Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Up to November 8 it was a very stressful year. Now it's time to go and get your opossums de-stressed.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 30, 2016 6:46 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
John Muir's Commentary on his First Ascent of Mt. Ritter

"At length, I found myself at the foot of a sheer drop in the bed of the avalanche channel, which seemed to bar all further progress. The tried dangers beneath seemed even greater than that of the cliff in front; therefore, after scanning its face again and again, I commenced to scale it, picking my holds with intense caution.

"After gaining a point about half-way to the top, I was brought to a dead stop, with arms outspread, clinging close to the face of the rock, unable to move hand or foot either up or down. My doom appeared fixed. I must fall. There would be a moment of bewilderment, and then a lifeless tumble down the once general precipice to the glacier below.

"When this final danger flashed in upon me, I became nerve-shaken for the first time since setting foot on the mountain, and my mind seemed to fill with a stifling smoke. But the terrible eclipse lasted only a moment, when life burst forth again with preternatural clearness.

"I seemed suddenly to become possessed of a new sense. The other self -- the ghost of by-gone experiences, instinct, or Guardian Angel -- call it what you will -- came forward and assumed control. Then my trembling muscles became firm again, every rift and flaw was seen as through a microscope, and my limbs moved with a positiveness and precision with which I seemed to have nothing at all to do."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 30, 2016 12:01 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Mother at 97 98 99 ... and now 100 101 102


Her earliest memory is being held on the shoulders of her father, watching the men who lived through the First World War parade down the main street of Fargo, North Dakota in 1918. She would have been just four years old then. Now she's 90 years old and she comes to her birthday party wearing a chic black and white silk dress, shiny black shoes with three inch heels, and a six foot long purple boa. She's threatening to sing Kurt Weill's 'The Saga of Jenny" and dance on the table one more time .

She'll sing the Kurt Weill song, but we draw the line at her dancing on the table this year. Other than that, it is pretty much her night, and she gets to call the shots. Which is what you get when you reach 90 97 and are still managing to make it out to the tennis courts three to four times a week. "If it wasn't for my knees I'd still have a good backcourt game, but now I pretty much like to play up at the net." [Note: Alas she had to give up tennis two years back when her knees finally gave up. She didn't. Water walking twice a week. She gave all a scare a couple of years ago but came roaring back after major surgery and is more or less back to the regular schedule.]

She plays Bridge once or twice a week, winning often, and has been known to have a cocktail or two on occasion. After her operation she gave up driving much to the relief of my brother who fretted over it for several decades.

She keeps a small two-bedroom apartment in a complex favored by young families and college students from Chico State and, invariably, has a host of fans during any given semester. She's thought about moving to the "senior apartments" out by the mall, but as she says, "I'm just not sure I could downsize that much and everyone there is so old."

She was born deep in the heartland at the beginning of the Great War, the youngest of five children. She grew up and into the Roaring 20s, through the Great Depression, taught school at a one room school house at Lake of the Woods Minnesota, roamed west out to California in the Second World War and met the man she married.

They stayed married until he died some 30 years ago. Together they raised three boys, and none of them came to any more grief than most and a lot more happiness than many.

After her husband died at the end of a protracted illness, she was never really interested in another man and filled her life with family, close friends (some stretching back to childhood), and was, for 15 years, a housemother to college girls. She recently retired from her day job where she worked three mornings a week as a teacher and companion to young children at a local day-care and elementary school.

She has always been a small and lovely woman -- some would say beautiful. I know I would. An Episcopalian, she's been known to go to church, but isn't devoted to the practice, missing more Sundays than she attends. She's given to finding the best in people and letting the rest pass, but has been known to let fools pass at high speed.

Born towards the beginning of the 20th century, she now lives fully in the 21st. Nearly 10 years ago we gave her a 90th birthday party. It was attended by over 200 people from 2 to 97, many of whom told tales about her, some taller than others.

We didn't believe the man who told about the time in her early seventies that she danced on his bar. He brought the pictures of the bar with her high-heel marks in it to prove the point.

Other stories are told, some serious, some funny, all loving. But they all can only go back so far since she has only been living in Chico, California for 30 years. I can go back further, and so, without planning to, I took my turn and told my story about her. It went something like this.

"Because I'm the oldest son, I can go back further in time. I can go back before Clinton, before Reagan, before Nixon, before Kennedy, before Eisenhower. We'll go back to the time of Truman.

"It must be the summer of 1949 and she's taking my brother and I back home to her family in Fargo for the first time. I would be almost four and he'd be two and a half. The war's been over for some time and everyone is now back home and settled in. My father's family lost a son, but -- except for some wounds -- everyone else came out all right.

"We're living in Los Angeles and her home is Fargo, North Dakota, half a continent away. So we do what you did then. We took the train. Starting in Los Angeles we went north to San Francisco where we boarded the newest form of luxury land transportation available that year, the California Zephyr.

"Out from the bay and up over the Sierras and down across the wastes until we wove our way up the spine of the Rockies and down again to the vast land sea that stretched out east in a swath of corn and wheat that I remember more than the pitched curves and plunging cliffs of the mountains. On the Zephyr you sat in a plush chair among others in a long transparent dome at the top of the car and it seemed all Earth from horizon to the zenith flowed past you.

"There was the smell of bread and cooking in the Pullman cars that I can still capture in my mind, and the lulling rhythm of the wheels over the rails that I can still hear singing me down into sleep.

"At some point we changed trains to go north into the Fargo Station and, as we pulled into Fargo in mid-morning, my mother's family met us with their usual humble dignity -- they brought a full brass band that worked its way down through the John Philip Sousa set list with severe dedication. They also brought me more family members than there were people living on our entire block in Los Angeles. There may also have been a couple of Barbershop Quartets to serenade us during the band breaks, but I'm not sure about that.

"My mother and brother and I were swept away in the maelstrom of aunts, uncles, cousins by the dozens, and assorted folks from the neighborhood on 8th Avenue South.

"The day rolled into a huge lunch at a vast dining room table where my grandmother ruled with an iron ladle. Then, after a suitable post-prandial stupor, my entire family rose as one and headed out to the nearby park for their favorite activity -- trying to crush each other in tennis. When this family hit the courts, it was like a tournament had come to town. Other would-be players just took one look and headed for another set of courts elsewhere.

"I was still too young to play, although my mother would have a racquet custom-made for me within the year, so instead I would have been exhausting myself at some playground or in one of the sandboxes under the eyes of my older cousins. Then, at dusk, I made my way back to the courts.

"In the Fargo summers the twilights linger long and fade slowly. And as they fade the lights on the courts come up illuminating them in the gathering dark. And I sat, not quite four, as the night grew dark around me and my mother and her family played on below.

"Now it is all more than sixty years gone but still, in my earliest memories, they all play on in that endless twilight. I see them sweeping back and forth in the fading light. Taunting and laughing together. Calling balls out that are clearly in. Arguing and laughing and playing on forever long after the last light of day has fled across the horizon and the stars spread out high above the lights.

"Service. Return. Lob. Forehand. Volley. Backhand. Volley. Love All."

momasyounggirl2.jpg   momnow.jpg
Lois Lucille McNair Van der Leun -- then and now

November, 2004 -- Chico & Laguna Beach, California

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 30, 2016 1:59 AM | Comments (63)  | QuickLink: Permalink
NBC Caught Lying About Chevrolet Trucks Exploding: Fake News? Here's some from NBC back in 1992.

"We acknowledge that the placing of the incendiary devices under the truck was a bad idea from start to finish."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 29, 2016 12:05 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink

"You gotta keep up with the times." It would seem that large parts of the future have been postponed....

Everyone’s Cuba Curious | Primordial Slack It’s been around 20 years since I left, weeping bitterly that I had to, so hard had I fallen in love with Cuba. The land is so fertile that the fence posts bloom, but there was no food to eat. The despair is as thick as the wafting smoke from their marijuana, and drowned in their rum.

Robot dolphins, turtles and shellfish used as underwater spies in the deep blue sea - Each radio-controlled swimming model is fitted with HD cameras to capture unique footage of the unsuspecting marine mammals.

In 1918, California Drafted Children Into a War On Squirrels | There were over 100,000 casualties.

Scientists have found the world's largest cluster of sinkholes, and it spans 4 counties - ScienceAlert To give you an idea of how big they were, the biggest sinkhole is deeper than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and its diameter is wider than the height of the Empire State Building.

The Devil’s Tower: US’ Mysterious Sightseeing Spot | Unusual Places

Conclusion – Sexuality and Gender - The New AtlantisSome of the most widely held views about sexual orientation, such as the “born that way” hypothesis, simply are not supported by science.

Portland 'Adulting' School Teaches Millennials How to Be Functional Grownups | Oddity Central - Collecting Oddities “Credit card stuff, which I didn’t think I would have at this age,” a 29-year-old “student” said. “And I really don’t have the skill set, how to pay for our rent, and our food, on top of paying off that debt.”

Opera Boeuf |The star draw is the 72-ounce steak challenge: a diner (several volunteer each night, I’m told) sits on an elevated platform—to an opera singer, a stage—under a large digital clock that begins to tick when his four-and-a-half pound steak and accompanying dishes are presented to him. He (almost always a he, I gather) commences eating, and if he finishes eating the steak—and importantly, all the side dishes—in under 60 minutes, his meal is free of charge; otherwise, he pays $72. Plus tax and tip. [We've been there too. As I note in one of the earliest posts on American Digest from June, 2003. The Cowgirl and the Four Pound Steak @ AMERICAN DIGEST]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 29, 2016 12:02 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink




Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 28, 2016 7:48 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On Advent: "We Are All Lying in the Mud, But Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars"


The caption at NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" page reads: "Atlantis to Orbit."

The filename of the picture reads: nightlaunch.

And I am moved by the poetry of this most modern of images, not by the triumph of Reason which it seems to enshrine, but by that which is beyond Reason yet within this nightlaunch all the same.

In thinking about this brief essay I could not help but think of a longer one by Doctor Bob at The Doctor Is In about a "civilized" European nation that cannot stop itself from taking the next step down into the pit; its people driven, as "reasonable" people always are, by the inexorable demands of "what is reasonable."

In the work of Goya we see how that great soul, having walked the carnage cloaked landscapes of his era, came to understand the deepest cry of the Enlightenment: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos. ["The sleep of reason breeds monsters."]


Ah well, the bones of the Enlightenment lie buried in a shallow grave somewhere along the Western Front. It had some nice ideals, but left us living rapt in the spell of Reason.

And now we are a "reasonable" society. Now we are a "scientific people" swaddled in a million theories of management -- convinced that all of creation can be, somehow, managed through the limitless employment of Reason. Many of us, as we have seen in the past month, worship "intelligence uber alles," that strange and deadly viral god of the mad mind that kills the soul long before it kills the nations that embrace it. We see the apotheosis of this worship leap up from the dazed lands of Europe. We see it arc across our own skies. We feel the sting of its acid rain on our upturned, stunned faces.

Reason. Its gifts are many. It enables us to raise "Atlantis to Orbit." The poetry of that is only exceeded by the reality of it; by all that lies behind the sheer raw ability of the smart monkey to organize itself to achieve it -- the mathematics and the metallurgy, the pulses in the silicon chips that hold and control the fire that slices up and beyond the sky. And the systems and wires and waves that bring these thoughts from my fingertips to your eyes now.

All these, and whole Alps of others, are the gifts of Reason.

But there are darker gifts of Reason; gifts revealed by the languor with which a whole people fall "half in love with easeful death."

Why? Why abort this child? Because it is reasonable.

Why kill this old and feeble person? Because it is reasonable.

Why take from them according to ability and give to others according to need? Always because it is "reasonable."

Reason commands it and Reason has, in this modern era, become a vengeful and a jealous god.

If it is true that the sleep of reason breeds monsters, can it not also be true that the constant wakefulness of Reason breeds its own peculiar hallucinations; its walking horrors?

We depend on Reason when we flip a switch, step on a brake, or seat ourselves in pressurized thin metal tubes that hover 40,000 feet above the earth and move at 500 miles an hour. This power would seem to argue that Reason should be trusted in all things, that the intelligence that runs up and down the synapses of our brains in an endless flickering web of electo-chemical space-time events is the ultimate arbiter, the final judge, the self-obsessed lodestone of our lives.

And yet... and yet...

And yet, hovering outside of Reason, we still somehow sense Immanence; we sense there is something more going on here, something vaster unfolding all about us, no matter how sternly Reason rules.

We sense Immanence, no matter how many times we are told the opposite; we sense that myth, legend, soul, magic, miracle and mystery still hold us, and that

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor,

And that,

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

As we now move more deeply into Advent, we move -- in our long sweeping orbit about our home star -- closer to the moments when that which is most deeply our gift and most certainly our curse is made manifest in the music of our being in a manner beyond all reason. And no matter what our faith -- even if that faith is that there is no faith to be had -- this turn of the year, this Advent, will inexorably bring us once again to the memory of the miracle made manifest all about us in every moment if we could but pause to see the forever present revelation.

Our Here.

Our Now.

Our miracle.

Impossible but actual.

Our actual existence on this most unlikely melding of earth, air, fire and water, fused far ago in a forgotten eternity from starstuff, and now circling a single sun swimming in some out-of-the-way arm of a second-class galaxy, where we lift Atlantis into orbit; where we seek to populate the stars in our searching.

On the one hand, it is clear that Reason demands that "We shall not cease from exploration," while on the other it may well be that:

"... the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

And while nothing in our Book of Reason can tell us why, its endless banal chapters on irony would need to be excised were we to discover that all "Enlightenment," all our "Age of Reason" has wrought is but a frail and flimsy ladder to the stars where we could at last put out our feeble hands "to touch the face of God."

For Donald Sensing who put it in my mind, and for Solomonia who pointed me to the picture.

First published 2006-11-27

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 27, 2016 1:50 AM | Comments (26)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Black Friday Zombie shoppers lined up by the hundreds at Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and other Box Box retailers. Have a look at these parasitic consumers who can't wait to buy more flatscreen televisions, tablets, and toasters, while they go deeper into credit card debt. Media analyst Mark Dice has the story

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 25, 2016 12:24 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gift Outright "(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)"


The Gift Outright
by Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

-- Delivered at the Kennedy Inauguration

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 24, 2016 10:19 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Thanksgiving’s First Rifle: The Mayflower Wheel-lock Carbine


Story by: Kristin Alberts

What’s even more American than turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie these days? An Italian gun, that’s what. The only known surviving firearm that crossed the wild Atlantic aboard the good ship Mayflower, settled with the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony and ultimately helped the first colonists not only survive, but prosper. Meet the Mayflower Gun.

The Gun

Affectionately dubbed the Mayflower Gun and thought of as an American icon, the gun is actually an Italian-made wheel-lock carbine. This single-shot musket was originally chambered in .50 caliber rifle, though ages of heavy use have worn away the majority of the rifling. Given the combination of natural wear, repairs and modifications, if the gun were to be loaded and fired today, it would require a .66 caliber.

According to curators at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum—where the gun has found a most comfortable home—markings recorded on both the barrel and lockplate demonstrate a connection with the Beretta family of armorers.

One of the features making this musket instantly recognizable is its namesake. The surviving detail of the actual wheel-lock device—the rotating mechanism, which provides spark and ignition, not unlike that of our modern day cigarette lighters—is a thing of fine craftsmanship and beauty. The wheel-lock’s engineering, execution and efficacy far exceed those of its predecessor, the matchlock.

The man: John Alden

Without the adventuresome spirit of one young man with an eye for quality arms, the Mayflower Gun would not be a part of our American history today. Enter, John Alden. Alden was around 20 to 21 years of age at the ship’s departure. However, his original intent was never really to set sail. John AldenHe was simply hired as a ships cooper—a barrel maker by trade—at the yard where ships docked. But being a young man with much hope and courage, he decided to board the Mayflower for its daunting passage. Sometime near debarkation, it is speculated that Alden purchased the firearm used, perhaps from a traveler or mercenary as was common in those days. Of the guns widely available at that time, this was one of the finest and most expensive, so certainly young Alden was wise beyond his years.

Following an arduous three-month winter passage at sea, battered by the north Atlantic’s gales, the Mayflower reached its destination in 1620. History recognizes John Alden as the first man to step ashore, and when Alden’s feet hit terra firma, this gun was most likely his sole means of protection. Though the early years at the new settlement were marked with many tribulations, Alden prospered. Along with the other men who made the passage, he was one of the signatories of the Mayflower Compact, documenting the freedoms and liberties of the new colony. Among his many ventures, Alden is remembered for his service under Capt. Miles Standish, with whom he is rumored to rivaled over the courtship of the woman who eventually became Alden’s wife.

Part of this story is recounted in Longfellow’s poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” Between the years 1633 to 1675, Alden served not only as assistant governor of the Plymouth Colony, but often, due to absence, fulfilled governor duties. He was known to have served on many juries including participation in at least one witch trial. Through all this time, including a move inland and away from the original colony, the Mayflower Gun remained in Alden’s possession. At the time of his death in 1687, the gun began its long succession of Alden family ownership.

The History

The Alden family dwelling, like the gun, has survived for nearly 400 years. The Mayflower gun was discovered—still loaded, nonetheless—in a secret protective cubbyhole near the front door of the home during a 1924 renovation. The Alden home, which was occupied by family members until the mid-1890’s, is currently a National Historic Landmark in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Though it is certain that other settlers would have carried similar arms, this is indeed the only known surviving piece, likely because it was tucked away and forgotten after its years of service had ended.

Because the gun was something of a large caliber at the time, it would likely have been used to take down deer and other large game as well as birds—perhaps even a Thanksgiving longbeard. Naturally, the original stock was fashioned of fine European walnut, though sometime in the gun’s history, a worn portion of the front stock was replaced with American walnut. There is great beauty in the wear patterns of the wood, simply for knowing the many hands and circumstances that have handled this weapon. The Mayflower Gun is currently on display at the NRA Museum.Oh, the stories it could tell of game hunted, lives taken and families saved! This tool was at once a protector and a provider. In fact, the Mayflower Gun may well have been present—or at least played a role—at the 1621 birth of the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today. The gun, in fact, is one of the few surviving pieces known to have made the trip aboard the Mayflower.

On Display

Those near Fairfax, Virginia can visit this amazing and well-traveled weapon at its home in the NRA’s National Firearms Museum. It is currently being featured on display as part of the “Old Guns in a New World” gallery, an exhibit in which firearms bridge the gap between the Old World and the new colonies. In addition to this one, the Museum is home to 14 other galleries housing more than 2,700 firearms of remarkable significance. Admission is free and the museum is open daily. For those interested in learning more without making a physical visit, detailed virtual tours are easily navigated at their website.

In Thanksgiving

Nearly 400 years have passed since the Mayflower Gun traversed the Atlantic to forever become a priceless, tangible slice of American history. In the spirit of Thanksgiving celebration, the time is right to remember not only all those who came before us, but also the hardships they faced to get us where we are today. In reminiscing on this beautiful Mayflower Gun, we here at are thankful for our first amendment freedoms. So with a nod of the clichéd black pilgrim hats, take some special time this holiday to enjoy family, friends, freedoms and of course, firearms.

From Gun News at HT: The Incredible Story Of The Mayflower Gun @ Waznmentobe

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 24, 2016 2:29 AM | Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"MADAME PRESIDENT" The Iconic Front Page the New York Times Had to Toss in the Crapper


And so, in the heart of The Times’s newsroom, long before the exit polls hinted at an upset — and hours before the news media confirmed Mr. Trump’s earthshaking win — Tom Bodkin, The Times’s design director, quietly looked over one such draft.

“MADAM PRESIDENT,” the would-be headline read.

-- Front Page That Wasn’t to Be - The New York Times

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 23, 2016 2:00 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hymns of the Morning: Shenandoah -- "The provenance of the song is unclear"

Arlo Guthrie Featuring paintings by Albert Bierstadt, George Catlin, Frederick Remington, Howard Terpning, and visual arts by Spadecaller.

There are no "official" or traditional hymns of praise for Thanksgiving. This one, however, will do and do nicely.

"The lyrics tell the story of a roving trader in love with the daughter of an Indian chief; in this interpretation, the rover tells the chief of his intent to take the girl with him far to the west, across the Missouri River. Other interpretations tell of a pioneer's nostalgia for the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia, or of a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War, dreaming of his country home in Virginia. The provenance of the song is unclear."


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 23, 2016 12:31 PM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How to Talk to Your Pansy Ass Marxist Nephew at Thanksgiving by Uncle Strickland


Happy Thanksgiving. I’m a big fan of this holiday because few things are more American than boozing up and chowing down ’til your ankles swell and your corduroys pop. In between, you get to watch some football and share your thoughts on the trainwreck presidency of Barack Hussein Obama (hint hint).

I consider myself a knowledgable debater because I read up on the blogs and I’m typically one of the most “liked” commenters on the articles. The reason I’m writing this is because my brother’s dumb kid likes to get chatty with me. I’ve never seen anyone bring so many printouts to the dinner table. His “talking points,” he says.

Reminds me of my last divorce, all those friggin’ printouts. This kid, my nephew, will never admit to being a communist, it’s always this “moderate independent” crap. But his Facebook feed is full of Bernie Sandinista, if you know what I mean, and he recently tweeted some gibberish about riding the bus in Czechoslovakia and identifying as a “human being” instead of what he is, an American.

He’s been a “student” at some Ivy League circlejerk for the better part of a decade. I think he’s 29, who the hell even cares? If he’s the future, this country’s digging its own grave and I’m glad I won’t be there when it finally kicks the bucket.

When I was his age, I was flying Ranger battalions into Grenada in ’83. I spent Thanksgiving there, and believe me, we didn’t have any damn printouts. We had a war, son. A lot of my buddies have similar situations in their families, and they’re always asking me for advice on how to put up with this left-wing propaganda.

Well, I’ll give you a taste. He’s gonna be all like “you’re just giving ISIS what they want.” I’ll come back at him with something like:

“You know, you raise an interesting point there, Brayden. I’ll tell you what, why don’t you invite one of your ISIS pals around the house and we’ll see how much he likes it when I slash his guts out with the turkey knife. You think that’s what he wants? They want us to crush them?

"Tell me something, how did you feel when your Little League team got mercy-ruled by those country boys in the district finals? Is that what you wanted? Were you just phoning it in for the “participant” trophy? Is that why you’re too afraid to shave that pathetic beard? Because that’s what ISIS wants?

"Am I bothering you right now? Did I carpet bomb your safe space? Maybe, just maybe, what ISIS really wants is a world with fewer people like me, who’ve looked evil in the eye and given a few titty-twisters in our day, and more people like the skinny jean cycle jockeys you pal around with at Yale, with your ska music and your websites and “fantasy” sports.

"Maybe what ISIS wants is your dental floss forearms that can barely hold a selfie stick, much less a BAR. Do those Vox cards have a talking point for that?

"Oh, really? Because I was under the impression that in A-m-e-r-i-c-a, the proper way to usher in the holiday season is with a stiff Rusty Nail, not a “dialogue” about small pox and genocide, unless you want to share your feelings about the mass murder ISIS wants to bring down on your ass? Is that a topic we can let marinate?

"I bet you had to print out the lyrics to our national anthem when you went to sing it in the quad the night we elected President Hopey Change.

"No, you listen. You listen, Brayden.

"When’s the last time you got a blister on those hands? Don’t mention the time you tried eating the vegan hotdog at the WNBA game you made me take you to out of “fairness.” You didn’t even watch the game. You just tweeted about sexism on your iPad. You know, that little computer screen made by Apple, which last I checked was a corporation, Mr. Occupy. Don’t deny it, I was watching you.

"You only looked up when Taylor Swift came over the PA system. How do you think that made Brittney Griner feel?

"Remind me: What’s the name of the union for people who Twitter all day from an air conditioned office? Because I don’t think “amateur food photographer” counts as a real job.”

I plan to say this to the little pansy in a firm but slightly mocking tone as I pour another bourbon while eating processed turkey and holding a lit cigarette.

GUEST COLUMN: How to Talk to Your Pansy Marxist Nephew at Thanksgiving - Washington Free Beacon HT: The dependably interesting Never Yet Melted

Then there's always....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 23, 2016 5:43 AM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Christmas with love from Mrs Claus

You might think, looking at the title of this video, that I'm pushing the envelope by posting this before Thanksgiving, but there is so much to be thankful for this year it is never too early for something this wonderful. It may irritate your eyes for a moment, but it's worth it. You'll see.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 22, 2016 8:30 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Thomas Jefferson on Immigration, 1780

Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent.

Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason.

To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet from such we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty.

These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its directions, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.

I may appeal to experience, during the present contest, for a verification of these conjectures. But, if they be not certain in event; are they not possible, are they not probable? Is it not safer to wait with patience 27 years and three months longer, for the attainment of any degree of population desired or expected? May not our government be more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable?

Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here. - - (Notes on Virginia I, Correspondence 1780-1782)

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 21, 2016 9:32 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Stroll Down [Recent] Memory Lane "I'm just happy my dad never did business with Trump..."

Turn backwards, turn backwards, time in thy flight....

I came across this famous clip of Clinton and the 50 points tonight. Looking at it now it seems imbued with an almost mythic and tragi-comic glow. Here is someone in desperation; someone both wrapped and rapt in the final stages of a long delusion which was soon to blossom into pure bad craziness. This is the chrysalis containing the full cat-lady.

In the eyes you can see her not-so-carefully-concealed defectiveness more clearly now than you did when the video first started to be seen. The freeze-frame at the beginning of the clip is much more arresting now.

Because of this, I've made the video larger and placed it one click away in the continued section. That and to keep it from scaring small children and the horses.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 20, 2016 10:25 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Dogdance Freestyle - Sandra & Lizzy

Yes, it is silly. Yes, you may scoff freely as did I for a moment, but then it became.... wonderful.

HT:neo-neocon A pas de deux

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 18, 2016 3:25 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"I always knew it would be delicious. I never knew it would be THIS delicious." -- Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller is still dancing in the same meadow in which I frolic.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 18, 2016 9:09 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"You Are Still Crying Wolf" by Scott Alexander : Required Reading
It would take me too long to explain why this article about Trump, by Scott Alexander, is so important to you and to the country. Stop whatever you are doing and give it ten minutes. Seriously. Stop what you are doing. Give this ten minutes. It’s more important that almost anything you were going to do today. Then save the link for later sharing. Show it to all of your friends who think Trump is a racist monster. This ends it.-- Scott Adams' Blog


"You Still Crying Wolf" is, by far, the best look back and look ahead at the Trump phenomena. You owe it to yourself to read it and to pass it along... especially to the Trump deniers.

I notice that people accusing Trump of racism use the word “openly” like a tic. He’s never just “racist” or “white supremacist”. He’s always “openly racist” and “openly white supremacist”. Trump is openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist. Trump is running on pure white supremacy, has thrown off the last pretense that his campaign is not about bigotry, has the slogan Make American Openly White Supremacist Again, is an openly white supremacist nominee, etc, etc, etc. And I’ve seen a few dozen articles like this where people say that “the bright side of a Trump victory is that finally America admitted its racism out in the open so nobody can pretend it’s not there anymore.”

This, I think, is the first level of crying wolf. What if, one day, there is a candidate who hates black people so much that he doesn’t go on a campaign stop to a traditionally black church in Detroit, talk about all of the contributions black people have made to America, promise to fight for black people, and say that his campaign is about opposing racism in all its forms? What if there’s a candidate who does something more like, say, go to a KKK meeting and say that black people are inferior and only whites are real Americans?

We might want to use words like “openly racist” or “openly white supremacist” to describe him. And at that point, nobody will listen, because we wasted “openly white supremacist” on the guy who tweets pictures of himself eating a taco on Cinco de Mayo while saying “I love Hispanics!”....

Dog whistling seems to be the theory that if you want to know what someone really believes, you have to throw away decades of consistent statements supporting the side of an issue that everyone else in the world supports, and instead pay attention only to one weird out-of-character non-statement which implies he supports a totally taboo position which is perhaps literally the most unpopular thing it is possible to think.

And then you have to imagine some of the most brilliant rhetoricians and persuaders in the world are calculating that it’s worth risking exposure this taboo belief in order to win support from a tiny group with five-digit membership whose support nobody wants, by sending a secret message, which inevitably every single media outlet in the world instantly picks up on and makes the focus of all their coverage for the rest of the election.

Finally, no, none of this suggests that Donald Trump is courting the white supremacist vote. Anybody can endorse anybody with or without their consent. Did you know that the head of the US Communist Party endorsed Hillary, and Hillary never (as far as I know) “renounced” their endorsement? Does that mean Hillary is a Communist? Did you know that a leader of a murderous black supremacist cult supported Donald Trump and Trump said that he “loved” him? Does that mean Trump is a black supremacist? The only time this weird “X endorsed Y, that means Y must support X” thing is brought out, is in favor of the media narrative painting Trump to be a racist.

7. What about the border wall? Doesn’t that mean Trump must hate Mexicans?

As multiple sources point out, both Hillary and Obama voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which put up a 700 mile fence along the US-Mexican border. Politifact says that Hillary and Obama wanted a 700 mile fence but Trump wants a 1000 mile wall, so these are totally different. But really? Support a 700 mile fence, and you’re the champion of diversity and all that is right in the world; support a 1000 mile wall and there’s no possible explanation besides white nationalism?

READ IT ALL AT You Are Still Crying Wolf | Slate Star Codex

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 17, 2016 7:54 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Jack Webb's Dragnet - The Big Departure Speech, 1967

Dragnet spoke truth to my generation. We didn't listen. Now it's the chance of the weaklings and the betas to hear the same truth. Alas, thanks to our ceding the education system to bad Americans for decades, they are even dumber than we were, so it will be up to the very near future to kick their ass back to sanity. And it will. Depend upon it.

Sergeant Joe Friday: Don't think you have a corner on all the virtue vision in the country or that everyone else is fat and selfish and yours is the first generation to come along that's felt dissatisfied. They all have, you know, about different things; and most of them didn't have the opportunity and freedoms that you have. Let's talk poverty. In most parts of the world, that's not a problem, it's a way of life. And rights? They're liable to give you a blank stare because they may not know what you're talking about. The fact is, more people are living better right here than anyone else ever before in history. So don't expect us to roll over and play dead when you say you're dissatisfied. It's not perfect, but it's a great deal better than when we grew up: a hundred men standing in the street hoping for one job, selling apples on the street corner. That's one of the things we were dissatisfied about, and you don't see that much anymore.

Officer Bill Gannon: You're taller, stronger, healthier, and you live longer than the last generation; and we don't think that's altogether bad. You've probably never seen a "Quarantine" sign on a neighbor's door. Diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough; probably none of your classmates are crippled with polio. You don't see many mastoid scars anymore. We've done quite a bit of fighting all around the world. Whether you think it was moral or not a lot of people are free to make their own mistakes today because of it. And that may just include you.

Sergeant Joe Friday: I don't know, maybe part of it's the fact that you're in a hurry. You've grown up on instant orange juice. Flip a dial - instant entertainment. Dial seven digits - instant communication. Turn a key - push a pedal - instant transportation. Flash a card - instant money. Shove in a problem - push a few buttons - instant answers. But some problems you can't get quick answers for, no matter how much you want them. We took a little boy into Central Receiving Hospital yesterday; he's four years old. He weighs eight-and-a-half pounds. His parents just hadn't bothered to feed him. Now give me a fast answer to that one; one that'll stop that from ever happening again. And if you can't settle that one, how about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highway this year? That's nearly six or seven times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral? Show me how to wipe out prejudice. I'll settle for the prejudices you have inside yourselves. Show me how to get rid of the unlimited capacity for human beings to make themselves believe they're somehow right - and justified - in stealing from somebody, or hurting somebody, and you'll just about put this place here out of business!

Officer Bill Gannon: Don't think we're telling you to lose your ideals or your sense of outrage. They're the only way things ever get done. And there's a lot more that still needs doing. And we hope you'll tackle it. You don't have to do anything dramatic like coming up with a better country. You can find enough to keep you busy right here. In the meantime, don't break things up in the name of progress or crack a placard stick over someone's head to make him see the light. Be careful of his rights. Because your property and your person and your rights aren't any better than his. And the next time you may be the one to get it. We remember a man who killed six million people, and called it social improvement.

Sergeant Joe Friday: Don't try to build a new country. Make this one work. It has for over four hundred years; and by the world's standards, that's hardly more than yesterday.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 16, 2016 8:10 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why is this man laughing?


Via Sense of Events


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 15, 2016 1:54 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Excuse me while I juxtapose

There's Something About Mary (1998) - HAIR GEL - YouTube

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 15, 2016 11:48 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
How to Clean the Streets: National Guard. First Rounds Over Their Heads. Then Fire for Effect. Then Bayonets.


There's a genuine crisis in the Left.

It's dying, having exhausted the intellectual content of the Communist Manifesto. The 20th century has proved its program futile, unsuccessful and homicidal. The future in which it lived had at last been caught in the form of the EU and the gigantic Federal government, and upon examination that future looked just like the past.
What it had left was habit. On it shambled like a zombie. The residual power of the Left in Western institutions masked its intellectual bankruptcy until when tested that strength proved insufficient to stop Brexit or the election of Trump. Now it faces a bleak future: sans faith, sans conviction, sans power and sans tomorrow. It must reinvent itself, as the conservatives did after 2008 with its Tea Parties that never became parties but served as incubators for ideas that have not yet full hatched. The Left must reinvent itself, perhaps even stop being Left and becoming something wholly new. For the moment they're lost and confused. As David Brooks clearly demonstrates, they're in hell and they hate it.Divergent | PJ Media


davidthompson: If You Film Us Being Violent, Violence Will Happen To You

A warning from anti-Trump protestors to Portland’s local press Or, “Do as we say and no-one gets hurt. Apart from the people we’re going to hurt while you’re not filming us, obviously.”

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 15, 2016 7:51 AM | Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Regarding the Recent Competition

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 14, 2016 1:18 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Scha·den·freu·de" I.... I.... I wish I knew how to quit you!

Just when I think I can take things more seriously, they pull me back in.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 14, 2016 12:50 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
In My Old Pew


For over five years I have always been grateful to the Lord for every extra week I have been granted. This Sunday, however, I woke up to discover that at the end of THIS week I felt especially grateful to the Lord. To make this feeling more formal I decided to attend services at the church nearest my house. In Paradise, this happens to be the Craig Memorial Congregational Church. And Craig Memorial Congregational Church happens to be the last church I attended in Paradise. Sixty years ago.

The last time I was in Craig Memorial Congregational Church was to sing “Oh Mine Papa” while my grandmother accompanied me on the piano. Although I have no actual memory of singing the song I am assured that I did and, as a boy soprano, was a great success; so much so that my grandmother’s tea-drinking coterie complimented her for the rest of her life. What I do remember about that long-lost Sunday afternoon some six decades drowned is that I proudly wore my Boy Scout uniform. I’d recently emerged from the Cub Scouts and the ascension from Cub to Scout was as close to the “Today I am a man” Bar Mitzvah moment that a rural WASP was likely to get. I don’t know how I felt about the song, but I do know I loved showing up in the Boy Scout uniform with all the flare I could find.

This morning I walked up to the entrance to Craig Memorial and was greeted warmly and shown inside. I walked down the aisle towards the altar and noted that it had not been altered. I sat on the outside edge of the second pew back from the front.

Looking in front of me and to the left, I saw the piano my grandmother had played, the pew that I’d sat in waiting, and the place where I had stood in my uniform and sang my song.

As I sat there thinking about that 60 year deep memory, a family came in and sat in the pew in front of me to the left. When they settled in there he was. He was sitting in the same place I sat waiting to get up and sing, waiting in my new Scout uniform.

The boy I was came back again today in 2016.


"I knew a lad who went to sea and left the shore behind him.
I knew him well the lad was me and now I cannot find him."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2016 3:03 PM | Comments (16)  | QuickLink: Permalink


Supermoon science: November 2016 moon biggest and brightest in 60 years

-- for Apollo


The moon marked out the edge of heaven.

On this, our scriptures all agreed.

The moon was fixed, it could not fall.

The moon would fill our final needs.

The songs we'd learned were of the moon,

A fitting subject, known to all,

But the songs we sang were of the Earth,

And those that lived before the Fall.

These songs of forests flowing round

The Earth's four corners warmed the frost

That killed our gardens, coming early,

To remind us all of what we'd lost.


"Why wander yearning for the moon?"

We'd ask of stones and ancient trees.

Their silence sang back in the night,

Of lands where all free choices freeze.

"Tranquillity", they promised us,

"Is the highest peak you will attain.

Tranquillity, where your bones will rest

Forever in the airless rains."

Our numbers grew, as did our tongues,

Beside brown rivers, on ancient plains.

We made more gods, we built up walls,

We fashioned towers of dirt and rain.


Within those walls we planted fruit

And flowers bordering roofless rooms,

Wherein we sang the centuries down,

Observing all the phases of the moon.


In time our towers turned to steel,

And their foundations into fire.

The rooms we made were sealed as stone,

And in those rooms we rose much higher.


The moon grew monstrous as we ascended;

In our window it grew larger than the world.

We lowered our ladder gingerly,

Stepped down, a bit of cloth unfurled.


We named the place Tranquillity.

A fitting gesture, all agreed.

We photographed ourselves on site,

Tossed away some junk we did not need,


And left, returning to that place

Where we'd begun beside the plains,

Boasting our footprints would endure

Forever in the airless rains.


Sometimes at night, we still look up

And see the moonrise scrape the sky.

It is the same, yet not the same,

And we know why, yes, we know why.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2016 1:17 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A leftist analyzes who is to blame for Trump

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2016 8:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Why the Winning Will Continue Until Further Notice

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2016 7:32 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ain't That America

I don't know about you, but this Sunday I woke up to find I still had my party hat on. I'm off to Church to say thanks in a more formal way. You might go too. Or just say a prayer of thanks and gratitude in place now that you don't have to shelter in place.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2016 7:25 AM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink

... Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

-- Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2016 3:02 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
11 Minutes of Solid Schadenfreude for Your Viewing Pleasure

Scha·den·freu·de noun pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.

Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day's useless energy spent.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 13, 2016 1:21 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Dance Me to the End of Love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 12, 2016 3:55 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Leonard Cohen (1934-November 11, 2016): Democracy

One of our greatest poets. He lived to see the first flickers of the great change.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 11, 2016 7:35 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Name in the Stone


On Living with the Loss of a Son in Wartime. Written and first published on Memorial Day, 2003

My name, "Gerard Van der Leun," is an unusual one. So unusual, I've never met anyone else with the same name. I know about one other man with my name, but we've never met. I've seen his name in an unusual place. This is the story of how that happened.

It was an August Sunday in New York City in 1975. I'd decided to bicycle from my apartment on East 86th and York to Battery Park at the southern tip of the island. I'd nothing else to do and, since I hadn't been to the park since moving to the city in 1974, it seemed like a destination that would be interesting. Just how interesting, I had no way of knowing when I left.

August Sundays in New York can be the best times for the city. The psychotherapists are all on vacation -- as are their clients and most of the other professional classes. The city seems almost deserted, the traffic light and, as you move down into Wall Street and the surrounding areas, it becomes virtually non-existent. On a bicycle you own the streets that form the bottom of the narrow canyons of buildings where, even at mid-day, it is still cool with shade. Then you emerge from the streets into the bright open space at Battery Park.

Tourists are lining up for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. A few people are coming and going from the Staten Island Ferry terminal. There are some scattered clots of people on the lawns of Battery Park. Everything is lazy and unhurried.

I'd coasted most of the way down to the Battery that day since, even though it appears to be flat, there is a very slight north to south slope in Manhattan. I arrived only a bit hungry and thirsty and got one of the dubious Sabaretts hot dogs and a chilled coke from the only vendor working the park.

We were in the midst of what now can be seen as "The Long Peace."

The twin towers loomed over everything, thought of, if they were thought of at all, as an irritation in that they blocked off so much of the sky. It was 1975 and, Vietnam not withstanding, America was just about at the midway point between two world wars. Of course, we didn't know that at the time. The only war we knew of was the Second World War and the background humm of the Cold War. It was a summer Sunday and we were in the midst of what now can be seen as "The Long Peace."

In front of the lawns at Battery Park was a monument that caught my attention. It was formed of an immense stone eagle and two parallel rows of granite monoliths about 20 feet wide, 20 feet tall and 3 feet thick. From a distance you could see that they had words carved into them from top to bottom. There was also a lot of shade between them so I took my hot dog and my coke and wheeled my bike over, sitting down at random among the monoliths.

I remember that the stone was cool against my back as I sat there looking at the stone across from me on that warm afternoon. As I looked up it dawned on me that the words cut into the stones were all names. Just names. The names of soldiers, sailors and airmen who had met their death in the north Atlantic in WWII. I was to learn later that there were 4,601 names. All lost in the frigid waters, all without any marker for their graves -- except those in the hearts of those they left behind, and their names carved into these stones that rose up around me.

I read across several rows, moving right to left, then down a row, and then right to left. I got to the end of the sixth row and went back to the beginning of the seventh row.

At the beginning of the seventh row, I read the name: "Gerard Van der Leun." My name. Cut into the stone amongst a tally of the dead.

If you have an unusual name, there's nothing that prepares you for seeing it in a list of the dead on a summer Sunday afternoon in Battery Park in 1975. I don't really remember the feeling except to know that, for many long moments, I became chilled.

When that passed, I knew why my name was in the stone. I'd always known why, but I'd never known about the stone or the names cut into it.

"Gerard Van der Leun" was, of course, not me. He was someone else entirely. Someone who had been born, lived, and died before I was even conceived.

Gerard Van der Leun was my father's middle brother. He was what my family had given to stop Fascism, Totalitarianism and Genocide in the Second World War. He was one of their three sons. He was dead before he was 22 years old. His body never recovered, the exact time and place of his death over the Atlantic, unknown.

I was always called "Jerry." "Jerry" is not a diminutive of "Gerard."

As the first child born after his death, I was given his name, Gerard. But as a child I was never called by that name. I was always called "Jerry." "Jerry" is not a diminutive of "Gerard." There are none for that name. But "Jerry" I would be because the mere mention of the name "Gerard" was enough to send my grandmother into a dark state of mind that would last for weeks. This was true, as far as I know, for all the days of her life and she lived well into her 80s.

My grandfather could barely speak of Gerard and, being Dutch, his sullen reticence let all of us know very early that it was wrong to ask.

My father, who was refused service in the Second World War due to a bout of rheumatic fever as a child that left him with the heart murmur that would kill him shortly after turning 50, was ashamed he didn't fight and wouldn't speak of his brother, Gerard, except to say, "He was a great, brave kid."

My uncle, the baby of the family, spent a year or two of his youth freezing on the Inchon peninsula in Korea and seeing the worst of that war first hand. He was my only living relative who'd been in a war. He would never speak of his war at all, but it must have been very bad indeed.

... a helmet shot full of holes; a boot with most of a leg still in it...

I know this because, when I was a teenager, I was out in his garage one day and, opening a drawer, I found an old packet of photographs, grimy with dust at the back under a bunch of rusted tools. The black and white photos with rough perforated edges showed some very disturbing things: a helmet shot full of holes; a boot with most of a leg still in it, some crumpled heaps of clothing on patches of dirty snow that proved to be, on closer inspection, dead Korean soldiers; a pile of bodies on a white snowbank with black patches of blood seeping into it. The full horror show.

My uncle had taken them and couldn't part with them. At the same time he couldn't look at them. So he shoved them into a drawer with other unused junk from his past and left it at that. He never spoke of Korea except to say it was "rough," and, now that he  has quit speaking of anything, he never will. His only comment to me about his brother Gerard echoed that of my father, "He was a great kid. You can be proud to have his name. Just don't use it around Grandma."

And I didn't. No one in my family ever did. All through the years that I was growing up at home, I was "Jerry."

In time, I left home for the University and, in the manner of young men in the 1960s and since, I came upon a lot of new and, to my young mind, excellent ideas. A minor one of these was that it was time to stop being a 'Jerry' -- a name I associated for some reason with young men with red hair, freckles and a gawky resemblance to Howdy Doody. I decided that I would reject my family's preferences and call myself by my given name, 'Gerard.' In fact, in the callous manner of heedless boys on the verge of adulthood, I would insist upon it. I duly informed my parents and would correct them when they lapsed back to 'Jerry.'

This attitude served me well enough and soon it seemed I had trained my bothers and my parents in my new name. Of course, I'd taken this name not because of who my uncle had been or because of the cause for which he gave his life, but for the selfish reason that it simply sounded more "dignified" to my ears.

I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley and it was 1965 and we had no truck with the US military that was "brutally repressing" the people of Vietnam. We were stupid and young and nothing that has happened at Berkeley since then has changed the youth and stupidity of its students. If anything, my era at the University just made it somehow possible for Berkeley students to think that their attitudes were as noble and as pure in their minds as they were stupid and selfish in reality. I was no longer a "Jerry" but a "Gerard" and I was going to make the world safe from America.

"Would you like some more creamed onions, Jerry?"

My name change plan went well as long as I confined it to my immediate family and my friends at the University. It went so well that it made me even stupid enough to try to extend it to my grandparents during a Thanksgiving at their home.

At some point during the meal, my grandmother said something like, "Would you like some more creamed onions, Jerry?"

And because I was a very selfish and stupid young man, I looked at her and said, "Grandma, everyone here knows that I'm not Jerry any longer. I'm Gerard and you've just got to get used to calling me that."

Immediately, the silence came into the room. It rose out of the center of the table and expanded until it reached the walls and then just dropped down over the room like a large, dark shroud.

Nobody moved. Very slowly every set of eyes of my family came around and looked at me. Not angry, but just looking. At me. The silence went on. Then my grandmother, whose eyes were wet, rose from the table and said, "No. I can't do that. I just can't." She left the table and walked down the hallway to her bedroom and closed the door behind her.

The silence compounded itself until my grandfather rose from his chair and walked to the middle of the hallway. He took a framed photograph off the wall where hung next to a framed gold star. It had been in that place so long that I'd stopped seeing it.

"Folks, Here's my new office! Love, Gerard."

My grandfather walked back to the table and very gently handed me the photograph. It showed a smooth-faced handsome young flyer with an open smile. He was dressed in fleece-lined leather flying jacket and leaning casually against the fuselage of a bomber. You could see the clear plastic in the nose of the plane just above his head to his right. On the picture, was the inscription: "Folks, Here's my new office! Love, Gerard."

My grandfather stood behind me as I looked at the picture. "You are not Gerard. You just have his name, but you are not him. That is my son. He is Gerard. If you don't mind, we will continue to call you Jerry in this house. If you do mind, you do not have to come here any more."

Then he took the picture away and put it back in its place on the wall. He knocked on the bedroom door, went in, and in a few minutes he and my grandmother came back to the table. Nobody else had said a word. We'd just sat there. I was wishing to be just about anyplace else in the world than where I was.

They sat down and my grandmother said, "So, Jerry, would you like some more creamed onions?"

I nodded, they were passed and the meal went on. My parents never said a word. Not then and not after. And, to their credit, they continued to call me Gerard. But not at my grandparents' house.

A decade passed.

In 1975, I leaned against a monument in Battery Park in New York and read a name cut into stone among a list of the dead. That long ago Thanksgiving scene came back to me in all its dreadful detail. I tried to understand what that name in the stone had meant to my family when it became the only thing that remained of their middle son; a man who'd been swallowed up in the Atlantic during a war that finished before I drew breath.

I tried to understand what such a sacrifice meant to my grandparents and parents, but I could not. I was a child of the long peace who had avoided his war and gone on to make a life that, in many ways, was spent taking-down the things that my namesake had given his life to preserve. I was thirty then and not yet a parent. That would come a few years later and, with the birth of my daughter, I would at last begin, but only begin, to understand.

Today it makes me feel cheap and contemptible to think of the things I did in my youth to point out all the ways in which this country fails to achieve some fantasied perfection. I was a small part of promulgating a great wrong and a large lie for a long time, and I'm sure there's no making up for that. My chance to be worthy of the man in the photograph, the name on the wall, has long since passed and all I can do is to try, in some way, to make what small amends I can.

Remembering these long ago moments now as we linger on the cusp of the Long War, I still cannot claim to understand the deep sense of duty and the strong feeling of honor that drove men like the uncle I've never known to sacrifice themselves. Lately though, as we move deeper into the Fourth World War, I think that, at last, I can somehow dimly see the outlines of what it was that moved them to give “the last full measure of devotion.”  And that, for now, will have to do.

Since finding his name on the stone in 1975, I've been back to that place a number of times. I once took my daughter there.

After September 11th, I made a point of going to the monument as soon as the way was cleared, sometime in 2002. It was for the last time.

But if you go the monument today, you can still see the name in the stone. It's not my name, but the name of a man much better than most of us. It's on the far left column on the third stone in on the right side of the monument looking towards the sea. The name is usually in shadow and almost impossible to photograph.

Like most of the other names carved into the stone it's up there very high. You can see it, but you can't touch it. I don't care who you are, you're not that tall.

Note: Since this essay was first written in May, 2003, several thoughtful people have supplied me with photographs. As you can see, the name still remains difficult to photograph. I also have found and reproduce here a photograph of the real Gerard Van der Leun, as he was and as he shall remain.

Gerard Van der Leun, GN, Air Corps, Pennsylvania

The Name in the Stone. Click to enlarge.

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 11, 2016 1:46 AM | Comments (120)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Just Boinging Around In the Grass: If I Was in a Good Mood This Morning (And I was) This Is My Mood This Afternoon

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 10, 2016 3:51 PM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mood Day 2? Do You Have to Ask?

In time I may actually write something more substantive but for now I'm taking some time off. Okay?

"And now, a word from the President

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Gettin' voted into the White House
Everything lookin' good to the people of the world"

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 10, 2016 8:32 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"That's Impossible"

Abigail Adams points me to this clip for those who still need to understand what just happened to America.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 9, 2016 7:08 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bill Whittle Speaks (As Usual) for Me

"We are going to have to reintroduce Americans to America."

[I'm a member of You should be too.]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 9, 2016 6:50 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink

"This is what happens when you let Madonna blow people."

Above: Led by Whoopi Goldberg, Lena Dunham, and the sole surviving member of the Clinton crime cartel in her stroller followed by assorted parasites in Search of Still Free Health Care and a Perpetual Government Grant, the Wretched Refuse of America's Left Trudges North.
Below: Canadian Army Masses to Enforce Canada's ""No Flee Zone" Policy with the Latest in Advanced Canadian Weaponry

DATELINE: OTTOWA, November 9, 2016

Canadian Prime Minister today ordered all 215 members of Canada's armed forces to the porous southern border to stem the tide of tens of millions of disgruntled members of MoveOn, Democratic Underground, IndyMedia, Daily Kos and other assorted weeping moonbats that have begin to surge towards the socialist haven to the north in search of asylum.

"We feel their pain," said the PM speaking to 2 reporters at a hastily called press-conference in the Sauron province headquarters, "but we simply can't let in any more 'sunshine' Americans. We did that during the Vietnam years and our mental health care system is still groaning under the load. To let in more of Les fou Americans at this point would pretty much overload the sidewalk spaces already staked out by Canada's homeless.

"Alas, mon amis, we must say to you, as that great French general said at the crisis of the First World War Ils ne passeront pas.

"Please take your laptops and your bongs and go back and make what life you can in the ruins of your once celestial city."


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 9, 2016 8:25 AM | Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 9, 2016 12:16 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Thank you Lord God of the Universe for the river of prog tears in which we soon will bathe...


Don Surber: President Trump has a mandate

After he clinched the nomination, things got rocky on occasion. I was ready to throw in the towel a dozen times, but readers were there for me. And I trust I was there for you when you thought things looked bleak. In the end, we knew the polls were baloney, just as biased as the reporters and editors. We did not let them dissuade or discourage us. On Tuesday, the people spoke. Michael Moore was right. It was the biggest F*** You in history. It was the bird flip seen around the world.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 8, 2016 11:40 PM | Comments (22)  | QuickLink: Permalink
2AM: New York City: The Clinton Screen Goes Dark


@HillaryClinton election night event in New York, jumbo screen has stopped showing results.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 8, 2016 10:59 PM | Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson's Ulysses

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 8, 2016 8:25 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Got Mine. Get Yours.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 8, 2016 9:18 AM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl....

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.

But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate

So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 7, 2016 10:37 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Got Those Pre-Election-Nameless-Dread-Lonely-Lovecraftian Night Sweats Blues


Dear Fellow Americans,
Everything that can possibly be said
concerning the cliff the country is approaching like a crack-smoking Coyote running after the rollicking Road Runner Republic was all said so long ago it needs to be buried in the "Been Done to Death" Cemetery. Still, on the cliff high above the American desert-, the electorate is suiting up.


Where I am on the "Choice Not An Echo" before us has been clear to constant readers here years before the advent of the Trump campaign. Indeed, regardless of the "narrowing" or the polls and the "in the home stretch" chatter from the Nattering Nabobs of NeverTrump, I'm fairly sure this cake has been baked out in the rain for quite some time.


At the same time, this election-of-the-century-so-far is:

More than that, I suspect this election-of-the-century-so-far is making me -- along with many tens of millions of my fellow citizens -- sick.

Several times in the last fortnight I've woken on the dark edge of dawn with the night sweats and an elevated pulse. These are the reactions I've had in the past following nightmares, but this time I can't recall any nightmares. Just a feeling of the Lovecraftian emotion called "Nameless Dread."


To go along with the night sweats, the thudding beats of my tell tale heart (Never soothing if you've had a cardiac arrest in the last five years.), and the "Nameless Dread," is the ever-present sick to my stomach feeling which has also marked the last few weeks; a persistant nausea, or as we like to say when we're feeling all Frenchified, the Sartrean:


Put them all together and you've got Pre-Election Stress Disorder, or "PESD" (Pronounced 'Pissed' as in "Off and On.")

Like I said, I don't think my affliction is unique, but sharing this epidemic with many millions of my fellow citizens doesn't make me feel any less queasy. To be on the safe side for the next 24-26 hours I'm keeping a bucket by the bed and I'm not going to be filling it with a list.

Some people might be handling this by constructing a hyperbaric chamber which they can fill with enthusiastic bong hits until the world fogs and fades out into... "Look, a puppy!"


Others may well be attempting to fill their hot tub with vodka and cranberry juice and wait out Detonation Day.

Not me. I don't think I can deal with the hangover since, no matter which way our baked cake crumbles not everybody is going to want to take nap time. Many will be locking or loading (or reloading), and I want the ability to "keep my weather eye on the horizon, / back to the wall / because I like to see what's coming through the door,/ that's all."

In the meantime, when I go to bed tonight my prayer will be:


For now, I hope you have a good night's sleep tonight and a good day tomorrow. I'll be taking the day off. See you on the flip side....

Yours truly,

The Man with Night Sweats
by Thom Gunn

I wake up cold, I who
Prospered through dreams of heat
Wake to their residue,
Sweat, and a clinging sheet.

My flesh was its own shield:
Where it was gashed, it healed.

I grew as I explored
The body I could trust
Even while I adored
The risk that made robust,

A world of wonders in
Each challenge to the skin.

I cannot but be sorry
The given shield was cracked,
My mind reduced to hurry,
My flesh reduced and wrecked.

I have to change the bed,
But catch myself instead

Stopped upright where I am
Hugging my body to me
As if to shield it from
The pains that will go through me,

As if hands were enough
To hold an avalanche off.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 7, 2016 12:06 PM | Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Love and Loss in One Instant


Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

- - - Hart Crane,To Brooklyn Bridge

[A Photographer captures suicide as couple jump off 40 meter high bridge ]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 6, 2016 1:46 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Within Living Memory: Simple Gifts

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 6, 2016 12:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Visit to an Old Friend

For Steve | Dec. 1945 - July 2012 Seated, second from the left.

While riding on a train goin' west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.*

Cruising in the bright August morning down Highway 5. California's great central valley, north of Sacramento, where the farm towns roll by, their blunt names like an old catechism of your life, "Willows," "Williams," "Orland," "Nord."

Rice fields shimmer in fives shades of green. Enough rice to feed the Orient with a bunch left over for the States. Old and new orchards in whirring diagonal rows. Roadside attractions promising 20 different varieties of olives. White egrets pacing in the irrigation canals. Yellow crop dusters banking and coming in low over the highway.

Heading south towards San Francisco; towards an appointment with an old friend trapped too early in a brain where all the furniture is fading, dissolving, melting into a blurred now and a bright twenty years ago.

The old story. You wonder about a friend you haven't been in touch with for a decade. You meet someone who knows someone who knows him. Or you run an Internet search and find an email of a person who once knew him. And you ask. Most of the time things are fine, but then there's that time when the news is not good. Not good at all.

How many a year has passed and gone,
And many a gamble has been lost and won,
And many a road taken by many a friend,
And each one I've never seen again. *

You get a phone number for his brother and you call. His brother fills you in on the details.

Several strokes stemming from a traffic accident twenty years gone and an operation on the brain five years later. First wife saw what was coming and cleared out, dumping the marriage to become a poet. Right.

He married again and, by all accounts, married well. Had some good years. Was back to his music and his songs. But then the strokes came, and came again, and his mind began to liquefy. The second wife couldn't handle all the care -- could you? -- and placed him, at last, in a home in San Francisco.

One daughter sees him often, the other daughter seldom, the second wife some times, the brother every six weeks, the first wife never.

And so, because of what was, and because you have to be, at the least, a witness to this part of his life and yours, you arrange a visit.

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin' and were quite satisfied
Talkin' and a-jokin' about the world outside.*

The hours and the miles roll by and the roads slowly meld together until you're just another metal insect skittering past dry brindle hills, old oil refineries, the sluggish green waters of the upper bay, then shuttling up on the Bay Bridge, across and then down into the wedged traffic creeping towards Civic Center and Hayes. Park the rental car just short of Laguna and Hayes. You used to live around here in the early 70s. Or was it ten blocks over towards the bay? In Pacific Heights, North Beach or the Haight? You're not sure.

Lock up, look around. These residential neighborhoods in San Francisco don't change much over the years. Victorian apartments over new shops. Bay windows. Wood frame structures with once bright colors fading under the assault from sunshine and salt-laden fog. Walk San Francisco's broken and poorly patched sidewalks, stepping around this block's official homeless person sorting her things in her grocery cart. Look across the street. He's there by his brother. Warmed by the sun he sits, trapped now forever, in his wheelchair.

His hands once played the piano, boogie-woogie to rock to classical. Your call. Played the guitar too. Folk, rock, classical. Your call.

He's written dozens of songs. He's organized a rock orchestra of 24 people. They played gigs and recorded his songs too, even though few ever heard them.

In 1971 he founded a School of Rock decades before the movie was even a pitch across the lunch plate of some useless Hollywood studio clone. In San Francisco. In the Seventies. It's still there teaching the now time-honored techniques of rock and roll to whomever applies.

Which of us would have thought then that someday rock and roll would be taught like "classical" music. He did, back then, when rock and roll was still "experimental" music. It could be taught and it would be taught. He was there then.

We were all there then.

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
We never thought we could ever get old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one.*

The old joke goes, "If you can remember the Sixties, you weren't there." Funny, but a lie. I was there in the Sixties. My curse is that I remember everything -- even the things I would like to forget. Especially those. But if forgetting the shameful memories means removing the wonderful memories too, I'll take the whole library.

I've probably embroidered those memories over the decades, but so slowly and carefully that the added stitches are now indistinguishable from the rest of the tapestry. Baroque though they may be, the memories, for me, are just that. I don't try and live in them nor have them dictate my life now.

Be. Here. Now. Remember?

He's here but not here now. It's two decades, two wives, two daughters, and many more than two strokes later. He's here now in this residence hotel for the aged and the infirm in a San Francisco neighborhood that doesn't change with the years. He's waiting for me in his wheelchair, in the sun, his brother by his side.

He might still want to play the piano, but his hands won't answer him any more. They can't. They'll never do it again. The hands no longer answer when he calls them. He's learned not to call.

Now his hands can barely lift a spoon or maneuver a cup to his lips. His speech is slurred and slow. You can see the end of the sentence fade from his mind before he gets to the middle.

Still, in fits and starts, in moments and sparks of expression, you can see him emerge from inside his prison and then sink back in. You find yourself looking for those moments. You let the others slide.

We meet and we go for a walk and a roll with his brother in the San Francisco afternoon. We come back and take a table in the Indian restaurant under the series of rooms are now his last home. We work our way through the lunch buffet. And we talk, mostly about the past since the past is where he's most at ease.

There was the fence we built on his ranch/commune. There was the day the two dogs we owned from the same litter killed the chicken. The stoned, comic film we were going to make with large vats of spaghetti in the first scene. Wives we had and girls we knew. The old songs. The handsome collection of pot plants on the deck that was taken away by the local police. The concerts. The marches. All the old moments, more than we could say in the few hours we had.

As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.*

After a couple of hours, his youngest daughter came in. Lovely and warm and smart. Quiet and calm with him. She lit his face up with a glow I hadn't seen. But she had things to do in the way that the young always have things to do, and had to rush off to meet her boyfriend. As she left, he asked her in his painfully slow way, "Do you... have... a good... man?"

"Yes," she assured him, "he's a very good man."

"I'm... happy then."

She left and we went out of the restaurant and up to the home on the floor above so his clothing could be changed. His brother and I waited for his nurse to bring him back in the small terrace outside. The very old pushed their walkers about. The mentally deficient mumbled in the corners. The sun was still warm in the late afternoon. His brother told me that the prognosis was, in short, a long decline to a dead end. He would never be better tomorrow than he was today.

He was rolled back out and we spent some more time talking, but he was obviously tiring and the early supper time popular in these homes was approaching. So it was time to go. As I got up to leave, he reached up and took my arm pulling me close. He paused for a moment and I could see him gather his energy. Then he said, quite clearly, "I just want to say one thing."


"I deeply regret... that everyday there are people... out there trying... trying with all their might to... hijack your brain."

So we left it like that and I drove to the airport and took the next flight out. I had no reservation, paid with a debit card, was flying one way to a California town with a New York Drivers License. I got my own special bag search right down to the seams of my suitcase, and an extended question and answer session with airport security -- just in case I was going to try with all my might to hijack the plane. It's how we live now.

At John Wayne Airport, I waited in the warm evening until my wife at the time picked me up.

"Do you want to go somewhere for dinner?" she asked.

"No. I just want to go home."

We drove to the coast and turned south along the Pacific. On the left, the lights were on in all the multi-million dollar homes that gaze out over the Pacific. On the right, you could see the flickering lines of white as the waves coming in from Asia broke at last against the rocks and the sand. Beyond them, there was the dark sheen of water moving off until it all faded into the night and merged into a spray of stars.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin' and singin' till the early hours of the morn.

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
That we could sit simply in that room again.
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.*

*Bob Dylan's Dream
Republished from September, 2004

Posted by Vanderleun Nov 6, 2016 2:11 AM | Comments (30)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Your America (1945)

"The U.S. War Department described this film in the following words: "An American soldier, during his combat career, realizes the greatness of his country and determines to assume his share of the responsibilities of good citizenship upon his return to civilian life."

Contains "seized enemy material." Starring Arthur Kennedy and (probably) directed by John Ford, this film was shown to soldiers departing service immediately after World War II. It is well scripted and features several recognizable character actors of the late 30s and 40s, most notably Walter Sande of "To Have and Have Not". Interestingly, the script includes moderate swearing and a benign "tush" shot which was included to punctuate a humorous sequence. To include such elements today would not be worth mentioning, but back then it was unheard of. To offset the inclusion, the film office included a warning card at the end of the film: "NOT TO BE SHOWN TO AMERICAN AUDIENCES WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE U. S. GOVERNMENT". Oddly, it appeared on some prints and not others.

"It's Your America" dramatically hits home with it's message: "Participate in running your country by voting. Don't take freedom and democracy for granted.". The film ends with a stirring up-tempo version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and a surprise and poignant pull-back shot of our soldier as he ends his narrative. It's a well-made film with high production values, thanks to (probable) assistance by a major studio, most likely Warner Bros."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 5, 2016 11:32 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Plato's Cave


"I live in two worlds. One has www in front of it. I must admit I don't like the imaginary place that's become the ironclad version of reality for most people. The jackanapes who rule the Friendface planet are the worst people extant, if you ask me. By the way, if you're reading this, you asked me.

Anyway, IIRC, this is the first video the boys ever made that got a downvote on YouTube. It's got 322 upvotes and 2 downvotes now. I remember pointing out their first downvote to my children. I thought it was a notable thing.
"I explained the motive behind it. I told them they couldn't always trust upvotes. Many people upvote everything for reasons that have nothing to do with quality. All of my children's contemporaries, for instance, can't sing or play their musical instruments, but are constantly told they are wonderful. Audiences are assembled for them, mostly in school, and they receive applause, and it's all fake. People sit still and then applaud, but it's only because it's over and they can stop listening. Sooner or later, this endless stream of fake enthusiasm tempts the unwary to "follow their passion" and perform in front of strangers who aren't in on the Wobbly gag. They discover quickly that the world is a very harsh place, they get the tomatoes, and they wonder where they went off the rails. Of course they didn't go off the rails. The railroad just doesn't go anywhere. Sippican Cottage: Minor Swing By Minors

Speaking only for myself, I'm leaving Plato's Cave for the weekend.

Pull yourselves together
While there's something left to save.
Aren't you getting tired
Of chasing shadows in a cave?

Outside the stars are singing still,
Perfectly in tune.
You can see it's getting late,
There's a circle round the moon.

You don't need songs to tell you
That freedom's in your shoes,
And love the only known cure
For all a lover's blues.

In love some found the answer,
And for love some have died,
But it's only love that makes you real
Out on the Other Side.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 5, 2016 10:54 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Trump the Closer: Last Ad Standing

Here’s what makes this ad so special:

1. Trump delivers his lines perfectly, like an experienced actor. We haven’t heard him like this before. You probably didn’t think he had this in him. He stays calm and assured, but not cocky. That is an effective counter-framing to Clinton’s framing of Trump as an unpredictable madman. Here Trump comes off as perfectly reasonable and deeply empathetic.

2. The timing is perfect. This race went so low that even the trolls were starting to gasp for oxygen. Trump made us wait for relief – Hollywood style. He made us crave civility and sanity. And just when we thought it was out of reach, he goes ultra-positive.

But here’s the best part. Clinton has no good options to counter this message. If she stays dark, Trump finishes as the inspirational one. If she tries to match his positive message, she has little chance of doing it this well...... More at | Scott Adams' Blog

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 5, 2016 10:26 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
And now for something completely different... Highlights from the 2016 International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest


Why? Why now?



More at Stunning | Colossal

Meanwhile, where would I like to be? Easy.

I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus's garden in the shade

I'd ask my friends to come and see
An octopus's garden with me
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade

We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Resting our head on the sea bed
In an octopus's garden near a cave


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 4, 2016 6:14 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
But Just When I Think I'm Out.... They Pull Me Back In:Hitler finds out Hillary Clinton is back under FBI investigation

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 4, 2016 3:57 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Religion of the Left


There is a world dimensional
For those untwisted
by the love of things irreconcilable.

--Hart Crane

I've written elsewhere that one of the "things you can't say about the First Terrorist War" is that it is, at bottom, a war of two religions. So it is with the culture wars in America today. It too is, and you are not supposed to say this either, a war of TWO religions.

Then again, that is not quite right. Try it this way.

We are fighting a war of two religions in which only one side is allowed to be designated as a religion -- the Right. "The Right" in these terms is always code for "The Religious Right", which is, in turn, code for "Christianity." This is sometimes, by the legion of scribblers ready to push out the party line at the drop of a hat, modified for form's sake into "Christian Fundamentalism." But realistic observers of this game are not fooled and know it to be the same sort of bearded shorthand by which "Islamic Fundamentalism" is made to stand in for Islam, pure and simple.

In whatever form the attack takes, we have seen -- and will continue to see -- an attack on Religious Americans by another group of Americans that previously identified themselves as "secular," but who lately are trying to wrap themselves in the raiment of religion to a greater or lesser extent. I am expecting a plethora of punditry soon that includes the phrase, "Some of my best friends are Christians, but...." at every opportunity.

But this tactic will, in the end, not suffice. It will fail because those of real faith easily see through those of false faith. And to profess a faith is worse than to remain simply agnostic. Still, it will be tried because bare atheism reveals that the Religion of the Liberal/Left is not a religion of the people, but of those who would be master. In the coming years, the acolytes of this Religion may attempt to don the fleece of the flock, but the Shepherd will always be able to tell between the quick and the dead.

The real religious disaster for the Liberal/Left in the last 16-years was not that George Bush was religious, but that Bush's religion was not the Liberal/Left's approved religion; the Religion of the Self. They now have their new apotheosis in Obama, a man whose professed faith is plain to see -- through. And gleaming on his inner altar is a nice little statue of Himself in obsidian.

The Religion of the Self is the most ancient religion. Indeed, many faiths were created, revealed, and promulgated to contain the Religion of the Self.


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 4, 2016 2:01 PM | Comments (49)  | QuickLink: Permalink
There Are 319 Million American Dreams. This Is One of Them.

That night I had a dream. I dreamt I was as light as the ether- a floating spirit visiting things to come.

The shades and shadows of the people in my life rassled their way their way into my slumber. I dreamed that Gale and Evelle had decided to return to prison. Probably that's just as well. I don't mean to sound superior, and they're a swell couple of guys, but maybe they weren't ready yet to come out into the world. And then I dreamed on, into the future, to a Christmas morn in the Arizona home where Nathan Junior was opening a present from a kindly couple who preferred to remain unknown. I saw Glen a few years later, still having no luck getting the cops to listen to his wild tales about me and Ed. Maybe he threw in one Polack joke too many. I don't know. And still I dreamed on, further into the future than I had ever dreamed before, watching Nathan Junior's progress from afar, taking pride in his accomplishments as if he were our own. Wondering if he ever thought of us and hoping that maybe we'd broadened his horizons a little even if he couldn't remember just how they got broadened. But still I hadn't dreamt nothing about me and Ed until the end. And this was cloudier cause it was years, years away. But I saw an old couple being visited by their children, and all their grandchildren too. The old couple weren't screwed up. And neither were their kids or their grandkids. And I don't know. You tell me. This whole dream, was it wishful thinking? Was I just fleeing reality like I know I'm liable to do? But me and Ed, we can be good too. And it seemed real. It seemed like us and it seemed like, well, our home. If not Arizona, then a land not too far away. Where all parents are strong and wise and capable and all children are happy and beloved. I don't know. Maybe it was Utah.-- Raising Arizona


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 3, 2016 7:11 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 2, 2016 10:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Cubs Win the World Series, Donald Trump is in the World Playoffs, and Keith Richards Lived to See Both!

Yea, verily it is said....

Inspired by the Cubs, Trump voters begin to come out to vote. Their theme?

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 2, 2016 10:11 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hillary Curse

"I curse CLINTON’S head and all the hairs of Clinton’s head; I curse Clinton’s face, Clinton’s brain (innermost thoughts), Clinton’s mouth, Clinton’s nose, Clinton’s tongue, Clinton’s teeth, Clinton’s forehead, Clinton’s shoulders, Clinton’s breast, Clinton’s heart, Clinton’s stomach, Clinton’s back, Clinton’s womb, Clinton’s arms, Clinton’s legs, Clinton’s hands, Clinton’s feet, and every part of Clinton’s body, from the top of Clinton’s head to the soles of Clinton’s feet, before and behind, within and without."

"I curse CLINTON going and I curse her riding; I curse her standing and I curse her sitting; I curse her eating and I curse her drinking; I curse her rising, and I curse her lying; I curse her at home, I curse her away from home; I curse her within the house, I curse her outside of the house; I curse Clinton’s dykes, Clinton’s child, and Clinton’s slaves, black and white and wise Latina and Islamic whores who participate in Clinton’s deeds. I curse Clinton’s crops, Clinton’s cattle, Clinton’s wool, Clinton’s sheep, Clinton’s horses, Clinton’s swine, Clinton’s geese, Clinton’s hens, and all Clinton’s livestock. I curse Clinton’s halls, Clinton’s chambers, Clinton’s kitchens, Clinton’s stanchions, Clinton’s barns, Clinton’s cowsheds, Clinton’s barnyards, Clinton’s cabbage patches, Clinton’s plows, Clinton’s harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for Clinton’s sustenance and welfare."


Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 2, 2016 3:38 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Make Rome Great Again



Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 1, 2016 9:39 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Once Upon a Time I Had a Daughter

Please repost, retweet, share, email, and promulgate everywhere you can. Thanks.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 1, 2016 4:45 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Brief History of Republicans and Democrats -- Author Unknown


Some historians are teaching that history began some 10,000 years ago. Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains during the winter and would go to the coast to live on fish and lobster in the summer.

The two most important events in all of history were the invention of beer and the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundations of modern civilization, and together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into two distinct subgroups: Liberals & Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered, it required grain, and that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That’s how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking and killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as “the Conservative movement.”


Posted by Vanderleun Nov 1, 2016 12:11 PM | Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sumpthin' tells me folks gonna talk about this ee-lection fer years to come...

[HT: MarkH ]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 1, 2016 12:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Something's Happening Here. What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear.

The election of 2016 seems like a scene inside a larger event.

There is the sense that something significant is happening though no one seems can say exactly what. Robert Kagan called the United States the world's "most dangerous nation". It's a place where the idealistic and the cynical, the tawdry and the sublime, the brilliant and the stupid routinely rub shoulders in public life. The Most Dangerous Nation is now apparently in the process of resolving a political crisis in its own inimitable way. What it will do next is anybody's guess. It might be wonderful. It might be horrifying. It will probably be a little of both. -- Wretchard @ Belmont Club

"There's something happening here
But what it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it's time we stop
Children, what's that sound?
Everybody look - what's going down? "

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 1, 2016 10:25 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sourdough Mountain Lookout

On the Ridge

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

-- from Riprap / Gary Snyder

Posted by gerardvanderleun Nov 1, 2016 2:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
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