January 31, 2007
Everybody altogether now...
Off to senior sem right now: this week the kids are reading Tom Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas? together with Brian Anderson's South Park Conservatives: The Revolt Against Liberal Media Bias for a discussion about media and ideology in American politics today.
So, to get ready for class, I've been cranking this:
Some days my job is fun.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Solstice
I love this story about the recent unearthing of a big neolithic village at Stonehenge:
Archaeologists who have unearthed the largest Neolithic village found in Britain believe it housed hundreds of workers who helped build Stonehenge.
The discovery of the settlement, along with tools, pottery and food debris, will help solve some of the remaining mysteries surrounding the country's most significant prehistoric monument and show how people lived 4,500 years ago.
Nine houses have been excavated at Durrington Walls, a huge circular earthwork less than two miles from Stonehenge.
Signs of dozens more clay hearths set in more houses have been identified through magnetic field analysis beneath the 1,400ft-wide enclosure. Researchers believe it was a base for seasonal workers and a festival venue for midwinter solstice celebrations.
Prof Mike Parker-Pearson, of Sheffield University, is leading the Stonehenge Riverside Project.
He said yesterday: "We are looking at people coming from across southern Britain for both feasting and to work, probably on a seasonal basis.
Very cool, indeed.
This reminds me that I read Bernard Cornwall's Stonehenge, a fictional account of the politics and passions behind its construction, last summer. My review is here. In it, I described the book as "perfect for when you don't feel like having to think too hard." I suppose I was right about the thinking because I remember virtually nothing about the book now.
Of course, if you want true prehistoric mindlessness, it's hard to beat Jean Auel's "Earth's Children" series (Clan of the Cave Bear, The Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters and Plains of Passage), which the Mater summarized thus:
"Earth Mother tames fire, Earth Mother has roll in the hay. Earth Mother domesticates animals, Earth Mother has roll in the hay. Earth Mother founds civilization, Earth Mother has roll in the hay."
Gratuitous Musickal Observation
How sweet is this? WETA-FM, the Dee Cee NPR affiliate, has switched back to an all-classical format!
The move appears to have come about when the only other local classical station (the commercial WGMS) decided to drop the format. WETA moved in and is now working with WGMS to pipe the music out from the public station.
This is fantastic news. WETA used to be a classical station, but in the middle of the night a couple years back switched over to a round-the-clock gabfest format, where earnest, tweed-clad inullegkshuls told us what an awful country this is and how it's All Dubya's Fault. I was furious then and have been fuming about it ever since. And try as I might, I could never get into WGMS, which usually played only selections from pieces instead of the whole thing, confined itself to warhorses and kept interrupting with very annoying commercials.
Well, the music is back now. Not only will I start listening again, I'll also start donating, too. And maybe I'll even start reading their new blog.
UPDATE: Speaking of musickal things, today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1797, of Franz Schubert. My quote-of-the-day email guy says at the end of a collection of adulatory quotes by Schumann and Beethoven:
N.B. I discovered in preparing today's QOTD that there are no entries for Schubert in Nicolas Slonimsky's Lexicon of Musical Invective, which suggests that very few listeners have found much in his music not to like.
Well, now. Far be it from me to say anything bad about Schubert, especially about his chamber music, over which many people fawn and about which I know very little. But I do know something about the structural unwieldiness and unimaginative repetitions of some of his orchestral music, especially his 9th Symphony in C. It is often refered to as "The Great," but as my mother points out, a better nickname might be "The Large."
There Goes The Neighborhood!
The proposed Tyson's West Station at the corner of Spring Hill and Route 7.
Those of you around Dee Cee will know of what I speak, but for everybody else, this ties in with the planned extension of the Metro out to Dulles airport. The route goes right through Tyson's Corner and Reston, two very heavily populated NoVa hubs.
As originally planned, the Tyson's part of the track was to be elevated. But nobody in the area (self included) wanted this, owing both to the horrendous strain construction will place on an already overloaded traffic coridor, to say nothing of the effect the thing will have on the efforts to turn Tyson's into a new, pedestrian-friendly downtown. Enough flak was generated that the state agreed to look at the tunnel alternative. Its investigative panel came back and agreed that the tunnel plan would work. Nonetheless, this idea was shot down by Gov.
Spineless Kaine under pressure from the Feds on the grounds that it was too expensive.
Recently, a grassroots organization called TysonsTunnel made a last ditch effort to change Richmond's mind, delivering a monster feasibility study that purported to demonstrate that the tunnel option would be cost effective and retouting the obvious traffic flow and aesthetic arguments as well.
All to no avail, apparently.
Jaysus, what a mess this is going to be. The tracks will come right up Chain Bridge Road, cut straight through the heart of Tyson's and then head west on Route 7. (Here's a PDF map, if you're interested.) I have to use these roads all the time (Orgle Manor being quite nearby) and already loathe them. Construction is going to make the Springfield Mixing Bowl look like a walk in the park by comparison.
Somebody with waaaaay too much time on his hands has put together a Wikipedia entry for the List of Firefly Planets and Moons.
In the real 'verse, I'm all for the tradition of naming planets and moons after various Roman and Greek mythological figures. For some reason, however, my very favorite world name from Firefly is Whitefall, home of the unscrupulous Patience and not civilization "in the strictest sense."
Yips! to Lynn S.
"Great Alexander Wept, And Made Sad Mone, Because There Was But One World To Be Wonne"
Numero Uno out of 2,950,000 for Google hits on Llama blogs, baybee!
It's The Storm Of The Century Of The Week!
Run for your lives, Dee Cee!
Snow developing. Around an inch of snow accumulation expected. Highs in the lower 30s. South winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 80 percent.
Snow...rain and freezing rain likely. Additional snow and ice accumulations possible. Lows in the upper 20s. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 70 percent.
Mostly cloudy. A chance of rain...freezing rain and snow in the morning. Highs in the lower 40s. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 30 percent.
There were some patches of black ice on the Murrland highways that played absolute hell with the commute this morning. The approaching storm oughta shut us down completely. Stock up on the t-p and batteries right now!
And speaking of the End of the World, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mr. James Lileks:
I’m not surprised that the latest [climate change] predictions are more dire than the last. Panic is useful. As people of my age and ideological disposition are so tiresomely fond of reminding everyone, global cooling was the big fear way back when; mastodons would burst from glaciers and stomp our houses flat. After that came the population bomb, which would make the earth look like a crouton covered with a billion ants. (People would be literally hanging off the edge of the planet! The editorial cartoons said so!) Then came resource depletion (I still remember debating this in high school tournaments; if the affirmative side came up with a shale oil solution, I would confidently cite sources that proved shale oil would never be economically viable. Never. Never ever. So don’t even try. We – are – screwed.) Then came nuclear winter, which was the subject of a very special edition of the New Yorker and greatly influenced the lyrics of a cautionary song by Sting. In the 90s, when things were good, we worried about meteors, or “undocumented geological visitors.” I’m not saying the planet isn’t warming; probably is. I’m not saying man has no role; quite possible. But I’m stupid enough to believe that natural climate cycles and/or solar influence cannot be ruled out, and that the complex mysteries of the global climate cannot be influenced by a handful of Gauls foreswearing machine-made espresso-foam for a 300 seconds.
If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I have more pressing concerns, to be honest. I’m all scared out when it comes to Imminent Planet Death Scenarios.
January 30, 2007
Gratuitious Flag Etiquette Observation
(Image borrowed from the American Legion.)
Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, Section 7(i) states:
When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
Obviously, I've no trouble with the horizontal display. But the vertical display is counter-intuitive to me. If the flag were to swing down from the horizontal to the vertical, the union would be in the upper right from the point of view of the observer. Hung as the rules dictate, with the union remaining to the observer's left, it looks backwards. Or so I've always felt.
I toss this out because I'm trying to untangle the logic of a very sloppy court decision and keep glancing up at a photo containing a flag hung vertically to code and the two together are irritating me.
Reactionary? Moi? (Now With Stupid Furry Buck-Toothed Git Update!)
We Llamas make the top o' the Google hit heap for Beethoven bashing.
Oddly enough, it's for a post I wrote defending ol' Ludwig Van from somebody else's rayther unhinged rhetoric.
UPDATE: Speaking of Beethoven, he was really rather glad when he went deaf:
(One of my favorite Python sketches, as you might imagine.)
R.I.P. Charles Stuart
On this day in 1649, Charles I, King of England, Scotland and Ireland was murdered by Parliament at Whitehall.
Perhaps my very favorite Sherlock Holmes story is "The Musgrave Ritual," not because it is particularly exciting or devious, but because its subject matter ties directly back to this event:
'Whose was it?'
"'His who is gone.'
"'Who shall have it?'
"'He who will come.'
"'Where was the sun?'
"'Over the oak.'
"'Where was the shadow?'
"'Under the elm.'
"How was it stepped?'
"'North by ten and by ten, east by five and by five, south by two and by two, west by one and by one, and so under.'
"'What shall we give for it?'
"'All that is ours.'
"'Why should we give it?'
"'For the sake of the trust.'
No spoilers here, but once you read the story, you'll see the connection. It gives me the chills.
(Okay, so I'm a Cavalier sympathizer. But you probably knew that already.)
UPDATE: Here's a link to the Society of King Charles the Martyr. Charles was canonized at the Restoration for his sacrifice made on behalf of the Church of England, but lost his status during the reign of Queen Victoria. The Society was founded in 1894 in order to preserve the rememberance of Charles' day of martyrdom and to urge the reinsertion of his Feast Day into the Book of Common Prayer.
That's My Church!
The latest Carnival of the Anglican Crisis is up. Go on over and browse among the posts of people who know a whoooole lot more about these things than I do.
Actually, I wonder if it hadn't ought to be "crises" instead. Following all the on-going stories, I'm reminded of that passage from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:
Brother Pablo Ramirez: "And what of you? ...... It seems to me you once had a wife someplace."
Tuco Ramirez: (Hisses) "Not one, lots of 'em! One here, one there, wherever I found them! Go on, preach me a sermon, Pablo."
On the other hand, they all seem to stem from the same source, so perhaps "crisis" is more appropriate after all.
Beltway Blogger Barding Bulletin
The Maximum Leader is looking for interest in getting together to see the Shakespeare Theatre's current production of Richard III. (Needless to say, I've already volunteered to be a member of the party.)
One of our longstanding household expressions comes from Act IV, Scene 2 of Olivier's film version of this play when Larry's Richard says to Ralph Richardson's Buckingham, "I am not in the giving vein to-day." The Mater often used to deliver this line in a steely Olivier voice when she felt that my siblings and I were being too demanding. We quickly learnt that we proceeded further at our peril.
Speaking of Olivier, the ML mentions his tee vee version of King Lear. What I remember primarily about this production was that I fell in love with Diana Rigg when I saw it for the first time. (The joys of the company of Emma Peel were, at that point, still an undiscovered country for me.)
Sorry, this post seems to have wandered a bit.
The Long View
John Jay over at The Chicago Boyz has a great piece on the blinkering effect of taking a "temporal snapshot" view of the world:
If I take a step or two back and look at recorded history with a macro view, I get the feeling that the fact that mankind has an extremely short recorded and civilized history relative to our species’ past is extremely important. Each generation of a successful society (prior to the modern world) wasn’t quite sure what parts of its culture contributed to its success, so it clung to tradition like a security blanket. That kept society going, but it perpetuated some ugly habits, too. We cling to some counter-productive habits, such as racism and sexism, but in their day, when other automatically meant danger, and when large numbers of women who didn’t produce lots of kids meant societal death, those were survival traits.
We are slowly casting off the bad habits of millennia, habits developed to defend against societal death in an age of scarcity, famine, and unpredictable natural and man-made disasters. Some of those habits are retarding progress in our modern world, and some are part of the over-stressed glue that holds us together. Trouble is, because of our limitations in making dynamic models that include a temporal dimension, we can’t always predict the effect of eliminating a habit of thought.
So, as Zenpundit pointed out, the opposite of progress can happen, too, when societies get to the third generation outlined by the Japanese Colonel, and decide to do away with all those notions to which the old fogies cling, forgetting that the experiences of the previous generation shape the next one – change the experience of your kids’ generation, and the grandkids may well grow up wild. The modern West, especially the generation of ’68, has assumed that the material success it enjoyed was either accidental or inevitable, and so set about dismantling social constructs that did not meet the approval of the avant garde, sometimes finding out the forgotten reasons for creating those ancient constructs when things fell apart.
Yes, yes, yes. John covers a whoooole range of societal topics literally from the beginning to the end of the world, and I'm not sure after a quick dash through that I agree with absolutely all of his points and conclusions, but his underlying premise - that it's foolish and possibly disastrously so to make assumptions about the current and future state of Mankind without having a solid understanding of our past and a sense of the long view - is irrefutable.
Read the whole thing. It's long but worth it.
Yips! to the Blowhards.
Random Commuter Observation
This is one of those days when I wish I wore a hat.
"So why don't you wear a hat, Tom?" you ask.
Weeel, it's a simple matter of vanity. I have a relatively small face in a relatively large head. Hats accentuate this, making me look even more ridiculous than usual. Also, I have very fine (fine as in "thin," not fine as in ''good") hair, which suffers when squished and I'd prefer not to walk about all day with hat hair. And as for earmuffs and those sort of enlarged sweatbands so popular these days? Um, no thanks.
No, I just hoist my collar and scarf up as high as possible and tough it out.
Silly, I suppose, but there it is. As I say, though, I sometimes regret it.
UPDATE: Wait, I may have found the solution -
"Death awaits you all with nasty, sharp, pointy teeth!"
Found at The Daily Llama so maybe I could get some kind of family discount, too.
January 29, 2007
Well, Maybe There Is A Bit Of Hope For Our Young People After All - UPDATED
An ASU student dragooned into a cultural role-playing exercise notes that the Emperor of Diversity Sensitivity is butt-nekked:
Visconti, a 22-year-old political science major from Mesa, called the role-play an “ultra-clear example” of the victim mentality and liberal bias that permeate ASU.
“It crossed the line,” Visconti said. “All it did was reinforce the most disgusting, hateful and ugly stereotypes in our society.”
Visconti said he was required to participate in the role-play for his job as a resident assistant. It was an activity that Visconti, other dorm employees and a Valley religious leader said went too far.
Even an ASU associate professor who specializes in minority relations has raised concerns about the activity.
ASU Residential Life spokeswoman Diana Medina said the role-play was designed to examine the effects of racism, classism and “homophobia” on different cultural and economic groups.
But Visconti said the students who designed the roleplay overlooked their own stereotypes, such as the notion that white men don’t have to work for wealth because society gives them a free ride. Or the idea that Christian churches are filled with bigots, and people who support traditional family values such as heterosexual marriage are hateful and narrow-minded.
“They were basically saying that if you don’t feel the same way, you’re wrong,” Visconti said. “It got to the point that if you weren’t a minority or gay, you were supposed to feel guilty and that everything was given to you in life.”
Good for you, kid.
Ah, me. I remember the days of p.c. reeducation at the Glorious People's Soviet of Middletown. One guy in particular made a specialty of showing up at Wymminz Group meetings and bashing his head against the floor in abject self-abasement over having had the unforgivable gall to have been born male.
Of course, his main objective was to score, but that's a side issue.
UPDATE: I meant to add that IMHO this kind of "sensitivity training" on college campuses, far from encouraging students to behave like civilized adults toward one another, actually promotes campus Balkanization and what Bloom County's Opus once called "offensensitivity."
I'm reminded of a phenomenon I used to witness yearly in a slightly different context. There was a big Psych survey course that a lot of kids took to help satisfy their science credit requirements. One section of this course touched on subliminal advertising. You could always tell when this part of the course was reached because the campus suddenly became full of earnest young things pouring over magazine liquor ads, absolutely convinced that they could make out the writhing forms of nude bodies airbrushed into the shadows of the ice cubes. (Because sex sells, d'ye see?) I always secretly hoped that after the students had completed their reports on the topic the professor would suddenly reveal that the whole thing was really a demonstration of auto-suggestion, that the mind can be trained easily to see exactly what it wants to. IMHO, the whole "sensitivity training" bit can and often does have exactly the same effect.
Of course, whether the people running these programs actually want harmony among the student body, or else would prefer to foment discord, thereby securing their own positions as Sensitivity Police, is another question.
What A Pitty
Pittburgh has buried the last bastion of Fort Pitt, the original British installation on the grounds where the city now stands:
Fort Pitt, named for the prime minister who led England to its victory in the Seven Years’ War (1755-1763), was the biggest and most expensive fortress on the frontier. Constructed after British troops drove the French from the western frontier in 1758, it stood at the forks of the two rivers that formed the Ohio, a show of force to French and Indians alike that England ruled the continent.
As part of Pittsburgh’s efforts to replace more than a century of industrial dirt and decay with a riverfront park, one of the fort’s five bastions and part of its moat were recreated in the 1960s using some of the original bricks and cornerstones salvaged from the ruins. Called “the Music Bastion,” because it had been used by buglers, the structure was the first evidence to park visitors of the area’s historical significance.
“Its size . . . gives a sense of the sheer physical authority the wilderness outpost must have conveyed,” Barringer Fifield wrote in his 1996 book, Seeing Pittsburgh. The bastion and moat filled most of Point State Park’s acreage nearest the city. The bulk of the park’s 18 acres lies beyond Pittsburgh’s primary highway interchange and is accessible primarily by a pedestrian underpass. The remnants of the fort were seen as an obstacle to using the city side of the park for recreational activities.
To address that concern, the $35-million renovation of the park that started in December is covering and filling the bastion and moat to create a wide lawn for stage events. The region’s Riverlife Task Force devised the park’s upgrading plan as part of its effort to beautify the area’s riverbanks. Despite pleas and legal threats from local preservationists, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania continues to press ahead with the burial. The state’s department of Conservation and Natural Resources promises that the contractors are covering the bastion and moat in a way that will preserve them so they can be excavated in the future.
Anderson, a professor of history at the University of Colorado, calls Fort Pitt “an absolutely crucial projection of imperial power. There was nothing like it in terms of size and military strength under British rule west of the Appalachians. Burying what’s left of it is a sad surprise.” He considers the burial “a mistake to do right now, just as the city was nearing its 250th anniversary. I’m staggered and puzzled by it. There will be nothing visible to give people a clue about the historical importance of Pittsburgh.”
Actually, I see the whole thing as a perfect metaphor for the way this country treats its colonial history. The average 'Murican, confronted with the names of Wolfe, Montcalm, Amherst, Braddock, Pontiac, William Johnson and others, will respond with a puzzled "Huh?" This is because nobody bothers to teach about them anymore.
And yet, it is literally impossible to understand the Revolution, and the motivations of people such as Adams, Revere, Franklin, Washington and Farmer George himself without understanding the events that lead up to it. In my more cynical moments, I'm convinced that this is a deliberate plot on the part of those who would make George III a comic book villain and the Founding Fathers comic book heroes. Whether the motivation behind such behavior is the desire to sugar-coat the Nation's founding or whether it's simply easier to teach it this way, I leave up to others.
Yips! to Rachel.
Finally, an Orange Bowl celebration we can all get behind
Slow news day on Yahoo, I guess
Hate to break it to you, Dr. Phillys, but we're talking about....sports and movies.
The other thing we talk about? Youtubed fake movie trailers, like this one which turns the Geico Caveman commercials into a post--When Harry met Urg sort of thing, with a Matt Damon twist at the end.
Of course, we all know where that's going: some enterprising lad is going to give the Geico caveman guys the full Brokeback fake trailer treatment.
This one is good:
But this one is the best, the infamous gay robots of Star Wars:
Geico Cavemen, you are indeed next.
Choo Choo Ka-Choo
You're the Flying Scotsman!
Old and esteemed, you tend to get steamed up quite frequently.
This happens to be what most people want to see in you, however, so they
don't mind the torrents of steam that you blow off. Despite your
advanced age, you still manage to attract a lot of admirers, though you're
not quite as fast as you once were. Though people strangely associate you
with airplanes, you actually refuse to fly.
Take the Trains and Railroads Quiz
at RMI Miniature Railroads.
Och! apparently I'm the Groundskeeper Willie of the Rails. Works for me. Hoots! Toots!
Yips! to the Maximum Leader, who has lots of other quizes up. I got the same answers as him on all the others so won't bother reposting them here.
Survived the weekend quite well, actually. The Dear One and Miss Somersault (age 10) left for New York Friday morning, and got back late last night. All things considered, things were perfectly fine. Mr. Skinny (age 8) was having a mild allergic reaction to something on Saturday, with a bit of pink eye, some puffiness around the eye, and tingling in his hands. Other than that, he was okay, if a bit dramatic at times. Miss Stubborn (age 4) really rose to the occasion and was quite good. Mr. Small (who will turn 2 tomorrow) is, well, Mr. Small, and a terror of a flirt to the young ladies when we were at the Bodo's bagels on Sunday.
The big flutter came Sunday afternoon, when my account formats on my MacBook seemed to be wiped out. I think I might have done it, by some odd sequence of events. When I rebooted the machine, it treated my account as brand new---it remembered my password, but all my account settings were wiped clean, and my documents file was empty (calendar, iphoto, and itunes as well). After recovering from the initial stroke, I used the spotlight feature to search for and found all the files---my account stuff, instead of being in the little house icon, was in a separate file in the applictions finder area. Strangeness. So I started to move stuff back (after making 3 backups) and have remigrated my documents. I can't get the itunes or the photos to properly migrate, although the files are all there so I didn't lose anything. I don't know about the icalendar, which would stink if I lost the data as I've really started to use it quite extensively particualry to keep track of work hours. I'm going to take it in to work tomorrow and have the IT gurus look at it. But in the meantime, for those Mac experts out there, any ideas on what happened?
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Geekery Confession
I rented an old Cliff Robertson movie this weekend, 633 Squadron. It's the story of a raid by RAF de Havilland Mosquito light bombers against a secret Nazi rocket fuel production plant hidden in a Norwegian fjord. They can't bomb the plant directly, but instead have to hit the cliff above it, setting off just the seismic activity necessary to cause a landslide and bury the plant.
As war movies go, it's distinctly......eh. Not the top rank. But not at the bottom, either.
In fact, I like this movie for three specific reasons:
1. Lots of really cool arial shots of Mosquitoes doing this that and the other. I've always liked these planes, in large part because they were built of plywood.
2. Okay, it's a spoiler, but the entire squadron is wiped out after having successfully completed their mission. The sole survivor is Flying Officer Hoppy Hopkinson, who was played by Angus Lennie. Lennie also played Flying Officer Archibald "The Mole" Ives, the little Scot who went stir-crazy and was shot down while trying to climb the wire in The Great Escape. I like to think that his survival here somehow made up for that a bit.
3. Perhaps the most important reason, the movie's theme, which I like a lot and which also was ripped off by Monty Python to cover a silly little war montage in the midst of one of their funniest Flying Circus episodes, the "Light Entertainment War".
Yes, perhaps it's time to seek professional help.
That's My Church!
A couple of people asked me this weekend, "Regis, what is your opinion of the election of Shannon Johnston to eventually replace Peter Lee as Bishop of Virginia?"
I had to confess that I've got nothing. On the one hand, the guy's spent the last twelve years as a rector in Tupelo, Mississippi, so I'd have to imagine he can't be too much of a fruitbat. On the other hand, well, you simply don't get elected bishop without the correct political creds. We shall see, I suppose.
What grabbed my attention about this past week's Annual Council was this little gem:
Delegates to council adopted a number of resolutions, including a resolution to recommend that the Bishop appoint a commission to discern a possible “emerging consensus” regarding the permitting of “local option” on the parish level for the blessing of same sex unions. Other resolutions addressed day laborers, the resolution process, the Millennium Development Goals, support of faithful Episcopalians and a companion diocese study.
Now I'm just a simple soul, but I was under the vague impression that the Windsor Report specifically put the ECUSA on notice to at least temporarily halt this sort of thing until the Communion as a whole could thresh it all out. I was also under the impression that, in the face of the ongoing secessionist fight, we were all for Law and Order and Precedent in the Diocese at the moment. Evidently, that only counts when it looks as if the Bish's coffers are going to get nicked.
Incidentally, I've noticed that the indoctrination has been ramped up a bit as of late. Yesterday's gospel was the famous "Physician, heal thyself" passage from Luke in which Jesus goes back to Nazareth and almost gets himself hurled off a cliff by the inhabitants. The Rector took this as a basis for a discussion of anger generated by fear of change, suggesting that people who had such feelings really needed to get over themselves so that they could "grow".
Oh, and at the Adult Forum we had a history lesson on the origins of the Anglican Church. Did you know that fellahs like Cramner and Hooker were really interested in being as inclusive as possible, just like the Church is today? Yes! In fact, although it wasn't said so, I'll bet they were really fronting for ol' Queen Bess herself. (After all, she never married. And I'll bet Dudley was just her beard.)
UPDATE: Of course, lest we get too wrapped up in brooding about our own woes, every now and again we get a reminder of the tailspin the C of E is in as well:
A Church of England bishop is to preside at this country's first "U2-charist", an adapted Holy Communion service that uses the Irish supergroup's best-selling songs in place of hymns. In what is more rock concert than Book of Common Prayer, a live band will belt out U2 classics such as Mysterious Ways and Beautiful Day as worshippers sing along with the lyrics, which will appear on screens. The atmosphere will be further enhanced by a sophisticated lighting system that will pulse with the beat, and striking visual images of poverty and drought.
Although evidently, the ECUSA is at the bottom of this one also:
The idea was devised by the Rev Paige Blair, an American Episcopal priest in York Harbor, Maine, who held the first service in 2005. Since then, she has advised about 150 churches on U2 Eucharists in 15 states and seven countries.
"Bach and Handel were the popular music of their day, and they had trouble getting played in church," she has said.
That sound you hear is poor old Johann Sebastian spinning in his grave.
January 27, 2007
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that seventeen years ago today the Missus literally walked into my life.
A rather morose second year at Dubyanell law, I had planned to borrow my friend's VCR while he and his Sweet Briar girl went out. Before starting over, the g.f. called, said she had a classmate she wanted me to meet and could she bring her along.
Why not? I shrugged.
I'm sorry to say that just about the first thing I said when she appeared was, "I hope you don't mind but I really don't like to talk while watching movies."
I'm also sorry to say that the movie in question was Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In my defense, I hadn't been planning on company when I picked it out.
The Missus, I'm grateful to say, was quite game about the whole thing, insisting that she didn't like to talk during movies either and pretending to enjoy the film.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division, Part 2
I was sitting over my cup of coffee early this morning watching the birds at the feeder when all of a sudden I noticed the local fox come gliding up from the back gate. His first impulse was to have a go at the birds and the squirrels. Failing this, he proceeded to start eating bird seed off the patio under the feeder. I couldn't have been more than about twenty five feet from him.
I didn't realize foxes would eat seed, but I suppose when they're hungry enough they'll eat anything.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division
The expansive Orgle Manor Gardens in mid-winter slumber.
The Buddleia known as "Kong" dominates the back border.
Yesterday being too damn cold to go outside at all, I put on some Jelly Roll Morton and flipped open the latest Park Seed catalog to see about ordering some new specimens.
In general, it's going to be more of the same, with some additional varieties of coneflower and butterfly weed and the return of the hollyhocks. However, I'm also planning to introduce some catmint and wild indigo.
Also, although I'm probably going to regret it, I plan to have another go at some lupines. I say regret because it's really too hot here for them. I managed to grow them at our old house, but they weren't especially happy. However, I happen to love them and this time I am sticking with a variety that at least purports to be more heat-tolerant than the usual Russell variety. As they say, we shall see.
I also had the brilliant idea this year of designating some small patches of the garden for the exclusive use of each Llama-ette. I'm thinking of starting them out on something easy to grow, such as dwarf sunflowers or zinnias.
Anyhoo, now that I have my new camera toy, I look forward to being able to show you what I'm doing instead of just yapping about it.
UPDATE: Oops, forgot to mention the new rudbeckia variety I'm trying.
BTW, I read somewhere or other that Buddleia is now classified as "invasive" and is therefore, according to the eco-sensitive, bad. However, it's recognized as a magnet for butterflies, bees and whatnot, and so, also according to the eco-sensitive, is good.
What's a gardener to do?
January 26, 2007
I was bugged by Peggy Noonan's puff piece this morning on Sen. Chuck Hagel's speechifying about the non-binding anti-war resolution that passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee this week:
Whenever the camera shot broadened to show the other senators, I wondered what they were thinking. For a few it might have been, Well done, Chuck. For others, Hey, righteous indignation is my act. And some would have been thinking, That's good, ol' buddy, and no matter how long I have to wait, I'll get you for putting me on the spot, for making us look bad, for getting on your high horse and charging.
But Mr. Hagel said the most serious thing that has been said in Congress in a long time. This is what we're here for. This is why we're here, to decide, to think it through and take a stand, and if we can't do that, why don't we just leave and give someone else a chance?
Mr. Hagel has shown courage for a long time. He voted for the war resolution in 2002 but soon after began to question how it was being waged. This was before everyone did. He also stood against the war when that was a lonely place to be. Senate Democrats sat back and watched: If the war worked, they'd change the subject; and if it didn't, they'd hang it on President Bush. Republicans did their version of inaction; they supported the president until he was unpopular, and then peeled off. This is almost not to be criticized. It's what politicians do. But it's not what Mr. Hagel did. He had guts.
Over at the Corner, Kate O'Beirne remarks this afternoon on what exactly those "guts" of Sen. Hagel are actually worth:
The Senate has unanimously confirmed General Petraeus to take command of U.S. forces in Iraq to implement the new mission in Baghdad with the help of additional forces. Rather than back a non-binding resolution of disaproval, why didn't the gutsy Senators, like Chuck Hagel, who are riding the surf of public opinion opposed to the troop surge and taking on a president with approval ratings at the freezing level vote aginst General Petraeus' confirmation? Their convictions hold that he has endorsed a wholly unjustified escalation and will be leading troops on a futile mission. They want a role in the conduct of the war and with the need to win Senate confirmation of Gen. Petraeus the Constitution has given them one, but they have taken a pass. Because Gen. Petraeus is an experienced, credentialed, credible advocate of the new strategy, Senators have no interest in tangling with him. When you're playing at being a military strategist you sure don't want to go up against the real thing, so better to have an unpopular commander-in-chief be the face of the new mission rather than the veteran general who will be in command.
Advantage, O'Beirne. And Peggy? You might want to have that looked at.
YIPS from Steve-O: The owl of Minerva has indeed flown at dusk. Unfortunately for the Chuckster, it just crapped on the roof of his Sebring Convertible.
Happy Birthday, Robbo the LLamabutcher
For your birthday, I give you the ultimate gift: knowledge that we are #6 worldwide on Google of "Episcopal liturgical dancing."
Insert eveeeeeeel Faustian laughter here.
UPDATE: This via The colossus. Words fail me.
The Ultimate Prevent Defense
The Dear One and Little Miss Somersault just left.
Miss Somersault turned 10 on the last day of 2006, and her present is a weekend trip to New York with her Mom. Skating at Rockefeller Center, the Empire State building, Central Park, and, of course, the American Girl Place.
Which means I'm here with Mr. Skinny (who is home sick from school with a cold), Miss Stubborn and Mr. Small until Sunday night....
How does a new old house become a home?
Kelly's adventure in New Hampshire living continues.
The Perfect Storm
Kim Strassel has a bang-on column today about the strengthening "Climate Change" merger of Big Business, Big Lobbying and Big Guv'mint in Dee Cee:
Washington this week officially welcomed the newest industry on the hunt for financial and regulatory favors. Big CarbonCap may have the same dollar-sign agenda as Big Oil or Big Pharma, but don't expect Nancy Pelosi to admit to it.
Democrats want to flog the global warming theme through 2008 and they'll take what help they can get, even if it means cozying up to executives whose goal is to enrich their firms. Right now, the corporate giants calling for a mandatory carbon cap serve too useful a political purpose for anyone to delve into their baser motives.
The Climate Action Partnership, a group of 10 major companies that made headlines this week with its call for a national limit on carbon dioxide emissions, would surely feign shock at such an accusation. After all, their plea was carefully timed to coincide with President Bush's State of the Union capitulation on global warming, and it had the desired PR effect. The media dutifully declared that "even" business now recognized the climate threat. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who begins marathon hearings on warming next week, lauded the corporate angels for thinking of the "common good."
Another sign I've noticed recently is the announcement by various big gun law firms of the creation of "Global Climate" practices. Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching!
But it's all for the good, right? Well, not so much:
What makes this lobby worse than the usual K-Street crowd is that it offers no upside. At least when Big Pharma self-interestedly asks for fewer regulations, the economy benefits. There's nothing capitalist about lobbying for a program that foists its debilitating costs on taxpayers and consumers while redistributing the wealth to a few corporate players.
This is what comes from Washington steadily backstepping energy policy into the interventionist 1970s, picking winners and losers. In ethanol, in biodiesel, in wind farms, success isn't a function of supply or demand. The champs are the ones that coax out of Washington the best subsidies and regulations. Global warming is simply the biggest trough yet.
And we all remember how cheap and worry-free energy was back in the 70's, don't we.
Meanwhile, Krauth has a four word solution to the energy problem: Gas-tax, ANWR, nuclear. Yeah, sure...But how's that going to get you a plush office suite on K Street?
UPDATE: BTW, it's the coldest freakin' day of the year here in NoVa. Okay, so I took the day off for my birthday, but I still had to go outside to move the trash cans in. AlGore can kiss my frozen Llama backside.
Today is Arthur Dent Day for me.
A man standing on a brightly dressed dais before the building which clearly dominated the square was addressing the crowd over a tannoy.
"Oh people who wait in the shadow of Deep Thought!" he cried out. "Honored Descendants of Vroomfondel and Majikthise, the Greatest and Most Truly Interesting Pundits the Universe has ever known, the Time of Waiting is over!"
Wild cheers broke out among the crowd. Flags, streamers and wolf whistles sailed through the air. The narrower streets looked rather like centipedes rolled over on their backs and frantically waiving their legs in the air.
"Seven and a half million years our race has waited for this Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day!" cried the cheerleader. "The Day of the Answer!"
Hurrahs burst from the ecstatic crowd.
"Never again," cried the man, "never again will we wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking, matter if I don't get up and go to work? For today we will finally learn once and for all the plain and simple answer to all these nagging little problems of Life, the Universe and Everything!"
As the crowd erupted once again, Arthur found himself gliding through the air and down toward one of the large stately windows on the first floor of the building behind the dais from which the speaker was addressing the crowd.
He experienced a moment's panic as he sailed straight toward the window, which passed when a second or so later he found he had gone right through the solid glass without apparently touching it.
No one in the room remarked on his peculiar arrival, which is hardly surprising as he wasn't there. He began to realize that the whole experience was merely a recorded projection which knocked six-track seventy millimeter into a cocked hat.
The room was much as Slartibartfast had described it. In seven and a half million years it had been well looked after and cleaned regularly every century or so. The ultramahogany desk was worn at the edges, the carpet a little faded now, but the large computer terminal sat in sparkling glory on the desk's leather top, as bright as if it had been constructed yesterday.
Two severely dressed men sat respectfully before the terminal and waited.
"The time is nearly upon us," said one, and Arthur was surprised to see a word suddenly materialize in thin air just by the man's neck. The word was LOONQUAWL, and it flashed a couple of times and then disappeared again. Before Arthur was able to assimilate this the other man spoke and the word PHOUCHG appeared by his neck.
"Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors set this program in motion," the second man said, "and in all that time we will be the first to hear the computer speak."
"An awesome prospect, Phouchg," agreed the first man, and Arthur suddenly realized he was watching a recording with subtitles.
"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the answer to the great question of Life...!"
"The Universe...!" said Loonquawl.
"Shhh," said Loonquawl with a slight gesture, "I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!"
There was a moment's expectant pause while panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down to a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.
"Good morning," said Deep Thought at last.
"Er...good morning, O Deep Thought," said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have...er, that is..."
"An answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes. I have."
The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.
"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.
"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.
"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?"
Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.
"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonquawl.
"Now," said Deep Thought.
They both licked their dry lips.
"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought, "that you're going to like it."
"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it! Now!"
"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.
"All right," said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought.
"All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."
"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.
"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.
"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.
I feel about as enlightened.
January 25, 2007
Here's a bet for you:
Who will be impeached first: Dubya or Mack-mood.
I've got my money on a little Persian surprise...
Scots Wha Hey!
Happy Bobby Burns Day, which celebrates the anniversary of the birth on this date in 1759 of
the National Poet of Scotland the Only Poet of Scotland.
I'm both busy and in a grumpy, uninspired mood, so I'll just repost what my email quote of the day guy says:
John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent,
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonnie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snow;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo!
John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And monie a canty day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
But hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.
- Robert Burns ("John Anderson, my Jo")
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.
- Burns ("The Selkirk Grace")
What an antithetical mind! -- tenderness, roughness -- delicacy, coarseness --
sentiment, sensuality -- soaring and groveling, dirt and deity -- all mixed up in that one compound of inspired clay!
- George Gordon, Lord Byron
(of Robert Burns, diary, December 1813)
Today is the 248th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scotland's beloved "prince of poets," in Alloway. Raised on a farm, Burns nonetheless read poetry as a youth, which inspired him to write verse of his own in the Scottish dialect. He first published his poems in 1786, hoping to earn enough money to emigrate to Jamaica, but their immediate success led him to remain in Scotland and become an (unsuccessful) gentleman farmer.
Lionized in Edinburgh, he produced hundreds of lyrics, including such favorites as "My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose," "Auld Lang Syne," "Comin' Through the Rye," and "My Heart's in the Highlands" - as well as such popular poems as "To a Louse" ("Oh wad some Power the giftie gie us/To see oursels as others see us!") and "To a Mouse" ("The best laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft a-gley.") All over the world tonight, Scotsmen will gather to celebrate "Burns Night" with bagpipes, haggis, Scotch whisky, and well-lubricated recitations of their bard's characteristic poems. In his "Address to the Unco Guid," Burns wrote,
Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark, -
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.
I've nothing to add except to say that my very Caledoniaphillic God-parents use the Selkirk Grace exclusively. I've often thought of introducing it to the Llama-ettes, especially as they're getting a bit old to be saying, "Thank you God for everything, amen."
UPDATE: In the comments, The Colossus notes Burns' freemasonry in mocking terms. Well, have it your way. But consider:
January 24, 2007
On The Horns Of A Billemma
Michael Medved has an amusing piece on the biggest unspoken challenge facing the presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton Rodham:
Anthropologist Margaret Mead, a popular professor during my years at Yale in the late 1960’s, frequently challenged students with her famous formulation that “the biggest problem for any society is to try to decide what on earth to do with its men.”
Biology dictates a clear, crucial and inevitable role for women, focusing their energies on childbearing and raising the next generation. For males, however, culture must come up with some arbitrary, artificial but carefully constructed assignment to channel their considerable energies into constructive efforts.
Along the same lines, the biggest problem for the current Hillary-for-President juggernaut is trying to decide what on earth to do with Bill.
It will not be an easy task. The six alternatives Medved discusses certainly cover the bases, however.
BTW, just to stop endless silly nattering here and now, the husband of the first woman elected president (whoever she may be), should properly be referrred to as "The First Gentleman." I fail to see why there should be any confusion on this point. (That the Big He might get this title is a horrid idea, but that's a side point.)
Llama Graveside Chic
Interesting little article about the status of warriors in the Wari Empire, which apparently predated the rise of the Incas in South America. I particularly like the way the Waris gave props to their Very Important Dead People:
While exploring a Wari cemetery last summer in Peru’s Huaro Valley, archaeologists discovered what they consider to be an elite section of the graveyard when they came across llama bones arranged in a special pattern, often a marker of something special when it comes to Wari remains.
Yes, indeedy. Nothing says, "You big stiff, you!" like a pattern of llama bones.
That's My Church!
“Your association with a group of people that has abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church and rejected its authority and the authority of the Diocese of Virginia constitute your abandonment of the Communion of the Episcopal Church,” states a letter signed by Virginia Bishop Peter James Lee. “If, in the next six months, you retract your actions of abandonment, this inhibition may be lifted. But at the end of six months, if you have not retracted your actions, you may be released from the obligations of priesthood in this church and removed from the ordained ministry.”
I admit that I do not know exactly what "inhibition" is in the clerical context except that I assume Bishop Lee is barring the priests in question from performing any officially sanctioned liturgical services. So take heed, you secessionist congregations - those Communion waifers no longer count.
It might seem odd that the Bish appears to be trying to bench these folk when they've already picked up their ball and gone home. My guess is that this is, in fact, a requirement dictated by the terms of canon law. Once those terms have been satisfied, the Diocese will be free to form a hollow square and symbolically snip the stoles off their cassocks.
Of more temporal interest, I also suspect (although I confess that I don't actually know) that O-fficially giving these priests the boot from the Communion allows or legally enhances the ability of the ECUSA to go after them for personal liability in connection with their handling of their respective parish properties, something that was threatened by Lee to all clergy and vestry members in the Diocese who dared to stray from the party line (and which still rankles the bejaysus out of me).
Sigh. More trouble. But remember, we're all One Big Happy Family! Really! Or else!
NOBODY expects the Episcopal Inquisition!
Random Commuter Observation
As I sat stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the dentist this morning, I was listening to the local country station's morning program. For some reason or other, they're flogging Disney's Year of a Million Dreams Come True (or whatever it is), so one of the jocks was broadcasting from down in Orlando (the apparent motto of which is "The Happiest City in the World" which is about as chilling an idea as I can imagine, the unspoken second part of the couplet being "Whether You Like It Or Not").
Anyhoo, the jock down in Orlando was grabbing interviews with the various Disney characters. Eventually, "Mickey" and "Minnie" joined him in what was obviously an unscripted bit. There, just for a couple of minutes, I actually thought I sensed some spark of life in the guy who had to do "Mickey's" voice. He started a riff about Neil Diamond's brother being a plumber and then went into an imitation of Elvis singing "Ain't No Train Outta Nashville."
Really, the guy was being funny in a sly, smart-assed way. It was quite enjoyable. Which means that Uncle Walt will probably have him killed.
UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. Reposted here for your entertainment, I give you my account of my own travels to Walt's Hell, Fear and Loathing in Disney World.
Part I - Slouching Toward Kissimmee
Part II - The Mouse's Lair
Part III - How to Be Entertained Within An Inch of Your Life: Forty Eight Hours On The Ground In The Magic Kingdom
Part IV - You Kid I Not
I had been planning to write a fifth installment, but apparently never did 'cos I can't find it.
It's been a looooong while since I read these so I don't know how well they've held up.
And FWIW, the Missus has since declared that I am off the hook and need never darken the Mouse's door again.
Gratuitous Camelid Dentition Posting
Thank you Khan-like genetic superiority, lack of a sweet tooth and nefarious Communist flouridation plots! Went to the dentist this morning and Robbo's life-long no cavities streak remains unbroken.
I was in genuine fear of coming up against the same Hygiene Nazi I had last time I went, a bitter, humorlous woman who yelled at me for drinking coffee, scoffed at my brushing and flossing habits and told me that if I didn't get my wisdom teeth yanked then I was doomed, DOOMED! to all sorts of orthodontal disasters. Fortunately, she wasn't there. (Whether she's moved on to terrorize other practices or whether it was just somebody else's turn, I don't know.) I had been all set to tell her that I wasn't going to go through major oral surgery just because she didn't like having to dig around the backs of my jaw. Perhaps it's best that we didn't come to blows.
Instead, I got a much quieter, calmer sort who, although awfully heavy-handed with the sand-blaster, did not scold me about coffee stains, but instead merely recommend that I start using Listorine Whitening. Furthermore, she said my choppers were in good shape, and she said not one syllable about my wisdom teeth, so ha!
I also didn't actually see the dentist this time. She had been in cahoots with the Hygiene Nazi about the proposed excavations, going so far as to recommend a surgeon. Whether this was because she feared the H.N. or because she was hoping for a kick-back from her surgeon friend (or possibly both), I couldn't say. I'll have to face her in another three months. We'll see then if she starts in on this theme again.
January 23, 2007
Office moves today.
My old office looked out on an alley with a tall condo block right across the way.
My new office looks out on....a side street with a tall office block right across the way. However, at least some sunlight gets into it.
The orientation of my new digs is a mirror image of the old, meaning that my computer is now on the left side of my desk instead of the right. Either I am going to have to have the mouse pad right smack dab in the middle of the desk, or else I am going to have to train myself to click left-handed.
BEARDED SPOCK UNIVERSE UPDATE:
The mirror image layout of my new digs is proving quite disorienting. I'd been so used to working with everything in its particular place that it's going to take a while to get used to the switch to its exact opposite.
As for the mouse issue, still no resolution yet. I tried clicking left-handed, but that doesn't seem to work very well. (I can only do two things southpawed, one of which is driving a car.) Yet I'm still resisting having the thing slap in the middle of what they like to call my "work space." So for now, I have it on one of those pull-out flap thingies directly in front of the keyboard. Problem with that is I can't get into the drawer just underneath.
UPDATE: The other thing is catching a baseball, of course. Yeesh.
The death of public financing for presidential campaigns
According to the Post, Hillary!(TM) is shoveling the dirt on the coffin of public financing for presidential campaigns, officially killing off one of the great post-Watergate reforms. The irony here is that hubby's escapades killed off the independent counsel law. If you ask me, good riddance to both.
January 22, 2007
Did 24 Just Jump the Shark?
UPDATE: THE BALD GUY IS JACK'S BROTHER??????
UPDATE: What if Jack has a sister, and it's Princess Leia?
UPDATE: Next week: Jack's dead wife! AND THE DAD IS THE OLD GUY FROM "BABE" THE TRAINED PIG MOVIE!
The King Is Dead! Long Live The King!
So over at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method, the Missus is taking her class through the Middle Ages. Today's focus was on Charlemagne and in order to add a little spice to the lesson, she hit upon the idea of having the kiddies make themselves crowns.
And where did the diadems come from? Why, the Missus went over to the local Burger King over the weekend and sweet-talked them into coughing up forty two BK "Fantastic Four" crowns, which I dutifully spray-painted gold yesterday afternoon.
I find the royal connection across the gulf of time and culture.....pleasing.
Incidentally, the crowns were a big hit with her class.
The Tart Of The Fugue
Britney Spears given the Baroque treatment in three parts:
Yips! to Lemuel.
UPDATE: Sorry, forgot to warn you to beware of a brief glimpse of naughty chalkboard art.
Money Pit update
Jordana's Money Pit is proceeding according to plan. It remains to be seen whether they will take my advice and start feeding their money into a shredder, then loading the shreds into a leaf bag, turning the leaf blower on reverse, and mulching the gardens and lawn. Works wonders.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting
In the former, the vast majority of the 1st Battalion, 24th Regiment of Foot (about 1500 men) was annihilated by a Zulu force in excess of 20,000. The disaster came about due to a combination factors, including sloppy camp discipline, the horrid decision of Lord Chelmsford (the leader of the British expedition) to split his forces, and the irresponsible tactical behavior of Col. Anthony Durnford at the battle itself.
In the latter, a detachment of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Regiment under the command of Lieutenants John Chard (Royal Engineers) and Gonville Bromhead, 140 men in all, held off an attack by roughly 5000 Zulus at the little missionary station along the Buffalo River, about 6 miles from Isandlwana. The Brits achieved this feat by a combination of cool professionalism and incredible gallantry. In all, eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded, the greatest number ever earned in a single action.
I recently finished a pair of outstanding books, How Can Man Die Better: The Secrets of Isandlwana Revealed and Like Wolves on the Fold: The Defense of Rorke's Drift by Mike Snook, a Lt. Col. in the Royal Regiment of Wales, the modern descendant of the old 24th, which I would heartily recommend if you're interested in pursuing this subject further. (One thing I got out of them was a thorough appreciation of just how badly wrong the movie Zulu got many of the details of the fight at Rorke's Drift. Not that I don't like it - indeed, I tossed it into the Netflix queue to commemorate the anniversary - but still.)
UPDATE: I take it back. Having read the books, I rewatched Zulu and disliked it pretty thoroughly. I agree with those who say it's high time for a remake. Unfortunately, I also agree with those who say that can never happen without the entire production turning into one giant helping of p.c. Brit-bashing.
Random Football Thoughts
* What the hell happened in Chicago? I turned off the game in the middle of the third quarter to go get the onion soup ready for din-dins when it looked as if Da Bears were coming unglued, yet when I took a quick peak at the nooz later, it was all talk of how they crushed the Saints. (Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm glad Chicago is in.)
* What a game in Indianapolis. I must admit that I was conflicted. Being a 'Fins fan, I naturally hoped to see the Pats get taken down. But there is something about Peyton Manning which bugs me more and more, a lurking prima donna complex that puts me off. Still, I'm glad the Colts are in, too.
* I am calling for an immediate press moratorium on comments about how this is going to be a "historic" Super Bowl because not only will it be the first time a black head coach will participate, it'll also be the first time one wins. I mean, great, wonderful, hurrah for equal opportunity and all that, but in the end, so what? Let's just play the damn game.
* And speaking of coaches, I can't help wondering if the Football Gods were frowning on Bill Belichick because he was dressed like a bum last evening.
* Also speaking of coaches, those Coors commercials with the mock press conferences get funnier and funnier to me. I hadn't seen the one with Jim Mora before. Well done, indeed.
* Finally speaking of coaches, Cam Cameron? [Insert elaborate shoulder shrug here.] I just dunno. Can't be any worse than the last fellah, though.
What's geekier than Civil War reenactors at a Star Trek convention?
You make the call. Personally, I'm waiting for the Neo-Mithrasists to make a comeback. Because, you know, what I'm looking for in a religion is a lot of slicing of the nuts off of bulls.
ATHENS, Greece - A clutch of modern pagans honored Zeus at a 1,800-year-old temple in the heart of Athens on Sunday — the first known ceremony of its kind held there since the ancient Greek religion was outlawed by the Roman empire in the late 4th century.
Watched by curious onlookers, some 20 worshippers gathered next to the ruins of the temple for a celebration organized by Ellinais, a year-old Athens-based group that is campaigning to revive old religious practices from the era when Greece was a fount of education and philosophy.
The group ignored a ban by the Culture Ministry, which declared the site off limits to any kind of organized activity to protect the monument. But participants did not try to enter the temple itself, which is closed to everyone, and no officials sought to stop the ceremony.
Dressed in ancient costumes, worshippers standing near the temple's imposing Corinthian columns recited hymns calling on the Olympian Zeus, "King of the gods and the mover of things," to bring peace to the world.
"Our message is world peace and an ecological way of life in which everyone has the right to education," said Kostas Stathopoulos, one of three "high priests" overseeing the event, which celebrated the nuptials of Zeus and Hera, the goddess of love and marriage.
To the Greeks, ecological awareness was fundamental, Stathopoulos said after a priestess, with arms raised to the sky, called on Zeus "to bring rain to the planet."
A herald holding a metal staff topped with two snake heads proclaimed the beginning of the ceremony before priests in blue and red robes released two white doves as symbols of peace. A priest poured libations of wine and incense burned on a tiny copper tripod while a choir of men and women chanted hymns.
"Our hymns stress the brotherhood of man and do not single out nations," said priest Giorgos Alexelis.
For the organizers, who follow a calendar marking time from the first Olympiad in 776 B.C., the ceremony was far more than a simple recreation.
"We are Greeks and we demand from the government the right to use our temples," said high priestess Doreta Peppa.
Ellinais was founded last year and has 34 official members, mainly academics, lawyers and other professionals. It won a court battle for state recognition of the ancient Greek religion and is demanding the government register its offices as a place of worship, a move that could allow the group to perform weddings and other rites.
Christianity rose to prominence in Greece in the 4th century after Roman Emperor Constantine's conversion. Emperor Theodosius wiped out the last vestige of the Olympian gods when he abolished the Olympic Games in A.D. 394. Several isolated pockets of pagan worship lingered as late as the 9th century.
"The Christians shut down our schools and destroyed our temples," said Yiannis Panagidis, a 36-year-old accountant at the ceremony.
Most Greeks are baptized Orthodox Christians, and the church rejects ancient religious practices as pagan. Church officials have refused to attend flame ceremony re-enactments at Olympia before the Olympic Games because Apollo, the ancient god of light, is invoked.
Unlike the monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the old religion lacked written ethical guidelines, but its gods were said to strike down mortals who displayed excessive pride or "hubris" — a recurring theme in the tragedies of Euripides and other ancient writers.
"We do not believe in dogmas and decrees, as the other religions do. We believe in freedom of thought," Stathopoulos said.
I love the dig against Christianity, about how Athens was a font of learning when it was digging in for some serious bull sacrificing to Zeus. Because we know what an environmentalist Pan was and all...
January 21, 2007
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!
The Llama-ettes enjoy the first flakes of the season. Reading from left to right, we have the seven year old, aka "The Sweet Heart," who is also Steve-O's God-daughter; the five year old, aka "Little Miss Bullhorn" for what ought to be fairly obvious reasons; and the soon-to-be nine year old, the LMC's God-daughter, generally known around Orgle Manor as "Herself."
UPDATE: In answer to several inquiries, yes, the Llama-ettes did gear up themselves. I know they look a little, um, eclectic, but for not having to bundle them myself, I'll gladly take that trade.
UPDATE DEUX: So we got about an inch and a half, maybe two if you're feeling optimistic. Enough to make things pretty, at any rate (I love the look of snow on the ground at night).
I'd be astounded if there were actual school closures over this, but given that this is the Dee Cee area, I won't be the slightest bit surprised if there are a number of delays in the morning.
The Post engages in Alt-history porn of the highest caliber
Speculations on Year 6 of the Bush presidency---the Jeb Bush presidency.
The premise is not altogether Stirling-esque, with the what-if being Jeb winning the Florida governor's race in 1994.
To be perfectly honest, I would have rather pulled the lever for Jeb than Dubya.
Let it snow
Slow weekend around Stately LLama Manor. Yesterday, I caulked the tub and shower off the master bath. Today, our annual ritual of taking down the Christmas Tree to coincide with that important religious festival, the NFC Championship Game. The kids, befitting the family ritual of some friends down the street, wore their jammies inside out and backwards to make it snow. Didn't work last night, but we're right on the white side of the big buzz saw storm going across the southeast.
Last weekend we went to Williamsburg for Mr. Skinny's eigth birthday--I'll download the pictures and do a little essay on that later, as well as an essay I've been working on on Faith, Technology, Science, and Magic as a theme in a number of novels I've read as of late: S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire trilogy, Neal Stephenson's The System of the World, and the last Harry Potter book. Alchemy plays a prominent role in all.
Yips! from Robbo: Oddly enough, the Llama-ettes were telling me about that same snow-inducing pajama ju-ju this morning. Only they say that you're also supposed to sleep with a spoon under your pillow.
January 20, 2007
The REAL Reason We Asked Gary the Ex-Donk Aboard
Slow news day
Allahpundit is puzzled by the timing on a Saturday.
Look at the calendar, dude.
730 days, one way or another.
ON the other hand some good news: Kelly at Kelly's Green has resurfaced at her new digs in the great North Woods. And did I mention Melissa Wiley is up to four blogs now? It's like Glenn Reynolds, except she's cute and not a cyborg-nerd.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
Why am I at home snapping off this post, instead of over at the pool for the five year old's birthday party?
Because I had to come home to get towels and cover-ups.
Because the Llama-ettes strolled out the door without them, despite being told to bring them at least twenty times.
Like Bill Cosby, I have come to suspect that my children are brain damaged.
UPDATE: Home again. No drownings to report. I couldn't find Cosby's brain damaged children bit on YouTube, but I did find a classic, the full humor of which I didn't appreciate until I started having kids myself:
That's My Church!
It's a Carnival of the Anglican Crisis over at CaNN. Click n' scroll for the latest from all the fronts.
UPDATE: Her Presiding High Priestessness speaks. She's shocked, shocked! that anybody would dare to violate the ancient precedents of the Church:
The recent decisions by some members of congregations in Virginia to leave the Episcopal Church and ally with the Anglican Church of Nigeria have no cognizance in our polity. Ancient precedent (from as early as the fourth century) in the Church requires bishops to respect diocesan boundaries, and to refrain from crossing into or acting officially in dioceses other than their own. As a Church we cannot and will not work to subvert that ancient precedent by facilitating the establishment of congregations which are purportedly responsible to bishops in other parts of the Anglican Communion within the diocesan boundaries of the Episcopal Church.
Damn those crazy radicals! (BTW, I trust that the PB has at least had the decency to scrape the "Speak Truth To Power" bumper-sticker off the back of her Volvo by now.)
January 19, 2007
I was flipping through the extremely local fishwrapper this morning and came across back-to-back theatre articles that left me, well, decide for yourself....
The first was a review of a new production of Macbeth that, wait for it, doesn't have any words. The reviewer seems to think this is just what the Bard needed:
Words cannot do justice to the unspeakable acts of betrayal and murder in Shakespeare's “Macbeth,” so Synetic Theater's dialogue-free adaptation plunges even further into the darkness.
Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili, “Macbeth” bears a strong resemblance to several of Synetic's recent successes. “Dracula,” “Frankenstein” and “Faust” also benefited from similarly dark themes, thunderous music, dramatic lighting and writhing dancers.
"Words cannot do justice....?" They can't? I'd say that words cannot do justice to the gob-smacking assinity of this sentiment.
(And speaking of idiocy, let's go back to the article:
The company changes the play's opening sequence by having the witches (played by Philip Fletcher, Meghan Grady and Katherine Hill) steal the identities of a Christian priest, Islamic mullah and Jewish rabbi.
Oh, how very timely, how very clever, how very.......7th grade.)
And speaking of 7th grade, cast your eyes over the opening of this review of the play "I Hate Hamlet" written by the same fellah:
What better way to wade into the deep waters of Shakespeare than to gleefully mock its pretensions, arcane language and attendant snobbery?
Fascinating, Captain. Sensors are picking up a massive inferiority complex dead ahead.
Look, I really don't mind that much when people muck about with Shakespeare, even when the idea is as silly as staging one of his plays in mime (recognizing, of course, that it is no longer Shakespeare). After all, where would we be without, say, "West Side Story" and "Kiss Me, Kate"? And as for lampoons, well, there aren't many folks much funnier than The Reduced Shakespeare Company.
But I do mind the apparent need of some people to justify enjoying such mucking by attempting to take down Ol' Will himself. Shakespeare's words can't do justice to Macbeth? The Bard is pretentious, arcane and thhnobbish? ("Oh, Oh, Pardon me! I'm off to play the grahhnd piaahno.!") This is the very worst sort of middle-brow reverse snobbery, shallow, cheap and ignorant. Sure, Shakespeare takes some effort to understand and appreciate, but it's been pretty well accepted that the rewards are very much worth it. This fellah, however, would have his readers believe otherwise - that one can skip that old, dead punk completely and go straight for the derivatives.
Incidentally, is Shakespeare in mime still Shakespeare? As I say, of course not. The language is as integral to his plays as is anything else about them. This brings back fond memories of a blazing argument I had in college with my then-soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend over a program to introduce high school kids to the Bard by presenting his plays in updated, heavily-edited comic book form. She said it was still Shakespeare. I said no, it was comic books. She said I was a snob. I said she was a fool. And the rest, as they say, is history.
UPDATE: The Colossus mentions the Pythonesque quality of a wordless "Macbeth." Agreed. And while I can't give you that, I can give you the semaphore version of Wuthering Heights:
I'm In Love!
Just watched the first round between my new Yankee Flipper and Mr. Squirrel.
UPDATE: Just watched the first round between the YF and Mr. Squirrel's friend who didn't believe what Mr. Squirrel told him. That one's gonna leave a mark!
Isn't technology wunnerful?
UPDATE DEUX: The Missus told me off to do the taxes this morning, but somehow I'd much rather watch Mr. Squirrel getting turned into a clay pigeon.
UPDATE TROIS: I'd swear Mr. Squirrel just came up to the window and flipped me off.
Happy Birthday, Robert E. Lee!
Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Robert Edward Lee. The WaPo gives a remarkably balanced (for it) summary of Lee's life and legacy:
Robert E. Lee was born Jan. 19, 1807, at Stratford Plantation on the Northern Neck of Virginia and was the fifth child of Revolutionary War hero Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee. He attended West Point and never received a demerit. By all accounts enormously handsome, tall, charismatic and humble, he had a long and illustrious career in the U.S. Army. In 1861, as Southern states contemplated secession, Lee privately ridiculed the idea. Still, when he was offered command of the Union Army, he turned it down once Virginia -- his "country" -- seceded.
During the Civil War, Lee's troops were often vastly outnumbered but managed to win or fight to a stalemate for years. Once the war ended, Lee resisted calls to continue the fight in the hills as a guerrilla and instead encouraged his soldiers to go home and begin rebuilding the nation. He retired to what was then Washington College, where he set about innovating the offerings, including the first classes in the country in business and journalism.
In other countries, leaders of failed civil rebellions are often reviled. But a strange thing happened to Lee after he died. He became beloved by many. Over the years, he has been praised by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had a picture of Lee hanging in his office.
Northerners, seizing on Lee's early ambivalence about the war, his gentlemanly sense of honor and duty, and his distaste of slavery -- he once wrote that it was a "moral and political evil" -- embraced the Confederate general as a way to foster reconciliation, said John Coski, a historian at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond. In 1901, he was one of only 29 Americans inducted into New York University's Hall of Fame. Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the lyrics for the Battle Hymn of the Republic, composed a poem in Lee's honor.
At the same time, his former generals wrote of him as so perfect and his cause so noble that Lee became fixed as the tragic hero of a romantic "Lost Cause" and that cause became synonymous with white Southern identity.
"There's an old saw in the South of a little girl asking, 'Mommy, is Robert E. Lee from the Old Testament or the New?' " Coski said. "Lee has been so praised and distorted that they made him more than human, and in so doing, made him less than human. He's a complex figure. If we want to understand history in its complexity, we have to understand Robert E. Lee."
Alas, that complexity is lost on many of those who both revere and villify Lee.
Personally, I see him as a truly good man caught up in truly horrific circumstances, forced by his own convictions about duty and honor into taking what he knew to be the wrong side in the War. Shakespeare would have understood this perfectly, as would the classical Greek tragedians.
It's been more years than I care to think about now since I gradiated from Washington & Lee University (Law) so things may have changed, but what I remember chiefly from my time at W&L was the sense that Lee's ghost still very much walked the place. And by that I don't mean a bunch of redneck boys with rebel flags on their dorm room walls dreamily imagining what life would be like had Lee broken Hancock's line on the third day at Gettysburg. Rayther, it was the school's corporate embracing of Lee's ideals. He expected his students to be gentlemen. (That was, almost literally, the honor code under his presidency.) In my time, faculty and students still expected themselves to be ladies and gentlemen.
That's the legacy of Lee's that I value the most. And I'm pretty sure it's the one for which he'd most like to be remembered.
UPDATE: GroovyVic remembers the date she almost had with the Gen'rul.
YIPS from Steve-O: Darn my Yankee roots!
Unfortunately, there is a limit to the size of the name on an image file; the original file name was "Robert E Lee buck naked with Susan B Anthony and a donkey in Tijuana"
Yips! back from Robbo: Just bear in mind that for all of Steve-o's "ayut, ayut" Yankee roots, he actually had an ancestor who took part in the 15 minute defence of Savannah. While I had one who was an officer in this outfit. Neener!
UPDATE DEUX: Yeek, we've been linked by the Puffington Host. Does this mean an Arianne-o-lanche?
January 18, 2007
How do you say "Heh" in Farsi?
Forget Israel, with spiraling inflation and unemployment Iranian President Ahmadinejad may be the one wiped off the map!
Critics say that Ahmadinejad and the central government have been strong on populist slogans but weak on achievement.
An Iranian woman carries her shopping in a supermarket in northern Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007. Prices for vegetables have tripled in the past month, housing prices have doubled since last summer _ and as costs have gone up, so has Iranians' discontent with hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his focus on confrontation with the West. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian inflation holds steady at a miserable 15% according to Iranian central bank but experts say it is much higher... The government puts unemplyment at 10 per cent but economists say it could be as high as 30 per cent. The government also says inflation is 11 per cent, but experts estimate it at 30 per cent!
Just for the record, I paid a buck ninety-five for unleaded this afternoon, Mahck-mood.
That's My Church!
Well that didn't take long:
Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’
For release: Thursday, January 18, 2007
Contact: Patrick Getlein 1-800 346-2373 x 30
Today, January 18, 2007, the Executive Board of the Diocese of Virginia took a step forward in preserving the mission and ministry of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church for current and future generations of Episcopalians and adopted a resolution concerning the property of 11 Episcopal Churches where a majority of members – including the vestry and clergy – have left The Episcopal Church but have not relinquished Church property and have continued to occupy the churches and use the property owned by the Diocese.
Specifically, the Executive Board declared the property of those churches – real and personal – to be abandoned in accordance with the Canons of the Diocese.
“All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Church or Mission within this Diocese is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.” (Canon 15.1)
“No part of the real property of a Church, except abandoned property, shall be alienated, sold, exchanged, encumbered or otherwise transferred for any purpose without the consent of the congregation … [and] the Bishop, acting with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee of the Diocese.” (Canon 15.2)
Having declared the property abandoned for the purposes for which it is set aside, namely the mission of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, the Executive Board is required to protect the property, according to the Canons:
“[W]henever any property, real or personal, formerly owned or used by any congregation of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia for any purpose for which religious congregations are authorized to hold property under the provisions of the Code of Virginia or any amendment thereof, has ceased to be so occupied or used by such congregation, so that the same may be regarded as abandoned property by the Executive Board, which shall have the authority to declare such property abandoned and shall have the authority to take charge and custody thereof, the Executive Board shall take such steps as may be necessary to transfer the property to the Bishop…” (Canon 15.3)
The unanimous decision by the Executive Board also authorizes the Bishop to take such steps as may be necessary to recover or secure such real and personal property.
In addition, the Standing Committee met today for its regular monthly meeting and took up the issue of the status of the clergy attached to these congregations. Following today’s meeting the Standing Committee will communicate its determination to the Bishop according to the Canons.
The 11 churches where property has been declared abandoned are:
Church of the Redeemer, Chantilly
Church of the Apostles, Fairfax
Church of the Epiphany, Herndon
Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands
Church of the Word, Gainesville
Potomac Falls Church, Sterling
St. Margaret’s, Woodbridge
St. Paul’s, Haymarket
St. Stephen’s, Heathsville
The Falls Church, Falls Church
In effect, Ft. Sumter has fired on Charleston Harbor.
There's also an accompanying letter from the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of Virginny that even mentions your humble correspondent! It's too long to post in its entirety and the link isn't up at the Diocesan homepage yet, but here's a sample:
In the coming days and months there will be many opinions aired in the media, in letters and in countless blogs, opinions disguised as facts. I urge you to turn away from those as the distracting noise of the world intended to take your mind and your heart off the mission of the Church. Instead, I urge you to pray for our brothers and sisters who have moved to separate themselves from us. I urge us to remember that in their call away from the Episcopal Church, they may be responding to a genuine call to new ministry in a different place and in a different way. The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia will mourn their loss. We will suffer from their absence in ways we cannot know at this time in our life. I believe that they, too, will know times when our absence from their life will be a source of great sorrow for them.
Emphasis added. It's a weird letter, a combination of soothing happy-speak to the Faithful and ranting diatribe against the secessionists (and anybody else hesitating about holding the party line) that reminds me somewhat of Saruman trying to deal piece-meal with Gandalf, Theoden & Co. from his balcony at Orthanc.
And Bishop Lee? As a "distracting noise of the world" I humbly thank you for your support.
I'll post the links when they come up.
UPDATE: I hear ya, Coloss. Well, they don't call us Whiskeypalians for nothing. (NQSFW):
Double-Secret Probation, indeed.
UPDATE DEUX: Here's the news release. And here's
Saruman's Bishop Lee's letter. "Dotard! What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where the brigands drink in the reek and their brats roll on the floor among the dogs!"
Gratuitous Historickal Posting (TM) - Close To Home Divisional UPDATE
A few days back, I mentioned that I had recently learned my long lost uncle had served as a combat pilot aboard the U.S.S. Antietam during the Korean War.
In response, Chef Mojo informed me that his father had been a Marine aboard the Antietam during the same operations. He's now got some flight-ops photo scans up over at his place. Go check 'em out.
Doing a little more digging, and acting on a tip let fall by my sister, I discovered that my uncle was also, among other things, a minor published poet. What's the connection? Well, I stumbled across a relevant poem of his, published in a literary journal in 1970:
My Son Confronts A Former Naval Aviator With Evidence That Eighteen Years Are Not Enough
kids open drawers/ find boxes better left taped shut
play with ribbons/ ask questions
my almost man son reverently fingers battlestars/
decks himself in the fabrics of half truths from
a half true time/ dead and buried these eighteen years
as the tv announces the termination of our twenty-first/
triannual oriental ceasefire/and I wonder/ how/many
more years/how old he will be/ whose civil war/
we will be/ will he be
ribboned/ color his imagination/ striped redwhiteblue/
yellow/ black paleblue green/ redblue yingyang
korean presidential unit citation
where are the wings/ blueeyed chearcheeked does he
imagine four rows of ribbons on the sanfrancisco pier
saying not unkindly little taste of action make a
of you little oriental pussy make you
imagine being too young old/too old young/ not
we didnt whine/ in fact we/ just didnt/but/or
rather/rather/just went/ did/he
remember toy planes slingshotted blue and white
toy ship/ over minature blue and white sea
sternfaced plastic pilot/sternly piloting
immoveable plastic radarman/ behind and slightly
18 cylinder pratt & whitney hearbeat filling plastic
veins with life/sotening rigid arms and legs
expanding/awakening to realize he has too soon
the fullsized too young old radarman
imaginging pale green toy land creeping up under the
bright sweep on pale green eyeface facing his face
paints its outline creeping/ nearer nearer nearer
nearer/ with each turn of the unseen fourbladed
black yellowtipped propellor spiralling white vapor
imagines to yellow plastic soldiers stiffly manning
guns/riding toy trains/driving toy trucks
snarling spitting sunshadowing firedemons slanting
the paleblue sky/raking
among stumbling quilted suddenly fullsized chinese
sees/ almost imagines/ blurred faces/ ribboned
tracers arcing up
cringes at threeinchrockets thunderclapping from
feels debris from hits hit thin aluminun skin
soars soars soars soars/ with quick release of/ two
four six eight 270poundproximintyfused-fragmentationbombs
fanning tightly springwound heavy steel casing
seeking meat among the holes
lazy darkblue endoverend thinskinnedaluminum
down shallowly/easily/skid gush spatter
sizzling sticking boiling blackorange billowing
convulsion of frenzied running rolling smearing
burning burning burning burning blackcrusted
roastmeat charred eyesockets crying tears of
plastic down obliterated anonymous faces/he
imagines fullsized soldiers spinning freeturning
following toy airplane silhouette caught in crossed
wires/sandaledfoot presing unseen treadle
orangeblack flackflowers blooming/quick ribboning
flackfingers reaching/him/pissing his flightsuit
with the/ sudden unreal bring hard ringing
someone he doesn't know killing him/ he
kicks out the door/ breathes cold silence of a/ stopped
engine/ cool true paleblue air/ small perfect
gloes of genuine pureblack highviscosity
prtt & whitney aviationgrade engineoil
toy coastline/ ships/ slowly growing/ larger/ slower
slower/ slower/ slower/ cant
remember the moment/ white nylon lifeblossom
wingless/ dunblue/ deathbottle/ smoketracking
orangeredgraygreen flamesmoke ribbons/ over
gray ultimate receptacle of/ all human waste
crotchwrenching yank on the/ ribbons/ ribbons
it all for/ another death/ he
becomes once again my son/ pushing forty/ stand-
my sons bedrooms nightmare litter of/ plastic
ships/ planes/ toyrifles/ double rows of half true
ribbons/ timebombs/ wondering what they named
japanese sons/ or were they daughters
facing/ once/ again/ the/ question/ of/ hearing/ once
rattle of/ miniature metal wings hit the table
patietly dying death number 000 of/ what might
incipient case of/ combat fatigue/ they give you
two years free psychiatric treatment/ but eighteen
years are not enough
(Lack of capitalization, italics and lines in the original. The slashes represent spaces, which I can't reproduce here. I'm afraid all of his poems (on any subject) are written like this.)
Never actually having met the man, I put this up here for the sake of preservation and historical curiosity. I can only assume this was autobiographical, since we do know that he flew ground assault missions, was shot down and had to bail out over the sea during the war. The Mater says he never talked about his experiences.
It's The Storm Of The Century Of The Week!
Hey, we'll take what we can get:
... Light wintry mix possible over portions of the mid antlantic Thursday afternoon and tonight...
Low pressure will develop off the southeast coast today... and
move northeast up the mid Atlantic coast tonight. Low pressure
will be close enough to the coast to allow light precipitation to
fall over areas east of the Blue Ridge mountains this afternoon
Precipitation will begin overspreading central Virginia later
this afternoon. Precipitation is expected to begin as a mix of
light snow and rain. However... warmer temperatures aloft may allow
for a brief period of freezing rain in Nelson and Albemarle
counties later in th evening as surface temperatures remain near
freezing. All precipitation over central Virginia is expected to
end by midnight.
Across the Washington DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas... only
a few sprinkles and flurries are expected this afternoon. In the
evening... mainly rain is expected... however a little snow or
sleet may occur at the onset of precipitation. Also... a brief period
of snow may occur after midnight before the event ends. At this
time... little or no snow and sleet accumulation is expected across
the Washington DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas.
After last weekend's spring-like weather, I started champing at the bit to get out and start in on this year's early yardwork projects this weekend. Now? Not so much. (SOOPER SEKRET MESSAGE TO THE MISSUS: No, that doesn't mean I'm going to paint the hall.)
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)
My brother's family gave the five year old Llama-ette a recorder for her recent birthday.
I always suspected my sister-in-law didn't really like me much, but I never thought she'd play dirty.
My nephew's birthday isn't all that far off. I'm thinking......drum set?
January 17, 2007
Birthday Bling Run Amok
A new group has banded together to stop excessive kiddy birthday partying:
The cost and range of children's birthday parties has spiraled out of control, according to one group of U.S. parents and educators who have joined forces to collectively stamp their feet and say "enough is enough."
"Toys overflow, birthday parties become Hollywood productions, and electronic gear takes over the home," said William Doherty, a professor in the University of Minnesota's department of family social science.
"It's time to take a deep breath and ask ourselves how to parent wisely nowadays, beginning with small things like birthday parties."
Doherty is among a group of educators and parents from St. Paul, Minnesota, who on Tuesday were launching a campaign called "Birthdays Without Pressure" in a bid to put the brakes on birthday parties running out of control.
Organizers are hoping it will start a national debate about a parenting culture in which they say birthday parties have gone over the top and created peer pressure to keep up.
For while they argue that there is nothing wrong with splashing out to celebrate a real milestone in your child's life, such as a bar mitzvah, Sweet 16 party, or graduation, the excessive spending on parties for babies, toddlers and grade-schoolers has soared out of control.
Can I just suggest as a foundation stone for reform that we ban the use of the word "parent" as a verb? It's a noun, godammit. If you mean "raise children," Prof. Doherty, say "raise children."
Having said that, of course I am pretty generally sympathetic with these folks. We don't do anything overly lavish for the Llama-ettes, but having two of them with birthdays only four days apart gets to be complicated in terms of scheduling things. For instance, this year even though the five year old's actual birthday was last Sunday, we're having her party this coming Saturday. (Why? Because the seven year old's party was last Saturday and two parties in two days seemed a bit much.)
I've advocated the idea that we really ought to have one party for the both of them - they're only two years apart and have a lot of common friends, after all. This idea has gone over like the proverbial lead balloon with the Missus.
Here's the group's website, btw. Go on over and read the knives and daggers coming out in the comments. Perhaps I should get the Missus to read them: If she won't cut back on birthday planning, the terrorists will already have won.
Run For Your Lives!!!!!
The latest weather forecast for the Dee Cee area:
Thursday Mostly sunny in the morning...then mostly cloudy with a chance of rain...snow and sleet in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 30s. South winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 40 percent. Thursday Night Mostly cloudy. A chance of freezing rain and snow in the evening. Snow accumulation up to an inch. Lows in the upper 20s. Southwest winds around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation 50 percent.
Here it is the middle of January and we haven't seen a flake yet (or even any ice). This means that all the craziness we generally let out over the winter months has been, instead, slowly bottling up in our collective psyche.
If the white stuff does appear tomorrow, expect the environs of the Beltway to go absolutely bananas. I'm talking "Alright everybody, get in crash positions," from Airplane! bananas.
UPDATE: Oh, what the heck. Why not -
Incidently, not too long ago I happened to watch a rarely aired John Wayne movie called The High and The Mighty, the story of a trans-Pacific flight that runs into trouble mid-ocean. Robert Stack plays the semi-psycho co-pilot. As I watched, I realized that in Airplane! he was basically riffing himself from this movie. (And indeed, as the sight-gags in Airplane! pale with age, I still derive infinite amounts of mirth watch Stack and Lloyd Bridges trying to top each other in gratuitous control tower macho.)
Llamas And Ex-Donkeys Living Together!
In case you haven't heard the news, Steve-O and I are getting a new roommate.
Hy-larity is bound to ensue.......
UPDATE: CAPTION CONTEST:
YIPS from Steve-O: Somebody needs to tell Gary about the "house rules" for long-term guests staying at Orgle Manor...
Gratuitous Historickal Posting - Scots Wha Hey! Division
Today is the anniversary of the Second Battle of Falkirk, fought in 1746, in which the Jacobites under Bonnie Prince Charlie successfully drove off a Hanovarian army under Lieutenant General Henry Hawley. George II's army lost about 350 men killed, wounded and missing and another 300 captured, while the Scots lost about 120 dead and wounded.
It was the last major Stuart victory in the '45 rising and Charles' forces would be utterly and finally crushed a couple months later at the Battle of Culloden.
As a Scot, I can go along with the romance that has grown up around the '45 with benign tolerance, but I also have strong Unionist convictions. Further, my sympathies for Charles and his bunch are lessoned even more by the facts that a) he wasn't interested in reclaiming just the old Scottish crown, but also in putting himself on the throne of Great Britain itself; and b) the Rising was really nothing more than French trouble-making, costly to the Crown and a death-warrant for the poor saps foolish enough to get caught up in it.
Quote of the Day
Tim Worstall on the problem of violence against prostitutes in G.B. Apparently, it's all heroine's fault:
I suppose that if we ban young women from reading Jane Eyre or aspiring to be Lizzie Bennet then there just won't be any more tarts on street corners.
Gratuitous Headless Fish Posting
The search for a new Dolphins head coach goes on. Is it really possible we might get another Shula?
Former Alabama coach Mike Shula already has met twice with the Dolphins about the position. Shula, who was replaced by Nick Saban at Alabama, is the son of Dolphins legend Don Shula.
''He's got a lot of his dad in him,'' Bailey said Tuesday. ``Very smart, very assertive, very firm. A very attractive potential person for us.''
According to a person familiar with the search, Mike Shula's second meeting, which took place at the team's facility, lasted four hours and entailed everything from the salary cap, potential assistants and what he might want to change.
Owner Wayne Huizenga, general manager Randy Mueller, Bailey and Wiedmeier were present during the lengthy discussions, indicating the interview was not merely a courtesy gesture to the Shula family.
''Everywhere he has coached, Mike has exhibited class, integrity and enthusiasm -- all critical ingredients to run a successful program,'' Don Shula said in a team-issued statement. ``He has a special feeling about the Dolphin organization.''
Okay, ten out of ten for the whole family thing, but......
Add him to the short list of potentials which includes Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers, Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, former Falcons coach Jim Mora and Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey. Frankly, although I confess to knowing very little about the higher levels of pro football, I find myself saying, "Eerrrmmmm....."
How about starting a Draft Bill Cowher movement instead?
Gratuitous Historickal Posting
The Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina was fought this day in 1781 between a mix of militia and regulars under General Dan Morgan and a crack British force under Lt. Col. Banestre "Bloody" Tarleton:
Tarleton pressed the attack head on, his line extending across the meadow, his artillery in the middle, and fifty Dragoons on each side. It was as if Morgan knew he would make a frontal assault – it was his style of fighting. To face Tarleton, he organized his troops into three lines. First, out front and hiding behind trees were selected sharpshooters. At the onset of battle they picked off numbers of Tarleton’s Dragoons, traditionally listed as fifteen, shooting especially at officers, and warding off an attempt to gain initial supremacy. With the Dragoons in retreat, and their initial part completed, the sharpshooters retreated 150 yards or more back to join the second line, the militia commanded by Andrew Pickens. Morgan used the militia well, asking them to get off two volleys and promised their retreat to the third line made up of John Eager Howard's Continentals, again close to 150 yards back. Some of the militia indeed got off two volleys as the British neared, but, as they retreated and reached supposed safety behind the Continental line, Tarleton sent his feared Dragoons after them. As the militia dodged behind trees and parried saber slashes with their rifles, William Washington’s Patriot cavalry thundered onto the field of battle, seemingly, out of nowhere. The surprised British Dragoons, already scattered and sensing a rout, were overwhelmed, and according to historian Babits, lost eighteen men in the clash. As they fled the field, infantry on both sides fired volley after volley. The British advanced in a trot, with beating drums, the shrill sounds of fifes, and shouts of halloo. Morgan, in response, cheering his men on, said to give them the Indian halloo back. Riding to the front, he rallied the militia, crying out, "form, form, my brave fellows! Old Morgan was never beaten!"
Now Tarleton’s 71st Highlanders, held in reserve, entered the charge toward the Continental line, the wild wail of bagpipes adding to the noise and confusion. A John Eager Howard order for the right flank to face slightly right to counter a charge from that direction, was, in the noise of battle, misunderstood as a call to retreat. As other companies along the line followed suite, Morgan rode up to ask Howard if he were beaten. As Howard pointed to the unbroken ranks and the orderly retreat and assured him they were not, Morgan spurred his horse on and ordered the retreating units to face about, and then, on order, fire in unison. The firing took a heavy toll on the British, who, by that time had sensed victory and had broken ranks in a wild charge. This event and a fierce Patriot bayonet charge in return broke the British charge and turned the tide of battle. The re-formed militia and cavalry re-entered the battle, leading to double envelopment of the British, perfectly timed. British infantry began surrendering en masse.
Tarleton and some of his army fought valiantly on; others refused his orders and fled the field. Finally, Tarleton, himself, saw the futility of continued battle, and with a handful of his men, fled from whence he came, down the Green River Road. In one of the most dramatic moments of the battle, William Washington, racing ahead of his cavalry, dueled hand-to-hand with Tarleton and two of his officers. Washington’s life was saved only when his young bugler fired his pistol at an Englishman with raised saber. Tarleton and his remaining forces galloped away to Cornwallis’ camp. Stragglers from the battle were overtaken, but Tarleton escaped to tell the awful news to Cornwallis.
The battle was over in an hour. It was a complete victory for the Patriot force. British losses were staggering: 110 dead, over 200 wounded and 500 captured. Morgan lost only 12 killed and 60 wounded, a count he received from those reporting directly to him.
This battle was featured as the climax of Mel Gibson's The Patriot. And although I routinely deride the movie's many, many historickal errors, it does at least capture a couple of central points about the battle, namely that Morgan used unconventional but extremely intelligent battlefield tactics, that the British were stunned to be beaten in the open field by the Continentals and that Cowpens represented a turning point, a will-crushing defeat from which the Brits never completely recovered and which led, eventually to the surrender at Yorktown.
Grudgingly Gratuitous Historickal Posting
Benjamin Franklin was born this day in 1706 in Boston.
As I believe I've mentioned before, Franklin is my least favorite of the Founding Fathers. There is a slippery, opportunistic quality about him, coupled with an inflated ego, that always puts me off. Indeed, I can't think of a better way of summing up my opinion of him than by saying that of all the Founders, I believe he'd be most at home in modern Dee Cee.
The other thought that I have about Franklin is that had the Crown managed to put the kybosh on the Revolution, I'd bet dollars to donuts that ol' Ben wouldn't have wound up at the end of a rope for it. Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he'd somehow manage to insert himself pretty high up in a reconstituted Colonial government. He was just that kind of survivor.
Molasses In Winter Posting Alert
We're having some kind of technical problem that's making web access painfully slow. Posting probably will be very light until it's sorted out.
UPDATE: Hmmmm...Problem seems to be fixed but it may come back.
January 16, 2007
I'm definitely the unwound/wound-down Yo-Yo today, trying to garner enough energy to finish the syllabis and otherwise get ready for the first day of classes tomorrow.
Pimping For Coffee
There's a middle aged Frenchman who owns a little cafe in our neck of the woods who has something of a thing for the Missus. Eager to please her, he'll personally roast a fresh batch of coffee beans when she lets him know she needs them.
I don't interfere because the coffee is so damn good. Given that, what's a little Gallic drooling?
Random Commuter Observation
Those of you of a certain age may recall the bit from Sesame Street in which Guy Smiley sings "Gone With The Wind" as the landscape around him is gradually ripped up and blown away. (I say "of a certain age" because Guy apparently doesn't make the cut anymore. None of the Llama-ettes has ever heard of him, at any rate. Not diverse enough, I suppose.)
Anyhoo, that's what the walk in to the office was like this morning. Except without the singing. Wooooosh.
UPDATE: Reason No. 367,320 why I love YouTube: Here's the clip, dubbed in German ("Vom Wind verweht"). Guy sounds like Mack the Knife.
January 15, 2007
For The Birds, Part Deux
The rat-bastard squirrels figured out how to break into our bird feeder this year, jimmying the latches, knocking the thing to the ground and cleaning it out. Finally today, the feader literally fell apart under their onslaught.
Well, I decided not to simply roll over. Instead, as George Costanza would say, we're taking it up a notch!
No, not the Daisy pellet gun (yet). Instead, the Llama-ettes and I went out this afternoon and bought the latest in state of the art boarder-repelling feeder technology, the Yankee Flipper.
Here's a foretaste of what I hope to be watching from the library window soon:
For The Birds
While out with the five year old yesterday afternoon as she tried out her new bike on the sidewalk in front of the house, I happened to look up and damme if I didn't see a bald eagle flying about (pursued by a pack of very testy crows).
I've read that the eagle population is steadily growing in the Chesapeake region and that a couple of them have taken to nesting up at Great Falls park, but this is the first time I've ever seen one over our house. (We're maybe two, three miles from the Potomac in a straight line.)
It was magnificent.
Gratuitous "24" Confession
After hemming and hawing about it, I confess I did not watch "24" last evening, thereby maintaining my perfect No Jack Bauer Sightings record.
Instead, I caught the opener of HBO's "Rome," which this season picks up on the politicking following immediately on the heals of Julius Caesar's assasination. I think I'm going to start watching this on a regular basis. True, it plays a bit fast and loose with some of the facts, and in its main character it presents a kind of vir in the via view of history, something for which I've never had much patience, but I like the overall feel of the thing.
January 14, 2007
Gratuitous Bicycle Assembly Posting
As promised earlier this week, the seven year old and I put together her new bike this afternoon. The thing came with a 120 page owner's manual that carried a set of the most comprehensively useless assembly instructions I've ever chanced upon in my life. Needless to say, I tossed the thing and relied on my common sense and the help of my lovely assistant to successfully assemble her new ride.
I even shot some film:
(Actually, I'm only in the last bit.)
UPDATE: For Heaven's sake, people! When I commit a glaring typo in the headline, say something!
Monday's Child Strikes Again
Five years ago today, on a chilly Monday afternoon, the youngest Llama-ette was born.
As with her newly seven year old sister, Mother Goose got it right. Darker and curlier hair than either of her sisters (a genetic present from the Missus' family), she's got a liberal sprinkling of freckles across her face and enormous eyes that look like a pair of bright blue searchlights. She's also quite large for her age and strong as the proverbial ox - swimming coaches are already pestering us about getting her involved in competition. UVA swimming scholarship, here we come!
In the case of the youngest Llama-ette, Mother Goose might have added "and hearty of voice" to her description. The gel is known around the family as Little Miss Bullhorn. owing to her habit of always expressing herself at the top of her lungs.
The gel's defining personality trait can probably best be summed up as "divilment," a cross between a buccaneer and Harpo Marx. Topping her list of favorite pastimes is the game of Getting A Rise Out Of Daddy. The LMC cheerfully predicts that down the road we'll be facing biker boyfriends, startling tattoos and demands for sky-diving lessons. I'm not sure he isn't right.
UPDATE: BTW, remember how I described the seven year old as having "a ready smile and an all-around air of sympathetic jollity about her"? Well, we had an ice-skating party in honor of her birthday yesterday. Now, I grew up in South Texas and never really learned how to skate. She, on the other hand, has attended a skating camp and been to many other birthday parties like hers. The result? She spent the afternoon challenging me to races around the rink. Not only was she beating me, she was lapping me. And laughing like a loon the entire time.
January 13, 2007
Happy Birthday To The "Seventh Python"
The very lovely Carol Cleveland was born this day in 1942 in London. Here is her O-fficial website. According to IMDB, she's still doing a little film now and again. Apparently, this will include a new bio of completely dead ex-Python Graham Chapman.
I'm sure I speak for all other Python fans when I say that my life was forever changed by that bad, naughty, wicked Zoot!
Gratuitous Historickal Posting - Close To Home Division
I always knew in a vague way that my mother's elder brother was a naval flyboy in the Korean War, but I just recently found out that, in fact, he served aboard the U.S.S. Antietam.
Here's a summary of Antietam's role in the war:
The Antietam remained in reserve at Alameda, Ca. until communist forces from the north invaded South Korea in the summer of 1950. She began reactivation preparation on December 6th and went back into commission on January 17, 1951 with Captain George J. Dufek in command. Initially the carrier conducted shakedown training and carrier qualifications along the California coast, first out of Alameda and then out of San Diego. She made one voyage to Pearl Harbor and back to San Diego in July and August before departing the latter port on September 8th and heading for the Far East. The Antietam arrived in the Far East later that fall and by late November began the only combat deployment of her career. During that tour she made four cruises with Task Force 77 in the combat zone off the coast of Korea. In between fighting assignments she returned to Yokosuka, Japan. During each of those periods her air group carried out a variety of missions in support of United Nations forces combatting North Korean aggression. Those missions included combat air patrol, logistics interdiction (particularly against railroad and highway traffic,) reconnaissance antisubmarine patrols and night heckler missions. Between late Novermber 1951 and mid March 1952 the Antietam's air group flew nearly 6,000 sorties of all types. She returned to Yokosuka on March 21, 1952 at the conclusion of her fourth cruise with TF 77 to begin preparations for her voyage back to the United States.
This meshes with family lore which says that Uncle's plane (he was a rear-seater of some sort) blew up a North Korean ammunition train one time. Later, he was injured when he had to bail out and spent a fair amount of time in a Japanese hospital.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting - Afghan Wars Division
On the morning of January 13, 1842, the remnants of the 44th Foot, retreating from Kabul, were massacred by the Afghans at Gandamak. Of a column originally numbering 16,500, about 12,000 of whom were not soldiers but civiliian followers including a number of women, exactly one man, Dr. Brydon, made it back to the British rear at Jellalabad. (A few others of the column were taken prisoner or hostage along the way and survived as well.)
Of course, that's the official history. Some of us know that a certain cowardly young rogue also managed to make it back, just in time to help defend Jellalabad against the oncoming Afghan army and earn himself the sobriquette "the Hector of Afghanistan."
January 12, 2007
Gratuitous Yardwork Blegging
Guys, the time has come for me to finally purchase that paramount tool of outdoor work, a chainsaw.
So here's the question: for mostly light stuff - some branch cutting, brush clean up and maybe some log sawing (12" diameter max), what's the best one to get? (And by "best" I mean sturdy and dependable without costing an arm and a leg.)
Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Why I Love YouTube, Reason # 129,432
Peter Sellers doing Larry Olivier doing Richard III doing the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night."
Don't ask, just hit the play button already.
Filched from Our Maximum Leader.
Our Man In Fallujah
INDCent Bill sends in his latest report from the front:
Laugh at the skittish blogger #1: Mortars make a loud noise but are typically inaccurate, indirect threats. Insurgents rarely stay in a stationary position to fire more than one or two of them, lest American, IP or IA forces nail down their location and rain the wrath of God (or Boeing) upon their heads. That said, 120 mm mortars have a 70 meter "kill zone," and a close or direct hit from 60 - 120mm pieces can be pretty bad news for a given target.
Insurgents fired five mortars at the police station on Wednesday in an attempt to "dial in" the location. Though I've learned to ignore them when they land at a distance, a sufficiently large and close one authored a ringing crack and boom, and I instinctively skipped to put both the fellow with whom I was conversing and a sturdy pillar between the direction of the explosion and my precious behind. I didn't move fast enough, as he smiled kindly and said:
"You haven't been here too long, have you? I'm used to them. Maybe that's bad, but if they're gonna get you, they're gonna get you."
I don't know what that guy was talking about: I was just stretching my legs, man.
Go read the rest, including pics. And while you're there, consider giving up a little coin. We have a long tradition of giving Bill a hard time here, buy dayum this is good.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Saavik!
Kirstie Alley was born today in 1951 in Witchita, Kansas.
I know she's crazy as a loon and that her Rebecca Howe could never replace the lovely Diane Chambers on Cheers, but I'll always have a soft spot for her owing to her role in probably the greatest sci fi movie ever made.
Best Saavik exchange:
SAAVIK: By the book?
KIRK: By the book! Regulation Forty-six-A: 'If transmissions are being monitored during battle...'
SAAVIK: '...no uncoded messages on an open channel...' (to Spock) You lied.
SPOCK: I exaggerated.
UPDATE: Because it's Friday and because I can.....
Okay, shut up. So I had a thing about borderline-psychotic Brit Lit majors (see Robbo's Girlfriends: High School, College). You have a problem with that?
TURN ON THE TEE VEE......NOW!!!
I confess I've never seen a single episode of "24".
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I fear disliking the show. Rayther, my fear is that I'll like it too much. Once I clap eyeballs on it, I'm afraid my usual obsessive-compulsiveness will kick in. It won't be enough to clear my schedule to watch each new episode. No, I'll have to go back and watch all the previous seasons, not once but several times. And figure out all those complicated relationships - who's loyal, who's treacherous, who's safe, who gets people killed. And catch up on all the gadgets and doohikies. And learn all the cliches. And I'll have to start reading more Jack Bauer blogs. And including more Jack Bauer jokes, quotes and allusions in my own writing. Scary thoughts, indeed.
The last time I let myself get caught up in the enthusiasm was with Firefly. But that's only, what, thirteen episodes altogether and quite manageable. Bauermania is something on a wholly different scale.
So.....do I drink the kool-aid?
YIPS from Steve-O: Drink the damn Kool Aid or I'm going to have Chloe perform a protocol to download the schematics to my PDA NOW! Or something.
UPDATE: For your Season 6 viewing pleasure, it's the Blogs4Bauer Kill Counter Challenge. Here's a sample of the point system:
Point System: Jack Bauer with a gun (1 point) Jack Bauer with a knife (1 point) Jack Bauer with explosives (1 point) Jack Bauer with his head (4 points) Jack Bauer with his manpurse (5 points) Jack Bauer with his upper body (2 points) Jack Bauer with his lower body (3 points) Jack Bauer's cell phone kills someone (0.5 point) Jack Bauer kills CTU agent Jason Blaine (2 points) Jack Bauer kills another member of CTU (-1 point)
Jack Bauer tortures someone before killing them (+1 point)
Jack Bauer says something cool before killing them (+1 point)
Jack Bauer says something cool and tortures someone before killing them (+3 points)
If Jack Bauer utters a "dammit" in the process of killing someone (+1 point/each)
If Jack Bauer wears aviators while killing someone (+1 point)
If Jack Bauer sports his manpurse while killing someone (+1 point)
See what I mean? Has anybody yet published a "Jack Bauer for Dummies" guide? Might help me....
Gratuitous Random Casual Friday Observation
For the most part, I'm a strict reactionary when it comes to suitable office attire - button down shirt, tie, suits on most days bending to khakis and a blazer in warmer weather, black lace shoes or loafers as appropriate. I am a lawyer, after all.
Every now and again, however, especially when I'm not feeling spectacular, I'll break down on a Friday. In winter, this usually means no tie, an argyle sweater and my Brooks Brothers grey herringbone tweed, a pair of khakis and Bean boat-shoes, with my beat-up 20 year old waxed jacket (not Barbour but Burberry - who don't even make them anymore) over all.
Now the Official Theory** behind "Casual Friday" (or any office casual dress day) as I have always understood it is that dressing down is supposed to make one feel more comfortable and at ease, thereby increasing productivity.
I, on the other hand, feel exactly the opposite. Whenever I succumb to the urge not to put on full professional rig, I spend the day feeling as if Edna Mode is staring at me and muttering, "Hobo suit. Feh!"
The only real comfort I take is in the knowledge that I am still capable of feeling shame, an emotion apparently abandoned by a great many people these days.
(** I say "official theory," but I don't believe it's the real reason. In general I don't go in for conspiracy theories, but I am morally certain that the whole "business casual" movement was nothing but a scam run up by the fashion industry - in cahoots with the ersatz business "consultant" guild - in order to create a new market where one did not previously exist. The movement seems to have peaked, however, and I'm glad to see that the pendulum is starting to swing back in the other direction.)
UPDATE: Hey, I said I was ashamed of myself, didn't I?
Hat tip to who else?
January 11, 2007
Almost to the Milestone
We passed 900K this evening, with someone dialing in from Kuwait looking for nekkid pictures of Melissa Theuriau and Yasser Arafat.
That's appropos of something, I know not what.
(And we've lost our #1 ranking on Google for "naked pictures of Yasser Arafat with Melissa Theuriau" to Tim Blair of all people. Rat thieving bastage! We've slipped to 4th. Someone fire up the Bat Signal, I think we're about to ramp up the google chumming production around here.)
Fun questions to ask people with kids
Jordana, trust me: the only get better when after three blonde kids you get a fourth with flaming, curly red hair. Begorah!
I've experienced all of what Jordana is talking about, and then some---there's a terrible divide on our campus among a core group of childless intelligensia and, well, everyone else who is even partially human. One philosophy type even asked me in a snide way what I was going to do when all the kids get older: I replied, "not have my corpse discovered two weeks later by the UPS guy, with half my face eaten off by my surly cats."
Campaign 08 Update---Cheap, Bloated Pinata Division
Chris Dodd, the Satyr of Saybrook, the Milquetoast of Moosup, the Blowhard of Bozrah, the....well, the only Senator who could make Joe Biden look, umm, presidential, has announced he's running for president.
Let me be the first to give him his 08 Presidential Race Pledge nickname:
The Nutmeg Nincoompoop
Scroll down for the delicious resolution of the Birthday Bike Saga. No pictures, alas.
And apparently Robbo didn't have to sleep on the couch, which is good as I've been in his garage, and the floor is extra-comfy. ;)
This is just wrong, at so many levels
Then he mixes the streams by showing Brit-Brit, La Lohan, and Paris Hilton in one (presumably with an antibiotic lining) and I'm definitely seeing an improvement.
So I'm torn, really.
UPDATE: Mr. Atoz updates us on the antics of Welsh soprano-hog Charlotte Church. Where is Beautiful Atrocities when we need him?
"I think the best chance has gone. We have decided not to kill ourselves but to fight it to the last for that depot but in the fighting there is a painless end so don't worry."
The last letter of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, written to his wife as he faced death at the end of his expedition to the Antarctic in 1912:
To my widow,
Dearest Darling – we are in a very tight corner and I have doubts of pulling through – In our short lunch hours I take advantage of a very small measure of warmth to write letters preparatory to a possible end – the first is naturally to you on whom my thought mostly dwell waking or sleeping – if anything happens to me I shall like you to know how much you have meant to me and that pleasant recollections are with me as I depart.
I should like you to take what comfort you can from these facts also – I shall not have suffered any pain but leave the world fresh from harness and full of good health and vigour – this is dictated already, when provisions come to an end we simply stop where we are within easy distance of another depot.
Read the rest, in which Scott writes of his wife's eventual remarriage and the raising of their infant son, among other things.
'Strordinary people, the Victorians. I've never had much of a taste for their art, music, and so forth, but the more I read of their character, the more deeply I am impressed.
UPDATE: Ya know, here I am trying to be all sober and respectful n' stuff and all you people want is teh funny. Very well, then:
By the way, such lines as, "Grrreat! Rewrite!" and "I gotta fight da lion!" have made their way into the Llama Family lexicon. We're not completely well, you know.
Activate War Plan "Red" Pronto!
Well, it looks like the Canucks are getting fiesty, what with their hackles into surrender bait Jabba the Moore and the DeadHead regime in Congress and whatnot that they think it's okay to run clandestine ops against the US of A. I guess it was only discovered when someone tried to use the Loonies to buy the Reading Railroad, as monopoly is about all Canadian money is good for.
What better excuse to put Red into action, I say!
Yips! from Robbo: Well, you knew this was coming.....
Surging Against Whom, Exactly?
No, I didn't watch Dubya's speech last evening and I've only skimmed it this morning. As the song says, what I'm looking for is a little less talk and a lot more action. The good news, from what I gather, is not only that more troops are going in, but that the rules of engagement are being modified as well. To my admittedly untrained mind, this seems to be of far greater consequence and potential benefit than simple numbers.
What got my attention more was this piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal on the newly-installed Pelosi Copperheads. (It also gave me an excuse to post this old Harper's Weekly cartoon from the Civil War. The middle snake does look something like Madame Speaker):
Ostensibly, the Democratic complaint is that the Administration has failed to come up with a new strategy for Iraq. In fact, Mr. Bush says he is offering a qualitative departure from what the U.S. has attempted before. (See "Mission Baghdad.") The real question is whether the Democrats are prepared to act like a responsible opposition now that they control both houses of Congress, in contrast to the last four years of partisan minority sniping.
On the evidence of the past week, the answer is no. On Tuesday, the Democrats announced they would hold a symbolic, nonbinding vote on the troop increase, without so much as hearing what the President has to say. The vote, says Senator Joe Biden, is an effort to "demonstrate to the President he's on his own." So much for presenting a united American face to the jihadis and insurgents killing our troops in Iraq. And this from someone who fancies himself Presidential-timber.
Such a vote would be pure partisanship, and of an especially ugly sort. If Democrats seriously believe that a troop surge "will endanger more Americans," then there might be some moral justification in using Congress's power of the purse to cut off funds for the war. But as House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel candidly explained, "anytime, politically, you have to explain what you are saying, you have a problem. And so if I am there saying, 'Cut the funds for Iraq and the war in Iraq,' then someone is going to say, 'You are taking away rifles.' "
So the Democrats want the political mileage of opposing the troop increase rhetorically. What they don't want is to take responsibility for their own policy choice. Meanwhile, their rhetoric will only serve to reassure the jihadis that sooner or later Democrats will force a U.S. withdrawal. It's enough to give a half-cheer to genuine Democratic isolationists, who have proposed legislation that would require the President to seek approval to fund additional troop increases. At least they're willing to go on record.
Most reckless is the contention, also by Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi, that "it is time to bring the war to a close." No one serious--not even the Iraq Study Group--believes that the war will end if we leave. Instead, it will change into a civil war in Iraq, and perhaps a wider regional war, that is likely to draw our forces back in again somewhere in the Middle East. As the bipartisan ISG noted in its December report, "If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences could eventually require the United States to return."
If Congressional Democrats want to be constructive, they can insist that Mr. Bush and his generals truly implement the strategy he is now endorsing. The path Democrats have followed in the minority and are now continuing will only make U.S. success harder--a truth the American people will come to understand, and resent.
Of course, this presupposes that the Dems do want to be constructive. But other than a handful like Holy Joe Lieberman, it seems to me that most of them are more interested in taking down Dubya regardless of the wider implications than they are in actually promoting the greater common interest. For the good of the country, I hope they quickly shelve this vendetta and begin to act responsibly.
Big Llama Yips! to LindaSoG over at Something...and Half of Something, a new-to-me blog, for dropping this off in the Tasty Bits Mail Sack (TM).
January 10, 2007
Hot Air has the details, but doesn't wallow in the salient fact: the Disney "characters" are members of the Teamster's Union.
Insert Ariel jokes here.
Just Because II
(Well actually just because the Missus told me not to.....)
One of the presents the newly seven year old Llama-ette is getting for her birthday is a new bike. The bike currently sits (unassembled) in a box in the garage.
A question has sprung up over whether the Llama-ette should be given the bike in its unassembled form now (today being her actual birthday), or whether said bike should be kept under wraps until it can be put together and given her on Saturday (after her party and when she is opening her other presents). I argue the latter, the Missus the former.
In a just-concluded telephonic conference, my position was that giving a seven year old a box but telling her she can't have what's inside for another three days is cruel. The Missus said the gel is old enough to appreciate the thought of having the thing now and to understand that she wouldn't be able to ride until the weekend anyway owing to school and whatnot. She also noted that it would be nice for the gel to get her new helmet (which goes with the bike) now.
Perhaps unwisely, I seized on the second point, facetiously stating that perhaps the gel could put on the helmet, sit on the box and pretend she was riding her new bike. I offered that we could even dig out a fan to blow air into her face, thereby simulating the wind.
A) Who is right about the bike?
B) How foolish was I to give into the urge to be flippant?
C) How much more foolish am I being by telling you all this?
UPDATE: Just in case you were wondering, the bike was, in fact, delivered last evening. And while it wasn't assembled, the Llama-ettes got to pull the bits out of the box and fiddle with them while the Missus tactfully played up what a nice project it will be for the seven year old to help Daddy put the thing together this weekend. For her part, I have to say that the 7 Y.O. was genuinely excited.
And no, I didn't have to sleep on the sofa. After many years together, the Missus has come simply to ignore me when she thinks I'm being ridiculous. The only thing I can't figure out is why she still even bothers asking me my opinion in the first place.
I was poking around for something else and stumbled across this little bit which amused me to no end the first time I posted it. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you (again) the Reporter and the Spitfire:
Sorry, Old Man. 'Fraid we don't understand your banter!
That's My Church!
The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today that it will not renew the 30 day standstill agreement with the clergy and members of congregations who voted to leave the Episcopal Church to associate with the Anglican Church of Nigeria. The terms of the agreement were set to automatically renew unless one party notified the others seven days prior to the expiration of the agreement. The Diocese notified these congregations today of its decision not to renew the agreement, which is set to expire on January 17. The leadership of the Diocese of Virginia -- Bishop Peter James Lee, the Standing Committee and the Executive Board -- will meet after the expiration of the standstill agreement to determine their next course of action. Specifically, the Standing Committee must decide the status of the clergy of the departed congregations. In turn, the Executive Board must consider whether the property of these Episcopal churches has been abandoned. The standstill remains in effect until January 17 and the Diocese will continue to honor its terms and take no legal or canonical actions prior to its expiration.
Bishop Lee and other leaders of the Diocese continue to consider the full range of pastoral responsibilities to those faithful Episcopalians in the congregations who chose to remain loyal to the Diocese and The Episcopal Church.
Well, not that I thought they would stand down anyway, but now it's o-fficial.
So what's the next step? Ya got me. On the one hand, I've chatted with people on both sides over the past month and it seems that the legal issues surrounding the claim of property abandonment are a lot more complicated and legally closer than I had previously understood (or, as I gather, is being represented to loyalist parishes). Fortunately, I have no expertice in the field of Virginia property law, so I am excused from having to offer an opinion on what legal action might be in store or its eventual outcome.
As for the status of the rebel clergy, I can only assume that the ECUSA can do pretty much whatever it wants. So should we stand by for the symbolic garotting to begin?
Probably. But then there's the overarching strategic issue that High Priestess Jeffords-Shori and her followers can't afford to overlook. If the Diocese goes after the rebels hammer and tongs, what kind of message is that going to send to other 'Palies, both here in Virginny and elsewhere? The party line, as you can see from the clip, is that all the Church is doing is trying to ensure the well-being of "those faithful Episcopalians in the congregations who chose to remain loyal to the Diocese and The Episcopal Church." Well, there may be something to that, but how exactly would launching, say, personal liability claims against individual clergy and vestry members (as has been threatened) aid in that cause? I just can't help thinking that aggressive action against the rebels will leave Bishop Lee's words sounding more like those of Governor Tarkin: "Fear will keep the local systems in line, fear of this Battle Station."
It's a mighty delicate line. Will Bishop Lee be able to walk it? I suppose time will tell.
Incidentally, that's why I was wondering about that WaPo article the other day, the gist of which was that the rebel parishes weren't really 'Palies anyway. Isn't it a standard wartime propoganda practice to try and make the enemy seem as "other" as possible? Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but there's a tremendous amount at stake here and, given that, a little press manipulation doesn't seem so far-fetched.
For no reason
other than it's 230 on a Wednesday afternoon. Ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Cash.
After the debacle that was Nick Saban, the only way forward is up, right?
Robbo should be pleased, as the Dolphins announce the hiring of their new coach. Press conference highlights below:
Yips! from Robbo: LACES OUT, STEVE-O!!!
The Parthian Shot
Wretchard takes apart the fundamental unseriousness of Andrew Sullivan.
Watch out, Adam Smith
Dave Justus updates on what those wacky scientists at Cornell have been up to as of late: a home manufacturing system dubbed "the fabber."
The standard version of their Freeform fabricator – or “fabber” – is about the size of a microwave oven and can be assembled for around $2400 (£1200). It can generate 3D objects from plastic and various other materials. Full documentation on how to build and operate the machine, along with all the software required, are available on the Fab@Home website, and all designs, documents and software have been released for free.
I strongly suspect that this is the beginning of something that will tranform our economies and our lives at least as much as personal computers have. Bring it on I say.
This is going to be so cool for so many reasons, if anything now I can build my own spitting LLama USB memory stick. I mean, it won't be hilariously inappropriate as this, but what would be, really?
Robbo's cover has been blown. Go over to the Irish Elk to see a picture of the real Robbo the LLamabutcher taken at last year's reunion.
By the way, you may now address me as:
| My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is: |
The Right Reverend Steve-O the Random of Leighton in the Bucket
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
Cognitive Dissonance results when you input your Pimp name into the Peculiar Aristocratic title generator:
| My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is: |
Reverend Lord Steve-o Macktabulous Silk the Arboreal of Waterless St Mildred
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
Now batting, Number 15, Captain Hook
Gratuitous Netflix Movie Review
Did you know that Gene Kelly, the Singing In The Rain guy, was a director as well? I didn't until I checked out his 1970 western:
The movie stars James Stewart as a Texas cowhand who receives a letter one day that his brother has died and left him a business up in Cheyenne. Accompanied by his talkative pal played by Henry Fonda, Stewart rides up, only to discover that the "business" at issue is a prominant local cat house. Hi-larity ensues as Ji-Ji-Jimmy tries to figure out wha-wha-what to do with gosh darn place.
Or maybe not.
I'm sorry, but it's not a very good movie at all. Too many cliches, too much predictability (I'm thinking it's movies like this that Mel Brooks went after with Blazing Saddles), a pretty limp plot and if you really believe Shirley Jones of all people as the madame of the place, well, God bless ye'.
Which is a shame, because Stewart did, in fact, make a number of very good westerns, including Winchester '73, Bend of the River and The Far Country with Anthony Mann directing, and of course John Ford's great The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with the Duke his own self, pilgrim. (I've got on a Stewart cowboy movie kick again and all of these are in my queue at the moment.)
Having seen this one once, I'm pretty sure I won't bother again.
"Monday's Child Is Fair Of Face"
Yes, I know it's Wednesday. But seven years ago today, on a Monday (at about 2:00 ack emma, to be precise), the middle Llama-ette was born. And in her case, Mother Goose got it absolutely spot on. Although I feel slightly conflicted as her father for saying so, this gel has Future Babe stamped all over her - wavy, light brown hair that turns dirty blonde in the summer; enormous, bright-blue eyes; and, perhaps most importantly, a ready smile and an all-around air of sympathetic jollity about her. Indeed, she reminds me intensely of a great many of Plum Wodehouse's heroines, and you can't ask for better than that, what?
Happy Birthday, indeed.
Gearing up for the new season of 24
With some John McClane/Snake Plissken smack-talk.
Gary the X-Donk is throwing in the towel. Just say no, Gary!
Homeric Detective Work
This is pretty interesting. An amateur historian claims to have located the original Ithica, home of King Odysseus, off the west coast of Greece:
Scholars have argued for centuries over the whereabouts of Ithaca, the lost kingdom of the hero of the Trojan war. But Robert Bittlestone, a management consultant from Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey, and two professors of classics and geology have suggested the location is not the Greek island of Ithaki, but Paliki — a peninsula of Kefalonia. If true, it would be the greatest classical discovery since Heinrich Schliemann found the site of Troy in Turkey in the 1870s, and would establish Odysseus as a figure from history as opposed to a figment of Homer's imagination.
In Homer's epic poem, it takes Odysseus 10 years to return home after the war.
Ithaca is described as low-lying and furthest to the west of the group of islands off western Greece.
Modern Ithaki, cited by proud islanders as the home of Odysseus, is the most easterly of the island group.
Bittlestone claims to have evidence that demonstrates the modern peninsula of Paliki was once an island in its own right but that the channel between it and Kefalonia filled in owing to seismic activity (i.e., one or more earthquake-induced landslides). In its earlier form, the island would have closely matched Homer's description of Ithaca.
I love this sort of thing. People are too ready to dismiss Homer's Iliad and Odyssey as pure myth, their characters as nothing more than fictions, archetypes or allegorical figures. (I suppose this is because they conclude that anybody singing of gods and goddesses meddling in human affairs must necessarily be making up not only the divine intervention but the earthly affairs themselves. See also Old Testament mythology.) But theories like this one (and others that I have seen) suggest more that the original stories were not so much invented as embellished and that the underlying framework on which they were built might very well have been true.
UPDATE: By the bye, as I try never to miss an opportunity to plug one of Robert Graves' historical novels, might I here recommend his Homer's Daughter? In it, Graves takes up the theory that not only was The Odyssey written by a different author than The Iliad, but it was in fact written by a woman. Graves invents that female author - Princess Nausicaa - and places her not on the west coast of Greece but on Sicily. Whether you buy into the theory or not, it is very entertaining reading.
UPDATE DEUX: Following up on the Colossus's comments, I see that I was unclear about something. When I said, "making up not only the divine intervention," I didn't mean to suggest I thought the intervention itself to be ficticious. What I meant to say is that we channel our real interactions with the Divine into images that we can comprehend, which images themselves must by definition be ficticious simply because we don't have the capacity to truly understand what we're dealing with. (Whether God in fact decided to get involved in a 12th Century B.C. trade war between Troy and the rising Greek city states, or whether the Olympians were really devils as advocated (I believe) by the Medieval Church, I leave to other, deeper thinkers.)
January 09, 2007
In Memory of the King
Yeah, everybody yesterday was noting the birthday of The King, so I thought it best to commemorate LLamabutcher style. Late, that is.
So hit. It.
This, by the way, is hilarious:
Bringing Another Level of Meaning To The Expression "The Nats Stink"
Somehow, this seems pretty fitting:
(Washington, DC) -- The steel skeleton of the new baseball stadium for the Nationals is going up near the Anacostia River in Southeast, but one environmentalist is predicting a big stink every time it rains. James Connolly, executive director of the Anacostia Watershed Society, says the District's ancient sewer system overflows even in a moderate rainstorm, dumping raw sewage into the Anacostia. Connolly told the "Washington Post" it means that baseball fans will "stand up in the seventh-inning stretch and get a big whiff of sewage." The DC Water and Sewer Authority has drawn up plans to spend two-billion-dollars on giant sewer tunnels under the city, but the money is not available. As for the plans to further develop the Anacostia with a new soccer stadium across the river from the baseball stadium, as well as as shops, housing and parks -- environmentalist Thomas Arrasmith told the "Post" that "you really cannot build a world-class city on a wrecked river."
On the other hand, think of the home field advantage over the teams that aren't used to it!
UPDATE: BTW, let me be clear that I get to say this sort of thing because I'm a Nats fan. The rest of you can put a sock in it.
Alert reader Chris flagged this for us today:
Heh. Oddly, this is exactly the technique I use in trial. Works, too.
Whaddaya Want For Nothing?
(Bow, bow, bow....)
January 08, 2007
Gratuitous BCS Championship Observations
So what exactly are the advantages of having a blimp-mounted airborne camera when the game is being played inside a fershlugginer covered stadium? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?
"Spectatular aerial shots tonight, Tom..."
Ooooh! It's a freakin' parking lot!
BTW, fingers crossed for the Gators! I've got no particular dog in this fight, but both the 'rents went to Ohio University, so of course I've got to go against Ohio State.
As the Mater is wont to say, "Ahia! Ahia! A-H-I-A!!! Poosh 'em back, Poosh 'em back, Poosh 'em back to the booshes!"
UPDATE: Yeouch. Dunno why I stayed up to watch the entire slaughter except for the fact that football season is just about at an end, I'm indifferent to hockey and loathe basketball, and it's a looooong way until baseball season starts.
Didn't this Happen In Amityville Horror?
I suppose it's been the recent unusually warm weather but we seem to have had a hatch of big ol' flies in Orgle Manor. They're fairly slow and stupid, but there's a lot of 'em.
An amusing characterization of libertarians and some thoughts on the nature of "rights" in this WSJ weekend piece about P.J. O'Rourke:
It's a bit odd to hear P.J. O'Rourke--who is always calling attention to the fraudulence of earnestness and its Siamese twin, sanctimony--talk about morality. But his is almost no morality at all, a non-morality, in that it demands nothing: The only basic human right, he says, is "the right to do as you damn well please" and take the consequences. He is not, however, a true libertarian. They're "too logical," he says. "It's a failed but admirable mission. They keep making these suicide attacks on principle, Kamikaze raids on the aircraft carrier of government. . . . Libertarians suffer the same problem that Smith runs into in the last book of 'Wealth of Nations,' which was a pretty considerable failure. He tries to make proscriptions for government that fit his rationalist philosophical and moral logic. Everything comes apart. He's self-evidently wrong, wrong by his own reasoning. The problem with politics is that philosophy and morality are never really options.
"The important thing," he continues, "is negative rights: freedom from. But politics is all about positive rights: What're you going to give me? In a democracy it's always vibrating back and forth. People want the government to do everything for them, then when they see that it sucks, they want the government to let them take charge, and when that doesn't work, they want the government to come back and fix all the problems that they themselves caused when they took charge." There's a kind of separation of church and state, Mr. O'Rourke contends: "You simply cannot put your ideas into action."
I'm about halfway through his latest book, On The Wealth of Nations (which might also be called Adam Smith for Dummies). As hard as it is to admit, I have to say that nothing here has shaken my opinion that Peej peaked as a writer in the mid 90's with All The Trouble In The World. The WSJ article talks about his transformation from young smartass to, er, middle-aged smartass and a recognition of the changing viewpoint and necessary stylistic shift is perfectly valid. However, I still don't think that Peej has found his Grumpy Old Man voice just yet. Something is still missing - perhaps by the end of the book I'll have figured out exactly what it is.
"Because Assault Is What Tiggers Do Bestest!"
Ace and the Colossus are both musing on the incident down at Disney in which the guy in the Tigger costume allegedly took a swing at some deadbeat-looking kid while the kid's dad was videotaping the whole thing.
I confess that I'm conflicted about this whole story.
On the one hand, although I haven't seen the film itself, from the stills available, it looks more like a slap than a punch. And the kid looks like a punk. Well, I always sided with Patton for slapping that sniveling little private in Sicily, so don't expect any sympathy from me here. Suck it up, you little sum'bitch.
On the other hand, this is Disney. And Disney is evil, res ipsa loquitur. When I was dragooned there, the characters kept coming up and putting their arms around me, much to my extreme annoyance. Perhaps I should have sued for sexual harassment?
On the third hand, what kind of a moron takes a swing in earnest at Junior when he knows Dad has the camcorder on him? (I suppose the answer to that one is somebody dumb enough that the only work they can get is dressing up in a giant tigger suit, so never mind.....)
On the fourth hand, what poor wage-slave working for Der Maus hasn't dreamed fervently of unloading on one of the gajillion obnoxious tourons swarming through the place?
As I say, I'm terribly conflicted about this. I'm sure, however, that it's all Speaker Pelosi's fault somehow.
UPDATE: Of course YouTube would have the clip already. Roll it:
You call this hitting? What kind of nancy-boys are these people?
I'm keeping the post title, tho', cos I like it.
Scorps On A Plane
I'm not sure whether this wouldn't be even worse than a snake:
The scorpion made it through security in Costa Rica in the passenger's backpack as he prepared to board the American Airlines flight headed for Toronto. The flight made its scheduled stopover in Miami and had taken off again for Toronto before the critter made its unwanted appearance.
But the scorpion was no pet - the man had been on a camping trip in the country with his brother when the arachnid crawled into his bag without him seeing it.
Then in mid-flight, the scorpion crawled out of the backpack and stung the man on the back of the knee.
After the plane landed the traveller was treated by paramedics. The scorpion was killed when it was captured, and animal control officers identified it as a non-lethal species.
Brrr...This story gives me a case of the screaming heebie-jeebies, invoking violent flashbacks of life in south Texas, where you just never knew when one of the little bastards would turn up. I was only ever stung the once (by one that climbed up my leg as I was simply standing on our driveway one day), but I was only saved on several occasions by paying attention to quick little flicks of yellowish brown seen out of the corner of my eye.
Pardon me while I have a good look round my desk and swat myself in the back and on the legs a few times.
UPDATE: BTW, this also reminds me of a very funny bit in Waugh's Sword of Honor trilogy involving a witch doctor working for the War Department and a parcel of scorpions being delivered to him by hand of officer from out East somewhere.
This day in LLamabutcher History
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, commemorating the day in which Emperor Chimpy McHaliburton, with the Ring of Power giving him power over nature and earth and the minds of man....
Yips! from Robbo:
I'd been looking for an excuse to buy this in the same way that a drunkard looks for an excuse to have another quick one -
And now all your funstering has put me right off the wagon. I am so going to get into trouble.
Happy Birthday, Old Pete!
General James Longstreet was born this day in 1821 in Edgefield District, South Carolina. I've always found Longstreet to be a fascinating character, stolid and solid and lacking the cavalier air of many of the other Confederate officers. At the same time, his is the only major memoir of the war I've read that I have not yet been able to get all the way through. Zzzzzzz......
As to the notion that Longstreet deliberately threw the battle of Gettysburg because he disagreed with Lee's offensive tactics, I think this is patent nonsense cobbled together by people who loathed Longstreet because he turned Republican after the war.
On the other hand, I also believe that Longstreet's own preference to swing around to the right as opposed to a frontal assault would have left the Confederate lines dangerously stretched and ripe for disaster. As shown by the results of his own independant commands, Longstreet really wasn't all that brilliant a tactician.
Random Commuter Observation
A rainy morning in Dee Cee coupled with a heretofore unnoticed hole in the sole of my shoe means a soggy sock for Robbo. (Cold, wet feet are something I've grown to dislike more and more as I've gotten older.)
I blame Speaker Pelosi.
UPDATE: Oh, and the Jets' refusal to abandon the blitz in the second half yesterday, allowing Brady to dink 'em with short passes and put the game out of reach? Same thing.
January 07, 2007
Life with the Uber Grouch
Personally, I'm very afraid she's going to get her own reality show.
Happy Birthday, Wilma Deering!
The lovely Erin Gray was born this day in 1950. As they say, let's go to the videotape:
Off-think ======> Profit!
That was most of last week. Blogging should recommence relatively soon.
This brought tears of joy to my eyes.
January 06, 2007
That's My Church!
Interesting piece in the WaPo yesterday about Truro and the Falls Church, basically stating that they really weren't Episcopalians anyway:
But the votes appear less sudden or surprising when one realizes that for more than 30 years, Truro and The Falls Church have been part of a "charismatic revival" within mainline Protestantism, said the Rev. Robert W. Prichard, professor of Christianity in America at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria.
Charismatic, in this case, refers to an ecstatic style of worship that includes speaking in tongues, a stream of unintelligible syllables signifying that the Holy Spirit has entered the worshiper. It is a hallmark of the fast-growing Pentecostal movement but unusual for Episcopalians, who are so thoroughly associated with solemnity and tradition that they are sometimes referred to teasingly as "the frozen chosen."
Instead, these two churches have the whole ecumenical evangelicalism thing going:
At least two-thirds of the worshipers are Methodists, Presbyterians or Baptists, and there is no pressure on them to be confirmed as Episcopalians, said the Rev. Rick Wright, associate rector.
Wright said the diverse membership of both congregations illustrates one of the great changes in American religion of the past half-century: The divisions between denominations are far less important today than the divisions within denominations.
"I tend to feel very comfortable rubbing shoulders with folks at McLean Bible or Columbia Baptist . . . that are real orthodox, evangelical, biblical churches," said Truro's chief warden, or lay leader, Jim Oakes, referring to two Northern Virginia megachurches. "We share core beliefs. I think I would be more comfortable with them than with anyone I might run into at an Episcopal Diocesan Council meeting."
In some popular services, Truro and The Falls Church blend the traditional liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer with such megachurch touches as huge choirs, bass guitars and drums. Neither offers "smells and bells," the incense and chimes favored by "high church" Episcopal congregations. But some parishioners affectionately describe Truro as "McLean Bible with candles."
People sometimes ask me, "Tom, if you're so sympathetic to the separatists at these churches, why don't you go with them?" Well, this is why. I haven't a evangelical bone in my body. And I can't help wondering if this article isn't aimed at people like me, the underlying message seeming to be, "Do you really want to go that way, Comrade? Why not stay with the Party instead and not cause waves."
This dynamic is not confined to the ECUSA, btw. According to the Episcopal News Service, a study was recently done by an ecumenical outfit called the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership concerning what makes congregations grow. I find many of its conclusions decidedly depressing:
*Congregations that change worship format and style are more likely to grow. More than half the congregations that use contemporary styles of worship have experienced substantial growth since 2000.
*Frequency is important as well: The more worship services a congregation holds, the more likely it is to have grown.
* Over half of the congregations that use drums and or electric guitars often or always in their worship services have experienced "substantial growth" from 2000 to 2005, the report says. "The relationship is fairly strong in the overall set of congregations, but considerably stronger among evangelical churches and weakest among mainline churches," according to the report.
*Congregations located in new suburbs are more likely to experience growth. But surprisingly the second best area for growth is the downtown of metropolitan areas.
*Congregations that have experienced major conflict are quite likely to have declined in attendance. The strongest correlate of growth is the absence of serious conflict.
*Congregations that have started or maintained a website in the past year are most likely to grow. The effort to have a website indicates that the congregation is outward looking and willing to change by non-traditional means, the study found.
*While most congregations in America are composed of a single racial/ethnic group, those that are multi-racial are most likely to have experienced strong growth in worship attendance.
*More important than theological orientation is the religious character of the congregation and clarity of mission and purpose. Growing churches are clear about why they exist and about what they are to be doing.
*Congregations that involve children in worship are more likely to experience significant growth. Also, important to growth is the ability of congregations to attract young adults and children with families.
*Almost all congregations say they want to grow, but it takes intentionality and action for growth to occur. Congregations that developed a plan to recruit members in the last year were more likely to grow than congregations that had not. Particularly helpful in achieving growth are sponsorship of a program or event to attract non-members or the existence of support groups.
Emphasis added. Evidently, if one wants to maintain a strong Protestant church in this country, one either has to become an Evangelical, a Unitarian or both. (And before my Catholic friends out there start sniggering, I've got two words for you: Liturgical Dance.)
UPDATE: Just to head off any angry comments, let me be clear that I'm not trying to insult anybody else's form of worship here, just stating how increasingly difficult it is to maintain what I was raised on and wish to preserve.
UPDATE DEUX: Read Mrs. P's comments. She's perfectly correct, of course so in that spirit I give you this little nugget. 'Bout sums things up, I should say:
Gratuitous Global Warming Observation
Ah, 70 degrees in NoVa this afternoon........
If only this would last, it's likely Washington Gas would wind up owing us money for the month. Alas, a front is on its way in and by the middle of the week we'll be back to typical January rat-bastard weather.
I turned on the Weather Channel for a few minutes last evening and noted that their ratings-driven fearmongering has not abated since the great non-hurricane hurricane season this past summer and autumn. Yeah, they admitted, the temperatures in the East have been unusually warm this year because of a La Nina operating out in the Pacific and an atypical jet stream bottling up the cold air in Canada, but By Golly, IT'S ALL CONNECTED WITH THE RAMPANT AND IRRESPONSIBLE RELEASE OF GREENHOUSE GASES SOMEHOW!!! EEEEEYAAAAARGGH!!!
UPDATE: Drat! I was going to plant some bulbs I had stored away just for the novelty of it, but I was fool enough to keep them in mulch in my basement (which gets quite damp) and they turned out to be all rotty. Oh, well.
Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday. I just didn't have anything to say or the energy to say it.
Personally, I blame Speaker Pelosi.
January 04, 2007
Happy Birthday, 007!
(Sorry, can't find a picture of the man himself.)
Today is the birthday, in 1900, of the real James Bond. Wikipedia picks up the story:
The real Bond was born in Philadelphia and worked as an ornithologist at the Academy of Natural Sciences in that city, rising to become curator of birds there. He was an expert in Caribbean birds and wrote the definitive book on the subject: Birds of the West Indies, first published in 1936 and, in its fifth edition, still in print (ISBN 0-618-00210-3).
Ian Fleming, who was a keen bird watcher living in Jamaica, was familiar with Bond's book, and chose the name of its author for the hero of Casino Royale in 1953, apparently because he wanted a name that sounded 'as ordinary as possible'. Fleming wrote to the real Bond's wife, "It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born." In the twentieth James Bond film, Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan, playing the fictional Bond, can be seen examining the book Birds of the West Indies in an early scene that takes place in Havana, Cuba. Bond won the Institute of Jamaica's Musgrave Medal in 1952; the Brewster Medal of the American Ornithologists Union in 1954; and the Leidy Medal of the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1975.
He died in the Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia at age 89.
I've known this story for many years now, but the recent release of the Casino Royale movie is a worthy occassion for its repetition. As to Fleming's choice of Bond as a model, I find it extremely amusing that both the original and the fictional character should share such a strong interest in, er, "birds."
UPDATE: Here's a memorial to Bond written by Kenneth C. Parkes, complete with photograph. It's a pdf. file, I'm afraid.
Random Commuter Observations
I notice that at the end of the radio ads for its various lotto games, the Virginia Lottery has taken to adding the tag line, "The Virginia Lottery - helping Virginia's public schools."
This irks me.
Sure, you can argue that the money goes to a good cause, as does the Virginia Lottery itself:
In Fiscal Year 2006, the Virginia Lottery had record sales of over $1.3 billion. Of this total, the Lottery contributed $454.9 Million, or 33.3%, to public education grades K-12. 56% went back to players in the form of prizes, 5.6% went to the retailers who sell Virginia Lottery tickets, and 5.1% went to operational expenses.
The fact of the matter remains, however, that guv'mint lotteries are nasty, pernicious, regressive wealth redistribution schemes, funded in large part by people who really have no business throwing money away on lotto tickets. That the money is being spent (at least for the moment) "for the Children" doesn't take away from this fact. I can't help but think about it every time I hear the Va. Lottery trumpeting its faux saintliness.
January 03, 2007
Life At Orgle Manor
Actually, this isn't really all that far off, especially when we're ordering pizza:
Don't Let The Door At Pro Player Hit You In The Backside On The Way Out
Dayum! The man is 15 and 17 with no playoff appearances over the past two seasons........What are we going to do without him?
UPDATE: Here's a little local commentary:
The punctuation on the Nick Saban Error is greasy and greedy. You know what he was as Dolphins coach? A failure. A loser. A gasbag. And one of the worst investments Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga has ever made. He was less of a success than Dave Wannstedt and more of a traitor than Ricky Williams. There has been very little in franchise history that came with more expectations and fewer results than this hypocrite who at the end avoided the hard questions one last time.
Talk like a warrior. Behave like a weasel.
Bitter? Nah. But all the more reason to be happy he's gone, I should think.
That's My Church!
Be There! Be There! Be There!
Three Birthdays And A Funeral
Yes, that's pretty much how January 2007 is looking to shape up at Orgle Manor.
First, the Middle Llama-ette turns seven in another week. Not to be outdone, her younger sister turns five just a few days later. This means back-to-back weekends' worth of birthday parties, ice-skating for the former and swimming for the latter. I feel tired already. Detailed reports to follow.
Later on in the month, your humble correspondent learns the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything by turning 42. In modest celebration, I have already taken the liberty of giving myself the complete works of Saki plus the first two volumes (or movements, if you will) of Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time.
As for the funeral, well, a few of you know that my father (who long time readers may remember as the occasional and always cantankerous commenter "O.F.") is quite ill. For those of you not in the picture, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer about ten years ago and had been fighting a generally successful rearguard action until this past summer, when the metastises started to overwhelm his systems. He's been sliding downhill pretty fast since then and informed opinion gives him a few more weeks, tops. I don't plan to blog much at all directly on the subject, but of course it's
going to have having an ancillary effect on everthing else. So in the event of sudden lapses or odd uncharacteristic postings on my part, you'll understand why.
All in all, I think you'll agree it's going to be a mighty interesting month.
Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm..." - Domestic Division
The Missus is well known for being hard of hearing, yet somehow when I muttered under my breath the other day that the front hall really needed to be painted again I heard her voice from downstairs and around the corner immediately reply, "Oh! When do you think you can start?"
January 01, 2007
Happy New Year from the LLamas!
Last year, I had a pretty extensive New Year's Eve posting, with the following resolutions:
1. Eat more guacomole
2. Be more of a dick at work
3. Watch more bad movies
4. Stop mooching the neighbor's wireless
5. Did I mention being a dick at work? More of that.
6. Blog more, but less Dennis Hastert and more Melissa Theuriau.
So how did I do?
1. Guacomole consumption: up by about 75%, mainly by experimenting with some different recipes at home. 06 was a good year for the garden so there was a lot of different salsa and gazpacho experimentation going on.
2. Being a dick at work: 06 started off bad, went to worse, than S.R. Sirling levels of fun, then suddenly weird, a quiet interlude where nothing stupid happened, bad, to the scene from the end of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but I was Tuco, to indifferent, to suddenly and surpisingly good, then very quiet, to a long stretch of very busy but not so bad. And that was just the first week of January. Net result: I'm still a face smasher in a den of back-stabbers, but there's a certain honor in that.
3. Watch more bad movies: failed in that one, too. Saw even fewer movies this year (I mean, for goodness sakes, I still haven't seen Borat). Still haven't seen Firefly, for that matter.
4. Stop mooching the neighbor's wireless: Success! We went wireless last March and never looked back. Still have yet to play Robbo in Age of Empires online, but so far have avoided the sultry siren call of Warhammercraft that my buddy and IT Elven Master Aaron has been trying to get me to play.
5. Being even more of a dick at work: I've centered this on harassing the crap out of the smokers in my building and the one next door by naming the breezeway between the buildings "Emphysema Alley" complete with a Faux-authentic sign and all. And I did set up a Career Nite Event for April 1, with signs announcing
"Classics, Religion, and Philosophy Department Career Nite. Come find how your C.R.aP. major can help you get a fabulous job! Recruiters will be there from Barnes and Noble, Kinko's, Starbucks and Home Depot! Find out which apron is right for YOU!"
I also signed up our Dean, a man who definitely put the "Oooooo" in "Fop" for the moisturizer of the month club.
6. More Melissa Theuriau, less Dennis Hastert
I think we've definitely evolved more as a blog away from talking politics all the time because basically blogs that just talk politics all the time are rather tiresome.
The New Year's Resolutions for 2007? Check back later today.
Yips! from Robbo: My belated best wishes for the New Year as well. As we've done for the past fifteen years now, the Missus and I spent New Year's Eve carousing with our Llama Military Correspondent and his family, this year's festivities taking place at Fort LMC and in the shadow of the LMC's imminent departure for the Sandbox.
As always, the evening's entertainment was provided by the Missus and the LMC, who have a kind of Beatrice/Benedict thing going that is guaranteed to amuse. Mrs. LMC and I generally just sit back and watch, not interfereing except to strike up the blades when the action threatens to become too earnest.
Anyhoo, a good time was had by all, although on the drive back up on Route 17 between Yorktown and Fredericksburg we were practically swimming, it was raining so hard.