Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
The Summer of Our Content

August 1910: It wasn’t the last summer but it was one of the last summers when America was at peace with the world and at peace with itself. The Civil War was a 45 year old memory. The first of the World Wars that would scar the century to come was not even the shadow of a premonition. Lenin was an exile in Europe with no power and Mao was a student in Hunan. Hitler was living in a homeless shelter in Vienna selling paintings to tourists. Stalin was either being sent to or escaping from Siberia. Churchill was the Home Secretary in England and planning the first bit of social engineering, the National Insurance Act. Taft was President and his plan was "try to accomplish just as much [as Teddy Roosevelt] without any noise."

Both the automobile and and the electric light were ubiquitous. Air conditioning was still a wild fantasy, but the swamp cooler had begun to come online in 1904 so it wasn't completely out of the question for the very rich.

Halley’s Comet had just passed by taking Mark Twain with it. Somewhere in Macedonia Mother Teresa had just been born. If men looked up they could have seen, had they been in the right place at the right time, other men in flight. If any had been in Sheepshead Bay out side of New York City on the 20th they would have heard the first gunshots ever fired from an airplane. Individual lives might have their small tragedies but there was no perceptible or imaginable catastrophe in the cards dealt Americans that summer. It was August and everywhere Americans paused to refresh themselves.

Presented for your contemplation: One wave breaking over a group of Americans who have waded into the Atlantic on the Jersey shore sometime around noon on a hot day in August in 1910.

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The wave would have swelled up and started out far over the eastern horizon near the edge of the Gulf Stream. It would have rolled with strict impunity in the midst of thousands of others like it, all bound towards the shore. The photographer would have gotten up early and hauled his cumbersome equipment towards the shore. The bathers would have arrived in the late morning if they were not already staying near the shore.

Once there they changed into swimming apparel known more for modesty than comfort. From the light it was around noon and would have been hot. Seeking to be cooler they waded in. Some stayed near the shore. Others waded further out the steadily deepening water.

On some kind of elevated platform above the sand, the photographer put the 8x10 glass plate into the camera and ducked under the black hood for final adjustments. Then he stood up and called out and called out and called out and finally got the attention of some. Most ignored him.

The wave rolled in from somewhere over the horizon, rising up and down, maybe cresting here and there, until it swelled one last time and, just as the photographer happened to release the shutter, jumped up in that one moment and splashed and spattered the unwary people posed and unposed in the cool salt water just off the beach on the Jersey shore.

That was the moment, less than a second, in the midst of that summer now more than a century gone. All, each and every one, of those nearly 300 souls are now gone as well, even the children held on the shoulders or standing in the shallows, all gone -- all perhaps, maybe, save one now almost silent centenarian.

Well, what of it? That’s the way of the world and the way of the waves of the world and our lives. What we have is this moment snatched out of time on the Jersey shore one afternoon in August before the last century went smash. Who is there? What were they like? It can’t be known, but it can be seen and what can be seen, at least in this one moment, is that these people had what anyone would recognize as that thing we call happiness. Let’s see what we can see of it.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 31, 2014 2:12 AM | Comments (27)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Evan Sayet: How Liberals Reach the Tops of Their Professions

Thesis: "Liberals reach the top of their profession because they enter only those professions where you don't ever actually do anything."

"If the Modern Liberal is in fact as stupid as I believe him to be, then how is one to explain the fact that so many Liberals rise to the very pinnacle of their professions?

If Nancy Pelosi is stupid, how did she become the Speaker of the House of Representatives? If Katie Couric is stupid, how did she become the most recent recipient of the Walter Cronkite award for “excellence” in television journalism. If Henry Gates and Ward Churchill are stupid, how did they become tenured professors? In this short video, I explain the otherwise inexplicable." - - Evan Sayet



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 30, 2014 5:41 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Capitalism vs Socialism - Economics 101 - Reagan vs Obama



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 30, 2014 1:42 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Shop Vac and Word Crimes



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 30, 2014 10:29 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Chrysler Turbo Encabulator

Semi-Transcript: For a number of years now, work has been proceeding in order to bring perfection to the crudely conceived idea of a transmission that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters. Such an instrument is the turbo-encabulator.

Now basically the only new principle involved is that instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxes, it's produced by the modial interaction of magneto-reluctance and capacitive diractance.

The original machine had a base plate of pre-famulated amulite surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving bearings were in a direct line with the panametric fan. The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzlevanes, so fitted to the ambifacient lunar waneshaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented.

The main winding was of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semi-boloid slots of the stator, every seventh conductor being connected by a non-reversible tremie pipe to the differential girdle spring on the "up" end of the grammeters.

The turbo-encabulator has now reached a high level of development, and it’s being successfully used in the operation of novertrunnions. Moreover, whenever a forescent skor motion is required, it may also be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocation dingle arm, to reduce sinusoidal repleneration.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 29, 2014 12:48 PM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
I can no longer abide this fantastical, "Hang 'Em High" bluster. [Bumped]

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Regarding the assertion that "The solution begins with buying the wood for the gallows to be built on the Mall in Washington. It’s only then that we have truly faced up to what we have to do to fix our country." as found in The Top 40: America’s Colonial Class AGoyAndHisBlog says:

Sorry, but I'm finding that I can no longer abide this fantastical, "Hang 'Em High" bluster.

First, an untouchable oligarchy wielding the full might and technology of the most powerful military machine ever conceived by Man simply chuckles at such empty threats, assuming such threats are acknowledged at all.

Second, and more importantly, any viable - constitutional - solution to the dilemma we face can only begin once we understand who the "pod people" really are, what made them the way they are (or, more accurately, what has permitted them to remain the way they are), and what has facilitated their ascendancy over virtually all of society.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 29, 2014 11:41 AM | Comments (80)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: And who shall wear the robe and crown? Good Lord, show me the way.

The great singers make it all seem so easy. Even acapella.

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sisters let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sisters let's go down,
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O brothers let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
Come on brothers let's go down,
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way

O sinners let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sinners let's go down,
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the robe and crown
Good Lord, show me the way



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 29, 2014 8:51 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Granted it's a little tense out there, but when it comes to July 27ths and 28th the world's seen worse.

JULY 27-28, 1914: AUSTRIA-HUNGARY DECLARES WAR ON SERBIA

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In the final week of July 1914, after a decade of confrontation and near misses, mounting tensions between the two main European alliance blocs finally came to a head. Seizing on the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as a pretext, Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum containing unacceptable demands to Serbia on July 23. European diplomats scrambled to defuse the situation, but on July 25, Serbia, assured of Russian support, refused to knuckle under—and Austria-Hungary, likewise assured of German support, rejected the Serbian response, laying the groundwork for war. - - Mental Floss

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 28, 2014 7:31 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
THE Hot Crazy Matrix - A Man's Guide to Women

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If you are of the male persuasion, you may.....

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 28, 2014 7:00 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Briar Patch Barack

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"In case you're wondering why the president is now greeted with the musical strains of "Zippity Doo Dah" rather than "Hail to the Chief," it's because Barack Obama has decided that the only way he can pull the midterms out of the fire for the Democrats is to deliberately try to get himself impeached. Which is why the White House has started floating accusations that some unnamed person or body is thinking about impeaching the alleged president. But why would Barry want to get impeached? Because in the current political climate, he could never actually be convicted by the other Democrats and so he can happily use the mere threat of impeachment as "proof" that he's the victim of racism." Hope n' Change Cartoons: Uncle Ream Us



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 28, 2014 9:06 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Time to Put a Couple of Hellfire Missiles on Western Rifle Shooters Association

Somedays you just want to ask the Western Rifle Shooters Association, "Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Only those born without a sense of decency and respect for their fellow men would publish something as profoundly unseeable as the image hidden here. I hide it so that you will ever have to unsee it. I hide it in the sure and certain knowledge that none of you will ever, EVER, EVER! .... click the link.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 27, 2014 12:43 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In the Good Old Summertime

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All from Krista Long's wonderful I Love Summer - on Flickr


Got it? Okay then..... everybody follow the bouncing ball!



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 27, 2014 10:48 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
World Order: Seeking to Answer the Eternal Question; "The Japanese. Nuked Too Much or Not Enough?"


[At the jump, some non-World Order material to help you along if you still haven't made up your mind. Take notes. This will be on The Final.]

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 26, 2014 11:46 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Roadtrip Attractions

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Nevada State Route 375

To capitalize on the purported paranormal activity along the route, the Nevada Commission on Tourism sought to rename the highway. State officials drew inspiration from the alien legends and dubbed SR 375 the Extraterrestrial Highway in February 1996.[18] The tourism commission hoped that the renaming would "draw travelers to the austere and remote reaches of south-central Nevada, where old atomic bomb test sites, secret Defense Department airstrips and huge, sequestered tracts of military land create a marketable mystique."

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World's Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kan:

This ball of twine, built by a community, not just an individual, continues to grow during the annual "Twine-a-Thon" every August. At last measure, the ball weighed in at nearly 18,000 pounds and measured 40 feet in diameter.

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Carhenge, Alliance, Neb.:

Built by artist Jim Reinders in 1989, this installation of 38 vintage American cars in a formation replicating that of Stonehenge, nestles in the soft, long grasses of the Nebraska High Plains and tops many a list of cool roadside attractions. Unlike its more unruly Texan relative, Cadillac Ranch (mentioned later in this story), graffiti is prohibited in favor of a matte, primer grey finish.

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Enchanted Highway, Regent, N.D.:

Dotted along a 32-mile stretch of an unnumbered highway in the southwestern part of North Dakota, are the giant sculptural creations of local artist Gary Greff. Conceived as a way of enlivening and drawing tourism to Regent, North Dakota, the Enchanted Highway features the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures, taking a variety of forms, from a titan farmer with pitchfork to birds and fish in flight. For more of Greff’s quirky tastes, viewers can stay at his similarly-themed Enchanted Castle hotel, also in Regent.

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Randy's Donuts, Los Angeles:

Get your tasty pastry fix at any time of day at this iconic 24/7 sweet spot.Randy’s Donuts, a longtime landmark near Los Angeles’ LAX airport, with its giant rooftop donut sculpture, has been the backdrop for many a blockbuster film, includingIron Man 2, Get Shorty, Mars Attacks!, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music video, "Californication."

More at Quirky roadside America - a gallery on Flickr



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 26, 2014 10:25 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
BEAUTY by Scott Burdick | "If you don't feel anything when looking at a painting it is a failure as a work of art."

Presented as a public service and discovered at John C. Wright’s Journal. Most will pass this item by feeling that an hour is just too much time to waste on 4 videos about "Beauty." They will be wrong. But they'll never know it and go on mistaking the ugly for the beautiful; a much larger waste of time in today's world.

Oh well, all the more scarce beauty for the rest of us.

Part 1

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 25, 2014 10:49 AM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham Gazette: Friday's Fish Wrap

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Dark Roasted Blend: These Glorious Three-Wheeled Microcars Let's start with classic European (mostly German) 1950s models, lovingly called "bubblecars". German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt was forbidden making airplanes after World War two, so they started making the next best thing - cute little 1953 Messerschmitt KR175 with aircraft-styled cowl top instead of normal doors and wildly unusual looks. These Kabinenrollers, or “cabin scooters" models proved very popular - more than 15,000 were built throughout the 1950s.
Why is modern Science Fiction so bad? Why are modern comic books so bad? Why is modern art so very, very, very bad? One would almost think these things are being made bad on purpose. And one would be right! The Logic of Illogic | John C. Wright's Journal
Why Is This Gaza War Different From All Other Gaza Wars? - The American Interest Israeli planners know something else they don’t like to discuss publicly: If Hamas has rockets of such range launched from the south, and Hizballah has similar missiles that can be launched from the north, it puts the entire country within range of deadly fire should those two non-state actors ever act in unison.
What if the problem with democracy is that the majority thinks it can right any wrong, write any law, tax any event, regulate any behavior, and acquire any thing it wants? What if the greatest tyrant in history lives among us? What if that tyrant always gets its way, no matter what the laws are or what the Constitution says? What if that tyrant is the majority of voters? What if the majority in a democracy recognizes no limits on its power? Contemporary Democracy Is a Fraud
America’s Middle-Class Myopia - Tocqueville, ever the keen diagnostician, predicted that the ties binding America’s classes together, from a common Creator to shared civic participation, would weaken over time. He feared that America would end up with a kind of industrial aristocracy, one more intellectually and emotionally detached from common people than the aristocrats of old. This fear, unfashionable among many conservatives and libertarians, seems more warranted than ever.
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Marcel Duchamp Fountain (1917) is a urinal; Martin Creed Work No. 227, The Lights Going On and Off (2000, Turner Prize Winner) is a light going off and on; Damien Hirst A Thousand Years (1990) is a maggoty cow head; Michael Craig-Martin An Oak Tree (1973) is a glass of water on a shelf; Andres Serrano Piss Christ (1987) is a crucifix dunked in urine; Piero Manzoni Artist’s Shit (1961) is a can of excrement; Tracey Emin My Bed (1998) is an unmade bed. How We've Been Robbed of Beauty by the Left EveryJoe
10 Great Things About the Burqa - 3. Nothing ramps up the sexiness of your spouse like hiding her in a sheath all day. In your home, on your watch, she can wear whatever she wants. The other upside of this pressure cooker is she’s been dying to vamp all day. Finally freed from the tethers of her invisibility cloak, she busts out the 6” Luis Vuitton heels with Lady Gaga’s Versace safety pin dress. Her hair and makeup look like she’s accepting an Academy Award and it’s all for you. She’s yours alone and nobody can know about it. It’s like you’re Elliott and she’s E.T.
Joan Rivers Epic Defense Of Israel | “If New Jersey would shoot rockets into New York, we would wipe them out.” He then asked her what about the civilian casualties through out Gaza. She answered, ‘Then don't put your god damn things in private homes.” The reporter pushed her by asking her where the civilians are supposed to go? “I don’t care. They started it. You’re all insane they started it.”
BLDGBLOG: Bunker Simulations As the Herald Scotland reported the other day, one of these walls "was built at Sheriffmuir, in the hills above Dunblane, in 1943 as preparations were being made to invade Europe. The problem was the Nazis had built a formidable line of concrete defenses from Norway all the way to the Spanish border and if D-Day was to have any chance of success, the British and their allies would have to get over those defenses."
Thomas the Tank Engine had to shut the hell up to save children everywhere : Classism, sexism, anti-environmentalism bordering on racism: any parent who discovered these hidden lessons will be glad the show’s star just quit.
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Congratulations! You are the proud father of quadruplets!
Signs of the Impending Apocalypse: River In China Mysteriously Turns Red | Mental Floss According to Na Wan, a resident of a small village in Cangnan, everything about the river that runs through his town in eastern China's Zhejiang province seemed perfectly normal early Thursday morning: "But then suddenly, within the space of a few minutes, the water started turning darker and eventually was completely red."
Death by Bebop You may wonder, my poppets, why we McStudges take such delight in killing off art forms; and for the time being, you can take it out in wondering. I may deign to tell you later. For now, I will tell you how this delightful and invaluable work is done. Then you will be in the position of the pathetic Winston Smith, when he wrote in his diary, ‘I understand HOW: I do not understand WHY.’ He got his understanding in the torture-cells of the Ministry of Love, and you, my dears, will be there soon enough. You may rest assured of that.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 25, 2014 9:50 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Tonight, tonight, won't be just any night!"

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Let's hope the party crasher wears the masque of the red death....

He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to with-in three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry—and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave cerements and corpse-like mask which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form.
And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.
Poe -- The Masque of the Red Death

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 23, 2014 5:02 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: 39 Seconds of Get! Down!



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 23, 2014 11:44 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham Gazette: Artisan Toilet Paper Edition

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Lechuguilla Cave

The Palestinian negotiators, perhaps encouraged by the attention paid them by UN and John Kerry, were urged by memories of faded glory to make imperious demands, confident they remained world-important. But in reality their old state pals had been hung from gibbets, exhibited in meat lockers or were hunkered down in palace bunkers. Objectively the Palestinians were beggarly nobodies rocketing a country 1,000 times their own military potential in order to scare up some measly donations. It was an accident waiting to happen. So they drew their rusty pistola and the IDF drew its minigun. Belmont Club サ Missing the Big Brass Ring
The latest tale of Lois Lerner's hard driveIn either case, a scratched HD platter wouldn’t result in a complete loss of data. This would be nearly impossible, given the simple physics of the device. You don’t change the orientation of all the ones & zeroes on a thin sheet of ferromagnetic material by scratching one part of it, any more than you could change the orientation of a magnet by nicking it with your snuff spoon.
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…except for Fast and Furious, Benghazi, NSA abuses, EPA abuses, IRS abuses,VA abuses, Bergdahl-Taliban exchange, and the invasion of our former southern border. Michelle Obama's Mirror: Everything I know, I learned on television
Hell with good restaurants: New York City Is America's Unhappiest City: Study
Will he put his helmet in the ring? Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates
13 Insane Fair Foods You Need To Eat This Summer 14. Deep-Fried Jack Daniel’s-Infused Churro Wrapped in Bacon: It comes with a side of whipped cream and maple syrup, but I highly recommend trying the entire dish sans any of the fancy toppings and letting the Jack Daniel’s shine through. The flavors are fantastic — essentially breakfast in your mouth.
The other side of the fence we find the race deniers. Everything they believe, their sense of self and their world view, is based on race being a myth. The trouble is they are facing a mountain of scientific evidence that contradicts their belief. The mountain is not only growing, it is growing rapidly. The Z Blog › Denmark is full of Danes
These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it. Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic
"What do Israel's enraged critics truly desire?" Are you new? They want all the Jews dead, Rabbi, and that includes you, your children, and your children's children should they live that long. Wake up before you feel the blade across your throat like Daniel Pearl. (24) Charlie Martin / Facebook
BLDGBLOG: Life on the Subsurface: An Interview with Penelope Boston The first time I did any serious caving was actually in Lechuguilla Cave [Above]. It was completely nuts to make that one’s first wild cave. We trained for about three hours, then we launched into a five-day expedition into Lechuguilla that nearly killed us! Chris McKay came out with a terrible infection. I had a blob of gypsum in my eye and an infection that swelled it shut. I twisted my ankle. I popped a rib. Larry Lemke had a massive migraine.
Build an Amplifying Speaker Out of a Pringles Can Here's What You'll Need :A Pringles Can (cleaned out and dried) | Toilet Paper (approximately 14 inches) X-ACTO Knife (or scissors, but be careful!) Two Binder Clips (the bigger the better) Spray Paint (choose your favorite color) Tape
At Last! A Hashtag for Middle East Peace - Rush Limbaugh: #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies This is what is becoming of what used to be serious thought. I mean, this hashtag is a direct product or a direct result of what has been said to be education throughout our public school system, conflict resolution 101, can't we all just get along, can't we all just be friends. ... So we can shame the bad people with a hashtag on Twitter. It doesn't work that way. It never has worked that way. It is a world governed by the aggressive use of force. It's not a world governed by words, doctors, clean water, speeches, or what have you.
TO argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. Enjoy, sir, your insensibility of feeling and reflecting. It is the prerogative of animals. And no man will envy you these honors, in which a savage only can be your rival and a bear your master. Thomas Paine: The American Crisis: 6/19
John Lennon's Psychedelic Rolls-Royce - Neatorama In 1966, John had the back seat converted to a double bed. Later, a Sony television, a portable refrigerator, and telephone were installed. A "floating" record player (with perfect balance so it could be used without being effected by stops and bumps while driving) was also fitted inside. An interior and exterior sound system was included. John added blacked-out windows and was the first person in England to have this feature in his car.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 22, 2014 5:25 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The 400' Flagpole

It's something everyone would rally around. Every time you see it, it means something. A symbol of freedom, but also a symbol of hope.
- Ben Salzmann, President & CEO, ACUITY Insurance

Flagpole facts:
• At 400 ft, the tallest flagpole in the world flying a U.S. flag
• The flagpole is 11ft in diameter at its base tapering to 5ft 6in at its top.
• The pole weighs approximately 420,000lbs and was fabricated and erected in six sections.
• The 60ft x 120ft flag weighs 350lbs.
• Over 500 gallons of paint provide corrosion protection.
• The foundation is comprised of 680 cubic yards of concrete.
• Designed to withstand low temperature service of minus 41 degrees Celsius and wind speeds of 120mph

[HT: Chasmatic]



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 22, 2014 12:56 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Baghdad Blues: *Warning* May be offensive to muslims, terrorists, and liberals.

"Jaybyrd Johnson is a 3rd generation South Texas Farmer and has spent his life as a Rodeo Cowboy, Singer Songwriter and Farmer on the banks of The Rio Grande River in deep South Texas. Jay's motivation with "Baghdad Blues" is to encourage each viewer to see cultural differences in our world form a realistic point of view, and to keep in mind that others intentions are not always good, in fact, some are out to harm us. "Baghdad Blues" is about simple honesty, not hate."

HT: True North who writes, "Here's somebody who gives a shit."



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 22, 2014 12:45 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Updating the Weather

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 22, 2014 11:40 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham Gazette:

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If it happens in the afternoon, do we run toward home, or away from the city and the blast? If it happens at night, do we let our parents huddle over us in the basement, or do we stand on the rooftop, chests forward, praying the first shock wave dematerializes our family without pain? — — Honey, You’re Scaring the Kids / The Appendix
Transistor Successor Set to Bring on "The Machine" Age Soon - The memristor, the subject of much study over the last six years, could become the basic building block for an array of new devices—from the sensors and memory chips being built into the "Internet of Things"
Kristen Gwynne Is A Very Stupid Person Then you have the stupid twat’s description of a derringer. Gun grabbers know little about guns, crime, 2A and gun culture. That’s something all 2A people know. What’s surprising is just how deep the ignorance goes with some of these people. Kirsten is an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. She is simply too stupid to comprehend her own ignorance.
The dark side of our universe | Ninety-seven-and-a-half per cent of the universe is invisible. This has got to be one of the most extraordinary discoveries in the history of science. Yet it still hasn’t trickled into the consciousness of most scientists. They still have not woken up to the shocking fact that everything they have been studying – everything science has been looking at over the past 350 years – is no more than a minor contaminant of the universe, like the frosting of snow on a mountaintop.
A genuinely Paleolithic diet, Durant concedes, probably ought to include human flesh; however, he does not advise this. How the Paleolithic Diet Got Trendy
Halbig v. Burwell Would Free More Than 57 Million Americans From The ACA's Individual & Employer Mandates a victory for the Halbig plaintiffs would not increase anyone’s premiums. What it would do is prevent the IRS from shifting the burden of those premiums from enrollees to taxpayers. Premiums for federal-Exchange enrollees would not rise, but those enrollees would face the full cost of their “ObamaCare” plans.

When the sun goes down, a new type of character appears at the border. They are known locally as “ants”, because of the heavy weight they carry on their backs: an army of volunteers from the surrounding area who carry helmets and body armor across the border, one at a time. The Ants of Medyka | Roads & Kingdoms
I'm Done Apologizing for Israel / Rabbi Menachem Creditor I ask: What do Israel's enraged critics truly desire? How is it possible to hear indignant claims of human rights violations in the context of Syrians slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands, state-sanctioned terrorism around the globe, and young immigrants treated like chattel by the US and other? Israel is doing its best, sacrificing its own children to preserve the lives of Palestinians.
The "Otherkin" If you have even one drop of empathy in your whole fucking rancid bigoted body, you might be able to relate to the plight of some hapless 14-year-old in Kansas who suffers the slings and arrows of living life as an earthworm trapped in a human body. Or maybe not. Maybe you’re just that fucking sick in the head that you don’t realize these people speak the truth and deserve not only empathy, but ample government funding.
Christ’s face engraved in a single spiral line: Claude Mellan, “The Sudarium, or Veil of St Veronica,” engraving, France, 1649. In a single line and starting from the tip of Jesus’ nose, Mellan has engraved the entire face, the folded veil, and the lettering below. The modulations in direction, from thick to thin, model the image in chiaroscuro (light and dark). Thus the shapes and volume of the engraving are achieved.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 22, 2014 10:55 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Persistence of Memory

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Lloyd Brown, a 104-year-old World War I veteran takes a moment to pause as he remembers being in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard with his ship the day WW I ended, at his home in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, on November 9, 2005.

Brown remembered Armistice Day in 1918 as few, ever so few, veterans can. "For the servicemen there were lots of hugs and kisses," he recalls Brown, a teenage seaman aboard the battleship USS New Hampshire when the fighting stopped. "We were so happy that the war was over." Brown added, "There's not too many of us around any more." An estimated 2 million Americans served in Europe after the U.S. entered the war in 1917. Lloyd Brown passed away in April of 2007, at the age of 105. World War I in Photos: A Century Later - The Atlantic

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Archeologists in the city of Arras in northern France discovered the intact remains of 24 British servicemen who were buried in 1917 during World War I.

The discovery of the skeletons, which lay side by side with their army boots still intact had evidence they were from the same town. They were unearthed during the excavations for a new BMW plant at the end of May 2001. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission who took possession of the remains, identified 20 of the soldiers who were buried together to be from the 10th Lincoln Battalion. Three others, found in a nearby shell hole, were from the Marine Infantry and one other was found buried alone.

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Varlet farm owner Charlotte Cardoen-Descamps points out different types of World War I shells that were found on her farm in just a single season in Poelkapelle, Belgium, on May 4, 2007.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 22, 2014 10:47 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Requiem for a Once Great City: Chicago by Carl Sandburg

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        Hog Butcher for the World,
        Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

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        Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight
            Handler;

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        Stormy, husky, brawling,
        City of the Big Shoulders:

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They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
    have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
    luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
    is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
    kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
    faces of women and children I have seen the marks
    of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
    sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
    and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
    so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cun–
    ning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
    job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
    little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
    as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
            Bareheaded,
            Shoveling,
            Wrecking,
            Planning,
            Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
    white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
    man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
    never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
    and under his ribs the heart of the people,
                        Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
    Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
    Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
    Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.




Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 22, 2014 2:33 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The elegant art of not giving a shit

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"Giving a shit does not necessarily mean you’re doing anything useful, but it makes it seem like you are. It feels like there’s some kind of justice that you’re getting closer to with every moment you give a shit. But that’s not true, because giving a shit, by itself, is only thinking — and thinking has little use aside from figuring out what to do. -- Raptitude



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 21, 2014 11:58 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham Gazette: Monday Mayhem Edition

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Third World Problem: Donkey suicide bomb stopped by Israeli troops in Gaza Troops said they were forced to open fire on the animal - blowing it up - as it approached their position in the southern city of Rafah, near the Egyptian border.
First World Problem: Winning the Customer Service Cancelation Phone Battle - Neatorama Politeness has its place, but this is not that place. To get pushed immediately through to retention, get mad. You don’t have to swear at them—cursing at a call center rep at any point is a great way to get them to hang up on you—but anger will serve you a lot better here than being nice.
Juries Now Packed with Obama Voters: Florida jury awards $23 billion punitive damages against RJ Reynolds - Yahoo News
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Iraq vet cited for owning 14 therapeutic pet ducks
Have a Bueno Day: In Midwest, More Radio Stations Switching to Spanish
The Boffins are Baffled! A Giant, Mysterious Hole Has Opened up at the ‘End of the World’ in Siberia — and It’s Left Scientists Baffled
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"Tranquility Base here. The Obama Has Landed:" Iran just missed our “deadline” that was supposed to result in fewer centrifuges in exchange for suspending the sanctions. No sane person now believes that the Iranians will stop nuclear enrichment, or will not get a bomb, or will not threaten to use it when they get one. What will Secretary Kerry do, now that the currency of “red lines,” “deadlines” and “step-over lines” has been all used up? Works and Days » Obama's Tranquility
Everyone In Middle East Given Own Country In 317,000,000-State Solution At press time, reports confirmed the outbreak of more than 90,000,000 new wars across the region, with sources estimating the current death toll at approximately 700,000.
Given that the other party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lunatic Inc, I’ve been in a funk for a decade now. The election of 2010 did not offer much hope. One look at Boehner made it clear he was a timid, unimaginative man with the charisma of an old sneaker. The nomination of Romney for the 2012 election was comical, in many respects. Romney is a decent man and would be an able administrator, but he represented more of the same. You cannot be a credible alternative to the lunatics if you’re just offering more of the same. The Immigration Bomb
Diversify the media, how many reporters on “right wing” or “left wing” papers are enriching vibrant people? not enough. We need more “blacksplaining” about how slavery is everyones fault, but we need it from black people, from diverse people, and not from white face. So don’t sit there and snipe “but the Guardian reporters are all white”. Threaten pickets, threaten organised boycotts, threaten online media campaigns – they have no defence. How dare they be racist and not adhere to diversity. Expansion on AAA | The New International Outlook
Baryon asymmetry of the universe in standard electroweak theory We suggest a new scenario of the baryon asymmetry generation in the framework of standard electroweak theory which is based on the recent observation that anomalous baryon number violating processes are nonsuppressed at high temperatures.
10 Baffling Scientific Mysteries Of Everyday Things If you peel certain kinds of sticky tape (including Scotch tape) in a vacuum, it produces short bursts of X-rays.
These Parents Have Given Up for the Day


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 21, 2014 4:11 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Just Another Number in the War of All on All

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A body lies in a wheat field, in the wide debris field of Thursday's Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in Ukraine on July 18, 2014. - In Focus

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

-- Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 18, 2014 12:10 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham Gazette: Airport Gift Shop Edition
"This is your captain speaking. If you look out the right side windows, you can see the city of Donetsk, which is currently occupied by trigger-happy armed separatists with surface-to-air missiles. If you look closely, you may be able to see smoke drifting from ongoing artillery bombardments. Those of you on the left side may be able to make out a Ukrainian fighter jet on approach to bomb rebel positions near Horlivka. We expect a smooth ride to Kuala Lumpur, so please sit back and enjoy the flight."
Well, it is certainly a different world today than it was the last time Russian arms were used to deliberately shoot down a crowded aircraft. That was on September 1, 1983, when Soviet jets shot down KAL 007 over eastern Siberia when the plane strayed into Soviet airspace. All 269 people aboard died. Then, uniformed Soviet soldiers shot down what they knew was a civilian airliner. Today un-uniformed thugs shot down what they apparently thought was a Ukrainian military transport plane—so the initial reports suggest. But you’ve got to be very poorly trained to mistake a Boeing commercial jet with an Antonov military aircraft. Or you have to have essentially no chain of command or just not care, or both. The point: The human agents who shot down KAL 007 in 1983 were in a chain of professional military command working directly for the political leaders of a strong state, and the human agents who shot down MaH 17 today were in no obvious chain of military command and were working indirectly for the decision-makers of a weak state: today’s Russia. What the Malaysia Air Tragedy Means - The American Interest
Leading from her behind: Hillary: Let the Europeans 'Take the Lead' on Downed Plane: “The Europeans have to be the ones that take the lead on this. It was a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over European territory - there should be outrage in European capitals.” Commenter: If the plane was full of islamic, gay, transgendered, trans-testicle, illegal mexicans, then she would want us to take the lead.
Morning at #mh17 crash site. Roosters crowing, orange sun glowing. ground littered w human skeletons and plane fragments... #ukraineNoah Sneider (NoahSneider) on Twitter
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THE field is filled with bodies. One has on jeans, but no shoes. A second is in a polo shirt and grey socks, one of which is charred. A third wears blue trousers, but your correspondent cannot see the face, smashed as it is under the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Passengers onboard Flight 17 had made themselves comfortable for the long journey from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. One, in black leggings, now rests next to a black duffle bag, which is somehow intact. A green luggage strap lies in the grass like a snake. Someone comments on the smell: acrid, heavy. Only death smells this way. Flight MH17: “This is not a disaster. It is Hell” | The Economist
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Whenever a major sporting event comes along, the progressive media always has a desired narrative. So it was with the recent World Cup, where it was widely hoped that a racially mixed team would win, proving once again the all-conquering power of ‘diversity’. Alas, when Brazil crashed to its 1-7 defeat against Germany in the semi-final, the desired narrative took a severe beating and started coughing up blood. Argentina in Whiteface
Moral clarity in Gaza: Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Turbulent Summer of 2014 What keeps the country afloat this terrible summer? Some American companies produce more gas and oil than ever despite, not because of, the Obama administration. Most Americans still get up every day, work hard and pay more taxes than they receive in subsidies. American soldiers remain the most formidable in the world despite the confusion of their superiors. The law, regardless of the administration, is still followed by most. And most do not duck out on their daily responsibilities to golf, play pool or go on junkets. It is still a hard thing to derail America in a summer -- but then again, we have a long way to go until fall.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 18, 2014 9:08 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Once Upon a Time in America

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Inch Time Foot Gem

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen Teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others.

Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:

Not twice this day

Inch time foot gem.

This day will not come again.

Each minute is worth a priceless gem.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 17, 2014 4:26 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham Gazette

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But the UN doing nothing is what the UN does: The decision of a court to hold the Dutch state liable for the death of 300 Muslim Bosnians in the Srebrenica massacre marks the first time a UN mission has been blamed for doing nothing. It threatens to unravel the whole system of UN peacekeeping. Belmont Club サ No-Op
HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY, CENTRAL AMERICAN HUMANITARIAN CRISIS The precise reason our borders are besieged is that the 11 million to 20 million "undocumented migrants" currently living here seem just a few more bad Marco Rubio speeches away from being legalized. And the reason they entered the country undocumentedly is that Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens in 1986.
Redditors grant grieving dad's Photoshop wish "My daughter passed away after a long battle in the children's hospital. Since she was in the hospital her whole life, we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?
Sultan Knish: Winning the Moral High Ground is a Loser's Game In our modern age, things no longer exist to perform their function. Washing machines aren't designed to clean clothes, but to save water and energy. Food isn't there to be eaten, but not eaten. And armies aren't there to win wars, but to be moral. And the truly moral army never fights a war. When it must fight a war, then it fights it as proportionately as possible, slowing down when it's winning so that the enemy has a chance to catch up and inflict a completely proportional number of casualties on them.
Why Neil Armstrong Got to Be the First to Step on the Moon
Ancient man who first civilized the Earth and created a domain for himself knew it deeply. Out of the night black came predators, diseases, bandits, barbarians, demons and enemy armies. The night black was a constant reminder of the darkness of barbarism and the necessity of the civilization man built himself. Civilization’s Precipice | Ara Maxima
Buell, whose careful terror seems to be the possibility of saying something politically incorrect—the book does so much posturing, you think it’s going to throw its back out—appears to have absorbed every piety in the contemporary critical hymnal. You can see him fairly bowing to them in his introduction, as if by way of ritual preparation. There they are, propitiated one by one—Ethnicity, Globalism, Anti-Canonicity, Anti-Essentialism—like idols in the corners of a temple. How the Novel Made the Modern World - William Deresiewicz - The Atlantic
Perchance to Dream: Science and the Future -- By surpassing the bounds of empire, nature, and knowledge via experimentation, Bacon argued that humankind could restore itself to its perfect pre-lapsarian state before the fall in the Garden of Eden.
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After his stint at pretending to be president Obama's in line for a natural: Marvel Announces New Black Captain America
Suicidal Maniacs These lunatics don’t care about the migrants. How can they? Many of them are gangsters and criminals. Others are just dead beats looking for welfare checks. Still others are being thrown out of their native lands as they are a burden. What these lunatic politicians do care about is breaking the back of traditional America. They hate you and they want you dead, even if it means blowing the whole country up.... Maybe normals will wake up and begin treating Progressives like the Chinese treat Falun Gong.
REPEAT UNTIL YOU COMPREHEND: All high-level politicians in the for U.S. today are PSYCHOPATHS AND WHORES who are in it solely for the money and power. Aspiring to or holding high level office today is proof positive of the psychological and moral unfitness of the given person to hold high public office. This axiom transcends and applies equally to the facades known as the Republican and Democrat parties, and any and all antagonism between the two is nothing more than KABUKI THEATER. On Jamie Dimon, Sewage, and Other Variety | Barnhardt
The Rules of Sewage : The Third Rule of Sewage is the Immersive Rule of Sewage.  Imagine an edible fish taken from that pure water, placed in sewage, and somehow surviving – no matter the fish’s immune system and other defenses, it will become contaminated.  No matter how pure you are to begin with, if you are surrounded by bad people or bad content, it will start to affect you. 
The Mighty Thor…probably my favorite super hero when I was a kid, is now a woman. They announced it on The View. The Norse God of Thunder…made him a girl, just like that. Man. Ah well, no doubt the Marvel people know a lot more than I do about what sells comic books. I wish them luck. -- Rightly Guided

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 17, 2014 11:41 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Picture This

From The obduracy of the leftist project found at Barrel Strength


"Picture an ad showing throngs of Muslims screaming in streets, shouting anti-US or anti-Christian slogans, burning embassies, preaching hate on televisions, beheading and stoning adulterers, converts, apostates, and blocking streets in European cities with praying men, butts in the air.

"The voice-over comes on:

“Imagine there is a religion which believes it is the duty of every one of its adherents to kill, enslave and degrade anyone not belonging to it.

“Imagine there is a religion whose adherents believe in removing the clitorises of young girls to secure their sexual constancy and obedience to their husbands.

“Imagine there is a religion which takes as its divinely-ordained human model a man who married his twelve year old niece, disavowed his adopted nephew to do so, slaughtered thousands of prisoners of war, and who made his lusts the criterion and authoritative guide of all male behaviour for all time?

“Imagine a religion which says its primary texts are not just divinely inspired, but are the dictations of God to man, literally and fully authoritative, even though one fifth of it cannot be logically or grammatically deciphered, even it its original language?”

“Imagine a religion that considers all inquiry, of whatever kind, to be formally forbidden”

“Imagine a religion that believes that if God says two plus two makes five, then there is no human basis for disputing that absurdity, and that to do so would merit death?

“Imagine a religion which says that the match does not light the gasoline, but that all physical events happen directly and without intermediation or operation of physical laws, but by the will of God alone?”

“Imagine if there were a religion which says that everything that happens in the universe: every molecule jiggling, every event that happen to a human, every bird falling from the sky, happens by the will of God alone?”

“Imagine the effects on scientific education and rational inquiry, when all possible subjects of inquiry: religious, philosophical or scientific, are forbidden.

“Would you not want to defend yourself against this religion? Would you not seek to have it disputed in public places by people in authority?

“If there were such a religion?”

I can see the hate-crime prosecutions now, but I can see the ad very clearly, and so do many of you, dear readers, without the benefit of televisions or computers. It is running every day, just the voice-over is missing. And now you have one."



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 17, 2014 10:33 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Way-New Colossus [With NO apologies to Emma Lazarus]

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Not like the Spartan Women of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A spraddled whore with a fat and fallen ass, whose fame
Has almost guttered out, and her name
"Mother of Suckers." From her limp-hand
Glows world-wide "come and fuck me over;" her blind eyes command
The slop strewn harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent Herpes lips. "Give me your useless, your diseased,
Your shit-stained masses yearning for a free ride,
The lice bearing kiddies of your fucked over garbage countries.
Send these, the homeless, criminal, degenerate to use me,
I bend way over inside the golden door!"



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 15, 2014 2:41 AM | Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Knock by Fredric Brown [A compete short story in two sentences.]

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 14, 2014 8:54 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham Gazette
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Most journalists have two natural biases that influence and limit their work; no science training, and a determination to push their institutional and personal bias on society. Corruption Of Academic Journals For Profit and Climate Change Propaganda
"The relationship between the government and the media is like a marriage; it is a dysfunctional marriage to be sure, but we stay together for the kids." Orwell Would Be Proud: US Media Admits Divine Right To Decide What Public Needs To Know
There are 100 Earth-like planets for every grain of sand in the world. -- The Fermi Paradox
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A turtle hitches a ride on a jellyfish.
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
‘Blood on Your Hands’: Former NYT Editor Blows the Whistle On How Obama Really Handles The Media
The Real War on Women: the massacre of almost 30 women in the Zayouna neighborhood of Baghdad.... The murder site was a brothel. The gunmen came in order to kill every one in it and teach the world an Islamic lesson. “Police believe men using silenced weapons carried out the executions, before scrawling ‘this is the fate of any prostitution’ on one of the doors. Belmont Club The World As We Find It


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 14, 2014 8:16 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
'Boomerang Kids': Portraits of Millennials Living Back Home with Mom and Dad

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Alexandria Romo, 28, Austin, Tex.
Degree: B.A., Economics, Loyola University, Chicago
Career goal: Environmentalist
Current Job: Working at a corporate-security firm
Student Loans: $90,000

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Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, Suffern, N.Y.
Degree: B.F.A., Graphic design, School of Visual Arts
Career goal: Graphic designer
Current job: Graphic designer and production assistant
Student Loans: $130,000

-- Others @ Feature Shoot



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 14, 2014 8:09 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Any Questions?

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 13, 2014 5:55 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can't hear you! Too noisy) Las Vegas!!!!"

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"We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like: I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive.... We had two bags of grass... 75 pellets of mescaline... five sheets of high-powered blotter acid... a salt shaker half-full of cocaine... a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers. Also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer... a pint of raw ether... two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip... but once you get locked into a serious drug collection... the tendency is to push it as far as you can."

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Last month, for my sins, I was sent to Las Vegas with my attorney. Strictly business. It was, for the most part, as uneventful as the first time I went to Las Vegas which, if I remember it at all, went something like this:

The important discovery I made this time is that there are now actually two cities of the same name in different universes. One is Las Vegas by Day:

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The other is Las Vegas by Night:

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The Night Vegas is when all the myths live and breathe:

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But the Day Vegas is where reality checks in:

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One of the indelible images of Las Vegas is that of the old babes at the row upon row of slot machines.

There they are at six o'clock Sunday morning no less than at three o'clock Tuesday afternoon. Some of them pack their old hummocky shanks into Capri pants, but many of them just put on the old print dress, the same one day after day, and the old hob-heeled shoes, looking like they might be going out to buy eggs in Tupelo, Mississippi. They have a Dixie Cup full of nickles or dimes in the left hand and an Iron Boy work glove on the right hand to keep the calluses from getting sore.

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"Every time they pull the handle, the machine makes a sound much like the sound a cash register makes before the bell rings,

then the slot pictures start clattering up from left to right, the oranges, lemons, plums, cherries, bells, bars, buckaroos--the figure of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco. The whole sound keeps churning up over and over again in eccentric series all over the place, like one of those random-sound radio symphonies by John Cage. You can hear it at any hour of the day or night all over Las Vegas. You can walk down Fremont Street at dawn and hear it without even walking in a door, that and the spins of the wheels of fortune, a boring and not very popular sort of simplified roulette, as the tabs flap to a stop. As an overtone, or at times simply as a loud sound, comes the babble of the casino crowds, with an occasional shriek from the craps tables, or, anywhere from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m., the sound of brass instruments or electrified string instruments from the cocktail-lounge shows. -- The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby By Tom Wolfe

Dr. Gonzo: Sounds like big trouble. You're going to need plenty of legal advice before this thing is over. As your attorney, I advise you to rent a very fast car with no top. And you'll need the cocaine. Tape recorder for special music. Acapulco shirts. Get the hell out of L.A. for at least 48 hours. Blows my weekend.

Raoul Duke: Why?

Dr. Gonzo: Because naturally I'm going to have to go with you. And we're going to have to arm ourselves... to the teeth!

Raoul Duke: Well why not? Shit if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!

This is the American Dream in action. We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way to the end!

Raoul Duke: What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole lifestyle that he helped create.

A generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old mystic fallacy of the acid culture: the desperate assumption that somebody, or at least some force, was tending the light at the end of the tunnel. There was only one road back to L.A. - U.S. Interstate 15. Just a flat-out high speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo. Then onto the Hollywood Freeway, and straight on into frantic oblivion. Safety. Obscurity. Just another freak, in the freak kingdom. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Long after Las Vegas’ influence as a gambling heaven has gone, Las Vegas’ forms and symbols will be influencing American life.

That fantastic skyline! Las Vegas’ neon sculpture, its fantastic fifteen-story-high display signs, parabolas, boomerangs, rhomboids, trapezoids, and all the rest of it, are already the staple design of the American landscape outside the oldest parts of the oldest cities, They are all over every suburb, every subdivision, every highway . . . they are the new landmarks of America, the new guide posts, the new way Americans get their bearings.
- Tom Wolfe, “Las Vegas (What?) Las Vegas (Can’t Hear you! Too Noisy) Las Vegas!!!” Esquire Magazine 1964, reprinted in The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby 1965

And then there's the unfortunate intrusion on Day Vegas into Night Vegas: Man suffers heart attack at Heart Attack Grill

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Tourists were disheartened, but not entirely surprised to hear about the incident.

"I don't think I would walk into a place, even if it's called the Heart Attack Grill, and order food, and expect that I was going to have a heart attack," said Las Vegas resident Debbie Kaye.

Customers, however, continued eating the burgers, fries, and shakes Tuesday night. And then went out to take a look at the town in the Day/Night Vegas of 2014:

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 13, 2014 2:11 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
10 Minutes with Dennis Miller

"Muslims will want to go to the moon when the Jews set up Israel there."



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 12, 2014 12:20 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: How to Rescue Ducklings from a Drain Pipe

You moment of "Awwwwwww...." from Miss Cellania @ Neatorama



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 12, 2014 9:21 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What Didn't the President Know and When Didn't He Know It?

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From the always clear and never cloudy Michelle Obama's Mirror

Guy goes into a bar in Louisiana where there’s a robot bartender! The robot says, “What will you have?” The guy says, “Whiskey.” The robot brings back his drink and says to the man, “What’s your IQ?” The guy says,” 168.” The robot then proceeds to talk about physics, space exploration and medical technology.

The guy leaves, but then he gets curious so he goes back into the bar. The robot bartender says, “What will you have?” The guy says, “Whiskey.” Again, the robot brings the man his drink and says, “What’s your IQ?” The guy says, “100.” The robot then starts to talk about Nascar, Budweiser, the Saints and LSU Tigers

The guy leaves, but finds it very interesting, so he thinks he will try it one more time. He goes back into the bar. The robot says, “What will you have?” The guy says, “Whiskey,” and the robot brings him his whiskey. The robot then says, “What’s your IQ?” The guy says, “Uh, about 50.”

The robot leans in real close and says, “SO, . . . you people . . . still happy . . . with Obama?”

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 11, 2014 7:40 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In the Stream

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Just another ordinary day on the ocean.

RINGTONE. Check the screen.

It's my good friend Monroe calling from his home in Fort Lauderdale. I knew he was running his Sea Ray up from the Florida Keys, so I'm glad to see he's home and dry.

"Hey, how's it going?"

"I've got to tell you this because I've just got to tell someone."

"What happened? You okay?"

(When people run serious power boats from the Keys up to Lauderdale, it's a full day on the ocean and things can sometimes go wrong, very wrong. His boat seems big at the dock, but take it off shore and towards the Gulf Stream and it quickly becomes very small. The Atlantic is a great reducer.)

"Yeah, sure. Fine. But listen to this."

"Tell me."

"Well, I was trying to get someone to crew with me on the boat, but one person after another flaked out so, in the end, I had to take it myself. It's a full 8 hours cruising on plane once you get away from the Keys and out into the open ocean, and it's not always fun. But I've done it before. You just bring the boat up on plane, punch in the GPS way points and then pretty much monitor the autopilot for eight hours. I usually just put in the ear plugs, sit back and take the ride.

"Anyway, I'm at least four miles off shore along the edge of the Gulf Stream abreast of Miami with an hour left to run when I decide, okay, I'll have one cold beer. So I pop one and take a sip. I turn to my right to put it down and something flickers in the corner of my eye.

"I look again just behind me and about a quarter mile more out to sea and, when a wave falls away, I see a small boat with three people standing in it. And it seems like they are all waving. At me. Now people wave at each other from boat to boat all the time, but these men seem to be unusually enthusiastic."

"I pick up my binoculars and look again. They're fading behind me now, but I manage to get a closer look and, sure enough, there's these three men all standing in this dinky boat and waving. I throttle back to look more closely, and I notice that while they are waving, the boat they are in is getting lower in the water.

"Okay. That's all I need to see. I turn the boat out to sea and come back up on plane and get over there. Sure enough, as I come closer it becomes very clear that the situation they are in is commonly known as 'sinking.' They are sinking fast. And waving faster.

"I don't want to swamp anything so I throttle back. Then I remember I'm wearing ear-plugs. I take them out and a good deal of shouting comes in to accompany the waving."

"I pull up within about thirty yards from them. It's an open boat and they're wearing some cheap Wal-Mart lifejackets; almost kid's life jackets. Keep in mind that we're four long miles off shore, bumping along on the edge of the Gulf Stream, and the current is whipping us along.

"I go to dead idle and sort of drift up on them and, just as I get within ten yards, their boat capsizes, flips them all out into the ocean and slides under. I step to the aft deck, open the door on the deck, put the ladder down and hold out the boat hook. Their boat's a goner, but they spend about sixty seconds in the water, and then they're on my deck, wet but very, very grateful."

"Amazing," I tell him. "Simply amazing."

"God was watching out for these guys. They had no radio. No inflatable. Nothing except some stinky life jackets.

"If the guy I'd lined up to crew hadn't flaked out this morning, I'd have been underway at least an hour earlier and tied up in Lauderdale with a serious cocktail.

"If I hadn't turned to put my beer in the holder at that precise instant, I wouldn't have seen them at all. And they'd have been four miles off shore in the Stream. The current would have taken them north much faster than they could have swum west. If they could have swum four miles in the open ocean to begin with."

"What happened after?"

"I got on the radio and called the Coat Guard. They had me hold station and sent a cutter out. They took the guys off and took them back to shore in Miami. I fired up the engines and came home. My dog was upset though. Ten hours without a chance to pee."

"Monroe, you just saved three lives," I said.

He paused. "Yes," he said, "I guess you could say I probably did. Even though I had to do the run solo, I guess you could say it was a good day on the ocean after all."

The name of my friend's boat?

"Safety Meeting"

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Posted by Vanderleun Jul 10, 2014 1:59 AM | Comments (28)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Life During Wartime: "We dress like students, we dress like housewives Or in a suit and a tie"

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Have We Gone From a Post-War to a Pre-War World?: Only a few years ago, most western observers believed that the age of geopolitical rivalry and great power war was over.

Today, with Russian forces in Ukraine, religious wars exploding across the Middle East, and territorial disputes leading to one crisis after another in the East and South China seas, the outlook is darker. Serious people now ask whether we have moved from a post-war into a pre-war world. Could some incident somewhere in the world spark another global war?.... The Middle East today bears an ominous resemblance to the Balkans of that period. The contemporary Middle East has an unstable blend of ethnicities and religions uneasily coexisting within boundaries arbitrarily marked off by external empires. Ninety-five years after the French and the British first parceled out the lands of the fallen Ottoman caliphate, that arrangement is now coming to an end. Events in Iraq and Syria suggest that the Middle East could be in for carnage and upheaval as great as anything the Balkans saw. The great powers are losing the ability to hold their clients in check; the Middle East today is at least as explosive as the Balkan region was a century ago.

"Life During Wartime"

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some grave sites, out by the highway
A place where nobody knows

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance
I'm getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, I lived in the ghetto
I've lived all over this town

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
This ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain't got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver
Hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, couple of visas
Don't even know my real name

High on a hillside, trucks are loading
Everything's ready to roll, I,
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the night time
I might not ever get home

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
This ain't no fooling around
This ain't no mud club, or C. B. G. B.
I ain't got time for that now

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
This ain't no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain't got time for that now

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You ought to know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there

I got some groceries, some peanut butter
To last a couple of days
But I ain't got no speakers
Ain't got no headphones
Ain't got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time?
Can't write a letter, can't send a postcard
I can't write nothing at all

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
This ain't no fooling around
I'd love you hold you, I'd like to kiss you
But I ain't got no time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock
We blended in with the crowd
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines
I know that ain't allowed

We dress like students, we dress like housewives
Or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle so many times now
Don't know what I look like

You make me shiver, I feel so tender
We make a pretty good team
Don't get exhausted, I'll do some driving
You ought to get you some sleep

Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
They won't help me survive
My chest is aching, and it burns like a furnace
The burning keeps me alive



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 9, 2014 5:44 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Like a Boss: Working with Wood in Washington

Proving yet again that if it's worth doing well it's worth hiring someone who knows how to do it.

Scott's Tree Service Regarding the tree falling video:

"No, the buildings were not slated for demo. I have insurance. The Service line was down and coiled on the deck to make room for the trees that were behind the location of the camera.

The deck was rotten and replaced by owner after we logged the lot. I talked to him about that ahead of time and he gave us the go ahead to dent the deck if we had to. The steps were the only damage.

"I hung plumb bobs from the eaves of each roof line to the ground and drove stakes there. Then I measured between the stakes and drove a third stake half way between the two.

"From this stake, I measured to each corner of my falling cut on the stump the exact same distance to each corner.

"I used a birdsmouth cut on the face so as to keep the tree on the hinge and stump all the way to the ground.

"The most important factor was that the tree was the straightest tree on the lot and the limbs were well balanced. By that I mean the limbs were the same size and weight all the way around the tree top, so when the tree began to fall, they didn't influence the cast or drift of the tree.

"The owner took the money from the log sale and remodeled with a new nicer deck, and the most awesome living room I have ever seen in an old mobile home." -- Scott's Tree Service

And then there's always "the other method:"

Best viewed with the sound turned up so you can hear the immortal words, "Oh shit. My house. My bedroom."

[HT:Tim]



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 9, 2014 9:10 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Speed Customization in Gaza

Where folks know the true meaning of "drive-by."

Aftermath:

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People gather around a vehicle targeted in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on July 8, 2014. - In Focus - The Atlantic



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 8, 2014 5:50 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Chicago and the Don Zaluchi Policy by John Fleming

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Blood is washed away from the sidewalk after a 24-year-old man was shot and killed on the South Side of Chicago, Ill. According to published reports, the man was the 73rd homicide victim and the 39th victim under the age of 25 in Chicago this year. -- NBC

Don Zaluchi runs Chicago, although it's actually grey-black powder.

If they had any sense or American identity left in them, they'd realize that they are every one his sacrificial pawns. The Don wants this, every child gunned down makes the case for firearms confiscation, and the reversion to slavery complete. But this, in this country, will never happen without risking civil war. And the Don knows, the rest of the country doesn't care either and believes as he does. Who cares if soulless animals off each other? There's no downside to letting this continue, or so he and his associates think.

The Don could stop this. But it would mean a severe squeeze on the rackets to make the streets safe. The Capo's would get themselves a new Don. That the Don only calls ineffectively for firearms confiscation, while doing nothing to actually make the city safe for all People, "evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism"

Instead of killing each other, they should march on City Hall and purge with extreme prejudice every Alderman, Ward heeler, precinct and police captain they can find. And for good measure, torch Hyde Park, raze it, and salt the earth.

It's too late for apologies. "[I]t is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." If they don't, they're dead anyway. If they do, they have a fighting chance to "institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness".

Posted by: John A. Fleming in "Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town"

Don Zaluchi:

I also don't believe in drugs. For years I paid my people extra so they wouldn't do that kind of business. Somebody comes to them and says, "I have powders; if you put up three, four thousand dollar investment, we can make fifty thousand distributing." So they can't resist. I want to control it as a business, to keep it respectable.I don't want it near schools! I don't want it sold to children! That's an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people, the coloreds. They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 8, 2014 5:15 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fatso the Cat

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"In the past if someone was famous or notorious, it was for something—as a writer or an actor or a criminal; for some talent or distinction or abomination. Today one is famous for being famous." -- Malcolm Muggeridge

I’m a man who doesn’t like cats. I don’t understand why women and certain men don’t get the simple axiom: “Dogs? Cool. Cats? Not.” It is one of the universal truths that no sane man can deny. And yet the chicks and chestless men persist in promoting this most useless of animals which steadfastly resists domestication, becoming an agreeable amusement, and is next to useless if not downright nauseating when sauteed or roasted, grilled or boiled, or even deep-fried.

There was one cat, however, that I did come to admire; Fatso.

Fatso arrived in my life like most cats arrive in the lives of men -- attached to a woman. Indeed, Fatso was one of three cats attached to this woman, and he was the least promising at the outset. The other two cats were: 1) “Spotty” -- an utterly coal black cat whose only “spot” was directly under his tail, and 2) “Oswald LeWinter” -- a cat who was so utterly gay that he could have been the reincarnation of Liberace. And then there was.... “Fatso” -- a cat so utterly beaten down and scabrous that on him a sucking chest wound would have looked good. When this particular woman arrived in my life the cats were all firmly established in hers so it was a done deal if I wanted her to stick around which, at the time, I did.

Fatso was not only a fat cat -- from eating anything no matter how vile and rotten, -- he was a loser cat. He was continually wandering off into the neighborhood and getting into screeching, yowling, spitting, clawing, gnawing fights with every other cat whose food bowl he tried to hoover. And he always, but always, lost and came dragging home with this flap hanging off him, that long slash in his side, and claw marks slanting across his face. His fur would be matted with urine, spit, drool, feces and blood. Fatso was one ugly beaten down fat cat.

The woman who owned him was, obviously, committed to him in the way that women get committed to hurt things, battered things, stupid things, and things that don’t really run on all cylinders. It’s their training for putting up with men, I guess. She’d hold him down and squirt this fine yellow powdered sulphur into his wounds to promote healing or at least hold off gangrene. After a day or so of recuperating around the house, Fatso would haul himself out the window and start catting about the neighborhood looking for food and finding a fight. Then, after a day or so, he’d come limping back with yet more of his body turning into scar tissue.

I put up with Spotty since he was a black cat and I didn’t want to alienate any black cat lest he put some bad juju and mean mojo on me. As for Oswald LeWinter, the gay cat, I said, early on, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” -- even though I suspected, with cats at least, there might be. As for Fatso, well, he disgusted me. I had no use for him. I was even starting to measure him for a river diving bag.

And so it went until..... until.... until the hippy girl arrived.

In those years hippy girls were always arriving. It was what they did. They came and then... they went. And they all had.... they all had to have.... a handicraft. Some did tie-dyes. Others did very heavy and clumsy pottery. Some chipped arrowheads out of flint. Some made teepees in the back yard. Still others wove macramé diaphragms.

This particular hippy girl did beaded belts and chokers. And, needless to say, methamphetamine. She had several egg cartons holding a mass of teeny-tiny beads and a kind of wire frame loom. She’d wire up the loom, smoke a lot of dope, pop a little meth, and then crack open the egg cartons and bead up a bunch of stuff she hoped to sell somewhere along the edges of Telegraph Avenue. I once figured she was making about a dime an hour and when I told her this she said, “That much? Groovy.”

She lived in the apartment behind ours and one day, while setting up her loom, Fatso wandered by her and wiped the latest blood from his wounds on her tie-dye skirt. She glanced down and said, “Oh, Fatso. Uncool.” Then she went to work her hippy girl fingers flying lightly over her bead loom as only the young, stoned, female speedfreak can manage.

Within two hours she had finished a large cat-sized collar in beads. She called Fatso over and strapped it on him. He tossed his head a little bit since the collar was over an inch in width and must have pinched a bit on his neck, but then he seemed to accept it. He sauntered over and has he passed me I glanced down. The hippy girl had woven and arranged a collection of bright red beads against a black background to read, in capitol letters, “FATSO!” (Exclamation mark included.) You could read it from six feet away. The cat, supremely indifferent to this gift, wandered through my legs, into the back garden and hobbled out of sight. “Good riddance,” I thought and hoped he’d try to kill a large delivery truck with his teeth at thirty miles an hour.

It was not to be. Instead we heard, for over a week, a whole chorus of yelps, screeches, yowls and other indications of a virtual tom cat war breaking out across the back yards of the neighborhoods with nary a sign of Fatso limping home for repair. A few days into the week some neighbors would, walking by, remark, “Hey, I saw your cat Fatso kicking some ass the other day. Slipped him some tuna. Cool cat, man.” Other praise kept coming our way. It would seem that Fatso was becoming, if you were of a feline persuasion, a force to be reckoned with in the neighborhood.

Then late one afternoon a changed Fatso sauntered casually back into our house. It was, of course, just at feeding time and he immediately walked up to Spotty and knocked him away from his bowl. Then he turned to Oswald LeWinter and knocked him away from his bowl. Both cats began to make aggressive gestures and take on puffed up postures, but a single glance from Fatso and both shrank away and went to a far corner of the kitchen where they made faint mewling noises. He ate from each of their bowls and then his own. Then he sauntered back to the door and down the stoop and walked slowly away up the center of the sidewalk.

The woman and I, stunned, followed him at a discrete distance. All along the way as he was being passed by people, they’d glance down and, taking note of his collar, say “Hey, Fatso! What’s happening?” Some would even stop to pet him until he purred. Then Fatso would seem to give a feline shrug then and saunter on.

At his approach, other cats would disappear until he passed. Fatso had, by virtue of his collar, become known by name to the entire neighborhood. He had become famous by being famous. He'd become a celebri-cat, the first I’ve ever known.

All it took was a collar and a name and Fatso was never beaten up again and certainly never went hungry ever again. In time his saunter became a strut. You couldn’t help but like Fatso since liking him was what Fatso was all about.

In a year or so the woman and I decided to move up into the hills above the town. We packed up Spotty and Oswald LeWinter, but when it came time for Fatso he was nowhere to be found. He’d decided to stick to the old neighborhood. With nearly twenty women putting out food for him and with all the other cats living in fear of him there was no motivation to move with us. We were now “little people.” He was.... well, he was “FATSO!”

For all I know he's still there to this day, kicking fur-butt and flaunting his name; master of his domain, King of Kats. All he needed was what we all need.... a little name recognition.

[Republished for Geoff: Hello Kitty Captain of Queen Anne]



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 8, 2014 2:36 AM | Comments (24)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"And the Birkenstocks You Waddled In On!" Uncivil Discussions with My Neighbors

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Last week I'm out for a walk to the local public library in Seattle's Queen Ann to return a book that has been overdue since one week before the invention of fire.

Upon arrival I notice, across the lawn and at the top of the steps in front of the entrance, there's a very bald and very white bearded geezer in shorts, faded Obama '08 t-shirt, and Birkenstocks (with dark socks, natch) standing at the top of the steps and shaking his head at the door. When I reach the door I see a sign announcing that the library will be closed until 1 PM because of recent budget cuts in the city.

The bald white Birkenstocks guy asks me, "Do you believe this? Closed until 1 now." I glance at my cell phone. It's 12:35.

"Hell, it'll be open in 25 minutes." I note and then somewhat absently I remark, "Besides, you gotta cut somewhere. Seattle's evidently chosen to cut library hours instead of the Bureau of Sustainability Studies or other nonsense."

He's taken a bit aback, but only for a moment. "Those cutbacks are because of all the tax-breaks we give to the rich!"

I'm taken aback, but only for a moment. "Oh please! Don't start that shit with me. Federal tax breaks have nothing to do with the local situation in which this moron-led and moron-inspired city of Bozos blows up its budget every damn year."

"It is so because of the tax breaks to the rich," he counters. I could have, at this point, been satisfied with an eye-roll and a shrug in response, but he's compelled to blather on. "And because of the damned defense spending. If we stopped spending on defense we could keep the libraries open."

"Oh spare me. Defense spending is the only thing keeping guys like you alive. I'd be glad to cut your share. But even if we zeroed out defense, dude, we'd still be deep in hock to everyone in the world for the long, long future. We. Have. No. Money."

He's getting pumped up now since it is beginning to dawn on him that I am not, like 99.2% of the Queen Anne population a card-carrying, pre-certified progressive Moonbat. His pale Nordic face begins to turn red and his breathing is coming in snatches.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 6, 2014 11:45 PM | Comments (50)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Empty Chair

Via Never Yet Melted サ



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 6, 2014 10:13 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"If I were Ted Cruz..." Based upon a speech by the invaluable Trevor Loudon.

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From Doug Ross @ Journal who wants to know: "Could you support a ticket like that? Let me know in the comments."



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 6, 2014 9:49 PM | Comments (46)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The American Argument

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For a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder. --- Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Sometimes small notions indicate issues of larger moment. In the discussion of a previous post, a commenter delivers a vest pocket critique of America seen from abroad. The salient part reads:

As for the last paragraph - well, personally, I don't give a damn whether Americans kill themselves through gross overeating and under-exercising, filling their food with chemicals for short-term profit or turning their cities' air into poison gas - not to mention handing terrorists billions of dollars to kill Americans (and others) with.
What I do mind is that Americans are setting a bad example for everyone else; as a small example the streets of Britain are filled with grotesquely large 4x4s. I am quite sure the fashion comes from across the pond. As another, the Chinese might well ask why they should restrict their economic growth when America already uses many times more fuel than they do - and they'd be right.

What I do mind is various American corporations not only trying to foist their Frankenstein food on us, but trying to make it impossible for us to tell that they are doing it - did you know that Monsanto are claiming in various court cases that labelling of food containing GM soya is against free trade treaties?
I could go on - but I won't, except to say two things. Americans' bad habits are a poor example for everyone else - and America's gluttony for oil in particular, and their actions to make sure it gets fed, and the money transfers resulting from it, make the rest of the world much more dangerous
Some observations strike me as fair, others as dubious. Most strike me as those a reasonable man might form on a daily diet of the American media melange. It is a dangerous diet; a diet rich in junk and toxins. In large doses it might make your head fill with harmful fat.

Just as it was when the Soviet Union lived -- and is still to be found on the islands of socialist utopias still extant -- once the propaganda mills are relentlessly anti-American, a real picture is hard to come by. One is pretty much a slave to one's choices of input. Not much can be done to change a mind fed a constant drip-feed of plaint from the current America-based "My country wrong or wrong" crowd.

I can see how the commenter comes by his impressions. I grant that he comes to them fairly by using what he is given to draw his conclusions. They simply don't map well to my experience of ordinary life in America in 2007. As American life, or a simple driveabout will teach you, "the map is not the territory."

It is not my purpose here to flense his critique point by point, only to note that his intellectual malnutrition is, of necessity, determined by what he feeds his head.

By way of example, my day-to-day experience tells me that while the lumbering results of having "way too much food" are more than visible in America, so is the cult of "way too much exercise." The buffed anorexic and the wobbling obese are the opposite ends of the bell-curve. In the middle I see that most Americans are mindful of what they eat because they can afford to be. Making this possible is a system of food production and distribution that delivers such a wide-spectrum of food choice at cheap prices (organic, non-organic, and junk) to every niche of the landscape. Indeed, the system is so advanced and sophisticated that we have achieved a society in which one of the major problems among the poor that remain is obesity.

The impression that Americans are "turning their cities' air into poison gas" is likewise well meant but ill informed. It is demonstrably not true.

It is not true from a glance at the steadily declining levels of emission in a steadily increasing and mobile population over the decades. It is can be seen to be obviously untrue from the simple fact of living in America for six decades -- decades that have seen more deep and lasting social change than at any other time in the history of the country, perhaps the world.

I was, as constant readers may know, born in Los Angeles six decades ago. I remember the poison air of the 1950s. I remember the smog alerts, the soot that would settle on the windowsills and grind its way into the clothes. I remember the black smudge that would be visible within a block of my front yard. I saw it that same black smudge some three decades later, not in Los Angeles, but in London.

Today there is still a haze over Los Angeles on most days, but you have to stand back some to see it. You also have to stand back in your mind and know that Los Angeles, depending on how you define it, is now home to between 10 and 18 million people (Up a tad from the 4 million of my childhood when only every family and not every individual had a car). The only way that air in Los Angeles today could become perfect would be if you gave every resident a unicycle for transportation, a mandated vegan diet, and forbid flatulence under pain of death.

In short, the air in American cities is today more than acceptable and is not, by any stretch of an imagination not twisted by false impressions, "poison." And it improves daily. Could it be improved more? Certainly it could and inevitably it will.

The same observations hold true for our rivers, our reservoirs, our parks, our homes, our communities, and for all other nation-wide measures by which one might discover the true quality of life. We tolerate high gasoline prices in large measure because we will not drill and pump our vast reserves nor will we build new refineries. This indulgence can be reversed whenever the political will to do so arrives. And it will.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 6, 2014 1:47 AM | Comments (63)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Flag at Fort McHenry

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The Flag at Fort McHenry

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



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 5, 2014 3:08 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Resilience
Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 4, 2014 3:41 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How Beautiful We Were

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A short list. In no particular order.

We told our children that any child could grow up to be President. And then we made it come true.

We had car shows, boat shows, beauty shows and dog shows.

We ran robots on the surface of Mars by remote control.

Our women came from all over the world in all shapes and sizes hues and scents.

We actually believed that all men are created equal and tried to make it come true.

Everybody liked our movies and loved our television shows.

We tried to educate everybody, whether they wanted it or not. Sometimes we succeeded.

We did Levis.

We held the torch high and hundreds of millions came. No matter what the cost.

We saved Europe twice and liberated it once.

We believed so deeply and so abidingly in free speech that we protected and honored and, in some cases, even elected traitors.

We let you be as freaky as you wanted to be.

We paid you not to plant crops and not to work.

We died in the hundreds of thousands to end slavery here. And when that was done continued for a century and a half around the world.

We invented Jazz.

We wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysberg address.

We went to the moon to see how far we could hit a golf ball.

We lifted a telescope into orbit that could see to the edge of the universe.

When people snuck into the country against our laws, we made parking lots and food stands off to the side of the road so they wouldn't get hurt, and we let them use our hospitals for free, and we made their children citizens.

We didn't care what God you worshipped as long as we could worship ours.

We let the People arm themselves at will. Just to make sure.

We gave everybody the vote.

We built Disneyworld. Just for fun.

We had a revolution so successful it was still going strong two and a quarter centuries later.

We had so many heroes, even at the end, that we felt free to hate them and burn them in effigy.

We electrified the guitar.

We invented a music so compelling that it rocked the world.

We had some middling novelists.

We had some interesting painters.

We had some pretty good poets.

We had better songwriters.

We ran our farms so well we fed the globe.

We made the automobile and the airplane.

We let you get rich. Really, really rich. And we didn't care who you were or what you were or where you came from or who your parents were. We just cared about what you made or what you did.

We had poor people who, even at their most wretched, were richer than any other poor people on the face of the planet.

We were the most nobel nation the world had ever known.

We had so much freedom that many of us voted to just throw it all away.

Even towards the end, as we dissolved into the petty bickering and idle entertainments that come with having far too much leisure and money, many among us were still striving to make it higher, finer, brighter, better and more beautiful.

Even towards the end, the best of us declined to give up and pressed on. "Where to? What next?"
[First published 2007]

Continued...

Posted by Van der Leun Jul 4, 2014 2:41 AM | Comments (78)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Last of the Best: "If tomorrow all the things were gone ..."

Last year on a bright warm 4th of July morning in Queen Anne I went to my local coffee purveyor on the corner to get my usual. As usual I got in line. In front of me was an American-Asian family with two little girls, a Lesbian couple I'd seen around, a young girl and boy who looked like they were just coming home from a long date's night, a blond woman with her blond daughter, a Hispanic looking man with a toddler asleep in a stroller, and, of course, me, your average white guy.

As I stood there waiting for my coffee to be brewed I noticed a frail old man I hadn't seen before sitting by the window looking at the people walking by outside. I'd put him somewhere in his late 80s with a face of keen features and arms that suggested an earlier strength but which now contained bones almost bird-like. He had gold rimmed glasses on behind which were quick blue eyes. He was wearing plain khaki trousers, and a beige short-sleeved shirt. On his head he wore one of those standard issue baseball caps that said "U.S. Navy."

As I was leaving the coffee shop I stopped for a moment and said, "Excuse me, Sir, but were you in the Navy?"

"Thirty years," he said, "starting in World War II. I handled amphibious landing boats in the Pacific. Kwajalein, Iwo Jima, Lyete Gulf, Okinawa. "

"Thank you," I said, shaking his hand. "I thank all of you."

"You're welcome. There's not too many of us left. Getting down to less than three million I understand."

"I hope you have many more Fourths," I said.

"Me too. I like it here. You know, except for the time in the Navy I've lived up here on Queen Anne all my life. It's better here today, better in the country today. Not the political stuff. I don't have much to say about that. But in the way we all live together up here now. It's more different than it was. More kinds of people now. And that's better."

"I agree," I said saying good bye. "And thank you and your whole generation again for giving me everything I've had all my life."

"Any time," he said, looking past me at a family of five that was bicycling past the window in the warm morning sun. "It was an honor."

[First published July 4,2011. And no, I never saw him again.]

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 4, 2014 12:55 AM | Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Disney's "Der Fuehrer's Face": Greatest Propaganda Film In History

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Was Donald Duck A Nazi?

In a bid to help sell war bonds, Walt Disney produced Der Fuehrer’s Face, as an example of American Propaganda. The cartoon had Donald Duck in a nightmare working in munitions plant, eating stale bread, and dunking a coffee bean into water once to conserve the taste all the while giving continuous “Heil Hitler” salutes.
Winning an Oscar for the Best Animated Short film at the 15th Academy Awards, Walt Disney decided to keep the film out of general circulation due to the fact that Donald Duck was a Nazi. It was not until 2004 that it was first released for home video in Disney’s third set of Walt Disney Treasures. It was also voted #22 in the best cartoons of all time from leading members in the world of animation. In 1943, a year before the Normandy landing, a 10-year-old Donald Duck brandished a Swastika on his sleeve and worked in a German Nazi munitions plant.

A top 10 hit from October 1942 to January 1943 for Spike Jones & His City Slickers, this novelty tune sold over one million copies and was one of the biggest hits during the Second World War. Not that RCA records initially saw any potential in the recording: They pressed a mere 500 copies of the disc at the outset and it was only when New York DJ Martin Bloc decided to play the song every half an hour during his then popular Make Believe Ballroom show that the record took off.


How I Wrote "Der Fuerher's Face"
By Oliver Wallace as told to Ralph Parker

The time was 3:00 P.M., and I was feeling low. I had been a naughty boy the night before.

That had to be the moment when Walt encountered me in the hall and gave me a rush order: "Ollie, I want a serious song, but it's got to be funny."

The further information that it was to be for a picture telling Donald Duck's adventures in Nazi land didn't help very much.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Suppose the Germans are singing it," Walt offered. "To them, it's serious. To us, it's funny."

Walt walked away. I stood in the hall. I continued to stand in the hall.
Once more I was on the spot.

Arriving home disgruntled, I encountered no idea while eating dinner.
Then I laid down for a rest. "To hell with it," I told myself.

The wee small voice told me what it thought of me. It was a familiar routine.
"Get off your back and get on your bike," said my wife. "You're going to the store with me."

The fresh air brought out the nobility in me. I turned receptive and laid myself wide open to any idea.

There ought to be a German band.

The music came to me in one flash. It nearly knocked me off the bicycle. My mouth opened in surprise. There followed a second surprise. Words came out of that mouth. I heard myself singing with the loudness which distinguishes my voice: "Ven Der Fuehrer says, 'Ve iss der Master Race,' Ve Heil! Heil! Right in Der Fuehrer's Face."

My wife laughed. "Who wrote that?"

"I'm writing it!" I yelled--and almost ran into a truck.

Half an hour later, it was finished. I sang it to my two daughters (separately) --and when each said she liked it, I thought I had something.

But would Walt like it?

Arriving at the studio next day, I sang it all over the place.

The sound brought Walt out into the hall (where he does most of his business).

"Let's hear it," he said.

I stalled. "Orchestration . . . there's a funny sound in it . . . can't be made without an instrument . . . has to be practiced . . ." The truth is, I didn't know what Walt would think of the highly robust Bronx cheer. Could such a sound be used in a Disney picture?

"Let's hear it," said Walt.

I let loose.

Walt laughed.

The rest is history.


Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 3, 2014 2:26 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bono Speech at Georgetown - Keeping Faith with the Idea of America

Now, now, let him speak.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 3, 2014 12:04 PM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The People Yes by Carl Sandburg

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The people yes
The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
They will be tricked and sold and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,
The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
You can't laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.

The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,
is a vast huddle with many units saying:
"I earn my living.
I make enough to get by
and it takes all my time.
If I had more time
I could do more for myself
and maybe for others.
I could read and study
and talk things over
and find out about things.
It takes time.
I wish I had the time."

The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum:
phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth:
"They buy me and sell me...it's a game...sometime I'll
break loose..."

Once having marched
Over the margins of animal necessity,
Over the grim line of sheer subsistence
Then man came
To the deeper rituals of his bones,
To the lights lighter than any bones,
To the time for thinking things over,
To the dance, the song, the story,
Or the hours given over to dreaming,
Once having so marched.

Between the finite limitations of the five senses
and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond
the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food
while reaching out when it comes their way
for lights beyond the prison of the five senses,
for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death.
This reaching is alive.
The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it.
Yet this reaching is alive yet
for lights and keepsakes.

The people know the salt of the sea
and the strength of the winds
lashing the corners of the earth.
The people take the earth
as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.
Who else speaks for the Family of Man?
They are in tune and step
with constellations of universal law.
The people is a polychrome,
a spectrum and a prism
held in a moving monolith,
a console organ of changing themes,
a clavilux of color poems
wherein the sea offers fog
and the fog moves off in rain
and the labrador sunset shortens
to a nocturne of clear stars
serene over the shot spray
of northern lights.

The steel mill sky is alive.
The fire breaks white and zigzag
shot on a gun-metal gloaming.
Man is a long time coming.
Man will yet win.
Brother may yet line up with brother:

This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
There are men who can't be bought.
The fireborn are at home in fire.
The stars make no noise,
You can't hinder the wind from blowing.
Time is a great teacher.
Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people
march:
"Where to? what next?"



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Sandburg sized himself up in the preface to Complete Poems:
All my life I have been trying to learn to read, to see and hear, and to write. At sixty-five I began my first novel, and the five years lacking a month I took to finish it, I was still traveling, still a seeker. . . . It could be, in the grace of God, I shall live to be eighty-nine, as did [the Japanese poet] Hokusai, and speaking my farewell to earthly scenes, I might paraphrase: "If God had let me live five years longer I should have been a writer."

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Connemara, Sandburg's rural estate in Flat Rock, North Carolina. [Photo: Vanderleun]



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 2, 2014 8:09 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The [New] American Way

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50,000 Illegals Apply For Driver Authorization Cards in Nevada While over 75% of applicants originally failed the written test,

approximately 16,400 illegals have now received their driving cards, 14 of whom have also reportedly obtained insurance. In a possibly related story, Nevada authorities are searching for answers to an unprecedented wave of auto thefts - an increase of over 16,000 from this time last year.
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Posted by gerardvanderleun Jul 2, 2014 12:01 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Visit to an Old Friend

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For Steve | Dec. 1945 - July 2012 Seated, second from the left.

While riding on a train goin' west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.*

Cruising in the bright August morning down Highway 5. California's great central valley, north of Sacramento, where the farm towns roll by, their blunt names like an old catechism of your life, "Willows," "Williams," "Orland," "Nord."

Rice fields shimmer in fives shades of green. Enough rice to feed the Orient with a bunch left over for the States. Old and new orchards in whirring diagonal rows. Roadside attractions promising 20 different varieties of olives. White egrets pacing in the irrigation canals. Yellow crop dusters banking and coming in low over the highway.

Heading south towards San Francisco; towards an appointment with an old friend trapped too early in a brain where all the furniture is fading, dissolving, melting into a blurred now and a bright twenty years ago.

The old story. You wonder about a friend you haven't been in touch with for a decade. You meet someone who knows someone who knows him. Or you run an Internet search and find an email of a person who once knew him. And you ask. Most of the time things are fine, but then there's that time when the news is not good. Not good at all.

How many a year has passed and gone,
And many a gamble has been lost and won,
And many a road taken by many a friend,
And each one I've never seen again. *

You get a phone number for his brother and you call. His brother fills you in on the details.

Several strokes stemming from a traffic accident twenty years gone and an operation on the brain five years later. First wife saw what was coming and cleared out, dumping the marriage to become a poet. Right.

He married again and, by all accounts, married well. Had some good years. Was back to his music and his songs. But then the strokes came, and came again, and his mind began to liquefy. The second wife couldn't handle all the care -- could you? -- and placed him, at last, in a home in San Francisco.

One daughter sees him often, the other daughter seldom, the second wife some times, the brother every six weeks, the first wife never.

And so, because of what was, and because you have to be, at the least, a witness to this part of his life and yours, you arrange a visit.

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin' and were quite satisfied
Talkin' and a-jokin' about the world outside.*

The hours and the miles roll by and the roads slowly meld together until you're just another metal insect skittering past dry brindle hills, old oil refineries, the sluggish green waters of the upper bay, then shuttling up on the Bay Bridge, across and then down into the wedged traffic creeping towards Civic Center and Hayes. Park the rental car just short of Laguna and Hayes. You used to live around here in the early 70s. Or was it ten blocks over towards the bay? In Pacific Heights, North Beach or the Haight? You're not sure.

Lock up, look around. These residential neighborhoods in San Francisco don't change much over the years. Victorian apartments over new shops. Bay windows. Wood frame structures with once bright colors fading under the assault from sunshine and salt-laden fog. Walk San Francisco's broken and poorly patched sidewalks, stepping around this block's official homeless person sorting her things in her grocery cart. Look across the street. He's there by his brother. Warmed by the sun he sits, trapped now forever, in his wheelchair.

His hands once played the piano, boogie-woogie to rock to classical. Your call. Played the guitar too. Folk, rock, classical. Your call.

He's written dozens of songs. He's organized a rock orchestra of 24 people. They played gigs and recorded his songs too, even though few ever heard them.

In 1971 he founded a School of Rock decades before the movie was even a pitch across the lunch plate of some useless Hollywood studio clone. In San Francisco. In the Seventies. It's still there teaching the now time-honored techniques of rock and roll to whomever applies.

Which of us would have thought then that someday rock and roll would be taught like "classical" music. He did, back then, when rock and roll was still "experimental" music. It could be taught and it would be taught. He was there then.

We were all there then.

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
We never thought we could ever get old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one.*

The old joke goes, "If you can remember the Sixties, you weren't there." Funny, but a lie. I was there in the Sixties. My curse is that I remember everything -- even the things I would like to forget. Especially those. But if forgetting the shameful memories means removing the wonderful memories too, I'll take the whole library.

I've probably embroidered those memories over the decades, but so slowly and carefully that the added stitches are now indistinguishable from the rest of the tapestry. Baroque though they may be, the memories, for me, are just that. I don't try and live in them nor have them dictate my life now.

Be. Here. Now. Remember?

He's here but not here now. It's two decades, two wives, two daughters, and many more than two strokes later. He's here now in this residence hotel for the aged and the infirm in a San Francisco neighborhood that doesn't change with the years. He's waiting for me in his wheelchair, in the sun, his brother by his side.

He might still want to play the piano, but his hands won't answer him any more. They can't. They'll never do it again. The hands no longer answer when he calls them. He's learned not to call.

Now his hands can barely lift a spoon or maneuver a cup to his lips. His speech is slurred and slow. You can see the end of the sentence fade from his mind before he gets to the middle.

Still, in fits and starts, in moments and sparks of expression, you can see him emerge from inside his prison and then sink back in. You find yourself looking for those moments. You let the others slide.

We meet and we go for a walk and a roll with his brother in the San Francisco afternoon. We come back and take a table in the Indian restaurant under the series of rooms are now his last home. We work our way through the lunch buffet. And we talk, mostly about the past since the past is where he's most at ease.

There was the fence we built on his ranch/commune. There was the day the two dogs we owned from the same litter killed the chicken. The stoned, comic film we were going to make with large vats of spaghetti in the first scene. Wives we had and girls we knew. The old songs. The handsome collection of pot plants on the deck that was taken away by the local police. The concerts. The marches. All the old moments, more than we could say in the few hours we had.

As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.*

After a couple of hours, his youngest daughter came in. Lovely and warm and smart. Quiet and calm with him. She lit his face up with a glow I hadn't seen. But she had things to do in the way that the young always have things to do, and had to rush off to meet her boyfriend. As she left, he asked her in his painfully slow way, "Do you... have... a good... man?"

"Yes," she assured him, "he's a very good man."

"I'm... happy then."

She left and we went out of the restaurant and up to the home on the floor above so his clothing could be changed. His brother and I waited for his nurse to bring him back in the small terrace outside. The very old pushed their walkers about. The mentally deficient mumbled in the corners. The sun was still warm in the late afternoon. His brother told me that the prognosis was, in short, a long decline to a dead end. He would never be better tomorrow than he was today.

He was rolled back out and we spent some more time talking, but he was obviously tiring and the early supper time popular in these homes was approaching. So it was time to go. As I got up to leave, he reached up and took my arm pulling me close. He paused for a moment and I could see him gather his energy. Then he said, quite clearly, "I just want to say one thing."

"Yes?"

"I deeply regret... that everyday there are people... out there trying... trying with all their might to... hijack your brain."

So we left it like that and I drove to the airport and took the next flight out. I had no reservation, paid with a debit card, was flying one way to a California town with a New York Drivers License. I got my own special bag search right down to the seams of my suitcase, and an extended question and answer session with airport security -- just in case I was going to try with all my might to hijack the plane. It's how we live now.

At John Wayne Airport, I waited in the warm evening until my wife at the time picked me up.

"Do you want to go somewhere for dinner?" she asked.

"No. I just want to go home."

We drove to the coast and turned south along the Pacific. On the left, the lights were on in all the multi-million dollar homes that gaze out over the Pacific. On the right, you could see the flickering lines of white as the waves coming in from Asia broke at last against the rocks and the sand. Beyond them, there was the dark sheen of water moving off until it all faded into the night and merged into a spray of stars.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin' and singin' till the early hours of the morn.

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
That we could sit simply in that room again.
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.*


*Bob Dylan's Dream
Republished from September, 2004



Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2014 12:11 PM | Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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