Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 September 2010 What shall we do with a drunken sailor

One of the first folk songs I ever learned, or at least the sanitized Kingston Trio version, still comes easily to mind. The litany of punishments that might be meted out to said offensive sailor is long and brutal.

“Put ‘im in the brig on bread and water”

The water was certainly green and scummy, unfit for human consumption unless diluted with lots of alcohol; thus recreating the likelihood that the Jack tar will once again become drunk. The bread would be ships’ biscuit, rock-like, weevil-laden, and inedible without substantial soaking in some sort of liquid. The ration would be delivered grudgingly by shipmates who would steal anything resembling food, once daily. The brig would be as near the bilge as possible, lightless, airless, shared by rats and misery. Still, this was one of the most benign punishments that might be handed down at Captain’s mast. Survivable

“Put ’m in the scuppers with a hose-pipe on im.”

Scuppers were the areas of the deck where ocean water, spray, rain water, dirty scrub water and all other liquids that were retained above decks by design were collected and subsequently directed overboard. The hose pipe was a pipe or flexible tubing used to direct water from pumps onto something or someone. The water from the ocean would be cold and painful. Think about being sprayed with a modern fire hose in winter. Survivable

“”make ‘im dance with a cat-o-nine-tails.” Or

“Throw ‘im in bed with the Captain’s daughter”

The cat-o-nine-tails, cat, or “Captain’s daughter” is a rope whip constructed with nine terminal knotted thongs. Wielded by an experienced master-at-arms, it would strip flesh from bone and leave a tell-tale mass of scars on the back and sides of any victim. To increase the amount of physical pain delivered it was not uncommon for Masters-at-arms to add bits of chain, wire, or other materials to the end of the lashes. Post-flogging medical care consisted of buckets of salt water poured over the victim to wash off the blood. The flogged were expected to return to duty immediately after receiving punishment.

The number of lashes meted out for any offense was determined by the captain rather than by regulation until after the Napoleonic wars. Truly serious offenses could be punished with “flogging round the fleet.”

“"The severest form of flogging was a flogging round the fleet. The number of lashes was divided by the number of ships in port and the offender was rowed between ships for each ship's company to witness the punishment."[3] Penalties of hundreds of lashes were imposed for the gravest offences, including sedition and mutiny. The prisoner was rowed 'round the fleet in an open boat and received a number of his lashes at each ship in turn, for as long as the surgeon allowed. Sentences often took months or years to complete, depending on how much a man was expected to bear at a time. Normally 250–500 lashes was when a man taking this punishment would kill him, as infections would spread."[4] After the flogging was completed, the sailor's lacerated back was frequently rinsed with brine or seawater, which served as a crude antiseptic. Although the purpose was to control infection, it caused the sailor to endure additional pain, and gave rise to the expression, "rubbing salt into his wounds," which came to mean vindictively or gratuitously increasing a punishment or injury already imposed.

The offender was tied to a deck hatch, the hatch placed in a long boat and the victim rowed from ship to ship. The prescribed number of lashes would be delivered at each ship. Unless carried out in staggered fashion as above, lashing around the fleet was, mercifully, not survivable. Flogging was abolished in the U.S. Navy on 28 Sept 1850 by act of Congress.

Keel haul ‘im until ‘e’s sober.

The offender would be tied to lines at hand and foot. One line would be fed under the keel of the ship and brought up on the opposite side of the ship. The offender would be thrown into the water and dragged by the line tied to his hands down the side of the ship, under the keel, and up the opposite side of the ship. The barnacles on the ship’s hull would scrape and abrade any flesh or clothing that made contact with them. The victim would need tremendous lung capacity and miraculous ability to remain calm and hold his breath while slowly being dragged beneath the ship. Given that most sailors could not swim and that the punishment was intended to intimidate and horrify everyone who saw it take place, it was lethal in nature and intent but still meted out into the 19th century.

“Ang ‘im from the yard arm till ‘e’s sober”

Hanging was carried out by securing a line to the victim’s feet, tying them to ad deck rail or belaying the line in some manner. A second rope was passed over the yard arm and tied in a noose which was placed around the victim’s neck. At the signal, the victim was hauled aloft toward the yard arm and both lines were belayed to prevent the victim swaying back and forth as the ship rolled. Death was by strangulation, not by breaking the victim’s neck.

It is not recorded if keel hauling and hanging induced sobriety in the offender. It is, however, likely that those so punished did not imbibe to drunkenness again.

There are many more verses to this song. Drunkenness aboard ship was not conducive to military readiness, to discipline, or to good morale among the crew. The British Navy partially dealt with this by supplying a daily ration of rum and water (grog) that made the bad water more tolerable and satisfied some craving for alcohol. The U.S. Navy banned the storage or consumption of alcohol aboard U.S. ships. That ban is still in effect today. Only ethanol intended for medicinal use and controlled under lock and key as if it were a narcotic is permitted.

Keel-hauling is no longer practiced by 1st world navies. Hanging is still a permissible means of execution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. I’m in the mood for some

Scotch tonight. I may have to crack a bottle of Scapa.

Dinner tonight will be Chili-mac.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

29 September 2010 Class and no class

I’m enjoying my history course sufficiently enough that I am already considering classes for spring 2011. Among the front runners are classes in “history of Rome,” “history of modern Middle East,” “the Russian moment (late 19th to late 20th century),” and “the history of the rise of the conservative movement up to and including Reagan.” Other options include “medical anthropology,” and “physical geology.”

I’ve several good options to mull over and others may enter the lists. I’m certain that I don’t want to study history with Dr. Fritz, who taught the “history of the Holocaust” class I took last spring. He wasted too much class time talking about his family, his garden/lawn, and athletics games on TV. Whichever classes I choose, I’ll have to wait for the paying students to fill up the rosters before begging for a seat in the classes. So far, I’ve been lucky in getting seats. I hope that continues.

I wonder about studying a foreign language. Spanish will likely be most useful in the future but I have no desire to travel to Mexico or much of Latin America. The places I would like to visit in Latin America are prohibitively expensive for us. I have some barely present residual French abilities that date back to high school and to VietNam. I wouldn’t mind refreshing that language. Greek &/or Russian might be interesting. I need to see what’s available and how much language lab might be required. Logistics also need to be considered in enrolling for classes. Right now, there are days when we both are in class late in the day and don’t get home until nearly 1800. Bad weather could complicate that as may the earlier sunsets. We try to maintain a fairly constant dinner routine in order to help Gloria maintain her glucose levels.

I’m not sure what I’ll opt for next semester but I’m looking forward to it. The right wing history might be fun. I stand a very good chance of being the only actual student in the class who saw parts of the subject material happen. The course will deal with anti-feminism, resistance to integration, anti-taxation, anti-education, the religious right, and a host of other things that crawled out from under GOP rocks in the 70’s through 80’s. A chance to be the only anti-Reagan, Jewish, pro-education, pro-taxation, anti-corporation student in the class is too good to pass up. So, too, is the course in “the modern Middle East” taught by a woman named “Al-Ilam.

Tonight we’ll eat tuna salad. Tomorrow night we’ll have Chili-Mac. I’ll make the Chili tonight.

Turning to “no-class,” in searching for academic and biographical information for the professor who teaches the African-American history class I try to sit in on, I stumbled across a disgusting bit of modern practice. MTV has a feature known as “Rate my professors.” I stumbled across this site and find it of no redeeming social or academic value. The complaint I read that referred to the professor I was interested in were petty and whiny in nature. The students complained of having to memorize dates precisely, of having to use proper grammar and to spell correctly. The website is essentially a site for corporate-sponsored libel. Having sat through the professor’s class sessions, it is clear that none of the complaints have any merit. They are excuses posted by students who failed to study, failed to complete assignments, who failed to participate in class-room discussion, and who were probably graded, quite fairly, in accordance with their poor scholarship. The anonymous nature of the complaints is absolutely unjustified. Were I a professor mentioned in such complaints, I’d initiate a class action lawsuit against the sponsor and the complainants. This is as “no class” a means of soliciting web site hits as I have seen short of GOP attack ads. The people who posted these complaints are, beyond any doubt, poorly educated enough to believe the GOP’s propaganda. Such anonymous attacks at individuals are prime examples of the type of children we have spawned under the loving guidance of Reagan revolutionaries. They’re perfectly pre-positioned to spew venom and lies about political candidates at the direction of the Tea Party mobsters. These are the kids I described last year who walked into classes late, opened their cell phones and began to carry on conversations verbally and electronically. These are the kids who expect to be handed the answers to every quiz. These are not students. They might have been once but the opportunity was ignored when they learned that being a student was labor intensive. These are only a pale prediction of what will be considered students if the GOP is allowed to destroy the Dept of Education and then create Texas-like local school boards such as they are already doing in most red states.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

28 September 2010 It is getting ugly out there

Today’s history exam went smoothly. Two pages of matching names to events and one page offering three essays – complete one. “What changes did Napoleon bring to modern warfare and why did he lose. An easy question to begin answering, but one that can quickly become an exercise in spewing a mixture of facts and opinions that begs the writer to overflow the space available for answers. I chose not to provide a short enumeration, but to offer several combinations of causes for change, victory, and ultimately defeat. I hope I left something cohesive and accurate behind me.

I mentioned to Gloria that I thought I wrote longer answers when I had more space available. Had this question been offered me with a notebook computer and more time, I can see myself writing pages of opinions on the same question. Limited space, the need to manually write my answers, and atrocious penmanship made stop short of a novella today.

I’m sure that someone has done a study on this question: “Do students write larger essays when offered more paper to write upon?” I may have to look up that study.

The Pew Foundation reported today that in their study concerning religious knowledge, the American population is not well conversant in its knowledge of religion.

“In fact, although the United States is one of the most religious developed countries in the world, most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life.

The survey is full of surprising findings.

For example, it's not evangelicals or Catholics who did best - its atheists and agnostics.

It's not Bible-belt Southerners who scored highest - they came at the bottom.

Those who believe the Bible is the literal word of God did slightly worse than average, while those who say it is not the word of God scored slightly better.

Barely half of all Catholics know that when they take communion, the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ, according to Catholic doctrine.

And only about one in three know that a public school teacher is allowed to teach a comparative religion class - although nine out of 10 know that teacher isn't allowed by the Supreme Court to lead a class in prayer.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is behind the 32-question quiz, polling more than 3,400 Americans by telephone to gauge the depth of the country's religious knowledge.

Read CNN Belief Blog contributor and Pew adviser Stephen Prothero's take on the survey”

None of these findings come as a surprise to me except the transubstantiation/communion miracle meal. I would have thought that most Catholics knew this myth. It’s prevalent in protestant churches too. A lot of them, particularly Baptists, refuse to use wine and substitute grape juice, as if a deity capable of transmuting wine into blood for all the other Christian cults is for some reason unable to do the same magic trick for them if offered wine. If I recall correctly the Seder at Pesach, the source of Christianity’s wine into blood/bread into body ritual is conducted with wine, not near wine. Of course, during the Seder, wine and bread begin as and remain wine and bread. We don’t require a magic trick to make them useful.

I ran the Pew battery of 32 questions and managed to answer them correctly. None of them were hard, none tricky, and none beyond the grasp of a middle school student who can read at grade level. The people who scored no better than 50% correct – failing on any realistic grading scale, are the same people stirring up hatred over Park 51’s construction, the supposed infilitration of Sharia law, Obama’s birth certificate, and myriad other problems in today’s US that always seem to be caused by the inability of the American public to read and write beyond third grade level.

The Obama administration is calling for better teachers, better schools, and longer school years to help alleviate the falling performance of US students vs. those of other 1st world and developing nations. The GOP will, of course, attempt to block those efforts and then demand the abolition of the Dept of Education so that local school boards can do still more damage to what were once excellent public schools.

The last successful drive to improve education that either Gloria or I can recall was during the Eisenhower administration, caused by a basketball-sized object called “Sputnik.” The drive then was to improve reading, math, and science abilities in US students. Those are the same things that we need to improve today, not self-esteem. However it is unlikely that school boards will allow more sciences unless they are allowed to include religious creation myths. Prayer in schools did not put 25 other national school programs above ours in ability of graduates.

If we let the GOP and the Tea Party mobs join the thumpers in defeating Obama’s efforts to ramp up education, it won’t be the US putting men on Mars. It will be the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Brazilians, and a dozen other nations that will gain supremacy in the space race.

The only reason that the Pew study matters at all is that the people who score lowest in their religion survey are also the ones who score the lowest on general knowledge. The people who feel they have the right to demand everyone pray their way also want everyone to dumb down to their level. That anti-elitism they champion is coming about because the barely literate must know that the literate can lie to them easily. What they don’t realize is that  the literate have no need to lie to them. It is the GOP playing to the fear of a literate elite that is screwing the public.

Campaign fliers and ads here will make many mentions of “Jesus” in asking for votes. I wasn’t aware Jesus was running for local or federal office in TN. The surest way to lose my vote is to bring religion into the campaign.

Word comes today that Congress has once more refused to spend for education. We’ll be demonstrating the living proof of Darwin’s theories as we selectively breed for dumber and meaner.

Monday, September 27, 2010

27 September 2010 Two exams zero pressure

Tomorrow I will write an examination in history 3940 History of Modern Warfare. Thursday I will write an exam in art-history. Unlike everyone else in these classes, I’m not concerned with a grade or a grade point average. I’m auditing these classes the university does not award me a grade or require me to pass the course in order to receive credit for my time and effort. There will be no credit for either course and any grade awarded by my professors will only indicate to them and to me how well I’ve absorbed the course material before it vanishes into academic limbo.

In the past, I’ve had a very easy time with written examinations. I grew up taking exams to allow me entrance to Annapolis and West Point, to college track courses in high school, to entry into universities, the national merit scholar program, MCATs, and just about any sort of pen and paper exam that I could imagine. Other than Quantitative Analysis, a section being taught by a research chemist who hated teaching but whose contract required him to teach one class section, I’ve rarely spent much time agonizing over exams. I grew up possessing an excellent recall for things I had read. I’m not claiming photographic recall. I just found it easy to read, store, and recall bits of information. Dates, names, places, reasons, song lyrics, battles won and lost, and trivial items of all sorts.

I should mention that I always put in a lot of time studying for professional licensure exams and for continuing education courses that became part of my professional life. The rate of technology turn-over in my field required tremendous amounts of professional CE. New instruments and analyzers routinely arrived with 10-20 pounds of documentation, operational guides, and maintenance manuals. I always returned from off-site training programs with the material read.

My standard method of preparing for an exam in a class or course was to read the course material. As a rule, it served me well. Now, my standard method of preparing for an exam is to read the course material. Then I would merely wait for a word, phrase, or some other trigger to initiate a cascade of stored knowledge related to that trigger. However, I find that I may need to read it twice or even three times to absorb and recall a much at 62 as I did at 25. It depends, somewhat, upon the subject matter how much I recall after that first read. The memory cascade still happens – often much to Gloria’s dismay. Once that cascade starts, like the mechanism for coagulation and hemostasis, it keeps occurring until completed.

Over the last decade I’ve found that it takes longer in some cases to recall what I’m looking for. In some instances that familiar name has become transmuted to “that Russian guy.” I’m not overly worried about pathology at this point in time. But I do find that since I began writing daily I’m at a loss for the word I’m seeking less frequently. I appreciate that improvement.

Last semester I did sufficiently well that I would have received A’s in both my classes. This semester I should do equally as well. I intend to. The history course holds my interest and attention, demands I learn and retain the information. Art-history is also holding my attention to this point. I’m going to have to work a bit harder at fixing and recalling time periods for “les objets d’art” that are presented. I’d like to think that I could set the curve for History of Modern Warfare. But since I won’t receive any real grade, all I can do is measure my ego against class discussions and any feedback I get from Dr. Collins. That will have to be sufficient. I can look at my performance in both classes to date and know that I have greater knowledge of the subject matter for both classes than I did a month ago. That’s rewarding, and encourages me to keep studying. As I have the freedom to study those subjects that interest me and ignore those which don’t, I think I’m going to have a continuing productive time as a student this time around.

We received 1.91 inches of rain yesterday. Today, so far, we have received 0.17 inches. The creek had moderate run-off by yesterday at sunset. Today it is flowing at as low a rate as I like to see it. It appears, barring further drought conditions, that we’ll see a decent flow, capable of sustaining our trout population, over the winter.

Looking north east from our back yard. Depth about 6-8 inches near bank

Looking upstream, north from Gloria’s favorite fish feeding station.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

26 September 2010 Rain on the roof

The promised rains began about 0400. With a metal roof, the noise of rain beginning to fall is almost always loud enough to wake us up. It is a friendly sound, one that encourages us to roll over and go back to sleep. Between the rain noise and the overcast skies not being bright enough to jolt us awake it becomes easier to sleep in.

The newspaper was damp when I brought it in. The current carrier rarely uses the plastic sleeves that keep the paper dry and neatly contained. Sunday’s paper is always threatening to fall apart. It would be less problematic if the carrier would put the actual paper inside the ads and fliers that make up the bulk of the delivery.

I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I’ve actually pawed through those fliers. Even the ads for grocery stores generally push items that we don’t buy or consume. We never bring in soft drinks, chips, pretzels, etc. We seldom purchase box meals that contain lots of salt and sugar. The ads for school clothes, notebooks, and anything dealing with kids are wasted upon us. I would opt out of getting these ads if I could.

I’ve two exams to review for today and tomorrow. Lots of reading to skim and numbers to fix to events and items.

I just turned off the gas to the pool heater and powered it down. The pool season is over. The solar blanket will stay on the pool until the pool is closed down for the winter. It means less maintenance to do in the next week or so.

Dinner tonight will be tuna sashimi over brown rice and miso soup. That’s a good rainy day meal.

There are many political items that bear watching, things that via action or inaction could cause serious damage to this nation. Today it is someone else’s turn to sound the alarm or point toward the offenders. I’ve history to study, in hopes that if ever it is my fate to make a crux decision, I will recall enough of the past to steer around the rocks and shoals that hinder our course.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

25 September 2010 Evangelists not needed on military bases

Cassi Creek

It’s time to apply the 1st Amendment’s establishment clause to our armed forces. There is a very real danger of evangelical members of the armed forces organizing an internal network to exclude non-Christians from promotions, from awards for valor, and from access to the upper echelons of command; while advancing only those who join and support what could become a new “crusade.

I encourage anyone following this blog to read the full article below and then voice any concerns you may have to your legislators. There should be no tax dollars spent to convert people to Christianity. The Army should not be affiliated with any evangelical Christian group, especially not with Franklin Graham.

Graham openly admits this is an attempt to increase evangelical church membership in the locale around Ft. Bragg.

The base chaplain most associated with this event threw out the usual defense “I’d be happy to help any other religious group put on a concert.” He fails to mention and most people fail to understand that other religious groups don’t sponsor events designed for mass proselyltization. The likelihood of a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Wiccan concert is nearly non-existent.

There are numerous comments about this article on the CNN site. Most of them demonstrate a failure to understand the basic differences in religions. Only Christians and Muslims believe that they need to convert everyone else. There are so few Muslims in the US armed forces as to make the possibility of such an event taking place on post ludicrous. Many comments raised the continual “persecution of Christians” chant.

To be fair and consistent, I don’t support anyone’s armed forces being tied to religion. There are places where government is theocratic in nature and religion becomes semi-integral to the national military. We’re fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq against militaries that owe more loyalty to religion than nationalism. They are not well structured armies and often are not trustworthy.

There is a different situation in Israel – technically a Jewish state with religious freedom for all faiths. The Israeli nation and the IDF are predominantly secular in nature. The orthodox Jews resident there often fail to recognize the legitimacy of Israel while living within its borders and benefitting from Israeli citizenship. There are proscriptions against some Israelis serving in the IDF due to religion. This is entirely unsatisfactory in building national cohesiveness and it honestly matters not which faiths, cults, or sects are not serving.

All military units need to exclude religion as a cohesion factor. The event at Fort Bragg is sending soldiers home with a pledge to “bring seven other soldiers to Jesus.” This type of pressure should never be directed toward one’s squad mates or fellow soldiers. The amount of pressure brought to bear against soldiers who choose to be secular or follow non-Christian faiths can blow unit cohesiveness as surely as any factor I can think of. The Army, in allowing this type of event, is planting seeds of internal destruction. I can recall being plagued by at least two unit members overseas who insisted on praying for my “conversion and salvation” every time they saw me. Not only did it anger me, it kept them from doing what they should have been doing, degrading the effectiveness of the unit.

The organizations trying to block these religious events will obviously be accused of “warring against Christians.” This accusation is utterly false. There is no “war against Christians.” Christians are free to worship almost any place they choose. They can read their bible, and other texts, they can pray privately and in many cases publically. They are not prohibited from holding jobs, from buying real estate, from schooling their offspring, from travel in and out of the nation. They can join the armed forces or choose not to join the armed forces. They can practice professions, obtain professional licenses, operate vehicles and do anything citizens of other faiths can legally do.

Proscriptions applied to Christians in the public venue and in public schools are applied equally to people of other faiths as well. The 1st Amendment establishment clause applies to all religions, not just Christians. The apparent heavy application against Christians is due to their evangelical cult’s insistence upon trying to convert everyone else. While they claim divine marching orders, no one else acknowledges those orders. In point of fact, Muslims have similar divine instruction. I know for certain that evangelicals would come unglued and self-detonate if Muslims were as numerous as are Christians and were as obnoxious and insistent upon trying to force everyone to follow their faith.

There is no war on Christians. Only Christians can cause such a war.

Shabbat Shalom

Dinner tonight is lamb/beef kebobs, tzadzki sauce.

“Editor's Note: CNN Pentagon Producer Jennifer Rizzo brings us this story.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A watchdog group concerned with keeping apart religion and government is calling for the cancellation of an evangelical concert scheduled at Fort Bragg on Saturday.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said the "Rock the Fort" event, put on by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, violates the Constitution and is targeting people for conversion.

"It's not the Army's job to convert Americans to Christianity," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "This event is totally unacceptable and must be canceled."

The group sent a letter to Army officials on Thursday

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, established to support the ministries of Billy Graham and his son Franklin, would not comment on the event, which will feature Christian musicians and a separate children's program. A fact sheet published on the group's website says the event will be a "clear presentation of the Christian Gospel."

"Attendees will have an opportunity to respond to the Gospel Evangelistic message, be encouraged by Fort Bragg Chaplains and trained counselors from off post Churches and on post Chapels, and then be offered ongoing Biblical Spiritual Resiliency training at our military chapels and local churches," the information sheet said. “

In a message to earn support from the local churches, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association posted that their involvement in the event should increase the size of their "congregation."

"The Rock the Fort outreach is designed to channel new believers into your church, so you can encourage them to further spiritual growth. The future of the church lies in reaching and discipling the next generation," the post said.

Americans United claims this type of evangelizing is going too far. "The Army has no business entering into a partnership with evangelical churches to help them win new members," Lynn said.

– CNN Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence contributed to this report “

Friday, September 24, 2010

24 September 2010 What they should know about American history they slept through

The Founding Fathers Versus the Tea Party


Published: September 23, 2010

“LIKE many popular insurgencies in American history, the Tea Party movement has attempted to enlist the founding fathers as fervent adherents to its cause. “

“Many Tea Party candidates and activists have tried to seize the moral high ground by explicitly identifying with the founders. Sharron Angle, who is mounting a spirited run against Harry Reid for a Senate seat from Nevada with Tea Party support, bristled at Mr. Reid’s contention that she is overly conservative. “I’m sure that they probably said that about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Benjamin Franklin,” she protested. “And, truly, when you look at the Constitution and our founding fathers and their writings ... you might draw those conclusions: That they were conservative. They were fiscally conservative and socially conservative.”

The Tea Party movement has further sought to spruce up its historical bona fides by laying claim to the United States Constitution. Many Tea Party members subscribe to a literal reading of the national charter as a way of bolstering their opposition to deficit spending, bank bailouts and President Obama’s health care plan. A Tea Party manifesto, called the Contract From America, even contains a rigid provision stipulating that all legislation passed by Congress should specify the precise clause in the Constitution giving Congress the power to pass such a law — an idea touted Thursday by the House Republican leadership. “

“(CNN) – Sarah Palin announced the launch of a new website Thursday, aimed at defeating twenty incumbent Democrats who voted for President Obama's health care bill and who are running in districts that swung Republican during the 2008 presidential election.

In the announcement on her Facebook page, entitled "Lies, Damned Lies – Obamacare 6 Months Later," the former GOP vice presidential nominee resurrects her claims that "rationing 'death panels'" are included in the health care bill and promotes the new site, which endorses candidates who support the bill's repeal. “

Cassi Creek

The contention by the GOP and its religious and ant-intellectual arms that the founding fathers were “conservatives is nonsense. Only someone who knows nothing of history could believe that the founders would agree with the “conservatism” offered by religious demagogues and the current GOP. The founders, men who sought only to do away with the colonial status of the American colonies were as far to the political left then as was Trotsky. Our founders challenged the very concept of who governed at the time. They overthrew the concept of divine right rulers and rule by royal decree as well as rule by colonial powers. Nothing conservative about that, then or today. They were ready to die in the effort to do away with those conditions. Some of them did. They raised an armed revolution as surely as did Lenin and friends. At the time they did it, they were considered rabidly secularist and politically off the scale to the left.

To hear the GOP try to pair them with incipient theocracy, with plutocracy, and to hear the use of “states’ rights” to justify racism and xenophobia, is to know that the Tea Party mobsters, the GOP, and the anti-intellectuals slept through any exposure to the Constitution and American history they might have had in schools that failed to teach them anything of the nation’s past. Is it any wonder these are the people who would do away with the Department of Education and favor home schooling?

The habitual half-termer, Sarah Palin, has aptly described her demagoguery on social networking sites once more. “Lies, Damned Lies…” is exactly what issues from the ghost-written comments posted under Palin’s name. The lie about death panels is resurrected by her ghost writers in an effort to raise support for the GOP’s intended plan to repeal Health Care Reform. Given Palin’s history of ethics violations in office, her encouragement of the birther and other GOP-funded lie campaigns directed toward Obama, and her apparent lack of acquaintance with any shred of truth about her use of her family as campaign props, I expect to see these words plaguing her as the real media demands documentation from her as to the location of “death panels” in the health care reform law.

I find it disturbing that so many Americans are willing to let the lies spread by Palin linger as if they were true. Actually, any death panels that do or will exist will be those created by the GOP and insurance companies. The GOP health care plan is simply “be rich or die quickly!” That’s easy to see but apparently we’ve dumbed our population down to the point that prevents any genuine analytical skills, any reading comprehension. That anti-intellectual bias will be the death of millions if the GOP and the TPmobsters have their way.

Palin’s too dumbed down, herself, to recognize that without her celebrity she and her family values surpises would be subject to selection based upon cash value and job-related benefits. Those death panels already exist and they do tend to come down harder on children with pre-existing conditions and adults who have genetic pre-disposition to specific diseases. Palin keeps aiming at her own feet and at her children and grandchildren. Only the immense pool of idiots willing to pay to hear her parrot ghost-written speeches and to buy her ghost-written books keep them off the unemployment lines. The job market for high-school dropout baby-mamas is not that good unless the GOP machine wants to convince the “real America” that “abstinence only” education really does work despite the increasing number of knocked-up teens out there. They could pull in a few girls who haven’t been prepped and pimped by national campaigns; but somehow I don’t see the Tea Party or the religious fanatics getting excited about the “redemption” of a 16 year old with a darker complexion.

Lies, Damned Lies…. The answer is whenever her mouth is moving..

Thursday, September 23, 2010

23 September 2010 To vote for theocracy, repression, and deeper recession txt 1994

GOP leaders pledge to cut government, taxes

By the CNN Wire Staff

September 23, 2010 11:19 a.m. EDT

Some provisions in the GOP document match positions of the conservative Tea Party movement that has helped defeat mainstream Republican candidates in several primary elections this year. For example, the document calls for a federal hiring freeze on nonsecurity employees and requiring all legislation to include a clause showing that it is authorized under the Constitution.

Other items would cancel unspent funding authorized by the economic stimulus bill, roll back spending to levels before the stimulus bill and earlier federal bailout legislation and repeal the health care reform bill passed in March.

The document also calls for permanently prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion.

Several Republican sources said there was no intention to directly address social issues because the electorate is so heavily focused on jobs and spending.

Republican leaders settled on a line that states: "We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values."

Republican 'Pledge to America': spending caps, tax cuts

Read more:

“”To cut spending, Republicans say they are committed to canceling remaining expenditures from the 2009 stimulus law, return domestic appropriations to 2008 levels, impose "hard" budget caps on discretionary spending accounts, reduce spending for congressional operations, have weekly floor votes on winners of the "YouCut" program that allows citizens to vote online for programs that should be slashed, end the Troubled Asset Relief Program, end government control of the secondary home-mortgage lending giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, freeze federal hiring for non-security jobs, sunset programs after a certain number of years, and use more straightforward budgeting for entitlement programs.”

Read more:

Straight from the horse’s ass, Eric Cantor and his apologists for the ultra-wealthy bring you”

“YouCut – a first-of-its-kind project - is designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows you to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House enact. Each week, we will take the winning item and offer it to the full House for an up-or-down vote, so that you can see where your representative stands on your priorities. Vote on this page today for your priorities and together we can begin to change Washington's culture of spending into a culture of savings.”

Ezra Klein writes in the Washington Post today.

“Their policy agenda is detailed and specific -- a decision they will almost certainly come to regret. Because when you get past the adjectives and soaring language, the talk of inalienable rights and constitutional guarantees, you're left with a set of hard promises that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, take health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people, create a level of policy uncertainty businesses have never previously known, and suck demand out of an economy that's already got too little of it. “

This “pledge”, like 1994’s contract on America is an attempt to gut and discard every bit of social and economic safety-net legislation passed since the FDR administration. It is an attempt to incorporate all the changes wanted by the Tea Party, the fiscally conservative GOP, and the evangelicals/Christian fundamentalists. It will leave millions of citizens with no access to health care, no income, no housing, and no food. It will result in repeated demands for privatizing every aspect of America. Someone on the GOP/TP/Jesus side will find a way to charge to use the national forests until they are logged off by campaign contributors. Someone will sell vast stretches of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system to developers who will erect toll booths and do no maintenance. Our standing army will be downsized in favor of using the quasi-militia groups that run around on weekends pretending to be soldiers.

As for assuring personal liberties, they will ignore such things and force their way into people’s homes and bedrooms, waving their bibles and demanding that everyone behave and pray as they believe they are supposed to behave and pray. The party that once ran Teddy Roosevelt, a true progressive, will now join politics with creation fairy tales and bigotry to become the party of repression.

Most frightening, perhaps, is the proposal that Eric Cantor unveiled. I shudder at the thought of allowing uninformed voters to “vote” against funding bits or fiscal legislation. Looking at the proposal, it would take me days of intensive study to know how best to vote on fiscal bills. That is, after all, what we taxpayers pay Congress to do rather than pal around with lobbyists on golf courses, fact-finding cruises, etc. Now the GOP intends to palm this job off to singularly uninformed voters whose only qualification is that they have access to a computer and ISP or cell phone account. I don’t want to see our barely functional republic become something governed and controlled by popular opinion of the moment; directed by propagandists running ads on television or by religious demagogues eager to establish a theocracy.

It’s scary out there when the idiots and asylum inmates gain power. Our revolution largely escaped a reign of terror. We may have only delayed it.

Words for art-history: pylon, hypostyle,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

22 September 2010 Still feels like summer to me.

The morning hike with Mike left me dripping sweat and in need of another shower. I need to go into town to take care of some house-keeping paperwork/permit items. 40 mile round trip with at least an hour of wait time built in. With two different class schedules and other appointments and obligations it is getting complicated for us both to schedule the time.

Another Palin clone decides to evade media scrutiny and speak only via limited access to pre-approved questions. How brave and honest of her!

“Christine O'Donnell: I'm not doing any more national TV interviews

By Felicia Sonmez in today’s Washington Post.”

If O’Donnel won’t visit the press, I strongly suspect that the press will become far more present than she can currently imagine. I have to wonder if she will buckle under pressure like Palin did when her series of lies, half-truths and her lack of any real competency became grist for the media. She still remains unaware that she and she alone, drew all the attention to herself and her stage-prop family. Will O’Donnel’s hair fall out as did Palin’s? describes the new state of feminism as the Palin campaign and clones wish to define it. Welcome to the downward spiral that marks the loss of intelligence among the Tea party mobsters and their chosen idiots in waiting.

Please note the plan to exclude any but tame pseudo-media in the Fox-driven propaganda program. Will the Tea Party evangelists try to create their position as first or second estate?

At 1500 it is 89.5 °F poolside. The temperatures are running about 10-12 degrees above average. We should be cooling down by now. This may well be the hottest summer on record here. The night time temperatures are not dropping low enough to cool the house down very much. I’m sure I will be wishing for warmer days when the stove needs to be fed and wood needs to be carried in. But I’ve always liked the cooling down that autumn brings and I’m looking forward to it today.

The trees are likely to turn brown rather than yellow or red this fall. Two of our hemlocks are infested with the algids that are slowly destroying the Appalachian hemlock forests.

Hemlocks! Thought springs to mind of a distant teacher clapping her hands in rhythm to Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.” This is the forest, primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks…

More hemlock associations: Clint Eastwood as Jonathon Hemlock, assassin in “The Eiger Sanction.” Excellent climbing sequences and wonderful views of and from the Eiger.

George Kennedy – “North Face?”

Eastwood – “Of course.” Flat affect, lay it on the line from minute one. “Nordwand” is German for North wall. “Mordwand” translates as murder wall. A joke made by the early climbers who faced the Eiger with hemp ropes, wet woolen clothing, and the certain knowledge that the summit was less likely than failure.

Mordwand, of course, appropriate for a climb that involves an assassination on the mountain. Interesting plot for a movie, nice adaptation of the book, and like all Eastwood’s movies, a very interesting sound track.

One of very few movies that I can watch with interest more than once. So much for letting my mind run unfettered. I suppose I should direct it toward some sort of research paper for history 3940. But truthfully, I don’t want to spend the time on an academic paper. I’ll take the exams as an internal check and see how I feel in cooler weather.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

21 September 2010 Watching the season change

21 September 2010 Watching the season change

Today the autumnal equinox occurs. There’s really nothing to observe unless you are an astronomer, nothing to see that denotes the event for most of us. If one tracks these things the periods of daylight and darkness today will be equal. The planet is positioned relative to the sun so that both northern and southern hemispheres are equally inclined to the sun. When the sun rose this morning it was still summer. Tomorrow morning it will be autumn.

In many ways autumn is my favorite season. There is, of course, the beauty of the forests as trees shut down for the winter ahead and shed their leaves. There is the end to one set of allergens, to mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs of spring and summer. The camping areas and national parks/forests are once more visited mostly by adults only. The temperatures moderate, cooler days, cooler nights, and in much of the nation we can forget about severe storms for a few months. Add to this, the fact that I met Gloria in the autumn and the season always looks good.

It was a short, rough night last night. Sleep was broken and I did not want to roll out this morning. Still, once up, it was worth it.

I was late in leaving this morning by about ½ hour if I wanted to audit the black history class. I spent about an hour in the parking lot dance and wound up finally finding a place about ¼ mile uphill from my classroom with ten minutes to get to class. Pounding downhill was hard on my knees but I made it to class just in time.

The class was enjoyable today, primarily dealing with the 1812 War and the Mexican-American war. Dr. Collins understands logistics and how they affect the outcome of campaigns. He’s presenting an excellent picture of Winfield Scott as a logistician. He’s also providing a different view of Thomas Jefferson than I’ve encountered before. Perhaps, had Washington prevailed and the US maintained standing army beyond 12,000 men and a navy larger than 7 single-gunned cutters we might have won the 1812 war and own Canada as well.

Unfortunately, Collins is not scheduled to teach next semester. There haven’t been many instructors I’ve felt eager to follow from class to class. Asa Barnes –hematology, Daniel Rosenstein – transfusion medicine, Wally Rogers – parasitology all make the list. Add Baxter Collins – military history.

We had braised short ribs in a stroganoff-like yogurt based sauce over egg noodles last night. Class days usually result in a hurried soup dinner or some other quick fix. Tonight we’ll finish off the left over’s that tasted so good last night.

There is an argument taking place on one of the forums I follow concerning what Israel must concede to gain peace. With few exceptions, the group is calling for Israel to withdraw behind the untenable pre-67 borders. They also want to bi-nationalize Jerusalem.

My position is that Israel should stop building any settlements but should cede no more territory and should not share Jerusalem. These positions, along with my belief that the collective Arab community will never willingly make peace with Israel has placed me far to the political and social right of nearly all the other correspondents. On the other forum that I have monitored, I’m farther to the left than they are willing to acknowledge. I oppose any acceptance by Israel of support from any end of days groups. Again, my stance places me on the outer edges of acceptance in both forums. I think that at those edges is where I should be. I can’t tolerate the new and improved left fawning over the PLO, Arafat, and now Hamas. Nor can I tolerate the people like Palin and Huckabee who want Israel only because their doomsday plans, tempered in really bad acid, calls for a mass conversion and a quick shuffle off the mortal coil.

I’ll stay where I am. I don’t hate either edge. But I know that Israel is not guilty of pogroms as accused by anti-Zionists, not perfect, not able to forego defensive policies. I don’t hate Arabs but I don’t trust them to ever act in the best interests of Israel. The would-be-Palestinians have had 62 years to forge a nation, the same amount of time Israel has had. Reality tells me that the “Arabs care more about destroying Israel than ever building their own state.

See what tomorrow brings. Falling leaves and feeling more rested would be an excellent start.

Today’s words: Ka Mastaba

Monday, September 20, 2010

20 September 2010 Happy days are here again?

By Chris Isidore, senior writerSeptember 20, 2010: 1:45 PM ET

“NEW YORK ( -- The Great Recession ended in June 2009, according to the body charged with dating when economic downturns begin and end. But the news comes amid rising fears of a double-dip recession.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, an independent group of economists, released a statement Monday saying economic data now clearly points to the economy turning higher last summer.

That makes the 18-month recession that started in December 2007 the longest and deepest downturn for the U.S. economy since the Great Depression.”

This should be wonderful news, made even more welcome by its proximity to the coming mid-term elections. Certainly the Democrats will welcome good economic news. The Tea Party mobs will claim it is untrue and the GOP will do everything it can to roll the economic situation back to September of 2008.

The GOP has a propaganda arm that exceeds the Goebbels machine’s ability to convince people that they should vote against their own self interests. How many American citizens lacking health insurance are currently parading around with signs denouncing national health insurance as “socialized medicine?” Forget, for the moment that our health care system is largely socialized. How do you convince people who need health insurance desperately to scream that it should not be provided by the government? How do you convince voters that they should vote to block their own access to health care? How do you convince voters that the wealthy should not pay taxes but that the former middle class should?

I don’t know the answers to those questions but I know that generating that voter sentiment requires lies, horrible lies, keyed upon making the voter feel that he will suddenly be paying for insurance for “the lazy”, “the illegal”, and the “undeserving.” The voter has to be made to forget that insurance companies are already adding huge amounts to his premiums – assuming he still has a job and health insurance benefits- to pay for the citizens who no longer can afford insurance benefits, the illegals, and the stupid who feel they should not have to buy insurance. And sure enough the GOP machine can somehow generate the propaganda that fills that demand.

The Democrats, the pitiful remnants of the party that built Social Security, that desegregated the armed forces, passes civil rights legislation, and crafted Medicare, while defeating the GOP’s “let the poor die” platform, no longer have the courage or the coalition to pass a bill lowering taxes for the former middle class. The Obama administration has actually done some positive things that kept the US economy from tanking and taking the world along with it. But they had to do some things that angered the public, propping up big banks and the auto industry. Then they dragged their feet on financial reform and essentially let the same bastards who created the bank failures write their own regulatory laws, making it all too likely that they will start gambling with the public’s money once again.

They, the Democrats, have positive results to trumpet. But the GOP machine is louder, slicker, and plays to the anti-intellectualism and racism/xenophobia that is swamping the results of a sadly degraded educational system. It’s an uphill slog for the part of the Democratic machine that still has a voter base to reach. It’s far easier to ignore the poorly educated, to allow the Swift-boating and other lies to blow candidates out of the game. It’s also cheaper. The GOP raises money from the fearful. The folks who are afraid of dark skin,

Spanish, Islam, tax-funded healthcare for all citizens are going to make certain the GOP has enough money to lie about any Democratic candidate with a glimmer of hope.

The political machinery of the Roosevelt days and even those of Truman’s era up through LBJ’s terms knew how to raise money, raise hopes, and turn out the voters. They pointed out the GOP lies and made certain that everyone had a chance to refute them for the BS they were. FDR talked to the people, gave them hope, nor discouragement. Truman spoke the language of the common man and called bigotry and hatred out on its home turf. JFK dealt with his religion at the beginning and then ignored it. The LBJ campaign fielded the most impressive, most frightening, and most powerful campaign ad ever use. The mushroom cloud ad won the election for LBJ.

Obama needs a speechwriter who can move the anti-intellectual, repulse the lies about his political and religious philosophies. He needs to put fire into his speeches, hammer the lies and then let others reinforce that effort. He needs to ignore demagogues and point the way Congress should proceed, needs to systematically lay out every instance where the GOP has blocked his efforts and then castigate the Democrats and his own administration for letting them do it.

I’m glad the recession has ended. It isn’t that evident here. People have no jobs, no insurance, no money, and no hope. It may have ended for the economists. For the populace, for most of us, it looks like the hard times are still knocking at cabin doors.

The solutions that worked in the Great Depression will eventually work in the “Reagan-Bush, not-so-great recession.” We need infrastructure repairs, parks need cleaning up, and we need people to care for the aged and the young. We need people to join VISTA and America Corps programs once Congress gets off their ass and stops letting the minority GOP call the tunes. The Democrats can still pull their feet out of the flames if they remember who they once were. They need to stop fighting internally, plan a platform and fight for it as if their lives depend upon it. I think they do.

I’d like to see the Democrats bring back “Happy Days Are Here Again” this year. Sure, it is an old song, older than most voters. But its lyric, its melody, and its message worked up through 1964. Truthfully I can’t think of a better theme song or a better wish for American voters.

David Gans wrote two tremendous songs about the American Condition which can be found on his web site. “An American Family” and “Save Us From The Saved” are perfect in content and intent for this campaign. I encourage you to look them up at The rest of his music is top-flight as well. If he’s playing in your area, find a way to see and hear him perform.

We’d better push these songs and the philosophy they project. If the GOP and the Tea Party/Theocrats take this election, we’re going to be spending at least another decade singing “Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime.”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

19 September 2010 Hard to tell our troops from the Russians, or the tribe up the valley

“Members of U.S. platoon in Afghanistan accused of killing civilians for sport

By Craig Whitlock

Saturday, September 18, 2010; 9:39 PM

“AT JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WASH. The U.S. soldiers hatched a plan as simple as it was savage: to randomly target and kill an Afghan civilian, and to get away with it.”

“According to charging documents, the unprovoked, fatal attack on Jan. 15 was the start of a months-long shooting spree against Afghan civilians that resulted in some of the grisliest allegations against American soldiers since the U.S. invasion in 2001. Members of the platoon have been charged with dismembering and photographing corpses, as well as hoarding a skull and other human bones.

The subsequent investigation has raised accusations about whether the military ignored warnings that the out-of-control soldiers were committing atrocities. The father of one soldier said he repeatedly tried to alert the Army after his son told him about the first killing, only to be rebuffed. “

This is the worst possible news I can imagine from Afghanistan or any other place where we have troops deployed. The pre-meditated decision to commit murder of civilians in a foreign country where we are not very welcome for multiple reasons is certain to fuel the flames of opposition and cause more casualties among our troops.

We’ve always known that murders take place in wars. That excludes those deaths that happen as the result of unit actions ordered by civil and military leaders and carried out to achieve military gains, captured ground, etc. In today’s American armed forces great care is taken when planning and executing campaigns and missions to minimize loss of life among non-combatants. These plans actually may increase the possibility of American casualties. The IDF made a similar decision during their incursion into Jenin operating against Hammas and other insurgents. Most 1st world nations make every effort to avoid civilian casualties during combat operations.

Unfortunately, the nature of armed combat provides many opportunities for those who wish to commit murder and other crimes against people. Very few civilians are going to oppose heavily armed troops. The weapons available today make it very easy to kill at long distances without making very much noise. In the heavily mechanized environs of modern warfare, suppressed rifles may allow a murderer to escape notice. The confusion that exists during combat may allow someone to intentionally misidentify a non-combatant as armed and engaging one of our units.

The armed forces leaders are acutely aware that murdering civilians only makes their chances of winning a conflict much less likely. Societies have long memories. Afghanistan has been at war for centuries under one banner or another, invaded by one nation or another. Its people can hold a grudge forever. We’ve done what we can to minimize new hatreds and grudges. Now a group of criminals wearing the uniform of my nation has committed murders that reduced the integrity and character of our armed forces to that of the old Soviet army and of tribal warlords. We can’t claim any moral superiority when we allow soldiers to commit murders, apparently for sport. And that’s what it seems to be.

Men who have no morality, no ethics, and who falsely claim to be soldiers, have disgraced our Army. They planned and carried out murders, dismembered corpses and kept body parts in an Islamic nation, where rapid burial of the entire body is necessary for reasons of faith. The whistle blower in this case was beaten and threatened by the other criminals.

There was apparently an attempt to bring these crimes and plans for subsequent murders to the attention of several military agencies. The delays involved allowed more murders to take place. There should have been no delay in beginning an investigation of these allegations. How much delay was due to the military situation and its demands remains to be seen. What has happened is detailed in the article cited above; charges have been filed against suspected murderers and accomplices. The military will take a hard line with these men if they are found guilty in courts-martial. Soldiers value their personal honor and that of their units.

It may be that these men will claim that their operational training led them to commit these crimes. The de-humanization of the enemy that all armies use to help ready their forces to engage in combat is likely to surface as a defense. If so, it will be invalid. Soldiers know right from wrong, necessary deaths in combat from wanton murders. They will not deal kindly with men who have murdered the innocent.

The oversight system that might have caught these criminals after the first murder failed. No one wants to believe their unit mates are criminals, nor do they wish to unjustly accuse them and damage unit cohesiveness. But soldiers know that such crimes can’t go unpunished. And they know that murderers are not and will never again be soldiers.

We’ve already faced a series of such crimes in Iraq, committed by mercenaries. We have there another reason our nation should never use mercenaries to replace soldiers. Soldiers place honor above money. Mercenaries fight for the highest bidder. They are not soldiers no matter how many years of military service they put in. Once they stop working for the nation, they are outside the Pale as far as I am concerned.

I’ll try to follow this case. It will be as damaging as the idiots who want to burn Qurans and forbid the construction of Islamic centers. America has some remaining chance to leave some Afghans with a favorable impression of us. Common criminals and religious fanatics make it hard to convince anyone on the ground we’re not common thugs like too many of the USSR troops who purposely built bombs into toys to maim and murder children.

Keep the gallows operable in Leavenworth.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur, and who shall I say is calling?”

18 September 2010 Yom Kippur

Black letters on a white representation of a page of paper.

To most of the American population the words mean little beyond the annual video of Chassidic Jews with a chicken. I cringe every time I see Jews, still dressed in the clothing of the 16th century armed with chickens. But it is part of an old ritual that Hasidim and Haredim still practice during the Days of Awe.


"This chicken will go to its death while I will enter into a good long life..."

“Kaparot is an ancient and mystical custom connected to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. It can be performed anytime between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, but most often it is performed just after dawn on the day before Yom Kippur.

The original form of the kaparot ceremony involves taking a chicken (a white rooster for a male, hen for a female) and waving it over one’s head while reciting this prayer: "This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. This chicken will go to its death while I will enter and proceed to a good long life, and peace." Then the chicken is slaughtered and it (or its cash value) is given to the poor.

While kaparot is still practiced by more orthodox Jews, most Jews today perform kaparot by waving money wrapped in a white cloth napkin over their head, reciting the prayer and then giving the money to charity following the ceremony. “

I’ve never taken part in Kaparot rituals and have never seen anyone waving money around their heads. I’ve always been taught that one did not handle money on Shabbat or on other holidays. Since I attend reform or conservative services when possible, I’m unlikely to see the Kaparot ritual.

I have seen Kaparot performed with bits of bread which is then cast upon a stream or other body of water.

What it comes down to for me is that no substitute for me exists. If I have a need to repent and atone, nothing removes that need or obligation. I don’t have to wait until Yom Kippur in order to atone. This is just a day that brings Jews world-wide together in the practice. If there is benefit to communal prayer and atonement for common flaws and failures, then today should benefit us all, not just Jews.

No chicken, cash, or bread will take my place. The task of atonement falls to me. The prayer and fasting are only aids that help prepare us mentally and emotionally. This is evident in one of my favorite parts of the High Holidays services:

Composition of Unetanneh Tokef

According to legend, recorded in the medieval commentary Or Zarua, Unetanneh Tokef was composed by the medieval sage Rabbi Amnon of Mainz.

“All mankind will pass before You like members of the flock. Like a shepherd pasturing his flock, making sheep pass under his staff, so shall You cause to pass, count, calculate, and consider the soul of all the living; and You shall apportion the fixed needs of all Your creatures and inscribe their verdict.

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted. But repentance, prayer, and charity remove the evil of the Decree!"

The words of the prayer are the inspiration of Leonard Cohen's song "Who By Fire"

“And who by fire, who by water,

who in the sunshine, who in the night time,

who by high ordeal, who by common trial,

who in your merry merry month of may,

who by very slow decay,

and who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,

who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,

and who by avalanche, who by powder,

who for his greed, who for his hunger,

and who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,

who in solitude, who in this mirror,

who by his lady's command, who by his own hand,

who in mortal chains, who in power,

and who shall I say is calling?”

Friday, September 17, 2010

17 September 2010 The Charge of the Right Brigade

“The Charge of the Light Brigade was a disastrous charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War.”

156 years later the memory of their action is recalled as an example of the foolish expenditure of troops in futile battles.

In 2010 it may come to be associated with the charge of the Palin clones. Are unelectable candidates being pushed from primary elections, challenging party numbers with Palin’s chosen for glory prayer warriors? We can hope that the Tea Party mobs will become enmeshed with the religious right’s fanatics, shifting the balance of power within the GOP into supporting candidates that are too reactionary and unsuitable to the voters who were once the more moderate GOP electorate.

Like Stalin, following the death of Lenin, Palin and the Tea Party mobs are implementing purges to assure the “purity” of the GOP. In their zeal, they are hopefully creating a class of candidates that will alienate most of the voters.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'

Was there a man dismay'd ?

Not tho' the soldier knew

Some one had blunder'd:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do & die,

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.”

Here we have the Palin troop.

Theirs not to make reply, theirs but to do and die.

Palin speaks only via ghost-written posts in social networking sites so that there can be no chance of questions that were not pre-approved and that can’t dealt with in Palin-speak to defeat real questions. Like all insects they are expected only to attract drones, produce the next generation, and vanish.

Palin clones seem bound to follow the Palin party line as certainly as did Molotov and Beria. Underlings all, ready to challenge the evil pointed out by Sarah and Newt, by Huckabee and others who wave a bible and a flag but utter only programmed phrases. Shall we return to those thrilling Cold War days when we pretended that school desks would save the next generation?

Some one has blundered! Yes, they have. The GOP has proven that its central platform has not changed since the days of the Crimean War, futile cavalry charges, and divine right rulers. That information is not supposed to be released to the voting public or the media. We can only hope that someone will pen a memorable and accurate accounting of the Tea Party mobs’ efforts to return the nation to pre-Civil War status.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

16 September 2010 Heckle Jekyll and Hide

I managed to set in on a black history class this morning by virtue of being lucky in the parking lot dance. It must be an entry level course based on the material being covered. Still, it was a chance to sit in a comfortable chair and absorb new information and old information presented in a different manner. I have missed two or so weeks of the class, have not read any of the text, and don’t even know the title of the class. Still, I was able to answer several questions when the professor could not coax or cajole anything from the actual students.

It honestly was somewhat unsettling. The instructor kept pointing our items of information that “history majors” should “be sure to know.” Should the rest of the class not know these things?

I could not have said with certainty when the Virginia colony was formalized – documents 1607- or that the first Africans landed from a Dutch ship 12 years later as indentured servants rather than as slaves. But land records indicate that Africans were deeded parcels of land in the 1620’s-30’s; thus indicating they were freed at some time in between. At least, I learned a few new things this morning.

Other material from this class included slave codes being written into law. Among these are anti-miscegination laws, slaves = chattel laws, forced illiteracy laws, etc. I‘ve never had a black history class but so much of this is what I would consider common knowledge. It may be that I should not try to audit this class. I don’t want to interfere with her teaching method. But there is a strong desire to stand up and yell at the students who sit there like inert lumps. When no one else could provide the answer (Dred Scott) I offered it and the professor followed with a short amplification. When one of the black women students admitted to only knowing the name, she launched into a longer and more involved description of the events leading to and the import of the Dred Scott decision and the 36° 30’ line defined in the Missouri Compromise. Is this selective instruction? Does an older white male get a different response than a young black female? Should the young black female have prepared for class more carefully? I don’t honestly know. Certainly the Dred Scott decision has import to all black Americans. But it has import for all Americans, not just black Americans. All college students should be aware of this legal event, not just those who might major in history.

I’m not going to buy the text for this class but it may be more fun than I anticipate dropping in when parking allows. I’ve no intention to disrupt the class buy intruding into someone’s lesson plans, but it will be interesting to see how much “black history” I’m already familiar with.

History 3940 involved a guest speaker today. Collins invited a SFC in a local NG unit. He’s been writing a column from Afghanistan for the local paper. I was reading them while they appeared. Once he rotated home the columns stopped.

He spent an hour fielding questions while the three vets nodded or muttered in support, agreement, and at shared black humor. The presence of veterans from combat roles in VietNam, Bosnia, Iraq, and Iran was interesting. Despite the spread of years and the changes in the armed forces the commonality of experiences is strong. There are some things absorbed at a visceral level that seem almost to alter our DNA and to make us truly comrades in arms.

What I found truly interesting was his response to a question asking if our war in Afghanistan could be won. While still on active duty, he pulled no punches, and said it felt it to be unwinnable. Bravery of a different sort than one normally looks for in soldiers. Two of the three vets agreed with him. The ROTC cadets said nothing. Unfortunately, they also failed to ask any questions. They had a remarkable source to take advantage of and failed to look for information. It was almost as if they wanted to hide from the reality of what an army actually is.

SFC Hopkins did a good job of talking to a civilian class without using too much slang or jargon peculiar to the military. Once the class ended the political correctness did as well. Talking among ourselves, Collins, Hopkins, and the vets reverted to type, used real world imagery. It was interesting how often I’ve written in earlier material about some of the things that stuck out to us all across generations. Two pieces of my poetry would have fit well into Hopkins’ talk.

I may offer him some limited use of them. I may use them for this class as well. After all, one of the assignments will be to interview a vet. I’ve spent enough hours talking to Gloria’s father about his tour of duty that I may be able to do a posthumous interview.

Carry on!

Art-history spelling list 16 September 2010









I’ll agree that some college students might not be familiar with these words. Enteduanna is new to my vocabulary.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Palin disrobe to "take the nation back"

15 September 2010 Try to remember the ides of September

The next time Sarah Palin mouths off about “taking our nation back” from the unknown “them” someone should ask her if she’s willing to personally assume the role of Liberty as portrayed by Delacroix on 28 July 1830. Guaranteed to shut her up for three reasons. She won’t understand the reference, and if someone explains it to her she will defer for the other two reasons.

Just to demonstrate that loops of insipidness do exist and can surface, my entry for 15 September 2009 was titled “Try To Remember the Kind of September.” It’s still posted and can be read if your level of bittersweet needs topping off. The nature of the song that brought it all to mind is that of a brain worm. So it is safe to predict that 15 September 2011’s entry will somehow contain similar references to a long-remembered song.

For the record, I’ve still not seen “The Fantastiks.” I doubt the coming year will alter that.

This is a September of hope fulfilled for one American and desperate hope for two others. The fate of an American female hiker held captive by Iran, Sarah Shourd, has taken a turn for the better as the Iranian government released her from captivity. Two companion hikers still remain hostage in Iranian hands. The three were being held on espionage charges. The half million dollar ransom disguised as bail should never have been paid to Iran. Despite the apparent urgency involved in freeing our citizens, this “bail” is ransom demanded by Iranian pirates.

“September 13, 2010

Iran's internal politics are complicating the release of an American jailed after being arrested hiking near the border. Sarah Shourd, one of three hikers being held, may be released on a $500,000 bail. Melissa Block talks with Hadi Ghaemi of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about the factors at play in Tehran's courts.”

I listened to NPR discussion about her release while driving into class yesterday. The prevailing thought was that Ahmadinejad’s annual self-humanization program, designed to make him appear more reasonable and less like a religious fanatic when appearing at the UN had run afoul of the ruling unit that is quite happy to be perceived as religious fanatics. If it ever comes down to which nation, the US or Iran has more religious crazies, the US will total our with many more. I avoid the word “win” as if three might be a reward or prize for numerical superiority. There would be no “winning.” Ask the citizens of Iran who’ve grown up under the great Islamic revolution.

Ms. Shourd was exquisitely cautious to avoid any words or phrases that might cast Iran, its political leaders, or its religious leaders in a bad light, or that might anger them. It would not have required much to disrupt the proceedings. She was, and remains still, a tiny pawn in a game of international diplomacy and internal power struggles. The “humanitarian “ excuse for her release in conjunction with Ramadan is not based in humanitarian concern for her well-being; but in the very great risk that she has been stricken with a potentially lethal disease. Iran does not want to be seen as preventing a young woman from receiving medical care, or from the very real possibility that Iranian health care delivery systems can’t or won’t treat her particular disease. We may very well see more of this in the future as Iran’s president rails against current sanctions.

This is the September of disbelief in many ways. The Sarah Palin clone squad is being prepped and pimped for political campaigns and offices. Since we refused to elect Ms. Palin, she has now begun creating and releasing clones into the political arena. They dress like Palin, propose the same theocratic John Birch reactionary platforms as Palin, and lack verbal skills as well. We could soon be suffering under a repressive repetition of the Reagan/Bush II years with idiots in office pushing for theocratic control of every aspect of public life and political life. The Palin clones will all demand “god in schools” removal of “evolution and other science education,” destroying the recent health care reforms in favor of free market insurance companies, and, of course, taxing the poor even more so the rich can pocket the poor’s last dollars while trumpeting about how the wealth will now “trickle down.” After long years in medical labs, I know what trickles down. It’s never good when it does.

This is a September of astonishment. I’m completely unable to understand why anyone would believe anything that Palin utters. Her lack of political awareness, lack of ethics, and overwhelming ego-centrism make her absolutely unsuitable for any political office. Yet, thousands of people continue to send her money, to pay to hear her read – poorly- a ghost-written speech that is aimed at that part of our populace which can’t read or reason at a high school level. The strings that move her body parts are all too obvious, but the mobs fail to notice them. The mobs fail to realize that Palin does not write the words she massacres. The mobs are poorly prepared to choose leaders. Palin should be viewed as unfit to rule as Marie Antoinette.

We Americans missed the reign of terror that followed the French Revolution. The Civil War was a harbinger of our own mob rule era. The mobs are mobilizing now to bring about our own copy of France’s internal terrorist rule. France survived theirs. France had the good fortune to depose the Church when it did royalty. Our mobs are all too eager to embrace the churches and let them rule. What we may face can make France’s suffering look like kindergarten play. Man the barricades, brothers and sisters. Liberty is in jeopardy!

Delacroix’s painting of “Liberty leading the people.” The larger view is posted below. This is a remarkable example of art and politics working as a powerful team.

I’ll believe Ms. Palin and her clones have the best interests of our nation at heart when I see them bare-breasted on the barricades.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

14 September 2010 observations off the wall and unfounded

The ball cap of the day is my IDF OD cap. I don’t wear it that often but it seemed to be appropriate this morning. Wandering past the library, waiting for my classroom to empty, I ran into the Gideons handing out their mish-mash of Tanach extracts and their new testament.

“Have you been offered…” says the smiling late-middle-aged man.

I look at him, point to the logo on my cap. He wishes me a good day and I wish him the same. He gets to go home and tell people he met a real Jew on campus. I get grist for my blog.

The dressing down delivered last Thursday had some effect upon the class as questions about Napoleon suddenly provoked responses from a different group of students. The bulk of discussion still began in the Vets/ROTC group. We’ve finished with Napoleon and will be moving on to the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War next week. Thursday we will have a guest speaker.

The class occupying the classroom prior to my history class is an African-American studies class covering pre-Revolution to ca.19th century. There seem to be some empty seats in the room so I asked the instructor if it would be alright slide in and audit. She has no objection. If the parking lot dance is productive and short, and if the classroom door is left unlocked, I may pick up a bit more education this semester than I had bargained for.

After history 3940, into the Pathfinder and off to Krogers, looking for an influenza immunization. The line to sign up was slow, the wait, while not really that bad, was longer than I had hoped for. In addition, there was a pharmacy student training there today and the pharmacist asked if I would mind letting her perform my immunization. Being more interested in a rapid exit than anything else, figuring it would help keep the process moving, I agreed to be a training patient. She did a good job, minimal pain.

Returning to campus, I found a very convenient parking spot within 30 meters of my afternoon class. The handicapped parking tag makes it mine for the afternoon. I decided against sitting outdoors and trying to see the monitor and having minimal wi-fi connectivity. Instead I’m in one of the art buildings, with acceptable lighting, air conditioning, and no wi-fi.

Gloria called when she parked and we met for a brief bit of PDA. We have sequential Trout Unlimited license plates that stand out vividly once you’ve see them. We also have what are probably the only two Grateful Dead front plates on campus. We can recognize each other’s vehicle coming or going.

Wi-fi suddenly kicked in. How many Jews at ETSU is the search of the day. Wi-fi is gone again. To be continued later and elsewhere.

Art-history delivered more amusement today. Pawlowicz took the time to relate a synopsis of the Epic of Gil-gamesh. No one asked for spellings or if it would be on the test. Today’s list of words that college students are apparently not considered able to spell are: obsidian, cuneiform, Jericho, ziggurat, and votives. Study hard boys and girls. You might be graded on your spelling. If I were teaching, I’d expect students to spell things correctly and hold them responsible for looking up proper spellings.

Another in a long series of indications that I was right to not become a teacher.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Religious Wars for $2000, Alex

13 September 2010 New season of Jeopardy begins

Jeopardy is a ritual event in our household. We watch if faithfully and generally do relatively well pulling the answers from memory. Gloria has knowledge gaps, as do I, that prevent us from hoisting a broom after every show. But we score well in concert. Her knowledge of music after 1975. She has a better recall for opera and theater than I. I’m better at remembering obscure bits of history, battles, and technical items. Neither of us does that well with organized athletics, team athletics, and so-called “sports.” We’ve a stock answer for those questions: “that Russian guy” or that “Russian woman” (Fukifino, Fukifinova). It’s vulgar, somewhat elitist in nature, and never fails to amuse us when one of us mutters it in response to a “sports” answer.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve applied to be on Jeopardy. I’ve done the on-line audition every time it has been offered for adults. I always run afoul of at least one “sports” question, usually two, that leave me with unanswered questions that I finally fill in a desperate multiple-guess effort. Obviously, those questions have prevented me from obtaining the magic number of right answers that tracks me upward to the next screening level. Invariably, one of the answers is”that Russian guy.”

I look forward to Jeopardy as I do few other television programs. It’s a chance to learn some new bit of trivia every night. It’s a chance to push my brain to recall and spit out those odd bits of arcane and often useless data that crept in and set up residence. They’re welcome to resume squatting after they provide me the necessary answer. There’s certainly un-used room in my gray drive.

It’s also a new season of Jeopardy for our troops overseas. The rumors about Quran burnings have claimed lives in Afghanistan and in India. Not the image of such an event taking place, but just the rumor of it happening is sufficient to generate mobs numbering in the tens of thousands.

I can’t imagine how such religious fanaticism originates or continues to exist. Is it a product of poverty and illiteracy? Is it an extension of tribalism? What I do know is that it places our troops in a most difficult situation. A fanatical and easily excited local population combined with opposing forces that will intentionally incite anti-American activity means an increase in US KIA and WIA. The policies designed to limit injuries to non-combatants will allow small mobs to stop or delay military units long enough to allow IEDs and other ambushes to be deployed in their route of travel. The increased incitement will also mean that civic action units will be at extreme risk and the necessary increase in visible security precautions will alienate the local populace even further.

We, as a nation, we as an armed force, are ill-equipped when it comes to dealing with the fanaticism of populaces such as the Afghanis. The people who might best help us are American citizens who happen to be Muslim. They’ve made at least some portions of a reformation modifying Islam from a faith for nomadic tribes into one that serves educated and modernized. But the portion of our population that is poorly educated, easily excited by demagogues is doing everything it can do to prevent our Muslim citizens from enjoying the benefits of American civilization. They know not and care not that their bigoted behavior and openly voiced hatred of people who look and behave somewhat differently are also putting our troops in Jeopardy. The image they present when trying to prevent construction of an Islamic center or when demanding Muslims who are native-born US citizens “Go Home” is certainly ramping up the anti-American fervor among the poorly educated in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While our anti-Muslim idiots haven’t become the tools of a directed violent mob action yet, the probability grows greater every time one of our holy or un-holy demagogues starts spewing lies about Islam to the poorly educated. The season of Jeopardy is fully upon us at home and abroad.

I can make a joke about the knowledge I lack while watching the new Jeopardy season of shows. I can miss an entire column of “sports” opera, theater or other answers and grin while muttering, “that Russian woman.”

When our stupid have excited their stupid, or when their stupid have excited our stupid, I won’t be grinning and making a joke about it. The answer, unfortunately, will turn out to be: that airman, infantryman, medic, flight nurse, crew chief, gunners’ mate, helicopter pilot, aviation mechanic; woman, from St. Louis, Gaithersburg, and Pocatello, man from Arvada, Lincoln, or Jonesborough.

Worst case scenario? Perhaps. But unless we can find a way to defuse stupidity and fanaticism on both sides of the firing line we’re going to be answering that question more and more frequently.

For some of us the new season of Jeopardy is reason to be excited. But for too many of us, our men and women in uniform, it is not really a new season, just the old one amped up on fanaticism. For them, it is always “double jeopardy” and the “daily double” is not a chance to win but to lose.

I’ll take Religious Wars in the 21st Century for $2000, Alex!

“Oh, Oh, that Russian fellow!”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

12 September 2010 Who needs an army when they have fanatics?

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- At least two people was killed and four were injured in Afghanistan Sunday in protests against the pastor who had planned to burn the Quran in Florida, a local official said.

This is a wonderful example of mob manipulation used as a weapon of warfare. The excitable nature of the Afghan Muslim populace when real or imagined slights to the Quran take place is capably managed by the Taliban and others to incite violence against US and NATO troops, diplomats, and non-Afghan civilians.

These mobs can block and prevent a military unit carrying out an assigned mission as surely as can a counterforce unit of infantry or irregulars. Given the restrictions imposed upon NATO and US troops in Afghanistan, designed to prevent harm to non-combatants, they present a cheap, readily available, and effective means of thwarting regular ground units.

The Taliban have only to print up leaflets, spread a rumor or two, and the local mullahs will do the rest. That Muslims do not separate the physical book from the content of the book makes it all the easier to form a mob and to perpetuate rumors of destruction of Qurans. The mob is always there, like a pool of gasoline on water, just waiting for the next spark to land and ignite the blaze. The primitive nature of much of Afghani life aids the Taliban. A population on the edge of revolt because of poverty, corruption in government, and decades of continual war, warlords, and religious fanaticism is a prime breeding ground for the riots that will incite similar riots in other Muslim nations.

Terry Jones is guilty of no crime, but the blood of many will be on his hands before these riots are over.

I have to wonder what would happen here if a deliberately staged public incineration of Christian testaments were to take place in Iraq or Afghanistan. I suspect that we’ll have the opportunity to find out. A decade or two ago, I wouldn’t have expected much beyond protest. Now, given the political and economic upset and the continuing evangelical and fundamentalist Christian insistence upon trying to create a theocracy, if thinly veiled; I would expect a lot of vandalism, public protests at Islamic centers, and perhaps some physical violence against US citizens who happen to be Muslim. The “war against Christians” mob is trying to gain the same seats of power that the Taliban possess in Afghanistan. The GOP and Tea Party mobs are willing to allow them media coverage and access to elected officials if it keeps the GOP in political power. As I’ve said before, only the name on the book differs.

Stand by for book burnings. Jones has piled explosives and laid a powder train. The “War on Christians” mob can’t wait to light it.

We need to keep this religious fanaticism out of our armed forces. That, because of the nature of our government and military, will be hard to do. The crusader clones are already in place in many units. Where we go from here remains uncertain at best.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

11 September 2010 Auspicious beginnings not dealing with religious crazies

“Of course I read the textbook.”

Actually I have read the assigned material for Dr. Colin Baxter’s History of Modern Warfare. I’m currently about two chapters ahead of the class discussion material and half way through the smaller “also suggested” book. The other two veterans in the class are also at least current. So are the ROTC students. The back half of the classroom drew wrath and ire for being un-prepared to discuss the assigned material. They got dressed down quite handily while I sat and grinned. “Nice old Dr, Baxter, white-haired, South of England accent, Department chair, has a working temper and he demonstrated it this morning.

I’m still enjoying his course. I walk out of each session with new bits of knowledge, and that’s why I’m spending the time and gasoline to get there. He also has a good sense of humor. I’ll see what he teaches next semester.

The Art-History class has thinned out by about 33% from the first session. Most of the class is female. I suspect that nearly everyone in the class is taking it for a humanities or arts elective. That is why I took a similar course some 38 years ago. I needed an easy, sleep-through lecture class to round out my all-tech/sciences 18 hours and 40 hour work schedule. I pulled an A from that course but retained far less than I wished I had.

The lecturer knows his material well, delivers it with no hesitation or flaws. He automatically stops and spells words in his lecture as if he knows that the class members will not know how to spell them. Today’s words included “lintel” as in post and lintel construction, “mortise,” “tennon,” and a few others that made me shake my head in amazement that any college student would not be able to spell such words. This is another situation that will entail spoon-feeding the test material to the students. In this case, it won’t bother me as much as it did last semester. I’m in this class for the information and knowledge that I can pick up about fine art. If it comes across in bytes, I’ll take them.

I stopped to talk to the professor after class. He’d mentioned Thor Heyerdahl during his lecture, expecting no one to recognize the name. When I said that I knew the name his eyes lit up. When I said I was auditing the course because I wanted to learn what he could teach, not to satisfy a requirement, he grinned. I may have made his day.

My art-history classmates remind me of the frat boys in last semester’s history class. They plan on coasting on their appearance and athletic abilities. They shuffle in late, drop packs in the middle of the aisle, and generally zone out.

Co-incident with art-history, a link to some very interesting music and a movie about a singer, Rosa Eskanazi as presented in the movie “My Sweet Canary.” The link was another in a long series of great suggestions provided by my good friend Dr. Paul Scotton. Paul is presently in Greece, working on an archeological project.

Paul and I met due to our mutual love of The Grateful Dead when we joined an on-line collaboration, writing a compendium of Grateful Dead shows available on tape. Yes, that long ago! As such encounters can go; this one has become a long-lasting, wide-ranging friendship that I’ve found very rewarding. I’ve always found his suggestions of musical and other links worth exploring. Hope you enjoy the little bit of music that comes along with this one, I did!

We woke up to rain this morning. Gloria decided to go into Jonesborough to a garage sale. She’s going to do a bit of grocery acquisition before coming home. There’s always something we need from the grocery store. She came in with a few luxury items that were on sale.

Now we have a rainy afternoon ahead of us. I think I will base dinner around a package of langoustines in the freezer.

Thursday night’s dinner was leftover turkey heated in broth and served over kasha-varnishka. The dog really wanted some turkey. She went through a series of play and submissive postures and repeated them while we plated dinner. We thought she wanted to play, something she normally does before she starts to eat her dog food. Gloria played with her until Loki indicated she was through playing, then took her plate and sat down to eat. Normally Loki can be trusted not to touch food on the counters. This time, when I turned my back, she helped herself to the largest bits of turkey from my plate. I was not amused. Loki was. She sat on the kitchen floor with a large doggie grin. After all, Loki lives up to her name.