[From My Back Pages]
It's Easter Sunday and we are two and a half years into the Iraq war. Good Friday evening was one of those nights when, in Southern California, the weather and the combine to create what are rightly called "balmy conditions." Balm, as in a kind of salve to the soul and the skin. The air is warm but not too warm. The skies are clear and the stars seem closer. My wife and I had just seen some current comic book confection at one of the 20 screen multiplexes that are so numerous in this area that you can see the same movies 15 times within a ten mile radius.
We sat by a large sandstone and marble fountain in the stone circle between the vast theater and the vaster parking lot. It was date night and the beginning of Spring Break for the schools of Orange County. All around us kids from 11 to 18 were whooping and laughing and forming clusters of friends. They were dressed according to the upscale Goth-Surfer/Balkan Refugee dress-code common to the kid culture here on the coast. Most were too young to have tattoos or piercing, but you could see some were already planning where those lifestyle statements would go. They were slim, energetic and heedless of the future. In short, they were just reasonably rich kids in America in 2003.
We are two and a half years into the war, but the war is not and will probably never be these kids' concern. It isn't even something they consider outside of, perhaps, a few classroom exercises of dubious intent or merit. There is no reason they should consider war, nor do I wish that upon them. It isn't, in any real sense, their war. War isn't being asked of us or the affluent kids of Orange County, nor does it seem likely to be. Besides, war isn't what they're into.
They're into creating their own layer on top of our culture of cool. Their variation would be, as these things are these days, a kind of slap-dash cultural collage. It would have a bit of the Beatnik, a Hint of the hippy, a shred of the Skateboarder, an ounce of Outlaw, a portion of Punk, a hunk of Hip-Hop, and, because we were on the California coast, more than a soupcon of Surfer. It would be a melange of the old and outdated that would assert it was unique and brand new. When they were done cooking up their "culture of cool" they would all agree among themselves, "Ain't it cool?"
Their parents, as parents now do, would sigh and pour another drink or drop another Ambien, and hope that their children would get through this phase without a drug arrest, a school suspension, a permanent piercing, or a lethal accident on the highways or in the ocean. It was all they asked of them. We were two and a half years into the war and none of the kids of Orange County would fight in it unless they asked for it. All of the parents in Orange County knew their kids were crazy. After all, they were teenagers in high school. Few thought any of their kids were that crazy.
Less than 20 miles south of where we sat last Friday, there was another kind of youth culture. I saw it for a day last January. You don't see it very often around here because it doesn't hang out at the malls. You can't see it from the freeways because its center is far back in the hills. It has its own malls and towns and sporting and educational complexes. It doesn't deal in "the culture of cool." It deals in the culture of carnage. It's the Camp Pendelton Marine Base.
There are many young people here, some the same age as the kids at the malls to the north, but none of these young people are kids. There's something about daily training with tanks, rifles, heavy machine guns and artillery that puts your childhood as far behind you as the kids at the malls have their childhood still in front of them. Instead of worrying if their dad is going to pay for the new mag-chrome rims for their Escalade, this youth culture worries about the state of readiness of their Apache attack helicopters.
The culture of Camp Pendelton isn't cool in the way political fundraisers today feature hip-hop groups and background music from the golden age of Fleetwood Mac. The culture here despises the culture of cool. The culture here is composed of deeper, abiding and more fundamental things: God, Country and The Corps. There are a lot of people in America and elsewhere that would like nothing better than to deconstruct this culture into oblivion, but, as courageous as they might be in proclaiming this elsewhere, they don't seem to be showing up at the gates or on the grounds of Camp Pendleton to press the issue. They wouldn't because, according to their worldview that arises from spending decades as adolescents, the Marines are just so uncool. Aren't they?
The young men and women that come to this culture do not, we are told, come in the main from the affluent suburbs of America. They come from the ghettos and the working class parts of the country. They come to get a leg up and a ticket out of their origins. They come because they see the Marines as either a career or a means to an education that leads to a career. Most have had little given to them because they come from families with little to give. Some come to prove themselves. Some come because members of their family came before. Some come because the only other path open to them led to a cell. Some even come out of a deep faith and a deeper sense of duty. Not all that come will be accepted, but none come because it is cool. Before they came they too were once kids in America. They got the big and repeated message that the military in America these days is uncool. They knew it was uncool and they came anyway. Some because they had no other choice. Many because they didn't care about being cool if being cool meant being a kid forever.
There aren't many rich Orange County mall rats that come to the Marines out of high school. Rich kids no longer have this calling. Instead they wander on in their extended childhood though college. Then they drift into the arena where all they will have will be a six-figure income and a few "great moments at work." They will learn, if they do not already know, how to play golf and how to drive themselves deep into "middle management." In time, they will form one or two or more families in one or two or more cities or suburbs. Their roots will be shallow, but they will take lots of interesting two-week vacations to comfortable enclaves in Europe or pacified third-world countries. Towards the end, they'll spend a lot on cruise ships where they will be treated 'like royalty.' They'll acquire real estate and hope for "a nice appreciation ride." They will have little to show that they existed but that will be all right. They will use the word 'cool' in conversation and evaluation well into their seventh decade. One of the central social anxieties of their lives will be being discovered being or doing something that their peers will say is "uncool."
In short, they will be such cool Americans that, two and a half years into a war, nothing will be asked of them. That would be, you see, very uncool.
Twenty miles south at Camp Pendelton, everything is being asked of the Americans there. It is asked for in Iraq daily and paid there daily. Our very cool media's job is clear. It is to tell us in hundreds of big and little ways daily of how uncool it is to ask everything of someone. Our media is very cool indeed.
Our media is by default not a "liberal media," but a melange of many businesses and institutions that are staffed by generations of the coolest of the cool in our aging culture of cool. Our media, as every MTV-addled mall rat learns by age 5, is where the really cool jobs are. Rock star or record producer, movie star or director, reporter, anchorman, editor, publisher, video-game designer, web-monkey, DJ, photographer, pundit, columnist -- the positions go on and on and everybody knows, EVERYBODY knows, that the media's where the cool people are.
If you have a job in the media you go to the cool parties. You live in the cool towns driving the cool cars. You eat the cool foods in the cool restaurants where everybody knows your name and you get the cool table next to what passes for this week's cool celebrity du jour. You subscribe to the cool magazines and if you haven't had your picture in one yet, your turn is on the way. You have the cool summer place. Your haircut is cool. Your computer is cool. Your friends are cool. Even your dog is cool. You wear the cool clothes, and you are absolutely up-to-the-nanosecond on what is cool now and what will be cooler tomorrow. And you also know that that which is not of the culture of cool is uncool.
What is uncool today, two and a half years into the war, is, of course, the war. War's been uncool to these eternal cool kids and their kids since about 1962 and, except for a brief six month period after September 11, 2001, war is uncool now. War's uncool because, well, it is "unhealthy for children and other living things" goes the party line in the culture of cool. This war is especially uncool because it is being run by uncool people and the uncoolest President ever. But really, war is uncool because it is one of the big things that threatens to undo all the great parties and smooth lifestyles promised and delivered by the media-made culture of cool. And how does war threaten this? War, real war, actually asks something of the people of a nation as a whole people. It asks them to sacrifice their blood and their treasure and their cool attitudes and their endless summers. It asks, in the parlance of the Marine Corps, that "all give some and that some give all."
The American culture of cool has become a nation apart, an alternate-America that looks to the real America as merely some mechanism set up to deliver the many features and benefits of America to the culture of cool without question, by divine right of media. This culture is not into giving back anything they have taken from the culture at large. The culture of cool is not a giving culture, it is an taking culture. Anything it chooses to have is taken in and used to improve the lot of those within the culture of cool. That which is not cool it seeks to either use or destroy depending on whether or not it advances the culture of cool and the lifestyles of those that exist within it. It sees itself as the real soul and real intelligence of America, even as it actually rides on the broad shoulders of America like some strangling old man of the sea that, once taken up, refuses to get down. It sees itself as the engine responsible for making the culture of America continually new, even as it only recycles one empty cultural container after another through the battered green bins of its rigid internal codes and fashions to pop them out as 'new, improved and even more impossibly hip.'
Regardless of the shiny gift wrap of the cool advertising and marketing agencies that have taken to spotwelding vintage rock and roll and the latest pop or sports sensation's face onto their shabby garage sale goods, we seldom see, hear, or read anything today that is not either a remake, a sequel, or an allusion to the cool things of yesteryear. The same holds true for the politics of cool. This is confirmed in a brief review of the lamentable Democratic primaries of this year. During the months of this excruciating ritual, what was once a proud and progressive party offered up nearly a dozen cardboard candidates. When it was all over, the party chose the one candidate that sounded the most like, looked the most like, and sported the haircut and even the initials of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Camelot Redux because JFK was, as the culture of cool constantly reminds us, the coolest President ever.
John F. Kerry is, in many ways, the perfect candidate for today's graying culture of cool. He snowboards at sixty. How cool is that? He goes to great parties with hip-hop stars. Too cool. He's got lots of money that he didn't earn. So cool. He can hold opposite positions on difficult issues and lie about it with a straight face. Very cool way of getting out of middle management into upper management. He can fight in a war and throw another man's medals away. Cool career move. He can promise 10 million jobs to the 8 million unemployed. Super cool to make more jobs than workers. If he can tax those jobs that have no workers, he can probably cool out the deficit. He can talk to and cajole the alienated country of France into amour encore. This is extremely cool since it makes renting summer villas in France and trips to Paris acceptable again. Besides France is the coolest country in Europe as every member of the culture of cool will attest. His Africa-born white wife is so cool she calls herself an "African-American." Most of all, Kerry is cool because he thinks the war is uncool and is saying so in a cool kind of way. Even more than that, the members of the culture of cool know that Kerry will never ask anything of them. And the culture of cool is not a giving culture, but a taking one. If Kerry would only learn to play the saxophone he would be cooler than JFK.
Yesterday I saw a photograph fresh from the war in Iraq. There are many photographs from Iraq these days. It's an uncool country in an uncool part of the world where American soldiers are fighting and dying to cool it out. It's uncool to be a soldier there, but it is very cool to be a photographer, so we have a lot of photographers and a lot of photographs. Some taken by being on call to and hanging out with the people who are killing Americans. How cool is that?
The photograph was taken in a hanger at a military base. It shows a group of young, uncool American Marines kneeling in a tight circle on the ground in prayer. Prayer. How totally uncool.
When you look closer at the photograph you notice that extending out from within the circle of kneeling and praying Marines are the legs of a dying or dead comrade in arms. Probably a very young comrade, not too distant in age from the kids laughing and playing in front of the multiplex on a balmy night in Orange County a world away.
How uncool this man was to die for his country and his comrades. How uncool is the effort to liberate a country mired in the morass of the middle ages, when you could just stay home and play video games. How uncool to take the war to an enemy that has sworn to kill Americans wholesale and has done so. How very, very uncool.
Now this Marine will never have a shot at working in the mail room of a movie studio, a record company, or a publishing house. All this Marine has now as he recedes into death are the prayers of those Marines who trained and fought beside him. That and a military funeral and a folded flag given to his family. Prayers. Funerals. Folded flags. These things are very uncool as the media-made captions on these photographs will seek to remind you. Very uncool.
At the same time that this Marine lay dying in Iraq, the current senior spokesman for the Democratic Party, Senator Ted Kennedy (a man whose cool, credibility and courage are equal in measure) was busy condemning the effort that cost this uncool Marine his life by waving the bloody shirt of Vietnam under the nose of the nation. His words and image were duly broadcast across America by all his life-long compatriots in the culture of cool. It's a shirt faded and frayed by many decades of constant handling, wringing and waving, but the bloody shirt of Vietnam has a lot of buttons, patches, fringe, and embroidered flowers on it. It's vintage clothing. Ain't it cool?
The Safety Pin came into its own right after the election. Now it is proving, not for the first time, that "There's a [white] sucker born every minute."
It was worn by guilt-ridden white liberals who wanted to show their friends of color that they weren’t just ordinary white people… they were white people who cared. Or something.
But two Black Lives Matter activists decided that it wasn’t enough for white people to just wear a little diaper pin poked through your clothes. They needed to give money.
So Leslie Mac and Marissa Jenae Johnson created a “Safety Pin Box” so white people could give money. To them.
And even better: You can give money to them every month. As little as $25 per month and as much as $100.
“We believe giving Black people your money is essential to being a useful ally,” they proclaim on their FAQ page. They sure do! By “Black people” they mean them. They’re not a charity, they’re a business, they claim.
This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
There are men who can't be bought.
The fireborn are at home in fire.
The stars make no noise,
You can't hinder the wind from blowing.
Time is a great teacher.
Who can live without hope?
In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people
"Where to? what next?"
- - Carl Sandburg: The People Yes (excerpt)
In case you've wondered how much four barrels of gin cost in the U.S. in 1836
I have provided the following list of What Stuff Cost, found tucked away in a book-keeping section of a very well used pocket-sized copy ofRoswell C. Smith's Practical and Mental Arithmetic on a New Plan..., which was published in Hartford in 1836. The answer to the gin question is $75, and if a barrel meant 42 gallons back then as it does now then the gin would cost about 60 cents a gallon. That of course sounds like a tiny price, but compared to what? That 60 cents would be about two-thirds of a day's wages for the average non-farm white male worker (actually between 50 cents and $1.00), while girl/women textile workers in Lowell Mass worked for about $3-4 per six day week. So if you considered working for most of theday in exchange for a bottle of (average, nothing special) gin, then it would seem a little on the expensive side. Or consider the prices of stuff as expensive or not based on a yearly salary of $300 or so and getting by on about a dollar a day.
Many varieties of food and drink in this imaginary store's stock would have come in barrels (abbreviated "bbl"): gin, vinegar, brandy, pork, and beef (probably salted). Rum and molasses were tallied in hogsheads ("hhd"), a standard measure of volume usually used for alcoholic beverages.
This hypothetical clerk also stocked cloth, hats, shoes, axes, kettles, textbooks, and knives—all the items a 19th-century country clientele might have relied upon such a store to provide, in a time before widespread availability of mail-order goods.Via the Venerable JF Ptak Science Books
"One of the best things about 2016 for me was the way it gave the lie to the weaselish and wet aphorism – so often repeated by so many of our impeccably reasonable, sensible and balanced TV and newspaper pundits – that elections are “won in the centre ground.”
"This was the Belial philosophy that gave us, in the U.S., that hideous continuum from the Bushes and the Clintons to Obama; and in Britain, the grotesque and malign Third Way squishery that took us from Tony Blair through to his (self-admitted heir) David Cameron and beyond. (It’s also the mindset which invented the disgraceful, sell-out concept of “soft Brexit”.)
"No wonder so many of us had become so fed up with politics: no matter which party you voted for, whether the notionally left-wing one or the notionally right-wing one you still seemed to end up up with the same old vested interests, the same old liberal Establishment elite.
"Of course we should always despise the liberal-left because their philosophy is morally bankrupt, dangerous and wrong. But I sometimes think that the people we should despise most of all are the squishes who pretend to be on our side of the argument but forever betray our cause. Sometimes they do this by throwing the more outspoken among us to the wolves in order to signal how tolerant and virtuous they are; sometimes they do this by endorsing some fatuous liberal position in order to show their willingness to compromise.
"I call the latter approach the “dogshit yogurt fallacy.”
"If conservatives like fruit or honey in their yogurt and liberals prefer to eat it with dogshit, it is NOT a sensible accommodation – much as our centrist conservative columnists might wish it so – to say: “All right. How about we eat our yogurt with a little bit of both?” We need to understand, very clearly, that there are such things as right and wrong; and that, furthermore, it is always worth fighting to the bitter end for the right thing rather than accepting second best because a bunch of lawyers and politicians and hairdressers from Brazil and squishy newspaper columnists and other members of the liberal elite have told us that second best is the best we can hope for."
If you, like me, have ever wanted to live off the grid, then the up for auction Utah Cliff House near Moab, Utah is the place for you. Lord knows that if I had the money I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
Located just 20 minutes outside Monticello, Utah in Montezuma Canyon, Cliff Haven is rich in Anasazi history with artifacts throughout the property. Watch the video above to get the full details and see how this cliff house is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
This property includes 12 acres, a garage, room for expansion and more. There’s wifi and phone line on the property so you can stay connected, work from home, keep in touch with family and let Amazon deliver to your front door.
Property Size: 2,100 sq ft
Property Lot Size: 12 acres
Year Built: 1986
Garage Size: 900 sq ft
“ Why do we not consider what contradictions we find in our own judgments; how many things were yesterday articles of our faith, that to-day appear no other than fables?” -- MontaigneThey know now. They all know. All of them who are not racially bonded, or leftist dead-enders, or spiritually or mentally deficient, or a combination of all those fatal factors, all except those, finally know. They hide their knowing.... from each other, from us, and from themselves, but they still know that they know.
And they know that we know that they know.
Yet still they persist. They persist in ignoring all that the golem they put into the White House actually is -- and what he is burrowing away at in his every-day more robotic manner. They know what It is but many cannot yet know that they know. It is too horrible to contemplate, too revolting to admit.
They get up in the morning and cast a glance at the television news and.... there It is, yammering and stammering about “inequality” as Its future net worth soars well above $500 million dollars. They hear Its voice and the very timbre makes them throw up a little in their throat. They know. They know what they have done, most of them twice, and the nausea has now risen inside them and never really leaves. Does it?
African-Americans, professional parasites, the slow or low information ones, those with diminished capacity, and those whose perversions seep into and permeate their politics are, in a sense, lucky. They have lashed themselves to this dying animal so tightly that they still see only the glow of what once others saw in their millions. Except now the glow is a little light, a rushlight; a faint flame powered by the flatulent and slowly burning swamp fumes of the fraud farm. To them it still yields enough light to still say, with deep sighs and passionate yearning for a glance or a touch from Him, “We can still believe. Yes, we can.”
Taken as a whole these are the twenty to twenty five percent of citizens that form Its' irreducible base of panty-waists, parasites, perverts, and poltroons. They will never know anything other than the fable they told themselves long long ago. The truth will be out there but forever beyond their withered reach. If they could know what all the others now know, they would also know how vile their entire life has been; how colonized their minds; how enslaved their souls. And so they cannot know -- or allow themselves to know -- or permit others to tell them. Like the lost children of Hamelin they will follow their Piper into the cleft in the mountain and the cleft will, in time, snap shut behind them. They cannot be rescued or redeemed. Let them go. They are known as “”dead enders” because, in the end, they are as dead as all their pretty lies.
As for the rest -- the ones that know and know that they know or are coming now to know that they know -- treat them carefully. It will be like watching many millions slowly awaken to the horror of what they’ve done to themselves and to their countrymen. They will be ashamed of themselves and not a little sickened and weakened from their extended experience with political depravity. Not all of them will make it out of the mire. Some will be unable to bear the knowing and so will return to the unknowing; will go slide back into the muck.
But that will be, I hope, only a small fraction of “The Returned.” Most will know that to overcome what has happened to them “only a power greater than themselves” can restore them to sanity. Recognizing this we can only, as gently as possible, welcome them back from the lost years of their dark delusion.
Perhaps the best we can do is to look them in the eye as soon as we see that they know and say, with the poet Thom Gunn,
“I hardly hope for happy thoughts, although
In a most happy sleeping time I dreamt
We did not hold each other in contempt.
Then lifting from my lids night’s penny weights
I saw that lack of love contaminates.
You know I know you know I know you know.
Abandon me to stammering, and go;
If you have tears, prepare to cry elsewhere –
I know of no emotion we can share.
Your intellectual protests are a bore
And even now I pose, so now go, for
I know you know.”
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 ]
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.
I 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: . 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]
Eagle Scout and chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation, Rex Tillerson, addresses the audience at the Orange County Council Leadership Breakfast, Boy Scouts of America. October 13, 2016 at the Hotel Irvine in Irvine, California.
"My whole life is defined because I was a boy scout.
There’s no other reason a 64 year old CEO with a lot of things on his mind can recite the words to the Scout Vesper. Because every night, before we went into our tents, our scoutmaster had us recite the Scout Vesper....
Softly falls the light of day,
While our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask
Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared
Everything to be prepared?
"I Rex Tillerson
reaffirm my allegiance
to the three promises of the Scout Oath.
I will do my best to do my duty to God
And my country and to obey the Scout Law.
I will help other people at all times
And keep myself physically strong,
Mentally awake, and morally straight.
I thoughtfully recognize and take upon myself
The obligations and responsibilities
Of the rank of Eagle Scout.
I will at all times do my best
To assist other Scouts climbing the Eagle Trail,
Especially those of my own Troop, Team an Post.
I will help build America on the solid foundation
Of clean living, honest work and reverence to God.
I promise to make my training and example,
My rank and my influence
Count strongly for better Scouting
And for better citizenship in my family,
Church, community and country
And with my contacts with all people.
I realize that the Eagle rank
Is not the end but the beginning
To this I pledge my sacred honor!"
[HT: Abigail Adams]
Hanson sums it up elegantly. Yes, it's 44 minutes and everyone pure gold.
The video runs about 45 minutes. The final 20 minutes are questions and answers, but some of his most pointed comments come in the final 20 minutes. I think this is worth your time if you, like me, continue to try to sort things out. | Power Line
Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago, the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite Void gave a discourse to all the assembled elements and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings, the flying beings, and the sitting beings--even the grasses, to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning Enlightenment on the planet Earth.
"In some future time, there will be a continent called America. It will have great centers of power called such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur, Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon. The human race in that era will get into troubles all over its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature."
"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth. My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger: and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it."
And he showed himself in his true form of
SMOKEY THE BEAR
A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.
Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;
His left paw in the mudra of Comradely Display--indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that of deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;
Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;
Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the west, symbolic of the forces that guard the wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the true path of man on Earth:
all true paths lead through mountains--
With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;
Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;
Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs, smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;
Indicating the task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes, master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.
Wrathful but calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him...
HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.
Thus his great Mantra:
Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana Sphataya hum traka ham mam
"I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND BE THIS RAGING FURY BE DESTROYED"
And he will protect those who love the woods and rivers, Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:
And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:
DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS
DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS
And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out with his vajra-shovel.
Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.
Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.
Will always have ripened blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.
AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT
...thus we have heard...
(may be reproduced free forever)
HT: Hyland who gave me Smokey the Bear Sutra by Gary Snyder
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...
It has been 75 years, but U.S. Navy veteran James Leavelle can still recall watching with horror as Japanese warplanes rained bombs down on his fellow sailors in the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War Two.
Bullets bounced off the steel deck of his own ship, the USS Whitney, anchored just outside Honolulu harbor, but a worse fate befell those aboard the USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS Utah and others that capsized in an attack that killed 2,400 people.
"The way the Japanese planes were coming in, when they dropped bombs, they'd drop them and then circle back," said Leavelle, a 21-year-old Navy Storekeeper Second Class at the time of the attack.
Leavelle, now 96, was among 30 Pearl Harbor survivors honored at a reception in Los Angeles before heading to Honolulu to mark Wednesday's 75th anniversary of the attack.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place at 7:55 a.m. Honolulu time on Dec. 7, 1941, famously dubbed "a date which will live in infamy" by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. Fewer than 200 survivors of the attacks there and on other military bases in Hawaii are still alive.
Pearl Harbor Hero Returns Home After 75 Years in an Unknown Grave "For decades their bones lay forgotten until a Pearl Harbor survivor uncovered their story."
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.
Since the election, Trump has continued to Tweet away. He's called for Hamilton to be boycotted and flag-burning to be criminalised, and every time the same 10-part pattern unfolds and the whole thing starts again.
Each episode followed a familiar 10-part pattern:
1) Trump posts an inflammatory, highly opinionated tweet.
2) The media goes nuts.
3) Trump’s tweet then dominates the news all day.
4) The media demands he stops tweeting because it’s ‘un-presidential.’
5) Trump ignores them.
6) Conventional politicians demand he stops tweeting because it’s un-presidential.’
7) Trump ignores them too.
8) Trump wakes up next morning to every paper and cable news show talking about his tweet.
9) Trump chuckles to himself.
10) Trump tweets again.
Reaffirmation Post: In which I discuss how I got from "there" to "here" back in April, 2006....
My Back Pages: Debating on the step of Sproul Hall, UC Berkeley, 1966. (Left to right:) Me (Somewhat younger but just as strident), An Iranian friend named "Jaz" -- worked with me in the UC library, a refugee from the Shah's Iran -- probably went back after the fall of the Shah, (foreground right) He lost his eye in the Hungarian Uprising and had to run for the border and on into the West to stay alive. In this picture he's attempting to convince me that Communism is an evil ideology. I'm not buying it then, but I buy it now. (Click to enlarge)
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am,
But everybody wants you
To be just like them.
They sing while you slave and I just get bored.
I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more.
-- Maggie's Farm
A friend with whom I have a daily correspondence takes great pleasure in needling me on my, shall we say, adamantine position that we need to start fighting the First Terrorist War to win it and not as if we are engaged in a game of patty-cake. In March of 2004, after the Madrid bombings, while I was trapped on a Cruise Ship somewhere deep inside the sixth circle of Hell, he decided it was an ideal time convert me to his policy of "reasonable accommodation." It was the moment in which, as he put it, "...the common citizens of Spain and France are saying 'Tell us again what this got us, other than lots of angry teenagers with bombs?' "
I replied that I'd lived for years in France, with months in and about Spain, and most of the 'common citizens' of those countries would surrender to anything and sell out anyone if it meant they could shop in peace for a few more years. Vichy and Franco came to mind as examples.
Yesterday, in Tel Aviv, the angry teenager with a bomb on his body came again, as he has so many times over the last few years, and as he will in the years to come. Maybe Spain was right to see the effort as futile. Maybe Europe as a whole should just roll over and not just play dead, but be dead. Perhaps Israel should just shrug and say, "Okay, you win. We'll move or we'll die. You tell us."
After all, what's really in all this fighting and dying for anyone? None of the countries that are engaged in this war against terror seems to be ready to do the terrible things necessary to end terror. ("Don't you see? That would make us just like them!" "Perhaps, but we would be alive to repent and reform.")
I once admired the subtle thought, the careful parsing, the diplomatic pas-de-deux of policy, but lately I seem to have gotten a taste for straight talk. It seems to me that if you don't go to war ready to achieve victory by any means necessary -- by any means necessary -- why would you bother to go at all? And of late, I'm only hearing the weasel word "win." I'm not hearing a lot about "victory," which is quite a different thing.
It seems to me that if you are actually "in" a war, victories, big and small, are what you seek to achieve. Once you have the final victory, and that means that the enemy and all that supports the enemy, is so destroyed and laid waste that there's no fight left in him, then and only then can you say you have "won." Absent a drive for victory, there seems to be nothing in this war for any one fighting terror on any front other than pain and death -- and the added insult of an unremitting disparagement from many of the citizens for whom they fight.
That's certainly true when it comes to the United States of late. We seem stalled at the stage of the struggle that brings to mind Churchill's proclamation that he had nothing to offer except, "blood, sweat and tears." We've had those three things constantly for years -- as our media are so keen to remind us every three minutes of every day.
Another factor in the dumb-show called "Bringing Democracy to the Middle East" seems to be that our leadership has become, shall we say, less than inspiring and more like Monty Hall emceeing "Let's Make A Deal" with contestants and a studio audience packed with crazed and crapulous mullahs. Finally, we're seeing a host of our fellow citizens so immersed in their hatred of George Bush that the impression we are hip-deep in demented traitors is getting hard to shake.
All of these things conspire, on a daily basis, to shake our belief in ourselves, our institutions and our commitment to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism. Lately we seem to be living on a daily drip-feed of despair for our future and estrangement from our past. It's not a new diet in this country, but it is starting to assume the proportions of a runaway fad diet, a political Pritikins. And yet this thin gruel is what's being poured into us from Seattle, Washington to Washington, D.C.
If you look closely at this diet for a diminished America you see a familiar list of "ingredients." The list is composed of the ideological stock and trade of a significant segment of Americans to whom this nation, as conceived by our founders, and struggled for for more than 200 years is merely one long, large joke.
And I should know. After all, that boy in the picture up there -- that boy that thought Communism was "something we could live with" -- that young boy was me.Continued...
Ladies and Gentlemen, a new look for the President of the United States. It's time to see who we are really dealing with.
The above image is, of course, a photoshop. A minor adjustment of outward elements that make up Trumps face and, as a result, give him a strikingly different aspect than the more colorful and animated personality that appears in public daily now.
Still, this is not the only time we've seen the aspect of Trump that is represented in this photoshop. We can see it in some otherwise offhand photographs from unguarded moments. By that I mean those moments when the subject is not aware that he is being photographed and, hence, does not have his photographic personality suffusing his face and body.
A case in point is the photo below. It was taken just moments before Trump made his entrance on election night to inform the nation and the world that Hillary Clinton had conceded and he was now the President-Elect. Here we see Trump in the wings of the stage and in a moment in which his face makes manifest the enormous weight that had finally, after 18 months, settled on him. It's a sober moment and you can see it in the close-up below.
The eyes, as always, are the windows to the soul. At least in those moments when the man does not have his shades drawn.
"You know what, as painful and as excruciatingly long as it was... in retrospect this was the most fun election ever."
Just when Democrats and Moonbats think it's safe to go back in the political waters, Joe Dan Gorman releases, on IntellectualFroglegs.com, "No Rules for Radicals." Funny and insightful and with a down home and homespun flavor that should be bottled and poured over your Moonbat Babyback Ribs at your January celebration barbecues. Joe Dan takes us back over the campaign trail and into the dawning of the age of Trump. With this caveat:
"Now while we are rooting for President-Elect Trump to succeed wildly—we are sycophants of no one. We will hold Trump’s feet to the fire, but only when needed. We are not going to scrutinize and micromanage his every move.Popcorn. Full screen. Sit back and enjoy as much as you enjoyed The Buster Brown Show with Froggie and his rollicking sidekick Andy Devine.
"We knew Trump was apolitical and unpredictable…and no doubt he will have us all scratching our heads at times. But with a history of success that is second to none— Donald Trump for lack of a better word— backs up his bullsh*t like no other.
"So for now… Donald Trump has earned my trust— until he doesn’t.
"It's the holidays. Enjoy them. Turn off the idiots in the media and bask in the glorious fact that Hillary Clinton will NEVER be our President."
Here's the lyrics just in case you want to add this to your caroling around the neighborhood.
It's the most wonderful time in 8 years
Yet some kids are protesting
while Trump fans investing their time with good cheer
Sing It's the most wonderful time in 8 years
It's the hap-happiest voting season of all
With each staff member Trump picks, Democrats up to their old tricks …Just trashing them all
but It's the hap- happiest election season of all
There’ll be one party hosting All three branches toasting
but how low now will the press go
There'll spin misguided stories Trying to steal Trump’s glory
from a playbook written, long long ago
It's the most wonderful time in 8 years
There'll be much more enjoyment a lot less unemployment
Cuz Trump will be near
It's the most wonderful time in 8 years (go up)
Hillary’s party’s not hosting they’re no longer toasting,
Beyonce, Kanye, Cop Killers, Racists and the Muslim Brotherhood
They ignored true stories of Hillary who wasn’t sorry
for her crimes now and long ago
Now It's the most wonderful time in 8 Years
We’ll deport all the criminals, Taxes will be minimal
Bad trade deals disappear
It's the most wonderful time
yes the most wonderful time
Oh the most wonderful time… in 8 years!
Her earliest memory is being held on the shoulders of her father, watching the men who lived through the First World War parade down the main street of Fargo, North Dakota in 1918. She would have been just four years old then. Now she's 90 years old and she comes to her birthday party wearing a chic black and white silk dress, shiny black shoes with three inch heels, and a six foot long purple boa. She's threatening to sing Kurt Weill's 'The Saga of Jenny" and dance on the table one more time .
She'll sing the Kurt Weill song, but we draw the line at her dancing on the table this year. Other than that, it is pretty much her night, and she gets to call the shots. Which is what you get when you reach
90 97 and are still managing to make it out to the tennis courts three to four times a week. "If it wasn't for my knees I'd still have a good backcourt game, but now I pretty much like to play up at the net." [Note: Alas she had to give up tennis two years back when her knees finally gave up. She didn't. Water walking twice a week. She gave all a scare a couple of years ago but came roaring back after major surgery and is more or less back to the regular schedule.]
She plays Bridge once or twice a week, winning often, and has been known to have a cocktail or two on occasion. After her operation she gave up driving much to the relief of my brother who fretted over it for several decades.
She keeps a small two-bedroom apartment in a complex favored by young families and college students from Chico State and, invariably, has a host of fans during any given semester. She's thought about moving to the "senior apartments" out by the mall, but as she says, "I'm just not sure I could downsize that much and everyone there is so old."
She was born deep in the heartland at the beginning of the Great War, the youngest of five children. She grew up and into the Roaring 20s, through the Great Depression, taught school at a one room school house at Lake of the Woods Minnesota, roamed west out to California in the Second World War and met the man she married.
They stayed married until he died some 30 years ago. Together they raised three boys, and none of them came to any more grief than most and a lot more happiness than many.
After her husband died at the end of a protracted illness, she was never really interested in another man and filled her life with family, close friends (some stretching back to childhood), and was, for 15 years, a housemother to college girls. She recently retired from her day job where she worked three mornings a week as a teacher and companion to young children at a local day-care and elementary school.
She has always been a small and lovely woman -- some would say beautiful. I know I would. An Episcopalian, she's been known to go to church, but isn't devoted to the practice, missing more Sundays than she attends. She's given to finding the best in people and letting the rest pass, but has been known to let fools pass at high speed.
Born towards the beginning of the 20th century, she now lives fully in the 21st. Nearly 10 years ago we gave her a 90th birthday party. It was attended by over 200 people from 2 to 97, many of whom told tales about her, some taller than others.
We didn't believe the man who told about the time in her early seventies that she danced on his bar. He brought the pictures of the bar with her high-heel marks in it to prove the point.
Other stories are told, some serious, some funny, all loving. But they all can only go back so far since she has only been living in Chico, California for 30 years. I can go back further, and so, without planning to, I took my turn and told my story about her. It went something like this.
"Because I'm the oldest son, I can go back further in time. I can go back before Clinton, before Reagan, before Nixon, before Kennedy, before Eisenhower. We'll go back to the time of Truman.
"It must be the summer of 1949 and she's taking my brother and I back home to her family in Fargo for the first time. I would be almost four and he'd be two and a half. The war's been over for some time and everyone is now back home and settled in. My father's family lost a son, but -- except for some wounds -- everyone else came out all right.
"We're living in Los Angeles and her home is Fargo, North Dakota, half a continent away. So we do what you did then. We took the train. Starting in Los Angeles we went north to San Francisco where we boarded the newest form of luxury land transportation available that year, the California Zephyr.
"Out from the bay and up over the Sierras and down across the wastes until we wove our way up the spine of the Rockies and down again to the vast land sea that stretched out east in a swath of corn and wheat that I remember more than the pitched curves and plunging cliffs of the mountains. On the Zephyr you sat in a plush chair among others in a long transparent dome at the top of the car and it seemed all Earth from horizon to the zenith flowed past you.
"There was the smell of bread and cooking in the Pullman cars that I can still capture in my mind, and the lulling rhythm of the wheels over the rails that I can still hear singing me down into sleep.
"At some point we changed trains to go north into the Fargo Station and, as we pulled into Fargo in mid-morning, my mother's family met us with their usual humble dignity -- they brought a full brass band that worked its way down through the John Philip Sousa set list with severe dedication. They also brought me more family members than there were people living on our entire block in Los Angeles. There may also have been a couple of Barbershop Quartets to serenade us during the band breaks, but I'm not sure about that.
"My mother and brother and I were swept away in the maelstrom of aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens, and assorted folks from the neighborhood on 8th Avenue South.
"The day rolled into a huge lunch at a vast dining room table where my grandmother ruled with an iron ladle. Then, after a suitable post-prandial stupor, my entire family rose as one and headed out to the nearby park for their favorite activity -- trying to crush each other in tennis. When this family hit the courts, it was like a tournament had come to town. Other would-be players just took one look and headed for another set of courts elsewhere.
"I was still too young to play, although my mother would have a racquet custom-made for me within the year, so instead I would have been exhausting myself at some playground or in one of the sandboxes under the eyes of my older cousins. Then, at dusk, I made my way back to the courts.
"In the Fargo summers the twilights linger long and fade slowly. And as they fade the lights on the courts come up illuminating them in the gathering dark. And I sat, not quite four, as the night grew dark around me and my mother and her family played on below.
"Now it is all more than sixty years gone but still, in my earliest memories, they all play on in that endless twilight. I see them sweeping back and forth in the fading light. Taunting and laughing together. Calling balls out that are clearly in. Arguing and laughing and playing on forever long after the last light of day has fled across the horizon and the stars spread out high above the lights.
"Service. Return. Lob. Forehand. Volley. Backhand. Volley. Love All."
Lois Lucille McNair Van der Leun -- then and now
November, 2004 -- Chico & Laguna Beach, California
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
And so, in the heart of The Times’s newsroom, long before the exit polls hinted at an upset — and hours before the news media confirmed Mr. Trump’s earthshaking win — Tom Bodkin, The Times’s design director, quietly looked over one such draft.
“MADAM PRESIDENT,” the would-be headline read.
It would take me too long to explain why this article about Trump, by Scott Alexander, is so important to you and to the country. Stop whatever you are doing and give it ten minutes. Seriously. Stop what you are doing. Give this ten minutes. It’s more important that almost anything you were going to do today. Then save the link for later sharing. Show it to all of your friends who think Trump is a racist monster. This ends it.-- Scott Adams' Blog
"You Still Crying Wolf" is, by far, the best look back and look ahead at the Trump phenomena. You owe it to yourself to read it and to pass it along... especially to the Trump deniers.
I notice that people accusing Trump of racism use the word “openly” like a tic. He’s never just “racist” or “white supremacist”. He’s always “openly racist” and “openly white supremacist”. Trump is openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist. Trump is running on pure white supremacy, has thrown off the last pretense that his campaign is not about bigotry, has the slogan Make American Openly White Supremacist Again, is an openly white supremacist nominee, etc, etc, etc. And I’ve seen a few dozen articles like this where people say that “the bright side of a Trump victory is that finally America admitted its racism out in the open so nobody can pretend it’s not there anymore.”
This, I think, is the first level of crying wolf. What if, one day, there is a candidate who hates black people so much that he doesn’t go on a campaign stop to a traditionally black church in Detroit, talk about all of the contributions black people have made to America, promise to fight for black people, and say that his campaign is about opposing racism in all its forms? What if there’s a candidate who does something more like, say, go to a KKK meeting and say that black people are inferior and only whites are real Americans?
We might want to use words like “openly racist” or “openly white supremacist” to describe him. And at that point, nobody will listen, because we wasted “openly white supremacist” on the guy who tweets pictures of himself eating a taco on Cinco de Mayo while saying “I love Hispanics!”....
Dog whistling seems to be the theory that if you want to know what someone really believes, you have to throw away decades of consistent statements supporting the side of an issue that everyone else in the world supports, and instead pay attention only to one weird out-of-character non-statement which implies he supports a totally taboo position which is perhaps literally the most unpopular thing it is possible to think.
And then you have to imagine some of the most brilliant rhetoricians and persuaders in the world are calculating that it’s worth risking exposure this taboo belief in order to win support from a tiny group with five-digit membership whose support nobody wants, by sending a secret message, which inevitably every single media outlet in the world instantly picks up on and makes the focus of all their coverage for the rest of the election.
Finally, no, none of this suggests that Donald Trump is courting the white supremacist vote. Anybody can endorse anybody with or without their consent. Did you know that the head of the US Communist Party endorsed Hillary, and Hillary never (as far as I know) “renounced” their endorsement? Does that mean Hillary is a Communist? Did you know that a leader of a murderous black supremacist cult supported Donald Trump and Trump said that he “loved” him? Does that mean Trump is a black supremacist? The only time this weird “X endorsed Y, that means Y must support X” thing is brought out, is in favor of the media narrative painting Trump to be a racist.
7. What about the border wall? Doesn’t that mean Trump must hate Mexicans?
As multiple sources point out, both Hillary and Obama voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which put up a 700 mile fence along the US-Mexican border. Politifact says that Hillary and Obama wanted a 700 mile fence but Trump wants a 1000 mile wall, so these are totally different. But really? Support a 700 mile fence, and you’re the champion of diversity and all that is right in the world; support a 1000 mile wall and there’s no possible explanation besides white nationalism?
“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”
"The U.S. War Department described this film in the following words: "An American soldier, during his combat career, realizes the greatness of his country and determines to assume his share of the responsibilities of good citizenship upon his return to civilian life."
Contains "seized enemy material." Starring Arthur Kennedy and (probably) directed by John Ford, this film was shown to soldiers departing service immediately after World War II. It is well scripted and features several recognizable character actors of the late 30s and 40s, most notably Walter Sande of "To Have and Have Not". Interestingly, the script includes moderate swearing and a benign "tush" shot which was included to punctuate a humorous sequence. To include such elements today would not be worth mentioning, but back then it was unheard of. To offset the inclusion, the film office included a warning card at the end of the film: "NOT TO BE SHOWN TO AMERICAN AUDIENCES WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE U. S. GOVERNMENT". Oddly, it appeared on some prints and not others.
"It's Your America" dramatically hits home with it's message: "Participate in running your country by voting. Don't take freedom and democracy for granted.". The film ends with a stirring up-tempo version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and a surprise and poignant pull-back shot of our soldier as he ends his narrative. It's a well-made film with high production values, thanks to (probable) assistance by a major studio, most likely Warner Bros."
Here’s what makes this ad so special:
1. Trump delivers his lines perfectly, like an experienced actor. We haven’t heard him like this before. You probably didn’t think he had this in him. He stays calm and assured, but not cocky. That is an effective counter-framing to Clinton’s framing of Trump as an unpredictable madman. Here Trump comes off as perfectly reasonable and deeply empathetic.
2. The timing is perfect. This race went so low that even the trolls were starting to gasp for oxygen. Trump made us wait for relief – Hollywood style. He made us crave civility and sanity. And just when we thought it was out of reach, he goes ultra-positive.
But here’s the best part. Clinton has no good options to counter this message. If she stays dark, Trump finishes as the inspirational one. If she tries to match his positive message, she has little chance of doing it this well...... More at | Scott Adams' Blog
There is a world dimensional
For those untwisted
by the love of things irreconcilable.
I've written elsewhere that one of the "things you can't say about the First Terrorist War" is that it is, at bottom, a war of two religions. So it is with the culture wars in America today. It too is, and you are not supposed to say this either, a war of TWO religions.
Then again, that is not quite right. Try it this way.
We are fighting a war of two religions in which only one side is allowed to be designated as a religion -- the Right. "The Right" in these terms is always code for "The Religious Right", which is, in turn, code for "Christianity." This is sometimes, by the legion of scribblers ready to push out the party line at the drop of a hat, modified for form's sake into "Christian Fundamentalism." But realistic observers of this game are not fooled and know it to be the same sort of bearded shorthand by which "Islamic Fundamentalism" is made to stand in for Islam, pure and simple.
In whatever form the attack takes, we have seen -- and will continue to see -- an attack on Religious Americans by another group of Americans that previously identified themselves as "secular," but who lately are trying to wrap themselves in the raiment of religion to a greater or lesser extent. I am expecting a plethora of punditry soon that includes the phrase, "Some of my best friends are Christians, but...." at every opportunity.
But this tactic will, in the end, not suffice. It will fail because those of real faith easily see through those of false faith. And to profess a faith is worse than to remain simply agnostic. Still, it will be tried because bare atheism reveals that the Religion of the Liberal/Left is not a religion of the people, but of those who would be master. In the coming years, the acolytes of this Religion may attempt to don the fleece of the flock, but the Shepherd will always be able to tell between the quick and the dead.
The real religious disaster for the Liberal/Left in the last 16-years was not that George Bush was religious, but that Bush's religion was not the Liberal/Left's approved religion; the Religion of the Self. They now have their new apotheosis in Obama, a man whose professed faith is plain to see -- through. And gleaming on his inner altar is a nice little statue of Himself in obsidian.
The Religion of the Self is the most ancient religion. Indeed, many faiths were created, revealed, and promulgated to contain the Religion of the Self.Continued...
That night I had a dream. I dreamt I was as light as the ether- a floating spirit visiting things to come.
The shades and shadows of the people in my life rassled their way their way into my slumber. I dreamed that Gale and Evelle had decided to return to prison. Probably that's just as well. I don't mean to sound superior, and they're a swell couple of guys, but maybe they weren't ready yet to come out into the world. And then I dreamed on, into the future, to a Christmas morn in the Arizona home where Nathan Junior was opening a present from a kindly couple who preferred to remain unknown. I saw Glen a few years later, still having no luck getting the cops to listen to his wild tales about me and Ed. Maybe he threw in one Polack joke too many. I don't know. And still I dreamed on, further into the future than I had ever dreamed before, watching Nathan Junior's progress from afar, taking pride in his accomplishments as if he were our own. Wondering if he ever thought of us and hoping that maybe we'd broadened his horizons a little even if he couldn't remember just how they got broadened. But still I hadn't dreamt nothing about me and Ed until the end. And this was cloudier cause it was years, years away. But I saw an old couple being visited by their children, and all their grandchildren too. The old couple weren't screwed up. And neither were their kids or their grandkids. And I don't know. You tell me. This whole dream, was it wishful thinking? Was I just fleeing reality like I know I'm liable to do? But me and Ed, we can be good too. And it seemed real. It seemed like us and it seemed like, well, our home. If not Arizona, then a land not too far away. Where all parents are strong and wise and capable and all children are happy and beloved. I don't know. Maybe it was Utah.-- Raising Arizona
Please repost, retweet, share, email, and promulgate everywhere you can. Thanks.
The election of 2016 seems like a scene inside a larger event.
There is the sense that something significant is happening though no one seems can say exactly what. Robert Kagan called the United States the world's "most dangerous nation". It's a place where the idealistic and the cynical, the tawdry and the sublime, the brilliant and the stupid routinely rub shoulders in public life. The Most Dangerous Nation is now apparently in the process of resolving a political crisis in its own inimitable way. What it will do next is anybody's guess. It might be wonderful. It might be horrifying. It will probably be a little of both. -- Wretchard @ Belmont Club
"There's something happening here
But what it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop
Children, what's that sound?
Everybody look - what's going down? "
When you see these at your door.... run.
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.Continued...
They didn’t want to turn her on but they did. I never want to turn her on but I do. After they had turned her on for awhile they grew tired of listening to her. After listening to her for even ten seconds I’m enraged by her. Somewhere along the long road to their duck hunting camp they named her “The Bitch” and turned her off. At random points on any road I drive I want to throw “The Bitch” out the window and run over her until she’s nothing but a flat black splotch on the asphalt.
“The Bitch” has her uses. She’s helped me find my way to unknown destinations and out of places where I’m hopelessly lost. It doesn’t matter. I hate the very thought of her. She’s the worst nag since Eve made Adam slap on the fig leaf and remarked on how small it was. She’s Lilith and Delilah and the “What-ever Girl.” She’s the most passive-aggressive talker since the last speech by Barack Obama. She’s “The Bitch.”
It’s not what "The Bitch" does and doesn’t do but the voice of "The Bitch" that instantly sets my teeth on fire. It’s so pale and distantly grating that it draws me into a conversation even though I’ve got nothing to say to "The Bitch" and she isn’t listening.
“In sixth tenths of a mile, turn right on Mac Graw Av-en-you.”
“In two tenths of a mile turn right on Mac Graw Av-en-you.”
“I said I’ve got it.”
“Turn right on Mac Graw Av-en-you.”
“Shut up. Just SHUT UP! I GOT IT. I GOT IT! Here, just to show you I’ll turn LEFT on ‘Mac Graw Av-en-you,’ bitch.”
And I turn left just to spite her and get about ten yards up the street when I hear her say the one thing that makes me want to strangle her with her charging cord:
Recalculating? Shit. Here it comes….
“In two tenths of a mile turn left on Harper and then turn left to Queen Anne Av-en-you… In sixth tenths of a mile, turn right on Mac Graw Av-en-you….”
Nag, nag, nag…. Short of pulling the plug nothing, but nothing, will shut “The Bitch” up. I don’t know what sort of market research came up with the voice of “The Bitch” as the optimum voice for a GPS unit, but I suspect knew what they were doing all along. They were looking for the optimum voice that would drive men out of their minds. And they succeeded. Sadists.
For added insanity, try handing the bitch to a woman who's driving with you and have her tell you what “The Bitch” is saying at the same time “The Bitch” is saying it. No jury of 12 men would convict.
And don't tell me to reset “The Bitch” to that English Accent choice. She's just bitchier with the bright tang of British smarm smeared on top. She's “The Brit Bitch.”
I hate “The Bitch.” I hate her every time I hear her say “Re-cal-que-lating….” I’ve been known to set her destination to “Home,” and then get on the freeway and drive fifty miles in the other direction… just to hear her ever more passive-aggressive and faintly irritated plaint of “Re-cal-que-lating….” every time I pass an off-ramp.
She’s “The Bitch” now and forever. No other female voice can even hope to come close to her voice. It is seared, SEARED, into my memory.
One of these days I’m going to take a very long drive into the heart of Death Valley and dump her. I’d do it today if I didn’t need her so much.
A summer rerun from 2009
In Book VIII of his Republic, Plato uses a fictitious conversation between his teacher Socrates and Adeimantus to explain how democracies devolve into tyrannies:
Socrates continues by claiming that democracies are transformed into tyrannies when the city becomes “drunk” with freedom; and that unless the leaders are able to provide more and more of it, they are punished by the people, and become accused of being “accursed oligarchs”.
He further states that the city “insults those who obey the rulers as willing slaves and good-for-nothings, and praises and honors, both in public and in private, rulers who behave like subjects and subjects who behave as rulers.” And once freedom has been extended to all lengths of the city, and makes its way into the private households, it ends up breeding anarchy throughout, even among the animals.
It causes a father to behave “like a child and fear his sons, while the son behaves like a father, feeling neither shame nor fear in front of his parents, in order to be free.” Furthermore, “a resident alien or a foreign visitor is made equal to a citizen, and he is their equal.”
Socrates goes on to say that, “a teacher in such a community is afraid of his students and flatters them, while the students despise their teachers or tutors. And in general, the young imitate their elders and compete with them in word or deed, while the old stoop to the level of the young and are full of play and pleasantry imitating the young for fear of appearing disagreeable and authoritarian.”
When freedom is extended to its utmost lengths, there is no inequality between parents and their children, teachers and their students, and ruler and their subjects; nor is there any inequality between men and women, or masters and slaves. Even the animals become free, for as Socrates states, “no one who hasn’t experienced it would believe how much freer domestic animals are in a democratic city than anywhere else.”
He sums up his characterization of how far freedom comes to be extended in a democracy by saying that the citizens’ souls become so sensitive that, “if anyone even puts upon himself the least degree of slavery, they become angry and cannot endure it. And in the end… they take no notice of the laws, whether written, or unwritten, in order to avoid having any master at all.”
This, then, is the “fine and impetuous origin from which tyranny seems to evolve.” As such, “extreme freedom can’t be expected to lead to anything but a change to extreme slavery, whether for a private individual or for a city.” An entitled population that makes increasing demands of their leaders? Check. WOW! ! | Intellectual Takeout
With all the national insanity, we sometimes forget that local campaigns have ads too.
"Gerald really doesn't have any hobbies...."
[HT: Between the Radials]
The word “unbelievable” has lost all force. That's why the kiddies and their adult imitators invented the word awesome. -- Commentor BillH, 2014
Moments of real awe that overwhelm the soul are rare, but if you look closely at the miracle of creation in the macro or micro cosmos you can create such a moment almost at will. Real awe is front-loaded into the universe.
At the same time, those things of man that inspire awe diminish moment by moment under the unstoppable onslaught of the word "awesome." The descent of the word "awesome" from a valuable modifier when describing an experience to the status of a brain fart is a classic example of how our "educated" illiterates destroy literacy.
I've had a few moments in my life where genuine awe shook me to the roots of my soul. Holding my daughter in my arms a moment after she was born comes to mind as does a time when I was very young, lying a field and looking up at the sky and the high cirrus glowing burnt orange in the fading rays of day. There were others as well, gifts given and grace notes. Common to all were an intake of breath and a feeling as if your heart had been grazed by a thought of God and forgot, for that moment, to beat. Matched up against all the torrent and cascade of moments though, this genuine awe was rare; it was one of the pearls beyond price, the shining instant of "Ah ha, so that's what it's all about."
Not so today. Today awe is as common as clay. Today all things of man possesses the awe of someness. The movie is awesome. The SmartCar is awesome. The candy bar is awesome. The cheeseburger is awesome. Today it would seem that every slice of tripe spun out of the crap factories of pop culture is awesome even though one note of the 9th Symphony would crush the entire oeuvre of Arrowsmith. My morning latte was described by the barrista as "awesome" when, like all our cornucopia of crapulous things described as such, it was quite mediocre, thank you.
I'm not sure when "awesome" died, but it was sometime in the very late, not-so-great, 20th century. You'd think it would be mummified by now, but no. Whenever someone so forgets to drive their mouth responsibly that the word "awesome" emerges it carries with it the stench of that slaughterhouse where perfectly good words go to die.
In a time when moments of true awe are needed to slake the parched post-modern lost souls, the intense trivialization of awe by the neutered generation is awesome.
Woke up this morning in a foul mood and nauseated by the election. You too? Try this palette cleanser. It's casual, real, and utterly lacking in artifice on every level.
Educational: as in, should be shown to every schoolchild (and adult) as a reality check
Want to know where the stuff at Home Depot comes from? Jump to the 4:00 minute mark to enter the factory.Continued...
As a machinist, Tubal visits as curiosity seeker, marveling at the practical solutions that make a piece-part factory work. It is a marvel to be sure, that man can so organize himself and the material world.
A viewer with soft hands, though, may marvel at Blake’s dark satanic mill surviving into our own age, surviving because it works, because it provides a paycheck to rough tough people with no illusions, because it gives you a cheap high-quality hammer.
The working class… is it really a thing? What does a working class person look like? What does a working class person do for the paycheck he takes home to his family?
And those factories that newspapers say are disappearing from America… what do they look like, can you give me an image?
You’ll never think about hammers or white trash the same again. You’ll have a real image.
We have reached a crisis when upon their action depends the preservation of the Union, according to the letter and spirit of the Constitution; and this once gone, all is lost. -- President James Buchanan, 1858, as quoted in Life and liberty in America: or Sketches of a Tour in the United States, 1858 by Charles Mackay which continues:
As the venerable statesman truly observes, the United States incur no danger from foreign aggressions; there is no one to injure them but themselves; and they have nothing to fear but "the just judgments of God." But this is only a portion of the subject, and the questions still remain, Will they not injure themselves? ....
That the people will increase and multiply and replenish the whole continent no one can doubt: and that in the course of ages North America will be as populous as Europe.... But in speculating upon the future of a people the mind clings to the idea of Empire and Government — and we ask ourselves whether Empire in this noble region will be one or many — central or local — imperial or republican?
Whether the great Republic shall exist undivided, or whether it will fall to pieces from its own weight and unwieldiness, or from some weakness in the chain which shall be the measure and the test of its strength? ...
Or whether, in consequence of internal strife, some new Alexander, Charlemagne, or Napoleon of the West, shall arise to make himself lord absolute and hereditary, and at his death leave the inheritance to be scrambled for and divided by his generals? ...
That the Union may be disturbed or disrupted at some period near or remote, is an idea familiar to the mind of every inquirer and observer.... It is, after all, the hungry belly of the people, and not the heads of legislators, that tries the strength of political systems: and when all the land is occupied, and has become too dear for the struggling fanner or artizan to purchase; when the starving man or the pauper has a vote equally with the well-fed and the contented proprietor; and when the criminal counts at an election for as much as an honest man — what may be the result of universal suffrage on the constitution of the Republic and the stability of the Union?....
But a greater danger even than this — the most formidable of all the rocks that are ahead — is the growth of peculation and corruption, and the decay of public virtue.
A republic is, theoretically, the purest and most perfect form of Government, but it requires eminently pure men to work it. A corrupt monarchy or despotism may last for a long time without fatal results to the body politic, just as a man may live a long time, and be a very satisfactory citizen, with only one arm, one leg, or one eye.
In despotic countries the people may be virtuous, though the Government is vicious; but a corrupt republic is tainted in its blood, and bears the seeds of death in every pulsation. And on this point Mr. Buchanan seems to have a clearer vision than many of his countrymen.... In reference to this fever in the blood of the State, he thus solemnly warns the citizens in the letter from which quotation has already been made: —
"I shall assume the privilege of advancing years in reference to another growing and dangerous evil. In the last age, although our fathers, like ourselves, were divided into political parties which often had severe conflicts with each other, yet we never heard until within a recent period of the employment of money to carry elections. Should this practice increase until the voters and their representatives in the State and National Legislatures shall become infected, the fountain of free government will be poisoned at its source, and we must end, as history proves, in a military despotism. A democratic republic, all agree, cannot long survive unless sustained by public virtue. When this is corrupted, and the people become venal, there is a canker at the root of the tree of liberty which will cause it to wither and to die."
If corruption have attained its present growth with a population so scant in 1858, in a country by the cultivation of which ten times the number could live honestly and independently, if they trusted to hard work, and not to intrigue, for the means of subsistence; what will be the extent of corruption fifty years hence? Shall a despotism attempt a remedy worse than the disease? Or will the patient be warned of the evil of his ways, and amend his life in time?
[Taken from -- Life and liberty in America: or Sketches of a Tour in the United States, 1858 by Charles Mackay. Mackay was also the author of the more widely known Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds]
Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues
You can tell by the way she smiles
See the primitive wallflower freeze
When the jelly-faced women all sneeze
Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze
I can’t find my knees”
Oh, jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
But these visions of Johanna, they make it all seem so cruel
Why did Bob Dylan win the Nobel Prize for Literature? Many think this devalues "literature." Many are ignorant of the Troubadour tradition. But does Bob Dylan's oeuvre devalue literature? It might if it wasn't literature.
Let rock music scholar -- and one time pal and collaborator -- Greil Marcus lay it out for you as he unwinds Visions of Johanna:
The June 1966 issue of the youth-oriented American fashion magazine Glamour carried an unusual feature: lyrics from the soon to be released Bob Dylan song Visions of Johanna, which Dylan had been performing onstage, alone, with an acoustic guitar, since late in the previous fall. "Seems like a freeze-out," he'd say to introduce the song before stepping into its slow, languid account of a night of bohemian gloom. Soon the song, recorded in Nashville earlier in the year with the best session players in town, would make a black hole on the first side of Dylan's double album Blonde on Blonde.Continued...
What was unusual about this was that the lyrics worked on the Glamour page as they were presented: bare, without accompaniment, without a singing voice, as poetry. All through Bob Dylan's writing life - beginning before his 1962 debut album, Bob Dylan, the songs leaping in ambition, sophistication, daring, and style at first year by year and then month by month if not week by week - Dylan had written words meant to come to life when they were played and sung. A clumsy line meant as no more than a way to get from one place to another. The limp "He really wasn't where it's at" between the unflinching "Ain't it hard when you discover that" and the swirling "After he took from you everything he could steal", in Like a Rolling Stone, could fly by all without harm when it was lifted by a melody that was itself shot out of the cannon of a song by the singer increasing the pressure. But on the page a song's words are naked.
Well, if you have to be a one-hit wonder, this is the song. And this video is chock full of nostalgia. From Playboy Club Bunnies (I'm looking at you, Gloria Steinem, you ignorant slut.) to Girl Scouts. And then back to the Playboy Club and then off for a mad whirl during the break. And then the immortal refrain. Who could ever forget those immortal words....
America became great with men eating bacon and eggs and beef and potatoes. And smoking and nicotine.
Almost every famous person you've ever heard of (and most you haven't heard of) lived on this kind of diet. And they drank stuff too. They launched missiles into space and to the moon. Every console in the LCC had an ashtray. KSC was full of cigarette smoke everyday all of the time while men were going to the moon. Women were secretaries and men were engineers. And engineers eat bacon and eggs for breakfast. How do I know? I was there. They built ships, big ships. They built bridges. They got out and did stuff. Everyday. After having bacon and eggs for breakfast, leftover meatloaf sandwiches for lunch and roast beef and mashed potatoes for dinner. Mashed potatoes and rolls with gravy and real butter. It's possible that a few of them did not live as long as some of the vegan flowers but they lived more glory in one Apollo launch than any vegan flower or SJW will live their entire, sad, pitiable lives. There were no safe places in engineering. Only constant, grueling, never ending math problems. That most of them only mastered after long, grueling, constant application and study. And they didn't go out drinking on Friday night because they sat all week in a classroom full of sissies talking about feelings. After Friday night drinking and several hamburgers and sleeping in Saturday they spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday doing math. Then they went into the chem lab Monday and blew stuff up. Then they became rocket scientists, engineers, jet pilots, astronauts, technicians, electricians and plumbers. Then worked their butts off for 40 years. There ain't no rocket scientists who subsist on lettuce.Posted by Larry Geiger at October 13, 2016 10:44 AM The Top 40: Comment on The gist is this: humans aren’t biologically designed for rich food, yet in its presence we have no defense,
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. -- Matthew 16:18
[Emphasis Added] In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate.
We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us.
We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only to transmit these—the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation—to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.
How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never!
All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.
....I know the American people are much attached to their government; I know they would suffer much for its sake; I know they would endure evils long and patiently before they would ever think of exchanging it for another,—yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.
.... There are now, and will hereafter be, many causes, dangerous in their tendency, which have not existed heretofore, and which are not too insignificant to merit attention. That our government should have been maintained in its original form, from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at.
It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed and crumbled away. ....
But those histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but what invading foeman could never do, the silent artillery of time has done—the leveling of its walls..... They were pillars of the temple of liberty; and now that they have crumbled away that temple must fall unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason.
Passion has helped us, but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason—cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason—must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense. Let those materials be molded into general intelligence, sound morality, and, in particular, a reverence for the Constitution and laws; and that we improved to the last, that we remained free to the last, that we revered his name to the last, that during his long sleep we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place, shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our Washington.
Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." -- Abraham Lincoln -- The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions 1837
[EXCERPT]From the primary season’s outset, the Democratic Party’s candidates promised even more radical “transformations.” When, rarely, they have been asked what gives them the right to do such things they have acted as if the only answer were Nancy Pelosi’s reply to whether the Constitution allows the government to force us into Obamacare: “Are you kidding? Are you kidding?”
On the Republican side, 17 hopefuls promised much, without dealing with the primordial fact that, in today’s America, those in power basically do what they please. Executive orders, phone calls, and the right judge mean a lot more than laws. They even trump state referenda. Over the past half-century, presidents have ruled not by enforcing laws but increasingly through agencies that write their own rules, interpret them, and punish unaccountably—the administrative state. As for the Supreme Court, the American people have seen it invent rights where there were none—e.g., abortion—while trammeling ones that had been the republic’s spine, such as the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. The Court taught Americans that the word “public” can mean “private” (Kelo v. City of New London), that “penalty” can mean “tax” (King v. Burwell), and that holding an opinion contrary to its own can only be due to an “irrational animus” (Obergefell v. Hodges).
What goes by the name “constitutional law” has been eclipsing the U.S. Constitution for a long time. But when the 1964 Civil Rights Act substituted a wholly open-ended mandate to oppose “discrimination” for any and all fundamental rights, it became the little law that ate the Constitution. Now, because the Act pretended that the commerce clause trumps the freedom of persons to associate or not with whomever they wish, and is being taken to mean that it trumps the free exercise of religion as well, bakers and photographers are forced to take part in homosexual weddings. A commission in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reported that even a church may be forced to operate its bathrooms according to gender self-identification because it “could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.” California came very close to mandating that Catholic schools admit homosexual and transgender students or close down. The Justice Department is studying how to prosecute on-line transactions such as vacation home rental site Airbnb, Inc., that fall afoul of its evolving anti-discrimination standards.
This arbitrary power, whose rabid guard-dog growls and barks: “Racist! Sexist! Homophobic!” has transformed our lives by removing restraints on government. The American Bar Association’s new professional guidelines expose lawyers to penalties for insufficient political correctness. Performing abortions or at least training to perform them may be imposed as a requirement for licensing doctors, nurses, and hospitals that offer services to the general public.
Addressing what it would take to reestablish the primacy of fundamental rights would have required Republican candidates to reset the Civil Rights movement on sound constitutional roots. Surprised they didn’t do it?
No one running for the GOP nomination discussed the greatest violation of popular government’s norms—never mind the Constitution—to have occurred in two hundred years, namely, the practice, agreed upon by mainstream Republicans and Democrats, of rolling all of the government’s expenditures into a single bill. This eliminates elected officials’ responsibility for any of the government’s actions, and reduces them either to approving all that the government does without reservation, or the allegedly revolutionary, disloyal act of “shutting down the government.”
Rather than talk about how to restrain or shrink government, Republican candidates talked about how to do more with government. The Wall Street Journal called that “having a positive agenda.” Hence, Republicans by and large joined the Democrats in relegating the U.S. Constitution to history’s dustbin.
Because Republicans largely agree with Democrats that they need not take seriously the founders’ Constitution, today’s American regime is now what Max Weber had called the Tsarist regime on the eve of the Revolution: “fake constitutionalism.” Because such fakery is self-discrediting and removes anyone’s obligation to restrain his passions, it is a harbinger of revolution and of imperial power.
The ruling class having chosen raw power over law and persuasion, the American people reasonably concluded that raw power is the only way to counter it, and looked for candidates who would do that. Hence, even constitutional scholar Ted Cruz stopped talking about the constitutional implications of President Obama’s actions after polls told him that the public was more interested in what he would do to reverse them, niceties notwithstanding. Had Cruz become the main alternative to the Democratic Party’s dominion, the American people might have been presented with the option of reverting to the rule of law. But that did not happen. Both of the choices before us presuppose force, not law.[/EXCERPT]
Read the rest of this brilliant essay at After the Republic
I live in Paradise. Paradise, California, that is.
Paradise is a small town in the foothills of the Sierras in northern California. The population hovers around 26,000. Paradise is served by four good-sized supermarkets. Because of my need for a hard-to-find ingredient I had occasion this afternoon to go to all four.
Each supermarket was busier this Monday afternoon than I can remember seeing them on any day in the past two years that I've lived here. Shoppers moving up and down the aisles and stacking up five to ten deep at the open registers which were running in the "All-Hands-On-Deck" mode.
It was strange. Very unusual. Almost spooky.
It was almost as if the entire town of 26,000 people had decided to eat in tonight and then kickback and watch a little television....
The 1968 Original from Marvin Gaye:
Then as used in over the titles of the generation defining film, The Big Chill:
And yes, this is how we looked and dressed and drove and went off to work in the 80s. At least, that's how I looked and dressed and drove when I worked for the Cosmodemonic Magazine Company and Ye Olde American Book Publisher in Boston.
At the time Richard Corliss of Time described The Big Chill as a "funny and ferociously smart movie," stating:
“These Americans are in their 30s today, but back then they were the Now Generation. Right Now: give me peace, give me justice, gimme good lovin'. For them, in the voluptuous bloom of youth, the '60s was a banner you could carry aloft or wrap yourself inside. A verdant anarchy of politics, sex, drugs and style carpeted the landscape. And each impulse was scored to the rollick of the new music: folk, rock, pop, R&B. The armies of the night marched to Washington, but they boogied to Liverpool and Motown. Now, in 1983, Harold & Sarah & Sam & Karen & Michael & Meg & Nick—classmates all from the University of Michigan at the end of our last interesting decade—have come to the funeral of a friend who has slashed his wrists. Alex was a charismatic prodigy of science and friendship and progressive hell raising who opted out of academe to try social work, then manual labor, then suicide. He is presented as a victim of terminal decompression from the orbital flight of his college years: a worst-case scenario his friends must ponder, probing themselves for symptoms of the disease.For once, Corliss was on the money.
Then....the 1970 Upgrade. Creedence's 11 Minute cut. Used the world over when the love light was on, replacing the Doors' "Light My Fire" as the numero uno "getting it on" music.
Vox Popoli: Why the Left hates HP LovecraftThey hate Lovecraft because he saw the future, and the evil that the immigrants would commit, and the harm they would do to America, much more clearly than any of the vaunted science fiction writers ever
There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.
Men of strength and honour fashioned that Street; good, valiant men of our blood who had come from the Blessed Isles across the sea. At first it was but a path trodden by bearers of water from the woodland spring to the cluster of houses by the beach. Then, as more men came to the growing cluster of houses and looked about for places to dwell, they built cabins along the north side; cabins of stout oaken logs with masonry on the side toward the forest, for many Indians lurked there with fire-arrows. And in a few years more, men built cabins on the south side of The Street.
Up and down The Street walked grave men in conical hats, who most of the time carried muskets or fowling pieces. And there were also their bonneted wives and sober children. In the evening these men with their wives and children would sit about gigantic hearths and read and speak. Very simple were the things of which they read and spoke, yet things which gave them courage and goodness and helped them by day to subdue the forest and till the fields. And the children would listen, and learn of the laws and deeds of old, and of that dear England which they had never seen, or could not remember.
There was war, and thereafter no more Indians troubled The Street. The men, busy with labour, waxed prosperous and as happy as they knew how to be. And the children grew up comfortably, and more families came from the Mother Land to dwell on The Street. And the children’s children, and the newcomers’ children, grew up. The town was now a city, and one by one the cabins gave place to houses; simple, beautiful houses of brick and wood, with stone steps and iron railings and fanlights over the doors. No flimsy creations were these houses, for they were made to serve many a generation. Within there were carven mantels and graceful stairs, and sensible, pleasing furniture, china, and silver, brought from the Mother Land.
So The Street drank in the dreams of a young people, and rejoiced as its dwellers became more graceful and happy. Where once had been only strength and honour, taste and learning now abode as well. Books and paintings and music came to the houses, and the young men went to the university which rose above the plain to the north. In the place of conical hats and muskets there were three-cornered hats and small-swords, and lace and snowy periwigs. And there were cobblestones over which clattered many a blooded horse and rumbled many a gilded coach; and brick sidewalks with horse blocks and hitching-posts.
There were in that Street many trees; elms and oaks and maples of dignity; so that in the summer the scene was all soft verdure and twittering bird-song. And behind the houses were walled rose-gardens with hedged paths and sundials, where at evening the moon and stars would shine bewitchingly while fragrant blossoms glistened with dew.
So The Street dreamed on, past wars, calamities, and changes. Once most of the young men went away, and some never came back. That was when they furled the Old Flag and put up a new Banner of Stripes and Stars. But though men talked of great changes, The Street felt them not; for its folk were still the same, speaking of the old familiar things in the old familiar accents. And the trees still sheltered singing birds, and at evening the moon and stars looked down upon dewy blossoms in the walled rose-gardens.
In time there were no more swords, three-cornered hats, or periwigs in The Street. How strange seemed the denizens with their walking-sticks, tall beavers, and cropped heads! New sounds came from the distance—first strange puffings and shrieks from the river a mile away, and then, many years later, strange puffings and shrieks and rumblings from other directions. The air was not quite so pure as before, but the spirit of the place had not changed. The blood and soul of the people were as the blood and soul of their ancestors who had fashioned The Street. Nor did the spirit change when they tore open the earth to lay down strange pipes, or when they set up tall posts bearing weird wires. There was so much ancient lore in that Street, that the past could not easily be forgotten.
Then came days of evil, when many who had known The Street of old knew it no more; and many knew it, who had not known it before. And those who came were never as those who went away; for their accents were coarse and strident, and their mien and faces unpleasing. Their thoughts, too, fought with the wise, just spirit of The Street, so that The street pined silently as its houses fell into decay, and its trees died one by one, and its rose-gardens grew rank with weeds and waste. But it felt a stir of pride one day when again marched forth young men, some of whom never came back. These young men were clad in blue.
With the years worse fortune came to The Street. Its trees were all gone now, and its rose-gardens were displaced by the backs of cheap, ugly new buildings on parallel streets. Yet the houses remained, despite the ravages of the years and the storms and worms, for they had been made to serve many a generation. New kinds of faces appeared in The Street; swarthy, sinister faces with furtive eyes and odd features, whose owners spoke unfamiliar words and placed signs in known and unknown characters upon most of the musty houses. Push-carts crowded the gutters. A sordid, undefinable stench settled over the place, and the ancient spirit slept.
Great excitement once came to The Street. War and revolution were raging across the seas; a dynasty had collapsed, and its degenerate subjects were flocking with dubious intent to the Western Land. Many of these took lodgings in the battered houses that had once known the songs of birds and the scent of roses. Then the Western Land itself awoke, and joined the Mother Land in her titanic struggle for civilisation. Over the cities once more floated the Old Flag, companioned by the New Flag and by a plainer yet glorious Tri-colour. But not many flags floated over The Street, for therein brooded only fear and hatred and ignorance. Again young men went forth, but not quite as did the young men of those other days. Something was lacking. And the sons of those young men of other days, who did indeed go forth in olive-drab with the true spirit of their ancestors, went from distant places and knew not The Street and its ancient spirit.
Over the seas there was a great victory, and in triumph most of the young men returned. Those who had lacked something lacked it no longer, yet did fear and hatred and ignorance still brood over The Street; for many had stayed behind, and many strangers had come from distant places to the ancient houses. And the young men who had returned dwelt there no longer. Swarthy and sinister were most of the strangers, yet among them one might find a few faces like those who fashioned The Street and moulded its spirit. Like and yet unlike, for there was in the eyes of all a weird, unhealthy glitter as of greed, ambition, vindictiveness, or misguided zeal. Unrest and treason were abroad amongst an evil few who plotted to strike the Western Land its death-blow, that they might mount to power over its ruins; even as assassins had mounted in that unhappy, frozen land from whence most of them had come. And the heart of that plotting was in The Street, whose crumbling houses teemed with alien makers of discord and echoed with the plans and speeches of those who yearned for the appointed day of blood, flame, and crime.
Of the various odd assemblages in The Street, the law said much but could prove little. With great diligence did men of hidden badges linger and listen about such places as Petrovitch’s Bakery, the squalid Rifkin School of Modern Economics, the Circle Social Club, and the Liberty Café. There congregated sinister men in great numbers, yet always was their speech guarded or in a foreign tongue. And still the old houses stood, with their forgotten lore of nobler, departed centuries; of sturdy colonial tenants and dewy rose-gardens in the moonlight. Sometimes a lone poet or traveller would come to view them, and would try to picture them in their vanished glory; yet of such travellers and poets there were not many.
The rumour now spread widely that these houses contained the leaders of a vast band of terrorists, who on a designated day were to launch an orgy of slaughter for the extermination of America and of all the fine old traditions which The Street had loved. Handbills and papers fluttered about filthy gutters; handbills and papers printed in many tongues and in many characters, yet all bearing messages of crime and rebellion. In these writings the people were urged to tear down the laws and virtues that our fathers had exalted; to stamp out the soul of the old America—the soul that was bequeathed through a thousand and a half years of Anglo-Saxon freedom, justice, and moderation. It was said that the swart men who dwelt in The Street and congregated in its rotting edifices were the brains of a hideous revolution; that at their word of command many millions of brainless, besotted beasts would stretch forth their noisome talons from the slums of a thousand cities, burning, slaying, and destroying till the land of our fathers should be no more. All this was said and repeated, and many looked forward in dread to the fourth day of July, about which the strange writings hinted much; yet could nothing be found to place the guilt. None could tell just whose arrest might cut off the damnable plotting at its source. Many times came bands of blue-coated police to search the shaky houses, though at last they ceased to come; for they too had grown tired of law and order, and had abandoned all the city to its fate. Then men in olive-drab came, bearing muskets; till it seemed as if in its sad sleep The Street must have some haunting dreams of those other days, when musket-bearing men in conical hats walked along it from the woodland spring to the cluster of houses by the beach. Yet could no act be performed to check the impending cataclysm; for the swart, sinister men were old in cunning.
So The Street slept uneasily on, till one night there gathered in Petrovitch’s Bakery and the Rifkin School of Modern Economics, and the Circle Social Club, and Liberty Café, and in other places as well, vast hordes of men whose eyes were big with horrible triumph and expectation. Over hidden wires strange messages travelled, and much was said of still stranger messages yet to travel; but most of this was not guessed till afterward,when the Western Land was safe from the peril. The men in olive-drab could not tell what was happening, or what they ought to do; for the swart, sinister men were skilled in subtlety and concealment.
And yet the men in olive-drab will always remember that night, and will speak of The Street as they tell of it to their grandchildren; for many of them were sent there toward morning on a mission unlike that which they had expected. It was known that this nest of anarchy was old, and that the houses were tottering from the ravages of the years and the storms and the worms; yet was the happening of that summer night a surprise because of its very queer uniformity. It was, indeed, an exceedingly singular happening; though after all a simple one. For without warning, in one of the small hours beyond midnight, all the ravages of the years and the storms and the worms came to a tremendous climax; and after the crash there was nothing left standing in The Street save two ancient chimneys and part of a stout brick wall. Nor did anything that had been alive come alive from the ruins.
A poet and a traveller, who came with the mighty crowd that sought the scene, tell odd stories. The poet says that all through the hours before dawn he beheld sordid ruins but indistinctly in the glare of the arc-lights; that there loomed above the wreckage another picture wherein he could descry moonlight and fair houses and elms and oaks and maples of dignity. And the traveller declares that instead of the place’s wonted stench there lingered a delicate fragrance as of roses in full bloom. But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travellers notoriously false?
There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I have told you of The Street.
Baking Bread in Hot Sand
A driving crew on the river wanted to move camp, but the cook objected as he had started to bake. One of the party suggested using a modified form of the method of baking in vogue more than a century ago, which was to place the dough in the hot earth where a fire had been burning. The Boy Mechanic Vol. 2 1000 Things for Boys to DoContinued...
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
He's one hundred years old and his long hands, once strong, are growing translucent. He does not so much sit in his wheelchair as he is held upright and at a slight slant by straps. Even awake his eyes are shut against the glare and the blur of the florescent lights in the roof of the home.
His meals of pureed food are spoon fed to him by attendants who speak to him in the tones he once used, long ago, on his infant children. When the drapes in his room are partially opened they reveal a view of a gravel roof, exhaust fans, and the brick facade of the opposite wing of the home. It's not a view but he doesn't mind. His eyes are shut against the glare and the blur of the present, and he's gone off on a fishing trip in the summer of 1949 where he will say to no one in particular, "Jesus, the fish are thick on the ground."
Don't make the mistake of thinking he's not in the here and now, because he'll surprise you now and then. He'll come out for a bit if it is worth it, but it seldom is. And then only for a moment.
He's my mother's brother, my uncle, and his life has now spanned a full century.
In the year of his birth, 1909, the NAACP was founded as was Tel Aviv while the keel of what was to become the Titanic was laid in Belfast. Taft took over the Presidency from Roosevelt (Theodore) and "Alice Huyler Ramsey, a 22-year-old housewife and mother from Hackensack, New Jersey, became the first woman to drive across the United States." Airplanes were only six years old but the Germans were already working on the anti-aircraft gun. Wisely so since the United States Army Signal Corp Division purchased the world's first military airplane from the Wright brothers in that same year. Not to be outdone, the US Navy decided it needed a central base in the Pacific and thought Pearl Harbor made strategic sense.
In the year of his birth Geronimo died, Barry Goldwater was born, and Guglielmo Marconi received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of radio. There's a radio in his room next to his bed but it's never turned on. Neither is the television that hangs from the ceiling and if his phone rings, it's a mistake. But in his mind, there are signals still coming in from elsewhere, from elsewhen, from out there, and if you sit with him quietly, without trying to engage him and without expectation; if you sit with him "where here and now cease to matter" you can sometimes sense where he really lives in this his hundredth year.Continued...
Howso' great their clamour, whatsoe'er their claim,
Suffer not the old King under any name!
-- Kipling, The Old Issue
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.
What can I say? We had nice ideals. We had comforting delusions.
We've been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star
Only want to be free
We huddle close
Hang on to a dream
On the boats and on the planes
They're coming to America
Never looking back again,
They're coming to America
Don't it seem so far away
Oh, we're traveling light today
In the eye of the storm
In the eye of the storm
Frank Reade is a forgotten superhero of American sci-fi history.
The world’s first science fiction periodical, Frank Reade dime-novels had helicopters and airships before Jules Verne, but while the famous French adventure novelist is still considered a major literary author around the world today, who’s ever heard of Frank Reade?
Published under the anonymous pseudonym, “No Name”, during the 19th century boom of boys’ cheap fiction, the series followed the adventures of the Reade family: Frank Reade; his son, Frank Reade Jr., and grandson Frank Reade III. While the first five stories starred Frank Reade, Sr, adventurer and inventor of steam-robots, most of the 184 stories featured the second generation of the Reade clan, a teenage hero-inventor who travelled the globe in his electric machines. - - Messy nessy
Of course, all of these were just fanciful inventions of the steampunk age....
The mother lode is at Frank Reade Library (Science Fiction) - Comic Book Plus
[ True North is posting THE family cookie recipe ... yes chocolate chip! This of course brings the following to mind from the dark ages of American Digest in.... 2005! ]
On the greatest chocolate-chip cookie in the known universe, with recipe....
The Critical American Issue of the Day
This issue is not, as many would have you believe, whether or not the Constitution is a "living document" (It will be a living document on the day that it breaks out of its case and takes the current Supreme Court out for a drink, a toke, a smoke, and a poke -- assuming Justice Ginsberg stays home.), but is centered instead on the much more important and utterly American question: "Just what is the finest chocolate chip cookie in the known universe?"
One night in the Hood River Hotel in Hood River, Oregon on the banks of the Columbia, I had a chance to examine that question again just before the cataleptic sugar shock of nine home-made chocolate chip cookies knocked me sideways for eight hours like a poleaxed pound puppy.
When this coma finally released me, I thought more deeply on the question of the Holy Cookie and what makes for greatness. I would have liked to hand the baker of the cookies that conked me the laurels but I cannot.
I shall explain the nature of my judgment, the history behind it, and also, should you choose to stay with me, provide you and you alone with the recipe for, "the finest chocolate chip cookie in the known universe."
First of all, anything that can be purchased in a supermarket is not fit to be called a cookie, much less a chocolate chip cookie, no matter how thick the BS on the package may be. Especially any with the word "artisan" on the package which must be incinerated in situ. We're all agreed on that, right? Right.
Second, do not be fooled by "boutique" chocolate chip cookies. They are all from Satan's Workshop and are, therefore, instruments of the Enemy who is out to weaken the intellectual and moral fiber of America. Consumption of these cookies leads, inevitably to "a profound sense of fatigue... a feeling of emptiness [and] loss of essence." You may, in a moment of weakness after, say, a friendly strip search at the air port, find that you cannot "avoid" these cookies, but under no circumstances are you to give them your essence.
Eat Not the Cookie of Satan
Yes, ever since Mrs. Fields rightly determined that her days of getting on the covers of the Adam and Eve and Victoria's Secret catalogues were over and she went into the sidewalk-blower bakery business, these evil simulacra of chocolate chip cookies have spread over the American landscape like the Eighth Plague of Egypt. The results are murder, insanity, death and an obesity so monumental that the victims do not so much walk our streets as teeter through them -- a threat to passersby, lost pets and unreinforced brick structures.
Do not, I repeat, consume boutique chocolate chip cookies. Pass by these scented and seductive venues of the Fifth Horseman. Deny them, I say, your essence.
Instead, know that small batch, by hand, and home-made chocolate chip cookies are the only chocolate chip cookies that may even begin to aspire to the realm of the Sacred and the Holy. A realm in which, like wives, many are cold but none are frozen. Indeed, if Nestles, dairy farms and refrigeration had existed at the time of the Last Supper the entire menu of Holy Communion would be different today.
Partake Only of the Holy Cookie
Like American Christianity today, the Church of the Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie has many branches, subsets and sects. And, like American Christianity, these various factions contend mightily over the question of which, in the eyes of God, is the true gospel of the Chocolate Chip, the Recipe of the Word.
I do not pretend to know the mind of God. Indeed, I am still unclear about the workings of the will of God in my life. But I am clear about what is the true gospel of the Chocolate Chip. I know beyond a scintilla of a speck of an iota of a jot of a doubt that single Cookie which is now and forever shall be the Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie in America and the Known Universe, yea even unto that alien planet of the hard-bodied and the homeless, San Francisco.
This Cookie Given by the Hand of God would be, beyond question, of my sainted mother's chocolate chip cookies. These and these alone are the good, the true, and the blessed -- the Holy Cookies. All others crumble before them and return to the dust and detritus of the earth from which they were mistakenly called forth by the unconverted, the heathen and the apostates.
The Advent of the Holy Cookie
I was converted to the Holy Cookie soon after my teeth came in. For several years thereafter I lived in heavenly bliss since the only person in the house with whom I had to contend for ALL the cookies was my father and, even though he was much larger than I was as a toddler, he had to work and sleep sometime. This left me free to range about the kitchen in search of yet one more Holy Cookie. Something I did at all hours until my mother saw fit to deploy a leg shackle along with my fresh pajamas.
Alas, Eden was not to endure forever since I had a couple of brothers coming along in the years that followed. With the advent of these "cookie competitors" the leg shackle was retired, but I was required to learn the always difficult lesson of "Share."
As the eldest and hence the largest, my capacity to "share" the plate of Holy Cookies my mother would set out for us diminished in direct proportion to the distance between that plate and my mother and/or father, or both. Sharing was on as long as they were in the room, but if they stepped out my little inner Hitler would emerge and endeavor to take all the cookies and the Rhineland as well.
This dictatorial method of getting all the cookies only served me well for a few years. It fell apart on the day it came to my attention that my "little" brother had at last grown large enough to literally kick my ass when it came to taking more than my share of cookies.
Day of the Judgment of the Father
On that day I was also foolish enough to kick back in an effort to retain my rightful share of all the cookies. A small war broke out in the kitchen which caused my mother to come in from the laundry room, break us up, take all the cookies away and cast both my brother and I into the slough of despond by uttering the phrase no child ever, ever wishes to hear from his mother: "Wait till your father gets home."
An afternoon longer than eternity squared ensued. Our father did get home and subsequently gave instructions to my brother and myself, in turns, on why it was a bad idea to have a fist fight over chocolate chip cookies in his house. He reminded us both of his first and only commandment, "Thou shalt not upset thy mother." It was a lesson that is "seared, SEARED!, into my memory."
Like all sinners, this lesson made us repent briefly but did not actually reform. Instead we made an alliance in order to ensure our survival and advance our quest for the Holy Cookie. Sensing, as she always did, this shift in the order of things, my mother took to hiding the Holy Cookies about the house.
She knew that my father favored the cookies, and that if they were not hidden from us, the chances he would have any upon 'getting home' would range from slim to somewhere below absolute zero. She became, as all mothers of boys must, sneaky. She began to bake the cookies while we were at school, hide them before we got home. She'd also take care to destroy all evidence that the Holy Cookies had been baked and would carefully air out the house. She always was a clever woman.
Quest for the Holy Cookie
But we were two to her one; the smallest band of brothers on a mission from God. In no time, we found ourselves cowlick deep in a war of spying and surveillance against our own mother. It was a cold war that escalated over time as our methods of sensing and locating the hidden cookies became increasingly sophisticated. Towards the end, these methods became so refined that we could have found a single small Weapon of Mass Destruction under the shifting sands of the Sahara if it happened to have a Holy Cookie in the war head.
But we never were required to go that far afield, even if we once found them in the garage of the people who lived next door. (Their kid, our mole, tipped us off for a paltry three cookies.) Over the years we found them at the bottom of the clothes hamper in the master bath, behind a box of motor oil in the garage, in the trunk of her car, under the camouflage of towels in the dryer, behind the set of World Book Encyclopedias in the den, even taped in coffee cans and stuck up under the kitchen counter concealed behind the disposal unit.
Once, in her despair, she actually sealed them in a large container and buried them behind the shrubs in the back yard. We found them by checking carefully for disturbed earth, and that night snuck out after our parents were asleep, disinterred them with a trowel, ate them all on the spot, and then buried the container again with a Crayoned note that said, "Delicious, The Avengers." We were bludgeoned with meatloaf sandwiches in our school lunchboxes for a week after that one.
Spies in the House of the Holy Cookie
Mothers know a lot of secrets about their children, but not all secrets. My mother's favorite way of finding out our secrets was a simple psyche-war method of asserting that she knew what she didn't know in order to elicit a confession. She'd give us "that look" and say, "Well, you might as well know that I know."
"Know? Know what?"
"You know what, so you might as well tell me."
It shames me now to admit that this simple ploy worked on more than one occasion. What never worked, and what she was never to figure out, was how we knew when the Holy Cookies had been made.
Early on it dawned on her that we were watching the house supply of Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. When those bags were used or diminished, it would be a dead give-away that there were cookies to be located and my brother and I would, as a team, work the grid. Using step-stools, ladders, and a mirror attached to a broom-handle that I kept taped above the door in my closet, there was no area of the home we could not scan. Sooner or later, once we knew they were around, we'd find them. Kids don't have many resources, but they do have oceans of time.
Her solution, so she thought, was to buy replacement bags of chocolate chips before baking a batch. In that way, she foolishly assumed we'd assume -- seeing a full bag undisturbed -- that no cookies had been baked that day. What she did not know, and was never to learn, was that each bag of chocolate chips in the house was marked with a small dot of ink on the lower right hand corner of the back of the bag as soon as we could get to it in stealth mode. We'd check the bag daily after that and when it did not have that mark we would know the truth.
We also, as a back-up, used faint pencil marks, not on the level of Scotch in my father's bottle (that was to come later), but on the canister of Quaker Oats which were another essential ingredient of the Holy Cookie. She bought the economy sized canister and we discovered that using a red pencil on the red part of the package was almost undetectable unless you were looking for it, which we always were.
The Holy Cookie Cold War
The Holy Cookie Cold War of stealth and surveillance continued across the years until my second brother and I left the home for college. My mother breathed a sigh of relief at our departures. Little did she know that before we left we had passed on the full Holy Cookie Finder File to our little brother ten years my junior. He carried on the tradition until he too left. At which point my mother brought out the apple shaped cookie jar which had been stored away for decades and began to enjoy the long peace as well as a cookie or two from time to time.
Except, of course, there would be no peace. The begging letters and phone calls came in from colleges, apartments and houses across the country and down through the years. From time to time, these pathetic screeds and whines would elicit a package of the Holy Cookie, but only at the kind of interval that makes the Pavlovian Rat press the pellet bar that much more compulsively. As long as she held the keys to the Holy Cookie, my mother knew she would hear from us frequently.
But the technology of the time was working against us and the Holy Cookie. This was the pre-eBay era when packing and shipping were still lost arts to most Americans. Lost most of all, I regret to say, to our mother.
East of Eden and the Problem of the Post Office
For while she could bake, she could not ship. As a result of this and the less-than-reverent attitude of the United States Postal Service, the shipments of the Holy Cookies would arrive transmogrified into the Holy Cookie Crumbs. It is, I have discovered, very difficult to dunk a crumb into a glass of cold milk to any sort of meaningful effect other than crummy milk.
After suffering our complaints for longer than anyone other than a mother would, she finally took drastic action. She had to. After all, she had a life to live, friends to see, places to go and tennis sets to play. We were grown men now with fully dysfunctional families of our own, and she was no longer going to allow herself to be crucified on the golden cross of the Holy Cookie.
And so it was that on one faithful day, her three sons received in the mail, not the Holy Cookies for which they begged, but the Holy Cookie recipe and instructions that they learn to cook. I love my mother, but she can be a cold woman once she makes up her mind.
The Torch is Passed to a New Generation
On the other hand, my need was great and my understanding of the gap between desire and gratification scant. And so I learned, at last, to cook. It was one of my mother's many fine and enduring gifts, perhaps the finest next to, of course, life itself.
First, out of sheer necessity, I learned the Holy Cookie and, when that turned out well after only a few disasters, I went on to learning to cook other things. Things like entrees, side dishes, bread and desert right down to and including a Chocolate Souffle.
As my confidence grew I took to exotic dishes and found myself in a Chinese cooking course. Other cuisines followed. I even, during my stint as a book editor for Houghton Mifflin, published one cookbook ( Fear of Cooking: The Absolutely Foolproof Cookbook for Beginners (And Everyone Else) by Robert Scher Amazon rank: 1,332,536 which is not that bad for a book published in 1984).
And so, from a cookie recipe, I grew to have one of the basic life skills that everyone should have; a skill no longer taught in our schools since it is much more important that our children learn the Inner Meaning of the Inner Child of the Maori-Americans than how to do anything with food other than pick a number at the drive-through window. I learned it from my mother who taught it to me not by doing, but by standing out of the way and not doing; by letting me discover how to do it myself. That's always the path to the real higher education in life. It's a path never taught in our crippled schools but always open to everyone regardless of age, color, creed, national origin. All you have to have to get on the path is the need to learn something and the passion to do it yourself.
That and a recipe. Here it is. What are you waiting for? Gentlemen, start your ovens.
BEHOLD I BRING YOU TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY
MOM'S (Lois Lucille McNair Van der Leun's ) CLASSIC OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Please note: It is not to be made merely by combing the ingredients but by following the procedure, the sacred ritual.
Combine: 3/4 Cup brown sugar with 3/4 Cup white sugar.
Mix in until smooth but gritty 1 cup shortening ( Crisco [classic] or butter/marge + Crisco in varying proportions )* This, and other mixing moments, can be done with your hands if a) you have washed them, and b) nobody's around to see you do it. Maintain plausible deniability.
Add 2 eggs -- Beaten-- plus 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Combine One and 1/2 Cups flour with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon soda and then work into sugar, shortening and egg mixture until smooth.
Add two cups of rolled oats and work into the dough. Add one 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips (No more. Resist temptation.) and (optional) 1 cup chopped black walnuts**. Shape into medium-sized (no more than 3" in diameter, baked) cookies and bake on a greased cookie sheet
Bake in a 350 oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Monitor at around 8 minutes.
The recipe is usually good for 2-3 standard size cookie sheets. When baking, it is best to start one tray in the lower rack of the oven and after eight minutes move it to the upper.
Allow to cool. You will snake three to five and burn your lip on the first bite, but try to show a little restraint after this, okay?
Yield: 4-5 Dozen
Note: The Holy Cookie, when baked to perfection, should not be chewy or soft but possess, upon being cooled, a toothsome quality and a certain proportion of crisp-walled open cells throughout the cookie that absorb milk when dunked, but do not become a milk sodden mush. The milk should be present within the cells of the cookie, but the cookie itself, providing one has not be lazy and let it just slosh around in the glass, should still retain a certain crispness and emit a distinct crunch when consumed.
* Yes, Crisco. This ancient pure product of Amerca can still be found in the baking aisle. The Holy Cookies cannot achieve their proper milk absorbing properties without its presence. If you have some sort of issue with Crisco, get over it and just cowboy up. While butter or margarine can be used in combination with Crisco, their proportions are problematical. One stick is probably the maximum.
** Black Walnuts are optional but not, strictly speaking, classic. Still, they add an extra texture which is appealing, unless, of course, you are allergic to walnuts in which case you eat them and you die -- happy and with an enhanced skill set.
[ UPDATED FROM 5 YEARS AGO]
I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, and obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices. I thought that there was no need of ice to freeze them. They talked to me of the age of the wine and the fame of the vintage; but I thought of an older, a newer, and purer wine, of a more glorious vintage, which they had not got, and could not buy. The style, the house and grounds and "entertainment" pass for nothing with me. I called on the king, but he made me wait in the hall, and conducted like a man incapacitated for hospitality. There was a man in my neighborhood who lived in a hollow tree. His manners were truly regal. I should have done better had I called on him." -- Henry David Thoreau, Walden [HT: Mizz E]
or, as was sung at another time in another place [with just some minor substitutions]....
I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
No short-haired, yellow-bellied, momma of obama
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope
I'm sick to death of seeing things
From tight-lipped, condescending, Obama's little democrats
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth now
I've had enough of watching scenes
Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth
No short-haired, yellow-bellied, momma of obama
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of soap
It's money for dope
Money for rope
I've had enough of reading things
by neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
The music video for "If I Could Turn Back Time", directed by Marty Callner, takes place on board the battleship USS Missouri. It depicts Cher and her band performing a concert for the ship's crew. The video was filmed in Los Angeles on July 1, 1989, while the ship was stationed at the former Long Beach Naval Shipyard at Pier D. In the video, the band plays on the foredeck, and the ship is rigged with spotlights, light racks and strobes. Cher's son, Elijah Blue Allman, only twelve at the time, appears as one of the band's guitarists (he wears dark glasses and a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt).
Cher's outfit for the original video, a fishnet body stocking under a black one-piece bathing suit that left most of her buttocks exposed, proved very controversial, and many television networks refused to show the video. MTV first banned the video, and later played it only after 9 PM. A second version of the video was made, including new scenes and less overtly sexual content than the original. The outfit and sexual nature of the video were not expected by the US Navy when they had originally granted permission for filming. The USS Missouri liaison, Steve Honda, asked Callner to prevent Cher from wearing the outfit when he saw it on-set, but Callner refused. The Navy also received criticism for the video, and has since refused to allow any music videos to be filmed aboard its ships.
And speaking Personally... and if a man speaks any other way we might as well start looking for his Protoplasm Daddy or Mother Cell...
I Don't Want To Hear Any More Tired Old Progressive Talk And Progressive Con .... The same things have been said a million times and more and there is no point in saying any of them again because NOTHING Ever Happens in the Progressive world.
(And while we're at it: I Don't Want To Hear Any More Tired Old Conservative Talk And Conservative Con about playing nice with these junkies. Once the Progressive needle goes in, it never comes out. Junkies don't kick if you're kind to them. Junkies only kick if you kick them.
Only excuse for this tired Progressive death route is THE KICK when the Progressive circuit is cut off for the non-payment and the Progressive-skin dies of Progressive-lack and overdose of time and the Old Skin has forgotten the skin game simplifying a way under the Progressive cover the way skins will.... A condition of total exposure is precipitated when the Kicking Addict to Progressiveism cannot choose but see smell and listen.... Watch out for the cars....)
It is clear that Progressiveism is Round-the-World-Push-an-Opium-Pellet -with- Your-Nose-Bullshit. Strictly for Scarabs – a stumble bum Progressive heap of pure bullshit. And, as such, Progressives strap on your drool cups and please report to disposal. We’re tired of smelling and hearing your looping loopy bullshit.
Progressives always beef about The Rush Limbaugh as they call it, turning up their black coat collars and clutching their withered necks at the mention of the man's name and hissing, like the green lizard dwarfs, "Raaaaacist!"... this is pure Progressive con.
A Progressive does not want luke-warm Rush Dementia, he wants the Cool-Cooler-Cold RUSH DEMENTIA. But he want The RUSH Cold like he want His Progressiveism -- NOT OUTSIDE where it does him no good but INSIDE so he can sit around with a spine like a frozen hydraulic jack... his metabolism approaching RAGE Absolute ZERO at RUSH.
TERMINAL Progressives often go two months without a bowel move JUST BY THINKING ABOUT RUSH and the intestines make with sit-down-adhesions --Wouldn't You?-- requiring the intervention of an apple corer or its surgical equivalent.... Such is life in The Old Progressive Ice House. Why move around and waste TIME?
Room for One More Inside, Sir.
Some entities are on Alinsky dynamics kicks. They invented Alinsky dynamics.... Wouldn't you?
And some Progressives are on Obama Kicks and that's a thing out in the open the way I like to see what I eat and visa versa mutatis mutandis as the case may be.
Obama's Naked Hope Room... Strip down. Oil your body. Step right up... Good for young and old, man and donkey.
Nothing like a little Hope snake oil to grease the wheels and get a show on the track Jack. Which side are you on? Fro-Zen RUSH Hydraulic? Or you want to take a look around with Honest Obama?
So that's the #1 World Mental Health Problem I was talking about back in The Article. That's the Prospect Before Us Friends of MINE.
Do I hear muttering about a personal razor and some bush league short con artist who is known to have invented The OBAMA? Wouldn't You? The razor belonged to a man named Occam and he was not a scar collector. ONE Ludwig Wittgenstein BY NAME! QUOTING: Tractatus Logico Philosophicus: "If a proposition is NOT NECESSARY is it MEANINGLESS and approaching MEANING ZERO.''
Question: "What is More UNNECESSARY than Progressiveism if You Don't Need it?
Answer: ''ProgressiveS, if you are not HOOKED ON Progressiveism.''
I tell you boys, I've heard some tired conversation but no other POLITICAL BLATHER AND YABBLE can approximate that old thermodynamic Progressive Slow-DOWN BUMMER.
Now your Ron Paul addict does not say hardly anything sane and that I can stand.
But your Progressiveism "Bullshit Smoker'" is more active since he still has a Tent and a Lamp... and maybe 7-9-10 fellow treehugging Progressives lying up in there like hibernating reptiles keep the temperature up to Talking Level:
How low the other Progressives are whereas We -- WE have this heavily funded tent and this Soros-powered lamp and this tent and this lamp and this tent and nice and warm in here nice and warm nice and IN HERE and nice and OUTSIDE ITS COLD.... ITS COLD OUTSIDE where the Liberty Oppressors and the fascist Rush boys won't last two years not six months hardly won't last stumble bum around and there is no class in them.... But WE SIT HERE and never increase the SOCIALIST DOSE... never-never increase the socialist dose never except TONIGHT is a SPECIAL OCCASION with all the Liberty Oppressors and the fascist Rush boys out there in the cold.... And we never eat it never never never eat it....
Excuse please while I take a trip to The Source Of Living Drops they all have in pocket and opium pellets shoved up the ass in a finger stall with the Family Jewels and the other shit.
Room for one more inside, Sir.
Well when that Progressive record starts around for the billionth light year and never the tape shall change us non-Progressives take drastic action and the men separate out from the Progressive boys.
Only way to protect yourself against this horrid peril is come over HERE and shack up with Conservatism.... Treat you right kid.... Candy and cigarettes. First one's free.
I am after THIRTY years in that Progressive tent. In and out in and out in and OUT. Over and Out.
So listen to Old Uncle Gerard who invented the William Burroughs Find-and-Replace Blog Posting Regulator Gimmick on the Hydraulic Jack Principle.
No matter how you jerk the Progressive handle the result is ALWAYS THE SAME BULLSHIT.
Got my training early... wouldn't you?
De-Progressiveized Babies of the World Unite. We have nothing to lose but Our Progressives. And THEY are NOT NECESSARY.
Look down LOOK DOWN along that Progressiveism road before you travel there and get in with the Wrong Mob....
A word to the wise guy.
[No apologies offered to William Burroughs' Testimony Concerning A Sickness. Mistah Bill he dead. A penny for the old guy. He's found the Exit...
... it's time Progressiveism did the same.
"The Truth About Hillary's 'Alt-Right' Speech"
Secretary Hillary Clinton, campaigning to become President of the United States,
actually gave a public speech claiming that Vladimir Putin was using mind-control to manipulate nationalist inhabitants of planet earth in a grand conspiracy against her campaign. And if you don’t believe her, YOU are the conspiracy theorist. - - The Last Refuge
[HT: Geoff of 10th Avenue]
"For the age 60 and above, the early Boomers and their parents, facts remain very important and feelings, while important, are thought not very reliable. Emotions are to be controlled and overcome, they are not to be a guide.
"For post-Boomers, especially those born after 1980 or so, feelings are predominant, and the younger of that group the more important feelings are. This is also the cohort that was raised in the thick of the self-esteem movement, being told they are special (you know, just like everyone else). They received praise and rewards just for showing up (participation trophies, anyone?).
"They are very, very heavily into social signaling by where they live and where they vacation and by what their children do. They absolutely dominate their kids, who typically have little choice in what activities they will do and when.
"The younger sets of this group, born after the early 90s, have also learned (having been actually taught) that the cult of victimhood is the most important status of all. They are on high alert for reasons to be offended and when they are, it is for slights, real or imagined, that mystify the 60 cohort.
"Victimhood demands recompense so there is no hope of forgiveness unless the offender crawls on his belly like a cold reptile to beg for it. But forgiveness is never unconditional. The hatchet may be buried, but the handle protrudes skyward so it can be easy to recover.
"It is very much and honor-shame dynamic where all interactions are zero-sum. Where they are on the totem pole if always of concern and they are acutely aware of who is above or below. And woe betide those whom they think are below.
"I think of it as the 'Veruca Salt' generation. They are demand oriented. Their magical thinking is that merely because they want something, it should be granted. They react strongly negatively to being asked for facts and logic to support their contention because in their minds, 'I feel very strongly about this so why are you asking for facts?' "
The Holy Remote of Saint Elvis
The Holy Golden Beretta of Saint Elvis
The Holy TV of Saint Elvis
"I chose to focus on Lake Erie at a time of year when the Great Lakes often act more like oceans than lakes.
With the warm, sunny, beach days of summer behind us, it is during autumn's darkest, coldest and windiest days that the Great Lakes are transformed into wickedly wild and treacherous bodies of water. Masses of cold, arctic air push southward and collide with the warmer air above the lakes. This creates the perfect conditions for massive wind storms. These conditions are often referred to as "The Gales of November" or "The Witch of November." The waves at this time of year can be an amazing display of Mother Nature's power and a photographer's dream to capture. I can best describe the scene like a giant washing machine. There is no pattern to the waves: they move and explode in unpredictable ways, often colliding into one another and creating spectacular explosions of water. With winds reaching speeds of 70 mph (Category 1 on the hurricane scale), these powerful winds generate waves that reach heights of 20'-30'. These movements of water are large and powerful enough to send ocean freighters to a watery grave at the bottom of the lakes...... - Photographs and text by Dave Sandford | LensCulture
In a rustic old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early
Betty Boop Cartoon Banned For Drug Use 1934.
Laughing Gas, or nitrous oxide, has been used as an intoxicant since about ten seconds after it was first synthesized by Joseph Priestly in 1772. That, however, does not mean that by the 1960s laughing gas was regarded as passé. Au contraire since you have to remember that in those days people were trying to dry, roll, and smoke the inside of bananas. In those days, nitrous was just another established "fun" recreational drug. In those days you could buy a tank just by saying you needed it for underwater welding. Yes, underwater welding.
A friend I knew in those days discovered that taking a hit of nitrous "helped" him with his creative writing. In a way he was right. He did create very clever and interesting short stories when he'd had a few whiffs from the tank. Indeed, in the spirit of the 60s drug counter culture in Berkeley an San Francisco, he became convinced that if any drug was worth doing, it was worth overdoing. (A common American attitude that persists to this day.)
He was 24 years old and impatient for fame.
In pursuit of more and more "creative push" from his tank of nitrous he designed a mask that would fit over his nose and mouth and be held there by some complicated elastics so he could type with both hands while whiffing from the tank.
It worked pretty well and I recall noticing that his writing did indeed get better and more interesting. Right up to the morning when they found him slumped dead over his typewriter with the mask fixed firmly over his nose and mouth, and the tank still hissing away.
He was 24 years old and impatient for fame.
He left behind two binders with his writings in them. The stories were good and full of promise. I still have the binders somewhere. I think.
If not they are mouldering in a sub-sub-basement of a Brooklyn Heights brownstone on Pierrepont Street.
He "lived fast, died young, and left a good-looking corpse." And two forgotten binders of "promising" work.
Too much heavy, heavy fuel....
About 40,000 homes in southeastern Louisiana have been affected by days of devastating flooding, which Gov. John Bel Edwards today described as "unprecedented" and "historic." At least eight people have died, he said, adding that authorities remain in emergency search mode in many parishes. Edwards said that over 20,000 people have been rescued and about 8,000 were in shelters Monday night....
This is a rearranged version (mostly to fit the viewable area, plus the title) of a series of photos by a female Yemeni photographer Boushra Almutawakel, who received her education in the United States.
"Having studied in America, Ms Almutawakel has returned to live and work in Sanaa in Yemen. Controversial among Yemenis, her photographs seem designed mainly for a Western audience. See an interview with her here.
Contrast it with the pink Vagina Burkas of the leftist "women's rights" radicals of Code Pink, who, when they are not dressed as vaginas to pursue collectivist identity politics, are often cuddling up to Muslim theocratic dictators.
Code Pink's strategy is the opposite of the Yemeni photographer's: controversial among Americans, their stunts are calculated to reach anti-American foreign audiences.
Intentionally or not, the message sent by their costumes reduces the woman's existence to a single physiological function, stripping her of an individual mind, spirit, and character - a view not very different from the fundamentalist Islamic idea of a woman as merely a veiled reproductive organ. This is hardly coincidental: two militant collectivist philosophies are bound to converge at one point or more.
MUCH MORE AT Women's Progress Backwards: The Tale of Two Burkas
If you were raised on this ancient afternoon series of televised myths and tales [1947 to 1960].... and you grew too old for this last look, all you have to know is.... Clarabelle speaks his first and only line in the history of the program.Continued...
Where are all of these meteors coming from? In terms of direction on the sky, the pointed answer is the constellation of Perseus.
That is why the meteor shower that peaks later this week is known as the Perseids -- the meteors all appear to came from a radiant toward Perseus. In terms of parent body, though, the sand-sized debris that makes up the Perseids meteors come from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet follows a well-defined orbit around our Sun, and the part of the orbit that approaches Earth is superposed in front of the Perseus. Therefore, when Earth crosses this orbit, the radiant point of falling debris appears in Perseus. Featured here, a composite image containing over 60 meteors from last August's Perseids meteor shower shows many bright meteors that streaked over Mount Shasta, California, USA. This year's Perseids holds promise to be the best meteor shower of the year. APOD: 2016 August 8 -Larger image if you.... Continued...
"These days, the streets of San Francisco resemble the streets of Calcutta." -- Cinnamon Stillwell "Homeless by the bay"
San Francisco, America's top open-air exhibit of failed social policies, never fails to illuminate the lies of social utopianism. Although large sections of this city still retain their charm at a distance -- the swooping helicopter pan shot in from the Golden Gate; the brightly painted Cable Car cresting against sunset -- most soon lose all charm in close-up. Instead, strolling through this city has become like taking a long walk through an endless parking lot at The Homeless Depot.
Scene: A clear and crisp dawn in a small side street near Laguna and Hayes. Plantings in all the window boxes on fussily painted facades. A few very small well-kept front yards. Clean curtained windows. All in all a pretty and quiet moment in the city's morning.
Then, between two of the cars on the street and a bulging shopping cart on the curb, I notice a man who has obviously slept rough for at least 200 consecutive days. He is, like some haggard Tai-Chi dancer, turning in a slow pirouette and gazing intently at the ground. Then he lowers himself delicately down into a squat between an Audi and an SUV.
Seeing no real reason not to stroll past, I do and see that the man, pants to his ankles, is slowly relieving himself onto the curb. I note that he has no plastic bag which dog owners use to deposit the deposit. I was to see this behavior twice more in a single day in San Francisco.
And I was in the better neighborhoods.
In the course of a random walk of four hours through the most touristed sections of the San Francisco, this scene was only the most unhappily memorable of a series of disturbing snapshots. Perhaps they only disturbed me because they were playing out against the postcards of my memories of San Francisco during the six years I had lived and worked there in the early 70s; against even deeper images of the city in the Summer of 1968.
Against memory any present day moment usually pales as nostalgia takes its toll. Knowing the nostalgia effect you are prepared, at the least, to be disappointed. Feeling that the past is preferable to the present is a common human instinct. Revisiting old haunts you're prepared to be disturbed. After all, you've read and heard about the degradation of San Francisco for a long time. That said, there's nothing like a few people crapping on the sidewalk to remind you that the San Francisco of the present is probably past redemption absent another earthquake.
The extent to which the homeless, the hard-core unemployed, the drunk and the addicted, the whores of all three sexes, and battalions of shabby panhandlers infest San Francisco is something to bring even the most hard-core liberal from elsewhere up short. For decades myriad policies and millions man-years of effort funded with untold millions have only created a free-crap zone.
That and extreme compassion fatigue.
Strolling San Francisco past the blanket wrapped souls that sleep upright in bus shelters, past the ad-hoc shanty towns of clustered shopping carts, past lone men swaddled in sleeping bags on a stretch of stained concrete with only a fence and a warning between them and a few meager blades of grass; all this gives one a deep sense of unease and unmitigated tragedy after the 20th exposure. After the 50th exposure these human disaster zones just fade into the background body count, one more item of the city's detritus -
All just part of San Francisco's rich tapestry of diversification through stupefaction.
Seeing so many driven so low -- and this in what still passes as "the better neighborhoods" -- you have to wonder what happened to, and what is still happening to, the many millions of public funds being compulsively shoved at this problem. Where have the money, the time, and the good intentions all gone?
The best that can be said is that the limitless toleration of homelessness has provided lifetime employment in various government and private agencies for those who would otherwise be part of the problem they have sworn to solve. Although it is commonly preached that poverty creates homelessness, it is also as correct to say that agencies set up to combat homelessness have a deep and abiding interest in preserving it. This interest and these agencies are now such a permanent feature of our government that there is virtually no chance of disbanding or eliminating them. Ever. The best that can be done is to slow, if possible, the growth of their funding since increased funding primarily swells the size of their employee pool and thus perpetuates and enhances their power.
A cynical person might believe that HISF ( "Homeless Industry of San Francisco)", which recently merged with the Free Schizophrenics Movement (FSM), exists not to curtail suffering but to relentlessly expand its scope. After all, were the number of the homeless to actually diminish in San Francisco, the number of those serving the insatiable needs of this group would also be expected to fall.
A cynical person could believe that an institutionalized, unionized group with excellent benefits and a fine pension plan would never knowingly do anything that would lower its customer base. Indeed, it would be much more likely to make the description of its customer increasingly complex so that ever more people would be discovered to be lacking in basic social services.
A cynical person could believe that the industry's customer base in San Francisco was booming. Booming to the extent that this year, and the next, and the years that come after the years after, the nation, state and city will all require more and more money from working citizens to continue rather than solve homelessness.
But I am not that cynical person. At least not today. I see hope in the small things, the little signs on the streets of San Francisco that not all the homeless wish to suck on the city tit forever; that some of them still possess the classic American entrepreneurial spirit.
Example: At night on the same day as above. I am walking down Laguna Street towards Hayes with an old friend. We have just been to a party and to drinks after and are feeling very in charge of the night. As we walk down the block I can see we are coming up on a parking lot behind a chain-link, razor-wire capped fence. I notice something odd in the fence.
When we get up to it I can see it is a used -- very used -- fishing rod of uncertain vintage and battered aspect. Instead of fishing line, rough brown twine comes up through the line loops on the rod and dangles down from the tip about 11 feet above the sidewalk. On the end of the twine, is a used -- very used -- large Starbucks coffee cup. The twine is very carefully woven into the lip of the cup. On the cup itself a grimy 3x5 card is taped. Printed on the card in hasty letters is the word "Please."
That's it. Just hanging there in the middle of the block panhandling for its owner well out of standard panhandling hours. We glance inside and it's working. There's about three dollars in change at the bottom.
Cynical men would have emptied it out to feed the parking meters for their Escalades. Not having Escalades we just chipped in and strolled on by.
Still, it was nice to know that somewhere in the vast and increasing army of the homeless now occupying The Streets of San Francisco was at least one soul who pushed aside total dependency and chose, instead, innovation in his or her chosen field of endeavor.
You'd think that the vast apparatus that exists to keep people from begging on the street could learn a bit about begging from this constituent. But then again, why should they? Getting more money to do less from San Franciscans these days is like shooting fish in a barrel; a large barrel and a lot of very fat-headed fish.
Bonus bumper strip solution to problem:
It's a joke.... I think.
NEW YORK—All over America IKEA futons are groaning with the restless insomnia of journalists—tossing, turning, cursing the impotence of their melatonin capsules—burdened with the future of the Republic. Long nights of torment, and then . . .
Morning resolve! Before they’ve even microwaved their second Jimmy Dean Sausage Sandwich, they know that this will be the day of reckoning. They will fire up the Kia Sedona and take the long way to work, giving them more time to think about the epic 1,500 words that will make the difference between chaos and civilization.
Yes, they tell their wives, It’s time for my “Donald Trump is a Dickwad” column.
Let me make it clear here that I’m not talking about lesbian-rights vegans who organize fair-trade coffee boycotts at Maxwell House and agitate for medical marijuana in The Nation. Nor am I thinking of tweed-jacketed professors of sociology at Montana State submitting articles to the Journal of Spanish-American Diacritical Marks. Think-tank analysts at the Institute for Pan-Arab Non-Alignment are most certainly churning out white papers on why Donald Trump is a dangerous threat to the Maghreb treaty on fish hatcheries, but I’m not discussing them either. I’m not talking about intellectuals or activists or experts.
No. I’m talking about the guy who enrolled at McNeese State in the nineties and fell into deep reverence for Professor Rusty Naugahyde, the legendary teacher whose Newswriting 312 workshop was almost as inspirational as Lou “The News Is Sacred” Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Our starry-eyed undergraduate buys a safari jacket, takes an oath of objectivity and resolves never to be a member of a political party. After that it takes years of struggle to become the lead Metro columnist at the Lotus Tree, Kansas, Daily Arapaho, days spent chronicling the brutal fights over county bond issues needed to repair the Lost Frenchman Bridge. But now that he’s a 32nd-degree Mason and chairman of the Little League committee on maintenance and parking, he knows that it’s his responsibility, and his privilege, to tell the people of Lotus Tree that Donald Trump is a narcissistic disagreeable soulless callous rude arrogant authoritarian vicious egotistical vulgar braggart and megalomaniac, possibly a lunatic, definitely a psychopath, perhaps a fascist....
[Much, much more. Read the whole thing at Taki's Magazine]
The Shade Tree Mechanic is not extinct. He's moved inside and gotten an air-conditioned shop with serious power tools.Continued...
T.E. Lawrence: So long as Americans play PokymonGo, so long will they be a little people, a silly people - greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are.
Venture capitalist Chris Dixon has a line I like.
"The next big thing will start out looking like a toy," he says. Welp, Pokémon Go looks like a toy. Hell, it is a toy. But it’s also the first widespread, massive use case for augmented reality — even though it’s operating on smartphones that aren’t designed for AR. So what’s going to happen as the hardware improves, the software improves, and the architects learn to use these more immersive environments to addict us more fully?
About a year ago, I tried the Oculus VR, and it blew my mind. I had thought we were a long way from inventing virtual reality. But as I stood in a flat, bare room, only to have the headset flicker on and convince my body and brain I was teetering on the edge of a skyscraper, I learned I was wrong. As I jumped back, I realized we’d already invented VR. Now we’re just perfecting it, making it cheaper, better, more addictive.
How far are we until your VR life is far more interesting, far more pleasurable, than your real life? Not that far, I bet. Maybe 10 years. How far are we until your walk to work is better with augmented reality than without it? Well, Pokémon Go suggests we’re already there. I’m not much for sci-fi dystopias — I don’t think the robots will kill us all — but the world of Ready Player One, in which the future has devolved (or evolved) into people escaping a grim existence by living inside their VR consoles, seems perfectly plausible to me.Pokémon Go isn’t a fad. It’s a beginning.
"I pity from the bottom of my heart any nation or body of people that is so unfortunate as to get entangled in the net of slavery. I have long since ceased to cherish any [spirit]] of bitterness against the Southern white people on account of the enslavement of my race. No one section of our country was wholly responsible for its introduction, and, besides, it was recognized and protected for years by the General Government. Having once got its tentacles fastened on to the economic and social life of the Republic, it was no easy matter for the country to relieve itself of the institution. Then, when we rid ourselves of prejudice, or racial feeling, and look facts in the face, we must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the cruelty and moral wrong of slavery, the ten million Negroes inhabiting this country, who themselves or whose ancestors went through the school of American slavery, are in a stronger and more hopeful condition, materially, intellectually, morally, and religiously, than is true of an equal number of black people in any other portion of the globe. This is so to such an extend that Negroes in this country, who themselves or whose forefathers went through the school of slavery, are constantly returning to Africa as missionaries to enlighten those who remained in the fatherland. This I say, not to justify slavery â on the other hand, I condemn it as an institution, as we all know that in America it was established for selfish and financial reasons, and not from a missionary motive -- but to call attention to a fact, and to show how Providence so often uses men and institutions to accomplish a purpose."
Interesting perspective from a man who was born in slavery. It can be found in his autobiography Up From Slavery, published in 1901.
He must make an instant decision which would require months for a lawyer to make. But...If he hurries, he's careless; if he's deliberate, he's lazy. He must be first to an accident and infallible with his diagnosis. He must be able to start breathing, stop bleeding, tie splints and, above all, be sure the victim goes home without a limp. Or expect to be sued. The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run, and hit where it doesn't hurt.He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age without damaging his uniform and without being "brutal". If you hit him, he's a coward. If he hits you, he's a bully. -- Full TextContinued...
A powerful heart-felt comment from police officer Jay Stalien:
As time went by in my law enforcement career, I quickly began to realize something. I remember the countless times I stood 2 inches from a young black man, around my age, laying on his back, gasping for air as blood filled his lungs. I remember them bleeding profusely with the unforgettable smell of deoxygenated dark red blood in the air, as it leaked from the bullet holes in his body on to the hot sidewalk on a summer day. I remember the countless family members who attacked me, spit on me, cursed me out, as I put up crime scene tape to cordon off the crime scene, yelling and screaming out of pain and anger at the sight of their loved ones taking their last breath. I never took it personally, I knew they were hurting. I remember the countless times I had to order new uniforms, because the ones I had on, were bloody from the blood of another black victim…of black on black crime. I remember the countless times I got back in my patrol car, distraught after having watched another black male die in front me, having to start my preliminary report something like this...Suspect- Black/ Male, Victim-Black /Male.
I remember the countless times I canvassed the area afterwards, and asked everyone “did you see who did it”, and the popular response from the very same family members was always, “Fuck the Police, I ain't no snitch, Im gonna take care of this myself". This happened every single time, every single homicide, black on black, and then my realization became clearer.
I woke up every morning, put my freshly pressed uniform on, shined my badge, functioned checked my weapon, kissed my wife and kid, and waited for my wife to say the same thing she always does before I leave, “Make sure you come back home to us”. I always replied, “I will”, but the truth was I was never sure if I would. I almost lost my life on this job, and every call, every stop, every moment that I had this uniform on, was another possibility for me to almost lose my life again. I was a target in the very community I swore to protect, the very community I wanted to help. As a matter of fact, they hated my very presence. They called me “Uncle Tom”, and “wanna be white boy”, and I couldn’t understand why. My own fellow black men and women attacking me, wishing for my death, wishing for the death of my family. I was so confused, so torn, I couldn’t understand why my own black people would turn against me, when every time they called …I was there. Every time someone died….I was there. Every time they were going through one of the worst moments in their lives…I was there. So why was I the enemy? I dove deep into that question…Why was I the enemy? Then my realization became clearer.
I spoke to members of the community and listened to some of the complaints as to why they hated cops. I then did research on the facts. I also presented facts to these members of the community, and listened to their complaints in response. This is what I learned:
Complaint: Police always targeting us, they always messing with the black man.
Fact: A city where the majority of citizens are black (Baltimore for example) …will ALWAYS have a higher rate of black people getting arrested, it will ALWAYS have a higher rate of blacks getting stopped, and will ALWAYS have a higher rate of blacks getting killed, and the reason why is because a city with those characteristics will ALWAYS have a higher rate of blacks committing crime. The statistics will follow the same trend for Asians if you go to China, for Hispanics if you go to Puerto Rico, for whites if you go to Russia, and the list goes on. It’s called Demographics
Complaint: More black people get arrested than white boys.
Fact: Black People commit a grossly disproportionate amount of crime. Data from the FBI shows that Nationwide, Blacks committed 5,173 homicides in 2014, whites committed 4,367. Chicago’s death toll is almost equal to that of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined. Chicago’s death toll from 2001–November, 26 2015 stands at 7,401. The combined total deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2015: 4,815) and Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan (2001-2015: 3,506), total 8,321.
Complaint: Blacks are the only ones getting killed by police, or they are killed more.
Fact: As of July 2016, the breakdown of the number of US Citizens killed by Police this year is, 238 White people killed, 123 Black people killed, 79 Hispanics, 69 other/or unknown race.
It began when my brother, Jeff, reached into his cupboard one evening in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and pulled out a small can. "You want to see some vague food?" he asked holding the tin out.
"Yes, vague," he said. "Just what is "Potted Meat" anyway? Has it been smoked, drenched, strained, and then slammed into the can with extreme prejudice? What animal gives potted meat?"
I looked carefully at the can and turned it to the list of ingredients "as required by law." Not vague in the least.
Mechanically Separated Chicken, Beef Tripe, Partially Defatted Cooked Beef Fatty Tissue, Beef Hearts, Water, Partially Defatted Cooked Pork Fatty Tissue, Salt. Less than 2 percent: Mustard, Natural Flavorings, Dried Garlic, Dextrose, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite
The first item caught my eye since I had no idea what "Mechanically Separated Chicken" was except that it sounded bad for the chicken. Since then I've learned what the process entails:
Mechanically separated meat (MSM) [I'll let the acronym "MSM" pass without comment], also known as mechanically recovered meat (MRM), is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef, pork or chicken bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. Mechanically separated meat has been used in certain meat and meat products since the late 1960s.That really perks up the taste buds, doesn't it?
My brother, to his eternal credit, didn't open that can of "Potted Meat." If he had we might have had to vacate his home at high speed surfing just ahead of the odor wave. Instead he prepared a very good dinner using real food.
Still, his concept of "vague food" stuck with me. How much vague food was there and what was it like? The next morning I found myself roaming through one of Food Lion supermarkets that are scattered about North Carolina. It was a bit of spontaneous cultural anthropology. My mission was to discover what other strange offerings had crept onto the grocery shelves during the years in which my own tastes had tended towards the more high end of offerings at YuppieChic Whole Foods style markets. I was not to be disappointed.
It was a series of small satoris. Here are some items that caught my attention. None of these things are on my current diet.
First up was this mercifully seasonal offering from Starbucks:
In this one offering we see a grand harmonic convergence of everything that has gone terribly, terribly wrong for Starbucks over the last few years. To get an abomination like this on the shelves means that hundreds of people at the company are working overtime to put it there. But before that can even get started you need a small group of executive marketing bozos sitting around trying to justify their phony baloney jobs.
"Okay, here's what we'll do. We'll take some bad coffee extract, dose it with some cheap chocolate syrup, and then lace it with peppermint!"
"Sounds suitably disgusting. How do we get people to buy it?"
"We'll tell them that it's available for a "Limited Time Only."
The next things not to make it into my shopping cart were the musical Tuna Medleys:Continued...
While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity
Heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the Molten Mass, pops
And sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make
Fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances,
Ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.
You making haste, haste on decay: not blameworthy; life
Is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than
Mountains: shine perishing republic
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance
From the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lies at the
Monster's feet there are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man.
A clever servant, insufferable master.
There is a trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught
They say God, when he walked on Earth.
Major Political News Outlets Offer Interviews for Sale at DNC and RNC Conventions FOR HIGH-ROLLING special interests looking to make an impression at the presidential conventions next month, one option is to pay a lot of money to a media outlet. Lobbyists for the oil industry, for instance, are picking up the tab for leading Beltway publications to host energy policy discussions at the convention, including The Atlantic and Politico.
And for the right price, some political media outlets are even offering special interviews with editorial staffers and promotional coverage at the convention.
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 and 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.
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]
Somewhere back in the day Helen Gurley Brown said that after a certain age the only thing a woman could rely on to improve her appearance was good posture and expensive jewelry.
At least that is my recollection, though I no longer recall the exact source or context. The gender specificity, the whiff of doom in the goal, the daft simplicity, the conciseness, the candor, and the plausibility caused it to stick in my head (although my most recent earrings were bought for three dollars from a street vendor). Perhaps this is because everyone who already has their ears pierced and pricked for this kind of suggestion is tired and looking for quick, pithy advice—especially, it is assumed, women, around whom a many-tentacled advice industry was fashioned long ago, with its golden age perhaps corresponding to the golden age of magazine publishing, suburban housewifery, and leisure time—again, somewhere back in the day. That men—both gay and straight—were once a considerable audience for these women’s magazines, unacknowledged in the official target demographics, is another topic entirely though I will mention it here in passing.
I also recall once getting in the slowest grocery store line so I could flip through Brown’s Cosmopolitan in order to discover what “5 Things,” advertised on the cover alongside its monthly, near-taxidermic décolleté (who can recall the faces perched above?), were sure to “Drive Men Wild,” but not finding them anywhere and having to put the magazine back.
Read the rest of this review/profile/autobiographical confession atA Very Singular Girl by Lorrie Moore | The New York Review of Books
Washington, D.C., circa 1911. "National Photo Co. post card shipment." A very young-looking Herbert French on the left with his associate "Artie" Leonard at their H Street studio. 8x10 glass negative.
Daily life, as recorded on 8x10 glass negatives fromShorpy Historical Photo Archive :: The Young Entrepreneurs: 1911, is often seen in more detail than our faux-vintage Instagram age.
One of the persistant pleasures in very old photographs is that they hold a lot of detail if you but care to look; details that tell you the things behind these images lived. I went into this -- in some detail -- myself in The Summer of Our Content. I notice it again here in one telling detail from the photo cited above from Shorpy. Only this time it is a detail in the hands of the men pictured. With the man on the left, his left hand casually grasps a claw hammer as he strikes the casual pose of a man taking a brief portrait break.
This is not at all that remarkable. Hands holding tools are common in all photography of the men from a time when men actively built the nation. But if we look closely at the man on the right we can see the small confirmation of this lost moment in time in Washington DC over a century past. We see this:
It's by way of this kind of detail that these sections of times lost beyond recall hold their fascination. That momnt when time had a stop and we can see down into the marrow of things; into the weight and the heft of the fabric of trousers stretched over the knuckles of a now long dead hand. For all the trillions of images that we capture now, we won't leave that much of mark.
Yeah, the rope swing was fun. Sure. Whatever. They’re having the best kind of fun. Buncha friends ditching school or work at the old swimming hole. They’ve got more nerve than sense. Chicks dig that, and will join in if you let them. I’m not interested in any of that.
Family Hallucination Not Included:"The Home is a small round gadget with microphones and speakers that's always listening for your questions and commands.... **"
That’s how long you’ve been subjected to this creepy political propaganda.
It’s like the air you breathe by now.
You’re a rat trained by electrical shocks to not believe its lying eyes; remarkable if you still insist 2 2=4
From the moment you wake in the morning until you lay your head on the pillow at night, the Big Lie is screamed at you - newspaper, book, movie, workplace training sessions!… it’s the subtext of all political speech, the buried premise of schoolbook & classroom lesson
It goes on until “everybody” knows “diversity is our strength” - perhaps the most bald-faced oxymoronic whopper ever crafted. HappyAcres
** ... It will plumb into home automation, including Google's own Nest, and it will broadcast video and audio to Chromecast sticks; this is all driven by an always-listening voice interface.
Google's conversational assistant is in the same vein as Cortana and Siri. Google Assistant will be on phones and wearables, too, and Google says that it will be better at picking out the context of what you're doing than any of its competitors. For example, when standing near Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean, in Chicago, you can ask Google Assistant "Who designed this?" Based on your location alone, Assistant will understand that you're probably referring to the large shiny sculpture in front of you and answer "Anish Kapoor."
Voice won't be the only way you can use Assistant. Google showed a textual conversation with Assistant in its new Allo chat service. Assistant can answer questions and perform searches, and it also supports some games.
Initially, Google says that it will not be creating APIs for Assistant and Home and that as such, any integrations with services and other devices will have to come from Google first. This approach is a contrast with the Echo, which is designed to be extensible.
The Home will be available later this year, though no pricing or availability have been announced yet."Continued...
I like big cars, big cigars and naturally big racks. I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some mid-level governmental functionary with a bad comb-over who wants to give it away to crack addicts squirting out babies.
I don't care about appearing compassionate. I think playing with guns doesn't make you a killer. I believe its called the Boy Scouts for a reason. I think I'm better than the homeless.
I am not the real Slim Shady, so I think that I’m gonna stay seated right here in this damn comfy chair. I don't think being a minority makes you noble or victimized. I don't care if you call me a racist, a homophobe or a misogynist. I am not tolerant of others because they are different. I know that no matter how big Jennifer Lopez’s toilet gets, I’ll still want to see it.
I don't celebrate Kwanzaa.
I believe that if you are selling me a Big Mac, you do it in English. I like my porn without silicon. I don't use the excuse "it's for the children" as a shield for unpopular opinions or actions. I want to know when MTV became such crap.
I think getting a hummer is sex, and every man is entitled to at least one extremely sloppy one per month. I know what the definition of is is. I think Oprah's eyes are way too far apart. I didn't take the initiative in inventing the Internet. I thought the Taco Bell dog was funny.
I want them to bring back safe and sane fireworks.
I believe no one ever died because of something Ozzy Osbourne, Ice-T or Marilyn Manson sang. I think that being a student doesn’t give you any more enlightenment than working at Starbucks. I’ve never mourned a dead goldfish.
I don’t want to eat or drink anything with the words light, lite or fat-free on the package. I believe everyone has a right to pray to their God or gods, while I pray that the test results come back negative. I think the Clippers should play in the WNBA. My heroes are Abraham Lincoln, Orson Wells, Ronald Reagan and whoever canceled Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
I think creative violence makes movies more interesting and ISIS more dead.
I don't hate the rich. I don't pity the poor.
I know wrestling is fake, but I still think The Rock could kick my butt.
I think global warming is junk science.
I’ve never owned or was a slave. I didn't wander forty years in the desert after getting chased out of Egypt. I haven’t burned any witches or been persecuted by the Turks and neither have you, so shut-the-f-up already.
South Park still makes me laugh. I want to know which church is it exactly where the Rev. Jessie Jackson preaches. I think explosions are cool. I don't care where Ellen puts her tongue. I think the cops have every right to shoot your sorry ass if you’re running from them. I thought Spinal Tap was great, but Rob Reiner can still kiss my backside.
I worry about dying before I get even.
I like the convenience of buying oranges while I'm waiting at a stop-light, and I'm pretty sure the Latina midget selling them to me is glad she no longer lives in a refrigerator packing carton outside Ensenada.
I figured out Bruce Willis was dead midway through The Sixth Sense but enjoyed it anyway. I think turkey bacon sucks. I want somebody to explain to me exactly why it's wrong to point out that when I watch a freeway chase, I know the losers the police eventually pull out of the car are gonna be a gang-banging hommies or vatos.
I believe that it doesn't take a village to raise a child, it takes a parent. I think tattoos and piercings are fine if you want them, but please don’t pretend they are a political statement.
I like hard women, hard liquor and a hard bowel movement first thing in the morning.
I'll admit that the only movie that ever made me cry was Field of Dreams. I didn't realize Dr. Seuss was a genius until I had a kid.
I will not conform or compromise just to keep from hurting somebody's feelings.
Sometimes I throw my soft drink can in the trash, even when the recycle bin is just a few more steps.
Making love is fine, but sometimes I wanna get laid.
I'm neither angry nor disenfranchised, no matter how desperately the mainstream media would like the world to believe otherwise.
Yes, I'm a bad Republican. And I vote... even if it rains.
Outside 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.
Oh the gangster looks so fright'ning
With his Luger in his hand
When he gets home to his children
He's a family man
But when it comes to the nitty-gritty
He can shove in his knife
Yes he really looks quite religious
He's been an outlaw all his life
Me, I'm waiting so patiently
Lying on the floor
I'm just trying to do this jig-saw puzzle
Before it rains anymore
- - Rolling Stones - Jig-saw Puzzle
The property for terrorist "oozing normality," writes Aftenposten US correspondent for the visit to the apartment of Omar Mateen.
You try to get your mind around it, but it's no go. You've seen the photos of the blood-sloshed killing floor from the Paris concert hall, blood waves smeared over high velocity spatter onto the floor like some sloppy imitation of a second-rate Jackson Pollack. You've seen that and you should be able to at least partially envision the aftermath of the atrocity, where the dead are frozen in place and the soon to be dead move fitfully as the a hundred or more cell-phones' ringtones make a pop-cult cacophony no DJ mixmaster can hope to emulate... now that the wall is breached and the survivors removed and the shooting is finally, finally stopped and then you read, in the first fitful reports of the last texts coming out of the phones...
"Call them mommy
"I'm gonna die
.... and so yes you try to get your head around this -- to get , at least, the faint sense of an echo of what this horror must have been like for those trapped with such implacable evil and you try to understand this, to at least, to somehow get your head around it but like trying to find an end to this sentence it is no go....
[This was the beginning of something I wanted to say about how this year and this world is shaping up; something about how the Madness of the Crowd has suddenly this summer come upon us all -- a shared nightmare from which we struggle to escape. But it is late in a long day and I will have to try to return to this tomorrow. Or perhaps the next day. Or perhaps the next decade.]
"Well, there’s fistfights in the kitchen
They’re enough to make me cry
The mailman comes in
Even he’s gotta take a side
Even the butler
He’s got something to prove
Then you ask why I don’t live here
Honey, how come you don’t move?"
- - - On The Road Again Bob Dylan
Stefan Molyneux rants for me.The "official narrative" and the unending progtard propaganda is getting to me. Again.Continued...
In the depths of winter, work towards spring.
In any way you can, keep building, keep the idea of freedom alive. Stay true to what true liberty is. Remember that what these people are doing in curing socialism with socialism is no part of America. It is an European thing, where both sides of the “political spectrum” are socialist. (In the ROJIVYV, their colour stops at red. You can have any color you want provided it’s pink, red or crimson.) Remember the constitution even when honored in the breach. Remember we are the fruits of a radical experiment, and in radical experiments there are set backs. Work. Believe. Create. Form community. Teach your children well. Winter IS coming According To Hoyt
There exists a new upper class that’s completely disconnected from the average white American and American culture at large, argues Charles Murray, a libertarian political scientist and author.
Take this 25-question quiz, based on a similar one published in Murray’s 2012 book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010,” to find out just how thick your bubble is.
[For the record, I scored 43]
It’s a turnaround jump shot
It’s everybody jumpstart
It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts
Medicine is magical and magical is art
Thinking of the Boy in the Bubble
And the baby with the baboon heart
And I believe
These are the days of lasers in the jungle
Lasers in the jungle somewhere
Staccato signals of constant information
a loose affiliation of millionaires
We'll be as happy and contented as birds upon a tree.
High above the mountains and the sea.
We'll bill and we'll coo-oo-oo
And sorrow will never come,
Oh, will it ever come true,
Our room with a view?
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."
Slowing down. Putting in the time and the craftsmanship to make a quality, quality product....Continued...
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.
In the Battle of Soissons in July of 1918, 12,000 men (Americans and Germans) were killed in four days. Vast crops of white crosses sprouted from the fields their rows and columns fading into the distance as they marched back from the roadside like an army of the dead called to attention until the end of time. American cemeteries merged with French cemeteries that merged with German cemeteries; their only distinction being the flags that flew over what one took to be the center of the arrangement. I suppose one could find out the number of graves in these serried ranks. Somewhere they keep the count. Governments are especially good at counting. But it is enough to know they are beyond numbering by an individual; that the mind would cease before the final number was reached.
To have even a hundredth of those cemeteries in the United States now would be more than we, as a nation, could bear. It would not be so much the dead within it, but the truth that made it happen that would be unbearable. This is, of course, what we are as a nation fiddling about with on this Memorial Day. We count our war dead daily now, but we count mostly on the fingers of one hand, at times on two. Never in numbers now beyond our ability to imagine. This is not because we cannot die daily in large numbers in a war. September 11th proved to us that we still die in the thousands, but many among us cannot now hold that number as a reality, but only as a "tragic" exception that need not have happened and will -- most likely -- never happen again.
That, at least, is the mind set that I assume when I read how the "War on Terror" is but a bumper strip. In a way, that's preferable to the the mind set that now, in increasing numbers among us, prefers to take refuge in the unbalanced belief that 9/11 was actually something planned and executed by the American government. Why many of my fellow Americans prefer this "explanation" is something that I once felt was beyond comprehension. Now I see it is just another comfortable position taken up by those for whom the habits of automatic treason have become just another fashionable denigration of the country that has made their liberty to believe the worst of it not only possible but popular.
Like the graves in my local cemetery, these souls too bear within them a small flag, but that flag -- unlike their souls -- is white and, in its increasing rootedness in our body politic signals not sacrifice for the advancement of the American experiment, but the abject surrender of their lives to small spites and the tiny victories of lifestyle liberation.
In the cemetery at the end of my street, there are a few small flags. There are many more graves with no flag at all, but they are the ones that the small flags made possible. Should the terrible forests of white crosses ever bloom across our landscape -- as once they did during the Civil War -- it will not be because we had too few of those small, three-colored flags, but because we became a nation with far too many white ones.
The grave of James A. Wilmot, Pvt 49th Spruce Squadron, World War I. Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Queen Anne, Seattle
[Originally published Memorial Day, 2007]