Contact me HERE

"This book fills a much-needed gap."- Moses Hadas

American Studies

EnterpriseBurningHellcat.jpg

Crash landing of F6F-3, Number 30 of Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2), USS Enterprise, into the carrier's port side 20mm gun gallery, 10 November 1943. Lieutenant Walter L. Chewning, Jr., USNR, the Catapult Officer, is climbing up the plane's side to assist the pilot from the burning aircraft. The pilot, Ensign Byron M. Johnson, escaped without significant injury. Enterprise was then en route to support the Gilberts Operation. Note the plane's ruptured belly fuel tank.
"I once showed a photo to my father-in-law (he, and my father, were WW II vets). It showed a carrier deck crewman jumping onto a flaming Hellcat airplane, which sill had the huge fuel drop-tanks attached, and he was trying to help free the pilot. Get it? He was jumping onto a flaming gas can to save a man. Here's what my dad in law said: he was doing his job.

"Now you understand something about that generation. They were made of iron." --Posted by: Casey Klahn in The Top 40: Falling on Grenades:

[Note: I'd been saving this image in my drafts for well over a year waiting for something. This comment by Kahn today was that something.]

gerardvanderleun : September 1, 14  |  Your Say (0)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Citizens

My old man's that old man,
Spent his life livin' off the land,
Dirty hands, and a clean soul.
It breaks his heart seein' foreign cars,
Filled with fuel that isn't ours
And wearin' cotton we didn't grow

He's got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
Semper Fi tattooed on his left arm
Spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says ‘USA’
He won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
With WD40 and a Craftsman wrench
He ain't prejudiced, he's just made in America

He loves his wife and she’s that wife
That decorates on the Fourth of July
But says 'Every day's Independence Day'
She's golden rule, teaches school,
Some folks say it isn't cool
But she says the Pledge of Allegiance anyway.

He's got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
Semper Fi tattooed on his left arm
Spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says ‘USA’
He won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
With WD40 and a Craftsman wrench
He ain't prejudiced, he's just made in America

Born in the Heartland, raised up a family
Of King James and Uncle Sam

He's got the red, white, and blue flyin' high on the farm
Semper Fi tattooed on his left arm
Spend a little more in the store for a tag in the back that says ‘USA’
He won't buy nothin' that he can't fix,
With WD40 and a Craftsman wrench
He ain't prejudiced, he's just made in America
Made in America
Made in America

My old man's that old man,
He's made in America.

[HT: Chasmatic & Ol' Remus]

gerardvanderleun : September 1, 14  |  Your Say (0)  | PermaLink: Permalink

It began when my brother, Jeff, reached into his cupboard one evening in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and pulled out a small can. "You want to see some vague food?" he asked holding the tin out.

"Vague?"

"Yes, vague," he said. "Just what is "Potted Meat" anyway? Has it been smoked, drenched, strained, and then slammed into the can with extreme prejudice? What animal gives potted meat?"

vaguepottedmeat.jpg

I looked carefully at the can and turned it to the list of ingredients "as required by law." Not vague in the least.

Mechanically Separated Chicken, Beef Tripe, Partially Defatted Cooked Beef Fatty Tissue, Beef Hearts, Water, Partially Defatted Cooked Pork Fatty Tissue, Salt. Less than 2 percent: Mustard, Natural Flavorings, Dried Garlic, Dextrose, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite

The first item caught my eye since I had no idea what "Mechanically Separated Chicken" was except that it sounded bad for the chicken. Since then I've learned what the process entails:

Mechanically separated meat (MSM) [I'll let the acronym "MSM" pass without comment], also known as mechanically recovered meat (MRM), is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef, pork or chicken bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. Mechanically separated meat has been used in certain meat and meat products since the late 1960s.
That really perks up the taste buds, doesn't it?

My brother, to his eternal credit, didn't open that can of "Potted Meat." If he had we might have had to vacate his home at high speed surfing just ahead of the odor wave. Instead he prepared a very good dinner using real food.

Still, his concept of "vague food" stuck with me. How much vague food was there and what was it like? The next morning I found myself roaming through one of Food Lion supermarkets that are scattered about North Carolina. It was a bit of spontaneous cultural anthropology. My mission was to discover what other strange offerings had crept onto the grocery shelves during the years in which my own tastes had tended towards the more high end of offerings at YuppieChic Whole Foods style markets. I was not to be disappointed.

It was a series of small satoris. Here are some items that caught my attention. None of these things are on my current diet.

First up was this mercifully seasonal offering from Starbucks:

starpep.jpg

In this one offering we see a grand harmonic convergence of everything that has gone terribly, terribly wrong for Starbucks over the last few years. To get an abomination like this on the shelves means that hundreds of people at the company are working overtime to put it there. But before that can even get started you need a small group of executive marketing bozos sitting around trying to justify their phony baloney jobs.

"Okay, here's what we'll do. We'll take some bad coffee extract, dose it with some cheap chocolate syrup, and then lace it with peppermint!"

"Sounds suitably disgusting. How do we get people to buy it?"

"We'll tell them that it's available for a "Limited Time Only."

"Fookin' genius!"

Of late I note that some 300 jobs at Starbucks' headquarters in Seattle were eliminated. One can only hope these soooper-geniuses were not only among them, but rowed out into Puget Sound and put into the water with chains wrapped around their legs.

The next things not to make it into my shopping cart were the musical Tuna Medleys:

tunamedely.jpg

I did take one down and hold it to my ear to try and discern just what songs the tuna chunks were singing, but I couldn't quite make it out.

I also noted that, deep in the mountains of North Carolina, the "living in the shadows" population of illegal aliens had been spotlighted by Food Lion. Offerings of food favored by Mexicans took up fully half an aisle, with the following item asserting a kind of gastronomic assimilation we can only dream of.

chipoltemaynoesa.jpg

Humm, Mayonesa-Mayonnaise. That's one massive train wreck of Spanish-French-American cultural concepts contained in a single jar. I suppose that this is some sort of sauce designed to appeal to the demographic of WASP Mexicans, but I really can't see why anyone in their right mind would whisk chipolte peppers into the otherwise palatable white-persons condiment of choice.

Still the Food Lion constantly reminded me that I was not in Mexifornia but in the deep South. If I harbored any doubts in the Mexican aisle a few regional specialties the next aisle over brought me around.

DSC_7629.jpg

I can't even begin to imagine the tooth-fulness of these snacks and it is my profound wish that you would need to prove residency from birth in the South in order to be allowed to purchase them.

But enough of what's for dinner in Vague Food Lion. Better to ask, hey, what's for lunch?

Here too you can depend upon being suitably revolted. First up are various sandwich fillings like:

livercheese2.jpg

Say that slowly several times: "Liver..... cheese.... liver.... cheese...." It's the kind of thought that would make a toddler contemplate suicide.

Of course I did find a few things that you could slap on a Liver Cheese sandwich to improve it.

Things, and I do mean "things," such as:
souseloaf.jpg
(Dubious even at the fabulous price of 99 cents!)

Things such as:
spamsingle.jpg
(The one slice of potted meat to have if you're having only one.)

Things such as the ever-popular:
DSC_7585.jpg
(Which I am sure have never been within 6,000 miles of Vienna.)

And things such as:
fishsteaks.jpg
(Very small fish making for very small steaks in very small tins.)

Now if you stack those altogether you will get some very distinct eating -- especially if you slather them with some Chipolte Mayonesa-Mayonnaise. But what would be, in Vague Foodland, an appropriate item to put them between in order to make the ultimate vague food sandwich?

Food Lion did not disappoint. In the very next aisle I discovered, to my horror:

pocketwaffles.jpg

Yes, pre-cooked and pre-packaged waffles already infused with syrup. No effort required at all. Is this the age of miracles and wonders, or what?

True, the conjoined twins of "De Wafelbakkers" might give you pause, but once you get past the potential of long mustache hairs getting into the batter, it's all good.

It's more than all good, because with these syrup-soaked waffles wrapped around your sandwich, you are ready to choose from the vast selection of vague desserts offered.

These would include, but not be limited to:

cheesecakefilling.jpg

"Ready to eat!" Yumm. Why bother with putting it in a crust when you can just pop the lid and dig in?

Not to your taste? Not to worry,there's always:

frenchtwirl.jpg

This is an item that has a somewhat soft and flexible pastryesque shell surrounding a semi-solid and slick inner fluffed filling. The advantage of this item is that one can be eaten for dessert and the other saved for vague food emergencies.

By this time you're probably thinking, "Well, that's just the natural depravity of the packaged foods industry. It can't possibly represent the more natural inclinations of America's current diet."

Well, you're wrong. Because while I was fleeing from the Food Lion and the aisles of dead and vague food, I ran past the bakery counter touting "Fresh Baked Goodness." I paused long enough to snap a picture of the current cupcake offerings:

colorfulcupcakes2.jpg

Now I don't know about you but I tend to reject any food that is blue that doesn't come with the word "berry" right after it. Not so the bakers of Food Lion it would seem.

Having driven all thoughts of eating any thing from my mind, I left the Food Lion and fled back into the hills of North Carolina.

The last thing I photographed before leaving was this label:

splendedaray.jpg

The vaguest food of all. I bought three. After all, it was a good price.

Vanderleun : September 1, 14  |  Your Say (41)  | PermaLink: Permalink

aburning_mecca.jpg

gerardvanderleun : September 1, 14  |  Your Say (7)  | PermaLink: Permalink

yallpurpose_apology.jpg

gerardvanderleun : September 1, 14  |  Your Say (6)  | PermaLink: Permalink

bluefalls.jpg

The Asheville, North Carolina restaurant was one of those common to our post-post-modern world. Open and airy with a wall of windows framing hanging plants. Casual to the point of paper napkins. Sporting a list of local beers and -- surprise -- local wines. Tarted up with the kind of overtly ironic art on the walls where the painter has one statement and one image in his repertoire and repeats it ad nauseam. This time it seemed that the sensibility being trotted out was one of Hieronymous Bosch meets Hello Kitty.

The menu, a litany of updated regional classics such as black-eyed pea cakes, was relentlessly "improved" by garnishes such as avocados and Basmati rice. The joint's "philosophy" -- since all new restaurants must now publish a justifying manifesto along with their menu -- centered on the now tedious homage to "local" "organic" produce and a dedication to "reviving tradition" -- plus the removal of trans-fats. Collard greens, sweetened lima beans, and salty sweet potatoes bracketed the entrees. In the center you'd find rib-eyes under slathers of sauteed onions, broiled slabs of local fish dusted with some orange spice, chickens with a roasted-on glaze, pork in five different variations, and dried cranberries slipped into cakes on the sly just when you thought it was safe.

It was a boutique version of the kind of food once common to the region, but that now survived either in roadside diners named "Granny's" and "Hubert and Sal's,"or at upscale nostalgic eateries such as this one. I suppose you could call it a "cuisine" -- as the local magazines and guides are wont to do -- but that word has too many curlicues. Call it "eats" and get on with it.

grannyssides.jpg

The diners seemed to agree and were not slow about getting on with their meals. One man to my right hulked over his plate like a Turkish sumo and ate mechanically as if his hands were back hoes in some mountain grave yard, the coffin inbound on the midnight train and the kinfolk getting antsy. Across from him, a slim woman ate in a punctuated manner and talked at him at the same time, her hand gestures angular and as precise as scalpels. He nodded dully as if barely feeling her opinions and just put his head down and ate right on through them, looking up just often enough and nodding just slightly enough that she might believe he was actually hearing her.

Hearing anyone was a sometimes thing in this room. It was one of those restaurants whose hard ceilings, walls, and floors made for a constant din and clatter and clang. You had to raise your voice to be heard over it, and -- since raising your voice added to the din -- it made you and everyone else speak ever louder until the yabble peaked, then plunged into brief silence as everyone lapsed back into murmurs. Then it began building, again, inevitably to shouts, and so on.

It was a down-home yuppified place with a pretty good kitchen and fine intentions. It was a place where you could get the same meal you could get at "Granny's Country Kitchen" out along the highway, but you could rest assured that none of the boys from the hills -- those with flag decals on the pick-up's bumper and a deer rifle on a rack in the rear window -- would be smoking or farting or telling tales next to you. This privilege only cost you about three times as much.

truckgun.jpg

This was downtown Asheville in the heart of the freshly gentrified, cosmopolitan zone and instead of pick-ups rattling down the streets, Porsches prowled growling in the night outside the rock-climbing gym. This was an armed cultural hamlet in the New South, guarded by down-home decorating parlors ready to give your custom log-cabin that shabby chic lived-in look; where the sentries were hair salons called "The People" with mirrors in front of each station resembling nothing so much as the guillotines that "The People" of France once used so effectively in solving their aristocracy problem. The difference here was that the new aristocracy of this region was busy admiring themselves in the mirrors of these guillotines with nary a Marat or Robespierre in sight. Instead, downtown Asheville -- or at least some small section at the top of the hills -- was relentlessly promoting our new secular religion of senseless and endless shopping opportunities.

Down in the gulch streets below the mini-Madison Avenue of Asheville a wide variety of ethnic restaurants from the Jerusalem Cafe to Mela Indian foods jostles with used book stores and the ubiquitous tattoo parlors. Antique stores have arrived with a vengeance as have poodles and other toy breeds that bring with them shops devoted to "canine cuisine". After all, once you've got a whole generation of 20 or 30 and sometimes 40 somethings that have elected to raise dogs rather than children, nothing is too good for your fur-faced kids, is it?

3dogbakery.jpg

And where there are bakeries for dogs, there are restaurants whose owners handle regional foods as carefully as curators in a museum. In this, I admit, they do not do half-bad at the Early Girl Eatery where quick bread can be had at breakfast for three bucks a plate, and slow-cooked pork in the evening for fifteen. It's not quite the roadside diner down in the hollar, but that land's been bulldozed for one of the endless gated communities sprouting across the landscape in these parts like dubious toadstools. At least at the Early Girl you're pretty sure the pork isn't road kill. And even if it was, the sauces and seasoning would make up for it.

The check had come and I'd paid it. They'd filled the restaurant and turned it once since we'd been there. A popular place. A post-post- modern place, a place that was a sterling example of how we live now -- the real and the regional reduced to a remembrance, the communities gated, the homes "maintenance -free." History in a bottle, cleaned, pressed and with the trans-fats removed. Just the way we like it. Traditional in style but tradition-free in content. The experience without the meaning and not missing it.

As I got up to leave the family of six at the long table across from me was served with the quick flourish and satisfied air of presentation that is the style of serving these days. The was food steaming in front of them, but none of them made a move towards it. Instead, they talked quietly amongst themselves and seemed to come to a decision. They made their selection from among them. It was to be one of the daughters, a girl of about 17 I guessed. The din in the restaurant rose and fell, but the family of six sat quietly and then bowed their heads as one. Then they said grace.

I stood motionless at my table. I had, I thought, never seen this before in a restaurant. I'd seen it in private homes to be sure, but upon reflection I realized that I'd not seen it there in quite sometime. And I was quite sure this was, for me, a rare event. I'd probably not been paying attention since it no doubt went on all the time, but still it was a startling moment. Perhaps I'd just been too long in Seattle where the only manifestations of spirit are flimsy; where the invocations are raised to a watery Buddhism or bloodless Unitarianism where God is impossibly distant if at all extant. Be that as it may, this simple act of saying grace did not so much shock me as still me. I paused to listen in. And the daughter did not disappoint.

Her's was no gestural grace -- "Bless this food. Amen. Let's eat." -- but an extended meditation on the good fortune to find oneself among family and before a rich selection of food; an acknowledgment of an unusual level of being blessed by God, and a calling down of God's grace on members of the family present and not present, and ending with a wish that God continue to bless the family, the community, the state and the country. Then, and only then, was "Amen" spoken and the meal begun.

Outside along the Asheville streets, it was a balmy evening. Down the block another restaurant offered "Exceptional International Vegetarian Food," and a shop on the corner sold items imported from Africa whose purchase was purported to help suffering children here and there in that blighted continent. A local freebie paper picked off a stack had decided that a photo of a tribal protest in Santiago, Chile on the Dia de la Raza was important information for the citizens of this part of town. Down in the Asheville hipster-dopester-homeless gulch at a more cut-rate vegetarian restaurant, citizens with shaved heads, "message" t-shirts, multiple facial piercing and full-body tattoos were climbing the stairs in search of a bran muffin, bitching about George Bush, global warming, and their personal collection of STDs while complaining of residual racism in a city that seems more white than Seattle.

The road back to the house in the hills was dark and winding and you had to take it slow. Going back it was nice to know that somewhere, somehow, and for reasons that sometimes challenge all understanding, there were people still asking God to bless America.

For now, that's the big headline news of the day here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

blueridgesign.jpg



[First published October 2007]

Vanderleun : August 31, 14  |  Your Say (60)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Morrison9.jpgBut darlin', those days are gone
Oh yeah
Stop dreaming
And live on in the future
But darlin', a-don't look back
Whoa, no-no
Don't look back

-- John Lee Hooker

Ah, but we do, don't we? We always look back. Seeing the shapes, getting the measure, going the distance and finding -- if only for a moment -- the safe harbors of your life requires a spiritual sextant for sighting the fixed stars. It's a ghost ship's voyage with what lies ahead a blank white screen while what is behind fades into the smoke of the world well lost. There are shallows, shoals and the fatal allure of Sirens and the lee shore. Times in irons, then storms, then stretches of clear open ocean on a broad reach, but always with the sense of hidden reefs and an unknowable destination. It helps to track others' voyages, to follow similar arcs, to watch if they pass, or seem to pass, the same checkpoints. Some are siblings. Others are friends and lovers. Still others are artists that, at some point, strike us as sharing if not a life then at least a similar trajectory.

Everybody has a different set of charts, but some overlap. Among these are the singer-songwriter / poets of our era. These are our troubadours, the most influential of which in our time, is Bob Dylan. Indeed, I've often thought that it must gall the endless pile of disposable poets stashed in the academy that, for all their pallid effort, the greatest American poet of this era is Dylan. But Dylan, for all his protean output and achievement, misses the music as much as he hooks the mind.

For my money, the singer-songwriter-poet among my contemporaries, that both hooks the ear and brings the music is Van Morrison.

Not only for his ability to play his voice like some transoceanic jazz choir, nor his manner of mining the blues and jazz traditions and his own life, but also because -- like Dylan -- he endures. Not only that, but he reports back. And like a few others in music, painting and writing, the arc of his life seems to resonate with mine. It may be just a fluke of years lived in the same unfolding history, but it seems larger. It seems, as it always seems with the great souls, that there's an emotional and spiritual concordance happening, as one bell might pick up the tone of another nearby even though it has not itself been struck.

"Take me back, there, take me way back there..."

But that was later, and this is earlier, much earlier. Before there really was "Van Morrison." When he was just a singer. When he was one of THEM.

Comes a-walkin' down my street
When she comes to my house
She knocks upon my door
And then she comes in my room
Yeah, an' she make me feel alright

G-L-O-R-I-A (GLORIA)

Remembering that song the first thought is "Who, but who, was ever that young?" But of course we all were. And the number of times that the 45s of Mystic Eyes and Gloria were spun on the turntables in those years pretty much surpass memory. I do recall they made for some long and fine white nights. Gloria, played at the right time, could pretty much close the deal.

"The cool room, Lord, is a fool's room."

Make-out songs weren't the only thing in Van Morrison's bag, even in those years. Something else was there. Something that lived in the deep and would insist upon rising.

Within two years Morrison left "Them" and soloed, releasing the trendily titled Blowin' Your Mind! from Bang Records. The hit on that album was "Brown-Eyed Girl" and it has, thanks to the continuing and increasing supply of brown-eyed girls in the world, stayed pretty much a perennial since then. Boomers used it first for seduction and later for lullabies.

But there was another song on that first album that foreshadowed Morrison's work much more deeply, "T. B. Sheets." This is a dark and haunting evocation of death and sickness. Junkies like to think it's about them, but junkies think everything is about them. It's bigger than that. Much bigger. And it is, in its provenance as well as it's lyrics, nothing like any pop song that came before, and very little like any that came after. In the other songs on Blowin' Your Mind! you hear a young singer pulling out everything he knows in quest of a hit, any hit. But "T. B. Sheets" is vastly different. In it you hear the song of an old soul, one that has been here before; one that knows the deal and has paid the bill.

The origin of "T. B. Sheets" is, figuratively and literally, in nightmare.

His mother, Violet Morrison said that the song originally had emerged from a nightmare her son had and that he had felt it so strongly that he couldn't tell it to her but sang it instead with verses lasting for an hour.
An hour? The song on the album runs nearly 10 minutes, twice the length of any of the others, and an eternity for a pop album of the mid-60s. But an hour? Just to stay in that mental space for 10 minutes is enough for most people. (The song did not chart.) But an hour is inconceivable.

Still, I'd like to hear it. It's a song that first insinuates itself deep into your lungs and then crawls down your bones:

So open up the window and let me breathe,
I said, open up the window and let me breathe
I'm looking down to the street below
Lord, I cried for you, Oh, Lord.

The cool room, Lord, is a fool's room,
The cool room, Lord, is a fool's room,
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets
And I can almost smell your T.B. sheets, on your sick bed.

I gotta go, l gotta,
And you said, please stay.
I want, I want a drink of water,
I want a drink of water,
I went to the kitchen to get me a drink of water,

I gotta go baby.
I send, I send, I send somebody around here later,
You know we got John comin' around
Later with a bottle of wine for you, babe.

So much for the easy pop songs from a handsome young jazz singer who had gotten mixed up in rock-and-roll. There's Milton's "darkness visible" writhing at the center of that song, something seldom seen in pop music -- especially in the days of "Do you believe in magic/ in a young girl's eyes?"

"Darkness visible." That was to be a recurring image in Van Morrison's work. That and a search for the light as well.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

-- Traditional hymn, recorded in Hymns to the Silence, 1991

Light seen sometimes in the present, and sometimes in the past. But always with a sense of trying to learn, in the end, what he hears from John Lee Hooker:
Don't look back
To the days of yesteryear
You cannot live on in the past

Ah, but we do. Don't we?

[Bird Dog @ Maggie's reminds us that today is....Van Morrison's birthday - Maggie's Farm He's only 69. Looks 79. Acts 89. We appreciate his work, though.]

Click Here to Continue
Vanderleun : August 31, 14  |  Your Say (26)  | PermaLink: Permalink

a_640_foolpeople.jpg

gerardvanderleun : August 30, 14  |  Your Say (0)  | PermaLink: Permalink

a_algoreice.jpg
Stunning satellite images show summer ice cap is thicker and covers 1.7million square kilometres MORE than 2 years ago...despite Al Gore's prediction it would be ICE-FREE by now: The speech by former US Vice-President Al Gore was apocalyptic.

‘The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff,’ he said. ‘It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.’ Those comments came in 2007 as Mr Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning on climate change. But seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012.

gerardvanderleun : August 30, 14  |  Your Say (3)  | PermaLink: Permalink

American Studies

When you move your home the most important tool turns out to be a twenty dollar bill. Lots of them. Collecting a stack from the bank yesterday, this one turned up.

awhatsinyurwallet.jpg

What's in your wallet?

gerardvanderleun : August 30, 14  |  Your Say (7)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Just another fallen angel
Trying to get through the night.

Step by step, one by one,
higher and higher....

Step by step, rung by rung,
I'm climbing Jacob's ladder.

They tell me to always try to do "more," but never do "too much." When you are recuperating from coronary arrest and a subsequent two week time-out in the ICU these are difficult quantities to judge. My solution is to try to add more to what I did yesterday. Once around the block equals once and a half around the block. Tedious but true. Never a lot. Always a little more.

And sometimes that extra step leads you to a moment of strange revelation; revelation in which you do not know what it means other than that it may mean something; that it must mean something. Maybe something labeled in invisible ink "To Be Revealed Later." Random encounters of matter moving randomly in the dark or something else designed in some subtle way to keep you moving-- climbing,
step
by step,
rung
by rung...

So anyway....

Last night I decide to push myself and attend a Richard Thompson concert in the University District. In a fit of optimism the previous week, having been released from the hospital, I bought two tickets. I didn't "feel" like going, but I don't "feel" like doing much of anything. I do it anyway. It's not really an option.

So anyway....

While waiting for Thompson to come on I find I can't really sit in the chairs comfortably and have to walk randomly about the Neptune theater. I do this every ten minutes or so. On one of these perambulations I decide to go upstairs to the balcony. Then I pause for a minute examining the CDs, t-shirts, and posters that make up the commercial back-beat of concerts today. Then I amble along the corridor and take the handicapped ramp down towards the main floor where the main entrance is. Outside it is a rainy night.

I pause for a moment and pick up a flyer listing future concerts at the Neptune. That takes about three seconds. I turn to go back into the theater and to my seat.

At that precise second he comes through the door of the Neptune into the concert....

.... From sometime on the evening of the 13th of October to sometime on the night of what I think was the 22rd of October I have no memory. Ten days are expunged from my life as if they never existed. These were the days in which I was first effectively dead; then the days in which I was, thanks to a team of extraordinary ordinary heroes in the ICU, returned to life itself. To say what you feel towards these people and all the others of your friends and family is a sense of "gratitude" does not even begin to get on the scale of what you feel.....

.... he comes through the door of the Neptune into the concert.

I take one look and know the man as well as I know my brother. This man was my "respiratory therapist." His was the first face I saw on waking from my coma. He was sitting at the end of my bed in the ICU with his chin resting on his hand like Rodin's Thinker. He was wearing blue scrubs and I think he had some broad bands of a Maori tattoo around his biceps. He glanced at me. I think he said, "I'm deciding whether or not we can take that tube out of your lungs now," and then I drifted by into my drugged haze.

He did decide to remove the tube and that began my ability to leave the ICU and then the Hospital and then my home to attend this concert on a rainy night in Seattle and walk past the door at the precise second....

What do you say to a man like that?

For my part I said, again, "Thank you for saving my life."

He said, "You're welcome but there were a lot of us involved. I'm glad to see you are doing so very well so soon. Don't try and do 'too much.'"

A bit more small talk and then a handshake and he moved off to find the person he was here to meet on his night off from saving the lives of strangers that get delivered to him high above the street at the Harbor View Medical Intensive Care Unit.

I make my way back to my seat and soon the main attraction comes out and begins to play. He's good. Surprisingly good. But at the same time I think I've already seen the main attraction of the evening and I leave about two-thirds of the way through the concert.

At three in the morning I wake in the dark quiet room and I think, "A couple of seconds either way and I would have missed thanking the man who saved my life."

And in that dim room with day still far off I think, "What did that mean? What could it possibly mean? Does it mean something or is it just random?"

The only answer I have so far is, "I. Don't. Know.

'Step
by step,
rung
by rung....'
"

[November, 2011]

Vanderleun : August 30, 14  |  Your Say (23)  | PermaLink: Permalink

5-Minute Arguments

Scott M: "Israel keeps ending their "wars" with cease-fires, truces, and angry and humiliated enemies with a thirst for weapons.

If Israel would keep destroying the latest attacker until the attacker was dead or surrendered it wouldn't keep having these bi-monthly PR contests. If you leave your enemy in place, surrounded by civilians, and refuse to destroy that enemy and his weapons you are guaranteed to have another war. Stop letting your sympathy for Israel cause you to turn off your mind and stop pretending that if Israel fights the war in a humane and careful manner anyone, anywhere opposed to Israel will help Israel.
"Israel has sub-launched nuke missiles that can reach Tehran. It refuses to use them and so I don't believe they are committed to living. They want an LBJ-style show of force and messages. OK, then don't expect me to give a flip about your future. If my sister was getting punched in the nose routinely by her husband, and 50 years later was whining about how bad her husband was still treating her I would tell her to shut her mouth and leave him or kill him. Don't call me until you have done one or the other. It's your life and if you won't take the action that will work, I don't want to hear your sob story. How many Jews have died while Israel keeps pretending this can be settled without Total War? Do it or shut up. The Muslims do not value 1 or 1 million Muslim lives. Nobody should value their life until they shape up. Deport Islam and nuke Islam. AMERICAN DIGEST: Comment on GetReal Estate Posted by Scott M at August 29, 2014 8:51 PM

gerardvanderleun : August 29, 14  |  Your Say (10)  | PermaLink: Permalink

happygreenrobots.jpg
Look at these happy little green robots and admire how carefully they were selected to represent all genders and demographics

Head robot of Portland, Mayor Sam Adams (oh the shame he attaches to that illustrious name!) tells his fellow green robots to shape the fuck up: "I want to thank my City Council colleagues for passing a measure today that makes food scrap composting possible. We’re currently sending 29,000 tons of useful food scraps to landfills each year. Beginning October 31, the new waste collection program will let you throw these food scraps in the green yard debris roll cart so they can be turned into useful compost. In addition, your collection schedule will change as less of what you throw away goes in the trash. The green yard debris cart will now be picked up weekly – just like the blue recycling cart and yellow bin – and trash will be picked up every-other-week."

The little green bin is proliferating everywhere these days. Just one more task that the green fascists have gotten all the citizens to pitch in and do. Plus you pay extra for the privilege of doing the work for the state. What a deal!

You'll recall how this make-work state project started. First you were told to bundle your newspapers and put them out in a stack. (Magazines in coated paper in a separate bundle, thank you.) This led, over time, to a glut of newsprint that put pulp mills in Maine out of business; then to such a tsunami of glut that the newspapers were going into landfills just the same. Just on separate trucks purchased and manned by the city for that purpose.

Then you were told to separate out the glass from the trash and put it in those open blue bins. Small at first but now these bins are gigundo in size and cost. This led, in pretty much no time at all, to a glut in recycled glass that led to huge mountains of glass trash growing quietly outside of all major cities. After all, there are only so many glass tiles and glass blocks that the market can absorb. Then it's right into the landfills again. On new separate trucks, of course.

Then came the plastic bins for plastic. Then the consolidation of the plastic and glass bins -- since it was all really going into the landfill it really didn't matter.

Then came the "Yard Waste" bins because, well, in large cities large cities were suppose to compost all this crap from yards into rich humus. This of course led to humus mountains outside of all large cities and programs where the cities would give you some compost if you picked it up. That you were hauling the composted yard waste back to the yard after it had been hauled to the compost heap from the yard was, well, sort of glossed over. But the compost mountains grew anyway.

At this point you had, behind your house or to the side, a trash can, a glass and plastic recycling bin, and a yard waste bin... minimum. But you do not, it seems, have enough bins behind your house since the city can, it seems, charge you for picking up each and every bin as well as sell you the bin in the first place.

This is a good deal for the city and now it seems the cities want to extend it to yet another bin. This is the small green bin for the "organic kitchen waste" previously known as "garbage" that previously went into, well, your "garbage can."

The deal here is that you are supposed to pick through your garbage with your hands and put into the new tiny green bin only the choicest bits of pre-compost compost. Then you set that bin out on the day for it's collection after a week of pawing through the crap.

That makes four (count 'em) 4 bins to keep track of and to pay for, each one more foul than the one before.

You'd think that an operation that had a monopoly on such a rich resource of salvage could make money operating it. You'd be right. It makes money by charging you more for doing its work for it. And by selling you yet another bin.

But there is hope for the guerrillas among us. These new green bins, being vile and odiferous, are the perfect means of smuggling toxic chemicals out of the house and into the landfills without paying for Hazmat service.

Let's say that, after the forced retirement of the incandescent bulb, and the forced import of mercury filled bulbs into your house you actually break one. (Hey, it could happen.) With the little green bin you can just hide the shards under the kitty litter and avoid the $2,500 clean-up fee from the EPA.

I know that lots of cities are meeting their budget shortfalls not by firing staff but by actually hiring Garbage Cops to patrol your bins, but I'm willing to bet these dolts are not going to be digging into kitty litter and kitchen waste. I'm betting they'll be the number one cops in the doughnut shops for 95% of their shifts.

So, you know that pile of old dead fluorescent tubes you've got in the garage because you're not willing to pay the city the $50 for the "special pickup?" Get yourself a teeny-weeny green bin and some kitty litter.

Problem solved.

Vanderleun : August 29, 14  |  Your Say (8)  | PermaLink: Permalink

jeffers_big-sur_storm.jpg

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste, haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught -- they say -- God, when he walked on earth.

-- Robinson Jeffers

Vanderleun : August 29, 14  |  Your Say (7)  | PermaLink: Permalink

We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness.

-- Eliot, The Dry Salvages

Following a memory of my own, I "found" this video shortly after it was posted to YouTube around three years ago. It struck me then as enormously powerful in that offhand, out-of-left-field way that found objects can be. The power of this short window into 1977 is that it captures, without intent, the elements of memory. It melds the plaintive almost psalmic acoustic hit by Kansas with an imagery whose sheer faded quality adds to an overall impression of other times once lived and now gone beyond recall. It is the essence of "time in a bottle."

Ordinary when made the film aged into something beyond itself. The better memories do that. They seem, if we think of them at all at the time we have the experience we will later remember, to be just barely beyond the cusp of ordinary. Often we don't even discover them as memories until years later when they emerge, not as they were, but as they have become as our souls expand enough to value what we thought at the time was dross as the real gold of our lives.

The fact that it was viewable by me at all was one of those strange conjunctions of love and fate that the Web has made possible. The video is under the YouTube account of "uselessdirector" who has in the years since he posted this posted only two other personal bits in his account. The response to those is what it should be. Negligible. But the response to this video is now above 3,640,000 6,277,000 views with fresh comments still coming in almost hourly.

What is the provenance of this video? Uselessdirector states only, "Filmed in 1977 by my dad, this music video nearly became "dust in the wind" until it was restored from its failing 8mm format." His role was to see the film as it was made, 8MM or 16MM, and to save it as a video before time faded the film to invisibility. He caught it just in time and in doing so caught time itself. Then because he knew it had a value beyond itself and because he could, he placed it on YouTube where, in time, it was discovered.

From the video itself, we learn the names of the "Cast" in the credits and also see a list of "The Tribe." Aside from that there are other hints to the spring or summer in which this was made. We discover it was made in Findley Lake, New York, a small rural community up near the shore of Lake Erie. Was "The Tribe" a group of friends or a small commune of the kind that were still common in those years? Did the young man and young woman paired as "Adam" and "Eve" have a relationship outside the film or was it only for the purposes of the film? Somehow I doubt it was the latter.

Looking a little deeper into the Net I found a few things worth noting. For one thing it is possible, through the odd but wonderful Google Street View to compare "Then" with "Now" and confirm, as if we did not know it with every cell of our being, that "Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky."

findleylakeyoutube.jpg
Then

findleylakenow.jpg
Now

An interesting exercise in contrasting the present to a memory. But "interesting" is pretty much the finish of the exercise. In mere aesthetic terms it is obvious that the "Then" as evoked by the film image is far superior to the glimpse of "Now" gleaned by a Google Street View car sweeping by and capturing a slice of that particular road during the particular minute it passed that otherwise nondescript place on the edge of Findley Lake. The former is gold, the latter dross.

What was the memory I was following when I first found this film? It was the memory of that song heard first in the summer of 1977 somewhere in London, New York, or Burgundy. I loved the summer of 1977. It was one of my favorite years. It was one of those luminous years when everything seemed to fall right and come together into something you could assign to happiness. I'd wait 26 years for the next one.

I heard the song once again in memory. It was in a suburban mall parking lot in Connecticut on a chill winter evening during one of those years when it all went smash.

If I have to choose between memories I'll take the one contained in this ineffable bit of short film saved from the fade and the fog of time. It's one of those strange artifacts that evokes among those alive in the time it was made the cliched thought, "Dear God, were we ever that young?" Made on a whim during an afternoon, the film answers, "Yes, you were. Yes, we all were. And in time, with the grace of God, we will be again."



Republished from April 1010 2010. [What would I do without my prufreaders?]

Vanderleun : August 28, 14  |  Your Say (41)  | PermaLink: Permalink

5-Minute Arguments

obamamaskonbush.jpg

So far this month, the president's approval rating has averaged just 42 percent, his lowest August rating since 2011. For Obama, August Is The Cruelest Month : NPR

Reading that took me back about seven years to an evening out in Seattle with a friend. He's a long-gone liberal who's never coming back. He's gifted in many ways except, alas, for politics. When it comes to that he has a fully colonized mind and a solid Democrat record of supporting hustlers, losers, con-artists and criminals from Louisiana to New Jersey. Like all slaves on that ideological plantation he thinks it makes him more free and believes everyone he knows will forget about his many decades of picking the worst his party has to offer.

I've long returned from that dark tunnel, but I admire and respect him and our friendship of long standing. Our default position on politics is that "it doesn't come up."

Meeting him were a couple of his friends which are only acquaintances of mine. As such, this being Seattle, they did not suspect, even for a moment, that I happen to be "one of 'THEM'." (Indeed whenever a Seattle acquaintance discovers my politics -- as happened last week at the airport -- the reaction is invariably along the lines of "I never knew you were THAT WAY." )

Into the bar came his friends, one of them walking with a swagger as if he'd just been sprinkled with holy water by the Messiah himself. He ordered a round of drinks and when they were put up lifted his glass, smacked his lips, and said, "Forty-three percent!" This was in reference to the approval rating of George W. Bush that had been announced that day.

Three glasses clinked but mine remained on the bar. The back of my hand brushed it back towards the bartender and left it there.

The man who ordered the drinks looked at me quizzically. I looked at him and, because I am blessed with an English Major and a large mental file of American poetry, said, “there is some shit i will not eat."

An awkward silence ensued from which all were saved by the start of the show we'd come to see.

My friend and I still see each other.

Less now than before as the elephant of Obama’s failure has moved from the lawn to the porch with its trunk in the room.

I never saw his friends again. Never had to refuse another drink. I'm okay with that but they came to mind today when these new disapproval numbers of their tin god were released.

I wonder what they do now. Do they still order drinks to make toasts to Obama's numbers as they sink below Bush, or do they just grab the whiskey and CHUG-A-LUG it straight from bottle?

gerardvanderleun : August 28, 14  |  Your Say (12)  | PermaLink: Permalink

"Three moves equals one house fire."

Because of a series of events too strange to tell, the house I rent is being put on the market. As a result I have to clear it of all my possessions over the coming labor day weekend and find another place to live. Even with the help of dear friends it's a daunting task and I do not, as of this writing, know exactly where I will find my next home. It will, however, not be in Seattle but rather in a town much closer to my mother in Northern California who, as she turns 100, is happy to hear of the prodigal's return.

The consequence of all this is that posting on American Digest will be a much less regular thing than in the past ten years. This note will be pinned to the top of American Digest for the next month. Regular ranting will resume when I am packed, moved, and settled.

gerardvanderleun : August 27, 14  |  Your Say (57)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Citizens

Service is the sacred duty of a free people.

gerardvanderleun : August 27, 14  |  Your Say (8)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Myths & Texts

notoffthlist.jpgAs some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list--I've got a little list....
- W. S. Gilbert

"The List" is the bane of testosterone-driven humans. "The List" is kept in the secret mental lock-box of human beings of the estrogen persuasion. Some believe that "The List" is a social construct, while others believe that "The List" is hard-wired into the DNA of the human female. I favor the latter theory since it seems to me that "The List" is merely a subset of "The Plan" -- and "The Plan" is not only part and parcel of the basic makeup of the human female regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or historic epoch, it is also the reason that -- over time -- women triumph over men. Women, in short, always have a life plan while men are stuck with something that looks like a cross between a spread sheet without a recalc button and a really slick marketing idea.

In short, men might have a plan for making a rocket-propelled street luge, but they have none at all when it comes to human activities that stretch across decades -- unless it involves such trifles as national defense or energy policy. Men seem to see items like this as actually important, but women know that what is really important is the command and control of male behavior. Hence, "Your Permanent Conduct Record" aka "The List."

Women reading this essay are, of course, not the type to ever keep an indelible list of male transgressions, large and teeny-tiny. But trust me, there are many that do. Why? Because it works.

"The List" is a means of male-control through negative feedback. Positive male actions towards a woman are expected, perhaps noted at the time, perhaps not, -- but always in pencil. A brief pat and nod of encouragement and then the woman goes back into the default mode of "what have you done for me lately?" "Lately" is, as all men know, but a small subset of a single day.

Failings of the male -- such as lapses in mental telepathy -- are kept on "The List" in indelible ink, preferably blood-red. "The List" also includes transgressions, large and small, against the woman from previous relationships with previous males. The ownership of all these transgressions is automatically transfered to the male of the current relationship at the moment of inception or conception, whichever comes first. This is the reason men sometimes feel they are expected to pay an overdue bill for a meal they did not eat in a restaurant that no longer exists. Plus a 20% tip.

"The List" is a lethal weapon and has the combined qualities of a rapier, a bludgeon, and a bread-knife to the heart. It can be employed silently via "The Look," or over great distances via the telephone or a highly compressed text message such as "U no wht u did." Its deadly deployment is not dependent on current transgressions. It can be brandished and employed at any inconvenient moment, such as, say, pants half-off. Just because you have presented a woman with a 10 caret diamond right now does not mean she will not think in the next moment, and perhaps ask, "Why not 11? And why not in 'canary'?" The lack of that last caret and the color will, invariably, find its way onto "The List."

"The List" exists outside of time. Hence the passage of time does not make for erasure. List entries cannot be expunged because they can always have an immediate utility.

"I am behaving this way today because five months ago you did X, and even though I didn't mention X at the time, what you did then excuses this behavior now. Y for X makes us even."

Don't believe that last part. You are not "even." "The List" does not grow "even," it only extends. The existence of an item on "The List" is eternal, and will be used --explicitly or implicitly -- on many occasions, numerous and multiple.

Women who use "The List" will recognize, but never admit to, the existence of "The List" even when you call them on it on the spot. Should you press the issue with hard evidence, they plead "not guilty by reason of 'You don't know what you're talking about.' If, in rare cases, they are convicted their plea shift to, "Guilty... but with an explanation." In very rare cases, usually involving bribery, they will confess that they are keeping "The List" and promise, sincerely but falsely, to never consult it again. This is merely a ploy. No woman who uses "The List" can ever really give up "The List" (It is a control item.) Regardless of what they agree at the time they will immediately put the fact that you had the gall to call them on "The List" *on*The*List*.

It is very foolish to call them on "The List" unless you no longer want them around. Once you do, they are going to look for ways to blow you off since they need men who don't know about "The List;" men ignorant of its existence and doomed to remain so until marriage -- which is when "The List" really comes out. Then, of course, it is too late for our poor pilgrim.

"The List" is usually found attached to another larger and even more ancient body of female laws known as: Rules You Will Not Be Allowed to Know Exist Until You Break Them. You might think that "The List" is the source of such rules, but you will be wrong and your assertion that it is will become yet another entry on "The List."

thelookofthelist.jpg
"The Look of List Is In Your Eyes" Warning Signs: Men, when you see this look you'll know there's an entry being made on "The List."



[Republished because this came up at supper last night with good friends. I would have discussed it in more detail but it was clear it was about to become an entry on The List.]

Vanderleun : August 26, 14  |  Your Say (62)  | PermaLink: Permalink

a_bread-loaf_secret-sits.jpg
a_a_a_fullfathomfive.jpg

NASA: Humans Will Prove "€˜We Are Not Alone In The Universe"€™ Within 20 Years:

Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years. “Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope. Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. “What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone,” added Mountain. “It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.” Describing their own estimates as “conservative,” the NASA planet hunters calculate that 100 million worlds within the Milky Way galaxy are able to sustain complex alien life forms. The estimate accounts for the 17 billion Earth-sized worlds scientists believe to be orbiting the galaxy’s 100 billion stars.

Oh yeah? I call that sort of number-blather not "searching for life" as much as NASA's standard search for the fountain of perpetual funding.

The more we know, the bigger deal the Fermi Paradox becomes.50,000 years is a blink of an eye, evolutionarily speaking. So there is quite a decent chance that we have simply been experiencing the explosive growth of a brand-new species, which is at some relatively soon point going to flat-line -- the species will have reached maturity, and like the chimps and horses, develop no further, achieve nothing greater in its technology. Is that now? Maybe. Maybe not. We could go on for centuries longer, millenia even, and this would still count as our infancy. But it seems very unlikely to me that we will continue our straight-line growth for 500,000 or 1 million years. It also seems likely the growth rate will decline smoothly to zero.
So it is entirely possible that our present capacity for interstellar travel and communication is near or even already at the greatest level we can achieve as a species. It may not change in the next 1,000 years, or even the next 10 million. And if we represent the best intelligence allowed by the structure of the universe, then no other species has or ever will achieve any better technological sophistication either. The reason we don't hear from them is simple: they're no more sophisticated than we are, and never will be.

gerardvanderleun : August 23, 14  |  Your Say (16)  | PermaLink: Permalink

Search American Digest

The Top 40


They were just regular fellas, living life and doing things the right way,

same as all over the country, men of that generation, Americans to their last breath.
What they didn’t do was talk like some kinda punks that had paper assholes. They didn’t have to. They knew their strength and were secure with it.

I learned from this that first comes the man. His reputation follows like dust down a country road. It's not like that these days. A lot of guys in my generation, Boomers if you will, their reputation is concocted and sent in first, like a brass band marching into town ahead of the circus. It is fear-driven. Large promise and poor performance might be their mantra.
Spillers of Soup: FATHERS DAY

The trouble with these disquisitions on inequality is not that they are mere sentimentality.

The trouble is the sentiment is imaginary.
No one really believes inequality is a problem, save for maybe a few bitter Marxists in your local state college faculty lounge. These are those old rancid hippies who have posters of Che Guevara on their office wall. No, the people who prattle on about inequality simply wish to replace the current inequalities that don’t favor them with a new set that do favor them.
The Z Blog › More TED Talks

On the World’s Oldest Trousers

oldest-trousers.jpg

But now it appears that an even older pair of trousers — some two thousand nine hundred and forty-eight years older — has come to light.
According to a paper in Quarternary International, the garment was unearthed by a team of scientists excavating the tombs in an ancient burial ground, the Yanghai graveyard, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of western China. This vast cemetery, which covers an area of two square miles, was discovered in the nineteen-seventies by local villagers. It lies on the fringes of the Taklamakan desert, close to the Turfan oasis, in the Tarim Basin, a stopping place for nomads of the Bronze Age and, later, for the caravans of the Silk Route. The extreme dryness of the climate preserved the bodies and their grave goods to a remarkable degree, including perishable items like clothing and food. In one tomb, there was a basket of fruit and leaves near the mummy of a presumed shaman and, next to his head, a stash of cannabis that was still green.
- - The New Yorker

California is no longer the 15 million person state that once was adequately served by our forefathers’ water-transfer projects.

It is not even the 40 million person state
that our ancestors warned could survive long droughts (but only if their descendants of course finish the state and federal water projects). It is instead a 40 million person state with a 20 million person system of reservoirs and canals. In that regard, California’s population would long ago have stayed static, given the recent three decade exoduses of millions of residents tired of high income, sales, and gas taxes, and poor roads, schools, and law enforcement in return. The great equalizer was illegal immigration.

Works and Days サ Mythologies and Pathologies of the California Drought

Falling on Grenades:

Lucas-340x439.jpg

The Indestructible Jacklyn H. Lucas During the battle on February 20, 1945, Jack and his comrades were advancing toward a Japanese airstrip near Mount Suribachi. Taking cover in a trench under heavy fire, Jack realized they were only feet away from enemy soldiers in a neighboring trench. He managed to shoot two of the soldiers before two live grenades landed in his trench.
Thinking quickly, Jack threw himself on the first grenade, shoving it into volcanic ash and used his body and rifle to shield the others with him from the pending blast. When another grenade appeared directly after the first, he reached out and pulled it under himself as well. His body took the brunt of the blasts and the massive amount of shrapnel. His companions were all saved, but his injuries were so serious they thought he had died. Only after a second company moved through did anyone realize he was somehow still alive. Jack endured nearly two dozen surgeries and extensive therapy and convalescence. Despite the surgeries, over 200 pieces of shrapnel remained in his body for the rest of his life.


I am an Islamodespicio because I despise Islam far more than I fear it.

I despise a religion that, other than Comrade Putin, is the source of virtually all the large scale violence in the world and has been for decades.
I also despise it for its treatment of women, homosexuals, children (putting machine guns in their hands at the age of seven and teaching them to kill non-believers) for its complete intolerance of other religions and secular systems and for the consistent dishonesty with which it treats the rest of the human race. I despise it in its Shiite and Sunni forms (even though they despise each other), as well as its murderous subsidiaries like Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, al Nusra and on and on.... Send them a message they will never forget — and if that message resembles Dresden in World War II, so be it. They have brought it on themselves.
Roger L. Simon サ My ISIS Strategy

I went up to his world, filled with talking sponges and grinning dinosaurs and the Google Earth carpet of a cartoon town.

Dad, I want you to help me make a video with Bionicles and muzzle flashes and space ships and galactic battles
and dancing robots and talking animals and it won't be hard because we can do it in 4 fps so the camera won't die of no battery and the moviemaker won't crash and mom says you have to work all day today and tomorrow and the day after and even more days so I'll wait until you don't have to make furniture one day but don't make me wait too long because I'm impatient.
Sippican Cottage: Good Chemistry

A lack of goodwill is our common lot with Rome – a chosen, well-deserved lot.

If we share anything with the Romans, it is their delinquency, laziness, and effeminacy right before they remembered who they were.
But if the Romans were overrun with pirates, we're overrun far worse with illegal immigrants; the former required a war, and we require only a wall. If Rome was embarrassed by Jugurtha, we're embarrassed far worse by the Islamic State – for Jugurtha was a genius and a fighter to be met face-to-face, and the Islamic State's advancement could be stopped with a faceless but insistent bombing campaign. If Rome was infested with layabouts, we're infested far worse with race-rioters; Romans rioted partially because their citizens were unjustly overrun with usury – as ours are currently by national and private bankers – and Americans riot not when innocents, but when known robbers, thugs, and menaces are shot by the police.
Articles: What kind of men are we?

How did we get here?

"Letting the days go by...."

It’s worth looking back into the mists of time — an entire year, to Labor Day weekend 2013.
What had not happened then? It’s quite a list, actually: the Chinese ADIZ, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the rise of ISIS, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Mosul, the end of Hungarian liberal democracy, the Central American refugee crisis, the Egyptian-UAE attacks on Libya, the extermination of Iraqi Christians, the Yazidi genocide, the scramble to revise NATO’s eastern-frontier defenses, the Kristallnacht-style pogroms in European cities, the reemergence of mainstream anti-Semitism, the third (or fourth, perhaps) American war in Iraq, racial riots in middle America, et cetera and ad nauseam.All that was in the future just one year ago.
Never Yet Melted These Days, Not Such a Wonderful Life

The Meat Prophet of Peru

He follows with a porterhouse, an axe-handle rib eye, and a string of other imposing cuts that he’s carefully aged at Osso.
This is where Garibaldi is moving the traditional grill master role into unchartered territory. They start at 30 days, then increase to 45 and 60. You can taste the collagen breaking down a little bit more with each cut, resulting in more nuanced flavors. Each is muskier and funkier than the last. He finishes some by holding them directly over the flames. Others he sits right in the charcoal and covers in ash. He moves on to a steak aged 120 days, and then, for the grand finale, a 160-day-old piece of Wagyu. Over the course of nearly six months of aging, natural enzymes in the protein break down and the carbohydrates are converted into sugar, so the flavors are richer and more concentrated. The sizzling beef smells like buttered popcorn. Every bite tastes of pure umami.
-- Roads and Kingdoms

When Prophecy Fails

Festinger stated that five conditions must be present if someone is to become a more fervent believer after a failure or disconfirmation:
  • A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he or she behaves.
  • The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual's commitment to the belief.
  • The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.
  • Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief.
  • The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of disconfirming evidence that has been specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, the belief may be maintained and the believers may attempt to proselytize or persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct.
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah

British singer, Kenny Lynch, was a performer with the Beatles on their bus tour of 1963 and has clear memories of John and Paul.  According to Lynch, “I remember John and Paul saying they were thinking of running up to the microphone together and shaking their heads and saying '€˜whooooo'€™." Lynch warned them against this radical idea, "You can'€™t do that. They'€™ll think you'€™re a bunch of poofs."€  "She Loves You" and The Start of Beatlemania

Nobody’s Fault

When one thing goes wrong, it may be an accident, but when five do at once—Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and our border—the man at the helm may have something to do with it, and a foreign policy based largely on John Lennon lyrics may be the proximate cause. -- The Weekly Standard

"Sam blew a kiss and waved to the crowd, then walked back to the sideline."

Pretty much sums up his career. Out. In. Out. Over. Michael Sam Cut As St. Louis Rams Finalize Roster

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.

An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly.
But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.
Marcus Tulius Cicero via Doug Ross @ Journal

This is why thugs can't have nice things.

Stores to Ferguson: "Buh-Bye" --Despite Threats – QuikTrip Has No Plans To Rebuild in #Ferguson A QuikTrip official told TGP the company has no plans on rebuilding in Ferguson and that the looted store was barely breaking even.

Door. Ass. Bang.

Michael Sam cut by St. Louis Rams - ESPN Next!

aconfusedscale.jpg


a_neuarmysurplusco_rivalbros.jpg


a_just_never_gets_old.jpg


Champ

a_champbirds01.jpg


a_exhibit.jpg


Fair Warning

tumblr_mjg31gttlO1rn7bzro2_400.jpg


Why Deer Freeze in Headlights

When an eye that has been in the dark long enough to regenerate significant quantities of rhodopsin is suddenly exposed to bright light, a phenomenon of “bleaching,” or oversaturation, occurs, and on a massive scale. The result in humans is temporary, or flash, blindness.Today I Found Out

The relationship of the Republican Party to its base.

a_republicansthirst.jpg


Take a look at the Left.

In the 1990′s they did not like the direction of their party so they started backing the Green Party.
It cost them some elections. It may have even put Bush in the White House. But, the result was a far more liberal party. The Democrat Party is now wholly owned by the Left. Maybe the Right should take the same approach. Getting raped by a liberal Republican is no better than getting raped by a liberal Democrat. Maybe losing a few elections will force the Republicans to change as it forced the Democrats to change.
The Z Blog › Half-Fucked

The Beginnings

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late
With long arrears to make good,
When the English began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy-willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the English began to hate.

Their voices were even and low,
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show,
When the English began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd,
It was not taught by the State.
No man spoke it aloud,
When the English began to hate.

It was not suddenly bred,
It will not swiftly abate,
Through the chill years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the English began to hate.

--Kipling - The Beginnings



New Intelligence on Italian Jihadists

Those recruits are very young, mostly between eighteen and twenty-five years of age, and so far exclusively male. To date, ten Italian jihadists have been killed in Syria. Nearly all have been recruited via the internet:
Indoctrination takes place with pervasive and rapid techniques which prompt these kids to take the crucial step of departing for war theaters in a very short time. These powerfully manipulative psychological techniques have been tried and tested in the training camps for young suicide bombers in Pakistan. When the IS’s recruits are ready, they can rely on liaison officers to organize their transportation, which is often a one-way journey only.
- - The XX Committee

Who Says There's No Good News?

Dare we hope the punch-in-the-face trend is catching on? Anti-Israel MP George Galloway Beaten Up, Left with 'Broken Jaw' on London Street

General Wesley, Chairman of the federal JCS,

appeared on a balcony above the crowd that had been gathered to welcome President Warner.
After announcing the death of the president, the vice president, the speaker of the House, and most of the cabinet, he said, “The line of succession envisioned in the U.S. Constitution had been broken beyond repair,” which wasn’t true since there were still some cabinet members, but that didn’t matter. “I’m in charge here now,” he went on, “and the United States is under martial law. Civilian government is suspended for the duration of the war for the union. The duty of every citizen is to remain quiet.”
Victoria: Chapter 24 | traditionalRIGHT

Past, Present and Future Buzzwords

xkcdsuddenllypopular.jpg

Never Yet Melted サ XKCD

Church Work

a_william-walker-52.jpg

Walker worked in total darkness for more than five years,
from 1906 to 1911, handling an estimated 25,800 bags of concrete and 114,900 concrete blocks while wearing a suit that weighed nearly 200 pounds. “In addition,” notes the cathedral’s booklet, “as he was working in a graveyard, there was some risk of infection. However, Walker seems to have regarded his pipe as his sovereign remedy against all possible ills and immediately on his return to the surface, he always lit his pipe.”
– Futility Closet

Defeating Baghdadi: The War We Don’t Want But Will Have to Fight

isis-flag.jpg

Why then, does the current administration think that airpower alone will deal with the threat? The answer is that the American people believe they have had enough of war.
Until the Islamic State begins sending its European and American passport holders home to shoot up shopping malls, airport ticket lobbies, and elementary schools; Americans won't know what real war is. The reality is that only American boots on the ground can destroy the conventional military power of the self described caliphate and the sanctuary it gives to those who mean to attack our homeland. If we do not destroy the conventional war making capability of the Islamic state to hold ground and provide terrorist sanctuaries, we will suffer the consequences. The vast majority of Americans have never seen war; they are merely tired of hearing about it. What most Americans fail to realize is that their mere existence is an affront to radical jihadists. Our very lifestyle is repugnant to them. There is no negotiating, nor is there any escaping. In this case, Leon Trotsky was correct when he stated that; "you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."
-- Small Wars Journal

When the persons responsible for seeking out the truth in a case,

officially mourn and bestow martyrdom on a violent thug, it taints the entire case, and rubber stamps antisocial behavior.
This latest act of race baiting, incitement, and political pandering solidify what any rational person already fears. Justice is not what is sought. The Michael Brown case is about railroading and pre-conviction. There isno semblance of justice, only bias, witch hunting,and a major victory for mob mentality. Moral of the story; If you tear up enough shit. If you turn the streets red with blood and fueled with fire, you will be rewarded, you will be legitimized.
Midtown Miscreant: Narrative punches objectivity and honesty in the balls.

a_a_voting.jpg


Speed Pedicure

a_speed_pedicure.jpg


a_cncer.jpg


After You

a_a_really.jpg

"You Should Be Stopped By the Grammar Nazi" -BigFurHat

How did we get here? Through vanity, my friend, vanity. In a fit of outrageous extravagance a vainglorious elite bought a fraud they couldn’t afford.

situation-comedy.jpg

The finest description of the journey was provided by Winston Churchill whose generation trod a path that looked very much like ours. All we can hope for is it doesn’t lead to the same place.
It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on still these break beneath your feet. Look back over the last five years. … historians a thousand years hence will still be baffled by the mystery of our affairs. They will never understand how it was that a victorious nation, with everything in hand, suffered themselves to be brought low, and to cast away all that they had gained by measureless sacrifice and absolute victory—gone with the wind!
Belmont Club サ Don't Worry, Be Happy

The "Leap of faith"

leap10.jpg

is the idea that you have to simply believe in the supernatural because there is no evidence or rational basis for belief. It presumes that the existence of God is impossible to discern through any means other than faith, so you simply blind yourself to reality and reason and step off the edge of the cliff like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade.
In reality, there is plenty of rational basis for the existence of God, truth, and spiritual reality. It is only an idiotic assumption that reality can only be grasped through the senses and scientific measurement that presumes you must abandon all of that to believe. I've noticed that around the internet, its the atheists who are the most rabidly religious, zealous, and likely to proselytize. They bash Christianity with wicked glee in defiance of politeness, staying on topic, or even reason. Its a matter of furious faith for them, and they cannot shut up about it.
Christopher Taylor commenting on "The only real doubts about God’s existence come from sin, from a psychological unwillingness to face facts."

☛ Thinking Right Archives