9/23/2015

Equi-Nox means [Day] Equals Night -- Right?

Wrap this around your mental astronomical-phenomena spindle and see if you can make of it more of a skein than a snarl:

Where I live on the west coast of the U.S.A., astronomical equinox is at 1:20AM Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday 23 September 2015.  The time from sunrise to sunset should be equal to the time from sunset to sunrise, right?

Doesn't work that way.

Wednesday actually has six more minutes of daylight than Friday.  On Friday 25 September we actually get 12 hours zero minutes between sunrise and sunset.

Why?

First, the astronomical definition of equinox is at the moment the earth in its orbit around the sun crosses a particular point in reference to what astronomers call the fixed stars.  We know that point wanders with respect to the earth's axis-wobble and the earth's elliptical orbit (precession of the equinox) -- ve-e-e-r-r-y s-slo-o-o-owly!  But can it make a difference of a day or two?

Second, there's the spin of the earth.  Does the spin, added to the round-the-sun motion, make a difference?

I admit I haven't done the research.  But hey, give me some credit for finding the conundrum.

9/22/2015

Papa Francisco's Optics

No, I am not interested in the Pope's eyeglasses.  I do find it distressing, however, that the Holy Father does not seem concerned with the optics surrounding his visit to North America.  Specifically, doesn't it look like he is offering comfort and appeasement to Obama and Castro?

I firmly believe the pope is not intending to aid democrats and communists in a direct political way. But it is too easy to believe that the good Pope Francis is just to naive for the world scene.

Who won the fight over anti-Catholic guests at the scheduled White House meeting?  We'll see how that whole thing plays out.  And why offer the appearance of legitimacy to the murderous tyranny that is Cuba?

Don't hold your breath waiting for world-shaking words of courage from the pope. I will be happily surprised if he has a Brandenburg Gate moment while visiting down where the bananas grow: "Mr. Castro, tear down this police state!"

9/14/2015

Words Mean Things - And Opposite Things

In Charles Dickens' The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (Chapter VI), Mr. Tupman is wounded by a small bore "rook rifle" shotgun, when Mr. Winkle demonstrates what happens when you ignore three or four of the rules of gun safety. Pickwick, Snodgrass, and Winkle then depart to enjoy a local cricket match with their host Mr. Wardle, leaving Tupman "in charge of" the ladies of the household. Dickens is not saying that Tupman has been vested with authority to police the ladies' behavior. Quite the opposite. The ladies are to see to the well-being of Tupman.

When did the change in meaning occur? How is it that words can flip meanings?

Then there's Subject and Object. Some time between the 12th and the 21st centuries, Subject and Object passed each other going in opposite directions on the towpath of language, and as they passed they traded meanings. "Subjective" used to mean, "of or pertaining to the subject," where "subject" meant the thing being "subjected" to scrutiny.  Now, of course, the subject of scrutiny is called the "object", and if you object to that, you will be subjected to the ignominy of being misunderstood.  What you study is the "object", unless you're talking about your school schedule -- in which case you still study the "subjects" on the list. The final lens on a microscope or telescope is the "objective" lens.  But how handy to introverts it could be when attending a social function, to be able to pull out a little lorgnette or pince-nez or opera glasses holding high-quality subjective lenses!  Perhaps then the (unspoken) object of the person talking to you would be magnified, their point revealed. All the feels they subjectively hold, all the bias they subjectively project, would be visible in shifting pleochroic auras under an optical-quality subjective lens!

And if I were to look at myself in a mirror through the subjective lenses of my hypothetical binoculars, would I stumble across the threshold of some kind of Burnsian satori?
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
On second thought, I will pass on the subjective lenses and go on seeing myself as richer, younger, healthier, and handsomer than I may look to "ithers."




9/13/2015

MS Edge U Doin It Wrong

Here's a funny thing:

Having installed Windows 10 on the laptop many weeks ago, I decided for some unknown reason to try out Microsoft Edge, the new  I'm-Not-Windows-Exploder web browser.  Meh.  Then I tried to import bookmarks from Chrome.

The good news I guess is that the bookmarks did, technically, move from Chrome to Edge.  The bad news is that all my bookmarks in Edge are upside down.  Inverted.  Sorted precisely backward from where they were in Chrome.

Careful, Microsoft, or somebody might think you suck and you hate us.

9/02/2015

JAPAN SURRENDERS!

Seventy years ago, the formal articles of the unconditional surrender of Japan were signed aboard USS Missouri (BB-63).

"It's V-J Day!  Go kiss a sailor!,"  as my mother used to say.  (Dad, of course, was in the Navy!)

9/01/2015

Compressed Garbage Trucks

I get junk email at work.  This one actually makes more sense than many do.  You have to grab all the humor you can wherever you can find it!

Dear manager.
Good morning, glad to meet you. Thanks a lot that you had read my E-mail.
We are a manufacturer. We design and supply different non-standard hydraulic cylinder for compressed garbage trucks, dump trucks, arm-swing trucks and swill collectiong trucks. Hope that we will have a chance to contact more about your cylinders for these kind trucks, thanks.
Please keep in touch.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Have a nice day and best regards,
Lena
FAST
Future Automatic Equipments Co., Ltd
Int'l Sales Manager

8/06/2015

Hiroshima Day

The atomic bombs made my life possible.  At the time Truman gave the go-ahead, my father was on an LST in the Pacific, preparing for the invasion of the Japanese home islands.

The use of the atomic bombs saved lives, compared to anticipated casualties from the planned invasion.

The tyranny of the government of Imperial Japan was the cause of so much suffering.

Yes those photos are ghastly.  But every time Hiroshima Day rolls around I thank the One True God® that the bombs were used and the surrender was secured.

7/16/2015

Korean War Martyr

U.S. Army 19th Infantry troops had been in action along the Kum River through 16 July 1950. They intended to disengage but their retreat was blocked by Communist forces.

Quotes below are from the wikipedia article:

"U.S. troops from the 19th Infantry, desperate to move around the roadblock to obtain supplies and care for wounded, began moving through the surrounding hills. One tank was able to make it through the roadblock to evacuate the 19th Infantry's wounded commander, but by 19:00 commanders ordered the regiment to move its wounded along the ridges to the east of the roadblock."

"...At 21:00, about 100 men of the 19th Infantry moved into the hills to the east of the town. They carried with them about 30 wounded, including several litter-bound patients too seriously wounded to walk. Some of the group of 100 were ordered to carry these men, but many of them separated from the group in the mountains. By the time they reached the top of the mountain, officers decided some of the seriously wounded could not be carried any further, as their carriers were exhausted.

"The regimental medical officer, Captain Linton J. Buttrey, and Chaplain [Franciscan Roman Catholic priest] Herman G. Felhoelter remained behind with the wounded, intending to move them when another group of troops came through who could carry them."

The chaplain urged the medical officer to escape. Buttrey was wounded but survived.

"...[O]bservers from the 19th Infantry's regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Company watched through binoculars from a distance as a patrol of young-looking and possibly untrained North Korean troops approached the site of the wounded. The troops were armed with Soviet-made rifles and PPSh-41 "burp guns". As Felhoelter knelt to pray over the wounded U.S. soldiers, the North Korean troops shot him in the head and back. They then proceeded to shoot and kill all of the 30 critically wounded soldiers with their automatic weapons before withdrawing into the wilderness."

Father Felhoelter had received the Bronze Star as a chaplain in World War II.  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.

7/13/2015

Dredging sand to build airstrips?

Are any of the environmentalists concerned about communist China raping coral reefs to advance their imperialist goals?

Here's a story from that frontier.

But seriously.  Dredge and dump is a federal offense in USA, isn't it?  EPA regulations, etc.?   I guess Gaia loses if she comes up against the glorious workers' revolutionary progress through history yada yada yada.


6/30/2015

Supreme Court and Baseball

Yer OUT!
 · I was SAFE!!!
He meant to tag you, though, so you're out.
 - - -
STEE-RIKE THREE!!! YER OOOUUTT!!!
 · What?!
Well, the pitcher's intention was to put the ball over the inside corner.
 - - -
SAFE!
 · But I tagged him, ump!
Oh, you're up by three runs anyway, and he's stolen a base in each of his last six games, so let's give it to him!

 - - -

In baseball, we would call that bad officiating.

When the Supreme Court does it, who can anyone appeal to?

6/29/2015

Papa Francisco addresses youth, talks rot

Will Pope Francis Disarm His Guards?



"Was it 'un-Christian' of weapons manufacturers in the Allied countries to arm the forces that ended the Axis campaign of genocide?," asks Kurt Hofmann in the article linked above from the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership web site on 24 June 2015.  



That deeply clericalist mentality is disturbing, that would use the papacy to sway prudential judgments that belong uniquely to the laity.  While the pope is doing some remedial study in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (around paragraph 2263 et seq.) he might also look up subsidiarity (paragraph 1883 - 1885), as well as the role of the laity (around paragraph 2442):

It is not the role of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. This task is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens.

6/20/2015

Midsummer walk

Elderberries getting ripe

My little buckeye

Sweet Pea blooming on pea vine hill

Huge midsummer sun bow - the black dots are swallows




Had a little midsummer eve walkies and saw some things. 



6/18/2015

I should be the White House travel office.

I have an idea for an alternate vacation plan for Michelle and the girls.  How about Arlington National Cemetery: a tour that will focus on recipients of the Medal of Honor (Posthumous).  And / or  Civil War battlefields.  And Lexington and Concord.  And a visit to the Declaration of Independence.

Might do us ALL some good.  Plus it would be loads cheaper.

6/16/2015

Throw Objective Truth overboard. The rest is easy.

Rachel Dolezal.
Bruce Jenner.
Emperor Norton.

Shhh.  Don't make the crazy person upset.  Buy the Emperor a drink.

6/14/2015

Tanka for June 13, 2015

Nearly midsummer
Bare stalks with round bead-like seeds

All along the path
Under warm scent of laurel
Pinhole pictures of the sun
Base of Mount Wanda trail

Indian Soap going to seed

Acorn Woodpecker work -- but where are the acorns?

6/06/2015

Since people [you know: people!] have told me that the metric system is more accurate (?!) than the imperial system, I offer the following more accurate song titles for your edjumication:

Kilometers From Nowhere - Cat Stevens
159 Kilometers from L.A. - Albert Hammond
28.968 Kilometers From Memphis - Stray Cats
I Can See For Kilometers and Kilometers - The Who
Kilometers Away - Jackson Browne
1,609,344 Kilometers Away - Rory Gallagher
64.37 Kilometers from Poplar Bluff - Dolly Parton
Nothing Like 160.6344 Kilometers - James Taylor
1,609,344 Kilometers - Bob Dylan
144.8 Kilometers an Hour (Down a Dead End Street) - Bob Dylan
14.48 Kilometers From Gundagai - Michael Cooney

Because, you know, miles is just not as accurate. There are probably about a brazillian more of 'em. (You can do your own conversion on the other ones.)

6/05/2015

Healing, growth, change, recovery

You're four years old and you fall down and get a scrape on your leg.  Two days later there is new pink skin on the spot and you can run as fast as ever.  The worst long-term effect is that for the rest of the summer you will have a light spot in your leg tan.

You're fifteen years old and a girl you like tells you she doesn't want to see you any more.  Actually she doesn't tell you, she has her friend tell you and that hurts even worse.  Six weeks later you meet a very nice girl at a dance and you end up taking her to Junior Prom.  The worst long-term side effect is a bit of embarrassment over the past.

You're twenty-six years old and everything is working out according to your plans.  You are head-over-heels in love with your spouse, your soul mate.  Your new son is healthy.  Your job is satisfactory.  But for some reason you are uneasy in every social situation. The alcohol that was once a usable tool is now an absolute need.  All day.  It's not working.  You hate yourself and want to die.  One afternoon you remember a long-ago conversation with a friend who was talking to you (for some reason...) about how she was helped by Alcoholics Anonymous.  A call is made.  An AA meeting found.  (You get a ride because you're too shaky to drive.)  Your brief, near-fatal relationship with alcohol ends.  The long task of life without the substance begins.  The worst long-term side effect is that  it doesn't just skin over  like that scrape when you were four years old.  It also doesn't simply get displaced/replaced by something new.  You haven't got a clue, you haven't got a plan, except to survive.  And you begin to learn about taking life one day at a time.

You're forty-two years old and your mother dies suddenly.  You didn't get to say good-bye.  You didn't get one last hug.  She's gone.  Nothing makes sense.  Nobody loves you like your mom.  Every hour, every day there is a nagging empty agony. Everything hurts.  The worst long-term side effect is that it doesn't go away.  A sort of callus builds up over the wound, like a tree that loses a large branch, but you can't say it  heals  exactly, because what is gone stays gone.  You begin to learn how to go on loving after the one you love is taken away.

What am I driving at here? 

No.  I think I'll just leave it where it is.  The process is ongoing, after all.

6/04/2015

Bully! It's good to the last drop!

Joel Cheek, a salesman from Kentucky came up with a special blend of coffee in 1874. He sold the coffee to the restaurant in Nashville’s Maxwell House Hotel, which is how the brand eventually got its name. Theodore Roosevelt tasted the coffee years later and responded, “Delighted! It’s good to the last drop,” when asked if he wanted a refill. That phrase became part of the brand’s identity, logo and advertising.      [according to...]
I like the Maxwell House instant coffee.  I've heard the tag line all my long life, and never knew the origin!

5/26/2015

The fall of Firefox

Please imagine that you have just watched a YouTube re-dub of that Downfall scene, in which a Mozilla decision-maker, in the person of Hitler, finds out market share for Firefox is dwindling. Imagine that it was hilarious.

Okay, the reason that Gedanken was necessary is because I am now using Google's Chrome at work, on my home laptop, and on my Samsung Galaxy pad.

I have news for the pundits out there. This decision had nothing to do with Mozilla's hiring and firing decisions.

My browser switch decision was a way of seeking the least suckitude. Re-routing around the source of interference. Specifically, Mozilla Firefox was hogging too many page frames, and not giving them back. I would check the stats on the performance tab of Task Manager, and opening and closing Firefox resulted in a steadily increasing page frame usage, until everything got so sluggish I had to restart.  I hate to restart. I like to have everything Just So. And it takes some time to make everything Just So again after I restart.

Chrome seems to take up too much memory, especially if I have a lot of browser tabs open, but at least it gives me my page frames back. And neither do I care who is hired and fired by Google, as long as my desktop is Just So.

For the record, I also do not care who is hired or fired by Maytag, Black and Decker, PaperMate, or numerous slave-labor establishments that crank out products from the workers' paradise of the People's Republic of China. Don't want to think about it. Products I use (even free downloads!) are largely a function of the pressure of necessity.

If Firefox' share is falling, maybe Mozilla should try to make it suck less. Let me know how that goes.

5/22/2015

FREE! An Idea Worth $1,000,000

Okay so here's my latest million dollar idea:
Kitchen Floor Air Hockey.
All you have to do is come up with a battery-operated hover-puck.  How hard could it be?!  Some kind of little fan that sits in/on a little disk thing.  So you don't need a special dedicated pneumatic playing surface, just the HoverPuck®. Turn that baby on and -- boom! -- your kitchen or patio becomes an air hockey rink. Bat that sucker around!  Hilarity ensues!

5/21/2015

In which I brush the cobwebs off an old poem that has no punctuation

Your Eyes
   written May, 1998
-------------------------------

Our house so seldom empty
Greets me only with the sound of settling
A ticking a whirring
So rarely filled with silence
Are there echoes even now
The clamor laughter angry ardor
I can almost see them
But what I see is what I miss
Your eyes
You there in the house
All the years the love your eyes
All the ways and times
Even you there in the dark
How can I know when your eyes are on me
Dizzies me
How your eyes know mine
I kiss your neck
Your closed eyelids
There have been times your tears have wet my lips
Then what comfort can I give
Solace to settle your nerves
When like as not I am the cause of tears
Downcast I wander past
Your eyes meet me before my eyes meet yours
I know your eyes
Sinking creaking in next to you
Settling down to your lips
My closed eyes blink open to meet
Yours searching
What
My eyebrow curve of temple
My heart
Always looking to me
Even when I am away
Or when you are away
How do I know
I know I feel your love your gaze
Your inward eyes are turned toward me
Me the one who does not know the worth of anything
Doesn't know the value of a dollar
Ah but you
You are the treasure in that field
Yes all that and more
Some day
The dust settling over my dead years
Dead artifacts and personal effects
Among them a photo of your eyes
Perhaps our great-to-the-Nth grandchildren
One can only hope
May be taken by your eyes too
The wonder of such love
So you can see
This is not finished

5/20/2015

Diver Dan - Hard Water









Speaking of puppet shows:



Scoff all you want -- I was probably watching this at the tender age of 3 or 4 years old when it first came out in 1961!  There was this thing called "TV", see?  And there were THREE channels.  There would have been four but Dad didn't put up a UHF antenna. 



Anyway, it seems pretty s-l-o-w now.  Wow. 



Baron Barracuda still creeps me out!

5/19/2015

It does sort of widen your horizons

"The communion and sharing that are part of everyday life in the home, at times of joy and at times of difficulty, are the most concrete and effective pedagogy for the active, responsible, and fruitful inclusion of children into the wider horizon of society."
 -- Saint Pope John Paul II, "Familiaris Consortio", 1981.
Of course, when I was a kid the communion and sharing at times of difficulty largely consisted of hearing my parents yelling at each other.

5/18/2015

Benedict Arnold - Star Trek Connection

It turns out that the original ship named Enterprise was a British sloop captured by I-was-for-America-before-I-was-against-it Benedict Arnold on this day ( 18 May ) in 1775.

The nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was decomissioned in 2013.

Another USS Enterprise (she will be CVN-80) is under construction, due to be operational around 2025.  I like to think that the reason it is going to take so long is that they are working out the kinks on the warp drive.  It's hard to get qualified Shaw-Fujikawa Reactor mechanics nowadays -- and that will probably only get worse, what with Common Core and all that.

5/13/2015

U.S. Navy Nurses

13 May 1908 is the date of the official establishment of the U. S. Navy Nurse Corps.

President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill that created the Corps by act of Congress.

So Teddy not only brought us the Great White Fleet, but also some Great White Dress Uniforms.

The original Navy Nurses became known as "The Sacred Twenty"
[wikimedia photo]

5/12/2015

It's almost like they want anarchy

The headline:

California judge refuses to revoke release of serial rapist

This may be sufficient evidence to make a prudent judgment that it is now impossible to safeguard the public safety without the death penalty.

The Catechism says:
2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:
"If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's." [St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II,64,7, corp. art.]
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party. [Cf. Lk 23:40-43]2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." [John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56]
Sorry for the long quote.  But if the justice system is so broken that a known, convicted serial rapist who has violated terms of release is left out in society, what hope is there for "...non-lethal means... sufficient to defend and protect people's safety..." ?

Sorry again for what I'm going to say, but:  Given a choice between Thomas Aquinas and thousands of years of scripture and natural law on one side, and John Paul II and a century of pious liberal sentiment on the other side, I would pick St. Thomas, citizen ownership of arms, and efficient punishment including the death penalty.

The people who say that yes, the death penalty is not excluded by faith and reason, and yet go on to make its application impossible -- these are the same people who have never met a just war (and set up impossible conditions for concluding it could ever be possible), the same people who nod to the Second Amendment and then regulate to the point of practical impossibility of its individual utilization, the same people who say that yes of course Pam Geller has a First Amendment right to free speech BUT...

That way lies madness, ovens, mass graves.

5/11/2015

Nun testifies in Boston bomber trial - FOR the bomber

Sister Helen Prejean (Congregation of St. Joseph) testified Monday 11 May 2015 in defense of Boston Marathon bombing "suspect" Dzokhar Tsarnaev.

The blood-dancing nun believes the death penalty is always wrong.

The press identify Prejean in a way that would make her seem a legitimate spokesperson for the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.  She is rather a one-nun show than a Vatican envoy.  She has run her anti-death-penalty lobby business sisterjean.org since 2004 (and in other forms before her internet presence).

Using her position as a Catholic woman religious for political traction is one of the things meant in the commandment about taking God's name in vain.

If nothing else, she continues to insult the unborn and other innocents whose lives are taken, when she conflates abortion / war / self-defense / death-penalty.

Here's a thought:  Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified.  He spoke from the cross. One of the things He did NOT say was, "Oh, and by the way, this thing they are doing here? This death-penalty thing?  It's always wrong."

I think honest people come to the conclusion that war, the death penalty, and the use of lethal force in self-defense are sometimes the PRO-LIFE thing to do.

5/08/2015

IRS Scandal: Two Years On, No Rolling Heads

This weekend (10 May 2015) marks the two year anniversary of the admission by IRS chief Lois Lerner that tax auditors had particularly targeted conservatives prior to the 2012 election.

Lerner subsequently stepped down.  The ongoing clown-car runaround and stonewalling of the past two years is shameful and infuriating.

Of the people, by the people, and for the people indeed!  By "people" Mr. Lincoln did not mean "the people in charge."  Civil service is corrupt and civil service labor law is broken.

Until tar-and-feathers becomes an acceptable citizen activity, and until we are able to bring back the pillory, it is up to Congress (God help us!) to sort out the incompetent from the corrupt from the criminal.  I will be holding my breath.  Yeah, sure.

The Internal Revenue Service is not alone.  These kinds of things happen to everybody.  As Jake said:
It wasn't my fault! ...Honest, I ran out of gas. I - I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!

5/07/2015

The Sinking of the Lusitania

One hundred years ago today, 7 May 1915, German Untersee Boot U-20 torpedoed and sank the ocean liner Lusitania.  [photo]

Wikimedia image from the London Illustrated News
Terrorist attack?

A weak America does seem to invite ill treatment from enemies.

I blame President Woodrow Wilson.  And I'm not the only one.

On 21 June 1915, former president Theodore Roosevelt wrote in a letter to John H. Lorimer of the Union League Club in Philadelphia:  "Personally I do not believe that Wilson was right on the Lusitania matter.  Had he acted with reasonable firmness in the Gulflight business the thousand men, women and children who were murdered on the Lusitania on the high seas would be alive today."

The Gulflight tanker bound for France had been torpedoed by German U-Boat U-30 on 1 May 1915, in spite of America's neutrality.  When Germany announced its sink-all-shipping policy, Wilson did not protest.  When Gulflight was sunk, Wilson did not protest.  In true progressive style, he put his best people on it to gather information.  A week later they were gathering more than information -- they were recovering bodies.
"Had he acted with reasonable firmness..."

"To forgive and forget is to surrender dearly bought experience."
  -- Shopenhauer

4/08/2015

Tanka for 7 April 2015

Pounding wind, rain, hail --
April can't make up its mind.
Sparkling in the trees:
After the rain, bright sunlight.
A scent of thyme from the path.

3/14/2015

Not that I care

Author Terry (Diskworld) Pratchett is dead.  (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015.)

Given his strong and persistently outspoken opinion in favor of euthanasia (they call it "right to die") -- did Sir Terry off himself? Whether he did or not -- is the unquestioning silence of the press further evidence of pro-euthanasia bias? 

Pratchett:  atheist, egotist . . .  suicide? Doesn't sound like a very creative end for a guy who would have wanted to be known as creative. May the God in whom he did not believe have mercy on his soul.

2/24/2015

Desert Storm - The Ground War

On this day, 24 February, in 1991, I was working at the machine shop.  The radio news broke in over the "Classic Rock" music we listened to.  (Believe me, those songs were nowhere near as "classic" then as they are now -- ahem, oldies station!, ahem -- about as "classic" as a fuzzy half-pint of cottage cheese forgotten in the back of the refrigerator.) The news report gave sketchy information about major ground action launched from Kuwait into Iraq. 

I remember my stomach being in knots.  Was this going to be "another Vietnam" -- i.e., "quagmire" -- as the media hoped insisted?  Or would it be another Grenada? 

The armed pacification of Iraq was stopped short by Sec. Def. Colin Powell with the okay of President George H. W. Bush.  But then of course we had to go back (March 2003 under President George W. Bush) and dig Saddam Hussein  out of his hole (December 2003).  One thing led to another, until the petulant man-child light-bringer psychopathic malignant narcissist  President Barack Obama pulled out the remaining U.S. troops, even in the absence of a status of forces agreement with the free government of Iraq (December 2011).

And then came "insurgency" and ISIS. 

So the 1991 invasion turned out not to be a quagmire nor a Grenada.  But it is looking like it is turning into another Vietnam after all.  Having won the military conflict, having established and seen the beginnings of a free republic, the Democrats have once again sold out a victory purchased with priceless blood.  In Vietnam: Communism, the killing fields, slavery and misery.  In Iraq: Islamo-Socialism, the killing fields, slavery and misery. 

I HOPE that is not the final conclusion. 

1/25/2015

Is it too soon to do any looking back?

Maybe so.  And, too much nostalgia is toxic. 

However. 

I am still glad I finally got up the nerve to follow my heart instead of what I was told should be the "smart" thing to do. 

You may think that heart over head would be pretty darn difficult for somebody as logical and steel-trap-minded as I used to be.  Well, you would think that if you had known me back then.

But this is True Love we're talking about here.  Do you think this happens every day? 

I was in a second floor room at Berkeley High School one Saturday in the spring of 1979, taking the Graduate Records Exam.  In case, you know, I wanted more school after the baccalaureate.  Dust slowly swirled in slanting beams of sunlight through the unshaded upper panes of windows ten feet high (it is a very old building).  It was the logical reasoning or verbal acuity or mental ass-headedness section of the test, if I recall correctly, and suddenly -- I didn't care any more.  About the test.  About the future.  About my great potential.  I knew with great clarity that I gave neither a rat nor any portion of a rat's anatomy.  So I threw it all away for love.

There was also the final experiment of the spiritual retreat at the Trappist monastery in Vina.  "What do you want of me, oh Lord?  Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!"  Imagine my surprise when an audible (to me) answer came back.  MARRY HER.  "Um, bad connection here, Lord -- it sounded like you said..."  GO BACK AND MARRY HER! 

So that's what I did. 

Came face to face with the fact that I don't have an ambitious bone in my body, and accepted that.  Heard the voice from the top of the mountain -- which in my case was an apricot orchard in the upper Sacramento Valley -- and did what it said.  Disappointed one set of parents (mine) and thrilled another (hers -- I think).  Mine got over it.  Don't know about hers.  It was all a long time ago.  But it was True Love. The dumbest stuff seemed like the hardest stuff at the time.  Like, telling my parents.  (They hadn't heard the voice, after all.) Seems strange, now more than a third of a century having passed, thinking about it.  It was all a long time ago.  But. It. Was. True. Love.

And it still is.  (Cue birds and flowers!)

Funny thing about The Princess Bride -- Westley tells Buttercup about two things.  One is True Love:  "Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while;" and, "This is true love – you think this happens every day?"  The other is about life in general:  "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."  So far, I think Westley was right on both counts.

There is pain.  But the True Love part changes the Pain part.  I have the pain of aging, the pain of Dealing With The Details of Daily Life (often, as amplified by multiple layers of Government Intrusion), the pain of not being able to do much about the pain suffered by those I love.  But at least it's not the pain of remorse, the pain of having your dreams haunted by the Ancient Booer: "Because you had love in your hands, and you gave it up!" 

"So bow down to her if you want, bow to her. Bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence. Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo!"

1/16/2015

Android Through-the-Looking-Glass Reader App

I got the Kindle reader app for my Samsung Galaxy 4 tablet.  Because I have that with me at work. 

Cons:  Harder to turn the page with your left hand. Battery goes down faster than Kindle Keyboard e-reader. If there's a built-in dictionary I haven't figured out how to use it. Harder to mark passages.  And so on.

Pros:  Well, it's there, so I can pick up that hard slog through Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiment  during lunch and make some progress. 

Or can I???

The Android Kindle reader app has this little thing that tells you how much longer it is going to take to finish the book.  If you open the reader and then pay more attention to your salad than the book, you actually go into negative reading progress.  The more often I chip away at a few pages of 18th century philosophy, the farther away (in time) the app thinks I am from the end.  Over the last few sessions, I've seen my finish estimate go from 4 hours 30 minutes to 6 hours 40 minutes.  I feel like Alice in the Looking Glass world.

As Adam Smith would say, how frequently soever one makes application to endeavor to accomplish that to which all good will and firmness of purpose has set the effort toward the end in mind, never the less does the final attainment of the long sought after goal seem to vanish like morning mist.