Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Boomer Ballads: Do You Love Me? by The Contours

And now we declare that the end of this highly dubious year has begun. Memo to Self for 2016: Never forget that nobody puts Baby in a corner.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 30, 2015 11:47 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"While You Were Out"

The Spark Gap

I've long had a theory about why prayers are answered, but answered rarely. I think that God, for all his omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience is pretty much nailed to the present as far as humans go.

Yes, I know all the arguments for predestination and preordination but those strike me as a one-way street to Dullsville even for God. If, as God, You let Yourself know everything that was going to happen everywhere for all time (Not that You couldn't if You wanted to.), what's the entertainment value in that proposition? Slim to none, if you ask me.

We don't know much about God. Indeed, there are many among us who make it a point to know even less -- until they are proud, damned proud, to know nothing at all. Once they achieve this brainfade, they encourage the rest of us to follow suit in a paroxysm of self-willed ignorance. Today there are fresh new scriptures attesting to this revelation. There are traveling preachers of this gospel. There are even congregations, support groups, jewelry, and t-shirts. It's a religion. Of sorts. A religion in which you collectively as individuals agree to worship Zero, and to carry the gospel to others. Seems like a waste of life to me.

In fact, we are probably not yet wired to know much about God. If the Smart Monkey survives itself, evolution (Great and brilliant tool of God that it is.) will probably finish the deeper neural nets of our brains at some point in the aeons to come, and we will slowly come to descry the faintest shadow of a clue. About all that is. About the fundamental nature of the miracle. For the present, most of us remain in shadow, looking at the noema from without; running on the insights of the genetic spiritual sports that appear on Earth so rarely that their lives are remembered forever.

At the present time, most of what we know about God comes from assumptions built on revelations. These are backed-up with a sheaf of incomplete, poorly translated notes from chance encounters.

The Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrate that, to date, our record keeping is spotty and our storage methods poor. If you think that any future chance meetings or memos are going, in the long run, to be kept any better than the Dead Sea Scrolls, please tell me what's on that six-inch floppy disc at the bottom of the fourth box to the left on the third shelf from the top at the back of my garage.

Nope. The problem is not knowing the will and laws of God. They are pretty simple, straight forward, and seem, for the most part, to be embedded in the cerebral cortex of most before birth. In addition, there are lots of memos in every language and no shortage of interpreters -- AM/FM/SW; network and cable; 24/7/365, forever and ever, amen, can I get a witness? Even so there have to be thousands of memos that, although sent, we just didn't get. Indeed, even working with the memos that we did get, you'd have to admit that we are very poor at carrying out the policies they announce. It probably has to do with us not being finished just yet.

We know that God is not finished with us yet in many ways, but the most obvious sign is the fact that, if God were finished with us, we'd have a third set of teeth that would come in around age 45. Why this doesn't happen overnight as a miracle is a question asked by many while waiting for the Novocain to kick in just before the root canal. Many a prayer has been sent up during these moments, but not as many as those that came with root canals before the advent of anesthetic, i.e. "Oh, God!" Indeed, Novocain -- the idea to create it and technology to make it -- is probably a non-interventionist God's answer to such a plethora of prayer.

Since we see, in small ways in our own lives and in larger ways in the realms of the world and history, that prayers are, from time to time, actually answered, and since we are only the dim and unfinished Smart Monkey, we naturally wonder why all prayers are not answered all the time. After all, what would be better for the dim Smart Monkey to have God working for him as an individual all the time? Nothing.

Everyone in Death Valley wants ice-water. Everyone wants a personal God, ideally right next to your personal barrista of your personal Starbucks in your personal walk-in closet-- "I'll have a double-shot Americano and a 378 year life-span as a blonde teenage cheerleader, please." Hey, you don't ask you don't get.

In fact, whole elements of religion are centered around having you find and keep a personal relationship with God. But just because you have a personal relationship with God (and you should), doesn't mean God has to have a personal relationship with you. He is, after all, God and He's got a whole universe to run. It's a big place and He's just one God and He's busy.

It's true He has staff, but He's running a universe on a pyramid organization table and has, still, some problems with delegation of power. He tried that untold aeons ago and a number of vice-presidents got a bit above themselves and got sent to a branch office. Not fired exactly -- let's just say they were put in charge of Guam. The result was that the CEO still retains the power to make fundamental alterations to the shape of reality and its product line.

For the most part, God lets the Evolution Factory handle reality. The Evolution Factory is one of his better projects. Brilliant really.

After all, if You were God and were going to create and run an entire universe, You wouldn't really want to be running around it all the time doing hands-on alterations on everything from quarks to galaxies. Micromanagement is boring and doing a bunch of handwork on the entire universe for all eternity can get old really quick. It's much better just to create a process that will essentially hunt and peck along for order across billions of years and, sooner or later, come up with a life form that can both apprehend You and make a hot-fudge sundae at the same time.

So You come up with light, touch everything off with a crisp "Let there be...," and take a break for ten billion years or so. Much more relaxing than hanging around in the void with nothing but a bunch of sub-atomic particles and an infinite supply of Super-Gluons.

And yes, You put free-will into the mix, but not for the benefit of anything that comes along with a will to free, but for Your benefit -- that You be not bored by Creation. After all, if You are God and, looking out on space, feel lonely, what's the point of making a Universe where you know how it will turn out from the Big Bang? It would be like having 500 cable channels which are all showing Pulp Fiction all the time -- pretty much like it is now.

Whatever else He may be, God is not that dull a programmer especially when He is the Audience.

Instead getting eternally bored in quantum reality, it's much smarter to whip up some matter, let it bake, expand, set, toss in a few -- very few -- places safe for organic matter, mix in some DNA, and then let her rip.

Result? As far as we know, six billion channels on Earth alone, each with its story where the ending is always in doubt. It happens that way when you get that many Smart Monkeys "working on mysteries without any clues," and it is invariably entertaining. Which is why God likes to spend afternoons with soap operas and has let Lost slump in the ratings.

Still, because of the predilection of DNA-based free will, God will have a lot of the Smart Monkeys wondering about His motives. Krishnamurti was once asked, "If God is all good, why is there evil in the world?" To which he responded, after reflecting for a moment, "To thicken the plot." Now, I'll be the first to say that, while correct, this doesn't really satisfy when it comes to such issues as childhood leukemia. But I'll also note that God did leave one small backdoor into his universal code, prayer.

For a certain type of extremely stupid smart and educated person, prayer is something to be sneered at their entire life right up to the moment when they see the intergalactic candle snuffer descending on their head or the head of those they love. At this point, it is the rare wiseguy who does not spontaneously discover his or her capacity for prayer. Indeed, it strikes me that it is often the agnostic or the atheist who become the most voluble bargainer with God under unfortunate circumstances. Lord knows, I was.

It is only recently that I've come, in my dotage, to see that prayer -- even unheard or unanswered -- can be a powerful intellectual force in one's life. And by this I mean prayer in its most personally humiliating and elevating form: down on the knees and speaking out loud. Daily. Very abasing and very uplifting at one and the same time.

For most of the time, answers come there none. But that's the way of prayer. If prayer were the vending machine of God, we'd spend all our time on our knees between meals and lovemaking and let basic maintenance of roofs and refrigeration go to Hell. Nope, prayer as a constant begets random answers, and not always the straight-forward ones we were looking for, because we are a very simple Smart Monkey.

Indeed, it has occurred to me, in my very dim monkey brain, that prayer can work even if God Himself does not exist. (Yes, He's just that clever.) Prayer seems to be a need hard-wired into our limited cortex. If you doubt this, please go out, find a war, dig a hole, and sit in it under an artillery barrage for an hour or two. Then come back to continue this discussion.

As I was saying, prayer -- with or without God -- makes us stronger and our desires and abilities more focussed just by happening. As a result, things you pray for tend to happen to you more often than things you don't pray for simply because your abilities are more concentrated on the outcome. Pretty clever wiring for a God who does not exist.

You may, of course, because you have free will, mark it down to a random effect of DNA fresh from the uber-automated Evolution Factory. And you can explain it all, over and over again, to the other members of your religion. That doesn't mean your memo is going all the way to the Top.

After all, what makes you think God wants to read your plaintive little magazine articles in the portentously titled "National Geographic" or "Scientific American?" He not only wrote the blueprints and whipped up the algorithm for the Evolution Factory, He did Charles Darwin in a nanosecond's afterthought just because He felt we weren't getting onto it fast enough. Before Darwin we had clues, but we didn't yet have a prayer. Now we've got fish with feet on the backs of our cars so others can tell our way-new religion from the old. And marvel at what smart monkeys we must be.

Prayer's important to God because it is His way of staying current with the various problems besetting free-will in smart monkeys. After all, He may be a bit detached with love from this part of His creation, but He knows we have, well, "issues" with life and all that, and He'd like to know. Prayer is, in a sense, God's suggestion box; which is why many think that not all prayers are answered and why some, like the Tibetans, think that if you repeat a prayer often enough it gets noticed and answered. This irritating approach to prayer probably cost them their nation even though it hasn't shut them up. In general, it is probably not a good idea, but who am I to criticize? I'll leave that to the Dalai Lama who seems to be carrying on just fine.

For me prayer is done best the old-fashion way: on knees, a hearty "How are you today, God, and thank you for the miracle of creation and for letting me witness one more day of it, and, oh, while we're at it...." and then I slip one in quick and move on to, "Thanks again for being God, Have a good one." And off it goes.

But what comes back? Precious little but I'm not complaining. I'm not complaining at all. Let me repeat that in case He wasn't listening, "God, I'm all right with whatever You want to do."

You see, my theory about why prayers are answered only rarely concerns God's work load. As noted above, He's one God who is running a very big universe. Perhaps He's got the whole thing franchised and He's running thousands of universes in a host of different dimensions, all with local variations to the main menu. We don't know. We can't know. But if you grant even one universe to this one God, you've got to admit this would be a very busy Supreme Being. Even being omnipotent and omnipresent and omniscient, You'd still have an In-Box beyond the human mind's capacity for bogglement.

So what do You do? You do what Big Executives everywhere do. You show up for work early and leave late. Every so often you come in on week-ends. You always take a ton of work home. Believe me when I say, "Your arms to short to lift God's attache case." Even then the occasional all-nighter is not out of the question if you're doing a complicated project like, say, a platypus.

As God, it's good you don't have a wife because she'd make your home life a, dare I say it?, living hell. There are, after all, some advantages to having a Son by a mortal woman, not that She's any less holy for that, but at least She isn't waiting at home with the dinner growing cold for the multi-billioneth time. Better still, You don't have to phone in from somewhere out near the galactic core of Andromeda with some lame excuse.

But given even the most hard working, attentive and desk-bound CEO God we monkeys can imagine, even God has got to, sooner or later, take a break. A little stroll down the corridor to check in with the staff -- management by walking around so to speak. A brief visit to the God's room for a little wash-up and wet-comb. A small working lunch with The Boys. For all we know, a weekend in Vegas in, we hope, the high-roller suite with very attentive room service. After all, when You are God you can set your own schedule.

So, for whatever reason, God is sometimes away from his desk. But does that stop the prayers? Not a bit. They keep coming in at the same pounding rate that they always do from every corner of the cosmos. After all, prayers are postage paid so you don't every have to look around for a stamp. You just make it, hit "Send," and, Bingo, off it goes with that little swooshing sound that comes with Macintosh Mail. (Yes, God prefers Apple -- especially after some of the smartest, richest monkeys in the world came out with Vista.)

This (that Bruce Almighty movie notwithstanding) does not mean that God does email. (See that Bruce Almighty movie for why.) Nope, as I noted above, God has staff to handle the incoming correspondence for Him. Don't think that this makes it easier for Him. Just a tad more organized.

The final upshot is that, even if God just steps away from his desk for a quick trip to heaven's free beverage machine, when He gets back he's confronted with at least 4,675,839 prayers presented as pink "While You Were Out Slips."

I submit that even the most omnipotent God cannot deal with incoming requests at this rate. The result? Pick some at random to answer, and tell your staff to file the rest for (possible) future reference. As an efficient executive, God has to be a clean-desk Supreme Being.

To me this is the most obvious reason that some prayers are answered while most are not. It's simply a question of time and resources, even for God.

Does it really happen this way? God knows.

[HT: The Doctor Is In -- for reminding me -- and who has much more to say.] First published, July, 2005

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 29, 2015 7:20 PM | Comments (51)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Not a Fan of Basketball, But I'd Pay Folding Money for Courtside in This League

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 29, 2015 10:37 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The True Tale of Buying a Knife in China


"I decided to buy a chopping knife, because cutting vegetables should be enjoyable, so I went to Carrefour across the street from campus. Carrefour is like a French version of Walmart that carries basically everything. In my Carrefour they sell clothing, backpacks, bikes, groceries of all kinds, rice cookers and other home appliances, dishes, beauty products, home and automobile cleaning products, and more.

"They do not sell knives, as I found out. Following some stabbings last decade, and in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, knife sales in China began to be restricted. As far as I’ve found, there’s no place in the central city to buy a big, sharp knife. I had to go to IKEA on the south side to find one.

"We - luckily I had a Chinese-speaking friend with me - found the knives in a locked glass case on the wall after slowly traversing the whole IKEA pathway to the market hall. We spoke to a salesperson and told her which one we wanted, and she brought us to a computer, where she entered my passport number and phone number. We then waited for about 15 minutes while they printed a paper with my information along with the knife’s. To actually get the knife, we had to take that paper to the cashier, pay, and then go to another counter off to the side, where they brought the knife out to us." -- The True Tale of Buying a Knife in China - Underlines

Knife legislation in China

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 28, 2015 11:51 PM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Many answers here to the eternal question, "The Japanese: Nuked too much or not enough?"

The Japanese answer to Bruce Jenner at 1:40 is especially illuminating.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 28, 2015 6:40 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sleepwalkers


Their enemy told the Sleepwalkers, in escalating words and deeds across decades, that the endgame was to convert and kill them all. They heard these promises only as faint susurrations saying he simply wanted to be left alone with his "peaceful" god. He offered them death by fire and decapitation and they were lulled and responded with "What is wrong with peace, love and understanding?"

This bankrupt mantra or one of its infinite variations was repeated and repeated from multiple sources without and within the mass of the sleepwalkers until many actually began to believe its soothing promise and drift back into their trance of "if only..." and "What can we give them to make them leave us alone?" It was, after all, a drugged sleep.

Meanwhile, the enemy's preparations for the sacrifice of one of the Sleepwalkers' cities continued with only minimal disruption and delay. At home, a quisling leadership elected on "hope and change" did all it could to give the enemy hope that it could change the nation into a nation enslaved with shariah from coast to coast, and yet remained strangely invulnerable to patriots' efforts at replacement or blunt removal. Instead of watchmen alerted at home, all eyes were trained abroad, Europe or the middle-east, since few Sleepwalkers could muster the courage to look about them. All believed that the sacrifice would happen, but most could not bear to contemplate it even as a few traitors actively looked forward to it as final proof of the corruption of the nation that had nurtured in them the freedom to despise it.

The enemy's preparations for the sacrifice of one of the Sleepwalkers' cities continued with only minimal disruption and delay.

To aid in this they worked actively to dissolve whatever border security was left.

The instruments of war that would be used to kill the city were either already hidden on the Sleepwalkers' shores or stored within one of the surviving nations hostile to the Sleepwalkers' existence awaiting transhipment to the target.

The Sleepwalkers' enemies' programs to purchase or manufacture other weapons of mass destruction continued around the globe at an ever faster pace, hidden behind a screen of the usual international commissions and a bodyguard of fresh denials heaped on the mountain of yesterday's lies.

The Sleepwalkers' enemies' dispersed cells of suicidal agents continued to thrive within our cities, protected and sheltered by their relatives and fellow travelers that the Sleepwalkers had graciously assumed to be "moderate," even loyal. They moved among us, clad in their false histories, secure in the knowledge that our own institutionalized rules of decency decreed that having the appearance of a suspect group was the surest protection against being investigated as an enemy.

The Sleepwalkers' enemies' efforts to recruit those among them that hated them increased as his chief organizing tool, his "religion," was welcomed into the Sleepwalkers' prisons, and allowed to flourish by those assigned to administer the prisons as a means of keeping those prisons quiet. And it did, as any place which men undertake the serious study and planning of wholesale death becomes quiet.

Outside of those prisons the enemies recruitment and organizational centers were draped in the vestments of "places of worship" and allowed to thrive. Many were even funded by the Sleepwalkers' own government. In all it was a nightmare in which many rolled in the long, long night before the light of an incinerated city with all the men and women and children had been converted to human torches and crisp statues of ash dissolving to dust in a dawn rain. The Sleepwalkers did not know the name of the nightmare's city but they would learn it in that dawn.

All these things they knew. All these things they saw. They did not awaken the Sleepwalkers. They would only awaken later, in the final hour. And they would awaken into nightmare.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 27, 2015 1:22 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Christmas in History: First Media Reports of Nativity Story


Samara Post Intelligencer Suspected Religious Cultists Exposed in Bethlehem

A homeless couple claiming that an "angel" had declared their infant child "the son of God," was caught red-handed while apparently trying to engage in some ritual involving animals behind a local inn. Despite his young age, the unplanned and undocumented child whom they referred to as "Jesus" had already acquired notoriety in the religious underworld, operating under several aliases including Immanuel, Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, and The Prince of Peace. Authorities are investigating a possible link to the highly profitable smuggling of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. -- People's Cube

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 26, 2015 10:42 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pictures of the Gone World: Christmas, 1950

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

-- Kabos

From Sippican Cottage: Merry Christmas to Everyone, Everywhere, and All the Ships at Sea

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 25, 2015 7:16 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: "Silent Night" featuring Plácido Domingo -ThePianoGuys

Sometimes it seems there is little in this world today that is silent, holy, calm, or bright. However noisy, unholy, frenetic, or dark it may appear to be, music such as the immortal hymn, “Silent Night,” carries with it a feeling that can remind us there is still an abundance of virtue all around us. There is hope and beauty. And there is light.

To properly paint this feeling we collaborated with none other than the tenor legend, Plácido Domingo, whose sublime vocal gift is rivaled by his kindness and sincerity. It was a joy to work with him. He is an artist whose illustrious, exalted career has not snuffed out his sweet disposition or his genuine love for the art of music. Joining us are the children from the Cathedral School Choristers, whose pure faith proclaim the profound message of this hymn. We filmed this during an East coast tour in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, one of the largest cathedrals in the world, a colossal monument to the greatest gift ever given, the Son of God.

May your Christmas this year be filled with serenity, spirituality, peace, and felicity.

Merry Christmas from The Piano Guys!

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 24, 2015 12:18 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
15 [Make That 16] Uncanny Examples of the Golden Ratio in Nature


Snail shells and nautilus shells and follow the logarithmic spiral, as does the cochlea of the inner ear.

It can also be seen in the horns of certain goats, and the shape of certain spider's webs.
Not surprisingly, spiral galaxies also follow the familiar Fibonacci pattern. The Milky Way has several spiral arms, each of them a logarithmic spiral of about 12 degrees. As an interesting aside, spiral galaxies appear to defy Newtonian physics. As early as 1925, astronomers realized that, since the angular speed of rotation of the galactic disk varies with distance from the center, the radial arms should become curved as galaxies rotate. Subsequently, after a few rotations, spiral arms should start to wind around a galaxy. But they don't — hence the so-called winding problem. The stars on the outside, it would seem, move at a velocity higher than expected — a unique trait of the cosmos that helps preserve its shape. -- IO9

N.B.: Hurricanes also form in the Golden Spiral.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 22, 2015 9:52 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Global Warming and Old Man Winter Has Nothing to Say to Candide Thovex

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 21, 2015 10:57 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."

Today, my 101-year old mother is giving me her Christmas present for the 101st time. This. No, not at Cambridge but at Chico California.

The real gift is seeing it with her.

"Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. (I Corinthians 15: 51-52) "

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 20, 2015 10:16 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. "

Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it!! Is that clear?! You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance!

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels.

It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?

You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.

What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state -- Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do.

We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality -- one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.

And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.

Beale: But why me?

Jensen: Because you're on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.

Beale: I have seen the face of God.

Jensen: You just might be right, Mr. Beale.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 18, 2015 6:59 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
High Plains Drifter from Mordor


"Imagine a man whose father’s and mother’s cultures are profoundly irreconcilable, who was raised with exposure to competing religions,

whose childhood playmates sometimes classed him as one of this group and sometimes as one of that; whose parents eventually separated, whose remaining half-family was visibly different from him in appearance, and whose frustrations found release in mood-altering drugs. He matures into an identity which is always-other, always “not what you think”, always as Hermes-like as the chameleon. He comes from one side but can move easily to the other. He somehow migrates from a mediocre college to an Ivy League institution: the details of his admission are unknown. He succeeds famously at said institution… except that his “fame” is ex post facto: no one remembers ever seeing him in class. He directs a prestigious student publication and receives his degree… but nothing that he himself authored has ever been found (including a “ghost-written” bestseller from years later), and his college transcripts were apparently printed with water on the wind.
" He is all things to all men… and yet, he is not really one of any of them. He belongs to the night, the shadows. Just when you think you’re closest to grasping him, your hands are most full of thin air. You thought he was here to help you—but he’s really here to roast you. His name is No Man; his name is Revenge."

Read it all at Intellectual Conservative « Obama's Personality Disorder HT:Happy Acres


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 18, 2015 6:24 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The 7 Defects of Highly Secular Societies


1. Over-abstraction: the literature of the theorists routinely spoke of "differentiation," "autonomization," "privatization," and other abstract, if not abstruse, dynamics disengaged from concrete factors of social change such as interests, ideologies, institutions, and power conflicts.

2. Lack of human agency: the theory was big on process without protagonists. It depicted secularization without secularizers. According to the theory, secularization just happens.

3. Overdeterministic inevitability: "Religion's marginalization from public life is portrayed as a natural or inevitable process like cell mitosis or adolescent puberty." Secularization theory reflects a view of linear social evolution in the tradition of Comte and Spencer. "If there is one truth that history teaches us beyond doubt," wrote the great Durkheim, "it is that religion tends to embrace a smaller and smaller portion of social life." Any questions, class?

4. Idealist intellectual history: here the history of ideas is determinative. "Culture, philosophy, and intellectual systems certainly matter. But they cannot be abstracted from the real historical, social, political, legal, and institutional dynamics through which they worked and were worked upon."

5. Romanticized history: there was in the view of secularization theorists an "age of faith" --for instance, the thirteenth century -- which was succeeded and displaced by the age of reason and modernity. Then everything was religious; now everything, or at least everything that matters in public, is secular.

6. An overemphasis on religious self-destruction: Berger's 1967 The Sacred Canopy suggested that the Judeo-Christian tradition "carried the seeds of secularization within itself."

7. Underspecified causal mechanisms: "Exactly how did industrialization and immigration work to produce religious privatization? Why should we treat these as some kind of 'great gears of history' that inexorably grind their way toward religious privatization? Rather than all nodding our scholarly heads together in what could be premature analytical closure, we need to go back and force ourselves to answer these questions again."

-- -- Richard John Neuhaus,Secularization Doesn't Just Happen

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 17, 2015 10:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Dear Brother

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 16, 2015 8:49 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Frame Up: Go With the Throw


"When I was a boy I had a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye"

-- Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb

The inscape of our world is always with us, omnipresent; a third that walks beside us. We are the ones who shut it out, who lose the thread when tangled in the web of daily events, who forever forget that we can always remember.

To live always in the light, in the presence of the now is something that is perhaps only possible for saints, as it is, for brief moments, available to poets. The power and luminosity rising out of the base ground of being can easily overwhelm our reduced senses; can strike us dumb, leave us numb. But at the same time this state of being is the state that we seek in our blind tapping towards God, thirsting for the merest sip of it, listening for the smallest hint of it, when we are in prayer or meditation, or satisfied at last to sit silently with ourselves.

At times we despair and turn our back on it, the pearl of great price we shall never possess, never grasp in this life. But the hints persist and proliferate always in the natural world about us, haunt us in the shadows of our soul. To have tasted the smallest crumb initiates a hunger never slaked by the senses alone. Once seen, even in the briefest glimpse, the sight is never forgotten. But if we drop our shields just a bit, we can see glimmer of that greater light almost at will.

Here's one technique for reaffirming the basic evidence of wonder in our world; that the world is made of a perceptible mystery beyond our means of measuring, but not beyond all sight unless we will ourselves blind.


Take a camera and a picture frame or mat (any frame of any size will do) and walk out into the world to any area given over without recent interference to nature. This can be a field, a forest, the seashore, a desert, a bramble, or a mountainside. Any area like this will do. It can even be a backyard let run to seed, as is the case here. The strict locale does not matter. What does matter is that it be a place where the hand of man has not of late intruded; some place that for some time has been left to its own devices and the work of weather, water, and wind.


Turning your back to the landscape, take the frame and toss it over your shoulder in any direction and with any force you like. You can even shut your eyes and then whirl around like a dervish and flip the frame into the air. Toss as random as you like. You can even turn and toss with intention as in a game of quoits. Your intention matters little.

Now take your camera and photograph whatever is in the frame, letting the frame in your lens take in the frame on the earth or in the tree or bush or wherever the frame has come to rest.


Repeat ten, twenty, thirty or however many times seems right to you. Then pick up the frame and go home.

Develop or image the pictures you've got and look at them. If you didn't notice it when you were taking them you will notice that, however difficult it may be for you to compose a photograph, whatever appears inside the frame you tossed blind and at random into nature seems very well composed indeed.

Now there are, of course, a number of rational explanations for why this should be so. There are the proportions of the frame. There is the structure of the mind itself and the training it undergoes, consciously and subconsciously, through the unremitting exposure to images of art and commerce on a daily basis. And there is of course the mathematical explanation devolving from the realms of fractals, chaos theory, and Fibonacci numbers – the realm of the golden mean and inscaping spirals burrowing deep into the substrate of creation itself.

But at the same time, if you look long enough and close enough with a mind that can stay quiet enough, you might also come to the understanding that in this exercise you can catch, if you do not come to close, a fleeting glimpse of that visage which our minds and mathematics cannot freeze.


And for all this, nature is never spent;_
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;_
And though the last lights off the black West went_
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—_
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent_
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

--God's Grandeur - Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)

Photographs here taken in my back yard in Queen Anne, Seattle Washington, on the morning of August 10 in the year of our Lord 2008.

Posted by Vanderleun Dec 16, 2015 4:48 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Whatever Happened to Little Richard?


Little Richard, now eighty-two years old, has reportedly been living the last several years in a penthouse suite at the Hilton hotel in downtown Nashville (the Hilton will neither confirm nor deny that they have a guest named Mr. Penniman).

Most Nashvillians I’ve talked to have no idea, although a local country singer told me he once happened to spot Richard sitting in the passenger seat of his black stretch Cadillac Escalade, the window cracked. He shouted out Little Richard’s name and Richard rolled down the window to say, “God bless you,” and hand him a book of prayers.
Richard doesn’t get out on the town much. He has been confined to a wheelchair since hip surgery in 2009 that he says went awry. Here’s how he explained it last summer in a rare public appearance, at Nashville’s Wildhorse Saloon, where he was honored at a luncheon hosted by the National Museum of African American Music: “I came to Nashville to see my sister. I bought a home for me and her here in the hills. And I went in for surgery on my hip. I was walking on my way in but I couldn’t walk out. The hip surgery was really bad for me. I haven’t walked since. I’m in pain twenty-four hours a day. I have never seen nothing like it.”
I knew someone who knew someone who had Little Richard’s cell phone number, and in June, I cold-called him. To my surprise, he picked up. He was kind but adamant about not doing an interview. He told me about his hip, about how much pain he was in. “People have been calling me from all over the world,” he said. “But I haven’t been doing any interviews, I’ve been refusing all of them. I’ll be eighty-three on December 5. The Lord has blessed me to still be alive.”
Read it all at Prayers for Richard


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 14, 2015 11:57 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Kingfisher


.... if I have any taste
it is only because I have interested myself
in what was slain in the sun

                             I pose you your question:

shall you uncover honey / where maggots are?

                             I hunt among stones

The Kingfishers by Charles Olson : The Poetry Foundation

This Shot of a Diving Kingfisher Was 6 Years and 720,000 Photos in the Making
Nailing the perfect shot sometimes requires a lot of patience. Scottish photographer Alan McFadyen would know: he spent an estimated 6 years, 4,200 hours, and 720,000 exposures trying to nail the perfect symmetrical shot of a kingfisher diving into its reflection.“Kingfishers dive so fast they are like bullets so taking a good photo requires a lot of luck – and a lot of patience,” McFadyen tells the Daily Mail. He also says that female kingfishers only dive a handful of times per day, so the shot is hard to predict. Finally, last month, everything came together. A bird did a perfect dive, and McFadyen finally managed to capture a shot in which the tip of the kingfisher’s beak is touching the surface of the lake.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 14, 2015 10:31 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Algae & Saving the Planet Redux: Carlin and Ghostsniper
The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are! ....We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. George Carlin: “We’re so self-important.”

"Almost exactly 9 years ago me and one other guy built with our own hands the very building I am sitting in right now. To do this meant to first clear about 60'x60' of heavily wooded land. After clearing and grading there was not a blade of grass left standing.

"Now, 9 years later, the building is showing a little wear and tear and there are 30' tall sycamore, tulipwood, and a few other types of trees on 3 sides of it that weren't there before and nobody planted them there.

"How did they get there?

"If you look close at the white lap siding on the north side of the building you will see a slight greenish hue, what is that? It is algae that I didn't clean off this summer like I normally do ever summer. If I never clean that algae off it will continue to accumulate and eventually the siding will succumb to it. The algae will consume the siding and everything it encounters. It's what algae does.

"In time those 30' trees will grow to be 80' tall and then die and some will fall on this building unless they are maintained some how. If they fall on the building it will continue to succumb to natures journey. Just like everything else does.

"All human activity on earth is merely a very thin film on the surface with almost no impact over the whole.

"People have difficulty grasping this concept because of their inability to weigh the scale of the thing as it is compared to the puny nothingness that occupies most of their daily worthless lives.

"All things will pass eventually except the earth, it is here for good and always will be here, doing what it has done for billions of years.

"That's it's purpose, it's reason for being. It is what it is, as they say.

"It is nothing but bare arrogant narcissism for anyone to believe they will have any effect at all on anything to do with this enormous and unbelievably old earth.

"It just ain't gonna happen.

"No matter what humans do to this earth, within that thin surface film, can be considered just moving the furniture around in the living room as it has no effect on the larger picture. Or maybe even just wiping the dust off the end tables in the living room. It won't change the whole neighborhood let along the city, country, or gasp, the earth itself.

"When you see people like Gates and Branson go on and on with their silliness consider the scale and then laugh loudly and openly in their direction then go on about your merry way safe in the knowledge that the earth you have always known will always be right where it always has been and always will be.

"In the end the earth will be here, but the humans may not as they may get wiped off that siding with the algae, as they deserve."

Posted by: ghostsniper The Top 40: Bill Gates and Richard Branson


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 13, 2015 1:05 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Another Ratchet Click: Putin Orders Military To "Immediately Destroy" Any Threat To Russian Forces


Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratcheted up the rhetoric in what appears to be one step closer to the potential for direct conflict with The West. While not detailing 'who' he was focued on, amid the obvious Turkey-Russia tensions, Putin told a session of the Defense Ministry's collegium that "I order to act extremely tough. Any targets that threaten Russian forces or our infrastructure on the ground should be immediately destroyed." During the meeting of the most senior defense officials, ITAR TASS reports that Putin also warned against "those who will again try to organize any provocations against our servicemen."
"We have already taken additional measures to ensure security of Russian servicemen and air base. It was strengthened by new aviation groups and missile defense systems. Strike aircraft will now carry out operations under cover of fighter jets"
| Zero Hedge



Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 12, 2015 9:50 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Chairman at 100


Frank Sinatra was now involved with many things involving many people

-- his own film company, his record company, his private airline, his missile-parts firm, his real-estate holdings across the nation, his personal staff of seventy-five -- which are only a portion of the power he is and has come to represent. He seemed now to be also the embodiment of the fully emancipated male, perhaps the only one in America, the man who can do anything he wants, anything, can do it because he has money, the energy, and no apparent guilt. In an age when the very young seem to be taking over, protesting and picketing and demanding change, Frank Sinatra survives as a national phenomenon, one of the few prewar products to withstand the test of time. He is the champ who made the big comeback, the man who had everything, lost it, then got it back, letting nothing stand in his way, doing what few men can do: he uprooted his life, left his family, broke with everything that was familiar, learning in the process that one way to hold a woman is not to hold her. Now he has the affection of Nancy and Ava and Mia, the fine female produce of three generations, and still has the adoration of his children, the freedom of a bachelor, he does not feel old, he makes old men feel young, makes them think that if Frank Sinatra can do it, it can be done; not that they could do it, but it is still nice for other men to know, at fifty, that it can be done. Frank Sinatra Has a Cold - Gay Talese


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 12, 2015 9:21 AM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Allahu Akbar!: The View from 2018

In May of 2018, the second year of Mrs. Clinton’s administration, national puzzlement was high over the continuing wave of mass killings. A week before, nineteen children had died in the Blaintree Kindergarten massacre in San Francisco when Mohammed Shah Massoud, Faisal ibn Saud, and Hussein al Rashid burst into the school and began firing.

As in the shooting three months earlier of thirteen in Washington by Mohammed Faisal and Sala al Din Hussein, and in the preceding fire-bombing of the Hancock Tower in Chicago by Farouk ibn Mohammed, experts struggled to make sense of events. The head of Homeland Security, Chupamela Sanchez-Jones, explained it succinctly: “It is almost impossible to prevent attacks when they have nothing in common. What do you look out for? What is the connection between killing children, firebombing a restaurant, and flying aircraft into buildings? There is none. It is baffling.”

Everyone of importance—the New York Times, MSNBC, NPR, the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and Salon—agreed that there was no obvious motive. Time and again for many years attackers had come from nowhere and killed for no reason. There was no pattern except the strange cry, “Allahu Akbar.”

Mrs. Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, Wilhelmina “Creepy” Crawley, offered an explanation.

“My staff at the Pentagon have determined that “Akbar” is a combination of “AK,” automatic Kalashnikov, which I am told is a form of gun, and BAR, Browning Automatic Rifle. This shows an unwholesome fascination with guns. We are investigating links to the NRA:”

Many more details at | Fred On Everything

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 11, 2015 5:15 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Quotes from the Underground 1


"If we’re honest with ourselves, the real wretched hive of scum and villainy is Skywalker Ranch, where George Lucas and his band of morally dissolute bastards created the Star Wars universe, a blight on western civilisation and culture."Star Wars Is Garbage - Breitbart

"A great evil is usually the result of the ruthless application and pursuit of a lie." One Cʘsmos: Tossing Thoughtcrimes through the Overton Window

"While our enemies hate this country, the White House party only loathes the American things."Losing the Will to Win | Anthony Bialy

"The important thing to remember about rebellions, even small ones, is that everyone who thinks they can control the forces unleashed -- can't. That goes for Obama and that goes for Trump. " The American Reboot | PJ Media

"The models imagined for a better future for transit in U.S. cities by its critics range from techno-utopianism, to a more democratic and consensus-based system for project selection, to something that looks much like the status quo, with a few less cars and a few more bike lanes. " Transit Infrastructure and the Temptations of Techno-Autocracy | Natasha Plotkin | The Hypocrite Reader

"I hate Donald Trump, people who love Donald Trump, people who hate Donald Trump, and media who cover Donald Trump." -- Mollie Hemingway

“We make generals today on the basis of their ability to write a damned letter. Those kinds of men can’t get us ready for war.” -- Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller

One week ago, two jihadists shot up a Christmas party, and less than a week later, we are all discussing the social implications of racism, prejudice, and Islamophobia. It’s embarrassing. -- Street Carnage

"Intense protests broke out in New York in 1998 when AIDS-prevention activists planned to decorate a Christmas tree in Central Park with condoms. "Branching Out | The Smart Set

“They eminent domained that shit. The lake was coming. That’s what everyone heard. We had no choice. They made us leave.” But the dam was never built. The Park Built on Forgotten Ghost Towns | Narratively | Human stories, boldly told.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 11, 2015 9:19 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Notes from the Underground 15

Photographers From All Over The World Capture Amazing Photos Of Children And Animals

Bret Easton Ellis on Living in the Cult of Likability
What is being erased in the reputation economy are the contradictions inherent in all of us. Those of us who reveal flaws and inconsistencies become terrifying to others, the ones to avoid. An “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”-like world of conformity and censorship emerges, erasing the opinionated and the contrarian, corralling people into an ideal. Forget the negative or the difficult. Who wants solely that? But what if the negative and the difficult were attached to the genuinely interesting, the compelling, the unusual? That’s the real crime being perpetrated by the reputation culture: stamping out passion; stamping out the individual.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 9, 2015 11:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dealing with Psychos: The Cobretti Method

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 9, 2015 10:27 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What It Would Take, 2004: Killing New York City


Back in 2004, I wrote the following "scenario" of what it would take to kill New York. I've updated it once or twice since, but it still works. I see that currently terrorists are thinking a bit smaller and simpler. And if they miss, they all think: "No matter. We'll come back tomorrow. We're sure to get a winner one of these days."

The Elements:

One City: New York

Three Locations: The Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, Penn Station

Terrorists: 4


Plastique explosives (15 pounds)
Backpacks: 2
Ten penny nails and ball bearings: 4 pounds
Anthrax: 2 Liters
Machine Guns: 4 (Small) with 2 extra clips each

Time: Late September to Early November when the weather makes wearing coats common.

Intellectual Equipment: An understanding of the New York subway and bridge system, an understanding of symbolism in America, a willingness to die.

The Method:

For over a year after the Eleventh, I used to think about the nature of the Brooklyn Bridge, and how easy it would be to damage this 19th century structure every time I walked across it -- which was often.

On the 11th I stood at the Brooklyn end of the bridge handing out water to the ash covered ghosts that came walking across it in endless droves.

After the 11th it was closed except for emergency vehicles for weeks on end. After that the bridge was guarded and vehicles vetted on a random schedule for months. For all I know this goes on today.

The Bridge and what it represents and, more importantly, what it controls in the way of access to and from NYC, makes for an exquisite lynchpin for a memorable workday morning in New York City. The way to work this little terrorist scenario is as follows:

Four dedicated homicide terrorists decide on a date certain to carry out something they have only rehearsed before. (Surely we've still got four sleeping somewhere near the Brooklyn mosque on Atlantic avenue about a half a mile from the bridge. After all, this is America where we hold all forms of religious expression sacred.) Because they are religious in nature and not given to alcohol or drug abuse, they've all held jobs in Manhattan for years and their morning ritual is nothing unusual. If there are any guards or surveillance people at any of the points these men pass through they've been seen thousands of times already. Always at about the same time. They are 'routine.'

One gets up and takes the A train to Penn Station at about six in the morning on, say, a Tuesday. Gets there and pops out of the entrance at 7th avenue and 31st street, turns right and walks about a half a block to the Starbucks, orders a latte and sits down to read the Times. Backpack/bookbag on the chair beside him. As usual.

The second one takes an express under the river and gets off at 14th Street/Union Square on the East Side with his off-brand little naughahyde attache. It usually contains his lunch and a selection of papers. Today it contains a couple of modified fire extinguishers -- the kind you can pick up at the local hardware store or, say, the Costco along the Brooklyn waterfront about three miles from the Atlantic Avenue mosque. Just a little something he's bringing to the office 'in case of fire.' You'd have to look carefully to note the seals have been broken.

He comes out of the subway and bides his time at the McDonalds on Union Square with a fine little Egg McMuffin.

The third man stops by an apartment building along Atlantic avenue to hook-up with his friend. They always walk together to work across the Brooklyn Bridge. They have for years. His backpack usually has some workout clothes for the gym. Today it contains a small Uzi and extra clips. The fourth has a similar backpack that usually also has some workout clothes. Today, before he leaves the apartment, the fourth man places a sequence of shaped plastique charges with either a cell phone detonator or a dead-man switch into his backpack He's probably armed as well.

All four have cell phones. All four have set up the speed dial numbers long ago.

When the last two have reached the stairs that lead up to the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn side of the Bridge at, say 7:30, the 3rd man phones the first two and gives them the 10 minute warning.

The man at Union Square goes down into the Union Square station and stands in the crowds on the platform near the uptown / downtown platforms. The trains have to stop on a curve here and the loading and unloading is always slower. If you stand to the end of the platform you can cover two lines at once. You tend to fade into the crowds coming and going as the morning rush begins to build.

The man at the 7th Avenue Starbucks goes into the bathroom stall upstairs and, opening his backpack, inserts the detonators into his explosive vest packed with a couple of layers of nails and ball bearings. Checking to make sure it is armed and good to go, he makes his way back to Penn Station. He gets in the back of the long lines waiting to buy rail tickers or subway passes in the midst of hundreds of people milling about.

The two on the bridge stroll past the security folks that may or may not be at the pedestrian entrance of the bridge. They walk about 150 yards out onto the span to where the cable is just a short little walk across the metal struts from the walkway. Pausing, one takes out his cell phone and gets the other two conferenced in while the other takes the shaped plastique charges from his backpack.

Now are, at about 7:40 Tuesday morning, all dressed up and with a lot of things to do in a very small amount of time.

The two listen in on the cell phone as the man on the bridge goes to work while the other stands ready.

Step one: Remove automatic weapon from backpack and empty a clip or two into the pedestrians, the bike riders and also into the cars below.

The resulting dead bodies and carnage from the accidents in the cars below essentially bring the bridge to a halt and give his partner some working room.

Step two: Walk across metal struts to cable with the plastique explosive belt from backpack and sort of loop it around the cable. If your explosives technicians know what they are doing, this is a shaped charge that will, at the very least, damage a main cable if not sever it.

Step three: Say your prayers to Allah and trigger the device.

When the cell phone connection to the men on the bridge goes dead, the fellow at 14th Street probably shoots a few people near him to give him some working room, takes the modified fire extinguishers out of his case and unloads a large cloud of anthrax or some other chemical or biological agent into the uptown and downtown tunnels at Union Square. The vast amounts of air pushed by the trains will disperse it quite nicely up and down the line.

The third man at Penn Station decides he doesn't need a subway pass for the next few instances of eternity, puts the cell phone away, gets to the center of the crowd and triggers his explosive vest. At about quarter to eight in the morning the immediate result is hundreds of shredded, dead, and wounded New Yorkers who never saw it coming.

Four men. Three cell phones. Maybe about 15 pounds of plastique and a couple of liters of anthrax. That's all it would take. New York would, in a moment, come to a complete halt and stay that way for some time.

Political result? Hard to say, but it would create a political climate in the United States where the nuclear option would become very, very real. New targeting instructions would be passed to the submarines and the land based missiles within three hours if they were not already there. Muslim round-ups would ramp up into the stratosphere. Voices urging restraint and respect for individual freedoms will be steamrolled into silence. John Kerry would know in an instant that the only thing that will keep him from becoming the Senior Senator from Massachusetts will be Teddy Kennedy and that little alliance will be kaput.

So, as you can see, the understanding of American symbolism is not lost on our enemies. They love this sort of thing. One might even say "They're just dying to do it."

Then again, since our security is now first rate, the best that billions can buy, it can't happen here. Can it?


From MARCH, 2004: What It Would Take -- A Simple Scenario @ AMERICAN DIGEST

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 8, 2015 11:42 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Are you a Democrat, Republican or Southerner? Here is a little test that will help you decide.


The answer can be found by posing the following question:

You're walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, an Islamic Terrorist with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, praises Allah, raises the knife, and charges at you. You are carrying a 40 cal pistol, and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?

Democrat's Answer:
Well, that's not enough information to answer the question!
Does the man look poor or oppressed?
Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
Could we run away?
What does my wife think?
What about the kids?
Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?
What does the law say about this situation?
Does the firearm have appropriate safety built into it?
Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society and to my children?
Is it possible he'd be happy with just killing me?
Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?
Should I call 9-1-1?
Why is this street so deserted?
We need to raise taxes, have paint and weed day and make this happier, healthier street that would discourage such behavior. This is all so confusing!
I need to debate this with some friends for few days and try to come to a consensus....

Republican's Answer: BANG!

Southerner's Answer: BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click..... (Sounds of reloading) BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! Click....
Daughter: "Nice grouping, Daddy! Were those the Winchester Silver Tips or Black Talon?"
Son: "Can I shoot the next one!"
Wife: "You ain't taking that to the Taxidermist!"


[HT: Never Yet Melted]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 8, 2015 9:39 AM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
All Foreseen in 2006: President Bush's State of the Union Address
In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores.

Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously.

They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder.

Their aim is to seize power in Iraq and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.

Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear.

When they murder children at a school in Beslan or blow up commuters in London or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth.

BUSH: But they have miscalculated. We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.


In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores.

There is no peace in retreat.

BUSH: And there is no honor in retreat.

By allowing radical Islam to work its will, by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself, we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals or even in our own courage.

But our enemies and our friends can be certain: The United States will not retreat from the world, and we will never surrender to evil.


America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies and faced down an evil empire.

Once again, we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed and move this world toward peace.

President Bush's State of the Union Address -- 2006

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 7, 2015 8:58 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Notes from the Underground 14

Pre-Post-America -- A typical scene before its tragic Left turn. Young people will never know the warmth of a healthy society HappyAcres

Liberal Nihilism in a Nutshell | PJ Media
Obama-ism accepts that intrusive government, fueled by equality-of-result ideology and pop multiculturalism, has few answers to today’s existential crises. Will we really stop terrorism by banning semi-automatic weapons (as well as box cutters, pipe bombs, and remote-driven toys?), on the theory that taking away guns from those who follow existing gun laws will make us safer from thugs and terrorists who don’t?

Frontier of Physics: Interactive Map |
The map provides concise descriptions of highly complex theories; learn more by exploring the links to dozens of articles and videos, and vote for the ideas you find most elegant or promising. Finally, the map is extensive, but hardly exhaustive; proposed additions are welcome.

The vengeance of the Vandals by James Panero
At the sound of a synthesized bass drum, a dubbed soundtrack of Arabic singing mixes with machine-gun fire as a group of jihadists smashes the museum’s artifacts with sledgehammers through slow motion and cross-fade takes. At one point a caption reads “Quran 21:58 ‘he reduced them to fragments.’ ” As the rampage turns to defacing a 2,700-year-old Assyrian lamassu sculpture (one of the few artifacts in the museum, it turns out, that had not been a copy), a split screen shows a black and white image of its excavation. A caption explains how “These idols and statues were not visible in the days of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, but were extracted by the worshippers of devils.”

Dear America, Here's Your Fascist Solution -
I want a federal tax break for gay to straight conversions, with interior decorators, playwrites & historical stereotypes exempt. I want the sale of gay marriage licenses to be even more tightly controlled than the sale of Xanax and other controlled substances. I want media coverage for gays to be as regulated as DTC (direct to consumer) advertising for pharmaceuticals (“May cause shortness of breath, long-lasting boners, etc.”) We can do all of this. It’ll create jobs, believe it or not: regulators, educators, enforcers.

Gruesome details revealed about 1972 Munich massacre
"The terrorists always claimed that they didn't come to murder anyone -- they only wanted to free their friends from prison in Israel. They said it was only because of the botched-up rescue operation at the airport that they killed the rest of the hostages, but it's not true. They came to hurt people. They came to kill."

Alternative Right: THE WILL TO FREAKERY
This is what the Left has become – a support system for cloistered freakery. All that is up is down, all that is in is out; inversion and perversion, and reality denied – because for every freak, pervert, and weirdo, there are always other freaks, perverts, and weirdos, who can be brought together by a click of a mouse to share in the aberration and support it. The great crime of the internet is that it gave such creatures a sense of normalcy, and the Left, in lieu of an actual revolutionary underclass, has embraced all such manifestations as the long-promised revolutionary proletariat. A culture this sick, however, will never be able to slither too far from its diseased portals, and when the day comes – as it inevitably will – the people outside the machines will switch off the people inside the machines, and empty these abominations onto the dry, hard ground like the contents of so many specimen jars from a cabinet of curiosities.

Trump has a good chance
So, predicting Trump gets the Republican nomination, predicting that he easily outpolls Hillary, predicting that he will win unless the government does something undemocratic to stop him, which it well may, predicting that if elected, he will find the permanent government highly uncooperative, and that anything he manages to do, will be quietly undone. Predicting high risk of crisis that the left causes, and does not need to cause, that just as they are engaged in proxy war with Russia and are spoiling for open war with Russia for absolutely no sane reason, they are spoiling for proxy war and open war with the American voter for absolutely no sane reason.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 7, 2015 7:07 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
FD Obama addresses Congress after attack on Pearl Harbor


The United States was at peace with Japan and, at the solicitation of its government, we were still in conversation about the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague were negotiating a performance of James Taylor's You've Got a Friend with Secretary of State Kerry. While this may appear suspicious, we must not blame the entire Japanese Empire for the actions of a few.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was likely the result of a few disgruntled employees, maybe even the Emperor’s wife suffering from post-partum depression. Therefore, I urge patience and understanding. Read the rest at The Peoples'Cube

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 7, 2015 9:55 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
[UPDATED / BUMPED] Whatever Happened to "Crayzeeeeeeee?": Trans Woman Lives Her Life as a Six Year Old Girl

"After 23 years of marriage and 7 kids, Stefonknee Wolscht realized she was a transgender woman. But the rejection from her family and friends left her feeling alone and suicidal. That was until the day she realized she could find love and acceptance as a six year old girl."

New rule: "Last in among demented perverts, first culled."


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 7, 2015 9:03 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
[UPDATED] Permanently Marked "Poor:" In one unreadable chart: the 80 plus govt programs to help low income families.


There is a Furniture Bank of Central Ohio.

This helps the poor get free furniture to furnish their apartments and homes (rent paid for by you with Section 8 and welfare). Furniture is donated, so there is no money on the government ledger. This actually is not for the poor. This is for the poor that have social workers and case managers. These can be parolees, recovering addicts, and even people in the child protective services (CPS) web. Yes, you or your partner beat your kid to a pulp but get furniture if you promise not to do it again! A case manager refers a person in a “difficult situation,” and said person can pick up 14-16 items for their home. One has to be part of the system to reap the benefits of the system. Employed college graduates with mountains of debt do not reap this benefit. There is no starter apartment for them....

We are told it’s the “good” thing to help these people. What is the help? The help seems to be in making their life free to chase fun, whether drugs, drinking, or sex. They all get to pursue their fun in relative comfort provided by you and I. The kids can be snatched up and sent to Head Start while mom does… whatever recovering addicts of child abusers do… and then the kid comes home to sleep in a bed and sit on a couch, rather than on milk crates and cinder blocks. Mom can still eat plenty (EBT from you and me!), pop pills (Medicaid, from you and me!) and today we see our poorest citizens are also our fattest citizens. - See more at: Hidden, Subtle Underclass Coddling - Social Matter

“This federal welfare system is large, fragmented, and growing in cost.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service estimates that we currently operate over 80 programs that provide food, housing, healthcare, job training, education, energy assistance, and cash to low-income Americans. “Here is a graphic depiction of that array of benefit programs designed to help low-income individuals and families. Chairman Boustany: Better Coordinating Welfare Programs to Serve Families in Need - Ways and Means

[UPDATE: "I am rather perturbed by the rip on the Furniture Bank. I am a long time donor at an elevated level. I have been most impressed by their operation. They are what a charity ought to be, private, privately funded, and local. Indeed they are to me a model for abolishing all "welfare systems". It is possible that some of the clients have not been angles. Actually it is certain. Nonetheless, as the tax funded system collapses, the country will need a lot more Furniture Banks, and less of the Congressional fustercluck pictured above." -- FatMan]

To see said chart.....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 6, 2015 6:40 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Notes from the Underground 13


Pluto's Layered Craters and Icy Plains In this highest-resolution image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, great blocks of Pluto’s water-ice crust appear jammed together in the informally named al-Idrisi mountains.

Some mountain sides appear coated in dark material, while other sides are bright. Several sheer faces appear to show crustal layering, perhaps related to the layers seen in some of Pluto’s crater walls. Other materials appear crushed between the mountains, as if these great blocks of water ice, some standing as much as 1.5 miles high, were jostled back and forth. The mountains end abruptly at the shoreline of the informally named Sputnik Planum, where the soft, nitrogen-rich ices of the plain form a nearly level surface, broken only by the fine trace work of striking, cellular boundaries and the textured surface of the plain’s ices (which is possibly related to sunlight-driven ice sublimation). This view is about 50 miles wide.

The War on White | The Z Blog
Since Obama was elected, the prophesies have said white racist America will try to take him out. Normal people may joke about The Backlash™, but to the Cult, it is real and they truly fear it.In order to keep the coalition of weirdos and deviants pulling the Progressive wagon, the Cult is declaring war on white people and their guns. In other words, they are preempting The Backlash™ by apply extra helpings of The Frontlash™ by declaring gun ownership immoral. It remains to be seen whether they are prepared to go to war over it, but religious fanatics trying to immanentize the eschaton are not known for their restraint.


What’s Really Behind the San Bernardino Shooting: Paternity Leave
When I was in Paris after the recent massacre there, locals told me that they hate America and that the Jews are to blame for the shootings. They were angry about globalization and said seeing cheeseburgers for sale was a sign they were losing French culture. American foreign policy and our love of Israel had created so much tension around the world, it was literally causing gun explosions all over Paris. One thing few Parisians I spoke to seemed to want to blame was the most obvious culprit in this equation: guns. Though they have fairly good gun laws in Paris, it’s still too easy to be armed there and the solution is obviously more government regulation.

Obama regime's indifference to jihad
This is an observed fact. Then they say, if they survive, that Islam made them do it, and justify their murders on the basis of Islam. Imagine if Germans or whiter people woke up from their peaceful lives, donned “assault uniforms”, armed themselves, carried out massacres, shouted Heil Hitler and died with swastikas on their arms. And this scene was repeated across the world by all sorts of converts to National Socialism from races and ethnicities from the Philippines to Tangier to San Francisco, from Murmansk to Cape Town.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 6, 2015 6:30 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Frequently Answered Questions

matthew-Lesko23.jpg Everywhere you go you see "Frequently Asked Questions" scattered about to help you find out what everybody else apparently knows. Nobody, as far as we know, is helping you with the essential questions of life, the Frequently Answered Questions ®.

These are the questions you ask or answer hundreds of times in your life. But do you answer them correctly? Sadly, millions of people do not.

As a public service we present the first in our ongoing series of answers to Frequently Answered Questions ®.

If you have any Frequently Answered Questions® you'd like help with, pop them in the comments and our crack staff of out-of-work philosophers, professional wise-guys, cut-rate gurus, and grief counselors between assignments will be happy to enlighten you.

Of course the number-one-with-bullet Frequently Answered Question® in today's post-racial America is:

Are you a racist?
Well, if the truth were told, who isn't? But say either "No," or "Who you calling a racist?" or "Get out of my face you dumb chunk of human garbage!"

As we all know, this question is never answered in the affirmative -- except by white liberals seeking to curry favor, get a date, or be declared legally black.

Indeed, this question doesn't have to be answered. The fact that you are being asked the question establishes that you are, indeed, a racist. This is primarily true if you happen to be of the white persuasion, but can also be true is you are of a member of a majority-minority. This means any minority which is larger than any other minority present.

Hence, a Native American gets to ask an African-American if he is a racist because the Native American is from a minority-minority (unless the encounter is happening in a Casino). However, the "once-was-a-slave" rule comes into play here since the minority-minority was only conquered and subjugated, rather than captured and subjugated and made to take a long, unpleasant sea voyage. By invoking the "once-was-a-slave" rule an African-American, even if one of the majority-minority, can reasonably deny racism since, having invented the "Are you a racist?" gambit, African-Americans cannot, ipso facto, be racist. Got it? Good. There will be a spot quiz on this question when you least expect it for the next 50 years so you'd better get crisp about it.

Was George Bush legally elected president the first time?
Only ask this question if you've got the next five hours to burn.

Is it still George Bush's fault?
Silly Rabbit, studies have shown that everything since and including the Crucifixion of Christ is George Bush's fault.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 6, 2015 2:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Buster Keaton - The Art of the Gag

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 4, 2015 2:34 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Notes from the Underground 12


Michelle Obama's Mirror: Jihadists Just Want to Jihad

Jihadists are going to keep on jihading - with or without the Progs support of the Second Amendment. So I ask you, if you happen upon a jihadist in full body armor walking towards you on Main Street U.S.A. which storefront “Safe-Place” would you dart into?

San Bernardino Straight | PJ Media
As the story unfoldedthe political sides were likean audience agonizing at a cliffhanger. Would it be white male Christian? Would it be a Muslim? Would it be an American? Would it be a foreigner? One could almost sense the bated breath.
Nobody was quite ready for such an ambiguous result: American citizen with Middle Eastern-sounding name who worked for the California shoots up a Christmas party with relatives in tow. That suits nobody's book completely, a fact which underscored a struggle parallel to events on the ground. Even as the cops were embarked on the physical pursuit of the suspects, a corresponding struggle for its significance was underway across the Internet
Perhaps it is fair to say that it is now impossible to commit a simple murder or even an outrage as an individual act. It's all imbued with meaning, almost as if the conflict between the cops and the perps were overshadowed by a far larger fight: Right versus Left in America.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 4, 2015 9:22 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: The Light Switch

"With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."

[HT: True North]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 3, 2015 8:44 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Essential: Seeds of Hatred


It boggles the rational mind

that so many could be so dedicated to nothing other than the preservation of the nation, of the rights of individuals and the respect for human life and be denigrated so thoroughly by those who call themselves humanitarians.
This is the trouble I have with liberals. There is no substance behind their professions of compassion. And it doesn't take much of a peek behind the curtain to see their true ambitions. They openly celebrate and even honor despicable people such as Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, an obvious and emphatic racist. They continue to give the Margaret Sanger Award to their most productive childdestructionist and parts salesperson of the year with no shame.
They have injected into the American mindset the concepts of communism so thoroughly, some of it sounds American, because it incorporates Christian values of charity. The weakness in America islargely due to its Christian ethos, where all baser instincts towards dealing with the dismantling of a once great culture are smothered by decency. So, we stand by, watching the life-blood of our nation spill out over the continent, while we comport to the values of the Bible.
Read it all at Christian Mercenary: Seeds of Hatred

Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 3, 2015 5:53 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Yes, Down My Pants. Oh, Like You Haven't?

Sadly, Sandy Berger passed away today at the age of 70. In lieu of a formal obituary I am reviving this item written during the time when Berger proved his then undying loyalty to the Clintons.

As a teenager my addiction to science fiction paperbacks often came into conflict with my ongoing cash-flow problem. To wit, I hadn't any. But, for a few brief, shining weeks I did discover a resource better than cash for acquiring science-fiction paperbacks -- my pants.

Yes, at some point it dawned on my tiny teenage brain that, if I could just get these piles of paper down the front of my pants and walk without a waddle out the door of the store, the latest Asimov or Heinlein would be free. What was even better was my discovery that I could, after reading these stolen gems, take them back to the bookstore from which I boosted them and sell them back to that dull owner for a credit to buy other paperbacks. Cost of stock: $0, Price received: $0.25, Profit -- infinite. What a business! I was a confirmed capitalist. I even thought of a name for my company, World Wide Pants, and was quite upset years later when David Letterman stole it from me.

Of course I knew on some level that stuffing things down my pants, waddling out of a store and then coming back later to sell the purloined items back was .... a teeny bit wrong. But the bookstore owner had so many science fiction books and I had so few. "From bookstores according to their stock, to me according to my need to read," seemed to be my moral code at the time. Besides, I wasn't "really" stealing them because I "returned" them for a fee. It was a way of letting the bookstore owner sort of reverse-rent them to me.

I started small -- maybe a slim collection of short stories like "The Green Hills of Earth," or a novella such as "Children of the Atom," would find their way to their temporary home between my belt and my underwear. But then I decided to expand. After all, it seemed to me that my pants had room to spare especially if I let my shirt tails hang out. Once that was in my mind, I started to up the ante and began to go for multiple copies of Ace Doubles. My pants became, in effect, a small bookshelf.

The owner of the bookstore down in the slums of Sacramento was, I was certain, clueless as to what was going on. He was a wispy simulacra of William Burroughs with the gray haze of alcohol hovering about him and a tendency to give me a smile that was a little too warm whenever I came into the shop. He'd often disappear into a curtained nook with the sign "Special Titles -- Ask for admittance" thumbtacked to the bookshelf next to it.

My undoing came one day when I think I had probably added a full two inches to my waistline in the science fiction section. I waddled to the cash register with one tattered copy of some space opera and slid my quarter across the counter. He looked at it, looked at me, took the quarter and slid the book into a flimsy paper bag and handed it back. "See you soon," he said with a wink. I turned and had gotten out the door and a couple of steps down the sidewalk when the bony hand of retribution clutched my shoulder. " I see you're gaining a little weight," he said in a voice that betrayed an unhealthy interest in Lucky Strikes. "I think we need to talk to your parents about this. Come on back in."

There's no way to describe the churning, burning hunk of fear that forms in your stomach the first time you're busted. If, at that moment, you could chose between death and juju, death would win every time -- but only because you don't know that you'll get death only after juju.


Posted by Vanderleun Dec 2, 2015 6:32 PM | Comments (25)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Notes from the Underground 11

After I explained his share of the National Debt to my grandson. U.S. Total Debt Soars By $674 Billion In November | Zero Hedge

Brine, Snark, Brunch, and Whole Foods: The Four Horsemen of Gentrification.

As Whole Foods arrives, hope departs. Ethnic restaurants will be replaced with half an aisle dedicated to “international ingredients.” Greek will be the only variety of yogurt and the quality of kale will be as high as the rent for an alcove studio. Lana Del Rey will be elected to the city’s council. There will be a great migration of former residents to more affordable housing. As they are loading their U-Hauls, one of them, a man without a ukulele, will look to the heavens and ask “Why?” He will hear the voice whisper a single word: “Kombucha.”

japanmummy.jpgThe Japanese Art of Self-Preservation
A monk who chose to perform self-mummification, or sokushinbutsu, began by abstaining from grains and cereals, eating only fruits and nuts for one thousand days. He spent this nearly three years meditating and continuing to perform service to the temple and community. Then for the next thousand days the monk ate only pine needles and bark. By the end of the two thousand days of fasting, the monk’s body had wasted away through starvation and dehydration. While this satisfied the requirement for suffering, it also started the process of mummification by removing excess fat and water, which would otherwise attract bacteria and insects after death.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 1, 2015 9:30 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"This is where your ice cream comes from..." If you are not interested in seethng Unicorn-based dementia...

You will not .....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 1, 2015 2:47 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dairy Queen Princess


When I get hot and sweaty from workin' in the sun,
I head down to her corner for a tall, cold, frosty one.
When I'm with my DQ princess I'm never there alone.
For just another dollar, she'll gladly dip my cone.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a smooth vanilla softy. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


My baby makes me order my big banana frozen.
The boys line up to see her. She's the one that's chosen.
She's just a small town mama but still an ice cream star.
She's the only one around who'll grab your Dilly Bar.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a steamed hot chocolate malted. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


She 's got a long blonde pony tail, wears tight white shorts,
With a polka dot bikini top. She plays all the midnight sports,
And she'll whip you up a sundae, maybe top it with a cherry,
But tomorrow she'll be serving it to Curly, Moe, or Larry.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's deep-fried tofu toffee. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


Down at her DQ she's some games that you can play,
Like "Ninja Warrior Pinball," or "CyberRoad to Mandalay."
She's workin' hard for tips all the big boys wanna slip her.
She'll gladly change your dollars and let you pump the flippers.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a deep dip Dilly Bar. She's the Blizzard Breeze supreme.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


She's the town's roadside attraction.
She's the center of the summer's action.
It's just a little job -- pumping soda for the jerks.
It don't pay all that much, but she's never out of work.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a hot fudge filly. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Dec 1, 2015 12:40 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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