Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kuz I Needz The Hitz:
Or, More Greg's Giggles!

Twenty four hours before the end of the month and I'm within 100 hitz of a new blog record. Therefore I will fall back on my blog's most brilliant and hilarious writer to put me over the top. Ladiez n Germs: Mr. GREG SHANKIN!

* Mitt Romney lost all three of the primaries a couple weeks ago. Yesterday, he begged Donald Trump to take back his endorsement. It was a big setback for the Mitt Romney campaign. Even the very poor said they felt bad for him.

* Have you heard about McDonald's' new Obama Value Meal? Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it.

* The Chinese say the year is 4710, and we say the year is 2012. I’m just going to guess that they probably got the math right on that.

* Justin Bieber's scandal broke. This is the latest. The woman who claims Bieber fathered her love child says they had sex in a bathroom. Meanwhile, Justin is saying he didn't know they had sex. He just thought the babysitter gave him a really good bath.

* My advice to you is to get married. If you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not you’ll become a philosopher. Socrates

* I'm so excited, Christmas season is finally here. ... A new survey found that two of the most popular holiday songs are 'Jingle Bell Rock' and 'Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.' The LEAST popular Christmas song: 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Herman Cain.'

* Rod Blagojevich was convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama's vacant senate seat. If he had waited a few years, he could probably have sold it back to Barack Obama.

* In Utah a hunter was shot in the ass, when his dog stepped on his shotgun. The dog later apologized and said, “Sorry, but you did neuter me.”

* I heard that drug stores in New York have started selling do-it-yourself paternity kits. Or as most people are calling them, “Maury: The Home Game.”

* Wal-Mart is now offering free tax advice at more than 3,000 of its stores. Finally answering the question, “Where can I get tax advice, kitty litter, and a shotgun all in one convenient location?”

* A campaign staffer on the Newt Gingrich campaign was fired because he was making negative comments about Mormons. I thought, “Wait a minute, isn't Newt in favor of multiple wives?”

* The last line of the story of The Emperor's New Clothes--the line they don't tell children--goes like this: "And then the boy was arrested by the King's guard and never seen again."

* TSA is no longer going to use that scanner that shows passengers in the nude. They made an executive decision yesterday after Aretha Franklin boarded a flight at LAX.

* President Obama urged private businesses to hire more workers. He didn’t realize that only the government hires more people than it needs.

* Politicians have to reach a lot of different people in Florida. It's a
very diverse population. You have old people there and then really old people there.
It looks like we’ll begin to pay our debt to China. Last week, we returned Yao Ming.

* Ron Paul says that he has a big youth following. You can tell by looking at the guy he's a regular Justin Bieber.

* They say 50 is the new 30 — not in age, in money: $50 is now worth about $30

* The Greek government is in such trouble they’ve halted production of hummus & taramasalata. Yes, it’s a double dip recession.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tanks for the Memories

A wierd and wonderful story at this link shows a number of tank graveyards throughout the world.

Now, I'm an old army guy (and an old wargamer) and I appreciate a working tank as one of the most awe-inspiring (and terrifying) pieces of equipment on Earth.

And yet these old elephant's graveyards for tanks do not inspire either sadness nor regret.

We forget just how better off we are over twenty five years ago--where thermonuclear war and vast armored offensives against Western Europe were still a possibility. Yes, we have troubles (grenade throwing mobs over destroyed Korans, et al) but nothing we face today is anything on the order of as dangerous as it was in the mid 1980s, before the tore down that wall. And the carapaces of these old monsters symbolize the harm they can no longer do.

As for the tanks in this display: may they rust in peace. Amen.

Greg's Giggles. (Because Monday
morning is not the high point of the week.)

* Tom Brady's wife Gisele publicly criticized the Patriots receivers for dropping some of her husband's passes. You know, it's one thing when you get chewed out by your coach. But to get chewed out by a a supermodel, that's got to hurt.

* The best daredevil of all time is Evel Knievel. You have no choice but to be a daredevil when your parents name you Evel. You can't be a florist or psychotherapist.

* The Oktoberfes festival is over three weeks long, and some people go every day. These people are called “alcoholics.”

* According to a new study, children who are spanked are twice as likely as those that aren’t spanked to get into fights and destroy things — which is probably why they get spanked in the first place.

* Last week, Occupy Wall Street tried to occupy the subway in New York City. Because if there's one place to confront the nation's wealthiest 1 percent, it's the subway.

* A new study found that the Reebok Classic is the most popular shoe worn by burglars. The second most popular shoe worn by burglars: yours.

* The body that was found on Queen Elizabeth's estate in England has been identified, finally. See, it takes a lot longer to identify bodies in England, because as you know, there are no dental records.

* I tried to find the Oprah network, but my universal remote tried to kill itself.

* A minor league baseball team in Ohio will hold a promotion next season called "Three Dog Night," where they'll sell a hot dog stuffed in bratwurst, stuffed in kielbasa. Then all three of those will be stuffed in a fat guy, stuffed in a suit, stuffed in a coffin, stuffed in the ground.

* On Valentine's Day, Americans spend $367 million on their pets. That seems like a waste. You don't need to wine and dine your dog. Either way, he's going to hump your leg.

* This year, I gave my wife her gift for next Valentine's Day. I gave her a pack of seeds. That way, she can grow her roses the old-fashioned way.

* Snoop Dogg endorsed Ron Paul for president. Snoop said he likes Paul's positions on everything from legalizing pot to legalizing pot.

* One of the awards at this week’s Westminster Dog Show went to Martha Stewart’s chow chow named Genghis Khan. If Martha wanted to name the dog after a ruthless tyrant, she should have gone with "Martha Stewart.”

* During a debate, Mitt Romney said he grew up in the real streets of America. Yes, the real streets, where people pull up next to you and ask if you have any Grey Poupon.

* The Super Bowl is the most watched event on TV. It’s nice that Americans can all agree on sitting down and watching two groups of huge men beat each other up.

* Someone set 53 cars on fire over three days in L.A. Police were looking for a Caucasian man with a ponytail. Police should always be looking for a Caucasian man with a ponytail.

* 7-Eleven is about to start selling their own brand of wine. Is that new? They had 7-eleven wine when I was in high school. We called it Robitussin.

* Researchers at the University College of London report that indoor heating makes us fat. They say cold air helps us stay thin. Unless, of course, that blast of cold air you’re getting is from constantly opening the refrigerator door.

* Let the one who is stoned cast the first sin. (21st Century revision)

* Some philosophers have suggested that the devil is merely an allegorical representation of mankind's own moral frailties, but I think our moral universe needs Satan. Without the devil, who'd sit on my shoulder and argue with the angel on my other shoulder?

* Kate Gosselin is giving her fans a unique opportunity to join her on a cruise to the Caribbean. But being trapped at sea with Kate Gosselin and her kids doesn't sound like a vacation to me. It sounds like a punishment from a Greek myth.

* Newt Gingrich has a new campaign slogan: “Now hiring!” Sixteen of Gingrich’s top staff quit last week, and today, two of his top fundraisers quit. He’s not even president and he’s already raising the unemployment rate.

* Lady Astor: "Winston Churchill! You are drunk!" Winston: "And, Lady Astor, you are ugly. And tomorrow I'll be sober."

* As chocolate is the opposite of vanilla, and pepper the opposite of salt, so, I have found, tea is the opposite of kool-aide.

* Lindsay Lohan has been in rehab so many times the cafeteria named a sandwich after her.

* It’s been so hot this week, everyone is sweating like Rupert Murdoch trying to explain his phone bill.

* The team of Obama and Boehner beat the team of Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. When they tallied up the score, they were 14 trillion over par.

* India has suspended its plans to let a Wal-Mart open in its country. The prime minister's exact words were “India will make your crappy clothes, but we won't buy them.”

* John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

REPOST: The Devil In The Details

NEWS ITEM: Rick Santorum has been held up to public ridicule because four years ago, he publicly said in 2008 that he believed that Satan was "attacking America" "right now."

I'd like to publicly align myself with his remarks--I fully join in his assessment, except I'd set the starting date to October 12, 1492.

Used to be that belief in Satan was quite mainstream. Even courts have considered him....





54 F.R.D. 282, December 3, 1971

[EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Once upon a time, a guest of the federal penal system attempted to sue the Evil One for his downfall. The decision that followed (and yes, this is a real decision) has become a sort of a minor comic masterpiece of case law. (It's a shame that the plaintiff was unable to find the defendant to properly serve him papers, especially as we now know, from the 1993 film The Devil's Advocate, that he is a member of the bar of New York. Of course, that raises an additional question: which member?)]
WEBER, District Judge.

Plaintiff, alleging jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 241, 28 U.S.C. § 1343, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 prays for leave to file a complaint for violation of his civil rights in forma pauperis. He alleges that Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff's downfall.

Plaintiff alleges that by reason of these acts Satan has deprived him of his constitutional rights.

We feel that the application to file and proceed in forma pauperis must be denied. Even if plaintiff's complaint reveals a prima facie recital of the infringement of the civil rights of a citizen of the United States, the Court has serious doubts that the complaint reveals a cause of action upon which relief can be granted by the court. We question whether plaintiff may obtain personal jurisdiction over the defendant in this judicial district. The complaint contains no allegation of residence in this district. While the official reports disclose no case where this defendant has appeared as defendant there is an unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff. The defendant in that action was represented by the preeminent advocate of that day, and raised the defense that the plaintiff was a foreign prince with no standing to sue in an American Court. This defense was overcome by overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Whether or not this would raise an estoppel in the present case we are unable to determine at this time.

If such action were to be allowed we would also face the question of whether it may be maintained as a class action. It appears to meet the requirements of Fed.R. of Civ.P. 23 that the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, there are questions of law and fact common to the class, and the claims of the representative party is typical of the claims of the class. We cannot now determine if the representative party will fairly protect the interests of the class.

We note that the plaintiff has failed to include with his complaint the required form of instructions for the United States Marshal for directions as to service of process.

For the foregoing reasons we must exercise our discretion to refuse the prayer of plaintiff....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Space Hero!

Today marks 50 years since John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, less than a year after Yuri Gagarin's first flight.

From Wikipedia:

In April 1959, despite the fact that Glenn had not earned the required college degree, he was assigned to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as one of the original group of seven astronauts chosen for Project Mercury. During this time, he remained an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

He became the fifth person in space, the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, circling the globe three times during a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds. Perth, Western Australia became known worldwide as the "City of Light" when city residents lit their house lights and streetlights as Glenn passed overhead. The city repeated the act when Glenn rode the Space Shuttle in 1998. During the mission there was concern over a ground indication that his heat shield had come loose, which could allow it to fail during re-entry through the atmosphere, which would result in his capsule burning up. Flight controllers had Glenn modify his re-entry procedure by keeping his retrorocket pack on over the shield in an attempt to keep it in place. He made his splashdown safely, and afterwards it was determined that the indicator was faulty....

Three decades later, after serving 24 years in the United States Senate, Glenn lifted off for a second space flight on October 29, 1998, on Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-95, in order to study the effects of space flight on the elderly. At age 77, Glenn became the oldest person to go into space. Glenn states in his memoir that he had no idea that NASA was willing to send him back into space, when NASA announced the decision.[13] Three days prior to NASA's annoucement, various radio stations were reporting that NASA had decided to send Glenn back into space. Glenn's participation in the nine-day mission was criticized by some in the space community as a junket for a politician.....

Junket? For a politician? Where would they get that idea?

Oh. He opposed the Clinton impeachment only three months after his return to Earth.

Never mind. Just a coincidence.

Nothing to see here. Really.

If we're going to honor a space hero today, then, let's do it right.



In downtown Moscow, there still stands a hotel which remains, to this day, a monument to the fear generated by Stalinist tyranny.

The Metropole hotel is a great heap of socialist realism dating back to the mid 1930s. It is highly asymmetrical: the left side of the building is plain, the right, quite ornate.

The story goes that when the hotel was built, two plans were presented to Stalin for review, side-by-side, with a line down the center indicating that he needed to choose between the two styles.

It's said that Stalin, who often didn't pay close attention to paperwork submitted to him, just scribbled his name and the word "Approved" across the middle of the page. And rather than tell their "Vozhd" ("The Boss") that he had screwed up, the terrified sycophants who surrounded him went ahead and ordered the hotel be built as approved, asymmetrically.

Think of the implications of that for a moment.

This was but one instance of rule by "The Boss", a tyrant surrounded by (real) yes-men who could not ever contradict him for fear of their lives. It is said he was so feared that his personal chamberlain kept spare pairs of pants ready to hand, so that those who went to see Stalin personally would have something to change into if they lost control of their functions out of fear of being in his presence.

Rule by "The Boss" remained the curse of Russian life; Stalin's successors ruled much as he did up to 1992 when the Soviet system was (we hope!) overthrown.

This is a story of a man who received an order from The Boss (and his lackeys), and, knowing full well that he was choosing slow death by fire, chose to take the mission rather than kill a national hero who also happened to be his best friend.

His name was Vladimir Komarov, and, in 1967, he was given a hideous choice: to go into space in a rattletrap spacecraft that was certainly not going to survive reentry... or refuse to board and let his secondary relief take the trip.

Problem was, the secondary relief was Yuri Gagarin, his best friend and a national hero.

It's been almost fifty years since 'Gaga' went into orbit--and half a planet away. But Gagarin was the Hero of the Soviet Union of the time (and he'd earned it, too); he was the Russian Niel Armstrong, first man into space.

Had Gagarin died in orbit after Komarov refused the mission, Komarov would very likely have not lived very long. Furthermore, Komarov and Gagarin were personal friends; Komarov could not sentence his best friend to die so horribly.

But the Vozhd ("The Boss"), in this case Leonid Breszhnev, ymech shemo, wanted a space triumph. The Americans had just lost three astronauts on the ground in the Apollo 1 fire. He wanted to demonstrate the USSR's technical superiority over the Americans, who were clearly pushing ahead in the race to the Moon. So the order came down: there must be a launch.

Even if the Soyuz was as much a piece of deadly junk as Apollo 1.

The craft simply wasn't ready for prime time--and both Komarov and Gagarin knew it. There remained hundreds of flaws, any of which could cause a failure and death for the pilot.

But The Boss wanted a triumph--and the impenetrable wall of lickspittles who surrounded him would not let the truth get through.

So Komarov went into space in the Soyuz 1 spacecraft--confronting Gagarin at the launch pad to prevent Gagarin from taking Komarov's place.

The mission of Soyuz 1 on launch was to meet up with the Soyuz 2 craft, launched the day following, in an orbital rendezvous, and then return to earth.

Everything went wrong.

And what's worse, everything that went wrong he knew was going to go wrong.

First, Soyuz 2's launch was cancelled, so the entire point of the mission was scrubbed even before reentry began.

And then it got worse.

Let Wikipedia tell the story:

On orbital insertion, the solar panels of the Soyuz module failed to fully deploy, thereby preventing the craft from being fully powered and obscuring some of the navigation equipment. Komarov reported: 'Conditions are poor. The cabin parameters are normal, but the left solar panel didn't deploy. The electrical bus is at only 13 to 14 amps. The HF communications are not working. I cannot orient the spacecraft to the sun. I tried orienting the spacecraft manually using the DO-1 orientation engines, but the pressure remaining on the DO-1 has gone down to 180.' Komarov tried unsuccessfully to orient the Soyuz module for 5 hours. The craft was transmitting unreliable status information and communications were lost on orbits 13-15 due to the failure of the HF transmitter which would have maintained radio contact whilst the craft was out of range of UHF receivers on the ground.

As a result of the problems with the craft, the second Soyuz module which was to have provided crew to perform an Extra-vehicular activity to Soyuz 1 was not launched and the mission was cut short.

Komarov was ordered to re-orient the craft using the ion system on orbits 15-17. The ion system failed. Komarov did not have enough time to attempt a manual re-entry until orbit 19. Manual orientation relied on using the equipped Vzor device, but in order to do this, Komarov needed to be able to see the sun. To reach the designated landing site at Orsk the retro-fire would need to take place on the night side of the earth. Komarov oriented the spacecraft manually on the dayside then used the gyro-platform as a reference so that he could orient the craft for a night side retro-fire. He successfully re-entered the earth's atmosphere on orbit 19. He was killed after the module crashed when the drogue and main braking parachute failed to deploy correctly.

The last line was not true; he died, horribly, and slowly, of burns long before Soyuz completed reentry.

A story on National Public Radio's web site (discretion advised before viewing!) includes both a recording of Komarov's hideous last imprecations against those who sent him in space to die, and an even more hideous picture of his burned corpse in an open coffin.

I hope that Leonid Breszhnev saw it.

Gagarin, it is said, wanted to confront Breszhnev about it; legend has it he threw a drink in Breszhnev's face at a reception after the disaster. We do know this: Yuri Gagarin died in 1968, only months after the Soyuz 1 disaster, in what was said to be a plane crash. God rest him.

And God rest Vladimir Komarov and may light eternal shine upon him, for "greater love hath no man than one who lays his life down for a friend." He reflected what is greatest and best of the people of Russia.

And, unlike some NASAs I could name, the space program he died to build is still going strong.

Happy Presidents' Day!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Sheep and the Sheep Dogs: A Parable

There once was a flock of sheep.

The flock wandered from place to place, eating grass, drinking from streams, and growing in numbers.

The flock was protected; for it had a Shepherd. And the Shepherd did his job well, with the help of his three Sheep Dogs.

But the flock was unhappy.

The flock was forever kept together by the Sheep Dogs, who were nasty, and nipped at their tails. They barked. They were mean. They were loud. They were scary. And the Shepherd was cold, distant, and aloof.

One night, the flock gathered together in the warm spring air, and talked about the Sheep Dogs, who always barked at them, the Sheep Dogs, who were nasty, and the Sheep Dogs, which nipped at their tails. They talked about how the Sheep Dogs barked. They talked about how mean they were, how loud they were, and how scary they were. And they talked about the Shepherd, and how cold, distant and aloof he was.

And they talked about the Sheep Dogs.

Finally one of the sheep spoke up. His name was Baaartholomew, and he was a young ram.

"Iiiii saaaaay," he said, "we should get riiiid of the Sheep Dogs. And the Sheeeepherd. If they were gone, we can do what we waaaaaant."

All the sheep agreed that it would be a good thing to be able to do what they wanted.

"Buuut whaaat do we dooooo?" asked one of the other sheep.

"I knoooow," Baaartholomew replied. "I haaaave an ideeeeea."

The next night, Baaartholomew brought out an old lion skin he had found hanging from a laundry rope nearby. While the Shepherd slept, and the Sheep Dogs slept, they snuck up on them, with two sheep wearing the lion skin. Nearby, some more sheep did their very best to imitate the roar of a lion as the two sheep in lion skin approached the tent where the Shepherd lay with his Sheep Dogs.

The Shepherd (who was not very bright) thought he was being attacked by a lion, so he ran away. And since he ran away, the three Sheep Dogs ran with him.

"Hoooooraaaaaaaaay!" said the sheep. And they pranced and danced in the meadow and looked forward to their happy new life, where they could do what they wanted.

But one sheep was missing during that celebration.

* * *

"Iiiiit worrrrrrked," Baartholomew said.

The Chief Wolf and the other wolves all nodded their heads.

"Good," the Chief Wolf said.

"Noooow rememmmmmber," Baaartholomew said, "I geeeet imuuuuunity. Riiiight?"

The Chief Wolf smiled.

"Of course," he said, licking his chops.


© 2012 Richard L. Kent, Esq. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Military Linguistics 101

‎"Tell the Marines to secure a building, and they'll take a squad, kill everyone inside, put guards at the doors, and hold the building until relieved.

"Tell the Army to secure a building, they'll build a 9' bobwire fence around it and let nobody in or out without authorization and clearance.

"Tell the Navy to secure a building, they'll double check the safes, turn off all unnecessary lighting, and lock the doors.

"And if you tell the Air Force to secure a building, they'll take out a five year lease with an option to buy......"

Thanks to the Legendary Stephanie Bean.....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Is Dedicated To The One I Love.

Happy Valentine's Day, Angel.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Dead Senator

(Note: I didn't write this joke--I think that it's been around since Roman times--but I wishdt I did.)

While walking down the street one day a Corrupt Senator (that may be redundant) was tragically hit by a car and died.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St.. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the Senator.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from the higher ups. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really?, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the Senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course.

In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They played a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who is having a good time dancing and telling jokes.

They are all having such a good time that before the Senator realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens in heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him, "Now it's time to visit heaven...?

So, 24 hours passed with the Senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."

The Senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell...

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls to the ground.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulders.

"I don't understand," stammers the Senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil smiles at him and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning, Today, you voted...."

It's Still Winter, dammit. Time for Greg's Giggles.

Today's forecast: snowy with chance of Imperial ground troops entering the base.

Ladies 'n' germs, Mr. GREG SCHANKIN!

* Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sentenced to 14 years in prison. This is the most disgraceful thing to happen to an Illinois governor since their last governor.

* Still no deal on the debt ceiling. Washington is keeping us on the edge of our seat — a seat that will soon be repossessed.

* The late November holiday season is a perfect time to quit smoking. What could be more stress-free than spending the holidays with your family?

* It may be time for a woman president. At least a woman would stop and ask for directions.

* A new photo from one of Saturn’s moons shows it may have all the elements necessary for life. Isn't that cool? Isn't that great? Yeah, the three elements found there were nitrogen, methane and Red Bull.

* Bill Gates, the guy who invented computers and internet porn, has designed a new toilet that uses no water whatsoever. I was going to get one, but my dog talked me out of it, (how is he going to drink?). In New York they call a toilet without water the subway!

* A new poll taken abroad found that President Obama's policies are more popular overseas than they are here in America. That's because he's created more jobs overseas than here in America.

* I'm not sure Rick Perry understands Thanksgiving. When they asked him if he was going to deep-fry a turkey, he said, "Well, if he's found guilty."

* President Obama introduced his $447 billion jobs plan. A lot of economists say it could work — if we had $447 billion.

* The meeting of the U.N. General Assembly went well this year. So far we haven't heard one of them yell, 'It was consensual!

* Employees at Pepsi who smoke have to pay $50 a month more for health insurance because of their risk to their personal health. Even worse, employees who drink Pepsi have to pay $100 a month.

* Jesus taught that there is no marriage in heaven. Why is that? It's heaven. Duh.

* Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie took all six of their kids shopping at FAO Schwarz. Yeah, it was nice. They said each kid could pick out three new toys. And then three new siblings.

* Congratulations to Joe Biden, whose daughter just got engaged to an ear, nose, and throat doctor. She met the doctor through her father. They met in the doctor's office while he was trying to get the vice president's foot out of his mouth. (Or was it his retrocranial proctologist?)

* I’ve heard that Apple have scrapped their plans for the new children’s iPod after realizing that iTouch Kids is not a good product name!

* Due to the bad economy, the Queen of England’s salary will be frozen for the next four years. In fact, to make ends meet the queen is thinking of having a yard sale. Getting rid of a lot of stuff they don't use anymore, like Canada.

* A special Christmas episode of "Glee" featured Chewbacca. I thought that was weird because I always thought C-3PO was the gay one.

* Political experts say that if Greece goes under, the world banks will go under, and then the U.S. economy will go under, and this will cost president Obama the election. But Obama still has three chances to win: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

* Captain America isn’t just patriotic, he’s also a real captain in the armed forces, not a made-up captain, like Captain Crunch.

* Q. What's the difference between Obama opponents and Obama supporters? A. The first group works for a living while the second group votes for a living.

* A liberal, a moderate and Conservative walk into a bar. The bartender says, ''Hi Mitt!''

* I had a car crash the other day. A dwarf got out the other car and said, 'I'm not happy'. To which I replied, 'Which one are you, then?"

Thththththtat's all, Folks!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: 1809-2012

And as what was once said in irony, I say now with conviction:

Happy Birthday, Abie, Baby, Happy Birthday to You.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

JFK on Communism and Freedom of the Press

JFK "The President and the Press," before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, 27 April 1961.

Note: PLEASE IGNORE the nonsense the poster added about "Executive Order 11110." EO 11110 was about eliminating United States notes ('silver certificates') from circulation, NOT about ending the Fed. (It in fact empowered the Fed to make more 'Federal Reserve Notes').

JFK was talking about Communists who are very much still alive and still in business. NOT about the Fed.

Salute: Loretta Leong!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Warning To Our Children

My munchkins are SLIGHTLY smarter than that.....but still. Kids, take heed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

101, This Week

We remember!

Thanks to Mr. Conservative.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Taking Orders From Machinery?

"This area is RESTRICTED!"

It appears that in England we have a new wrinkle on closed-circuit TV surveillance--a camera that barks a warning:


....in an American voice, no less, which must annoy the Brits to no end.

Now (not that I would ever advocate anything illegal, mind you) there ARE ways to deal with surveillance cameras.

(However, the time has not come for that kind of civil disobedience.)



This is one example where arguments for human dignity may ring true even for the most fanatical of materialists, as nobody wants to take orders from ironmongery.

Reminds me off the time....

Back before I was married I spent a year living in a high rise singles apartment building in Falls Church, at I-66 and Route 7, which we called "Yuppie Towers." Lived on the 14th floor, which is the floor immediately above the 12th. :0)

I walked through the parking lot to the entrance one day.... and happened to pass by a Brand New Bright Red Mustang with all the trimmings, with dealer stickers still in the window.

And a robotic voice spoke to me:


Riiiiiight, I thought.

I don't take orders from machinery; nevertheless, not wanting to be arrested, I resisted the impulse to smash the damn thing.

A few days later, I was up very early in the morning, getting ready for a Saturday morning Army drill. It was summertime, so the window of my apartment was open, and you could hear voices and noises carry through the early morning air.

And what I heard was the following exchange:



Followed by a smashing sound, thud, thud, thud, and the sound of a car alarm going off.

By the time I got downstairs to get in my car (about 10 minutes later) the police and the dismayed car owner were standing next to the car, now decorated with three or four souvenirs of the baseball bat which had disciplined it for its impudence.

A few days later, I saw the car again in the parking lot, fully repaired, and again I touched it as I passed by.

This time it didn't say a word.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Greg's Giggles In The Middle of Damn' Winter Already....

* The Patriots lost yesterday. Of course they did. This is the Obama administration.

* Four anti-government senior citizens in Georgia have been charged in a terror plot. All of the men are in their '60s and '70s and they planned to build a bomb and blow up a government building. Can you imagine? Remember the underwear bomber? These guys are the Depends bombers!

* President Obama will turn 50 on Thursday. Congress has agreed to raise his age ceiling. (Of course, how do we know his true age....?)

* In Utah a hunter was shot in the ass, when his dog stepped on his shotgun. The dog later apologized and said, "Sorry, but you did neuter me."

* A couple and their son were rescued this weekend after getting lost in the woods, looking for mushrooms. My advice: buy them from the streetcorner; you’ll still get lost after eating them, but at least you’ll still be in your apartment.

* I've decided I wanted to be just like my favorite Detroit entertainer. So I've gotten the name of the most important drug in my life tattooed to my face..... "Glucophage."

* If the debt limit isn't lifted in time, President Obama is going to switch to plan B: a nationwide going-out-of-business sale.

* Facebook just went public with its stock offerings, sparking one of the largest initial public offerings ever, which will value the company at over $100 billion. And MySpace also has some exciting news. They too are hoping to boost profits by having a bake sale this weekend which could bring in as much as $35.

* In ancient mythology, spiders were depicted as symbols of patience because they spend all that time weaving their web. Then they wait until unsuspecting prey stumbles into it and it's all over within matter of minutes. Nowadays we call that a Kardashian marriage.

* Iran announced it will not return the American spy drone it recently captured. Yeah, they're also refusing to return the Limp Bizkit album they borrowed 10 years ago.

* Whitey Bulger's brother was a politician. So one brother was operating in a world with no morals, dealing with the lowest of the low, and the other one was a mobster.

* Rick Perry announced today to satisfy environmentalists he is now using solar power. And this is brilliant thinking, using solar power to run the Texas electric chair.

* The federal government has a new plan that will let people send texts to 911. Yeah, it's a little frustrating when you try to text "Burglar! Please hurry!," and it auto-corrects to "Burger, please. Hungry."

* President Obama had his annual physical. Doctors say he is in excellent health, except his blood pressure. It's 70 over 14 trillion. But everything looks like there's no change. His cholesterol is down, his blood pressure is down, and his approval ratings are down.

* The Euro situation keeps getting worse. Germany and France just unfriended Greece and Italy on Facebook.

* People on the East Coast are cleaning up after the hurricane and on the West Coast, we're still cleaning up after the Video Music Awards.

* A few weeks back, President Obama went on a bus tour talking about jobs, and it was reported that his bus was made in Canada. That's so unpatriotic. If he was a real American, that bus would be made in China.

* President Obama bumped Chinese President Hu Jintao from the #1 spot on Forbes' list of the world's most powerful people. It was awkward—Obama wanted to buy a copy of the magazine while at the G20 Summit, but he had to borrow five bucks from Hu Jintao.

Ththththtat's all, Folks! (or whatever verbal eccentricities groundhogs engage in)

A Salute to Elizabeth Regina, Second of That Name

I would like to take a moment and salute Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth, Second of that Name, who celebrates 60 years on the throne today.

Ruling kings are generally swine, and those our generation has seen--the Shah of Iran, the Kings of Saudi Arabia, et. al.--are generally decadent, corpulent wastrels at best and tyrants at worst.

Elizabeth, Your Majesty is by far the best of your station seen since the death of Victoria.

(Oh, and a salute to your husband, too. Prince Philip looks pretty good for 92!)

God bless you, good lady, and may we celebrate your Double Diamond anniversary in ten years.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tattered Remnants #001: Chrisoph Probst, Hans & Sophie Scholl, and The White Rose.

NEWS ITEM: Alexander Schmorell, one of the White Rose opposition group executed by the Nazis in 1943, has been declared a Saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.

I think this is excellent.... as well as an excellent excuse for trotting out this favorite of mine.....

Hans Schöll, Sophie Schöll, Christoph Probst, 1942


Note: This was first posted on this blog a couple of years back. Its juxtaposition next to that of St. Thomas More two days ago is not a coincidence. Stay tuned. For more about the Tattered Remnants click here.

"We will not be silent. We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace!" - Motto of the White Rose Movement (Munich, 1942-1943)

I first learned of "The White Rose" movement in my teens, when reading one volume of a lurid, British-made multi volume paperback picture book series on the Second World War, which was then specifically marketed to teenaged males with an unhealthy interest in Nazi Germany: it was entitled "Hitler’s War Volume 24: Resistance In Nazi Europe" or some such. Bright red cover, lots of swastikas, endless garish black and white photographs of barbed wire and prisoners, etc etc. Very un-PC.

I can still remember vividly the book's laconic description of the execution of the leaders of The White Rose circle. Hans and Sophie Schöll, two college students, were arrested by the Gestapo for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets on the campus of the University of Munich in February, 1943, only two weeks after the destruction of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad. Their friend and co-conspirator, Christoph Probst, was arrested shortly thereafter. "They were convicted after a show trial and sentenced to death; they were executed the same day. Sophie went first, beheaded in the city prison. Next went her brother. As the blade fell, Hans Schöll shouted, ‘Es leibe die Frieheit!’ (Long live freedom!) Probst followed."

And that was all I ever knew of the White Rose.

I recently encountered a movie in the foreign language section of the our local video shop--in German, with English subtitles. It was entitled "Sophie Schöll: Die Letze Täge" ("Sophie Schöll: The Final Days"), a 2005 German language film starring Julia Jentsch.

(I suppose that I should say 'spoiler alert' here; however, it's like saying 'spoiler alert' before reviewing Titanic. The ship sinks; the girl dies; if you don't know that going in, why are you even watching the movie?)

I have to admit I was a little suspicious of the movie before I started it. From what I read, Hans, not Sophie, had been the leader of the Rose, under the direction of their philosophy professor, Kurt Huber (who was eventually also executed for his involvement, along with a number of others).

Sophie was a junior partner in the White Rose, notable only because she was the only woman actually executed therefor (the other women involved all went to prison). To make her the chief martyr in the story when she was not the leader struck me as somehow attempting to romanticize a horror.

I thought it possible that they were emphasizing her participation for some ideological reason or, worse, as a marketing tool. And to some extent I was right: Sophie had been a very pretty girl with a winsome manner, and Julia Jentsch, the actress portraying her, is very shapely; the movie took advantage of this by showing her in various stages of undress that, while not nudity, still struck me as a little .... unseemly, given the subject matter.

But. How little I knew about Sophie Schöll.

It seems that the transcripts of both the Gestapo investigation and the trial itself had been in the hands of the East German Stasi from the end of the war. In 1990, they were recovered from Stasi archives. Although the transcripts themselves are as yet unpublished, the script writers were given access to them -- and they used it as the basis of the film. Almost every single word in the movie is drawn from the historical record. They took exacting pains to make the movie almost a picture perfect reproduction of that dark time of the winter of 1943.

The portrait of this eminently intelligent, deeply faithful young woman so revealed is stunning. The Nazis, in executing this young woman, barely 21 years old, clearly killed not merely a martyr and a saint, but also a first class intellect and a most gifted philosophical mind.

The only comparison I can draw to her battle of wits with her Gestapo interrogator is to A Man for All Seasons, another story of a Christian soul beheaded for "treason." But while St. Thomas More was in the flower of his manhood when he died, a trained attorney of the highest order and fully capable of self defense, this girl was barely out of her teens: and yet she argued valiantly, first in defense of her friends, and then in defense of her ideas, in a stream of oratory that would have done St. Thomas proud.

The movie begins with Sophie and her best friend, Geselle, singing a Billie Holliday song as it plays on the grammaphone: the volume turned down, not to not disturb the neighbors, but rather to avoid the neighbors reporting them to the secret police.

As one reviewer put it: "This is not a period piece, but a horror film." Indeed. Who can imagine being put in a camp merely for listening to jazz? But that was the reality of the day.

Then Sophie leaves her friend’s apartment and joins her circle of friends, the White Rose, as they prepare leaflets for distribution – by mailing them to public persons (bar owners, barbers, doctors, folks who would come in contact with many people). When it is discovered that wartime shortages have made envelopes scarce, the decision is taken to distribute the flyers on campus.

Sophie and Hans volunteer: the scene where they are surreptitiously placing the flyers in the lecture hall atrium was amusingly familiar to this old univerity radical. But it was also an exercise in shaming the proud. Now this was courage! Never once did any of us face the headsman for publishing our (now rather embarrassingly) trivial opinions on campus; we were merely ridiculed.

Naturally the pair are caught; a janitor sees them and turns them in–-both out of loyalty to his Nazi regime, and out of annoyance at having to clean up the leaflets.

At first she resists the interrogation, trying to convince the Gestapo policeman interviewing her that she was just an innocent bystander going home to get her laundry.

Eventually, after her mask breaks and she admits that she helped write and distribute the leaflets, it becomes clear that her fate is sealed. The group’s efforts to shield one another –- in particular their fellow Christoph Probst, whose wife had just had a child –- were a failure.

The heart of the movie, indeed the heart of the entire incident, is her interrogation by the Gestapo functionary, one Inspector Robert Mohr. Mohr, it must be said, was not explicitly a monster; at no point was the girl tortured physically, as you might expect (another inmate at the jail later wrote that "he was actually relatively humane by Gestapo standards"). In point of fact, his actions are not unlike that of Pilate; he tries very hard to give Sophie an out, to allow her to denounce her brother's actions as misguided and as such to avoid execution.

He was, nevertheless, a pathetic functionary. He could not see beyond the end of his nose, beyond obedience. The Nazis, he said, had made him, taken him from his old job as a low level border policeman and made him Somebody. "I owe loyalty to the Party and to the Fuhrer," he says, in an argument (essentially, loyalty by bribery -- 'Stay Bought!') that would be repeated in various forms by everyone confronting the White Rose.

Her answer rang to the heavens. Because the German people are not mere slaves to the party. They don’t want victory. They want peace -– compassion –- empathy! Hitler cannot win this war. He can only prolong it. Somebody must take the first step back to sanity. No. Someone must say ‘no.’ We were merely the first.

And again: when Mohr asserts that the retarded children executed by the Reich were "unworthy of life," her answer is immediate and sharp: "Jede Leben ist kostbar!" Every life is precious! "Nobody knows what goes through the mind of the mentally ill." This, a lesson we have now forgotten.

When we think of the Nazis, we often think of them as a sort of cartoon character--the dreaded "SS Colonel Von Sippenhaft" You know, monacle, stiff right arm, robotic characteristics, the kind of Nazis one finds in the Indiana Jones movies.

The reality is far more prosaic, depressing, and terrifying. Inspector Mohr was, truly, much more typical of most Nazis: a pathetic droid, perhaps well meaning sometimes, but certainly not enough to deter him from committing horrors beyond imagination, and then forgetting having done any such thing. As Nietzsche put it: "My memory says, 'I did this.' My pride says, 'I did not do this.' Eventually, pride prevails."

In the end, Mohr clearly fails in his attempt to get the girl to renounce her actions; appropriately, he signals his abjuration of further responsibility by washing his hands.

Next follows a trial scene that can only be described as something out of a nightmare. The Nazis were still reeling from the surrender at Stalingrad only two weeks earlier, and were terrified of a dolchstoss, a ‘stab in the back’ (that is, a revolt) from the folks back home of the sort that led to the collapse in November 1918. They decided to pull out all stops and make public examples of these three.

They accordingly sent to Munich their most demonic prosecutor: one Roland Freisler, "President of the People’s Court", who must have be the source of the stereotype of the evil overbearing Nazi. He it was who sentenced the July 20 Hitler assassins to death by piano wire the following year; he it was who, I am pleased to report, was killed during an American bombing raid on Berlin in 1945.

Resplendent in a blood red robe, he sat on the bench and screamed at them. The trial (if you can call it that) of the three leafleteers by Freisler essentially consisted of each of the three being berated by a shrieking hysteric. (I should also add that the court-appointed weasel they called a "defense attorney" made this sometime court-appointed defense attorney's stomach turn.)

The first of the three, Probst, having three children for whom he was responsible, tried to escape the death penalty through self abasement. (To tell the truth, watching him beg for his life was one of the most painful parts of the movie.) Hans came next, holding himself up well – he was, after all, both a combat veteran and only a few semesters short of his MD and more than held his own against Freisler.

But it was Sophie, the last of the three, who shone like the sun. "Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did...Are we to be an outcast nation, forever scorned by the peoples of the world?"

There is a moment in the movie that will always haunt me: Sophie standing before her prosecutor, her judge, her useless defense attorney: Nazis before her, Nazis behind, she glows like an angel before the faceless lemures that presume to judge her.

It is an Ecce Homo moment, where an unarmed prophet confronts armed sheep. Moments like this resound through history. We see Moses before Pharaoh, and Daniel outside of the lion's den; we see it with John the Baptist, in his dungeon, looking up at the weeping Herod who begs him to let himself be released. We see Thomas More before his royal judges, or Gandhi before General Smuts, asking for a shilling for a ride home. We see Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow before the Soviets, or any of a thousand saints and heroes through history whose "guilt" shines like a beacon to all mankind as they are "judged" by mindless authoritarians unworthy to unloosen their sandals.

For their courage, Sophie Schöll, along with her brother Hans Schöll and Christoph Probst, were given the ultimate punishment that the Nazis could give forth: death by guillotine.

They were executed the same day. As "citizens" of the Reich, they was granted certain small comforts denied most Nazi victims: they allowed Sophie and Hans to see their parents for a few minutes, before the execution. And when her father looked into her eyes and said, "You did the right thing. I am proud of you," the gratitude in her eyes in response, and the stiffening of her spine, showed how much it meant.

It was made clear that these two youths were not merely made heroes: they were raised to be heroes by parents who knew what they were doing. Their martyrdoms redounded to the full credit of their parents, who deserve to share in their glory. (I wish I could take credit for this insight, but I found it in a review of the movie somewhere or other on the Web. Nevertheless it bears repeating.)

So, then, let her parents, too, be remembered as Tattered Remnants: their names were Robert and Magdalena Scholl. (Robert was mayor of the city when he was driven from office for refusal to become a Nazi; he and Magdalena bore much suffering in their own right. They also lost a third child in the war: Werner, who went missing in action in June 1944, and a fourth child, Thilde, had died in infancy.)

As Sophie was led away (by two executioners dressed, most incongruously, in top hats and tails, looking like funeral directors), her last words expressed her hope both in the future and in the Christ she clearly adored. "The Sun is still shining!" she said as they took her to meet her God.

The final scene was filmed in the very room in which the real Sophie was executed, using the very guillotine that brought the real Sophie to her death, a room, perversely, now used as part of the Munich city morgue.

I have compared Sophie’s self-defense to Thomas More’s. I should however note that not all is parallel between the two cases. More’s dilemma was that he could neither lie in his self defense (by signing the King’s loyalty oath) nor could he speak the truth lest he die for it: hence his ‘prophecy by silence.’ Anything he said would have been used against him, so he did not speak. ‘But Man God made to serve Him wittily, in the tangles of the mind!’ His enemy Thomas Cromwell got around this by the simple expedient of finding a toady willing to lie under oath about More.

Sophie, on the other had, did not hesitate to lie, and lie quite convincingly at first, to avoid execution for her involvement with the White Rose. She almost managed to talk her way into release. Nevertheless, the time came when her facade broke and she was forced to admit the truth to Inspector Mohr: "Yes, I did it. And I’m proud of it."

While More did everything he could to avoid martyrdom, after a certain point it became clear that Sophie was actively embracing it. (More did, too, but only after it became clear that his execution was inevitable.) I do not know whether daring the Devil to crucify you is morally permissible, but I daresay it’s very, very risky, and not just to your flesh.

Inspector Mohr, himself an actual historical personage, is also an interesting character in his own right. He clearly comes to respect this young woman, and not merely because she is pretty. But he cannot understand her involvement, her active choice of death over loyalty to her people. What could possibly have perverted this admirable Aryan girl, he wonders, to turn away from the Volk? The possibility that she was motivated, not by racial loyalty, but by loyalty to the higher ideal we used to call Man, seems never to have occurred to him. And yet, in spite of his acting as an agent of her destruction, his admiration for this girl became clearly manifest, both in the interrogation room and in her final minutes, when he came to silently salute her prior to her execution.

Sophie Schöll, aged 21 when she died, now has more than 100 schools named after her in the new united Germany; she and her brother have a square named for them at the University; another, Professor-Huber-Platz, is named for their mentor. Sophie's small but significant place in history seems secure. To paraphrase M. Scott Peck, she, like Christ, was raised on a crosstree by the Evil One, and this was allowed by God so that we might see her from afar.

Sophie and Hans and Christoph are, in the words of blogger Jeannette Pryor, "the patron saints of the independent media". I would indeed nominate them at the very least as the patron saints of bloggers (along with St. Joan of Arc).

At the end of another excellent German-language movie concerning the period, Der Untergang ("Downfall"), about the final collapse of the Nazi regime, there is a film clip of an aged woman, remembering. Her name is Traudl Junge, and she was a young woman during the Nazizeit; she had been Hitler's personal secretary and typist. That movie closes with a quote which is as magnificent a tribute to Sophie as can be spoken:

I was shocked, deeply shocked, by what I heard from the Nuremberg trials, but I was satisfied that I had no personal responsibility, and I could not trace what happened to the Jews and other races to anything I had personally done.... not until many years later, when I was walking past the memorial to Sophie Schöll--I saw that she and I were born in the very same year, and she was executed the same month I began to work for the Fuhrer, and it struck me, that I could have found things out, that I should have found things out, if I really had tried.

Allow me also to recommend that you examine this article on the subject: The Line.

I should note that others were later executed for their participation in the White Rose.* However, the Scholl siblings and Probst are the most prominent. Of the three, there is a reason I list the most obscure first. I mentioned that Christoph Probst’s attempt to save his own life (for the sake of his children) through self abasement was painful to watch. Nevertheless, it should be said that history records that his demeanor at his own execution was as courageous as those of his friends.


Anyone who might consider themselves martyr material ("she thought she might make a martyr if they killed her quickly" - Flannery O'Connor) should consider Cristoph Probst as both a warning and as an example. As we discussed above, he attempted to avoid execution by invoking his children and, in essence, begging Roland Friesler for mercy. But there was no mercy, there and then, to be had.

Perhaps he debased his martyrdom somewhat by begging as he did. Perhaps: but he had three children to raise and raising them remained his responsibility. But history remembers that even Thomas More did his best to dodge martyrdom. There is no sin in wanting to live, particularly when one has the responsibility of parenthood at hand.

He was conditionally baptized shortly before his execution and accepted into the Catholic Church. His last words were said to be, "Now my death will be easy and joyful."

When the time came, he still went to his death with his head held high. He too is seen from afar. His sacrifice was not in vain. And his name, too, is remembered with honor: Probststraße runs near the Geschwestern-Schöll-Platz in Munich.

"Probst followed."

*Other members of the White Rose were executed later, including Alexander Schmorell and Prof. Kurt Huber who were beheaded on 13 July 1943, Willi Graf who died on 12 October 1943, as well as others. Still other members of the group were sentenced to prison.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Nerds Are Breeding......

"From the Makers of Damitol"

Ever since I started taking this stuff my number of Facebook friends has SOARED! (Not!)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Reagan's Best One Liner

Thursday, February 2, 2012

GunFree Zone