Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Pledge Allegiance?

ABC News reports:  

"Americans are a little less likely to ask what they can do for their country these days."

This is the logical result of decades of cultural vandalism carried out by rabid professors and societal firebugs who have trashed our history and engendered disdain toward our founding principles. I don't know what's kept them from dynamiting the faces off of Mount Rushmore.

I imagine there is also a "screw you" component to this by millions of people who believe the government has been screwing them.  The article also points out the generational aspect: Younger people feel less loyalty the greater good.

Bow Down to Moloch?

The Federal Government cheapens citizenship by allowing millions of people to barge their way in and live just like they were citizens, so what's so special about citizenship?

Zinn-powered progressives have been shouting for decades that there is nothing special about the United States, and it's just an accident of birth that we were born here. President Obama told us that, sure, he thinks America is special, just like people in Togo or Uzbekistan think their country is special. So why should we feel any sense of duty toward an accidental government of an accidental state powered by murder, slavery, Yankee imperialism, white supremacy and illegal wars?  What makes the US any better than Burundi or Argentina?

The progressive police state known as the Federal Government, along with their Wall Street Bankster masters, crony corporation co-conspirators, and Silicon Valley robber barons is selling the nation and our birthright out from under our feet.

Why would anyone feel a sense of duty to a nation without borders? Anyone who shows up gets handed a free pass, also known as a notice to appear in two years or whatever... But even worse, the rich and well-connected come and go with impunity and they bring their cheap labor with them and pay politicians for exemptions to our laws. None of these people hold any allegiance whatsoever to the United States, but our government picks the pockets of citizens to cater to them as they treat our nation like a cheap whore.

We have no unifying language, with government spewing forth a fountain of Babel: ballots, drivers tests, public school instruction... And forget the outmoded concept of shared culture: Leftwing firebugs incinerated that decades ago.

So, what is this Federal Progressive State of America, and what do we owe it?

Here are comments from others in the thread:
Maybe it's because Americans are sick of being tracked, traced, digitally followed, harassed by the IRS and militarized police and lied to by our leaders. Illegal immigration and lawlessness in our government has caused people to turn their backs.
Long story short: When sovereignty is no longer intact, there is no such thing as a patriot, as a patriot wouldn't have allowed the dissolution of sovereignty. This country is no longer cognizant of its sovereignty, and is giving what little is left away wholesale. So I see not one thing to be patriotic about.
What the H*ll do you think it would be when we have a Government that thrives on corruption, lies, fraud, invalid data, broken promises , racism, pork-barrel spending, unfounded wars, broken borders, partisan media, etc., and a National Debt that is un-payable. If the people we elect to represent us do not do so, then all we can care about is how to survive in the morass. [...] This is NOT the United States I grew up in.
That's just a small sampling of the opinions of your fellow Americans.  What do you think?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Burning Ferries, Missing Planes

Some Things Never Change


Monday, December 29, 2014

In like a Lion out like a Lamb

Ending with a Whimper not a Bang

Well, as of yesterday the War in Afghanistan became officially over. There will be no parades, no victory arches built although I presume, eventually, there will be a monument.  Not even everyone is coming home, plans are to leave some 10,800 troops there to prop up the failing, perhaps soon to be falling Afghan government.

So what do you think? Have we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory? Is our national resolve the equal to our national attention span (Hey how's that Ebola crisis going?)?  We are a people that are more and more demanding of instant gratification (shock and awe) and less and less in it for the long haul (Gettysburg and Chickamauga), we are the ADD generation... we want it and we want it now and if we don't get it we grow bored and move onto the next big thing (ooh...Shiny!!!). 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

America's god goes "HO HO HO!!!"

Christmas is over...  

For the secular world.   America walks around playing with their new handheld gadgets, and Santa is back at the North Pole with his feet up by the fire, smoking a pipe and enjoying a tumbler of Maker's Mark.

For Christians, the feast has just begun

We're now into the 12 Days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany on January 6th.   

Christ's followers built Christianity upon the ruins of ancient belief systems, literally constructing churches upon the foundations of temples in some cases.  Christians appropriated ancient pagan symbols such as rings for weddings, trees and garlands for Christmas, and they planted their feast days like Christmas over ancient pagan observances like Winter Solstice.

Doubters accuse Christians of appropriating old legends as well:  Gods visiting earth, dying and rising, virgins, miracles...  But, who's to say how God works, and what is stamped upon our deep Jungian psyches?  Common threads and forms run through history and through humanity.

Now, in these post-modern times, secularism builds upon the ruins of Christianity, or in Europe, preserves its churches as museums and sarcophagi, waiting for the Muslims to convert them to houses of worship once again.

Here in the US, Christianity survives, indeed is quite robust despite a growing percentage of people calling themselves atheist or agnostic.  Whether you believe in the "War on Christmas" or not, no one can argue that people are working to banish religious displays from public life, and no one can argue that many Americans just don't give a hoot one way or another.

The Neo-Trinity:  In the Name of Santa, Shopping, and Alcoholic Spirits

So, secularism is building upon the trappings of Christianity and appropriating its symbols and stories, especially Christmas.  Jersey McJones stated he had no problem with giving and receiving wishes of "Merry Christmas" even though he is an atheist, and I replied, why should he?  What does our secular Christmas have to do with God or religion?

Christmas, shorn of Christ and bedecked with trees and all the secular fun has passed into popular culture.  Anyone who gets bent out of shape when someone shouts "Merry Christmas!" is a fool.  Trees and lights are not religious symbols, and Christmas as it is now popularly celebrated in public spaces has nothing to do with Christ or any religion.

There is No God but Santa Claus, and Corporate America reaps his Profits

Santa Claus of our secular Christmas has become a proxy for The One True God, and that's a very American thing.  The founders crafted a powerful yet benign image of God, Divine Providence, a non-denominational deity that people of any religion could pray to and imagine him blessing our nation.

The US Constitution became our Holy Scrolls, and town halls and government courthouses stand in town squares, unlike in the Old World, where churches sit at the exalted focus of social life.

So it makes sense that Santa Claus has become the God figure, and 'Christmas spirit' and 'believing in Santa Claus' are a proxy for the True Faith our neo-pagan society has left behind.  Indeed, the very popular name 'Santa' points to something holy.

Movies where Christmas is in danger of being 'cancelled' because Santa is too tired, or people don't believe in him anymore, or a loved one is not coming home points to a Jungian need for the avatar, anxiety he may not show up, and a deep-seated fear of losing faith or an unease that even though we have forgotten him, that maybe The Father has forgotten us.

Shopping, gift exchanges and secular festivities replace holy sacraments and ritualistic worship, secular songs supplant hymns, being extra-nice replaces forsaking sin, lights and displays of reindeer and jolly elves take the place of religious iconography and statuary, and so it goes...

To many Christians, all of this is cause for lament, but it is all also very American.  We are not a theocracy.  So while some use lights, parties, music and secular displays to engender goodwill toward their fellow man (a secular form of iconography and ritual), I don't crab about it.  If it is aimed at Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Man, then like the three kings, it seeks that which transcends our secular world:  God, King and Sacrifice. 

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Look, It's not all about you.


A man was waiting to board United flight 1140 to Dallas at La Guardia airport when a cheerful gate attendant wished him a Merry Christmas.  The passenger took offense:

“You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas.” The agent replied, “Well, what should I say then?”“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ” the man shouted.

Yes, you guessed it, upon boarding the plane the man was greeted by a flight attendant with... "Merry Christmas".

“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ” the man raged before lecturing the attendants and the pilot about their faux pas. The crew tried to calm the unidentified man, but he refused to back down and continued hectoring them. He was escorted off the plane as other fliers burst into cheers and applause.

Author Tom Wolfe dubbed the Baby Boomer's "The Me" generation back in the 70's.  Boy was he wrong, of course he didn't have people today to compare them to.  

"Merry Christmas" is simply someone wishing you well, it doesn't require you to believe in God, it doesn't require you to believe in Christmas... it's nothing more than a sentiment, someone wishing you good cheer, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, or good night.

These sentiments do no harm, the better among us really mean them, some among us could care less whether you're merry or not, they are simply people being polite and it is nothing more than etiquette.  

I've been wished Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan Mubarak, I've even been wished a Bright Diwali.  None of this demeans or diminishes me in anyway, it is not a threat to my beliefs or world view.  Take it for what it is... warm wishes.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's Christmas Eve!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

America's Race to the Bottom

I've checked my privilege, and it's doing quite nicely.  Thank you for asking.

That's the only legitimate American response to socialist indoctrination.

Now, let's have a serious discussion...

Yes, we still have racists in this country, but we also have laws, a populace full of goodwill, and a society where minorities become doctors, lawyers, politicians, pilots, CEOs, generals, even President.

I didn't grow up around minorities, but I served with all kinds of people during my military career, and it left me quite sanguine about race in America.  We all got along, and I learned that no group of people can be stereotyped.  Race is no better a predictor of brains, skill or success than is shoe size. 

Spend time with ordinary black people--not the leftwing lecturers--and you will learn that racism still exists in subtle ways.  While a black man can get an engineering degree and become a captain in the US Air Force, or design a sophisticated satellite system for a defense contractor, some store employees will still shadow him, and somewhere a hotel clerk will tell him and his caucasian wife that there is no vacancy even though the parking lot is mostly empty. 

Life hands out shit sandwiches, even to the successful, and if I had to guess, I'd say black people probably get more than their fair share.  For that reason, I admire my friends and fellow veterans who handled it with grace.  I don't know if I could.

Moving on to a civilian career, I worked in a very diverse group (every black man was married to a white woman, two white men married to black women, white men married to Hispanic women...) and nobody had any hangups.  Instead we frequently and shamelessly indulged in politically-incorrect humor.

So, I thought race relations were pretty hunky-dory here in the US, and I have to admit that the racial events of the Obama years have shocked me, even though two black coworkers predicted this is where we would be.

When Obama was first elected, two of the black men I work with (one liberal, one slightly conservative) predicted race relations would deteriorate.  Both cited the pathologies of the worse elements of blacks and whites: 

Aggrieved blacks who think America has been cheating them and therefore owes them everything because the Al Sharpton types and guilty white liberal enablers have been drumming that into them since they were children; and prejudiced whites who blame minorities for all our ills and who cannot stand to see a black man in the White House. 

They predicted that a black president would inflame and embolden these two groups, and that their flamboyant reactions would infect the rest of society, and I think they nailed it.

Having our first black president has been a golden opportunity tragically squandered.  Even though I did not vote for him, I prayed that he would be the president who could speak candidly to all sides and maybe vanquish some malevolent ghosts.

Two years left, so there is still time to pray.  Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2014

2 NY Cops Executed

So what do you think?

Photo: Kevin Case
Does the Mayor have Blood on his Hands?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Photo: Joe Lewis
In an Italian tradition during late Advent the shepherds come down from the hills and play before the shrines to Mary and before the Nativity Scenes, they play a traditional Italian bagpipe known as a Zampogna.

 Or for a more modern interpretation


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze!

Here are a couple of old ones that bring back memories of childhood Christmas for many of us.  

Friday, December 19, 2014


So, what do you think about Cuba?

Aside from the fact that Obama did it?

50 years of embargo has certainly been ineffective in accomplishing our goals.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

North Korean Censorship

Is Alive and Well in the United States

Sony cancels theatrical release of "The Interview" for Christmas.  Seth Rogen and James Franco star in the picture that centers on a hapless television host who is recruited to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. This is after the bulk of the country’s 10 largest theater chains — a group that includes AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Carmike and Southern Theatres — announced they would delay showing the picture or would drop it altogether.

American intelligence officials have concluded that the North Korean government was “centrally involved” in the recent attacks on Sony Pictures’s computers.  “This is of a different nature than past attacks,” one senior official said. A cyberattack that began by wiping out data on corporate computers — something that had previously been seen in attacks in South Korea and Saudi Arabia, but not the United States — has turned “into a threat to the safety of Americans” if the movie was shown.  NY TIMES

For God's Sake

Have we become a nation of ball-less wonders?  Seriously, remember September 11th, 2001?  I say to Kim Jong Un, remember August 6th, 1945.  You and your nation are a blight upon humanity.  What's with the emblem anyway?  A pictorial representation of things you wish you had? Like food and electricity? Ah, the wonders of Marxism-Leninism in action.

Urbanization Project

And really, am I the only one to see the resemblance?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wir sind das Volk!


15,000 gather in Dresden the other day, last week it was 10,000, the week before 6,000, early on it was a few hundred.  PEGIDA or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) is just one of the signs of of pushback from Europeans fed up with their government's liberal immigration policies.  From the NPD and AfD in Germany, to UKIP in the United Kingdom, to the National Front in France, the far-right is rising in Europe.

In Germany, rather than address their citizens concerns, the government dismisses them out of hand as neo-nazis, pin-striped Nazis, dangerous, unmistakably right-wing extremists, and a disgrace.  It is the government's attitude that is dangerous and a disgrace placing concern for foreign asylum seekers ahead of concern for their own citizens.  It is this indifference that enables the far-right and is the best recruitment tool that they could hope for. 

The 2013 revision of the UN Trends in International Migrant Stock lists Germany as having 11.9% of the population as immigrants, France 10.8%, the UK as 8.9%, the US as 12.8%.  When 1 in 10 people are immigrants is it any wonder that the natives are restless?  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014



According to news reports, this is the flag that Man Haron Monis had his hostages holding up in the window of the Lindt Cafe.  The flag and the statement on it (the Shahada) find widespread use through the Islamic World.

Saudi Arabia
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Caucasus (Chechnya) Emirate
And the list goes on: Hamas, Al-Shabaab, Al-Nusra, The Islamic State (ISIS)

But when you get right down to it, the Shahada is in direct contradiction to western values.  Contrast the Shahada with the Nicene Creed


Or the Apostle's Creed


What did Man Haron Monis believe?

 "Those atheists, people of the book (Christians and Jews), where will they end up? In Surfers Paradise? On the Gold Coast? Where will they end up? In hell and not part-time, for eternity.  They are the worst in God's creation."
SBS Australia

So, why do we let these medieval asshats in our countries again? 

SBS Australia  

And why don't we deport them when they act like asshats?

Monday, December 15, 2014


BGM-109G Gryphon

It's pronounced "Glickem"

The State Department has declared Russia to be in violation of the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) Agreement and one option on the table is the return of US Nuclear Ground Launched Cruise Missiles to Europe.  At their peak, the US had 464 GLCMs and 108 Pershing II Missiles forward deployed in Europe.  The INF treaty was a historic down-ratcheting of the nuclear standoff, the complete elimination of intermediate range ballistic missiles on both sides.

I'll give Putin this... he's certainly got a great big brass set of them.

At the center of the issue is the 9K720 Iskander, NATO Codename SS-26 Stone and its R-500 cruise missile.

Photo: A.Savin
And you thought the Cold War was over.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

3rd Sunday of Advent: Gaudete Sunday

It gets its name from the introit of this Sunday's service:

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.

Originally the period before Christmas was a fast of forty days similar to the Easter Lent, in fact starting on day after the feast of St. Martin it was referred to as St Martin's Lent.  As the Easter Lent had Laetare Sunday a break from the normal Lenten rigours, Gaudete Sunday was a break from the rigours of the pre-Christmas fast.

And just because I like Latin and Mediaeval Baebes...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

J.R.R Zeppelin

Or should that be Led Tolkien?  With the upcoming release of The Battle of Five Armies the final movie in the Peter Jackson Hobbit trilogy on the 17th (12 December in the UK). We pause to take a look at the influence of J.R.R Tolkien on popular music.

Some believe that the song is the story of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, the battle for Minas Tirith.  The Queen of Light is Eowyn, who bids Aragorn goodbye and then turns to join the Rohan army. The Prince of Peace is Aragorn, as he embraces the gloom of the Paths of the Dead.  The Dark Lord is a reference to either the Witch King of Angmar or Sauron himself. The horses thunder would be the Rider's of Rhohan, and waiting for the eastern glow would be the arrival of Gandalf and the Rider's attacking at sunrise from the east, turning the tide of battle.  "The drums will shake the castle wall, the ring wraiths ride in black" is probably the most direct reference to the Lord of the Rings and the Nazgul.  "The magic runes are writ in gold to bring the balance back" may be a reference to the rune carved sword wielded by Merry and the death of the Witch King.

There has been other conjecture that many of Led Zeppelin's songs were influenced by J.R.R Tolkien.  Ramble On has been suggested to represent the Hobbits journey, especially with the reference to the deepest depths of Mordor and to Gollum and the evil one. 

Over the Hills and Far Away has also been suggested as have Misty Mountain Hop and Stairway to Heaven, although the band has denied any Stairway to Heaven connection.  It should be noted also that among all this conjecture Robert Plant named his dog "Strider".


This one "Rivendell" by Rush is the no-brainer of the bunch, directly referencing the house of Elrond.

Friday, December 12, 2014


ABC Schoolhouse Rock

They say Cromnibus is a portmanteau of Continuing Resolution and Omnibus... I say nay, Cromnibus is in reality a portmanteau of Crony and Omnibus.  Nobody likes this bill, well no one except Obama and Oboehner, and those republicans and democrats they've strong-armed into voting for it with pork, pork, and more pork.  

This bill is bad legislation, pork-barrel legislation, bankster legislation.  How can Oboehner get this bill passed? By gathering up enough republicans and democrats without conscience or principle to vote for it. When Redstate is in agreement with Nancy Pelosi you know something is horribly, horribly wrong.

The Kline-Miller amendment is bad law, the Dodd-Frank rollback is bad law, I'm even not all that keen on the campaign finance changes.

NO, NO ,NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! 

Jim Moran (D., Va.) said that Democrats got “virtually everything” they wanted in the cromnibus package, as he praised the bill in terms that could double as the conservative critique of the legislation. “In 20 years of being on the appropriations [committee], I haven’t seen a better compromise in terms of Democratic priorities. Implementing the Affordable Care Act, there’s a lot more money for early childhood development — the only priority that got cut was the EPA but we gave them more money than the administration asked for,” Moran told reporters. National Review
 So, who was it that just swept through the 2014 elections?

In the end the House passed this abomination 219-206, liberals lost tonight and conservatives lost tonight, the only people who won are the Washington insiders.

Here's a message for Republicans and Republican leadership, if John Oboehner wins the floor vote in January 2015 and is Speaker of the House on November 8th, 2016... I'll vote for Hillary Clinton out of spite, whether she's running or not.  Screw you!!! There is no conservative party left in the United States. Done, over, finished, or as I said before, SCREW YOU!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Is this really a good idea?

ARM: Asteroid Redirect Mission

Just happened to stumble upon this one following one link to another, but NASA has a plan to capture an asteroid and put in a distant retrograde lunar orbit, sometime in 2020.

Now I used to be the type of person who would find this cool and exciting, but now I have to step back and ask myself...

Is this really a good idea for the agency that slammed a 125 million dollar orbiter into Mars because half the team was using pound-seconds and the other half was using Newton-seconds?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Water water everywhere?

Colorado Water Conservation Board

Colorado vows that downstream states and countries in accordance with interstate compacts and treaties will get every drop of water they are legally entitled to... and "not a drop more".

Western water law is an odd beast and by those treaties and compacts, court rulings, etc.  one third of the Colorado River water belongs to Colorado.  Western water law operates on the first use-senior claim premise, which means that a junior claim upstream can not pull water if it impacts "beneficial use" of a senior claim downstream.  Now I'm no lawyer but I believe that beneficial use is defined as "up to the point of waste".  Out here in the west water is and has always been a big deal.  Believe it or not, here in Colorado while you may direct the water from your downspouts towards your landscaping, it is illegal to collect and store the water unless you are permitted and own the surface water rights.

Colorado's new plan is to create storage for trillions of gallons of Colorado water that currently slips between our proverbial fingers on its way to the Gulf of Baja which it now seldom reaches.  Fortunately for me my water rights predate more than half the population of the state.  Fortunately for California... it's started to rain, so we're not at the point where bottled water as a vanity becomes the greatest invention since... bottled water as a necessity. 

An interesting question we need to ask is that if we have an interstate natural gas distribution grid.

 And an interstate electrical distribution grid.

Why haven't we considered an interstate water distribution grid?  It seems that we seldom have a national scarcity of water, we simply suffer from drought in some locations while others suffer inundation.  Now I'm a small government libertarian, but it is these types of national infrastructure projects that the federal government should be focused on, project for the general welfare of the nation.

Problems that are currently handled regionally, or by compacts by small numbers of states, for example the Colorado River Compact consists of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California, have a national influence.  To illustrate, water rights can be bought and sold like any commodity, agricultural holders sell those rights to enable municipal development taking farm and ranch land out of circulation, decreasing the supply and increasing the price of food.  The problem is that it is a dead end street, once water rights are allocated to a municipality, there is not a municipality that can turn around and sell them again, and all this is done without a coherent national policy.  As watershed water is diverted to municipalities farmers resort to aquifer water for irrigation, as the aquifers deplete, there is no alternative source for replenishment.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Cadillac and non-traditional marketing.

Cadillac recently announced that it is changing its naming scheme...again.  Cadillac is abandoning three letter designations like ATS and CTS and the new flagship sedan will be the CT6.

Cadillac is also moving its headquarters from Detroit to New York, that brilliant strategy also came along with the now infamous comment "Everyone in New York is always just a little bit ahead of everyone else”

Cadillac's Brand and Reputation Strategy director also gave an interview with Fortune under the headline "... It's not about the cars."

“We want to be a global luxury brand that happens to sell cars. We don’t want to be an automotive brand,”

Good luck with that... because when it comes down to it, it IS about the cars.  Sure if you're a shallow metro-sexual fashionista it might be about the brand, but there are only so many of those, and even fewer that are buying cars.  Which is why I own a Mercedes and not a Cadillac, but then again I guess when all you're doing is badge engineering on  a GMT K2 platform all you really have to sell is brand.

Me, I'm not interested in a Cadillac unless it's the 58 in the video above. Let me know when it goes back to being about the cars.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why we need to hang the lawyers!

  What you see here is a standard six foot, indoor/outdoor extension cord available almost everywhere this time of year. It purpose is to provide power for Christmas lights. 
 In order to use this device in as inconspicuous and unobtrusive manner possible, I had to remove no less than 10, count them 10, warning labels in both English, and Spanish. ( There were actually 11, but I left the "UL approved" label in place ) Fully 15% of the length of the cord was taken up by labels.


 The gist of their content, in both languages, was to discourage the use of this appliance in fashions that could never be contemplated by anyone with an IQ rivaling that of an aspidistra. If you're dumber than that, you probably can't read them anyway.

 While I confess that I haven't investigated whether this insult is the contrivance of a government who thinks it's citizenry brainless dolts, or an industry bullied into such measures by trial lawyers slavering over the prospect of paydays, either way it's offensive and you can bet the farm that somewhere, somehow, the lawyers are behind it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

2nd Sunday of Advent: Advent Wreath

Photo: Clemens Pfieffer
Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where in the deep of winter people lit candles on wheel-shaped bundles of evergreen. Both the evergreen and the circular shape symbolized ongoing life.  The four candles symbolizing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love are lit on the four Sundays of Advent.  In the Catholic tradition the candles are most often violet and rose while in Protestant churches it is common to use four red candles.  In some traditions the candles represent the Patriarchs, the Prophets,  John the Baptist, and Mary.  In the latter tradition the second candle is often referred to as the Bethlehem candle:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday Sessions: The Grateful Dead

There is such a large body of work by this band I'll just throw up some of my favorites.

One thing that the Grateful Dead is famous for is their musical improvisation, illustrated below by the studio version at 4:46 and a live version at 9:18, almost twice as long.

In all the Grateful Dead discography encompasses 140 albums and innumerable bootleg recordings, so I'm sure I've missed your favorite... let us know what it is.


Friday, December 5, 2014


Another day, another grand jury decision guaranteed to inflame an already infuriated citizenry.  The grand jury in New York declined to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner.

Here is a video of the incident, with commentary before and after.  The action in question starts at around 1:00.

There are many issues here.  I start with the more trivial and work my way to the deadly serious.

First off, is this the best use of police assets? focus on people selling "loosies," single cigarettes?  Why is this even against the law?  Aren't there more serious criminal matters to attend to?  And did you see how many cops were there?  You'd think they'd cornered a serial rapist-murderer.

Do these cops know the community they are policing?
If not, why not?  If so, then they know this is a nonviolent man.  So why did they take him down so violently?  There are techniques to get nonviolent suspects to comply, and the best ones don't resemble WWF spectacles.

Do they still teach Verbal Judo techniques to police officers?
I ask that because so many seem so quick to go for the shoot or the take down.  Mr. Garner was textbook non-compliant.  That immediately put him in danger of being on the bad end of escalating compliance techniques.  Still, why the inept attempt at an MMA-style rear naked choke (that turned into a forearm across Garner's windpipe)?  Is this all trained law enforcement professionals have in their toolbox? 

What happened after the takedown is just as egregious
Do police know CPR?  Can they identify if someone is in immediate medical distress?  After the struggle, Mr. Garner was down, clearly not moving and apparently not breathing and the cops just stood there dumb, poking at him every now and then or gently nudging him as if to try to wake him up.  Start watching the video at around the 3:00 mark, and keep watching.  If you are not angry and saddened by the 4:45 or even the 5:00 mark, you have no human compassion in your soul.

Mr. Garner was not a gun-wielding maniac.  He was not on PCP and slinging people through plate glass windows.  He was giving the cops some attitude and flinching away when they tried to cuff him.  Non-compliant?  Yes.  But he attacked no one, and had no recent history of violence.

This is the best New York's "finest" can do?

I am not anti-cop, but I must wonder where are police departments getting these people, and what kind of training are they providing them?

We could contract out policing to street gangs and get the same result.

* - Here is a different compilation, with the aftermath first:
Eric Garner Choke hold Death

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Human nature is timeless, and its study brings wisdom 

The Greeks knew it but left the knowledge pasted inside the pages of philosophy.  The founding fathers knew it and crafted a system of government based upon a keen insight into man's fallen nature.

The works of William Shakespeare are a goldmine of human nature on display:  Love and hate, lust, greed, anger, abuse of power...  it's all there.

Justice and Mercy 

In The Bard's play, Measure for Measure, Claudio is condemned to die for knocking up his betrothed before the nuptials.  In act II, Isabella, Claudio's holy and virginal sister, pleads for mercy to Angelo the magistrate. 

Angelo rightly reminds her that True Justice lies not in some sappy sentimentality or misguided empathy.  True Justice, God's Justice, Nature's Justice, is blind to emotional appeals and always balances the scales.
Isabella:  Yet show some pity.

Angelo:  I show it most of all when I show justice; 
For then I pity those I do not know,
Which a dismiss'd offense would after gall;
And do him right that, answering one foul wrong,
Lives not to act another. 
Be satisfied; Your brother dies to-morrow; be content.
That last line sounds callous, but the deeper meaning is that each of us should be satisfied when justice is done, even when it is done against us, for that is the cosmic order. Adam Smith, who no doubt was familiar with Shakespeare, summed it up succintly:   

"Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent."

 Abuse of Power

Counterpoised against a righteous exercise of justice is abuse of power.  Isabella laments how men harshly wield the power lent to them by God:
O, it is excellent to have a giant's strength;
but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.
Abuse of power is timeless...
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder.
Nothing but thunder!
She reminds us that God loans power and authority to man so that we may model our societies upon His justice.  But "proud man..."
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he 's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep
who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
So it's not just an abuse of power and authority man engages in, but a usurpation of God's gifts that are loaned to us.  We forget we are "dust and to dust we will return."  Flush with pride and earthly arrogance, we forget we are fit for eternity, and we end up as angry apes who make the angels weep.  Were the angels mere earthly creatures like us, they would spare the pity and simply laugh derisively at us. 

* - Jove:  King of the Gods in Roman mythology, god of sky and thunder