Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Something Wonderful: The Shrine in the Afgan Night

"Only during such times are strong men and women of greatest importance. At all other times we have Hollywood."

"On this small base surrounded by a mixture of enemy and friendly territory, a memorial has been erected just next to the Chapel. Inside the tepee are 21 photos of 21 soldiers killed during the first months of a year-long tour of duty. The fallen will belong forever to the honor rolls of the 1-17th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and they will join the sacred list of names of those who have given their lives in service of the United States of America." -- Michael Yon:Into Thine Hand I Commit My Spirit


As this long year and difficult decade closes I ask again, as I have for many years now, "Where do we get such men and why do we deserve them?"

Update: In answer, this from the comments.

From whence they come, we know too well:
Our children, brave and true.
What we struggle with, and always must,
Is how to thank them for what they do.

Why a son might risk his future
For his father’s weakening past
Is to ask an answered question
In America … may she last, may we last.

-- Matt Bruchett

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 31, 2009 11:38 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Emperor's New Speech Impediment

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 29, 2009 11:51 AM | Comments (42)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Surprise

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 28, 2009 10:05 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
[June 2003] "Another Reason to Never Fly Anywhere Ever Again"

[An item from my back pages of more than six years ago. Slowly, the world is catching up with me. And I hate it.]

"It does basically make you look fat and naked, but you see all this stuff." - Susan Hallowell (above), Director of TSA's Security Laboratory.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 27, 2009 12:43 PM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Known Universe

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 23, 2009 3:33 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: HP WebCams are Racist!

"As soon as my blackness enters the frame, webtracking is over. As soon as white Wanda appears the camera moves. Black Desi gets in there... no face recongition any more.... And the worst part is I bought one for Christmas."

Update: As you might expect, Hewlett-Packard is freaked out by this video. In a somewhat unconsidered post on their blog they propose that the glitch doesn't have to do with skin color but with... wait for it... the nose! Oy!

"We are working with our partners to learn more. The technology we use is built on standard algorithms that measure the difference in intensity of contrast between the eyes and the upper cheek and nose. We believe that the camera might have difficulty “seeing” contrast in conditions where there is insufficient foreground lighting." -- Customer Feedback is Important to Us - The Next Bench

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2009 10:04 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fear of Fritterware: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Last night I had one of the most frightening dreams a man can have. I dreamt that someone, someone who hated me deeply, had given me a brand new computer for Christmas. I woke up screaming, but the dream persisted.

A new computer! I could just see it. It had everything: a processor so fast that it was measured in googlehertz rather than megahertz, more ram than the entire sheep population of New Zealand, a hard drive bigger than the Great Plains, and a megaplex sized-monitor capable of displaying 2.5 trillion ordinary colors at warp six and with such a blistering intensity that your eyes boiled in your skull. A broadband connection so huge it could suck the Library of Congress dry in a nanosecond. The CPU was covered in sable. The keyboard fashioned from rare woods. The wireless mouse was surgically implanted in my finger tip so all I had to do was gesture mystically.

It got worse.

This Christmas puppy came loaded with Fritterware. It had Openfly OS, BrokenWindows Version 6.66, HomelessOffice 2004, Internet Destroyer, Fretscape, iEverthingEverywhere and Pong. The Paperclip was back as the host of my new computer's "interactive" training program aptly named RageMaker. When I opened the box in my nightmare my first impulse was to rip open all my other presents in hopes that someone had given me a gun so I could just shoot myself.

Nothing is worse than a fully loaded new computer, and I've been using them for nearly 20 years. Setting up a new computer is like getting ready to French Kiss an elephant; you know it will be a new experience, but you know it won't taste like Veal Cordon Bleu.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 22, 2009 2:45 AM | Comments (38)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Season of the Grinch

In these New England villages and towns I’ve noticed it slowly while driving to this or that seasonal celebration. The holiday lights on the houses and in the yards are fewer this year, switched on later and turned off earlier. At the parties the cheer is a bit more forced. Inside the malls the shoppers all seem a tad glum, the stores’ offerings and blandishments forced, and the sales sooner and more drastic. There’s nothing dramatic, only a sense, a strangely unnerving sense, that this Christmas season is, in a word, diminished.

Somehow this last year now passing has slowly and steadily broken every promise made when it began. Instead of revival, the nation and the spirits of its people have been slowly immersed into a state of quiet desperation as its history and institutions have been stripped from it in such a methodical manner as to seem malicious. Those sworn to be the servants of the people, to preserve and protect their traditions and laws, prove each and every day to be not the exemplars of the best of us, but of the worst.

Now, as we move from the last night of Hanukkah towards the morning of the birth of Christ, our false servants are swearing – for no clear reason – to pursue passage of their rejected laws and Byzantine litigation right into the eve of Christmas. It’s a frenetic secular sacrilege mounted in some obscene ritual to instill in Americans not a respect for their government but a despair of its intent. It tarnishes the season and it is the death of hope.

At the same moment, the supposed leader of the country, raised up out of a lifetime of hustle and charm, out of a “handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged;” raised up from obscurity on an historic wave of optimism, flits about the world on a gigantic airplane trying to bestow large sacks of money he does not have on other nations who do not deserve it. He flies into snow and cold across the oceans for half a day. He speaks some petulant words and for a couple of hours huddles with other gnomes of ill-star. Then he flies back across the ocean into another snowstorm in Washington where more weekend blather and petulant yabble is being brought to bear on the “urgent” problem of how to spend the most money on the fewest people.

In the house which this cardboard “leader” and his family inhabit, the people’s house, the word “Christmas” is spoken seldom and then grudgingly. The traditional Nativity scene was to be kept in storage this year but was brought out, again grudgingly, only when it was clear that the political cost of hiding it exceeded the cost of displaying it. We were informed that this man and his wife and children once spent twenty years sitting in a Christian church in Chicago, but the role of Christ and Christmas in this church evidently took a back pew to the endless racial tribulations and racist obsessions of its pastor and parishioners.

Yes, the national Christmas tree was lit this year, but it may well have been called a “holiday tree” (I wasn’t paying close attention.). I’m sure that bunting and decorations suitable for the public areas of the White House are all in place and suitable for framing. But I doubt that in the private quarters anything resembling a traditional Christmas will take place. I don’t know this, but I sense it. And I have found that my sense of things pretty much parallels the sense that many of my fellow citizens have. Our sense is that this Christmas is, as a result of all that has transpired during the last year of this “historic” presidency, diminished.

If there is one theme that can be shown to be constant on our national scene of late, it is that of “diminishment.” America shall have less. America shall do less. America shall strive less. America shall be less. Americans will be told that this diminishment is for their own good. And they shall be expected, if not required, to agree.

Not all shall, of course, be diminished. Some few in the protected classes shall be aggrandized. Some shall find their holiday tables made even more bountiful than their tables were last year. But this shall not be because they have earned their bounty but only because they have been clever enough to position themselves at the overflowing trough of what is risibly called “public service.”

For the rest of us, we look at a future filled with uncertainty as to prosperity coupled with a certainty about taxation, regulation, legislation, and ever encroaching limits on personal and collective freedom. We move into the final week before Christmas with the promise from a government that barely recognizes those from whom it receives its mandate to increase our indenture and servitude on Christmas Eve.

It’s not a holy Christmas this year, but a cheap and secular “Xmas.” It’s small and it’s mean and there’s nothing very merry about it. It’s the Season of the Grinch.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 19, 2009 6:26 AM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Glint on Titan


NASA - Reflection of Sunlight off Titan Lake

This image shows the first flash of sunlight reflected off a lake on Saturn's moon Titan.

"The glint off a mirror-like surface is known as a specular reflection. This kind of glint was detected by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) on NASA's Cassini spacecraft on July 8, 2009. It confirmed the presence of liquid in the moon's northern hemisphere, where lakes are more numerous and larger than those in the southern hemisphere."

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2009 1:08 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Babies Are Coming

Okay, I'm sold. I'm seeing it.

Via: Babies are Good! @ The Anchoress who knows where the good stuff is.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 18, 2009 9:36 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Lunchbreath's Top Sekrit Health Plan


Simplicity itself from lunchbreath's Photostream

Alternative: Let the underemployed minions of Barack Obama stop asking us for $5 campaign contributions, find whatever number of million Americans can't afford a healthcare insurance and buy it for them!

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2009 1:11 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The New Apostles Creed: "I believe in the Holy Goric Church"


Have you noticed a subtle shift among some of the acolytes of the Holy Church of Global Warming Climate Change? I have.

In the wake of the scam's exposure -- and the collapse of the Holy See of "Climate Science" from a god to a cult -- many of the faithful have begun to hedge their bets, their Pascalian wagers, on the received truth of "Global Warming." Many have begun to admit, yes, there is something to the idea that the "scientists" at Hadley CRU are a bunch of criminal liars, data cheats, and self-aggrandizing charlatans.... but (and there is always this but) the "prudent" thing to do is to act as if the hoax is true. And it is very important to these acolytes that the disclaimer is always presented in the clear, usually in its own paragraph, so it can be cited in case there's trouble from the faithful.

Case in point.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 14, 2009 5:55 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
December 31, 2010: Defused Lethal Poem Released by Government. "Safe but Still Sucks" says President

Omaha, Nebraska: December 31, 2010 The Reformed Senate Select Committee to Investigate the Mass Progressive Suicides (CIMPS) of December 2009 today released its findings on the tragedy.

CIMPS’ summary concludes:

Late last year a virulent poem created by Al Gore decimated the Progressive Movement of the United States when 98% of its membership committed suicide after reading it. Contrary to rumors of a putsch by the Conservative Revolutionary Front, it is the finding of the emergency U.S. government in Omaha that it was not LSD in the water supply of Washington, the Upper West Side, and vast portions of Hollywood, San Francisco, and 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue that precipitated the near extinction of American progressives. Neither was it a conspiracy of global oil interests headed by defrocked members of the KGB. The deaths are attributable to the deranged act of a lone poet.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 13, 2009 1:04 AM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderfully Vicious and Delicious: Little Green Footballs/Charles Johnson Calendar Infomercial

Overwhelmingly hilarious from the twisted but beautiful minds at The Nose On Your Face

Everybody with a blog or access to a blog is ordered, under pain of mockery, to reblog this immediately.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 12, 2009 1:58 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Maybe Sooner:" My Obama/Afghanistan Prophecy is Ahead of Schedule


"Sometime next year. Maybe sooner if the daily rushes start to look really bad." Written on July 24th of this year:

1) As I have written about before in The Road to a Democrat Led Defeat of America Goes Through Afghanistan, and spelled out in Afghanistan Bananistan: The 10 Point Plan, Afghanistan is Obama's "Get out of bad election results and/or get re-elected free card." He can pretty much use it any time he needs it to become "The man with the vision to bring peace to America." All he has to do to keep the card fresh is to give our forces there just enough rope for them to twist, hang, and die slowly in the wind. If you've been paying attention, that's just what has been taking place.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 11, 2009 12:27 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Hexagonal JetStream of Saturn

"A six-sided polygon that encircles the pole of Saturn and it is sitting there as a set feature.... It's been there now for at least 20 years and we're saying, 'What is this?' "

Will miracles never cease? No. Even should we cease, miracles will unfold forever. Miracle resides in the deepest foundations of this universe where everything that is is a miracle.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 9, 2009 2:43 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Leonard Cohen Silences an Audience with "A Thousand Kisses Deep"

In London, last November. There are small laughs coming from the audience at the beginning.... and then the magic of this old master overwhelms them into silence.

Not found in the video here is the complete text for Cohen's A Thousand Kisses Deep


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2009 10:04 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Real President Giving a Real Battle Speech

You go to war with the President you have (or, recently, do not have). Nothing reveals the true measure of a man and President than he must deal with the hard realities of war.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 7, 2009 8:27 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful to Take Us Out of Here on This Snow Clad Sunday Night

Sufficient unto the morrow is the evil thereof. For now.... stand by me and I'll stand by you.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2009 6:28 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink

promkings.jpg(With deepest apologies to Henrik Ibsen and his play GHOSTS )

Andrew. Yes, yes; well, listen to me, Charles, You are very strong-minded, I know. Sit quite quiet when you hear what I am going to tell you. You mustn't scream or flounce. Will you promise me that, Charles?

Charles Johnson. Yes, yes, I promise -- tell me what it is.

Andrew. Well, then, you must know that this fatigue of mine -- and my not being able to think -- is not really the illness itself--

Charles Johnson. What is the illness itself?

Andrew. What I am suffering from is obsessional; it--(touches his crotch, and speaks very quietly)--it lies here.

Charles Johnson (almost speechless). Andrew! No--no!

Andrew. Don't flounce; I can't stand it. If I was man enough to have comments I’d ban you. Yes, I tell you, it lies here pulsing in my groin, waiting. And any time, any moment, it may break out.

Charles Johnson. How horrible --!

Andrew. Do keep quiet. That is the turgid state I am in--

Charles Johnson (springing up). It isn't true, Andrew! It is impossible! It can't be that!

Andrew. I had one erection while I was abroad and away from your handy handle, that pony tail. But with some manipulation it passed off quickly. But when I learned the condition my condition was in this dreadful haunting fear of flaccidity took possession of me.

Charles Johnson. That was the fear, then--

Andrew. Yes, it is so indescribably horrible, you know. If only it had been an ordinary mortal disease Juan the bell boy could have re-erected me in your absence, safely of course. I am not so much afraid of flaccidty; though, of course, I should like to boing-boing! as long as I can.

Charles Johnson. Yes, yes, Andrew, you must boing-boing!

Andrew. But this is so appallingly flouncy. To become like a helpless child on my uncle’s lap again -- to have to be fed, to have to be frittered. Oh, it's unspeakable!

Charles Johnson. Hush, hush, sweet Andrew. We shall progress progressively in our progress united as close as two can be. My child has his Charles to tend him....


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 5, 2009 7:39 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The CURE for the Billy Joel Earworm Below

My eternal thanks to Jewel who sent this cure in the comments to Drain Bamage: I Guess It’s Going to Be “All About Soul” Forever

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 3, 2009 2:43 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Al Gore Confronted on ClimateGate in Borders Books

A faction of the the Conservative Revolutionary Front called WeAreChangeChicago gets in Al Gore's face and gets booted from Borders @ 2:00. Then they follow the fraud's care out into the streets of Chicago.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 2, 2009 9:43 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
ClimateGate: First Lie is the Deepest


Tell me lies,
Tell me sweet little lies.

-- Fleetwood Mac

As we all learn whenever we feel the teeth of truth's bear trap snapping closed the first lie told to escape the trap is, in retrospect, the most illuminating. This "primal" lie is the one told in haste and either repented or embroidered later as the truth begins to inexorably emerge. That is why to connoisseurs of lies the first and freshest lies are always the most delicious when it comes time to fry them up.

So it is with the first and most primal lie of ClimateGate; "the emails don't amount to much at all." This was the first lie to come out of the mouths of the Alarmists and their supporters and it was yummy. This lie was, indeed, the main "Talking Point" (i.e. Group Lie) for a number of days until a deeper examination of the emails themselves and the read-me files and the comments in the programs gave their first lie and indeed their whole enterprise the lie.

Looking back it is easy to see that the emails, far from being just trivial statements exchanged between pals, partners in deceit, and collegial others, were indeed the window into the entire mind-set that drove and sustained what is looking to be the largest and most far-reaching hoax in the history of science; a hoax perpetuated across decades by dozens if not hundreds of "scientists" for the sake of "saving the planet" and money, and fame, and status, and power. Indeed, this hoax makes Bernard Madoff look like a street-corner three-card-monte hustler. Looking through the window provided by the emails you can discern, with no effort of imagination whatsoever, the much greater real-world environment in which the hoax was born, grew, took on a life of its own, and was fed and sustained until it swept the whole world into its maw.

Think about your own collection of emails written to friends, associates, and colleagues over the years. They form, taken en masse, footnotes and journal entries that document your life. Email does not exist in a vacuum. It replicates in outline the conversations, phone calls, meetings, work sessions, bull sessions, conventions, and all the other multifoliate actions that define your days. So it is with the HadlyCRU emails.

You don't need to read the thousands of messages. Just read around in them and you'll get the picture soon enough.

What comes to life in these bits of electronic notes swapped hither and yon is the picture of a culture in which corruption was so deeply embedded that the fudging of data, the suppression of dissenting views, and the preening over the control of the future of economic and social life on earth was the common stuff of the days and nights. The emails show us a small, elite, unelected and self-selected group that was putting one over on the world and prospering because of it.

What laughs these folks must have had. What rollicking asides, nods, nudges and winks must have passed between them after a couple of pints down at the pub. You can feel the pats thumping on the back, hear the "atta-boys" being muttered, appreciate the chortles as yet more grant money showed up and a whole new spiffy building was erected in which their whole shameful scam could unfold unperturbed.

And when somebody, some hero somewhere - inside the organization or out - finally blew the whistle on the party what was the first thing the HardlyCRU crew did?

It trotted out the first knee-jerk lie, the most amusing one in retrospect, that the emails were just "ordinary communication," a bit of fooling around; that the emails (the most immediately accessible part of the hack package) were really no big deal and that there really was nothing to see here... so let's just move on. Please?

That was the primal lie. Because the emails were, alas, true. They were the door that anyone could read and walk through into the entire sordid landscape of lie. Most people will not understand the arcance code of software programs. Most people will not understand the now bogosified "science" of "climatology." Most people will, as the fraudsters of HadlyCRU knew and depended upon, allow themselves to be "blinded by science." And for decades they were.

But anyone can read the emails and sense, from everyone's deep experience with their own emails, that there was - despite the protests - something very, very wrong going on. Anyone reading the emails catches the tone if not the substance and knows that there's more than mischief afoot and that something in the mindset behind the emails is perverting science.

For a few days the HadlyCRU Alarmists and their fellow travelers could toss out their first and most primal lie, but it was too late. For if you read the emails you could not be blinded by science any longer - unless it was in your personal interest to feign blindness.

Once that happened it became easy to spot the liars at HadlyCRU and among other Alarmist supporters. It was simplicity itself. Anyone who told you that "the emails were a non-event" was part and party to the hoax and the lie. There was no longer any reason to believe any of them. You might not know enough about science, but you knew a lot about email and how it indicated what the real world environment of the writers of that email was like. If you were an honest person, you had to believe, finally, your own lying eyes.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 2, 2009 7:58 AM | Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Eternal Banality of the Photography of Charles Foster Johnson

[Note: Reposted because I don't have the time right now to examine the eternal banality of Charles Johnson's prose. But I will get around to it. As for his recent little list of why he left wherever he thought he was, all I can say is, "Door. Ass. Bang."]

The Hockneyesque "Green Sphere Upon the Sands of Solace." From the "What? On the Beach Again?" series. Here we see the questioning autodidact Johnson confronting the existential vacuity of American beachspace with a sardonic Worholian distancing of the self from the mundane spritziness that is the Malibu shell of angst, despair, and desolation. Note that even the small Macintosh-referenced trash icon in the middle distance is in an emptied state.

Mozart: [hesitantly] I never knew that music like that was possible!
Salieri: [uncertainly] You flatter me.
Mozart: No, no! One hears such sounds, and what can one say but... ”Salieri."
-- Amadeus (1984) - Memorable quotes

Of late many have opined on the mental state of Charles Foster Johnson erstwhile hotchat master of Little Green Footballs. Words such as "dementia," "quisling," "bull goose looney," "testicular chancre," "slobbering obamallationist," and "schmo" have hurtled about the blogosphere for months. I shall not endeavor to improve upon this brick-bat barrage of blandishments in which Mr. Johnson is repeatedly and heartedly encouraged "to perform self-intercourse with a low-yield thermonuclear warhead."

Nor shall I note that having a "big" "b-log" floating about like a cowchip on a vast sea of Internet sludge is akin to possessing a two-inch penis. Neither shall I underscore those slanderous assertions that Johnson's writing skills are limited to the "Paste" command. I note only that before "Paste" there is always his first tool, "Cut." I shall also say nothing to underscore the obvious assertion in so many quarters that a "Dan Rather Scoop" is now so far in the past that even Dan Rather's lawsuit has run out of Dan Rather gas.

No, too much has been done to malign Charles Foster Johnson, that Howard Hughes of Somewhere Lost Angeles. Instead I propose to consider the one area in which there can be no justifiable criticism of the "artiste" that dwells within the eternal sunshine of his mind, his photography....


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 2, 2009 5:55 AM | Comments (82)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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