Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Okay, Everybody Remember Where We Parked

If you can remember seeing this on television.... you might be a boomer.


According to the book "From Those Wonderful People Who Brought You Pearl Harbor," a book about advertising, a Bell 206 was used to sling parts of a stripped down Chevy to the top of Castleton Tower, also known as Castle Rock, part of the Fisher Rock formation in Moab, Utah. A mechanic was dropped to assemble the automobile.


Then a pretty young model, Shirley Rumsey, was air lifted to the re-assembled vehicle atop the 2,000-foot spire. Rather than leave Ms. Rumsey alone in that precarious location during the helicopter filming runs, it was decided the mechanic would stay behind to provide moral support. He was hidden on the backseat floor beneath her full dress.

The 206 landed at base camp, to have the camera installed, then proceeded with the camera crew to film the commercial. Once filming was finished, the 206 landed to have the camera crew and gear removed before returning to pick up the mechanic and model.

Problem was, the winds had become so strong that landing on the pinnacle was out of the question. And by the time the wind had died down, it was too dark to fly!

It was a cold night for the hapless mechanic and young model. Oil-Electric: Into the Wild!

Not if they bundled up.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 29, 2015 10:29 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful:Alison Krauss - Down To The River To Pray

"Everybody is wondering, what do we do now? Economy dumping, politicians creeping, social fabric unravelling, God being shoved out of the way, brother turning against brother, death wish just below the surface."

"Now is the time for better men to make a difference in this world. It is time for better men to speak up. It is time for better men to take a strong hand in the everyday affairs of the world. It is time for better men to show up in every aspect of daily life. It is time for better men to lead by example. It is time for better men to be the strong and positive influence in the daily outcomes of the people they meet. It is time for better men to live out "square dealing" in their affairs with all mankind."

Found at Spillers of Soup: SOUND THINKING

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 28, 2015 9:28 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Art Of Poetry by Jorge Luis Borges

To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river
To know we stray like a river
And our faces vanish like water

To feel that waking is another dream
That dreams of not dreaming and that the death
We fear in our bones is the death
That every night we call a dream

To see in every day and year a symbol
Of all the days of man and his years
And convert the outrage of the years
Into a music, a sound, and a symbol

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
A golden sadness, such is poetry
Humble and immortal, poetry
Returning, like dawn and the sunset

Sometimes at evening there's a face
That sees us from the deeps of a mirror
Art must be that sort of mirror
Disclosing to each of us his face

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders
Wept with love on seeing Ithaca
Humble and green. Art is that Ithaca
A green eternity, not wonders

Art is endless like a river flowing
Passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
Inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
And yet another, like the river flowing

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 28, 2015 1:18 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: A Salty Dog (Live in Denmark 2006)

'All hands on deck, we've run afloat!' I heard the captain cry
'Explore the ship, replace the cook: let no one leave alive!'
Across the straits, around the Horn: how far can sailors fly?
A twisted path, our tortured course, and no one left alive.

We sailed for parts unknown to man, where ships come home to die.
No lofty peak, nor fortress bold, could match our captain's eye.
Upon the seventh seasick day we made our port of call,
A sand so white, and sea so blue, no mortal place at all.

We fired the gun, and burnt the mast, and rowed from ship to shore.
The captain cried, we sailors wept: our tears were tears of joy.
How many moons and many Junes have passed since we made land?
A salty dog, this seaman's log: your witness my own hand.

- Procol Harum


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 27, 2015 1:33 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The 8 Stages of Scam

Summed up in RIP: The great cholesterol scam (1955 - 2015) by Barrel Strength

What I have to say here reflects upon the course of this great fallacy. The cholesterol scam bears a strong relationship to the anthropogenic global warming scam.

1) it is propagated by scientists on a non-scientific mission.

2) it is believed because it plausibly explains an observation (increasing global temperature [for a time], increasing heart attacks from smoking in the 1950s and 60s). It taps into large anxieties about too much wealth, too much happiness, in western societies. There must be sin somewhere, and the public is ready to flog itself in the cause of a secularized idea of God, uh, I mean Good.

3) the causal relationship is weaker than first supposed; the research is found to be sloppy, the facts have been fudged, subsequent studies do not fully support the original claims, nevertheless the orthodoxy is promulgated all the more harshly for being doubted.

4) by now, powerful economic and ideological interests have taken hold. They supply an ongoing source of funds and opinion to ensure the perpetuation of the alarm: in the case of cholesterol, the margarine industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical establishment, and in the case of AGW, the tribe of bureaucrats and leftists who seek to control markets, whose god of Marxism had failed, and who needed a new god (Gaia) to justify their rule.

5) The skeptics who have patiently argued on the basis of facts that the science of each phenomenon was weak, are ostracized by the opinion establishments of medicine and global warming. Cranks, but the cranks are right and the orthodox priests and Levites are wrong.

6) Eventually, after fifty or sixty years, the subject of discussion just changes. In the case of cholesterol, the evidence gets weaker and weaker, and the problems caused by too much sugar consumption (obesity, diabetes), caused in part by people not eating enough fats and meats, reaches a stage where it can no longer be ignored.

7) the retreat of the orthodoxy is covered by a smokescreen of fresh concerns for some other catastrophe. No admissions of error or apologies for wrecked careers and following bad science are ever issued. Time flows on, bringing neither knowledge nor greater understanding of the role of folly in human affairs.

8) stages 6 and 7 have been reached in the cholesterol cycle; they are beginning in the anthropogenic global warming scam. Fifty years from now, there will still be clanking windmills in the North Sea, but whether they will be still linked to a power grid is less likely, and whether anyone will pay attention is doubtful. The lobbies that keep them there, however, will still exist.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 27, 2015 1:26 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gay Marriage: Just Do It! (And Welcome to It) [First Posted:March, 2006]


"Fools rush in where fools have been before."

I'm with Dorothy Sayers on this one:

As I grow older and older
And totter toward the tomb
I find that I care less and less
Who goes to bed with whom

We've got a lot of problems with marriage in this country, but can't we take a step back and draw a deep breath, smell the winds of change and admit that Gay Marriage is a done deal?

It's here. It's queer. So what?

Enough with all the whining and carping and running about with one's hair on fire screaming, "Oh! Gay Marriage. I got the fear!" If a couple of normally insane Americans want to get a bunch of friends or Elvis impersonators together, seek out a whompingly liberal priest, rabbi, minister, or Marryin' Sam to hitch them up... so what?

Yes, so what? If yet another brain-damaged, oh-so-victimized minority wants to move into another white, heterosexual fantasyland after white heterosexuals are finished with it, so be it. Nothing like inhabiting the ruins of a dream to make dreams come true.

Speaking as a twice married, twice disappointed, compulsively heterosexual male, I have heard the arguments and seen the yearning and felt the love of gay and lesbian couples from sea to shining sea. And I have felt their gay pain and now wish only that they share my straight pain. It will bring us together faster than Obama explaining economics to stoners everywhere on the Daily Show.

Deep down all our fellow gay Americans want is to be allowed their right, at long last, to enter the, ahem, Holy Realms of Sanctified and Blissful Matrimony. I take them at their word.

And I say: "Bring.... It.... On! Get... Down! Let it be, at long last, Mission Accomplished!" It is the morning of a decade of fabulous parties in America, and not a moment too soon.

As someone with not a little experience inside the obsessions, the compulsions, the addictions, the rages and the long-term quiet desperation of marriage, let me say that I cannot wait to welcome my gay brothers and sisters to the Holy Realm of Sanctified Bliss. I believe with every drop of rain that falls that any two or three or four or more of gay, straight, quadrogendered, pawed or tentacled Americas that want to get into a marriage should not only be encouraged, but tossed headlong into the institution.... before they sober up and snap out of it!

Looked at in the right light, there's a lot of upside in this Gay rush-to-nup for everyone in this country.

  • Going in there's a major boost to the retail clothing and footwear industries.
  • Our financially floundering churches ( It ain't no real weddin' lessen it be a church weddin'! ) are going to get enough in donations to morph themselves into cathedrals.
  • Cathedrals are going to have a five year waiting list.
  • Forget about getting any caterers above the level of the Second Avenue Deli for the duration. They will be either baking enough caviar canapes to drain the Black Sea, or out shopping for Gulfstreams.
  • Salmon will become an endangered species, as will wedding singers.
  • Wedding planners will charge more than Bill Gates' estate lawyers and they'll get it.
  • You want any Spode china, 500-count Egyptian cotton sheets, or monogramed towels? Better snap them up now.
  • Ditto the booking of weeks at any spa resort that offers in-room jacuzzis.
  • Vacations to anywhere other than Bike Week at Daytona are right out too. And even there you'll probably have to sleep on the beach.
  • Don't even mention the word "Disneyland" to your kids for a decade. (See, you just saved about $7,000 right there.)

Then there's the immediate after effects.

  • Have you been thinking about redoing your window treatments, and perhaps junking that Santa Fe look for something crypto-modern you saw in Dwell? Forget it. Every decent interior decorator in the hemisphere is going on a honeymoon, and not taking on new clients until his or her own window treatments are made new. Relax. With a few push-pins and your worn beach towels, you should be able to weather the storm.

Speaking of storms, brace yourself and do not be fooled by the return of peace and quiet to these states. Once the initial tsunami of coast-to-coast gay marriage scours this fair land down to a series of moral nubs, a period of calm normality can only be enjoyed for, well, anywhere from 18 to 36 months before.... the Aftermath.

The Aftermath is when the millions of gay believers who have thrust themselves into the sylvan dream of wedded bliss.... wake up to find out that they are, Aieeeee!, married. And when they do, they will want what nearly every clear sighted heterosexual couple wants out of marriage these days.... a divorce.

And since gays lust after not tolerance but "approval," they are determined to inhabit every burnt-out fantasy of straight life. Hence, it will be a "traditional" divorce. Not a good new-fashioned no-fault divorce, but a brimming-with-blame, spite-spitted Prozac-popping divorce American style. Full of fights, slights, sullen silences, and a craving from the spouse for "my own space."

About half of the gay Americans getting in the long, long lines at divorce court will discover that the "craving from the spouse for 'my own space'" has a very special meaning. It usually means either your space, or a space you will pay for one way or another.

Because make no mistake about it. Whether it is a gay professionals' divorce, or a gay crackers' divorce, somebody's losing a beach house or a double-wide.

Children adopted by gay male couples will probably be treated in a kindly and caring manner during the divorce, but when it comes to the pets, get ready for the mother of all cat-fights over the puppy or the pussy.

Children born to lesbian couples will probably fare less well. Besides a lifelong predilection for comfortable shoes, the best they can hope for is for the courts to okay that they can, should they elect to do so, live with their sperm donor.

To be a classic American divorce a gay divorce has to come complete with that must-have divorce fashion accessory -- the gob-stoppingly expensive lawyer. (Make that two. Three if kids or pets are in the mix.) This is not really the lawyers' fault. The lawyers have to be expensive since it is the only way the lawyers (gay or straight) can continue to pay off their ex-spouse or spouses or farm animals.

Alas, not only is marriage due to be a downer for hundreds of thousands of gays in the same way it is a downer for millions of straights, the non-stop depression generator of divorce is going to weave its old black magic without remorse or regard to sexual orientation or good intentions. And the moralists are "afraid" that all gay marriage will do is to open the door to polygamy?

Dear moralists,
Be not downcast. Do not despair. You are simply failing to see the entertainment value for tens of millions of your fellow divorced heterosexual Americans. Instead, picture your deep and abiding pleasure when you get to unfold a comfy lawn chair, pop a cold one and kick back to watch a stream of four-cornered gay divorces carom through the "family justice system" like drag-queens on steroids trapped in God's Foosball court.

There may be a lot of fuming and fussing and fighting and hissy-fits down in the old Family courthouse, but let them roll on! Out on the lawn we'll just be kicking it, betting on which one of sixteen snarling coon dogs comes out of the pack with all four legs still on.

Do you doubt that these little contretemps will make for big box office on all 40 screens in the vast multiplex of the American mind?

As hinted above, I have three little words that make one big pitch: "Gay Divorce Court!"

"Gay Divorce Court!" would be a reality show with more legs than a queer centipede. "Gay Divorce Court!" is appointment television that could launch a million office pools, and probably some Vegas-sized lines for the inevitable Brad Pitt vs. Tom Cruise de-fornication fiasco.

It is time we all switched from boxers to Speedos in keen anticipation of the gay decade ahead. Gay marriage is a done deal. It's time our gay brothers and sisters stopped having the ACLU pay for their legal battles, and started to pay for some of their own.

And pay they will. I here prophesy that, verily, via "Gay Divorce Court!" they shall be cleaned, reamed, fucked, plucked and hosed through the nose.

Gay Americans say that without marriage they are, like the slaves of yesteryear, only half-a-person. Let us remove from the marriage of true minds all impediments to their assumption of whole-person-hood. How else can at least half of them can learn that special feeling that comes to a whole person when half one's net worth is lopped off by the courts like some robed Loreena Bobbit on crack? Yum!

Gentlemen, start your vows!

Me? I'm out front on the church lawn. I'm making the popcorn, getting out the lawn chair, and popping a cold one. Y'all come too.

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 26, 2015 3:36 AM | Comments (124)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Man Who Loved Not Wisely But At Least Twice

Watch out! You might get what you're after.
Cool baby! Strange but not a stranger.
I'm an ordinary guy,
Burning down the house!

-- Talking Heads

Call him "Carl."

Many, many years ago I founded and ran my second magazine in San Francisco. In time, I sold my share out to my partner and, flush with cash for the first time in my life, decided to move to New England with my then live-in love whom I shall always think of as "The Socialite." The Socialite's family was one of the 500 and, although fallen on hard times, they retained their position within high Eastern society because of their illustrious name. Their family seat was in Newport, Rhode Island, and The Socialite would, years later, live there with her husband and their daughters. I think about her from time to time and saw her once five years ago. She'd turned into her mother -- slim, patrician, and slightly nuts.

But this is not about her, or those white nights, or even the oh-so-social summers at Bailey's Beach. This is about Carl, the most unwise lover I ever met. I'm telling you about him because by doing so it makes me feel less stupid about love and that's a feeling that's far too rare for me these days.

When the Socialite and I moved back to New England, we rented the oldest farmhouse and grounds in Litchfield, Connecticut. Litchfield is a Norman Rockwell village that is more of a Norman Rockwell village than Norman Rockwell's village.

Our house had no street number. Our house, about a mile out of Litchfield Center, was simply called "Wolfpit Farm." It was an immense house of some six bedrooms upstairs and two down with a parlor and dining room and large open kitchen. Attached to this large house was the original structure; a squat 17th century post-and-beam antique with two stories crammed into about 15 feet. This made each floors ceiling come in at about 6 feet four inches. People were smaller then so I assume this didn't crowd them.

Carl, the unwise lover, was already living in this colorful but squat structure. His ceilings were 6 feet 4 inches and Carl stood 6 feet 6 inches, an updated and somewhat dazed Ichabod Crane. Every time Carl stood up in his house he had to squat down and shamble from room to room. He had to be especially careful when going through the doors of his place since they were shorter still.

His living area, much smaller than ours, shared one wall with us in the kitchen. As a result, every so often when Carl became a bit too rushed, we'd hear a thump and a muffled curse as Carl missed his stoop level going from room to room and his forehead collided with the top of the door.

This usually happened after happy hour in the Village on Fridays.

"Thump!" "Jesus! Oh, Jesus! Arrrr!"

In those days I don't recall ever seeing Carl without a Band-Aid or a scab right in the middle of his forehead. He was permanently in recovery from beam collision.

He was also in recovery from his desire, like George Costanza, to be an architect as well as a divorce. The two were not at all unrelated, as I shall now relate.

Carl was not an architect. He was a small town school-teacher as was his high school sweet heart whom he married while in college. She too loved the idea of being an architect, but would never be one. She had some small skills in art but no concept of calculus. Together they loved each other and the idea of modern architecture. Together, upon their marriage, they determined to build one of the finest modern homes in Litchfield as a monument to their love. They both wanted a great house more than anything else in the world. More than, even, children.

In the confused thinking common to those who value things above all else in this life, the Carls ran the numbers. They found that they could, on two (maximum) salaries as small town school teachers, afford either a really great modern house of substance or children. Not both.

Carl later claimed to be sort of ambivalent about this. He wanted kids and probably wanted the great house too. His wife was not at all ambivalent when she talked to him about it. It was a house, house, house. Full stop. Period. Kids had no place in her fantasy. And what's more, she told him, they needed to be sure.

Solution? She could get her tubes tied or Carl could get a vasectomy. They discussed it and came to the typical marital compromise. Carl conceded and would get the vasectomy. It was, his wife pointed out, much cheaper than her getting her tubes tied. After which they could be secure in their building of the finest modern home known to Litchfield in the mid 1970s.

Land was not an issue since Carl's father owned vast acreage around the town given over to apple orchards. As a wedding present, he gave the lovebirds a prime ten acre building site and enough money to retain the architect. In those days, the bankers were still local as was Carl's family and they secured the financing quite smoothly. The wife brought little to the marriage except the expectation of a fine house and a vasectomy.

Carl married her, they both signed for the loan, retained the architect, went on a honeymoon, and came back to their jobs as school teachers and the beginning of the building of their dream house.

Carl used Spring break that year to get and recover from his vasectomy which was, in the mid 1970s not quite the well-worn and somewhat painless procedure it is today. At bottom it was the same in effect. An incision is made in the man's scrotum and a tube that conveys live sperm to the penis is snipped and sewed shut. You still can have good sex, but you are firing blanks. The recovery now is mostly benign. A little discomfort for a day or so and then some careful weeks and you are good to go. Back then it was slightly more painful for quite a bit longer. But Carl was doing it for a house and for love. He had not heard the phrase "Faustian Bargain," but he'd learn.

Love, as all men and women learn, is often only for a season, but a mortgage is for 30 years. The Carls worked with their architect and even got some of their more grandiose visions incorporated into the house. A spiral staircase running the three floors made of brushed aluminum. A three story atrium of ground to roof windows in which plants that never got closer to New England than the Amazon Rain Forest would thrive in all seasons. A slate roof. Copper gutters. Open. Edgy. It was the talk of the town. And then the talk was all over town.

It seemed that one of the brawny men who came to install the slate roof and put up the copper gutters had a smooth way of talking and a very big hammer. He also had a strange attraction to Mrs. Carl. It was an attraction that was, it would seem, returned numerous times on the job site and in the apple orchard. It was, in short, a new an unexpected love for Mrs. Carl. Whatever the roofer had it was powerful since, within a month of the completion of the Most Modern Home in Litchfield, Mrs. Carl ran off with the roofer to points far west and left him with a note, a huge house, a jumbo mortgage, and one teacher's salary with which to service it.

I won't go into the emotional train-wreck that ensued in the wake of her betrayal and abandonment except to say it was everything you are thinking and more. I don't know what happened to her. As far as I know nobody does. She exits stage west with a roofer with a large hammer. Fare well and God bless.

Carl had to stay behind, sell -- or rather give away -- the house since nobody around could be found to buy the Most Modern House in Litchfield for anything close to what it had cost to build. The 3-story atrium emptied heating oil into the New England winters like a supertanker that had been blown in two on the high seas. The slate roof, probably because one of the roofers had been distracted, had a tendency to develop a new leak onto the white shag wall-to-wall after every weekly ice-storm. It was a pale, pale elephant of a dream and Carl was going down with it.

He sold and took about a $75,000 loss. His family had been local for generations so bankruptcy was not discussed. His father was too upset with losing 10 acres of land to people from out of town to help Carl with his folly for at least a year.

So Carl took the hit and moved from owning the house of the Most Modern and High Ceilings in Litchfield to renting the house of the Most Antique and Low ceilings in Litchfield. If it was Friday it was: "Thump!" "Jesus! Oh, Jesus! Arrrr!"

But, in spite of it all, Carl still believed that somewhere out there in the world love was waiting for him.

And he set out to find it.

I don't know when the idea to travel around the world with a smile, shoeshine and rucksack occurred to Carl, but once it did he set about planning for it ruthlessly. I imagine he thought that finding love was a matter of Brownian Motion -- if you just ramble around enough you're bound to bump into the right thing. He failed to see how rare real love is and how easily it is discarded once obtained. Romantics tend to love not others, but romance itself. And when the "romance" fades they can't move to a higher, deeper love, but only on to the next incident in a long chain of catastrophe tarted up into cheap opera. Like Carl's wife, they're off moving on to the next big adventure. Their perfect defense is that they don't have to taste the fruits of their desertion.

Carl determined to learn, at least, this lesson. The key, he thought, is in motion that takes you far away. And the farthest away you could get, he reasoned, was to go around until you got back where you started. He made meticulous arrangements for a year long voyage. Got the addresses and contacts from friends and family to their friends and families in at least 15 countries. Got the books. Got the maps. He even dated a local travel agent to get some advice and discounts. He was honest about this and she didn't mind, love 'em and ticket 'em was her motto.

Having lived in Litchfield all his life, Carl had a lot of friends and we invited over 250 to his send-off party at Wolfpit Farm. It was a superb bash with a lot of toasts to maps and globes and the start of a great life adventure. The last guests left at dawn with Carl in an airport limo we'd all chipped in to get him. It got to Kennedy International and the sendoff continued. In those innocent days it went on until the final boarding call was made and Carl kissed and hugged everyone and took the evening plane to London, the first stop on Carl's Round-the-World Tour. Bon Voyage!

About ten days later, The Socialite had gone to New York to see her mother and I was alone at Wolfpit Farm. I came down from my studio and into the kitchen around sunset to make a cup of coffee and consider the evening cheese and fruit plate. I was bustling about in the kitchen when, suddenly, "Thump!" "Jesus! Oh, Jesus! Arrrr!"

Carl was back and before I could even begin to think what that could mean he was knocking on my door.

We sat down for coffee and he filled me in on the miracle that had happened to him.

His plane had landed at Gatwick and he'd gotten to his small hotel in Kensington early in the morning. That day had been spent on the tube and on buses just taking in the sights and sounds and smells of the familiar yet always strange city of London. At around six in the evening, exhausted from the trip and the day, he made his way back to his hotel and went into the small pub next door. He took a pint and sat down at one of the tables and looked about. Sitting at the next table was a gamine and gorgeous woman who smiled at him. He smiled back and said "Hi."

"You're a Yank," she observed and picked up her beer and sat down next to him.

Two days later, they admitted to each other they were in love. Four days later they were even more in love. A day after that they'd determined they would marry and live in the Norman Rockwell village of Litchfield happily ever after. There were some visa and other diplomatic issues so Carl agreed to come back first so he could get a place ready for them.

"This place won't do," he said. "We'll need at least three bedrooms."


"For sure. She's got two daughters by her first marriage."

"Don't you think all this is, ah, a little sudden?"

"Sure. But when you've found the real thing, why wait for your life to begin? You have to grab love when it comes along."

And so it was written and so it was done.

The house was found and Carl rented and furnished it. In time the woman came with her two daughters -- who were very cute but tended to have some problems with discipline. The woman was not really a hit with the village and the family who were, to say the least, suspicious of her motives even though she was invariably polite, amusing and charming. All in all, they settled in well enough.

Somewhere about this time, I'd gotten my first important magazine job in New York City and I'd given up my rambling place at Wolfpit Farm. I spoke to Carl on the phone, and always received a glowing report on how happy the four of them were, and it was only a question of time before they'd take the final step and get married. But the calls tailed off as the calls do, and for a number of months I heard little from Carl but wished him well in his new life. He deserved a little happiness.

I was in my garden duplex on East 86th street when his call came.

"Hey, I've got a favor to ask."

"You in trouble, Carl?" With Carl it was always best to ask that first.

"Not at all, not at all. We're going to get married very soon now."

"Great news," I said, knowing through the grapevine that there had been some unexplained delay in the marriage plans.

"And, there's better news," Carl said. "We're going to have children."

"Oh?" Thinking of the vasectomy Carl had gotten at age 23 in order to 'finance' the Most Modern House in Litchfield. "Don't you already have her two girls?"

"She wants to have one that's ours, ours alone. I've looked into it and it is possible to reverse a vasectomy. They just go in and sew the tubes back together. Once that's done she says she'll be ready for the wedding."

I had a few thoughts about there possibly being a more ulterior motive for a woman who was not a natural born American wanting to have a child with him, but I kept them to myself. You never liked to disappoint Carl when he was in one of his believing moods.

"The only problem is that money's tight and the operation is expensive. I can afford it but not the hospital stay afterward and the doctor says I can't take a three hour car trip for at least three days after the operation. I want to know if I can recuperate at your place. I won't take up any space and I won't be any trouble."

"Sure," I said. After all, how much trouble could it be? We confirmed times and dates and I assured him I'd be home to help him out as soon as the hospital released him.

"Do you want me to come pick you up?"

"Don't be silly. I'll just take a cab. It only about 20 blocks."

The day came and I left work early in order to be there for Carl. The Socialite wasn't pleased but she said she could put up with it.

At about four in the afternoon, my doorbell rang. I went to the building entrance and greeted.... a taxi driver.

"You Van der Loin? Get out here. You're pal's all messed up and I ain't gonna be cleaning out my cab. It's gonna take two of us."

What I saw in the back of the taxi gave new meaning to the phrase "pillow-biter." Carl was essentially immobilized in a hospital smock and perched on a pile of purloined pillows. It is hard to imagine how a man can sit in a cab and not sit down, but Carl was managing this feat of levitation. What he could not manage was movement. The jouncing ride over the Manhattan potholes had frozen him in a sitting, but not sitting position. A sphere of bandaging beneath his waist was the reason.

In those days, long before the more bizarre realms of body modification that have been achieved in this blighted era, you would not have thought it possible for a normal man's scrotum to swell to the size of a grapefruit, but that was what Carl, in his quest for perfect love, was sporting.

The cabby and I carried him, very gingerly, into my duplex and deposited him, oh so gently, on the large sofa that was to be the center of his realm for the next three days. I've never known a deeper sense of empathy nor a deeper gratitude that I was not the man I beheld. I'd like to say I felt his pain, but the truth was that here was a pain I never wanted to feel.

He rolled onto his back and lay there, forehead bathed in sweat, gazing blankly at the ceiling. I paid off the cabby, who was only too glad to be rid of this fare and he was off.

Carl, pale -- very pale -- glanced down at his bandaged nether regions. "Ice," he croaked. "Lots and lots of crushed ice."

Getting and fetching and crushing ice for Carl's reverse vasectomy was to be my role for most of the next few days. I told him right up front that there would be no application service. He'd have to do some things for himself.

The Socialite was kind to Carl and even kinder to me. There were no "I-told-you-so's" spoken, but her long suffering looks were all it took for me to get the message.

Three days later, Carl, still tender said some profound thank you's and hobbled off to the cab that would take him to the train and back into the arms of his soon-to-be-loving wife.

We shook hands at the curb and he got, still with a lot of care, into the cab.

I never saw him again.

But I did hear, a few months later, what happened next.

Carl recovered from the ordeal of the reverse vasectomy. In a week or two it didn't hurt and full sexual function had returned. Sadly, since the operation then was much more crude than it is today, the sperm function did not return. There would be love making but no baby making.

It didn't take long for the English woman to decide that she was not going to get everything that she wanted from Carl after all. The wedding was called off, and she announced that she and her daughters were going back to England. Carl was not invited.

He was a good sport about it. He bought their tickets, helped them pack, and even ironed some blouses for the girls just before he drove them to Kennedy to say farewell. He still loved this little artificial family. It was his family even as it was blowing him off.

They parted at the plane and Carl drove back to his now empty three-bedroom house in Litchfield.

As Carl came up the last hill and into the little valley where the house was, he noticed a plume of smoke rising over the trees. When he got over the hill he saw the trucks of the Litchfield Fire Department pouring water onto the smoldering ruins of his house.

Later it was determined that the cause of the fire was an iron that was left plugged in and had fallen, probably when someone slammed the door, into a hamper of clothes.

After that, the years rolled on and the city came to claim me and I lost track of Carl. I still don't know what happened to him, but I like to think that somehow he got a third chance to love and that he took it, and that he was, maybe, wiser at last.

All it would have taken was one good woman.

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 25, 2015 3:51 AM | Comments (33)  | QuickLink: Permalink
AKA "Some Asshole:" A Modest Proposal


Found at the invaluable | Western Rifle Shooters Association

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 23, 2015 1:15 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ebony and Ivory

"Sergeant A.M. Chandler of the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, Co. F., and Silas Chandler, family slave, with Bowie knives, revolvers, pepper-box, shotgun, and canteen." Handwritten label on back of frame: "Andrew Martin Chandler, born 1844, died 1920. Servant Silas Chandler. 44th Mississippi Regiment, Col. A.K. Blyth. Wounded in battle of Chickamauga."

In 1861, A.M. Chandler enlisted in the Palo Alto Confederates, which became part of the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. His mother, Louisa Gardner Chandler, sent Silas, one of her 36 slaves, with him. On Sept. 20, 1863, the 44th Mississippi was engaged in the Battle of Chickamauga, where Chandler was wounded in his leg. A battlefield surgeon decided to amputate but, according to the Chandler family, Silas accompanied him home to Mississippi where the limb was saved. His master's combat service ended as a result of the wound but Silas returned to the war in January 1864 when A.M.'s younger brother, Benjamin, enlisted in the 9th Mississippi Cavalry Regiment. (See also: A Slave's Service in the Confederate Army.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 22, 2015 7:38 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Ballads: A Whiter Shade of Pale, live in Denmark 2006

Keith Reid recalled the writing of the lyrics:

I had the phrase 'a whiter shade of pale,' that was the start, and I knew it was a song. It's like a jigsaw where you've got one piece, then you make up all the others to fit in. I was trying to conjure a mood as much as tell a straightforward, girl-leaves-boy story. With the ceiling flying away and room humming harder, I wanted to paint an image of a scene. I wasn't trying to be mysterious with those images, I wasn't trying to be evocative. I suppose it seems like a decadent scene I'm describing. But I was too young to have experienced any decadence, then, I might have been smoking when I conceived it, but not when I wrote it. It was influenced by books, not drugs.
It was twice as long, four verses. The fourth wasn't any great loss, but you had the whole story in three. When I heard what Gary'd done with them, it just seemed so right. We felt we had something very important. As soon as we played it for anyone, we got an immediate response.
In rehearsal, instrumentation was added. We had this concept for the sound of Procol Harum to be Hammond organ, piano and blues guitar. No other band had that; it gave us a bigger sound. It's a live recording… I think we did three takes. It's equal parts Dylan and Stax. On our own terms, we were always trying to make a Soul record. Funnily enough, Otis Redding wanted to do it, but we wanted our record out first, and Stax wanted the exclusive.
A Whiter Shade Of Pale /Songfacts

We skipped the light fandango
Turned cartwheels cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
But the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, there is no reason
And the truth is plain to see.
But I wandered through my playing cards
And would not let her be
One of sixteen vestal virgins
Who were leaving for the coast
And although my eyes were open
They might have just as well've been closed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

[Verses not recorded but heard in concerts from time to time.]

She said, I'm home on shore leave,
Though in truth we were at sea
So I took her by the looking glass
And forced her to agree
Saying, you must be the mermaid
Who took neptune for a ride.
But she smiled at me so sadly
That my anger straightway died

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale

If music be the food of love
Then laughter is it's queen
And likewise if behind is in front
Then dirt in truth is clean
My mouth by then like cardboard
Seemed to slip straight through my head
So we crash-dived straightway quickly
And attacked the ocean bed

And so it was that later
As the miller told his tale
That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 22, 2015 1:36 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sunday Sermonette: Take heed that no man deceive you.


5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.


6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.

10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.


Matthew 24

You tell me, just look all around
At the past and the present, the cross and the crescent
The signs and the planets are lining up like before.

There are souls on fire in the day and the night
On the left and the right, in the black and the white
You can see it burn in the eyes of the rich and the poor.

Rumours of war, rumours of war.

Rumours of war, rumours of war.

AL STEWART - Rumours Of War


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 21, 2015 8:44 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: 6 Degrees of Freedom -- Who Expresses Joy Better Than a Child?

"This is the first aerobatic ride of my 4=year-old daughter, Lea. She asked me to go in flight and do inverted things. So, we discussed, review the figures and went to fly."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 19, 2015 11:00 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Home Before Dark

By Daisy Luther| As found at | The Organic Prepper

Raise your hand if you survived a childhood in the 60s, 70s, and 80s that included one or more of the following, frowned-upon activities (raise both hands if you bear a scar proving your daredevil participation in these dare-devilish events):

  1. Riding in the back of an open pick-up truck with a bunch of other kids

  2. Leaving the house after breakfast and not returning until the streetlights came on, at which point, you raced home, ASAP so you didn’t get in trouble

  3. Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the school cafeteria

  4. Riding your bike without a helmet

  5. Riding your bike with a buddy on the handlebars, and neither of you wearing helmets

  6. Drinking water from the hose in the yard

  7. Swimming in creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes (or what they now call *cough* “wild swimming“)

  8. Climbing trees (One park cut the lower branches from a tree on the playground in case some stalwart child dared to climb them)

  9. Having snowball fights (and accidentally hitting someone you shouldn’t)

  10. Sledding without enough protective equipment to play a game in the NFL

  11. Carrying a pocket knife to school (or having a fishing tackle box with sharp things on school property)

  12. Camping

  13. Throwing rocks at snakes in the river

  14. Playing politically incorrect games like Cowboys and Indians

  15. Playing Cops and Robbers with *gasp* toy guns

  16. Pretending to shoot each other with sticks we imagined were guns

  17. Shooting an actual gun or a bow (with *gasp* sharp arrows) at a can on a log, accompanied by our parents who gave us pointers to improve our aim. Heck, there was even a marksmanship club at my high school

  18. Saying the words “gun” or “bang” or “pow pow” (there actually a freakin’ CODE about “playing with invisible guns”)

  19. Working for your pocket money well before your teen years

  20. Taking that money to the store and buying as much penny candy as you could afford, then eating it in one sitting

  21. Eating pop rocks candy and drinking soda, just to prove we were exempt from that urban legend that said our stomachs would explode

  22. Getting so dirty that your mom washed you off with the hose in the yard before letting you come into the house to have a shower

  23. Writing lines for being a jerk at school, either on the board or on paper

  24. Playing “dangerous” games like dodgeball, kickball, tag, whiffle ball, and red rover (The Health Department of New York issued a warning about the “significant risk of injury” from these games)

  25. Walking to school alone

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 18, 2015 12:04 PM | Comments (47)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: "Like A Rolling Stone"

"It's like a ghost is writing a song like that, it gives you the song and it goes away. You don't know what it means. Except that the ghost picked me to write the song."
It was ten pages long. It wasn't called anything, just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred directed at some point that was honest. In the end it wasn't hatred, it was telling someone something they didn't know, telling them they were lucky. Revenge, that's a better word. I had never thought of it as a song, until one day I was at the piano, and on the paper it was singing, "How does it feel?" in a slow motion pace, in the utmost of slow motion. -- -- Bob Dylan

It was 50 years ago today that Bob Dylan walked into Studio A at Columbia Records in New York and recorded "Like a Rolling Stone," which we [Rolling Stone] have called the single greatest song of all time. The track was on store shelves just a month later, where it shot to Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100 (held back only by the Beatles' "Help!") and influenced an entire new generation of rock stars. "That snare shot sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind," Bruce Springsteen said when he inducted Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988....

"Somewhere on the [European] tour, Dylan began penning a long, free-form piece of writing he compared to "vomit."

"[It was] just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred," he said, "directed at some point that was honest."

"He headed back to Woodstock when the tour wrapped and continued to work on the piece. "The first two lines, which rhymed 'kiddin' you' and 'didn't you,' just about knocked me out," he told Rolling Stone in 1988, "and when I got to the jugglers and the chrome horse and the princess on the steeple, it all just about got to be too much."

".... Columbia didn't have high hopes for "Like a Rolling Stone" since it was six minutes long and so unlike Dylan's previous work, but it became the single biggest hit of his career. It upset a lot of traditional folkies in the process, but it turned Dylan into a rock star at the exact moment that the folk music scene was fading. He ended every single show on his legendary 1965/66 world tour with the Hawks with the song, and he's now done it a total of 2,024 times, second only to "All Along the Watchtower." (Oddly enough, he hasn't played it a single time since late 2013.) Last year, the handwritten lyrics sold for over $2 million, nearly double the original estimate.

-- Rolling Stone

Bob Dylan, 'Like a Rolling Stone' - 500 Greatest Songs of All Time | Rolling Stone Al Kooper, who played organ on the session, remembers today, "There was no sheet music, it was totally by ear. And it was totally disorganized, totally punk. It just happened."

The most stunning thing about "Like a Rolling Stone" is how unprecedented it was: the impressionist voltage of Dylan's language, the intensely personal accusation in his voice ("Ho-o-o-ow does it fe-e-e-el?"), the apocalyptic charge of Kooper's garage-gospel organ and Mike Bloomfield's stiletto-sharp spirals of Telecaster guitar, the defiant six-minute length of the June 16th master take. No other pop song has so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws and artistic conventions of its time, for all time.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 17, 2015 6:04 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Above Your Head, Right Now There Are 140 Trillion Oceans: Want to Take a Swim?

Largest water reservoir discovered in black hole. "The reservoir holds as much as 140 trillion oceans, or more than 4,000 times more than exists in the entire Milky Way. It exists as vapour spread across hundreds of light years. While water has been found across much of the universe previously, this is interesting because of the fact this reservoir is 12 billion light years away, meaning that this water existed when the universe was only 1.6 billion years old. "NASA - Astronomers Find Largest, Most Distant Reservoir of Water

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 14, 2015 12:08 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Beneath your feet right now there might be up to 10 oceans worth of water. Want to take a swim?

Halemaumau crater on the Kilauea Volcano shows a tiny sliver of this water cycle. A gas cloud is rising from the active Overlook crater, leading to the question “where is the gas in those clouds coming from?”

In other words, over geologic time, the planet recycles water.

The earth’s mantle is enormous, so even a tiny bit of water dissolved in the minerals of the mantle represents a huge amount of water. When gas comes out of a volcano like Kilauea, it is tapping this reservoir of water and releasing it to the atmosphere. When a bit of oceanic crust sinks into the mantle, it is restoring that reservoir of water.
We don’t know exactly how big the reservoir of water in the mantle is, but based on evidence like that diamond it is probably huge. The mantle must hold at least as much water as the oceans on the surface do today and probably several times more – the mantle might even hold 10x as much water as is found in the oceans today. -- Earth's Story

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

The very deep did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
Upon the slimy sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The death-fires danced at night;
The water, like a witch's oils,
Burnt green, and blue and white.

-- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 14, 2015 3:50 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Okay, Here's the Plan

I think everybody should throw their guns into the ocean. Knives too for that matter.

We can all pretend that the person we're looking at has no color at all. No gender either.

All of us that have lots of stuff can give it away to people that don't have anything.

We should do away with sports and school test scores. There are no losers.

After we've done that we should walk or ride bikes and never wear anything derived from animals.

Every citizen of the world should carry a cup and a spoon so we don't litter and fill the planet with empty water bottles and take-out containers.

Police and jails and barbed wire and fences will no longer be needed. It will be a truly Free Range World. Animals will be able to come and go as they please with no leashes or zoos or ranches.

Words like "honest" and "I promise" will unite every one of us into one big happy global family so we can welcome visitors from other parts of the Galaxy.

Posted by: chasmatic The Top 40: Pathological Altruism

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 13, 2015 2:21 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Into the AIR! Junior Birdmen!



Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 9, 2015 12:46 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Not-So-Great Generation and the Vision That Dare Not Speak Its Name


The World as a Group of Fantasy Islands. A project off the coast of Dubai

In 2007 Daniel Henninger wrote the prescient Talking Ourselves Into Defeat , examining the pall of self-loathing that has settled over the American mind in the the recent past. For the most part, his estimate of the roots of this malaise is accurate, but one insight strikes me as wide of the mark:

"One reason the negative mood in politics is so disconcerting is that the opposition's alternative vision is nonexistent. On joining the opposition recently, GOP Sen. Norm Coleman announced, "I can't tell you what the path to success is.'"
It seems more than self-evident to me what the "path to success" is in the minds of those who have embraced and live "the opposition's alternative vision." It is not a "nonexistent" vision but one that is very much alive and kicking. It is, however, as a vision one that is very much a secret.

It is "the vision that dare not speak its name."

It is no secret that classic liberalism in the mold of FDR, JFK,and LBJ that reached its apotheosis in Hubert Humphrey, has long been consigned to the bone-yard. What has taken its place hates to be tarred with the brush of liberalism because, frankly, it isn't. What now stands in that place is a kind of perverted one-world idealism in which "the world as it is" is constantly measured against "the world as it should be." Old liberalism at least had the argument that it was being done for the greater good. The new perverted variant is one in which policy and plans are made because it makes the initiators "feel good" about themselves. Those that make and support these measures hold themselves as, in the French phrase popular when many of them were young, "cityoen du monde" -- citizens of the world.

Typically these are people who have "gone beyond" nation states in their own minds and, if they can afford it (and many can), in their personal lives as well. People with access to enough money to afford private jets, or even with enough money to pay the premium prices of hybrid cars, do not exactly dwell in the same nation as their fellow, less-fortunate citizens. Instead they can afford to spend their time spreading a gospel whose high costs and marginal benefits are always carefully hidden from the middle middle class and those below. But this is never seen by those spreading the gospel as a kind of noblesse oblige, only as something that is "good for them."

Writ large we see this in grandiose projects like the Gates Foundation's plan to "Save Africa." This is a noble goal and few can gainsay the deeply humanitarian impulse behind it, only the likely outcome of many more Africans made millionaires that can leave that continent behind. On the smaller scale, we see hundreds of efforts to spread "right thinking and right behavior and correct belief" in the endless bullying of small organizations by larger "clear headed" organizations such as the ACLU. It is all, their way or the lawsuit highway, which the little people can seldom afford; a kind of fiscal extortion racket. The donations come in the front door and the Creches go out the back. All done with a nudge and a wink to "the protection of liberty and diversity" at the same time diversity of the "bad" kind is reduced. Like latter day Leona Helmsleys these visionaries are always at pains to "thank the little people" for letting them have it their way.

These American citizens do not think of themselves as actual Americans (although they play them easily and glibly on TV), but as a new and better breed that only retain their "American" status for the present benefits. Instead they prefer to think of themselves as inhabiting a rarer, more personally fragrant realm of ideals that the rest of us do not see and cannot aspire to.

This new and more wonderful world is the Holy Realm of The Church of the Planet whose crusade goes forward under the sign of The Gleaming Escutcheon United Nations; not as grotesque assemblage of thugs and thieves that it is, but as it should -- in the perfect world to come -- be. Indeed,nothing in this realm is ever seen as it is, but only as it should be. There are no armies in this realm, only legions of NGOs without borders. There are no Popes or Saints, only Al Gore and those who can jet into the annual green cardinals convocation at Davos. The sweet. The elite. The non-elected, self-appointed and peer-selected Government of the Happy World who swap honors and awards as freely between themselves as participants in a Sexual Freedom League Fornication Festival.

In their own strangely perverse way the inhabitants of this realm, like those on the extreme lower end of the scale in imploding 3rd world countries, are still dependent on nation states, particularly the United States, for charity and scarce resources. This need accounts for much of the funding of the United Nations, an organization whose thirst for the perfect world in the very near future (We promise) is exceeded only by its thirst for American money in the here and now. Dreams do not require food and protection, only the dreamers dreaming from their unshakable sleep.

A shorthand term for these global creatures among us is "cosmopolitanism," and it is a concept that fits them like a bespoke suit. After all, what is not to admire about a person who is "cosmopolitan?" Such a person is, after all, "So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest." Who among us would not aspire to such a sobriquet attached to our view of ourselves? The very concept simply reeks of a special status denied to those who are, well, the little people.

Cosmopolitan Americans tend to clump into readily identifiable groups: our media, our intellectuals, our academics, our stars of stage, screen, television, books, and magazines, our newly and fabulously rich captains of hi-tech industries, and most of all our politicians of all stripes. True not everyone in these groups conducts themselves in a "citizen of the world before a citizen of the nation manner." Many still do not, but the preponderance of the members of these groups do. The political affiliations of these groups skew heavily leftwards but not exclusively so. With the recent realignment of power toward the Democrats, and the conquest of the Democrats by their more "cosmopolitan" elements, the tendency of this group to draw more into its orbit increases, since cosmopolitans are, at bottom, always about the main chance before the hard choice.

The hard choice now is whether or not American hegemony will prevail into the century, or whether that power will be ceded to those rising regimes and forces whose roots and plans for the future are, if anything, not at all as benign of America; whose systems of government are more militant than they are democratic.

The whiff of American weakness always emboldens the unspeakable visionaries. And a war that is in its essence benign rather than draconian always sends off the whiff of weakness. In the Washington Post this morning, we see a bit of "the vision that dare not speak its name" in an aging general's rant "Victory Is Not An Option." The essay is worthy of rebuttal on a number of points but for now suffice it to say that it could as well have been entitled "Democracy Is Not An Option," a sentiment that may well be true not only for the Middle East but for the world to come should American hegemony be removed as a factor in the future of the coming century.

One of the things that "the vision that dare not speak its name" will neither speak nor confront is the present existence and inexorable rise of systems of government that do not exactly wish to deliver the higher realms of personal, sexual, and wantless liberty the One Worlders envision. Free societies are not the default state of how humanity organizes itself. Free societies are rare and always in danger of being overwhelmed by the more evil angels of our nature. That is the historic and present reality of our world. Reality, however, seldom intrudes on our dreams of a perfect word. When it does we call them nightmares. And what we learn from history is that these nightmares are recurrent.

But for those of "the vision that dare not speak its name" it is precisely the American hegemony, and no other, that must be removed to make way for the glorious one-world where it is "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." And that world, in their shared visionary imagination, will be made of a green, caring, carefully stewarded world where the we all get to "do our thing" in perfect freedom and without any interference from dictators, power blocs, theocratic states, weapons of mass destruction, crime, guns, and oppression of any living thing on the planet, including animals.

Like the world after the Rapture, the vision of the One-Worlder is Gaia triumphant for the many and a shining realm of gracious living for the elite few. It is a green Hobbit realm with iPods for all and no Saurons to be found anywhere. A technotronic Middle Earth.

I recognize this unspeakable vision well. It has many of the slapdash Marcusian components of the dreams of my youth during the days of the Free Speech Movement, Earth Shoes and Earth Day, the Vietnam Day committee, Woodstock, the Human Be-in, and the Acid Tests at Ken Kesey's place in La Honda and that old hotel in San Francisco.

Now that my "not-so-great" generation has its hands on the wheels of commerce and power in the United States, it is time that this vision that dare not speak its name, compiled from those rotted roots, seeks to act out the dreams of its youth as the policies of a generation entering its dotage. For a generation that so fervently believes in evolution, it is surprising that its youthful political goals have, in the intervening decades, evolved so little.

The first order of business now, as it was then, is to "Smash the State" by expanding the State's control over those that are not among the One Worlders. Of course, the real goal was never to "Smash THE State" as a ruling concept, but only to Smash the American State and replace it with something more soothingly socialist in which "all animals were equal but some more equal than others;" a state in which one party, controlling the culture and the media and the tax system, would rule out of benevolent concern for all over the one, Earth First uber alles. With free health care thrown just to make sure you could live longer in a perfect world.

Leading the charge to "Smash the State by Making a Bigger State" at present will be the Way-New Democratic Party and its outriders, the cosmopolitans. Or perhaps "outriders" doesn't quite capture it since, among the leadership in media, politics, business, and government, the overlap is almost total.

For these people, "the path to success" currently passes through Iraq and winds directly into "failure." They are in love with the idea of "American failure" because, in many ways, it validates their entire lives and empowers their politics. At the core of "the vision that dare not speak its name" is a perverted desire to see their country lose, to see it humbled on the world stage, and to give over the present benign American hegemony to other coarser and more draconian states. And why wouldn't they since their primary life allegiance is One World and not one country.

Should their abiding vision for failure in Iraq become a reality and Iraq descends into a genocidal nightmare, as it will, that's fine with them. That blood will wash more quickly off their hands than the blood of the thousands of Americans killed on 9/11 through the ineptitude of a foreign policy that, over decades, enabled the attacks. Attacks that, as we see now, did not raise any real alarms among the cosmopolitans that their One World dreams might face real world dangers, but merely troubled their sleep for a brief moment.

Should the ascent of Iran threaten the survival of Israel, the economy of the United States and the developed world, well, we and they deserve it. After all, we need to "get off" oil and why shouldn't we have a global depression teach us a lesson?

If an American city becomes a firestorm, well, that certainly isn't the opposition's fault. That was never a part of their vision. It will be, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever will be, the fault of Bush. They will never have to deny a vision that they did not articulate; that they did not name.

Their vision cannot be named, but it can be worked for on a daily basis. And it is. One could call the whole sheaf of proposed legislation and promises oozing out of the Democratic Presidential frontrunners a kind of "Clintonian Recidivism," but somehow that just doesn't have the kind of branding snap and polish we look for these days. I think it would be better for the "opposition" is they called it "The Quest for the Happy World."

When discussing the character of Rolling Stone founder, Jann Wenner, someone once remarked to me, "For some people it will always be 1968." That's pretty much the case with the cosmopolitans of "The Not So Great Generation." Because they no longer live in America but in the Happy World, they deeply and fundamentally believe that their unnameable vision will prevail and with the defeat of the nation on which their freedom and prosperity depends, all return to the Happy World of the Clinton years where the world will leave us alone to pursue our various socialist experiments if only we leave it alone.

The "opposition vision" does not merely seek the defeat of America, but something much more essential to sustaining the rising tide of freedom across the globe. It seeks the defeat of the American ideal. And it seeks it while perversely claiming that it is here to "rescue" it by facilitating its defeat; an Orwellian apotheosis of stunning assertion, and one that will do more than anything else to advance the level of Global Warming to thermonuclear levels in one brief, shining afternoon than any other philosophy you can recall or imagine.

It is of little matter to those whose vision dare not speak its name. They believe, they deeply believe, that with enough talk and enough retreat, and enough appeasement, and enough money, and enough bribes that it will never come to that. Of course, it always does come to that, but this time, they assert, "will be different. We promise."

At bottom, believing that a butcher's bill will never come due, the destruction of the American ideal is really just fine with these "citoyens du monde." They yearn, from their perches in their perverse cosmopolitan realms, to see their nation defeated and humbled and lowered, because they long ago left that nation and ascended into those ethereal realms of their own private Fantasy Island. After all once the United States is reduced in power and prestige to Switzerland, what could possibly happen in the world that could keep their Fantasy Island from becoming the Green Utopian Earth?

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 8, 2015 12:13 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"To kill a snake you have to chop off it's head....The whole world's opinion of America would change overnight."

Yes, I know. I'm not at all interested in soccer either. I too let the FIFA blowup blow right past me.

But I was wrong. Thanks to the skills of John Oliver and his team I can now see the FIFA Kerfuffle as a gigantic metaphor for the deep and abiding corruption of, well, the entire glob. On the one hand, it is both illuminating and entertaining. On the other hand, it is an argument for the pit and confirming this planet's appointment with the death meteor.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 7, 2015 12:43 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
D-Day, June 6: "You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade...."


On the evening of June 5th, 1944, just hours prior to the D-day landings in Normandy, copies of the letter seen below - Eisenhower's Order of the Day - were distributed to members of the allied forces.




Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! ....

More at Letters of Note

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 5, 2015 6:08 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Someone Wonderful: "So now we have about 500 different sodas."

You just have to love John Nese and spend 12 great minutes with a great American businessman. As Chow.comtells it:

John Nese is the proprietor of Galcos Soda Pop Stop in LA. His father ran it as a grocery store, and when the time came for John to take charge, he decided to convert it into the ultimate soda-lovers destination. About 500 pops line the shelves, sourced lovingly by John from around the world. John has made it his mission to keep small soda-makers afloat and help them find their consumers. Galcos also acts as a distributor for restaurants and bars along the West Coast, spreading the gospel of soda made with cane sugar (no high-fructose corn syrup if John can avoid it).
No high-fructose corn syrup? Yes, yes, and yes! High-fructose corn syrup is perhaps the single most invidious ingredient in super-market foods. When I scan ingredients and see it on the list that item goes back on the shelf. It's not only calories consumed to no purpose, it's calories that taste crummy.

I've been dining out lately on the incredible difference between Mexican Coke (sane cane sugar) and the swill passed off as American coke (high-fructose corn crapola). It's true and you can taste and feel the difference with one sip. As a result I am very pleased to listen to this high-priest of boutique sodas, a man who knows what he's talking about.

Here's a few choice quotes pulled from the video:

Corn syrup is totally unnecessary. Why would you use corn as the sweetener? Once a year Coca Cola makes a kosher Coke. It's got a yellow cap. Try it side by side with the regular Coke. The one with the cane sugar just goes pop! And it explodes and it's delicious., The one with the corn just goes fzzzzt.....

"Energy drinks? UGH! Energy drinks just taste bad."
"Big business loves big government. It just uses it to take over the market and then jack up prices."
"What I always wanted to do was to do business with other businesses my size."
"People still come in looking for RC Draft which was a soft cola. Very smooth."
"Coke and Pepsi love recycling. It gets them out of ever have to wash a bottle. If we really cared about the environment you'd have 're-use' and not 'recycling.'"

Re-use rather than recycling. I guess he's hip to the ever expanding glass mountains accruing at municipal garbage dumps around the nation since, surprise, it's cheaper to make glass from sand that to recycle it. Men like Nese should be in government rather than the substandard toads, right and left, that currently infest it. But then again, no. If he did we'd be out one really great soda store and that is just not worth it.

[UPDATE: Yes, Nese's Galcos Soda Pop Shop lets you buy on line for shipping to your parched home address. Check out Galco's Soda Pop Stop for details. ]


Posted by Vanderleun Jun 5, 2015 1:22 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Presented for your approval: Lileks, James

"The new bed was perfect. But it meant the old bed had to go. With no small amount of huffing / puffing my wife and I dragged off the mattress and put it in the sun porch, but how to get it downstairs and out on the boulevard for the trash persons?

Answer: close the door to the sun porch and forget about it. Eventually one’s wife will ask “is that going to stay there forever?” and you can say, if you are so bold, of course not; in the short term the house will fall down. In the long term the sun will expand in a fiery ball of all-consuming destruction before it collapsing into a dense brooding cinder. Not sure I get your point. Nothing lasts forever. I used to think the universe would eventually contract back into a single point then begin again in an inconceivable explosion, an idea that made the birth and death and rebirth of the firmaments something akin to the rise and fall of breath, but I’m starting to think that universes pop out of black holes in an endlessly renewing sequence of creation, with the old universes eventually fading away through heat death like an expired gust of life that takes a billion billion years to exhale and fade away. I’d like it to be so, because it’s intellectually and emotionally satisfying, and that’s should make one suspect of the theory. The laws of the universe are not written with our own happiness in mind. The universe is pitiless; the only act of grace it contains is the creation of circumstances in which intelligent life can arise, behold it, and seek out its mysteries. Which is a bit self-centered, really. It’s like having kids just so they can write your biography.
You look irritated, dear.

LILEKS (James) :: The Bleat 2015

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 5, 2015 1:20 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
I'm not opressin you, Sam. You haven't got a womb. Where's the fetus goin' to gestate? You gonna keep it in a box?

I’m old enough to remember when Monty Python’s Life of Brian wasn’t a tool of Heteronormative Oppression:
Now as we’ve reached where the refusal to acknowledge Bruce Jenner as Caitlyn brands one as a purveyor of hate does anybody want to make book on how long it will be before this scene is cut from TV broadcasts of Monty Python’s Life of Brian?


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 5, 2015 10:01 AM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink


Adrift on seas of wine
Off the coasts of slate,
The golden bells of mermaids rang
Night's changes by the Gates

Of Hercules. The wind stood up
And danced upon our sheets.
A ship sailed through our window,
Its sailors robed in sleet.

Among them brave Ulysses,
Captain Ahab and his crew.
Stormtossed, they'd slept in silt
For an age, then sailed anew,

Northward to those seas of ice
Where iron seagulls rust.
From pole to pole they seek their homes
Long since turned to dust.

Above them fishing ships in fleets
Still strain the sea for gold,
While at their table Homer's wine
Refuses to grow old.

At times they shade our reefs of dream,
And we sense them as they pass --
Like shadows thrown by the moon,
Like whispers heard through glass.

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 5, 2015 5:49 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
June 4th, 1940: ‘We shall never surrender’

"Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

"We shall go on to the end.

"We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be.

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. 4th June 1940: Winston Churchill

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 4, 2015 6:45 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rules
  1. Love God.
  2. Always have a knife.
  3. Don't put your hands on anyone, require the same from everyone else.
  4. Don't allow yourself to be wronged or insulted.
  5. Everyone lies.
  6. Watch the hands, hands kill.
  7. If it's not yours don't take it.
  8. Pockets are to be used to assist you in life.
  9. All guns are loaded.
  10. It is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.
  11. Keep your word.
  12. Keep an eye on the door.
  13. Have a plan.
  14. Never apologize if you aren't wrong or for doing the job right.
  15. Don't mess with the coffee.
  16. It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.
  17. Have a second plan
  18. Have a way to make fire.
  19. Never bother a Holyman unneccessarily.
  20. Don't bother the driver, he is driving.
  21. If you aren't willing to lead, don't bitch about being led.
  22. Cigars are acceptable. Cigarrettes are not.
  23. Make love to your wife atleast once a week. A loved wife is a happy wife.
  24. Work.
  25. Make it home.

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 4, 2015 1:37 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The game is the game

Every tautology in The Wire, in chronological order.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 3, 2015 1:56 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Spirit of Party" ... is itself a frightful despotism.


I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations.

Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. - - Washington's Farewell Address

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 2, 2015 9:07 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

It was 48 years ago today......


From This Day in History: June 1st- Sgt. Pepper:

‘Sgt. Pepper is the one. It was a peak. Paul and I were definitely working together.” – John Lennon

After years of touring and relentless media attention, the Beatles felt frustrated creatively. They were tired of wearing matching suits in front of throngs of screaming girls. None of them came to hear the music. They could listen to their Beatles’ records at home. They went to a Beatles concert to worship their heroes and shriek at the highest decibel level possible, and sometimes throw Jelly Beans at them.

By the fall of 1966, the Beatles decided to focus their efforts on writing and recording. They entered Abbey Road studios with producer George Martin in November. Freed from the pressures of the road, the band’s creativity hit even loftier heights, and they urged George Martin to challenge the accepted limits along with them. What they managed to achieve using four-track equipment should shame the Pro-Tools generation of today.

It wasn’t just the music that was colorful, fresh and innovative. The way it was presented was also groundbreaking and inventive, which raised the bar for every other band’s album artwork for decades to come. The cover by Michael Cooper featured the now-iconic gathering of cardboard cut-out characters posing class picture-style, with the group dressed in old-timey band uniforms standing in the forefront. The Beatles had morphed into Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Still the Beatles, only – trippier.

Sgt. Pepper’s was the first concept album. As the orchestra tunes up and the audience hushes, we’re introduced to the band. They then take us through a musical journey spanning from English vaudeville to Indian mysticism until the band bids us farewell, and we’re left with the closing masterpiece “A Day in the Life”. You’re left mesmerized by “the chord that lasts forever” and you’re left wishing the whole album would do the same.

It’s no exaggeration to say this record changed people’s lives and changed the way their fellow artists approached the art of album making. After Sgt. Pepper, everybody and their brother had a go at making a concept album. The Stones were one of the first to follow with “Their Satanic Majesties Request”. (They wisely returned to roots rock with their next album.)

Paul McCartney plays down the Beatles as the “Pied Pipers of a generation” theory insisting that “the mood of the album was in the spirit of the age, because we ourselves were fitting into the mood of the time” and “the Beatles weren’t the leaders of the generation, but the spokesmen.”

Even almost half a century later, fans still remember the effect Sgt. Pepper’s had on them during that long ago summer of love.

NPR’s “All Songs Considered” host Bob Boilen said, “What I remember most about that first listen and that first look was how mysterious it all was. The artful montage on the front, the Sgt. Pepper cut outs that came inside, there was the cut-out mustache, the stripes and badges of the Sgt. Pepper uniform and of course there were the lyrics. To this day it’s my favorite album not just because I love the songs, but because it was, for me, the first album that held mystery, whose cuts flowed effortlessly from song to song — and those songs changed each time I heard them. They still do.”


For the full, uncropped cover.....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 1, 2015 12:19 PM | Comments (22)  | QuickLink: Permalink
“An Untethered Miniature Origami Robot that Self-folds, Walks, Swims, and Degrades.”

Fascinating.... but very, very creepy:

"And the tiny bot does even more than that, lifiting twice its mass, moving through objects, and moving things around via magnet. The itty bitty bot can move at speeds of 3 and 4cm/s. When you’re done playing with this little robot, it can self-degrade in acetone, leaving nothing but its magnet behind. The implications of this little treasure are huge and in the future, robots like these will be able to move through the human body to help it heal from various ailments. -- Visual News

Why does this "innovation" creep me out? Well, as is noted elsewhere.....

This is the first time that a robot has been able to demonstrate a complete life cycle like this, and eventually, it’ll be doing it inside your body. - IEEE Spectrum

"He had trained it, probably by the use of the milk which we saw, to return to him when summoned. He would put it through this ventilator at the hour that he thought best, with the certainty that it would crawl down the rope and land on the bed. It might or might not bite the occupant, perhaps she might escape every night for a week, but sooner or later she must fall a victim." -- The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 1, 2015 10:30 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
We will be flying today at an altitude of twenty feet.

Airplane Home - Boeing 727 from Even Quach on Vimeo.

And he's not alone....

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 1, 2015 9:53 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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