Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
“Awesome” is the new “massive” | Comma Queen



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 29, 2016 11:59 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Talentless Frauds of Our Time Revealed: Kanye West vs Freddie Mercury - "Bohemian Rhapsody" - No Contest

Wait for it....



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 28, 2016 10:36 AM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
And the Oscar goes to..... "Every Best Visual Effects Winner. Ever. "



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 28, 2016 4:11 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Trinity for Dummies

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Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 28, 2016 1:50 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Faith, My Country - Michael Tracy

My faith & my country
Oh they tell me I'm a free man
My faith & my country
Oh they tell me I'm a free man

To say beggars will be choosers is not the same
As the meek shall inherit the earth
And if the winners shall be losers
Well that's not your say
Quit playin' like you come from divine birth

My faith & my country
Oh they tell me I'm a free man
My faith & my country
Oh they tell me I'm a free man

So many martyrs & purple hearts
They laid it on the line so I could speak my mind
Now you come around with your new age thoughts
I took a look & saw blind leading blind
I'll tell you one more time...

My faith & my country
Oh they tell me I'm a free man
My faith & my country
Oh they tell me I'm a free man



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 27, 2016 5:00 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: "I've seen the nations rise and fall / I've heard their stories, heard them all / but love's the only engine of survival "

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Now if you feel that you can't go on
Because all of your hope is gone
And your life is filled with much confusion
Until happiness is just an illusion
And your world around is crumblin' down
Darling, reach out, come on girl, reach on out for me
Reach out, reach out for me
I'll be there, with a love that will shelter you
I'll be there, with a love that will see you through

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Revelation 2:10

"This husband was helping his wife choose a... - Love What Matters



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 27, 2016 10:10 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Ninth Planet

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Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;

-- - - Keats.

It Was Discovered By The Guy Who Killed Pluto

It‘s An Unbelievably Long Way Away: Even in astronomical terms, Planet Nine is staggeringly far away—its average distance from the Sun is 56 billion miles, over 20 times the distance from the Sun to Neptune, the most distant of the current planets. To put it another way, NASA’s New Horizons probe, which recently reached Pluto after a journey of nine years, would have taken at least 54 years to reach Planet Nine.

10 Amazing Facts About The New Ninth Planet - Listverse



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 27, 2016 9:10 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Trumpiana of the Day

We like Donald Trump but THIS is funny as hell!(comment below)

Posted by The Revolution on Monday, February 15, 2016


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 26, 2016 9:45 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dog Classifieds: These dogs are available for adoption. Choose wisely.

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Via Something Awful



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 25, 2016 1:09 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Ballads: Suzanne

Then:

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with her mind

Now:

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 25, 2016 11:02 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Ahem" on The Trump Perplex

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Posted by: ahem in The Top 40: Trump is casting a spell on stupid people like the Pied Piper

"Bull. Trump supporters are just average Americans who are angrier than they can express. The critical presidential election is not this one, but the one back in 2012, where Romney got robbed---that was the one we had to win. We had a chance to stop the bleeding, and we lost it. Now the left has had four more years to nail the windows shut, and we are running out of air.

"It's a white-hot anger: molten, incandescent---biblical. I'll bet most of them would pay to stand in line for an opportunity to hold Trump's jacket while he slaughters the establishment's sacred cows. Go ahead, destroy the Republican Party; it's rotten to the foundations. And set fire to the Democrats while you're at it. Tear the whole damned thing down, and start over.
Strike fear into these mothers' hearts. Make them groan. Make them wail and gnash their teeth and tear their clothes. Great. What can we do to help?

"His supporters realize that Trump presents problems, but they don't give a damn. For years, the American public has been bled white, lied to, cheated, humiliated, manipulated, and kicked in the teeth. Over the last 30 years, their freedom, their laws, their rights, and their culture has been stolen from them. They're staring into a future in which their kids will be illiterate or second-class citizens or both, and may never be able to get a decent job, own their own home, enjoy any of the simple liberties we grew up with, or have a happy family.

"And to top it off, they're filled with nightmares of their children and grandchildren reduced to eating the grass on the lawn, or being blown to bits while walking down the street.

"Trump's campaign is where America is turning to clean house while clinging to vestiges of civilized behavior. It represents an opportunity for renewal on many levels. If it doesn't work, I fear America is in for much worse than it has already seen."



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 24, 2016 9:36 AM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Meat is Making Meat in the Laboratory

The Cultured Beef Process: "Muscle tissue is a key component. It is first harvested in a small and harmless procedure...."

Lab-grown meat – why the farm could switch to the petri dish | Alphr

The process of making lab-grown meat isn’t exactly pleasant, but hey, neither is the inside of an abattoir. Here are the details, in the case of the burger. Scientists are already working on other animals, including chickens. Stem cells are taken from cow muscle tissue and then cultured with nutrients and chemicals to encourage them to grow and multiply. Three weeks later, you have over a million stem cells, which are then moved to dishes where they form small strips of muscle around a centimetre long. Layer them together, mix them with fat and add some colour and your meal is served.

"They''re made out of meat...."

"Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?"

"First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual."

"We're supposed to talk to meat."

"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello. Anyone out there. Anybody home.' That sort of thing."

"They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"

"Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat." -- Made Out of Meat



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 22, 2016 9:18 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Vicious Snake

Never forget. Never forgive.

On her way to work one morning
Down the path along side the lake
A tender hearted woman saw a poor half frozen snake
His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew
"Oh well," she cried, "I'll take you in and I'll take care of you"

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk
And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk
Now she hurried home from workthat night as soon as she arrived
She found that pretty snake she'd taking in had been revived

Now she clutched him to her bosom, "You're so beautiful," she cried
"But if I hadn't brought you in by now you might have died"
Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight
But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite

"I saved you," cried that woman
"And you've bit me even, why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm going to die"
"Oh shut up, silly woman," said the reptile with a grin
"You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in."



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 22, 2016 7:51 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Magic of Childhood


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 21, 2016 1:48 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Lake Superior Ice Stacking (Feb. 13, 2016)

"Lake Superior put on a dramatic show with her recent ice in Duluth, Minnesota.

While shooting in Canal Park, I noticed the ice had pulled away from shore and felt the breeze at my back. I anticipated there would be some ice stacking as the massive sheets of ice met the rugged shorelines, so I headed to Brighton Beach. The big lake did not disappoint! The seemingly endless ice sheets broke into large plates and stacked on shore, sounding much like breaking glass. The ice thickness ranged from about 1/4" to about 3" thick. The sights and sounds were incredible! As the water became exposed, the sea smoke was whisked across the surface by the breeze. The sparkles visible in some segments were from the sun gilding the frost flowers that had formed on top of the new ice overnight...."



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 21, 2016 1:16 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Chicken Test: "It's Not That Funny"



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 20, 2016 7:46 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tabbing Out on the Week That Was

First, by the power invested in me I hereby declare a state of cocktail emergency:

Okay? Good.

A couple of those and we are ready to meditate on "what is past, or passing, or to come."

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180 law clerks line the stairs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in anticipation of the arrival of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's casket at the court building on February 19, 2016 in Washington, DC., Justice Scalia will lie in repose in the Great Hall of the high court where visitors will pay their respects. Photos of the Week: 2/13-2/19 - The Atlantic

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The Robot Future | The reality is a race (is race the right word?) of super intelligent robots would quickly lose interest in humans.

From the perspective of the robots, humans would be as interesting to them as ants are to us. Maybe a few weirdo robots would make a hobby of studying us, but otherwise, the robots would have bigger fish to fry. Assuming anever accelerating evolution of their intelligence, the robots will depart soon after they become aware. The universe is just too big and interesting to hang around with the talking monkeys.

"Undecided" toppled as Most Trusted Source of News, Commentary’ A Suffolk University/USA Today poll released Wednesday finds “Undecided” slipping to second place with 22 percent, behind the upstart Fox News Channel, taking first place with 27.5 percent.

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Whirling Dervishes perform a Sema Ceremony on February 13, 2016, in Konya, Turkey.

The Sema Ceremony is performed by members of the Mevlevi Order or more famously known as Whirling Dervishes, due to the whirling performed during the ceremony. The Mevlevi Order of Dervishes was founded by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi-Rumi. Rumi, whose religion was love, was one of the worlds most read poets, and after his death in 1273 the order was continued by his sons and grandsons. Today pilgrims come from across Turkey and overseas to visit Konya and the site of Rumi's tomb, one of Turkey's most visited tourist attractions. Despite the Mevlevi Order being shut down and made illegal in 1925 by the new Turkey Republic, today the Whirling Dervishes are the symbol of Turkey's tourism campaigns. In 2008, the Sema Ceremony was confirmed by UNESCO as amongst the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

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Trump for President and National Talk Show Host | In Hollywood we call it a hyphenate: writer-director, actor-producer, etc. Donald Trump should be America's first president-talk show host.

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French art professor Abraham Poincheval sits on a ship mast platform in Rennes, western France, on February 16, 2016, where he plans to meditate and write on questions of perspective as part of an art installation. The platform is 12 meters high and the size of a single bed, and he brought food, clothes and a sleeping bag for his one-week stay.

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Futurologist Dr Ian Pearson says technology is causing humans to 'evolve' | As humans embrace technological advances and gradually become androids, we could gradually see Homo sapiens being replaced by Homo optimus. This conceptual image shows four stages of human evolution (left to right) showing Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens

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Before us is a good looking teenage girl slumped contentedly on a small chaise longue.

In her left hand she holds a white hand mirror.  The mirror is bathed in light from the window behind her.  She studies her own reflection.  As we have seen in many of Balthus’ paintings her legs are spread wide apart and her short skirt has ridden up exposing her thighs.  Her bodice lies open and has slipped off her right shoulder.  Around her neck we see a pearl necklace.  On her feet is a pair of white slippers.  Behind her there is a wooden table upon which is a white bowl.  In the background there is a roaring fire being tended to by a man who is stripped to the waist. 
Thus, Balthus. Part 4. Setsuko and the latter days @ my daily art display, summing the week up into a ball where I learn, and not for the first time, that:

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 19, 2016 7:37 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Wanted: A Man of Four Qualities

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Richard Fernandez in Through a Cloud is looking for specific talents in the next President: The point is that the problem of "who will make a good president in 1990" is not quite the same as "who will make a good president in 2017." For the sake of discussion, let me suggest that only four things matter in selecting a man to face a challenge whose present dimensions cannot be predicted. For purposes of debate, let these four qualities in descending order of importance be:

1. An ability to face the facts, however unpleasant they may be. The most important quality of the next president should be a lack of self-deception and a willingness to see things as they truly are, even if he or his ideology wish them to be otherwise. This is so important that it trumps the next item.

2. An unswerving patriotism. This is not the same as a sincere feeling of love or empathy for America, though that is good. In this context it means the willingness to share the fate of the principals of which he is an agent. It means no personal survival apart from the survival of the nation; no personal greatness except as it reflects the greatness of the principal. It means there can be no separate peace; no side payoff from the crisis he is to face. Perhaps the lines which best capture this patriotism comes from a movie script depicting a commanding officers commitment to his men before a battle. "I can't promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear, before you and before Almighty God, that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I will be the last to step off, and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me, God."

3. Nerve. This is the quality of grace under pressure who no one, unless he has the misfortune to be tested, can be sure he possesses. To a certain extent heroes are born and not made, a phenomenon sometimes called the "Ace Factor. There is no known test which can detect its presence a priori; you just have to wait for the day. A Yale psychologist once used the example of "Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of the aeroplane that was successfully landed on the Hudson River" to illustrate the problem. One can fly an airliner thousands of hours without ever finding out what you will do if your engines flame out 3,000 feet over New York with only six minutes left to live. Of which of the candidates can we say: well he can face that live or die moment?

4. Intelligence. This is important, because it determines basic competence. But it surprisingly the least important attribute in this list. Intelligence, though rare, is not nearly as hard to find as the 3 characteristics above. You can find staffers who can give you intelligent advice. You cannot find staff to give you a character that you do not possess.

RTWT @ Richard Fernandez in Through a Cloud



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 19, 2016 9:12 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Last Gasp Europe Just Before Everything Went Smash [Bumped]

Too bad about Europe. It had nice ideals.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 18, 2016 8:29 AM | Comments (24)  | QuickLink: Permalink
10 Years Ago @ American Digest: The Man Who Carried the Dark Lantern

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The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead. -- Proverbs 21:16

WATCHING AN ANCIENT DEMON RETURN to take control of someone you love, and begin to kill them slowly with euphoria is a hard witness to bear alone. Watchng someone you love return to the addiction they left a decade before with all its insane compulsions and obsessions and destructiveness is confusing and disorienting. They'll all tell you you have no power to stop it, but that cannot be true.

Surely somewhere in the mountainous library of studies written about the Demon there's a magic spell, an incantation, a potion, a pill, a recipe for rescue. You find yourself, as you always have, turning to books where, most certainly you've told yourself, all answers lie. But this particular library is, you will find when you go there, vast, unmapped and illuminated in the manner of Milton's Hell,
     A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,
     As one great furnace, flamed; yet from those flames
     No light, but rather darkness visible
,
and the card catalogue has long since been ripped from the drawers and scattered madly about the floor by others seeking the same secret. Still, I stumbled about blind in this dark place which held no braille, nor could I have read it if it had.

Like untold millions of others before me, I became disoriented deep in the towering labyrinth of stacks obsessively organized in perfect manic randomness. At some point I reached out and plucked a book at random from this chaos, but since I held no light it could not be read, and I probably would not have understood its language could I have seen the text.

Useless, I dropped it as so many others before me had dropped their randomly grabbed books. It didn't matter, in the end, how many books were dropped or thrown onto the heaps, there were always more being written and tossed in from all sides. Each, in the dark, as useless as the centuries of books that had come before.

In a short time, I became utterly lost. Then I could neither find what I had gone into the library for, nor could I find my way out. In my frantic quest to save what could not be saved, I had gone deep into the far corridors far beyond any faint glimmer and lost the way back.

I felt the fear that cavers feel when, in a tight space far below the surface, their helmet lights fade and die and the weight of absolute darkness presses hard all around their bodies. What I needed then was not The Book with The Secret -- somewhere in those endless shelves it may well exist -- but a guide to get me out. And for a reason I do not yet comprehend, but hope to, a guide was sent.

He was one of the rough, hard working men of America and he held a dark lantern -- an ancient device in which the light within is either concealed or revealed by means of a sliding panel. He did not know me at all, but he did know himself as he walked out of the night in a small town up by the Canadian border. He didn't know my story but he did know his story and that, at rock bottom, it was not that different at all from mine.

His dark lantern didn't light up the place where I was lost in some shattering burst of illumination, but instead -- by sliding the panel back and directing what little light he held towards the exit, we were in time to find ourselves outside the black library and sitting in that most common of American spaces, a small town coffee shop where I could, at last, see what he looked like.

The waitresses all knew him. It seems he's been guiding people out of the dark for some time in this town, and the ladies understand what he's doing when he shows up with yet another shattered pilgrim like myself. They put us in a booth at the back, refilled our mugs for free, then went away and let us talk far past closing time.

He was a carpenter by training and by trade. About my age but without any of the soft edges that I've either always had or more recently acquired. His hands were scarred and had the flattened nails and tips the fingers get from too many encounters with boards, hammers and the other daily hazards of the job.

You could see that his face, when angry, would have been sharp, vulpine and cold, but he no longer had any anger in him. That had been burned out long ago or stored in a vault over which he kept a careful, constant guard.

His hair and mustache had faded into almost complete gray and his skin and body had the look that decades of working outside in all weathers gives you. He was a man's man and a good man. But, as he was about to tell me, that had not always been so.

First he sat and listened long to my sad little pathetic story as he had I'm sure listened to hundreds of others. I won't bother with the details of that story now, but save it for a time when it no longer seems so ordinary and boring to me as, at the end of this week of telling it over and over, it does now.

Instead, from the hours of talk that followed, I'll try to give you a sense of his story and the path that led him to the small town coffee shop deep into that April night. Listening to him tell it was like watching him work his dark lantern. A panel would slide aside and the light would come out for a bit and then it would slide slightly back dimming the details. I only heard it once and I didn't get it all. As a writer I should have made notes, but I wasn't a writer in that night, just someone grateful to have been guided out of a labyrinth. What I remember now is...

He'd always had a hardscrabble existence from a childhood that, if it wasn't in the logging town we were in, was in some other place where logging was scattered all around and the railroad trains never stopped moving over the rails in the center of town. His family all had the Demon inside them because that was, in the end, what they had if they didn't have God. Sometimes they had the Demon right alongside God in the primeval co-existence that's furnished the human soul since the beginning. They lost no time in making sure, by hook or by crook, that he got his own personal Demon as a present from his town and his family along about the time he entered puberty.

Because everyone around him had and liked their Demon, there was no reason for him not to like it. Indeed, his Demon, it seemed at the time, was a lot of fun and the fun just got better as he got older.

True, he saw other members of his family and his friends in the small town go down under the Demon. Their lives went to the standard stops on the road -- fist fights, knife fights, job loss, crime, rehab, jail, prison or, at any time and age you might care to imagine, death by natural or unnatural causes. Lots of friends and family members went down over the years, but he was, he told me, always a bit tougher, smarter, cagier, sharper, quicker, more charming, and more ruthless. He was "the special personal exception" and he rode the Demon. It was never going to be the other way around. Until, of course, it was.

It rode him long before he knew it. It always does. By the time he knew that it had reversed roles and taken the saddle, he'd become used to being ridden and so he galloped on ever deeper into the darkness.

By that time it had been 20 years of life with the Demon and all its assorted friends. One Demon is never, it seems, enough if others are around. When they were, it was no longer just the Demon and him, but a party in his body.

Other bodies came in and out of the party over the years. Some he used and some used him, but it was always a using. They used him for fights and for other things of even lower degree. He got so it was not a question of how low he would go, but if he could find a way to go lower.

He moved the slide aside on the dark lantern:

"I don't remember everything because I either can't or it was so horrible God has, with His grace, removed the memory from me. I do remember some things. I remember lying on a filthy bed somewhere in Mexico. I had a bottle of Cuervo empty on the table next to it and another one full and ready to go. I had my pistol on the floor. There were a lot of lines of coke still waiting to be snorted. There was an old whore working me on one side while my other arm cradled my infant daughter. I'd wedged a chair under the knob of the locked door so I wouldn't be interrupted. I hated interruptions."

He moved the slide back and closed the dark lantern.

He told me other things, the full catastrophe. About how he lost it all -- house, job, money, business, health, love, freedom. About how his family either left or took on a Demon or two from him. He told me about some jail time. He indicated but did not tell me about worse things.

He told me about the women he'd been with, about the Demons they carried and the dark places they'd been ridden. Down, always down, under the relentless riding and the unremitting tug of the heavy gravity that the deep realms of degredation always emit. He told me how he'd learned to spot the ones that wanted to be used the most, and that he'd take them up on it, and be sure to take them deeper than they thought they could go. The slide on the dark lantern moved often as he talked.

"It's easy to go to these dark places around here," he said. "When winter sets in there's nothing else to do. But I've also found it's just as easy to go there in Chicago, so what do I know?"

He was a strong man and his Demon used every bit of it until to pull others into Its thrall, until at last it used him up. As It often does, the Demon took him at the end of the ride down towards an ugly death, the kind that happens in clapped-out broken trailers, or cheap hotel rooms with a bare light bulb. Not exactly where he found himself, but close enough. At which point, he was -- for no good reason that he could ever think of -- saved and slowly returned to life.

"Some one backed the Demon off me when I'd proved to everyone and myself that what I really needed to do was die," he said. "I didn't know then Who'd done it and it didn't come quickly or easily and I turned back dozens of times. But one day, I guess when I prayed to God to just kill me, He didn't. Instead, He led me back.

"I'm not going to tell you how because I'm not here to sell you a Bible. I'm just going to tell you that He did and as close as I can figure it, the reason for His Grace is so that I can, in this town, every so often come and talk to a man like you that has the Demon, or has someone he loves that has the Demon.

"Sometimes it seems to help and sometimes it doesn't and sometimes I never know. What I do know is that while I'm far from free of It, when I come home from work sore and aching, I get in my hot tub with the Bible and some ice tea and I keep reading through it. It took me two years to get through the Old Testament and I'm glad and happy to be starting on the New. In between, I wait for the phone to ring and when it does, I go out and listen and talk to the person calling no matter how tired I am, no matter what time is it, no matter how long it takes."

He seemed then to close the slide on his dark lantern and set it aside.

"My life's still not really right. Not really right at all. Given what I've done it probably never will be right. The family is still fighting the Demon just like me. Trouble still comes when you expect it least.

"I'm still upside down with money. I was down so deep I'll probably check out before getting it straight. I go to meetings when I go and I take my church seriously. But I still don't know what purpose I have. So I just do this because it seems to be what is given me to do. I can't do much in the way of spiritual work like the preacher can. I'm just a carpenter. But I can do this."

We parted then and he walked out into the dark early morning. The waitress, who had waited long past closing, locked up with some relief. "I don't mind staying at all when he comes in," she said. "Sometimes people just have to talk to other people."

I went upstairs and slept for a few hours, waking at dawn and walked through the tiny small town three blocks to the Catholic Church where I'd learned there was a meeting, not for me but for those that had the Demon. He was there, looking tired but ready to go to work for the day. Others, rough men and women all, were there too bringing with them what they had to bring, taking away what they chose to take, and leaving, if they could, some of the Demon behind.

When it was over he said, "Come to breakfast with us."

And so it was I found myself riding along in a carpenter's pick-up over the sand and snow scoured roads of the town to a local hash joint of ancient vintage by the side of the road. By the time that was over, I'd managed to meet many more good people in this town in one morning than I've met in the two years in Laguna Beach where I know hardly a soul.

On the way back to my hotel, we stopped off at a job a young man was doing for him. Tearing down an old ramshackle garage to put up a new for an elderly couple who needed it done. As far as I could tell it was being done for free because it could be. He spent a few minutes talking to the kid and advising, but not telling him, how to do it.

Then we drove back to my hotel and shook hands and said goodbye. He turned left at the corner and was gone.

I went back to my hotel room to pack for the drive to the airport. My phone rang. It was the person I had come to see calling to ostensibly thank me for the dinner and the talk from the night before, but also to be sure I was indeed leaving and would not be appearing suddenly at a function that night. It wouldn't do for a part of their old life to suddenly appear in the middle of this "clean break," this "fresh start" at living with the new-old Demon. As we talked I began to understand that I would now always be speaking with two whenever I spoke to this person and would be required to remember that as hard as it might be.

In truth, it was clever to ask. I had thought of doing just that the night before. Checking out of one hotel and checking in to another just to spring up and see what else was being hidden, concealed and kept secret from me as it had been for such a long time. Instead I began to accept that whatever I could imagine was either true or was going to be. I was tired of the game even though I knew I was not done with it, and there was -- if I looked at it coldly -- really nothing left to keep me where I didn't want to go in the first place. So I just gave assurances that I had a long drive and had to be going. Things became warmer after that and we said goodbye. I drove out of town and, at last, towards my home.

I'm back home now and am, as is the sad state of our times, finding myself sitting in rooms filled with bromides, slogans, cliches, isms, and the other people broken by the people who let the Demon ride them. Just another one of the remaindered souls set out on the bargain shelves.

I'm already loathing my story and shocked and frightened by some stories I hear that are, so far, much worse than mine. I've never been a man who spoke the truth without first being asked, nor have I been one who could listen, but I'm trying to learn that when you don't listen the only interesting story in the room is yours. And you're sick of it first.

They say that all of life is a series of lessons that will be repeated until you learn them. At which point you will be given a new lesson. I don't think I asked for this particular lesson, but I'll take a shot at learning it since that's the lesson that has arrived.

I've talked to the man with the dark lantern on the phone a couple of times since the night he took me out of the black library. He's still wondering what his purpose can be and working on getting through the New Testament. I'm not a religious man and I'm no expert on the Bible, but I think I know an apostle when I meet one.

Me? I've no idea what I'm going to do and even less about what my purpose can possibly be. God knows I've chosen wrongly up until this point every time. So for now I'm just writing down what happens to me as clearly as I am given it. It's my way, I imagine, of learning how to make my own dark lantern.

First Published 2006-02-05



Posted by Vanderleun Feb 18, 2016 1:59 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This flower, preserved in amber, may be 45 million years old

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This delicate flower has been preserved in amber, with each petal and tiny hair intact, for as many as 45 million years.

Scientists discovered the flower in a cave in the Dominican Republic along with a treasure trove of insects preserved in amber. Now the flower has been identified by an expert as a member of the vast Asterid cladeof flowers, whose members include the coffee plant as well as potatoes, peppers, and the poisonous Strychnine tree. | Ars Technica

Tell her that sheds
Such treasure in the air,
Recking naught else but that her graces give
Life to the moment,
I would bid them live
As roses might, in magic amber laid,
Red overwrought with orange and all made
One substance and one colour
Braving time.

--From "Envoi" by Ezra Pound



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 15, 2016 12:21 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Notes on Love and Death

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"What is it about? Like all Greek songs, about Love and Death." -- Melina Mercouri, Phaedra

"The Politics of life are easy. It's the Poetics that are tough."

I'm still working out what I meant when I wrote that. It'll take me life plus 99 years.

The Poetics of life are much more persistent in their knocking at the door of your inner self than the Politics. Politics have their seasons, but the Poetics are our constant companions, waking and sleeping, thinking and dreaming. In a very real sense, since they run deeper than the Politics, the Poetics are the Politics' power source. But what are the Poetics about? Simply put, they are "like all Greek songs, about love and death."

I've done a dance or two with death over the years. I've found that he's not very graceful and he always wants to lead.

Once, during a long-lost summer, I was the night driver for a hearse at a mortuary. In the wee small hours of the morning, I'd drive the on-duty mortician to pick up a man or a woman's or a child's body from wherever it had become just a body. In the hot California delta night I'd drive the mortician, both of us in Blues Brothers suits, to a hospital basement, a home bedroom, a city morgue, or, one time, to a shabby skid row hotel where the leaking wicker basket holding the suicide had to be held vertically in the creaking ancient elevator for all eight slow floors.

I've been alone in the waiting room with my mother when the surgeon, still drying his hands on a towel, walked through the door and said, "I'm sorry, Mrs. Van der Leun, but we just couldn't stop the bleeding."

I've stood in a room high above Central Park West where the only sound was a death rattle in an old man's throat, and told the doctor on the telephone that there was really no reason to send the emergency resuscitation crew for the twelfth time in half as many months. I sat quietly holding the old man's hand for around thirty minutes until his breathing stopped. Then I left that room, told my in-laws he was dead, and watched them mask their expressions of relief.

I've found my name carved into the stone monument at Battery Park that lists those that died at sea during the Second World War. I've found the names of two men I went to high school with carved on the Vietnam wall in Washington.

If I'd managed to keep one address book for my contemporaries since graduating from high school, it would, as they say, be beginning to fill up with dead people and that rate would increase.

I've stood on the Promenade on the Heights and seen two towers fall and reduce thousands of people to ash and dust in what seemed like less time than it has taken you to read to this period.

I have sometimes, I confess, "been half in love with easeful death," but no one living escapes that siren call. The trick there is to lash yourself to the mast of the day, pray, and somehow, through the grace of God, just sail on by.

By now, like many others of my age, I've seen death personally and professionally, retail and wholesale. There really is, when you move with it, nothing to love about the dance of death. The only response is, as Prufrock knew, to see "the eternal Footman hold my coat and snicker, and in short, I was afraid."

So I know something -- not a lot, but something -- about that old Greek theme of death and it scares me about as much as it should scare, I imagine, any man. And, having now briefly been dead, the fear is perhaps less shrill but more persistent; a tempo of a fading drum heard far off, cast back over the horizon but still approaching.

What I know increasingly little about, and what really frightens me, is the other theme of the Greek songs, love. These days it seems that it will take more than a lifetime to figure love out.

Love frightens me because, unlike death, love cannot be understood. Love can only be given, gotten, taken or dropped. Like death, it would seem that, once discovered, there's no end to it -- or, to take Hemingway's point of view, no good end to it since one way or another death will trump love -- in this world at least.

Love is where the Poetics of life collide with the Politics. It's a collision where the possibility having to call in the MedEvac helicopter and the coroner is always present; where wreckage is assured and survival never promised. Falling in love is, as a comedian noted, like buying a puppy. You are purchasing a tragedy.

No, that's not quite right. Say rather you are purchasing a hybrid; a tragicomedy or a comic tragedy, since love always has, for those of us removed from its immediate drama, elements of the ridiculous, slices of the sublime, and not a few moments of boffo laughter at the shambling human animal.

Still, it would be nice if I could understand the nature of love and my absurd role in the love dramas of my life. If the joke, in the end, is on me it would be nice to be able to say that I "get it."

Nice but not, I think, necessary. Even if I never get it, I do know one thing for certain about love, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

First published 2009-- added to and altered since.



Posted by Vanderleun Feb 14, 2016 12:09 AM | Comments (50)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ceremonies of the Horsemen

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The Green House, Berkeley California, in 2008

The cloak and dagger dangles,
madams light the candles.
In ceremonies of the horsemen
even a pawn can hold a grudge.

--Bob Dylan

None of this ever really happened.

1. Prologue

To tell the truth about those years, you'd have to begin with the observation that truth was, like all precious commodities, in very short supply. Like LSD from Sandoz or pharmaceutical cocaine, truth was rumored to be everywhere but became scarce when you attempted to score.

If your ambition was to make a market in Truth Futures, you were in business. No problem and plenty of willing buyers and sellers. But if you just wanted some truth of your own, to get you through the night, your head was straightened on that score in no time. After a few attempts to lay you hands on some actual truth, you came to understand that such a quest was against the secret rules. Scoring pure, uncut truth was not even a part of the game. It wasn't what was "happening, man."

What was happening wasn't, to be sure, the only game in the big BeHereNow Casino out on Sunset trip, but it was the most fun and everyone, well, almost everyone, wanted to play at its table hoping that their new and improved revolutionary system for revolution would beat the dealer. No matter what you wanted to be at that table and be happening. After all, not to be part of what was happening in those years was, in a sense, not to be.

So you learned that as long as you confined yourself to speculation of what the Revolution might be like and what the world after the Revolution would be like, there was no end to truth. But if this made you nervous and you asked any of the fellow players for a little hard truth, a little coin of the realm to cover your margin and theirs, they were quite content to drop a brick of Acapulco Gold on your head and call it The Philosopher's Stone. And because stone was a state of mind, you were left with a headache, a heartache, and overdrawn at the First National Bank of Angst.

Man, you weren't happening.

What was happening was all that mattered. It was the predominant concern of the decade. "What's happening?" was a greeting and a secret sign that would determine if you were one of the elect and the saved. It was later compressed, as was most of our secret language, into a statement: "Happening, bro." Hard to translate now, but it made sense at the time.

Like the ancient and biblical phrase "What is truth?", "What's happening?" did not demand any response more specific than a shrug and a suitably stoned smile. A verbal response would be offered only as long as it began in and returned, at regular intervals, to a rippling fog that covered all our shared mental landscapes like the mist in a Japanese Samurai movie. This perpetually foggy language indicated that the speaker was a member in good standing of the lighter-than-air bunch and not really on the planet. It was the progenitor of an act of mental levitation which was much later converted by Transcendental Meditation into groups of people who learned to jump into the air from the full-lotus position.

Continued...

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 13, 2016 12:21 PM | Comments (36)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This Will All End In Guns

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In Sønderberg the other day
A teenage girl used pepper spray
To rout a randy “refugee”
From somewhere far across the sea
Who threw down and molested her.
The cops arrested her.

As part of a jihadist plot,
A brute assailant took a shot
At a fine Copenhagen man
Who'd deprecated the Quran.
When the brave soul who'd nearly died
Then publicly identified
The thug who'd tried to kill him, he
Was charged with grave delinquency:
Breaching privacy.

In Mölndal, a Somali teen
Plunged a long blade into the spleen
Of a young Swedish altruist
Who'd yearned to do one thing: assist.
The land's top cop went on TV
And trumpeted his sympathy.
For the poor girl who'd lost her life?
No. For the kid with the knife.

At one time it was understood
That a devotion to the good
Didn't mean one should be blind
To evil, or pretend to find
Some virtue in sheer villainy.
To see what isn't there to see
Is not a sign of rectitude.
To point out evil isn't rude;
To fight it is good.

You can't, however hard you try,
Mistake for a speck in the eye
A loaded Uzi in the hands
Of some rough beast from foreign sands
Intent on taking out a child.
You'll win no points for being mild
To members of a desert creed
That seeks to make the heathen bleed
And preaches that the kind and meek
Are contemptibly weak.

Christ said to turn the other cheek.
But what if it's not just your cheek?

Bruce Bawer, In Our Time | Frontpage Mag



End in guns soon....
Around 100 people spent Friday morning gathered outside a Swedish court where a group of men planning a violent attack at refugee housing were appearing. The protest delayed detention hearings for the 14 suspects linked to an an alleged plan to target refugees living in asylum housing on a campsite in Nynäshamn, a small town in a rural area south of Stockholm.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 12, 2016 12:57 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
File Under: There's no fool like an....

Young men look at a teeter-totter and say "Why?" Older men say, "Why not?"

Answer: "You're never too old to get your ass kicked by the laws of physics...."

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 12, 2016 10:56 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: Peace Train

They say that "If you remember the 60s, you weren't there." My curse is that I was there and I remember everything.

Those were the days... and those were not the days.

Oh, I've been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Some day it's going to come

'Cause out on the edge of darkness
There rides a peace train
Oh, peace train take this country
Come take me home again

Now I've been smiling lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

Oh, peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on the peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on the peace train

Continued...

Posted by gvanderleun Feb 11, 2016 6:13 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Let My Cry Come Unto Thee:" An Ash Wednesday Confession [2006-2016]

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Being only a man, I often tire of the things of man; of his bottomless vanity and his endless violence which, as all the things of men must, resides in me as well as in you.

        Because I do not hope to turn again
        Let these words answer
        For what is done, not to be done again
        May the judgement not be too heavy upon us.
**

Many years ago, I was browsing through a newsmagazine and came upon a photograph of the machete-hacked corpse of an African child floating like some half-chewed chunk of jetsam in a backwater of Lake Victoria. This was during what we now think of, because we have to think of it as something distinct from our normal run-of-the-mill massacres, as the Rwandan genocide.

It was a crystal clear photograph showcasing an act of genocide like any other, only the meaningless details changed: children, machetes, an African lake. As a professional in the pornography of violence, the photographer had gotten in close. The child's eyes could be seen. They were without pupils, the irises congealed into a dead fish-belly white; the white of clotted milk. The photographer had done his job well. The smell of it came off the page....

        Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
        There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
        And would be forgotten, so I would forget
        Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
        Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
        The wind will listen.

I thought then, looking at the eyes in the face of the ruined child in that photograph, that if that child's eyes could reflect anything they would reflect everything -- every thing -- we are.

And in those moments, looking on that picture, I came to know a despair that went beyond any puling despair for my miserable self, one that went out and went out from that photograph, like the ripples from a pebble dropped into dark water, until they lapped up against everything in the world, and rendered it all into hacked meat and mute purposeless matter. And I despised the world, and all of humanity, and, indeed, God himself. But most of all, I despised myself.

        At the first turning of the second stair
        I turned and saw below
        The same shape twisted on the banister
        Under the vapour in the fetid air
        Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
        The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

I despised myself for the reaction I was having to a mere photograph. I despised myself for having the ability to look upon it, to really study it, to feel the revulsion, and then simply put it down and walk away from it; no doubt to a reasonably good dinner. For that was what I had scheduled for myself later that day. After all, a good dinner at a good restaurant was a reasonable reward for another day at work in New York City. Wasn't it?

        At the second turning of the second stair
        I left them twisting, turning below;
        There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
        Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth driveling, beyond repair,
        Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

I'd like to say that I did not go to that dinner and I did not enjoy myself, but I did. The moment with the photograph was, for the evening, forgotten enough. It never even came up. Not really the sort of thing you want to chat about over a roasted duck with cranberry sauce and your standard big California Red, is it?

The child rotting in the brackish water was, after all, not a child at all. The child was long since buried or left to dissolve as mere carrion. What had disturbed me was only the abstraction of a child snagged out of the world with photographic film, transmitted across the oceans via orbiting satellites. printed up on sheets of flimsy paper, and delivered to me and millions of others on a weekly basis.... to what purpose?

To      What      Purpose?

Because I needed to know? What did I know? That we are, each and every one of us, capable of the darkest evil? This much I'd known long before I'd known it.

Did I study it because I needed more confirmation? I'd long been confirmed. And yet the image stuck in my mind, not as an obsession, but as an unbidden harbinger. And in time, I came to know its purpose.

Its purpose was to teach me the one thing I really needed to know to live the life we are expected to live as fully paid-up members of today's "advanced and enlightened" society. Its purpose was to teach me how to make one decision that would make all the other clauses of this era's "new and improved" social contract easy to sign off on.

Its purpose was to teach me to hate God.

I'd never practiced that sort of hate before. I'd never hated God at all in all the years I had been "away." At most, my inclination towards God was a kind of studied indifference. It was casual pose, admired by many and practiced by most of my generation for decades. It was cool and in this age cool trumps everything.

Being a man, and a weak one at that, this unthinking indifference is more persistent than hate. It abides with me today -- most days. I am, as I have remarked before, a Christian in crisis only. Only when my happy little world is darkened by something that seems to me at the time to bring down pain and confusion, do I remember God and seek Him. It's a shabby sort of religion, I know, but at least it is a religion of a sort.

It was not a religion of that sort during the several years I hated Him. It was a white-hot kind of religion. I sought out His hand and His works in all the dark reports that deluge us all on a daily basis. I studied the latest news and kept a clipping file of outrage stored in my soul. I worked on it.

Childhood leukemia? God's on the job.

A close friend is shot-gunned on 14th street in a mugging? God's there pulling the trigger.

Yet another mass grave dug up in yet another subdivision of Hell in Europe, Africa, the Middle East? God's working the back-hoe.

It's a tough and dirty job and nobody but God has the moral clarity to do it. He's the original Bastard. A real Professional. To top it all off He had billions of fools convinced of His mercy and His goodness. They were ready to tell you that "God so loved the world...."

Really? I was a tough-minded secularist with the kind of soul that looked at the pictures of life with a hard, unblinking eye. Oh, yeah? Show me.

Any God that had the power to do good and yet allowed evil to exist and to prevail, why that God was..... It's an old standard, you know the tune and you know the words. I'm not going to sing it again here.

        For those who walk in darkness
        Both in the day time and in the night time
        The right time and the right place are not here
        No place of grace for those who avoid the face
        No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

It was a jester that stopped my hate of God. Not a great jester, I'll grant you, but a jester just the same. He used to caper for donations in the Central Park Zoo. Perhaps he capers there today. I wouldn't know.

Since this jester's act was pitched towards humans with no more than five or six years of experience in the world, the only people that ever stopped and listened and watched him were little children with their parents or nannies. And on one particular day, for no clear reason, myself.

He'd clear a circle near the seals and perform a few bits of juggling and some pratfalls. There would be some gentle mocking of the kids' parents, a bit of mime and a dollop of buffo slapstick. Then he'd go into his finale.

The finale was always the same. It was a frantic dance and pantomime done to a tune blasting from his boom-box. The tune was an old spiritual, "O Sinnerman." It's another old standard we all know, but it sounded different to me in that afternoon in the park in early spring:

O sinnerman where will you run to?
O sinnerman where will you run to?
O sinnerman where will you run to,
All on that day?

Run to the mountain.
The mountain won't hide you.
Run to the sea.
The sea will not have you.
And run to your grave.
Your grave will not hold you.
All on that day.


This frantic show was obviously not being performed for me. I don't even remember why I was in the zoo at that time.

The world doesn't circle around anyone of us, but it does, from time to time, pick up its cues. And, since I tend to see the world with the eyes of a poet, I'm always alert to the subtext of experience.

I say "I" because I don't know any other way to name the observing presence that seems to always be riding on the saddle of my self-awareness. It really doesn't have a lot to do with me as a person and there are plenty of times I could do without it quite nicely, thank you. But I heed the voice when it has something of value to say, even if comes disguised as a mindless song out of a corny half-baked 20th century jester in fading makeup and tatterdemalion.

Maybe it was because I was tired of hating God at every turn. Maybe it was because I'd simply come to the end of wanting to take the woes of the world onto my shoulders. Maybe it was because I just happened, at that moment, to be ready to snap out of it. Or maybe it was because of the childish message of the song. Urban sophisticates can, after all, be some of the densest matter in the universe, and sometimes need to be spoken to in very simple ways.

For me, the voice said something like, "Oh, come off it and cop to your own shortcomings. I gave you everything there is and now you want Me to fix it? Be glad I made it fixable. And, if I hadn't made it the way it is, there'd be no you hanging around to hate Me, would there?"

And my hatred of God left me.

There wasn't any kind of great switcheroo where my hatred was replaced with love and the peace that passeth all understanding. It wasn't a replacement. It was a departure. And nobody waved goodbye. Least of all me.

I did not forget the photograph. I would never forget the photograph. But I did let go of the idea that the evil it embodied was an Act of God. It took me a long time, a lot of hate, and a very simple song before I came to understand that every act of evil is an Act of Man.

        Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
        Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
        Teach us to care and not to care
        Teach us to sit still
        Even among these rocks,
        Our peace in His will
        And even among these rocks
        Sister, mother
        And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
        Suffer me not to be separated

        And let my cry come unto Thee.

handofgodpanel.jpg



** Poem quoted is Ash Wednesday by T S Eliot. Full text here. First published, 2006.



Posted by Vanderleun Feb 10, 2016 12:21 AM | Comments (48)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Typecasting and Other Ancient Marvels at Arion Press

Anthony Bourdain & The Balvenie head to San Francisco, California to meet with Andrew Hoyem, master typographer and printer of Arion Press.

" One of the last of its kind, Arion Press has only a handful of members on its staff, all fellow craftsmen dedicated to this age old process. Each works meticulously to create the books in multiple parts, from the typecasters, to the proofreaders, to the printers and the bookbinders. All of these hands build a work of art through a process that must be seen to be believed, and can only, truly, be described as magic."

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 8, 2016 10:42 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hell's "Basic Cable"

This ONE station with this ONE PROGRAM playing in front of your eyes for ETERNITY.

REPENT!



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 7, 2016 10:06 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ronald Reagan was not unappreciated at the end, far from it. But he was at the beginning.

Happy 105th Birthday, Mr. President.

President Ronald Reagan.jpg
"Whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears: to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way."

-- President Ronald Reagan, 1992

"I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith."

-- Timothy 2:4:7



"His story was classically, movingly rags-to-riches; he was a nobody who became a somebody in the American way, utterly on his own and with the help of millions.

"He was just under 10 when the Roaring Twenties began, 16 when Lindbergh flew the ocean; he remembered as a little boy giving a coin to a doughboy leaning out a window of a troop train going east to the ships that would take them to the Marne and the Argonne Forest.

"Ronald, nicknamed Dutch, read fiction. He liked stories of young men battling for the good and true. A story he wrote in college had a hero arriving home from the war and first thing calling his girl. Someone else answered. Who is calling? "Tell her it's the president," he said. He wrote that when he was 20 years old.

"Many years later, in middle age, he was visited by a dream in which he was looking for a house. He was taken to a mansion with white walls and high sparkling windows. It was majestic. "This is a house that is available at a price I can afford," he would think to himself. And then he'd come awake. From the day he entered the White House for the first time as president he never had the dream again...." Read the rest at Thanks from a Grateful Country - WSJ


Excerpt from Jacob Weisberg's new biography, RONALD REAGAN: The American Presidents Series: The 40th President, 1981-1989

Surrounded by a Wall of Light

MOST OF NEWSWEEK'S WASHINGTON BUREAU was on vacation in late July 1987. That meant an opportunity for the summer intern to cover the president on an out-of-town trip. I remember Tom DeFrank, the magazine’s longtime White House correspondent, giving me my brief. I’d have a turn at pool duty, which meant flying in the rear section of Air Force One and typing up a report for the larger share of the press, following in a second plane. The assignment was “body watch” coverage: I was being sent along, at considerable expense, on the unlikely chance of something bad happening. In the event of an assassination attempt or accident, Tom told me, I should ignore the urge to run for the phone, and instead stay close and record every detail.

The visit to Wisconsin was Reagan’s last trip before departing for his usual twenty-five-day vacation at Rancho del Cielo, his retreat near Santa Barbara. I remember bits of the day distinctly: the dawn arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, the preloading of the plane before the president got aboard, and the executive splendor of Air Force One. In the galley, there were pens and writing tablets and decks of playing cards emblazoned with the official seal of the president of the United States. In the bathroom were baskets of candy, toiletries, and packs of cigarettes, in presidential slipcovers, free for the taking. No one fastened a seat belt as the plane took off. The reporters got off the rear of the plane first, so we could watch Reagan wave as he came down the front stairs and greeted the local receiving committee, before we hustled into the motorcade and sped down closed highways to his speech.

His first stop was the floor of a factory in Hartford, Wisconsin, that manufactured hoods for kitchen ranges, where he addressed the workers. He made two more speeches after that, one at a Rotary Club luncheon and another at an outdoor rally in the pretty Lake Michigan town of Port Washington. All along the way, there were flags and banners and balloons and people cheering. Reagan made his case against the big spenders in Congress, who were fencing with him over the budget. At each stop, he promoted what he called an Economic Bill of Rights, which was a repackaging of his wish list: a balanced budget amendment, a line-item veto, and a supermajority requirement for tax increases. The more immediate political purpose of the trip was to establish that, amid the drama of the congressional Iran-Contra hearings and the embattled nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, he was still relevant.

A larger theme was Reagan’s renewal of his bond with the American people. These were the kinds of midwestern places he knew from his childhood. “I grew up in a town with people like you, just across the border in Illinois,” he reminded his audiences. He quoted Yogi Berra and Will Rogers and told one of the anti-Soviet jokes he collected. He said government spending was like the grass that grows in the cracks on the sidewalk, citing the example of a mass transit system so expensive that it would have been cheaper to buy every rider a new car every five years. (He didn’t say where that costly transit system was.) The day ended with a patriotic rally in the town square of Port Washington, which glowed in the afternoon light. “America is number one, and we’re going to stay that way!” the president declared. Thirty thousand people were chanting, “Reagan, Reagan, Reagan” and “USA, USA, USA.” (“It was a humbling feeling to be greeted with such warmth & affection,” Reagan wrote in his diary that evening.) From a corral on the tarmac, reporters shouted questions about Bork and Iran-Contra as the president ascended the stairs of Air Force One, turned, and waved, either choosing not to hear or, more likely, unable to hear above the engine noise. He was back home in time for supper.

I came back with souvenirs and stories. But spending a day around people who loved Ronald Reagan only deepened the difficulty of comprehending his popularity. Like a lot of those covering him, I pegged Reagan as a disengaged dullard with a simplistic view of the world and a superficial understanding of policy. A few months earlier, he had acknowledged bewilderment about his own role in the arms-for-hostages swap. For any of his predecessors, such an admission would have amounted to a confession of lying. Reagan’s present-but-absent quality made his confusion plausible, and a little pathetic. He was too vague for a villain, but surely an embarrassment.

Few of my friends in those days would have predicted that Reagan would be remembered as a good president, let alone a great one. Yet it was at that very moment that Reagan was making contributions to the end of the Cold War that would stand as his signal accomplishment. A month earlier he had spoken in Berlin and declared, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” His negotiations with the Soviet leader, which had broken down at Reykjavik the previous fall, would change the fundamental dynamics of the world I’d grown up in: the threat of nuclear annihilation, the Communist threat, and a domestic politics built around these threats.

Continued...

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 6, 2016 12:24 AM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"My Dad:" State of the Art Contemporary Corporate Propaganda from Hershey

High marks to Hershey's for hitting all the obvious PC diversity buttons in this bit of soppy sentiment aimed straight at the Hallmark Card Heart of 2016 Progressive America. {Or-- as one of my more astute readers just said -- "Virtue Signaling Bukake."}

We open with the ambiguously gay/straight/bi dad working from a suspiciously motherless home with, in the background yearning for attention, is the ambiguously gendered "daughter" with pixie cut.

Add-ins en route;

+ the elderly disabled on her scooter,

+ the use of the bus/public transport,

+ street hockey played with boys and girls and featuring a boy with long curls,

+ random Asian neighbor peering out of window,

+ videoconference meeting with "presenting female executive" with, of course, one admiring white beta male bracketed between two black males -- lest anyone think white men are in charge of anything in this Alternate Universe America where everyone chants the U2 Hymn, "I believe in the Kingdom Come / Then all the colors will bleed into one"

And then, at the end, the soft sweet sell: Wrapping it all up with the ultimate AlternateAmerica snack, The 'Smore, where black, white, and brown all bleed into one fine tasty American treat. It might have been called "The Moonpie" but that's a bit Southern and hence a raaaaacist snack.

Hershey just wants you to know that this expensive chunk Hershey propslush is just its chocolate kiss to the world.

All in all a well-crafted bit of contemporary Government/Corporate propaganda.

Look for it to scroll past at the Super Bowl for several million bucks down the drain.



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 5, 2016 10:39 AM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Strangers Knocking At My Door

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[Note: From my archives in December of 2010]

As they did last year, they’ve come twice in the last day. They’re kids out running “a raise money for NARAL” scam. They get a cut of anything they pull in, and they use any info they get to sell to Planned Parenthood or other death mills.

They’re pleasant and they are enthusiastic (I love the painting! I really admire the tree!) and they hand you the clipboard expecting you to sign in your enthusiasm to support their “work.”

I listen and then I tell them, “No, I don’t support what you’re doing or the people and causes that you represent. I think it’s evil for you to do this, and worse still to do it for money.”

Here in Seattle's Queen Anne, where smiles, nods and signups for their scam are their usual rewards, they seem genuinely surprised and taken aback.

“You mean you’re not pro-choice?”

I assure them that I am not even if though, long ago, I was.


Yesterday evening, at night on the darkened porch, it was a young woman. She just shook her head and walked away to get on with her “mission” of going door to door bilking pro-choicers out of money. I guess she forgot to leave the chalk mark on my door that indicates “Satan!” because just now a boy old enough to be a man but forever avoiding it knocked with the same knock and announced himself as, “Hello, I’m your friendly neighborhood feminist.” He pointed towards the pink watch cap he wore.

He ran through the same spiel and handed me what could have been the same clipboard. I listened and handed it back to it saying, “I don’t support this.”

“You mean, you’re not pro-choice?”

“Do you have any children?”

“Ah... no.”

“Have you even been through an abortion with, say, a woman you love in support of her right to choose?”

“Well, no.”

“I’ve been through two. The first was one that I supported. The second was one that I had deep misgivings about but didn’t oppose.

“Those were all long ago, but now I know that those were two children I didn’t have and will never know, and not a month goes by I don’t think about that and regret it.

"If it ever happens to you, you’ll agree at the time and then, years later, it will come back to you. It will come back to you that you are missing children in your life and it is partially your doing. And it will haunt you, the thought of the people they could have been.

“You’re young and deluded. You’re going to walk away and make this a story you’ll tell to the other kids out running your scam. Then you’ll forget all about it for years, maybe decades, and you’ll go off and have some abortions of your own.

"And then one day, years after that, you’ll come to know what I know now. That’s when you’ll remember me; a man who through his own vanity and foolishness, kept two children out of his life.

“That’s when you’ll remember this moment. But like me, it will be too late for you.”

He walked away shaking his head, already moving into the forgetting. Some day, it will come back to him. I’ll be remembered as a stranger, but suddenly not all that strange.



Posted by Vanderleun Feb 4, 2016 10:08 AM | Comments (74)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Red Square Nebula

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What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure.

The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape. The featured image combines infrared exposures from the Hale Telescope on Mt. Palomar in California, and the Keck-2 Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the sides. Supporting evidence for the cone hypothesis includes radial spokes in the image that might run along the cone walls. Researchers speculate that the cones viewed from another angle would appear similar to the gigantic rings of supernova 1987A, possibly indicating that a star in MWC 922 might one day itself explode in a similar supernova. APOD: 2016 January 31 - MWC 922:



Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 2, 2016 8:18 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
G2E Media GmbH

MONTHLY ARCHIVES


SIDELINES

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By Mail: Gerard Van der Leun | 6616-D Clark Road #176 | Paradise, CA 95969

Your Shower Is Lame, Your Dishwasher Doesn’t Work, and Your Clothes are Dirty

It’s not just about the showerhead.
The water pressure in our homes and apartments has been gradually getting worse for two decades, thanks to EPA mandates on state and local governments. This has meant that even with a good showerhead, the shower is not as good as it might be. It also means that less water is running through our pipes, causing lines to clog and homes to stink just slightly like the sewer. This problem is much more difficult to fix, especially because plumbers are forbidden by law from hacking your water pressure. | Foundation for Economic Education [HT: Never Yet Melted]


In 2016 the Western political system had a stroke.

The American political system is operating in the curious condition of being an impaired state.
It's not really thinking -- about China, Russia, Syria, Kurdistan. It's not really thinking about anything except half remembered slogans from 1968. Like a person afflicted by a stroke, it can't take a consistent view of external reality because it's regressing into atavisms by a loss of brain function. Impaired


Fake News. At the same time of the political putsch, the mainstream media outlets,

in particular the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks, via broadcasts and social media, began an orchestrated campaign of defamation and delegitimization.
The crazier and more diverse the media mythologies, the better. Melania Trump was a former call girl and illegal alien. Ivanka Trump was peddling her business wares from the West Wing. Jared Kushner was a profiteering collusionist. Steve Bannon was a racist, Sebastian Gorka an unrepentant Nazi. Baron Trump was a spoiled, autistic child. The late elder Trump had run a racist campaign for mayor. And on and on. Resistance & Regime Change: Any Means Necessary – Lies, Leaks, Violence | National Review


Crime simply does not pay as well as politics or banking.

That may be the way to look at something like the Clinton Foundation and, coming soon, the Obama Foundation.
These are not explicitly criminal organizations, but they certainly play outside the spirit of the laws. Obama is out of office and prohibited from running again, but he still controls the Democratic party. The Clintons would be in charge, if not for the fact that the voters took their under boss out in the Tuesday Night Massacre, otherwise known as the presidential election. Even so, the Clinton Family is still a player. Late Phase Capitalism | The Z Blog


Bodymore, Murderville”

Most whites have become habituated to the reality of life in this part of the world.
Everyone, white and black, knows the reality on the street. The blacks with anything on the ball do exactly like the whites and that’s put distance between themselves and the black ghetto. That does not stop the Progressive maniacs from ranting about racism, but they do it from high up in the towers of their whites-only neighborhoods. As a result, no one hears them and so they can be ignored. The Killing Season | The Z Blog


New Blog Arriving Soon

Some have asked, "Gee whiz, Unca Gerard, where is that thar new blog you keeps a promisin'?"

I am hoping for sometime tonight. Hoping. We've been having some issues getting this winged dinosaur landed.


Drink Tea

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Drink tea, together with your friends; pay attention to the tea, and to your friends, and pay attention to your friends paying attention to the tea. Therein lies the meaning of life. The Essence of Peopling

We would love to cut a deal with the noble indigenous peoples across the Earth—

you can have your Navajo panties and aboriginal dot paintings and every last freaking burrito on the planet so long as you give us back our computers and cell phones and cars and indoor plumbing and electricity and air conditioners. Deal?

If people go their separate ways such a divorce would be an astonishing defeat for the Left.

As late as 2016 it was possible to imagine an America led to a "progressive" future by Hillary Clinton;
an EU guiding all of Europe to a similar destiny and the G20 taking the whole world to the same destination. Indeed everyone told they were fated to follow an Arc of History. Yet after Brexit, Trump and G-Zero it is no longer possible to visualize this outcome. A blue-red division would confirm the failure to create a "progressive" world. No conceivable rollback will ever put Humpty Dumpty together again. Opportunity


Trump, Julius Caesar, and killing tyrants

The Roman lower classes, with whom Caesar was popular, became enraged that a small group of aristocrats had sacrificed Caesar. -- neoneocon

Execute Trump? Nah, You First.

Draining the swamp means not only ejecting Trump from the presidency,
but also bringing himself and everyone assisting in his agenda up on charges of treason. They must be convicted (there is little room to doubt their guilt). And then — upon receiving guilty verdicts — they must all be executed under the law. Impeachment Is No Longer Enough; Donald Trump Must Face Justice | HuffPost [Retreived from GoogleCache after it was expunged from the Huffington Post]


A bee in her bonnet

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Thousands of bees took over a car in the UK and beekeepers are struggling to make them leave -
At first it wasn't clear why the bees chose the blue Nissan car and he and a colleague were trying to determine whether this was just a temporary stop or a new nesting site. But as the bees moved to the inside of the bonnet, filling every nook and cranny, things got more serious. "They're building a lot of wax in there now, and of course once they start doing that, they're reluctant to leave it, because it's the start of building a house. They put a lot of effort into producing the wax," Coulson told Hull Daily Mail. "I've got a feeling this might be their chosen permanent home."


[Bumped] "They send one of ours to the hospital, we send two of theirs to the morgue."

Baseball Shooter a Big Wake-Up Call for the Left | Roger L. SimonRobespierre is alive and well in 2017 USA.

This pathetic character in Alexandria is, now was, the left's ungoverned id. By any means necessary -- that's for sure. They will undoubtedly try to shove him under the rug as quickly as possible, just one more aberrant individual to be forgotten, just one obscure Bernie volunteer gone bad. Sanders did his best to separate himself within minutes of the revelation. Yes, it's undoubtedly true that this was just one rotten apple, but it's also true that only five years ago Bernie was recommending Venezuela -- now ground zero for starvation, kidnapping and murder -- as a path for us to emulate.



Greatest antitheft device when the thieves are millenials:

Man leads Jeffco deputies on low-speed chase in stolen flatbed truck after unable to get out of 1st gear The driver - later identified as 29-year-old Randy Dewayne Vert - refused to stop and continued driving south on Center Point Parkway, Christian said. Vert was apparently unfamiliar with the complexities of a modern manual transmission.

The natural impulse of a political system in institutional crisis is to dig in.

Too many institutions in the West remain decades after their birth, frozen in the moment of their creation.
NASA, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the university system and the United Nations rule us from the past. Public life has become a museum of memes from which nothing can escape without a mummy hand dragging the fugitive back into the darkened interior. It is perhaps no coincidence the two most popular leaders of the Western left, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, might credibly impersonate Boris Karloff. They are here to lead us back to 1968. Stuck


The Japanese. Nuked Too Much... or Trying to Get Their Mouths Around Fujiyama Volcano Plate

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We put Japan's most phallic-looking roast beef meal into our mouth at VolcanoKitchen | SoraNews24
Since we’d already become somewhat desensitized to the initially unsettling sensation of peeling strips of meat off the top of the shaft, we mercilessly crushed the egg, sending viscous, gooey liquid running down to the base of the meat rod.
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The power of the press is a figment of the imagination -- humbug --

Oscar Diggs behind the curtain projecting the image of Oz the Great and Powerful!
The Internet did not kill the power of the newspapers. It was suicide. And not just because most of them had Marxist editorials, editors, and reporters. Newspapers lost their sense of community -- and their credibility -- when the heirs to hometown publishers didn't want the paper, sold it to a chain for $1,000 per subscriber to a chain -- Gannett, Knight-Ridder, Thomson -- and moved on. Don Surber: Craigslist killed newspapers


When terrorists enter your children’s school and begin to execute them...

will the gun ban (you favored) in school that prevented abiding staff and teachers from saving your child, come to mind as a good idea?
If the answer to any or all of these and many more reasonable questions, is 'yes,' then you may be a delusional liberal, and likely a coward, and almost as big a threat to our nation as the terrorists who are at war with us." - Morgan K. Freeberg


"Happy birthday, Mr. President...."

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First truth which has been grounded into dust, must spring forth from the earth again.

At the present time . . .he who practices loving-kindness is esteemed and sought after, while he who champions the truth in word and in deed is persecuted and shunned. 
For men desire to base their affairs on everything except the one incorruptible truth which has been set down before us by God , and therefore these affairs have no permanent value . . . only when love and truth meet together, only when men come to understand that the highest act of loving-kindness is to bring men to know and practice the truth, only then will the marriage of love and truth produce that condition on earth in which everyone and everything will occupy the place which has been assigned to it by the will of God. Truth and Peace - Men Of The West


What happened to Nuclear Winter?

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As the media glare faded, its robust scenario appeared less persuasive;
John Maddox, editor of Nature, repeatedly criticized its claims; within a year, Stephen Schneider, one of the leading figures in the climate model, began to speak of "nuclear autumn." It just didn't have the same ring. A final media embarrassment came in 1991, when Carl Sagan predicted on Nightline that Kuwaiti oil fires would produce a nuclear winter effect, causing a "year without a summer," and endangering crops around the world. Sagan stressed this outcome was so likely that "it should affect the war plans." None of it happened. Raconteur Report: Aliens Cause Global Warming by Michael Crichton


If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus.

I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks.
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. - - Woodpile Report


Joe Biden’s niece dodges jail after $100K credit card scam

She walks on a major felony? Of course she did. And who believes she'll keep her end of the deal? In her defense, we're assured she's "a very complicated girl who has a lot of feelings and a lot of issues." Oh ... okay. That explains everything. Hugs from all the little people. Woodpile Report

Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?

There is exactly one language on Earth whose present tense requires a special ending only in the third‑person singular.
I’m writing in it. I talk, you talk, he/she talk-s – why just that? The present‑tense verbs of a normal language have either no endings or a bunch of different ones (Spanish: hablo, hablas, habla). And try naming another language where you have to slip do into sentences to negate or question something. Do you find that difficult? | Aeon Essays



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