Saturday, June 29, 2013

Every weather report says something different, so here's the plan: 

A. In regular weather, picnic takes place as usual in the "front yard" of the rectory. 

B. If rain/lightning, picnic takes place in the parish hall. 

C. If intermediate, picnic takes place closer to the columbarium/parish side of the yard from where we can take shelter in the parish hall should the rains begin. 

The chicken needs to marinate for at least a day, so we're moving ahead with the picnic as I have several pounds of fowl covered in jerk sauce and don't want to spend the next month eating it. Also, beer and sangria!

So Long, Everyone. We'll Be Back August First.

May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Friday, June 28, 2013

"Cool Breeze" and the Lyrical Gangster

You should see it from the top.  "Nancy Drew" fans will know how many steps there are.

"Fire de a Mus Mus tail, him tink a cool breeze". [Or, in American English, "Set a rats tail on fire, he'll think there's a cool breeze."  It's a colloquial comment on the pervasiveness of ignorance.]

There are lichens that grow on the long stairway that connects the main street in the main town on the main island to the island's harbor.  In the daylight, when the tropical sun is full and the air its usual dry 85 degrees, they are mildly adhesive.  During the night, and particularly around the dawn dew, they can be as slippery as ice.

So I discovered on my first morning as I dashed from my small apartment, with its slightly resentful permanent resident, a six foot iguana, to the boat that was to take me to a neighboring island.  In fact, in my only pair of tropic-weight dress pants, I tripped and managed to tear a hole in the knee.  As I slid down those last few steps on my chest and stomach, an elder philosopher of the streets regarded my maladroit progress and intoned, "Mon, that was yardy".

Welcome to the Caribbean.

The other discovery of that morning was that I had been presented with a dread-locked chauffeur, guide, and general bodyguard by the name of St. Louis Johnson, but who introduced himself by the memorable nickname of "Cool Breeze", also known as "Breezy".

Cool Breeze's age was hard to determine, as he had the familiar look of a multi-generation waterman who can appear both youthful and eternal at the same time.  I guessed him to be about 30, but as we made our way from island to island and from household to goat farm to chicken ranch to luxury hotel lobby to small island clinic, I realized that, given the number of children sprinkled about the islands who greeted him as "Daddy", he would have required more than eighteen years or so to build up that small army of progeny.

Three mornings a week, Cool Breeze would meet me in the harbor and take me across to the smaller island so that I could visit those in my care. Along with him would be his ubiquitous and ancient transistor radio, sometimes suspended from his neck by a lanyard, perpetually tuned to WSTA-AM ["Always in stereo"] and his boat, the Lyrical Gangster.

It's actually more buoyant than it looks.  Sorta.

There were two songs that seemed on a perpetual loop on WSTA, both were designed to appeal to the tourists who flooded the island from Saturday to Saturday or on those days when an increasing number of cruise ships were to be found in the harbor.  The first was "Hot, Hot, Hot" by Buster Poindexter, late of the New York Dolls.  You've heard it, even if you don't realize it.  The second was also a favorite with the locals, as it was about a man on the run from the police, something that had been experienced very directly by at least half of the island's male population.  Its title uses the slang term for such a person, and every hour one could expect "Here Comes the Hot-stepper" to be playing.

Breezy knew all the words to the song, as did everyone in the islands who listened to a radio for more than an hour:

Here comes the hotstepper
I’m the lyrical gangster
Pick up the crew in-a de area
Still love you like that
No, no, we don’t die
Yes, we multiply
Anyone test will hear the fat lady sing
Act like you know,
Rico I know what Bo don’t know
Touch them up and go, uh-oh

I taught poetry for twelve years and am still not sure what this song's about, other than a general celebration of the gangster life.  Maybe that's all is needs to be about, as Cool Breeze would sing it on the ninety minute trip across the bay in the morning and the return trip usually in the late afternoon, depending on the tide.  Perhaps "sing" isn't the correct term, but whatever it was that he was doing, he was certainly passionate about it.

One day, if just to pause his twice-daily rendition, I asked him why he named his boat "Lyrical Gangster".  I knew it was a reference from the song, but I wondered if there wasn't some deeper or more interesting meaning.

"Anyone can be gangsta, mon.  All de boys in town be gangstas now.  But to be lyrical, that is the bringing of the jah love to the world, to save it from de Babylon."

Again, I'd taught theology, too, but was lost for a context.  My tutelage took place over subsequent voyages to and from the various bays.  Like many in the islands, especially in those days, the Rastafarian sect provided much of the spiritual appreciation of the world; certainly Rastafari theological terminology, made popular through the reggae music of Bob Marley and others, was of mighty influence and a positive source of cultural identity.  Well, and a rationalization for tremendous marijuana consumption on the part of some.

To over-simplify, the world is a place of natural love that is obscured by the greed and petty authority of corrupt officials and political bodies.  If Jerusalem represents spiritual perfection, then its antithesis is the Mesopotamian city.  As I once informed a young groom about the marriage license and copious amounts of related paperwork necessary for the diocese, he smiled, shook his head, and said, "Babylon, mon."  If paperwork is from Babylon, then the good, and implicit, aspects of life are from a spiritual Jerusalem, represented by all that is of jah, or God.  [Jah is possibly a patois abbreviation of Jehovah or Yahweh, but that might just be the Babylon in me talking.]

Breezy saw all good people as those in revolt against Babylon, not in any militant way, but in a manner that was revealed through service to others and a general happiness with being alive.  I was reminded when speaking with him of something that St. Paul says in the 4th chapter of Philippians:  "I am content whatever my state."  In revolt against the pettiness and other sins of the world, we are a sort of gangster; in awareness of jah love, we are made lyrical.  There is a certain native beauty to that outlook that I've appreciated ever since.

The other aspect of being a lyrical gangster that I appreciated was it's consistency.  No matter the weather [granted, it was usually perfect, but there were some days when it was considerably less so], Cool Breeze was always there, like a heavenly counterpart to Charon, on time [and not "island time", either] to take me, the sacrament I carried and the Gospel I preached, to wherever we needed to go that day.  How perfect it was that our vessel was a representation of lyrical gangster-hood.

For those interested in Rastafarianism, or at least its musical application, there are many sources of further inquiry.  Unfortunately, many of them are poorly written, thus clouding their meaning.  If one can find it, and as its out of print that may be difficult, there is a slim volume simply entitled Dread that is still recognized as the best work on this interesting cult.

Of course, spending an evening listening to the music of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, and others who perform the musical expression of Rastafari known as "reggae" might be more pleasant and efficient.  You may even find yourself dancing to it.

This morning's offering is the last of this series of Friday features.  There have been fifty such profiles over the past year, every Friday except for Good Friday and Easter Friday, where I have written either of people whom I know or have known and admired or those whom I admire and wish I had known.  Oh, and one whom I never knew and I'm glad for it.

Originally, the sub-title for all of these very minor essays was "Dear Abigail", as I wanted my granddaughter to know something of life before her birth and of some of the characters I've known in real life.  I'm also not so naive as to expect any of her teachers will have known of some of the less obscure people and their importance to church and history, so I wanted to make sure her education was a tad more complete than what will be provided by those trained, if not educated, in the rather light-weight contemporary standard.

My original promise, and the source of my weekly discipline, is now complete.  Should a personality occur to me, I will certainly put together a reminiscence and post it on a Friday.

Again, thanks for reading.

From Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters

"The human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them." Thus anything can be an idol and, really, everything has been an idol to one person or another. The great deception of idols is we are prone to think that idols are only bad things. But evil is far more subtle than this. "We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life."

This Morning I Received A Happy Missive From Our Bishops Concerning Gay Marriage

An insouciant former colleague said to me, "Yay, now everyone can experience divorce."  He's a bit of a cynic.

Here's something from the financial side of things: Congratulations to Gay Americans Who Are Now Eligible for the Tax Code’s Marriage Penalty

If you're wondering about my take on this, I still don't understand why governments marry people, save for the obvious revenue-generating fees associated with what's mentioned above plus those necessary for the marriage license.

As Much As The Church Has Been Changing, So Has Higher Education

How do all the other tenured, morally self-congratulatory educators live with the knowledge that many of their students, after having had their narrow certainties and provincial visions broken down, face years of indentured servitude? We can begin to understand by thinking of the 2,774 U.S. institutions that (as of 2010) grant bachelor's degrees as being in the credentials business rather than the education business. The Daily Beast's Megan McArdle, summarizing an interview with economist Bryan Caplan, points out that it's "actually fairly easy to get a Princeton education for free, as long as you don't want the degree: just walk in off the street and sit in on the classes. It's unlikely that a professor will kick you out, or even notice." No one does this, of course, since no matter how much you might have learned auditing courses, your degree-less self will fare no better in the job market than will the next autodidact.

Many students do the opposite, however: earning, or in any case receiving, college degrees after learning as little as possible. After all, writes McArdle, college students "cheer when class is cancelled. This makes no sense if the goal is accumulation of human capital. In no other business are customers excited to get less than they were promised."

As much as I have enjoyed my academic life, if I were 18 today I would opt for training in something practical and long-lasting in the fields of carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, auto repair, etc.  While I might want to supplement that training with some courses in business administration, I doubt I would want to start my 20's carrying more student loan debt than I have ever carried for a mortgage.

A related article from The Manhattan Institute: Repairing America's Unhealthy Relationship with Student Debt

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday's Verses [Remember That Hymns Are First And Foremost Poems]

Hail this joyful day's return,
hail the Pentecostal morn,
morn when our ascended Lord
on his Church his Spirit poured! Alleluia!

Like to clove tongues of flame
on the twelve the Spirit came--
tongues, that earth may hear their call,
fire, that love may burn in all. Alleluia!

Lord, to you your people bend;
unto us your Spirit send;
blessings of this sacred day
grant us, dearest Lord, we pray. Alleluia!

You who did our forebears guide,
with their children still abide;
grant us pardon, grant us peace,
till our earthly wanderings cease. Alleluia!

Newspaper Quotation Of The Week

Motorcycles emit sounds akin to "Vrooooom! Vrooooom! Vrooom!" when revved.

I Used To Play Bass For Cyborg Roaches [Yeah, I Could Do This All Day]

Scientists have created remote-controlled cockroaches with an auto-steering system that incorporates Microsoft’s Kinect. The motion-sensing gaming tech could one day allow the intrepid insects survey a disaster zone.

I Used To Play Bass For Bologna DNA

Woman wants bologna DNA tested

I Used To Play Bass For Nuclear Pasta

'Nuclear Pasta' in Neutron Stars: New Type of Matter Found

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Godless congregations copying Christian churches

The full article may be found here.

As described in the article, the "atheists" [whom I assume are mostly just angry former Roman Catholics], gather for announcements, listen to platitudes about compassion, have their secular politics ratified, and sing innocuous music from the popular realm.

Seriously, how is that different than some northeastern Protestant church?  This really isn't a surprise, as the times that I've spent in Congregationalist churches and some Episcopal [and Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.] could almost pass for an atheist "church".  They merely are extending the trend away from powerful Christian witness that has been started by contemporary mainstream Christianity.

Let's see how many stick around for the passing of the plate.

Relax, Let The Trained Professionals Handle The Guns

Gun found by boy in Ybor theater belongs to deputy

"About 90 minutes after a 9-year-old boy found a loaded handgun in a movie theater bathroom Sunday, sheriff's Detective Luke Hussey realized he was missing his Glock. Hussey, 38, who has been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office for 13 years, was off duty that day. He had gone to Muvico Centro Ybor 20, according to the Sheriff's Office, about 3 p.m. and stopped in the bathroom before the movie. He put his Glock 26, a personal weapon, on top of a toilet paper dispenser — then forgot it and left."

Archaeological News

Biblical history comes alive with new augmented reality app

Another Desperado Is Brought To Justice

Metro threatened Docter with “arrest, fines and imprisonment” if he dared to weed, water or otherwise tend to more than 1,000 morning glories and other flowers whose seeds he planted in 176 barren flower boxes alongside the top stretch of the north escalators at the Dupont Circle station.

More On Men

From Father Knows Best to Father Doesn't Matter:

The number of American males valuing marriage is plummeting. According to Dr. Helen Smith, author of Men on Strike, approximately one-third of American men do not value marriage. Even college-degreed men, whom usually marry at a rate of over 80%, are beginning to no longer value marriage even as the number of women valuing marriage is skyrocketing. When men get married, research is proving that their connections and support groups dwindle – thus isolating them socially and emotionally. This is evident with the popular "man cave" as it is representative of how society and families now treat men. In prior decades, the man was "king of the castle" and adored for his hard work and sage advice. Today, men have become the butt of family jokes as they get the worst parts of the house where they have to carve out a nook to get a little relief and control. And, should a divorce happen, men following the Christian ideals of family life usually get hurt the most financially, emotionally, and with the loss of their own children.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday's Wave

“There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there is never more than one.” - C.S. Lewis

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Maybe The Best Article I've Yet Read About The Curious State Of Men In Media/Entertainment...

...and, apparently, their own homes:

I'm not sure when father stopped knowing best, but the first "dumb dude" I remember is Homer Simpson. With his trademark "D'oh!" and monomaniacal desire for donuts, he was the perfect caricature—an over-the-top example of laziness, stupidity, and gluttony. But he was soon joined by a host of "real world" men who embodied many of the same qualities: Ray Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond), Tim Taylor (Home Improvement), Greg Warner (Yes, Dear), Doug Heffernan (King of Queens), Hal (Malcolm in the Middle), and the father/son-in-law combo of Jay Pritchett and Phil Dunphy (Modern Family).

For the most part, they're harmless. I mean, you'd feel okay leaving your kids alone with them—at least until the first commercial break—but each constantly serves as the butt of a joke. They're the clowns, the buffoons, the victims of their own immature stupidity, boys who have to be rescued by episode's end by their smarter, more attractive, and endlessly patient (or shrewish) wives. The men of commercials are even worse, bumbling, forgetful lunkheads.
It's interesting that at the gym, which is where I spend time with younger women than at the parish [that didn't sound quite right, did it?], if I find myself on a treadmill surrounded by 30-something wife/mothers, their conversations are about, in descending order, Food, Children, Eating, and Rotten Husbands.  The rancor can be so powerful that I usually put on the earphones and turn up the Beethoven.

It makes me want to say to young men who come to me interested in marriage to "Run away; run away quickly".

This Seems To Run Contrary To Standard Economic Theory


I'm contra-Starbucks, myself, so this really doesn't matter to me.  I've had their coffee exactly twice; once by accident while in the harbor in Newport when the signage was so obscured to satisfy local "historic" demands that I thought it was just a coffee shop, the other on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when I had no choice.

Burned beans seem not to be something worth the money they charge.  When in mid-town Manhattan, I delight in buying a $1 cup from the pushcart guy in front of a Starbucks, though.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chris Nelson's daughter, Elizabeth Grace, is to be baptized at Christ Church tomorrow at the 10am Eucharist. I know gardening and golf are distracting, but it's always good to support a "native son" of the parish and acknowledge so in the liturgy. See you in church.

He Speaks For Many

"I may be getting old, but I've got young fashioned ways..." - Muddy Waters

Archaeological News

Laser Scanning Reveals the Hidden City of Angkor Wat

We often speak of ground-penetrating radar in our adult education gatherings at the parish.  This is the next generation of tech-archaeology.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thomas Edward Lawrence

No, that's not a bathrobe.
"The Beduin could not look for God within him: he was too sure that he was within God."

History is filled with people who began their lives in humility and obscurity, tangential to contemporary events, only to discover, either through their own devices or just plain caprice, that they had become the event itself.

T.E. Lawrence was the illegitimate son of an English nobleman and a household governess.  The nobleman and the governess ran off together, obscured their identities by changing their surname to "Lawrence", and moved to Oxford.  When of age, their son Thomas entered Jesus College, graduating with a degree in history [honors, first class] in 1910.  Because of his area of interest and natural ability at language, not to mention a near-photographic memory, Lawrence became the protege of Sir Leonard Woolley, the pre-eminent archaeologist of the early 20th century.  Together, they made significant discoveries while working the dig site at Carchemish.

Lawrence on the left, Woolley on the right; a great whopping stone in between
With a talent for languages and map-making, matched with a familiarity with the Levant gleaned through a three-month trek he had made between his third and fourth years at Oxford, it seems probable that Lawrence would have been one of the great archaeologists of the century, especially when one considers that he was the protege of Woolley.  Fate and history, however, had other plans.

At the outbreak of World War I, Woolley and Lawrence were pressed into duty by British military intelligence to spy on Turkish activity while maintaining the guise of working field archaeologists.  Eventually, now bearing the rank of lieutenant, Lawrence was transferred to Cairo to draw maps, until becoming of interest to the rather nebulous office known as the Arab Bureau.

[An aside: The British, in particular, seem to enjoy creating nebulous offices that pursue rather peculiar goals, often answering to few in the established power structure, that grow beyond their original intention. Military Intelligence's File Room #6 eventually became the organization that, in fiction, James Bond works for, the Secret Intelligence Service. The SIS now has a huge and conspicuous building on the Thames that houses hundreds of offices and rooms.  The Special Air Service never had anything to do with flight, airplanes, or oxygen usage, but was a group that drove around North Africa creating general mayhem against the Italians and Germans in WWII.  They now are the world's premier anti-terrorist commando force. They still don't have their own aircraft, though.  The Arab Bureau was begun in order to "harmonise [sic] British political activity in the Near East", and it wound up being the organization that re-wrote the borders of the Middle Eastern countries, thus leading to the continued strife into which the United States has been particularly drawn during our current century.]

One of the ideas hatched by the Arab Bureau was for the Arab tribes, rivals in everything from livestock to water wells, to organize and harass the Turkish forces.  Like many bright ideas, it was brilliant on paper, divorced as it was from the realities of tribalism.  In order for this to work, the Arab Bureau would have had to provide a European officer who was skilled in Arab language and customs, familiar with the geographic challenges of the region, conversant in Islam, and able to recognize the tribe members from one another.  As they didn't think they had such a person, the Bureau sent Lieutenant Lawrence to the the fledgling Arab stronghold in the desert to "appreciate the situation" while the Bureau-crats looked for a suitable officer for the project.

Yes, this was one of history's most remarkable examples of unfamiliarity with one's staff.  Once with the tribes, Lawrence, relying on his quiet authority, encouraged the Arabs to find common ground with one another, mainly by convincing them that the coastal town of Aqaba, poorly defended by the Turks, could be seized.  As this appealed to the Arab sense of adventure, and more mercenary considerations since the Turkish army paymaster's office was in Aqaba, the "Arab Army" stormed the town and seized it in July 1917.  This energized force then began a campaign of asymmetrical warfare under the direction of now-Major Lawrence.

The Middle Eastern command was still considered a sideshow of WWI until enterprising American journalist Lowell Thomas showed up and decided that Lawrence was to be the "star" of Thomas' popular slide show productions that he hosted all over the U.S.  Thomas would follow Lawrence with a photographer and send back lurid and colorful dispatches to the American newspapers and wire services.  Lawrence became the first media-created celebrity of the 20th century, for better or ill.

This was certainly a loss to archaeology, as Lawrence would never be able to return to obscurity, or so he thought.  He rode with the Arab tribes to Damascus, attended the Paris Peace Conference, attempting in vain to have the Arabs recognized by the British and French as anything other than a backward and minor culture, and served, now as Colonel Lawrence, as an adviser to Winston Churchill, then of the Colonial Office.

[Another aside: If the British and French had been willing to listen to Lawrence, much of the world's current strife could have been avoided.]

In 1922, "Lawrence of Arabia" disappeared.  A year later the press discovered that a Royal Air Force private by the name of Ross was, in fact, the Royal Army's former 29-year-old colonel.  He disappeared again, this time in the guise of Private Shaw of the Royal Tank Corps.  Shaw/Lawrence would later be transferred back to the RAF and, to protect him from the nosy press, posted to India, where he would remain until 1928.  He would be discovered yet again, and because an increasingly volatile Indian government suspected that he was there not to hide from notoriety but to spy on them, was returned again to the UK.

Lawrence struck up a surreptitious friendship with many of the thinkers and artists of his day, especially with George Bernard Shaw and his wife [hence his sobriquet of "Shaw"], and maintained a lively correspondence with them; he also maintained an interest in archaeology, but would never again participate in any field work.

Lawrence retired from the military at the age of 46 to indulge in his books, letters, memoirs, and hobby of riding a motorcycle far too fast for conditions.  It would be on one of these excursions, in the spring of 1935, that he would lose his life in a crash.

To the surprise of many, the Church of England would have a bronze bust of his likeness placed in the crypt at St. Paul's Cathedral in London; he would be interred in a small parish cemetery in Dorset near the home of his later years.

There is a great volume of literature about Lawrence; in fact, just within the last two years, yet another bestselling biography would be published.  There is also an extremely well-made film, "Lawrence of Arabia" that would be one of the last of the studio blockbusters and would win the Best Picture Oscar for 1962.

If one were to read just one volume, however, it should be Lawrence's own memoir of the Arab campaign, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.  It is well-written and comprehensive, displaying the depth and range of Lawrence's intellect and his ability lyrically to render the sobering events of war and diplomacy.

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Relax, Let The Trained Professionals Handle The Guns

IRS Agents ‘Accidentally’ Discharged Guns 11 Times, Possible Injuries

Here's my favorite quotation:

"Agents actually fired their guns accidentally more often than they intentionally fired them in the field...."

Thursday's Verses [Remember That Hymns Are First And Foremost Poems]

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our strength confide,
our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God's own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabbaoth, His Name,
from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us:
the Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure,
one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
through Him Who with us sideth:
Let good and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still,
his kingdom is forever.    - Martin Luther

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's About Time Someone Said This

The Atlantic: Stop Penalizing Boys for Not Being Able to Sit Still at School

Life In Babylon

I’m pretty alert to such problems these days. Soap doesn’t work. Toilets don’t flush. Clothes washers don’t clean. Light bulbs don’t illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It’s all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice.  It’s like the barbarian invasions that wrecked Rome, taking away the gains we’ve made in bettering our lives. It’s the bureaucrats’ way of reminding market producers and consumers who is in charge.  Surely, the gas can is protected. It’s just a can, for goodness sake. Yet he was right. This one doesn’t have a vent. Who would make a can without a vent unless it was done under duress? After all, everyone knows to vent anything that pours. Otherwise, it doesn’t pour right and is likely to spill.

Related: But the folks at Tesla have gotten swept up in the quasi-religious hype of environmentalism. They’re not just manufacturing a curiosity for hobbyists. They’re saving the planet, one preening and sanctimonious upper-middle-class driver at a time.

Also related:  States debate taxing green cars to recover lost gas tax revenue

Monday, June 17, 2013

Logic, Continued

Suggestions to encourage greater incarceration of the mentally unstable, to jawbone Hollywood about its profitable (and gratuitous) gun violence, to regulate extremely violent — and extremely well-selling — video games usually fall on deaf liberal ears. In short, the stereotyped camouflaged, weekend gun enthusiast is not the problem that leads to Columbine, or the nearly 532 murders last year in Chicago. But because we can’t or won’t address the causes of the latter, we go after the former. He is not the unhinged sort that shoots a Gabby Giffords or innocents in an Aurora, Colorado, theater; but somehow is the supposed red-neck yokel that a journalist like ABC’s Brian Ross assumes does.

If the Department of Homeland Security, as is rumored, really did wish to stockpile hundreds of millions of rounds of ammunition, then why did it begin such repository buying right in the middle of a hysterical national debate about limiting access to various rifles and semi-automatic weapons? Was it not to create a climate of fear and panic buying that has emptied America’s shelves of the most popular types of ammunition? If the homicide rate in Philadelphia and Chicago is any indication, murderers still have plenty of access to bullets. Those who want to target practice or shoot a varmint on their property do not.

Then We Would Have To Use Logic, And There's No Room For That In Contemporary America

What if we looked at cars the same way we look at guns?

I picture some historian 1000 years from now, poring over his/her dissertation notes at whatever serves as a kitchen table, looking up at his/her spouse and saying, "These people were stupid.  Why am I studying them?  I should have gone to phaser welding school."

Naturally, People With Money And Power Want To Teach Others That Those Things Aren't Important

Arianna and Mika have, respectively, money and power and would rather not share them, thank you.  So, they organize and host a conference to teach people that those things aren't really desirable.  How 1st century Roman of them.

Strike that, make it 4th century Roman.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Maybe The Best Example Of Post-Modern Literature Ever

I just got these new shades. They’re aviators, apparently just like the guys in Top Gun wear (I’ve never seen it). I find they’re a great substitute for the personality I don’t have.

Please read the whole thing.

Media Beclowning Continues

A headline in today's Republican-American seems oddly phrased:

Pope, Anglican urge family values

"Pope, Archbishop urge family values" or "Catholic, Anglican leaders urge family values" or something consistent without a conjunction of a proper noun for an individual and the proper noun of an institution.  It makes one think the reporter and editor think that the titular leader of the Anglican Communion is "The Anglican".

Which actually would be kinda cool.  "I'm meeting with The Anglican" or "I have received word from...The Anglican".  He could be like The Saint on the old Roger Moore television show; have his own theme song, etc.

You know, this is all somewhat familiar:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Some Observations From A Former Student

I’m somewhat sympathetic to the notion that, because gas taxes pay for roads, it’s unfair for those who aren’t buying gas to get what critics call a literal free ride. This problem is more pronounced with bike riders who argue for reconfiguration of entire cities’ roads without throwing a whole bunch in the pot. But the larger point is how elaborately stupid, counterproductive, and at odds with itself idiotic governments become in using our money to push for one policy with subsidized products, only to turn around and complain that all those subsidies are costing them money. Um, yes, that’s what we were saying years ago when you started subsidizing these cars with thousands of our dollars and lecturing us about how awesome it was going to be. STEP AWAY FROM THE RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINES IN YOUR MINDS. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

Speaking As One With A Couple Of Degrees In The Humanties, I Heartily Agree

As one who has spent a lifetime studying the humanities, my advice for students is to take their business elsewhere. Until humanists can offer an education that truly prepares one for life -- not just with a marketable degree, but with an education of wisdom and hope -- I would consider a degree in accounting or computer science. Then, after work, one can read all the Shakespeare one likes and not have to be informed that the bard was a racist, an anti-Semite, and gender-challenged to boot.

Another Journalist Beclowns Himself When He Speaks Of Religion

David Brooks writes for the New York Times and always seems to me to be obsessed by status, at least how it is artificially represented through credentials.  For example, this excerpt is from one of his columns written early in the current president's first term:
Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law)…
Wow, that's really...superficial.  I guess I should put [Princeton, Princeton Seminary] after my name from now on, then I'd have the right to point out that this collection of Ivy League wonders has roiled the country in a moribund economy, seemingly endless series of scandals, and a cloudy and confused foreign policy.  I'd also really like to know who gave the "stand down" order in Benghazi, but that's for another day.

What drew my attention to Brooks this week was another one of his odd columns.  One would think that someone who so appreciates the trappings of education would know the Bible a little better than this:
In Corinthians, Jesus tells the crowds, “Not many of you were wise by worldly standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
 As everyone reading this knows, Jesus is not the one speaking to the church in Corinth; it's Paul.

Apparently, a number of people noticed this and wrote to the Times about it, as Brooks has since corrected the column.  Sorta.

You see, he still hasn't cited from which Epistle to the Corinthians he quotes, which indicates to me that he doesn't know that there are two.

By the way, the correct citation is I Corinthians 3:18.

Mr. A

Not Mr. A.

"If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.” - Leo Tolstoy

The other day, while watching the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean's ruddy horizon, I was thinking about surfer nicknames.  No, I don't know why, either.  Offhand, the names of champion surfers "Gnat" Young, "Midget" Farelly, Mickey "The Cat" Dora, Greg "The Bull' Noll, Darryl "Flea" Virostko, "Wingnut" Weaver and Dale "The Hawk" Velzy came to mind.  I've surfed or otherwise ridden waves with guys named "Baby", "Hoodoo Bob", "The Razor", and, my favorite, "Goggles" Paisanno.  For some reason, I picked up the nickname "Killer" when I was younger.  I suspect it was because of the damage that I used to do to boards or maybe due to my impressive list of personal injuries.  In recent years, it's been "56 Chevy".  I like to think it's because I'm older, but elegant and serviceable.  However, it's probably because I'm perpetually rusty.

One of my old compadres is a fellow generally known as "Mr. A."  Because he's a professional colleague, I'll leave his Christian name out of this.  It's his nickname that serves as his story, though, so that is what's important.

It's genesis came about on one of those mornings when the waves were of an indistinct nature.  To the north, they looked capable of sustaining a righteous ride; to the south, they were junk.  The problem was that a ride that started in the north would move the surfer to the south, where the ride would shift into ignominy.  While the beginning and middle parts would be great, it would end badly.  We were on the verge of abandoning the morning's session when Mr. A earned his name.

Considering the waves, he looked to the horizon and said, "It's like what Aristotle said: 'A is A'.  They're waves.  We ride waves.  Let's go."

[For those puzzled by the "A is A" comment, or who never had to learn philosophy's Law of Identity, it's defined thus:
To have an identity means to have a single identity; an object cannot have two identities. A tree cannot be a telephone, and a dog cannot be a cat. Each entity exists as something specific, its identity is particular, and it cannot exist as something else. An entity can have more than one characteristic, but any characteristic it has is a part of its identity. A car can be both blue and red, but not at the same time or not in the same respect. Whatever portion is blue cannot be red at the same time, in the same way. Half the car can be red, and the other half blue. But the whole car can't be both red and blue. These two traits, blue and red, each have single, particular identities.
Well, that makes it clear, doesn't it?]

Later, after the morning in the surf, he commented further: "It's like those two guys in the movie looking for the perfect wave.  Why bother?  A wave is a wave.  It's not for them to be perfect, they're just waves.  It's for us to match them.  Then, any wave can be 'perfect' if we can be perfect.  But, since we can't ever be perfect, why bother about the wave?  We just ride."

I'll bet you didn't think middle-aged surfers could be so philosophical, did you?  I mean, Frankie and Annette never were.

Mr. A. is a priest, although he hasn't formally bothered with it much in recent years.  I think it's too small for him. Besides, he's done his time.  Unlike those whom I have known who have sought ordination in their middle age and then left the practice of parish ministry within a very few years when it didn't feed their mid-life expectations,  A. was ordained at 25 and spent the better part of his adult years working in parishes and schools.  We met when we served together as fledgling hospital chaplains and were forced to sit through interminable hours of group discussion and write page after page of self-reflection in order to receive our certification.  After awhile, when we both realized that we were spending more time in self-analysis than we were meeting with patients, we hijacked the meetings and asked more and more difficult and invasive questions of the supervisor, attempting to probe her unstated motivations for avoiding actual hospital work.  After a couple of weeks, we were having fewer meetings and spending more time with those in our charge.

Then we discovered we both enjoyed surfing and have ever since maintained a small reign of terror on beaches of both coasts, at least if you're a line-up jumper, pseud, show-off, surf dullard, or employ unnecessarily foul language in the presence of seagulls. It's been a good friendship.

He left parish ministry one day, rather abruptly, but I understood.  After spending 20 years conforming to canon law, observing the medieval authority of bishops, enduring the general tattiness of congregations and the disdain of secularists, he went all Bartleby. The fact that he did so without another job to which to go outraged his parish [they took it personally] and puzzled his bishop, who recommended he "speak to someone" about his decision.

I read it for the first time in college. That was the last time I read it.  If you've read it, you'll understand.

Instead of saying "I prefer not to", as he does in my imagination, he told the bishop that, yes, he would speak to someone.  Of course, in a world where A is A, when one speaks to someone about the reappraisal of a holy call, it's pointless to speak to a secular therapist with no understanding of living theology and who is generally little more than a cocktail party acquaintance of the bishop's.  If you want spiritual "therapy", go to God not human, which is what he did.  [I've always found it interesting that A.'s bishop assumed he needed some form of psycho-therapy just because A. didn't want to work in the church any longer; as if that's some form of madness, rather than an expression of health.]

After a brief time in prayerful reappraisal, within months A. found himself with a job on Wall Street, an apartment in New York, and a life lived free of denominational authority and identity.  He had a real income and the return of Saturday night conviviality and slow Sunday mornings, of Christmas and Easter with family rather than at work, of what I vaguely recall was the normal life.  It was great, until one sunny Tuesday morning in September when the view out his office window was suddenly obscured with masses of shredded paper and a dark viscous liquid.  It was then that his experience, training, and education took over as he found himself the oldest person in an office filled with traumatized twenty-somethings who had never before had to face the reality of mortality and terror.

That's the remarkable thing about a true calling to the Gospel.  There are many clergy who "play priest" like actors on a stage, dependent upon the outward circumstances to inform their authority.  Their confidence in their call is so shaky that they tend towards the beta rather than alpha in their professional presentation: Too quiet, sedentary, obtuse, and superficial; woefully unaware of how most people lead their lives.  They are more likely to water down Godliness to make it palatable than to celebrate it in triumphal fullness.

It's one of the reasons the greater church has arrived in this current century in a weak and pointless state.  To those truly called, every circumstance, every situation, is an opportunity for ministry, whether in a church on a Sunday morning, a surf beach at daybreak, or in a collapsing building in the midst of a terrorist attack.  It doesn't have to be in controlled settings with distinct roles, but in moments when an organic opportunity is presented.  Ministry is ministry; A is A.

And so, with great care and even greater compassion, A. physically lead his office mates out of "ground zero".  When re-located to a new office, he became the un-official chaplain for one of the great banks; the source of comfort and spiritual sagacity for a collection of young investment bankers who never had much time for "church-stuff", but discovered a very real need for a guide to lead them out of a ground zero of the soul.

But that was over a decade ago now, and those days, like all bad days, have faded in their traumatic power.  On a recent morning, serious consideration of anything was not much on our minds as we looked at choppy waves and a gray sea.  Where we would once have paused and wondered whether or not to bother, it was clear that we were going into the sea.  After all, waves are waves.

And when I have one of those days when I see a moribund greater Church that loves meetings and regulations with the same zeal with which it loves small parish endowment money [if not small parishes themselves], rewards mediocrity and promotes monolithic thinking like any secular institution, I think about what matters and what doesn't.  After all, ministry is ministry.  Thanks, Mr. A.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday's Verses

In Christ there is no East or West,
in him no South or North,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.

In him shall true hearts everywhere
their high communion find,
his service is the golden cord
close-binding all mankind.

Join hands, disciples of the faith,
whate'er your race may be!
Who serves my Father as a son
is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
in him meet South and North,
all Christly souls are one in him,
throughout the whole wide earth.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


University of Chicago Removes Pews from 88 Year-Old Chapel to Accommodate Muslim Prayers

Point #1:  This was done by the university's administrators.  In my experience, most educational administrators are non-theists.  They only understand religion as a form of political gesture.

Point #2:  Ecumenism is a mutualized experience.  What accommodation for Jews and Christians do the Islamic students make?  There is no mention of it in the article.  If there is something, then that would be a real story.  If it is nothing, as I suspect, then this is simply an empty gesture designed to superficially accommodate a vociferous and occasionally volatile minority.

Point #3:  The chapel will not be used by the Muslims, unless media are present.  Why?  Because the chapel is consecrated Christian space.  It is not, as the administrators assume through their general ignorance of American religion, simply a big room with a really neato spiritual vibe, dude.  It is what is known in Christian history and theology as a "sacred space"; a place set aside in holy deliberation for the contemplation of the eternal.  It cannot be "de-consecrated", at least not by a collection of wimpy non-theists who owe their job security to perpetual obsequiousness.  This is something that true Christians and Muslims both know, so naturally it would be news to the folks who run the place.

Gun Free Zones Are A Nice Idea On Paper, But Psychotics Seem To Regard Them As Invitations

Santa Monica’s strict no guns policy questioned after mass shooting

Let Me Think About It...Yes

Are zero-tolerance policies at school targeting harmless kids?

Just like how gun control laws only target the stable and law-abiding; those least likely to commit any type of crime.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday's Wave

"I desire to know God and the soul. Nothing else? Nothing." —St. Augustine

Monday, June 10, 2013

How Dare You Make This Observation

I’ll let you decide whether wealthy liberals practice such racialist paternalism because of feelings of guilt, because of their intrinsic dislike of the NASCAR/Sarah Palin working and middle classes, or as a sort of medieval exemption — the huge “Obama for President” sign on the lawn of the Palo Alto professor means never having to put your kids in schools where some are bused in from East Palo Alto.

Wannabe Cyclist Calls The Whambulance

Some NYT writer makes a surprising discovery when attempting to use the rolling Citibank commercial new bike share system in the city:
When I went to retrieve a bike at Clark Street, there was a problem with dislodgment; none of the various codes I entered managed to release a bike. It took eight calls to the help line to get to the automated voice system and ultimately to a human being. At this point I was running late and decided to take a cab to Manhattan and return home using a bike from the Pike and Monroe kiosk. As it happened, I had to ride back to Brooklyn from another station because that kiosk was shielded with blue tape, and none of the bikes was usable.And yet this was hardly the most dispiriting aspect of the whole adventure. The line for helmets was very long,...
It's as if government programs don't work too well, eh?  What a revelation.

Gosh, It's Almost As If Criminals, Lunatics, And Terrorists Live Outside Of The Law Or Something, Huh?

But how could this happen? California has had an assault weapons ban since 1989, progressively tightened over a decade. This law has been on the books, and enforced, since the killer was born. The only lawful way for a Californian to possess a high-capacity magazine is if he owned it before 2000 – when the killer was eleven years old. California passed a firearms-transfer background check requirement that took effect on January 1, 1991, which checks not only for felony and violent misdemeanor convictions and pending charges, but also for involuntary mental hospital commitments. Even if you are only held for 72 hour observation and then determined to be not crazy enough for longer term treatment, you are ineligible to possess a firearm for five years. The shooter was 24– unless he was hospitalized between 18 and 19, he could not have legally purchased any firearm. You can’t drive across the border into Arizona or Nevada to legally buy a gun; federal law prohibits such transfers unless your state of residence allows such transfers — and California does not.

It Must Be Vacation Time For Reporters

The annual shark sighting/attack stories are beginning:

Cape Cod Beach Closes After Shark Sighting

Over half a century of riding waves from New Jersey to Southern California to Barbados, and the only time I've seen a shark has been from the deck of a boat.  Now, I was menaced by a barracuda once in Mexico....

A Rather Prescient Article From 2009

Just a joke about the power of the presidency. Made by Jay Leno it might have been funny. But as told by Mr. Obama, the actual president of the United States, it's hard to see the humor. Surely he's aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents. But that abuse generated a powerful backlash and with good reason. Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system. 

Our income-tax system is based on voluntary compliance and honest reporting by citizens. It couldn't possibly function if most people decided to cheat. Sure, the system is backed up by the dreaded IRS audit. But the threat is, while not exactly hollow, limited: The IRS can't audit more than a tiny fraction of taxpayers. If Americans started acting like Italians, who famously see tax evasion as a national pastime, the system would collapse.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ordinarily, This Would Be A Sign Of A Problem In Public Ed

Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide

While it's just now becoming apparent to those who control information in our society, this is not only indicative of general disappointment in what is taught and not taught in public schools, it is a portion of the continuing discomfort with institutional practices in the United States.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I just noticed that during the last month The Coracle had readers from every continent in the world, including Antarctica.  I regret only six members of my parish look at it, but I appreciate that the rest of you do.

Joshua Slocum

All adventurers should have jaunty hats.

“Now, it it well known that one cannot step on a tack without saying something about it.” 

I spent one summer in the rain of Nova Scotia, mostly trapped indoors and listening to the only radio station that I could receive, the CBC, which presented the same four hour program of news and music repeated six times a day.  Since my intention was to spend this time sailing, I had brought only two books with me that I wound up having to read very, very slowly.

One was a biography of Jack London and the other an account of the first solo circumnavigation. The common denominator, besides both containing observations about life under sail, was in the name of the boats.  London bought, with the proceeds from The Call of the Wild, a 30-foot sloop that he named Spray.  It was on board his Spray that The Sea Wolf was written.

By coincidence, the second book, written by the captain who managed the feat of circumnavigation,  also was about a boat named Spray, although she was slightly older, having been commissioned [or "planked"] in 1899, four years before London's boat.  Clearly, I recognized the fate in this coincidence and named my 10-foot lateen-rigged sailboard Spray, too.  Although I did not circumnavigate with it nor write a best-seller, it still provided me with some adventure and amusing stories about my earliest, and often maladroit, attempts at sailing.

The original Spray was skippered and owned by a cantankerous and dour maritimer by the name of Joshua Slocum.  He had been born in the mid-19th century in the same area of Nova Scotia where I was staying and, as one of eleven children, sought at an early age to get out of a very crowded house.  He finally succeeded at the age fourteen when he, rather predictably for a Nova Scotian, ran away to sea, moving up the employment ladder from cabin boy to ordinary seaman to able bodied seaman and, at the age of 25, to ship's master.

Captain Slocum married and had children, his family accompanying him as he mastered various merchant craft up and down the Americas.  After a particularly harrowing adventure on a very unlucky boat that left them stranded in Brazil, the Slocums built another boat using local materials and labor and left on the day that slavery was abolished in that country.  The voyage in that boat, named Liberdade in recognition of Brazilian emancipation, was to serve as the subject of Slocum's first attempt at maritime memoir, Voyage of the Liberdade.

Slocum and his family relocated to Fairhaven, Massachusetts upon their return to the United States.  It was there that Slocum bought and re-fitted a retired oyster boat, a 36 foot gaff-rigged sloop, and named her Spray.  

Not the original, unless Slocum was 6 inches tall.

On April 24, 1895, leaving behind his family, Slocum began the "research" on his next book: 

"I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The twelve o'clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail. A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear. A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood."

Seems a bit surprising when one thinks about it, but in the entire history of sail no one had ever completed a solo trip around the world until the late 19th century.  Maybe it was the daunting notion of manning a labor-intensive boat 24 hours a day, or the absence of fellowship, or the sheer boredom of it all [Remember that song sung by Fred Astaire in one of his early films with Ginger Rogers: "I joined the navy to see the world, and what did I see?  I saw the sea."  That about sums it up.], but no one had ever succeeded in the feat.  Given his skill and experience as a sailor, and the fact that he didn't mind being alone at sea, made him the likeliest candidate for success in the venture.

As one who can get lost sailing from Point Judith to Block Island, or even from Cleveland to Rondeau, Ontario [it's due north, just so you know], it still amazes me that Slocum didn't even use a chronometer for navigation, merely a cheap clock and a sextant with which he took noon sightings.  With these ancient and simple tools, Slocum left the coast of Massachusetts and sailed to Nova Scotia, then to the Azores, Gibraltar [where he out-ran Moorish pirates], the Canaries, Cape Verde, down to Tierra del Fuego, the Galapagos, New Zealand, Australia, the Dutch East Indies, East Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, and back to the United States by way of Recife three years later.  [To be honest, I just like typing all of those exotic names.]

In addition to pirates, Slocum visited or otherwise kept company with a variety of colorful people, including the widow of Robert Louis Stevenson in the South Pacific and, when he fell ill at sea, the apparition of the pilot of Columbus' Pinta, who helmed the Spray through a storm while Slocum was incapacitated.

He returned to harbor in Newport, Rhode Island in June, 1898 and published, the next year, his account of the adventure, Sailing Alone Around the World.  It's still in print and available in hard cover, paperback, and for 99 cents, electronically.  For anyone with even a tangential interest in sailing, it's required reading.

In the winter of 1909, Slocum and Spray set sail again, this time it was a solo voyage to the West Indies.  Neither Spray nor Slocum were ever seen again.  That's rather a perfect end for a sailor; and for a good boat, too.

“I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self; but my books were always my friends, let fail all else.”

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yes. Next Question.

Washington Post:
Two incidents yesterday raise a critical issue at the heart of this administration’s problems and sinking credibility: Is there one standard of justice for the administration’s people and one for the rest of us?

Thursday's Verses

Now, my tongue, the mystery telling
of the glorious Body sing,
and the Blood, all price excelling,
which the gentiles' Lord and King,
in a Virgin's womb once dwelling,
shed for this world's ransoming.

Given for us, and condescending,
to be born for us below,
he, with men in converse blending,
dwelt the seed of truth to sow,
till he closed with wondrous ending
his most patient life of woe.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This Nugget From A Recent Book Review

The Christian story itself is a story told through the prism of the family. Take away the prism, and the story makes less sense. We men and women, whether inside the churches or not, are only at the beginning of understanding how the fracturing of the natural family has in turn helped to fracture Christianity.

The Joys Of Self-Written Obituaries

John E. Holden, alias Jack, took the Deep Six, Monday, May 27, 2013 at the Willow Valley Retirement Community after a life filled with endless laughter and debauchery. While flying his beloved Corsair as a Marine Fighter Pilot during WWII, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his combat activities, the Air Medal for action in Okinawa in 1945 and the Distinguished Fleeing Cross for avoiding numerous women who were seeking child support under unproven circumstances.

American Stupid

The H.L. Hunley Traveling Exhibit alarmed motorists last week as it passed through New York City on its way to Connecticut for a Civil War show at Mystic Seaport.  Local, state and federal authorities had to track down the replica of the Confederate sub after folks worried terrorists were bringing a torpedo to town.

For Those Who Enjoy A Little Pageantry From The Church Of England

A family affair: Zara, Kate and Wills are all smiles as Royals turn out at Westminster Abbey to mark 60 years since Queen's coronation

The Abbey:

Line of succession: Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal family leave Westminster Abbey following the service

Tuesday's Wave

"To know oneself has always been the greatest of all lessons. For, if anyone knows himself, he will know God. And, in knowing God, he will become like Him." —St. Clement of Alexandria

And Now, The Weirdness


And no, it's not a weird name for some kind of street gang; it's actual goats.


Researcher decodes prairie dog language, discovers they've been talking about us

Monday, June 3, 2013

In The Future, When A Child I Know Doesn't Win An Award, I'll Tell Him Or Her About This

Richard Windsor may be the most famous Environmental Protection Agency employee. Oddly, he does not exist. “Windsor” is the e-mail alias that Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA and now an environmental adviser to Apple, used to correspond with environmental activists and senior Obama-administration officials, among others. 

Windsor, we have learned, was also an employee of significant achievement. Documents released by the agency in response to a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that, for three years, the EPA certified Windsor as a “scholar of ethical behavior.”

It's not what you do, it's whom you know.  If this isn't a metaphor for the US government, I don't know what is.

A Brief And Stray Meditation On My Profession

I'm fascinated at how often it is these days that someone who had no use for Jesus in life suddenly needs clergy to remember him or her upon their death.  It's an interesting and rather Protean role that we serve in the 21st century.

It makes me thankful for the faithful who want Jesus in their lives through, as Magner used to say, "the All of It".

Thank God NYC Has Such Stringent Gun Control

Mayhem in the city: 25 people shot in 48 hours

I don't get it.  Why don't criminals, lunatics, and terrorists stop using guns?  It's as if they, by definition, live outside of the law.  How can this be?

At least NYC is dealing with the serious stuff:

New NYC Ad Campaign Targets Sweetened Teas, Fruit Drinks

Maybe He Should Have Come To My Church More Often, Seeing As How He Claimed To Be A Member. Or At All.

A Party-Switcher Without Many Friends