Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

American Studies

Matt Drudge: A Rare Interview with Alex Jones

"I’ve had a hell of a run. It’s 20 years next year or 20 years about now. Hell of a run. I couldn’t have gone any farther."

Gets moving at around 13 minutes.

On the media’s treatment of Hillary: “You’ve got to be the greatest you can be now–now. Before this country is so completely altered and we’re left with Hillary’s brain in the Oval Office in a jar. Cuz that’s what we’re getting. She is old and she’s sick. She is not a contender. They’re making her a contender with these propped up Saturday Night Live things; it’s like a head on a stick. And then on the Today show with [Savannah Guthrie]–a head on a stick. She is not a viable, vibrant leader for this country of 300–including the illegals, 380 million–Americans. So the media is trying to put us to sleep.”

On the American public: “How sick are the American people right now? I’ve been saying that they could put Hillary Clinton’s brain in a jar in the Oval Office and she would be elected. People are really sick… People are willing to be made over in the image of these corporations.”

On relying on others’ online platforms: “The reason there’s so much anger online, also, is a newspaper like the Washington Post will leave a comment section. They don’t care what you’re saying. They don’t care what you’re thinking. That’s why you get this anger, that, ‘oh, I’m out here as a citizen and I’m operating in their playground.’ Make your own playground! The reason I’m here, Alex, is you’ve made your own playground.”

“You get famous on YouTube… you’re playing in Google’s hell pit. Make your own place. The Internet allows you to make your own dynamic, your own universe. Why are you gravitating toward somebody else’s universe? And this is kind of, again, where Drudge, to me, when I look at it right now, is a correction to this groupthink that has–there’s no difference from any of these websites. You go up and down, we talk about this. What’s the difference between the websites? Between a Slate or a Salon or a BuzzFeed or a HuffPo–what is the difference? There isn’t any. And this is a travesty. It’s almost like a weird conglomerate of groupthink that has developed in a dynamic era that should be vibrating. It should be vibrating, it should be controversial.”

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 13, 2015 10:23 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Media Narrative Chart

I created a chart to ensure that budding journalists

understand how to properly frame a story involving any type of shooting, terror attack, or other violent crime. Remember that the job of the Objective Journalist™ is not to tell the audience what happened, but to expand the event into an indictment of Western culture. -- Jon Gabriel, Ed.| Ricochet


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 10, 2015 11:15 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Regarding "The Discovery of Freedom"



Full book in PDF form is to be found at The Discovery of Freedom | Mises Institute


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 7, 2015 5:50 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Hitler They Missed

By Son of Brock Landers at 28 Sherman:


What are some of the things or traits known about Hitler?
1. Joined a socialist party.
2. Meteoric rise despite no real executive or administrative skills.
3. Proficient speaker, great speaker in the eyes of his crowd, meh to non-believers
4. Rather weird personal relations to the opposite gender. Romantically linked to a niece who killed herself. Kind of weird relationship with Eva Braun; fraudulent marriage at the end. She complained of no sex to Speer often.
5. Played up being single and a stand in mate for a sliver of lonely female voters.
6. Anti-gun.
7. Faggy about his diet.
8. Medical history is a mystery. His personal doctor was known to specialize in venereal diseases. Did he have Parkinsons at the end? Was the shaking and mania just due to syphilis?
9. Didn't like Jews.
10. Was everything to everybody during his rise. Altered what he pushed to the audience he spoke to, which is smart politics, but reveals the fraud of democracy.
11. Pro-violence if it served his political needs.
12. Weird family issues. Parents were both dead before he was 20.
13. Had a lot of gay mannerisms. No one was going to accuse him of being butch.
14. He had financial difficulties until he was elected into office and Mein Kampf started to sell like hot cakes.

Now why not use the above traits and find a different Hitler. One they missed. One that hits close to home. Let's look at the list but with notes for comparison.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 5, 2015 10:34 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Retrosexuals (From Somewhen on the Internet)

aretrosexmargin.jpgEvery time my TV is on, all that can be seen is effeminate men prancing about, redecorating houses and talking about foreign concepts like "style" and "feng shui."

Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, metrosexual, non-sexual; blue, green, and purple-sexual!.... Bogus definitions have taken over the urban and suburban world!

Real men of the world, stand up, scratch your butts, belch, and yell "ENOUGH!"

I hereby announce the start of a new offensive in the culture Wars, the Retrosexual movement.

The Code :

A Retrosexual man, no matter what the woman insists, PAYS FOR THE DATE.

A Retrosexual man opens doors for a lady. Even for the ones that fit that term only because they are female.

A Retrosexual DEALS WITH IT. Be it a flat tire, break-in into your home, or a natural disaster, you DEAL WITH IT.

A Retrosexual not only eats red meat. He often kills it himself.

A Retrosexual doesn't worry about living to be 90. It's not how long you live, but how well. If you're 90 years old and still smoking cigars and drinking, I salute you. If you are still having sex, you are a God.

A Retrosexual does not use more hair or skin products than a woman. Women have several supermarket aisles of stuff. Retrosexuals need an end cap.

A Retrosexual does not dress in clothes from Hot Topic when he's 30 years old.

A Retrosexual should know how to properly kill stuff (or people) if need be. This falls under the "DEALING WITH IT" portion of The Code.

A Retrosexual watches no TV show with "Queer" in the title.

A Retrosexual does not let neighbors screw up rooms in his house on national TV.

A Retrosexual should not give up excessive amounts of manliness for women. Some is inevitable, but major reinvention of yourself will only lead to you becoming a froo-froo little pussy, and in the long run, she ain't worth it.

A Retrosexual is allowed to seek professional help for major mental stress such as drug/alcohol addiction, death of your entire family in a freak treechipper accident, favorite sports team being moved to a different city, favorite bird dog expiring, etc.

You are NOT allowed to see a shrink because Daddy didn't pay you enough attention. Daddy was busy DEALING WITH IT. When you screwed up, he DEALT with you.

A Retrosexual will have at least one outfit in his wardrobe designed to conceal himself from prey.

A Retrosexual knows how to tie a Windsor knot when wearing a tie -- and ONLY a Windsor knot.

A Retrosexual should have at least one good wound he can brag about getting.

A Retrosexual knows how to use a basic set of tools. If you can't hammer a nail, or drill a straight hole, practice in secret until you can -- or be rightfully ridiculed for the wuss you be.

A Retrosexual knows that owning a gun is not a sign that your are riddled with fear. Guns are TOOLS and are often essential to DEAL WITH IT.

Plus it's just plain fun to fire one off in the direction of those people or things that just need a little "wakin' up".

Crying. There are very few reasons that a Retrosexual may cry, and none of them have to do with TV commercials, movies, or soap operas.

Sports teams are sometimes a reason to cry, but the preferred method of release is swearing or throwing the remote control.

Some reasons a Retrosexual can cry include (but are not limited to) death of a loved one, death of a pet (fish do NOT count as pets in this case), loss of a major body part, or loss of major body part on your Ford truck.

When a Retrosexual is on a crowded bus and or a commuter train, and a pregnant woman, heck, any woman gets on, that retrosexual stands up and offers his seat to that woman, then looks around at the other so-called men still in their seats with a disgusted "you punks" look on his face.

A Retrosexual knows how to say the Pledge properly, and with the correct emphasis and pronunciation. He also knows the words to the Star Spangled Banner.

A Retrosexual will have hobbies and habits his wife and mother do not understand, but that are essential to his manliness, in that they offset the acceptable manliness decline he suffers when married/engaged or in a serious healthy relationship - i.e., hunting, boxing, shot putting, shooting, cigars, car maintenance.

A Retrosexual knows how to sharpen his own knives and kitchen utensils.

A Retrosexual man can drive in snow (hell, a blizzard) without sliding all over or driving under 20mph, without anxiety, and without high-centering his ride in a snow bank.

A Retrosexual man can chop down a tree and make it land where he wants. Wherever it lands is where he damn well wanted it to land.

Except on his truck--that would happen because of a "force of nature," and then the retrosexual man's options are to Cry, or to DEAL WITH IT, or do both.

A Retrosexual will give up his seat on a bus to not only any women but any elderly person or person in military dress (except 2nd Lt's).

NOTE: The person in military dress may turn down the offer but the Retrosexual man will ALWAYS make the offer to them and thank them for serving their country.

A Retrosexual man doesn't need a contract -- a handshake is good enough.
He will always stand by his word even if circumstances change or the other person deceived him.

A Retrosexual man doesn't immediately look to sue someone when he does something stupid and hurts himself.

We understand that sometimes in the process of doing things we get hurt and.... we just DEAL WITH IT!"

I hereby announce the start of a new offensive in the culture Wars, the Retrosexual movement.

Via Chasmatic in The Top 40: 27 Ways to be a Classic Man

[ Note:"I got this from the internet, perhaps from this very site. I didn't compose it but will gladly give credit where credit is due." -- Chasmatic]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 3, 2015 11:00 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "All Along the Watchtowers"

Presented for your approval: Our new national anthem.

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 3, 2015 6:21 PM |  Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Modern Man" Fisked.... By Hand

Via Karen L. Myers and Ed Driscoll at Instapundit, a NYT column defining “The Modern Man” with replies in red ink. Never Yet Melted



Full list if you...

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 1, 2015 1:32 PM |  Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sarah Bernhardt The Invention of Celebrity


This photo of Sarah Bernhardt was taken by Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) at his Boulevard des Capucines atelier in 1864.

The sensual black drapery over her bare shoulder was – by design – rather suggestive. It also – again by design – conveniently concealed her illegitimate pregnancy. Even at the young age of 20 Bernhardt was already becoming the master génie de la réclame and was perfecting her greatest role – the role of Sarah Bernhardt....
Her stardom owed as much to her eccentric, flamboyant and scandalous personal life as it did to her acting. She had public affairs with playwrights, actors and artists.2 She travelled with a menagerie of exotic animals, including a boa and an aligator named Ali-Gaga.3 She dressed in Byzantine and Oriental gowns and perhaps most bizarrely, slept in a coffin and performed with a human skull. To her detractors she was completely unapologetic and said simply “Quand même” (So what). “My fame,” she wrote, “had become annoying for my enemies, and a little trying, I confess, for my friends.”....
She reportedly had affairs with Napoleon III, Edward, Prince of Wales, Victor Hugo (who gave her a human skull after her 1877 performance in Hernani), Charles Haas, Jean Mounet-Sully, Gustave Dore, Jean Richepin and Louise Abbéma. She also had “lifelong habit of automatically sleeping with her leading men,” often in the dressing room after performances. She was even inexplicably, albeit briefly, married to Greek military officer/actor Aristides Damala (who died at age 34 from his morphine addiction).
Her personal zoo, which she travelled with, included at various times Ali-Gaga, the alligator that died after too much milk and champagne, a boa constrictor that she shot herself after it swallowed a pillow, Cross-ci Cross-ça, the Chinese chameleon, a cheetah, a leopard, a pair of lion cubs, a lynx, Bizibouzou the monkey and Darwin the dog.
In 1905 Sarah left for her farewell tour of the Americas and while performing La Tosca in Rio de Janeiro she injured her knee. She continued to tour and perform but the knee never properly healed and she was in constant pain. At the age of 71, despite the objections of those around her, she had the leg amputated.6 Eight months later she was performing La dame aux camélias in a wheelchair. - - Codex 99

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 29, 2015 9:30 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Coffee Breaks: A Report on the Route


So I went out to take a two-mile walking tour of my old neighborhood in Seattle's Queen Anne. This was mostly because of the elemental concept that I should get at least some exercise on a daily basis. It's also because of my long held belief that even with a route that is well worn and well traveled and well known, you can, if you open your mind discover something new every day.

And it is true. Today for example I discovered that if I turn left at the nearest corner it is possible to have one shot of espresso at Ken's market. Which I did.

Walking down and then up a hill and turning right, it is then possible to have a shot of espresso at Cafe Lladro on Queen Anne Street. Which I did.

Moving down the street two and a half blocks at a rapid clip, you can then have a shot of espresso at Cafe Diablo. Which I did.

Out the door and down the street two more blocks gets you to Cafe Appassionata where you can have, yes, a shot of espresso. Which I did.

From there you can go down the hill, making towards home, and as you do you come face to face with Cafe Florian where you can have a shot of espresso. Which I did.

Completing the route I made sure to stop at Bustle where I could order a soothing cappucino. Which I did.

After that I made my way home and I'm here to tell you thatttttttttttttttttttttttt........

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 28, 2015 10:25 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Philadelphia Story


Via HappyAcres

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 27, 2015 9:26 PM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Is he Muslim? Is he a traitor? The question is absurd: / Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.


Created at Chris Muir's brilliant Day By Day

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 27, 2015 9:38 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Education Dogmas


Current religious beliefs held by the demented satanists of the petrified groves of academe as deliniated by George Yancey at Dogma is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted.” Interestingly, the second definition provided by Merriam-Webster as “a belief or set of beliefs that is taught by a religious organization.” Below is a non-exhaustive list of beliefs accepted as dogma in higher education. It is not my intention to capture all possible education dogmatic beliefs but to provide a sampling of these beliefs. While people may quibble with a few of them, overall it is pretty clear to those of us on college campuses, and who do not accept this dogma, that these beliefs are accepted without question among many college students and professors.

1. There is a campus rape culture that encourages the sexual assault of women.

2. A woman accusing a man of rape has vastly more credibility than a man who claims his innocence.

3. The earth is getting dramatically warmer due to human activity and altering that activity can stop or slow this trend.

4. Israelites settlers and the Israel government are as bad as or worse than Palestinian terrorists.

5. Fundamentalist Christians are morally the same as Muslim terrorists.

6. Military action in the Middle East creates more problems than it solves.

7. Criticism of Islam as a religion of terrorism is an example of Islamophobia.

8. Religious freedom is not as important as acceptance of sexual minorities.

9. Society would generally be better if traditional religion disappeared.

10. Marriage between those of the same sex should be seen as the same as marriage between those of different sexes.

11. Trans women should be allowed to use the same facilities as biological women.

12. The physical differences between men and women play no role in economic disparities between the sexes.

13. A woman has a right to an abortion for whatever reason she chooses.

14. Black men are targeted by the police.

15. Anti-Hispanic racism is an important part of what motivates those who oppose immigration reform.

16. President Obama is criticized more than previous presidents because of his race.
17. Raising taxes on the wealthy will improve our economy.

18. Political conservatives are either greedy manipulators exploiting the marginalized or sincere dupes voting against their own economic interests.

19. There is little, if any, correlation between hard work and economic success.

20. The United States is more damaging to the world than other western industrialized nations.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 25, 2015 11:09 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The U.S. Postal "Service": How It Works in the 21st Century

Just announced to nobody's surprise:

U.S. Postal Service Has Not Earned a Profit in Almost a Decade: The United States Postal Service has lost $51.7 billion between 2007 and 2014 and has not earned a profit since 2006, according to a report from the Tax Foundation. “There is no turnaround in sight,” states the report. “The Postal Service will almost certainly register another multibillion dollar loss in 2015; for the first two quarters of 2015, it suffered a net loss of $2.8 billion.”

One day's worth of "mail" at my house.

1. Somewhere in this great land a concerned and responsible corporation is having their twice weekly colorful and compelling advertising supplement printed on 100% recycled paper.

2. As soon as they are completed millions of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements are shipped by truck to the various regional receiving centers of the U. S. Post Office.

3. From those centers, any number of allocated pallets of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements are broken out, put on U.S. post office trucks and delivered to local postal carrier destinations inside Seattle.

4. My postal carrier and hundreds of others report for work at local postal carrier centers throughout Seattle, and load up their vans with enough of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements to deliver one or more to each and every house on their route.

5. My very polite postal carrier parks her van at the end of my block and loads her sack with these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements.

6. She comes up my walk, up the porch stairs, and deposits my full share of these colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements into my mailbox with a clang every day between one and three in the afternoon.

7. Hearing the clang I wend my weary way to the front door and open my mailbox and pluck out said colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements.

8. With a sigh I go back in, trudge through my house, out my back door to the alley, and place the colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements into my Recycling bin.

9. Tomorrow the huge, lumbering Seattle Recycling garbage truck will stop and empty my Recycling bin into its maw and haul what is in it off to the Seattle Recycling center.

10. The collected colorful and compelling 100% recyclable advertising supplements will then be shipped, by truck, to the center for turning recyclable paper into..... recycled paper which will then be used by a concerned and responsible corporation for their twice weekly colorful and compelling advertising supplements printed on 100% recycled paper.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Next year postage will increase because the U.S. Postal "Service" will need more money to keep this thing going.

On the other hand.... why bother?

"A rural mailman travels up a creek bed toward Morris Fork near Jackson, Ky., in August 1940.; K. Ng rides a Segway on his mail route in July 2002 in San Francisco."

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 22, 2015 3:42 PM |  Comments (29)  | QuickLink: Permalink
If Trump sticks to the Message and does not indulge in personal attacks (Fiorina, Kelly), he has a winning hand.


"The Democrats, the mainstream media, neocons, liberals, and college kids are all part of the same hive.

They want to fight but they don’t want to win. They’re like that crazy Latina girlfriend in a screaming panic who won’t shut up until you grab her by the wrists and say, “Shut the fuck up. I got this.”

We need to throw her onto the couch, grab a beer, and get back to work. That’s ultimately what she wants too. She just doesn’t realize it yet."


The psychology in this article has left my head spinning. Gonna have to think about what was said here as it seems so... right about the leftists. They've really, really screwed up this country and they've boxed themselves into a corner with their crazy ideas. They may want to have us pull them back from this yawning abyss.

Problem is that if we do, the education system, the liberal monopoly on the media, the welfare system and the broken immigration system, and the massive over encroaching government ALL need to be dismantled - of which these people will shriek in anger when it happens.

No matter what... there's alot of pain coming to this country in the near future.

They began mocking Trump because hubris is amusing to them...Then, in August, shit got real, and they came out with “Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny: Win or lose, Trump’s campaign threatens to unleash the Great American Stupid.” A month later, they took the gloves off and printed “Trump Seriously: On the Trail With the GOP’s Tough Guy.”

"First they ignore you,then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" -- Gandhi

If Trump sticks to the Message and does not indulge in personal attacks (Fiorina, Kelly), he has a winning hand. The Press Knows it. The Liberals Know it, The GOP Knows it.

Posted by: John Condon in The Top 40: For the first time in decades, we have a presidential election that gets into what real Americans care about.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 18, 2015 4:32 PM |  Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: The Ballad of the Green Berets

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men we'll test today
But only three win the Green Beret

The song was the No. 1 hit in the U.S. for the five weeks encompassing March 1966 and the No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100's end of the year chart for 1966, despite the competing "California Dreamin'", sharply dividing the popular music market, and the No. 21 song of the 1960s, even though the Vietnam War later became unpopular. The rivalry between "Green Berets" and "California Dreamin'" was so fierce that the two records tied for the No. 1 record of 1966, according to Cashbox. "Green Berets" has sold over nine million singles and albums and was the top single of a year in which the British Invasion, led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, continued to dominate the U.S. charts. For comparison, according to Billboard, The Beatles' top hit in 1966 was "We Can Work It Out" (No. 16), while the Stones' top hit in 1966 was "Paint It, Black" (No. 21).... The lyrics were written in honor of Green Beret James Gabriel, Jr., the first native Hawaiian who died in Vietnam, who was executed by the Viet Cong while on a training mission on April 8, 1962. One verse was written in honor of Gabriel, but it never made it into the final version." -- La Wik


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 16, 2015 10:14 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"So you're burning 'The Man' ? "

Burning Man sues Quiznos over YouTube parody of the desert festival

It is called 'Out of the maze and into the playa' - another term for the desert basin where the festival takes place.

At the start of the clip, a man informs a group of young people who have just arrived at the festival: 'The world outside is hanging on by a very thin, non-GMO, cruelty-free, organic hemp thread.

'Beyond this tent flap lies the beginning of your new lives as Burners [the nickname for festival goers].'

At one point, the man asks one of the new 'Burners', called Thomas, what he knows about the festival.

Thomas says: 'I know you have to trade a back rub to be gifted a Quiznos sub.

While the group is walking around the playa, one member says: 'I just saw a Google exec fire-jousting with P. Diddy!'

Then Thomas says of the festival: 'They lied to us. They said it's an anti-establishment society based on radical self-expression. 'It's become a place for rich people to check off their bucket list.'

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 16, 2015 9:06 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Wound
"Well, it was only 3,000 people and we've moved on. Why can't you? Carpe diem, man."

The huge wound in my head began to heal
About the beginning of the seventh week.
Its valleys darkened, its villages became still:
For joy I did not move and dared not speak,
Not doctors would cure it, but time, its patient still.

-- Thom Gunn, The Wound


Simon Dedvukaj, 26, Mohegan Lake, N.Y. janitorial, foreman, ABM Industries / Confirmed dead, World Trade Center, at/in building 2

EVERYONE WHO WAS IN NEW YORK ON on "The Day" will tell you their stories about "The Day." I could stun you with an eight figure number by running a Google on 9/11, but you can do that as well.

"The Day," even at this close remove, has ascended into that shared museum of the mind to be placed in the diorama captioned, "Where Were You When." The site has long since been cleared and scrubbed clean. There is even an agreement on the memorial which will, I see, use a lot of water and trees. "The Day" has become both memorial and myth.

Less is heard about the aftermath. Less is said about the weeks and months that spun out from that stunningly clear and bright September morning whose sky was slashed by a towering fist of flame and smoke. You forget the smoke that hung over the city like a widow's shawl as the fires burned on for months. You don't know about the daily commutes by subway wondering if some new horror was being swept towards you as the train came to a stop deep beneath the East River. You supress hearing over the loudspeaker, always unclearly, that the train was being "held for police activity at Penn Station." Was that a bomb, poison gas, a mass shooting, a strike on the Empire State building? You were never sure. You carried a flashlight in case you had to walk out of the tunnels that ran deep beneath the river. Terror was your quiet companion. After the first six weeks you barely knew it was there.

If someone tells you that the melted wax from the candle shrines at Union Square had a radius of 20 feet and a depth of 4 inches at some points before it was scraped away, that's just a data point.

If someone mentions that there were pictures of those we called 'the missing' put up on walls about the city, you might recall that. What you won't recall is that they appeared everywhere and grew in numbers on nearly every surface on the island until there was no block and no main station that didn't host a grim and large gallery of these images.

You've forgotten about the shrines, large and small, that appeared at the door of every fire and police station of the city overnight. You don't remember how they grew and then shrank until only a few vases of flowers and faded flags remained.

I could show you the Post's headline from the 12th declaring: 10,000 FEARED DEAD. Many of you would now say, "Well, it was only 3,000 people and we've moved on. Why can't you? Carpe diem, man."

Wounds, as noted in the poem above, heal. Lots of Americans like this fact. Many now make their living from the process. Explainers, obfuscators, politicians, pundits -- they're all part of yet another bogus new-age industry, grief counseling. Let some disaster, small or large, occur and these locusts descend from wherever they spend their off-hours to feed on the fear and pain of that other bogus group, "the survivors." Many of us are proud to be members of this group. I'm sure somewhere someone is selling t-shirts and badges that say "I'm the Proud Survivor of ______" (Insert disease or disaster of choice).

Wounds heal. Those that don't become "mortal wounds." All others heal. That's the nature of wounds. What isn't often mentioned is that wounds, in healing, leave a scar. A scar is different kind of skin that covered the wound and, because it is stronger than the original skin, it is called "proud flesh."

Along with grief, scars are another thing our brave new age sets out to eliminate. With the application of money and skill most scars in time can be made to disappear, to be made beautiful. Americans approve of this process. We like to make new fresh flesh appear where old proud flesh once was. All smoothed out. All traces eradicated. We move on. We get over it. We wear white trousers and walk upon the beach. Tomorrow is another day and we will never be hungry again.

Wounds do not heal, they only seal themselves up and we erase the scars with myths and monuments. Unless we are required to, every so often, go back and look at what was without sham or falsity.

Selecting a few images from a very bad year takes you back into that time. Because you fear opening the wound, you work at some remove from what the images return to you. Until you come to one that takes you back and you find yourself there, in that time, in those weeks and months after 'The Day.'

Mine was a picture of a flyer posted around the city. One of the thousands of flyers posted everywhere. I'd hardly noted it at the time, but kept it in a folder called "September." It shows three pictures of Simon Dedvukaj. He's in a tuxedo with the jacket tossed over his shoulder in one shot. Another shows him wearing the cap and gown of a high school graduate. The third is a candid snap taken, I imagine, in his room with some out of focus possessions in the background. There's a prayer at the bottom and at the top the information: "February 15, 1975 -- September 11, 2001.

Three strips of wrinkled tape fasten this to a black metal surface. The photo, I know, was taken somewhere in lower Manhattan at 9:18 on September 11, 2002. The flyer is crisp and the tape fresh so someone must have spent time over the previous days printing the flyer up and sticking it to surfaces around the city. His family? His friends? Certainly one of those groups. Did they do it again on September 11, 2003? I don't know. I wasn't there to look.

What can I know about Simon Dedvukaj? I can know what you can know if you run another Google search. It's an unusual name and you won't get many hits. What I can know is this: "Simon Dedvukaj, 26, Mohegan Lake, N.Y. janitorial, foreman, ABM Industries Confirmed dead, World Trade Center, at/in building "

That's from an early list. One of many put up to track the dead -- "26" "janitorial," "foreman," "confirmed dead," "at/in building.2" There are thousands of other listings just as stark.

It is no wonder we move on from these facts, that we work to heal the wound and erase the scar. These are things too grim to carry. We have to put them down. Unless we know more than the stark facts above. Then we carry them with us. Forever.

I can know more about Simon Dedvukaj, a man whom in his janitor's uniform, would have never been more than another member of that faceless crew of New Yorkers who take the subways in at 4 AM to turn on the city, or take them home after midnight having cleaned up and shut down the city. I would have passed him without seeing him. I still would. So would you. But still I can know a lot more about Simon Dedvukaj. I can know about it from his sister Lisa:

July, 2002
From:Lisa Dedvukaj, submitted: 07/31/2002 5:45:28 PM
Simon is my brother. He worked in the World Trade Center, North Tower 1. He was and still is a great guy. Simon will always be remembered as that thoughtful person who always did good for everyone else and thought of himself last. Simon gave everyone strength and Simon made you smile and laugh like never before. Simon what a man you were. That smile you just couldn't resist it, you had to smile back. Simon I know you are in a better place and I know that you are watching over us. Please be there for us always and guide and comfort us through our needest times. I LOVE YOU!
Your Sister,
September, 2002
From: Lisa Dedvukaj, submitted: 11/13/2002 3:59:23 PM
It's been a while since I wrote in here but I wanted to let you know that I'm still thinking of you.. I can't seem to understand the negativeness that still surrounds us. Simon you are my life and it just hurts me so much to see that you are not here, I want to see you walk through that door again and sometimes I wonder if this was for the best. But I what I do know is that God has you with him and that you and the others are looking out for us and I feel you around me alot and it comforts me to know that you are holding me while I cry for you. I miss you Simon and I will always love you. Please be with us always like you are now, give us the strength and the love that we need. Protect our family and always keep us within your reach..
Last month
From: Lisa V., submitted: 01/11/2004 10:47:44 PM
I haven't written in here in a long time! I miss you so much and life will never be the same.. Reading all these posts here makes me cry, I always cry thinking of how life changed it is and how different we are without you here. I miss you so much.. I love you.
Love your sister,
Just a janitor. Just turned on the city and cleaned it up. "How different we are without you here...."

I called for armor, rose, and did not reel.
But, when I thought, rage at his noble pain
Flew to my head, and turning I could feel
My wound break open wide. Over again
I had to let those storm lit valleys heal.

-- Thom Gunn, "The Wound"

[Written SEPTEMBER 13, 2009]

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 14, 2015 2:36 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Maker Series: Artisanal Firewood

This Is That profiles Smoke & Flame, a Vancouver artisanal firewood company that is selling bundles of kindling for $1000.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 14, 2015 12:47 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Of a Fire in a Field and a Hole in the Sky


At the end of April in 2006 a couple of friends asked me to go with them to see "United 93," but I declined both offers saying I wasn't sure that I needed any reminders other than what I saw in New York on that day. In the end, though, I went to it as I went to the funerals, alone.

When people who were in New York on that day talk about it, it always seems to be focused on the day itself. Nobody talks much about the days and the weeks and the months that came after that day in New York City.

In a way, that's understandable because what happened for days and weeks and months after was pretty much a slowly diminishing repeat of that day. Things got better, got back to the new "normal." The wax from the candled shrines was scraped away, and in time -- quite a long time actually -- even the walls and fences full of fading flyers asking if you had seen one or the other of those we came to call "the missing" were gone.

Most of these ghastly portrait galleries were simply washed away by the snows and rains that followed that autumn day. Some were covered in long sheets of clear plastic duct-taped and sealed.

Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 13, 2015 12:32 AM |  Comments (59)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything."


Robert Lewis Dabney on Conservatism in 1897:

"It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent: Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. . . . Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance: The only practical purpose which it now serves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy, from having nothing to whip. No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position."

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 7, 2015 9:32 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Animal Logic


"Work by New York-based Photographer Richard Barnes has been shown in solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, and the University of Michigan Art Museum. His works can be found in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Hirshhorm Museum and Sculpture Garden. Barnes has lectured extensively, including at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, Parsons School of Art and Design in Manhattan, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He served as adjunct professor/visiting artist at the San Francisco Art Institute and has taught at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

"Barnes was a recipient of the Rome Prize 2005-2006 and his photographs of the cabin of Ted Kaczynski, aka the "Unabomber," were featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and awarded the Alfred Eisenstadt Award for Photography. He was the 2009 recipient of the Sidman Fellow for the Arts from the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan. In 2010 completed a residency from Lightwork/Syracuse University.

"A monograph of his work entitled Animal Logic, published 2009, has received favorable reviews and was included in the American Institute of Graphic Arts juried competition/exhibition 50 books/50 covers in 2010. Projects Exhibitions — Richard Barnes .... or......

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Sep 5, 2015 11:15 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: We Didn't Start the Fire

"Unlike most of Joel's songs, the lyrics were written before the melody, owing to the somewhat unusual style of the song. The song was a huge commercial success and was Joel's third Billboard No. 1 hit. It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

I had turned forty. It was 1989 and I said "Okay, what's happened in my life?" I wrote down the year 1949. Okay, Harry Truman was president. Popular singer of the day, Doris Day. China went Communist. Another popular singer, Johnnie Ray. Big Broadway show, South Pacific. Journalist, Walter Winchell. Athlete, Joe DiMaggio. Then I went on to 1950 [...]. It's one of the worst melodies I've ever written. I kind of like the lyric though -- La Wik

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye

Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen
Maciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dancron
Dien Bien Phu Falls, Rock Around the Clock

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, Bridge On The River Kwai

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkwether, Homicide, Children of Thalidomide
Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, Space Monkey, Mafia
Hula Hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichman, Stranger in a Strange Land
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex
J.F.K. blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and Roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

And now, Billy Joel explains it all.....

Billy Joel - Q&A: Tell Us About "We Didn't Start The Fire"? (Oxford 1994)

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 31, 2015 9:58 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Way to Win" with the Better Angels of Our Nature

Note: Received in email from commenter Fat Man


News got you down? Stock Market crashing? Hillary? The Donald? Fortunately, there is some good news. Sometimes the good guys win. Case in point: this week's story about the three Americans who tackled the Muzzie with the AK on the train in France.

Americans Who Thwarted French Train Attack Were Childhood Friends - WSJ

"The three American men whom French authorities credit with disrupting a potential terror attack on a Paris-bound high-speed train Friday are childhood friends who had all attended California’s Freedom Christian School and often played military games together growing up.
"Airman First Class Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos, and college student Anthony Sadler were tourists trekking through Europe on a planned three-week vacation. They will return home as decorated heroes, following a scheduled visit with French President François Hollande at Élysée Palace, after authorities say they bravely took down a man they say was armed with boxcutters and several guns. ...
“We believe God’s providential will worked its way out,” said Mr. Sadler’s father, Anthony Sadler, a Baptist pastor."

But wait, it gets better.

Look at their pictures.


Three good looking American kids. Two white, one black. Boyhood friends.

What does this have to do with politics? Simple.

Obama is not just wrong about America. He and his hench-creatures are evil. They are trying to tribalize us, so that they can divide us and rule a demoralized and defeated country forever.

This is what we must fight.

The way to win is to not accept tribalization. The way to win is to state that these three young men are what America is really all about.

This needs to be our message: "We are Americans, We are neighbors, We are friends, We are brothers. This is what makes us the exceptional nation. This is what makes us the Last Best Hope of Earth. We will unite and we defeat America's enemies wherever we find them."

#AllLivesMatter. #GodBlessAmerica

"Crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."

The way to win is not to nurture grievances and salve them with unfulfillable promises. The way to win is to call people to be their highest and best selves.

Republican Presidential Candidates: Forget Hillary. Forget the Donald. Forget Obama. The ads, the speeches, write themselves. Appeal to to our highest selves. Draw the contrast with the tactics of tribalism and division. Don't be afraid to be sappy and sentimental.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 25, 2015 9:42 AM |  Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Back to School

Yesterday I heard of a young mother who came downstairs early in the morning to find her fifth-grade son dressed for school but flat on his back in the middle of the living room staring in despair at the ceiling.

MOM: "What on Earth do you think you're doing?"

BOY: "I can't do it. I just can't go to school any more."

We all know how that small strike ended. Management made an offer ("Go to school or else."), and the union of one caved in with a few plaintive "But mom's.... "

I first thought that there was rough justice in that. After all, the thought of actually going on a ten-minute "I-won't-go-to-school" strike never would have entered my ten-year old mind. If it had I would not have heard the dreaded promise, "Wait until your father gets home." No, I would have heard the thermonuclear announcement, "I'm calling your father at work and telling him to come home right now." That one always alerted me that I had only one half-hour to get my affairs in order.

Today, after mulling the lie-down strike a little more, it seems to me there's more than a little to be said on the side of the fifth-grader's strike. After twenty years of schooling and more than thirty on the day shift, those early grades seem -- looked at through society's grubby glasses -- to be an idyllic time. After all, weren't they?

No real worries. No problems with the opposite or the same sex. No goals other than getting to Christmas break, Easter break or the long and endless summer. No money to make. No money, in fact, to speak of at all. All your expenses covered. No taxes. No sense of mortality. In short, the lost and golden land of childhood. We all think of it, once far removed from it, as some distant Edenic idyll.

But if we try and shift our point of view a bit, and if we try to remember all those things the haze of our twice-told childhood fairy-tales hides from us, we might see it -- just a bit and just for an instant -- from the point of view of the fifth-grade boy flat on his back in the living room staring at the ceiling in utter despair.

Here he lays. He's been going to this job of his for as long as he can remember. Unlike my experience which didn't start until kindergarten, today's boy has probably been working in the education industry since age 3.

They started him out on basic blocks and why he shouldn't nail somebody who took his cookie. Those are hard lessons. How to stack something up so it doesn't collapse in a heap at the first shudder in the earth. How to "share" your very limited and very personal resources. Why you don't just whack anyone who irritates you with the nearest blunt object.

These are basic lessons, and we forget how hard they are. Some of us don't learn them at all. Those people are either in prison, assembling bombs, or CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Still, that's your entry level position in the educational-industrial complex at age 3. It's all downhill from there.

For years you get up at an ungodly hour and don't even get a chance to read the paper. Plus, no coffee at all. Not. A. Drop.

You are then pushed out of your home and either driven to your "office-complex" by a cranky chauffeur with complete control over you, or you get to ride with a few dozen of your more-or-less peers with different ideas of hygiene and levels of intelligence in a shaking tin box with no seatbelts, driven by some of the least intelligent members of your community. I'd be a nervous wreck by the time I got to the office, I'll tell you.

Once you do get to the office, your time to just goof off is extremely limited. No leisurely stints by the water cooler for you. No coffee cart with tasty pastries coming by after only an hour. Bladder issue? Raise your hand and get a note. Other than that you are never alone.

You get one break out in the dirt, with, I might add, no coffee. A couple of hours later you get a quick hit of really bad food that is the same this Wednesday as it was last Wednesday. After that, it's back to your office where they don't even have a little cube for you, but slam you together with 15 to 30 other slaves to the clock in a room fit only for 10.

In some huge gesture to your youth, they let your out of this joint at 3 in the afternoon. They tell you it's a "school day," but if you've been up since 7 and out at three, that's a full eight hours in my book.

Oh, and no chatting with your friends. Yes, you, pipe down. If not it's off to the CEO's antechamber for a quick and humiliating performance review. Daily if you don't snap out of it. If you really don't snap out of it, we're calling your father AND your mother to come here from work right now.

Perhaps you get to enjoy the mastery of your skills? Don't make me laugh. Master one thing and boom here comes another.

Comprehend fractions? That was so last week. Now do long division. Made a volcano that blew up on cue last week? Big deal. This week you are going to construct an Algonquin winter lodge diorama from scratch --- and it better have plenty of cotton balls for snow.

One o'clock. Your project for this hour is the basic structure of the cell. Okay, two o'clock, everybody stand up and turn to the person next to them and say, "Hola, como se llama..."

Day in day out, week in week out, year in year out ... you trudge off to this room crammed to the brim with bird's nests, flash cards, trilobites, pilgrim hats, Indian headresses, drawings and paintings in which the proportion of the head to the body is never right, but looks for all the world like an exhibit by demented Fauvists with no drawing skills whatsoever and a very garish color sense. Twice a day, everybody in this room is let out. Is it any wonder they run screaming into the sunshine?

You have no veto whatsoever over your co-workers, your working conditions, your hours, or your choice of when to do what tasks. Everyone does the same tasks at the same time for 55 minutes and then it is on to something new.

Did I mention the fact that you can't quit? If you try to quit they send the Gestapo to your home and track you down and haul you back.

There is, however, judgment. Oh, the judgment. Constantly tested. Constantly graded. Constantly up for criticism with your single allowable plea being, "Guilty. But with an explanation." It's like an annual review every week with no raises, ever.

And nothing, nothing you do, is ever quite good enough, is it? Except for that four-eyes up in the front row who always gets it done perfectly. No mistakes ever. You know, the kid who will be pantsed and then smothered with 30 co-workers backpacks out behind the backstop one rainy afternoon.

By the fifth grade, you've been in this dead end job for about seven years. If you're lucky, your pay has gone from a dollar to ten dollars a week. Get straight A's and you might get a bonus of one day at the local "Magic Kingdom." Then it's, "Okay, break's over. Everybody back on their heads."

I don't know about you, but that sounds like one of the worst jobs in the world. In fact, the more I think about it the more I want to lie down with that kid in the middle of the living room and say, "I just can't do it any more either."

It took me about 30 years to get to that point. I guess I'm not as smart as I was in the fifth grade. In fact, I'm sure of it.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 24, 2015 2:29 AM |  Comments (38)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Armies of the Blight: Men Seeking Work. Anything Accepted. Cash Only. Illegal Not a Problem.


"Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockleshells
And Mexicans working the rows."

Last June I was visiting an old friend in San Rafael, California. He lives the classic Marin county life high on a brindle California hillside. His house is reached by driving the blind curves of one of those thin hill roads. He's got open land and long views next to his house. And a beautiful and extensive garden. A Sunset Magazine garden.

And like most homeowners in Marin, he's got his own personal Mexican as the rich white guy's answer to "How does your garden grow?". Yard work, it's what most of the Mexicans of Marin do. That and construction, and cooking, and cleaning, and any other kind of scut work that brings them cash.

From what I could see, this yard worker gets about $85 a day. Maybe more, maybe less. Maybe for that day only. Maybe for two days a week. Hard to imagine it could be for three. But I have no way of knowing. In Marin it would be the height of political insensitivity to ask, "By the way, how much do you pay your own personal Mexican?"

My pal's personal Mexican doesn't speak much English. Just enough to get by. The home owners treat him with respect and a strange deference, lapsing in a kind of Spanglish in order to talk to him. They ferry their personal Mexican from their house high on the hill to his home -- somewhere in the rambling and beaten down apartment complexes east of the freeway in San Rafael.

It's probably that way for most of the working illegal Mexicans in San Rafael. They are, after all, here to "do the jobs that Americans won't do." or can't do because they are so busy working to pay for all the extras of the current American dream. Including servants.

This personal servant was working on a Friday and did a good job. And then he was taken east of the freeway and dropped off. He'd be back next week. For 85, 170, or maybe, if he was lucky, 250 tax-free bucks. When I ran the web site for the Cosmodemonic Magazine Company back in 2002, I'd clear that drinking a cup of coffee in the morning.

On Saturday I drove from my hotel near the Frank Lloyd Wright Marin Civic Center back up to my friend's home high on the hill. I took the freeway but missed the main exit to San Rafael and had to take the next one. That off-ramp emptied down near the strip of big box stores, right at the edge of Home Depot.

Home Depots are, among other big-box construction hardware stores, the default shape-up spot of pick-up Mexican labor in the US. We all know that. When you need something done you just drive out to the nearest Home Depot, get your materials, and then pick up your emergency Mexicans as you exit. Everybody knows this. Everybody sees this. Everybody does this.

In the now long established day-labor Home Depot areas we even have a permanent place for the ubiquitous taco wagon to set up shop. If local authorities or border control officials really wanted to cut back on illegals, they'd just sweep these areas. But local political institutions and local police -- and all of us too -- seem to have agreed to lay off these zones. We let them be lest America's ready supply of "We do anything for almost any pay" labor be disrupted. It's the shadow realm. It's the black, no-taxes, "If we've got the cash, they've got the backs they'll break for it" economy.

It's how we live now.

When I came off the freeway exit it was about noon on a Saturday. By noon on a Saturday, anybody in Marin who has a project that requires emergency Mexicans has already been to the Home Depot shape-up, chosen the number they need, negotiated what the pay would be, and driven away with them. Those still left have little hope for a job. But they remain because a small hope for half a day's meager pay is better than no hope at all.

The traffic halted at the intersection and I looked ahead and around and in the rear view mirror. Standing there, many of them looking at me and waving their hands to signal their availability, was a small battalion of around 300 out-of-work Mexican males, mostly young. I thought, "Well, they may be here to 'do the jobs Americans won't do,' but there is clearly not enough work."

Then I thought, "What happens to these men if we arrive at a point, in a recession, where there is a lot less work for them in their many millions? What happens when the American dream starts contracting from the edges and the extra cash that allows us to employ them starts to dry up? They won't be counted as 'unemployed' since they were never legally 'employable' in the first place. Where will they go? Back to a Mexico where a recession in the US will breed a depression in that 3rd World country? Unlikely. Their best shot would still be to stay here. But if they did, what would they do? And how many would there really be? And how hungry and desperate would they get?"

This was just one intersection at one exit from the freeway in San Rafael, California 500 miles north of the Mexican border. And there were about 300 temporarily unemployed illegal residents of San Rafael simply standing about. That would be okay for a day, a week, maybe a month. As long as it was only 300 Mexican males. But if a slump in black-market cash employment became longer, spread and deepened throughout the country, and the numbers of our shadow armies of the blight grew, then.... Well, what then?

The cold fact is that we don't know what "what then" would look like. The issue has not surfaced in the present campaign because it cannot surface. The reality of off-setting our indolence with kindness and cash is too frightening to think about when the extra cash runs dry; when Americans will again do any job just to have a job and woe betide any non-American who seeks to take that job away.

Perhaps we'll discover that we'll have to pay a very large bill for our indolence. And that the bill will not be paid with cash. It will be paid, not for the first time, with the last thing we want to see - the Army in our cities. I don't think we are prepared for that. I don't think we want to find out. I pray we never have to.

But it's how we live now.

[First published October 2008. Look how far we've come.]

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 20, 2015 4:58 AM |  Comments (47)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The John Feathers Map Collection

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 17, 2015 1:11 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Obamavilles: Coming Soon to Suburbs Coast to Coast

Remember "ObamaPhone"? Of course you do.


Remember "Cash for Clunkers"? Of course you do.


Remember "Cash for Clunkers" meets "ObamaCare"? Of course you do.


Well, now it's "Cash for Clunkers" meets Dumpsters...


For a brand new lifestyle; for a brand new way of living! Housing for all. View optional.


Here's how the magic happens via this Oakland "artiste:"

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 14, 2015 10:13 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Hey Republicans, Maybe We Should Consider Electing Someone With Integrity"

As proposed by Semper spes est:

I believe that Dr. Carson is a good man. I can’t really know for sure, but based on everything I’ve seen, including the fact that he’s been married to the same woman for 40 years, and the fact that he hasn’t flip flopped on every imaginable issue, and the fact that he’s the only guy in the field who’s literally saved the lives of countless people, especially children, I have arrived at the rather safe theory that Ben Carson is a man of character and integrity.

For some reason, we don’t talk about character and integrity when discussing our presidential picks. Maybe it’s because we just assume they’re all scumbags, but I think it’s more that we, as a culture, have grown quite shallow and childish in recent years. I’m sure this isn’t a new phenomenon, but it’s evident that most Americans vote entirely based on which man or woman repeats their own views back to them the loudest. We call this “voting on the issues,” but we forget that we’re not voting for some abstract, disembodied collection of opinions. We are voting for a human being. And all of those opinions are meaningless if the human being articulating them is, despite his ability to soothe you with the sound of your own ideas, actually a lying, cheating, conniving, degenerate phony.

I think we ought to start considering a person’s character as we contemplate making them the most powerful mortal creature in the known universe. If they have no character, then all of their words are guaranteed to lead to nothing but more tyranny and despair. It would take, at this point, an exceptionally virtuous person to inherit the vast powers of the modern presidency and not be morally destroyed by them. But if the person is already corrupt and comprised going in, we’re screwed. There’s no chance of anything good coming of it.

So, character. I like Dr. Carson because he has character. I think Ted Cruz is the best choice — he has integrity, the conservative bona fides, a command of the issues, and a great chance at winning — but I like having Carson on that stage.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 7, 2015 5:28 PM |  Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Zombie Man in Shoppingland


Gazing out the window on a February Saturday deep in the winter of our discontent. Overcast, cold, rainy-- then....

SUNBREAK! Quick! Get dressed!...

Too late... rain ... as per usual in Seattle. If any city could use "climate change" right now, it's Seattle. Indeed, if you listen to the Orwellian bleaters that infest this city the current Seattle catechism for the "climate change" religion is the catch phrase, "Colder is warmer."

Seattle on a February Saturday. Boring.

So, because I am an American, I took refuge in the American mantra, "When the going gets boring, the bored go shopping."

Shopping, our shared cultural catatonia. ....

Just say shop!.... Just do it!.... Get out there and, buy, BUY.... something you don't need. Then buy some accessories for it. You'll need those to make the thing you don't need work like you don’t need it to.
....Then you haul the unneeded crap back home and add to the other crap you don't need. Finding what we don't need and piling it up is what we do, I guess. Like many others I can resist it in my normal state, but not, I find, when I'm bored. You have a similar problem.

Result? I found myself driving in a fugue state through the used-to-be-industrial maze of south Seattle in the rain. I'd been to where I was going once before and was trying, like a half-blind man with a short white stick, to triangulate my way by driving the highways and flyovers that shoot along the fringes of this once muscular, once thriving industrial district. Now the glazed green alien gaze of the Starbucks queen looks down on it from Starbucks Galactic Headquarters as the aliens within plot how they can possibly put a Mini-Me-Starbucks into your bedroom closet.

And the big box stores grow all around and around, and the big box grows all around....

For some strange reason, the destination that formed in my mind for this shopping excursion was "CostCo." A vague mention of a friend about the "great deals on small televisions" put it in my mind like a BuyMe earworm. This small mental disorder was even stranger since the last thing I need in my life is another, smaller television. On second thought, the absence of a real need was probably why I really wanted one. In America, as noted above, if you don't need it, you gotta have it.

After a few blind alleyways and false turns I pulled into the CostCo parking lot. If I hadn't been in a Internet-overload hypnotic state this move alone would have immediately struck me as a bad idea. The sign certain? Cars shadowing shoppers slowly back to wherever they happen to be parked. Pick the wrong shopper flock and you can find yourself far, far away from the store entrance observing a spontaneous tailgate party featuring cold burritos. I got lucky and, shadowing a gaggle of shoppers, found a slot near the entrance. It was the end of my luck.

Like Rick who came to Casablanca for the waters, I'd joined CostCo for the tires. It makes a certain amount of sense since the savings on these plebeian but necessary items can be substantial. Since buying the tires, I hadn't been back and hadn't been exposed to the red kryptonite in the main cavern. Grabbing an abandoned cart, I entered the cavern of CostCo, flashing my card to the autonod of the otherwise unemployable person at the entrance.

Remember the haunting Cooleridge poem "Kubla Khan" that he wrote on the downside of an opium jag?

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Well forget it. Except for "caverns measureless" and the opiate effect, Costco's nothing like that.

I don't know why Wal-Mart is taking all the heat for box-store degradation of truth, justice and the American Way of Really Rich Americans. A brief tour of Costco reveals it is a much cheesier organization with the exploitation of the aged, the infirm, the alien, and the disabled more obviously on display. But who knows why some companies become fashionable to disparage while others get a semi-pass? It probably has to do with the jerking knee that says either, "Biggest is baddest," or "The deepest pocket is the easiest to pick." It may also have something to do with Costco's founder jamming his overflowing sewer pipe from his money bin deep into the gaping orifices at the eternal Obama campaign..... but I digress.

The Wal-Mart stores that I've been in have the charm of a Swiss village compared to the Gulag atmosphere of CostCo. Oh, Costco has a look. The look is as if the Costco "Decor" vice president decreed, ”Hey, just pour a slab of concrete, drop bunches of crap here and there on the grid, and be done with it. Huh? Oh, okay slap up some industrial shelves so the bodegas of the world can find their salsa stock. And bolt some airport landing lights on the ceiling so you need to put on sunscreen before entering. Just light that sucker up so that nobody can smuggle a buttload of pretzels out the door.”

It is also evident to a single person in CostCo -- in about two nanoseconds -- that he or she needs to rent a family of 12 illegal aliens to get any real value out of the place. I mean, I like pickle relish on hot dogs just fine, but a two gallon container is probably enough that I can pass some on to my heirs even if I live another twenty years.

But all this carping arises from, as Wordsworth decreed, "Emotion recollected in tranquility." The truth is that the moment I entered the measureless cavern of Costco my brain was colonized by its Conquistaconsumadoros and I was plunged into a fugue state.

I glanced at the recommended "small televisions" and rapidly lost interest. Still, my reptile consumer brain said, "You've come all this way and the bargains abound around you. You have to get something. Shop, shop, shop, my precious.... your eyelids are getting heavy, your wallet is getting light..... shop.... shop....."

In this brain-wiped state I rolled my cart about the wasteland eating this or that small bite of a food sample offered by one person or another for whom English was neither the first, second, nor third language. All the samples were, as I imagine most of the food "bargains" were, markedly mediocre. It was as if Costco had decided to make all the food previously "Not Available in Stores" available in their stores. The idea here is that if you take a bite of "Hoosegow Chili" you incur an obligation to by a large vat of the stuff. What you can do with a vat of Hoosegow Chili, I don't know. Maybe open up a scrotum vulcanization stand on a dark desert highway.

At some point in my trance I must have put things in my cart although I kept wandering away and losing it, and then spending five minutes finding it again. I remember noticing, in some vague way, that the crowd and their gigantic carts was growing denser and denser as the minutes ticked away, but I did not yet understand the deeper more horrible meaning of the hordes on this particular Saturday.

Then, just as my degradation deepened, I was saved. Saved by the bell. My cell-phone rang.... loudly and vibrating at the same time. (Hard to ignore the vibrating ring in your pants.) I answered it. It was a fellow Pajamaista (who assumes that I am always in front of the screen) about a detail on the home page. He was startled when I told him I wasn't in front of the computer and could only mumble, "I... must... shop... must... shop... must.”

He said, “Man, you’re in Costco on this Saturday? Are you crazy? Flee. FLEE!”

He hung up and I found that, suddenly, I'd been slapped back into reality. And it was grim.

The horror. The horror. I realized that I had, in my fugue state, placed myself in the back of a gigantic box-store with minor in big screen TVs and a major in massive portions of food on the Saturday before the Superbowl.

Such a deep ring of hell is not where you want to be unless you have a burning-down football habit, which I do not. I barely know that the football, baseball, or basketball season is on; except for the fact that the basketball season is pretty much always on. (That's the running, jumping, hanging on goalposts, very tan tall-guys game, right?)

Still, there I was, blind and gulping like a cave fish in the deepest depths of the Costco caverns, the part back by the topless temple of toilet paper, 24 hours before kick-off, and around me countless hordes were preparing to feed even larger hordes.

I shoved my way through the cartlock around the beer and hot dogs to the center aisle where I could see, barely, the front of the store. In one horrified glance I saw that the Superbowlers were clogging the register lanes to a depth of about 500 fathoms. A quick consultation of my check-out line algorithm determined that if I joined the line at that very moment with my cart I might reach the parking lot with my crap around the end of the second Obama administration.

This is the kind of blood-simple shopping moment that makes grown men ask, "How bad do you want the stuff you've got?"

Hard to answer since, frankly, I wasn't sure exactly what I'd put in the cart in the first place. A glance down into the cart let me see my shame. It seems that in my shopping daze I'd decided I needed, out of everything on offer in Costco, two large Orchid plants and eight low-energy light bulbs. I have no idea why I put them in. Perhaps because the orchid plants made it easy to spot the cart in order to put nothing else in it.

Two orchid plants and eight light bulbs in a cart at the back of Costco equals one abandoned shopping cart, and me back in the car and heading to the nearest south Seattle dive bar in order to clear my mind.

But first I called my colleague back to thank him for snapping me out of it.

As I left the parking lot I had to drive carefully between the endless hordes pushing large carts filled with mountains of mediocre food and very large television screens. There would be a lot of cooking and assembly and swearing far into the night in Seattle. I wished them well.

Now I'm back online and much more interested in what's going on today. It's so calm here. Just me and you... and you're pretty quiet.

Soon the Superbowl kickoff will roll around and everyone who went to Costco and all the other stores yesterday will be at home for hours this afternoon. The only thing more boring than the much-touted and now utterly predictable ads will be the game itself.

Want to go shopping? I know where you can get a great deal on orchids and light bulbs this afternoon. Best of all, there'll be nobody there.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 6, 2015 11:54 PM |  Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Never Forget: "The World is a Business"

Arthur Jensen:
I started as a salesman, Mr. Beale.
I sold sewing machines and automobile
parts, hair brushes and electronic
equipment. They say I can sell
anything. I'd like to try and sell
something to you --

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 5, 2015 7:51 PM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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.


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.

We can see the chaos ruining the photographer’s carefully composed moment with a splash soaking those nearest and plastering down the hair of a man who was probably balder than he would like to be


We can see the young girl not entirely pleased with being drenched from the security of her father’s shoulder.


We can see those who are not particularly interested in being recorded on film for another century they would never know and gaze at something, at what?, that is just beyond the frame.


We can see one person who is concerned enough about the sun to carry a parasol with her out beyond the group until she is shoulder deep in the Atlantic and looking off at the horizon or contemplating the spatter of sunlight off the rollers.


Closer in towards shore we can see two sweethearts looking at each other and liking what they see in each others eyes.


Closer still we can see at least one who has not disappointed the photographer and is determined to present a smiling face to the ages.


We can see those who, in their frumpy and modest bathing suits, hold hands as the water deepens.


We can see those who smile and clasp each other ignoring the rout and the riot of water and waves around them.


In the middle of the splash we can see the young man, full of life and ready for anything, held up high by his father, shouting out and waving down the years as if to say hello from a great summer day in 1910.


Out beyond the bathers two men in a boat row past. Heading south. Perhaps for exercise. Perhaps as guards that would scoop up and return to life any bathers who had been swept too far from shore.


And then, finally, at the extreme right side of the frame we see two hands; the hands of a man moving towards the splash and the picture, but now caught forever just outside the frame; just a second too late to find himself forever frozen in this moment that I can see now, a hundred and one Augusts later. One step quicker and he would have been there. But at least his hands made it.


Maybe that’s enough. It’s August again in America. Maybe not the happiest August in our history, but it's been a hard century. We owe ourselves at least one more day at the beach.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 31, 2015 2:12 AM |  Comments (31)  | QuickLink: Permalink
America: In our spare time we went to the moon to expand our rock collection.

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC.

Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC. Armstrong spent about two and a half hours outside the spacecraft, Aldrin slightly less, and together they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material for return to Earth.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jul 20, 2015 11:58 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Abortion in America: A Personal Journey

Four and a half months

Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Pick up on one and leave the other behind.
It's not often easy and not often kind.
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

-- The Loving Spoonful

No Answers Here. Just Observations and Anecdotes

Like most serious people in America today, I've had to struggle with my views on abortion. You are required, in this deadlocked and soul-locked society to have a view on this issue. "I don't know" just wont cut it. You've got to know. It says so right here in America: The Instructions.

But what do I know about Abortion? Here's what I thought I knew then and what I think I know now. Why today? Because I read the news today (Oh boy). And the news is only too happy to tell me that January 22, 2009, is the 36th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that released the crushing Abortion juggernaut to roll over the soul of America.

Abortion is, as we all know, one of the 25 or 30 third rails of American politics. So what? A President must prove to the American people that, from time to time, he can reach out and touch a few of these rails with both hands. This can be, as I am sure George W. Bush discovered and Barack Obama will find, a shocking experience, but I wouldn't want a man as President who couldn't do it.

Like it or not the issue of abortion is one of those rails. Bush grasped it to his cost and benefit, but it is clear he did so out of personal conviction and not political expediency. Whether or not you like his choice depends on your choice. But grasp it he did. I'm pretty clear where he stood on abortion. Obama is on record, where record there is, of being pro-abortion, even in its most odious forms. But it seems that Obama is more a man of expediency than conviction and such men are always malleable. Decisions from Obama, always have the whiff of Prufrockian diffidence about them:
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

This Prufrockian posture in civic life clothed in the skin and expressions of some smooth operator is one of the main reasons Obama has been able to feed his legions -- so far-- on the thin political gruel of "hope." Now that he has entered the realm of his every syllable being recorded and his every move being examined like auguries, his long stroll on the beach is over. He is now expected to serve up the bitter and chafing gall of "change" and convince his legions it tastes of ambrosia. Somewhere on the list of ingredients in this dish is "abortion."

The Vexation and the Fear. The Abstract Issue and the Real Child

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 15, 2015 10:06 PM |  Comments (85)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Hello, Suckers!" The Left vs The Nice


It's Stockholm Syndrome. The "nice" people war-game what resistance to The Left would mean, conclude they wouldn't like what might happen, so they sit down and wait for magic or someone else to stop the decline. The Left hasn't just taken over the country, we've fled the battlefield AND given them our minds as well. Their media is unwatched, yet we multiply it's reach by studiously monitoring every second of it, and trumpeting it to our side.

"The Left demands X, and we invent some rule that happens to mean in this case X might be the outcome.

"There is no rule, there never was a rule. The Left makes demands and we just surrender and mask that surrender with some self-invented rule. No matter how many times we "discover" the rule must not be what we thought, because that would dictate Y, we still keep referring to some rule that ought to bind The Left.

"The Left isn't advancing any rule or bound by any rule, other than They Win.

"We argue about rules, extrapolate the rule into the future, see future bad consequences from the rule, and think we've done something.

"The Left is personally and deliberately gunning for you. You won't find a place to hide, you won't be left alone. You won't moderate your views until they don't think you are a threat. You are a threat simply by being here and no amount of fairness, preemptive explanations about peace, love, and understanding will spare you the treatment they give to their worst opponents.

"The people The Left have targeted in the past weren't targeted because of some excess measure of opposition to Leftism, but because of ANY opposition to Leftism.

"The Lukewarm Republicans, in D.C. and in Mayberry, are helping The Left destroy this country and as long as you believe you or someone else can stop The Left with clever tactics in moderate ways you are giving aid and comfort to those that surrender to every fight with The Left.

"You will get no credit for being the first or last to rush to condemn some Republican politician.

"You will get no credit for being the first or last person to have an opinion on the Confederate flag.

"You will get no credit for welcoming or blocking illegals inside the country.

"If you are 1% less Leftist than Party Secretary Obama, you will be treated as if you were Party Secretary Obama's sworn mortal enemy.

"You are/will be targeted by The Left no matter what so you might as well fight back and take some of them out before you're gone.

"Being "the last Jew to understand where the cattle cars are headed" isn't something to be proud about."

Posted by tscottme on "The primary problem with the post-American populace"

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jul 8, 2015 6:34 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The greatest national shame of the post-9/11 wars."


"Previous generations of combat vets did not have a federal government propping up the "caring" professions trying to convince every vet that s/he is a victim rather than warrior conqueror. Previous administrations did not tell vets that they were mentally damaged from their service, suspect of conduct and classified as actual threats to the domestic US as potential domestic terrorists.

"My father in law saw heavy, heavy combat against the Japanese in WW2, having stepped onto gun-swept beaches eight (count 'em, 8!) times and fighting through the subsequent campaigns, including the lengthy Philippines campaign. He had buddies die in his arms and was attacked more than once by enemy aircraft (an experience not one present-day soldier or Marine has endured).

"Did he come down with PTSD? You bet your sweet ass he did. After I married his daughter and we visited, I would be awakened almost every night by his nightmare moans. That was 40 years later, and I heard them for years afterward, too.

"And what did Col. S. do the next morning? He got up early, ate breakfast, showered, got dressed and went to work to support his family. Every day for 50-plus years. He joined the Lions Club and more, went to church and served on the planning commission of his large-city home town.

"He did, dinosaur that he was what REAL MEN DO, and never regretted what he endured. It was, as he told me, "what we had to do, and when we had done it, we came home and got on with life."

"What he and his hero-comrades did not do was come home to a government and a society that treated them like ticking time bombs, as objects of pity and, frankly, scorn, as permanent wards of the state, or as mentally delicate infants whose sanity could be shattered by a string of firecrackers on the 4th of July.`

"They were, and their country was, in a word, made of tougher and sterner stuff than we are today.

"Reader, are you offended by my words? Well screw you. I am a retired Army combat officer. My son fought in Iraq in the Marine Corps as an AAV crewman.

"In battle, our men and women fighters are as tough as any generation ever had. But we ruin them when we bring them home. And I think it is on purpose. That is the greatest national shame of the post-9/11 wars."

Posted by: in The Top 40: After careful consideration, I can only conclude that these signs are pathetic, self-defeating crap.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jul 7, 2015 9:00 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: "Let's build a happy little tree. Let's build a happy little cloud."

Bob Ross Remixed.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jul 7, 2015 12:06 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Fuck You. Pay Me."

Government said, You run the joint. Maybe I'll try to help you.

And the chumps agreed, God bless you, Government. You've always been fair with me.

Now the chumps have got the Government as a partner. Any problems, they goes to the Government. Trouble with a bill, to the Government. Trouble with jobs, liquidity, healthcare, they calls the Government.

But now the chumps have to pay the Government... every week no matter what.

"Business bad? Fuck you, pay me."

"Had a fire? Fuck you, pay me."

"The place got hit by lightning? Fuck you, pay me."

Also, now the Government could do anything. Like run up bills on the joint's credit. And why not? Nobody will pay for it anyway.

Take deliveries at the front door and sell it out the back at a discount.

Take a case of booze and sell it.

It doesn't matter. It's all profit.

Then finally, when there's nothing left... when you can't borrow another buck from the Chinese... you bust the joint out.

You light a match.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jul 6, 2015 10:32 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
And can become again what it always was....

Hillsdale College's choir sings "America the Beautiful"
James A. Holleman, Music Director | Debra Wyse, Accompanist/Assistant Conductor

America the Beautiful
By Katharine Lee Bates, 1913

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

Arranged by Frank La Rocca

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jul 4, 2015 1:02 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How Beautiful We Were


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]

Posted by Van der Leun at Jul 3, 2015 2:41 AM |  Comments (85)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The 8 Stages of Scam

Summed up in RIP: The great cholesterol scam (1955 - 2015) by Barrel Strength

What I have to say here reflects upon the course of this great fallacy. The cholesterol scam bears a strong relationship to the anthropogenic global warming scam.

1) it is propagated by scientists on a non-scientific mission.

2) it is believed because it plausibly explains an observation (increasing global temperature [for a time], increasing heart attacks from smoking in the 1950s and 60s). It taps into large anxieties about too much wealth, too much happiness, in western societies. There must be sin somewhere, and the public is ready to flog itself in the cause of a secularized idea of God, uh, I mean Good.

3) the causal relationship is weaker than first supposed; the research is found to be sloppy, the facts have been fudged, subsequent studies do not fully support the original claims, nevertheless the orthodoxy is promulgated all the more harshly for being doubted.

4) by now, powerful economic and ideological interests have taken hold. They supply an ongoing source of funds and opinion to ensure the perpetuation of the alarm: in the case of cholesterol, the margarine industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical establishment, and in the case of AGW, the tribe of bureaucrats and leftists who seek to control markets, whose god of Marxism had failed, and who needed a new god (Gaia) to justify their rule.

5) The skeptics who have patiently argued on the basis of facts that the science of each phenomenon was weak, are ostracized by the opinion establishments of medicine and global warming. Cranks, but the cranks are right and the orthodox priests and Levites are wrong.

6) Eventually, after fifty or sixty years, the subject of discussion just changes. In the case of cholesterol, the evidence gets weaker and weaker, and the problems caused by too much sugar consumption (obesity, diabetes), caused in part by people not eating enough fats and meats, reaches a stage where it can no longer be ignored.

7) the retreat of the orthodoxy is covered by a smokescreen of fresh concerns for some other catastrophe. No admissions of error or apologies for wrecked careers and following bad science are ever issued. Time flows on, bringing neither knowledge nor greater understanding of the role of folly in human affairs.

8) stages 6 and 7 have been reached in the cholesterol cycle; they are beginning in the anthropogenic global warming scam. Fifty years from now, there will still be clanking windmills in the North Sea, but whether they will be still linked to a power grid is less likely, and whether anyone will pay attention is doubtful. The lobbies that keep them there, however, will still exist.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 27, 2015 1:26 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ebony and Ivory

"Sergeant A.M. Chandler of the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, Co. F., and Silas Chandler, family slave, with Bowie knives, revolvers, pepper-box, shotgun, and canteen." Handwritten label on back of frame: "Andrew Martin Chandler, born 1844, died 1920. Servant Silas Chandler. 44th Mississippi Regiment, Col. A.K. Blyth. Wounded in battle of Chickamauga."

In 1861, A.M. Chandler enlisted in the Palo Alto Confederates, which became part of the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. His mother, Louisa Gardner Chandler, sent Silas, one of her 36 slaves, with him. On Sept. 20, 1863, the 44th Mississippi was engaged in the Battle of Chickamauga, where Chandler was wounded in his leg. A battlefield surgeon decided to amputate but, according to the Chandler family, Silas accompanied him home to Mississippi where the limb was saved. His master's combat service ended as a result of the wound but Silas returned to the war in January 1864 when A.M.'s younger brother, Benjamin, enlisted in the 9th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment. (See also: A Slave's Service in the Confederate Army.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 22, 2015 7:38 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Home Before Dark

By Daisy Luther| As found at | The Organic Prepper

Raise your hand if you survived a childhood in the 60s, 70s, and 80s that included one or more of the following, frowned-upon activities (raise both hands if you bear a scar proving your daredevil participation in these dare-devilish events):

  1. Riding in the back of an open pick-up truck with a bunch of other kids

  2. Leaving the house after breakfast and not returning until the streetlights came on, at which point, you raced home, ASAP so you didn’t get in trouble

  3. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the school cafeteria

  4. Riding your bike without a helmet

  5. Riding your bike with a buddy on the handlebars, and neither of you wearing helmets

  6. Drinking water from the hose in the yard

  7. Swimming in creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes (or what they now call *cough* “wild swimming“)

  8. Climbing trees (One park cut the lower branches from a tree on the playground in case some stalwart child dared to climb them)

  9. Having snowball fights (and accidentally hitting someone you shouldn’t)

  10. Sledding without enough protective equipment to play a game in the NFL

  11. Carrying a pocket knife to school (or having a fishing tackle box with sharp things on school property)

  12. Camping

  13. Throwing rocks at snakes in the river

  14. Playing politically incorrect games like Cowboys and Indians

  15. Playing Cops and Robbers with *gasp* toy guns

  16. Pretending to shoot each other with sticks we imagined were guns

  17. Shooting an actual gun or a bow (with *gasp* sharp arrows) at a can on a log, accompanied by our parents who gave us pointers to improve our aim. Heck, there was even a marksmanship club at my high school

  18. Saying the words “gun” or “bang” or “pow pow” (there actually a freakin’ CODE about “playing with invisible guns”)

  19. Working for your pocket money well before your teen years

  20. Taking that money to the store and buying as much penny candy as you could afford, then eating it in one sitting

  21. Eating pop rocks candy and drinking soda, just to prove we were exempt from that urban legend that said our stomachs would explode

  22. Getting so dirty that your mom washed you off with the hose in the yard before letting you come into the house to have a shower

  23. Writing lines for being a jerk at school, either on the board or on paper

  24. Playing “dangerous” games like dodgeball, kickball, tag, whiffle ball, and red rover (The Health Department of New York issued a warning about the “significant risk of injury” from these games)

  25. Walking to school alone

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 18, 2015 12:04 PM |  Comments (47)  | QuickLink: Permalink
D-Day, June 6: "You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade...."


On the evening of June 5th, 1944, just hours prior to the D-day landings in Normandy, copies of the letter seen below - Eisenhower's Order of the Day - were distributed to members of the allied forces.




Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! ....

More at Letters of Note

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 5, 2015 6:08 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Spirit of Party" ... is itself a frightful despotism.


I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations.

Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. - - Washington's Farewell Address

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 2, 2015 9:07 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
We will be flying today at an altitude of twenty feet.

Airplane Home - Boeing 727 from Even Quach on Vimeo.

And he's not alone....

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 1, 2015 9:53 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Quote of the Month & Starting to Show Up Everywhere


“A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation – the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.”

- G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News of July 9, 1921

Via [The Anchoress: 85 Years Ago, Chesterton nailed the Boomers]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 25, 2015 9:01 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In my town this is one of the ways they celebrate Memorial Day

Every Memorial Day (and many other patriotic holidays) Paradise California puts out the Parade of Flags all along the main street through town.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 23, 2015 1:12 PM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Apology Plan Is Taking Hold with the Tour for Jurassic World

Now (2015)


Then (2006)


Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 23, 2015 11:36 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Small Flags

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Originally published Memorial Day, 2007]

Posted by Vanderleun at May 22, 2015 12:35 PM |  Comments (66)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "Sympathy for the Devil"

Sympathy for the Devil in all its variations represents the Boomers acme and epitaph.

I last saw the Stones perform this at Altamont, where it was accompanied by pool cue bludgeoning and a lethal stabbing. I sort of last my taste for it after that concert, but I check in on variations from the Stones' endless tours from time to time.

More and more the penultimate line,

"Just as every cop is a criminal /
And all the sinners saints"

seems to be prophetic of this Baltimore spring.

This particular performance is from 2006.

Lately it occurs to me that the most frightening thought is that the Rolling Stones might just outlive all of the rest of us.

Please allow me to introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste
I've been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man's soul to waste

And I was 'round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 13, 2015 3:11 PM |  Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"No way to delay / That trouble comin' every day:" Scenes from Ye Olde Long Hot Summer

Hey kids, ever been in a city when the army comes in? I've been in two of them. It's not pretty. You won't like it. You won't like the "leaders and their lapdog media" that made it happen.

Well, you can cool it,
You can heat it . . .
'Cause, baby, I don't need it . . .
Take your TV tube and eat it
'N all that phony stuff on sports
'N all the unconfirmed reports
You know I watched that rotten box
Until my head begin to hurt
From checkin' out the way
The newsman say they get the dirt
Before the guys on channel so-and-so

And further they assert
That any show they'll interrupt
To bring you news if it comes up
They say that if the place blows up
They will be the first to tell,
Because the boys they got downtown
Are workin' hard and doin' swell,
And if anybody gets the news
Before it hits the street,
They say that no one blabs it faster
Their coverage can't be beat

And if another woman driver
Gets machine-gunned from her seat
They'll send some joker with a brownie
And you'll see it all complete

So I'm watchin' and I'm waitin'
Hopin' for the best
Even think I'll go to prayin'
Every time I hear 'em sayin'
That there's no way to delay
That trouble comin' every day
No way to delay
That trouble comin' every day

-- Frank Zappa

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 2, 2015 9:46 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Leo the Lion's Plane is Missing


In order to raise publicity for their productions, MGM toured Jackie — billed as "Leo the MGM Flying Lion" — across the U.S.


For one publicity stunt in September 1927, the studio modified a Ryan Brougham plane (similar in design to the "Spirit of St Louis" but with a shorter wingspan) with tanks for milk, water and extra fuel, with a cage incorporated in the body to house Jackie.


Five hours into the flight from San Diego to New York, after a takeoff covered by extensive media, the plane crashedin the Arizona desert. The pilot, Martin Jenson, left Jackie in the cage with the supply of milk, water and sandwiches before he went for help. After four days, Martin was found and taken to a telephone. He called MGM. Their first question was "How's the lion?"


Jackie was rescued unharmed and earned the nickname "Leo the Lucky." He retired to Philadelphia Zoo in 1931 and died after heart problems in 1935.

-- Mashable Retronaut

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Apr 25, 2015 7:48 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sick Birch
Speaking of "Earth Day, this is the tale of a tree from Summer 2007: ""Like other things in this city, this country, and this era, "the solution" to "the problem" is not exactly crisp and effective, but it sounds nice and feels good."

asickbirch.jpgIn mid-July the tree in my front yard is losing its leaves. It's a weeping birch some fifty feet high. It doesn't so much shade the house as stand guardian to it. On its trunk the black and white patches have merged together and long ebony tendrils of branches dangle down festooned with dark forest-green leaves like emerald fireworks frozen above the lawn.

The shade pool from the tree covers my neighbor's yard to the north. He sits under it on his lawn on hot days. He's a quiet neighbor and a nice man. Speaks two languages and has a few political ideas which are a bit too socialist for my taste, but it's Seattle and he doesn't push them too hard so we live in harmony. He has a nice little house and spends a lot of time keeping it tidy.

The shade from my tree doesn't quite reach my neighbor to the south who admires it much more than I admire his fence, which is old and full of holes. Often time's he's told me how he wishes he could lounge in the shade, but he'd have to move his chair onto my lawn to do so. He's hinting about permisson. I suppose I could issue an open invitation for him to enjoy my shade, but given the way he keeps up his house and his fence I fear he'd soon be camped out on my lawn with a lot of friends and family. His whole operation is one step away from old appliances and rusted cars as lawn decorations. Then again I don't like cutting my lawn or weeding my garden, so maybe if I let him hang out under the tree he'll do the job that I won't do.

The tree began to shed leaves in early June. Just a few fell at first. A couple here and a some more there. I enjoyed their chance patterns on the grass and the flower beds. They were small and tan and had an almost Zen effect when seen among the blossoms; little bits of punctuation, small notes of color. The tree had so many leaves that the few that fell didn't diminish it. I didn't notice any thinning and I certainly didn't think the tree was ill. After all, it was a large tree and it had sheltered the house for a long time. The trunk was thick and strong. It's roots ran deep into the soil. It had been there longer than the house.

I went away for some weeks in June and into July and when I returned my lawn looked as if it was not high summer but late autumn. The grass was covered with small tan leaves, and even though the tree above was still thick with dark green leaves it was obvious that something was amiss. It was even more obvious when you walked on the lawn and came away with clots of leaves stuck to the bottom of your shoes.

I took my ladder from the garage and set it against the trunk. I climbed up to where the branches dangled down and looked closely at the leaves. They were dark green as always but had an unhealthy sheen to them as if they had become overheated and begun to sweat. Touching them left a sticky, unpleasant residue on my hands.

I looked more closely at the trunk and saw a host of small black bugs on the surface of the white bark and even more against the black patches. There didn't seem to be any of those bugs on the leaves that I could reach, but all those leaves were coated with the same tacky sheen. It had the consistency of the adhesive side of Scotch tape.

I'm no arborist. I didn't know what was making my tree sick but it was not thriving. Fortunately Seattle is a city where more inhabitants worship trees than worship God. I put a few twigs and leaves in one Ziploc bag and some of the black bugs in another and drove off to a nearby plant cathedral to ask one of their many priests.

He looked at the bags, ran his fingers over the outside, and didn't even bother to open them. "Aphids. Lots and lots of aphids. And since aphids are born pregnant you're going to have a lot more."

I looked closely at the bags. Very closely. I'd noticed a plant in the back yard that had been stricken with aphids in early June. Those had been thick colonies of lice sized insects. I carpet-bombed them with insecticide from an altitude of eight feet. They never knew what hit them. But I couldn't see any aphids inside the bag, just sticky leaves. "There's no bugs in there," I remarked to the priest of plants.

"Nope. The bugs are higher up in the tree. This is honeydew coating the leaves. A lot of honeydew. And that means a lot of bugs."

My far-too-literary mind immediately delivered the closing lines of Coleridge's "Kubla Kahn,"
"For he on honeydew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise."

I'd always thought those lines very evocative and alluring. "Honeydew?" I asked.

"It's what the bugs excrete after they suck out the sap from the tree," he said.

Score one more metaphor forever ruined.

"What do I do to stop it?"

"You have to get it sprayed or injected. Probably both. Spray and inject is probably best. That's what we do here. I'll give you the number of an eco-friendly tree care company. No toxins... biodegradable sprays... all that jazz."

"Is that the best way?" I asked and gave him a straight look.

He glanced about him to check that we were alone at the tree altar in the plant cathedral. "Not really," he said in a confidential tone, "but that's all the company allows me to recommend. Otherwise we'd have a picket line of eco-nuts in front of the parking lot in a twinkling and that would be very bad for business. You want anything stronger, stuff that will really get the job done, get out your phone book and... call around."

I felt like we were two guys whispering on a street corner about where to score "the hard stuff." I thanked him for the information, took the eco-friendly number, and left.

Back home I stood in the yard and gazed up at my sheltering tree. Then I raked the yard and hosed off the walkway. It took a long time since all the leaves were coated with the crap of "aphid honeydew" and stuck to the grass and the pavement. Nature's Super-Glue.

As I was finishing my neighbor from the south came out and strolled through the hole in his fence and across the lawn to where I was working. It was a hot day and he held an iced Corona. (He favors that brand but never offers me one, just kind of toasts me from his porch. If he wasn't obviously Norwegian I'd expect him to say, "Hola mano. Que tal?")

"What's up with your tree?" he asked. "Those leaves are falling all over my yard and they're a mess."

I told him the tree was sick. "There's an infestation of aphids high up in the crown sucking the sap out of the tree and dripping their crap all over anything below."

"Heh, sounds like a Bush/Cheny disease and that's always bad," he offered, leaning against his part of the fence that still stood while watching me rake and clean. (Nearly everybody in Seattle's Queen Anne is a Democrat and assumes you are as well -- it's an "innocent until stated guilty" place.)

"It is bad. I'll have to get an arborist in to spray it and inject it."

"Whoa. Be sure and tell me when that happens so I can close my windows. And be sure to use those companies that don't use toxins. They'll cost you more but you don't want to risk real poisons."

As usual my neighbor was more than happy to suggest any solution at all to my infestation problem that involved extra hassle and me reaching for my wallet.

"I'll let you know," I said. "I'll let you know."

I've made the calls and I've tried to be a good citizen. I got the arborist from "In Harmony" tree service to come by. She said it will take 8 injections and cost about $300. She gave me a brochure printed in bio-degradable inks on recycled paper too. It explains the benefits to the entire planet of their methods in somewhat fuzzy type. It doesn't explain why it costs $300 to give a tree eight shots. Like other things in this city, this country, and this era, "the solution" to "the problem" is not exactly crisp and effective, but it sounds nice and feels good.

Still, there's no question that the stately tree that shelters me is sick, sticky and a mess. I've got to stop the insects infesting the top from crapping all over everything below. Organic's too slow and too expensive by half. I think I'm going to have to start hanging out in the shadier places of the Seattle tree scene, trying to make a connection with people who can really "Git-R-Done!"

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 23, 2015 9:49 AM |  Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Banality of Sedition

Communism is alive and well on the streets of Seattle....

Illustration by RapierWitt

THESE DAYS its not often that you see a member of the Despairing Classes being seduced by classic Communism on a city street, but it does happen.

Sidewalk Snapshot: It's a warm Spring evening on Pine Street in Seattle. Lengthening shadows and brightening light brings everything into sharp relief including the random collection of lay-abouts, short-order poets, tattoo artistes, and students a decade between degrees that take up the tables outside the Cafe Laddro on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill is one of those neighborhoods in Seattle that compiles a mainstream lifestyle out of alternatives. Even though it is indeed a hill, it has suspended the normal laws of gravity and everything loose in Seattle rolls up to the top of it. That includes, on this evening, me.

I'm stepping out of your "one-every-block" Seattle espresso slop shop with my machiatto when I notice the odd couple at the table just outside the door. That's not too odd since odd couples, like spiked bright blue hair, are pretty much the norm on Capitol Hill. I notice them at first because the youngest is wearing a Motorhead t-shirt with the mantra "Everything Louder Than Everything Else" on it in that faux German Black gothic font that got old when Auschwitz was in flower, and so had to be made new again back when heavy-metal was a fresh idea.

Glancing over Motorhead's shoulder I note that the man across from him is giving him an ideological lap-dance complete with a whole raft of tracts, papers and books being brought out and waved about and placed, with a muffled thwang, one after the other on the thin black metal of the table: Trotsky's "Marxism and Terrorism," (thwang!); the ever-popular Marx and Engels "Communist Manifesto," (thwang!); Lenin's greatest hit "What Is To Be Done?," (thwang!), Gramsci's "Prison Notebooks," (thunk!), Zinn's "People's History of the United States,"(clunk!).

One by one, they come out of the worn back pack and pile up on the table. All in all, a larger pile of ideological dung would be hard to imagine, and harder to handle even with meat hooks and thick rubber gloves.

The man making his pile of "roadmaps to a more perfect world" is quite a bit older than Motorhead with a slim, somewhat furtive look to him. There's the vibe coming off him that you sometimes sense when someone old is trying to pick up somebody far too young for him.

In the intense light of the evening, you can see a faint cloud of dust motes rising from him as he keeps slapping the tracts down. Greying hair in moist ringlets covers his head except for a monk's tonsure on the back of his skull. He's got a mustache and a beard that, with a little care, could be brought to a Van Dyke point. He sports small round rimmed glasses in front of thin blue eyes. His eyes, although they never waver from his prey, carry within them a permanent 1,000 yard stare -- as if he's always looking outside of the present moment at something in the distance that never gets nearer. Overall the face reminds one, as these faces so often do, of a watered down Leon Trotsky, the Christ of Communism, crucified with an ice axe but still twitching in his tomb.

Trotsky is resurrect this evening on Capitol Hill though, and I linger at the table next to them writing down a few notes about their conversation. Except it is not exactly a conversation so much as a monologue as my Trotsky keeps, in smiling and soft tones, returning to the subject at hand which is the inevitable collapse of the evil American Empire ("Long past its expiry date..."), and the inevitable rise of world Socialism ("Everyone will have more than enough, but nobody will have it all.")

Trotsky's sporting, as all good Trotskys must, a collection of slogan buttons and a sheaf of free tracts and newspapers. The button that is the largest is pinned to his faded plaid flannel shirt and proclaims him to be a member in good standing of the ISO (International Socialist Organization, good Latter-Day Trotskyites all. )

He passes the tracts and newspapers over to his intended, "Free, all free," and points out the more salient injustices they outline: eternal racism, eternal slavery of women, eternal repression of the working man by capitalists, eternal imperialism by the United States -- the whole catastrophe. He underscores that the only escape is through the ever-imminent but forever delayed Rapture of the Left, The Revolution.

After several minutes of his soft chants, Motorhead is nodding like the drinking bird over the glass. He's looking a bit dazed. I wonder if Trotsky has slipped a roofy into Motorhead's machiatto and is just waiting for it to kick in.

Trotsky's tales are the sad sotto voce sagas that underscore all the old nightmares of the Gulag, the Killing Fields, and every other massacre done in the name of the Marxist Utopia. It's a litany proving, once again, that some lies lodge so deep in man's hopes they will not die, no matter the murders they require to live.

Today's fresh lie is that if only Motorhead will attend the "event" tomorrow, Trotsky will be pleased to take him to the exclusive "Cadre" meeting that follows so he can meet the "Comrade of Honor," one Ahmed Shawki.

In soft tones salted with a quick twinkling smile that comes and goes like the red queen in three-card monte, Trotsky continues his spiel, his seduction. Motorhead is "obviously a man of no little intelligence" -- even if his five facial piercings (ears, left eyebrow, lip stud and nose-ring) might make one wonder.

Motorhead "needs to live in a system where social justice is the rule for all, not just the rich." Given Motorhead's ripped black jeans, worn black boots and general air of someone not likely to be hired by any business whose work involves meeting the public, this is probably more true than either of them realize. Motorhead nods again to this last proposition, and observes that he yearns for a social order that is more just to his lifestyle than can easily be found outside the subcultural hamlets of Seattle.

Much has been made of Hannah Arendt's phrase, "The banality of evil," and I suppose I'm witnessing a small satori of that kind here on the sidewalks of Seattle. But it seems to me to be a more insidious event than that.

After all, there's nothing evil in speech that argues for ideas that have proven, without exception, to be evil. It is, after all, only speech and the strength of the American system is to protect all forms of speech, especially the idle blather of a coffee house revolutionary. There's nothing, really nothing, in this overheard conversation that threatens the existence of the United States. The mere fact that it can be had, five years into the First Terrorist War, underscores just how strong this nation adherence to its founding principles remains. Here on Capitol Hill dissent of even the most egregious sort, is not only tolerated but celebrated.

The conversation bothers me at the same time it fascinates me. It strikes me that what I am auditing is not so much "the banality of evil," but "the banality of sedition;" a banality we see acted out daily on our television screens and on the op-ed pages of our newspapers.

The banality of sedition is now so well established that it is, well, banal and goes forward without a great deal of remark or trouble. In the last few years, the phrase that has arisen to describe this phenomenon is "The Culture of Treason." I'm not sure who originated the phrase, but its use is proliferating across the Internet for the reason that all such phrases proliferate when the time is ripe; it somehow rings true.

Of late, it iseems that large sections of the better educated and the most privileged among us have decided that the Constitution is, after all, a suicide pact and have determined to preach this death gospel to us all:

"This way to the gas, ladies and gentlemen. Step right up into the van carrying you all away into the perfect freedom of the perfect world. Don't worry about those canisters of gas dropping in through the top. It's just to delouse you of your old, traditional ideas of what being an American is all about.

"In just a few painless minutes you'll all be, as we are now, citizens of the world. And in that world to which we are all going you'll forget the old dream of America. You'll forget, at the last, everything that was good about America. You'll also forget the true and the beautiful. In the end, you'll forget about God himself.
"All those old dreams and visions will fade into a gray sameness. And then you'll all be, at the last, perfect citizens of our brave new world. We've breathed deeply of this gas before you and find it is the perfect blend of platitudes, freshly roasted, for the killing of your soul. After all, you weren't using it much. So step right up. First ride's free."

The long evening light was fading down into a warm dusk outside the coffee shop on Capitol Hill. Motorhead, in a moment of awakening, said, "Well, I should probably get grocery shopping."

Having gotten Motorhead's assent to attend the "event," Trotsky the Comrade becomes Trotsky the Closer and skins twenty bucks out of Motorhead's wallet for Gramsci's "Prison Notebooks" ($14.95 at Amazon). The tracts and, of course, the newspaper are free. Such a deal.

The threadbare backpack is repacked with Trotsky's portable library. He and Motorhead set off up the hill and, turning the corner, move out of sight.

I fold up the scrap of paper on the back of which I've made my notes of their meeting. The front side invites all and sundry to a "Solidarity Gathering" at the 45th Street Overpass: "We Support the Rape Survivor at Duke... and the Countless Others Everywhere. Come and join us in solidarity to bear witness to this terrorism against women." I make a mental note to, somehow, manage to be elsewhere.

Walking back to the Century Ballroom, I notice a large flyer that announces the "event" that Motorhead has agreed to attend. Ahmed Shawki, editor of the International Socialist Review, will speak, it seems, on "Black Liberation and Socialism."

Shaki's image dominates the flyer and looks, for all the world, like a Malcom X returned to life. The look is, of course, a carefully studied one since black socialist saints are hard to come by these days.** The Clenched Fist logo is in the lower left hand corner of the flyer. There are other details but I have a hard time making them out. It is, I discover, hard to read a flyer that is lying in the gutter. Especially when the light has failed.

In "Celebration" of May Day, 2008. HT: Cynr who created the art.

**Written in April, 2006

"I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;"

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 18, 2015 1:47 AM |  Comments (75)  | QuickLink: Permalink
American Facial Hair Throughout History

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Apr 16, 2015 11:34 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Totalitarian Mind Does Not Need a Totalitarian State to Thrive


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

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

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


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

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

"The willful filling off a gear teeth, the willful doing without certain obvious pieces of information....

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

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

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

aa-sideleft-george-orwell-who-controls-the-past-controls.jpgWritten by George Orwell:

"Fifteen years ago, when one defended the freedom of the intellect, one had to defend it against Conservatives, against Catholics, and to some extent — for they were not of great importance in England — against Fascists. Today one has to defend it against Communists and ‘fellow-travelers’....

"But however it may be with the physical sciences, or with music, painting and architecture, it is — as I have tried to show — certain that literature is doomed if liberty of thought perishes.

"Not only is it doomed in any country which retains a totalitarian structure; but any writer who adopts the totalitarian outlook, who finds excuses for persecution and the falsification of reality, thereby destroys himself as a writer.

"There is no way out of this. No tirades against ‘individualism’ and the ‘ivory tower’, no pious platitudes to the effect that ‘true individuality is only attained through identification with the community’, can get over the fact that a bought mind is a spoiled mind.

"Unless spontaneity enters at some point or another, literary creation is impossible, and language itself becomes something totally different from what it is now, we may learn to separate literary creation from intellectual honesty.

"At present we know only that the imagination, like certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. Any writer or journalist who denies that fact — and nearly all the current praise of the Soviet Union contains or implies such a denial — is, in effect, demanding his own destruction. The Prevention of Literature - Wikilivres

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Apr 14, 2015 12:47 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Code of the Left vs The Code of the West: Contrast and Compare

"A man's got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job." -- John Wayne

Once upon a time, there was "The Code of the West." [Original here] That was long ago, far away and in another country. Now there is only, "The Code of the Left." I've compared the two here. The Code of the West is in plain text. The Code of the Left is in italics because, well, it is just so damned important!

It's time for our biannual check in on how these two dueling codes are faring in America. When last we looked the Obama Banditos were riding roughshod over the people. Now, the Banditos seem to be in retreat and at our feet pleading a new birth of populism. But since the leftist Banditio is always either at your feet or at your throat it can't last. What's next? We're open for updates, additions, and deletions.

* Don't inquire into a person's past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.

* There are no "people," only "social policies." Don't inquire into a social policy's past or that policy's likely consequences for the future. Take the measure of a policy by how closely it maps to the Socialist Utopia that has already killed and crippled hundreds of millions of people. Dream big nightmares.

* Never steal another man's horse. A horse thief pays with his life.

* Always look to steal another man's money with a "tax." Always ask your fellow citizen to reach for his wallet. All tax thieves are rewarded with a fat government pension and fatter health plan.

* Defend yourself whenever necessary.

* Do not defend yourself or the country under any circumstances. Killers are just grown-up kids who were abused. Terrorists are just people who haven't had their issues listened to with compassion. Make sure nobody else can defend themselves. Use only diplomacy to defend your country. Armies are raised only to place sandbags around towns about to be flooded for the fifth time. When that happens use government money to enable the fools who built them to rebuild them.

* Look out for your own.

* Look out, first, last and always, for any other people numerous enough to declare themselves an oppressed group (The minimum number is 3) - except if the group is an actual family, in which case seek to disband it by any means necessary.

* Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.

* Ban guns. Anytime, anywhere. The Second Amendment is a misprint. Erase it in the original. Burn all copies.

* Never order anything weaker than whiskey.

* Never order anything stronger than a decaf double latte made with soy milk. Yes, that drink will shrink your testicles and/or ovaries to the size of peas, but you weren't using them anyway. Make it a double.

* Don't make a threat without expecting dire consequences.

* Threaten everyone and every behavior you think does not square with an organic, green, globally-warmed new-age life-style. They will fold. There will be no consequences. There never are.

* Never pass anyone on the trail without saying "Howdy".

* Never pass anyone on the street without muttering "Bush lied."

* When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within shooting range.

* When approaching someone from behind, try to determine if they are a Republican-Christianist before picking their pocket and denigrating their beliefs with impunity.

* Don't wave at a man on a horse, as it might spook the horse. A nod is the proper greeting.

* Don't wave at a blind man with a seeing-eye dog as it might confuse/abuse the dog. Lead them both into a disabled parking space and leave them there with a pocket full of kibble and food stamps.

* After you pass someone on the trail, don't look back at him. It implies you don't trust him.

* After you pass anti-Christian laws, don't look back. God will turn you into a pillar of salt and there is no salt tax.... Yet.

* Riding another man's horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife. Never even bother another man's horse.

* Riding another man's wife or significant other is not only okay, but a qualification for high office. Gay or straight, you are allowed to have anyone you want without consequences to the family since soon there won't be any. Medicines for STDs will be free and will soon consume 92% of federal research funds (7% goes to embryonic stem cell research), dedicated to finding a sex vaccine so you can get back to the level of random sex with random strangers you enjoyed in the early 1970s.

* Always fill your whiskey glass to the brim.

* Always buy and carry the really big bottle of Fuji mineral water everywhere so people can know that while you object to Big Oil making windfall profits on $3.00 a gallon gasoline, you have no problem with windfall profits on $10 a gallon bottled water.

* A Cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and Cowboys hate quitters.

* A Leftist is mean and bitter even when in office. Complaining and turning small complaints into laws is what Leftists at all levels do. Leftists love making new laws from old whines.

* Always be courageous. Cowards aren't tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.

* Never exhibit courage when it comes to defending your country. Cowardice is a Leftist pre-requisite for running for office on any level. Your constituents are cowards to the core and don't expect any less from you.

* A Cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.

* A Leftist only helps those in need when helping them will condemn them to being in need for all eternity. Enemies are to be helped only if they will promise to first vote for and then behead Leftists. In that way both the need to rule and the need to expunge guilt can be satisfied.

* Never try on another man's hat.

* Never try on another man's condom or use his needle - without asking permmisson which will naturally be forthcoming. Free condoms and free needles are a basic right and will replace the present Second Amendment as soon as possible. Draft text: "An unregulated and unrestrained sex and drugs and rock and roll lifestyle, being the necessary opiate of the masses, the right of the people to free condoms and free needles, shall not be infringed."

* Be hospitable to strangers. Anyone who wanders in, including an enemy, is welcome at the dinner table. The same was true for riders who joined Cowboys on the range.

* Be hospitable to those who "wander" into your country illegally. Anyone who "wanders" into the United States, including an enemy, is welcome at the welfare table. This is especially true for those who will do the voting sane Americans won't - voting for you.

* Give your enemy a fighting chance.

* Give all enemies a really good fighting chance always. Make the Armed Forces fight with both hands behind their back. Roll back all arms programs to the environmentally sensitive bow and arrow era. Marines are to be especially despised for their general Gung Ho militaristic attitude. Make up rules of engagement that ensure all wars will be fought on the cheap and without weapons that are more lethal than megaphones. In war, Love is all you need.

* Never wake another man by shaking or touching him, as he might wake suddenly and shoot you.

* But if he does, pass more laws restricting guns and apologize to him before dying.

* Real Cowboys are modest. A braggart who is "all gurgle and no guts" is not tolerated.

* Real Leftists are the first to tell you what wonderful human beings they are. A Leftist who is "all gurgle and no guts" can be easily nominated for high office. See "Edwards, John."

* A Cowboy doesn't talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.

* A Leftist does nothing but talk. Talk is mother's milk without the annoying lactation. Leftist talk is a three-foot length of numbing rebar pounded down the center of your spine. A Leftist will save his breath for Yoga class.

* No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse's needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.

* No matter how weary and frustrated you are after a long day of lying and pandering on the campaign trail, always tend to your political machine's needs before your own. Get your machine some more money (cash if possible) for or Media Matters. Don't skim more than 55% of the cash for yourself. Remember that if you are elected you can feed at the public trough for life, and earn millions for blathering after you retire.

* Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses and cows.

* Cuss all you want, constantly and without restraint, especially when you hear the obscenity-triggering words, "President Bush." Be sure to teach the F-word to your children early and reward them for using it.

* Complain about the cooking and you become the cook.

* Complain about earmarks unless they are your earmarks and remember to vote for all earmarks so that others will vote for yours.

* Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.

* Always sip your chai with the pinky finger crooked, to show your rainbow intentions.

* Be there for a friend when he needs you.

* Be there with a handout for a voter when you think that you can pander enough and promise enough free stuff to buy that vote. Pander early and pander often. Offer $5,000 just for being born. Be sure you put that idea forward before a group of people with a history of getting (and an undying thirst for more) handouts. Always infantalize.

* Drinking on duty is grounds for instant dismissal and blacklisting.

* Drinking and smoking dope in office is grounds for instant lionizing, a safe seat, and a free pass should you drive off a bridge on the way home and leave someone who was giving you sex at the wheel behind to drown.

* A Cowboy is loyal to his "brand," to his friends, and those he rides with.

* A Leftist is loyal to the nightmares of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Fidel Castro - all of whom knew how to run billions of lives for the better. They may be gone but their song remains the same. Dance to it and make sure everyone else does too. Or else.

* Never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy. This was also known as "the rattlesnake code": always warn before you strike. However, if a man was being stalked, this could be ignored.

* Always smear a blameless or dangerous political enemy. Lying and innuendo is okay. Be the rattlesnake. Unless the man is stalking the same office you are. In that case smear early and smear often. Lie big and lie long.

* Never shoot a woman no matter what.

* Never seek to make love to a woman unless there are no other alternatives - including shrubs - or unless you are a woman.

* Consideration for others is central to the code, such as: Don't stir up dust around the chuck-wagon, don't wake up the wrong man for herd duty, etc.

* Being inconsiderate of personal God-given liberty is central to the code of the Left. There is no God, there is only the Party and the dream of a socialist utopia. Always stir up dust and regulations around the free market -- it can and does donate money to your opponents. Don't wake up those who depend on government hand-outs for everything. Promise more and keep them comatose.

* Respect the land and the environment by not smoking in hazardous fire areas, disfiguring rocks, trees, or other natural areas.

* Respect the small, endless fears of everyone in the environment by not smoking anywhere at anytime unless it is copious amounts of really righteous dope. Remember the first commandment of the Leftist: "Tobacco and Fox News bad. Dope and the New York Times good." Seek to have laws passed enabling everyone to smoke as much dope as they want. Then they will be too stoned to see through your insane plans. They will even think that more taxes on the rich means higher government revenues. Praise those who are disfiguring rocks, walls, and buildings with graffiti as "artistes." Return forests and farmland to their natural state -- especially if you can get them cheap via takings or public domain. Let the surviving population live like the sheep they are and eat grass.

* Honesty is absolute - your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.

* Lies are your friend. Never let facts obfuscate falsehoods. Your word is only good for those your are speaking to at the time you are speaking. After you've promised something, forget about it. A handshake and a contract are simply lies waiting for laws to make them inoperative. If caught in a lie and under oath remember to always ask what the meaning of "is" is.

* Live by the Golden Rule.

* Live by the Rule of the Gold: If you run across anyone with gold, make them convert it to paper money and give 98% of that to the state or your re-election campaign. Require the other 2% to be donated to a charity of your choice for a tax deduction. Live the dream by buying your way into the government which will be, when that great getting-up morning arrives, the only thing on earth with any money or privilege.

[Note: I'm also looking to add to this list. The last time it came around we got this prescient statement in the comments:

West: "Never shoot a woman no matter what."
Left: "Unless she is the Republican Governor of Alaska. In which case, blast away. Be sure to remove her orange hunting vest afterwards so you can claim it was 'just an accident' and you mistook her for a caribou."]

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 9, 2015 1:19 AM |  Comments (32)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Obama Resigns


Early morning television viewers were surprised to find their programs interrupted for an emergency announcement, during which the ashen-faced and possibly drug-fueled president spoke in rambling, frequently cryptic sentence fragments about "the sweet, sweet call to prayer," "dog-flavored shave ice," the merits of Titleist golf balls and, most puzzlingly, his declaration that "Mike is done pretending to be Michelle." He then told America to go (and we paraphrase here) fornicate itself, and capped his brief resignation with "Allah Akbar - I'm out of here, suckers!"

In a scene reminiscent of America's departure from Vietnam, Obama scrambled aboard a George Soros-owned helicopter hovering just about the White House roof. Newly appointed President Biden celebrated his unexpected promotion by rushing onto the White House balcony in his pajamas and firing a shotgun into the sky, before being tackled and disappearing under a pile of Secret Service agents. Sadly, the shotgun blast was thought to have done only minor damage to Mr. Obama's helicopter.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 31, 2015 10:46 PM |  Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Punch, Brothers, Punch: The Original Ear Worm as Told by Mark Twain


The poem "Punch Brothers Punch" (also known as "The Horror! The Horror!")was not composed by Mark Twain, but by a group of people in 1876.

It was the brainchild of Messrs. Isaac Bromley, Noah Brooks, W. C. Wyckoff, and Moses W. Handy. Bromley and Brooks, while riding a tram one night, had taken notice of a sign informing passengers about the fare:
A Blue Trip Slip for an 8-cents fare.
A Buff Trip Slip for a 6-cents fare.
A Pink Trip Slip for a 3-cents fare.
For Coupon and Transfer, punch the Tickets.

Bromley had reportedly exclaimed,

"Brooks, it's poetry. By George, it's poetry!" The two spent the remainder of their trip composing the poem, giving it its jingle-like character, and adding improvements such as the chorus. Upon arrival at the offices of the New York Tribune, they showed the poem to their friends, scientific editor W. C. Wyckoff and Moses Handy, who assisted them in completing it. They published their result in the Tribune, the same newspaper which Mark Twain had chanced upon. The poem gained popularity rapidly, taking over the minds of numerous people; it was assisted by Twain, who let it loose upon the world in his story.


Will the reader please to cast his eye over the following lines, and see if he can discover anything harmful in them?

Conductor, when you receive a fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!
A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare,
A buff trip slip for a six-cent fare,
A pink trip slip for a three-cent fare,
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!


Punch, brothers! punch with care!
Punch in the presence of the passenjare!

I came across these jingling rhymes in a newspaper, a little while ago, and read them a couple of times. They took instant and entire possession of me. All through breakfast they went waltzing through my brain; and when, at last, I rolled up my napkin, I could not tell whether I had eaten anything or not. I had carefully laid out my day's work the day before--thrilling tragedy in the novel which I am writing. I went to my den to begin my deed of blood. I took up my pen, but all I could get it to say was, "Punch in the presence of the passenjare.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 30, 2015 8:06 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The SPAM aisle in Hawaii

It's everything you hoped it would be....

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 28, 2015 11:36 AM |  Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When "Body by Fisher" Meant Body


The Plexiglas Pontiac Deluxe Six "Ghost Car," which sold at auction a few years ago for $308,000, June 11, 1940. "General Motors exhibit at Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco. Transparent Car with Pontiac Chassis and Body by Fisher." -- Shorpy Historic Picture Archive

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 26, 2015 9:58 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Against Compassion

sentient_beings_are_numberless_i_vow_to_save_tshirt-p235527916675852797q6wh_400.jpgOutside the ancient offices of the Cosmoangelic Book Publishers that I once worked in at 2 Park Street in Boston, an old lady stood with her back to the old bricks on every working day. A square yard of sidewalk was her office. Eyes behind thick glasses were watery-gray. She stood hunched in a permanent flinch like some dog who'd been struck too many times for nothing. She dressed in clean, shabby, but not too shabby, clothing -- warm enough for the winters and cool enough when summer came around at last. To all who passed by her office she repeated her Bostonian-inflected mantra:
"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"

She stood to the left of the entrance for part of the day and to the right for the remainder. You didn't know when she'd shift, but she always seemed to be in your path as you came out of the building.

Going for some coffee?

"Spare a quarta?"

Going to lunch?

"Spare a quarta?"

Going to skip out on the afternoon and catch a matinee?

"Spare a quarta?"

I once spared her a quarta and went into the Boston Commons with a newspaper and watched her work at her job.

"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"
"Spare a quarta?"

She asked everyone. It was the secret to whatever success she had. Since Park Street led from the Park Street MTA stop to the Massachusetts capital building and other large skyscrapers several thousand people a day had to pass by her and hear "Spare a quarta?"

She got a quarter out of about every fifth person. I once estimated she made about $75 a day, tax free. That worked out to a take homeless of $18,750 a year in 1983. Not bad when you considered that she had zero overhead.

No matter how you look at it old "Spare a quarta?" was doing all right and, to tell the truth, I contributed my share. She looked like what everyone fears their mother might become if she fell on hard time, but she wasn't scary. And she had perfect pitch. "Spare a quarta?" was slightly sing-song but never too whining. Just always said with an uplifting lilt right at the end of the opening note of desperation.

If you can't be really good at anything without 10,000 hours of practice "Spare a quarta?" had put in her time and paid her dues in full.

As beggars go she was "The Fantastiks" of street hustlers. Her performance ran uninterrupted and packed her pockets with quarters for years. She's probably long gone to her reward -- be that in Potters Field or in a small house in the hinterlands that she bought for cash. But I like to think that she's still there as the busy people of our era bustle up and down Park Street still shelling out to the refrain:

Try to remember the kind of September
"Spare a quarta?"
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
"Spare a quarta?"
Try to remember when life was so tender
"Spare a quarta?"
That dreams were kept beside your pillow.
"Spare a quarta?"

I remember that in those days I had two things for her and those like her, compassion and a quarta. These days I'm fresh out of the former and I never get asked for just a quarta.

On the streets today they've decided they've got to entertain; that they've gotta have a gimmick and if they're gonna bump it, they're gonna bump it with a trumpet." They offer me stories, crazy ramblings, scrawled signs of despair, signs that mock their begging ("Checks No Longer Accepted from These People"), vague threats and mumbles. They sell poems scrawled in a methadone daze, or make blunt demands for smokes now that smokes are half a buck.

I once gave to all who asked. Now I give to none. Once a year I write checks to funds for widows and orphans of police, firemen, and soldiers killed in the line of duty. Beyond that, I find I can no longer spare a quarta. And when I hear, in the back of my mind, the old Depression anthem "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" I find that although I can spare it, I no longer want to give it.

It has taken decades of ceaseless hectoring but at long last my compassion account in the Bank of Human Kindness is overdrawn. I'm tapped out. I still try to care but I find, if I am honest, I couldn't care less.

I suppose this makes me a bad person. In the land that is more and more ruled by those eager to cadge money from me or pick my pockets "for the common good" I'm just no damned good to any of them. It doesn't bother me any more. I have become, as the song says, "comfortably numb."

I've been told, so often and so stridently, to feel this and to feel that and to feel for the downtrodden of the world, that I find I no longer feel anything at all. I don't think I'm alone in not caring. I think caring and compassion, now that it has been institutionalized enough to demand caring and compassion, has finally found its limit.

In a world dimensional, a world of limits, caring finds itself flummoxed by its own best impulses. If we could inhabit any one of the endless utopias proposed to us by the dreamers and schemers among us, all would be well and all manner of things would be well. But we live in the world of sun, rain, dirt, steel and flesh where all that is needed for evil to triumph is that good men remain distracted by snake-oil hallucinations of perfection. And that they follow the instructions of their betters to feed these hallucinations of perfection in the fond hope that these toys of the mind will become real. The only thing that becomes real when you reach for Utopia is that those few who crave power over many become perpetual seekers of indulgences.

These indulgences of wish would remain harmless and essentially admirable as long as nothing more imperative or noble calls us. That which calls to us is not the world that may be, but the world that is as we make it day by day. We may, from time to time, be able to spare a quarta only so long as all our quartas are not constantly demanded of us. Quartas to spare can only come from surpluses.

Of late, those surpluses have been converted by events and history into deficits. Put simply, we can, at the present time, no longer afford to fund our ever expanding compassionate state. Compassion can never be made compulsory and cash-flow positive at the same time. Whenever and wherever compassion has been made compulsory the people soon find they no longer have care or quartas to spare.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 17, 2015 1:25 AM |  Comments (49)  | QuickLink: Permalink
ESSAY OF THE DAY: What Conservatives Suffer in a Mad World Run By Fools


"Imagine that you are sane. Now, imagine that you wake up one day, and almost all of the rest of the world has gone insane. Not 'wow things are crazy' but actually, clinically raving lunatics. They're mentally damaged - nearly everyone - and so many are so that they declare this totally normal.

"So now having mumbled conversations with yourself or your dog, seeing things, deciding you are an important historical figure and living that out, etc, that's all perfectly normal and the average person is this way.

"Now imagine you have to try to work and live among these people all the time. They argue down is up, that they are swimming in the ocean instead of driving a car, that they are a talking goose, that women are actually made of small bits of straw, that cats are the highest being and should be venerated and protected, pretty much every day some new insanity is insisted upon. Not just by a few people, but by many, in places of authority, education, entertainment, and in the news.

"These ideas aren't argued for, they are simply assumed, insisted upon, and forced upon everyone else. Movies and TV suddenly take one of these ideas and present it not just as normal, but so normal and right that anyone who differs is portrayed as not confused or wrong but evil, as a horrific person that must be stopped.

"Imagine that you're part of a small group that sees how crazy this is, how foolish the world has become, and all around you it keeps getting randomly and irrationally worse. That each day you wonder what lunacy you're going to have to deal with...."

That's only the beginning of a masterful essay by Christopher Taylor @ Word Around the Net: A MAD WORLD RUN BY FOOLS. If you are sane you will want to read THE WHOLE. It might not make you feel better but you will understand, more clearly, the roots of your suffering.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 16, 2015 10:12 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
PEWSLAG: The American Progressive’s Monopoly on the Seven Deadly Sins


“We are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” -- Oscar Wilde

If you could pick up the Northwestern US by the southeast corner of Idaho and shake it, everything loose would roll down into Seattle. So many loose bipeds have rolled into town over the years that the city boasts not one angry and twisted little “alternative paper” but two: The Seattle Weekly and The Stranger. Of the two, The Stranger is the stranger, the more angry, and the more spiteful. Strangely, The Stranger -- in this age of Obama and “springtime for progressive Hitlers" -- grows more angry and peevish every week since the November elections. It no longer competes with the Seattle Weekly to see who can be more revolting. It won that dubious contest long ago. These days The Stranger seems to mostly compete with itself; trying every week to put out more slime and bile than the week before. Most weeks, it wins. This week was no exception.

No matter what the standard Democrat/Progressive line may be, it is never quite good enough for The Stranger. This may be because of it’s editor, one Dan Savage by name, a man who seems to live to reveal that for some, when it comes to being intellectually twisted, there really is no bottom. It may be because The Stranger’s infected bloodlines run from from the ancient wheezings of The Daily Worker, down through The East Village Other, and out onto the news stands of Planet Moonbat with classifieds courtesy of The Berkeley Barb. Or it may be because the editor is simply an awful person with a full load of obsessive-compulsive disorders.It’s difficult to know when it comes to this perfect storm of spit, spite, and smut.

All one can know is that, with The Stranger, you see deeper into the soul of today’s post-modern American quisling than any other “alternative” weekly. And what you see is the utter lock this mindset has on what once we called “The Seven Deadly Sins.” It is positive for all of them and takes no medication. Instead, it showcases them in order to effectively infect every freshman class that arrives in Seattle looking for an “education” in how to be fashionably depraved in worn fleece. I read the paper every so often to keep in touch with how dementia, depravity and degradation are progressing in progressive America.

These days it would seem that the 7 deadly sins are now the 7 cardinal virtues of the progressive left. As I shall demonstrate....

Indeed, the progressive left has cast off all pretense of “progress” and simply reverted to a rag-tag slop bucket brimming over with Americans that hate children, success, happiness, liberty, and life itself. All the local “progressive heroes” will sooner of later get their close-up in The Stranger. Their faces and their ever-extending list of physical and mental diseases will unfailingly reveal the state of souls that have committed to personal and social devolution. Along the way, they've bagged the seven deadly sins with the zeal of hunters, never knowing that it was themselves that was the hunted. Theirs is the socialist Utopian view of life fueled with poppers and propaganda.

Those who have the tragic view of life accept that all humans are flawed. We all, to a greater of lesser extent, have touched on all of the 7 deadly sins. It is in our nature. But those with the tragic view at least struggle against this and strive to leave the world brighter and better than when we came into it, not more depraved and darker.

I see this split and this struggle in myself and hold myself more guilty of the 7 sins than is perhaps strictly true, for I know that when you put yourself on trial the verdict is always “guilty.” At the same time, I think I struggle in my small way to overcome these tendencies in myself and if I do not succeed, I still struggle. What I do not do is revel in them and constantly seek to live out the more extreme expressions of the same. That seeking can be seen in almost every progressive position and policy of the last several decades. From the celebration of abortion and treason to the exaltation of perversion and penury, it seems that every step taken by the progressive strain of American politics over the last few decades has been to go deeper into the pit and to glory in the mire.

For most Americans, the 7 deadly sins are things we struggle against. For progressives, the 7 sins have become the touchstones of their plans and policies. So extreme has their dedication to degradation become that they have become proud in their achievements. We’ve long had to bear witness to the progressives' preening pride in their "achievements," from the slaughter of the unborn to the feckless squandering of the local, state, and federal purse. Now their goal seems to be to pull the rest of us down into the cesspit that they're in. As we saw in November, most Americans, when the choice is stark and immediate, decline to join them in the muck. But as we have seen since then, rejection at the polls does not dissuade them but rather energizes them to new depths of depravity. It isn't an accident that a popular cultural meme this season is that of Zombies, the walking dead who seek to feast off and then convert the living to their living death.

At one point the classical American liberalism might have avoided this cultural and ideological degradation, but that was before they left shame behind. Then it was full speed ahead. After all, once you’ve expunged shame from your conscious mind, Pride is what is left.

Pride, as we know, is the first and most deadly sin. It’s the one that makes all the others possible. When the self and it’s immediate needs have become the individual's brave new god, humility is impossible. Humility is, well, so human that the brave new gods of the Left cannot abide it. Instead the must worship Ego Uber Alles. Pride must take its place at the head of their lemmings' parade over the cliffs of nihilism into the waters of oblivion.

Long ago, there was a mnemonic for the seven deadly sins, PEWSLAG. In order it meant Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Lust, Avarice, and Gluttony. All of these are on display weekly in “The Stranger,” as they are daily across the nation wherever progressives have gained a voice or power. They prance about in the half-time shows at the Superbowl. They never fail to make the nightly network news or grace the editorial pages of our leading "papers of record." So common have the elements of PEWSLAG become in our time that they can no longer be considered as ‘The 7 Deadly Sins,” but rather as the PPAF, The Progressive Platform for America’s Future.

Let's review the PPAF in greater detail:

Progressive PRIDE: It’s no accident that this word comes up again and again in their writings. It is essential for the Progressive to internalize extreme amounts of Pride. Pride in the self is the single most important element the freed will needs to move God out of the universe entirely and Self into the center. Once Self is in the center and the feeding of Self the most important element of existence, there is effectively no limit on what the Will can demand for the Self.

We’ve seen how societies based on The Triumph of the Will sweep across the world in the last century. These Self and Will centered social experiments all seem to have the worship of a single man at their center and the word “Socialist” in their name. Their core concept at the apex of their terrible arc is a National or Group Pride in a single individual as an excuse for the most horrible crimes committed on citizens and other innocents. The words “Nazi” and “Communist” both slide nicely into the old slogan, “Say it loud / I ______ and I’m proud.” Wisdom tells us what comes after pride, but wisdom is not a progressive value.

Progressive ENVY: This is an ancient organizing tool that uses those with less than everything as tools against those who have, well, more. It doesn’t matter if “more” is an second goat, or an extra billion dollars. Thou shalt covet is the commandment here. For once you can convince a person to envy another there is no limit to what they will want to take since what they want is not a goat or a billion dollars, but simply and eternally “more.” In the final analysis, those who at some point refuse to give “more” will be required to give all, including life itself. Envy always ends in guns.

Progressive WRATH: All those who point out, even in the slightest way, that the Progressive plan for Utopian improvement never seems to arrive at an end point but is always seeking “more,” are sure to feel increasing amounts of Wrath directed against them. It begins in a mild reproach as the doubter is made to feel the chill from his or her closest associates, but it quickly escalates to anger if the doubter does not immediately lie down and become submissive. For those that stand clearly outside the Progressive circle of approved behavior, wrath is constant and unremitting and ever growing in its intensity. To test this all you need to do is to utter the magic words, “Sarah Palin” to a progressive. Better yet, utter them to a group of calm Progressives. Record the reaction.

Progressive SLOTH: One of the pleasures of being a Progressive is the one never has to actually produce anything of use in the form of innovation and invention. Progressives need only put in place things that impede innovation and invention in the form of excessive laws and continuing and complex regulations and false customs. It is remarkable in this century that one can spend a lifetime making these impediments to prosperity in the media, in academic life, in unions, and in a bureaucratic career, and only rise from reward to greater reward by making those and other careers safer for slackers and lay-abouts. In the process, the position of those that enable slackers is made ever more secure through increasing the dependency of the hard-core unemployable among us on the slacker state. While doing nothing is a waste of life, there seems to be no shortage of the non-abled among us that are dedicated to this as a career path.

Progressive LUST: As the progressives institutionalize and subsidize sloth, whole oceans of time open for the non-abled and non-thinking and non-feeling in the mass of the intentionally under-educated in the nation. What better way to spend the brief time between the progressive-worshiped states of unbeing than in the constant pursuit of the sating of the senses? For although there is a puritan stain that oozes from all Progressive alphas, the alphas have found that the best way to control, to placate, the betas is to let them live lives devoted to lust.

Hence there are endless fully-supported programs that enable sex without any chance of pregnancy and, should avoiding pregnancy prove to be beyond the mental capabilities of the betas, there are subsidized programs for terminating any inconveniences. Should the inconveniences seem to be convenient, there are programs to support and warehouse them. Should the lusts of the body lead to disease, there is no end of programs to cure or at least palliate them should they be resistant to a cure. In all cases, everything is done to enable and promote lust as the booby prize for the betas. The more rubble in the masses, the less trouble for the elites.

Progressive AVARICE: The old joke of the two line IRS form that reads,

HOW MUCH DID YOU MAKE? __________________.

seems less and less amusing as it becomes more and more clear that Progressivism is merely the stalking horse for the complete control of private property and assets of the middle class. (Graduation to the “political class” aka “The Party” or “Politburo” grants you and your family a waiver.)

Progressivism in the United States has seen the truth of the Thatcher observation that “The trouble with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” The solution, driven by the greed of the political class, is simply to get their hands on all the money. Once that is achieved, the pie can be doled out from the private-jet sky. The size of your slice? Well, as we know only too well, the Progressive plan is “From each according to their ability. To each according to their need.”

Unbridled Progressive AVARICE is the only way to overcome GREED "for the greater good." Only when the state has it all can the machinery of the state at last thrive. Only then can the endless compassion of the state come into play in a gentle redistribution in which no citizen has more than any other citizen, except for those citizens connected enough to get a waiver. The current state-of-the-players in the embryonic healthcare establishment is a testament to this.

Progressive GLUTTONY: A funny thing happened to the political animals of the sixties as they wormed their Progressive way into the national establishment in their dotage. These radical retreads discovered they liked to eat well and, at times, strangely. Hence we have the endless passions of the Progressive foodies for organic, for local, for “sustainable,” for ethnic, for vegan, for raw, for everything that can be eaten on the face of the earth combined with a catechism for the masses of the fast cheap food that is “bad” for them. It’s no accident that the biggest fetish for the Baby-Boomers that comprise the mass of the Progressive alphas is a food fetish. They like to eat... everything in sight. Unborn lamb today. The unborn tomorrow. Start with the stem cells and move up from there.

And their gluttony does not stop at food items, it extends to all other spheres of human behavior. They like to eat traditions. They like to eat values. They like to eat nuclear families. They like to eat real history. They like to eat real rights. They like to eat the Founding documents of the nation. They like to eat the rule of law. They like to eat the living. They like to eat souls.

The progressives are gluttons for everything and they will continue to eat everything until they are stopped. Until then, their platform and program, their PPAF, is summed up in the simple mnemonic, PEWSLAG, where Pride is the beginning and Gluttony the end of their endeavors. And the fruits of the Progressives’ Gluttony will always be that which is always emitted the morning after a long night of unrestrained feasting on the living by the zombies among us.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 15, 2015 12:34 PM |  Comments (34)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Kute Korner Krack Dealers: They're Baaaaaaack!

There oughta be a law against these kinds of high-pressure selling tactics.

[]Yes, it's that time..... again!]

Who let them out? Why are they everywhere? On the corners, by the entrances to supermarkets, at the crossings, and all over the place. They swoop into the neighborhood in massive SUVs driven by classic MILFs. They pull in, tumble out giggling, and yank their card tables and their boxes of contraband from the back. Then they set up their offerings in stacks, and slap crude handmade signs with a heavy helping of glitter on the tables. Then they don their gang colors and get to work on you.

They are the most ruthless retail agents known to man. They are virtually irresistable in their peddling of their wares. They do it with cutting edge cute, and they have no scruples concerning your desperate attempt to diet away the winter flab.

They are the Girl Scouts and no matter how I try I cannot avoid them.

Their web of pushers has been strung across Seattle. They don't even offer the first one free. They just jibber-jabber among themselves with their guardian MILF smiling knowingly at you. Sometimes, when the junkies are slow to line up for their fix, they do things like cartwheels or jump rope. Then they get your attention. The MILF sees this and smiles again.

And you are sunk. You have no hope of escape. Your whole universe of abstaining from sugar collapses. The few measly ounces you've lost by denying yourself that fourth scoop of Cherry Garcia at one in the morning are swamped by the tsunami of the C.U.T.E. in their little vests with their patches. You world of hope for a change in your gut is gone, and the only thing left for you is the stark choice: Thin Mints or Samoas?

I've tried to escape their clutches, but it's no good. Today, desperate to kick after discovering last night that I could hear a box of Thin Mints calling to me through a closed door, I even invented a granddaughter.

The MILF saw my glance at their cookie table and smiled. I said, having bought no less than three boxes of their krispy krack over the last week, "I'm sorry, but my granddaughter has made me swear to buy cookies only from her troop." (I have no granddaughter, but I was in despair.)

One of her henchgirls shrugged and did a cartwheel while the other two looked disappointed in that trademark Girl Scout disappointed look that I'm sure they give a patch for.

"Oh, don't worry," said the MILF. "We'll never tell. Right girls?"

"We'll never-ever tell," said all three virtually in unison as if they'd practiced it throughout all of February at their Girl Scout/MILF coven meetings.

It was all over for me. All I could say was,


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 12, 2015 4:10 AM |  Comments (74)  | QuickLink: Permalink
They’ve got nothing. Their model, the USSR, collapsed ugly. Their policies are failing. Making conservatives go third party(s) is their ONLY chance.


The question of the moment is: "Are you going to LET them?"

Sarah Hoyt answers eloquently and correctly at Winter At Valley Forge | According To Hoyt


For a hundred years, they’ve patiently been working. They took over one of the major parties. They took over education. They took over the mass media and entertainment and the arts. They had a whole wall of coordinated messages and it all imploded. Clinton? Don’t make me laugh. Should they manage to elect her, her disastrous incompetence will be obvious. Bill Clinton only had a patina of glitz because there was no internet, no dissident voices. Now? Pah.

Net Neutrality? Bah. Six months. Like their attempts at gun grabbing being squelched by 3-d printing and horse sense, give our bright boys six months and net neutrality will be circumvented. Built around, built under, ignored.

Their only hope is division in our ranks.

I say we don’t give it to them. I say we keep taking over the GOP. We’ve been at this for what? Optimistically 20 years. Not a fraction of their (at least) 100.

Yeah, we’ll eat live eels sometimes. Like, say, we couldn’t counter the veto on the Keystone pipeline. However the people claiming that as another reason to defect CAN’T be even “I’ll hold my nose and vote republican” people. NONE of the GOP defected on that. Not one. And some democrats defected to the GOP side. It is not a sign to despair, but a sign of hope.

As for those other democrats? The stooges of a long-dead system? Putin’s best buds? Yeah. We’re coming for them too.

And then, once we’ve pulled our ship off the rocks, once we’ve made the dems into a wreck, or alternately into an American party again, THEN we can have a grand fight Libertarians against Socons. I’m looking forward to it! I’ll be seventy or so, and if I run like my family, a little old lady scary beyond all reason.

But right now? Right now people are trying to destroy us, and our civilization and world.

In the end we win, they lose. Reality is on our side. But the “end” can be a long ways away.

The question is, are you going to cave into their games and let them destroy a third of the world and send civilization into the dark for hundreds of years or not?

I vote not. I understand your impulse.

But this is no time to get wobbly. Keep Calm and Keep Taking Over the GOP.

[The whole thing. Read it you will. At Winter At Valley Forge | According To Hoyt ]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 10, 2015 12:49 PM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hard Men: "These guys were by no means exceptional or heavy-duty. They were just regular fellas"


"Called "The Greatest Generation" and for good reason.

"What all these fellas had in common was morals, sense of community, honor, strength, the good old virtues. They vibed calm, deadly if necessary; do the right thing always, no speaking falsely, word is my bond. No showboating or colorful language tossed around just to hear themselves talk, no hey look at me how important I am sort of conduct.

"The Polack that ran the junkyard, he still dressed like a Polack even though he came home from the Pacific with a sack full of ears and a face full of shrapnel. "Wat? Wat? I went dere. I done some tings, I come home. Dat's it."

"These guys were by no means exceptional or heavy-duty. They were just regular fellas, living life and doing things the right way, same as all over the country, men of that generation, Americans to their last breath. What they didn’t do was talk like some kinda punks that had paper assholes. They didn’t have to. They knew their strength and were secure with it.


"Do you think them guys back in the 30s, they worried about the cultural mix? As if what was happening in some yocky-dock country in the Balkans - ooh, the Muslims are this, the commies are that - as if that was gonna affect them having a roof over their heads and food on the table for their families?


"If you didn't work you didn't eat. That's pretty basic. Didn't have to think about injustices to migrant workers or whether women were getting paid the same or whether queers could get married. They weren't reluctant about calling some folks deadbeats, moochers, parasites, like, gee, it's gonna hurt their feelings. People back then (including the women folk who were a hell of a lot stronger than the men sometimes) people had some clear understanding of morals, civic duty, work together-ness."

Posted by: chasmatic commenting on The Top 40: "Hot dog . . .this will bust ‘em wide open. Shove everything you can across!" -- Gen. Omar Bradley


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 9, 2015 2:57 AM |  Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Never Happy


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 5, 2015 12:49 AM |  Comments (32)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"150 years ago today, the greatest speech in the history of the world was delivered by Abraham Lincoln"


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

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

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 4, 2015 9:54 AM |  Comments (33)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Millennials Anthems: Here Come the Boom
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 3, 2015 1:20 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "Fortunate Son"
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 3, 2015 1:18 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Orbital
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 1, 2015 11:41 PM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: "American Shokunin"

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

Shokunin (Sho-koo-neen)

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




Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 28, 2015 10:55 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"As I was saying...." The Human Waste Map That Is San Francisco


San Francisco Debuts Human Waste Map What do you get when you visit San Francisco, the city with the highest tech and the lowest morals? If your answer is, "An online map showing block by block where the human excrement is", you'd be 100% correct! Every city has a crime map, showing block by block where crime is, but only San Francisco has a human waste map, showing block by block where to watch your step!
Catching up with me from years ago....

San Francisco, the nation's leading open air exhibition of failed social policies, never fails to instruct one in the infinite disabilities of social utopianism. Although large sections of this city still retain their charm in the far or middle distance -- the swooping helicopter pan shot in from the Golden Gate; the brightly painted Cable Car cresting a backlit hilltop -- most soon lose all charm in close-up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 27, 2015 3:00 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Huckleberry Finn is 130 Years Old


PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

YOU don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly -- Tom's Aunt Polly, she is -- and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

"As it relates to the actual body of text during the time of publication, Mark Twain composed the story in pen on notepaper between 1876 and 1883. Paul Needham, who supervised the authentication of the manuscript for Sotheby's books and manuscripts department in New York in 1991, stated, "What you see is [Clemens'] attempt to move away from pure literary writing to dialect writing". For example, Twain revised the opening line of Huck Finn three times. He initially wrote, "You will not know about me", which he changed to, "You do not know about me", before settling on the final version, "You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer'; but that ain't no matter."[14] The revisions also show how Twain reworked his material to strengthen the characters of Huck and Jim, as well as his sensitivity to the then-current debate over literacy and voting."

"Upon issue of the American edition in 1885 several libraries banned it from their shelves.[24] The early criticism focused on what was perceived as the book's crudeness. One incident was recounted in the newspaper, the Boston Transcript:

The Concord (Mass.) Public Library committee has decided to exclude Mark Twain's latest book from the library. One member of the committee says that, while he does not wish to call it immoral, he thinks it contains but little humor, and that of a very coarse type. He regards it as the veriest trash. The library and the other members of the committee entertain similar views, characterizing it as rough, coarse, and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people."
Twain later remarked to his editor, "Apparently, the Concord library has condemned Huck as 'trash and only suitable for the slums.' This will sell us another twenty-five thousand copies for sure!"

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 26, 2015 4:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pictures of the Gone World: Modern Amoeba, 1947


Jan. 27, 1947. Where once the old one's shopped for their children's clothing.

"Kartch's, business on Main Street in Paterson, New Jersey. Interior, to rear." Witness to one of midcentury design's favorite mashups, the trapezoid and the amoeba. - Shorpy Historic Picture Archive

Full interior:

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 25, 2015 1:36 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Dick Dialogues

These panels taught me ... that the creative contextualization of a play like The Vagina Monologues can bring certain perspectives on important issues into a constructive and fruitful dialogue with the Catholic tradition. This is a good model for the future. Accordingly, I see no reason to prohibit performances of The Vagina Monologues on campus, and do not intend to do so. -- Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame

LIKE THE DISTINGUISHED, BEFUDDLED, AND OUTFLANKED Father above, I too -- in a fit of "creative contextualization"-- seek to bring "certain perspectives on important issues into a constructive and fruitful dialogue" here at American Digest. To further that mission, I hope I won't be telling tales out of school if I reveal that, of late, a secret evening of drama has been taking place in numerous undisclosed locations about the nation. We are all aware of the unstoppable chunk of mummery and flummery known as The Vagina Monologues, but few know -- and few deserve to know -- about the blowback (so to speak) that is "The Dick Dialogues."

This play is usually performed on the down-low in the basements of sports bars, carefully darkened car-repair garages, and the deepest forest amphitheaters of the Bohemian Grove. Attendance is strictly male and strictly invitation-only since in many states the mere thought of giving a performance of "The Dick Dialogues" would constitute a hate-crime.

Modeled on the successful NPR series "Car Talk," a typical episode of "The Dick Dialogues" consists of two men, traditionally named "Plick" and "Plack," slumped in Lay-Z-Boys in a nondescript Rec Room. Here they field calls on a speaker phone from a series of male and female and neuter voices. The actors, clad in the traditional garb of jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps and army boots, respond to the questions on the spot during an extended half-time at a fantasy football league's Super Bowl. The cost of admission is a donation that is suggested to be equal to one month of the attendee's child support payment.

Spontaneous, unrehearsed, and always faintly pissed-off, the "Dialogues" continue to gather fans and acolytes in the secret Royal Order of Meese (Named after the Sainted Ed Meese, blessed be his Attorney General's Commission on Pornography.) in cities here and abroad wherever non-gelded males still are to be found -- either in captivity or free-ranging.

Last summer I attended a performance of the Dialogues in the greater Seattle area. At first it was to be performed at a used fishing boat warehouse down near the locks at Lake Union, but the proximity of the locks to the University of Washington and its vast stocks of neutered males made this a security risk. So it was moved to a secret location in the model rooms at a Renton superstore with the code name AEKI. While waiting for the show to start, early arrivals were entertained with classic skits such as "If You Really Loved Me, You'd Buy Me a House," "Darling, You'll Never Guess How Much I Saved Shopping Today," "Please Pay Off My Credit Cards Again," and "What the Frikin' Hell Are 'Window Treatments' Anyway?"

The performance began at midnight with sacred de-estrogenation rituals involving the burning of large numbers of cigars, the consumption of local malt beverages, and ten choruses of Kumbaya topped off with a coordinated group belch.

I am forbidden to disclose the full text of that evening's Dick Dialogues, but one particular exchange does stick in the mind. Halfway through the evening, the phone rang in the "Rec Room" and a reedy, frustrated female voice asked:

While we're on the topic of Dick use and abuse, I've recently returned my vintage Dick to the general Dick pool, but find I still need one from time to time for the small chores and larger tensions of my life. I'm reluctant to buy a new Dick outright in this market? Do you know where I can rent one? Or would leasing one be a better deal?

The evening's official Dick Dialoguers rolled their eyes, did a Jagermeister shot, popped open a Bud, took a big hit off Ghengis Bong and answered as follows:

Plick: "Lady, Dick rentals-- especially in Seattle and other major cities -- are chancy at best. While this was once a very dependable option, these days you need to know where and by whom your Dick has been rented in the past before you rent. Outside of the extremely high-end dicks that don't get a lot of traffic, like, say, the Paul Allen, rental dicks are rented to all sorts of people who tend, like bad horse trainers, to ride them hard and put them away wet."

Plack: "Yeah, and don't be taken in by all the propaganda coming from the big Dick rental firms, especially Hurts, about Pre-Owned Pre-Certified Dicks. Certification of safe rental dicks are extremely suspect these days, what with corruption being so rife in City agencies charged with certifying your that rental Dick is clean, responsive, fully fueled, and comes with a functional airbag."

Plick: "Right. I even advise that, should you decide to really blow some cash and rent the high performance dicks, you should deploy the airbag before starting it up."

Plack: "Even then, you have to bear in mind that certification is a flawed policy in any event. In this era of 'Don't ask. Don't tell.' full disclosure is a sometime thing.

Plick: "He's right. Your rental Dick can be certified in the morning after it is returned from, say, a fully fanatical fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton... "

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 24, 2015 10:36 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
23 February 1945: U.S. Marines raise the flag on Mount Suribach

First Iwo Jima Flag Raising. Small flag carried ashore by the 2d Battalion, 28th Marines is planted atop Mount Suribachi at 1020, 23 February 1945

"The Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal was coming ashore on Iwo Jima at the moment when this flag went up. It was just a speck in the distance but he immediately recognised its symbolic significance, telling General Holland “Howlin’ Mad” Smith, who was accompanying him:

Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.
It was then decided that a larger, more visible, flag was needed on the summit. The occasion would be photographed not just by the Marines but by the international media as represented by the Associated Press. However the photographer, Joe Rosenthal, had not been especially well prepared for the event:
Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don’t come away saying you got a great shot. You don’t know.
The photograph that he took has gone on to become probably the most reproduced photographic image in history. " -- WW2 Today


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 22, 2015 10:27 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gotham City / San Francisco

Gotham City SF // A Timelapse Film from Toby Harriman on Vimeo.

Meanwhile... across the Pacific... Tokyo... in dense fog.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 22, 2015 9:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Stock Oscars

Dissolve celebrates movies and their makers in these recreations of 13 movies that have won those shiny gold trademarked statues. How many can you name?

Created entirely with Dissolve stock footage.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 21, 2015 1:53 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Half Wits

Long ago. Far away. Still funnier than anything currently broadcast.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 20, 2015 1:43 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
If We Believed in Omens....

A 500-Pound Meteor Generates a Very Bright Fireball Over the Eastern United States as It Crashes to Earth

NASA reports that early Tuesday morning a meteor illuminated the sky over New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania with a very bright fireball as it came crashing to Earth. The meteor, with an estimated diameter of two feet and a weight of 500 pounds, was traveling at about 45,000 miles per hour. During its descent, which was captured on NASA cameras, the meteor flared brighter than a full moon. NASA believes fragments of the meteor are likely scattered on the ground east of Kittanning, Pennsylvania.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 18, 2015 11:36 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "The Times They Are A Changing" and "Chimes of Freedom" Originals and Variations

What can I say? We had nice ideals.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 17, 2015 10:06 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Cremains of the Day: Items Still on the Obamatrons' To-Do List


Many befuddled Conservatives and Republicans, drenched in so much angst they might as well be in a wet T-shirt contest for the morbidly obese, are asking, “What difference can another few years of Obama make? The damage has been done. It can’t get worse.”

To which we Ancient Ones respond, “Really? Are you new? Were you just born beneath a banana leaf? We are dealing with Obamatrons here and with these alien life forms the ruling rule is always: “It. Gets. Worse.”

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Obamatrons of America have been making a list and checking it twice since George Orwell was a zygote. Here area few items still left on their to-do list and when the Obamatrons list a to-do they mean to do it. To you.

Can they do it to you? As their twice elected Dent has said, “Yes, we can!” Just lie back, relax, think of the country you once had and say to yourself, as disappointed wives have said since time immemorial, “Beige. I think I’ll paint the ceiling beige.”

1. Abortions R' US (also know as "MA1.5"): Mandatory Abortions after 1.5 children (MA1.5) for everybody except special congress people and high-net worth Democratic donors who can buy one or two more kids with every election cycle. To make it easy and cheap to obtain this service, all Democrats in the House and Senate will receive funding to open abortion clinics in their own official offices throughout their home state. Supplemental funding will be attached so that every abortion also comes with a free turkey dinner and fill up the the constituents EBT card.

1.a. Eco-rider to "Abortions R' US " (MA1.5): To better conserve the scarce resources of our eternally-endangered Planet, all aborted fetuses will be harvested into artisanal beer coolers, packed with small-batch dry ice, and dispersed by means of surplus FBI, IRS, CIA and NSA Lear Jets to Federal tissue and organ banks for the future use of important Americans such as politicians, film-stars, social media moguls, dot-com billionaires, and their heirs and assigns in good standing with the DNC. More stored "sustainable" abortions means a better chance of a perfect match should members of these groups pack in their livers, kidneys, brains, or sexual organs with booze or drugs. If this had been done 40 years ago Walt Disney, Ted Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter would still be alive.

2. Stemcell Winding in Our Time: In keeping with the MA1.5, and other green programs to harvest and recycle all US, Canadian and Mexican medical waste to make those crude cakes of herb scented soap you see in Farmers' Markets on Saturday, stem cells will be harvested as well. These vast Petri-dish collections will be dispersed to the newly created Federal Stem Cell ("FedStem") Laboratories, Fat Farms, and Day Spas in all the 50 states plus American Samoa.

All Obamacare mandated "FedStem" labs will be fully-funded so that they can better muck about with the basic building blocks of life. Before being dispersed, all “FedStem” stem-cell harvests will be clearly labeled as to their genetic makeup so that the stem cell's membership in an endangered-victim group can be noted and Federally-mandated affirmative-victim quotas can be forever fulfilled. Stem-cells found to be associated with any majority or Republican group will be returned to the point of origin for termination and incineration along with the donor.

It is hoped that the harvesting of Mandatory Abortions (MA1.5) will create enough stem cells to supply all the experiments that FedStem can dream up, but if the supply falls short mandatory stem cell collection will automatically be instituted via midnight raids on gated Republican communities and other heterosexual redoubts for "People of Pallor".

3. The Better Americans Through Extra Diversity Bill (BATED): Let's face it, too many Americans, when it comes to marriage, are still sticking to their own kind and even, in some extreme cases, the opposite sex among their own kind.

BATED solves this phenomenon via forced marriages for the diversity-impaired. This bill, which requires all Americans to register their race, color, creed and national origin at birth, will give a much needed high-colonic to the presently stalled "Coffee Colored Compromise."

Good Democrats know well that the natural leanings of love often make mistakes (as opposed to the unnatural leanings), but with good Democratic government the mistakes that the normals make can always be rectified. Because some critics have referred to this as "eugenics," the BATED Bill will rectify this problem by mandating that it be called "newgenics."

With full-funding and draconian enforcement (which may or may not extend to mass sterilizations), the Democrats have no doubt that they can create the new Americans volk, the UberUniRace, within a decade -- especially if they offer free-sex weekends to selected teenagers during the school year in the gym. To ensure an optimum mix of breeding stock, bussing will be employed between such areas as Beverly Hills and South Central. To ensure that "race-neutral" breeding takes place as scheduled, fully-qualified members of the National Teachers Union will be paid double-time to oversee and instruct these "Prom" replacement festivals.

4. The Dynamic Diversity Extreme Blowout Bill (DDEB): Here we would take a privilege previously reserved for the Democratic Hollywood elite and extend it to the Democratic Party masses via 3rd world baby adoption with a tax rebate. With two 3rd world baby adoptions in a year, you would get a five-year tax holiday. With three you would get egg roll.

5. The Be-Kind to Border Jumpers Bill (BKBJ): To replace the millions of Democratic voters sadly culled by the D&C’s of the MA1.5 bill, illegal aliens, regardless of country of origin as long as they are south of the Nordic belt, will receive a Diversity's Kidz Wavier (DKW) that requires them to have 5 to 12 children, and pays them a monthly bonus of 5,000 Obamabucks per baby.

6. The Family Uberesteem Conjugal Klan Statute ("FUCKS" also known as "On Beyond Rosie O'Donnell"): As the Democrats' definition of "Family" expands to encompass everything on the North American continent up to and including the caribou herds roaming the Alaskan tundra, it will be important for them not to just legislate animals but to educate them as well.

After a long-overdue purge of local school boards and National Teachers Association recidivists, this act mandates hands-on kindergarten sex education from trained professional molesters who have previously been forbidden to live with 2,000 yards of a school.

In order to bring pride back to the millions of single mothers of five under the age of 20, the word 'bastard' shall be expunged from all dictionaries and literature, to be replaced with "village child."

Circumcision will be defined in said dictionaries and literature as "child abuse, no religious excuses, get over it." Previously circumcised citizens of the demonstrably male persuasion who feel cut off from their foreskins will be given, upon signing a pledge to vote Democrat, $250,000 grants to have replacement foreskins regrown at the FedStem tissue banks and reattached through the miracles of microsurgery. Should the procedure cost less, the grant recipients may either elect to spend the money on a boy-finding trip to Brunai or have a couple of extra inches tacked on.

7. The Comprehensive Anticipatory Child Care Act (CACCA): Given the well-known levels of stress and undue expense involved in raising a child, any parent may, upon application and proof of a solid Democratic voting record, have the child removed from the home and stored in a government approved "Foster Child Care Farm."

These institutions shall be established in the homes of or on property confiscated from, any American shown to have voted Republican -- federal, state, or local -- since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

8. The Dress for Survival Act (DFSA): "Stop that running! You'll put your eye out! Don't play in the street! Watch it! Watch it!" Who among us has not felt compelled to crush our child's spiritl with this kind of unfeeling and emotional criticism? And yet, children continue to be killed, maimed or get a boo-boo every day. With the passage of the DFSA this will come to a halt as all American children when exiting the bed will be required to don full-body Eddy Murphy-certified fat suits to prevent any injury whatsoever. The cost for this program will not create any new personal taxes because it will be funded by a 120% tax on oil-company profits.

9. The Four Non-polluting Wheels for All Program (FNPWA): Bicycles? Two wheels? You've got to be kidding. Millions of accidents waiting to happen. With the onset of FNPWA all bicycles will be confiscated and placed into our newly un-dammed ("Free!") rivers as fish habitats. Every American, at birth, will be issued a quadracycle (with basket) for their errands. The quadracycles will also involve no new taxes as they will also be funded by a second 100% tax on all oil-company revenues left after the previous tax on 120% of their profits.

10. The Traditional Family Readjustment Act (TFRA): In keeping with the goals of "The Family Esteem Statute," the words "mother" and "father" and their derivatives in daily speech are to be replaced by first names of parents (if both are known) or, “Hey, you, yes, you asshole” if unknown. In addition, the Fifth Commandment shall be expunged from all present and future Holy Books, as will all similar religious references to "Honoring thy father and thy mother" unless found in the Koran .

11. The You're Not the Boss of Me Bill (YNBOM): Criticizing, looking sternly at, correcting, or in any way reducing a child's beautifully natural self-esteem from infancy to 35 years of age shall be a misdemeanor. Touching a child with corrective intent shall be a felony. As a bonus, this extends to any handling of the child's feces. Both will be subsumed under the new law informally known as "No Child's Behind."

12. The Universal Marriage of Everything to Everything Act (UME): Men, women, dogs, cats, goats, or Barbra Streisand in that hideous Focker movie. We don't care. If you can fondle it you can marry it. Complaints or whining about this fundamental fundamental will be punishable by summary execution, the better to cull the herd.

13. The Divorce with Benefits Act (DWB): Except upon proof of the murder of a spouse, all Divorces shall be no fault, but must be adjudicated as no-fault to a minimum of $50,000 in legal fees to be paid in the absence of any work whatsoever so that Trial Lawyers’ feelings are not hurt by this ruling.

Gay divorces, should one ever actually occur, are exempt from the monetary awards of this act, but all window-treatments shall be divided equally along with the Spode China -- so buy the 12 place set. For the first five years of this act, all gay divorces (should any ever actually occur) will be required to be done on a TV reality show so that Judge Judy not profit from this act.

Upon hetero or bi-sexual divorce, being declared officially to be no-fault on the part of any individual no matter how many people shall have been in the marriage, any male involved in the divorce shall be required to pay to any designated female involved in the no fault divorce (should there actually be any females in the marriage in the first place), a minimum of 60% of his before tax income calculated backwards to the date of the first kiss in the relationship that would later become marriage.

Should 1.5 children have arisen from the Union before the mandatory abortions kicked in, the father shall pay a total of 40% of his before tax income to towards the care of those children until they reach the age of 35.

Should the female remarry and bear any children to the next husband, the husband of the first marriage shall be required to pay 10% of his before tax income to the children of the second marriage since the female never would have had them if he hadn't been such a bastard in the first place.

Alimony and support provisions shall be waived of any couple, or pairing of species, that shall have split up without being married since the circumstances of their birth and ancestry doubtless compelled them to live in such a way.

Any children fathered out-of-wedlock in the United States shall be considered for inclusion, at the mother's whim, in a Foster Child Care Farm (see above) and endowed with a trust-fund of no less than $3,000,000 from the moment of conception at the expense of taxpayers with no knowledge of the child whatsoever.

Until they reach the age of consent, now reduced to 10 years of age, all the interest from said trust fund shall be paid in monthly installments to the birth mother. At the age of consent, the principle of the trust fund will be passed to the 10 year old child to do with as he or she or it sees fit, while the birth mother shall receive a one-time balloon payment of $500,000 tax-free.

Nothing in these bills shall be construed to represent an attack on Marriage, which the Democratic party still holds to be a sacred union between any one warm-blooded multi-cellular life form and another, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, gender (assumed or assigned) and species. Mammal to fish, reptile to insect or Michelle Obama to banana marriage is still outlawed under these provisions because you simply must draw a line somewhere.

14. The Spiritual Revivification and Normalization Constitutional Amendment (SPANCA): To eliminate all future arguments about "The Family" and other contentious questions about which religion is "best," all children born after the passage of these bills will be sent to one church and one church only, "The First Unitarian Church of the Agnostic Atheist." Only Muslim children will be exempted this necessary adjustment to their spiritual psyches since, well, they have suffered enough.

Please review these still-outstanding items on the Obamatron to-do list and prepare yourselves. Lock and load or lubricate. The choice is still, for the moment, yours.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 13, 2015 12:11 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Religion of the Left


There is a world dimensional
For those untwisted
by the love of things irreconcilable.

--Hart Crane

I've written elsewhere that one of the "things you can't say about the First Terrorist War" is that it is, at bottom, a war of two religions. So it is with the culture wars in America today. It too is, and you are not supposed to say this either, a war of TWO religions.

Then again, that is not quite right. Try it this way.

We are fighting a war of two religions in which only one side is allowed to be designated as a religion -- the Right. "The Right" in these terms is always code for "The Religious Right", which is, in turn, code for "Christianity." This is sometimes, by the legion of scribblers ready to push out the party line at the drop of a hat, modified for form's sake into "Christian Fundamentalism." But realistic observers of this game are not fooled and know it to be the same sort of bearded shorthand by which "Islamic Fundamentalism" is made to stand in for Islam, pure and simple.

In whatever form the attack takes, we have seen -- and will continue to see -- an attack on Religious Americans by another group of Americans that previously identified themselves as "secular," but who lately are trying to wrap themselves in the raiment of religion to a greater or lesser extent. I am expecting a plethora of punditry soon that includes the phrase, "Some of my best friends are Christians, but...." at every opportunity.

But this tactic will, in the end, not suffice. It will fail because those of real faith easily see through those of false faith. And to profess a faith is worse than to remain simply agnostic. Still, it will be tried because bare atheism reveals that the Religion of the Liberal/Left is not a religion of the people, but of those who would be master. In the coming years, the acolytes of this Religion may attempt to don the fleece of the flock, but the Shepherd will always be able to tell between the quick and the dead.

The real disaster for the Liberal/Left in the last 8-years was not that George Bush was religious, but that Bush's religion was not the Liberal/Left's approved religion; the Religion of the Self. They now have their new apotheosis in Obama, a man whose professed faith is plain to see -- through.

The Religion of the Self is the most ancient religion. Indeed, many faiths were created, revealed, and promulgated to contain the Religion of the Self. I say "contain" because real faith is always a struggle to contain the Religion of the Self in the hopes of a more transformative life and a closer approach to God.

In the age of myth, the Religion of the Self first arose in the Garden as a result of a persuasive conversation between Eve, Adam, and a Serpent. As we know, but still have not learned, it did not work out well for Eve or her husband, and humanity has been struggling to get back to the state of the Garden ever since; a state that, without true faith, will forever recede beyond its grasp.

The Religion of the Self does not rest upon selfless service but upon ego, even as the ego calls upon selflessness in others to boost it to power. Today's Religion of the Self spends a good many cycles advocating that others should serve its endless causes; that others should obey its endless requirements; that others should recite only its approved catechism. Above all it demands that others should reach for their wallets to pay for it all.

The Religion of the Self elects candidates to high office that promise equality and deliver obscenity. The Religion of the Self is composed of many millions of believers whose primary aim is their own glory at someone else's expense. It is little wonder that the high priests of the Religion of the Self are today known as "celebrities," and that the highest state sought by members of this religion is to be, themselves, "celebrated."

A poet, who was taken for many decades to be one of their seers, but who has recently revealed he merely used them for his own,deeper purposes, once wrote of them:

"But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody...."

And they agreed as long as it was clear that the somebody they were to serve was always going to be the Self.

The Religion of the Self teaches, as its first and last precept, that there is nothing in this world greater than the self and -- beyond this world, out beyond even the unimaginable edges of the universe -- there is... well... nothing at all;

"purposeless matter hovering in the dark."

After all, there was, in our young, ignorant and still stumbling science, no proof or evidence anywhere they looked -- out to the edges of the cosmos or down into the stringed heart of matter -- that appeared to echo the Biblical. All was merely the blunt physical, the unbearable heaviness of animated meat. They simply cannot imagine a God that exists, but is "sufficiently advanced such that we couldn't identify him for another 1000 years." This possibility does not appear in their primitive equations and insufficiently sensitive instruments, even as our advanced cosmologists are beginning to see the faintest glimmers.

The only thing these "Believers" could sense that partook of the spiritual was the Self and the Self alone. Thus they made the Self into their golden idol and set it on the altar of their brief lives. Obsessed with embellishing this idol many spent large sums and long periods of introspective analysis with professionals that were paid handsomely to confirm to them, at all times and in all places, that the grim visage of the Self reigned supreme, and that only the Self and only this life in this world could be validated.

It did not matter, or it somehow escaped their otherwise sharpened intellects, that all men and all worlds dwell within a miracle and a mystery so deep and so far beyond the understanding of the human mind that we simply lack the senses to perceive it -- except through the ancient embedded sense of faith alone. Indeed, relying on the fact that "faith" is not obviously tied to any single sense organ, they would deny that it is a sense at all. And the more you deny the sense of faith in yourself, the weaker and more vestigial it becomes.

Had they looked closely at the infinitely little that is now known at the outward edges of cosmology and quantum physics they might have dimly sensed that the exercise of the power called "faith" was actually the only exercise that would allow them even a glimpse of the glory behind the material manifestation. But the worship of the Self not only obscures all dimensions outside of it, it demands their obliteration.

The reporting of and affirmation of faith by billions of human beings was to the worshipers of the Self only ancient superstition. That which was known for aeons as wisdom was to them mere myth. And the things that myth, wisdom, and faith pointed towards and revealed were all foolish because at their center they denied the primacy of the Self; reduced the Self to a small clot of cells, a few insignificant cubic centimeters of brain matter. This diminution cannot be tolerated because the Self is the most jealous and wrathful of all the gods. The Religion of the Self, preaching toleration as a central tenet, cannot tolerate faith.

For what faith does, among many other things as it reshapes a human life, is the reduction of self to its proper scale; to remove forever the capitalization of self, and render it as it is in the vaster scheme of things as they are. This reduction also means the diminution of all that the self holds dear, the sense of "I" above all, of Ego Uber Alles. Faith silences the infernal music of "Me" that the grace notes of existence can at last be heard.

This song of the self is a song our current believers learned in the cradle or, if not there, on their way into the upper realms of higher education. It was a song that needed to be sung for the proper matriculation of the budding intellectual into the material world. And this matriculation was important because, for all the protestations; all inane bromides of spirituality; all the endless bland pseudo-theologies that asked not for faith but for mere affirmation; all the ballyhooed new-age cults, psycho-babble and boutique spirituality... all these were nothing but paper-mache puppets dropped over their souls to disguise what The Believers of the Self really were -- material boys and girls on the make in a material world.

And being of that world, like religious fanatics throughout history, the members of the Religion of the Self would not be content until all others joined with and affirmed their Religion as the way, the truth and the light.

Those that voted against the Religion of the Self were seen not just as citizens who preferred to be left to their own devices, but as heretics and apostates and, worse still, unlearned and ignorant. After all, all those who were of the Religion of the Self were secure in the certain knowledge that there was but One Way; theirs. That this way did not lead to great light but only down into the pit was something they would learn, if learn they could, only at the moment beyond the very last moment; that moment when -- at last -- the self is at last expunged from the universe and yet - mirabile dictu- Creation endures.

A variation of this essay was published December 5, 2004

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 13, 2015 12:01 AM |  Comments (45)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Updated: There's No Stopping the Brian Williams Testimonials Now!

A lie which shall live in infamy!

By our Infamous commenter Mumblix Grumph

HT top vid: Never Yet Melted]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 9, 2015 12:31 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
So you think you -- distantly and vaguely -- understand just a smidgen of what is going on in this society?

Think again and pay your Neptune Society membership in full.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 4, 2015 6:20 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"This Buds [Not] For You:"Attention Organic Sustainable Artisan Hipster Beer Brewers! Sit Down and Shut Up!

"Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale, we'll be brewing us some golden suds."

On an impulse I ordered a Budweiser with a burger just last week for the first time in years. Crisp, clean, smooth, simple, thirst-quenching, and surprisingly good.

Plus they got the Clydesdales.

And they also have puppies.

Better still they have Clydesdales AND puppies, and great 60 second stories....

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 2, 2015 12:21 PM |  Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
School Daze: Then and Now


[In email this morning from one of my tireless correspondents, this lovely comparison of the way we live now versus the "bad old days." You decide.]

1. Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.

1957 - Vice principal comes over to look at Jack's shotgun. He goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2015 - School goes into lock down, and FBI is called. Jack is hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

2. Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist-fight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends.

2015 - Police called. SWAT team arrives. Johnny and Mark are arrested and charged with assault. Both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

3. Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the principal. He returns to class, sits still, and does not disrupt class again.

2015 - Jeffrey is diagnosed with ADD and given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a learning disability.

4. Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2015 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is placed in foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself, and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

5. Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 - Mark shares aspirin with principal out on the smoking dock.

2015 - Police called. Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. Car is searched for drugs and weapons.

6. Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2015 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given a diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

7. Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1957 - Ants die.

2015 - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Homeland Security, and FBI called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates parents; siblings are removed from home; computers confiscated. Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

8. Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Heather. Heather hugs him to comfort him.

1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2015 - Heather is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in state prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.

Johnny sues Heather and the school, settles for $2.5 Million.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 2, 2015 8:34 AM |  Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Who are the liberals? by James Panero on Dec 02, 2005


Just take James Burnham’s simple test. The test, which appears in Burnham’s Suicide of the West, comes by way of Roger Kimball, who wrote on Burnham last year for TNC. Answer these 39 statements yes or no; information on scoring after.

1. All forms of racial segregation and discrimination are wrong.
2. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion.
3. Everyone has a right to free, public education.
4. Political, economic or social discrimination based on religious belief is wrong.
5. In political or military conflict it is wrong to use methods of torture and physical terror.
6. A popular movement or revolt against a tyranny or dictatorship is right, and deserves approval.
7. The government has a duty to provide for the ill, aged, unemployed and poor if they cannot take care of themselves.
8. Progressive income and inheritance taxes are the fairest form of taxation.
9. If reasonable compensation is made, the government of a nation has the legal and moral right to expropriate private property within its borders, whether owned by citizens or foreigners.
10. We have a duty to mankind; that is, to men in general.
11. The United Nations, even if limited in accomplishment, is a step in the right direction.
12. Any interference with free speech and free assembly, except for cases of immediate public danger or juvenile corruption, is wrong.
13. Wealthy nations, like the United States, have a duty to aid the less privileged portions of mankind.
14. Colonialism and imperialism are wrong.
15. Hotels, motels, stores and restaurants in southern United States ought to be obliged by law to allow Negroes to use all of their facilities on the same basis as whites.
16. The chief sources of delinquency and crime are ignorance, discrimination, poverty and exploitation.
17. Communists have a right to express their opinions.
18. We should always be ready to negotiate with the Soviet Union and other communist nations.
19. Corporal punishment, except possibly for small children, is wrong.
20. All nations and peoples, including the nations and peoples of Asia and Africa, have a right to political independence when a majority of the population wants it.
21. We always ought to respect the religious beliefs of others.
22. The primary goal of international policy in the nuclear age ought to be peace.
23. Except in cases of a clear threat to national security or, possibly, to juvenile morals, censorship is wrong.
24. Congressional investigating committees are dangerous institutions, and need to be watched and curbed if they are not to become a serious threat to freedom.
25. The money amount of school and university scholarships ought to be decided primarily by need.
26. Qualified teachers, at least at the university level, are entitled to academic freedom: that is, the right to express their own beliefs and opinions, in or out of the classroom, without interference from administrators, trustees, parents or public bodies.
27. In determining who is to be admitted to schools and universities, quota systems based on color, religion, family or similar factors are wrong.
28. The national government should guarantee that all adult citizens, except for criminals and the insane, should have the right to vote.
29. Joseph McCarthy was probably the most dangerous man in American public life during the fifteen years following the Second World War.
30. There are no significant differences in intellectual, moral or civilizing capacity among human races and ethnic types.
31. Steps toward world disarmament would be a good thing.
32. Everyone is entitled to political and social rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
33. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and expression.
34. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
35. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.
36. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security.
37. Everyone has the right to equal pay for equal work.
38. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions.
39. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 31, 2015 11:06 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hive and the Town


During my years in the cities, returning to New York by air at night mezmerized me during the long approach. Sliding down over the Alleghenies from the west, curving in over the Atlantic from the South, or throttling back and easing off the Great Circle Route from Europe, the emergence of the vast sprawl of lights that defined the Hive always enraptured me. On moonless nights, after the humming hours held in that aluminum cylinder hoisted into mid-heaven, you saw the long continents of dark water or land dissolve into shimmering white-gold strands connecting to clusters of earth-anchored constellations that merged to expanding galaxies of towns, suburbs, and cities until all below was a shimmering web of man-made stars.

As you swept down still lower, these massive meadows of stars resolved to highways and streets, boroughs and neighborhoods, houses and buildings and the yellow prongs of headlights darting under the streetlights. Then you were over the boundary, the runway blurring just beneath your seat. A bump and a bounce, engines reversing, weight shifting forward then back, and you were down and rolling towards the gate. If you were coming in from the Caribbean there was grateful applause for the pilot for the miracle of a safe landing.

You deplaned, grabbed your bags, hailed a cab and soon lurched along the Long Island Expressway, part of those headlights hazed beneath streetlights you'd looked down on only minutes before. The meter clicked past $30.00, the skyline of Manhattan rose behind the gravestones of the vast cemetery, a bridge and a toll and you were back in the Hive.

I loved the Hive across all the long years I lived within it. It was at once exciting and exasperating, densely communal and achingly lonely, empowering and eviscerating, inspiring and degrading. It never stopped coming at you and, on those days when your mental defenses were weak and your emotional shields wavered, it could splatter your soul. The same random evening stroll through downtown that would show you six people ambling along dressed as gigantic baked potatoes (complete with a pat of butter, gob of sour cream and chives), would also show you a wizened bum so diminished that he would drop his trousers, squat, and defecate in the middle of the sidewalk as bond traders in bespoke suits and handmade English shoes stepped carefully around the spectacle seeing nothing, nothing at all.

An old friend with little use for it describes the Hive as, "Hell with good restaurants."

But Hell has its charms no less than Heaven; more it would seem than mere Heaven for how else does it hold so many in thrall for so long? Did not Milton, who being blind saw so deeply, declare, "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven?" In the Hive as in Hell, there's always someone lower in the ranking than you, until, of course, you become the defecating bum or another one of the soul-gutted homeless set out randomly on the streets as both warnings and talismans of what can happen should you fail to toe the line, talk the talk, and walk the walk that the Hive demands in exchange for your small but continuing prosperity.

These small skills of toeing, talking and walking I mastered early during my time in the Hive. I continued to deploy them with some modest success. I say modest since, just as there was always no shortage of those beneath you in the Hive, so too did the heap of souls piled there rise far above you. Exactly how far their relative altitude was above yours was always measured only by the cold metric of gold. And if the Hive is long on anything, it is gold. Except of course that no matter how gold much you acquire, you only have a little of all that there is to be had, a fact that keeps people in the Hive long after there's any real human need for being there. In the Hive there's always more gold to be had. The only thing asked for in exchange is time, of which the Hive never has enough since to be in the Hive is to squander your time at a greater rate than you realize until you turn around, three decades are gone, and at last you know you're running low.

Soon it will be three years since I left the Hive and I've no inclination to return. It's easy to say that my love affair with that life ended in fire, smoke and ash on the crisp and clear morning of September 11, 2001, but that's only a convenient peg on which to hang the more complicated dissolution of an unwritten pact. It more probably began in a car northeast of the city some ten years before when my first wife decided to redefine the word "normal" for my 11-year-old daughter.

Or perhaps it began in a hundred other equally mundane moments. In truth, you are either growing into a thing or growing out of it and towards something else, some other phase of this long series of repeated lessons handed out by existence for what you hope is some purpose, although what purpose that might be is always obscure. No matter. As the early Portuguese explorers knew, "It is important to travel. It is not important to arrive."

By the time I left the Hive, whatever had once bound me to it had long since frayed away. The upward pace of a "career" seemed more and more like a pointless marathon, a mere job. Long days spent striving to "exceed corporate goals" came to resemble a game of pick-up-sticks played with cows. Efforts to save an enterprise that one didn't own came down to admitting that the enterprise had no intrinsic worth other than maintaining the vulgar lifestyle of an aging monomaniac who could no longer reason his way through two and two to four. Add to that the compulsion to continue connections with past friends and present family that only seemed to use and never to give, and it all combined into a vast fog of disappointment that obscured the plain and simple fact that while government employees were working 24 hours a day printing more money, nobody anywhere was printing more time.

And so, at last, you've got to go.

Yes, as Jack Kerouac, Bard of the Road, wrote "Man, you gotta go." Then he went home.

Okay. Fair enough. But go where? Here? Maybe. But where, exactly, is "here?"

Today, for a week or so, "here" turns out to be a small town up on the northwest edge of the nation. In size and composition, architecture and attitude, it is just about the exact polar opposite of the Hive. Where Central Park in the Hive is a large, long oblong of struggling overused green in the center of an immense slab of asphalt, steel and concrete, the central park of this town is about 15 yards on a side. It's a pleasant patch of cool grass studded with picnic tables and ringed with oaks that drape it in a shawl of shade. At the east end is a brick and cedar bandstand where banjos, guitars and fiddles sing out on odd afternoons and evenings. You'll hear some country and some rock, but mostly you'll hear the strains of bluegrass brought down out of the old Alleghenies and carried far west to these higher, more distant and demanding mountains.

On the west side of the park is a five-foot by three-foot marble faced granite slab in the shape of two tablets donated and erected there by the local chapter of the Eagles. Carved into the marble face in polished script are the Ten Commandments, King James version. It would seem that whatever local chapter of the ACLU exists in these parts has chosen to ignore this blatant eruption of the Christian tradition in the secular town park. One might suppose the ACLU has done this simply because it hasn't gotten around to it. It would, however, be much more likely that the organization is aware that in this town an ACLU suit to remove the Ten Commandments would be answered not with a five year legal argument, but with 30 rounds of semi-automatic rifle fire into the offices and automobiles of those seeking its removal. Since, for all its posturing, the ACLU has devolved into a refuge for moral and physical cowards with law degrees, it's not difficult to see why this stone, largely unread and unnoticed, has been given a pass.

This is a heavily armed part of the nation and, as a result, it is a very civil and polite part as well. The local army surplus store, called "Army Surplus," offers a selection of 40 MM artillery rounds (disarmed) to those locals who collect vintage ammunition or simply to those in need of a paper weight with authority. The local classified bargain hunter newspaper ("Nickel's Worth – One Copy Free") offers free rabbits (with hutch), free pigs (no accommodations included) and free kindling ("2 cords U haul"). One the same page you're offered such amusements as a 50 pound keg of black powder ($75.00) and a pistol grip pump-action Mossburg shotgun with a short 20 inch barrel ("Used twice, like new, make offer.") There are rumors that some folks outside of town own used Army tanks, but these are not listed in the paper although large tanks for storing diesel and gasoline on your land are, along with military level first aid kits. Just the thing for a sucking chest wound.

As I get up and walk away from the shaded picnic table where I've been writing, a man sitting on the bandstand with a lunch sack and a large bottle of Mountain Dew smiles and asks, "Are you vacating that table?" Like I said, when the people are well armed people are very polite.

But of course, that's not the driving reason for civility, only a part of the general community background coloring. Another reason in this town of about 6,500 souls is that -- for all the locals complain about the summer traffic -- the town is not very crowded at all. Yet another reason is that the town is very, very white; so white that even the Native Americans here are, well, sort of pale.

Current concerns and tensions over ethnic diversity make it to the town via television, radio, and the puffed-up editorials scribbled in the distant Spokane newspaper. A shabby local rag parrots the received line of the American Left, but it is largely ignored except by the 20 odd people listed on its gigantic masthead. The love of diversity is probably taught in the schools along with the other two vital educational truths of our era -- Tobacco, bad; New York Times, good -- but other than that diversity and the other tendentious tenets of these times are just a wisps of smoke on far distant waters. In this town, being white is simply what you are.

If you had any doubt of this, a haircut at the local barber shop ("The Last Male Outpost") would trim your notion shorter than a Marine flat-top. Although sporting a red, white, and blue barber pole outside the shop boasts a Confederate Stars and Bars barber pole on the inside. Taking a seat you can leaf through vintage copies of "Field & Stream," "Guns & Ammo," and the long defunct "The Mother Earth News" ("Build a Compost Tumbler from Your Hot Water Tank!"). There's no New-Age elevator music here, but an always on police scanner so you can be among the first to know "when it all goes down." If you listen while the clippers are whirring in your ear, your barber will tell you that what all women secretly and shamefully want is the one thing they can't have, "The natural power of the male." He'll also reveal that he's trying to get this power working on his third wife.

If you said the right things and listened harder and came by for haircuts at regular intervals for a year or so, you might find out a few other things concerning high-caliber automatic weapons and ammunition stockpiles against that fateful day "when it all goes down," but blunt inquiries from a casual summer drop-in would probably be met with silence and a very bad, very close haircut.

From all of this, if you live in the Hive, you might think you have a clear impression of this town up along the northwest edge of the nation, and file it with similar impressions of other towns out on the edges of the grid and far from the maddening crowd in the Hive. You'd have that impression but it would be a false impression. Not because of anything I've put in, but because of what I've left out. Like any other place, the town has many faces.

It's a town of small houses and tin roofs ("So the snow slides off easy.") A town where the teenagers drive the five block main drag with rap music blaring from their parent's cars. It's a town where there's comedy and tragedy inside a small house with five kids and a hand lettered sign on the fence welcoming the father back from Iraq. It's a town with the plagues of drugs and festering resentments. In that, it's like a hundred thousand other towns and not so unlike the giant Hives of our cities. Looking at only the darker parts of these towns, you'd miss the many other things that there are to see. You'd miss a lot.

You'd miss the rope swing hanging down from the tree over the river and the line of teenagers in tight bodies and tighter swim suits arcing out from the bank and then up and letting go with a shriek at the top of the arc and plunging down into the clear, chill water, laughing and scrambling up the dirt bank to go again, an update of Thomas Eakins great painting, "The Swimming Hole," in real life and real time, right now on an endless summer afternoon.

You'd miss the sweeping panorama of the long lake clasped between the ranges of hills and mountains daubed with vast swathes of pine and cedar; the mountains seeming to hold back the piles of white cumulus far to the north and the west leaving the town and the lake warm under a bright clear sky all down the slope of the day and into the lingering twilight.

You'd miss the small farmer's market setting up around me in the park now as I make these notes. A market presenting for those who wander by hand-fashioned bread loaves with thick crusts still cooling in the reed baskets on the table, fresh cut wildflowers in large bouquets, the seven varieties of garlic with soil still on their roots offered up by the "Two Ponies Organic Farm" -- plowed by, yes, two tired-looking ponies hitched to a harrow. You wouldn't see and taste the "Heirloom" tomatoes, the pickling cukes, the golden beets and the mounds of other produce all centered about the local Cult of the Huckleberry and the several dozen different products derived from this fruit.

You'd miss the ever increasing overlay of people migrating in from other, larger places, other Hives, bringing along with them the omnipresent espresso and pastry shops, the Ahi-tuna centered restaurants, the downtown rock and salsa nightclub where "It's a great place to be gay... or not!"

You'd miss this latest demographic's obsessive concern with a wide and constant availability of mildly superior California wines in their almost infinite sameness.

Following close behind this influx of aging tomb-boomers you'd see the proliferation of shops specializing in giving an antlered, worn-pine, Indian blanket, Western feel to the $500,000 vacation condos and the $2,000,000 lakefront McMansions with floating boat docks sporting 25' Sea Rays. Driving just beyond the town limits, you'd find the immense alien landing sites of Home Depot and Wal-Mart, which haven't managed to kill off the local merchants. Yet. And in all of this you'd rest secure that once in town you'd never be more than five minutes from a Starbucks since, once in town, you're never more than five minutes from anything. Walking.

You'd miss the much-bemoaned (unless you're selling) real estate boom, and the whines about "all those damned Californians that've invaded since that damned Sunset article naming us as the best town in the Northwest." Years back that and, in the manner of magazines that must publish the "same article, only different" time after time, other "best towns" have been named since, but the beat of the boom goes on and prices out those that must work in the Wal Mart in favor of the aging geezers who shop at Neiman Marcus -- via the Internet with free shipping and no sales tax, thank you.

You'd miss the postman actually walking his route through the town clad in regulation shorts, uniform shirt, official US mail sack and baseball cap, with goatee, sleek Nikes, and Blades shades, strolling door to door right down the Oak Street sidewalk where the concrete slabs narrow down to round stepping stones that curve across the shaggy, shaded lawn to the vine-drowned porch of the small yellow house where, quite literally, the sidewalk ends.

You'd miss lounging back on the wide expanse of lawn in the town's Little League field where the peaked white tent has been set up for the music festival like a thousand other small town music festivals, and you'd drink your cold white local wine from a plastic cup as the burning banjos and mandolins of a Bluegrass group you'd never heard of went to work, brought it on, and played their hearts out as the sunlight faded off the hills and dusk rose up by the lake, and they still played on as hundreds bobbed and turned and beat their feet in the looming dark while the red hawk settled down out of the sky onto his nest on the street light above the water.

And you'd miss, late into that same crisp summer night, when the freight train rumbles over the long bridge across the lake on the edge of the town and the sliver of the new moon jumps up over the ridgeline and the train fades off down the tracks and the dark deepens in the yard, you'd miss lying on the cool grass a long, long way from the fine restaurants of Hell, looking straight up forever into an infinite hive of stars.

August, 2005. Sandpoint, Idaho

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 29, 2015 3:54 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Attack of The Food Eroder

Or, "The Ninja Nibbler of the Night"


As a friend of mine recently pointed out, "Women shop. Men resupply."

Too true. Whenever I find myself in one of our current Cathedrals of Food (AKA: "Whole Foods -- Why Pay Less?"), I don't buy meals, I buy components. Though I've lived alone for some time, I buy like I'm supplying a small tribe. I've tried to control this by selecting the "little" cart. You know, that half-pint shopping vehicle, that grocery Miata, that let's you believe you're not really buying as much as you are. It doesn't work. I come home, unpack my "kills" -- at about $69 a bag -- and mumble, "Who's going to eat all this?"

House guests are the God's answer to "Who's going to eat this?" They are. That's okay. I love to cook for people. I'm good at it and it gets boring cooking for one; expensive too since I loathe leftovers.

Problems return when your house guests are stealth eaters. You know who I mean. Yes, you. Stealth eaters never, ever overeat -- except on the sly. They are the Merrill's Marauders of the post-midnight refrigerator.

Ordinary stealth eaters can be dealt with because the damage done by their pillage is obvious. You had half of a banana cream pie in the frig at sunset but by dawn it is gone. Vanished. Evaporated. Kaput. Never to be heard from again. Not so much as a ransom note, just a crumpled tin husk folded and stuffed down the side of the garbage bag beneath the camouflage of a crumpled milk carton.

Not pleasing, especially when you were planning on banana cream pie for breakfast. Still you suck up your sorrow, move on, and resupply.

No so with the worst sort of stealth eater -- the dreaded food eroder.

The food eroder is so stealthy he or she can even conceal their eating from themselves. The food eroder wishes to eat but not be seen eating nor to be known to have eaten. The food eroder can make your entire refrigerator into a Potemkin village where you think you have a LOT of food, but actually have almost none. A food eroder deals in cuisine disinformation.

Case in point:

Some weeks back I had a house guest. This house guest was a very careful eater -- someone cognizant of the fine points of nutrition; someone who knew the calories in a twice-baked potato down to the last bacon bit swimming in a dollop of sour cream. This nameless but shameless someone also had a finely tuned economic indicator and never met a leftover that was not loved, caressed, and consumed -- even when the original meal was lost to recorded history.

I once had a kind of grudging respect for this guest who was so much more disciplined about food than I could ever hope to be. But that was before I discovered -- after the guest's departure -- that I had been sharing my home and sacred refrigerator with a food eroder, a late-night Ninja nibbler.

You see, in order to fulfill my male mission of re-supply, I need to know what supplies are actually on hand. With a food eroder, this cannot be known since -- if you do not actually hand inspect every item in your larder -- you can never be sure of the quantity. What you can be sure of, I now know, is that a food eroder will guarantee you have less than you think.

The clearest example of this is -- as I have discovered today -- the most often decimated target of any self-respecting food eroder, ice cream.

About a month ago I noted that the house had no ice-cream in the freezer. This is not good -- especially should an after-midnight-ice-cream emergency break out while watching, say, "I Got the Hook-Up."

To prepare for such an emergency, and thus avert an ice cream crisis, I resupplied the freezer with a full half-gallon of French Vanilla. Since my house guest was looking a bit peckish at the time I offered to make a couple of sundaes (carmel sauce, shaved almonds, etc.). My guest gracefully accepted and the half gallon of ice-cream supply was reduced by perhaps a pint overall. This left around three pints. Such was the state of the ice cream three weeks ago at last check. Need for resupply? Negligible.

Fast forward to today when I was suddenly stricken with an ice-cream-emergency (While watching, yet again, "I Got the Hook-Up.") and staggered to the supply in the freezer. As I removed it I noted it felt strangely light for a container that should have contained about three-pints. You can only imagine my shock when upon opening it I discovered that it contained only about a half-inch thickness of ice cream covering the now far distant bottom.

But that was not the worst of it.

On closer examination, the surface of that razor-thin level of ice cream was scored by a series of small parallel grooves across it from side to side. It was as if somebody had gone back and forth over the ice cream with a teaspoon like a lawn mower.

I knew then I had been hit by the food eroder. I knew that, over several nights, my ice cream had be hit again and again and again.

Just a little this time. Just a little more that time. Then a bit again when the compulsion struck. And all, it was clear, in a shameful and furtive way as I slept.

This degradation probably went on and on until the food eroder could no longer avoid the terrible truth that nearly a half a gallon of ice cream had been consumed whilst standing at the refrigerator with spoon in hand. At that point shame overcame the eroder and the container was placed carefully back in the refrigerator so that it would appear to be undisturbed.

The food eroder escaped without ever having to face the shame. I'm off to resupply and thus avoid a post-midnight ice cream crisis. My only solace is that I know that the food eroder, now back home and faced with a refrigerator stocked only with the desiccating remnants of cantaloupe and celery is still having to walk an extra two miles every day in penance. Ice cream giveth, but ice cream doth not taketh away.

Meanwhile, my stock is back to normal. But I am taking steps to avoid future shock. I'm installing a state of the art motion-sensing alarm on the refrigerator instead of my previous sign that said, "Too late. Already here."

[Republished because..... because.... because.... The Food Eroder has returned. This time with teeny-tiny storage units. ]

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 27, 2015 12:39 AM |  Comments (29)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Road Tales: Where the Buffalo Roam

Proof -- Dateline: Moab, Utah Taken at Site

He'd hunted big game for years all over the United States. Hunting was a way of life to him. But, in all those years, he'd never shot a buffalo. He'd put his name in for the lottery that gave out yearly licenses to shoot buffalo, but year after year the winning number had eluded him. As he failed, again and again, his need to add a buffalo, an American bison, to his life bag grew to obsessive proportions. Finally, he could stand it no longer. He determined that he would buy a couple of young buffalo, raise them, and then shoot them. It seemed like a plan.

When the buffalo purchase was completed the question arose about where these buffalo were to be raised. He wasn't a rich man and the cost to two baby buffalo maxed out his credit cards. The only viable option was to raise them on his front lawn in Moab, Utah. Accordingly, the buffalo were delivered and put out to pasture, or "out to lawn" as the case may be.

Besides grass the lawn also contained, courtesy of his kids, a couple of soccer balls. Shortly after the buffalo became his lawn ornaments, he was out walking among them when one of them discovered a soccer ball and butted it over to him with its nose. Without thinking he kicked it back towards the other buffalo, who passed it to the first buffalo who butted it back to him. An hour or so of passing and kicking the soccer ball between man and buffalo ensued.

When he went out on his lawn the next morning, they were waiting for him. One seemed to be playing midlawn while the other hung back by the water trough which had become some sort of goal. The forward buffalo butted the ball towards him. Without thinking he returned the kick over the head of the forward. No good. With a speed belying its bulk, the defensive buffalo moved quickly and butted it through his legs to the porch. When it bounced off the barbecue, they seemed to do a brief victory prance. The game was afoot.

Day after day, week after week, the strange lawn ritual with the soccer ball went on and on. In truth, he had long since pulled far ahead of the buffalo in goals, but what do buffalo know about keeping score?

In time, however, the hunting season came around. He looked out of his house on the first morning and saw the buffalo waiting for him, the soccer ball in front of the forward, the defensive buffalo pacing slowly back and forth by the water trough. It came to him then that he could never shoot them. It would spoil the season -- and the soccer season, in the deserts of Utah, is never really over.

On a hot afternoon soon after, he looked out his window and discovered, much to his delight and his neighbors' shock, that the two buffalo on his lawn were indeed male and female.

Now it is two years later and he has four buffalo on his lawn. He doesn't hunt anything anymore. Says he's lost the taste for it. His old hunting buddies come by every so often and razz him about the buffalo.

"You started with two and couldn't shoot them," one said. "Now you got four, and next year you're gonna have five. What are you going to do then?"

He went to his garage and came back with a basketball.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 26, 2015 2:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Rich and Strange: The Sensorium of B. H. Obama

Obama: "We are Americans but we are also brains connected to various sensory input sources..... And that was it. He never made it back to the White House.

"Meanwhile, Michelle Obama was busy hosting Let's Move Annual Hide and Go Seek Week."

Published on Jan 16, 2015
Friar Edgar's Globe of Wonders ( invites you to feast in the Globe's premiere wonder: a look back at Year 7 of the Obama presidency, presented by the award-winning documentarians of "America Past." In the early months of 2015, a young United States President named Barack Obama made a fateful decision. Frustrated by the endless pressures of his thankless, dead-end, white-collar job, Obama delivered his State of the Union speech and disappeared-- to America's heartland - Lawrence, Kansas - where he began the great work of which he'd always dreamed. But with the lamestream media and the forces of Washington politics-as-usual hot on his tail, could this plucky POTUS deliver the change he believed in?

Contact Globe of Wonders researchers Dr. P. Van Koughnett and Dr. P. Davis at
Learn more about the legacy of Friar Edgar of Taunton at .

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 23, 2015 11:09 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"North is at the bottom:" Once Again We Learn That the Map is Not the Territory


A 16th century view of North America in the Vallard Atlas

The scene above shows the second American map, which is of the East Coast of North America, and is one of the most significant of the Vallard Atlas. It is again oriented to the South and has the latitude markers and distance scales in the left and right margins. In the Atlantic, almost in the center of the map, is one beautiful ship, partially surrounded by compass roses, exuding rhumb lines.



But what makes this map particularly important is its display of the geographical information brought back from the New World by the expeditions of Jacques Cartier in 1534, 1535-1536, and 1541-1542. Detailed are the Gulf of St Lawrence and the St Lawrence River and some of the wilderness beyond them, discovered and explored by Cartier in search of the elusive Northwest Passage to the Orient and who gave Canada its name. The meticulous representation of the coastlines with their numerous inlets underscores Canada’s potential for fishing and trade. He also reported fully on the Indians of the many tribes that he encountered. Shown in the forests of the mainland in an exquisite, almost late Medieval manner are Cartier, his well armed explorer-colonists, and the winter fort of Sainte-Croix. The Indians, who clearly are overshadowed by the Europeans, also are present observing them, hunting deer, and warring with each other. In addition to the deer, other fauna such as dogs, bears, and possums or foxes are present as well.


Video about the Vallard Atlas and larger map if you

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 22, 2015 11:04 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Keeping You Up to Date on Advances in Lawn Chair Aviation

Impressive but a mere shadow of the balls of the original Lawn Chair Aviator:

"Lawrence Richard Walters, nicknamed "Lawnchair Larry" or the "Lawn Chair Pilot", (April 19, 1949 – October 6, 1993) was an American truck driver[1] who took flight on July 2, 1982, in a homemade airship. Dubbed Inspiration I, the "flying machine" consisted of an ordinary patio chair with 45 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it. Walters rose to an altitude of over 15,000 feet (4,600 m) and floated from his point of origin in San Pedro, California, into controlled airspace near Los Angeles International Airport. His flight was widely reported."

The Larry Waters Story:

"Now let me tell you about Larry Walters, my hero. Walters is a truck driver, thirty-three years old. He is sitting in his lawn chair in his backyard, wishing he could fly. For as long as he could remember, he wanted to go /up/. To be able to just rise right up in the air and see for a long way. The time, money, education, and opportunity to be a pilot were not his. Hang gliding was too dangerous, and any good place for gliding was too far away. So he spent a lot of summer afternoons sitting in his backyard in his ordinary old aluminum lawn chair - the kind with the webbing and rivets. Just like the one you've got in your backyard.

"The next chapter in this story is carried by the newspapers and television. There's old Larry Walters up in the air over Los Angeles. Flying at last. Really getting UP there. Still sitting in his aluminum lawn chair, but it's hooked on to forty-five helium-filled surplus weather balloons. Larry has a parachute on, a CB radio, a six-pack of beer, some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a BB gun to pop some of the balloons to come down. And instead of being just a couple of hundred feet over his neighborhood, he shot up eleven thousand feet, right through the approach corridor to the Los Angeles International Airport.

"Walters is a taciturn man. When asked by the press why he did it, he said: "You can't just sit there." When asked if he was scared, he answered: "Wonderfully so." When asked if he would do it again, he said: "Nope." And asked if he was glad that he did it, he grinned from ear to ear and said: "Oh, yes."

"The human race sits in its chair. On the one hand is the message that says there's nothing left to do. And the Larry Walterses of the earth are busy tying balloons to their chairs, directed by dreams and imagination to do their thing.

"The human race sits in its chair. On the one hand is the message that the human situation is hopeless. And the Larry Walterses of the earth soar upward knowing anything is possible, sending back the message from eleven thousand feet: "I did it, I really did it. I'm FLYING!"

"It's the spirit here that counts. The time may be long, the vehicle may be strange or unexpected. But if the dream is held close to the heart, and imagination is applied to what there is close at hand, everything is still possible.

"But wait! Some cynic from the edge of the crowd insists that human beings still /can't really/ fly. Not like birds, anyway. True. But somewhere in some little garage, some maniac with a gleam in his eye is scarfing vitamins and mineral supplements, and practicing flapping his arms faster and faster."

-- From Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Waters, July 2, 1982

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 21, 2015 8:51 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Constitution Free Zone


The Government's 100-Mile "Border" Zone - Map | ACLU
"This is what it means to me: Look for Waco-like events

followed by a cascade of smaller operations; show trials of prominent dissidents and Breitbarting of others; a blizzard of draconian regulations; confiscation of weapons and wealth; and rule through intimidation and Soviet-style terror. Expect successive waves of state-sponsored urban riots, deflation and inflation and revaluation, price controls, closing of international borders; internal travel restrictions, closing the internet to civilians, a fully captured news media ... Think Martial Law, Executive Orders, UN involvement. And that's the optimistic part. I don't think people understand what they're up against. Chasmatic @ Spillers of Soup: CONSTITUTION-FREE ZONE

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 20, 2015 10:33 AM |  Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Wyeth's Women: Betsy, Christina, Siri and Helga

Betsy, "Maga's Daughter," 1966

"On Andrew Wyeth’s 22nd birthday he ventured to Cushing, Maine to meet the artist Merle James but instead met James’ 17-year old daughter Betsy. Instantly smitten, he asked her to show him around town and she was more than happy to oblige. She thought “I’ll show him a real Maine building” and as something of a test took him to the Hathorne Point home of her friends Christina and Alvaro Olson.

Mrs. Andrew Wyeth 'Corner of Woods' 1954

"Throughout his life Andrew had a rather contentious relationship with women; indeed with anyone who didn’t in some way directly support his painting, but on that day in July 1939 he met what would become two of the most important women in his life.

Christina, 1967

"Christina Olson, who had an undiagnosed neuromuscular disease (likely polio) was reduced to crawling and urinating on stacks of discarded newspapers. Andrew however felt that “she was so much bigger than all the little idiosyncrasies.” and found her a symbol of fierce independance - an extraordinary conquest of life. The result of this friendship was Christina’s World, one of the iconic paintings of the 20th century.

Christina's World, 1948

"Christina’s death in January 1968 deeply affected Andrew and marked the end of a seminal two decade long period in his painting.

Siri Erickson

"Faced with a blank canvas – as it were – it was time for a reappraisal of his art. It was then that he met Siri, the daughter of the Cushing farmer George Erickson. Siri was exotic, untouched and had an electrifying effect on his work. “A burst of life,” he later said, “like spring coming through the ground, a rebirth of something fresh out of death.”

Siri, Sauna, 1969

"Wyeth painted Siri for ten years, until Betsy – worried that their relationship had turned sexual – put a stop to it. She told Andrew “If you do this again, don’t tell me.” Her request would have rather far-reaching consequences because Andrew had just met Helga."

Helga, 1972

-- Text from Codex99// Betsy, Christina, Siri and Helga

Marriage, 1993

Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, October, 2008.

The great men [ Thoreau, Goethe, Emerson, Tolstoy] forever radiate a sharp sense of that profound requirement of an artist, to fully understand that consequences of what he creates are unimportant. Let the motive for action be in the action itself and not in the event. I know from my own experience that when I create with any degree of strength and beauty I have no thought of consequences. Anyone who creates for effect—to score a hit—does not know what he is missing! Letterto Andrew fromhis father, the great illustrator N.C. Wyeth


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 18, 2015 6:15 PM |  Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink


Hemingway and the Cocktail

Ernest Hemingway (21 Jul 1899 – 2 July 1961) was, among other things, a war correspondant, bullfighting aficionado, American expatriate, novelist, cat-fancier, fisherman, sub-chaser, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner and, for our purposes here, a rather serious drinker. Ernest, or Papa, began drinking as a teenager in his cub reporter days and continued, unabated, throughout his life. Toward the end of his life he was reportedly drinking the equivalent of a quart of whiskey a day.



Charles Baker, in his 1939 classic The Gentleman’s Companion included this drink prepared for him by Papa during a Jan 1937 visit to the author in Key West. Hemingway described it as a “picker-upper” Baker writes: “It’s tartness and its bitterness are its chief charm.” In other words – a typical Hemingway cocktail.
2 oz. Lucas Bols Oude Genever
4 dashes Angostura
1 lime
Add crushed ice to a thin tumbler.
Lace the ice with 4 dashes of Angostura.
Add the juice and crushed peel of 1 lime.
Nearly fill the tumbler with Genever.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 16, 2015 4:36 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
G2E Media GmbH

5-Minute Arguments
American Studies
Analog World
Art Within America
Bad Americans
Blather & Spew
Blodder Award
Click-Pix: Blogs on a Roll
Coasts & Heartland
Connect the DotComs
Critical Mass
Culture & Civilization
Drool-Cup Award
Enemies, Foreign & Domestic
Essays & Items
Fish Barrel Bang
Frequently Answered Questions
Global Reach
Grace Notes
Heroes & Hustlers
Intellectually Insane
Issues & Episodes
Its the Law
Letters from Home
Letters Never Sent
Mass Distractions
Military Affairs
Mondo Bizarro
Moving Images
Myths & Texts
News to Me
Nota Bene
Obsessed & Confused
On the Land
Patriot Gains
Pinhead Punditry
Political Corrections
Political Pablum
Pure Opinion
Pure Products of America
Quisling Corner
Reportage Redux
Rumors: Substantiated & Otherwise
Science Made Stupid
Site Notes
Sites Unseen
Space Patrol
Squawking Points
The Americans
These Just In
Thinking Right
Tinfoil Brigade
Truth @ Slant
Under Review
Useful Idiots
What's Just So Wrong With This Picture?
Word Forge


Warning: include(): http:// wrapper is disabled in the server configuration by allow_url_include=0 in /home/boswell/public_html/mt-archives/cat_american_studies.php on line 4347

Warning: include( failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found in /home/boswell/public_html/mt-archives/cat_american_studies.php on line 4347

Warning: include(): Failed opening '' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/boswell/public_html/mt-archives/cat_american_studies.php on line 4347