Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

American Studies

Something Wonderful: Typecasting and Other Ancient Marvels at Arion Press

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

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


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 8, 2016 10:42 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ronald Reagan was not unappreciated at the end, far from it. But he was at the beginning.

Happy 105th Birthday, Mr. President.

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

-- President Ronald Reagan, 1992

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

-- Timothy 2:4:7



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

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

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

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


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

Surrounded by a Wall of Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add-ins en route;

+ the elderly disabled on her scooter,

+ the use of the bus/public transport,

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

+ random Asian neighbor peering out of window,

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 5, 2016 10:39 AM |  Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"My Log Cabin 1985 "

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"I lived here for about eight years, and owned it for about fifteen years after I built it in 1976 with local fieldstone and oak logs I cut, peeled and notched on the site, working alone with hand tools.

It had no plumbing, I carried water from a nearby spring, and I heated it in winter with about half a cord of wood a week which I cut and burned in the open fireplace. Eventually I moved into Asheville and had to sell it, but it was a large part of my life, and I miss it more with each passing year." My Log Cabin 1985 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 1, 2016 4:00 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass:" If Trump Wants a Campaign Song, This Would Be a Candidate

I turn on the tube and what do I see
A whole lotta people cryin' "Don't blame me"
They point their crooked little fingers ar everybody else
Spend all their time feelin' sorry for themselves
Victim of this, victim of that
Your momma's too thin; your daddy's too fat

Get over it
Get over it
All this whinin' and cryin' and pitchin' a fit
Get over it, get over it

You say you haven't been the same since you had your little crash
But you might feel better if I gave you some cash
The more I think about it, Old Billy was right
Let's kill all the lawyers, kill 'em tonight
You don't want to work, you want to live like a king
But the big, bad world doesn't owe you a thing

Get over it
Get over it
If you don't want to play, then you might as well split
Get over it, Get over it

It's like going to confession every time I hear you speak
You're makin' the most of your losin' streak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak

You drag it around like a ball and chain
You wallow in the guilt; you wallow in the pain
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringin' everybody down
Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass

Get over it
Get over it
All this bitchin' and moanin' and pitchin' a fit
Get over it, get over it

Get over it
Get over it
It's gotta stop sometime, so why don't you quit
Get over it, get over it


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 25, 2016 11:12 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Snow? Whaaaaat?: Coming Right Up, The "Storm of the Century" As Usual


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 22, 2016 6:57 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Spare Change

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They are found in trays on the dresser, jars in the kitchen, bowls in the bedroom. They are the small bits of cash detritus, the left over fractions of a dollar, that collect in our pockets and purses on a daily basis, and often consigned to the change cups of America.

Most people have one. I have one. Mine is a white ovenproof ramekin and it slowly fills with pennies, dimes, nickels, and -- mostly -- quarters. Indeed quarters are what most change is made of in these days of prices set to end in .99 at work with various state and local sales taxes of 3 to 9 percent.

Every day I dump whatever is loose in my pockets into the ramekin. In the beginning it's just a couple of quarters and a smear of pennies. Dimes and nickels are uncommon but not yet rare. In the fullness of time the ramekin fills up with an untold amount of money much like William Devane's safe.

When a small mound of change forms at the top of the ramekin I know it is time for one of my favorite shopping trips: “FREE GROCERIES!” And to do that I bag up all my coins and head off to my favorite “FREE MONEY MACHINE!,” the big green Coinstar to get some.

After all, change is just the drippings from money already spent; the sawdust from your logs of liquidity. Few would be willing to separate the coins and pack them into tubes as was the case in the Ancient of Days. Fewer still maintain their own change counting machines. It’s just not worth it since the dollar became the new quarter sometime between 2008 and now.

Coinstar is the answer. For a mere 10.9% of your money it will convert your change into a strip of paper which can be redeemed for groceries and real currency at the cash register. Coinstar is also a very entertaining store machine, one of the few that gives you back something for your effort. It’s a kind of reverse slot machine (with similar sound effects)in which you win every time, minus 10.9%. In addition it shows its work on the screen. You tilt up the slide and let the coins shuffle in to a satisfying series of clinks, clunks, and clacks, interrupted every so often with a clunk as the Coinstar spits out an item it cannot accept. In front of you the screen shows the actual ascending numbers of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars (rare), and silver dollars (hunted to extinction). Then you get your voucher and off you go to shop with.... “FREE MONEY!”

Because I am easily entertained I love those trips. Yesterday I noted that my love for Coinstar was due to be consummated once again. I noticed that ”Lo, my change cup runneth over,” and poured all my change into a Ziplock bag. It's heft felt like around two pounds. My change cup was, obsessive-compulsively and blissfully, empty again.

I set off for the town Safeway and poured my change into the coin slide on the Coinstar. It went through its satisfying series of clunks, clinks, clanks,clacks and counting and came up.... at the end of it all... with...

$24.00.

Yes, a round dollar amount completely at random. This is, for those like me who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive disorders, equal to “the perfect pump.” (When, in filling the tank at the gas pump, you watch the rising total and snap-release the handle and get a round dollar amount. So satisfying!)

Armed with my free money voucher in the sum of ...

$24.00.

I began shopping. I picked up some milk, which I needed. I picked up some oranges, which I also needed. I passed on the cream-filled fresh-baked Bundt cake, which I really, really, really do NOT need. I picked up some meat on sale for 50% off even if I don’t really count 50% off $18.80 as a bargain. I picked up some of this and some of that and then went to the Express checkout to see how many public school educated citizens in front of me were unclear on the concept of “15 Items or Less.”

When.... at long, long last.... it was my turn I handed my Coinstar voucher to the cashier. She pulled my “15 Items or Less” across her scanner. The total?

$23.75.

To my right the change dispenser at the pay station spit out into its buff metal cup.... one single quarter. I picked it up, slipped it into my pocket, and took it home.

I tossed it into the white ramekin. It made a nice crisp clink as it hit the bottom of the empty change collector.

There it sits this morning, all alone with a small tuft of pocket lint, waiting for others in its mildly diverse family of money to join it.

And the great circle of life begins again.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 20, 2016 9:56 AM |  Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On Assault Rifles -- A Guest post by B. Chandler

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As a preface I will note that I was in high school in 1996 when our laws came down, and at that time owned no guns for anyone to pry from my cold, dead hands.

The common conception of how an assault weapon ban will pan out in America usually follows the same inscrutable logic. The Feds will ban the weapons and the citizens will revolt. Truth, Justice and the American way will be restored. The end.

I would offer an alternative. It's less patriotic, there's no swelling crescendo of "from sea to shining sea", and there's no happy ending. Thus it's completely impossible. I offer it none-the-less.

After some run of the mill atrocity "that happens nowhere in the world but the USA" the Feds manage to pass a law banning "assault rifles". There is a generous buyback included, paid for by the federal money spigot. They know only a few guns will be handed in initially so it's more than affordable.

A thousand legal battles will be launched but they will take time to come to fruition and the government is not bound to wait until the result comes out in the wash.

Meanwhile there will be a groundswell of protest. People will march in the streets with their ARs and AKs. No matter. The buy-back amnesty runs for six months. Nobody is breaking the law. Meanwhile other more important factors are coming into play.

Immediately noticeable is the disappearance of online trading in the banned articles. The guns themselves. Magazines for said guns. Etc. Companies like Cheaper Than Dirt can be easily bankrupted by court orders to cease and desist trade. They will not martyr themselves. Gun ranges, also typically being business entities, will no sooner allow you to arrive with banned assault weapons than they would allow you to bring in a pound of cocaine. "Just give the courts some time work it out, Joe", they'll say. Some ranges will shrug off the rules. Nothing will come of it. Not until later.

Similarly, larger companies that manufacture such guns are now either forced to go back to building bolt action rifles or go to work for the government. Back room deals will be made. Nobody will be out so much as a dollar. "Just go along quietly. After all. If the American people want freedom then it doesn't fall to Remington to drag them to it kicking and screaming."

The months will tick by. The protests will start to dwindle in number and attendance. The amnesty is still in effect and many are starting to wonder how this thing is going to go down. After all. Nobody has started shooting so far, at least as far as the mainstream media is saying, and can you really trust those Alex jones types?

boxcuter.jpgJoe Average is starting to wonder if he really wants to bury several thousand dollars of guns. After all, they're fetching top dollar in private sales. Consequently many Joe Averages divest themselves of any skin they had in the game. In any case, they still have their deer rifle and their .45, and that's enough to fight tyranny, right?

The hour draws nigh. The amnesty is drawing to a close. Finally, federal tyranny will have to bare it's teeth and be put down like the monster it is. The protests fire back up. Cold, dead hands, etc etc!

The amnesty is extended for another three months. The cycle begins anew. By the second extension of the amnesty the assault rifle owners have become quite drawn and haggard. Nobody is kicking in their doors and they're getting tired of perpetually attending protests or talking tough on the internet. By the time the final extension peters out the protests are lackluster.

True enough, there are still a LOT of assault rifles in circulation. The majority of them in fact. Many have since been buried. Many sit by bedsides or other handy locations, awaiting the inevitable jack boot of tyranny to come stomping. Their owners grimly await a valiant death in defense of liberty.

They are left waiting.

Protests continue, albeit on a smaller scale. People photographed at such gatherings with illegal weapons start to lose their jobs or their contracts. "Can't be seen to associate with people flaunting the law, you understand." No crackdowns required.

Meanwhile trade in the guns and their parts is closed save for the black market. What breaks or wears down has to be replaced by hand or not at all. Internet forum moderators studiously ban all talk of such things. They can be shut down easily if they were seen to be aiding and abetting lawlessness. Videos on Youtube and other video hosting websites that contain footage of the weapons in anything other than a blatantly historical context are removed, "just to be on the safe side".

Only a few brave bloggers are left to post such content as they are able, and they will later be rounded up by their internet service providers as would be someone caught posting risque pictures of children. No top-down federal tyranny required. The SWAT teams continue playing cards to pass the time.

By this stage the various cases have wound their way through the Supreme Court. If the ban is overturned then a few words in the legislation will be tweaked and it will be passed again. The slowing of momentum would require sophisticated equipment to detect. In any case, no company is going to bet the farm on retooling to ramp up supply of guns that might be illegal in another six months.

As time ticks by we will see an all too familiar story recurring across the nation.

An anonymous call from a concerned neighbor will have the police knocking on Joe Average's door at 3 in the morning. "Domestic dispute", they'll say, "you have to let us in".

"I live alone", he might reply.

"We have to verify that", they will counter.

The rest is inevitable. Either Joe has hidden his gun(s) exceptionally well at short notice or he's going to find himself dead to rights. Maybe he's buried his guns in preparation for the day when he get's the memo from the ghost of Guy Fawkes instructing him to dig them up and RSVP for the revolution scheduled for Tuesday-week. Those guns thus buried will be fodder for future archaeologists.

Most likely, Joe will long have come to hate that gun. It will burn in his presence like the beating of Edgar Allen Poe's Tell-tale Heart. Chances are he'll toss it in the river or sell it to some shady character down at the bar, if not by his own determination then by the insistence of his wife.

"Anonymous tip leads to discovery of illegal weapon cache" will be the mainstream media cliche for a decade. The inference will be that the person in question is either a terrorist or a gang member. Their life will be turned upsidown. If they plead guilty then they get to go home and live out their lives as a convicted felon with a suspended sentence.

The few that try to fight the charges will end up in federal prison as an example to the rest. Their fate will be lamented by internet patriots for five minutes per occurrence, during which many will tout the fact that they'll never give up their deer rifles, such being the necessary tool to defeat Federal tyranny.

Others will shrug their shoulders.

"We may not like it, but it's the law...

We live in a democracy...

Yadda yadda yadda..."

By the 20 year mark a new generation will come of age wondering how it was ever possible for people to legally own such deadly and dangerous weapons.

The odd AR or AK will turn up in grand-dad's wardrobe after he shuffles off this mortal coil and the lawful ownership of such weapons in the USA will end not with a bang but with a whimper.

Nobody has a crystal ball but you can reliably bet that while you have clean(ish) water, electricity, beer and television that the second amendment will only be diluted further. Ask the typical infantry grunt back from Fallujah how much of his kit he'd be allowed to legally own off-base without special federal permission slips.



Postscript:
It was not my intention to impugn the gun owners of America as cowards or fools. My intention was only to give an example of how the fight you expect is not always the fight you get. If I were to add anything it would be this:
Americans, as with all people of formerly free Western democracies ought to prepare for the possibility that their back will never be put against the wall en masse. That there will be no great peril that makes brothers in arms of those who were formally mere neighbours and acquaintances. That no definable moment will tip the scales or "cross the line".

Edmund Burke said "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

Every militia, every army and every nation can trace its history back to a single point in time when two men looked each other in the eye and agreed not to fall "one by one". Then two became four, four became eight, and so forth.

Start associating. Because by the time you're waiting for them at your doorstep it's already too late.


[HT: Ol' Remus and the Woodpile Report. Republished by kind permission of the author.]


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jan 5, 2016 12:11 AM |  Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sleepwalkers

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Their enemy told the Sleepwalkers, in escalating words and deeds across decades, that the endgame was to convert and kill them all. They heard these promises only as faint susurrations saying he simply wanted to be left alone with his "peaceful" god. He offered them death by fire and decapitation and they were lulled and responded with "What is wrong with peace, love and understanding?"

This bankrupt mantra or one of its infinite variations was repeated and repeated from multiple sources without and within the mass of the sleepwalkers until many actually began to believe its soothing promise and drift back into their trance of "if only..." and "What can we give them to make them leave us alone?" It was, after all, a drugged sleep.

Meanwhile, the enemy's preparations for the sacrifice of one of the Sleepwalkers' cities continued with only minimal disruption and delay. At home, a quisling leadership elected on "hope and change" did all it could to give the enemy hope that it could change the nation into a nation enslaved with shariah from coast to coast, and yet remained strangely invulnerable to patriots' efforts at replacement or blunt removal. Instead of watchmen alerted at home, all eyes were trained abroad, Europe or the middle-east, since few Sleepwalkers could muster the courage to look about them. All believed that the sacrifice would happen, but most could not bear to contemplate it even as a few traitors actively looked forward to it as final proof of the corruption of the nation that had nurtured in them the freedom to despise it.


The enemy's preparations for the sacrifice of one of the Sleepwalkers' cities continued with only minimal disruption and delay.


To aid in this they worked actively to dissolve whatever border security was left.

The instruments of war that would be used to kill the city were either already hidden on the Sleepwalkers' shores or stored within one of the surviving nations hostile to the Sleepwalkers' existence awaiting transhipment to the target.

The Sleepwalkers' enemies' programs to purchase or manufacture other weapons of mass destruction continued around the globe at an ever faster pace, hidden behind a screen of the usual international commissions and a bodyguard of fresh denials heaped on the mountain of yesterday's lies.

The Sleepwalkers' enemies' dispersed cells of suicidal agents continued to thrive within our cities, protected and sheltered by their relatives and fellow travelers that the Sleepwalkers had graciously assumed to be "moderate," even loyal. They moved among us, clad in their false histories, secure in the knowledge that our own institutionalized rules of decency decreed that having the appearance of a suspect group was the surest protection against being investigated as an enemy.

The Sleepwalkers' enemies' efforts to recruit those among them that hated them increased as his chief organizing tool, his "religion," was welcomed into the Sleepwalkers' prisons, and allowed to flourish by those assigned to administer the prisons as a means of keeping those prisons quiet. And it did, as any place which men undertake the serious study and planning of wholesale death becomes quiet.

Outside of those prisons the enemies recruitment and organizational centers were draped in the vestments of "places of worship" and allowed to thrive. Many were even funded by the Sleepwalkers' own government. In all it was a nightmare in which many rolled in the long, long night before the light of an incinerated city with all the men and women and children had been converted to human torches and crisp statues of ash dissolving to dust in a dawn rain. The Sleepwalkers did not know the name of the nightmare's city but they would learn it in that dawn.

All these things they knew. All these things they saw. They did not awaken the Sleepwalkers. They would only awaken later, in the final hour. And they would awaken into nightmare.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun at Dec 27, 2015 1:22 PM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Creche by the Side of the Road

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A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.

--Eliot, Journey of the Magi

Small moments in long journeys, like small lights in a large darkness, often linger in the memory. They come unbidden, occur when you are not ready for them, and are gone before you understand them. You "had the experience, but missed the meaning." All you can do is hold them and hope that understanding will, in time, come to you.

To drive from Laguna Beach, California to Sacramento. California the only feasible route takes you through Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. If you go after dark in this season of the year, you speed through an unbroken crescendo of lights accentuated by even more holiday lights. In the American spirit of "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing," the decking of the landscape with lights has finally gotten utterly out of hand.

Airports, malls, oil refineries, the towers along Wilshire and the vast suburbs of the valley put up extra displays to celebrate what has come to be known as "The Season." All the lights flung up by the hive of more than 10 million souls shine on brightly and bravely, but the exact nature of "The Season" seems more difficult for us to define with every passing year.

For hours the lights of the Los Angeles metroplex surround you as if they have no end. But they do end. In time, the valley narrows and you come to the stark edge of the lights. Then you drive into a dark section of highway known as the Grapevine.

The Grapevine snakes up over the mountains that ring the Los Angeles Basin to swirl down the far side into the endless flatland of the Great Central Valley. From entrance to exit is about 50 miles.

So steep is the ascent to the top of the Grapevine that the summit makes its own weather. Comfortable valley nights can turn into snow flurries, sudden fog banks and high winds that shake the car. Every transit of the Grapevine promises (and nearly always delivers) at least one accident seen along the roadside if you are lucky, or directly in front of you if you are not. If you are very unlucky, the accident is yours.

Virtually all traffic to and from Los Angeles endures the Grapevine. It is a dangerous and demanding road, made more intimidating by the swarms of trucks that haul freight up the spine of California. Even in broad daylight the Grapevine seems dark. It is an unloved and unlovely stretch of highway.

It was long past sunset when the Christmas pilgrimage to our families around Sacramento sent us climbing up the Grapevine. My wife of that year was driving because my eyes don't adjust quickly to oncoming headlights and because she is, by far, the better driver. My stepson was wedged within a small mountain of bags and presents in the back seat, his cherubic face illuminated by the gray-blue glow of his Gameboy.

I gazed out the window at the churning wall of trucks and the slate black slopes. Heavy cloud cover made everything more obscure. Only the streams of headlights coming on and the endless red flares of brake lights in front of us broke the darkness. It was the nadir of the year, two days before Christmas, climbing between dark mountains with millions of others, most aiming at some destination filled with the rituals of the season; rituals that seemed, as they often do, only a blunt repetition of some sharper but now dim vision.

It came up fast and passed faster as things often do up on the Grapevine. It was vague at first. A dim smudge of light in the middle of a looming dark hillside. Then it resolved itself as we sped up on it at around 70 miles per hour. We came abreast and I saw it clearly for only a few brief seconds. It was that rarest of all this seasons sights, a roadside Nativity scene.

Wrapped in a ring of floodlights near the crest was the classic creche. Nothing fancy but all the elements. The manger was indicated by a backdrop of shingles, scrap lumber and palm fronds. The life-size colored figures of the Magi, Joseph and Mary, a few amazed shepherds, three camels, an assortment of barn animals, an angel perched a bit precariously on the roofbeam, a Bethlehem star nailed to a pole, and a bunch of hay bales thrown in for atmosphere. Miles from any sign of human habitation, there to be seen only from the road and at a high speed, some anonymous person had placed this endangered sign of an endangered season.

Why had it been done? As a reminder to motorists of why they were going where they were going? As a defiant gesture towards the ACLU and all those who have now not only taken the Christ out of Christmas but the Christmas out of Christmas as well? As an assertion that God still loved an America that has increasingly chosen to ignore Him? As an expression, a pure expression, of faith?

Perhaps all of these things and perhaps none. Perhaps for that most American of all reasons -- simply because it could be done.

I pointed it out to my Gameboy-entranced stepson who looked up and back only to see a faint trace of it. His entirely sensible question was, "How did they light it all the way up there?" I answered that I didn't know but they might have used a very long extension cord. He shrugged and went back to the more compelling challenges of Super Mario 3.

In a moment it was past. In 20 seconds we'd rounded a curve and the light from it was gone. There was no going back. We rushed down the slope and out of the Grapevine onto Highway 5 where a bitter storm wind drove clouds of tumbleweed into our headlights.

In a few hours, we stopped for the night. For us there was room at the inn -- reserved at the Harris Ranch inn; a oasis sporting an Olympic sized swimming pool and overpriced steaks in the midst of the valley's orchards and deserts. As distant in comfort from the creche in the mountains as, perhaps, 2000 years.

The next day we reached Sacramento and the first of our sets of in-laws. Then the holidays (Since this is how America has decided to name this time of the year.) began with a vengeance.

Absurd objects were exchanged. Eternal assurances of love and affection were delivered. Children received, as usual, far too many things to appreciate any one thing. Much loved faces were seen and small pageants were performed.

The eating began and went on with no quarter; lavish meals that left one yearning for the simplicity of a salad bar.

In the background, bowl games with no purpose were played. People went to three hour movies celebrating pagan fantasies, and paid drive-by holiday greetings in the last busy days. Photographs and video tapes were made to be looked at ... when?

It was a time of busy moments blurring together. Strangely, of all the moments, I was most moved by the small ritual of grace before meals performed at my in-laws. In these rare moments, the central meaning of these days was acknowledged in the phrase, "We thank you, Lord, for your gift, your Son." And then, like all good Americans, we got on with the getting of our gifts.

Before we could be anyplace at all we found ourselves going south over the Grapevine heading home. I didn't see the creche on the return trip. Perhaps you couldn't see it from the southbound lanes, perhaps I slept. I'm really not sure.

Some days after returning, the three of us took in the annual Christmas Pageant performed at the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County. This pageant always receives rave reviews, due to its incorporation of live camels, lavish costumes, a serious pipe organ, and a bevy of angels flung about the vaulted interior of the church on wires. It's a blend of high kitsch and sincere belief; the sort of spectacle you should see at least once if you live in the area.

The show promised the apotheosis of the real meaning of Christmas in a secure setting; a kind of armed hamlet redoubt of contemporary Christianity besieged by the secular. The show delivered. It had lights, camels, action. It told the old tale in the old way using all the new tricks of the Las Vegas strip. It was spectacle incarnate.

At the climactic moment, angels sang while swooping overhead on their wires, Magi with jeweled headdresses the size of small ottomans adored Him from beside kneeling camels, shepherds abided, the organ groaned, six heralds sounded their trumpets, Mary and Joseph framed by a backlit scrim of stars gazed with awe down into a straw rimmed basin under the worlds largest Bethlehem star ornament, and an airport landing light blasted up out of the cradle, through the glass ceiling and out into the indifferent night.

Houselights. Magi bow. Romans bow. Mary and Joseph bow. Exit camels stage left.

And I thought, "Now, that's entertainment."

But I also thought of the other nativity scene. Halfway over the Grapevine, up along the slope of the dark mountains, an island of light in the midst of a vast and expanding darkness. A little light arranged by the small hands of faith to mirror a larger light moved by the inconceivable hand of God. I'll look for it next year when we drive north. It's so far out of the way, it should still be there. But then, you never know. Do you?

[Republished from December, 2003 ]


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 21, 2015 8:57 PM |  Comments (29)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gift of the WalMagi

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In New England in December the cold does not come in on little cat feet. Instead some mountain god of the great north woods throws open the door to Canada late one night. When you step out the next morning your scrotum promptly goes into hibernation somewhere around your arm pit. The cold gets hammered down tight. And it stays that way. Until, oh, somewhere in the middle of March.

I’d come to New England after many years away and, in Seattle, thought I’d packed well for the trip. I’d made a point to bring my very warm Seattle jacket. I stepped outside into the New England winter this morning and between the door and the car I knew, based on testicle retraction velocity, that my coat had nothing to say to this winter. I might as well have packed and dressed in a Speedo. At least I would have been rapidly arrested and taken to a warm jail cell until my need for medication could be determined.

In the car, having cranked the heat to fat end of the red stripe on the dial, my thawing reptile brain hissed, “Get a coat or die, monkeyboy.”

But where? I was only going to be here for a few weeks before going back to the temperate zone of Seattle. I knew that various stores around this township would have vast stocks of sensible and warm winter coats but I didn’t really feel like investing somewhere north of $100 in some multiple layered goose-down body blimp that would warm you even within fifteen yards of Al Gore. I just needed a warm and dependable coat at not too much money… $75 to $85 … that would get me through the New England nights without frostbite.

Then I remembered that this town has something that Seattle didn’t because Seattle is just far too “smart” to have one – A Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart, the greatest thing to happen for working people in the United States since trade unions and, today, a lot more beneficial to them as well. This town had two vast Wal-Mart’s. It was bracketed with them. I set off confident I could get a temporary coat at an affordable price. Little did I know.

I pulled into the vast parking lot and got out. Between the car and the door my core temperature dropped about ten degrees and I shivered as I took the warm cart and got the warm “Welcome to Wal-Mart” from the silver haired grandma at the door.

Inside the store stretched out before me like a land of dreams so wonderful so various so new…. Everything new. And shiny. And, well, cheap.

I got distracted at first in the food area of the store that could have held six of my local Seattle market inside it. I picked up a half-gallon of milk, a couple of bottles of club soda, and a jar of imported cherry jam ($3.00 less than what I paid for the same thing in Seattle). Then I pushed the cart off into the deeper realms of the store where banners proclaiming “UNBEATABLE” and “ROLLBACK!” loomed out of every aisle.

sevendollarcoat.jpgI found the basketball court sized area marked ‘MEN’ and turned in. Fleece coats, fleece vests, overcoats, Dickie work coats, and then winter coats in the quilted style that simply shouts, “You’ll stay toasty inside even in Nome!” And, amidst three or four circular racks, I saw a selection in blue, grey, black, green, and red of bright and shiny new winter coats. Above the racks was the simple sign in red and it said: “$7”.

Yes, I blinked and looked away. I looked back. It still said: “$7”. Above it a smaller sign said, almost in apology, “Was $15.”

Among dozens of these coats I found my size. Perfect fit. Smoothly made. Ample pockets. Serious zipper for closing. Nice shade of blue. And reversible to another nice shade of lighter blue with ample pockets on that side as well. I zipped it up and felt my temperature rise until it was uncomfortable to keep on.

I placed it in my cart and rapidly made my way to the register in order to get out of the store with it before they realized they’d left a zero off the back sides of the $7 and the $15. As I checked out I noted that the milk, water and jam had cost more than the winter coat. I put it on in the doorway and walked back across the lot to the car not feeling the cold at all from my thighs to my neck.

I can’t get over it. A winter coat for $7? The Goodwill won’t sell you a dead man’s old winter coat for $7.

And yes, it was “Made in / Hecho en China,” but…. well… how? Is there some darkened cavern that stretches for miles under the Gobi desert in which harvested brains in wired jars control robotic Chinese infant arms that stitch endless winter coats from the sheets of polyester that flow in a dark river beneath the factory floor? And then they’ve got to pack them up and ship them from the wastes of the Gobi to the racks of stores in New England. And then they price them at less than a small bag of groceries? How? Is? That? Possible?

It’s not. It’s a miracle. It’s a manufacturing, wholesale, supply chain, retail miracle on such a staggering scale that we can’t even begin to perceive it up close. We just walk into any one of the thousands of Wal-Mart stores and buy a winter coat for what it would take a homeless beggar about thirty minutes to cadge out of passing people on a downtown street on an average afternoon. It’s more than amazing. It’s a magical gift of modern American corporate capitalism.

It’s the gift of the WalMagi. It’s keeping me warm this Christmas season. And tens of thousand of other people too.

[First published.... last Christmas]


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 20, 2015 1:44 AM |  Comments (72)  | QuickLink: Permalink
High Plains Drifter from Mordor

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"Imagine a man whose father’s and mother’s cultures are profoundly irreconcilable, who was raised with exposure to competing religions,

whose childhood playmates sometimes classed him as one of this group and sometimes as one of that; whose parents eventually separated, whose remaining half-family was visibly different from him in appearance, and whose frustrations found release in mood-altering drugs. He matures into an identity which is always-other, always “not what you think”, always as Hermes-like as the chameleon. He comes from one side but can move easily to the other. He somehow migrates from a mediocre college to an Ivy League institution: the details of his admission are unknown. He succeeds famously at said institution… except that his “fame” is ex post facto: no one remembers ever seeing him in class. He directs a prestigious student publication and receives his degree… but nothing that he himself authored has ever been found (including a “ghost-written” bestseller from years later), and his college transcripts were apparently printed with water on the wind.
" He is all things to all men… and yet, he is not really one of any of them. He belongs to the night, the shadows. Just when you think you’re closest to grasping him, your hands are most full of thin air. You thought he was here to help you—but he’s really here to roast you. His name is No Man; his name is Revenge."

Read it all at Intellectual Conservative « Obama's Personality Disorder HT:Happy Acres

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Posted by gerardvanderleun at Dec 18, 2015 6:24 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Chairman at 100

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Frank Sinatra was now involved with many things involving many people

-- his own film company, his record company, his private airline, his missile-parts firm, his real-estate holdings across the nation, his personal staff of seventy-five -- which are only a portion of the power he is and has come to represent. He seemed now to be also the embodiment of the fully emancipated male, perhaps the only one in America, the man who can do anything he wants, anything, can do it because he has money, the energy, and no apparent guilt. In an age when the very young seem to be taking over, protesting and picketing and demanding change, Frank Sinatra survives as a national phenomenon, one of the few prewar products to withstand the test of time. He is the champ who made the big comeback, the man who had everything, lost it, then got it back, letting nothing stand in his way, doing what few men can do: he uprooted his life, left his family, broke with everything that was familiar, learning in the process that one way to hold a woman is not to hold her. Now he has the affection of Nancy and Ava and Mia, the fine female produce of three generations, and still has the adoration of his children, the freedom of a bachelor, he does not feel old, he makes old men feel young, makes them think that if Frank Sinatra can do it, it can be done; not that they could do it, but it is still nice for other men to know, at fifty, that it can be done. Frank Sinatra Has a Cold - Gay Talese

Continued...
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Dec 12, 2015 9:21 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Day We Killed John Lennon

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We'd finished filming John and Yoko for the video a day or so before he was shot to death. It was their last video, but of course we didn't know it at the time. There was film of them holding hands and walking in Central Park in the place that would later become "Strawberry Fields." We'd filmed them rolling naked in bed together in a Soho Art Gallery where she looked healthy and ample and he looked small and slight, with skin that was almost transluscent. I remember being slightly surprised by the fact that Lennon's need for Ono was so constant and palpable. He was seldom more than two feet away from her side and had the disconcerting habit of calling her "Mommy" whenever they spoke.

My role was as "executive producer" which really meant that I was to stand around with a roll of hundred dollar bills and pay-off the teamsters and solve other problems with copious applications of money. It was an odd job in more ways than one, but I was grateful to have it at the time.

We'd sent the last of the film to the lab, and the director, Ethan Russell, had gone back to Los Angeles to begin editing. The crew had dispersed and I'd taken to my bed racked with pain. The job, this time, had been so tough and high stress that my neck had gone out. I could barely turn my head without feeling as if a sledge was hammering a hot-needle into the cervical vertebrae. I was lying carefully propped on the bed eating Bufferin as if they were Tic-Tacs and trying not to move. My neck was held in one of those tight foam collars. Not moving was the best thing to do at the time and I was doing it with all my might.

It was a small one-bedroom apartment on the East Side of Manhattan. My first wife and I were there after three years of living in London, Paris, the Algarve and other European locations. She was eight months pregnant with our daughter and looked as if she was trying to smuggle a basketball across state lines for immoral purposes. Her mood, never really cheerful, was not improved by her situation.

The apartment was on loan from her uncle's girlfriend. I was down to my last few thousand dollars and was looking for a job. The film gig had been a gift from my old friend Ethan, and I'd been glad to get it. But it was over and, with a baby banging on the door of the world, things were not looking up. At the time, the only thing looking up was me since my neck required me to lie flat and gaze at the ceiling. It had been a rough two weeks but I thought things would certainly improve.

And of course, that's when things got worse. It got worse in the way most things do, the phone rang and my wife called out, "It's for you."

Some New York wag once said, "Age fourteen is the last time in your life when you're glad the phone is for you."

I groped blindly to the side of the bed and picked up the extension. It was Ethan calling from an editing room in Los Angeles. "John's been shot. He's dead."

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 8, 2015 1:30 AM |  Comments (72)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Buster Keaton - The Art of the Gag
Continued...
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Dec 4, 2015 2:34 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"This is where your ice cream comes from..." If you are not interested in seethng Unicorn-based dementia...

You will not .....

Continued...
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Dec 1, 2015 2:47 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dairy Queen Princess

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When I get hot and sweaty from workin' in the sun,
I head down to her corner for a tall, cold, frosty one.
When I'm with my DQ princess I'm never there alone.
For just another dollar, she'll gladly dip my cone.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a smooth vanilla softy. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


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My baby makes me order my big banana frozen.
The boys line up to see her. She's the one that's chosen.
She's just a small town mama but still an ice cream star.
She's the only one around who'll grab your Dilly Bar.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a steamed hot chocolate malted. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.

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She 's got a long blonde pony tail, wears tight white shorts,
With a polka dot bikini top. She plays all the midnight sports,
And she'll whip you up a sundae, maybe top it with a cherry,
But tomorrow she'll be serving it to Curly, Moe, or Larry.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's deep-fried tofu toffee. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.

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Down at her DQ she's some games that you can play,
Like "Ninja Warrior Pinball," or "CyberRoad to Mandalay."
She's workin' hard for tips all the big boys wanna slip her.
She'll gladly change your dollars and let you pump the flippers.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a deep dip Dilly Bar. She's the Blizzard Breeze supreme.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.

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She's the town's roadside attraction.
She's the center of the summer's action.
It's just a little job -- pumping soda for the jerks.
It don't pay all that much, but she's never out of work.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a hot fudge filly. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun at Dec 1, 2015 12:40 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Thanksgiving’s First Rifle: The Mayflower Wheel-lock Carbine

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Story by: Kristin Alberts

What’s even more American than turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie these days? An Italian gun, that’s what. The only known surviving firearm that crossed the wild Atlantic aboard the good ship Mayflower, settled with the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony and ultimately helped the first colonists not only survive, but prosper. Meet the Mayflower Gun.

The Gun

Affectionately dubbed the Mayflower Gun and thought of as an American icon, the gun is actually an Italian-made wheel-lock carbine. This single-shot musket was originally chambered in .50 caliber rifle, though ages of heavy use have worn away the majority of the rifling. Given the combination of natural wear, repairs and modifications, if the gun were to be loaded and fired today, it would require a .66 caliber.

According to curators at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum—where the gun has found a most comfortable home—markings recorded on both the barrel and lockplate demonstrate a connection with the Beretta family of armorers.

One of the features making this musket instantly recognizable is its namesake. The surviving detail of the actual wheel-lock device—the rotating mechanism, which provides spark and ignition, not unlike that of our modern day cigarette lighters—is a thing of fine craftsmanship and beauty. The wheel-lock’s engineering, execution and efficacy far exceed those of its predecessor, the matchlock.

The man: John Alden

Without the adventuresome spirit of one young man with an eye for quality arms, the Mayflower Gun would not be a part of our American history today. Enter, John Alden. Alden was around 20 to 21 years of age at the ship’s departure. However, his original intent was never really to set sail. John AldenHe was simply hired as a ships cooper—a barrel maker by trade—at the yard where ships docked. But being a young man with much hope and courage, he decided to board the Mayflower for its daunting passage. Sometime near debarkation, it is speculated that Alden purchased the firearm used, perhaps from a traveler or mercenary as was common in those days. Of the guns widely available at that time, this was one of the finest and most expensive, so certainly young Alden was wise beyond his years.

Following an arduous three-month winter passage at sea, battered by the north Atlantic’s gales, the Mayflower reached its destination in 1620. History recognizes John Alden as the first man to step ashore, and when Alden’s feet hit terra firma, this gun was most likely his sole means of protection. Though the early years at the new settlement were marked with many tribulations, Alden prospered. Along with the other men who made the passage, he was one of the signatories of the Mayflower Compact, documenting the freedoms and liberties of the new colony. Among his many ventures, Alden is remembered for his service under Capt. Miles Standish, with whom he is rumored to rivaled over the courtship of the woman who eventually became Alden’s wife.

Part of this story is recounted in Longfellow’s poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” Between the years 1633 to 1675, Alden served not only as assistant governor of the Plymouth Colony, but often, due to absence, fulfilled governor duties. He was known to have served on many juries including participation in at least one witch trial. Through all this time, including a move inland and away from the original colony, the Mayflower Gun remained in Alden’s possession. At the time of his death in 1687, the gun began its long succession of Alden family ownership.

The History

The Alden family dwelling, like the gun, has survived for nearly 400 years. The Mayflower gun was discovered—still loaded, nonetheless—in a secret protective cubbyhole near the front door of the home during a 1924 renovation. The Alden home, which was occupied by family members until the mid-1890’s, is currently a National Historic Landmark in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Though it is certain that other settlers would have carried similar arms, this is indeed the only known surviving piece, likely because it was tucked away and forgotten after its years of service had ended.

Because the gun was something of a large caliber at the time, it would likely have been used to take down deer and other large game as well as birds—perhaps even a Thanksgiving longbeard. Naturally, the original stock was fashioned of fine European walnut, though sometime in the gun’s history, a worn portion of the front stock was replaced with American walnut. There is great beauty in the wear patterns of the wood, simply for knowing the many hands and circumstances that have handled this weapon. The Mayflower Gun is currently on display at the NRA Museum.Oh, the stories it could tell of game hunted, lives taken and families saved! This tool was at once a protector and a provider. In fact, the Mayflower Gun may well have been present—or at least played a role—at the 1621 birth of the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today. The gun, in fact, is one of the few surviving pieces known to have made the trip aboard the Mayflower.

On Display

Those near Fairfax, Virginia can visit this amazing and well-traveled weapon at its home in the NRA’s National Firearms Museum. It is currently being featured on display as part of the “Old Guns in a New World” gallery, an exhibit in which firearms bridge the gap between the Old World and the new colonies. In addition to this one, the Museum is home to 14 other galleries housing more than 2,700 firearms of remarkable significance. Admission is free and the museum is open daily. For those interested in learning more without making a physical visit, detailed virtual tours are easily navigated at their website.

In Thanksgiving

Nearly 400 years have passed since the Mayflower Gun traversed the Atlantic to forever become a priceless, tangible slice of American history. In the spirit of Thanksgiving celebration, the time is right to remember not only all those who came before us, but also the hardships they faced to get us where we are today. In reminiscing on this beautiful Mayflower Gun, we here at Guns.com are thankful for our first amendment freedoms. So with a nod of the clichéd black pilgrim hats, take some special time this holiday to enjoy family, friends, freedoms and of course, firearms.

From Gun News at Guns.com HT: The Incredible Story Of The Mayflower Gun @ Waznmentobe


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 26, 2015 12:29 PM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade: The Nightmare Years

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The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade used to just let the balloons float off and in that case it was a good thing nobody was attending the parade on LSD. The local insane asylums would fill up with folks, young and old, having a psychotic break

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On Thanksgiving morning in 1924, Macy’s department store in New York City held a parade to drum up business and publicity. The theme was Christmas (and shopping for gifts).

Store employees dressed in outrageous costumes and walked six miles from Harlem down to the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, accompanied by festive floats and animals from the Central Park Zoo.

The first parade ended with Santa Claus ascending to a golden throne above the store’s entrance and inviting thousands of customers to come and shop.
The parade was such a success that it became an annual tradition.

Some participants were less than enthused, however. The zoo animals, accustomed to life in captivity, often became cranky and irritable on the long march. They were soon replaced by more pliable creatures — massive balloon animals, the first of which was Felix the Cat in 1927.

In a tradition that has since been discontinued, at the end of each parade the balloons were released and allowed to drift away in the wind. Anyone who recovered a balloon and returned it to Macy’s would receive a gift.

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Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 25, 2015 7:34 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Contemporary American Classics: Life During Wartime

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

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there

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

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can't write a letter, can't send no postcard,
I ain't got time for that now

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


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 15, 2015 11:21 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Aristotle 350 B.C. "Another cause of revolution is difference of races which do not at once acquire a common spirit;

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"for a state is not the growth of a day, any more than it grows out of a multitude brought together by accident. Hence the reception of strangers in colonies, either at the time of their foundation or afterwards, has generally produced revolution; for example, the Achaeans who joined the Troezenians in the foundation of Sybaris, becoming later the more numerous, expelled them; hence the curse fell upon Sybaris.

"At Thurii the Sybarites quarrelled with their fellow-colonists; thinking that the land belonged to them, they wanted too much of it and were driven out.

"At Byzantium the new colonists were detected in a conspiracy, and were expelled by force of arms; the people of Antissa, who had received the Chian exiles, fought with them, and drove them out; and the Zancleans, after having received the Samians, were driven by them out of their own city.

"The citizens of Apollonia on the Euxine, after the introduction of a fresh body of colonists, had a revolution; the Syracusans, after the expulsion of their tyrants, having admitted strangers and mercenaries to the rights of citizenship, quarrelled and came to blows; the people of Amphipolis, having received Chalcidian colonists, were nearly all expelled by them....

"For just as in war the impediment of a ditch, though ever so small, may break a regiment, so every cause of difference, however slight, makes a breach in a city."

-- Politics by Aristotle


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 15, 2015 8:44 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Barbie’s Evolution Over The Past 56 Years

"I was curious as to exactly how Barbie’s face has changed across the 56-year span she’s been around. Personally, I think the molds they used from 1987-1995 are the cutest, but I was still a little girl playing with Barbies at that time, so I may be a bit biased."
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Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 13, 2015 9:30 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Modern Educayshun

Brilliant: "You don't ask questions. Questions are offensive." [HT: Anne Barnhardt]


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 12, 2015 12:32 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
“World War II veteran Frederick Carrier waves a flag in celebration during the Veterans Day”

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My Sad Captains
by Thom Gunn

One by one they appear in
the darkness: a few friends, and
a few with historical
names. How late they start to shine!
but before they fade they stand
perfectly embodied, all

the past lapping them like a
cloak of chaos. They were men
who, I thought, lived only to
renew the wasteful force they
spent with each hot convulsion.
They remind me, distant now.

True, they are not at rest yet,
but now that they are indeed
apart, winnowed from failures,
they withdraw to an orbit
and turn with disinterested
hard energy, like the stars.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 11, 2015 12:20 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"THAT'S WHAT WE DO. WE'RE AMERICANS."

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Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 10, 2015 10:15 PM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Full Circle Fascism: While Mowing the Lawn

Howso' great their clamour, whatsoe'er their claim,
Suffer not the old King under any name!

-- Kipling, The Old Issue

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And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine

-- Bob Dylan

For some it shall always be "2008!":

My colleagues in the humanities support Barack Obama nearly unanimously, some of them still believing the salvation narrative that developed in 2008 whereby the junior senator from Illinois would rescue the nation from the hell of the previous eight years—not to mention four centuries of white supremacy. -- Humanities: doomed to lose? by Mark Bauerlein - The New Criterion

Their infernal machine lops and trims the green upstarts, the single emerald sprouts, the high stalk topped with the blue cornflower down to the level of the dull brown mass.

Their minds are the godless grave of words from which no living meanings can ever hope for resurrection.

Their secular "green" religion has its bad rap but no hymns.

Their dreams of a "better world" will become their children's small and shrunken lives on a nightmare planet where all men, finally equalized, will live like insects.

And yet, like zombies lashed to a dying animal, they persist in their death-in-life existence, seeking only the freedom of an approved and "assisted" suicide as their reward.

They call themselves "progressives" and flatter themselves that their thoughts and actions are "revolutionary" when they are as reactionary as any that can be remembered from history.

What happened to all those who, in my youth, marched and sang for "freedom?" How did they become so old, so hidebound, so mired in the past? When did they become stuck in "suppose?" How, from once striving so hard against colonialism in all its guises, did they allow their minds to become so utterly colonized by a matted mass of dim and discredited notions?

They chain themselves deep in the pit of pretend, and celebrate their servitude by bending heaven and earth to get you down in the hole that they're in.

They believe that the individual should become the mass, and that the mass should worship its apotheosis; that one who best reflects their ossified visions on which the anointing oil has long since dried to a brown crust of thought.

They are the monarchists of the mass. They seek a state in which the head that wears the crown may change but where the crown itself grows forever larger.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 10, 2015 9:45 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Back Pages: Love Gone Missing (2005)

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"Why did you come to Seattle?"
"I came to Seattle for the love."
"The love? But Seattle is a desert."
"I was misinformed."

Back at the beginning of this century, absent being in a coma, being a terrorist or monk somewhere on a high mountain, or being sunk to your neck in the middle of a cypress swamp, you could not escape the story of "The Runaway Bride:"

"The runaway bride case was the case of Jennifer Carol Wilbanks (born March 1, 1973), an American woman who ran away from home on April 26, 2005, in order to avoid her wedding with John Mason, her fiancé, on April 30. Her disappearance from Duluth, Georgia, sparked a nationwide search and intensive media coverage, including some media speculation that Mason had killed her. On April 29, Wilbanks called Mason from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and falsely claimed that she had been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a Hispanic male and a white woman. Jennifer Wilbanks gained notoriety in the United States and internationally, and her story persisted as a major topic of national news coverage for some time after she was found and her safety was assured. "

Wilbanks was the plat du jour of selfishness and fear in our blighted age and was the story of the decade for as long as her story lasted. When she finally showed up and confessed she was parsed and probed, drawn, quartered, and generally eviscerated by the rapacious media until she was little more than a damp spot on some discarded surgical sponge.

I despised The Runaway Bride from the first moment it was revealed she had simply freaked out and taken the geographic cure by getting gone to Las Vegas. It was a match made in hell. Along with Wilbanks sane people have to hate Las Vegas too -- a place that advertises that when you do freak out, it is the psycho's vacation destination of choice. Being a psycho’s institutional refuge is pathetic reason for a town to exist, but cheap and low places need to work with what they have. After all, nobody would mistake Vegas for Vatican City until, of course, they build a 1/3rd scale model of Saint Peters and slam six thousand slots into the basilica -- something I am sure is in the planning stage.

Still Vegas was the perfect place for The Runaway Bride to select as the terminus of her bus ticket. Once you go psycho in America it seems you have to pass through at least a Las Vegas of the mind and soul even if your final destination is someplace much more mundane like.... Albuquerque.

Let her go.Let her go. God bless her,
Wherever she may be.
She can search, search this whole world wide over....

-- St. James Infirmary

In sum, Wilbanks freaked out, flipped out, bugged out, came back, fessed up, and was forgotten in a wave of law suits.... "then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."

That’s the story. That's the surface. Let's take a dive.

Let's look instead at what lies far below the personalities of this pathetic drama and into the deeper principles which illuminate why this tawdry little tale had such a large impact.

Father forgive the media, they know not what they do. But sometimes they do things right in spite of themselves. "The Runaway Bride" was one of those stories. And no matter how many in the media beat up their peers for paying too much attention to this tawdry tale, in the end it reveals a deeper truth about ourselves and our lives.

What we are really seeing here is something that has a deep and abiding interest to humans because it is something that happens -- in their secret hearts and deeper souls -- to millions of human beings every single day. This particular iteration is a modern passion play in which people act out on the stage of the nation our daily common tragedy entitled:

Love Gone Missing.

It seems to me that if we knew the secrets of all our hearts, we'd know that love goes missing in our country thousands of times an hour. True it doesn't usually go for a run, take a taxi, and grab a bus for destinations thousands of miles away, but that can often be the end of it.

Love goes missing in a moment of fear, of spite, of words spoken or left unspoken, in the blink or wink of an eye or in a spoken sentence only half-heard or remembered wrongly.

Love untempered by fire or by ice is a skittish thing in our lives. We think we know what love is, but we really only know what we've been told love is -- at least at the beginning.

We've been told Love is the white-hot passion that comes at the beginning of romance and is supposed to sustain itself at that level of heat across the decades. When that expectation burns through the weak vessels that we are, love goes missing -- off on a quest to find the next pile of fuel on which to burn. Go to a Family Courthouse in any county in this country on any day of the week and you'll see, scattered about the corridors and waiting their turn before the judges, the scorched waste, sodden ash, and family rubble left by this fools' fire.

We've been told that Love is seen in the increasingly lavish weddings whose example is the 14 bridesmaids, 600 guests bash that our current poster child for Love Gone Missing fled from. With such a monstrous beginning, what love could not go missing either before or soon after. No real love can measure up to such grandiose beginnings. After all, Princess Diana had only 5 bridesmaids at her wedding and we all know about the bloody tunnel in which that love gone missing ended in a Paris night.

Wise people and scriptures all tell us that Love, if it is not to go missing, should be built carefully and slowly until what lies inside Love is seen and grasped. But our contemporary Love we are told should not be centered on the soul but on things. We are told that Love needs to be seen in the world through things -- the place setting from Tiffany's, the endless objects from the multiple registries, the proof positive of the house becoming the ever larger house as we flip our homes every three years to get our nice appreciation rise. And so we seek to buttress and shore up Love by meeting the expectations of others in the material realm. God forbid you fail those expectations, for then, in an instant of selfish decision -- that always opts for better and not for worse -- Love Goes Missing.

In my life I’ve seen love go missing in a single, secret, brief and enraged glance on Christmas Day. I've heard love go missing months before the front door slammed. I've seen it go missing in me in a hundred silent moments where I did not speak my heart and in a hundred other moments when I spoke my heart falsely and far too quick. And the only thing I think I've learned about love gone missing is to let it go -- and I'm not even sure about that no matter how often it is repeated to me.

For most of us, when Love Goes Missing it is not easily found again. When it goes missing it goes -- near or far in space -- a long, long way away and we don't have the town turn out to walk search grids for our family, or issue nationwide alerts, or offer $100,000 rewards. Love just goes and once it goes we may struggle to find it for a time, but by that time it is far out of reach and beyond our puny power to locate.

But even if one could locate it, what good would that do?

Love gone missing can't be compelled to return like some runaway bride taken through the airports with a cloak over its head -- an apprehended perpetrator of the non-crime of going missing. Love's a wild force in our too domesticated and ordered lives. Once gone missing,for whatever reason, Love can't be just taken back as it was even if it is found. For if love gone missing is found and returns, it always remains a shattered vessel.

Yes, I know that in the endless bromides of our modern Therapeutic State Religion one is supposed to find the heart, the mercy, the compassion, and the patience to pick up every little shard of what has been shattered and, with our ample supplies of theraputic superglue, painfully and tediously put it all back together as it was.

Except, of course, Love can never be what it was before it went missing.

Love gone missing takes with it the hostages of trust and truth but they don't come back with it if it returns. They've been buried somewhere en route and their locations long forgotten, far off the map. Even if you could accept it without them, you'd still see the fine hairline cracks in the vase you put back together together. You'd both handle the love like a rare museum object, always looking for the next soft place to store it so that it could not break or escape again. Love under constant guard will never be entirely free from the craving to go missing once again. At any time and for any reason. Sometimes for no reason at all.

So, like so many other things that ring deep in the changes of our hearts, we look for what to do; for how we can fix what cannot be fixed by us. If we find love gone missing and if it seems to have been returned to us we look to repair the rare and delicate thing. But it is, we find, like trying to repair a Swiss Watch with sledgehammer. Nobody human has that delicate a touch.

Perhaps it is better, in the end, to learn to let Love be. Nobody says you can have only one love with one person. If there can be, and there is, room for more than one love in one life, perhaps there can be more than one love in one love. Maybe the answer, if answer there be, is not the easy answer of repair, but the harder answer of starting all over from the gross and shapeless clay of love.

Maybe you worked too fast at the first pass of love and threw on the wheel of your days a lopsided and thin pot, something that had, deep inside it, some emptiness, some pockets of thin air that you could not see from outside, but that caused it to crack inside under the long heat of our lives of days and hands.

Not everything that's pretty is strong.

Perhaps the best thing to do with love gone missing is, as said before, to just let it go and get it gone. It seems cold to say that no search will find Love again as it was at its inception, but that's probably the truth. At the same time, and in the always inscrutable nature of love, to know that love has gone missing is not the same as knowing that love itself is gone. That's the thing that we always seem to miss; the thing we most need to remember.

Maybe, if you take the time to improve your skills on the wheel of life, you will be able at some point to take up the clay of that love and, kneading more patiently, centering more carefully, and shaping with caring and constant hands a better, stronger vessel.

True, it might not be as fine and pretty as the first more delicate one, but it could be good and serviceable and steady. Not at all as likely to shatter on a glance or a word or a silence or a shadow and just go missing.

Like all things made here on the great wheel, such a remade love could -- in time -- be coming around again.

Here's the drainpipe--a long tunnel going up toward some light. The spider doesn't even think about it--just goes. Disaster befalls it--rain, flood, powerful foces. And the spider is knocked down and out beyond where it started. Does the spider say, "To hell with that"? No. Sun comes out--clears things up--dries off the spider. And the small creature goes over to the drainpipe and looks up and thinks it really wants to know what is up there.” ― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 7, 2015 2:33 AM |  Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Keeping Tabs on "Chicago, Chicago"

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The score so far: 2015 Stats | Chicago Murder, Crime & Mayhem | HeyJackass!

Chicago, Chicago that slaughterin’ town
Chicago, Chicago'll put ya in the ground
Bet your bottom dollar you lose your life in Chicago, Chicago
The town that Rahm Obama couldn't cool down

On State Street, that hate street, I just want to say
They shoot kids as they go out to play
They have the time, the time of their short life
I saw a man, shot dead with his wife,
In Chicago, O-bama’s home town

Chicago, Chicago that slaughterin’ town
Chicago, Chicago'll put ya in the ground
Bet your bottom dollar you lose your life in Chicago, Chicago
The town that Rahm Obama couldn't cool down

On State Street, that hate street, I just want to say
They shoot kids as they go out to play
They have the time, the time of their short life
I saw a man, shot dead with his wife,
In Chicago, O-bama’s home town!


"Come on out of that vehicle!" 9/18/2015 Chicago police response 87th and Morgan


Six Minutes with DJ Akademiks: What could possibly be the cause of the killings? Media confused. Not the people living in Chicago."You got to remember that most of the people who are dying are not gang-members but kids...."

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Blood being washed down a storm drain in the Loop, 2014


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 6, 2015 10:23 AM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Unknown Citizen" by W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973

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We're all saying "Aw, no, can't happen, we're too smart for [to elect Hillary]." Blow wise to this: number of ballots wins race, not average IQ. -- Chasmatic

(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.

Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,

(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.

Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,

A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.

He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.

Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 3, 2015 9:16 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The new mock-spiritual Hallowe’en is like the new city, in its childlessness."

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"My dream, I might mention, ended in terror.

As I was waking the curtain of night pulled away, and light was shed on the nocturnal vision. These were not living children, I was somehow told, but rather the souls of the dead, walking in the costumage of holy saints. They were the spirits of all those little folk, massacred in the abortion clinics, restored mysteriously to flesh. And back from limbo they had come, prowling the city, in search of their own faces.
And so I had been watching their processions through the city, to the homes of their mothers and their fathers, asking only to be recognized as their own." - - Read the rest by David Warren -- All Hallows’ Eve

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Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 31, 2015 9:41 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
DSM-IV 301.95 Progressive Personality Disorder: A Classic by John Moore

aa_bullets-1029.jpgA. A pervasive pattern of progressive political and inter-personal thought and action, rooted in discredited leftist (neo-Marxist) beliefs, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by at least five of the following (individual must be at least 18 years of age to qualify for the diagnosis of Progressive Personality Disorder, as many of the criteria are age-appropriate for adolescents). This disorder often coexists with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

  1. Utopian thinking, e.g. a delusional belief that there exist simple, linear, side effect-free solutions to all social problems.

  2. Lack of historical knowledge and perspective, and repression of personal memories dissonant with this belief system. e.g., the national mood post 9-11, including that of PPD patients, is suppressed in order to avoid conflict with subsequent reversal of beliefs as the PPD delusions were reinstated - hence the downplaying of terrorism as a threat and the obsessive concern for the "rghts" of temporarily feared and hated terrorists. (Note to clinician: please differentiate between mere historical ignorance, e.g., a doctorate in history from an elite university, vs. neurotic or psychotic delusions necessary to sustain these beliefs. )

  3. Anthroplastic delusion, e.g. The delusion that behavioral conditioning performed by the government or some other collective will cure all behavioral and social problems, rooted in denial of fixed human nature. Implicit in this delusion is the idea that human beings are infinitely malleable and subject to behavioral manipulation leading to perfect control and predictability. Free will, personal conscience, and objective morality are denied, devalued or denigrated.

  4. Anti-theistic rebellion: An emotional antagonism to the Judeo-Christian tradition, rooted in an abnormal persistence of adolescent rebellion (may also be related to the need to avoid counter-arguments that would question utopian, anthroplastic ideation). This behavior ranges from a mere antagonism to Christianity to a hatred of all forms of religion. The rejection of religion leads to a deep longing for a substitute religion, or in extreme cases, a messiah. The more Western a religion is, the more it is despised. Thus, these patients may openly accept more primitive pantheistic, neo-pagan, or animist belief systems, such as Wicca or fraudulent "new age" philosophies, e.g., Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, etc.

  5. Animist delusion: The belief that mankind is evil and nature is benign. The incidence of this symptom is inversely related to practical knowledge and experience of nature. Collective self-hatred is a feature in this area, paradoxically existing side by side with egomaniacal omniscience, e.g., ability to accurately predict climate 100 years into the future. Typical thinking includes the self-hating belief that mankind is a cancer on earth and that the planet (subjectively felt as a "feeling being") will "retaliate." The animist delusion includes considerable cognitive dissonance, since the typical Progressive Personality is a believer in natural selection, which has resulted in untold suffering and cruelty, mitigated only by mankind's presence.

    • a. For example, the belief that an eagle egg or four-toed salamander is entitled to more legal protection than a human baby.
  6. Environmental spasm: Chaotic, unreasonable, or incoherent episodes of manic activity on behalf of the environment or "mother nature." The delusional nature of this activity is evidenced by misanthropic attacks on works of man, and also by a manic focus on visible or totemic biological objects of little rational value. The patient is typically obsessed only with cute or cuddly creatures, often a displacement of the nurturing urge (often unfulfilled due to abortion).
  7. Control obsession: A tendency to strive for excessive control over others through state intrusion. A contemptuous projection of unconscious envy which is subjectively experienced as "compassion." Through the magic of this unconscious mechanism, PPD patients typically want the state to appropriate your wealth while imagining themselves to be generous and "compassionate." Use of state coercion often substitutes for true acts of generosity; a low rate of charitable giving is often present.
  8. Racist/feminist hypocrisy: Passionate advocacy of government-enforced discrimination based on sex or race, with aggressively proclaimed opposition to policies which are "racist" or "sexist." Obsessive conformity of thought within a racially diverse population. For example, a PPD patient might favor seating a racist on the Supreme Court, so long as the person is of the "correct" race. Often the cognitive dissonance normally associated with such beliefs is rationalized by the delusion that the "oppressed" cannot themselves be racist.
  9. Overemotional perception: Excessive concern with how a social action "looks" or "feels," to the exclusion of actual resulting benefits or harm; in particular, any effects beyond the immediate. Resistance to, and denial of, objective evidence proving the adverse consequences of progressive policy. Superficial cognition about most matters of significant import, as the progressive personality relies on the "feel" of issues rather than truly understanding them. Obsession with "fairness" or "social justice" as opposed to what actually works.
  10. Sexual dysfunction: Significant anxiety about sexual matters, manifested as:
    • a. Obsession with sexual and gender roles.
    • b. Passionate celebration of nontraditional sex roles and preferences.

    • c. The compulsion to define individuals by their "sexual preference" and to design social policy as if all individuals share the obsession.

    • d. An inordinate interest in preserving inappropriate, lewd, perverse, or antisocial forms of sexual expression.

    • e. Fascination with immature or deviant expressions of sexuality; reduction of human sexuality to animal sexuality.
    • f. The projected belief that the contradictory beliefs are a result of fear (e.g. "homophobia".

    • e. Obsession with contraception and abortion ("reproductive freedom").

  11. Replacement of patriotism with matriotism: Unwillingness to defend country when attacked or threatened, allied with inability to name or recognize evil and General devaluation of the masculine virtues.

  12. Cultural and moral relativism: The fervent belief that all cultures are beautiful except one's own, and that it is immoral to judge another's morality unless they are conservative.
Original at By John Moore Progressive Personality Disorder
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 30, 2015 2:11 PM |  Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
If We Believed in Omens: It looked as if a night of dark intent / Was coming, and not only a night, an age.

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last Put out the light was spoken.

-- Robert Frost


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 29, 2015 9:55 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hitchhiking in the Land of the Dead

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Pull up a chair and sit a spell. Death's in residence on my block

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die
To cease upon the midnight with no pain....

-- Keats, Ode to a Nightingale

Once upon a time, when Europe could be had at $5 a day, I found myself hitchhiking on the freezing plains of Spain just outside of Madrid. Car after car swept past me, the winds in their wakes chilling me further. This was very disconcerting since I had with me my fail-safe ride generator, a hot hippie girlfriend (Think a good-looking Janis Joplin.) My ride generator had never failed me before but on this day she was generating zero rides even though the traffic on the road was heavy. Then I noticed two things.

First there seemed to be no trucks on the road. Second, the cars that huffed past us were filled to the gills with whole Spanish families bearing vast bouquets of flowers. And all those Spaniards looked, to the last, very grim.

After a few futile hours, we made our way -- walking -- a few kilometers down the road to a truck stop where, using my pidgin Spanish, the mystery of the ride drought was solved. It seemed that we were trying to get to Barcelona on one of the most holy days of the Spanish year -- All Saints Day, or as we have it here in America, Halloween.

The Spanish tradition on this day is for the whole family to load up the car with flowers and other offerings and haul off to the local graveyard for a visit and picnic with the dearly departed. After that many go off to a traditional performance of Spain's Faustian epic Don Juan Tenario in which the final act takes place in a cemetery. On this holy day in Spain we had almost zero chance of getting a ride anywhere other than the local graveyard. Chastened, we made our way back to Madrid by bus and set out the next day with much better luck.

What remains in my memory from watching the parade of cars on that long-lost Spanish highway is just how dour and serious the Spanish were on their Halloween. They weren't fooling around with death, but taking it at its word. They not only believed in death they also, in their prayers and rituals and their traditional play, believed that what you do in life determines how you will be treated in the afterlife. They had, at bottom, that adamantine belief that is the pearl beyond price of the Catholics. But even if you were to strip away the 2000 years of dogma, these people still had the one thing that more and more Americans lack at the core of their lives: a belief in something greater than themselves, a belief in something greater than man, greater than death.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.

-- Dylan

In my neighborhood in Seattle many don't believe in anything sacred other than, at best, Obama. Their entire belief system centers on that tin god then on themselves and their "only one life to live, live, live!." All of which makes for an empty skin sack of existential desolation that they try to fill every Halloween with the greatest of American secular concepts: fun.

"Fun" is a curiously American concept that seems to have begun its invasion of all aspects of our shared life shortly after the end of WWII. I suppose that after the Great Depression and the war, the nation felt it could use a little fun. And, as usual, that great American axiom, "If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing," came into play. Nowhere do we see the idea that life should be "fun" pumped up into bigger balloons of pure vanity than on Halloween.

From a minor tradition of sending kids out for to pick up some free candy, Halloween has mushroomed into a major American auto-fornication festival in which we regularly -- and with increasing intensity -- celebrate the meat state of life while pretending to vaguely celebrate the spiritual part. If you've noted, as I have, the increasing lust for gruesomeness in costumes at every new Halloween, you might have reflected that dark humor has taken a back seat to darker fascinations. One new costume around this year allows you to dress us as a corpse in a body bag complete with wounds and autopsy slashes. And that's a mild one.

Added on to costumes depicting violent death, mutilation, and the corruption of the grave, we have the increasing trend to freak show street events and private parties where this week's perversion is served as bubbling punch; as a witch's brew we are only too pleased, dressed as dregs, to drink to the dregs. In Seattle, of course, freak show street events and perversion parties are pretty much the order of the day, if not the daily spectacle on many blocks. But there's something about Halloween that brings out the horror show of many inner lives like no other event. The only thing that saves us from seeing ghouls and goblins parading naked about the streets with their full-body tattoos and multiple genital piercings on display is the colder temperature, but there are clubs that specialize in that all about the city so you can see it if you wish.

It seems strange that a day for the contemplation of mortality has been turned into a carnival of corruption in this country, but perhaps not all that strange. I'd suggest that, as the country becomes more secular; as it ceases to believe in anything other than the here and now, the moment in the meat, it becomes increasingly terrified of the extinction of the self by death. It is one thing to profess a belief in the Great Nothingness, it is quite another to have to face it. The only weak weapon that can be raised up against it is its denial.

Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death touches on why this is so:

Becker argues that a basic duality in human life exists between the physical world of objects and a symbolic world of human meaning. Thus, since man has a dualistic nature consisting of a physical self and a symbolic self, man is able to transcend the dilemma of mortality through heroism, a concept involving his symbolic half. By embarking on what Becker refers to as an "immortality project" (or causa sui), in which he creates or becomes part of something which he feels will outlast him, man feels he has "become" heroic and, henceforth, part of something eternal; something that will never die, compared to his physical body that will die one day. This, in turn, gives man the feeling that his life has meaning; a purpose; significance in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, absent religion and the perception of the vertical in the universe, science and the deep belief in the Great Nothingness is a poor substitute. As Becker notes, without something larger than yourself, the "heroic project fails."

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark...

-- Eliot, Four Quartets

We aren't accustomed to failure in our ceaseless search to find a meaning in the Great Nothingness. But fail we do because the nature of the Great Nothingness that we so admire is exactly that, Nothing; death as a black hole with despair as the free-candy in your skin sack.

What the empty among us are compelled to do when confronted by death is a bit of mass-culture symbolic magic. We dress as what we fear most, and we deck our halls with symbols of death and decay. We pretend that shaking these shibboleths and feathered fetishes against the dark will protect us much as hiding under the covers kept us safe from the monster under the bed. It's a child's response to fear and it is not at all surprising that, as the worship of the Great Nothingness grows and festers among us, the ever escalating morbid gestures of Halloween do nothing to fill the Great Nothingness that roils the souls of many of our fellow citizens. It's a bit like the ceaseless urge to "keep ourselves in shape" that obsesses so many.

Alas, it will not avail us. You can drape yourself with the rubber raiments of Zombies all you want, the world will always, in time, eat your flesh down to dust. And without faith, that fate is the hard-core horror of existence as mere meat. Without faith, more and more of us find ourselves hitchhiking on the cold plains with no chance of being picked up. Without faith, the vehicles that pass us on the high road just aren't going our way.

[Republished from October 2008. New this year, the ante goes up with these hyper-realistic hacked up chunks of human meat. There really is no bottom. Is there?]

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Axed Up Body @ Fright Catalog, Inc.

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And this year comes word of "The fake “dismembered human” meat packages from a fake butcher called The Chop Shop were discount store Europris’ way of getting into the Halloween spirit." Norway Pulls Hands Why not? Halloween is "for the children!"


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 29, 2015 1:40 AM |  Comments (33)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "Eve of Destruction"

Created and recorded over 50 years ago, it is not a good thing to be able to say it remains fresh and prophetic today.

"Eve of Destruction" is a protest song written by P. F. Sloan in 1965.

Several artists have recorded it, but the best-known recording was by Barry McGuire. This recording was made between July 12 and July 15, 1965 and released by Dunhill Records. The accompanying musicians were top-tier LA session men: P.F. Sloan on guitar, Hal Blaine (of Phil Spector's "Wrecking Crew") on drums, and Larry Knechtel on bass. The vocal track was thrown on as a rough mix and was not intended to be the final version, but a copy of the recording "leaked" out to a DJ, who began playing it. The song was an instant hit and as a result the more polished vocal track that was at first envisioned was never recorded.... Barry McGuire became a born-again Christian, and as a result renounced the song for many years, refusing to perform it.[citation needed] Though he is now known primarily as a singer of contemporary Christian songs, McGuire has resumed singing "Eve of Destruction" in recent years, often updating the lyrics to refer to such events as the Columbine High School massacre.
Barry McGuire updated the lyrics when he performed at a reunion of folksingers, with the line about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches replaced by the words "Columbine, Colorado", referring to the student massacre of 1999. On March 12, 2008, McGuire appeared on the Australian music comedy/game show Spicks and Specks, performing an updated version of "Eve of Destruction", with new lines such as "You're old enough to kill/ you just started voting" and "...can live for ten years in space". The reference to "Red China" was also removed, and in its place were the more generic "Now think of all the hate, still living inside us/ its never too late, to let love guide us"....
The American media helped popularize the song by using it as an example of everything that was wrong with the youth of that time.[5] The song also drew flak from conservatives. A group called The Spokesmen released an answer record entitled "The Dawn of Correction". A few months later, Green Beret medic Sgt. Barry Sadler released the patriotic "Ballad of the Green Berets". Johnny Sea's spoken word recording, "Day For Decision", was also a response to the song.
Due to its controversial lyrics, some American radio stations, "claiming it was an aid to the enemy in Vietnam",[6] and Radio Scotland[7] banned the song.[8] It was placed on a "restricted list" by the BBC, and could not be played on "general entertainment programmes".....The song, like many other popular songs of the day, gave its name to a gun truck used by United States Army Transportation Corps forces during the Vietnam war. The truck is on display at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum and is believed to be the only surviving example of a Vietnam era gun truck. [See Revelation 6, Prophecy, and Gun Trucks @ AMERICAN DIGEST] - - La Wik

The eastern world it is exploding
Violence flaring and bullets loading
You're old enough to kill but not for voting
You don't believe in war but what's that gun you're toting
And even Jordan river has bodies floating

But you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction

My blood's is so mad it feels like coagulating
I'm sitting here just contemplating
I can't twist the truth it knows no regulation
And a handful of senators don't pass legislation
Busing alone can't bring segregation
When human respect is disintegrating
The whole fucking world is just too frustrating

But you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Well look at all the hate there is in Alhambra
Then look around to Selma Alabama
You may leave here for four days in space
But when you come back it's the same old place
The pounding of the drums pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don't leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbour but don't forget to say grace

But you tell me
Over and over and over again my friend
Ah you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction

Continued...
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 24, 2015 9:51 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"October 21, 2015:" The Day We Learn the Future Ain't What It Used to Be

Yes, indeed. Today marks that depressing moment when you realize all of back to the future is officially in the past.

Continued...
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 21, 2015 5:36 PM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Burning House

What have the righteous Americans been doing these last, long, and lost years?

"Been sleepwalking
Been wondering all night
Trying to take what's lost and broke
And make it right
Been sleepwalking
Too close to the fire...."


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 20, 2015 1:37 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Democratic Debate Reloaded

Bernie: “I don’t have a Super PAC, I don’t have a backpack. I carry my stuff around loose in my arms like a professor between classes. I own one pair of underwear. That’s it! Some of these billionaires, they have three, four pairs. And I don’t have a dryer! I have to put my clothes on the radiator. So who do you want as president? One of these Washington insiders, or a guy who has one pair of clean underwear that he dries on a radiator?”

Hillary: “I think you’re really going to like the Hillary Clinton that my team and I have created for this debate. She’s warm, but strong. Flawed, but perfect. Relaxed, but racing full speed towards the white house like the T-1000 from Terminator.”


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 18, 2015 9:40 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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 (3)  | 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

media-narrative-chart.jpg


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Oct 10, 2015 11:15 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Regarding "The Discovery of Freedom"

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

HappyAcres


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:

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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.

Continued...
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

Continued...
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

Sample:

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Full list if you...

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

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

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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........

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

apoppishsermon.jpg

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.

obamamuslim.jpg

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

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Current religious beliefs held by the demented satanists of the petrified groves of academe as deliniated by George Yancey at HeterodoxAcademy.org 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.

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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-days-worth-of-junk-mail1.jpg
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?

aausps-transportation-1.jpg
"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.

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"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."

Huh...

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

Wayne-as-Col.-Kirby.jpg

Continued...
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.jpg

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,
Lisa
September, 2002
From: Lisa Dedvukaj, submitted: 11/13/2002 3:59:23 PM
Simon,
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..
I LOVE YOU SIMON!
Love,
Lisa
Last month
From: Lisa V., submitted: 01/11/2004 10:47:44 PM
Simon,
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,
Lisa
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

shanksville.jpg

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.

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

DABNEY-Robert-Lewis_3.jpg

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

aaa2005_smithsonianmonkey.jpg

"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......

Continued...
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

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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.

aa23train-americans-master675-v5.jpg

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.

illegalsign.jpg

"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.

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

cash-clunker-sm.jpg

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

cashforclunkers_120710-humor.jpg

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

adumpsteratcurb.jpg

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

Greg_Dumpster-1150.jpg

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

Continued...
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

aaacostcoshoppers.jpg

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, 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 --

Continued...
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1thesplash.jpg

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

6holdinghands.jpg

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

9handsedgeoframe.jpg

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.

Continued...
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.

Apollo_11_first_step.jpg

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

fetus1.jpg
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

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

aniceguys.jpg

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."

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"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: plus.google.com/104841162830331053592 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

https://www.hillsdale.edu/

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

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A short list. In no particular order.

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

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

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

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

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

Everybody liked our movies and loved our television shows.

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

We did Levis.

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

We saved Europe twice and liberated it once.

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

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

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

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

We invented Jazz.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We gave everybody the vote.

We built Disneyworld. Just for fun.

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

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

We electrified the guitar.

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

We had some middling novelists.

We had some interesting painters.

We had some pretty good poets.

We had better songwriters.

We ran our farms so well we fed the globe.

We made the automobile and the airplane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[First published 2007]


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

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"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

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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...."

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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.

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Trsanscript:

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

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.

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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

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“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)

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Then (2006)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Originally published Memorial Day, 2007]


Posted by Vanderleun 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

Continued...
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

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

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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.

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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?"

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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....

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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

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“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.

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"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

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"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 moveon.org 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

Obama%20Resigns.jpg

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.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL - BREAKING NEWS BULLETINS!


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

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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.

punchtwainsong.jpeg

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!

CHORUS

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.

Continued...
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....

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

abodybyfisher.jpg

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
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