Friday, August 31, 2012

"Sun Rise, Sun Set"

♪♪Seedlings turn overnight to sun flowers
    Blossoming even as we gaze....♪♪

Let's call this picture "Before"


 Let's call this picture "After"

And let's call this video how to get from "Before" to "After".....

(I'd embed the video in the blog, but the system won't allow it.)

An awesome progression.

Just consider that a week before the first picture was taken, it would have been perfectly lawful to kill her with no consequences to anybody.... but the world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"I Survived An Abortion"

Melissa Ohden, abortion survivor, asks the $64 trillion question.

God bless you, Melissa.

Monday, August 27, 2012

You Have to Wait for the Convention....

Ladies 'n' Germs, GREG SCHANKIN!

* There is a woman who has lived in the same apartment here in Manhattan for 100 years. She moved in in 1912 right after she broke up with Larry King.

* The new sports phenom, New York Knicks' player Jeremy Lin, came off the bench and helped win six games including a last-second shot to defeat the Toronto Raptors. Where else but America can you drink a German beer and watch a Taiwanese basketball player on your Japanese TV beat a team from Canada?

* Some friends of mine were in Paris recently, visiting the Louvre. An interesting place. The Louvre has more bare breasts than any other institution in the world, with the possible exception of the Clinton Library.

* Three people who were picking mushrooms in the Oregon forest were found after being missing for six days. They survived by eating their mushrooms. You know, I'm guessing that's how they got lost in the first place.

* Wal-Mart is in the news. They announced plans to start selling healthcare in their stores. So now you can get your bucket of cake frosting and your diabetes medicine all in one place.

* Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt visited the White House last week. There was an odd moment when they tried to adopt President Obama.

* The two biggest websites right now are Wikipedia, where you go to learn about things you care about, and Facebook, where you go to learn about people you stopped caring about years ago.

* They say that the United States might default on its loans and China might foreclose. We’ll have to move into a cheap rental country or something.

* There was a little restaurant in Connecticut that closed a couple of weeks back; it had been open since before the American Revolution. It’s always sad when something that old comes to an end. It was like the last episode of “Larry King Live.”

* A week after releasing him into the wild, scientists have lost track of a penguin named Happy Feet. Of course, sharks in the region know the penguin by his new name: “Tasty Feet.”

* The White House is planning an official state trip to Australia this November. Which explains why Biden spent all day looking for an Australian translator.

* But hey, we all love Joe Biden. He's a man who advocates chains you can believe in.

* The government may be legally required to release the video of Osama bin Laden's killing. President Obama said this would be unhelpful, inflammatory, and “Could you please release it two days before the election?”

* Several Fox News hosts criticized “Spongebob Squarepants” for pushing a global warming agenda. Then things got really ugly when they demanded to see “Dora the Explorer’s” immigration papers.

* Now there's a Romney Speech drinking game. Let me just say this, if you really played the Romney Speech drinking game, you're probably an alcoholic.

* Once upon a time, a Prince asked a beautiful Princess, will you marry me??The Princess said, No!!! And the Prince lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and dated skinny long-legged, full-breasted women and hunted and fished and raced cars and went to naked bars and dated ladies half his age and drank whiskey, beer and Captain Morgan and never heard bitching and never paid child support or alimony and banged cheerleaders and kept his house and guns and ate spam and potato chips and beans and blew enormous farts and never got cheated on while he was at work and all his friends and family thought he was frikin cool as hell and he had tons of money in the bank and left the toilet seat up. The end.

* Al-Qaida recently released a statement again saying the United States will pay for Osama bin Laden’s death. I’m pretty sure we did pay for it. We even took care of the funeral arrangements.

* Remember a few Christmases back when the first George Bush invaded Panama? They said he wanted to have a merry isthmus.

* Biden's only real foreign policy experience is from when he made a campaign stop at a restaurant and had to deal with the manager from the International House of Pancakes.

* According to Glamour magazine, 12 percent of married adults met their spouses online. The other 88 percent met somebody else’s spouse online.

* President Obama signed a historic treaty with the Russian president; it occurred after a summit between a powerful communist leader and the president of Russia.

* President Obama’s uncle has been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Remember when the most embarrassing person in the president’s life was Joe Biden? Oh. That was this morning. Never mind.

* President Obama is touring the country in a bus, because nothing inspires hope in the economy like the president riding in a bus.

* Time magazine has a controversial new cover. They put it out for Mother's Day. It's a real mom feeding her 3-year-old son. As you might imagine, many people were shocked by the fact that that was the cover of a magazine. If you were shocked by that, you do not want to see what they have planned for Father's Day. But still. Don't look at it as the source of future humiliation for the boy. Try to look at it as the event that helped shape him into history's most fearsome cage fighter.

* NASA says that without the space shuttle, we'll have to pay the Russians $63 million to take one astronaut into space. And if the astronaut wants to check a bag, it's an extra $15 million.

* In his time off, Tim Tebow goes to prisons and visits with death row inmates to talk to them about God. He has visited so many death row inmates, he now has met more Oakland Raiders fans than he has Bronco fans.

* It turns out that there is a woman in an apartment on the Upper East Side of New York who has lived in the same apartment for 100 years. So congratulations to Barbara Walters.

Ththththtat's all, folks......

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012

Yes, I know it's the theme to Apollo 13. I don't care.

"When are we going back?

"And who will it be?"

PS It strikes me: Classy man. You know, he had 40+ years to stick his foot in it, dishonor his accomplishment, do something embarrassing like say there are UFOs or have sex with a college student or something.... and he didn't.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Noble Art of Doodling.

I have no idea who Vi Hart is other than she is "a professional mathemusician at KhanAcademy:" Anybody willing to study at an academy named after Khan Noonian Singh gets my vote this November.


  • Something random but cool - This is a picture from the Curiosity Rover on Mars showing Earth from the perspective of Mars. You are literally looking at your home from the perspective of another planet.

    SOURCE: YAGATECH (!/YagaTech)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

William Windom: RIP


Oh. THAT guy....

I should also note: in addition to his years of television character acting, as well as his heroic sacrifice in attempting to destroy the Great Space Cannoli singlehandedly....

...he served with Co. B., 1st Batt. 508th Parachute Infantry, 82nd Airborne, in Europe in WW2.*

He died at 88 at his home. Not the worst way to go.

= = = = =

*Trivia: did you know that Trek regular James Doohan lost a finger in combat (friendly fire!) at D-Day? True story.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tattered Remnant: Raoul Wallenberg

I wish to take just a moment (because that is all I have right now) to note that Raoul Wallenberg must and should be remembered as one of the Tattered Remnant. Between July and December 1944 he provided tens of thousands of people with protective papers in Budapest in order to prevent their extermination in Auschwitz. He was probably murdered by the Russians in 1947 on suspicion of being a "spy."

His hundredth birthday was August 4. Astonishing to consider that he was only 32 years old when he acted, 35 when he died.

I don't have time today to give him the credit he has coming; I can only urge that you review his Wikipedia entry until I can do him the justice his story deserves.

How Great Thou Art:
In Memory of Jo Rojem ...
... And The King

Jo Rojem with my sister Eileen and my mother, Christmas 1976, at the Gladstone house.

Thirty five (!) years ago today, I woke up to my mother kissing my forehead and giving me a hug.

"Richard, Josie died last night."

Jo Rojem was the wife of Bob the Plumber, and mother of Young Bob, Phyllis and Christopher. Throughout the twelve years we were next door neighbors, she was the peacemaker between our two families (as a bit of a rivalry had arisen over the years between the children of each household). I can remember the hundreds of times Josie would come to our home, open the door without knocking, and call out "MAAAARTHAAAA!" for my Mom--whether to discuss their respective misbehaving offspring, a recipe, a news event--and she would always be welcome.

Word came in late 1975 that she had contracted some serious long term illness--whether muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, or something else, after almost four decades I cannot, alas, remember. Her vibrant voice was no longer heard and she emerged from her home more and more rarely until, finally, she was gone.

She was good people. I mourn her still.

One thing to be remembered about Josie was her great love for Elvis Presley--she was his biggest fan, and I can remember hearing Elvis's voice come from a record player in her living room and filling the neighborhood. It was the strangest of ironies that the King died the very same day, at 42.

This is dedicated to Josie's memory.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jacob Chestnut, John Gibson,
And Stephen T. Johns:
The Guardians Themselves

NEWS ITEM: Today in Washington DC a security guard stopped a massacre when a young man barged into the headquarters of the Family Research Council with a gun with murder on his mind. The guard, whose name was not yet released [Addendum: according to The Daily Caller, his name is Leo Johnson], was shot in the arm. His sacrifice certainly saved many lives. The shooter, identified by NBC News as Floyd Corkins, 28, was said to have targeted the FRC deliberately and "had literature in his back related to Chick-fil-A" restaurants. [He is also said by Daily Caller to be a volunteer at a local Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered center. Right. Some conservative nut no doubt.]

"Two federal officials said the suspect appeared to be mentally disturbed."


This reminds me of a couple of other incidents in DC these last few years. I'd like to pay homage to the silent men behind the front desk who drink coffee, eat donuts... and stand ready to die to protect us. God bless them all. 

(***Please note: the article you read below, part of the Tattered Remnant series, was first written and posted in 2009.***)

THE GUARDIANS THEMSELVES: Jacob Chestnut, John Gibson, Stephen T. Johns

Two millennia ago, the satirist Juvenal wrote of two men, prominent Romans, on a long trip away from the city. The first one lamented leaving his wife alone at home, as he feared she might not be faithful to him. The second boastfully stated that he had already provided for that difficulty by hiring a guardian to watch his wife and ensure proper behavior on her part. The first man looked at the second and laughed: "Who shall guard, then, the guardians themselves?"

That phrase (and a good one it is) raises the question of who can be entrusted with power.

But then, we must also take note of a second meaning to the phrase: who protects those who protect us?

Like most Americans, I usually view most public-security personnel as something between fixtures at best and annoying droids at worst. Who are these people who tell us to take our shoes off before we get into an aircraft? Why should I subject my computer to close inspection before I so much as enter the federal building? Do I really need to empty the change from my pockets before I walk through the metal detector? And (my pet peeve) why should I take my belt off of my ill fitting suit before I walk into a courtroom?

Security guards are the bottom of the public safety totem pole. They don't get no respect. They don't go on adventures with cool equipment like soldiers; they don't have the glamor and babe-attraction qualities of cops. We usually ignore them. We often get annoyed at them. We decry their necessity as fundamentally anti-freedom.

And yet, once in a while, not often (thank God) we are given reason to remember them and be thankful that they're there. They're the white corpuscles of the public immune system, and sometimes, they go from fixture to hero, and we ask ourselves why we never appreciated them before. Their heroism is instantaneous and comes and goes in a flash, and we ask ourselves why we never saw it before.

We never saw it before because they were the very definition of The Tattered Remnant: silent, dutiful, often bored, but ready to act in an instant when called for, and in so doing, showing the hidden gold within.


In the summer of 1998, I was working on Capitol Hill, in its grungiest, most out-of-the-way attic: the top floor of the "O'Neill House Office Building", located at 2nd and C Street, down the road a block from RNC Headquarters and well separated (like plague bacilli) from the rest of the Hill.

At the time, I had just graduated from law school, and was working for Subcommittee on the Census, helping (I thought) maintain a constitutional, head-count-derived census for the upcoming apportionment cycle and looking forward to a long, successful, money-making career as a Very Important Person.

The O'Neill Building was a dump. It was an ancient building, built originally as a hotel for Congressmen to stay in when they were in town (this was back the days of yore, before elected Members bought homes with mortgages in DC and their home districts). Later on, the building was bought by the House of Representatives outright to serve as extra office space, and to serve as a home for the high-school-aged Congressional Pages (who, I should add, were extremely well guarded and closely watched).

The offices of the Subcommittee on the Census was on the highest, and crappiest, floor of the building; the furniture we were provided looked like they came from an Anacostia garage sale. The Census Subcommittee was on its ten year cyclical uptick of staffing, as the 2000 Census was then fast approaching; but since it was only important two years a decade, they never got any decent diggings.

My office mates were an interesting crew. The Committee Chief was a sixtysomething demographics expert, a wizard well versed in the ancient and dark art of redistricting. His assistant was a porcine, sly, self-important, Machiavellian political operative whose self-opinion far exceeded any of his nominal talents.

The chief counsel--i.e., head lawyer--was the very attractive brunette wife of a senior GOP fundraiser; her assistant, a squat, ugly bottle-blonde with a foul mouth who I think was the model of J.K. Rowling's Dolores Umbridge. This woman owed her position to the fact that her older brother was high in the House staff leadership, working for Tom DeLay, The Hammer, then the third most powerful man in the House.

The mapmaker was a tightlipped, angular Boston Irishman, a true computer geek (in the best sense of the word) who did not say more than five words in the two years I knew him. Our press secretary was the sad soon-to-be-ex-wife of a prominent New York neoconservative scion whom I am sure you've heard of; her press assistant was an unnaturally handsome gladhander with a Sinatra fetish. There was a rotating stream of volunteers and interns, mostly young, blonde, and very pretty; one was a flower of New Orleans who we all called "Beeee-yeth."

Then there was myself, probably well out of my turbo-geek element, accepted in spite of all, with an overly long staff title and too little to do. But this was a good thing as it gave me the opportunity to study for the upcoming bar exam without too much difficulty.

Working on the Hill was cool. I got to shake Newt Gingrich's hand once, and later met Dennis Hastert. Important "Members" (the official title of sitting Congressmen, and the source of many a double-entendre) came in and out of our office every day and we learned to know them on sight. Occasionally major fund contributors would come into the office for High Level Meetings With The Honcho, to which I might occasionally be invited, if only to sit in and take notes.
I used to pat myself on my back for being in with such important people, the company of which I, in general, was unfit to unloosen their sandals.

I hardly gave the guys at the front door gate, whom I regarded as poor rentacops in cheesy uniforms, a second thought.

On July 24, 1998, I was at home, preparing for the bar exam, which was only six days off; it was not going well. I was desperately reviewing my very expensive and overpriced Bar Bri Bar Review Materials, and trying to memorize the difference between the Rule Against Perpetuities and The Rule in Shelly's Case (neither of which, BTW, I have ever had occasion to use once in the course of my legal career).

At about 3:45 in the afternoon, and suddenly, without warning, I felt my heart race. Something was wrong. Something had just popped up... and I didn't know what it was. I walked outside. I walked back in. I called my wife on her cel phone, to make sure she was alright (she was). I called my mom–ditto. I went inside again, sat in front of my Windows 3.1, DOS-driven computer with the Laserjet III printer and the $2000 scanner, and stared at it, playing with two floppy disks.

I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't work. Something was wrong.

I turned on the radio, which I kept tuned to WTOP-FM, the All-News, All-the-Time Talk Radio Station.

"Shooting at the Capitol!" the voice shouted. "The Capitol Building and all Capitol Hill buildings on the House Side have been shut down following a shooting on the grounds. At least one is dead, two wounded. Stay tuned to WTOP for this developing story!"

It appears that a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia thought that he needed to express his opinion to the individuals behind the voices in his head. Driving straight through from Montana to Washington in a day and a half, he tried to enter the Capitol Building's main structure through the Documents Entrance, a staff-only entrance on street level. On entering, when asked to walk through a metal detector, he immediately drew a weapon and shot Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut, a twenty year veteran of the force. He died instantly. The man then charged for the nearest official looking corridor on the first floor.

He chose the main office area for the Majority Leadership of the House. The exact door he barged through was that of the Majority Whip, Tom DeLay.

There he met Detective John Gibson, whose gun was already drawn.

They exchanged pistol fire. The man put multiple rounds into Detective Gibson, wounding him fatally but not instantly. Gibson responded, hitting his target with every round, gravely wounding the gunman and rendering him (as they say) "ineffective." The shooting was over in less than a minute.

Officer Chestnut gave his life with practically no warning or preparation. However, his life was not lost in vain. The sounds of the shots that killed him gave Gibson an opportunity to draw and charge his weapon, so when the man entered into his area, he was able to respond instantly. He disabled the shooter, and subsequently died of his wounds.

Behind the main door guarded by Detective Gibson were Whip DeLay and a dozen or so staffers, who, following proper procedure, dropped behind their desks to avoid being targets. None were hurt. Among those dozen was the elder brother of the gal who worked in my office.

It was like 9/11 in the sense that it was one of those moments where the ordinary are revealed to be extraordinary. The security people, Capitol policemen, and others responsible for maintaining security went from zeroes (in the estimation of those working on the Hill) to heroes overnight.

Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson lay "in honor" (not "in state", but practically the same thing) in the Capitol Rotunda, a gesture never before given to the non elected. Furthermore, Jacob Chestnut was the first African American to be granted this privilege.

The day of the funeral, thousands of people, including yours truly plus almost all of those working on the Hill at the time, stood at attention as the motorcade drove their flag-wrapped coffins from the Capitol to Arlington National Cemetery, where they were buried with military honors.

I certainly never met Detective Gibson; he was assigned to the VIP detail and the area he worked I only entered once, long after the incident. On the other hand, I am sure I probably saw Officer Chestnut at the O'Neill on one occasion or another. However, I don't remember having done so. So much the worse for me.

The shooter was never charged; a mad man, he was consigned for life to a Federal facility for the criminally insane. He remains there to this day. This is justice; paranoid schizophrenia I would not wish on my worst enemy. Let him never be free, but let him not be punished.


I look back now, lo! these ten years later, with wonder.

They're all gone, now.

All those Very Important Persons ... all the powerful I knew ... dust in the wind.

Newt Gingrich and Dennis Hastert are "former Speakers." Tom DeLay was hammered himself, having been convicted of several political felonies.

Our subcommittee chief was forced out after Newt Gingrich's resignation as Speaker. His assistant, who engineered his removal, found himself back in the pack of the House staff, denied his former boss's job. He haunts the Hill to this day, ineffective in the minority, still waiting for a second chance that will probably never come. (Engineering your boss's downfall tends to discourage future bosses from trusting you.)

The fundraising husband of our chief counsel was convicted and sent to prison because of his connection to the Jack Abramoff scandals. The brother of her assistant, he who hid in Tom DeLay's office during the shootings, was also convicted in connection with Abramoff and as of this writing awaits sentencing. Both ladies are gone as well. Nobody loves you when you're down and out.

Last I heard, only Beeee-yeth survives and thrives on the Hill; she now walks the Corridors of the Powers that Be at the RNC Headquarters a block away from our old haunts.

Oh, yes, and somewhere in there I lost my Hill job too. (Cue best Ms. Piggy falsetto: "Bit-ter? Moi?")

Even the O'Neill House Office Building is gone; it was demolished in 2002. They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.

Sic transit gloria mundi–-

Today, it's all Democrats, all the time, on Capitol Hill. All of them are so important, now, you know. Things will never change. They'll always be in power, now, and forever, amen.



Yet somewhere in a quiet spot near the Documents Entrance of the House of Representatives there stands a plaque, in memory of two quiet heroes, Tattered Remnants who gave their lives for those far less worthy of honor than they are.


Forgive me for leaving Mr. Johns as almost an afterthought. He deserves better.

Let me say this of his sacrifice, which was much like Gibson's and Chestnut's.

On June 12, 2009, an evil old man, a black-hearted racist and Jew-hater of the lowest sort, tried to invade the United States Holocaust Museum. (I forget his name.) My guess is that the man, who was 88, decided to commit 'suicide by cop'. He brought a rifle to the front foyer of the Museum and tried to blast his way inside.

The shooter was met straight up by a half-dozen security personnel. He shot and killed Stephen Tyrone Johns before the other guards (who were, alas that it is needful, heavily armed) responded and shot the man, disarming him. The man survived and awaits trial for murder.

Stephen Tyrone Johns died later at a hospital. He was 38, and left behind a wife and son.

Like Gibson and Chestnut, he gave his life for the peace and good order of the United States, protecting a building that has become, of its own, a shrine worthy of the highest respect. And like Chestnut, his sacrifice allowed his comrades-in-arms to bring this armed invader down before he was able to harm a visitor.

Thank you, Stephen Tyrone Johns.

Thank you, Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson.

[And thank you, Leo Johnson.]

And thank you to everyone who ever had to stand on their feet for a full eight-hour watch being sneered at by the muggles that they protect.

ADDENDUM: January 5, 2010

AP reports that the accused Holocaust museum shooter has died in a prison hospital.

May God have mercy on his soul.


20121 Update: Of course the wheel turns. Now it's all Republicans, all the time.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We Remember Maximilian Kolbe, Saint

"No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hetacombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we are ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?"

In Memory of St. Maximilian Kolbe
Priest and Martyr of Auschwitz, whose feast day it is today:
August 14

And a one, and a two.....

Ladies 'n' germs, Mr. Greg Schankin!

*     Kim Kardashian is saying she regrets that she and basketball star Kris Humphries rushed into marriage. She said he should have gone the traditional route and released the sex tape first.

*     At the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner President Obama was very funny, and made jokes about the fact that he ate a dog. Some people thought it was undignified for the president to joke about that. Personally, I feel like once you eat a dog, dignity is pretty much out the window. Get what you can out of it.

*     A review of studies by physicians found that excessive exercise is bad for your heart. Another study says a daily serving of chocolate is actually good for your heart. That's got to make next year New Year's resolution easier to keep. "I'm going to exercise less. Eat a little more chocolate."

*     I saw that a bakery in Georgia is selling "Tebowing" pretzels, inspired by Tim Tebow's popular pose. You can tell they're Tebow pretzels, because if you eat one in New England, you end up choking.

*     A lunch menu from the Titanic is expected to sell for $150,000 at an auction next month. The menu starts out great, but once you get to the iceberg wedge, it's a total disaster.

*     The police suspected Snoop Dogg's tour bus had marijuana in it. They say their biggest clue was that it was Snoop Dogg's tour bus.

*     President Obama had to cancel his 51th birthday party because of the debt limit crisis. The Republicans won't even let Obama raise his age.

*     Apple is apparently building a large solar energy farm in North Carolina. And if there's any justice, the minute they're done building it, God will introduce a newer, smaller sun that's not compatible with their machinery.

*     A Florida man was recently arrested for taking up-skirt shots at Wal-Mart. It will come to trial as soon as they can find 12 jurors willing to look at up-skirt shots of Wal-Mart shoppers.

*     Mitt Romney is the front runner at this point, mostly because he looks like the guy they would cast as the president in a disaster movie.

*     Speaking of Facebook, a recent survey showed that the average Facebook user has never met 7 percent of their friends. The article came up in my newsfeed from my friend, the Dalai Lama.

*     Anthony Weiner and is his wife, Huma, have given birth to a baby boy. He posted a photo of the new baby on Twitter, but people are afraid to open it.

*     On April, 30th in 1789, George Washington was sworn in as first president of the United States. He is the only president that has never blamed the problems of the country on the previous administration.

*     "The Avengers" made $80.7 million in weekend screenings alone on its opening day — which explains why Monday morning the entire Geek Squad at Best Buy called in sick.

*     Cain blames a conspiracy by powerful Democrats who are intent on destroying him for these various allegations. I don't think you can blame the democrats. I'm pretty sure they were rooting for him in this particular case.

*     Obama went for the youth vote answering young peoples' questions on YouTube last week. As result, Obama's new poll numbers are 55% ‘LOL' and 45% ‘Totally Gay.'

*     How many of you watched President Obama's State of the Ruin – I mean State of the Union?

*     Jewelry from the Titanic will be auctioned in New York to mark the Titanic's 100th anniversary. Yeah, it'll be weird when your wife's like, "Honey, these earrings are beautiful, where'd you get them?" "Some dead woman who drowned!"

*     The North Korea news agency is saying that the birds and the pandas and all the wildlife are moaning because they're so depressed over the death of Kim Jong Il. Wait a minute. Is it possible they are moaning because they live in North Korea?

*     More details are coming out about the Italian cruise ship disaster. It seems the chef on board the ship says the captain ordered dinner after the crash. And here's the worst part — he ordered it to go.  That guy has brought more shame to the Italian people than Olive Garden.

*     The vice president of China showed up at the White House yesterday. That's what happens when you get behind on the rent. The landlord shows up, starts looking around.

*     My fellow Americans, read my lips: a new generation of Americans, that have brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, with a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, under a thousand points of light, avoiding all entanging alliances, shall have nothing to fear but fear itself. For you must ask not what your country can do for you, for we shall whip inflation now, and tear down this wall, for Poland does not consider herself a satellite. So, we shall bind up the nation's wounds, caring for his widow, while feeling lust in our heart, but I did not have sex with that woman, for I am not a crook. - Joe Biden's Second Inaugural.

*     We finally have a debt deal. See what happens when the two parities put aside their principles and do what is best for them personally!

*     Arnold Schwarzenegger is blaming man for global warming. And today, Al Gore agreed with him. That's so typical. Two cyborgs, 'Oh, let's blame the humans.'

Ththththtat's all, folks.....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Sunday hymn.

To Veep... or Not To Veep.....

So: Paul Ryan.

What do we know about him?*

He hates women.

He hates hates hates gays.

He wants to force pregnant women to have babies at gunpoint, and have babies again.

He wants children and old people to starve and to cut off their Social Security and to deny your 82 year old auntie a kidney transplant.

He wants to send American forces to the middle east to conquer Arab countries to prepare for the second coming of Jesus.

He's more machine now than man--twisted and evil.

In spite of his control of the Galactic Empire he needs serious dental work.

He killed Sarah Connor.

He ran Plaszow Labor Camp.

He ate a census taker's liver with fava beans and a nice chianti.

He forged the Rings of Power and stole the Silmarils.

He killed Harry Potter's parents.....

...and even fed his own daughter to the bore worms!

Doubt me? Just wait.

*"I am Charles Johnson and I approve this post."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's the little things.....

So my wife is on her way to see the doctor with two of my boys (eldest and youngest) in car. In the middle of the crashing rain there was an accident--her car got rear-sideswiped by a black SUV that kept going. She pulls over, just a little damage, nothing major, she calls the cops, makes a report, calls the insurance company, and drives on. ****Now here's the kicker.*** Two (2) autistic kids in car. NEITHER OF THEM HAS A HISSY FIT, THROWS A KONNIPTION OR HAS A MELT DOWN. They shrug it off and wait through it as per normal (although the oldest one is anxious that they'll be late). You have to be a parent of an autistic kid to realize JUST HOW DAMN MEANINGFUL THAT IS. Sometimes your greatest triumphs as a parent is what DOESN'T happen when things go bad. Color me happy today.


I never thought I'd ever post something from the ACLU.....

Watch it 'n' weep.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


AMY JOHNSON (1903-1941)

O! I have slipped the surly bounds of Earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings....
This essay was first published on the 30th day of January, 2011 A.D. A quarter century has passed since the seven Challengers touched the face of God ten miles above the sea off of Florida. Today we remember them, and the crew of the Columbia (whose eighth anniversary is Tuesday), as well as the Apollo 1 astronauts, along with all those who have died – even those of our erstwhile enemies who died from 'devil's venom' – to take us on our first baby steps to the rest of the Universe. [Such as the landing, just days ago, of the CURIOSITY rover on Mars. - RLK]

But let us remember all those who have chosen to risk all to take wing.

Death has always been the dark lining of the silver cloud of flight; many have had to pay the price of the mythical Icarus. Otto Lilienthal gave his life flying an early glider; his last words as he lay dying from his injuries were "small sacrifices must be made."Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge died at 26 in the first fatality in a powered plane crash; he is memorialized by an air base named for him not far from my home.

Thousands of young men gave their lives in the days that followed hard by, in those early days of flight when the wings of God were girded as the wings of war.

And yet those who have gone to the skies have risked all so that perhaps our children and great grand children and beyond may one day see the skies of new worlds undreamed of today.
One cannot remember them all. In lieu thereof, let us then remember one sky pioneer who gave her life to the skies and for her country.

Amy Johnson was, ahem, not a great pilot. In fact, she was positively unsuited for the role she was to play in early aviation. She was a heavy hand at the stick, and her landings were often almost disastrous. She alienated many in her single minded pursuit of her goal. And yet her great will overcame her lack of talent, and she achieved an immortality and a greatness, both as a pioneer of powered flight (having set a record flying from London to Australia in 1930) and as an exemplar for future generations of flying women. She lived at the razor's edge of the technology of her day and she died in the line of duty in those dark days immediately following the Battle of Britain.

She was born, only months before the triumph of Kitty Hawk, the daughter of a British merchant. She had no extraordinary parentage; her father, a fish seller, made a small but comfortable fortune in his field, and was able to finance her adventures.

She was not very sociable as a young girl; physically aggressive, she lost her front teeth to a cricket ball at age 14. Finding herself a bit of an outsider in school, she withdrew socially and concentrated on her dream of flying.

But first things first; one must eat after all. After she ended her schooling she took a job in London as a legal secretary. While she did very well in her new line of work, she was obsessed with the new world of airplanes. She took it upon herself to learn to fly.

At first it seemed absurd. The flying school she investigated demanded a fee far beyond her means. But she then found a local flight school that allowed her to learn to fly at half the cost. She was not an entirely apt student, but after fifteen hours of flight instruction (considered the longest allowable before they gave up on you!) she soloed and gained her pilot's license. She also distinguished herself by becoming the first woman in British history qualified as a flight mechanic.
It was after only eighty seven hours of flight experience that she conceived of her dream: she wanted to set a distance flying record, from London to Australia: her wish was to beat the then existing fifteen days' record.

The spur to her effort came when her employers at the legal firm confronted her: her flying obsession had caused her work quality to fall; they told her to choose between the law office and the aerodrome. She quit her job that same day.

After some difficulty, she found a sponsor for her attempt; after raising a thousand pounds–some $100,000 in today's money, half of which came from her dad–she took off for Darwin in a secondhand Tiger Moth she dubbed the Jason (nominally for her father's corporate brand).

The story of her travails are almost comic to read today. On one occasion, she landed in a soccer pitch in India; on another, she landed in a primitive village in Java where her departure was delayed by the need to clear enormous ant colonies on her makeshift flight line. She crash landed frequently; at one point, she repaired her aircraft using air-cloth that locals had turned into shirts, doping it with an ad-hoc mix created for her by a local chemist. She flew most of the trip with a spare propeller lashed to the side of her craft; which she used after landing one occasion nose-forward.

"I was not the least bit afraid," she said later, "because I had taken off with almost complete ignorance of the magnitude of my undertaking."

She landed at last in Australia on May 24, 1930, having flown 11,000 miles; while she failed to break the current record for that achievement, she was hailed internationally as a hero of aviation, esteemed in the same breath as Charles Lindburgh and her friend Amelia Earhart. She was given a hero's welcome in Australia and again in London, was granted £10,000 in prize money and was named a Companion of the British Empire (CBE), a high knighthood, by King George V.
She continued flying; she set further records for flights from London to Tokyo and London to Cape Town, South Africa. She married (and later divorced) a well known test pilot, but after South Africa, she ended her long distance flying career.

But war drew her again to the skies. In the days following the Battle of Britain, the British suffered a famous shortage of pilots. In order to keep as many as possible on the battle lines, they asked air-licensed women and older men to act as ferry pilots, bringing craft from factories to airfields. Amy enlisted for this effort. On January 5, 1941, while ferrying a newbuilt plane, she crashed, or possibly was shot down, in circumstances that remain unclear. She landed in the Thames River.

Although she survived the crash, a rescue effort from a British Naval vessel failed, and she was lost. Her body was never recovered. (Let us remember too Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher of HMS Haslemere, a British Naval officer who died in the rescue attempt.)

She was feted in her youth with a song, "Wonderful Amy." And although she had accurately predicted her doom and thought that she would be quickly forgotten after her death, her status as a pioneer no less great than Amelia Earhart remains.

She was also honored, in 1976, by singer/songwriter Al Stewart, on his masterwork, Year of the Cat. He recalls her in the song Flying Sorcery, which some regard as his greatest single.

Are you there?
In the jacket with the grease-stain and the tear?
Caught up in the slipstream of a dare?
The compass rose will guide you anywhere
Oh, are you there?

I would like to dedicate this essay to my dear friend, once known as Miss Jocelyn Patterson, the girl who sat next to me in Mrs. Anderson's first grade class in 1969.....Today she is known as Jocelyn Seng, Ph.D., formerly Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, and now Brigadier General, USAF.

I salute you, dear friend. Ad astra!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Truth--And The Only Intelligent Rap Song Ever

Dedicated to Cheryll Long Ruley, my good FB friend.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hot time summer in the city....

Ladies 'n' Germs, Mr. GREG SCHANKIN!

* The State Department issued a new travel warning yesterday, urging U.S. citizens to avoid Syria. Yeah, it was part of a new set of warnings called, “If I was a dumb ass where would I go.”

* President Obama took Michelle out to a steak restaurant for her birthday, marking the first time in months maybe years, the words “Obama” and “well done” appeared in the same sentence.

* The economy is so bad, Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.

* A company in Massachusetts is building a robotic cheetah. If I wanted a cat with the personality of a robot, I’d just get a cat.

* Just days after calling off her wedding to Hugh Hefner, Playboy Playmate Crystal Harris returned the couple’s dog to Hefner. Sources say he is a slightly mangy fellow who pees himself a lot, but he’s very glad to get his dog back.

* Studies are showing that Republican candidates are buying a lot of their ad time on the Weather Channel. You can tell because last night, the weatherman blamed the cold front on immigration and gay marriage.

* My car broke down the other day so I took a bus home. I arrived home safe and untroubled, which seemed really surprising as I have never driven a bus before.

* There are now more obese people in the United States than there are overweight people. I think it's safe to say that after all these years, Diet Coke is a complete failure.

* The Obama administration has been slammed for a health insurance rule that forces Catholic organizations to provide contraception. Even more controversial, the church would also have to provide dim lighting, wine coolers, and an R. Kelly mix tape.

* Yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again.

* The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

* Why would we celebrate Arbor Day as a national holiday, and not Shark Week? I’ll start caring about trees when trees start biting sea lions in half.

* Who else is in this Avenger movie? Thor, the dude with long, blond hair and the power of flight. It is like if Fabio could fly.

* Scientists announced that they have detected a brand new subatomic particle. This particle is so tiny it is actually smaller than the income tax rate paid by Mitt Romney.

* The Detroit Area has got so many cupcake stores these days. When did we start eating so many cupcakes? Also, there are about 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries in the Detroit Area, so maybe that’s got something to do with it.

* According to National Enquirer, John Edwards has proposed to his mistress, Rielle Hunter. He gave three reasons for wanting to marry her: He loves her, she's the mother of his child, and of course, a wife can't testify against her husband.

* Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. ~Samuel Ullman.

* I don’t listen to experts. All my money is tied up in Skee ball tickets.

* Toyota's getting a lot of attention. Yeah, Toyota has unveiled a new state of the art design for a car of the future. Yeah. The car is so advanced that when it's recalled it can actually drive itself back to the Toyota dealer.

* Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that he is releasing the two American hikers from captivity in Iran on humanitarian grounds. Then he went back to torturing dissidents.

* Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.

* Three new elements were added to the periodic table on Friday. Finally, something to take Kim Kardashian’s mind off this whole divorce thing!

* After all the rioting in London this week, officials are worried that it could mean security problems for the Olympics next year. On the bright side, the guy running with the torch will just blend right in.

* The IRS says that John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign owes over $800,000 in back taxes. I guess that explains the long face.

* It doesn't make it a gotcha question just because it got ya.

Thththththththtat's all. folks.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Robert A. Heinlein, Auguste Rodin, and the TRs.....

Or: A new Frontispiece for The Tattered Remnants.

Ben, for almost three thousand years or longer, architects have designed buildings with columns shaped as female figures — it got to be such a habit that they did it as casually as a small boy steps on an ant. After all those centuries it t ook Rodin to see that this was work too heavy for a girl. But he didn't simply say, 'Look, you jerks, if you must design this way, make it a brawny male figure.' No, he showed it… and generalized the symbol. Here is this poor little caryatid who has tried — and failed, fallen under the load. She's a good girl — look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, but not blaming anyone else, not even the gods… and still trying to shoulder her load, after she's crumpled under it.

But she's more than good art denouncing some very bad art; she's a symbol for every woman who has ever tried to shoulder a load that was too heavy for her — over half the female population of this planet, living and dead, I would guess. But not alone women — this symbol is sexless. It means every man and every woman who ever lived who sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude, whose courage wasn't even noticed until they crumpled under their loads. It's courage, Ben, and victory..... Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up, Ben; she's still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her. She's a father going down to a dull office job while cancer is painfully eating away his insides, so as to bring home one more pay check for the kids. She's a twelve-year-old girl trying to mother her baby brothers and sisters because Mama had to go to Heaven. She's a switchboard operator sticking to her job while smoke is choking her and the fire is cutting off her escape. She's all the unsung heroes who couldn't quite cut it but never quit. Come .... just salute her as you pass her....

- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land