Sunday, December 29, 2013

REPOST: Tattered Remnants #019: Irena Sendlerowa (Irene Sendler)

"Well done, O good and faithful servant!"

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


Irena Sendlerowa (known in English as "Irene Sendler") was a social worker in Poland who was among the tiny minority of Polish Catholics who took direct action to save those trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto from death at the hands of the Nazis during the German Occupation of Poland (1939-1944). Specifically, she headed a group of individuals known as Źegota; approximately two dozen of whom cooperated in the salvation of some 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

For her efforts, she was captured, tortured, interrogated, was sentenced to death, was beaten so severely by her would be executioners that all her limbs were broken–escaping only when her designated executioners threw her broken body to a Polish underground hideout. It appears her German executioners, having been bribed, had secretly cooperated with the Polish underground to enable her escape.

Poland's long history of anti-Semitism has many bitter incidents to its history, long before the arrival of the German army in 1939. But through that long night of bigotry, many names shone who resisted the popular prejudice against the Jewish people. One of those resistors was Irena Sendlerowa.

Her Catholic father, a physician, died in 1917 of typhus, contracted from treating his Jewish patients, who were suffering from an epidemic in that dark time of the First World War. Others would have used that as an excuse to become anti-Semitic. Irena, on the other hand, remembered her father's sacrifice and became a Judeophile in a land where Jews were held as a bitterly hated and feared minority.

She first showed her courage during the so-called "Ghetto Bench" controversy when in university in the 1930s. In those dark days between the wars, Poland was a dictatorship, run by a shadowy coalition called Sancja ("Sanation" or "The Healing Coalition"), under the iron fisted rule of Jozef Pilsudski, the general who, holding various high political offices, was the true ruler of Poland until his death in 1935. After his death, "Sanation" split into three weak parties as Poland tried to come to terms with the growing Nazi threat to its west.

During this period, German anti-Semitism found a dark echo among students in Polish universities. This resulted, starting from the death of Pilsudski, with demands among nationalist students that Polish Jews in the universities be forced to sit apart from the main body of students, to the left hand of each lecture hall. Organized harassment of Jewish students by nationalists became an ongoing problem, particularly as those running the universities, jealous of their independent status, would not allow local law enforcement to intervene to stop the beatings. Starting in December 1935, Lwow Polytechnic instituted a policy whereby Jewish students were forced to sit in these "Ghetto Benches." Jewish–and Catholic–students who resisted the order were ordered suspended, then expelled from the Universities, in the name of "preventing violence."

Irena Sendlerowa thought the system unconscionable. As a result of her refusal to submit to this organized humiliation of a minority, she was suspended from Warsaw University.

For three years.

When the war broke out, she was working as a social worker in the countryside surrounding Warsaw, and watched in horror as the Germans began to segregate the Polish Jews–first by expelling professional Jews from their work and ordering all to wear a Star of David, then, more ominously, by forcing them to live in a segregated area, the Ghetto–as it developed, the largest in Europe.

The Germans coopted the local Polish city government bureaucracy, and Irena was given an assignment almost unique among Polish Catholics. She was ordered to enter the Ghetto on a regular basis to monitor the appearance of typhus and other diseases–not because the Germans cared if the Jews of the ghetto got sick (they didn't) but because they feared its spread to the civil populace in the rest of the city. She therefore had special papers allowing her to come and go freely in the Ghetto.

While she was inside its walls, she freely chose to wear the Star of David on her arm–both out of sympathy and solidarity for those confined there and out of a desire not to be conspicuous.

What nobody at the city bureaucracy had noticed was that Irena had made contact with the Polish underground.

The Polish underground during the war was actually many "undergrounds." Although most were associated with the Government-in-Exile in London, some were Communist controlled; furthermore, there was much internal division even among those under the London Poles. Most were dedicated to armed resistance against the Germans and thus had few resources (and even less desire) to assist the Jews caught in the grip of the Nazis.

Irena, however, joined a small group, known today as Źegota, the Committee of Aid to the Jews. As part of that group, she began to organize a quiet underground of some two dozen people to assist the Jews in their time of darkest need.

In 1941 and 1942, she commenced an organized effort to remove children from the Ghetto and place them in surrounding farms and families, with convents and parishes. While it was the policy of many to convert Jews in their care to Catholicism, she was determined that these children would retain the birthright of their identities once the war was over. Accordingly, she kept the names of the children she hid, the names of their families, and the places they were hidden in buried jars, so that when the war was over she would be able to reunite them with their birth families. Furthermore, she made specific promises to these children she cared for that they would one day, if possible, be reunited with their parents.

In 1943 the Gestapo captured her, tortured her severely, and sentenced her to death. She was taken to the woods outside Warsaw, where her executioners, possibly having been bribed by Źegota operatives, forewent shooting her, instead beat her severely and left her for almost-dead, breaking both her arms and legs. She was rescued by the Underground and assumed a new identity until the war was over. The Germans listed her among those executed.

The end of the war came and she kept her promise; she dug the jars up and used the information to try to reunite the children with their parents. Alas, however, the parents were almost all killed at Treblinka death camp.

Her work with Źegota was recognized by the new Communist regime: as an agent of the London based Government in Exile, she was declared an enemy of the new Polish state. During this post war period, she lost a child to miscarriage.

In 1965, however, Yad Vashem had obtained enough information to verify her status as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. She was not allowed to travel to Israel to receive recognition for her wartime work until 1983.

It was only in her old age that her work began to gain the recognition it deserved. Again, Wikipedia:
In 2003 Pope John Paul II sent [Sendlerowa] a personal letter praising her wartime efforts. On 10 October 2003 she received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration, and the Jan Karski Award "For Courage and Heart," given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C..

On 14 March 2007 [Sendlerowa] was honored by Poland's Senate. At age 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honor, but she sent a statement through Elzbieta Ficowska, whom [Sendlerowa] had saved as an infant. Polish President Lech Kaczynski stated she "can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize" (though nominations are supposed to be kept secret). On 11 April 2007, she received the Order of the Smile[, an international award recognizing adults who performed special acts of heroism on behalf of children] as the oldest recipient of the award.

In May 2009, Irena [Sendlerowa] was posthumously granted the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award. The award, named in honor of the late actress and UNICEF ambassador, is presented to persons and organizations recognized for helping children. In its citation, the Audrey Hepburn Foundation recalled Irena [Sendlerowa]’s heroic efforts that saved two and a half thousand Jewish children during the German occupation of Poland in World War Two.
In 1999, a group of high school students in Kansas were inspired to write and perform a play based on her life, entitled A Life In A Jar. This has led to the creation of The Irena Sendler Project, an ongoing educational program to teach children about the Holocaust. The funds raised by this project are being used to raise a statue to her memory in Warsaw in 2010, the 100th anniversary of her birth.

The best monument to her efforts remain the children she saved. Although they are not remembered as a collective in the way the Schindlerjuden are known, their numbers are even greater than Oskar's accomplishment. Generations will thrive because of her efforts.

Her work with the Warsaw Ghetto children was truly worthy of honor. I must admit, however, that I am almost more impressed with her willingness to resist the segregation of Jews in her university days. One small advantage of resisting tyranny such as Naziism is that the evil is naked and undeniable, with life and death and salvation and damnation all clearly at stake. But who would risk expulsion in this day and age from university studies over a matter of principle?

In the end, only one award, alas, eluded her. In spite of Lech Walensa's and others' enthusiastic support for her nomination that year, the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize was granted to Albert Gore, Jr., a noted science fiction/fantasy film maker.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A New Game.... Catch the Phrase!

Okay, in recognition of today as Boxing Day, where nothing significant gets done, it's time to play Catch the Catchphrase.... Go down this list and identify the sources (and if possible the characters) wherein these lines are spoken. Answers given well below. Ready, set....GO!

1. Inconceivable!
2. Fascinating.
3. Nyever mind!
4. To infinity and beyond!
5. It's showtime!
6. It's showtime, folks!
7. Jane, you ignorant slut!
8. I have a bad feeling about this.
9. As you wish.
A. More power!
B. Carbonated life forms! Yaaaaay!
C. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
D. Uh-oh! Chongo!
E. Boy howdy!
F. Mister Nacherel sez.... keep on truckin'!
G. Excuuuuuuse meeeee!
H. Nov schmoz ka pop!
I. Holy frak!
J. Catafract! Nyctaclops! Bashi-bazouks!
K. Make it so.
L. There's a snake in my boot!
M. The cowbell, as a symbol of unbridled passion, ladies and gentlemen....
N. Nobody calls me chicken!
O. Do you feel lucky? Well ... do yuh?
P. Wherever you go, there you are. Q. You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
R. A man's got to know his limitations.
S. Go ahead, make my day!
T. Get. Off. My. Lawn.
V. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!
W. Where’s the beef?

1. Inconceivable! < Fezzini, THE PRINCESS BRIDE

2. Fascinating. < Spock (Star Trek) (if you get this one wrong... (((smh))))

3. Nyever mind!< Emily Litella (Gilda Radner, SNL)

4. To infinity and beyond! < Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)

5. It's showtime! < Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles)

6. It's showtime, folks! < Joe Gideon (All That Jazz)

7. Jane, you ignorant slut! < Dan Ackroyd to Jane Curtin

8. I have a bad feeling about this.< About half the cast of all six Star Wars flix

9. As you wish. < Darth Vader and The Man in Black in The Princess Bride

A. More power! < James T. Kirk, naturally

B. Carbonated life forms! Yaaaaay! < Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

C. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father.Prepare to die.< The Princess Bride, source of many wonderful catch phrases

D. Uh-oh! Chongo! < Danger Island, a short series part of H.R. Pufnstuf and/or The Banana Splits

E. Boy howdy! < Cover of CREEM Magazine (R. Crumb)

F. Mister Nacherel sez....keep on truckin'! < Mr.Natural, R.Crumb cartoon character

G. Excuuuuuuse meeeee! < Steve Martin from his second album

H. Nov schmoz ka pop! < The Little Hitchhiker, from The Squirrel Cage comic strip, 1935 (Gene Ahern)

I. Holy frak! < everyone in Battlestar Galactica, except for the Cylons

J. Catafract! Nyctaclops! Bashi-bazouks! < Captain Haddock from the TinTin stories

K. Make it so.< Captain Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation

L. There's a snake in my boot! < Sheriff Woody, Toy Story

M. The cowbell, as a symbol of unbridled passion, ladies and gentlemen... < Frank Zappa, Bebop Tango (Roxy and Elsewhere album)

N. Nobody calls me chicken! <; Marty McBride, Back to the Future franchise

O. Do you feel lucky? Well ... do yuh? < Dirty Harry

P. Wherever you go, there you are. < Buckaroo Banzai

Q. You'll shoot your eye out, kid.< A Christmas Story

R. A man's got to know his limitations.< Dirty Harry

S. Go ahead, make my day!< Dirty Harry, Magnum Force

T. Get. Off. My. Lawn. < Grand Torino

U. MORE COWBELL!< Saturday Night Live (the Don’t Fear the
Reaper skit, ca. 2002)

V. I can’t believe I ate the whole thing! < Alka-Seltzer commercial, ca. 1970s

W. Where’s the Beef? < Annoying Wendy’s commercial, 1988

0-10 You need to play more Trivial Pursuit
11-20 You're probably American born.

21-30 You spend too much time watching TV.
31-35 You probably write for TV GUIDE.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Little Good News

Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people....

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Repost: A Srebrenica Christmas:
History is What Happens To You

This was first posted in 2010. I reposted this on December 21, 2011, my fiftieth birthday.

Looking back, I can say that I've been fortunate to have had many adventures, and many extraordinary events in my life, some wonderful, some, well, not so much.

But if I had to pick the most amazing event (other than my wedding day), it is the following.*

PFC Rose Kowalchuk, camo'd elf.

Christmas Eve 2000, Eagle Base, Tuzla, Bosnia. The last few days prior to Christmas, I had been in a foul, indeed nearly blasphemous mood. The weather conditions in Tuzla had taken a turn for the worse: foggy and foul, thus precluding a hoped-for trip to cheerier climes. With my family back in the States, I had a remarkable opportunity to indulge in self-pity.

It took an off-post mission on Christmas Eve to knock me out of my funk. This mission would be different: today we would not be meeting with local political figures or Very Important People or discussing Key Issues. Not a single opinion would be offered, assessment made, or prediction required.

On this day, we would be playing Santa Claus.

Our mission was to Selo Mira, the "Peace Village" orphanage in Lukavac municipality, twenty-two miles west of Tuzla, Bosnia. The Rudolf Walther Foundation, a German-Austrian concern, ran this orphanage, built to care for one hundred fifty children. At the time, it housed ninety-five.

As we exited Lukavac city -- a small resort community on Lake Modrac, and remarkably reminiscent of my hometown of St. Clair Shores -- we approached the village of Turija. At the foot of the village (for Turija is built on a hillside), there stands a large, open meadow the size of a football field. Within it are built twelve identical buildings, facing each other in an oval, connected to one another by a loop road. The buildings are surrounded by a tall chain link fence, topped by triple-strand barbed wire high enough to exclude those who would still come to harm the children.

This is Selo Mira. This is the home of ninety-five Bosniac, Croat, and Serb children, orphans of war and castoffs from what remains of the Bosnian social care system. Two-thirds are Bosniacs -- that is, Bosnian Muslims -- from the Drina River valley on the border with Serbia. Of these, some thirty children are war orphans from Srebrenica. Another thirty are orphans of other wars, the children of fathers killed in action and mothers dead, lost, or incapable of caring for them alone. The remaining thirty-five or so children are referred to with a shrug as "social cases." These are the children of the latest holocaust and its ongoing aftermath.

Here lives a nine-year-old Bosniac girl whose father disappeared inside Srebrenica and whose mother was killed two years ago by a landmine left on her property. They still do not know if the landmine was left over from the war or planted by hostile neighbors attempting to prevent the family from returning to live in their own house.

Here lives an angelic three-year-old boy whose mother gave him up after she started showing classic signs of schizophrenia.

Here live five Croat children from Posavina Canton, near the Croatian border in the north. Their parents were killed four months ago by a drunken neighbor in a rage. The oldest of the five children, who witnessed the death of his parents, is six years old.

Here live four children, Serbs from Brcko. Three girls, aged ten, nine, and seven, and a five-year-old boy. They were forced to hold candles during a blackout so that their father could see what he was doing as he killed their mother with a knife.

And these are the children whom we were visiting to give toys from America.

Sled, Santa's, U.S. Army All Terrain, one (1) each.

The true Santas in our story were some Maine National Guard members, a small group of military policemen who were serving a six-month tour on Eagle Base. The key organizer was Sgt. Scott Durst, age 47. He found out about this particular institution from one of our translators. Sgt. Durst contacted his wife back home, and they organized this Christmas gift drive through their church and their circle of friends.

For each child, a specific toy would be found and given. The toys were collected and wrapped in the United States, and then shipped in boxes to Bosnia. Along with the fifteen boxes of toys and gifts, and additional thirty boxes of children's clothes, new and used, were gathered for donation to the village. They even had an additional box of toys, also sorted by age group, so that any child not remembered, any child who had not been on the list sent to America in November, would still receive a gift on this special day. The boxes filled a school bus to the roof.

Our little convoy of three vehicles pulled up the loop in front of the door. Our group walked into the lunchroom, a large collective dining area where the children take their mid-day meals. Today, there was row upon row of children's chairs, each filled with a grinning, excited child, ranging in age from maybe three years old in the front row to a half dozen or so over-eighteens in the back. As we entered, the children broke out in applause.

Soon the boxes were all inside: the fifteen treasure-laden boxes in the lunchroom, another thirty or so in a huge heap in the hallway outside. We were ushered to our chairs, and we took our seats.

Before us came an exquisitely lovely girl of fifteen in a pink dress, and a tall and slender young man, perhaps the same age, in a secondhand suit and tie. A hush fell. The two elders opened notebooks. The boy gave a short speech in Bosnian.

When he finished, the girl took up for him, reading from a script in heavily accented but perfectly understandable English. "On behalf of the children of the Peace Village, we would like to extend our very deep thanks to you, our friends from America, who worked so hard so that we might have a happy Christmas this year. We would especially like to extend our special thanks to Mrs. Scott Durst in Portland, Maine, in America, for her hard work on our behalf. We have all suffered the pains of war, but we also have come to know the love that comes with peace, and we hope always to have a special bridge in our hearts between us and you in America. God bless you, and thank you all so very much. As a token of our appreciation, please enjoy our little program we have done to thank you."

She curtsied at our applause, and she and the young man in the suit stepped aside. Two seven-year-olds then came on stage, dressed in the silliest costumes you could possibly imagine. The little girl wore orange tights, an orange sweater, deeley-bobbers on her head, and little cardboard wings with dots on them: the Ladybug. With her was a little boy, the Elephant, wearing a wrinkly gray sort of gym suit, huge gray construction paper ears, and a long paper "trunk" tied to the end of his nose.

The Ladybug and the Elephant bowed to the crowd, faced each other, and began to recite. It was in Bosnian, of course, but I could tell that it rhymed: each child would recite four lines, and then be answered by the other with four lines, back and forth for about three minutes. Their solemn visage and the keen concentration with which they recited contrasted sharply with the warm affection of the crowd, who chuckled as each line was chanted -- especially at the elephant's "trunk" that waggled comically as he spoke.

Our translator explained later that this poem, "The Ladybug and the Elephant," is a traditional Serbo-Croatian children's rhyme. The story of the poem goes something like this: The Ladybug sees the Elephant and says, I like you; would you like to play with me? And the Elephant says, No, I will not play with you. I am the Elephant. Elephants do not play with Ladybugs. The Ladybug asks, How do I know that you are an elephant? The Elephant replies, I have a big nose and big ears, and thick wrinkly skin, and I am very big. And you are very small. The Ladybug replies, I like big ears and a big nose, and I am not afraid of how big you are. Won't you play with me? And of course the Elephant replies, Yes. And the Ladybug takes the hand of the Elephant and they skip off stage together to play.

This brought the house down.

Next, ten older girls came back on stage, five in blue, five in pink. Tall and slender, around twelve years old, they were at that adolescent growth spurt that would give them the lanky and slim physiques most common to young-adult Bosnian women. Off to one side, a teacher turned on a CD player -- the 1980s hit song from the movie Back to the Future, "The Power of Love," by Huey Newton and the News -- and the girls began to dance.

The dance was vigorous and not particularly graceful, but that wasn't the point. They were dancing for the sake of the dance itself, nothing more -- and in a way that surely caught the attention of the boys in the crowd. Thus they reminded us: Soon we will be women. Soon we will have families of our own. Rejoice with us!

In watching these girls dance, I suddenly knew I was doing something that their own fathers could not and would never do. And tears welled in my eyes as I began to think and remember.

This is Srebrenica in 2001, six years after the war. The holes in the walls were *not* formed by wrecking balls.

I remembered the briefing I received when I first came to Bosnia. In 1995, Srebrenica, an isolated mountain town, was Muslim-held and had been under siege for four years. Thirty-five thousand people took refuge here from the war, cut off by surrounding Serb forces but disarmed, as it had been deemed a "U.N. Safe Area." A small, lightly armed Dutch force guarded them. In July 1995, as the Serbs began to lose the war, they bowled over the U.N. force without a fight and took the city.

The city's 25,000 women and children were shipped by truck or on foot to Tuzla.

The men were murdered. More than seven thousand in three days.

The "Agricultural Warehouse" at Kravica.

I remembered the agricultural warehouse in the village of Kravica, where many of the executions took place. The building riddled with bullet holes -- from the inside out -- and covered with a black mold that five years later still silently testified to the violence that had occurred there.

I remembered the official visit our team made to the Srebrenica Victims Identification Center at the Tuzla city morgue. I remember the huge refrigerated room within, where four thousand bodies lay in plastic bags, each awaiting processing by the international forensics team assembled to determine their identities. I remember the black plastic bags, each holding the bones of one of the lost.

I remembered the British doctor describing his latest responsibility, a gray skeleton on a table before him. "He's a Bosnian Muslim, thirty-five to forty years old. Judging by the dental work, he's working class or a laborer. The thigh and arm bones show signs that he was very muscular. The ribs are cracked in six places, and the tip of his hipbone is broken, so he may have been beaten. He was shot at close range through the back of the head."

As I looked at the girls dancing, I could only think: Thirty-five to forty.

He might have been a father to one of them.

It was difficult not to shed a tear looking at these girls, at these beautiful faces who'd known such tragedy.

Presently, the dance ended with applause, and appreciative wolf whistles from the back row. After the children gathered to sing us the Bosnian national anthem, Sgt. Durst, our organizer, took the stage and began a speech of thanks in response.

"My friends," he said, "I just wanted to say how much of an honor and a joy it has been for us to provide for you these gifts this Christmas. On behalf of my wife, our church group, and the Ninety-Seventh MP Company, I just wanted to wish you all our best wishes on this joyful Christmas." We then distributed the gifts, all fifteen boxes...with a dozen or so gifts to spare. Not a single child went without.

The felicitously named Staff Sergeant Paschal--who was present with the equally felicitously named Sergeant Mass--gives a gift to a tiny one.

Each of the troops would reach into the box, pull out a gift-wrapped package, and call out names. They mispronounced them terribly, of course, but the children didn't seem to mind. They came up and took them from us greedily, but then they smiled and almost always gave us a happy "Ha-vaala" (thank you). They then ran back to their seats and hurriedly ripped off the wrappings, showing their prizes off to their friends. Dolls, coloring books, trucks, kitchen toys, soccer balls, stuffed animals, teddy bears.

Upon the giving of the final gift, the young woman in black, the one who had read to us the speech in English, stepped up to the front of the room. Next to her was the young man in the suit, carrying an exquisitely detailed (if childishly executed) cardboard-and-construction-paper model of Peace Village. "This is for you and your wife. Thank you again so very much," she said, as Sgt. Durst took the model village, fighting back tears. He was not the only one.

Afterwards, as we drove back to base, I remembered what John Degrandis, my high school history teacher, taught me in school some twenty years ago: you cannot escape history, he said, for history is not what happens in books. History is what will happen to you. And here was the proof: a whole village of children who struggled to live and grow in joy despite their harrowing inheritance, in the aftermath of that day when History, like a runaway freight train, smashed their ordinary lives.

And yet, in this village where the children of the dead grow in peace, where the sons of the missing live to sing and where the daughters of the murdered live to dance, we have learned that in spite of the hideous odds against it, we are confronted with the reality of how love still triumphs against death.

And triumph it does: even in as sad a place as this transplanted bit of Srebrenica, the city that taught us that when the world said, "never again," it didn't mean it.

Richard L. Kent, Esq. was Deputy Political Advisor to the Commanding General, Multinational Division (North) at Eagle Base near Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 2000 to 2002.=====

NOTE: I had the great honor to be present at this ceremony on December 21, 2000 and December 21, 2001, my 39th and 40th birthdays. The text describes what happened in 2000, featuring the work of the Maine National Guard; the pictures above were from the essentially identical event in 2001, featuring the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia National Guard.

An abbreviated version of the above text was posted on the Silverback on Christmas Day 2010.

An abbreviated version of this essay, but with many more pictures, can be found here. 

(The foregoing is dedicated to my very dear friend Julie Gorin at Republican Riot.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Resurrection: Now Available on WESTLAW!

It is a well known fact that Thomas the Twin (aka Didymus) was not present at the first appearance of the Risen Christ to the Apostles. His absence was attributed to his being in private mourning. However, recent research into Roman legal archives, and their incorporation into the WESTLAW database, reveals that it is apparent that in the days immediately following the Crucifixion, St. Thomas was filing an emergency motion before the Imperial appeals court at Caesarea......


(Cite as: XXXIII Imp. Supp.2d xxiv, XVII Med.Rep. ix.)
In the Name of the Senate and People of the City of Rome

Estate of Decedent Yeshua ben Iosef, AKA Yeshua ben Yahweh, By and Through Next Friend and Executor Thomas DIDYMUS, Esq.,


Ides of April, Year of the City CCCCLXIII

Representative of decedent's estate, Thomas DIDYMUS, on behalf of surviving immediate family of executed defendant-decedent, Yeshua ben Iosef, a Galilean subject, convicted of sedition and executed under Imperial authority, brings habeas corpus action against Imperium in the Imperial Territorial Court In and For the Territory of Judea at Caesarea for relief from judgment and for release of body of executed seditionist.
Representative also moves for review of case and reversal of judgment on grounds that trial below was null and void, in violation of Imperium procedural guarantees, violated norms of imperial jurisdiction, violated rights to counsel, right of silence, and separation of Imperium and religious court authority wherein sedition case was improperly brought below and charge of blasphemy, unenforceable in imperial court, improperly held as grounds to grant capital punishment by crucifixion.

Held: While profound procedural irregularities abound in this case accused's failure to object in face of both accusations and of irregular procedure constituted adoption by  silence of both accusations against him and acceptance of irregular procedures.  While many irregularities clearly violated Imperial judicial and procedural norms, allegations of improper pendant jurisdiction rejected on grounds of adoption by silence by defendant. Furthermore motion rendered moot by reason of fulfillment of capital sentence. Finally, release of corpus of decedent, otherwise grantable to family on compassionate grounds, cannot be completed due to lack of continued imperial control over corpus delicti at issue.
Motion dismissed as moot.

West Headnotes

In a diversity action, personal jurisiction is governed by the law of the forum territory.

In responding to a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, defendant in criminal law action bears the burden of proving at the time of trial by a preponderance of the evidence that personal jurisdiction does not exist; silence in face of assertion by the State imputing jurisdiction constitutes adoption by silence of claims by representative of State.  Imp.Rules Crim.Proc.Rule 12(b)(2), 28 Imp.C.A.

Where court had not held a hearing on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, defendant in criminal action had to make a prima facie showing of lack of  jurisdiction, with all pleadings and affidavits to be construed in the light most favorable to the defendant and all doubts would be resolved in the criminal defendant's favor; however, defendant's lack of response in face of challenge by Imperium indicated adoption of Imperial position by silence and defendant or succeeding interest thereto would not be later heard to gainsay same.  Imp.Rules Crim.Proc.Rule 12(b)(2), 28 Imp.C.A.

Possible impropriety of transfer of venue from Imperial to Galilean royal court rendered moot upon refusal of Galilean royal court to accept jurisdiction and return jurisdiction of case to Imperial authority. ImpRules Crim.Proc.Rule 12(b)(2), 28 R.C.A.

Dismissal of charge of blasphemy brought by local religious authority against defendant held proper when Imperial court lacked jurisdiction to prosecute same; however, preservation of secondary charge of sedition against defendant held proper, based on imputed defendant's claim to be 'King of the Jews,' in spite of belief of Roman judicial authority in innocence of party in question, when silence of party in question in face of questioning by court constituted adoption by silence of charge of sedition.

Roman statute permitting general exercise of personal juris-diction over seditionist engaged in a continuous and systematic course of sedition within realm of authority of Judean protectorate requires that the defendant be present in Judea not occasionally or casually, but with a fair...


A Message from Zawahiri (Reposting An Oldie But Goodie)

This post has the distinction of having gotten just short of 28,000 hits. My all time most popular blog post.  Too bad I didn't write it. :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

What Jesus Wasn't....

A dear friend of mine posted this meme poster on Facebook. I admit I found it fascinating.... a wonderful example of how out-of-context half-truths about Christianity can be used as a club to whonk on what are clearly meant to be (in this case) Mr. John Fugelsang's political enemies.


Mr. Fugelsang needs to spend a little more time becoming more closely acquainted with the person he thinks he is describing. (Of course so do we all.) Nevertheless, let's discuss his points:

Radical? "Render unto Caesar...."

Nonviolent? Ask the moneychangers about that.

Revolutionary? Pilate disagreed. He sentenced Christ to stop a riot, not because he thought He had done anything wrong. He said precisely this as he washed his hands.

Hung around with lepers/hookers/crooks? Okay, that's one valid point.

Wasn't American and never spoke English? Not American? No He wasn't. (That's a second valid point.) Never spoke English? Hmn. He can speak any language He wants..... leastwise if His followers could do so a few weeks after His crucifixion (as related in Acts), He surely could have communicated in any language He wished Himself as well.

Anti-wealth? No, He just warned it was very hard for the rich to get into Heaven, not that it was impossible to do so. He reached many rich people, particularly Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph was so rich he had a spare grave to give away. I do not recall Him telling either of them to turn over their wealth to the block committee for equitable distribution because wealth was evil (although 'to be made perfect' one might wish to do so). Christ DID strongly urged people--not the Galilean Department of Human Services, but individual people on their own--to take care of the poor man at the gate with the open running sores. Not to mention the guy in the ditch who had been set upon by robbers.

Anti-death-penalty? Being son of God He could have avoided his own easily, not to mention released a couple of other guys with him. Clearly the death penalty is part of a larger moral schema. (See also below about 'torture'.)

Anti-public-prayer? No, just those by hypocrites. He praised the widow who contributed a mite to the most important site of public prayer in the world at the time, remember. And He praised the guy in the Temple who stayed in the back row and begged God's mercy. It's not public prayer He is against, but bogus prayer. (He also didn't like bankers outside the gates, either, although I am sure they would have been welcome if they bothered to come inside.)

Never anti-gay? The concept of "gay" is a modern invention. He didn't mention internet porn either. He came not to abolish the law, He came to complete it. And the law He did not abolish includes some clear statements on the subject of sexuality between the same sex which He didn't exactly public denounce or modify. (His statement on the permanent, very binary and heterosexual nature of marriage is BTW right there in Mark 10.)

Never mentioned birth control? Since it hadn't been invented yet, He didn't mention it explicitly. He also didn't mention human cloning. But see above about the Law, which clearly mentions something about "be fruitful and multiply."

Abortion? "If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matt 18:6). Methinx being killed and flushed down a toilet before birth qualifies as 'stumbling.' At least I am certain He would take a dim view of this most peculiar institution. (See above about His approach to 'moneychangers.') PS He didn't say anything about gas chambers either. I think even Mr. Fugelsang would agree He wouldn't like them.

Never called the poor 'lazy'? No, but He DID say that they would always be with you which seems to indicate that this is an ongoing problem unamending of abolition. (PS He never called the poor so incapable of caring for themselves that a supernannystate needed to be created to care for them, either.)

Never justified torture? "....Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.…" Lesson here: Forgive or else. (Gulp.)

Never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes? No, but He didn't advocate marijuana use either. Again, let's stick to valid, non-contemporary issues, please.

Never asked for a copay for a leper? No, but He DID expect those cured to thank Him for curing them... which means they owed *something* for their treatment.

"Long haired"? Okay, that's another valid point. (How do we know? The Shroud of Turin, which clearly shows Him literally both crucified and risen. Which means Mr. Fugelsang might wish to take Him a bit more seriously.)

Brown-skinned? True but so what? So is everyone who lives in the Middle East, sooner or later, unless you're Edgar Winter. (Example: First wave Crusaders were indistinguishable from the natives by the time the Second and Third Crusaders showed up.)

Homeless? Temporarily, yes, He spent a lot of time on the road. But He had so much money coming in to help Him out that He delegated the ATM duty to Judas.

Community organizing? Try community *disorganizing.* "For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;…" Matt 10:35

Anti-Slut-Shaming? Yes but. He didn't want to kill The Woman Taken in Adultery, and thought nobody else should either--but He strongly advised her to stop being, um, dissolute. (Though He put it much more gently, the message is undeniable.) He didn't shame her... just told her to behave herself.

Middle Eastern Jew? Okay two more valid points.

Nice try, Mr. Fugelsang.....

One thing I don't doubt: while Jesus is not necessarily a middle class American, his reaction to those (few) Americans from the other side of the aisle than those criticized in the poster, i.e., those who pretend they're on His side while advocating revolution, fascist statism, the killing of the unborn, wild libertinism, expropriation of other people's wealth, and the silencing of those who quote His words in context would probably be very similar to He said he'd one day say to the goats...... or at least turning over tables and freaking out would likely be on the agenda.

Ergo: although Mr. Fugelsang is running around with cleats and a jersey.... let's not join him in using Christ as a political football, 'k?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Still trying to get on the ACA website?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Another Approach to Dealing with Bullying

Scenario: a racist young black female hairdresser berates a pretty white girl in a black barber shop. (Both are actresses.)

(The reactions of the witnesses will surprise you.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

And we wonder why they burn our embassy every six months.....

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"The Side of The Oppressor"

Bullying: Human evil in microcosm.

But there is an answer.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How To Be An Art Grad Student

THIS is the kind of horse hockey that makes the study of art these days such a monumental WOMBAT (waste of money brains and time).

I admit I loved the following 'defense' of this nonsense, found on the original YOUTUBE video....

("Gradual school is where you gradually decide you don't want to go to school any more." - John Irving, The World According to Garp)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Things I Learned Through Stargazing

Things I learned tonight while stargazing.

1. On a beautiful clear winter night, after 10:00 PM, when Orion is high in the sky and the moon is down, you can draw a straight line between Bellatrix and Arcturus to Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the sky and only 10 lightyears away.

2. Looking north, you can clearly see the Dipper facing the west, and draw a clear line to Polaris, the pole star; Mizar seen through binoculars shows its binary nature clearly....

3. Jupiter's moons are clearly visible through 20x binoculars.

4. Carrying a good pair of gloves is far more effective at keeping your hands warm than chemical pyrite warmer bags.

5. Your vision is best when standing in the middle of a large field, as a school playground, so that the city lights don't interfere so much.

6. Your night vision starts to degrade dramatically when a vehicle pulls into the nearby parking lot and shines its high beams directly at you.

7. Waving at the car and saying "Sir? Can you turn off your lights please?" will not result in the lights being turned off.

8. Stepping closer to the car and saying "Hey! Turn off the lights PLEASE!" will not result in the lights being turned off.

9. Stepping toward the car may result in the driver getting out, in full police gear, shining his flashlight at you, and asking you to show your ID.

10. You should carry your ID with you, instead of leaving it in your own car, as this results in the police encounter being prolonged unnecessarily.

11. It is a good thing to carry star chart, H.A. Rey's THE STARS A NEW WAY TO SEE THEM, and a red filter lensed flashlight along with your field glasses, as it helps to demonstrate that you are indeed stargazing instead of being a peeping tom.

12. The police can run a check to see if you are on the sex offender list in a remarkably short time.

13. Standing in the middle of a school playground at night and stargazing is a violation of city ordinance that engenders a $100 fine.

14. Your court date will be ten working days after the ticket is issued; contact the court on Monday to be sure.

Happy stargazing, star lovers!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

If Shakespeare Had Written DUNE

Photoshopped? Ya think?

"Oh, you arrogant girl! An Atreides daughter could've been wed to a Harkonnen heir and sealed the breach. You've hopelessly complicated matters. We may lose both bloodlines now...."  -Reverend Mother Mohiam* to Jessica, Dune, p 22.

If Shakespeare had written DUNE....

..... Lady Jessica would CERTAINLY have obeyed orders and given birth to a girl first.

The rest follows as night follows day, or perhaps as a sandworm follows a drunk Fremen on the drum sands.

Ladies and germs:

Rautha Feyd And Aliette

(Directed by Alan Smithee, Screenplay by Judas Booth)

Two households, both alike in dignity,
On foul Arrakis, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where change of fief makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of spiced-out lovers take their life;
Whose attempted imperial overthrow
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end,

        nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic on YOUTUBE;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss,

        you'll likely call us n00bs......

The play, set at Arrakeen, capital of the sand world Arrakis, portrays a struggle between Count Harkonnen and Duke Leto Atreides for control of the planet: a kanly, or 'vendetta' in the ancient tongue.

It begins with a street brawl between Harkonnen and Atreides supporters who are sworn enemies, as the fief is being given over from the Harkonnens to House Atreides. The Judge of the Change intervenes and declares that further breach of the peace will be punishable by death.

Later, one Count Fenring talks to Duke Leto Atreides about marrying his daughter Alia (called "Aliette" by everyone, as she is still considered under the age of consent on every other planet in the galaxy), but Duke Leto Atreides, put off by the rabbit-like Fenring's rather creepy request, asks Fenring to wait another two years and invites him to attend a planned Atriedes ball. Lady Jessica, his wife, and Alia's nurse, the Shadout Mapes, try to persuade the girl to accept Fenring's courtship.

Meanwhile, two Harkonnen courtiers, Piter de Vries, and The Beast Rabban, talk with Rabban’s half-cousine Rautha Feyd, Count Harkonnen's nephew, about Rautha's recent depression. The Beast Rabban discovers that it stems from unrequited infatuation for a girl named Lady Margot Fenring, one of Count Fenring’s sisters. Piter makes mock of Rautha’s infatuation, comparing it to a Spice overdose.

Persuaded by The Beast Rabban and Piter, Rautha attends the ball at the Atreides house in hopes of meeting Lady Margot. However, Rautha instead meets and falls in love with Alia. However Rautha is noticed by Alia's half-cousine, Thufir, who intends to kill him for sneaking into a Atreides ball but is only stopped by Alia's father, who doesn't wish to shed blood in his house. After the ball, in what is now called the "balcony scene", Rautha sneaks into the Atreides compound and overhears Alia at her window vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred of the Harkonnens. Rautha makes himself known to her and they agree to be married. With the help of Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are secretly married the next day.

Thufir, meanwhile, still incensed that Rautha had sneaked into the Atreides ball, challenges him to a duel. Rautha, now considering Thufir his kinsman, refuses to fight. Piter is offended by Thufir's insolence, as well as Rautha's "vile submission," and accepts the duel on Rautha's behalf. Piter is fatally wounded when Rautha attempts to break up the fight. Grief-stricken and wracked with guilt, Rautha confronts and slays Thufir.

Harkonnen argues that Rautha has justly executed Thufir for the murder of Piter. The Judge of the Change, now having lost a kinsman in the warring families' feud, exiles Rautha from Arrakis, with threat of execution upon return. Rautha secretly spends the night in Alia's chamber, where they consummate their marriage. Duke Leto Atreides, misinterpreting Alia's grief, agrees to marry her to Count Fenring and threatens to disown her when she refuses to become Fenring's "joyful bride." When she then pleads for the marriage to be delayed, her mother rejects her.

Alia visits Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam for help, and she offers her a drug, the Juice of Sapho, that will put her give her ruby-stained lips and put her into a deathlike coma for "two and forty hours." The Reverend Mother promises to send a message via distrans to inform Rautha of the plan, so that he can rejoin her when she awakens. On the night before the wedding, she takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt.

The distrans, however, does not reach Rautha and, instead, Rautha learns of Alia's apparent death from his servant Gurney Halleck. Heartbroken, Rautha buys a poison, the ironically named "Water of Life", from a Fremen street seller and goes to the Atreides crypt. He encounters Fenring who has come to mourn Alia privately. Believing Rautha to be a vandal, Fenring confronts him and, in the ensuing battle, Rautha kills Fenring. Still believing Alia to be dead, he drinks the poison. Alia then awakens and, finding Rautha dead, stabs herself with his dagger; she was later canonized under the name St. Alia-of-the-Knife. The feuding families and the Judge of the Change meet at the tomb to find all three dead. Reverend Mother Gaius Mohiam recounts the story of the two "star-cross'd lovers". The families are reconciled by their children's deaths and agree to end their kanly.

The play ends with the Judge's elegy for the lovers: "For never was a story of more woe / Than this of Alia and her Rautha-o."

[Feyd to black.]

*Moral: Be careful what you wish for, Reverend Mother. You may get it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THIS is WHY I Don't Trust TV News

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

200000 hits! WOO HOO!

Realizing, of course, that on average "Gangnam Style" gets that many hits every four hours.....

But still.  WOO HOO!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Season Upon Us Again

Brings to mind my two favorite Christmas carols, both of which are the only ones really written for grownups:

First, from A Charley Brown Christmas, 1964:

And this, from Emerson Lake & Palmer; I Believe in Father Christmas:

A blessed Christmas season to you all.

ADDENDUM: Can't not share this.