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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Controvery Of Timepieces

Controversial Timepiece From Dallas

I started out looking for some information on Ahmed Mohamed's father. Ahmed is the "clock boy" who was suspended from his school in Dallas for bringing a homemade clock to school, and the school authorities suspended him because they thought a timing device was a bomb.
I suppose it was because most movie bombs prominently display the timing device, usually in the act of counting down to zero. One could get the idea that a timing device was indeed a bomb... sort of synecdoche for the masses: a part stands for the whole, the timer is the bomb.

The size of the timepiece is in question. I have seen it described as a clock placed within a pencil case - a dandy bit of miniaturization, no doubt. However, the photos I have seen show it in some sort of briefcase. Such a briefcase would be large enough to store a bit of plastic explosive in.
A bit largish for a pencil case... unless you have quite a slew of pencils.

The family is now living in Qatar, and they are suing the Dallas school district for $15 million.

I wanted to learn more about the father of this interesting clan.

I did not find anything of interest to me. Oh, there was a lot about his participation in Sudanese politics and the fact that he was a "9/11 Truther", which took me off on a tangent to find out what possibly a 9/11 truther could be.
It turns out a 9/11 truther asserts that 9/11 was an inside job, and lets Al Qa'ida off the hook. I did not find that especially telling. I did not suddenly expostulate "Aha!"

There is something here, but I have not been able to find it.
I have no idea why the conservative blogs find 9/11 trutherism to be so interesting. I mean, why would a blog that esteems "birtherism" find flaws in "trutherism"?
I don't get it.

Anyway, there was plenty of time for gasps and chuckles as I read along... plenty of shaking of the head, too. My favorite post was one that seems to explain Tea Party conservative views on race relations in the USA:

Young Conservatives:
Ben Carson backs Donald Trump, says he saw American Muslims Celebrating Twin Towers Collapse
John S. Roberts
November 23, 2015 6:50 pm 
Just yesterday, presidential contender Donald Trump said he witnessed American Muslims celebrating the falling of the Twin Towers on 9/11.

Now, fellow GOP candidate Ben Carson is backing Trump…

From Washington Post via RS:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Monday that he has seen highly disputed footage showing thousands of Muslims in northern New Jersey celebrating the collapse of the twin towers following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump has made the same claim, but no such video has emerged and fact checkers and news anchors on assignment at the time have said such footage does not exist.

“I saw the film of it, yes,” the retired neurosurgeon told reporters Monday during a news conference at the Pahrump Nugget casino and hotel.

“There are going to be people who respond inappropriately to virtually everything. I think that was an inappropriate response,” Carson added. “I don’t know if on the basis of that you can say all Muslims are bad people — I really think that would be a stretch.”


What does everyone make of this?

Is it possibly Carson’s way of letting “The Donald” know that he’s willing to be his VP?

Now this post gave me a good deal of information, much more than I ever dreamed of wanting.

(1)Ben Carson is the sidekick.
Trump is Prez, Carson is VP.

(2) Ben Carson is smiling.
Trump is serious, Carson provides some comic relief.

It reminds me of the ancient TV shows My Little Margie and Trouble With Father (or The Stu Erwin Show), both of which had memorable comic relief supporting actors.

 Stu Erwin


Monday, November 23, 2015

The Nephewing Season

It is the season.
So many things popping up: Thanksgiving, Shopping, Christmas, Boxing Day, St Stephen's Day, Childermas or the Feast of the Holy Innocents, New Year's, Feast of the Epiphany, Twelve Days, and so on until Malanka for the Ukrainian Orthodox among us.
It is also the time of year my nephews stop by à la posse, that is, as a group; a trinity, to be exact, which brings to mind the atomic bomb - Trinity was code for the test - in more ways than one.

They are older now, and not such a handful as they used to be. However, as Sun Tzu said à propos of war, never trust one's family entirely. It is best to come to the family feast, but make sure of one's escape route, and have the keys to the car in your pocket - not in some vastly unhandy place, like a glove box with a hole in it, or tossed thoughtlessly into a bowl of Thanksgiving walnuts, like that clown who drives himself and four other teenagers - his girlfriend, his best friend and his girlfriend, and the class nerd - on their way to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of good times.
No one wants to fumble for keys when Freddy Krueger - or worse, Aunt Stella - is nearby.

So... nephews.
The trouble is that they are still unhappy about the last time I wrote about them:

 My Three Nephews On Whitey Bulger Look-Alike Day

They did not take to the comparison to Whitey Bulger.
And now that there is a high profile film, starring Johnny Depp, about Whitey and crew, well, I suppose they will still keenly feel the avuncular blade of wit stinging their pride. I mean, I sure would!

They are en route from their various domiciles.
(en route,  à propo,  à la posse.... a lot of Frenchy-isms in the post today. Of course,  à la posse isn't French at all. It is just something I made up for going about with a posse.)


Americans Take The Lead

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs Tells Reform Jews To Fight Israel's 'Misguided Policies'
November 6, 2015
The leader of American Reform Jewry said Diaspora Jews should not support the misguided policies of Israeli leaders and that Israel should look to North America for moral guidance.

“Asking Jews around the world only to wave the flag of Israel and to support even the most misguided policies of its leaders drives a wedge between the Jewish soul and the Jewish state. It is beyond counterproductive,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in his keynote speech Thursday night to the union’s biennial conference in Orlando.

“Jews who see brokenness in the treatment of Israel’s minorities, or in the way ultra-Orthodox views of Judaism are being enshrined in secular law, are being told that, when it comes to Israel, you should check your commitment to tikkun olam at the door; we will not,” Jacobs said.

Tikkun olam, the Hebrew term that means repairing the world, traditionally has meant doing good works that benefit the wider community. Jacobs said it also applies to repairing Israel. ...

!  שטאַרק ווערטער


The Real Housewives Of Hate-Muslim County

Pamela Geller

I have not read    פֿאָרווערטס for a while, but I have read Forward, which is the English weekly and is a righteous newspaper.

So there's a piece about Ms. Geller:
Why Is a Mainstream Jewish Charity Funding Pamela Geller?
Eli Clifton November 21, 2015
Pamela Geller is the flamboyant and unfiltered representative for the anti-Muslim far-right on the Internet. Her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, has mounted legal campaigns to force public buses across the country to run her advertisements, including one claiming “Islamic Jew-hatred: It’s in the Quran,” and urging an end to “all aid to Islamic countries.” The media coverage of Geller and AFDI’s actions often includes denunciations from interfaith, civil liberties and Jewish groups seeking to distance themselves from her actions.

But Jewish Communal Fund, a mainstream philanthropic fund that describes itself as “dedicated to the welfare and security of the Jewish community at home and abroad,” has funded Geller’s work. JCF’s annual tax filings show contributions of $30,000 in the 2012 tax year and $70,000 in the 2013 tax year, the last tax year for which filings are available, directed to Geller’s AFDI. ...

Suddenly it dawns on me that Ms. Geller is a Reality-Media creature, who - not being able to sing, act, nor be adorably sexy in a remote-yet-vulnerably-empty way like Paris Hilton, not susceptible to making videos of herself, and too old to really matter to the Korophiliac Media of the modern day, has had to find a new way to stardom.

(note:  "koros" is Doric Greek for a youth who has entered into adolescence. The female is "kore".
The forms are often seen as "kouros" for male and "koros" for female, reflecting the ancient Linear B "kor-wos" [male] and "kor-wa [female] where the Homeric Greek would drop the "w" after the "r" and sort of modify the preceding vowel by dumping the "w" as a "u" right next to it = kou-ros
So I use "kor-" for both male and female, and heartily thank the Lakedaemonians for their help.)

Ms. Geller has found her place in the sun by the canny use of web-hate, sort of being an Eurinys, an avenging flash-mob-of-one who descends upon the Muslim community when one of their members sins.

She is a celebrity. I mean, look at the care she takes with her personal appearance so as to appear like a re-incarnation of Carly Simon!

I am looking forward to the time when Kim Davis gets on board the Reality-Media-Creature train:

The probability that some media hounds are working on it right now is quite high. There should be a glamorous premiere in the near future.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Are Guns Enough?

Photo: Ben Schumin via Wikimedia Commons

When confronted by a gun-wielding killer, or a group of them, it has been been asserted that if only there were more guns carried by the individuals caught in these events, these individuals would shoot back and - if they have any luck against automatic rifles - would have a good chance of stopping the killers.

Or at least get a good shot in; truly, to shoot a handgun from a distance against automatic weapons is a bit dicey, unless you are in a film named Die Hard.

Furthermore, I think it will be found that when individuals do have guns and do shoot the killer, more often than not those "peacemakers" have a history of training in such confrontations.

Read the Scientific American Blog MIND Guest Blog:
Why Nobody Intervened in the July 4 Metro Murder
By R. Douglas Fields | July 17, 2015
... Bystander apathy is a psychological phenomenon in which witnesses to a person being harmed are less likely to intervene the more people there are present. This is thought to be a consequence of the herding instinct of human beings to do as they see others do. But when many people are present it is a much more complex situation. This leads to confusion. Is the person being attacked a victim or another criminal involved in, say, a gang fight? The Metro riders who saw the assault on Sutherland experienced neither apathy nor confusion, however. They experienced terror.

I cannot know what those witnesses lived through on that train, but I am confident from my knowledge of neuroscience that they did exactly the right thing. Their response was not a matter of bravery or cowardice or apathy—it was a matter of mortal strategy. Engaging the homicidal robber physically could have resulted in mass casualties. From all the situational information those people rapidly assimilated, that was their collective conclusion. So the passengers tried to appease the robber with cash instead and no one else lost their life.

Honed by eons of evolution in a dangerous world of survival of the fittest, the reaction these neural circuits trigger is usually correct; otherwise our species would have gone the way of dinosaurs. ...

"Honed by eons of evolution..."

Well, maybe not eons, but if a fight response is honed by the rigors of training - such as police and soldiers undergo - then the reactions are changed.

So guns are not enough; we need to train people who have guns. We have to train them to respond properly, as well as training them not to shoot the members of their families.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

To Suspend Judgement Does Not Deny Values

 Francesco e Chiara

The humility of St. Francis - in my opinion - leads us to suspend judgement.

We still must make choices. We still live. We must choose what to eat, what to drink, where to live, whom to establish bonds of amity, whom to love and be loved; all things must be chosen and the decisions must be made upon as sound and moral a foundation as possible.

Yet we still suspend judgement.

Why might one suspend judgement? Is it merely the citation that as we measure out, so shall we receive in measure. As we cut and tailor, so shall we be suited. As we give, so shall we receive.

Judgement belongs to God alone.

Each judgement is a re-affirmation of a belief system, not openly but covertly. We can not remember our belief systems in their entirety. We who are Roman Catholics cannot remember their belief-stance on the subject of Monophysitism, for example. Do but remind us, and we shall attest our belief! - or anathema, in the Monophysitism case!

There is no complete list of beliefs, so there is no algorithm which we use to re-affirm each and every one. We merely affirm that our belief system - which is complexly intricate and wrapped up in itself - when we unwrap it and roll it out, it will be a seamless cloth of faith.

So when we make a judgement about something, we affirm everything... not right then, but we affirm the integrity of a belief system and its truth, whenever and wherever the compendium of beliefs pops up.

When the Greatest Generation affirmed marriage as a sacrament, it was a fine and proper thing.
They did not merely choose to marry; they judged that marriage was the proper state for them and others in their society.
However, at the same time, the great, great majority also affirmed an unstated, yet manifest and covert proposition that marriage should not be between people of different races.

So in making a moral judgement, we also affirmed the separation of races and perpetuated racism.
There is nothing here to do with the passage of time, nor the changing perspective of morals; we are talking about the unquestioned and hidden beliefs we never question, yet continually affirm as we affirm more less controversial beliefs.

A similar thing was apparent in the procedure by which the Christian Churches in the American South affirmed Slavery... but they came right out and asserted their infidelity to God and their fidelity to the power of economics and the state.
They went through their beliefs and struck out the words of Christ which offended them and their fellows.

We must choose, but beware of judgement.
If we choose someone to be a friend and someone else not to be, we need not append a judgement of the character of the unamiable dunce cast off... like I just did.



"Il te faut guérir la solitude par la société et la société par la solitude."
Henri-Frédéric Amiel 1849
One must heal solitude with a dose of society, and society with a dose of solitude.

Vyacheslav Korotki, a 65-year-old meteor­ologist who lives in a rickety state-run weather base in Khodovarikha, a peninsula on Russia’s frozen north coast. He has lived on this storm-lashed spit for 13 years; it is the latest in a string of Arctic postings.

Abandoned wooden lighthouse at Khodovarikha 

Photos by Evgenia Abrugaeva


Refugee Road-Kill

It won't be long before an Ohio State Senator wants to change the name of Refugee Road to Operation Desert Storm Avenue -  or worse -  to commemorate the ongoing effort to change the Middle East for the better since 1990.

If you have lived around Columbus, Ohio, you will know Refugee Road runs east from Poplar Creek to Reynoldsburg - where it is called Chatterton Road, Reynoldsburg having gotten the road-name-changing bug much earlier than the rest of us - then continues west to Alum Creek, where it joins with highway 104 and bridges the creek, then resumes on the west bank of Alum Creek before finally ending at Lockbourne Avenue.

(Actually, it has been pointed out that the Frank Expressway sort of piggy-backs the exhausted Refugee Road - it has come all the way from Poplar Creek... or Popular Creek as many in the area pronounce it.
The Frank Expressway picks up Refugee Road, takes the name "Frank-Refugee Xway" and goes a couple miles over the Scioto River , where is dumps old Refugee Road at Father Phineas MacAdam's house for homeless roadways.

"He ain't heavy," says Ex-way Frank. "He's ma brother... 'n a refugee , to boot!"

 Big Frank Xway Road and Little Refugee Road... Brothers of the Scioto!


Fear Of Muslims And Refugees

There is a great deal of noise and chatter on the web between cells of differing world views about Muslims: what do we do with the Muslims fleeing the Middle East once we have opened the flood gates of destruction to inundate their homelands?

Tough question.

I have prayed in a mosque, and I have watched basketball being played in a madrasa.
At one time I did.

I only fear the darkness of the human soul, and even then I expect God to be there.

Governor Snyder of Michigan was the first to suspend immigration of Syrian refugees.

However, Governor Snyder, for all my disagreements with him, is the true Anti-Trump, and it is unfortunate that others following his lead choose to make things ugly.

Governor Who Started Stampede Against Refugees Says He Only Wants Answers
Updated November 20, 20152:45 PM ET

...In an interview with NPR on Thursday, Governor Snyder suggested he didn't mean to create a partisan issue. He insisted he's still willing to accept more Syrians in Michigan and said he merely wants a little reassurance that the federal screening process for refugees is sound. He said a call from the president assuring him of the process would be "helpful."

According to Snyder's office, he did join a call with the White House earlier this week that included senior staff, FBI, State, Homeland Security and counterterrorism officials but the governor still wants a detailed response to a letter he sent to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry outlining his concerns. Snyder told NPR he wants those officials to make the review and to "please respond to my letter that you're confident that we have the appropriate response in place."
Interview Highlights

On 'pausing' immigration from Syrian refugees

I'm very much in favor of immigration. If you look at what's happened in our country, what made our country great was immigration. And in particular, you have people around the world that their lives have been shattered ... We've always been good about accepting people, having come to our country to rebuild their lives. So, in a general sense I've been very much in favor of being proactive with Middle Eastern refugees, along with refugees across the world.

The issue that I said we should hit the pause button for is, one, these horrific terrorist events that have sort of coincided. We have Paris, we have Lebanon, we have the Egyptian airline bombing. Again, I have not criticized the federal system at all. What I said was, it'd be great if we had more transparency and awareness of the review processes. ... When you have terrible events like these in other countries, isn't it appropriate that you just pause to make sure that you do an appropriate review and look at what lessons-learned you can see from these other events to see if processes should be improved and enhanced in some fashion? ...

I find it interesting that Governor Snyder mentioned Lebanon, which is an event mostly ignored by the Media.

I also find it interesting how easily voices of reason are tsunamied by panic and hatred.


Friday, November 20, 2015

A Hiatus As Big As Ginnungagap

(photo by Gus Palmer)

(Ginnungapa is the immense, yawning void before creation in Norse mythology)

Reading in The Guardian a very interesting article on the Romanian countryside:

The Murderers Next Door
Adam Nicolson
Thursday 19 November 2015 01.00 EST Last modified on Thursday 19 November 2015 01.05 EST
...Every piece of land is important here. People in Maramureş, with an inheritance of poverty and crowdedness, are what they are because of the land they have. Land is a constituent of the person. To enter another man’s land, particularly the yard around his house, is as intimate a penetration as putting your fingers in his mouth. A sophisticated, multilingual journalist in Baia Mare, who did not want to be named, told me that if someone came “into his land” – that was his expression, as if the land were an entirely enclosed space – he would kill him. “It is a border he has crossed. And when he sees my eyes he would understand. It has happened to me, men coming on to the land with guns. I told them they had to leave within 10 seconds. ‘If you enter again, I don’t give you the chance.’”


After the 1848 revolutions in the Austro-Hungarian empire, of which Transylvania was a part, the serfs were liberated and allowed to own the land they had previously worked for the nobility. From the 1860s onwards, each fragmented, multi‑strip holding was carefully mapped in a meticulous register. There were many local ways of policing this complex pattern of land ownership. Villages employed field wardens, gornici, to mediate in arguments between neighbours: where the boundaries lay, where cattle could or could not graze, whose hay grew in which meadow. The gornici were organised by a birau, a “mayor of the fields”, paid by the village, either through a local tax or by receiving the fines raised from malefactors.

But little was stable here. After the defeat of Austria-Hungary in the first world war, 3.9m hectares were distributed to Romanian peasants; in 1945 a further 1.4m hectares were expropriated from the German peasants and one million hectares redistributed...

It is a good story, but this gap from the revolutionary era of 1848 to 1918 covers a lot of territory, and it seems likely that it was germane to explaining the people of the area.

The Romanians lived in the Hungarian section of the Dual Monarchy of Austri-Hungary. If they had lived in the Austrian half, the liberation of the serfs would have been followed by real intermittent efforts to promote Romanian interests, but the Hungarian aristocracy was mainly interested in maintaining a medieval form of control over the foreign peoples under its control.

The urban Jewish population was in a unique situation, too. This background helps to understand many of the prominent Hungarian Jewish scientists who have had an enormous influence of the 20th century: John von Neumann, Leo Szilard, Edward Teller, Eugene Wigner, Theodore von Kármán among others.

The history of Central Europe is very pertinent to our places in the present, only we are very ignorant of most of it.


Some Myths Of Reason

History Today

In the September 1998 issue of History Today, Peter Monteath nicely summarised Christian Gerlach’s groundbreaking argument about the origins of the Holocaust: that, in December 1941, Hitler made a ‘decision in principle’ that all Jews should be murdered. However, I am persuaded by subsequent historiography and by a rereading of Hitler’s own writings that his worldview was so radical that the concept of a ‘decision’ is inappropriate; in Alon Confino’s apt phrase, Hitler imagined a ‘world without Jews’ from the beginning. Realising that vision was less a question of categorical pronouncements and more a matter of what was possible. Revenge against Jews was not a decision but an inevitability.


For any idea of ‘intentionalism’ [i.e., an "intentional" and voluntary decision] to hold, it must begin with Hitler’s conviction that Jews should be removed from the planet. This is subtly but importantly different from the idea that Hitler planned a Final Solution. It allows for the possibility that Hitler learned from experience that killing Jews was easier than deporting them. It also raises the question of under what precise circumstances his global vision could be localised. Here what is necessary is a kind of ‘local structuralism’, which includes the motivations of non-German actors and the effects of non-German settings on Germans themselves.

Such is the history of the Holocaust as it is now being written: a catastrophe both planetary and local, transcending the limitations of German national history.

This is part of what I have been thinking about since seeing Woody Allen's Irrational Man : the inability to confront  {engage with, intimate with} that which is irrational or not-rational, other than in ritualized areas of our lives.

The Final Solution became possible because all players allowed it up to the outbreak of war.
World War II began in two parts because of the (1) invasion of Poland, and then (2) the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

At no point did any nation-state go to war to save the life of a Jew.

It reminds me of our Civil War. It began on the Northern side as a war to save the Union.
Even the horrible obscenity of slavery could not rouse a majority of the North to go tro war to end slavery. Until the Emancipation Proclamation, any number of future history threads were possible, some with a future including variations of slavery.......

Remember how the Southern Christian churches endorsed the Biblical truth of Slavery?

Tread carefully in dark times.


Writing I Like

Val Kilmer in The Thaw

I rarely read showbiz news. It can be very Dickensian and fascinating, but it usually begins to troll along the bottom of the sea of boredom, and all the breath-taking characters that one had fallen in love with at first sight begin to look like drudgery and resemble morning-after people that Jason Lee mused about in Dreamcatcher, as he posed the Meg Ryan question, "Where's the cat?"

I mean, really I try, but this Lamar Odom thing is an extremely tangled skein. No matter how much I read or listened to She-who-must-be-obeyed chatter on about it, I do not understand what's going on.
I mean, Chloe is not a licensed doctor, so what's is she trying to do with a fellow who - by some accounts - is brain dead?
Is there an inheritance at stake?

And Scientology truly baffles me. I mean, when I first heard the word "scientology" about 50 years ago, I thought "What a stupid name!"
I still do.
It brings to mind Aristotle puttering about with Dr. Praetorius in some quaint laboratory with sparking Van der Graff generators and vast distillation appartus filled with bubbling liquids and humors with a chorus line from The Producers, does it not? A mix of... well, I suppose "science" and "logy"...   or "logos", Ancient Greek and all that.
(Or a compact car version of Hugo Gernsback's  "scienti-fiction" and "logy".)

So I read The Guardian today.

I read about showbiz.
There was an article about Val Kilmer.
Who could resist?

I have not seen any bit of his oeuvre since The Thaw, so why not?

Well, there was much more.

Marina Hyde

Marina Hyde's Lost in showbiz: high fives all round as Val Kilmer whoops about his new Top Gun mission

There was a bit about Daniel Radcliffe's life choices, one of which may have been setting up as role-models the actors Oliver Reed and Peter O'Toole.
"Ten pints for Gryffendor!"

Then there was the Kardashian Xmas Kard, which has been around ever since "Anno Beast"...!
Anno Beast?
What is that?
I looked and looked, but it smelled to me strongly of Rapture Palooza (Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson... a film which could have been great with just a little bit more work on the script...).

Who writing about showbiz would cite Rapture Palooza? About non-Rapture Palooza subject matter?

Then it ended with a conjuration around the Kardashian annual card with "annus" ( = "year" in Latin)
and a trilitteral texting vulgarism beginning with "WT_" which again pointed back to "Anno" (ablative case of "annus", don't you know), as well as a homonym reference to Beast and a line in Rapture Palooza...

...and all the puns that one might possibly derive from Schopenhauer's observation"
Obit anus, abit onus.

which I won't even translate, because there are too many levels of Swiftian puns here.

Tolle, lege

Pick up and read!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mr. Obama

I have an enormous admiration for Mr. Obama.
I think the long-term effort and planning that went into the Iran treaty was amazing, and men and women of lesser fortitude would have dropped along the wayside long ago. When it comes to this type of thoughtful negotiation, Mr. Obama is the best.

However, even though we wish that thoughtful negotiations would cure all the world's ills that are due to differences between peoples, I do not think that is always the case.

War is a case in point.

That is why the New York Times article from yesterday that reported that American airplanes attacked ISIS oil delivery trucks for the first time was so astounding for me.
Yet, upon reflection on Mr. Obama's style, it is not so surprising.

Mr. Obama only follows part of Sun Tzu's Art Of War.

Mr. Obama subscribes entirely to the peaceful method of achieving his goals with as little bloodshed as possible:
"For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."

and seemingly ignores:

"What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations."

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.”


What Kind Of War Is This...?

an empty shell...
(Lyrics from Stop The World, yadda-yadda-yadda)

New York Times:
U.S. Warplanes Strike ISIS Oil Trucks in Syria
ISTANBUL — Intensifying pressure on the Islamic State, United States warplanes for the first time attacked hundreds of trucks on Monday that the extremist group has been using to smuggle the crude oil it has been producing in Syria, American officials said...

The "first time"?

And since we are on the topic, just how much fighting is Turkey, our NATO ally doing?
They are bombing Kurds, who are fighting ISIS, but what is Turkey doing in this War on Terror?
What are our other allies in the region doing? Are there any Saudi troops or planes, or are they all in Yemen bombing weddings?


Senator Rubio

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican candidate for President, in the recent debate expressed his opinion that the USA needed more plumbers and fewer philosophers.
I suppose it is better to be called a "philosopher" rather than a "porch monkey" or "nattering ninny of negativism" or some other opprobrious code word.

I think what the country really needs is fewer politicians who spend their entire lives living off political donations, such as Senator Rubio has done.
I don't think he's ever had a real job other than taking in contributions and disbursing benefits to donors.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Doctor Zoomer Has Two Mummies

Abbot and Costello (See below)

We had a post recently about the syntax of parenthood and how it impacts "belief systems".
There was sound and fury, signifying the most important things of our age: the need to dispute and argue.

Yahoo News

This news story ended:
 Catholic Family News even weighed in after posting a story Monday sharing an image of the sign: “With respect, it seems hard to imagine anyone in our time not being aware of what the '2 dads’ term can imply,” reads an update to the original post added on Wednesday, “especially since the pro-homosexual book Heather Has 2 Mommies has been around since 1989.”...
 and this was a Palmer Moment for me (see John Carpenter's The Thing if you need clarification on Mr. Palmer and his moments) and I felt rather out-loopish that the referenced text about Heather and her two Mommies was sort of a mystery to me. Did not read it, did not hear about it, did not argue about it; I apparently just ignored the phenom that The Catholic Family News thinks had enough publicity to come in second to the World Trade Center disaster.

(I thought and thought about it. The closest I could get was some sort of thing like "...Whether (rhymes with 'Heather') to vote for Obama...", with the word "Obama" coming out a bit like "Obamies". Well, that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Why would I remember such idiocy and let Heather's familial arrangements just slip by me? Like water off a base canard's back?)

I would like to establish my bona fides with The Catholic Family News and offer them some more ammunition in their dispute. The topic has been touched upon in the Cinematic Arts, to wit:


Bud and Lou return for a fifth time, with Charles Lamont in the director’s chair a third time. A mummy theme, an Egyptian cult and medallion, along with Marie Windsor as the commanding femme fatale in charge, this last of the ‘Abbott and Costello Meet…Universal horrors’ packs a campy punch. The gags and bits turn up at every corner with a lot of play on the ‘mummy’ theme.

Bud Abbott aka Peter Patterson: “I overheard Doctor Zoomer say he needed a couple of men to accompany his mummy back to the States.”

Lou Costello aka Freddie Franklin: “Is she afraid to travel by herself?”

Bud Abbott: “She? No, Lou. This mummy is a he. What’s wrong with that? Some mummies are men, some mummies are women.”

Lou Costello: “Such a strange country.”

Bud Abbott: “What’s strange about it Lou?”

Lou Costello: “Your mummy, your mummy. Wasn’t she a woman?”

Bud Abbott: “I never had a mummy.”

Lou Costello: “What did your Father do? Win you in a crap game?”

{Excerpted from Outspoken and Freckled / }

However, I always call Abbott "Chic" and Costello "Wilbur", since that is what their names were in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, which enchanted me as a child on Saturday afternoon matinees.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fourteen Years Of War On Terror And Counting

In January, 2007, the Bataclan Theater in Paris received threats, reportedly since the owners were Jewish. Le Figaro reported in 2011 that there were still threats.

So why can't we provide 8 years of security for every place - not just government offices - that Islamists do not like?

Eight years?!

What do you think Sun Tzu (The Art of War)would say about our War on Terror?

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

“There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.”  (like 14 years since the World Trade Center)

“One may know how to conquer without being able to do it. ”

“There are roads which must not be followed, armies which must not be attacked, towns which must not be besieged, positions which must not be contested, commands of the sovereign which must not be obeyed.”

What did we do this week? We had a media slobber-fest over killing Jihadi John.
Then we lost over a hundred people in Paris.
We can't even begin to talk about ending our support of the destabilization of Syria, and Mr. Obama is going to find that this growing disaster everywhere - not just the Middle East - will tarnish his legacy as sure as the Iraq War did George W. Bush's.

And think about the USA...

How would you like to be flying for Thanksgiving or Christmas? 
If you remember, my wife ran into a serious slow down in Baltimore three weeks ago, and that was before all this happened. People will stay home, and the parts of the economy devoted to travel will slide into recession.

We shall sit around the fire and cling fervidly to religion and guns.

You can kiss any form of gun control good-bye.
I'm going to learn to shoot a handgun... just in case eight years from now someone wants to shoot up the movie house I'm sitting in.


Phantom Of The Bataclan

2011, Le Figaro:
Al-Qaida à Gaza voulait frapper la France
Par Philippe Cohen-Grillet Mis à jour le 20/02/2011 à 21:07 Publié le 20/02/2011 à 21:06
...Car, en janvier 2007, Le Bataclan a été la cible de menaces de mouvements islamistes pour avoir accueilli un concert en soutien «aux gardes frontières israéliens». Lors de leur arrestation en Égypte, plusieurs comparses de Dodi Hoxha ont reconnu que l'Armée de l'Islam projetait des attentats contre «une synagogue en France, l'ambassade de France et le Centre culturel français au Caire». Des aveux à prendre, certes, avec beaucoup de précaution tant en ce qui concerne les auteurs des déclarations que les conditions des interrogatoires. Cependant, la France et ses compatriotes semblent effectivement dans le viseur des terroristes de la «Jaish al-Islam». Une autre «filiale» d'al-Qaida, jusque-là méconnue, mais qui a déjà fait couler le sang...

Portion emphasized:
For in January 2007, The Bataclan Theater was the target of threats from Islamist movements...

So apparently the Bataclan Theater has been targeted for at least 8 years...

There are many more comments in the French press about this.


Sketches By Grandville: Fishing / La Pêche

J'y a fait de bien mauvais vers, mais je n'y a jamais pris de poisson.

I made some pretty awful poems, but I never caught a fish.

(unless there is some idiom which escapes me...)


The Man Who Wasn't There

Hassan Nasir

A good story...

Hassan Nasir: The man who wasn’t there
Nadeem F. Paracha — Updated Nov 08, 2015 12:41pm
...But who was Hassan Nasir?

Hassan Nasir was born into an aristocratic Muslim family in Hyderabad Deccan, India. After finishing school in his hometown, Nasir got admission in UK’s prestigious Cambridge University where he came into contact with various young British and Indian Marxists.

On his return to India, and against his family’s wishes, he plunged into a peasants’ uprising against feudal lords and British Colonial overlords in the Telangana region.

When the movement collapsed after the departure of the British in 1947, Nasir decided to migrate to Pakistan. In 1950, he arrived in Karachi and joined the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP). His family stayed back in India.

Though just 22 years old at the time, he greatly impressed the CPP leadership with his profound knowledge of Marxism.

Soon, Nasir’s revolutionary outlook and charisma made him popular among college students, peasants and factory workers. In 1954 he was arrested by the government, jailed, tortured and then forcibly flown back to India.

However, in 1955, he quietly slipped back in. Since the CPP had been banned, Punjabi and Urdu-speaking leftists began joining progressive Sindhi, Baloch, Bengali and Pashtun nationalists to form the National Awami Party (NAP). In 1957 Nasir was made the party’s secretary general in Karachi.

He turned his office into a busy working and planning area for leftist students and trade unionists. Though his aristocratic background could have easily guaranteed him a rich and comfortable life in Karachi, he chose to live among labourers cramped in and around the make-shift shanty towns that had sprung up in the glittering metropolis.

In 1958, when Field Marshal Ayub Khan launched a military coup, he ordered a crackdown against leftists as well as against the religious parties. Nasir went underground.

Veteran communist leader, Jamal Naqvi, in his 2014 memoir writes that in 1960, Ayub, while being briefed by Karachi’s police chief, lost his cool when Nasir’s name came up. He is reported to have lashed out and shouted, ‘How is that bloody communist still free … ?’

The Ayub regime was equally harsh towards the religious parties. But Nasir’s activities and his popularity among the students and labourers had begun to greatly perturb the regime.

Nasir was finally located, hiding in a shanty town in Karachi. He was picked up by the police and then flown in chains to a special cell that had been set-up by the police in Lahore’s historical Lahore Fort.

Naqvi informs that here Nasir was continuously tortured, beaten up and refused food and water for days. Then finally, he was slayed in his muggy, tiny cell. He was just 32.

The Muslim aristocrat’s son who had become a communist rebel was never seen or heard from again...


Santa And Starbuck's Cup

Gift-giving is a basic human act.
It is a basic act of primates.
It is a basic behavior of many life forms.
When we talk about Gifting in this way, think of it as something like the acts of Filling and Emptying. We celebrate - and have celebrated for thousands of years - harvests by great feasts where we FILL ourselves with food and drink and thank God for the increase.
Similarly, we have performed rituals of fasting and denial where we Empty ourselves of food and drink and often other types of things, like giving up candy for Lent, or observing Ramadan.

Gifting is a complex behavior, and the times of gift exchanging vary: in what was the Western Roman Empire the time became Christmas in December, while in the Eastern Byzantine and Greek portion it became St. Basil's Day in January. The gifting remains constant even though the trappings and surrounding of the exchange vary.

The season itself and its history will color the festival of gifting. The Norse god Odin, who was usually depicted with a full white beard, had a festival at Midwinter, a season called Jol or Yule, and he was referred to as Jolnir, a Yule person. Midwinter was on or about the winter solstice at December 20-21, not in the "middle" of winter, the word mid here being used to mean "at", so the calendar was "at [the start of] winter" on the solstice. ("Mid" has more than the meaning of "middle"; for example, the "mid" in "midwife" means "with").

We have ancient feasts and ancient ideas and concepts; myths, poetries, and stories; images and imaginations and songs; and they all conspire - the ancient fellows of our fraternity of Mankind - to recall, experience, renew, and create anew the experience of the Yuletide.
There is Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, and St. Nicholas who all have changed through time and report. Dicken's A Christmas Carol has had a profound effect, as well as the illustrations of Thomas Nast. The American Retail Goods industry started on the bandwagon in the 19th century and transformed the image as well as the nature of the holiday.

Recently I was at a site where the morality of the story of Santa was debated: should parents tell the lie that Santa exists to their very young children since those children will eventually discover the falsehood?

I do not think the tedious discussions need repetition.

When children reach the age of the end of the willing suspension of disbelief, why not discover to them that Santa Claus is a dynamic and complex symbolic structure that sums up and extends the History of All Men and Women of Goodwill?

It is merely a myth... but a myth of immense proportions! For is it not a fact that we live and die according to stories of magnificent proportions? We strive that these theme stories of our lives be great rather then paltry and mean.
The story of the Christmas Season is a living and breathing symbolic creation. We have degraded it into commercialism, true, but we have also sung carols and spoken of the unstinting love of this descendant of St. Nicholas for good children. It is not a lie, rather it is an expression and summation of  our secular desires for peace and harmony.
Touch on the nature of Gifting as simply as saying it is a sign of love: our love for each other and God's love for us, freely given without expectation of return; freely and selflessly as Saint Nick gives his presents to all the world's children.

For heaven's sake, do not destroy Santa!
Extend him to encompass the virtues of the season! Let him take under his tabard that godly charity we already express by "Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men!" Say that in this Christmas myth, we speak of peace, love, and selfless gifting... do likewise, young people!

People say that by emphasizing Santa Claus and the gifting we ignore the real meaning of Christmas. It is my opinion that we ignore the real meaning of Christmas for 364 days of the year, so why not ignore it for another day?
There are needs which for some reason we cannot allow our religious figures to fill. I mean, Jesus cannot go around giving gifts to kids, as if games, toys, and iPhones were loaves and fishes!

So give Santa a chance.

Then there is the real problem of the true nature of Starbuck's coffee cups for Xmas 2015!

partially recycled

The Pithy-and-Oracle Speaks !

Ann Coulter

The Hill:
November 14, 2015, 10:00 am
Ann Coulter took to Twitter on Friday night to respond to the Paris terror attacks, saying that “Donald Trump was elected president tonight.”

The conservative commentator tweeted a series of reactions to the attacks that left more than 120 dead, calling for “no more Muslim immigration.” She also targeted recent U.S. college student protests, as well as American gun and immigration laws and proposals.

Coulter ended her string of Tweets with: “They can wait if they like until next November for the actual balloting, but Donald Trump was elected president tonight.”

President of France?
Maybe President of the World !!?


Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Palmer Moment

Named after the character Palmer (David Clennon)
in John Carpenter's The Thing:

A Palmer Moment references his line in this shot.

From the so-called Grown-Up world:

Yahoo News
The St. Columba-Brigid Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, N.Y., changes its movable-letter sign every two weeks. But the Rev. Roy Herberger’s latest message — “Jesus had 2 dads and he turned out just fine” — didn’t last nearly that long.

“As soon as I learned of this sign, I took immediate action to have it removed,” Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said in a statement shared with Yahoo Parenting about the message put up last week.

Malone instructed Herberger to remove the lettering on Tuesday following “phone calls from around the world, from callers protesting the contents of the sign,” a diocese spokesperson told the Buffalo News. “The pastor of SS Columba-Brigid Church told me that the “2 Dads” were meant to refer to a child who has both a father and stepfather,” Malone wrote in his statement. “There are several children in his parish who have both a father and stepfather. However, given the potential for the meaning of this message to be misunderstood and even perceived in a heretical way, it was immediately removed.”

Herberger tells Yahoo Parenting that now he “can see why people are upset,” but when he put up the phrase he had no intention of making a statement about supporting same-sex marriage in contradiction of the Catholic Church’s teachings. (In fact, the 73-year-old told the Buffalo News that he’d gotten the phrase from the Internet a few months ago when he searched for “funny church signs.”)

“I only had one purpose,” the pastor explains to Yahoo Parenting. “After 48 years in the church, I see so many kids with stepparents, or even in single-family homes or being raised by grandparents, who feel that they’re not as good as other kids who have a nuclear mother-and-father family. I’ve seen what that does sometimes when they’re comparing themselves to that nuclear family and I wanted to say, ‘Hang in there. You’re good. Things will work out for you.’ I wanted to provide support and understanding for kids in that situation.”

The church leader adds, “I’m not trying to cause problems. I had no trouble taking the sign down.” But many commenters on St. Columba-Brigid’s website still don’t approve of, or accept, Herberger’s explanation. The majority of its 80 messages are critical of the pastor for his actions. “Shame on you,” blast a few writers, while others label Herberger a “disgrace,” call for his resignation, and insist that he did “damage to the Catholic Church,” making an “outrageous mockery of the Catholic faith.”

Catholic Family News even weighed in after posting a story Monday sharing an image of the sign: “With respect, it seems hard to imagine anyone in our time not being aware of what the '2 dads’ term can imply,” reads an update to the original post added on Wednesday, “especially since the pro-homosexual book Heather Has 2 Mommies has been around since 1989.”...

I mean....  Heather Has 2 Mommies !!??

Another Palmer moment for me.


Films I'm Not Sure I'd Really Like To See

When Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins re-unite for a Jane-Austen-Vampire-Slayer-like sequel to Remains of the Day:

Remains Of  Z  Day !


Brennt Paris?

As World War II was ending, Hitler ordered General von Choltitz to destroy Paris before he pulled his troops back, and every day thereafter Hitler would call and ask "Brennt Paris?",  "Is Paris burning?"
There is an ironic attraction Paris has for monsters, as indicated in the photo above, where emergency workers are busy at a bar named Voltaire, named after Voltaire of the smile of reason and in the midst again of unreason.

The Light attracts the Dark and causes it to burn with hatred of self and others.

I am reading in the Recklinghauser Zeitung:

Der Horror von Paris
Paris (dpa) Zehn Monate nach «Charlie Hebdo» ist Paris erneut Ziel einer Terrorattacke. An mehreren Orten gleichzeitig fallen Schüsse, sind Explosionen zu hören. In einem Konzertsaal richten Unbekannte ein Massaker an. Die Zahl der Toten und Verletzten ist riesig...
"Ten months after "Charlie Hebdo" Paris has experienced yet another terror attack..."

10 months...
Not a long time...

Every month we should pick up the telephone and ask, "Is Paris burning?"
And every month, when the person at the other end answers "No. Paris is not burning.", we shall know that hope and freedom endure and have triumphed yet again over death and destruction.


Operation Deep Sweep

An interesting mixture of art and technology, not Ars Gratia Artis - art for the sake of art - but Ars Gratia Libertatis - art for the sake of freedom.
And it is the coin of freedom we shall pay governments to shield us from terrorism, which ironically was instigated by governments themselves.
(It is too conspiratorial by far to even think that the CIA placed an order with Osama bin Laden to fight the Soviet Union, and also ordered a side-order of world-wide terrorism to be used to undermine individual freedoms in the near future.)

Critical Engineering

The Deep Sweep is an aerospace probe scanning the otherwise out-of-reach signal space between land and stratosphere, with special interest placed in UAV/drone to satellite communication.
Taking the form of a high-altitude weather balloon, tiny embedded computer and RF equipment, The Deep Sweep project is being developed to function as a low-cost, aerial signal-intelligence (SIGINT) platform. Intended for assembly and deployment by public, it enables surveying and studying the vast and often secretive world of signal in our skies.

Two launches have been performed so far, from sites in Germany, landing in Poland and Belarus respectively.

We intend to make many more, in Europe and beyond.

The purpose seems to be to become aware of all the types of surveillance available under the Umbrella Corporation of security from terror, from hackers, from foreign states, whatever!

Copyright Umbrella Corporation
Veni, Vidi, Vinci

If you read further about Critical Engineering, you will come across things like this:
0. The Critical Engineer considers Engineering to be the most transformative language of our time, shaping the way we move, communicate and think. It is the work of the Critical Engineer to study and exploit this language, exposing its influence.
1. The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.
2. The Critical Engineer raises awareness that with each technological advance our techno-political literacy is challenged.
3. The Critical Engineer deconstructs and incites suspicion of rich user experiences...

If you do not like philosophical chatter, just skip over it. We all do it. We all chatter on about philosophies and our sacred "belief systems".  I mean, jiminy!, everyone needs some sort of reason to pop out of bed in the early morn and get to the workshop.
The proof is in the pudding.


A Workers' Co-Operative

Argentina: Occupy, resist, produce!
In one Argentinian factory, workers refused to succumb to forces of failing economy, took matters in own hands.

Yiannis Biliris | 04 Aug 2015 07:00 GMT
Neuquen, Argentina - As a consequence of the 2001 crisis in Argentina, many people, especially those of the worker class, lost their jobs.

But in Patagonia, in the south of Argentina, one factory gained fame, first locally and then nationally and internationally because the workers refused to accept the loss of their jobs.

The workers of the ceramic tile factory, Zanon, located in the city of Neuquen, occupied the site and effectively resisted all attempts by factory managers and government authorities to expel them. They kept the factory running, maintained production quotas, and saved their jobs.

In August 2009, the provincial legislature voted to expropriate the factory to the workers' cooperative legally and indefinitely. The national government took three years to legally recognise the ownership transfer.

The factory has been renamed Fasinpat, an acronym for Factoria Sin Patrones - Factory Without Bosses, and has since become profitable.

With part of the profits, the cooperative invested in local projects such as the construction of a local hospital. It also developed relations with the indigenous Mapuche community to buy clay from their lands to use as raw material.