Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dedicated to the Poor Suffering Souls....

...who split the $640 mil.

Poor folks.

Someone Won The Lottery. Just Dayum.

As a nation is united in grief and loss over the recent news... I thought that this little quote--from 1984--might be useful for purposes of reflection.
"The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the running of the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being non-existent persons. In the absence of any real intercommunication between one part of Oceania and another, this was not difficult to arrange." - 1984

Friday, March 30, 2012

'Like' This Post Please!

(No, not this post, the one linked to below....)

Calling all friends 'n' friendsoffriends! The young lady who wrote this is the daughter of Anne Bailey, a friend of mine.... and if you 'like' this on the WyzAnt website, she'll qualify for a scholarship...but only if she gets enough 'likes'! Do me a small favor, click the link below, and give her your 'like' (and your support)!

Never Give Up | WyzAnt Scholarships | WyzAnt Tutoring

www.wyzant.com

“Always appreciate the architecture.” - Michael Bailey My life ended and began on the same day. It ended when my father died after a hard-fought battle with leukemia on August 3, 2009. It began when I realized I had to live my life by the motto he had advocated and embodied up to his last breath: ....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pure genius. Pure, pure, pure genius.

The Occupy Movement:
AKA The United States Maroon Corps

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On Trayvon Martin, Mary Phagan, John Slaton ....
And The Tattered Remnants

Unless one has been living in an ant colony these last three weeks, the name of Trayvon Martin has become a byword for oppression of African Americans by whites: and the man who shot him, George Zimmerman, has become a villain of villains.

What happened that day between Mssrs. Martin and Zimmerman remains a mystery: and it is clear that law enforcement, and the trial system, exist in order to clear it up with civility and legal certitude.

Unfortunately, it seems we do not live in a society which seems to respect the rule of law any longer. Passion has once more replaced dispassionate inquiry, and race hate calls itself 'a call for justice.' We are threatened with mob rule and so-called paramilitary groups, like the New Black Panthers have stepped forward to replace that rule of law with mob violence.

This is not new in America.

The faces and races of the miscreants have changed, but the barbarism in question is an old, old story. The New Black Panthers have spiritual predecessors in our nation--predecessors who called themselves righteous citizens but who were nothing more than barbarians in suits.

The story that follows is the story of another era, but still an America like today: where political manipulators of the media howled for blood, where guilt was prejudged, 'justice' administered at midnight from rope on a tree branch, ... and when one man alone had the courage to stand up to the stampede.

It is the genius of America that we have had such people in office in times of crisis. His name was John M. Slaton and this is his story.

= = = = = = = = = =



REPOST:
TATTERED REMNANTS #014: THE ANTI-PILATE:
GOVERNOR JOHN M. SLATON
I can endure misconstruction, abuse and condemnation ... but I cannot stand the constant companionship of an accusing conscience which would remind me that I, as governor of Georgia, failed to do what I thought to be right . . . It means that I must live in obscurity the rest of my days, but I would rather be plowing in a field than to feel that I had that blood on my hands. - Governor John Slaton, 1915

Even Pilate was merciful.... till it became risky. - The Screwtape Letters

In 1955, Profiles in Courage was published under the name of then-Senator John F. Kennedy. This book, famously remembered by title but little read today, describes several politicians, most United States Senators, who risked their careers and reputations for standing up for what was right rather than what was popular at the time.

Now, the men he honored in this book were, no doubt, politically courageous in their own ways. But whatever these men may have risked, they never truly lost anything for their political beliefs.

But one man in their number above all showed himself to be one of the Remnant, risking, and losing, all in order to save an innocent man from the noose–a man who died in spite of his order to save him.

LEO FRANK AND THE MURDER OF MARY PHAGAN

On April 26, 1913, a thirteen year old girl named Mary Phagan, who worked in an Atlanta, Georgia pencil factory, went to work to get her paycheck. The hours at the factory had been temporarily cut due to a shortage of supplies, so her pay for the week was only $1.20. It was a holiday, Confederate Memorial Day, and most of the factory was empty. Her employer, a Jewish engineer from New York City named Leo Frank, gave her pay to her. She left his office and was never seen alive again.

The next morning, her body was found in the basement of the factory. She had been strangled, probably raped, and robbed.

Evidence in the case was compromised from the beginning. Near her body were two notes, not in her handwriting, but purporting to be notes that the girl left, blaming "a negro" for having killed her.

Suspicion fell to two people: one was the factory owner, Leo Frank, a highly educated and cultured engineer. He had graduated from Cornell University, and had apprenticed at a number of factories to study the business of pencil manufacture. He and his wife had only recently moved to Atlanta, where he was active in opera, tennis and other cultural pursuits. He was also president of the local chapter of B’Nai Brith.

The second suspect was an uneducated black man: one Jim Conley. He had a criminal record and a drinking problem, and admitted his involvement in the crime almost from the first. However, he claimed that his involvement was strictly that of accomplice: for, although he gave many differing versions of what occurred, they all revolved around two basic facts that remained unchanged through all his different versions of the truth. First, he had helped cover up the crime. Second, the person responsible for the crime was Leo Frank.

Looking back, the convoluted tale remains a bit difficult to unravel at a distance of almost a century. But two things are clear through this story: Leo Frank consistently maintained his innocence in the matter. And Jim Conley kept changing his story.

Two local newspapers, recently acquired by the Hearst chain, began a campaign of classic yellow journalism to hype the circumstances of the crime. Passions were raised, and many subterranean cultural hatreds began to bubble to the surface, including a hitherto-hidden cultural hatred of Jews, who were seen as bearers of Yankee capitalism among the purer people of the South.

Georgia was undergoing its first major demographic changes since the end of the Civil War. Northerners and immigrants were moving to the state in significant numbers; Jews and Catholics, hitherto largely unknown there, were viewed by Georgians of the time as being an alien, invading force.

Furthermore, the case was corrupted by old-style Southern racism involved here as well: but in this case, it worked against Frank, as Conley, being a black man, was viewed as being too lacking in intelligence to attempt to cover up a crime he himself would have committed; he "must have been told what to do." (This was, in fact, the first case in Georgia history where the testimony of a black man was held over that of a white. Unfortunately, it appears to have been perjured.)

Leo Frank put on trial for his life only three months after the murder. It being held in the middle of Southern summer heat, the windows of the courtroom were opened, revealing to all–particularly the jury–that hundreds of people were outside the courtroom listening to the proceedings.

There was no doubt what their mood was: they wanted Frank convicted.

The trial proceeded for 24 days. Frank, himself, was well defended; no less than eight attorneys and expert witnesses stood with him as he fought for his life. Furthermore, Georgia law of the time allowed Frank himself to make an unsworn statement on his own behalf without being cross-examined; he gave a lengthy analysis of his work that day, which he stated left no time for him to have committed the murder.

As to the charges that he was "nervous" when the police had come for him, he replied:
Gentlemen, I was nervous. I was completely unstrung. Imagine yourself called from sound slumber in the early hours of the morning ... To see that little girl on the dawn of womanhood so cruelly murdered — it was a scene that would have melted stone.
It should also be said that, in attempting to lay blame on Conley, Mr. Frank’s own attorneys engaged in racial slander in their own right. Lead defense attorney Luther Rosser said to the jury: "Who is Conley? He is a dirty, filthy, black, drunken, lying, n----r." Leo Frank himself had issued a widely publicized statement questioning how the "perjured vaporizings of a black brute" could be accepted in testimony against him.

All was for nought. Frank was found guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan. He was not present in the courtroom when the verdict was read, as the judge feared "violence" if the verdict was not guilty.

Leo Frank continued to fight the case all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. In 1915, the Supreme Court found against him 7-2.

Leo Frank's guilt seemed to be well established. His date with the hangman was all but certain.

But, while Frank's guilt was passionately held by many, even today, it is clear that while he may have been found guilty by a jury, there was still much room for reasonable doubt. The unfairness of the trial, the anti-Semitic bigotry of many commentators, and the whiff of Judge Lynch just outside the boundaries of the courtroom corrupted the process profoundly, indeed, irredeemably.

It is entirely possible that Frank was innocent of the crime. It is also entirely possible that he was as guilty as all hell. Who can know, now, a hundred years later?

Throughout the trial and the appeal process, public pressure through the press grew on those with the powers to decide Frank's fate. The jurors and judge heard the clamoring mob just outside the courtroom; in the halls of power, the howls of the press, particularly those of populist politician Tom Watson, for Leo Frank's blood.

It was at this point that Leo Frank sought clemency from the governor.

ENTER JOHN SLATON

In the summer of 1915, two years after the murder of Mary Phagan, John M. Slaton was approaching the end of his term of office. He looked ahead to his prospects. He had had been appointed governor of Georgia once, and then later ran, and won, a race for governor in his own right. He was a protegee of Tom Watson, a prominent Georgia politician–Watson had once run for Vice President under the Populist ticket–and now was a major player in Georgia state politics. Watson had many political opportunities within his gift: one he now offered Slaton. If Slaton would simply stay the course and not rock the boat, he, Watson, would see to it that Slaton's long dream of service in the United States Senate would one day soon be fulfilled.

But.

Watson's politics had taken a turn for the dark side in the days since his national prominence. He who had once been a national name was now a festering, blistering advocate of anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, and anti black bigotry, everywhere seeing the decline of Western civilization in demographic change that he barely understood and could not abide.

And Tom Watson wanted to see Leo Frank hang.

Slaton had a terrible choice to make. If he went against Tom Watson, his political career would be toast. He would "never have lunch in this town again." The unpopular choice could be personal disaster.

Next, there was the issue of conflict of interest: for he himself was a law partner of the firm that had defended Frank. On the other hand, had he chosen to keep clean hands and decided to recuse himself, he saw a tremendous potential for injustice: an innocent man might be hanged by the State of Georgia.

Slaton, after reviewing the 10,000 pages of evidence associated with the case, came to decide that it was very likely that Leo Frank had not committed the murder. Although he first decided to pardon him outright, he was convinced by his aides instead to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, to give the system another opportunity to review the evidence.
Slaton was a Christian in a (then-still) Christian society, and the story of the New Testament haunted him. He heard the echoes of another trial, two thousand years earlier, involving a certain other accused Jew, a reluctant governor, and a howling mob. And he could not bring himself to repeat the act of Pontius Pilate.

Two thousand years ago, another Governor washed his hands and turned over a Jew to a mob. For two thousand years that governor’s name has been accursed. If today another Jew were lying in his grave because I had failed to do my duty, I would all through life find his blood on my hands and would consider myself an assassin through cowardice.

Nobody was prepared for the public reaction. Riots broke out; Slaton was forced to flee the state in secret in fear of his life and he would not return for years.

Less than a month later, a mob, led by Tom Watson and a committee that called itself "The Knights of Mary Phagan", invaded the prison where Leo Frank was held. They drove him over 250 miles back to Marietta, Georgia, and hanged him from a tree.

Leo Frank was the only Jew known to have been lynched in the history of Southern mob violence. But one was enough: half of the Jewish population of Georgia fled the state in the aftermath.

Tom Watson went on to a brilliant career. He used the aftermath of the Frank lynching to help to relaunch the second Ku Klux Klan in Georgia. Himself eventually elected Governor, he spent the last two years of his life in the United States Senate, dying in Washington at the age of 66 of a brain aneurysm. A statue stands today on the grounds of the Georgia State House. Its plinth holds a placard that reads: "A champion of right who never faltered in the cause."

John Slaton never again held public office. Forever after he was vilified for having attempted to grant life to Leo Frank. He never achieved his dream of serving in the U.S. Senate. He spent the next two decades serving on the committee of the state bar that reviewed candidates for legal licensing. And when he died in 1956, they buried him in a mausoleum to prevent his grave from being desecrated. Even forty years later, there were those who never forgave him for pardoning "the murderous Jew."

But he was not forgotten. Some remembered him, including Senator John F. Kennedy, who memorialized him that year in Profiles in Courage.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Go Ahead. The Boss Is In A Meeting.
Time for GREG'S GIGGLES!



Ladies 'n' germs, Mr. Greg SHANKIN!

* Madonna came into the Super Bowl halftime show carried by muscle-bound men. It’s a good thing she wasn’t carried in by the Patriots, because they would have dropped her.

* Russian astronomers say an asteroid is heading toward our planet and will hit us in 2036. You have to keep in mind that Russian astronomers use empty vodka bottles for telescopes.

* Candidates must have a slogan. Ron Paul's slogan is "Fear the Poligrip."

* If you live in one of several test cities, Burger King, home of the Whopper, now delivers. Well, think about it. I mean, some nights you just don't have the energy to get all dressed up and go out to dinner at Burger King.

* The article says yoga-related injuries are on the rise. People sit in chairs all day at work, then they twist into pretzels and expect it to be easy.

* It is beautiful day here in Detroit. It is warm enough to go out wearing just a shirt, but just cool enough for the homeless not to smell.

* According to the Japanese press, Sony is coming out with a smartphone that has a PlayStation built in to compete with the iPhone. It’s called the "I-just-crashed-my-car-phone."

* According to the census bureau, the number of women getting pregnant is at its lowest rate in 70 years. So, apparently that NBA strike had a bigger effect on America than we thought.

* House is not one of the regular TV doctors. He's mean, doesn't respect authority, and takes drugs. Personally, I'm comfortable with a doctor addicted to drugs. It means he's given them a test drive.

* MTV is showing a 6-hour “Jersey Shore” marathon on Super Bowl Sunday. Those who finished watching America’s favorite violent pastime could then switch over to the Super Bowl.

* Rick Santorum is so conservative, when he goes to KFC, he only orders the right wings.

* Scientists have now created artificial meat. They've done so with stem cells in a test tube. Is your mouth watering?

* Red onions are supposed to be good for lowering cholesterol. They say that if you eat one red onion a day, you’ll live alone, but you’ll live longer.

* At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, LG unveiled a line of appliances that can send text messages. Would you want appliances that can text you? You’re in a business meeting like, “Excuse me, I have to take this. It’s from my can opener.”

* The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue came out on Valentine's Day. That doesn't seem appropriate. Photographs of busty young women? On Valentines's? It's like handing out free bacon on Passover.

* 2012 is supposed to be the year the world ends. Have you seen the national debt? If the world doesn't end, we are so screwed.

* Dunkin' Donuts is doubling the amount of locates in the United States. Remember when this country used to make steel and automobiles and now it's doughnuts, and munchkins?

* There’s a new Facebook app that will post a final status update for you after you die. That’s ridiculous. I don’t need someone to change my status when I die. I need them to water my Farmville crops.

* Jack in the Box just came out with a bacon milkshake. Why don't they just change their name to Jack in the Coffin?

* Donald Trump is criticizing the Scottish government for trying to build a wind farm near his golf resort. That makes sense — I mean, if you look at Trump’s hair, wind is clearly his worst enemy.

* A hiker who was lost in a blizzard said he stayed alive by digging a snow tunnel and burning dollar bills for warmth. Today he was offered a job as President Obama's economic adviser.

* Today Obama-care goes before the Supremes. And not the singing group. I'm sure they'll come to the right decision. America needs Obama-care like Nancy Pelosi needs a Halloween mask.

* I guess you heard Mitt Romney is now getting Secret Service protection. That's just to protect him from the poor.

* What's the difference between Obama and his dog, Bo? Bo has papers.

* Women who drink are less likely to be obese than women who do not drink. All this time, you’ve been on Jenny Craig while you should have been on Johnny Walker.

* Saw an OCCUPIER carrying a sign yesterday: "Power to the Left Wing!" Which, as any pilot will tell you, results in a sharp right turn......

Ththththtat's all, folks.....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dick Cheney has a new heart. (No Oz Wizards involved.)

In honor of his operation yesterday, we have decided to revive this little gem from a couple of years ago.

Have a nice morning.




I love Dick Cheney. He went hunting with the only Republican trial lawyer in existence... and shot him.

Maria Dmitrienko: Classy Lady

Yahoo reports that

A gold-medal winning athlete from Kazakhstan was forced to stand through a national anthem that insulted other countries and boasted of her nation's "clean prostitutes" when organizers at a shooting competition accidentally played a fake anthem from the comedy film "Borat."*


And she stood there wearing her medal and did not so much as blink.

Her name is Maria Dmitrienko and she is worthy of honor. (Imagine being an Olympic athlete and, wearing your medal, standing through a particular song about the United States and keeping a straight face. Most of us couldn't have done it.)

Awesome. Well done, madam. Well done.

(*It should be noted that the organizers of the games--held in Kuwait--may not have known the difference and that it might well have been an honest mistake.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

REPOST: TR #22: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It strikes me that this is as good a time as any to rerun this one, particularly as the streets are filled with good little party members Occupying everything in sight.



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

LEAP YEARS: ALEKSANDER SOLZHENITSYN

"If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?"

The name Solzhenitsyn is known to every adult American over the age of 35. But times are changing; already, he is fading into history and into disregard as the train of history moves forward. Although he is today still among the most famous of men, he was, at his finest, an unknown, a single minded enemy of one of the 20th Century's Great Tyrannies, the smallest of Davids against the greatest of Goliaths. As such, he was without doubt one of the Tattered Remnant.


* * * * *

In the year of 1961, in a tiny town called Ryazan south of Moscow, a high school teacher sat, late at night, before his typewriter, composing a short story. It was written in single space, on both sides of the paper (to save on the paper itself, which was hard to find at the time).

The story he wrote was a hidden artwork, created in darkness in a corner of his small apartment; he had never shown this, or any other work, to anybody else, as he was convinced that his works would never be published in his lifetime. This was, after all, only eight years after the death of Josef Djughashvili, known as Stalin; and the gang of terrorists who had assisted him in blighting the evil empire called the Soviet Union still ruled the country with a bitter, iron hand. The cold body of Stalin himself still lay in state next to Lenin's in the latter's Tomb.

He sat in his room writing a story that would change the world, retelling his experience of eight years in Siberia, where he had worked as a slave for the Soviet state, under sentence for "disloyalty" and "founding a hostile organization." His crime had been one of calling the leader of his nation "The Whiskered Guy" and "The Boss" in a private letter to a friend.

The final paragraph he composed slowly, carefully, savoring every single word:

The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one. Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell.

The extra three days were for leap years.


It took time, but within thirty years the writing of this short story would come to be seen as the first and single most significant event leading to the destruction of his nation's dictatorship.

His name was Aleksander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn. And in typing his story he changed his universe, and ours.

Solzhenitsyn was at that time a 42-year-old survivor of the Soviet labor camps, a former "Zek", or zakliuchonniy, a prisoner. He had been arrested while serving in the Soviet Army in Poland as the Red Army approached Berlin. His letters to his friend having been intercepted, he was shipped by a special train to Moscow proper, where he was imprisoned in the famous Lyublyanka prison. He was severely beaten and, after a drumhead trial before three State Security officers, he was sentenced to eight years in the Soviet labor system. He was shipped to the east, to Siberia, where, in a series of camps, he labored as a bricklayer for the heroic Soviet people.

Solzhenitsyn had been an unquestioning Communist until his arrest. But as he spent eight years in backbreaking labor, his former appreciation for the Soviet way of life gave way to a realization that he lived in the heart of darkness, which called itself a light to the workers of the world but which was, in fact, a vile political monstrosity that ate human flesh.

(Let it not be forgotten that the Soviet empire, in its 70 years, consumed 40 million lives on its own initiative and lost another 20 to the invasion of Hitler.)

At the conclusion of his eight year sentence, he was freed from the camps, but sentenced thereupon to lifetime exile in the East. He was only allowed out of his imprisonment long enough to travel to the city of Tashkent, to receive treatment for stomach cancer.

After Stalin died, he was again allowed to leave the far East and he returned to central Russia, where he settled in Ryazan. His wife, who had divorced him during his imprisonment, remarried him and they settled down to a quiet life.

But he wrote on, regardless, knowing that he had no future: his works would never be published; indeed, if they were discovered, he would likely be arrested again and returned to the cold hell of the far East.

He chose, however, to take a chance. He sent a manuscript copy of his short story – Yedin Den' Ivana Denisovitcha, or One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch - to an old friend of his, Aleksander Tvardovskiy, editor of the magazine Novy Mir ("New World"). The excellence of the work was recognized immediately; some of those reviewing the short story comparing it to Dostoyevski.

But old habits die hard, particularly in socialist dictatorships. The publication of such a (counter-)revolutionary work would require approval at the highest level. It finally came from the unlikeliest of sources: Nikita Khrushchev himself, who, telling the Politburo of his decision to approve the release of the story, made what is possibly the most remarkable admission of any public official in Soviet history:

There is a Stalinist in each of you; there is even a Stalinist in me. We must root out this evil.

But this was but a false spring of freedom in Russia. Although the nation was swept by this daring new writer who actually was allowed to attack the (former) leadership of the Soviet Union, the brief era of tolerance for dissent soon ended when Khrushchev was overthrown and replaced by the Brezhnev clique of reactionaries. And Solzhenitsyn, the golden boy of the Khrushchev era, found himself almost an unperson.

In this period, his next novel, Cancer Ward, was published, but his next, The First Circle, was blockaded. In the years that followed, while the children of the "Free Speech" protestors in Berkeley decried American "censorship" and Woodstock became the symbol of freedom, Solzhenitsyn's home was raided by KGB agents and a copy of his most important work, Arkhipelag GULag, or The Gulag Archipelago, was seized. In 1969 he was expelled from the Union of Writers–membership in which was a sine qua non to being a published novelist in the U.S.S.R.

While the police had seized the manuscript, however, copies had been carefully stored in the homes of friends, and were smuggled out of the Soviet Union to the West. An American at the Embassy, military attache' William Odom -- later head of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan -- got the manuscript to publishers in Paris.

As time passed, his importance as a writer and as a solitary opponent of the Soviet system became more apparent, even to his enemies. The Soviets could not afford to kill him, and they were unable to effectively silence him. His growing reputation became a rebuke to everything the Soviet system stood for. He was given the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970–this, back in the days when Nobel Prizes were still meaningful–and he came to stand for all those silent men of good will inside the Soviet Union who quietly opposed the stone face of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

Since he could not be silenced, and since he could not be safely killed, they expelled him.

One day, in 1974, he was again arrested in his home. At this time, he was informed by the KGB officers arresting him that the decision had been taken by the Politburo to strip him of his citizenship and expel him from Russia. He was forcibly placed on an Aeroflot plane to Germany, and he was unceremoniously dumped onto the tarmac.

In the days that followed, he was allowed to migrate to the United States, where he took up residence. His second wife, Natalya -- he had divorced his first wife in 1971 -- was allowed to join him, along with their three young sons.

He took up residence in Cavindish, Vermont, a small, woodsy town in the Northeastern United States, which resembled in many ways his old home in central Russia. He chose well, for his Vermont neighbors had almost as insular views of privacy as he did. He stayed there, shielded by his neighbors' willing shielding of the family from the curious, and quite pointedly rarely left his estate. Although his wife and children all obtained American citizenship, he chose to remain officially stateless.

Never learning to speak English fluently -– although of course he read it well enough –- he spent his seventeen years in exile concentrating on finishing his Red Wheel cycle of four novels on the Russian Revolution. During his stay in Cavindish, he made one public appearance–a speech at Harvard University's Commencement ceremonies in 1977, where he denounced American culture, materialism, and "bad music" to an audience that found his words, to quote the New York Times, "bewildering." It almost seemed like he was biting the hand that fed him–except that this particular "hand" was made up of a lot of people who believed that the USSR was, to put it kindly, unobjectionable.

Your Author recalls seeing him in one of his very rare appearances on American television in 1984, giving an interview where he advocated that the USSR should be broken into its component parts, and the other nations forming it allowed to be free and independent states. Although he foresaw some internal border changes that never took place–he thought, for instance, that majority Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine and Kazakhstan should become Russian territory–his foresight in predicting the shattering of the USSR which came only seven years later was, in retrospect, truly astonishing. (Were that our CIA had had such vision!)

I can remember my father shaking his head after the interview ended. "The man's a dreamer," he said. But, as it turned out, he was (pace John Lennon) not the only one.

Time passed and the ice dam that he had first pierced shattered into a million pieces in his absence. To those of us who lived through those heady years, the events that moved so swiftly still seem miraculous – the "Easter Sunday party" that broke the fence between Austria and Hungary in 1988 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the return of Solidarity, the death of the Warsaw Pact, the execution of Rumania's Nicolae Ceausescu on Christmas Day 1989, the independence of Lithuania, the August coup of 1990, Boris Yeltsin standing on the tank, and, most gloriously, the fall of the Soviet flag from the Kremlin on Christmas Day 1991 and its irrevocable consignment to the ashheap of history.

But Aleksander Solzhenitsyn was forced to observe all this from exile.

In 1995, he finally came back to Russia, landing in Magadan, a city in the Far East near Vladivostok. His first act on emerging from the plane was to kiss the ground in remembrance of his fellow Zeks who had died as Stalin's slaves tearing this city out of the Siberian waste. He then took a train with his wife across Siberia, soaking in the "new Russia."

He was, as one might expect, dismayed. The collapse of the Soviet Union had left the nation impoverished, and yet the Russian people who had suffered so long did not seem to have emerged from their decades of horror morally improved. He saw Russian Mafia influence everywhere, Soviet Communistic influence still abounding, Western materialism, extremely gross sexual immorality, drugs, and mindless pursuit of pleasure, and he was shocked and appalled at what he saw.

He settled in Moscow and became what we might call a "pundit." He had, for a time, his own TV show, two fifteen-minute spots a week where he would interview leading politicians and thinkers of the day. But his bitter and hectoring style attracted few viewers and the show was cancelled after a few months.

He was, in the end of his life, viewed (fairly or not) as a has-been and an eccentric, a supporter of Tsarism and an opponent of democracy. He also held many views that today are held to be unacceptable, including a bitter attitude toward the Jewish people that approached anti-Semitism, although to his credit he recognized it in himself, admitted to it, and battled it. It should be remembered that it was he that observed that "the line between good and evil lies not between 'us' and 'them' but down the middle of every human heart." And none knew that line better than he himself. We all must struggle with evil; some of us have the misfortune of doing so publicly.

Yes, at the end of his life, he was in many ways a crank. But his legacy is clear.

Today, his master work, The Gulag Archepelago, composed in fear of the KGB, is now required reading in every high school in Russia.

ADDENDUM - MADELYN MURRAY O'HAIR

I will not recount her life story here. While she had the makings of a member of the Remnant--she was, indeed, courageous, in a twisted way--she chose to stand up and be counted for the other side.

In the spring of 1985, I was in my final semester as an undergraduate at Michigan State University. A major public speaking event was scheduled one evening at the main theater, where the celebrated Madelyn Murray O'Hair was to come to give a speech.

O'Hair of course was and is famous as the individual who was responsible for forcing public schools to stop allowing prayer or the reading of the Bible as part of educational curricula. She gloried in her title as "the most hated woman in America," and taunted those Christians who she claimed dreamed of her death.

I remember going to see her at MSU on that occasion. As was common at such events, microphones were set up around the ampitheater so that, following her speech, the audience could comment and ask her questions.

I do not remember much about the speech, except that it was standard atheist boilerplate: Christians are idiots, atheists are the smart ones; believers are idiots, scientific materialists are the smart ones; those who imagine that the world was created are idiots... yadda yadda.

I patiently stood in line and was standing before the microphone when someone asked Mrs. O'Hair about freedom of worship in the Soviet Union.

"I've traveled several times in the Soviet Union," she bragged. "In every city there are still churches. They're open. Nobody is in them because nobody believes there any more. But there is no persecution of religious believers in the U.S.S.R."

I spoke up into the microphone at that instant.

"I don't believe Aleksander Solzhenitsyn would agree with your last statement."

"Aleksander Solzhenitsyn," she said, voice dripping contempt, "is a fascist."

At that the room erupted in applause. I had not realized, until that moment, how alone I truly was in that building--or that almost everybody else there seemed to be enthusiastically buying the bovine scatology that she was selling.

I will also not recount what ultimately became of her: an atrocity so horrible that I would not wish it happening to Charles Manson.

I'll simply observe the difference between their respective legacies: Solzhenitsyn's being a book that every school child in his nation must now read; O'Hair's, a Book that no school in her nation is allowed to teach.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yes, It's a Baby....



....and human....

....and a person....

....and fully deserving the protection of the law.

Just a reminder!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Tear for Bygone Greatness


MARGARET, THE BARONNESS THATCHER


Ronald Reagan--Ronaldus Magnus--is gone.

Pope John Paul II --the Great--too, is gone.

The Eastern European Communists are gone.

The Argentine Navy is gone.

Dust, dust in the wind.

Only Lady Thatcher remains.



Like Reagan in his final years--indeed, like Churchill in his, and, likely, JP2 as well--she sits alone in her quiet room, having earned her rest, barely remembering in her dotage the greatness she once represented.

But when she goes to meet her God, she will remember once again.

Will we? Can we?

Is it Lady Thatcher who has forgotten the past....

....or is it us?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gibbons: 1 Tigers: 0



An adult gibbon has one on at the expense of a couple of young tiger cubs.

Pure awesome....

Spring has sprung...
....and so have Greg's Giggles.



* There was another Republican debate in Florida last night. What is left to know about these candidates? Is someone going to confess to a murder?

* A new study shows that 50 percent of America's dogs and cats are overweight. In fact, the other day when a mouse ran across my living room, my cat just said "I really shouldn't . . . "

* The last caucus was in Nevada. See, Nevada has something for all the candidates. It's got legalized prostitution, which is part of Ron Paul's campaign; it's got a large Mormon population, which is good for Mitt Romney; it welcomes losers, which is perfect for Rick Santorum; and it's got no-fault divorce, which is tailor-made for Newt Gingrich.

* Kim Jong Il would have been 70 years old last week if he hadn't died a couple of months ago. But don't worry. Osama bin Laden threw him a surprise party in hell.

* The Chinese vice president visited President Obama at the White House a few days back. That shows how different China is from us. In China, the vice president is actually important.

* Obama doesn't pay admission to Disney World. He just charges it to the China section of Epcot.

* An appeals court ruled that California cannot ban same-sex marriage. Let me tell you something. If you want to respect the sanctity of marriage, ban Kardashian weddings.

* I just watched "Paranormal Activity" on DVD. It's a low-budget horror film about a couple that sets up a camera in their bedroom at night. The horror comes when she keeps waking him up to talk about their relationship.

* North Korea has made it illegal to use cell phones. The good news is, it's now the greatest place in the world to see a movie.

* A new survey found that the average guy will spend about $200 on Valentine's Day this year. Yep, that's 20 bucks for flowers and 180 bucks for last-minute delivery of flowers.

* A couple weeks back it was Mardi Gras, which is an interesting phenomenon because it turns normal, everyday people into drunken lunatics who will trade their dignity for 9 cents worth of beads. When it's over, everybody goes home and goes back to being normal.

* When choosing between a brilliant and charming arsonist and a plodding and boring fireman, choose the fireman.

* To all the worryworts out there who said super PACs were going to lead to a cabal of billionaires secretly buying democracy: wrong! They are publicly buying democracy.

* Wikipedia went dark to protest a bill that's before Congress. I know what you're thinking: "If Wikipedia is dark, who'll supply America with bogus facts?"

* The fast food chain Chick-fil-A is reportedly sponsoring two anti-gay marriage conferences. A lot of people are upset about this, especially their competition: Chick-on-chick-fil-A.

* Us weekly is reporting that Mattel is considering a line of Kardashian Barbie dolls. The top executives got together and said, "Who would make a worse role model for little girls than Barbie," and they settled on the Kardashians.

* According to geologists, about 100 million years from now, Asia and the Americas will smash together to form one giant supercontinent. The good news: Maybe all those jobs that went over there will finally come back.

* Over the weekend, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were spotted taking their kids to Cirque du Soleil. It's weird when they take their kids to the circus, because even the clowns are like, "That's a lot of people in one car!"

* Before the last Super Bowl, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told everyone, "If you see something not right at the Super Bowl, let somebody know." Immediately after Christina Aguilera sang the national anthem, 50 million people called. I hope Janet speaks more carefully this time around.

* According to the tabloids, John Edwards is going to marry his mistress, Rielle Hunter. Which means, of course, now he has to find a new mistress, and the whole thing starts again.

* An intruder broke into Mike Tyson's hotel room in Las Vegas while he was sleeping but got out before Tyson could get to him. I don't know what's scarier. Having someone breaking into your room while you're sleeping or breaking into someone else's room and finding out the guy is Mike Tyson.

* Newt Gingrich picked up an endorsement from Herman Cain. It's not unlike getting Carrot Top's endorsement for an Academy Award.

* Beyoncé and Jay-Z were spotted leaving the hospital the other morning with their brand new baby. And get this — Beyoncé says they may even start working on their next child. Or as they call it, "the remix."

* According to doctors, marijuana use among the elderly is at an all-time high. Apparently, senior citizens are moving very slowly, making crazy statements, and going out to dinner very early.

* I came up with a great slogan for Romney. "It's time to Mitt or get off the pot."

* Newt and Hillary are very similar. Both spent the ‘90s trying to figure out who Bill was sleeping with. And they have the same tailor.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A St. Paddy's Day Miracle



That's right. A real miracle. It involves my car breaking down. Seriously. The ball joint on the steering column broke--a major expense.

So how is it a miracle?

Let me tell you.

It's a beautiful Saturday, this St. Patrick's Day, the first really warm day of spring. All the snow is gone, the streets are dry, the sky is crystal blue and not a cloud. But I realize I have a mailing deadline to meet; something must arrive in Missouri on Monday or my client loses out her application.

So it's off to the office I go, bringing Paul (12) and Philip (9) with me.

A beautiful drive. 90s music on the stereo. The boys are happily boop-boop-booping on their gameboys as we go.

I stop at the office; run inside, prepare the mailing, then we come out again. So it's off to the post office. The time is about 2:45.

We pull into the parking lot; the right front tire strikes the smallest of potholes right before we pull into the parking spot. I get out, go inside, mail my mailings, and come out again.

The right front tire is flat. Damn. Just bought it, too.

So I change the tire.

And the car is STILL not drivable.

Hokay. I call AAA. The tow truck is on its way. And Trish is coming with the car to pick up the boys. It continues to be beautiful. We buy an ice cream, the boys play their gameboys, I sit on a park bench and watch the pretty girls go by in the center of my home town. It's a perfect Saturday spring day. And hey--if I have to have a broken down car, what better time and place than a Saturday afternoon in the spring? No rain, no snow, no misery, no angry court or client to explain my absence to; I'm in blue jeans and t-shirt, so I don't care if I get covered in grease.

Time passes. Trish arrives. The boys get into the car; Trish drives off. I continue to wait.

The AAA truck shows up, and the guy starts to do his stuff to load it on the flatbed.

"You have any idea how lucky you are, pal?"

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"That ball joint. You gotta know it's been dying for ages. You know what would have happened if that thing had given way while you were on the Interstate at sixy plus miles per? You'd be dead. Broken ball joint is a leading cause of accidents arising from mechanical failure. You would have flipped about four times and died quickly."

...and the boys, too.

Fixing it will cost me about $500. Fine by me.

Miracles don't always come in the form of reluctant fishermen walking on water, yanno.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

We Need a Lincoln Not a Ford.....


(with apologies to the friends of Andrew Breitbart)

Convicted Nazi Crimnal Demjanjuk Dies at 91.

...thus proving the good die young.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Adventures in Bad Ideas



A. John. Wilkes. Booth. Bobbleheaded. Doll.

For sale at the government-run museum at Gettysburg.

There are no words.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Iconic Pic, Sexual Harassment..... or Fish Hook?



The NY Times ran a story sometime back about the famous picture of the nurse, above, getting a happy kiss from a total stranger in Times Square on V-J Day in August 1945.

Comments on the blog, however.... well, they weren't so supportive.
I am continually astonished by the celebratory tone this photograph elicits. A sexual aggressor practically rapes a woman in public, and everybody cheers. I would like to say that sailor would have been tried, convicted and placed on a sexual offender registry if people during those times were as enlightened as we are now, except we still don't seem to be as enlightened as we should be. Think, people! Your young daughters witness this photograph and the general sense of approval surrounding it, and cannot help to be confused. Our approval says it's OK for an aggressive man to accost a woman and sexual molest her, should he see fit to do so. The public exhibition of this photo should be banned. It is a depiction of rape, plain and simple, and deserves our contempt and scorn, should we have even an ounce of decency and respect for women and their right not to be treated as sexual playthings. My own daughter knows that the sailor committed a sex crime. She knows that people of that era were oppressed by a patriarchal regime that put all women at risk of being used as sexual objects. She knows these things because I told her. I would hope that all of you do the same for your own daughters, and sons too. Boys are particularly at risk, due to their natural aggressiveness. An enlightened society frowns on and seeks punishment for masculine displays such as that depicted in this story. Make sure your boys are aware of the criminal nature of the man's aggressive sexual molestation of that poor nurse. - Geld Ann Emasculate, Fredericksburg, VA

Now, I kinda picked up by the name of the author--ahem--that the above was, er, not precisely to be taken at face value. It was amazing how many readers missed the point, however:
Wow. Over the top. No one knows who they were, so they could have been boyfriend/girlfriend. That's a heavy things to tell a young woman. "Sex crime?" Please.

unbelievable...how joyless and bitter, these holier than thou politically correct hyper-enlightened zero common-sense people are....

The first letter-writer should seek treatment tomorrow. In my line of work I deal with real rape cases and I can tell you that this picture, taken on a day of wonderful news for the U.S. in a crowded public place, is not rape or a precursor to it....

Now for my part, all I can say is, this: Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from being an insufferable jerk. Fortunately for "Geld", it was not sufficiently advanced to be completely lacking in humor. I thought it was hilarious. And as for the "visciousness of right wing blogs," well, at least right wing blogs have fun writing satires. The only response most people of the left are capable of is some variation of covering their ears screaming "EEEEK! CRIMETHINK....!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's Wrong With This Picture?



The one on the left they call "not a slut."

The one on the right they call a "slut."

Hmn....kay.....

REPOST: Larry, Curly, Moe:
An Eternal Golden Braid


A post from two three years ago.... strangely appropriate today.

I am a firm believer in the Stopped Clock Principle ("even a stopped clock is right twice a day"). By which is meant, of course, "Even people whose philosophy I despise may be right, even supremely right, about one particular issue."

Today I stumbled on a quote from someone whose philosophy I do indeed despise: the "Reverend Ivan Stang," a "brilliant satirist with a gift for promotion", as the Hacker's Dictionary defines him. A leading member of the so-called "Church of the Subgenius", he is notorious for brilliantly, hilariously, and quite maliciously dissing organized religion in general and Christianity in very focused particular.

The following is from his first book, entitled "High Weirdness by Mail: A Dictionary of the Fringe - Mad Prophets, Crackpots, Kooks, and True Visionaries", published in 1988.

This book belonged to Dave, my former housemate in the late 80s, when I lived at The Stenhouse, The Bachelor Toybox from Hell (a very happy but fortunately relatively brief time from which my wife and wedding day would eventually rescue me). I had long since lost the book, but never forgot the sentiment. However, observing my three little boys beating each other up at home this afternoon, I had a vision of the Stooges in action... which brought to mind this quote.

In this short discussion, Mr. Stang explains in rough outline the first step to true understanding: the existence of the spiritual pecking order among humans. This semi-comic essay was my first step into a longer term project: the discernment of the Spiritual Ladder, and an attempt to understand natural nobility as it manifests itself in our day.

Like I said: I can't abide him or his sniggering anti-Christianity. However, I do recognize his occasional ability to recognize truth and state it well, as here:

There are three kinds of people -- I call them Larrys, Curlys, and Moes. The Larrys don't even know that there are three types; if they're told, it's an abstraction, because they cannot imagine anything beyond Larry-ness. The Curlys know about it, and recognize the pecking order, but find ways of living with it cheerfully...for they are the imaginative, creative ones. The Moes not only know about it, but exploit and perpetuate it.

The naive, pleasant believers of all kinds are Larrys -- ineffectual, well-meaning do-gooders destined always to be victims, often without once guessing their status. Like sheep, they don't want to hear the unpleasant legends about "the slaughterhouse"; they trust the strange two-legged beings who feed them. The artists, unsung scientific geniuses, political writers, and earnest disciples of the stranger cults are Curlys -- engaging, original, accident-prone but full of life, intuitively aware of the Moe forces plotting against them and trying to fight back. They can never defeat the Moes, however, without BECOMING Moes, which is impossible for a true Curly.

The Moes, then, are the fanatics, the ranters, the cult gurus, the Uri Gellers AND the Debunkers; they are the Resistance Leaders and the Ruling Class Bankers. They hate each other, but only because they want to control ALL the Larrys and Curlys themselves. They don't actually enjoy their dominance; it's simply part of their nature. Nor are they less foolish for the fact that they make the decisions. They suffer a chronic paranoia that is unknown to their less demanding underlings. Larrys and Curlys die in wars started by rival Moes -- the Larrys willingly, the Curlys with great regret. Concepts like "Hell" and "Sin" were invented by Moes to keep Larrys in line; the Larrys in turn, being far more numerous, exert social pressures on the Curly minority to also obey...mainly so the Larrys won't feel like suckers.

The Moes also invent myths, like that of the "Grouchos, Harpos, Chicos, and Zeppos," to throw the more rebellious Curlys off their trail and keep them unsure of the real situations. (When the Curly's finally die of overwork, the Moes find that they cannot live in an all-Larry world; they select special Larry's and vainly try to mold them into False Curlys...but it isn't the same.)

I am a Moe, though not a particularly powerful one; that is why I know these things, and it is also why I dare to tell you -- for most of you will think it's just a funny joke. A few will know it is the truth, but will fight far harder against my Moe enemies than you will against me, a relatively harmless Moe. My fellow Moes -- enemies and uneasy SubGenius allies alike -- will know what I'm REALLY saying...


Ivan Stang. Smart man.

And it is in honor of this quote that I have always kept three little statuettes on my desk at work, near my image of St. Thomas More: one each of Larry, Curly, and Moe.

But he is, however, wrong. There are not three types of people, but seven (with infinite gradations within each type). Of which, more presently.

ADDENDUM:


A friend of mine objects to the "sin is invented" meme embedded above. Well, I don't buy it either. Stang probably stole it from Heinlein, who stole it from Nietzsche, who stole it from Rousseau. Doesn't make the rest of the insight untrue. (Alas, Moes may not have invented the concept of sin, but they have certainly and often exploited it to their own ends.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Forward, Nose Hits Keyboard, zzzzz....
Time for Greg's Giggles!




* In Dallas, a warehouse full of energy drinks caught fire. Firefighters say the fire raged for five hours and then totally crashed.

* A 100-year-old woman has revealed that her secret to staying sharp is playing a Nintendo D.S. Sadly, no one has the heart to tell her that's the garage door opener.

* There’s a gorilla in England who has learned to walk upright. Normally, they walk on their knuckles, which is why they don’t wear jewelry.

* The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost. G.K. Chesterton

* House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she has dirt on Newt Gingrich, but so far she's keeping her lips sealed — because that's how the last surgeon left them.

* The first rule of Thesaurus Club is you do not talk, articulate, babble, chant, chat, chatter, comment on, communicate, confess, converse, describe, drone, express, gab, gossip, influence, intone, notify, persuade, prattle, reveal, say, speak, spout, squeal, tell, utter, verbalize, voice or yak about Thesaurus Club.

* Experts say traffic deaths are down because the bad economy means more cars are being repossessed, and all the unemployment means we don't have as many people driving to work. So you know what that means? The White House economic plan is also their highway safety plan.

* A recent study found that men who go bald in their early 20s have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. So I guess going bald in your 20s isn’t as great as you thought.

* Students at Pottstown Middle School are now not allowed to wear Uggs, because students were hiding cell phones in them. Next week, the plan is to ban pockets.

* Donald Trump announced he is building a new hotel four blocks from the White House. And with any luck, that will be about as close to the White House as Donald Trump will ever get.

* A Southern California teacher has been arrested for allegedly teaching while drunk. They could tell she was wasted. She was even willing to sleep with the ugly students.

* They say President Lincoln once walked three miles to pay back a penny. That makes him the last president to do anything about the debt.

* Mitt Romney surged in New Hampshire. And if it lasts longer than four hours, he’d better call a doctor.

* Santorum says that Satan has his sights set on the United States of America. And today Satan said he tries to avoid politics because it makes him feel dirty. (Of course, Santorum is right–it's just that Satan has had his eye on this country since about mid-October 1492.)

* Iran has banned all Valentine’s Day gifts because it promotes Western culture. It’s actually a crime to buy roses for Valentine’s Day in Iran. As opposed to the U.S., where it’s a crime what they charge for roses on Valentine’s Day.

* Kodak recently filed for bankruptcy after 130 years in business. Yeah, I’d tell you more, but more on the story as it develops.

* A new study shows that American students are becoming less proficient in science, and if the trend continues, we will become a nation that’s science and chemistry illiterate. And you thought a lot of meth labs are blowing up now?

* You can’t smoke outdoors in New York City anymore. If they catch you, it’s a $50 fine — same as murder.

* A guy went into a Walmart. He's completely naked and he's stealing socks. Is that the first item, honestly? He was planning a series of robberies to put together a whole new outfit.

* Researchers found a frog in New Guinea that is so tiny, they believe it's the smallest vertebrate on the planet. It has the tiniest backbone of any living creature, except members of Congress.

* The Westminster Dog Show wrapped up in New York this week. It combines the excitement of people walking dogs to the thrill of dogs sitting perfectly still.

* A new survey found that most hairdressers don’t like listening to their clients’ stories. On behalf of clients, I’d just like to tell hairdressers, "Ditto.”

* You know a really sad thing about Valentine's Day? Some people can't have the person they really love, so they settle for someone else. But enough about the Republicans and Mitt Romney.

* John Edwards - remember that sleazeball who ran for president? He's asking that his upcoming criminal trial be delayed because he's been diagnosed with a medical condition. Lets hope it's erectile dysfunction.

And finally, today the commie website Infowars.Com says that Angelina Jolie has been instrumental in globalist warmongering and thus should be arrested. Frankly, if she escaped indictment for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, they can't touch her for this....

.....thththththtat's all, folks.....

Friday, March 9, 2012

American Hero.... And Tattered Remnant



Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell died in a fire on Tuesday, March 8, 2012, while attempting to rescue his two small daughters from his burning home. The girls, Isabella, 6, and Natalia, 4, did not survive. They will be buried together at Arlington National Cemetery next week.

Cantrell survived six combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, had been awarded four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

I'd type more but my screen seems to have gone all blurry.

Eternal memory grant them, O Lord.

Monday, March 5, 2012

1950 or 2012? Your call.


One thing that irks me about being Conservative is the fact that so many of my fellows seem smugly to think that Things Were So Much Better Way Back When. (As one of them put it, "Adulthood begins when you realize Dean Wormer, Edward Rooney and Archie Bunker were right all along.")

This is not quite as pernicious as the leftist error (at least it rarely tends to murder people by millions), but it, er, can be annoying.

Along these lines, I ran across this little gem on a website called "MrConservative.com":

Death of The American Dream? America 1950 v.s. America 2012

Would you rather live in the America of 1950 or the America of 2012? Has the United States changed for the better over the last 62 years? Many fondly remember the 1950s and the 1960s as the "golden age" of America.

We emerged from World War II as the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the planet. During that time period, just about anyone that wanted to get a job could find a job and the U.S. middle class expanded rapidly. Back in 1950, America was still considered to be a land of opportunityand the economy was growing like crazy.

There was less crime, there was less divorce, the American people had much less debt and the world seemed a whole lot less crazy. Most of the rest of the world deeply admired us and wanted to be more like us. Of course there were a lot of things that were not great about America back in 1950, and there are many things that many of us dearly love that we would have to give up in order to go back and live during that time. For example, there was no Internet back in 1950. Instead of being able to go online and read the articles that you want to read, your news would have been almost entirely controlled by the big media companies of the
day. So there are definitely some advantages that we have today that they did not have back in 1950. But not all of the changes have been for the better. America is in a constant state of change, and many are deeply concerned about where all of these changes are taking us.

Oy.

What a question.

You know where this was going ((cue "The Way We Were")). Things were SO MUCH BETTER IN THE 1950s, RIGHT?

Not. Hardly. And any conservative who really thinks so is fooling themselves.

Let's do a little fisking of the article in question. Roman text below is from the original article. My remarks are in ITALICS. Underlying them is the basic fact that one dollar in 1950 would buy $8.9562 worth of goods in 2012. Remembering this gives the following an entirely new meaning.

In 1950, a gallon of gasoline cost about 27 cents.

In 2012, a gallon of gasoline costs $3.69.

In 1950, a gallon of gasoline cost $2.41 in constant 2012 dollars.

In 1950, you could buy a first-class stamp for just 3 cents.

In 2012, a first-class stamp will cost you 45 cents.

In 1950, a first class stamp cost $.268 in 1950 dollars. Of course, there was a lot more mail then--because no Email which is relatively cost-free.

In 1950, more than 80 percent of all men were employed.

In 2012, less than 65 percent of all men are employed.

In 1950, the vast majority of women were not employed at all; they lived in the home raising children, like it or not.

In 1950, the average duration of unemployment was about 12 weeks.

In 2012, the average duration of unemployment is about 40 weeks.

In 1950, the United States had more industrial power than all other nations on earth – because of the end of WW2. No longer true, and this is a GOOD thing, as that means that the other nations on earth have industrialized or re-industrialized when in 1950, in most of the world, the world had been blasted to rubble.

In 1950, the average family spent about 22% of its income on housing.

In 2012, the average family spends about 43% of its income on housing.

Well, this is truly not-good. Can't have everything. Of course, the average house in 1950 had about 1/3 the square footage of a home present day, which may explain the increase in price.

In 1950, gum chewing and talking in class were some of the major disciplinary problems in our schools.

In 2012, many of our public schools have been equipped with metal detectors because violence has become so bad.

In 1950, the entire African American race was excluded from our schools and kept in segregated crapholes that nobody would tolerate. Today.... well, never mind. Let's not go there, shall we?

In 1950, mothers decided what their children would eat for lunch.

In 2012, lunches are inspected by government control freaks to make sure that they contain the “correct foods” in many areas of the country. For example, one 4-year-old girl recently had her lunch confiscated by a “lunch monitor” because it did not meet USDA guidelines….

In 2012, a few lunches were inspected by government control freaks; the report then hit the Interwebs. The rest, as Henry Ford would say, is bunk.

In 1950, the United States was #1 in GDP per capita.

In 2012, the United States is #13 in GDP per capita.

What countries are ahead of us and why? Those oil countries on the list–not provided–should be disregarded, as the money doesn't go to anyone's capita except the powers-that-be.

In 1950, redistribution of wealth was considered to be something that “the communists” did.

In 2012, the U.S. government redistributes more wealth than anyone else in the world.

Excepting that redistribution of wealth was something the government did then, too. Just not as much of it as now.

In 1950, about 13 million Americans had manufacturing jobs.

In 2012, less than 12 million Americans have manufacturing jobs even though our population has more than doubled since 1950.

In 1950, we didn't have industrial robots. Our per-capita production per hour is still the highest on earth. We make more cars than we did in 1950 with 1/4 the workers or less. And this is a good thing. Working in car factories sucks, even if the money is good. The key issue is this: We produced $12.66 per hour in constant 1990 dollars in the year 1950. We produced $39.50 in 2011 in 1990 dollars. Not bad for the Great Recession.

In 1950, the entire U.S. military was mobilized to protect the borders of South Korea.

In 2012, the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada are wide open and now there are 1.4 million gang members living inside the United States.

Oh? And what, precisely is the relationship between gang members and open borders? There are no non-Hispanic white gang members? No African American gang members? Is that odor I smell anti-Hispanic bigotry? And did we mention the entire U.S. military was nearly thrown off the Korean peninsula by a bunch of commie farmers with hand me down tanks?

In 1950, there were about 2 million people living in Detroit and it was one of the greatest cities on earth.

In 2012, there are about 700,000 people living in Detroit and it has become a symbol of what is wrong with the U.S. economy.

Detroit has been my family's home since 1808. There are about 3 million people living directly outside of Detroit, and many of them are doing what their parents did living in the borders of the city of Detroit. Sure, if you go by the strict definition of "the city of Detroit", the place IS a wasteland. But if you include the burbs, we're actually STILL one of the great cities of the world. Just divided into 100 little towns and cities instead of glommed together into one big one.

In 1950, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was slightly over the 200 mark.

In 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is threatening to soar over the 13,000 mark.

In 1950, the DJIA was at the 1790 mark in 2012 dollars.

In 1950, corporate taxes accounted for about 30 percent of all federal revenue.

In 2012, corporate taxes will account for less than 7 percent of all federal revenue.

This may be a problem. Film at 11 on this one.

In 1950, the median age at first marriage was about 22 for men and about 20 for women.

In 2012, the median age at first marriage is about 28 for men and about 26 for women.

This is definitely a problem, particularly as we are about to redefine marriage into something unrecognizable. I have said enough for now.

In 1950, many Americans dressed up in suits and dresses before getting on an airplane.

In 2012, security goons look at the exposed forms of our women and our children before they are allowed to get on to an airplane.

In 1950, a plane ticket cost about $250.00 to fly from NY to Chicago. In 2012, a plane ticket costs about $250.00 to fly from NY to Chicago. Of course, $250.00 in 1950 is $2240.00 in present cash. No wonder people dressed up in suits and dresses before getting on an airplane. They were rich enough to have them before they bought the ticket.

As for the TSA gropers, of course in 1950, evil insecurity goons had yet to fly our aircraft into major office buildings....

In 1950, each retiree’s Social Security benefit was paid for by 16 workers.

In 2012, each retiree’s Social Security benefit is paid for by approximately 3.3 workers.

Again, a problem, but we're an enormously richer country than we were in 1950.

In 1950, many Americans regularly left their cars and the front doors of their homes unlocked.

In 2012, many Americans live with steel bars on their windows and gun sales are at record highs.

"I suggest that there are some neighborhoods in New York I would not suggest that you try to invade." - Rick Blaine to Major Strasser, 1943, Casablanca–which suggests that there were crappy neighborhoods back then, too.

In 1950, the American people had a great love for the U.S. Constitution.

In 2012, if you are “reverent of individual liberty”, you may get labeled as a potential terrorist by the U.S. government.

Perhaps. Eastily solved, just don't reelect the Democrats this year. But remember in 1950, the American people had a great love for lynching black folk, too--so things were never a bed of roses in this country.

In 1950, the United States loaned more money to the rest of the world than anybody else.

In 2012, the United States owes more money to the rest of the world than anybody else.

This is also a problem.

In 1950, the U.S. national debt was about 257 billion dollars.

In 2012, the U.S. national debt is 59 times larger. It is currently sitting at a grand total of $15,435,694,556,033.29. Surely our children and our grandchildren will thank us for that.

In 1950, the U.S. national debt was about 257 billion dollars, or $2,301,000,00 in current cash. Our national debt right now is about 7.5 times in 1950. Of course, we just survived a major recession, too.

One of the only things that is constant in life is change.

And the other is the endless ability of the nostalgic to forget what sucked about the past.

Whether we like it or not, America is going to continue to change.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, about 70 percent of all American adults were married.

Today, only about 50 percent of all American adults are married.

Not so good, but again, not everything on this list shows improvement.

We are more independent, less religious, more addicted to entertainment and more doped up on prescription drugs than Americans used to be.

We have a higher standard of living than Americans in 1950 did, but we are also drowning in an ocean of debt unlike anything the world has ever seen.

Actually, no, we had about this much debt at the end of WW2.

For a lot more on how the U.S. economy is doing in 2012, just check out this list of interesting facts.

Like this one: The US had an economy of $1.707 TRILLION dollars in 1950. Today it's $12.531 TRILLION dollars. Adjusted for inflation. Our population was 150 million in 1950. Today it's 310 million. That's a mean increase of 11380 per capital to.... $41,770 PER CAPITA in constant dollars. Or an increase PER CAPITA of 366% of PER CAPITA income.

And while it may be somewhat less comfortable to be a middle aged white guy in 2012 than it was in 1950, at least Jim Crow is dead, white only drinking fountains and toilets are unknown, black people can travel and find a hotel, and the kind of mindless discrimination that made up the background noise in our nation in the past is at last dead and gone. Thank God almighty to that degree at least, we are free at last.

No, I do not want to live in the 1950s. Our national Childhood is over.

In like a (Cowardly) Lion....
It's Time for GREG'S GIGGLES!



Ladies 'n' Germs, Mr. GREG SCHANKIN!

* They say that The Wizard of Oz is a political fable, about how Glinda, the "Good Witch," overthrew all three of her neighboring sovereign powers using a bewildered traveller as a cat's paw. In fact, she was so Machiavellian that she allowed the histories to be named after the weakest of her three opponents.

* But then, Margaret Hamilton, who was immortalized by her role as the Wicked Witch, later remembered (true story!) what it was like getting a phone call from her agent when she was cast. "Congratulations, Margaret! They're casting you in the new Oz movie!" "Great!" Margaret said. "What part?" "The Wicked Witch!" She paused. "...The...'Wicked Witch.'" "Of course, sweetie, what else?"

* But then, we should enjoy it as a history piece while we can. No doubt the Wiccans will eventually get the movie banned as hate speech.

* More recently, inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is just like the Baseball Hall of Fame, but with less drug use. And more Satan. Inductees this year include Guns 'n' Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys. I'm sure they're all happy to be inducted. If there's one thing that excites guys who've spent their entire lives knee-deep in sex and drugs, it's a bronze plaque.

* The other day we were watching "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence in the Disney movie "Fantasia." A wonderful movie, and it's a good thing Disney did it. I shudder to think what would have happened had Bugs Bunny had the leading role.

* California passed a new law today. There is now a 5-day waiting period before Kim Kardashian can get married again.

* I got mad when I saw a driver in an SUV using his phone almost take out a biker. I would have called the cops, but I was too busy playing “Angry Birds.”

* Republicans actually decided not to give a rebuttal to President Obama’s jobs speech. I guess they figured there’s already a rebuttal to his jobs speech: No jobs.

* First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on the season premiere of "Extreme Home Makeover" on Sunday. The good news was, she was refurbishing a house for a new family to move into; the bad news is, it’s the White House.

* "The purpose of the President of the Galaxy is not to wield power but to divert attention away from those that do." (Douglas Adams. Smart man.)

* According to a new survey, 75 percent of employees would rather get a cash bonus than spend time with coworkers at a holiday party. All I can say to my co-workers is, “I will see you at the holiday party.”

* Wells Fargo announced this week they are launching a new bank that will cater exclusively to customers worth over $50 million. It's called "The Screw the Other 99 Percent" Bank.

* Captain America is set in the 1940s, when people thought smoking was healthy and for breakfast, they would eat bacon smothered in beef fat with a side of asbestos. Back then, America had a ruined economy and was fighting wars with two different countries. It was a totally different time. Captain America is patriotic. Of course, Superman wore the American colors, but he wasn’t born here — much like our president.

* According to a new survey, people who get divorced die early. People who stay married live longer. The difference is they just wish they were dead.

* According to a Gallup survey, the average American man now weighs 196 pounds. The average American woman weighs 160 pounds. That's up from 142 pounds just 11 years ago. You know what that means? Our fattest Americans have been eating the skinniest ones.

* In Los Angeles on Black Friday, a woman pepper sprayed Wal-Mart shoppers who tried to cut in line. The police acted fast by immediately hiring her to get rid of "Occupy" protesters outside banking institutions all across the United States.

* Michael Vick has made more than his share of mistakes, but on the bright side, he is the primary reason they no longer play “Who Let the Dogs Out” at stadiums.

* Q. Why is Obama more popular in China than in America? A. He created jobs over there.

* President Obama met with leaders of all the American Indian tribes. He promised to help tackle the challenges facing the Native American communities — like card counting.

* This week, a designer in New York unveiled a bottle of perfume that costs $1 million. Yeah, a million bucks for a few ounces of liquid. Which explains its name: “Starbucks.”

* First lady Michelle Obama told reporters she was expecting jewelry on Valentine's Day. She said it wouldn't be anything extravagant because Barack tends to be responsible when he's spending his own money.

* Last week in New York City they held the Westminster Dog Show. It's the Oscars of dog shows. The Westminster Dog Show and the Oscars are very different, of course. One's nothing but yapping and butt-sniffing. The other one's the dog show.

* President Obama had his physical exam as president and the doctor said he was in much better shape than the country.

* A Waffle House in Georgia is offering a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with alcohol-free champagne. That makes sense — I mean, if you take your girlfriend to a Waffle House on Valentine's Day, you're probably drunk already.

* I've decided to give up poverty, celibacy and obedience for Lent.

* The Beach Boys reunited at the Grammys. They're headed out on tour for their 50th anniversary. Now when they sing about surfing, they mean surfing the Internet for discounted prostate medication.

Thththththtat's all, Folks!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

REPOST: From The Tattered Remnants:
Atefah Shaaleh (1988-2004)

A report is wandering the Internet that Yousef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was hanged today in Iran.

The report remains unconfirmed.

Yousef was apparently sentenced to death for preaching Christianity after having nominally left Islam (he insisted he was never a Muslim). When international pressure came to bear on the Iranian islamists, they apparently backed down.... then convicted him a second time of other crimes supposedly meriting the death penalty. His fate as of this writing remains unknown.

If this report is true, then Heaven gains another martyr. Regardless of its truth, however, we need to remember that the barbarians who would hang him are every bit as ruthless to their own people as they are to Christians.

Witness the story of Atefah Shaaleh.

(The following is from The Tattered Remannts series.)

The Gypsy of Neka: Atefah Sahaaleh (1988-2004)



In the first few years of the new century, in the benighted Islamic Republic of Iran, a teenaged girl wandered the streets of a small town of Neka, a small coastal town on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. The town, a minor railway junction little noted by the outside world, is at the outer fringes of the Iranian republic. Nevertheless, the power of the Mullahs and the Islamist judges who rule Iran with an iron fist have reach in this little town as they do throughout the country. And their destruction of a teenaged girl in this small town brought Neka to the attention of the world.

Atefah Sahaaleh was a child of tragedy. When she was very small, her younger brother drowned; shortly thereafter, her mother died in an automobile accident. Her father was as a result incapacitated by a drug addiction, and the girl was left essentially an orphan; she did not go to school, and she spent her time caring for her aged grandparents. She wandered the streets, and was known throughout town as a bright girl with no regard for the social rules controlling women of her city. She was known as "The Gypsy of Neka" for her bright and ungovernable ways: a living, true-life Carmen who, like the heroine of the opera, paid for her nature with her life.

She was, in the time and place of her people, considered to be sexually out of control; she was arrested on three occasions and convicted, each time, of having sex with an unmarried man. Each offense carried with it the penalty of 100 lashes.

At one point, she came within reach of a fifty one year old taxi driver, who used her as a sex slave. Let his name be remembered: Ali Darabi, a married man with children. Over the course of three years he used her at will, brutally, sometimes leaving her unable even to walk.

In 2004 she was arrested by the "Morality Police" on charges of sexual immorality after she complained of her treatment by Darabi. They tortured her, obtaining a confession to "crimes against chastity".

Then she was brought before Haji Rezai.

Haji Rezai was the very picture of the hanging judge. Appointed as one of the 95 Revolutionary Judges after the Iranian revolution, he had made a career of destroying those whom the Islamists designated as 'enemies of God.' The blood of countless victims was on his hands.

The judge, in investigating the case, raped her himself. He tortured her. Acting both as judge and jury, he found her "guilty." He decreed the death sentence, and to guarantee that she would be executed immediately, declared that she had to be "22" years old based solely on her physique.

At this moment, Atefah did something that was utterly shocking, in that time and place: she removed her head scarf, her hijab, and declared that she was the victim, not the criminal in the case.

And then–-the grossest possible insult–-she removed her shoes and cast them at the judge.

Defiance of a judge is always dangerous, but in this case, the outcome was foregone. When a girl is being judged for sexual immorality by her own rapist, what other outcome is possible but death?

He claimed that the sentence of death was for defiance and "her sharp tongue." It was, in reality, for 'speaking truth to power.'

One week later, on August 15, 2004, she was brought to a city square. Haji Rezai, torturer, rapist, judge, jury, legal appellant–-for it was he, himself, who went to Tehran to secure permission for immediate execution–-at last placed the rope around her neck with his own hands.

"This will teach you to disobey," he said.

The rope was raised and the girl died, hanging from a construction crane.

The body remained hanging there for an hour. After it was buried, it was almost immediately removed from the grave and it has not since been found.

We really know very little about The Gypsy of Neka except that she dared to shine with feminine beauty in a world where sexuality is viewed as a deadly enemy, and that, when faced with a judicial monster, she had the spittle to stand up to it and resist with the only weapons she had, her hair, her beauty, and her defiance.

But her death is remembered.

Now, how can a teenaged girl, who was, at best, a 'wild child,' be viewed as a member of the Tattered Remnant?

In a society such as Iran's, where women are to be submissive slaves,
nothing but receptacles for men's desire, with no independent authority, even as adults, to live their own lives unless attached to father, brother, husband, son.... such a girl as Atefah is a beacon of light, a beacon which, alas, attracted uncontrolled male desire, but which showed the other women in her community that they need not live like slaves. She was an example of what girls can be if they are not involuntarily hidden beneath the black cloak of sexual obliteration.

And it should be noted too: the full veil, even with face exposed, is evil if it is imposed involuntarily. (An adult woman can freely choose to dress that way if she wishes--after all, nuns do precisely that--but universal imposition is unacceptable and a fundamental violation of human rights.)

Perhaps she was 'sexually immoral.' But even so: so what? Her 'immorality' in that time and place was and is far more moral than the sexual fascism that declares that women are nothing but bedbugs.

Under these circumstances, it is no wonder the monsters killed her.

The execution of a sixteen year old girl, particularly for "crimes" committed by her own judge and executioner, resonates. The day will come when her death, and her courageous resistance, with the only weapon she had – her own beauty – will be celebrated, mourned wondered at by future generations of Iranians.

Iran will not forever be held in the hands of the Mullahs. And Atefah Sahaaleh's sacrifice–in this case, on a perverted altar – will be recalled, lamented, and commemorated for generations to come.