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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

January Thaw

This is the time of year when we used to have a period of weather the older members of the clan called 'the January thaw'.
This year, however, the entire month of December has been the January thaw, so it is somewhat turvy-topsy.
The J-Thaw is a period of relative warmth coming after the cold in December. It would have been cold right up to a frigid New Year's Day, then back to work and everyone in the doldrums so no one noticed anything-unless there would be a blizzard-but everyone just plodded along, not looking up...until one day when the sun was out and the tears did not freeze to your face when you gazed up into the blue sky.
The January Thaw had arrived.
It would be followed by more cold, but in the meantime, life was good.
This year we shall take the Christmas tree down well before the Kaiser's birthday on January 27th. (The old, old relatives used to let the traditional tannenbaum stay up until Kaiser Willy's birthday, even when they were in Brooklyn, but nowadays few people do so.)

All the decorations of light - the auroras of artifice! - come down as we plunge back into the dismal grey clime of the area. Words cannot express how the light of Christmas fills my soul with gladness. Contrariwise, when cleaning up after Christmas, a somber mood prevails.
I do not play Christmas music while taking down the tree. That would be too sad. So I played Leonard Cohen, who was as cold as a new razor blade.

For Christmas itself my mother presented us with some little gifts such as old candles, half of which had been previously lit. We have resigned ourselves to being the last link in the chain between certain consumers in our lives, their purchases, and the inevitable dust bin and land fill.
We are the trash facilitators.
She gave my nephew her electro-lighthouse, which has a motion sensor which starts a fog horn blowing, a bunch of lights flashing, and wide spiraling circles soldered with crescent moons, gulls, and pennants turning with all the gusto of the seaside!
One year she gave my niece a very nice American Spoon Food box we had found while cleaning up the summer house. It was an empty box, but it had a nice sort-of-Grandma-Moses picture of a harbor filled with boats and punts festooned with flags.

The warm weather has preserved the pansies on the porch, which are wrapped with fir tree greens. Pansies seem to be rather hardy. They had come through a couple cold snaps without any visible discomfort. And in the balmy days before Xmas, they were doing fine.

This morning, as I write this, I hear the rain falling.
The great storms have blown through Texas and the belly of the country, and we have a desultory sleet/rain/snow. The fir garlands and the greens still shelter the pansies, providing protection in case of cold, and the pansies still bloom - not with vigor, but with faith...
There is nothing inconvenient about that truth.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

It's A Lot Worse Than You Think

It's not terrorism.

It's the new religion.

I guess people have to try out a bunch of new religious expressions, ranging from New Age to Yoga to EST to Head-Chopping. I mean, the Aztecs did it, didn't they?

National Geographic
Jewish Extremists’ Attacks Rattle Christians in Holy Land
Assaults on churches by right-wing Jews, a new phenomenon, raise concern about movement’s increasingly aggressive tactics.

Fire Damage at the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes in Northern Israel

Photograph by Baz Ratner, Reuters 

... Taking a page from the Islamic group ISIS operating in neighboring Syria, a small group of young fundamentalist Jews influenced by radical religious leaders target Christian sites as centers of heretical idol worship and unwelcome missionary activity. In the past three years, a dozen churches and monasteries have been bombed, burned, or vandalized. Until the June firebombing, no one was charged in any of these incidents...

It is not Islam. It is not Judaism. It is a new religion in the Cradle of Civilization that needs human sacrifice.

It is the Great Achievement of our age, and it is the Great Disaster, too, to discover now at this time of the 21st century that Armageddon is not essentially Armies that Clash by Day and Night....

It is the ceaseless invocation of a new Moloch who desires bloody human hecatombs.
Destruction has been discovered to be Religion!

How shall we handle this with our puny logic?


The Long Lent Of Tamir Rice.

If even police who are trained - we assume - in the use of deadly force and are trained in using such force in life-threatening situations...
If even the police and military organizations err in the use of deadly force, what may we expect from our gun carrying fellow citizens who have not undergone such training, and have been nurtured on fear and the distortions of politicians?

I do not see how the policemen can be indicted since they were informed that they were responding to an "active shooter" situation.
That misinformation explains a good deal.

In a Weaponized Society, there must be a set of procedures about how to go about living with the potential of deadly force every day. It is not merely the police gun training, but also the information which they are provided, and how it is packaged and presented to them.
And the same is true of all the weapon-carrying populace.

We have allowed ourselves to be frightened and pushed into a Weaponized Life. It is hard to let loose of our dreams of Armageddon, Dystopia, and Big Brother. Therefore, let us establish the ground rules of this new carnage carnival, the holiday which starts on the Ash Wednesday of Tamir Rice and other lives which no longer matter in the Weapon Era...

Prepare us, O, Lord, for the Cross of Guns!


Continuous Transportation: Railroad, Road

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Railroad Culvert



Monday, December 28, 2015


Pryaniki: Russian gingerbread or spice cookies.
Mix the sugar, eggs, soda, cinnamon, honey...
cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, anise...

Three young women offer berries to visitors to their izba, a traditional wooden house, in a rural area along the Sheksna River, near the town of Kirillov.

Sergei Prokudin-Gorski
Library of Congress 


Continuous Transportation: Railroads

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

Chatham, NY.


Why I Just May Vote For Trump

Because he is the closest thing to William Jennings Bryan in his anti-imperialist approach to foreign policy.

Read this article:
Rethinking Donald Trump
December 18, 2015

Donald Trump’s freewheeling and narcissistic presidential campaign has earned the consensus contempt of the mainstream media and establishment politicians, but that’s partly because he has dared challenge dangerous orthodoxies, like the neocon/liberal-hawk mania for “regime change,”...

By Sam Husseini
... But the mainstream meme about Trump is that he’s a total liar. The New York Times recently purported to grade the veracity of presidential candidates. By the Times’ accounting, Trump was off the scales lying. But I never saw anyone fact-check his assertion about former Secretary Clinton’s record of bringing bloody chaos to Libya, Syria and other Mideast countries. That’s not an argument that establishment media wants to have.

Of course, a few sentences after Trump’s comment about Clinton’s death toll, he turned to the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the CIA station in Benghazi, causing Salon to dismiss him as embracing “conspiracies,” which is all that many people will hear, not the fuller context.

Shouldn’t someone who at times articulates truly inconvenient truths be credited for breaking “politically correct” taboos, such as acknowledging the obvious disasters of U.S. interventionism across the Mideast? Trump speaks such truths, as he did during the Las Vegas debate about U.S. wars:

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.” ...

We cannot support the establishment approach anymore. The establishment is a cadre of influential and rich neocons who have paid their dues through the past 50 years of more and who feel entitled to continue and extend their miserably fallacious foreign policy fantasies.

As for domestic issues, Trump will not owe his rise to the establishment, and is the only one that has an iota of a chance to ameliorate the conditions of this country.

For William Jennings Bryan


Saturday, December 26, 2015

The First Draft

Omnium Gatherum

I save some posts as drafts.

They contain a few lines that are supposed to remind me of what I may - at some far, distant time - actually write about. So I have a draft entitled "Are Governments Intelligent Entities?". I have scribbled: Corporations writing own laws to govern themselves, Inability to focus on real problems...possible Government Depression Syndrome?  
 Crowds...madness...Caligari and Caligula ( gwb - Bush - as 'little boots'=caligula )
Rotwang and Maria.( corporatism = fadcism ? fascism or fad-cism??!! )  
FDA as an alien plot...genetically modified ( or moo-o-o-dified ) ( dec. 2006 add: cloned animals, land o' goshen!)

That pretty well sums it up. I think it makes a bully posting.


The photo above is a real omnium gatherum, or pseudo-Latin gathering-of-everything.
If one Googles omnium gatherum, one gets dark photos of a rock band [HO-bloody!-hum], and refining the query gets one the after-pictures of kitchen drawers :  drawers which have been organized by some device or system which turns chaos (Tohu wa Bohu) into handy-dandy storage units (Hohum and Humbug).


Karma: The Executioner's Cat

I remember... that Saddam Hussein was executed in an orgy of disorder on December 30th.
It was recorded on iPhone videos.

The USA and the Provisional Authority washed their hands - more Pontii Pilati - and sent Barabbas to be hanged, this Barabbas whom they had embraced for years and to whom they had supplied arms and weapons.


Christmas Box!

Christmas Box on ya!
Coffret Cadeau d' Noel !

Which was the greeting of the relatives from Pontiac County, Quebec, for this day: Boxing Day, St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas.
It's a time to spend with family and friends, eating and drinking.

Happy Boxing Day!


Slippery Slopes To Poisoned Wells, or Why I Am A Liberal

Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence

Liberalism is defined by its opponents.

Which is:

The Imaginative Conservative
Why the Bill of Rights Is a Failure
by Bruce Frohnen

Bruce P. Frohnen is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. He is Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University College of Law and the author of Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and Tocqueville, The New Communitarians and The Crisis of Modern Liberalism and editor (with George Carey) of Community and Tradition: Conservative Perspectives on the American Experience.
... The liberal insistence that rights are abstract universal principles with no basis in or proper limits set by either history or their own internal logic was founded on an obsession with individual autonomy fated from the start to end in political cannibalism. Autonomy by definition cannot abide restraint. When it becomes the essential value for which political forms and structures exist, those forms and structures will atrophy or, more likely, be torn down in the name of autonomy...

If Conservatism means denying that mankind be endowed by its Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, I cannot be so called, for the Declaration of Independence makes ontological claims: there be a Creator and such Creator endow mankind with certain absolute rights.

I do not like labels, such as Conservative and Liberal, but in the present age, if sign posts are needed so in the kingdom of the blind, I take sides with the Creator and the benefits which flow there from, for the so-called conservative casuistry that is exemplified by Mr. Frohnen is the slippery slope leading to the poisoned well of tyranny.

If some wit find fault with my use of the subjunctive above, the use is the subjunctive potential, not some future-contrary-to-fact mumbo-jumbo.)

Noye's Fludde...

Noye's Fludde:
title of mediaeval Chesterfield mystery play Noah's Flood;
Benjamin Britten one-act opera for young actors; 
part of the film Moonrise Kingdom 

Noah's Flood:  a symbolic Peaceable Kingdom in the midst of the anarchy of watery destruction!

I did a post on how the killers of the Dawabsha family might beat the rap lest Israel intelligence community risk divulging classified info, and discretion and protection of spys and moles is the better part of valor.

Reading an article in Tablet this morning made me realize that (1) perhaps my post was very one-sided, and (2) perhaps the Tablet post may have some details wrong,and (3) maybe details are wrong on both sides, and (4) the devil is in the details, and (5) the devil is in the general outlines, too.

I have great respect.
Read the article at
Honoring Terrorists: A Tale of Two Celebrations
What we can learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from how each side’s extremists valorize violence—and how their leaders respond
By Yair Rosenberg
...the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have one, and sadly, it seems as though only Israelis have managed to make it that far.

I shall not assume that the conclusion reached in the article is self-serving; no more so than my own idolatry of my golden opinions.

Peace to all men of goodwill.

Peace Now...

before you are deluged by the 40 days and nights of Noye's Fludde of  violence, and have no Noachian covenant in sight for our sorry souls;


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Moon

At 6:30 AM I opened the front door to see how cold it was. It was not. I threw the sweat pants down on the front stairs. I would be running on December 25, 2015 in my Old Nautica T-shirt, a vintage Polo sweatshirt, touque and coat and just my Georgetown Hoyas shorts.
I am of the generation that used to run in hand-me-down sport gear, and the idea of brand new togs to sweat in and to wick away moisture had not been invented at that time. We ran in gym clothes or old play clothes and Converse All-Stars.

I went out to the street and walked to the end. I turned the corner and the moon was enormous pregnant in the sky, dropping bulbously slow beneath the thin covering veil of cirrus clouds that covered it, a cloud bright and dark like interstellar dust which sometimes blots and darkens and sometimes dawns up and transluxes.
It was a full moon, and it took me by surprise.
I had my iPhone with me. I have had to carry it ever since She-who-must-be-obeyed said I must carry in case I were running and had a cardiac infarction, or a stroke, or had to be notified that I had won the lottery.
So I took pictures, what else?

La Bella Luna ! and I thought of Cher! I thought of La Bella Luna! I thought of Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Nicholas Cage, Louis Guss, Julie Bovasso, John Mahoney, and a Feodor Chaliapin who was not singing opera!?

I ran five miles at a pace of 5 miles per hour, which was not bad considering that I had late dinner at my brother's and did not get to bed until 12:30 AM. It was a wonderful Christmas Eve party, and I particularly enjoyed dodging the two Millenium Falcon drones gifted to my nephew and which were flying around the apartment, blowing out candles with their back draft. (Some old ladies were spotted in the hallways with their walkers and rollators, so the nephew was sent out there to bedevil the old numbers.)

What a wonderful morning.


Speaker For The Arts: Christmas 2015


I was dreaming this morning at 4:00 AM. I know because I woke up as I finished my dream-speech, thrust my arm forward into the air, and fell onto the bedroom floor, having run out of mattress. I woke up, looked around, and remembered having raised my arm outwards, recalling the Levi's commercial which runs "O, Pioneer, My Pioneer!" with cuts of young folks running, jumping, hiking...remembering that the advertisement originally had a shot with a young girl standing nearby a statue, the scene lit by fire light, and everyone raising their right arms in a salute redolent of the 1930's and 40's and very Leni Riefenstahl.(The later edited versions of the commercial excised this portion.)

Ah, I said, I'm having a Hogan's Heroes moment. I am imagining myself as Werner Klemperer 's Colonel Klink being an absolute toady in front of General Burckhalter. Then it came to me: I had been at a meeting about the Arts, and we had been discussing something along the lines of making the Arts relevant for our community, and I had made a point and finished my speech with a flourish of the radius and ulna...or...and here's where it gets a bit may have not been a flourish at all; I may have punched a lady in the face: it wasn't quite clear.

Now it may strike you as odd that we here in this community would have a round table about the Arts and end up fighting like animals in the octagon cage, but that's why we love this town, as Ernie Hudson ( in Ghostbusters ) might say; it is the wonder of its topology.

And it was a dream sequence. Don't forget that. That is an important point: dream sequence versus reality. The entire country forgot this distinction sometime back in the first decade of the 21st century, and imagine the egg on our faces when we couldn't even find any Christmas cracker bon-bons (those tubular constructs with pull tabs on the end you...pull, actually, and it goes...sort of poooof! crack!, and if you're lucky, you may get a small toy or fortune from inside it: party favors!!) ...couldn't even find a Christmas cracker party favor in Saddam Hussein's Holiday Pantry!
So - dream sequence (mind you, if anything profane or untoward happens, I am guiltless) and there is a goodly number of us Art types thronged into what resembles The Shop Around the Corner in the You've Got Mail version - or possibly Gepetto's workshop...or Heidi's grandfather's house...all very cosy, very woodworky, very alpine cum Hochzeit, very lots-a-booksy, library-and-roaring-fireplace-type things, as if Heidi's grandfather did a lot of reading, instead of rescuing stranded skiers from avalanches and giving tokes of brandy to lost pilgrims and what-not. (I think I may have mixed up Heidi's Opa with a St. Bernard, but it does not affect this story in the slightest.)

Anyway, in comes an artsy chick from the cold, layered with four layers of loveliness to protect her from the winter's chill, and she has a determined look on her face. To me, she looked like a Russian Ice Queen, and the sweep of her scarves emulate the sway of her long, pendulant braids! I can't quite see these braids yet, but I'm sure I will later. She comes in and makes an intercept course right at me, looking a bit peeved, and I'm suddenly wondering what happened to the fair damsel I kissed in the summer boathouse (dream sequence, again! dream sequence). Well, it was the guy behind me she was coming full speed after, not me. He was an athletic chappie in a Norwegian sweater; an Arno Breker type that looked as if he could have posed for any number of monumental statues of the 20th century.

An Arno Breker Statue

She reduced her forward momentum considerably as she neared us and hove to; her eyes flashed warning shots across our bows. He handed her some sort of sign that had to do with the whole Artsy deal we were involved in, only it seemed to be about the size of an advert for the side of an autobus. She gave a look of "it's about time!", and secured it on her main deck (continuing the feeble metaphor of ships and vessels), did a 180, and strode off - not before sending the faintest Marconi wireless bit of electro-smile, a spark of white teeth flashing duh-duh-duh-daaaa!...and I heard Vera Lynn whispering that we'd meet again, and actually the time and place were quite well known: about midnight at her place...but it was all for Arno Breker, not for me.

I was getting light-headed from the exhalations off the warming bodies, when the meeting finally came to order, or as much order as is possible in a meeting of the artsy folks. My cousin - who had somehow infiltrated the meeting, obviously to cause trouble - suggested that Montag tell the assembly his opinion on what the group should do to to promote Art.
I heard my name and jolted out of whatever reverie I was then engaged in. (It never ceases to amaze me that even in my dreams, I am usually wool-gathering or daydreaming somewhere. I mean, how many drams of Nepenthe does one need?!)
I rose to my feet slowly, whispering fervidly to my neighbors, "What the heck are we discussing?"
"Arts." they said. "Promotion of..."
They seemed to speak as if they were assembling a card catalog with entries sorted by last name, or pretending they talked like Yoda:

" arts, promotion of "


" yourself, don't make a fool of " .

It was one of those dreams of school where one has not studied for the exam and you struggle to remember exactly what the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram looks like, and your hangover keeps humming a Max Steiner motif from " A Star is Born ", and you know you always get Frederic March mixed up with Raymond Massey, and you know you are screwed royally.

I slowly stood up. I thanked my cousin, greeted all the assembled worthies, verities, luminaries, heroes and heroines of the Arts...I kept it going while my brain spun like a Land Rover stuck in a mud wallow somewhere in Kenya. So while my tongue wagged like a red pennant in a strong offshore wind, the extra addition I had had built onto my brain was working overtime to come up with a plausible statement of intent. I knew it was working; I could hear the million typewriters being pecked on by the million monkeys I had hired to do such drudge scripting and editing.
Finally, a runner from my extra brain rushed into the main hall of my intelligence - a structure that eerily resembled a Big Top right now - and thrust a couple sheets of paper into my sweating hands.

"That's it." the runner said.

I looked at the scribbles in amazement and disbelief. " it?!"

"That's it!" and he ran off.

I heard myself intone, "Now, to the main point of my remarks..."

I would like to say the room reverberated, but it was more of a rustling noise, bodies moving around, more layers of clothes being removed, and a distinct scent of eau de pissed-off was in the air, since everyone wanted to get their 2 cents in, and who the heck was this Montag feller anywho?

The lady in front of me popped up. She wore a Burberry scarf, and a brown leather coat. She wore black boots collared with fur over tight jeans painted on her legs, which themselves looked like two sharp stiletto blades pendant from her hips: she was an erotic Aphrodite-scissors-legs, used to cutting men in two with those mortal gams, and she was tired of waiting for me. I fancied I heard a whetstone being applied to steel.
She spoke as if I did not exist. She held her head directly in front of me. Her hair was the artifice of time and expense. It settled like a carpet for the Muses, and she frequently had to give one of those twist things women do when their hair descends upon their eyes...exiting it all to the side of the proscenium arch of her lovely face with a managerial flip of the head and combed by an ushering hand; that same fair hand she would not hesitate to knock me aside with.
The chairperson finally thanked her, even though she was not done, not by a long chalk. The chair mentioned that I had not spoken, or at least had not spoken to the point, and it still was my turn to speak, and - by the by - would I be kind enough to wrap it all up in a timely manner?

She glared at me. She sat down, plotting some revenge.

I spoke.
I said that all mankind are artists by nature. (That sounds good. They'll eat it up! Like greedy school boys cramming sweets into their mouths!)
The basics of living beings are the things they do, the crafts, things made, things found; what is Art but the transformation of craft and work and rote, things found and things made, into a higher level of life, the Aesthetic Level. (There was a groundswell of approbation coming my almost made me sway as I stood there.)

If we were to reform the educational system to inculcate into each and every child the fact that Art is transformation of Life by discipline and theory and imagination, we would not have need of constant meetings to ponder what one should do about promoting the Arts, for -indeed!!- to paraphrase Ebenezer Scrooge, Mankind and the Arts are my business!  
(Everyone was smiling and beaming, except the lady in the Burberry scarf. She turned and glared at me. Her very long scarf had loosened and one end had drooped to the floor, where I had covertly affixed it firmly with the toe of my shoe. And happily I had done so, for she decided to cut off my speech. She stood abruptly in front of me, only to be pulled back down, croaking, as her scarf pulled her back like an unruly mastiff on the business end of a leash. Sorry, I muttered, as I removed the offending toe from the choke-scarf. I was Bogart, "Sorry, sweetheart.")

Returning to the Arts, I said that they are similar in this respect to religion; as St. Paul enjoins us to create within the spirit; put away the things of childhood, and transform yourselves!

At this point, some smiles sort of froze, as if someone had clobbered the individuals on the pate with a rolling pin. A dazed look unrolled over the room... Hastily, I dropped the religious stuff. Christmas had just passed, and everyone had had quite enough of that, thank you. Religion is a lot like cookies, food, and drink: one tends to overdo it during the holidays, and is, thus, forced to go on a rigorous fast after New Year's to try and get back into one's groove.

" The Arts are the business of mankind! I said. When this society realizes this, and teaches every child to live his life to its fullest potential, then the Arts will come into their own! " I said, not having a clue what any of this actually meant. I ended with my arm thrust out, saluting that brave, new world of the future.

It was at this point that I kissed the floor, O, Pioneer, My Pioneer!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Baby Burners Beat The Rap?

Netanyahu addresses the US Congress; one of our finest moments.

If you remember the 18 month old babe burned alive by Israeli settler terrorists, let's get an update.

Tikun Olam
Israeli Intelligence Source: Dawabshe Terror Suspects Confess to Palestinian Arson-Murders
by Richard Silverstein on December 20, 2015
Yet another suspect, Tzur Israel Bengusi, a notorious extremist from Kiryat Arba, has been arrested as a member of “The Rebellion” settler terror cell.

His name and arrest are under gag order in Israel. He has been arrested previously and placed under restrictions by the Shabak for prior acts of violence.

Elisha Odess, one of the suspected killers of Dawabshe family. Caption: “We only have the Lord Blessed be He. We only fear Him.”

Israel has been awash in news and controversy about the four suspects in the Dawabsheh arson murders. Though their names are under gag order in Israel, I’ve reported all four of them here. Their lawyers and the terror support group, Honenu, have complained vigorously about alleged torture inflicted on their clients. This is treatment routinely inflicted on Palestinian security detainees imprisoned for far less severe crimes. Settlers and their facilitators never utter a word of complaint about this system, only caring for the welfare of “their own,” that is, Jews.

There appears to be a political conflict between the intelligence apparatus and the settler lobby. The latter persuaded defense minister Bogie Yaalon, who is a close ally of theirs, to release a statement a few days ago that implied the case might be dropped for lack of evidence. He said that the suspects had confessed to lesser acts of terror, but that Shabak came up empty regarding the murders. I took that as a shot across the bow of the Shabak and police on behalf of the settlers.

Today, 1,000 settler supporters rallied in Jerusalem near Yoram Cohen’s home. Nearly 100 of them tried to physically storm the site, but were prevented by the police. In the many years I’ve written this blog I’ve never heard of protesters storming the home of any intelligence chief...

Let's get Mr. Netanyahu back to speak to Congress again.


Continuous Transportation: Airships

Un État de Transport Continu
inspiré par le film Transperceneige

The Hindenburg Over Manhattan

Un peu effrayant, n'est-ce pas?


To Be Or Not To Be

photo: Mondoweiss
Yesterday Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer announced that his holiday gift package would include many products from the illegal Israeli settlements. He tweeted: “This year I decided to send a gift for the holiday that would also help combat BDS.” His accompanying letter on the subject says that the gifts are all products of “Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights,” and that the package is in defiance of European efforts to label settlement goods, which Dermer says are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign...

How does the West Bank differ from the Crimea?

We are returning to the past, are we not? To the past in so many, many ways...

A little piece of West Bank, 
a shtikl of Ramallah,
how about a Nablus?
it only costs a dollah!

Monday, December 21, 2015

自强不吸 (Self-Improvement Never Breathes)

Self-Improvement Never Breathes (自强不吸)

Beijing was suffering from smog last week.
According to China Digital Times
... [Some Chinese Netizens changed the] Tsinghua University motto into a joke about air pollution: thus, “self-improvement never ends, strong morals carry heavy loads (zìqiáng bùxī, hòudé zài wù 自强不息,厚德载物)
becomes “self-improvement never breathes, strong morals carry heavy smog (zìqiáng bùxī, hòudé zài wù 自强不吸,厚德载雾).
(The official English version of Tsinghua’s motto is “Self-Discipline and Social Commitment.”)


Child Martyr

It was common to read in the Lives Of The Saints titles such as "St. Stephen, Deacon, Martyr", which served to sum up Stephen's role in the early church and add the important point that he was a martyr, and we all knew that martyrs went straight to heaven...
They passed by Purgatory and went to their reward, martyrdom having cleansed them of all remora of human sins.

There is a special category of Child Martyr for children who were murdered for the faith. Saint Vasilissa is one, and St. Prisca is another.

When the Roman Empire had passed away, and no longer were Christians, children nor adults, being persecuted for their faith, there still were children martyrs:

The holy youth Martyr Gabriel was born in 1684 in the village of Zverka, Zabludov diocese, to a pious peasant couple, Peter and Anastasia Govdel. He was baptized in the Dormition church of the Zabludov monastery and received the name Gabriel in honor of the Archangel.

Besides the meekness and guilelessness normally found in children, the young Gabriel was marked by characteristics uncommon to his age. He had, for example, a reflective nature and a mature perception of the action of Divine Providence in people's lives. It is not surprising that he inclined more towards prayer and solitude than towards the amusements which occupied his peers.

In 1690 tragedy visited the GovdeI family. One day the unsuspecting mother, leaving the six-year old Gabriel alone in the house, took some food to his father who was out plowing the fields. While she was gone a local tenant came to the house. Taking advantage of the parents' absence and the child's trusting nature, he kidnapped the boy.

Gabriel was taken secretly to the town of Bialystok and given over to sadistic torture. His side was pierced and a special instrument was inserted which gradually drained his blood. After nine days of such treatment the boy died. Desiring to conceal such a vile deed, the murderer secretly took the body and threw it onto the edge of a field near some woods in the vicinity of the boy's home village.

The holy Feast of Pascha approached. Hungry dogs began gathering around the lifeless body, predatory birds circled overhead. Miraculously the body remained untouched. Not only did the dogs refrain from devouring it, they even guarded it against the birds.

This account very much reeks of the Blood Libel, by which Jews were accused of sacrificing a Christian child for Passover.

In fact, if you look up "blood libel" in Wikipedia, you come across an identical account:
The only child-saint in the Russian Orthodox Church is the six-year-old boy Gavriil Belostoksky from the village Zverki. According to the legend supported by the church, the boy was kidnapped from his home during the holiday of Passover while his parents were away. Shutko, who was a Jew from Białystok, was accused of bringing the boy to Białystok, poking him with sharp objects and draining his blood for nine days, then bringing the body back to Zverki and dumping it at a local field. A cult developed, and the boy was canonized in 1820. His relics are still the object of pilgrimage. On All Saints Day, July 27, 1997, the Belorussian state TV showed a film alleging the story is true.

It never dies.
It is not just an excuse for a pogrom against Jews.
No, it is an Apotropaic Rite mankind uses to turn their minds away from the evils they do, for by focusing on a legendary abuse of children, we forget our own child abuse and child beatings and child murders.

Let us remember the children of Iraq.
Let us remember the children of Syria.
Remember the children of Palestine and Israel!

Remember the Five Daughter Martyrs of Tali Hatuel!

Remember Ali Dawabsheh,  child and martyr, sacrificed to our politics!

Remember all the children so harshly sacrificed to the Moloch of This, Our Age!

Forgive us,


Childermas Is Coming

Mr. Splane Speaks on Child Abuse in Portugal

An article on child abuse among the Jehovah's Witnesses, illustrating that it still is open season on children, and the Christmas season rightly has Childermas [Childrens' Mass] or the Feast of the Holy Innocents to remind us.
However, we dismiss the thought and securely believe that only King Herod could do such dastardly deeds, while we positively worship kids and are in all senses vastly Pro-Life!

Pro-Life! That is our culture!
The metaphors of violence and guns are, well, metaphors for something really weighty; don't quite know what yet, but when we do figure it out, we shall find it to be important.

How Jehovah’s Witness leaders are responding to child abuse scrutiny
By Trey Bundy / December 14, 2015
...Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders have said publicly that they are proud of their child protection policies and that they do more to shield young members from harm than other religions. Despite mounting lawsuits and media reports, however, they have failed to acknowledge that the organization has hidden child abuse from secular authorities around the world for decades...

They are proud that they have done more...

First, they admit their sin, and secondly they assert - without proof - that their sin is less that the sins of others.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

An Interesting Contrast

The Federalist
Bill Maher Blasts Liberals For Believing That Muslims Share The Same Values
November 21, 2015 By The Federalist Staff
On Friday night’s episode of HBO’s “Real Time,” Bill Maher criticized liberals for believing that Muslims share the same values as other religions.

“This idea that all religions share the same values is bullshit and we need to call it bullshit,” Maher said. “If you are in this religion, you probably do have values that are at odds [with American ones]. This is what liberals don’t want to recognize.” ...

then there was the letter in January, 2015 from Ali Khamenei or Iran, which did not have quite the same amount of cable TV coverage, and for which an entire copy is not easily found. I copy the Wikipedia article about it:

... He [ Khamenei ] states his admiration for Western historians who, in his words, are "deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars". The question Khamenei asks here is why Western public awareness is focused on the distant past, "but not [on] current problems". He asks, "Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?"

This question leads him to the main issue that he wishes to communicate to young people: "Hence, my first request is: Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam." As part of this, he advises young people to read the Quran for themselves. "Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?", he asks...

I have seen this letter referred to as "making the case for Islam", but that is a politicized description; the letter merely asks for an informed evaluation.

If the results of a reasoned and informed evaluation leads to "bullshit", so be it.
By the way, I guess I agree that the idea that religions all share the same values is bullshit.  Obviously all religions do not share all values, nor do they view the world the same way.
This commonplace observation is hardly a suitable springboard to an indictment and denunciation, although a cable TV mentality seems to think it is.

I studied Arabic. I had the idea 40 years ago it would be important. I read the Quran in Arabic.
What I do not do is create a link between what I read in scripture and modern day politics, so while I am somewhat informed, I make no judgements on the value of scripture based on what present day members of a certain faith are doing.

There is an almost infinite number of possible proposition-vectors in the religious Hilbert Space.
Try to pick the good ones.


The Candidates' Debate

The Democratic debate last night:

The Atlantic
The Dilemma Facing Democratic Voters
David A. Graham
... Thus the major dilemma for Democratic voters in 2016: Do they support Sanders, a guy whose positions are in line with the party’s mainstream, but who obviously has a fairly superficial, ideologically rigid engagement with foreign policy? Or do they support Clinton, who has a more powerful, detailed, and nuanced command of the issues than any other candidate, but is also far more hawkish than most Democrats?

Mrs. Clinton's grasp of foreign policy is profound.
It is also misguided.
The fingerprints of Secretary of State Clinton are all over Syria, and she has learned nothing. I would guess that only the thoroughgoing nature of the Iraq disaster turned her against that adventurism.

Read another, older article about Mrs. Clinton's involvement in Iraq:
The Federalist
Can Hillary Clinton Recover From Her Support Of The Iraq War?
Dan McLaughlin
May 19, 2014
... Why did she choose, instead, to support and justify a war that Democratic partisans now regard as a war crime, beyond the pale of civilized discourse and disagreement?...

I am not by any stretch of the I-magination a Democratic partisan, but I do consider the Iraq war to be a criminal enterprise.

I believe the burden of guilt will cause great suffering unless we somehow reconcile. But Mrs. Clinton believes in more of the same: more regime change, more disruption, more war.
No one has dared broach the topic of War Guilt.
The karma of the murder of millions will hound us.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wars Of Religion

We are in the midst of a War of Religion, a sectarian conflict of vast and deadly proportions.

Read the following in The Washington Post, and you will see that the conflict is religious, not secular.

The NRA, accused by N.Y. Daily News of waging ‘a sick jihad,’ strikes back at ‘Godless Left’
By Fred Barbash December 15 at 4:05 AM
... “These false prophets at this failing excuse for a newspaper [ New York Daily News] claimed to enjoy special knowledge of God’s plans somehow … even as they mocked the entire concept of religion. But they weren’t alone. As a horrific act of terror unfolded in real time, the majority of Americans turned to earnest prayer for the dead, the wounded, their families and the world — while political and media elites joined forces to insult and mock and disparage them … and in so doing, laid bare the utter moral depravity of the Godless Left.”...

This is absolutely fantastic.
I love it when the mad men who walk around in suits and speak in measured, rational tones finally let the mask slip, and we see into the depths of the maelstrom of their souls.


Islam In America

 Hamtramck, Michigan's Polonia Restaurant Menu

Following up the post on Arbaeen, the 40 Day festival, there is one other city that I frequent, and that is Hamtramck, Michigan. We drive through Hamtramck often on our way to the dentist on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, and stop for lunch in Hamtramck on the way back home, usually at the Polonia Restaurant, which was visited by Anthony Bourdain back in 2009.

Mr. Bourdain also visited Al Ameer's - which is the restaurant we go to in Dearborn - and the Cadieux Cafe - which is right around the corner from the house I lived in for the first 6 years of life. I used to walk to Finney School on Cadieux and play basbetball at Cannon Recreation.

There is a lot of loud discussion about Muslims in America.
Muslims have been in the Detroit area since the beginning of the 20th century, if not earlier.

In fact, in Hamtramck, where my maternal great-grandparents lived on DuBois Street, there is a majority of Mulim people of the city council:

Below is the west side of Joseph Campau Street, just north of Caniff.
The Polonia is about 3 or 4 blocks south of here on the east side, just down a side street.


Photos From The 40th Day 2: Dearborn, Michigan 2015

There was also a 2 mile march in Dearborn in remembrance of the death of Hussein (which may be spelled Hussain, as above). If you look at the houses and garages above, it looks pretty much 1950s American.
We go often to Dearborn for dinner. I told the story before of holding birthday parties there, so any of my relatives that drink alcohol could not order any drinks, thus keeping my bill for the dinner down considerably.
World famous Shatila Bakery is there, and so is Al Misr Bakery, which is smaller, but the tastes are equal.

The march ended at Hemlock Park:


Photos From The 40 Day 1: in Iraq

 This is a family before Arbaeen, still making the long pilgrimage

Arbaeen  (40 - meaning 40 days after the battle of Karbala, in the exact same linguistic usage as Pentecost - 50 - meaning 50 days after Easter, was used in Greek and we still use it today) is two weeks past, and here are some photos.

The men below are from Bhayandar, India, just outside Mumbai. The area's populace is about 1/3 Muslim, and they made the trek this year.