TV

"Whatever happened to a loyal opposition? Boehner and McConnell just seem to be loyal, without the fervency and drive to oppose Obama's recklessness. Bill Whittle is tired of seeing our country's oldest tenets left hanging from a thread with no major leadership there to save them. It's time for a new group of young leaders to takeover."

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 13, 2014 7:20 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"We'll Meet Again:" U.S. Conducts Nuclear Response Exercises

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"U.S. Strategic Command this week is conducting a massive nuclear arms drill designed to “deter and detect strategic attacks” on the United States and allies.

A Sunday press release announcing the May 12-16 “Global Lightning” exercise explicitly noted that the event’s timing is “unrelated to real-world events.” Observers of ongoing East-West tensions will note, however, that Russia on Thursday conducted its own large-scale nuclear response drill under the supervision of President Vladimir Putin. That exercise was widely promoted in Russian media and included the test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine-fired ballistic missiles. “Exercise Global Lightning 14 has been planned for more than a year and is based on a notional scenario,” U.S. Strategic Command said." - Defense One

"Planned for more than a year?" Oh, that makes me feel so much more relaxed and secure than otherwise. I guess I'll just put some lawn chairs out in the back yard, pop a cold one, and throw some shrimp on the barbie. Probably won't even have to light it.

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Shucks, at this rate, a ten megaton airburst over 1900 Pennsylvania Avenue during a joint session of congress down the block might be just what the country needs to, shall we say, snap out of it! After all, isn't it truly said that every mushroom cloud has a silver lining?

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"Fireball radius: 1.53 mi. Maximum size of the nuclear fireball; relevance to lived effects depends on height of detonation. If it touches the ground, the amount of radioactive fallout is significantly increased. Minimum burst height for negligible fallout: 1.38 mi."

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 12, 2014 6:20 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Sequoia in a Snowstorm

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The world's second-largest known tree, the President, in Sequoia National Park is photographed by National Geographic magazine photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols for the December 2012 issue. The final photograph is a mosaic of 126 images.

Portrait after the jump:

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 11, 2014 4:55 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink

California School Asks 8th Graders To Debate the Holocaust – Tablet Magazine

After decades spent in the sewers of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, I don’t horrify easily. But yesterday I learned that a school district in Rialto, California, assigned 2,000 8th-grade students to write an essay on whether or not they believe the Holocaust was “an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme.”

Put simply, this is the greatest victory for Holocaust denial in well over a decade, if not more.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 11, 2014 10:23 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
My Mother at 97 98 99 ... and now halfway to 100

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Her earliest memory is being held on the shoulders of her father, watching the men who lived through the First World War parade down the main street of Fargo, North Dakota in 1918. She would have been just four years old then. Now she's 90 years old and she comes to her birthday party wearing a chic black and white silk dress, shiny black shoes with three inch heels, and a six foot long purple boa. She's threatening to sing Kurt Weill's 'The Saga of Jenny" and dance on the table one more time .

She'll sing the Kurt Weill song, but we draw the line at her dancing on the table this year. Other than that, it is pretty much her night, and she gets to call the shots. Which is what you get when you reach 90 97 and are still managing to make it out to the tennis courts three to four times a week. "If it wasn't for my knees I'd still have a good backcourt game, but now I pretty much like to play up at the net." [Note: Alas she had to give up tennis two years back when her knees finally gave up. She didn't. Water walking twice a week. She gave all a scare a couple of years ago but came roaring back after major surgery and is more or less back to the regular schedule.]

She plays Bridge once or twice a week, winning often, and has been known to have a cocktail or two on occasion. After her operation she gave up driving much to the relief of my brother who fretted over it for several decades.

She keeps a small two-bedroom apartment in a complex favored by young families and college students from Chico State and, invariably, has a host of fans during any given semester. She's thought about moving to the "senior apartments" out by the mall, but as she says, "I'm just not sure I could downsize that much and everyone there is so old."

She was born deep in the heartland at the beginning of the Great War, the youngest of five children. She grew up and into the Roaring 20s, through the Great Depression, taught school at a one room school house at Lake of the Woods Minnesota, roamed west out to California in the Second World War and met the man she married.

They stayed married until he died some 30 years ago. Together they raised three boys, and none of them came to any more grief than most and a lot more happiness than many.

After her husband died at the end of a protracted illness, she was never really interested in another man and filled her life with family, close friends (some stretching back to childhood), and was, for 15 years, a housemother to college girls. She recently retired from her day job where she worked three mornings a week as a teacher and companion to young children at a local day-care and elementary school.

She has always been a small and lovely woman -- some would say beautiful. I know I would. An Episcopalian, she's been known to go to church, but isn't devoted to the practice, missing more Sundays than she attends. She's given to finding the best in people and letting the rest pass, but has been known to let fools pass at high speed.

Born towards the beginning of the 20th century, she now lives fully in the 21st. Nearly 10 years ago we gave her a 90th birthday party. It was attended by over 200 people from 2 to 97, many of whom told tales about her, some taller than others.

We didn't believe the man who told about the time in her early seventies that she danced on his bar. He brought the pictures of the bar with her high-heel marks in it to prove the point.

Other stories are told, some serious, some funny, all loving. But they all can only go back so far since she has only been living in Chico, California for 30 years. I can go back further, and so, without planning to, I took my turn and told my story about her. It went something like this.

"Because I'm the oldest son, I can go back further in time. I can go back before Clinton, before Reagan, before Nixon, before Kennedy, before Eisenhower. We'll go back to the time of Truman.

"It must be the summer of 1949 and she's taking my brother and I back home to her family in Fargo for the first time. I would be almost four and he'd be two and a half. The war's been over for some time and everyone is now back home and settled in. My father's family lost a son, but -- except for some wounds -- everyone else came out all right.

"We're living in Los Angeles and her home is Fargo, North Dakota, half a continent away. So we do what you did then. We took the train. Starting in Los Angeles we went north to San Francisco where we boarded the newest form of luxury land transportation available that year, the California Zephyr.

"Out from the bay and up over the Sierras and down across the wastes until we wove our way up the spine of the Rockies and down again to the vast land sea that stretched out east in a swath of corn and wheat that I remember more than the pitched curves and plunging cliffs of the mountains. On the Zephyr you sat in a plush chair among others in a long transparent dome at the top of the car and it seemed all Earth from horizon to the zenith flowed past you.

"There was the smell of bread and cooking in the Pullman cars that I can still capture in my mind, and the lulling rhythm of the wheels over the rails that I can still hear singing me down into sleep.

"At some point we changed trains to go north into the Fargo Station and, as we pulled into Fargo in mid-morning, my mother's family met us with their usual humble dignity -- they brought a full brass band that worked its way down through the John Philip Sousa set list with severe dedication. They also brought me more family members than there were people living on our entire block in Los Angeles. There may also have been a couple of Barbershop Quartets to serenade us during the band breaks, but I'm not sure about that.

"My mother and brother and I were swept away in the maelstrom of aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens, and assorted folks from the neighborhood on 8th Avenue South.

"The day rolled into a huge lunch at a vast dining room table where my grandmother ruled with an iron ladle. Then, after a suitable post-prandial stupor, my entire family rose as one and headed out to the nearby park for their favorite activity -- trying to crush each other in tennis. When this family hit the courts, it was like a tournament had come to town. Other would-be players just took one look and headed for another set of courts elsewhere.

"I was still too young to play, although my mother would have a racquet custom-made for me within the year, so instead I would have been exhausting myself at some playground or in one of the sandboxes under the eyes of my older cousins. Then, at dusk, I made my way back to the courts.

"In the Fargo summers the twilights linger long and fade slowly. And as they fade the lights on the courts come up illuminating them in the gathering dark. And I sat, not quite four, as the night grew dark around me and my mother and her family played on below.

"Now it is all more than sixty years gone but still, in my earliest memories, they all play on in that endless twilight. I see them sweeping back and forth in the fading light. Taunting and laughing together. Calling balls out that are clearly in. Arguing and laughing and playing on forever long after the last light of day has fled across the horizon and the stars spread out high above the lights.

"Service. Return. Lob. Forehand. Volley. Backhand. Volley. Love All."

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Lois Lucille McNair Van der Leun -- then and now

November, 2004 -- Chico & Laguna Beach, California



Posted by Vanderleun May 11, 2014 1:59 AM | Comments (46)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mr. Wonderful's Bad Day

11174.jpgSo my pal and I are standing in line in a sandwich shop waiting to see if two chicken salad sandwiches, chips, and cokes will yield any change from a $20 (They don't), when this guy my pal knows staggers in the door and joins the line. He's the blonde, aging and pear-shaped frat boy type on a life pension from his grandparents common in these parts. He's an elite member of the Maynard G. Krebs Zero-Work Brigade.

It's possible to see he is a reasonably good looking man, but just. This is because, besides a distinct wobbling lurch in his step, he also appears to have gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime.

His nose is thickened along with the rest of his face, and not just from a lifetime's love affair with single malt. There's a huge nasty scab across the bridge of his nose and a larger one running along the side of his jaw and under his chin giving off a rusty red gleam like some speed strawberry birthmark. Both his eyes have large, dark circles around them as if they've gotten special attention from a ball-peen hammer, and their expression is that of a man who's just walked out of a fire-fight in the Afghan hills.

My pal knows him and introduces me. I shake his hand and say, as anyone would, "What happened to you?"

"I had a bad day on Wednesday."

"Obviously," said my pal.

"Do you want me to tell you about it?," the walking wounded asked.

"Obviously," said my pal.

"Well, I get up in the morning and go out to the garage for my car. That's when it starts.

"Its got a flat and the tire that's flat is the spare that I put on the week before that I haven't gotten around to getting fixed. So I have no spare for the spare, and have to get the tow truck to come out and take the car to Discount Tire and me to Budget Rent a Car for some wheels. They rent me a car and I drive away for the rest of my day intending to pick my car up in the late afternoon. I do some errands and go home and hang around there for a few hours.

"Finally it's time to pick up the car and take the rental back. I call the tire shop and they tell me I'm good to go. So I pick up the keys and go out to the car that's parked at the top of my driveway.

"At some point in my walk, I notice there's a bee buzzing around my head. Then I notice three bees and then an entire swarm and they are all swooping and diving at me and trying to sting me."

At this point, the sandwich line and the entire sandwich shop has slowed to a crawl, listening.

"I get stung three times on the forehead, four times on one arm, twice on the other and six times on my right leg." (Polo shirts and shorts are the uniform of choice in this town.)

"I'm whirling around, waving my arms, and trying to get to my rental car. That's when I notice that the bee swarm is thickest between me and the car.

"I decide to do one thing. Flee! I turn around and still waving my arms all around me begin to run at top speed down the slope of my driveway towards the street about thirty yards away down the slope.

"Running downhill at speed in flip-flops isn't, I'm here to tell you, a great idea since at some point I feel my hip give and, boom, I perform a perfect face plant in the asphalt.

"The good news is that this seems to throw the bees off since they leave me alone. The bad news is this face. The worse news is that just when I think that I'll just lie there, phone 911 on my cell, and wait for the paramedics since I can't walk, my hip pops back in and I'm able to sneak around the house and into the rental and drive myself to the emergency room."

My pal and I murmur our condolences and gather up our sandwiches.

"Thanks," he says. "But that's not the best part."

"No?"

"Nope. When I came out this morning to go to work, another tire was flat. I walked here and now I'm afraid to go home."



Posted by Vanderleun May 9, 2014 3:38 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
De oppresso liber: The Gun Maker

De oppresso liber is the motto of the United States Army Special Forces.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 9, 2014 11:49 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Godwin's Rocket: Grandpa Drone Goes On Sale at Bonhams

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Is it just me or is a lot of stuff going on around here starting to resemble Nazi Germany at the height of the Marxist Leninest Stalinist Maoist Cultural Revolution led by Idi Amin in pants with sharp creases?

Bonhams : A 1945 Republic Aircraft-Ford JB-2 Loon "Buzz Bomb": A rare example of a WWII Jet Bomb and one of the first American self-guided weapons. The technology would form the basis of postwar rocket development. Nicely restored display piece. The United States had discovered the existence of the top secret German V-1 when a unit crashed in Sweden in 1942. A detailed analysis of the wreck was made and in 1943 the US decided to begin the development of a similar Jet Bomb. The advantage of the self-flown and self-guided bomb was obvious. It could inflict huge damages with almost no risk of lives to the operating side. The Germans exploited the weapon and unleashed huge damages with zero harm to their forces.

A contract to produce the JB-1 (Jet Bomb) was given to Northrup Aircraft in July 1944. The Northrup design was complex and a team at Wright Field were simultaneously reverse-engineering a German V-2 pulse jet engine. This design system would be the basis for the JB-2 Loon and it would replace the unsuccessful JB-1 design.

There were 1,391 Jb-2s built by Willys Overland (on subcontract from Republic Aircraft) and The Ford Motor Company produced the power plants. Ultimately the machines were too late to contribute to the War effort, but the development was still considered a technological success which laid the groundwork for many important projects.

buzz2.jpg



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 9, 2014 8:53 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Good Morning: "I’m Andrew Klavan and this is the Revolting Truth."

TRANSCRIPT: The debate is over! The science is settled! Any other point of view in this day and age is hateful. It’s racism straight up. It’s like the civil rights movement never happened! It’s a war on women. Women in this country are under fire as if this were a war. It’s Islamophobic too. And as for gays... well, the debate is over. The time for talking is past. The experts have reached a consensus. We’ve come too far to go back now. The people have decided. The toothpaste is out of the tube. We’re not going to return to the bad old days. Sure, there are some who insist on being anti-science. There are people who are still clinging to their Bibles and their guns. I don’t know why they’re working so hard to keep folks from having health insurance. They want to put y’all back in chains. They want to put women in binders. Don’t they know this is the 21st century? The debate is over. If you disagree, well, you are not welcome here. We’ll sue. We’ll boycott. We’ll get you fired. We’ll revoke your invitation to speak. Because we support diversity. So get on the bandwagon. Fall in line. The debate is over. It’s over! O for o. Ver for ver. Over.

Ap... Ah... up-up-up-up-up. Debate, equal sign, over. Finished. Done. Ssh. The science is settled. The time for talking is past. Any other point of view, well, it’s Fox News. Fox News! It’s Rush Limbaugh. It’s Rush Fox Limbaugh News! It’s old white men. It’s the Koch Brothers. It’s an Islamo-homo-phobic-racist war on women stuck into binders by Rush Limbaugh on Fox News. And the person who made that offensive video will be punished I promise you. The future does not belong to those who have any other point of view. Because we have bi-partisan agreement. The science is settled. The experts have reached a consensus. The time for talking is past. The debate is over.

This message has been brought to you by Barack Obama, the Democrat party, an assorted collection of Marxist knuckleheads, but I repeat myself, the news media, but I repeat myself repeating myself, and Brandeis University. And Rutgers University. And ACT UP. And Planned Parenthood. And Barack Obama. Again. Visit us at the debate-is-over-you’re-being-audited-you’re-under-arrest.com.

I’m Andrew Klavan with the revolting truth.

[Brought to you by Truth Revolt]

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 8, 2014 7:55 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hello Cowgirl in the Sand

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American Cowgirls of the 1940's Here's a collection of unseen photographs of cowgirls were taken by LIFE photographers Nina Leen, Peter Stackpole and Cornell Capa between 1947-48 at the University of Arizona Rodeo and the opening of the Flying L Ranch in Texas, which included a celebratory cowgirl fashion event.

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Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both....

- - John Keats: Ode On A Grecian Urn

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 7, 2014 9:10 AM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This Just In and Out

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Posted by gerardvanderleun May 7, 2014 8:47 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Generation of Idiots; Smart Phones and Dumb People

A poem that rhymes. Online 13 days. Screen views? Closing on 27,000,000. (And he has something to say about that at the end.)



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 7, 2014 7:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Teac A-4010's Mellow Music Video: The most soothing "Light My Fire" in the known universe.



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 6, 2014 6:25 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
And then ... just when the Left thinks it is safe for it to come out of the closet.....

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Posted by gerardvanderleun May 6, 2014 3:28 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
You will be very, very sorry if you actually watch the hidden video. I know I am.

As John Farrier says at Neatorama: "There is little information available about this video,

presumably because everyone associated with it has attempted to destroy all evidence of it, then changed their identities, and disappeared. But I surmise that during the 1990s, there was a direct-to-video production company called Mystic Fire Video. According to co-founder Sheldon Rochlin, it was "very concerned with the transformation of consciousness, not only through spiritual teaching but through art, music, poetry and film."
If you are stupid enough to click the link please do not operate heavy machinery while watching.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun May 5, 2014 8:11 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
May 5th -or- Cinco de Amnesty!

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- The People's Cube



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 5, 2014 11:50 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hallelujah Anyway

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. -- Job 38

So elsewhere I've been drawn into, for the X times infinityest time, yet another discussion about God. You know, the ones that go...

Is He this? Is She that?
Is God's "morality" thin or fat?
Does He wear a halo or a hat?
Does He care if you crush a gnat?
Can you see Him?
Could you be Him?
If He tells you to kill your kid
Would you do what Abraham did?

All the usual suspects show up
With all their suspect notions.
Some come to sell you a Bible.
Some come to sell you a potion.
Some come to sell you a bottle
Of the very best Atheist lotion.

In short, when it comes to God -- as we learn in the Holy Book of Dylan -- "Everybody wants to get you down in the hole that they're in."

Me? I'm a believer because... well because I've really got Nothing Better to do. That's because measuring myself against even the smallest, most finite, and bounded idea of God I can conceive I'm about gnat size in relation to that. I wish others saw it that way, but among the smart monkeys most of us think of ourselves as some sort of gigantic intellect -- at least in comparison to, say, a clam. Interesting that the "intelligent" who are long on stupidity are always short on humility.

The point is that smart monkeys like us are, deep down, stupid and shallow in anything that even starts to compare us to the Creator. At best we've been granted a small, dim sense of the shadow of the afterimage of Creation and are forever limited to that. We cannot go beyond it. For us there is no outside looking in. We simply don't have the wetware.

For many this vague, haunting sense is such an insult to their monkey mind's ego that they cannot endure the humiliation. And so they deny what little light they have and turn, turn away. It's futile of course but so many now are so afflicted that they find, with each other, small and cold comfort in numbers.

It's a shame that in this brief Grace-granted glimpse of the Immense Light between a sleep and a sleep that so many shut their eyes to the unfolding Miracle of each Moment, and think, poor little monkeys, that since none of it is about them none of it needs to be seen as it is -- glorious, compassionate and indifferent. They actually think ... no "believe"... that the Creator should not be beyond their good and evil; that the moral life of Creation should reflect our dim and limited mind.

Given the Gift they use it to curse the Giver.

Poor fools. Poor prideful fools. Poor little limited semi-smart monkeys. Pick a fight with God? All their puny arms together are still too short to box with God.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun May 4, 2014 11:32 PM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Wheat Field

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From each one in the harsh soil a myriad are spun.
Sheaves of gold on bronze in files beneath the sun.
Is it towards the whiteness of the wafer
The field bends on autumn winds;
Towards the body which is breath not flesh

That the body which is only flesh
Scuffs its limbs upon the soil,
And fears at night tomorrow’s toil,
And sees in dreams the shade of musk
The trumpets rising in the dusk?

Or is the seed of wheat enough,
Its own bronze parable of blood,
Enorbing in its nucleus
The architecture of the Ark,
The constant covenant of bread?

On the Thirtieth Meridian, at the pivot of the Earth,
A fan spreads out in silted twists
Pinned by five gold inches to the river’s wrist,
And clasped by five white fingers of that marble hand.
Between the rise and fall of speech

The pulse is felt throughout the land,
Its rhythms mimicked by the priests,
Its regulations etched on sleep
In circles, trisects, lines and cubes
Of numbers and of wheat,

Of incantations scratched on stone
That from their power we may eat
The bread, for we have tasted of the fruit,
And found it, if not sweet, of use
In surveying tombs and gardens that will suit.

The wilderness yields only flesh
Of fruit, or fowl, or hunted beast.
It cannot give us wheat and bread,
Though our bodies be of infirm flesh,
It is of bread that we would eat.

Though our thoughts are slaves to blood and heat,
Though we scan the skies with eyes of beasts,
Still we would walk in fields of wheat,
And from such sheaves deduce the laws
Of war and wealth and God, and pause

To build our towns and temples, our paved streets,
To gird the very globe with grids,
And make our maps, and take our measures,
And strew the stars with our fields’ myriad,
Grown from one, in the harsh soil, our single treasure.

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[from The Book of Hours The Algarve, Portugal, 1979 -- British Columbia, 2005]



Posted by Vanderleun May 3, 2014 11:06 PM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Perversions: The Not-So-Great Generation and the Vision That Dare Not Speak Its Name


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The World as a Group of Fantasy Islands. A project off the coast of Dubai

"The unnamable vision always leads to the unspeakable crime." -- AD Commenter Gloria

Daniel Henninger in a prophetic 2007 "Wonderland" column in The Wall Street Journal, Talking Ourselves Into Defeat , examined the pall of self-loathing that has settled over the American mind in the past decade. A self-loathing that has reached, for now, its apotheosis in those "Americans" that love the idea of an Islamic mosque at Ground Zero. For the most part, his estimate of the roots of this malaise is accurate, but one insight strikes me as wide of the mark:

"One reason the negative mood in politics is so disconcerting is that the opposition's alternative vision is nonexistent. On joining the opposition recently, GOP Sen. Norm Coleman announced, "I can't tell you what the path to success is.'"

Maybe at the time it was not self-evident, but with the rise of the most anti-American American president in history all that has changed. It is now self-evident to me, and tens of millions of other Americans, what the "path to success" is in the minds of those who have embraced and live "the opposition's alternative vision." It is not a "nonexistent" vision, but one that is very much alive, kicking and in residence on Pennsylvania Avenue. For millions of other still gulled Americans it is a vision one that is very much a secret.

It is "the vision that dare not speak its name."

It is no secret that classic liberalism, in the mold of FDR, JFK,and LBJ that reached its apotheosis in Hubert Humphrey, has long been consigned to the bone-yard. What has taken its place hates to be tarred with the brush of liberalism because, frankly, it isn't. It prefers to be called "progressivism" even as "a sociopathic political and social recidivism" more accurately describes it.

What now stands in the place one occupied by classical liberalism is a kind of perverted one-world idealism in which "the world as it is" is constantly measured against "the world as it should be." Classic liberalism at least had the argument that it was being done for the greater good. The new perverted progressive variant is one in which policy and plans are made because it makes the initiators yearn to "feel good" in the manner that compulsive masturbators obsess over fantasies implanted before puberty. Those that make and support these measures hold themselves in high regard, seeing each other as, in the French phrase popular when many of them were young, "citoyens du monde" -- citizens of the world.

Typically these are people who have "gone beyond" nation states in their own minds and, if they can afford it (and many can), in their personal lives as well. These are people with access to enough money to afford private jets, or enough money to pay the premium prices of hybrid car. They do not dwell in the same nation as their fellow, less-fortunate citizens. Instead they can afford to spend their time spreading a gospel whose high costs and marginal benefits are always carefully hidden from the middle middle class and those below. But this is never seen by those spreading the gospel as a kind of noblesse oblige, only as something that is "good for them."

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun May 3, 2014 8:53 PM | Comments (28)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Illustrated, Odd and True Tale of Dave's Killer Bread

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[Then jail.... then jail shrink.... then jail meds..... then out and back to the bakery where Dave invents "vegan loaf" and others..... then a rise to huge success... then...]

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The whole loaf can be seen at Modern Farmer



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 3, 2014 4:13 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Firebase Cobra in Afghanistan: Americans with Beards Who Are Not Members of the Pussified Hipster Tribe

AN OPEN LETTER TO BEARDED HIPSTERS | Beardsy.com The following is a blog entry from Nicki Daniels:

"Look, I get it. I really do. I understand the motivation behind your beardedness. In fact, I even pity you. Thousands of years of evolution priming you guys to kill stuff, and chase stuff, and fuck stuff….and now what? You’re stuck at a desk all day. No battles to fight. No wars to wage. So you assert your masculinity the only way you know how. You brew beer. You grow some hair on your face. I’ve seen you, hipsters, sitting in downtown eateries, with your rock chick girlfriends, dipping your truffle fries, trying not to get the aioli in your mustache. I’ve seen the quiet desperation in your eyes. I know you’re screaming into the void.
"But I still hate you for it. You’re confusing me. It’s now on me to suss out who is the real man and who is the poseur. Sadly, I fear most of you are the latter. Before this explosion of whiskers on trendy men everywhere, if I saw a bearded man it was safe to assume certain things about him. Like, he probably owned a hammer. Or washed his hair with a bar of Irish Spring. His beard was probably scented with motor oil and probably had remnants of last night’s chili in it."



Posted by gerardvanderleun May 3, 2014 8:34 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hands

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"Look at his hands, Bobby." Dad said.

Ten year old Bobby had been staring at the imposing face of Abraham Lincoln feeling that he had been silently judged and that Abe had found him unworthy.

"The hands, Bobby. That is the mark of a great artist. Too many people get focused on the face, but the hands...that's where the skill of the artist truly shows.

Bobby looked at his father. Dad looked like the typical summer tourist in D.C. Knee-length walking shorts, oversized shirt and sandals with black socks. But his dad looked different somehow at that moment. He was lost in thought. A far different look than he had while yelling at the TV during news casts or sports shows.

"Those hands. Those hands that wrote the Gettysburg Address. Those hands held this country together at it's most dark and desperate hours almost by sheer force of will."

Bobby looked again at the statue trying to see it as his dad did. He supposed that the hands were OK... only he was impatient to go to the Air and Space Museum so the impact of his dad's words were mostly lost on him. Somehow, though, he remembered them.

Years passed. Bobby became Rob and then Robert. He had used a version of the Hands speech a few times in college to impress girls at museums. One of those girls eventually gave him her hand in marriage.

Robert had nearly forgot his father's words from that day long ago. Robert became enmeshed in climbing the corporate ladder and keeping up with the Joneses as all men do to a greater or lesser extent.

His dad's words came back to him though one Autumn afternoon as he stood beside his wife's bed in the maternity ward.

Robert saw the finest example of an artist's work. A masterpiece of the greatest caliber.

He looked at his newborn son.

His hands were perfect.

Note: In response to this item on my sidebar yesterday I received the "comment" below by Mumblix Grumph, who when I wrote to ask him where he got it replied, "From my own head.  I thought it up while driving home from work yesterday." I've moved it here so that it not be missed.



Posted by Vanderleun May 1, 2014 2:16 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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