Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Something Wonderful: "American Shokunin"

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

Shokunin (Sho-koo-neen)

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




Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 28, 2015 10:55 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Live Long and Prosper: Leonard Nimoy Passes

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 27, 2015 11:13 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Johnny Cash Would Be 83 Today

"And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:
One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see." And I saw.
And behold, a white horse."

"The Man Comes Around" is a song that I wrote, it's my song of the apocalypse, and I got the idea from a dream that I had — I dreamed I saw Queen Elizabeth. I dreamed I went in to Buckingham Palace, and there she sat on the floor. And she looked up at me and said, "Johnny Cash, you're like a thorn tree in a whirlwind." And I woke up, of course, and I thought, what could a dream like this mean? Thorn tree in a whirlwind? Well, I forgot about it for two or three years, but it kept haunting me, this dream. I kept thinking about it, how vivid it was, and then I thought, Maybe it's biblical. So I found it. Something about whirlwinds and thorn trees in the Bible. So from that, my song started and..." -- Johnny Cash

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 27, 2015 9:06 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How Cold Is It? The Ocean Has Turned Into a Slurpee.


With that wonderful dead crab and wet kelp flavor.

Giant Frozen Waves Infused with Ice Slowly Roll in off the Coast of NantucketEarlier this week photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh was walking along the coast of Nantucket when he noticed something odd about the waves crashing on shore. The high temperature was 19°F (-7.2°C) and while the waves weren’t completely frozen, they were thick with pieces of ice, much like the consistency of a Slurpee, or an slushy, or an ICEE, or whatever.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 27, 2015 8:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"As I was saying...." The Human Waste Map That Is San Francisco


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 27, 2015 3:00 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Totalitarian Mind


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

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

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

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

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

The wilful filling off a gear teeth, the wilful doing without certain obvious pieces of information -

That was how a household as contradictory as one composed of Jones, Father Keeley, Vice-Bundesfuehrer Krapptauer, and the Black Fuehrer could exist in relative harmony -

That was how my father-in-law could contain in one mind an indifference toward slave women and love for a a blue vase -

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

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

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

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 26, 2015 10:03 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Huckleberry Finn is 130 Years Old


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

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

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

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

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

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 26, 2015 4:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Is Zero Even? "I think the answer is 'No' but it feels like it is because it's round."

If you focus you can follow. And it will stretch your mind in a good way.

Special added attraction: The Problems with Zero...


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 26, 2015 12:53 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
George W. Bush Predicts ISIS In 2007

"A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house."

HT: Morgan @ House of Eratosthenes

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 25, 2015 10:16 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Pictures of the Gone World: Modern Amoeba, 1947


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

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

Full interior:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 24, 2015 10:36 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Random Kayak Karnage

Explain to me, once again, the mystical allure of this "sport."

Love that "[Stay Safe]" at the end.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 23, 2015 10:10 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How It's Made: BOOZE!

AKA 'The Compendium of Alcohol Ingredients and Processes'

Yeah. Right.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 23, 2015 9:40 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dwarves on Jeb Bush: Dead Man Running


From today's @NYDailyNews For real.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 23, 2015 6:04 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Things We Do Not Say:" 150 Journalism Cliches

"Identifying journalistic cliches has become a favorite Washington parlor game. But might it not also open a rare window onto the struggles of writers and editors trying to think outside the box?"

At first glance (or worse, “at first blush”)

As a nation (or worse, “as a society”)

Upon deeper reflection (why not reflect deeply from the start?)

Observers (unless referring to people actually sitting around watching something)

[Person] is not alone (from anecdote to generalization, we get it)

And [someone/something] is no exception

Pundits say

Critics say (or “critics are quick to point out”)

The American people (unless in a quote)

The narrative (unless referring to a style of writing)

Probe (an uncomfortable substitute for “investigation”)

Opens/offers a rare window (unless it is a real window that is in fact unusual)

Begs the question (unless used properly – and so rarely used properly that it’s not worth the trouble)

Be that as it may

If you will (actually, I won’t)

A cautionary tale

Cautiously optimistic (h/t @daviduberti)

Needless to say (then don’t say it)


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 23, 2015 9:16 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
23 February 1945: U.S. Marines raise the flag on Mount Suribach

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

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

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


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

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

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

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 22, 2015 9:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Happy Birthday Mr. President


"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty." -- Avalon Project - Washington's Farewell Address 1796


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 22, 2015 4:35 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Beware of False Prophets: Matthew 7: 15-27


The Bible Isn'€™t a Self-Help Book, Despite What Your Megachurch Pastor Might Tell You Feel good! Be happy! Be nice!

There you go. I just summed up the message that millions of Christians will be hearing at the megachurches of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and many others this weekend. If you were planning to go, now there’s no need.  You’re welcome. In fact, if you'€™re driving there and you see a "€œDon'€™t worry, be happy"€ bumper sticker on the back of someone'€™s minivan, you might as well turn around and head home. That'€™s about all you were going to hear when you got there anyway. Sure, they might come up with more compelling ways to communicate it, but in the end, when you dig past the charisma and the personality of the pastors who utter this gibberish, this is all you'€™re really left with. An episode of Barney. Syrup and sugar. A smile and a pat on the head. A self-help speech." -- Matt Walsh

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.


26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 22, 2015 12:01 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
There is an entrenched view among many Westerners that Islam has been hijacked by radicals.


"Moderate Muslim reformers have no such reality. There is no "peaceful" Islam to return to. Muslims who value modern notions of human rights and liberty must work counter to their prophet, they must, in fact, reject his example. They have no "Jesus" to follow. Their prophet is a barbaric sadist. Their early texts are a prescription for human rights abuses, for war, and for utter and total domination of others. There early deeds are conquest, pillage, and the subjugation of all their neighbours. Islam was born of war and violence. Since there is no peaceful Islam for reformers to go back to, it can be argued that truly devout Muslims are those we Westerners wrongly call radicals ( al quaida, ISIS), for they seek the supremacist Islam of Muhammad and are truly not radicals at all; while in reality the actual "radicals" are those who seek to reform Islam into something more compatible with Western ideals of liberty and freedom. Islam that conforms to Western notions of human liberty is radical; Islam that is violently supremacist is traditional." Celestial Junk: Why Moderate Muslims Have Such a Steep Hill to Climb

Case in Point: The Black Stone


"Its softness and moisture were such that the sinner would never remove his mouth from it, which phenomenon made the Prophet declare it to be the covenant of Allah on earth." - Ibn Jubayr


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 21, 2015 11:20 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
New York Daily News Wins "Front Page of the Decade So Far" Award


Rudy Giuliani: In your heart you know he's right.

Megyn Kelly asked His Honor,

"Mr. Mayor, do you want to apologize for your comments?"

Rudy Giuliani replied:

"Not at all. I want to repeat it. The reality is from all that can see of this president, all that I’ve heard of him, he apologizes for America, he criticizes America. He talks about the crusades and how the Christians were barbarians, leaves out the second half of the sentence that the Muslims were barbarians also. He sees Christians slaughtered and doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference, although we hold a press conference for the situation in Ferguson. He sees Jews being killed for anti-Semitic reasons. Doesn’t stand up and hold a press conference. This is an American president I’ve never seen before." -- Don Surber: Libs who mock patriotism, shocked that Obama's is questioned

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 21, 2015 9:02 AM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Stock Oscars

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

Created entirely with Dissolve stock footage.

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

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

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 20, 2015 1:43 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tweet of the Month!


In which Stephen Miller shamelessly references Ruprecht in one of my favorite all time comedies, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels:


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 20, 2015 12:34 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The purer the religion, the more dangerous."


From British historian Paul Johnson ’s “Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties” (1983):

Men who carry through political revolutions seem to be of two main types, the clerical and the romantic. Lenin (he adopted the pen-name in 1901) was from the first category. Both his parents were Christians. Religion was important to him, in the sense that he hated it. Unlike Marx, who despised it and treated it as marginal, Lenin saw it as a powerful and ubiquitous enemy. He made clear in many writings (his letter to Gorky of 13 January 1913 is a striking example) that he had an intense personal dislike for anything religious. ‘There can be nothing more abominable,’ he wrote, ‘than religion.’ From the start, the state he created set up and maintains to this day an enormous academic propaganda machine against religion. He was not just anti-clerical like Stalin, who disliked priests because they were corrupt. On the contrary, Lenin had no real feelings about corrupt priests, because they were easily beaten. The men he really feared and hated, and later persecuted, were the saints. The purer the religion, the more dangerous. A devoted cleric, he argued, is far more influential than an egotistical and immoral one. The clergy most in need of suppression were not those committed to the defence of exploitation but those who expressed their solidarity with the proletariat and the peasants. It was as though he recognized in the true man of God the same zeal and spirit which animated himself, and wished to expropriate it and enlist it in his own cause. No man personifies better the replacement of the religious impulse by the will to power. In an earlier age, he would surely have been a religious leader. With his extraordinary passion for force, he might have figured in Mohammed ’s legions. He was even closer perhaps to Jean Calvin, with his belief in organizational structure, his ability to create one and then dominate it utterly, his puritanism, his passionate self-righteousness, and above all his intolerance.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 19, 2015 7:25 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
This Is the Time of the Moon God

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.

All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.

All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.

All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.

All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.

All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 19, 2015 1:02 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why does anyone even start to argue with the anti-vaccine people?


Results in. Case closed. Move on.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 19, 2015 10:43 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
If We Believed in Omens....

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

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

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 18, 2015 11:36 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mike Rowe on A Pencil


Kyle Smith writes...

Howard Dean recently criticized Gov Scott Walker for never finishing college, stating that he was "unknowledgeable." What would your response be on college as a requirement for elected office?

Hi Kyle

Back in 1990, The QVC Cable Shopping Channel was conducting a national talent search. I had no qualifications to speak of, but I needed a job, and thought TV might be a fun way to pay the bills. So I showed up at The Marriott in downtown Baltimore with a few hundred other hopefuls, and waited for a chance to audition. When it was my turn, the elevator took me to the top floor, where a man no expression led me into a suite and asked me to take a seat behind a large desk. Across from the desk, there was a camera on a tripod. On the desk was a digital timer with an LED display. I took a seat as the man clipped a microphone on my shirt and explained the situation.

“The purpose of this audition is to see if you can talk for eight minutes without stuttering, blathering, passing out, or throwing up. Any questions?”

“What would you like me to talk about,” I asked.

The man pulled a pencil from behind his ear and rolled it across the desk. “Talk to me about that pencil. Sell it. Make me want it. But be yourself. If you can do that for eight minutes, the job is yours. Ok?”

I looked at the pencil. It was yellow. It had a point on one end, and an eraser on the other. On the side were the words, Dixon Ticonderoga Number 2 SOFT.

“Ok,” I said.

The man set the timer to 8:00, and walked behind the tripod. He pressed a button and a red light appeared on the camera. He pressed another button and the timer began to count backwards. “Action,” he said. I picked up the pencil and started talking.

“Hi there. My name’s Mike Rowe, and I only have eight minutes to tell you why this is finest pencil on Planet Earth. So let’s get right to it.”

I opened the desk drawer and found a piece of hotel stationary, right where I hoped it would be. I picked up the pencil and wrote the word, QUALITY in capital letters. I held the paper toward the camera.

“As you can plainly see, The #2 Dixon Ticonderoga leaves a bold, unmistakable line, far superior to the thin and wispy wake left by the #3, or the fat, sloppy skid mark of the unwieldy #1. Best of all, the Ticonderoga is not filled with actual lead, but “madagascar graphite,” a far safer alternative for anyone who likes to chew on their writing implements.”

To underscore the claim, I licked the point. I then discussed the many advantages of the Ticonderoga’s color.

“A vibrant yellow, perfectly suited for an object that needs to stand out from the clutter of a desk drawer.” ....

Read the rest of this startling essay at Mike Rowe's Facebook Page

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 17, 2015 10:37 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "The Times They Are A Changing" and "Chimes of Freedom" Originals and Variations

What can I say? We had nice ideals.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 17, 2015 10:06 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Updating Orwell [2007 - 2015]


"They say the next big thing is here,
that the revolution's near,
but to me it seems quite clear
that it's all just a little bit of history repeating."

Reading through George Orwell's essay of 1941, The Lion and the Unicorn, I came across the passage quoted below. Updating it was a simple matter of "Search and Replace" commands for a few words, deleting 8 and adding 12. Other than that, it reads like it was written yesterday on any one of 15,365,763 conservative blogs.

I omit this blog because, to paraphrase Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia:

Officer: Lawrence, you're conservative, I shall put you under arrest.
Lawrence: It's my manner.
Officer: Your what?
Lawrence: My manner. It looks conservative,but it isn't.
Disclaimer done, I turn to Orwell writing from the depths of the Second World War in 1941. As I said, only lightly touched with Search and Replace.

The mentality of the American left-wing intelligentsia can be studied in half a dozen weekly and monthly surviving newspapers, five cable channels, and 15,365,764 blogs. The immediately striking thing about all these info-dumps is their generally negative, querulous attitude, their complete lack at all times of any constructive suggestion. There is little in them except the irresponsible carping of people who have never been and never expect to be in a position of power.

Another marked characteristic is the emotional shallowness of people who live in a world of ideas and have little contact with physical reality. Many intellectuals of the Left were flabbily pacifist up to 2001, shrieked for war against Islam in the years 2001-2, and then promptly cooled off when the Iraq war started. It is broadly though not precisely true that the people who were most 'anti-Fascist' during the Bosnian Civil War are most defeatist now. And underlying this is the really important fact about so many of the American intelligentsia—their severance from the common culture of the country.

In intention, at any rate, the American intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from The New York Times.

In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island off the coast of New Jersey of dissident thought. America is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an American and that it is a duty to snigger at every American institution, from Nascar to Wal*Mart.

It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any American intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during 'The Star Spangled Banner' than hiring an illegal alien to do their laundry at $3.00 an hour.

All through the critical years many left-wingers were chipping away at American morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Muslim, but always anti-Bush.

It is questionable how much effect this had, but it certainly had some.

If the American people suffered for several years a real weakening of morale, so that the Fascist nations judged that they were 'decadent' and that it was safe to plunge into war, the intellectual sabotage from the Left was partly responsible. Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times cried out against the Iraq War, but even they had done something to make it possible. Five years of systematic Bush-baiting affected even the Bushs themselves and made it harder than it had been before to get intelligent young men to enter the armed forces. Given the spiritual stagnation of the country, the military middle class must have decayed in any case, but the spread of a shallow Leftism hastened the process.

It is clear that the special position of the American intellectuals during the past ten years, as purely negative creatures, mere anti-Bushs, was a by-product of ruling-class stupidity.

Society could not use them, and they had not got it in them to see that devotion to one's country implies 'for better, for worse'. Both Republicans and Democrats in the ruling circles took for granted, as though it were a law of nature, the divorce between patriotism and intelligence. If you were a patriot you read Fox News and publicly thanked God that you were 'not brainy'. If you were an intellectual you sniggered at the stars and stripes and regarded physical courage as barbarous.

It is obvious that this preposterous convention cannot continue. The post-sixties boomer highbrow, with his mechanical snigger, is as out-of-date as the career Pentagon desk jockey. A modern nation cannot afford either of them. Patriotism and intelligence will have to come together again. It is the fact that we are fighting a war, and a very peculiar kind of war, that may make this possible.


Posted by Vanderleun Feb 17, 2015 8:33 AM | Comments (47)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Spins and Wins, Bumps and Jumps, Rides and Slides, Hicks and Pix, Slo-Mo and No-Mo, and Selfie-Sticks

Human beings...... "Nothing like us ever was..."

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

-- Carl Sandburg: Four Preludes to Playthings of the Winds


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 15, 2015 2:41 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Last Light


How, when my emerald voices pray
In the crystal heart, and the bright chimes
Sound along the shoals of day,
Shall I not hunt among the stones
To touch Your shadowed silent lips,
And listen in my vaults of bone
To those wave-shattered psalms of sea
That promise soon, O my bright shade!,
The flame that bends my soul to Thee?

For is not prayer that trace of flame,
That sign seen once in silhouette
Between the edge of stars and earth,
That place where winds on water step?

And if I read in heaven pale
These ancient signs, these lines on slate,
That in translation tell Your tale
As if Your tale was burned in bone,
And kept in halls of bronze and stone,
Would I then touch Your fading face
No man can read or waking see?
Would you emerge from stone to say
Our history begins today?

I speak, I know, I know, at slant,
And seldom cleave the circle straight,
But Your geometries enchant,
While I stand frozen at Your gate.

Yet still I sense such centers touch,
As deep as senses hope to know,
In this rose room that hovers high
Above all memory of snow.

And so above the ocean I,
Released from life, from earth entire,
Relive within this room of steel
The ashen memory of Your fire.
That in such mansions once I slept,
Most fortunate of all blessed men,
And breathed Your breath,
Embraced Your heart,
That my stilled heart might beat again.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 15, 2015 2:21 AM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on.

This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies:

government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary abuse of power is called observing the legal code; the repression of culture is called its development; the expansion of imperial influence is presented as support for the oppressed; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy; banning independent thought becomes the most scientific of world views; military occupation becomes fraternal assistance. Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.
{10} Individuals need not believe all these mystifications, but they must behave as though they did, or they must at least tolerate them in silence, or get along well with those who work with them. For this reason, however, they must live within a lie. They need not accept the lie. It is enough for them to have accepted their life with it and in it. For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system.
-- Vaclav Havel "The Power of the Powerless" (1978)


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 13, 2015 12:51 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Cremains of the Day: Items Still on the Obamatrons' To-Do List


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With full-funding and draconian enforcement (which may or may not extend to mass sterilizations), the Democrats have no doubt that they can create the new Americans volk, the UberUniRace, within a decade -- especially if they offer free-sex weekends to selected teenagers during the school year in the gym. To ensure an optimum mix of breeding stock, bussing will be employed between such areas as Beverly Hills and South Central. To ensure that "race-neutral" breeding takes place as scheduled, fully-qualified members of the National Teachers Union will be paid double-time to oversee and instruct these "Prom" replacement festivals.

4. The Dynamic Diversity Extreme Blowout Bill (DDEB): Here we would take a privilege previously reserved for the Democratic Hollywood elite and extend it to the Democratic Party masses via 3rd world baby adoption with a tax rebate. With two 3rd world baby adoptions in a year, you would get a five-year tax holiday. With three you would get egg roll.

5. The Be-Kind to Border Jumpers Bill (BKBJ): To replace the millions of Democratic voters sadly culled by the D&C’s of the MA1.5 bill, illegal aliens, regardless of country of origin as long as they are south of the Nordic belt, will receive a Diversity's Kidz Wavier (DKW) that requires them to have 5 to 12 children, and pays them a monthly bonus of 5,000 Obamabucks per baby.

6. The Family Uberesteem Conjugal Klan Statute ("FUCKS" also known as "On Beyond Rosie O'Donnell"): As the Democrats' definition of "Family" expands to encompass everything on the North American continent up to and including the caribou herds roaming the Alaskan tundra, it will be important for them not to just legislate animals but to educate them as well.

After a long-overdue purge of local school boards and National Teachers Association recidivists, this act mandates hands-on kindergarten sex education from trained professional molesters who have previously been forbidden to live with 2,000 yards of a school.

In order to bring pride back to the millions of single mothers of five under the age of 20, the word 'bastard' shall be expunged from all dictionaries and literature, to be replaced with "village child."

Circumcision will be defined in said dictionaries and literature as "child abuse, no religious excuses, get over it." Previously circumcised citizens of the demonstrably male persuasion who feel cut off from their foreskins will be given, upon signing a pledge to vote Democrat, $250,000 grants to have replacement foreskins regrown at the FedStem tissue banks and reattached through the miracles of microsurgery. Should the procedure cost less, the grant recipients may either elect to spend the money on a boy-finding trip to Brunai or have a couple of extra inches tacked on.

7. The Comprehensive Anticipatory Child Care Act (CACCA): Given the well-known levels of stress and undue expense involved in raising a child, any parent may, upon application and proof of a solid Democratic voting record, have the child removed from the home and stored in a government approved "Foster Child Care Farm."

These institutions shall be established in the homes of or on property confiscated from, any American shown to have voted Republican -- federal, state, or local -- since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

8. The Dress for Survival Act (DFSA): "Stop that running! You'll put your eye out! Don't play in the street! Watch it! Watch it!" Who among us has not felt compelled to crush our child's spiritl with this kind of unfeeling and emotional criticism? And yet, children continue to be killed, maimed or get a boo-boo every day. With the passage of the DFSA this will come to a halt as all American children when exiting the bed will be required to don full-body Eddy Murphy-certified fat suits to prevent any injury whatsoever. The cost for this program will not create any new personal taxes because it will be funded by a 120% tax on oil-company profits.

9. The Four Non-polluting Wheels for All Program (FNPWA): Bicycles? Two wheels? You've got to be kidding. Millions of accidents waiting to happen. With the onset of FNPWA all bicycles will be confiscated and placed into our newly un-dammed ("Free!") rivers as fish habitats. Every American, at birth, will be issued a quadracycle (with basket) for their errands. The quadracycles will also involve no new taxes as they will also be funded by a second 100% tax on all oil-company revenues left after the previous tax on 120% of their profits.

10. The Traditional Family Readjustment Act (TFRA): In keeping with the goals of "The Family Esteem Statute," the words "mother" and "father" and their derivatives in daily speech are to be replaced by first names of parents (if both are known) or, “Hey, you, yes, you asshole” if unknown. In addition, the Fifth Commandment shall be expunged from all present and future Holy Books, as will all similar religious references to "Honoring thy father and thy mother" unless found in the Koran .

11. The You're Not the Boss of Me Bill (YNBOM): Criticizing, looking sternly at, correcting, or in any way reducing a child's beautifully natural self-esteem from infancy to 35 years of age shall be a misdemeanor. Touching a child with corrective intent shall be a felony. As a bonus, this extends to any handling of the child's feces. Both will be subsumed under the new law informally known as "No Child's Behind."

12. The Universal Marriage of Everything to Everything Act (UME): Men, women, dogs, cats, goats, or Barbra Streisand in that hideous Focker movie. We don't care. If you can fondle it you can marry it. Complaints or whining about this fundamental fundamental will be punishable by summary execution, the better to cull the herd.

13. The Divorce with Benefits Act (DWB): Except upon proof of the murder of a spouse, all Divorces shall be no fault, but must be adjudicated as no-fault to a minimum of $50,000 in legal fees to be paid in the absence of any work whatsoever so that Trial Lawyers’ feelings are not hurt by this ruling.

Gay divorces, should one ever actually occur, are exempt from the monetary awards of this act, but all window-treatments shall be divided equally along with the Spode China -- so buy the 12 place set. For the first five years of this act, all gay divorces (should any ever actually occur) will be required to be done on a TV reality show so that Judge Judy not profit from this act.

Upon hetero or bi-sexual divorce, being declared officially to be no-fault on the part of any individual no matter how many people shall have been in the marriage, any male involved in the divorce shall be required to pay to any designated female involved in the no fault divorce (should there actually be any females in the marriage in the first place), a minimum of 60% of his before tax income calculated backwards to the date of the first kiss in the relationship that would later become marriage.

Should 1.5 children have arisen from the Union before the mandatory abortions kicked in, the father shall pay a total of 40% of his before tax income to towards the care of those children until they reach the age of 35.

Should the female remarry and bear any children to the next husband, the husband of the first marriage shall be required to pay 10% of his before tax income to the children of the second marriage since the female never would have had them if he hadn't been such a bastard in the first place.

Alimony and support provisions shall be waived of any couple, or pairing of species, that shall have split up without being married since the circumstances of their birth and ancestry doubtless compelled them to live in such a way.

Any children fathered out-of-wedlock in the United States shall be considered for inclusion, at the mother's whim, in a Foster Child Care Farm (see above) and endowed with a trust-fund of no less than $3,000,000 from the moment of conception at the expense of taxpayers with no knowledge of the child whatsoever.

Until they reach the age of consent, now reduced to 10 years of age, all the interest from said trust fund shall be paid in monthly installments to the birth mother. At the age of consent, the principle of the trust fund will be passed to the 10 year old child to do with as he or she or it sees fit, while the birth mother shall receive a one-time balloon payment of $500,000 tax-free.

Nothing in these bills shall be construed to represent an attack on Marriage, which the Democratic party still holds to be a sacred union between any one warm-blooded multi-cellular life form and another, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, gender (assumed or assigned) and species. Mammal to fish, reptile to insect or Michelle Obama to banana marriage is still outlawed under these provisions because you simply must draw a line somewhere.

14. The Spiritual Revivification and Normalization Constitutional Amendment (SPANCA): To eliminate all future arguments about "The Family" and other contentious questions about which religion is "best," all children born after the passage of these bills will be sent to one church and one church only, "The First Unitarian Church of the Agnostic Atheist." Only Muslim children will be exempted this necessary adjustment to their spiritual psyches since, well, they have suffered enough.

Please review these still-outstanding items on the Obamatron to-do list and prepare yourselves. Lock and load or lubricate. The choice is still, for the moment, yours.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 13, 2015 12:11 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hitler Finds Out About Brian Williams: "You're a prompter monkey. Just say what we tell you!"

"You don't 'misremember' getting shot in the ass with a rocket!"

HT: Never Yet Melted The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted. — D.H. Lawrence

PS: Wait for it.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 12, 2015 6:53 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "Stop in the Name of Love" is 50 Years Old


The Supremes recorded "Stop! In the Name of Love!" in January 1965 and released as a single on February 8.

I've known of your
Your secluded nights
I've even seen her
Maybe once or twice
But is her sweet expression
Worth more than my love and affection?
But this time before you leave my arms
And rush of to her charms
(Think it over) haven't i been good to you?
(Think it over) haven't i been sweet to you?

Stop! in the name of love
Before you break my heart
Stop! in the name of love
Before you break my heart
Think it over
Think it over


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 10, 2015 2:12 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: End of the Line

And remember.....

"Well it's all right, even if they say you're wrong
Well it's all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
Well it's all right, As long as you got somewhere to lay
Well it's all right, everyday is Judgment Day

Maybe somewhere down the road aways
You'll think of me, wonder where I am these days
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays....
Purple haze"


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 10, 2015 12:39 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Updated: There's No Stopping the Brian Williams Testimonials Now!

A lie which shall live in infamy!

By our Infamous commenter Mumblix Grumph

HT top vid: Never Yet Melted]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 9, 2015 12:31 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Low, Short, and Squatty:" Great Moments in Entertainment

I think there's raunchy sub-text going on here, but I'm not sure I want to know exactly what it is.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 9, 2015 11:59 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Circle Game / Tom Rush

The circle game | Power Line

“They used to tell me I sounded old. Now I sound young,” he said. I asked him if he thought he’d still be performing for a living 50 years after he took it up. “No,” he laughed. “When I started doing this it was the path of least resistance. I graduated with a degree in English literature that had no career path attached. People were willing to pay me to sing and play guitar. I couldn’t figure out why.” He added: “I’m still trying to figure it out.” And he threw in this memory for good measure: “My mom always asked when I was going to get a real job.”

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
He caught a dragonfly inside a jar
And fearful when the sky was full of thunders
And tearful at the falling of a star.

And the seasons they go 'round and 'round
And the painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came
And go 'round and 'round in the circle game.

Then the child moved ten times 'round the seasons
And skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when youre older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams.

And sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
And they tell him : 'Take your time, it wont be long now'
'Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down'.

And the seasons they go 'round and 'round
The painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came
And go 'round and 'round in the circle game.

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.

And the seasons they go 'round and 'round
Painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We can't return, we can only look behind from where we came
And go 'round and 'round in the circle game
And go 'round and 'round
And go 'round and 'round in the circle game.

Geezer bonus track: Tom Rush, The Memory Song....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 8, 2015 2:01 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
UPDATED & BUMPED: Bruce Jenner to Sue General Mills Over Undisclosed Wheaties Side Effects


UPDATE: Bruce Jenner Involved In Fatal Car Accident | Truth Revolt

On Saturday, Jenner made the news again but for a very different reason, following a car accident he was involved in that resulted in one woman's death. Police are now reportedly investigating whether Jenner was texting when he rear-ended the vehicle of the victim.... Although it was initially reported that Jenner blamed chasing paparazzi for his driving, CNN cites Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department official Lt. John Lecrivain as stating that there was "no indication that Bruce Jenner was being chased by paparazzi at the time of the crash."

Of All The Days To Go Without A Bra

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 8, 2015 1:44 PM | Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Great Moments in Black History: Page One of the February 4, 2015 Edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Aftermath: After the cameras go away, the captains and the kings depart, and the news anchors go back to their lying ways in New York City, you still get to sit in the rubble and take a bus two miles for a quart of milk.

But, hey, you've made your gripes known.... enjoy!

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 8, 2015 11:29 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Unexpected Reunion By Johann Peter Hebel

(The story extolled by Kafka as the most wonderful story in the World)

At Falun in Sweden, a good fifty years ago, a young miner kissed his pretty young bride-to-be and said, ‘On the feast of Saint Lucia the parson will bless our love and we shall become man and wife and start a home of our own’. ‘And may peace and love dwell there with us’, said his lovely bride, and smiled sweetly, ‘for if you are everything to me, and without you I‘d sooner be in the grave than anywhere else’. ‘When however, before the feast of Saint Lucia, the parson had called out their names in the church for the second time: ‘If any of you know cause, or just hindrance, why these two persons should not get joined together in holy Matrimony’ -Death paid a call. For the next day when the young man passed her house in his black miner’s suit (a miner is always dressed ready for the funeral), he tapped at the window as usual and wished her good morning all right, but he did not wish her good evening. He did not return from the mine, and in vain that same morning she sewed a red border on a black neckerchief for him to wear on their wedding day, and when he did not come back she put it away, and she wept for him, and never forgot him.

In the meantime the city of Lisbon in Portugal was destroyed by an earthquake, the Seven Years War came and went, the Emperor Francis I died, the Jesuits were dissolved, Poland was partitioned, the Empress Maria Theresa died, and Struensee was executed, and America became independent, and the combined French and Spanish force failed to take the Gibraltar. The Turks cooped up General Stein in the Veterane Cave in Hungary, and the Emperor Joseph died too. King Gustavus of Sweden conquered Russian Finland ,the French Revolution came and the long war began, and the Emperor Leopold II was buried. Napoleon defeated Prussia, the English bombarded Copenhagen, and the farmers sowed and reaped. The millers ground the corn, the blacksmiths wielded their hammers, and the miners dug for seams of metal in their workplace under the ground.

But in 1809, within a day or two of the feast of Saint John, when the miners at Falun were trying to open up a passage between two shafts, they dug out from the rubble and the vitriol water, a good three hundred yards below the ground, the body of a young man soaked in ferrous vitriol but otherwise untouched by decay and unchanged, so that all his features and his age were still clearly recognizable, as if he had died only an hour before or had just nodded off at work. Yet when they brought him to the surface his father and mother and friends and acquaintances were all long since dead, and no one claimed to know the sleeping youth or to remember his misadventure, until the woman came who had once been promised to the miner who one day had gone below and had not returned. Grey and bent, she hobbled up on a crutch to where he lay and recognized her bridegroom, and more in joyous rapture than in grief, she sank down over the beloved corpse, and it was some time before she had recovered from her fervent emotion. ‘It is my betrothed’, she said at last, ‘whom I have mourned these past fifty years, and now God grants that I see him once more before I die. A week before our wedding, he went under ground and never came up again’. The hearts of all those there were moved to sadness and tears when they saw the former bride-to-be as an old woman whose beauty and strength had left her, and the groom still in the flower of his youth; and how the flame of young love was rekindled in her breast after fifty years, yet he did not open his mouth to smile , nor his eyes to recognize her; and how finally she, as the sole relative and the only person who had claim to him, had the miners carry him into her house until the grave was made ready for him in the churchyard.

The next day when the grave lay ready in the churchyard and the miners came to fetch him she opened a casket and put the black silk kerchief and red stripes on him, and then she went with him in her best Sunday dress, as if it were her wedding day, not the day of his burial. You see, as they lowered him into his grave in the churchyard she said, “Sleep well for another day or a week or so longer in your cold wedding bed, and don’t let time weigh heavy on you! I have only a few things left to do, and I shall join you soon, and soon the day will dawn’.

‘What the earth has given back once it will not withhold again at the final call’, she said as she went away and looked back over her shoulder once more.

(Translated by John Hibberd)

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 8, 2015 10:59 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
America Start Your Engines

"America it’s time for a gut check. If the founding fathers saw us holed up in our little cocoons…texting each other smiley faces they’d hang their powdered wigs in shame. When our idea of danger is eating gluten, there’s trouble afoot. Yes, we the people have gotten soft and all the likes in the world aren’t gonna’ save us now. But one thing will…and it rhymes with MASCAR."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 5, 2015 5:57 PM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
So you think you -- distantly and vaguely -- understand just a smidgen of what is going on in this society?

Think again and pay your Neptune Society membership in full.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 4, 2015 6:20 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Missile Guidance: How Does That Work Again?

HT: Maggie's Farm

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 4, 2015 1:41 PM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
At Lindbergh's Grave

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St. Louis from Roosevelt Field, near New York City, at 7:52 A.M. He landed at Le Bourget Field, near Paris, on May 21 at 10:21 P.M. Paris time (5:21 P.M. New York time).

"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."

-- Psalm 139

That long green swell that sears my eyes
As I drowse on this bed of black stones,
Is it the Irish coast rising in the dawn
Beyond the brushed silver of my cowling
Where, throughout the night, I trusted
Not in some desert God's directions,
But like all fools who dreamed my flight
In the calibrated compasses of man?

That rushing sound, is it the crowd at Le Bourget,
Swarming past the barriers and lights
To scavenge my Spirit; to lift me up
Into the air that only heroes breathe?
Or is it the age-old sigh of sea on stones,
Known to those who pace the shingle
And the swirled black sands that wrap
These impossible islands in a shawl of waves?

That painting daubed on the chapel's window --
Not the roselined mandala at Chartres
Where flame in glass misprisoned sings --
But a cruder Savior, bearded, browned, and popular;
An icon obtainable to plain sight, a trim God
Limned flat upon the glass in dull gesso,
And, when light moves behind it, looking down....
Is this the sign in which, at last, we conquer?


Conquer? I'd laugh the laugh of stones
Had I but eyes to see and lips to breathe.
No, I am content with my reduced cathedral
Here above the ocean where man and apes
Together waltzing lie, having done at last
With all horizons, having done at last with sky.

If you would see me now pass by
The small green church where ancient banyans
Bloom with shade and guard
The tower and the bell which you
May toll for you or me, or other souls
Not yet delivered to the stars and sea.

And then, retreating, mark the tree
Whose tendriled branches hold but air,
And shadow both the church and stones
Beneath which wait both apes and men
Who, foolish with their hunger for the air,
Swung branch to branch up all the eons
And, letting go at last, they learned --
Through my night's leap -- to rise.

Sea, stone, tree, ape and Savior:
These now my long companions are.
Better here, I think, in this dank green
Cartoon of Paradise, this slight-of-hand Eden;
Better here beneath the pumice stones
Where strangers drop a wreath a year.

Better in here deep than out there wide --
Hovering over the pillaring waves alone,
Suspended between the old world and the new,
Trusting in man's compass to guide me home;
Descending down the sharp cold blade of dawn.
Better, much better, in here at last to wait
In here where the shawl of the waves below
Enfolds that fire they could never snare.

         -- At the Palapala Ho'omau Church, Hana, Maui


Composed and photographs taken on site. Hana, 2003

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 4, 2015 10:54 AM | Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Incoming: "Media vita in morte sumus"

"Dramatic footage shot by an employee of the Taiwanese television station TVBS showed the moment TransAsia passenger plane turned on its side in midair, clipped an elevated roadway and then careered into a river shortly after takeoff from the island's capital of Taipei."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 4, 2015 7:06 AM | Comments (17)  | QuickLink: Permalink
News to Me

1) Parade Burgonet, bearing a fearsome lion’s visage on the visor. Made in Milan in the mid-16th century, the helmet belonged to Archduke Ferdinand II of Tyrol.


2) Los Angeles Photographer Discovers Skid Row’s Most Fashionable Residents OG, a famous Skid Row activist in Gladys Park


3) Iron Age shoes (ca. 400 BCE to 400 CE) found on body found in European bog.


4) Smart Pipe: Tomorrow's Pipe Today:

5) An Astounding History of Scientific Space Art from the Past 200 Years


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 3, 2015 1:51 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
News to Me

1) A Most Violent Year | NYC, 1981 | A Documentary Short

2) The Beatles' Rooftop Concert in 1969 This was their final public performance.


3) The nine teeth examined while studying fossils of unidentified hominins. Fossils May Belong To New Primitive Human Species


4) A Schiaparelli necklace of metal insects mounted on clear plastic from 1938. -- Collectors Weekly


5) A Soda Jerk And A Mormon Walk Into A Podcast.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 2, 2015 9:21 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"This Buds [Not] For You:"Attention Organic Sustainable Artisan Hipster Beer Brewers! Sit Down and Shut Up!

"Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale, we'll be brewing us some golden suds."

On an impulse I ordered a Budweiser with a burger just last week for the first time in years. Crisp, clean, smooth, simple, thirst-quenching, and surprisingly good.

Plus they got the Clydesdales.

And they also have puppies.

Better still they have Clydesdales AND puppies, and great 60 second stories....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 2, 2015 12:21 PM | Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Velveteen Hearts and Groundhog Day: How Movies Become Real

AMC-TV Viewing Schedule [HT: Donald Sensing]

If you're lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall I will catch you
I will be waiting
Time after time
-- Cyndi Lauper

You can set out to make “great art,” but that’s almost always the wrong tack. Set out in that direction and it usually won’t happen. You'll often end up having to come about on a lee shore. “Great art,” art that endures and grows over time, is almost always a gift. One of its hallmarks is that the creators really aren’t that aware of what they’re doing when they do it. Greater forces than individuals are at play when great art is made. It’s that kind of thing that sort of dawns on you in the classical sense of light coming up slowly out of the dark.

It’s that way with Groundhog Day. Slowly and yet surely this initially unassuming although initially successful film comedy has been revealing itself to be one of the greatest American films. It’s certain that none of the principles set out to make that happen no matter how much its director, Harold Ramis, might like that to be the case. With this film, unlike a number of others, the greatness of it occurs not only through its creation but from what its hundreds of millions of viewers help anneal to the film itself. It’s through this strange symbiosis between creators and audience that the film has become what it is today. It’s the Velveteen Rabbit effect.

In Margery Williams childrens' classic, The Velveteen Rabbit a toy rabbit becomes real through the love of the boy who owns the toy. With Groundhog Day, the film has become real through the love of the people who've seen it; many over and over again. To take another literary metaphor, the reality of Groundhog Day is like Topsy: "I s'pect I growed. Don't think nobody never made me.” No, nobody did. Everybody did.

There are lots of theories being tossed about concerning Groundhog Day. It seems that many philosophers and most major religions want to make the film their own:

In the years since its release the film has been taken up by Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, and followers of the oppressed Chinese Falun Gong movement. Meanwhile, the Internet brims with weighty philosophical treatises on the deep Platonist, Aristotelian, and existentialist themes providing the skin and bones beneath the film’s clown makeup.... Countless professors use it to teach ethics and a host of philosophical approaches. --A Movie for All Time - National Review Online

But that all seems to me to be just much of a muchness. Internet pundits, as well as pontifical human beings of all sorts, are famous for blowing things, simple things, all out of proportion.

To my mind, Groundhog Day is a great film because it is a simple film; because it takes up, once again, “the supreme theme of art and song” as stated clearly by Yeats:

Bodily decrepitude is wisdom; young
We loved each other and were ignorant.

After Long Silence

The film, of course, takes this insight and inverts it. Wisdom enough to love is allowed to come, finally, to Phil Connors after a long time spent in the same day. How long a time? That’s subject to some dispute, but the best estimate for the timespan of Groundhog Day is “eight years, eight months, and 16 days, based on him spending three years learning to play the piano, three years learning to ice sculpt, two years learning French, and six months learning to throw cards into a hat.”

It’s nice we have the Internet to help figure timelines like that out, but to me the "actual" time is also beside the point. The real point of Groundhog Day is that in life you will, sooner or later, have to learn to love, learn to really love, and the lesson on how to love will be repeated until you learn it.

How long is that?

As Groundhog Day shows us, and one of the reasons we continue to love it more, that particular length of time is “As. Long. As. It. Takes.”

Learning, at long, long last, to love is why people everywhere love this film. What makes it great, however, is that in the end we do in fact see Connors, and by extension ourselves, finally learn the lesson. We find that, in the end, after a long time, love arrives. Sometimes in just one day.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 2, 2015 11:52 AM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
School Daze: Then and Now


[In email this morning from one of my tireless correspondents, this lovely comparison of the way we live now versus the "bad old days." You decide.]

1. Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.

1957 - Vice principal comes over to look at Jack's shotgun. He goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2015 - School goes into lock down, and FBI is called. Jack is hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

2. Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist-fight after school.

1957 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends.

2015 - Police called. SWAT team arrives. Johnny and Mark are arrested and charged with assault. Both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

3. Scenario: Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1957 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the principal. He returns to class, sits still, and does not disrupt class again.

2015 - Jeffrey is diagnosed with ADD and given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a learning disability.

4. Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2015 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is placed in foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself, and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

5. Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1957 - Mark shares aspirin with principal out on the smoking dock.

2015 - Police called. Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. Car is searched for drugs and weapons.

6. Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.

1957 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.

2015 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given a diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

7. Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.

1957 - Ants die.

2015 - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Homeland Security, and FBI called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates parents; siblings are removed from home; computers confiscated. Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

8. Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Heather. Heather hugs him to comfort him.

1957 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2015 - Heather is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in state prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.

Johnny sues Heather and the school, settles for $2.5 Million.

Posted by Vanderleun Feb 2, 2015 8:34 AM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ocean Gravity

Ocean Gravity: Spectacular Footage of Freediver Guillaume Nery Flying through Swift Ocean Currents North of Tahiti | Colossal "Filmed late last year by director and underwater cameraman Julie Gautier, this amazing footage shows free diver Guillaume Néry as he’s carried by swift currents through Tiputa pass, part of the Rangiroa atoll about 355 km Northeast of Tahiti."


Posted by gerardvanderleun Feb 1, 2015 9:09 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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