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Friday, October 31, 2008

Congratulations!

To long-time Friend of the Blog Gerard E, and Catholic bloggers Tom "Disputations" Kreitzberg and that one at the Donegal Express, on the ending of the Philadelphia championship drought.

I was actually favoring the Phillies slightly given that they had Brad Lidge as a closer. His comeback was one of the nice storylines.

Children and cameras.

Shelly has a story. And photos.

Oh, and I have to say this: now that fall has arrived for real, I'm really going to miss the Dialogue of the Deaf.

What's that?

The Dialogue of the Deaf is the shouted discussions across the street between our kids and Shelly and Brian's. It usually involves Kole and Rachel.

Kole: "CAN YOU COME OVER?"

Rachel: "WHAT? HEY, CAN WE COME OVER?"

Kole: "WHAT? MY MOM SAYS IT'S OK!(1)"

Rachel: "WHAT? HAVE YOU ASKED YOUR MOM FIRST?"

Kole: "WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I'M PLAYING IN THE SAND!"

Rachel: "WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I'M PLAYING ON THE SLIDE!"


And so forth. It's like the McLaughlin Group, only with preschooler Gumbys.














__________________

Footnote (1). 95 times out of 100 Kole has not actually cleared it with Mom when he says this. But he means well.

The one absolutely good result of an Obama victory on Tuesday.

[I've been meaning to post this for a while, but wanted to wait until the polls tightened before doing so. Trying not to appear defeatist.]

There will be one indisputably good result from an Obama victory on Tuesday: national unity.

You're probably saying something along the lines of"

"Wha--? As divided as we are? Another corrosively rancorous election? I hope you brought enough of what you're smoking for everyone. [Olbermann voice:] Sir."

Yes. More national unity. An Obama victory will stab racism in the proverbial guts and will do more for real integration and unity than anything we've seen since the end of de jure segregation. It will be irrefutable proof that the sky is the limit for African-Americans. Being black is no bar to the highest office in the land. Black parents will be able to point their children to President-elect Obama and say "That can be you. The most powerful person on earth. Go and do likewise."

Sure, racism and the race card will still exist, but a Rubicon will have been crossed, and both will ring ever more hollow as the years pass. The justifiable sense of alienation among African-Americans will fade, and the scars from the national wound inflicted by chattel slavery will heal more quickly and inexorably vanish.

And, quoting Don King, I'll at least be able to say "Only in America!" on Wednesday morning. Not that it will do anything to allay my numerous problems with the man and (much moreso) his plans, but it will be a source of real comfort and even pride. A strong ray of light, if you will.

We have it good here.

"We" as in Christians. Not that the things I gripe about are irrelevant, but they are pretty much all less life-and-death than our Christian sisters and brothers around the world are facing.

Consider the brave witness of converts out of Islam. Try watching this without having your heart rent.

Please note that it is women like Sana that upper class twits in Britain are perfectly content to leave to the care and consideration of sharia courts.

Then pray.

Thanks to Lydia at What's Wrong With The World for the link.

Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Need your hope for the future of America restored?

I give you the students of the Ron Clark Academy. The song is infectious, but the interview is the best thing about it.

Uh...busy.

As in travel to distant locales. But not too busy to say thanks, Mike--I am humbled by your generosity and praise.

Blogging will commence at whatever rate I can manage. And, yes, I know it's time for the annual Halloween costume rant.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I find this inexplicably hilarious.

Garfield Minus Garfield: the comic strip without the cat.

The description:

Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.

A sample result:


As I said, I think it's wet-your-pants-funny. However, as I disclosed below, I'm weird. YMMV.

What a horrible person.

Alleged McCain supporter violence victim admits to hoax.

Way to blame "a black guy" for it, too.

Despicable.

A debt I cannot repay.

An overdue note of gratitude to my Mom.

I talk a lot about my Dad here, and for good reason: he's been my hero since I started to talk. My brother and I regarded him as a living god and are still convinced he's immortal, even though we know otherwise. My first published article referred to an incident in my childhood involving a Dad-hater. So I think you have the cut of my jib on Dad.

But.

If you enjoy reading this blog, thank my Mom. From an equally-early age, Mom fed my voracious appetite for all things knowledge-oriented. I became a bibliophile before I hit kindergarten. She plopped the Charlie Brown dictionary down in front of me, got me the 16 volume Book of Knowledge set from a local grocery store--in general, she shaped me into the book-crazed individual I am today.

Yes, Heather, I'm passing the buck. You'll find it harder to blame her. [Worth a shot.]

She went back to college to get her degree when my brother and I were in middle school and let me ransack her college texts (I was especially find of her physical geography text--savannahs! Tundras! Glacial moraines! Yes I'm weird!). In fact, she was the first member of her family to get a college degree, and my sole boast is that I was the first to get the degree right out of high school. She also loves art and worked a lot with ceramics (which rubbed off--you should see our living room wall and bookshelf). Now she's moved on to landscape painting, and one hangs over our computer desk. She also did a neat depiction of Noah's Ark which hangs in the kids' barracks. So, when someone (cough-Heather-cough) asks why I acquired a fifteen volume set of the Encyclopedia of World Art, I think I owe that muse to Mom as well.

Then there's the sense of humor--you'd better be quick on your feet around her or your going to be looking down at a pile of your rhetorical guts. I tend to avoid her when she and Heather are talking--it's usually my intestines looping to the floor in a matter of minutes. You'll walk over--but you'll limp back. Mental quickness isn't a virtue in our household, it's a necessity. Mom, you'll be happy to know that Maddie is using "scare quotes" to punctuate her commentary now.

Oh, I am in such big trouble...

There was another side, too--her professional side. To the extent I care for the least of us, I owe a big debt to her. She was a teacher at the alternative high school in my home town, which was the last chance for a lot of troubled kids. She wept over them and celebrated with them when they bucked the odds. Then she moved on to counseling work with children in the public school system. Same sorrows and rewards.

Finally, there's the Mom side, of course--the one who always waited on me hand and foot when I was wheezing through an asthma attack, the one who was cheering me on during my modest high school football career, and the one who failed to snuff her tears as I left for Europe to study and, later, walked down the aisle on that sunny October day, 9 years ago. The same side that causes all of our kids to swarm over her like a jungle gym whenever we visit.

Thanks, Mom--for everything.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Steve Skojec talks booze and eats.

Over at his new must-escape-politics blog.

Ok, I may have engaged in crude oversimplification in describing it.

I chimed in on the "Good Wine below $10" thread. Nobody's offered Ripple or Boone's yet, I'm glad to see. Steve seems to prefer dry wines, if I'm reading correctly.

Frankly, dry wines leave my taste buds arguing that I just quaffed propane. I have been given to understand that as one's wine palette becomes more discriminating, you actually prefer dry.

Right now, I'm still much more commonsewer than connoisseur on that point.

Nine years, far more good than bad.

Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.

--Ecclesiastes 9:9 (NASB).

Nine years ago today, my beloved Heather lost her mind and said "yes" at the altar. I was unreasonably happy then, and have only gotten happier since.


The Abduction of Psyche, by Bouguereau.


No, it has nothing to do with our marriage, apart from the fact I sometimes feel like I've gotten away with grand theft, spouse-wise.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Baby and the Babe.

Overdue: new picture of Louis, along with my lovely wife, at swim class last week.








New politics. Change. Trespassing.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence and three times is enemy action.
My McCain yard sign has been vandalized three times in this election cycle. I could say four, but that time was the result of goofy kids trying their best Evel Kinevel impression using a two by four off the curb.

Twice the wire has been bent so you couldn't read it and Saturday I found it laying on the ground. No, it wasn't windy and after the first two times I made sure it was hitting bedrock.

Our neighbor found hers in a puddle across the street.

None of this crap happened in 2004. On the bright side, they are leaving our "No on 2" sign alone. Maybe Doug Kmiec is doing drive-bys...


Anecdotal, but somewhat cheering: the number of McCain yard signs is still growing in this neck of the woods, despite the campaign pulling the ripcord a few weeks back. And one of our good friends up the street, a Kerry fan in '04, has no yard sign this cycle.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Nice marmot.

Oh: the blog turned six yesterday.




Note the taut phrasing and hip sensibility.

It's why you keep coming back here like lab rats clicking at the lever: quality, quality prose. That and the pointless Big Lebowski quotes.




This is genuinely funny.

Senators McCain and Obama at the Al Smith Dinner in New York last night.

Both men acquit themselves quite well.

By the way, make sure to add American Catholic to your blogroll. A group of fine contributors, including established guys like Chris Blosser, Brendan "Darwin" Hodge and Tito Edwards along with newbies, especially long-time friend-of-this-blog Donald McClarey, who at long last is blogging.

Who will keep the bridge with me?

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods,

"And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast,
And for the holy maidens
Who feed the eternal flame,
To save them from false Sextus
That wrought the deed of shame?

"Haul down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?"


I disagree with the estimable Jay Anderson and don't regard the conservative pundits delirious to the point of delusion with either Obamafever or Palin Derangement Syndrome as rats leaving a sinking ship. It's neither fair nor accurate--the poor rats are merely unintelligent creatures trying to do what they are hard wired to do. They can't help it.

No, the sauve qui peut quill-penners are much worse. They are comrades in arms who have chosen to flee the battle. And they've made laughable cases for their desertion. Manner, tone, "temperament"? Please. The gentleman who flipped off his opponent, accused her of having a plate-breaking hissy fit, a self-described "uniter" who unapologetically plays the race card--this is a "first class temperament" at work? In any event, we aren't electing the Chief Hotelier of the Republic here.

Great--it's nice that David Brooks treasures the opportunity to trade bon mots with the Illinois Senator about Neibuhr. Lovely. Too bad Mr. Temperate comes fully equipped with a set of media and political goons who could find work with Huge-o Chavez. That is, if the Tubby Tyrant decides to "go negative" at some point. Dare to ask The One a simple question about his policies that leads to an unscripted moment? Time to pay.

That's change you can be terrified by.

It's pretty clear that McCain is a flawed candidate in a lot of ways. There's no doubt Palin was unsteady-to-cringe-inducing at the outset. However, their campaign is the only thing standing in the way of a total rout, the only brake pedal on a car that will otherwise have three accelerators for the left foot.

But Palin's the problem here? The embarrassing vulgar cancer? All-righty, then.

Sure. Nevermind the fact the last time McCain had the lead was after he named her as his VP. Rest assured we are keeping track of the savaging disdain here, given that its real target is the social conservatives. Gotta love an officer corps that sneers at its grunts. Note also the beginnings of an attempt to pin the blame on Palin, which has to be apprehended with excessive force.

Which has been approved, by the way.

As I said before, McCain is a flawed candidate. But he has virtues which substantially outweigh the flaws. The Macaulay poem above reminds me of those virtues. Macaulay wove an idealized version of the Roman Republic and its stolid citizens, but it rings true. It was certainly how the Romans saw themselves, SPQR emblazoned on the eagles preceding the legions, long after the Senate had been deprived of any real authority and the citizenry had been reduced to cataphract-fodder and the dole. It is that kind of old-fashioned civic-mindedness that fires him. It also leads him (wrongly) to put our issues on the backburner, for the most part. But I'll take the backburner over the freezer any day of the week. Not to mention goonsquading by the starry-eyed who have made politics their religion.

He may very well lose--right now, the polls (dubious and volatile as they are) point to that. But if he does, remember who did try to keep the bridge--and who didn't. Because the revisionism is going to be piled high and deep.

And who knows? If you stand at the bridge, it has a better chance of being kept.

She'll have the salad.

What did Churchill say about fanatics?

Someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject?

Meet Jennifer Thornburg.

Remember, she's just 19 so it's hopefully just a phase.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here's an idea: Don't be a stupid bigot.

"Obama Bucks."

Speechless.

Or, "Sometimes the Race Card Can't Be Played Enough."

The latest newsletter by an Inland [Central California] Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."


What could possibly be racist about that imagery?

/eye roll

And now, the "apology":


The group's president, Diane Fedele, said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the club's meeting next week. She said she simply wanted to deride a comment Obama made over the summer about how as an African-American he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

"It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don't want to go into it any further," Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn't my attempt."


Suuuure. Let me humbly suggest that if Ms. Fedele really didn't see the problem with these hoary staples of racist stereotyping, she isn't competent enough to be the target in a carnival dunk tank, let alone run a political organization not affiliated with David Duke. Oh, and the "Sorry if you were offended" non-apology is one of those things that moves me to Defcon 1. If you are going to apologize, APOLOGIZE.

Which brings us to the "Some of My Favorite Political Candidates are Black" Defense:

She said she doesn't think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

"I didn't see it the way that it's being taken. I never connected," she said. "It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else."


Should have gone with the "Wookies on Endor" manuever instead. Count me as one who never quite got the love affair with Alan Keyes.

Finally, the human cost of racism:

Sheila Raines, an African-American member of the club, was the first person to complain to Fedele about the newsletter. Raines, of San Bernardino, said she has worked hard to try to convince other minorities to join the Republican Party and now she feels betrayed.

"This is what keeps African-Americans from joining the Republican Party," she said. "I'm really hurt. I cried for 45 minutes."


Deserves a lot more than "Sorry if you were offended."

Bobbie Reed, rest in peace.



She passed away in her home last evening around 9pm.

She was pure grace, class, and toughness, an Italian lady in the noblest sense of the phrase. I wish I had known her better, but I am glad to say I had the opportunity to know her.

Prayers please, as it has struck home very hard for her whole family, including her bereaved husband, Tom, a true gentleman who was also my high school football coach.

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LOLFeds.

The Raven Goes East.

[Bumped up, 10/15/08: OFA is curious about reactions to the Catholic stuff (and probably the book overall. Take this opportunity to fire away!]




The Scourge of God is the second book in the second Changeverse series. Originally a trilogy, the "Rudiverse" is now going to be a tetralogy.

Thanks to the consistent (indeed, increasing) quality of the books, that's good news indeed. The old world continues to pass away, and the new generation continues to rise to the fore.

The Scourge of God ranges widely across the changed (rimshot!) landscape of western North America, from southern Idaho to the banks of the Andui--er, Mississippi at Dubuque.

When we last saw our heroes (adventures like this call for the old standby) they were fleeing the chaos following the climactic battle between the "United States" centered at Boise and the army of the Church Universal and Triumphant. The CUT, for those of you not in the know, is the theosophist cult of bad guys centered at Yellowstone which has taken pretty much the worst features of every religion in history and wrapped it in a gnostic overlay of deadly-serious gibberish.

Led by Sethaz, the adopted son of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, the CUT is determined to rid the world of all technology that requires more than a wheel turning another wheel or a wheel turning a shaft. And that's a quote. It also is bent on subjugating women and establishing master and servitor races through selective human breeding. Oh, and they have ties to some pitch-dark powers and can fight like fast zombies. Yes, aim for their heads.

Which brings me to the first substantive point. For all of the hints of the fantastic/cosmic at work in the previous books, TSOG raises the ante considerably past "hint." The Cutters are being wielded by Something very dark, while our heroes are being guided. That, in fact, is the crucial distinction between the two. We have mercifully few encounters with the Cutters, but all of them bear the hallmarks of the diabolic. They are quite literally possessed at points in the narrative. The assistance given to the good guys is indirect, save in one case that should be near and dear to the hearts of mackerel-snappers everywhere. And even then, it's analogous to a blessing. The heroes remain themselves.

The second substantive point is that the narrative works at a good clip, showing us the aftermath of the battle (a tactical "American" victory over the Cutters, who suffer their first grievous losses in combat). The protagonists have to liberate their captured friends and escape the Cutter dragnet. Also, the parricidal dictator in Boise has to be avoided and groundwork laid for his overthrow. Things do not go well--at all--and central characters suffer debilitating injuries and barely evade capture at the hands of the Cutters who are determined to slay Rudi Mackenzie at all costs. Noble Buddhists, sardonic Sioux and a bat-guano crazy Iowan despot all combine to steer the path of our heroes eastward. New characters join and/or assist, with clear significance for the future. If you can't see a coalition being built, I can't help you. There's considerable character development quietly occurring within the Fellowship, especially with Odard, who is becoming very complex.

It doesn't entirely focus on the Fellowship of the Bear. The Corvallis Meeting fields an army to pre-empt the Cutters from establishing a bridgehead to threaten the Willamette states, which leads to a desperate battle between the Meeting and the new Cutter/Boise alliance. Beloved characters remain: Juniper clings tightly to her conscience, the demands of power nothwithstanding, Astrid is still insane/brilliant, though she has a horrific run-in with the darkest powers of the Cutters, Little John Hordle still eats like a hobbit and finds the Sindarinia of the Rangers amusing.

Old perspective characters return to good effect, such as Signe Havel and Eric Larsson, and one pivotal perspective character tragically dies. Another character arrives on scene with great portent for the future.

As always, pop cultural references and homages are slipped in with a subtle wink, and this time Lucifer's Hammer, South Park, and (long overdue) Highlander all get nods.

Third: yes, fellow papists, the "Catholic stuff" remains in good hands. And no, not mine. I'm reviewing that stuff, not writing it. A lot of times my input is a Jared Cofflinesque "Ayup." Leavened with my trademark verbosity, natch.

Finally, if you read closely, I think you get a clear-enough explanation for why the Change happened. Who and how remain in the time-honored "heh, heh" category.

It's a classic "middle book," so it is unsatisfying for the usual structural reasons. But the geographical range helps make up for that, and we finally see the one place in North America where the shock of the Change had the least impact, fabled and fabulously wealthy Iowa. The book closes with Frodo heading over the Andu---Rudi crossing the Mississippi into the biggest deadzone of them all, determined to right a wrong and continue the quest.

Tolle, lege.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prayer request for my sister-in-law, Maria, and her mother.

Maria's mother, Bobbie, has leukemia and is being moved into hospice care this week. Doctors are giving her until this Friday.

This comes less than five years after Maria's father died.

For all the screaming and yelling about the stock market last week (and I've done my share), this is vastly more important.

Thanks.

Went on a mini-vacation.

Up to 26 Pines to see my parents for an extended weekend. Last chance to stay in the Summer Palace before it gets winterized.

Mom and Dad shovelled on the spoiling, with Mom helping Madeleine make jewelry in Mom's craft room and Dad taking them for a spin in his newly-acquired Yamaha golf cart. Mom's cooking kept us stuffed and happy and I helped Dad with his storage business ("retired" being a relative term).

We also had a chance to enjoy Michigan in all her autumn glory, which has to be seen to be believed.

Oh, and Madeleine, Dale and Rachel all came down with impetigo.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"That's 'p' as in 'phonetic'..."

Picking up a prescription at a chain pharmacy on Friday:

Chain pharmacy employee:"Is that picking up or dropping off?"

Me: "Picking up."

CPE: "Last name?"

Me: "Price."

CPE: "[Pause] How do you spell that?"


Yes, I know. Brice, Rice. Grrr.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The hap-hap-happiest State in the Union!

J.D. Power warns that the global auto market may collapse in 2009. My immediate reaction: great news--that means it technically hasn't already!

Related:

My wife sent me an email earlier this afternoon with this header: "Don't shoot yourself."

She took the kids on a walk around the neighborhood today. She passed a house that's been for sale for about 8-10 months, previously owned by a nice couple who moved to God knows where. They had, then dropped, a realtor and now it's a fizbo. It's 3 bedroom, two full bathrooms and has a 1.5 car garage and a sunroom. It also needs about $5k or so work (you can see water damage in the sunroom, which could also use some drywall an a new window or two). But it's no dump.

Asking price: $24,999.

[Dateline--R'Lyeh: Through a spokesthing today, dead Cthulhu announced that when he finally wakes from his dreamless slumber to inaugurate a reign of madness, "a strange eon where death itself may die," he plans to avoid "the land called Michigan." According the spokesthing, the Great Old One finds the place "depressing beyond the ability of non-Euclidian geometry to express."]

Again, to finish on a positive note, Heather praised me for our decision to get the durable, long lasting linoleum for the kitchen.

Thanks!

To an anonymous benefactor: from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

When God made Art Donovan, He broke the mold.

The Hall of Fame defensive lineman lays down his greatest hits on the Tonight Show. Funny even if you don't know any of the particulars. Keep a ear cocked for the Bobby Layne reference.



Via Thoughts From A Fat White Guy, an impressive blog by a starting lineman on the UConn team.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I guess that makes it a really, really valuable antique.



"They don't even make parts" for our furnace anymore.

I know--we'll burn the bills and credit card offers.

The "good" news is that he can probably make it work with "reasonable facsimiles" of the necessary, no-longer-made parts.

Meanwhile, I'll be out crushing heads.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Why William Ayers matters.

Just ask John Murtagh.

Here's the first paragraph:

During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up "a gentleman named William Ayers," who "was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that." Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama’s answer: "The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George." Obama was indeed only eight in early 1970. I was only nine then, the year Ayers’s Weathermen tried to murder me.

Read the whole thing.

Prayer request.

I don't usually go with the material requests, but I'm at wit's end, so here goes.

Our furnace went out last week and won't restart. We've been quoted $400 for repairs, which we can absorb. Barely.

But the repairman (a guy I trust implicitly) just walked out of the house muttering "you've got issues."

I'm just about ready to punch something inanimate.

Thanks.

The phrase you are looking for is "Flight to Quality."

Behold the Brussels Meltdown.

Let's see--I do have silver....

Remember that scene in Lucifer's Hammer where the surfer tries to ride the tsunami wave to safety? There's some hint America, despite six years of idiot Bush administration spending policies, just might be able to pull it off.

But the risk of a dollar collapse is one for the distant future. Right now the world faces the opposite problem. There is a wild scramble for dollars as a $10 trillion pyramid of global lending based on dollar balance sheets “delevers” with a vengeance.

This is a “short squeeze” on those who have used the dollar for a vast global carry trade. International banks are facing margin calls on their dollar leverage. It is why the Fed is having to provide $1.25 trillion in dollar liquidity for the entire global system, according to estimates by Brad Setser from the Center for Geoeconomic Studies.

The crisis engulfing Europe, Asia and emerging markets, makes life easier for Washington. The United States is becoming a safe-haven again.

The Fed can now hope to pursue monetary stimulus “a l’outrance” without being slapped down by the currency, debt, and commodity markets. Take comfort where you can.

Never been prouder, Maddie edition.

My eldest can ride a bike now. She's still not quite to the point of being able to kick herself into gear, but she's getting closer.

She stumbled and fell and accumulated the usual collection of scrapes, bruises and tears on the way. Each time, she picked herself back up and tried again, me encouraging her all the way.

Now she sails northbound with confidence, confident enough to peek at the clouds and birds.

"It's so much fun!"

What? Oh, allergies have been a monster this year.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Who's the leader of the cult that's made for you and me?



Barry-O, Barry-O...


Forever let us raise his temple high! high! high!

So come along and sing the song and worship faithfully!

B-A-R-A-C-K O-B-A-M-A!

Cinderella.

If you haven't seen Cinderella Man, see it. As in, right now.

All right--quick summary:

CM is the improbable comeback story of boxer James J. Braddock, the heavyweight champion right before Joe Louis. Braddock was a contender in the late 20s until he broke his left hand. His savings wiped out by the Great Depression, he ended up moving into a basement apartment with his wife and three kids. He was lucky enough to get work on the docks, which forced him to use his left hand, progressively strengthening it. He gets a chump match at the last minute at Madison Square Garden and scores a titanic upset of the No. 2 heavyweight, his now hammer-like left hand helping to knock out his stunned opponent before an even more stunned audience.

I think the pivotal scene in Cinderella Man is not the heavyweight match with Max Baer (who was done an injustice by the film, not so BTW), as impressive a bit of sports cinema as it is. No, the crucial scene is Braddock's fight with the No. 1 contender, Art Lasky, the last step before facing Baer. Frankly, Lasky mauls Braddock, breaking a rib and battering him from one end of the ring to the other. Finally, Lasky throws his best shot, a titanic right hook, smashing Braddock to the canvas and knocking his mouth guard out. The count begins, and Braddock is seeing double.

Then he starts flashing back to his family in poverty, being reduced to nothing, and he pulls himself to his feet. Not even wobbling, he smiles at Lasky and walks over to pick up his mouth guard, still smiling. A smile that says, louder than any speech, "Kid, you'd better pray to God that wasn't the best you got."



Alas for Lasky, it was, and the scene shows him watching Braddock in disbelief as the latter takes up residence in his head, shortly before turning the tables and beating the snot out of him.

That's what happened last night. No, not to Biden, but rather to all of Gov. Palin's detractors. Sure, she's had an awful stretch--no one watching the Couric interview could do anything but wince.

But last night she got back off the canvas with a smile after having taken the worst pummeling in modern political history, and sent her detractors to the mat for a ten count. Regardless of what happens this year (and the odds aren't great and haven't been), she's here to stay.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why I am pulling for her to do well.

My uncle sends this recent story about the Palins, one "that will never make the papers":

One of the clearing guys here at our [utility] company was volunteering at the Alaska State Fair when the pole he was up on (helping to remove) broke off at the ground and fell with him attached. The fall would have killed a normal human. In this case it resulted in a life changing (for a lumberjack) shattered hip and internal injuries.

This coming Saturday the fair is holding a fund raiser for the family that includes an auction of donated goods. Todd Palin called the organizer and asked him to come over to the house and pickup a donation for the auction. Once the organizer got past the Secret Service background check and fondle, Todd handed him an official NHL jersey with the name McCain-Palin sewn on it and signed by John, Sarah and Todd. Estimated value on e_bay today..$5,000.00. Good people those Palins.

Which is why it ticks me off to no end to see the ridicule and scurrilous bullshit heaped upon them. Argue her qualifications and missteps all you like. But the below-the-belt crap deserves a quite literal punch in return.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Church of the Savior in Chora, Constantinople.

With all due respect to Hagia Sophia, the best remaining mosaics in the City of Constantine are not to be found there.

Rather, they can be seen at the Kariye Museum, the current name for the Church of the Savior in Chora. "Chora" is a term roughly meaning "rural," and reflects the fact that the city's great Theodosian Walls enclosed a great deal of farmland that was never developed, even when the population of the city exceeded half a million souls.

In fact, the parts of the city nearest the walls were popular sites for monasteries because of their remoteness from the population center.

The Church of the Savior is the last survivor. [Important Technical Note: Clicking on the pictures in the post often gives you a better look.]



Built in the Eleventh Century, during Byzantium's last years of unchallenged political glory, the Chora was made immortal during the fourteenth century by the diligent efforts of an aristocratic patron, Theodore Metochites.


Metochites presenting his work to Christ.

Metochites spent lavishly to adorn the church with the great mosaics which have endured to this day. After his fall from power during one of the many idiot suicidal squabbles within the last ruling Byzantine house, Metochites retired to the Chora as a monk and died there, hopefully consoled by his great work.

The Chora was not immediately turned into a mosque after the fall of the city to the Ottomans in 1453. However, it was forcibly expropriated and turned into a Muslim worshop site in the early 1500s, and heavy plaster covered the mosaics. Please note that the the plaster is not responsible for all of the damage to the mosaics--Istanbul is geologically active and suffers from a large number of earthquakes.

Fortunately, in 1948 the Chora's life as a mosque was ended by the Turkish government and restoration work was begun, resulting in the establishment of the site as a museum in 1958. For that, at least, we can be very thankful.



[Picture credit.]



The Dormition of the Blessed Virgin



The South Dome


The North Dome











Saint Paul




Saint Peter

You gave me fortune/ You gave me fame/ You gave me power in your god's name/ I'm every person you need to be...

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