Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Seven Stages of Leftist Descent

The always-insightful poster Engraved-On-His-Hands at lucianne.com just made a brilliant observation, so brilliant that I'd like to share it in full.

The post is made in reaction to an Air Force Times story detailing a recent modification at the Air Force Academy, giving a "sacred space" to so-called "pagans."

EOHH had this to say in response:
There seems to be various steps or progressions, not only in this particular subject, but in many others affecting our culture. The steps include, but are not limited to, the ones that I hastily put down below:

1. ''You are crazy for suggesting that something like that could ever happen around here.''

2. ''It's not that widespread, and it would cause more harm than good to outlaw it.''

3. ''A lot of good people, including some of my friends, participate in it.''

4. ''It's really not that bad.''

5. ''Those who oppose it are extremists who are worse than the problem itself.''

6. ''We need as a society to marginalize those who oppose it.''

7. ''We need to enact laws to prosecute and silence the bigots who oppose this.''

(Well, is your seat in the handbasket all comfy now?)

Exactly. Exactly.

"Imagine a Free Vermont"?

Time Magazine, in the first article worth reading that I've seen in a long time, covers the secessionist fantasies of a bunch of middle aged paleocons in Vermont who'd rather pull out of the Union than continue to bear the 'burdens of empire.'

These guys need to imagine, not a Free Vermont, but a Vermont after a one megaman-army marches through it.

We don't do secession in the United States of America.

We do this instead.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Roeder Convicted of Murdering Tiller

Scott Roeder has been convicted of killing late term abortionist George Tiller.

This is as it should be.

By this act he brought disrepute to the prolife movement.

Prolifers don't commit murder.

That's kinda the point.

However, I should comment on the following from the above-cited LA Times article:

Tiller, 67, who was beloved by his patients...

...uh, you can say that this is a half-truth.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chemical Ali Byebye

Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as "Chemical Ali," convicted in four separate war crimes trials for various crimes against humanity and the Iraqi and Kurdish peoples, went to his eternal reward yesterday at the hands of an Iraqi court-directed hang man.

Seems to be a bad day for mass murderers all around.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"We Choose Not To Go To The Moon.... "

".... Not because it is hard but because it is easy." - Barack Obama

Just to Remind Us!




Note to the reader:

I ran this story in August.

I'm going to run it again until somebody appreciates it.





The great Chinese explorer Zheng He (or Cheng Ho).


They're reporting that the Moon rocket program has been axed.

Not enough money, they say.

Fine, then. They think it's better to spend our money on socialized medical insurance. Or to give to the banks. Hooo...kay. Elections have consequences.

But let me tell you a story.

When the Ming Dynasty (refounded by the Emperor Yongle) took over China after a period of chaos in the early 1400s, he discovered a source of great potential wealth: a huge swath of land that had been set aside as a hunting preserve for the old dynasty.

The Mings chose to sell the land to the peasants in small lots. This generated a huge surplus of money.

After some debate, the Mings decided to spend the cash on .... exploration ships. They chose a remarkable individual, Zheng He (also known as Cheng Ho), famously a eunuch, to command the ships.

This account (from Wikipedia, thank God for their free-use rule!) sums up his career very well.

Zheng He's first voyage consisted of a fleet of around 300 ships (other sources say 200) holding almost 28,000 crewmen. These were probably mainly large six-masted ships....Zheng He's fleets visited Arabia, East Africa, India, Indonesia and Thailand (at the time called Siam), dispensing and receiving goods along the way. Zheng He presented gifts of gold, silver, porcelain and silk; in return, China received such novelties as ostriches, zebras, camels, ivory and giraffes.

Zheng He ... ruthlessly suppressed pirates who had long plagued Chinese and southeast Asian waters. He also intervened in a civil disturbance in order to establish his authority in Ceylon, and he made displays of military force when local officials threatened his fleet in Arabia and East Africa. From his fourth voyage, he brought envoys from thirty states who traveled to China and paid their respects at the Ming court.

In 1424 [his primary sponsor] the Emperor Yongle died. His successor, Emperor Hongxi (reigned 1424–1425), decided to curb [Zheng He's] influence at court. Zheng He made one more voyage under Emperor Xuande (reigned 1426–1435), but after that Chinese treasure ship fleets ended. Zheng He died during the treasure fleet's last voyage. Although he has a tomb in China, it is empty: he was, like many great admirals, buried at sea.

Zheng He, on his seven voyages [1405-1433], successfully relocated large numbers of Chinese Muslims to the nascent Malacca, which became a large international trade center.


What is important about this story is that after Zheng He died and the fleet returned, the Chinese abandoned further naval exploration. Had they tried to travel due east, they likely would have discovered America through the back door--and America would be half Chinese today. As it was, the Ming Dynasty turned inward, abandoned naval exploration... and became a very sad second-best to the Europeans, who started to explore the seas just a few years after China abandoned them. As a result, China is still not even competitive with the European Union, much less ourselves.

We have the choice, and the chance, not to repeat their mistake.

I'm confident that Obamism and all its pomps and works will be destroyed and in four years the grown ups will be back in charge. All this decision means is that the landing has been delayed by four years.

I ask you to remember the last line from the great movie Apollo 13 (known in this household as 'Daddy's Movie'):

"When are we going back? And who will it be?"



ADDENDUM: This one's for the Tattered Remnant. A guy who volunteers for this kind of duty HAS to have been one of the club.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So Much for the ACORN Exposé

If reports are correct, the individual responsible for the Acorn exposé videos was arrested for a Federal felony today.

James O'Keefe, the filmmaker responsible for breaking the back of ACORN with his 'undercover' filming of ACORN decisionmakers, was arrested for -- get this -- apparently trying to break into Senator Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in New Orleans in order to interfere somehow with their telephone system.

Three other young men were also arrested, including Robert Flanagan, the son of William Flanagan, who is the acting U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. All have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses with the intent of committing a felony.

Now, Republicans of a certain age know better than to try to plant bugs in Democrat offices. I seem to recall there was some trouble a few years back when something like that happened, and if memory serves, it didn't end well.

This young man, O'Keefe, if he really was involved in a monumentally stupid attempt to bug Democrat offices, deserves to go to jail. He should also know, however, that not only has he just won himself a prison sentence, he just discredited his own work and unleashed and reinvigorated his enemies at ACORN, who will certainly use his criminal behavior - if it is that - at the Boggs Building as an excuse to reinvigorate itself. In the end, we can watch them transfer its own well earned opporbrium onto O'Keefe's apparently hollow noggin.

Christ on a crutch and Lord above.

What were you THINKING, DUUUUDE??!?!!?

ADDENDUM

When I say "So much for the ACORN exposé" I don't mean either that the exposé itself is bogus or that Andrew Breitbart, who brought it to light, had anything to do with the above mess in New Orleans. I AM saying that Mr. O'Keefe's days as a creditable source for anything are hereby terminated, unless there is some chance (God knows what!) that the arrest is not what it appears to be.

Andrew Breitbart himself denies any connection with any of the four other than O'Keefe, and denies knowing what he was up to. Click here for more.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Victory for Free Speech in America

The United States Supreme Court, last Wednesday, revolutionized and reinvigorated free speech protections in its decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (558 U.S.____, Docket No. 08-205, January 20, 2010). An excellent legal summary of the decision itself can be found here.

You can spent an hour or two reading a zillion articles to try to figure out what the hell went on.

Or you can watch THIS video, which summarizes it very well in less than five minutes.

I'm not a big fan of the CATO institute--libertarianism is NOT my cuppa tea--but I'm glad they're here to tell us these things.

And I'm glad they now can't ban stuff like this.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

We have a new most-junior Senator....



.... and I just wanted to remind you who Scott Brown replaced in that role.

WashPost Journo: Racists Will Elect Palin

One Jon Jeter, a blogger at www.theroot.com, has a bad case of the vapors.

He is sensible to the degree that he sees, clearly, the utter incompetence and inability of the Obama administration to cope with our difficulties.

And he sensibly sees that Obama's inabilities are paving the way for a President Palin.

However, his analysis of how we will get from here to there is like looking in a funhouse mirror. All the attributes are present but the picture presented is highly distorted. To say the least.

For starters, he sees that
[T]he economic crisis that is most comparable to the current situation is not the Great Depression, or the 1981 slowdown, but Japan’s decade-long recession that began with the bust of its real-estate bubble in the early ‘90s.

Okay, as far as it goes.

However, he sees the response to this by conservatives in flyover country as "tribal."

Like the defiant, segregationist Alabama governor, Palin, the former Alaska governor, speaks the language of the white Southern and suburban voters who fear that the American way of life is under attack from an out-of-touch, Godless, effete and multiracial big-city crowd. With her folksy charisma and parochial values, Palin is the latest in a long line of demagogues —from post-Reconstruction governors in the Deep South to Father Coughlin in the ‘30s, from Reagan to Lou Dobbs—who’ve emerged to redeem, or reclaim, the land from Northern carpetbaggers and uppity Negroes.
Astounding.

It's all about racism. Always, always, always.

Got news for you, Mr. Jeter. It's not about your race. It's about our choices, all of us, white, black and in between.

Jeter is right that it is very likely that America will elect President Palin in 2012 whether the national Democrat socialists like it or not.

He is accurate in that our situation is like that of Japan in the 1990s. The reason the housing market collapsed in 2008 is the same as the Japanese real estate collapse 20 years ago: all that borrowing was based on a supposed inevitably increasing price for housing, arising from endless new demand for housing... but there suddenly was no burgeoning demand for new housing. Oops.

The reason why there was not burgeoning demand for new housing is that not enough young people were aching to buy houses in the market.

The reason why there are not enough young people aching to buy houses is because huge numbers of those who might be buying houses were exterminated in utero by the peculiar institution we call "legalized abortion". That's about two in seven conceived since 1973. (And about 1 in 3 African Americans!)

And this is EXACTLY why Japan is in permanent economic stagnation. They've aborted so many of their children that there is no hope for economic growth.

There are 50 million or so missing Americans--25 million of them would be between the ages of 18 and 35 right now, and of them, we can expect, oh, maybe about 10-15 million potential home buyers would have been out there had they not been aborted.

The reason the Left hates Sarah Palin has nothing to do with her "parochialism." It is due to fact that she and her daughter reminds each one of them, father or mother, who ever aborted a child of their "choice." And I fear that the Left will do anything, anything at all, to avoid having her and those who support her from controlling the national government because they do not want to be confronted with their own, personal contribution to the mass killing of our nation's children.

And for the writer, above, who fears Palin's "racism"--how can she possibly be a racist when she, unlike Obama, wants there to be many more black children born than are born now? (Leaving aside the additional inconvenient truth that her husband is, ahem, non-white.)

Yes, it's about the economy. And yes, it's about Obama's manifest, total and irredeemable inability to be an effective President. But it's ultimately about our national self-destructive behavior of insisting that we abort freely and without consequences.

But there are ALWAYS consequences to evil.

Always.

"I tremble for my nation when I reflect that God is just."

Our economic troubles are not God's punishment for abortion: it is merely that He allows us the consequences of our choices. If we jump off of a bridge, He lets us hit the bottom... although we may (may) have a few seconds to reconsider and repent before we hit the ground.

And it is truly dismaying that someone like Jeter, who one would think should know better, blames it, indeed everything, on racism. But then, if he knew better and wrote the full truth, the WashPost probably would not have hired or promoted him; they would have found some other politically correct leftist to write in his place. PC journo school grads are a dime a dozen. There are always plenty of, oh, Jayson Blairs and Stephen Glasses out there who are willing to, er, get the real story.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tattered Remnants #025: Ray Vivier

(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)

THE MAN HE BECAME: RAY VIVIER

I have been, and remain, a staunchly anti-elitist individual. I find the idea of belonging to a special group the most dangerous philosophical ground you can stand on. But what is remarkable about this Remnant is that the people that compose it seem to be drawn completely at random. It is not a philosophy. It is a frequency. You are on it or you are not. And this is not a million-dollar lottery win, either: it is a call to face unpleasant facts and impending hardship. It is a quiet summons to duty. It often makes one uncomfortable, and, most often, this unfocused, vague desire – this need – to do something useful most often makes one feel very much alone.

What’s remarkable about the Remnant — to me, anyway – is the sheer unpredictability of its composition. Perhaps that homeless drug addict, panhandling under the overpass… perhaps he will be the one to run into a burning building while other decent and good people stand idle, waiting for something to happen.

Waiting for someone to happen.



--Bill Whittle, You Are Not Alone, Part 1, the essay that inspired the Tattered Remnants series.



His name was Ray and he was a homeless wreck.

He had been fighting alcohol for years. He had spent most of the previous months living beneath a bridge in Cleveland, Ohio. When young, he had been a United States Marine, once, but had only lasted a year. He wandered the Left Coast of our country, never quite settling down. He hadn't seen his ex-wife for decades. His children had lost touch with him; no word had been received from him for fifteen years. He was sixty-one years old and had nobody--nobody except his fellows in the boarding house. They didn't even know his right name.

And yet, when he died, unidentified, in a Cleveland boarding house blaze, he died in glory.

The fire, in November 2009, was caused by arson--two men deliberately set fire to the building for undisclosed reasons. There were nine in the home when the fire broke out.

Three within the building were trapped and burned to death. But the others were awakened and removed from the building by Ray. He repeatedly went back into the building and carried his housemates out.

He saved five.

But he was gravely injured and collapsed outside the building after his final rescue. He was taken to a hospital, suffering from severe smoke inhalation and burns from his efforts. He died in agony.

And he lay in the hospital morgue for weeks as nobody knew his true name or his next of kin; it seemed likely that this anonymous hero would be buried in a pauper's grave, unmarked and unremembered.

After some old friends heard word of the fire–-friends who went back to Cleveland from Pennsylvania to identify his body--he was given a name. He was identified as Ray Vivier.

He was inurned on January 23, 2010, in Arlington National Cemetery, his ashes placed in a columbarium overlooking the Potomac, within sight of the Mall, after a funeral attended by more than a hundred of his family, his friends–and those who admired him, his ashes in a gold urn.

When he was laid to rest, he received full military honors.

"I am proud of the man he was becoming," his daughter said. And it could be said that, no matter his struggles, in the end, he succeeded.

There can be no better epitaph for any of us.

I do not have a picture of Ray Vivier.

But God knows him well. May he sing His glory forever.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Bless me, Father, .... "


"... for I have sinned."

It has been far too long since I have been to Confession....

Father, this is kind of hard to explain.... you see, about ten years ago, I was stationed in Bosnia as a peacekeeper. I lived in a US base near Tuzla and drove around the back roads of the northern part of the country helping to keep the Croats, Muslims and Serbs from restaring the war of 1995.

Well, my sin is possibly one of blasphemy. Or at the very least, idolatry.

Everywhere we went, every hour of every day, we were required to wear a little plastic bag around our necks. In the plastic bag went our SFOR ("Stabilization Force") ID cards, and our military ID's. The point was that we were supposed to be able to identify one another on sight.

Well, we were far away from home. And we were very frightened of being in a hostile country where one wrong step could set off a land mine.

So, as soldiers do in hostile territory--we called it "Indian Country", very un-PC of us--we turned to religious observation to invoke the help of God Almighty to protect us.

Many of us, being Protestants, started carrying and reading one of the many freely available Gideon Bibles. Those of Jewish background suddenly discovered the Sabbath prayers and avoiding pork. And we Catholics turned to our traditional standbys of holy objects, rosaries, and other "sacramentals." These went into our little plastic ID pouches.

Shortly after I arrived, a woman friend of mine gave me something particularly special: it was a bit of the Sacrament--the Host, "Holy Communion", the Consecrated Body of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ--which she had bought from a street seller in Croatia. It was a tiny bit of Communion host embedded in a tiny plastic case.

"I'm not Catholic, I'm Jewish," she explained. "But I understand well how sacred this is to you and I thought it was evil that some guy was selling this like it was a hot dog on the street. So I bought them all and I've been making a point of giving them to my Catholic friends."

Now, I am sure that, were this actually consecrated, it would be the grossest blasphemy to have this on (rather than within) my person. The Host is a Sacrament, not a mere sacramental, and this meant that every time I sinned, from swearing up to whatever, I was doing so in His direct Presence.

And yet... and yet... it was an enormous comfort in times of danger. And while there was nobody shooting at us, there was plenty of danger in Bosnia. (Ever walk in a minefield? Ever see an open mass grave? Ever fly a helicopter blind in fog in the mountains? No? I have. I don't recommend it.)

There were times I might well have lost my cool and cried like a child without the ability to hold that thing in my hand when I was in deepest fear.

Shortly before I left the country for good, I gave it away to another soldier, who, I trust, gave it to another, .... and so on.

My conscience is pricked because I read about an artificial kerfluffle being sounded in certain quarters concerning the fact that some sniper rifle sights have been engraved with Biblical references--and that same has been decried by the soi-disant "Military Religious Freedom Foundation".

Now, having inappropriate markings on combat rifles can be a bad thing. I remember the legend (don't know if it's true) about how the shoulder stocks of the first M-16 rifles were marked with the corporate logo of their manufacturer.... Mattel.

Plus, I seem to recall the problems arising when the Reagan administration wanted to name a nuclear wessel* after Corpus Christi, TX.

Be that as it may, I must say that in a technical sense, those objecting to Bible citations on rifle sights are right, sort of. It is not a good idea to put references to the words of Jesus Christ onto an instrument of instant death. I, for one, might worry about being on the receiving end of a lightning strike. (And I *certainly* would not want to name a Final Counterstrike mechanism after the Body of Christ.)

More importantly, I am sure that putting bible references on a sniper scope would give some Constitutional lawyers a bad case of the vapors. ("We can't do that! Cuz... cuz... cuz we can't!")

On the other hand, I recall that a few years ago, America cheered at the hard-core-fundamentalist-bible-quoting U.S. Army infantry sniper named Daniel Jackson, played by Barry Pepper, who prayed "Blessed be the Lord Our God, who teacheth my fingers to fight, and my hands to war," immediately before using his U.S. Army issued sniper sight to kill Nazis.

"We sleep safe at night because rough men stand ready at night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." And some of those men are deeply committed (if, arguably, theologically shallow) Christians, who battle in the face of an implacable enemy who would, indeed, do us, and him, immeasurable harm if they could.

And these men (and women) need all the help they can get.

Anyway, if there is any truth to the Catholic faith, I am sure that carrying the Body of My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on my person for two years in a war zone is far more blasphemous than carrying a sniper rifle with "code words."

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee.... if indeed I have.

And I must admit that I am sorriest that I am not really very sorry at all. It was a comfort to have You with me.


-------

*That's not misspelled, that's Chekov. ("Where are the nuclear wessels?")

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sen. Franken Called For Violent Overthrow of US Gov't

A few nights ago I had the strangest dream.... Al Franken, the United States Senator (who, last time I saw him, defamed my beloved Bosnia as a "shit hole") was on a stage calling for nothing more or less than violent revolution.

Well, I googled it.

Turns out I was remembering an actual event. October 21, 1978. I must been, what, sixteen years old? Anyway, Al Franken and his buddy Tom Davis were filmed saying... THIS:
Al Franken: Thank you, thank you! Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! It's GREAT to be back!

Tom Davis: That's right. And, tonight, we'd like to stick our necks out a little bit on national television, and call for a violent overthrow of the United States government! [ he bows, as the audience applauds ]

Al Franken: Thank you! Thank you! You see, besides being a professional comedy team, Tom and I are international Communist revolutionaries... and we believe that nothing can really be changed in this country, through the Democratic process! [ brief applause ] Oh, thank you! We're glad a lot of you feel that way!

Tom Davis: Right you are, Al. You see, in a Capitalist society, anybody who's running for public office is automatically corrupted by... well, instead of telling... why don't we show you?.... (cut to pointless comedy routine)
Well, as it turned out, Al DID show us. We just had to wait thirty one years.

(The above script is from an appearance on Saturday Night Live, but is presented just to let you know that (a) Al Franken actually said this, and (b) that he was just, ahem, kidding.)

(Right?)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guess the answer to this is 'yes'....

....in light of yesterday's election results in Massachusetts.

Teddy, We Hardly Knew Ye

In August 2009, this blog bade a fond farewell to Teh Loin of the Senate, Edward (Ted) Kennedy, the Submariner, as he drove his metaphorical car over the Bifrost Bridge, alone this time.

We made the following snide comments:

His death at this moment reduces the Democratic majority in the Senate to 59 votes, thus making it mathematically possible to stop socialized health care until his successor is elected, which should take, oh, about six months.

Thank you, Senator, for your contribution this day to the continuation of American freedom.
We never, in our fondest fantasies, ever dreamed that the door that hit him on the way out would open the way for stopping Obamacare flat.

Again, Senator, we AGAIN thank you for your lasting contribution to the continuation of American freedom.

And we rejoice in the victory with knowledge that there is much struggle yet to come.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You. Just. Gotta. See. This.



From YOUTUBE:

"A rookie secret agent is faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase."

Doncha hate it when that happens?

PS. That really is 16th Street Northwest, Washington, DC, and yes, it looks just like that.

Aside from the nuclear pigeon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Eat Yer Heart Out, Gene Simmons



"Zoo visitors got a surprise when this small bear rolled his foot-long tongue out of his mouth when it yawned. The bear measured only four feet long. The Sun Bear may look bizarre, but it is perfectly designed for foraging for food - especially honey".

Very Useful App....

This application will very thoroughly clean the inside of your screen for you.

Give it a try.

Haiti, Before and After

WIRED Magazine brings us satellite pix of the devastation, with pics of the same areas before the quake.

Mother of God.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In Re: Dirty Laundry



In connection with the above - Don Henley playing at the 1992 Clinton Inaugural Ball - I wish to bring your attention to THIS little essay by one claiming to be a Real TV Anchor.

If it is true, no wonder the Dinosaur Media DeathWatch claims another victim every day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Holly[Extremely]Weird

In the course of the human events I've beheld this last half century, I can say that I've seen a great deal. I've seen cities like Chicago rise to glory, and my home city die of leprosy. I've seen the glory of Europe and the lights go out on Broadway. I've met Presidents and peasants, shaken hands with amiable murderers and irascible saints, held my newborn son and ancient mother in my arms. I've been to the Embassy Ball and I've beheld mass graves and the victims of genocide.

But never, but never, have I met anybody like Tia Tequila or Katy Perry.

And for that last I must say I am eternally grateful.

Haiti: My. God.



I'm shamelessly stealing this link from LGF.

This needs to be seen.

They're talking a HALF MILLION casualties.

"Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed," Preval told the Miami Herald. "There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them."

Even the main prison in the capital fell down, "and there are reports of escaped inmates," U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.

The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was missing and the Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince was dead.
Mother of God. Have mercy on these people, Lord.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Avatar: Hogwash in 3D


Hat Tip: the geniuses at failblog.org

Yesterday AM I was digging through a stack of old and much loved paperbacks and found myself rereading Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, which celebrated human victory in interstellar war against a hive-race of space spiders -- an achievement worthy of celebration because "both races are strong and tough and want the same real estate."

Last night I went to see (front row, 3D, Imax) Avatar.... the anti-Starship Troopers. To say the least.

I emerged with a splitting headache.

Oh, sure, the visuals were awesome. But the story was nothing more than a rehash of the what-happens-when-White-Europeans-encounter-noble-savages nonsense we've all come to know and loathe.

Noble Savages my butt. Sure, 15th Century unbathed Euroes were no prize, but the peoples of the Americas weren't exactly peace-love-dove types either (EVERY human has eaten the apple!).

Just once I'd love for them to make a movie about the fall of the Aztecs that showed the monsters for what they were. Hint: they weren't exactly Christian Bernard wannabees wielding stone knives on their sacrificial altars.

Besides, the premise of the movie is absurd. With PC nazis everywhere now, the chances of our actually REACHING an alien planet are zilch (leaving aside the physical barriers); were we to find one with sentients on the surface, we CERTAINLY wouldn't be down there mining dilithium crystals from under their sacred shrines and apartment complexes. What frakking hogwash.

I want those three hours of my life back so I can spend them on something useful.

ADDENDUM

Somehow the moral superiority of spear-and-arrow-casting woad warriors over humans is not clearly established. Truly, their only claim to the forest is, "We were here first!". A claim that, alas, history shows that when confronting vastly superior alien tech will, along with a buck and a half, get you a Venti at Starbuck's. (A grande is three and a quarter.)

I DO know that the advantages of living in a forest and shooting deer with blowdarts over ambling over to a grocery store and buying fresh ground beef to make hamburgers out of escapes me; give me light beer and blue jeans any day of the week, thanks.

ADDENDUM II

THIS would have made a much more interesting movie, methinx: the story of Scientist Kenneth Good and his Yanomama wife Yerema, a child when she married him, and her eventual decision to go with him to New Jersey.... and return to the rain forest after deciding that a steady diet of MTV and Mickey Dees wudn't for her.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Headline du Jour

The WashPost reports:

Obama administration says there was no smoking gun before attempted airline bombing

Maybe not before, but there appears to have been one afterwards....

(ba DUM bump)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holocaust Museum Killer Is Dead

The killer of Stephen Tyrone Johns at the Holocaust Museum in July has died.

May God have mercy on his sorry excuse for a soul.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tattered Remnants #024: Titanic Heroes


WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST: HEROES OF THE TITANIC

(Read all about the Tattered Remnants by clicking {here}.)

Dance band on the Titanic
Sing "Nearer, my God, to Thee"
The iceberg's on the starboard bow
Won't you dance with me

- Harry Chapin

It is in time of horrible disasters that the hidden virtues of the Tattered Remnant are often revealed. Some in steadfastness and strength keep order so that those who can save themselves do so. Some simply withhold themselves from rescue so that the young, the weak, and the ladies may survive. And some deliberately sacrifice themselves so that others may live.

The sinking of HMS Titanic forms the left-hand bookend of the catalogue of horrors we call the Twentieth Century, with the 9/11 atrocities forming the right. On this bitter and terrible night remembered, that of April 14-15, 1912, when a shipload of over two thousand people went from sleep to wakefulness to alertness to panic to horror to death in the course of three hours, some 1500 people lost their lives in the cruel, cold North Atlantic.

Now, three paragraphs into this retelling of an oft-told tale, I'm going to mention James Cameron's 1995 film "Titanic" just to get it out of the way. I have a love-hate relationship with this movie. The plot for the first half of the flick is lifted directly from the 1980 classic weepy Somewhere in Time: all of the plot elements are there, including the setting of a luxurious castle in the middle of great waters (the Grand Hotel is on Mackinac Island in northern Lake Huron), the old lady actress recalling her young love, the Iconic Object From The Past, the traveling-back-in-time to Spring 1912, the young man dying for his lady, the again-youthful lovers reunited in the next world, etc etc. The main difference, of course, is that the Grand Hotel doesn't sink into the Great Lakes at the end. (And a good thing, too.)

Anyway. The movie has become so embedded into the popular consciousness that "Titanic" is the gold standard of Titanic memory. But this is not about fictional turnip ghosts -- but true heroes.


THE WALLACE HARTLEY BAND

Well, they soon used up all of the lifeboats
But there were a lot of us left on board
I heard the drummer sayin' "Boys, just keep playin'"
"Now we're doin' this gig for the Lord"

-Harry Chapin

Their names, clockwise from the top left:

John Clarke
Percy Taylor
Theodore Brailey
Roger Bricoux
Jock Hume
Georges Krins
John Woodward (not pictured).

And in the center, band leader Wallace Hartley.

There is much to tell of the Titanic band members; Bill Whittle has done a marvelous job here; I cannot better his version.

But I join with him in saying: Remember these men.

They were, essentially, "deadheaders." The ship didn't employ them as crew; they were entertainers hired at dirt wages by some subcontractor for the privilege of entertaining the rich of First Class as they dined. They weren't paid by the contracting company, either; the assumption was that their tips would serve as their pay.

The Captain asked them to play happy and hopeful music as the ship began to go down.

So, they stayed and they played.

They played waltzes. They played ragtime. They played hymns of hope and hymns beseeching.

They played their lives away.

They were under no obligation to do so. They weren't under the Captain's command. As first class inhabitants (if not passengers) they had the best chance of any aboard the ship to survive.

But they remained.

They didn't play because they were ordered to. They played because music was their life. And in playing, they earned eternal memory by the human race, who look to them even now, a century later, as among the very the best to whom their people ever gave birth.

There are those who argue, perhaps rightly, that the stand of Englishmen against the Nazis were their finest hour. Perhaps. But the hour of music these men provided must surely rank as equal to the valor of their nephews of 1940.

Wallace Hartley.

John Clarke.

Percy Taylor.

Theodore Brailey.

Roger Bricoux.

Jock Hume.

Georges Krins.

John Woodward.

None of them survived.

A contemporary news account stated that "the part played by the orchestra on board the Titanic in her last dreadful moments will rank among the noblest in the annals of heroism at sea."

Indeed.

Shut off, shut off the ragtime ! The lights are falling low !
The deck is buckling under us ! She's sinking by the bow !
One hymn of hope from dying hands on dying ears to fall-
Gently the music fades away — and so, God rest us all !

- Arthur Conan-Doyle


FATHER THOMAS BYLES


"There's no way that this could happen"
I could hear the old captain curse
He ordered lifeboats away, that's when I heard the chaplain say
"Women and children and chaplains first"


I love Harry Chapin, but Father Thomas Byles, a priest of Christ, surely gave lie to that last line.

Thomas Byles


....was born Roussel Davids Byles in Leeds, Yorkshire, the eldest of seven children of the Reverend Dr. Alfred Holden Byles, a congregationalist minister, and his wife Louisa Davids. He attended Leamington College and Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancashire, between 1885 and 1889, then went to Balliol College, Oxford in 1889 to study theology, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1894. While at Oxford, Byles converted to the Roman Catholic faith, taking the name Thomas. In 1899, he went to the Beda College in Rome to study for the priesthood, and was ordained in 1902. He was assigned to St. Helen's Parish in Ongar, Essex in 1905.
Father Byles was walking the deck, reciting his breviary, when the iceberg struck. As the ship descended into chaos, he held his place, guiding women and children to the boats, and is credited to getting Margaret Brown to hers. He was said to have refused a lifeboat at least twice.

He gave his last moments in offering confession, absolution and perhaps even eternal life to those who turned to him their final minutes. He too chose to go down with the ship rather than turn his back on his calling. While he was neither a saint nor a martyr in the strict sense, it is clear that his actions in his last minute showed that he had the makings of both.

Father Boyle did not say "...and chaplains first." He died at his ultimate duty station, and if there is any truth to Catholic theology at all, it is entirely possible that his death bought the salvation of the souls of many. There is no finer way for any Christian to end his life; for no greater love hath a man.....

"He died a martyr of charity, performing the most perfect act of love of his God and of his neighbor." - The Vicar General, Society of Jesus, 1912




THOMAS ANDREWS

Mama stood cryin' at the dockside
Sayin' "Please son, don't take this trip"
I said "Mama, sweet Mama, don't you worry none"
"Even God couldn't sink this ship"

- Harry Chapin

The man who built Titanic, he took full and total responsibility for its failures and its design flaws, the exact nature of which was unknown to him at the time of the sinking, but ultimately revealed to be a short rudder and, possibly, bad steel and rivets that went into the hull.

He was seen below decks during the evacuation, making a last check to be sure that as many people from the lower levels of the ship as possible had a life jacket and an opportunity to survive.

He was last seen in life staring into a painting in the clubroom, waiting for the last call, contemplating in melancholy the painting of Southampton port.

Like the Captain, he chose to go down with his ship. The accident that occurred could not be attributed fully to him -- excessive speed was problem number one, followed by the choice of White Star Line not to put enough boats on board -- but he still took responsibility for whatever contribution to the loss he had made by choosing to stay until the end with those who died as a result of the catastrophe.

One might question whether this makes him one of the Tattered Remnant, for suicide is forbidden. But he recognized that he shared responsibility for the disaster, and withheld himself from rescue, allowing others to take his place: which is more than you can say for the owner of the White Star Line, who was rescued, but whose name I cannot recall at this instant.


WILLIAM MURDOCH

Well, the whistle blew and they turned the screws
It turned the water into foam
Destination sweet salvation
Goodbye home sweet home
-Harry Chapin

Of all the distortions of the movie "Titanic" the denigration of William Murdoch was possibly the most outrageous.

He was First Officer, on duty on the bridge when the ship struck the berg. He it was who desperately attempted to port around it; he it was whose hand was at the conn when the accident occurred. But in no way did he shoot any passengers and certainly he did not take his own life like a coward, as portrayed in the film.


After the collision Murdoch was put in charge of the starboard evacuation, during which he launched 10 lifeboats, containing almost 75 percent of the total number who survived. He was last seen attempting to launch Collapsible Lifeboat A. He was never seen again after Titanic disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean on the morning of 15 April 1912. His body, if recovered, was never identified. .... Several members of the crew, including the ship's lamp trimmer, Samuel Hemming, and Second Officer Charles Lightoller said they saw Murdoch attempting to free Collapsible A from the falls on the Boat Deck just before the bridge submerged in the final stages of the sinking, when a huge wave washed him overboard into the sea. Surviving wireless operator Harold Bride later stated that he saw Murdoch near Collapsible Lifeboat "B," but that he died in the water.
A great memorial fund was established in his memory in his home town: a fund that was much enhanced when an executive from the movie studios responsible for the film flew to Scotland and made a public apology, as well as a great donation to the fund.



MARGARET BROWN

They were burnin' all the flares for candles
In the banquet they were throwin' in first class
And we were blowin' waltzes in the barroom
When the universe went CRASH!

- Harry Chapin

"The Unsinkable Molly Brown" of course is most famous for having received that most American of tributes, a musical comedy written in her honor.

In spite of that, her actual achievements, and not just those on the night of the sinking, deserve to be remembered. First, Wikipedia:

Margaret helped others board the lifeboats but was finally convinced to leave the ship in Lifeboat No. 6. She would come to be regarded as a heroine for her efforts to get lifeboat 6 to go back to look for survivors. After the Titanic sank, she and several other women passengers took control of Boat 6, rowing "to keep warm" but headed back, against the demands of the head crewman, to find survivors in the water ... However, some sources report that no survivors were found, except by Lifeboat No. 12. Onboard the rescue ship R.M.S. Carpathia, Margaret Brown took a leadership role among the women passengers.
When the Carpathia reached dockside, Margaret went to considerable expense to have made a silver loving cup to be given to the crew of the Carpathia; furthermore, she had commemorative medals made for the individuals who crewed the rescue ship.

Her heroism and strength showed itself again after the event. Almost exactly two years later, in the town of Ludlow, Colorado, some 20 people were killed when the Colorado National Guard assaulted a tent colony of striking coal miners. Wikipedia reports that two women, eleven children, six miners and union officials and one National Guardsman were killed.


On the morning of April 20, [1914,] the day after Easter was celebrated by the
many Greek immigrants at Ludlow, three Guardsmen appeared at the camp ordering the release of a man they claimed was being held against his will. This request prompted the camp leader, Louis Tikas, to meet with a local militia commander at the train station in Ludlow village, a half mile (0.8 km) from the colony. While this meeting was progressing, two companies of militia installed a machine gun on a ridge near the camp and took a position along a rail route about half a mile south of Ludlow. Anticipating trouble, Tikas ran back to the camp. The miners, fearing for the safety of their families, set out to flank the militia positions. A firefight soon broke out.

The fighting raged for the entire day. The militia was reinforced by non-uniformed mine guards later in the afternoon. At dusk, a passing freight train stopped on the tracks in front of the Guards' machine gun placements, allowing many of the miners and their families to escape to an outcrop of hills to the east called the "Black Hills." By 7:00 p.m., the camp was in flames, and the militia descended on it and began to search and loot the camp. ...

[Three] captured miners were later found shot dead. ... During the battle, four women and eleven children had been hiding in a pit beneath one tent, where they were trapped when the tent above them was set on fire. Two of the women and all of the children suffocated.

Molly Brown's connections to the Colorado mining industry -- which had given her and her husband their riches -- combined with her fame from the Titanic disaster, gave her "good offices" to serve as an intermediary and a badly needed moderating influence between management and labor.


Margaret, who had connections in both the West and the East, went to Ludlow, in answer to urgent appeals for help from both sides, each seeing her as an ally. Margaret struggled to maintain a middle ground, refusing to join radicals calling for the resignation of the governor, while also challenging Rockefeller on his harsh business practices. As the two sides became further entrenched, Margaret spoke out about miners’ rights and pressured Rockefeller with the resulting negative media. Rockefeller eventually softened his stance and agreed to make concessions. The conflict at Ludlow was ultimately resolved and, in many ways, marked the end of the radical wing of the workers’ movement in America as the new PR savvy of industrialists like Rockefeller grew more and more effective.
She also went on to work in France providing war relief before American entry.

She died in 1932 at the age of 65, her money almost all spent.




KINGS OF THE WORLD: THE MEN OF THE TITANIC


Dance band on the Titanic
Sing "Nearer, my God, to Thee"
The iceberg's on the starboard bow
Won't you dance with me

- Harry Chapin

"Thank you, no; we are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen. But we would like a brandy!"
- attr. Benjamin Guggenheim, April 15, 1912, 12:30 AM

In the Waterfront section of Southwest Washington, DC, not far from the now-bitterly poor neighborhood called "Anacostia," there is a battered memorial. In one of those strange rituals that only a capital city can long support, there has been a tradition that, at midnight or so of April 14 of every year, a society of men gather at this monument and, as the clock strikes twelve, they raise a toast in commemoration of the men who chose to follow the ancient custom of "Women and Children First."

Those numbers were very great. Wikipedia reports that, for instance, of those men in Second Class on the Titanic, some 92% died, giving their places to the women and children on board. All but one child in first and second class survived; only 20% of the men survived, compared to nearly 75% of the women.

It is unknown if this rule would still be respected in this bitter era of sexual equality-as-battlefield. I think it would be, for I think it is one of those eternal rules of human decency that is written in every human heart (even if it is disregarded by many).

I should also note one of the many women among those who stayed behind: Ida Strauss, husband of former Congressman Isadore Strauss. Although a first class passenger, she refused a place in the boat, choosing to honor her vows to her husband and stay with him to the bitter end. "Not I—I will not leave my husband. All these years we've traveled together, and shall we part now? No, our fate is one."

(And of course we also remember the mothers who had small children that they protected as best they could as the waters came to enclose them.)

But that said, let us not forget those men who chose not to step on a lifeboat so that others might live, for it is this selfless act that made them all "Kings of the World."

For they are the truest embodiments of the Tattered Remnant that could be.

All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly, which can — and must — be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. ... Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal....
- Lazarus Long (Robert A. Heinlein), Time Enough for Love



ADDENDUM I - ROSE DEWITT BUKATER

I've always loathed "Titanic's" lead character. Rose Dewitt Bukater -– portrayed at the age of 17 by Kate Winslett and her two best friends, Port and Starboard -– is most decidedly not one of the Tattered Remnant, but is a self centered rhymes-with-witch who stops at nothing to get her way. She humiliates her family in public at every opportunity. She later makes her unmarried granddaughter wait in her hand and foot.

She deliberately tosses a zillion-dollar blue diamond that belongs to the insurance company (or should be left to the granddaughter) into the drink. The alternate ending on the CD -- where Rose throws the rock into the sea in full view of her hosts on the Russian research vessel -- needs to be seen (once).

(But, either way... didn't she realize how many billable hours in litigation she prevented? Doesn't she know there are starving lawyers in Ethiopia?!)

It could be argued that the sinking of HMS Titanic was her fault--since she was on the deck smooching with Jack, distracting the first officer and the seamen in the crow's nest from paying proper attention to their jobs.

More seriously, she was remarkably cruel, in that she let her own mother believe, for the rest of her (the mother's) life, she was dead in the sinking, which if you think about it is about a 9.5 on a logarithmic Nastymeter.

Really, I always figure that the alternate universe in which Cameron's "Titanic" takes place would probably have been better off if somebody else had gotten to the floating bedstead.... but that would not have made a very good movie, would it?

ADDENDUM II - ELBERT HUBBARD


Mr. and Mrs. Straus, I envy you that legacy of love and loyalty left to your children and grandchildren. The calm courage that was yours all your long and useful career was your possession in death. You knew how to do three great things—you knew how to live, how to love and how to die. One thing sure, there are just two respectable ways to die. One is of old age, and the other is by accident. All disease is indecent. Suicide is atrocious. But to pass out, as did Mr and Mrs Isador Strauss, is glorious. Few have such privilege. Happy lovers, both. In life they were never separated, and in death they are not divided.
- Artist Elbert Hubbard, 1912

On May 7. 1915, Elbert Hubbard and his wife Alice perished in the sinking of the Lusitania.

On Patriotic Dissent

I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate, and you disagree with this administration, somehow you're not patriotic, and we should stand up and say we are Americans, and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!

Hillary Rodham Clinton, 4-28-03

"...A Harsh Mistress"

Lunar Colonies in holes in the ground?

(CNN) -- Building a home near a moon crater or a lunar sea may sound nice, but moon colonists might have a much better chance of survival if they just lived in a hole.

That's the message sent by an international team of scientists who say they've discovered a protected lunar "lava tube" -- a deep, giant hole -- that might be well suited for a moon colony or a lunar base.


As usual, Robert Heinlein got there first.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy International Binary Day!

Thousands of people will gather in Times Square this afternoon to watch the ball drop at 1:01:01 PM today 01/01/10....

This is not to be confused with the National Pi Fight, which will happen on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53, or International e Day, which will take place on 2/7/18 at 2 PM.

These latter holidays are not expected to be widely celebrated as the reasons for them are completely irrational.