Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Comment of the Month (So far): Sherlock's "The Shit List"


Reacting to [The Cowardly] US President Barack Obama has apologised for the Koran-burning incident, Sherlock brings us up to speed on his advanced foreign policy for Muslim countries:

The Shit List. Ah yes. I put forward the idea several years ago in these pages and in others. Here's how I would explain it to the world.
First, the way you initially get on the Shit List is by having your society based on the inherently xenophobic and violent Muslim law. Unfair? Yes indeed, and I am sorry for you, I really am - you have drawn the short straw of history. Tough titty.
But good news - there is an easy way to get off the Shit List! You just have to renounce the parts of Muslim law that make it easy for you to do bad things to me and mine. Those would be the parts where I am considered no more than an animal because I am not a Muslim like you, and also the parts where even your own women aren't either. Free and educated women could exert a calming and civilizing influence over the hordes of sexually frustrated young men your societies seem uniquely adept at producing. Oh, and adopt democracy - that helps too. Democracies (real ones) don't tend to attack each other. Do I hear you say there are exceptions to that? Sure - but you see, it is no longer our job to be perfect, slick. No, siree.
So there is an Easy Way of getting off the Shit List, but there is also a Hard Way. Imagine for example the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list. The Easy Way to get off it is to turn yourself in, serve your time, and then stay out of trouble. Simple - maybe not so easy if you are a habitual, addicted, criminal, but at least easy to understand, no?
The Hard Way to get off the FBI's List is like how Bonnie and Clyde got off it. Think of it as the way where there is zero recidivism.
Getting off our Shit List the Hard Way is similar. Say you don't clean up your act, and then somebody busts a cap on us. We trace them to you, bingo, you're off the Shit List the Hard Way. Or say we can't trace them, but we are so pissed, we just guess. You could get off that way too.
So I think we should offer this deal to every Muslim country in the world. It's a fair deal - we aren't dictating to them what to do. We are just telling them the new rules, just like they have been in the habit of doing unto others for thousands of years.
Rule 1: Play nice, or enter the big lottery where becoming the world's largest expanse of glass is the prize, and the odds are good.
Rule 2: Avoid breaking Rule 1.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 26, 2012 5:02 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Wedding Vows

           ....Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

             --- Shakespeare -- Sonnet 116.

THE FIRST TIME I WAS MARRIED I was married to over 200 naked people. We weren't quite buck naked. The men had crudely made laurel wreathes on their heads, sometimes just a wad of weeds, while the women had wreathes of flowers around their brows and, for those old enough to have any, small bouquets of blossoms lodged in their pubic hair. All the men had large clubs and all the women large breasts. It was the butt end of the 60s and people in my set tended to have that kind of equipment. What children there were tended to be either infants or toddlers, all still nursing at will.


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 26, 2012 1:46 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Golden Spiders' Invisibility Cloak


O, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!

-- The Tempest

As is my cynical wont I first tended to scoff at this project. But then, as the amazing level of obsession matched with beauty started to reveal itself I became fascinated. "O brave new world that has such people in it," indeed.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 24, 2012 11:23 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mondegreen Moments

hearthook.jpgThis week I have been bedeviled by the tricks of the hooks and the hearts of popular music. I keep telling myself that most popular songs are not written to be true, but glib; that they run on what's call 'the hook.'

Distracted by numerous lyrics that all seemed to sending me a secret message, I decided to investigate the functioning of "the hook" and came in my Googling to a song by Blues Traveler from their album "Four."

"Four" is an album I've had for many years (A memoir of a brief, but doomed, May -- September romance some eight years back.) which has a song on it called "The Hook." Looking up the lyrics, I saw -- for the first time -- what the refrain actually says:

"Because the hook brings you back
I ain't tellin' you no lie
The hook brings you back
On that you can rely."

It's a common problem with the lyrics to pop songs that they are often misheard by the listeners. These ear blips are called mondegreens. Neo has written about this in an illuminating manner @ neo-neocon: Mondegreens

I have a old friend who has bought apartments in New York City by exploiting the phenomenon in books. Mondegreens are commonly explained by the facts of loose recordings, production choices, and the volume at which all the instruments play and the singers sing. It is more simply explained by the fact, as noted by my old friend Ethan Russell about Mick Jagger many years ago, "Well, you know, he does slur a lot."

And he does, and they all do. Singing words requires, as we learn in the sacred book of Bob Dylan, that you bend and shape the words to the measure of the music. Success in pop music is found, after all, in the singer not the song.

The other thing that drives the hearing of a song is the mood of the listener. You hear things in songs that aren't ever there just as you see things about your house that are long gone. In each, what we hear and see in down times is essentially the ghosts of ... love, etcetera. And coming or going, love has a lot of etcetera attached to it that it pulls along behind it like the chains on Marley's ghost.

All of this is a periphrastic way of coming to what I had heard sung in the refrain to "The Hook" for many years. I never heard the word 'hook.' Instead I heard the word 'heart,' as in:

"Because the heart brings you back
I ain't tellin' you no lie
The heart brings you back
On that you can rely."

I've listened to that song, with attention or just as background, probably around a hundred times over the years. I've even been to a Blues Traveler concert in New York City that had it on the set list. In all those iterations I've never heard 'hook,' but always heard 'heart.' Now I know the truth of the lyric, but frankly, I'd rather not have known.

Seen whole the lyrics to 'The Hook' are all about the plight and pain of being a pop star. One of thousands of such screeds in which our celebrities bemoan the curse of wealth and fame their rise has brought to them -- the endless angst of those who fear they had to 'sell-out' in order to 'buy-in.' I try, but somehow I just can't feel this pampered pain.

"Heart over hook" is one of the many lessons of the Susan Boyle phenomenon that stormed the world this week. In the end, we really don't want the hook to bring us back. We want the heart to bring us back:

"Because the heart brings you back
I ain't tellin' you no lie
The heart brings you back
On that you can rely."

It might be a mere mondegreen, but it makes a much better song.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 24, 2012 2:38 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Yuja | Chopin

You will be transported. Yuja Wang plays the Waltz nr. 2 op. 64 from Frederic Chopin live at the Verbier Festival 2010. [HT: neo-neocon's Concert fashion]

Then again if you listen to Yuja above and then listen to Rubenstein below playing the same piece you will come to know the difference between a consummate professional (Wang) and a genius.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 22, 2012 6:20 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
John Fairfax: Pirate in a Rowboat

"He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there. He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there:" John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74

The obit at the link gives you a bit of a resume most men, if they are men, would die for.

Pistol packing kid who shot up his Boy Scout campground? Check.

Off to commit suicide by feeding himself to a jaguar and then shooting the jaguar instead? Check.

Self-employed as a trapper in a South American jungle with a specialty in jaguar and ocelot skins? Check.

Literature and philosophy student? Check.

Apprentice pirate? Check.

Row alone across the Atlantic in a rowboat from the Canary Islands to Florida in 180 days? Check.

Row with a girlfriend for company and recreation across the Pacific from San Francisco to Australia in 361 days? Check.

Finish out your days as a professional baccarat player and die of a heart attack at 74 in Nevada?

Check and double-check.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 19, 2012 2:54 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Beatniks: Gone but Not Forgotten

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 19, 2012 9:31 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Conservatives, Sharpen Your Shank and Shove It In [Bumped]


ScottM notes in a comment to: Humiliation was, in fact, their only aim, and malice, their motive.

"This is the point of commie-lib politics. They will use their power to take your power. The commie-libs make demands, not because of the facts and the "progress" toward their utopia, but because if you do what they want you will be weaker and vulnerable to the next demand. Yet, the guileless Conservatives debate the merits of the details of the commie-lib demand, or they'll point out this latest demand is inconsistent with some past demand. The details and the consistency matter only to the Conservatives, yet that is what they spend 98% of their energy discussing. You might as well tell the con-men running the Three Card Monte you've detected the card switch or that taking someone's money isn't nice.

"When you debate the details with a commie-lib you are putting the "kick me" sign on your chest and back. You are signalling you still haven't cought on and you are still an easy target. Just because you prefer to discuss the details and the rules and the underlying principle doesn't mean that's effective. It's only when you recognize the commie-libs are engaged in a naked power grab and this fight is about power, not the details of their latest charge, can you effectively resist their tactic.

"Stop being willfully naive and be an effective soldier for your views. Stop rushing to talk radio so the conservative host can try and convince you not to raise taxes in a recession, not interfere in children's lunches, not break up families, not advance the goals of America's enemies. I know this is lost on most Conservatives because the world around the one characteristic of the Conservatives is a determined avoidance of conflict with the liberals. Better to discuss what the commie-libs are doing than to risk a fight with the commie-libs. It's Conservatives students and employees that hide their views in school or at work. You can't win while on defense. Commie-lilbs are always on offense, that's why they control so much. If our tactic was working we would run their institutions, we don't.

"You can return to Mayberry Rules when we win the fight. Right now we must play by Prison Rules, or lose."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 18, 2012 8:05 AM | Comments (36)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Once the Needle Goes In It Never Comes Out

"Meth In Mexico: A soldier stood in a room full of barrels containing powder after the seizure of a small ranch in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Mexico, Thursday. According to the Mexican army, 15 tons of pure methamphetamine were seized at the ranch."

15... Fifteen?... TONS? of meth were seized? A bit of calculation tells me that 1 short ton = 907,184 grams. Let's say that one gram of meth = one to four hits to a tweeker.*** That means that in one (1!) raid the Mexicans seized between 14 and 56 million hits of crank. Can that be real? Can that be true? Can that be what one Mexican meth operation is cranking out?

That exceeds the mind's capacity to boggle. Is everybody in this country wired except me? Is it really that out of control? Doesn't seem possible. Can the government of Mexico be lying? Can our government be lying? How can I think such a thing? I must be sleeping. I need something to wake me up from this nightmare.

***How much meth did you use?
Tweeker 1: "When I started, it was about 1/4 gram per day. I was still able to "sleep" (or at least pretend to), go to work, be an activist, and do a lot of mentally demanding things very well."

Tweeker 2: "At my worst, I was using a teener a day. (1.75 grams) I was utterly incoherent by that point. The only time I felt any clarity was when I was getting that rush."

Tweeker 3: I've done a gram in one day. I don't know if it is because it wasn't working like it should or if it was because I was just brain damaged.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 15, 2012 9:06 AM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Small Satori: (a+b)²=a²+2ab+b² - But Why?

I was taught it until I knew it well enough to parrot it, but I never knew why. Until now.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 14, 2012 9:55 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Heart in Hands


Don't go under the sheets
Under a tree
In the rain and snow
I'll be your fireside
Come running to me
When things get out of hand
Running to me
When it's more than you can stand

I said I'm strong
To be a shelter
In a storm
Your willow
Oh willow
When the sun is out

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 13, 2012 10:01 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Whitney: Didn't We Almost Have It All? (1987)

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 11, 2012 6:04 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Facebook Parenting:" 3 4 Days, 15 19 Million Views, 100,000 Comments

Well, this seems to have touched a nerve.

"That right there is your laptop. You see it right there on the ground. This right here... is my 45.

"That was the first round. These are exploding hollow point rounds, and you have to pay me back for these too, because these are a dollar apiece.

"1,2,3,4,5,6... Oh yeah, after that comment you made about your mom your mom told me to put one there for her. So that one's from her and if i got one left.... Oh I got two left... Now I'm out....

"So, just for the record, whenever you're not grounded --whatever year that happens to be -- you can have a new laptop when you buy a new laptop.... and when you pay me back the $128 I spent on your laptop yesterday."
Now playing at:Facebook Parenting: For the troubled teen. - YouTube

UPDATE: Attention Media Outlets "If we have anything to say, we'll say it here on Facebook, and we'll say it publicly, but we won't say it to a microphone or a camera. There are too many other REAL issues out there that could use this attention you're giving us. My daughter isn't hurt, emotionally scarred, or otherwise damaged, but that kind of publicity has never seemed to be to have a positive effect on any child or family." [HT: Joan]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 11, 2012 9:40 AM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Conservative American Hallucinations #1: Reversing Illegal Immigration


American conservatives during the run-up to elections love to diddle themselves silly with all sorts of waking hallucinations about just what, for once, a really, really conservative candidate could do when finally elected president. These silly, silly people actually think that conservatism as a dreamscape can reverse the reality of decades of hard work on the part of the American left. One of the most cherished hallucinations of these couch dwelling conservatives is the idea that a pure conservative president can actually stop and then somehow reverse illegal immigration. To this proposition the most concise, rational response is, "Har-de-har-har."

I know that, like visions of sugarplums, visions of some sort of "fence" protecting America from the hordes of marching Mexicans dance in the heads of Americans who just want them all to turn around and march back. Alas, that thought can just be filed under, "It Ain't Gonna Happen."

As a rabid reactionary who is sometimes mistaken for a conservative, I know, believe me, all the designs for a kinder and gentler fence that will have hi-tech detectors and some sort of ready interdiction corps sitting on helicopter scramble pads across the southern border. I know all the arguments for expanding the ever-so-effective techniques used to stop the flow of illegal drugs to stop the flow of illegal aliens. None of these will prove any more effective than "The War on Some Drugs" we've be squandering billions on over the decades.

What would work would be some sort of East German wall 1,969 miles long. This monstrosity would have guard towers, mine fields, attack Dobermans, armored cars, and about 100,000 armed border guards with a shoot on sight policy (3 shifts of 17 guards per mile). After around 3,000 Mexican civilians were shot dead, this might have some effect on reducing the flow. I'm not quite ready for this draconian a solution. Are you?

Then there is the extended policy of finding those illegals already here and then, well, "Just deport them!"

Another 25-watt idea.

Deportation? Okay let's follow that concept home with the vision of hundreds of buses chock full of thousands of illegals (rounded up in armed swoops through the US barrios) departing daily for Juarez, Tijuana and all points south. To begin this process you actually have to get the said illegal Mexicans on the fleets of buses. Right? Right.

The first problem is finding and then imprisoning said illegals. That would mean raids into homes and apartment buildings around the country as well as stop and frisk identity checks on the street for the freshly minted crime of "looking Mexican." Then you'll have to refurbish those Japanese internment camps in the Owens valley and elsewhere as holding pens. Think the Manzanar Concentration Camp to the 10th power on the outskirts of every major American city. You start opening those up and the actual deportation Mexicans are going to be the least of your problems.

Your more immediate problem is going to be armed resistance in most of your major cities. Unlike cowed white people, Mexicans will not go gentle into that old blight. Male members of La Raza are not known for their submissiveness. The females are pretty tough too. No, not many of official armed roundups would be met with a tug of the forelock submission. This assumes that in said cities where you'd want the 'roundups' to take place you can get a trust-worthy fraction of the police departments (notable fraction is Hispanic) or a trust-worthy fraction of the Army and National Guard (notable fraction is Hispanic) to go along with the policy.

When attempting to implement fascist policies, it is best to remember that America is, first and foremost, a heavily armed country -- especially in the barrios. Are you ready for gun fights in cities across the US? I'm not sure I am. But that's what we'd get since many illegals, faced with internment and deportation on a mass scale, would decide they "don't got to show you no steenking badges."

Next, let's suppose that somehow the "roundups" succeeded but only after countless "regrettable" deaths (Each one of which is given the full "Pobre Maria Treatment" on NPR and in the New York Times. Yes, your head will explode.). Then let's suppose that after these deaths hundreds of thousands of Mexicans did indeed show up at the border one fine day in surplus Greyhound buses. (Don't kid yourself, we're going to need a lot of buses.) What if Mexico decided, "Hey, we don't recognize any of these people as ours, and just what do you mean 'looks' Mexican? We're the Mexican government/oligarchy and we've looked Castilian Caucasian Spanish for over three centuries."

Are we then going to use the armed forces to force Mexico to take back their huddled masses? And even if they did, do we really want a country as corrupt and unstable as Mexico to become even more unstable?

If you want to see a wall come up on the southern border overnight, just wait until a full-scale revolution breaks out in Mexico. Think "American Civil War" X 2 with automatic weapons and plastique explosives. If one side wins you get Nazi Germany to the south. If the other side wins you get Communist China during "The Great Leap Forward." Neither is what you'd call a "desirable outcome."

Either will make you wish for the status quo ante when decent yard work and tasty tacos everywhere were a staple of American life.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 10, 2012 1:04 PM | Comments (33)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bill Whittle: Why We Suck

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 10, 2012 9:08 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Beethoven's 5 Secrets

"Don't just practice your art. Force your way into its secrets." -- Beethovan

[Thanks, Bruce]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 9, 2012 4:32 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Find a Need and Fill It"


From "drive-by" to "drive-through." The phrase "located in Compton" is, shall we say, a dead giveaway: Inside LA's drive-thru (and bulletproof) funeral home

"The mortuary, located in Compton, claims to offer an efficient way for prominent members of the community to be viewed en masse. Elderly who have a hard time walking don't have to leave their cars. One possible reason for the drive-thru's success could stem back to the 1980s, when Compton was a hotbed for gang violence. The LA Times reported that cemetery shootouts made gang members reluctant to gather for graveside services. And since the glass partition of the Robert L. Adam's funeral parlor is bulletproof, it became a popular location for gang funerals."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 9, 2012 11:00 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Go Ahead. Make My Halftime..." Eastwood and Obama Get Theirs Today from Limbaugh

"Here's the pitch. He swings. It's a long one..... a long one..... it's..... OUTAHERE!"


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 7, 2012 10:21 AM | Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Street Legal Objets d'Art: The Derelicts by ICON

"The Derelicts by ICON are known for being vintage classics refashioned into stylish modern vehicles. The hand made classics are one offs that boast a fully patina'd exterior. Jonathan Ward's upgrades and attention combined with a modern Art Morrison powder-coated chassis, unique interiors, and all new electrical components are what make the Derelicts so desirable. The 1952 Chevy Deluxe Business Man's coupe has a 430hp Camaro 6.2 LS3 engine while the 1952 Chrysler Town and Country custom wagon has a DeSoto front end with the power from a late model Hemi engine." -- Via eGarage - VIDEO

Here's more detail on one of the derelicts, a 52 Chevy coupe that is nearly identical to one that I owned in 1970. Could be the same one. I think I sold it for $250.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 6, 2012 9:20 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Littlest Ice Age: Europeans Beg for the Return of "Global Warming"

Severe cold continues in Europe

"A man walks past an ice covered car on the frozen waterside promenade at Lake Geneva in Versoix, near Geneva, Switzerland, early Feb. 5. The death toll from the vicious cold snap across Europe has risen to more than 260, with the winter misery set to hit thousands of those seeking to escape it as air traffic was hit."

How cold is the Winter of 2010-2011 in Great Britain and Ireland? Well, it has been "referred to as The Big Freeze by national media. In the UK it was the coldest December ever, since Met Office records began in 1910, with a mean temperature of -1°C. It broke the previous record of 0.1°C in December 1981."

And it obviously broke records for cold set before the "Met Office records began in 1910" as indicated in this souvenir:


Or this bookplate made in 1740,


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 5, 2012 7:40 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"We declare him ... anathema; we judge him damned!" -- If the Catholic Church Had Any Stones Left This Is What You'd See at Sunday Services This Week

"In that Obama has rendered no act of contrition or repentance, and is at the moment, at liberty in the land, we do, here and now, separate him from the precious body and blood of Christ, and from the society of all Christians. We exclude him from our Holy Mother Church and all her sacraments, in heaven, or on Earth. We declare him excommunicate and anathema. We cast him into the outer darkness. We judge him damned with the devil and his fallen angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire and everlasting pain!"

HT: Mabuse

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 4, 2012 11:05 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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