Thursday, June 30, 2016

"10 things more likely to kill you than a shark"

A brilliant counterpart to the "Good God, you're going to be killed by a shark!" stories that proliferate in the media because most of the staff are on vacation and newspapers need filler.

10 things more likely to kill you than a shark

I knew of box jellyfish, of course, as they're a common vexation in southern Pacific waters, and coconuts from my time in the tropics, but vending machines?  Champagne corks?

It Took a University to Figure This Out

A recent study that was conducted by the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab has learned that Chicago criminals do not acquire their guns from gun shops, gun shows or the internet.

This is why politicians can make as many gun laws as they want and it won't make a lick of difference. The reason criminals are called "outlaws" is because they abide outside of the laws.

An Obituary of Note

Scotty Moore, a guitarist whose terse, bluesy licks on Elvis Presley’s early hits virtually created the rockabilly guitar style and established the guitar as a lead instrument in rock ’n’ roll, died on Tuesday at his home outside Nashville. He was 84.

If you ever wondered why the guitar, which was once a sideline addition in ensembles, became the prime instrument in popular music, listen to what Moore was able to do with it.  It also explains, when there were dozens of compelling young singers vying for fame, why the fellow with whom Moore played became so noticeable.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shark Attack Anniversary

July 1 marks 100-year anniversary of New Jersey’s ‘12 Days of Terror’

Some editor in a newsroom somewhere, facing a small staff over the holiday weekend, is thanking whatever god or goddess he/she worships for this anniversary as it provides filler for the features page.

Also, a bonus George Burgess sighting.

What Happens When Authority Tells Christians to Surrender the Gospel or Else?

Pretty much the same thing that, historically, always happens.
The executive director of a San Diego faith-based nonprofit said he was threatened by the San Diego Police Department that "the hammer would be brought down" on him if he didn't stop doing street feedings for the homeless in July, when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is coming to downtown.

Cross-Generational Nihilism

If someone disagrees with you, they are not human and need to die.  This is what happens in a post-Christian age.

Unhappiness in the Contemporary World

The more we make giant advances in science, communications, medicine and technology, the more people complain. Free from starvation, we gripe about the quality of the organic food at our local restaurant. A hundred years ago polio was wiping out thousands of children in the United States; now teens become apoplectic if they have their iPhones taken away. My mother had a very rough childhood that included having to support her family while still a teenager. Now women who could be her granddaughters are demanding tax breaks for makeup.

The great social historian Christopher Lasch once wrote eloquently about the concept of “the ethic of limits,” which he described as follows: “For vast numbers of Americans, limits are a necessary and even desirable face of life—limits on human freedom, on human capacities, on the power of reason to eradicate everything that is mysterious in the universe.” Lasch contrasted the people who live with limits—those who spend their lives working, raising kids, and living their lives “a long way from the center of metropolitan culture”—with a “New Class” of elites that pursues a “heady vision of unlimited possibilities” and “views life as an experiment.” Lasch believed that the people who accepted the reality of limits ended up living more hopeful lives.

This Was a Great Invention Until It Became So Well-Publicized That Even Dim-Witted Thieves Learned of It

The Beach Vault:
Solving that pesky problem of where to put your keys while you go for a swim.

Monday, June 27, 2016

I May Never Return

Groovy music and dance moves at approximately the 15:28 mark; Beach, boats, and surf at 17:23.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

From the Rector's Bookshelf

Probably not the book I should be reading right now.

Parenthood in the Age of Nihilism

Parents brawl during kindergarten graduation ceremony

I'm Sure It's All Just a Coincidence

From International Business Times:
Cigna is based in Connecticut. As Sirota has previously reported, the main state official in charge of overseeing the merger is Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade, appointed by Gov. Dan Malloy last year. Wade is a former Cigna lobbyist and has other longstanding family ties to the company. Following IBT’s scrutiny of those ties, Connecticut’s Citizen’s Ethics Board launched an investigation into whether Wade’s ties to the company constitute an impermissible conflict of interest.

Now there’s another wrinkle to the story. When Malloy first selected Katharine Wade to be health commissioner, the Hartford Courant noted her father-in-law, Jim Wade, was “a self-described ‘pal’ and sometime lunch companion” of the governor. But their ties actually go a little deeper than that. In 2005, when Malloy was the mayor of Stamford, Jim Wade played an instrumental role in helping the future governor survive a 17-month criminal investigation.

This is all a matter of public record. But what’s curious is that it hasn’t come up in the context of Malloy’s decision to appoint Jim Wade’s daughter-in-law to a key regulatory position — not to mention his subsequent decision to resist calls for her recusal.
Incidentally, as IBT has previously reported, Jim Wade works at a law firm that sometimes does lobbying and legal work for Cigna.
 How come none of this was noticed by any of the state's newspapers or other media outlets?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

I May Have Linked to This a Few Years Ago

But, it's worthy of repetition:
Christianity scandalized the ancient world because it was for common people, open to anyone, rich or poor, slave or free. It offered no secret, specialized knowledge that could be acquired by a select few. Some contemporary readers may be scandalized by Wiman’s opting to be a common Christian, relinquishing the elite status of the artist in Western culture. The idea of the artist as heroic loner, he decides, is for him merely an anxiety that has become dangerously useful. Coping with his cancer has drawn him closer to other people, and also to the Jesus who suffered on the cross. “The point,” he writes, “is that God is with us, not beyond us, in suffering.”

A Cogent Observation

For anyone wondering what Britain's exit from the EU was about, this is the best representation of the issue [from the Wall Street Journal]:
The Brexit campaign started as a cry for liberty, perhaps articulated most clearly by Michael Gove, the British justice secretary (and, on this issue, the most prominent dissenter in Mr. Cameron’s cabinet). Mr. Gove offered practical examples of the problems of EU membership. As a minister, he said, he deals constantly with edicts and regulations framed at the European level—rules that he doesn’t want and can’t change. These were rules that no one in Britain asked for, rules promulgated by officials whose names Brits don’t know, people whom they never elected and cannot remove from office. Yet they become the law of the land. Much of what we think of as British democracy, Mr. Gove argued, is now no such thing.
Instead of grumbling about the things we can’t change, Mr. Gove said, it was time to follow “the Americans who declared their independence and never looked back” and “become an exemplar of what an inclusive, open and innovative democracy can achieve.” Many of the Brexiteers think that Britain voted this week to follow a template set in 1776 on the other side of the Atlantic.

Well, It Was a Motivational Seminar

Robbins Seminar Continues Despite Dozens Burned At Fire-Walking Event

As a drill instructor of mine used to say, "Steel is only hardened by fire."  I think, though, that the collection of middle-managers forced to attend these things didn't think it would be taken so literally.

It's Come to This

Catholic priests in Montreal banned from being alone with children 

Most mainstream Protestant clergy don't have to worry about this because children in their traditions hardly come to church in this age of nihilism.

I will say that the colleagues whom I have enjoyed working with the most through the years, and the ones whom I have found consistently to be educated and insightful, have been the Roman Catholic clergy.  This whole distasteful business has included as its victims a great number of innocent clergy.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Now, For Some Delicious Brexit Meltaways

If you read the European press, something that's easy and fun to do in the Internet Age, you will see that they're having an...exotic...reaction to Britain's vote to withdraw from the EU [pronounced "ew"].  In fact, they're practically agricultural about it.

Then it occurred to me.  The Euro-media/political complex is angrier with the British populace for their exercise in democracy than they are when a random Islamist decides to kill a large number of people who choose not to live like it's the 7th century A.D. 

I've written before about how this has become a brutally nihilistic time in which we live, but this is the icing on the Nietzschean cake.  Those who control law and information have reached a point where they are not just distanced from the majority within their own nations, but they are disdainful of them.  That gulf is remarkable and has more to do with creating phenomena like Brexit and Trumpism [for lack of a better term] than they realize or, at least, are willing to admit.

The refrain of a contemporary song comes to mind:

You got no time for the messenger
Got no regard for the thing that you don't understand
You got no fear of the underdog
That's why you will not survive

An Old Obscure Song That Came to Mind This Morning

If I Were Still Teaching Ethics, I Wouldn't Be Teaching Ethics

Two professors at the University of Northern Colorado were investigated after students complained that they were forced to hear opposing viewpoints.

The pedagogical structure of Ethics, or of any school of philosophy, is to state a proposition and then challenge it.  The process refines the perspective and balances the supportive argument.  Even when the challenge is extreme, it serves a purpose in the ideological matrix.  If one cannot challenge a statement, especially in an academic setting, education is impossible.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hell's Version of "Spin the Bottle"

Quit faking it, you posers.  The only way to get what you ultimately want is to repeal the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments.  You have the power to do so; get on it and quit playing.

Here's how.

Also, this is the program that they wish to expand:
Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota

I have to admit it's kind of weird to see a bunch a millionaire Democrats sitting around on the floor protesting against the ACLU.  Also, from what I saw of their sumptuous catered breakfast, sit-ins have come a long way since my college days.

Best Tweet Ever

In response to today's "Brexit" vote, a notorious young starlet, currently living in London, wrote the following on Twitter:

This impact will control all margins!

No one knows what it means, but it may have become the most quoted sentence on social media.

"LeBron James Shows That Winning Isn’t Everything—Perseverance Is"

Sunday night’s NBA championship-winning game was historic on many levels. When the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7, they became the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the finals. Led by Cleveland’s LeBron James, they also became the first team all year to beat the Warriors twice on their home court, and the first team all year to have beat the Warriors in three straight games. But most of all, the Cavs are the first team to win a championship for Cleveland in 52 years. As the recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Believeland” puts it, over the past half century, of all the American cities with three sports franchises, only one has failed to win a championship: Cleveland.

A Non-Obituary of Note

My great-uncle died on the eve of his 101st birthday.

There won't be anything in the newspapers as obituaries are prohibitively expensive these days. Media companies, like politicians, try to raise as much income as they can from death, whether it's from those who have died from what used to be known as "old age" or whether it is from the victims of mass violence.

Besides, he outlived all of his siblings, friends, and all but one of his children, so there are few left to notify.  Word of his death caused me to pause as my uncle was the last of our family to have been born on a reservation.

It's odd to receive word about his death in the midst of happy messages from the white families with whom I work, sent as they are from expensive vacation spots in New England.  He was born in proud poverty, worked his way to the middle-class, and always stayed close to the tribe.  A vacation for him was a weekend at a fishing cabin probably not twenty miles from where he was born.  That sounds horrible to many people; to him it was a grand luxury.

Imagine how much of human success and failure one would have seen if born two years before the U.S. entered WWI.  Imagine what it would be to finally live in a society that judged people not by race but by character, only to see it return once again to its obsession with identity politics.

Well, that never mattered to him.  I think he lived so long because all he ever read were the sports pages.  Although, in Ohio, that's been known to shorten lives, too.

Maybe it's because he stayed close to the tribe and to the land that was settled by his grandparents.  There may be a lesson in that.  It's a lesson that I'm re-learning in the evenings when I watch the sunset.

'You come in by water, and you leave by water."

Smiths Falls, Ont., funeral business dissolves the dead, pours them into town sewers

Great White North, Redux

Newfoundlander calls 911 to tell police there isn't enough cheese on her pizza

I Now Understand That I'm the Enemy, Part II

Christian activists are not trying to shutter secular schools; but some progressive activists are trying to put Christian schools out of business.

I Now Understand That I'm the Enemy

A group of men in their mid-30s, dressed in biking shorts and jerseys, stood around a gazebo built for travelers on the 300-mile trail, discussing where to end their day. The gunfire horrified them — but not in a duck-we're-under-attack way. Their reactions ranged from ridicule to misunderstanding to disgust and concluded with an assumption that they were unsafe around “these people” and it was time to move along.

In truth, the shots came from a local sportsmen's club. Most people around here consider the club members to be among the region's premier conservators; they stock the river every spring, lead clean-up crews along the trail, keep the deer population contained with their hunting and donate venison to needy families who can live off the meat of one buck for more than a year.
Oh, please read the whole thing.  If politicians were serious, they would do this.


So, what are we left with?
Grandstanding by the liberal political class, a widening gulf between them and the “otherness” of gun owners and so much politicking over a tragedy that Americans turn away in disgust.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

“We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past — whether he admits it or not — can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.” Hans Urs von Balthasar

Those Take Too Long, Anyway

Groom Bit by Rattlesnake During Wedding Photo Shoot

When Truth is Ephemeral

‘Fanatic’ Muslim mob torches 80 Christian homes in Egypt over church rumour

Literature in the Age of Narcissism

So she rewrote it.

Oh, good, there's more:

“It was enormous fun to write. It’s just a meringue!” 

Yes, that's one word for it.

It also costs the equivalent of $1 per page.  What a meringue!

I Remember When the NYT Said That the Coming of Barnes and Noble Mega-Stores Would Be a Disaster for Book Lovers

If Barnes & Noble goes out of business, it’ll be a disaster for book lovers.

Shark Attack! Oops, I Mean "Global Warming Attack"

As much as I'd like to get my science, as well as my politics, from someone who, for a living, reads words written by another and stands on marks made with masking tape, I learned back in the 1970's, when it was still "Global Cooling", that most shark attacks occur in three feet of water.

Of course, it wasn't a Hollywood dolly bird who taught me that, but a SCUBA instructor formerly with the U.S. Navy's UDT school, so consider my source.

I Thought This was a Spoof at First. Oh, Dear.

Dear Americans: Please come to Paris

It looks like there's some concern about the absence of the strong American dollar in their tourist market.  Oh, well.  I'd rather visit Pittsburgh.

The thing is, Paris is taking free-lance Jihad more seriously than is Washington D.C.:

Attorney General Lynch: Orlando shooter's true motive may never be known.

"Why Churches Should Stop Pandering to Millennials"

But guess what? All of this pandering is the exact opposite of what Millennials actually want from church. The harder churches try to be cool and trendy, the more Millennials are joining the mass exodus from the church. Surveys show that Millennials want a small, traditional sanctuary with stained glass windows and quiet hymns. They want to feel like they’re in a church, and they want to go there to escape the busy world and all the technology that surrounds them all day every day.

I Can Sympathize

Priest punches best man at wedding

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Every Action has an Opposite and Equal Reaction

LGBT gun rights group sees membership skyrocket after Orlando shooting

Ice Station Zebra

A Rare Antarctic Rescue Mission Is Taking Place Right Now

Archaeological News

Miners find 500-year-old shipwreck filled with gold coins in Namibian desert

Great White North

Ontario police, firefighters intervene after fight breaks out over Earth's shape

News of the Grotesque

Since politicians, including some of those for whom I've voted, decided in the aftermath of the Orlando slaughter to blame Christians for the atrocity, I've lost any sense of benign loyalty to the political class. I don't care if the person or policy is Democratic, Republican, or whatever the heck Bernard Sanders may be this year, The Coracle is going to bite back.

Here's a start:

Billionaire George Soros spent $33MILLION bankrolling Ferguson demonstrators to create 'echo chamber' and drive national protests

A Nice Washington Post Article on the Antikythera Mechanism

The world’s oldest computer is still revealing its secrets

By "oldest", they mean it dates to 200 B.C.  Yes, that's right.

Swell. Suddenly, Australia Doesn't Look So Dangerous


Not Surprising, Really

West Hollywood Inundated With AMAZING Pro-Gun, Pro-Gay Posters

As the American Indians learned and as Richard Pryor once said, " "If you're looking for justice, that's what you'll find -- just us."

Monday, June 20, 2016

From June 8th. Don't You Just Love East Coast "Experts"?


Oh, look.  More of the condescending stupidity:

This is the error that people make when they think science is perpetually accurate even though it cannot take into account the power and will that may be found in a community's heart, whether it's a team or a city. Or, in this case, both.

I'm having these nicely printed, matted, mounted, framed, and placed on my wall.

I'm Taking the Rest of the Day Off to Savor. Maybe the Week. When I Read of the Stolen Fire Truck I Said to My Wife, "It's Time to Move Back"

Outside the Q, a mass of humanity seemed to dwell on 4th Street with each passing minute. For one brief moment, a fire truck was stolen and taken for a short ride before it was quickly recovered. Cleveland fans couldn’t stop screaming. Some climbed light posts. You saw No. 1 foam fingers, of course.

The last time I celebrated a championship, I did so with my sports-crazy grandfather and I was in second grade. Is there anything more Cleveland than to "borrow" a fire truck for a celebration?  They returned it, they returned it.   That moxie, more than a sports victory, along with the fact that I saw streets filled not just with white people, means it's time to return home.

Related [this makes me so happy]: Cavs mania shuts down interstate exits in downtown Cleveland

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Some More Australia Research; This May Be a Little Dated [Ignore the young woman, it's actually family friendly.]

The More Hostile E-Mail I Get from People Self-Identifying as Left-Leaning [You Know, the People with Whom I Have Spent Most of My Life] Who Blame Me and My Parish for Orlando, the More I'm Beginning to Think This is True

Especially the Christian part.

In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, the actor Samuel L. Jackson said that he hoped it would turn out that the killer was a white man. David Sirota wrote the same thing after the Boston marathon bombing, in an article headlined “Let’s hope the Boston marathon bomber is a white American.” Jackson and Sirota were disappointed....

[The] Left...prefers that its enemies be white, male, Christian, and, if possible, middle-aged, middle-American, and overweight. Remember how, during the Tea Party rallies, so much attention was paid to the fact that some participants were obese and using mobility scooters? That wasn’t an accident. It’s loathing substituting for analysis. For much the same reason, cartoons purporting to depict gun-rights supporters after Orlando almost invariably depicted obese, aging, white, and downscale (rumpled, ill-kempt) subjects. That is whom the Left believes to be the problem when it comes to violence in these United States — and most other problems, too. The relevant psychology here is that of intellectual development arrested in adolescence. If you’ve ever heard a 50-year-old lefty raging about Middle America and thought that it sounded a lot like a 14-year-old raging about his stick-in-the-mud father, you’re not the first to whom that has occurred.

Episcopalians, both clergy and laity, who assume that I'm an Easterner often confess these sentiments in front of me without being aware that 1.) I'm a person whom they identify as an enemy of the people, since I'm from the wild culture of the "flyover country" and 2.) I take some quiet umbrage at their labeling, class-bigotry, and condescension.

Plus a Helicopter. Don't Forget the Helicopter.

The president takes a 40 vehicle motorcade into Yosemite National Park to talk about...pollution.

Friday, June 17, 2016

There's No Other Way to Say It, When It Comes to Christianity, the New York Times is Dim

Please read this entertaining article, along with its links, in its entirety.  Here's a taste:
Get the joke? You see, that ornate silver shepherd’s crook is actually called a crosier (or “crozier”), not a “crow’s ear.”

Sometimes I check in on this April 4, 2005 piece to see if the Times has gotten around to correcting it. As of today, they have not! Sometimes I hope they never will.

But crozier mistakes are understandable. Less understandable? Saying Jesus is buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, that Easter marks Jesus’ “resurrection into heaven,” that St. Patrick is known for banishing slaves from Ireland, or that William Butler Yeats is the author of the Book of Hebrews.
What's not so amusing is that the New York Times is currently claiming that the Epistle to the Romans advocates the execution of gay people.  That's so wrong that it's criminal.  The problem is, as with the social justice enthusiasts who clog my e-mail account with false accusations, there are more than enough people dumb enough to believe this.  After all, it's in the NYT.

I hope that the many Episcopalians in Connecticut who dutifully read The Times, including all of our ordained leadership, have an opportunity to drop a line to them and point this out.

Goodness, I'm fatigued with all of this.  It is an uncomfortable feeling to discover that the political class that you've supported, and the periodicals that you have paid for and read through the decades, mis-characterize and hate you because of your religion.  It's very sobering, indeed.

“Homophobia” is not an invention of Christians or any of the Abrahamic faiths. Gay rights activists and smug self-righteous atheists can stop with the smear campaign now.

As someone who has supported gay rights going back to the 1980s, back when there was some real social scorn associated with having gay friends, I have noticed in recent years that a lot of gays and other “gay rights” activists have become terrific bullies of religious people. They particularly like to scapegoat Christians, and portray the Gay Rights Struggle as a long struggle against repressive religious forces. A particular focus of their ire is often Catholics, followed closely by organized, mainline Protestantism (Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, etc.).

This is ironic considering what you see when you look at the attitudes of religious Americans....

That Was the Week That Was

So far this week I've received a surprising volume of e-mail at my public address from a variety of social justice enthusiasts, all of whom are blaming me for the atrocity in Orlando.  They blame me because I'm "publicly Christian", many of them punctuating their opinion with deep vulgarity, and because I'm probably straight and probably white [not a bulls-eye with that last one].  Those are the signs hung on people to make them non-persons and enemies of the enlightened.

Their logic is that, since all Christians are the same, all Christians are to blame for creating an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred that somehow encouraged a free-lance Jihadist to go on a rampage.

So, if I understand this correctly, a closeted gay Muslim with apparent mental issues who was also a registered Democrat kills a collection of innocent people in Florida and the person to blame is a straight Christian independent half-breed in Connecticut who has never been to Orlando.  The Internet is simply raw Id, isn't it?

It is the natural tendency among the human race to set up barriers between one another, to divide ourselves into tribes based on pigment, politics, or purse.  This was one of the reasons that Jesus preached a radical redefinition of community to those who would listen, as the best hope for salvation and the future of the human race would be found in transcending this natural tendency.  When our political leaders were actual people of faith, rather than tepid secular humanists, they understood this and would, in the aftermath of social trauma, seek to unite rather than divide.

Without faith, politicians now only see the advantage of division, as a divided people may be exploited with greater verve.  Since solidifying personal power and enabling corruption seem to be the driving forces in the current definition of community service, the tendency to establish tribes among us has strong benefits. Even if one does not exist, they create "The Other", the one to blame for every difficult-to-understand event, every daunting circumstance, every thwarted desire.  They create chimerical enemies from the ether to keep people in a perpetual state of disadvantage and in need of a secular messiah to save them.

All this does is create a perpetually angry, disappointed, and dependent citizenry.  Sin is thus enabled by the state.  I suspect that this will continue to be the trend, as our society now promotes leaders who seem much more worshipful of The Self than community.

It also means I'll be reading hostile e-mail for the rest of my days.  I only wish social justice enthusiasts had some basic training in grammar, composition, and punctuation.  Also, how can you misspell a vulgarity? Spellcheck takes care of that, doesn't it?

Related: New York Times blames Christian Republicans for a Muslim Democrat's hate crime against LGBT community

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Still, This Can Be Done [A Modest Proposal]

Our elected leaders have been posturing for eager TV news cameras this week, and through a filibuster that caused the folks at Channel 3 to swoon, but it's all just empty gestures. The congressman representing Fairfield County even walked out on a moment of silence in the House this week in protest of such moments.  He attends the Presbyterian church in Greenwich and, as I worked in that county in the early days of my ministry, I expect his lack of respect for what some members of congress regard as a moment of prayer is reflective of the "country club Christian" mentality of Connecticut's Gold Coast.

Protesting what the congressman sees as an empty gesture with his own empty gesture is rather rich, but he seemed terribly serious about it when the cameras were pointed at him.  He even scowled to denote his concern.  The scowl seems to be something that's learned at Goldman Sachs, the congressman's former employer and a notorious paragon of high morality.

They will now make the rounds of friendly radio and talk shows, humbly promoting their moral courage.  It's all very familiar and those of us who were witness to the blood and bodies at Sandy Hook know the routine and aren't fooled by it.  The end result will be, as in Connecticut, laws that will not address the actual atrocity.

If they were serious, and not just trying to come to the attention of Hillary Clinton's vice presidential nominating team, they would do something that is totally in their power:  They would repeal the Second Amendment.  They can talk all they want about "common sense gun laws", but the only thing that will answer their concern is repeal and confiscation.

Appearing before fawning audiences is easy, though.  Changing the Constitution is hard, but it can be done and, in fact, Blumenthal, Murphy, and Himes have that legal ability.  So, fellas, let's see if you mean it.  To facilitate the process, and even though they have hundreds of aides and interns at their beck and call, I've actually tried to help by putting together an outline of sorts that would enable them to never, ever again have to endure people joining in a moment of silence or offering thoughts and prayers.

First, they will have to make their case to the American public that they can be trusted to protect us. In the aftermath of "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor", trust will be difficult to construct, but not impossible.  They will have to leave the urban and suburban parts of Connecticut and travel to the rural sections of the state where they are not as highly regarded.  They will then have to travel outside of the state to places like Xenia, Ohio and Sharpsville, Pennsylvania; to Rolling Fork, Mississippi and Littlefield, Texas.  As gun ownership is of more concern to them than Islamist terrorism, they should frame their actions as a kind of holy mission.  After all, anyone can appear before the clapping seals of The Daily Show, but it takes men of mission to stand in a Grange Hall and convince a crowd.

It will cost a remarkable amount of money for travel, advertisements, radio and TV spots, contributions to the re-election campaigns of those whom they wish to coerce to their side plus getting those sympathetic to their cause elected, so they should start forming those PACs now.

Then, once the groundwork has been laid, they actually have to frame the repeal in law.  It will have to be written with care, they are canceling part of the Bill of Rights, after all, and will have to go through the ringer of committees.  Still, this can be done.  Once complete, and the Second Amendment repealed, then the real work will begin.

You see, simply repealing the Amendment doesn't change gun ownership in the United States.  It does, however, give the government free reign to design new gun laws.  Since making guns illegal and confiscating the 300+ million firearms currently owned would seem to be the logical goal, these new laws will be sweeping and require a type of enforcement more common in totalitarian regimes and on a level never seen in our country.  Still, this can be done.

Except, most of the states of the union have constitutional protections that permit the individual states to make up their own minds about federal law.  Some of those states will be easy to convince, some will resist.  You will also have to overcome the "sovereign citizen" types in Idaho, for example, and the reservation Indians of Oklahoma, who know too well what happens when some white guys from the East come for their guns.  This may require the intervention of the military.  Still,...

This will take years and may damage their future political careers but, if what they say they believe is true, we will never, ever again be plagued by gun crime or violence.  Well, except from those who will ignore the law and evade its enforcement.  Still,...

I have a feeling it will be easier to continue posturing.

Related:  The Washington Post assigns Murphy three "Pinocchios" for his recent and repeated statements.

Also related:  Why Does the IRS Need Guns?  Sounds like they're getting ready for enforcement.

Update:  I just received a fund-raising letter from Murphy highlighting his bold, transgressive filibuster, so in addition to serving to attract the attention of the Clinton campaign in their search for a VP candidate, the slaughter was handy for raising money, too.

"O brave new world, That has such people in't!"

Ignoring People for Phones Is the New Normal

More Good News for Connecticut

Blue-state residents were far more likely to report that they wished to relocate. Seven of the eight states that residents are keenest to flee are solidly blue—led by Connecticut, where 46 percent of people want to follow the state’s leading employer, GE, to the exits. Also near the top of the list: New Jersey, Illinois, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, and New York. The only state in the Top Eight not predominantly Democratic is Ohio, which Gallup considers “competitive” (neither Republican nor Democratic). Rounding out the Top Ten are Republican-leaning Indiana and Nevada.

Coincidentally, states where The Episcopal Church is shrinking, dying, or all but dead.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Further Helpful Clarification

Overheard on cable news today:

"An AR-15 can fire 700 rounds a minute."
No, it can't.  Since it's is not an automatic weapon [aka "machine gun"], it only fires as fast as one may pull the trigger, or about 90 rounds [aka "bullets"] a minute.  That is a lot, to be sure, but since the standard magazine for this weapon only holds 20 rounds, it needs to be reloaded, thus cutting down on the firing rate.  Save for those with advanced military training, the average actual rate of fire for an AR-15 is about 18 rounds per minute.  The average police handgun fires faster than that, and given that law enforcement has about an 18% firing accuracy rate, that carries a lot more potential danger.

"We need to ban the AR-14."
Consider it done, as there is no such rifle as an AR-14.

"AR stands for "assault rifle."
No, it stands for Armalite, which is the company that developed the design and holds the patent.

"The AR-15 uses a military round."
Sort of, in that just about every caliber has been used by the military at one time or another.  The standard round for an AR-15 is .223, which is slightly larger than a .22.  That is a round so small that it can be used in some indoor handgun ranges where other rifle calibers may not.  It's so small that it is banned in several states for deer hunting because it is too under-powered to humanely kill a deer.

"The AR-15 is the deadliest rifle ever made."
No, that was the Sharps .52 caliber, issued to Union Army soldiers during the Civil War.  The AR-15 is the most popular rifle currently sold in the United States, almost ubiquitous, as it is affordable, sturdy, accurate, easy to operate and simple to clean.  It is not made to military specifications.  It may look like an "assault weapon" to those who go to way too many violent movies, but it's the equivalent of my grandfather's Remington and my great-grandfather's Henry, both of which are pictured below, and both of which were, in their day, affordable, sturdy, accurate, and easy to operate and clean.  In fact, both are still in the family and still in use, that's how well-made they are.

The Henry fires a round similar in size to that fired by the AR-15, by the way, and can maintain almost the same rate of fire as an AR-15.  At least in the familiar hands of great-grandpa's descendents.

An Update:
After spending the last 24 hours demonizing the most common rifle in the United States, the AR-15, the media discovered that the Orlando terrorist didn't use one.  Whoops.

This one, compounded by the president today: "He had a Glock with a lot of clips in it."
Yeah, that was sheer gibberish.

The only weapon I've ever handled that used an ammo clip was the venerable Garand M1 on which I was first trained.  It was issued around 1940 and was obsolete by the 1970's, as it was the standard rifle of the U.S. military in WWII. Because of its simple action it served as an introduction to firearms repair [recall that this writer was an infantry weapons repairman in another life].  A clip looks like this:

What I think the president may mean [and who can ever know, really?] is a magazine.  Politicians and the media use "clip" and "magazine" interchangeably, which is incorrect.  This is a magazine, and only one fits into a rifle or handgun at a time.

One is a large metal staple, the other a metal box with a spring on the bottom.

Here's a photo of the president shortly after he informed the public that, at Camp David, "we shoot guns all of the time".

I was pleased to see that he was using a training shotgun in this photo.  It's vented on the side, as can be seen by the puff of smoke, so that a novice may use it with greater comfort and accuracy. Although, my grandmother, a wickedly good shot, liked to use that type of shotgun by the time she reached her eighties.

My point in all of this, other than a persnickety insistence on accuracy from those who control information, is that we can't have a real conversation about gun violence if we don't know what we're talking about.

This Just Keeps Getting Better

Omar Mateen Worked For Company That Provides Security to Federal Buildings

The problem with laws is that, whether for controlling guns or regulating other forms of behavior, they need to be applied carefully and uniformly or else they are useless

As with The Episcopal Church's "safe church" policies when they were enforced on clergy with little or no political power, but ignored in cases of prominent bishops or cathedral deans, considerable disrespect for both canon law and church leadership is created.

Given Current Events, a Letter Worth Re-Reading

On May 24, 1996, a group of Islamic terrorists announced that they had “slit the throats” of seven French Trappist monks whom they had kidnapped from the monastery of Tibherine in Algeria and held as hostages for two months. Prior to the kidnapping, the superior of the monastery, Father Christian de ChergĂ©, had left with his family this testament “to be opened in the event of my death.”

A Term We Should Learn, Perhaps

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.” ― Michael Crichton

After 30+ Years of Professional Ministry, I'm Basically Walking Gristle, but This Caused Me to Pause a Moment.

America's Best Known Theologian Pens an Open Letter to New College Students

The Christian religion,” wrote Robert Louis Wilken, “is inescapably ritualistic (one is received into the Church by a solemn washing with water), uncompromisingly moral (‘be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ said Jesus), and unapologetically intellectual (be ready to give a ‘reason for the hope that is in you,’ in the words of 1 Peter). Like all the major religions of the world, Christianity is more than a set of devotional practices and a moral code: it is also a way of thinking about God, about human beings, about the world and history.”

Ritualistic, moral, and intellectual: May these words, ones that Wilken uses to begin his beautiful book, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, be written on your soul as you begin college and mark your life—characterize and distinguish your life—for the next four years. Be faithful in worship. In America, going to college is one of those heavily mythologized events that everybody tells you will “change your life,” which is probably at least half true. So don’t be foolish and imagine that you can take a vacation from church.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Return of the Shark Expert

It's George Burgess, yet again, now explaining that my favorite surfing waters will be filled with carnivorous fish.

Shark encounters more likely at the Jersey Shore this year, expert says

Some Helpful Clarification

Whenever there is a mass shooting, every member of the media becomes a weapons expert.  In so doing, they reveal themselves to be grossly ignorant of even basic weapon operation and identification.  For the readers' convenience, allow me to speak out of some knowledge in this area as I once held the secondary Military Occupation Specialty [or MOS] of Infantry Weapon Repairman [2111].

[My primary MOS was 0200, or Basic Intelligence Man.  That didn't mean I had basic intelligence, although that may be, it meant that I worked with either the battalion or regimental intelligence team.  It also means that I know your social security number.]

Anyway, I hope addressing these two most common errors helps the reader to be more informed and intelligent than most of the media when it comes to these issues.

Error #1: You will hear a weapon referenced as a "machine gun".  That's incorrect.  Machine guns, which fire continuously as long as the trigger is depressed, have been illegal to own in the United States since the late 1930's.  The most common form of rifle in the United States is semi-automatic.  It fires each time one pulls the trigger.  Such a rifle cannot fire 700 rounds a minute, as I heard some British expert say earlier today, as it is impossible for the mechanism to do so.

Error #2:  There is such a thing as an "assault weapon".  Please look at the photo below and tell me which one is the assault weapon.

The answer is either "both" or "neither".  Since there is no legal definition of "assault weapon", the term gets bandied about like a shuttlecock in a cocaine addict's badminton game, it is essentially meaningless.  For example, while most people would identify the rifle on the bottom to be an "assault weapon", in fact both guns are the same.  They have the same action, same trigger, same rate of fire, the same caliber.  They are both made by the same manufacturer.  Yet, one is considered a basic rifle and the other an "assault weapon".

It takes one screw, called a take-down screw, and one screwdriver and in about five minutes one may change out the wooden stock for the composite one.  In Connecticut, one cannot buy the bottom gun, but may buy the top one and, for some extra cash, legally purchase a conversion kit to change the top rifle into the bottom rifle.  It is no more or less deadly, either way.

A Press Release from the Pink Pistols, a Gay Gun-Rights Group

Gwendolyn Patton, First Speaker of the Pink Pistols, an international GLBT self-defense organization, warns people not to jump immediately to the assailant’s guns as the object of blame, but to concentrate instead on Mateen’s violent acts. “The Pink Pistols gives condolences to all family and friends of those killed and injured at Pulse,” began Patton. “This is exactly the kind of heinous act that justifies our existence. At such a time of tragedy, let us not reach for the low-hanging fruit of blaming the killer’s guns. Let us stay focused on the fact that someone hated gay people so much they were ready to kill or injure so many. A human being did this. The human being’s tools are unimportant when compared to the bleakness of that person’s soul.

I'm Seeing "Prayer-Shaming" Being Voiced by State Politicians Now, So a Reminder of What a Religious Acquaintance Wrote Last Year

At least 14 people were killed and 17 others injured in San Bernardino, California, by Syed Farook and Tafsheen Malik, a couple who later died in a shootout with police. As with the tragic rampage in Colorado just a few days prior, there’s a frustrating lack of details. Many in the media at first focused, as they tend to do during mass shootings, on their anger with the National Rifle Association, a large gun rights and gun safety organization. Some focused on the fact that the shooting took place about a 25-minute walk from a Planned Parenthood facility. Really. 

Progressive and liberal politicians called for gun control. And other politicians prayed for the victims and their families while waiting for more information. 

That’s when things got super weird. For some reason, much of the media began mocking the efficacy of prayer. This was happening while victims of the shooting were actually asking people to pray. I mean, the critiques were everywhere. An editor at ThinkProgress said, and I quote, “Stop thinking. Stop praying.” There’s a bumper sticker for you!

The Log Cabin Group with the Most Eloquent Statement of the Day

Washington, D.C. — In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, a shooter with suspected ties to radical Islam raided and killed 50 people inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 

“Domestic terrorism has struck once again on American soil, in a direct attack on the LGBT community of the United States — during Pride Month, no less,” Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo stated. “It’s no secret that abroad men who are gay — and merely suspected of being gay — are targeted for execution; today, that threat has reached the United States. Log Cabin Republicans extends our deepest sympathy, condolences, and sorrow to the victims and families of those targeted in this morning’s violence. If the shooter’s suspected motivations are indeed confirmed, we call upon President Obama and the presumptive nominees of both parties to condemn the attacker and acknowledge in no uncertain terms the cause of this massacre: Radical Islamic terrorism.”

Religion News

Noah’s Ark Crashes Into Coast Guard Vessel

Best quotation: "Media reports said there were no animals on board when the collision occurred."

Australian Tourists Come in All Types

Flying, screeching visitors turn Aussie town batty

So Withers Punctuation

One of the oldest forms of punctuation may be dying

The period — the full-stop signal we all learn as children, whose use stretches back at least to the Middle Ages — is gradually being felled in the barrage of instant messaging that has become synonymous with the digital age

[Wittily, the entire article in the NYT is written without periods.]

Want Bernard Sanders' Campaign Promises Fulfilled Immediately? It's Easy.

Free Membership
Free Single-Payer Healthcare [for families, as well]
Free Education, both vocational and academic
Allowances for Expenses, including Clothing
Free Rent or Rent Assistance, your choice
Travel Reimbursements
Moving Costs
40 Days of Paid Vacation Annually
Retirement Benefits and Pension Fund

The best part?  Total and complete income equality between the genders and all here in the United States of America.

So, youngsters, how do you get a piece of this socialism?  Easy, join the military.

Something tells me that the average fan of Bernard will not find that a palatable choice.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

I Think That Color was Offered by General Motors in the late '60's

Australian Researchers Believe They've Found the World's Ugliest Color

I Can't Argue with This; I Still Wouldn't Have Done Things Differently, Though

Thinking about ordination? Think again.

A persnickety note: I'm beginning to tire of what could best be described as the "theology of blame", which I have seen time and again when people describe the Christian leadership experience.  They cry how we are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.  In other words, we are the world.  Believe me, I understand.  Try being a poor half-breed in an all-white town filled with privileged liberals. 

However, instead of wallowing in this self-serving flagellation, Christianity also holds the means for countering such negativity with deep and eternal import.  We can whine about all of the "-isms", or we can leave the terminal wallow of the Theology of Blame and move into the place of light.

It's Been Awhile, but We Have a BVM Sighting

Chicago parishioners see Virgin Mary's image in tree

I saw a mold stain in some drywall once that looked just like my cousin Odie.

Related, maybe: Man finds Jesus at Texas church, steals him

No Reason, Just for Fun

Yikes, Forgot to Post Music, Again

Here's an amusing article to accompany the music video:

4 Reasons The Monkees Are Back on Top

They were excoriated back in the '60's as only one, Mike Nesmith, actually played an instrument and their vocals were "sweetened" by recording tricks and professional background singers.  The instruments were played by The Wrecking Crew, whom we have discussed at The Coracle before, so have the advantage of being wielded by the most talented collection of musicians in the second half of the 20th century.

Also, their songs were written by the great pop composers of the period, including Neil Diamond and Boyce and Hart, and thus have infectious melodies.

In the midst of race riots, political upheaval, and an endless, unpopular war, this was part of our society's palliative care.  It looks like it will be again.

By the way, the first song I ever sang in public was "I'm A Believer".

Ah, Cleveland. Don't Ever Change.

From October of 1863:

[A moment of absurdity:  The girlfriend of one of my friends did just that at a Rolling Stones concert at the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland in the summer of 1975.  Traditions die hard, apparently.]

Friday, June 10, 2016

Nihilism is Neither Abstract nor Distant, Part II

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Police are investigating an attempted arson that torched the inside of St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church in Stapleton Sunday afternoon.

Luke 17:33

[Originally published on July 5, 2011]

The other day I was informed that I had died in 1996. It must have been sudden, as I was unaware of my passing. I heard this from a collection of former students from the class of 1991, all of whom had been told of my demise at their five-year reunion. This explains why I haven’t heard from them in fifteen years, as e-mail and Facebook have not yet bridged the ethereal plane.

Apparently, the news of my mortality had been announced at the reunion by a new alumni relations director. As I had left that school for another in 1993, she had never known me and, since one clergyman is pretty much the same as another, she had confused me with another former chaplain of the school; never mind that our chaplaincies were two decades apart and our ages separated by three decades, if not more so. After all, both of our surnames begin with the letter “C”.

It’s hard to remain dead in this world of electronic communication, however; especially when one is not. Inevitably, last week, one of my former students discovered that I still existed, sent his bemused greetings, and informed other members of his class that I was, in fact, still alive. Those with whom I had a good relationship greeted my resurrection warmly; the ones with whom I had a more checkered relationship questioned whether I was some sort of vampire. I, however, began to discover some advantages to being dead.

For example, when Jenni asked me when I was going to break down the surprising number of cardboard boxes that once contained guitar parts and that now took up one full bay of the garage, I was able to reply with the confidence of the mortal, “I can’t, honey. I’m dead.” When I was expected to attend a clergy meeting, one that could be labeled “The Committee of Bilious Ordained Know-It-Alls”, I was able to beg off. After all, as I explained to a puzzled secretary, “I’ve been dead for fifteen years.” It was a remarkably liberating experience. I was looking forward to explaining my inert status to the IRS and Social Security Administration, but began to re-think this action when I saw my wife reviewing the fine print in my life insurance policy.

Regarding oneself as dead is common in military history. Both the legions of Rome and the samurai of the Japanese shogunate regarded themselves as dead in order to have greater focus on the battlefield. There is a parallel to this in the early Christian church, too, as we can read in St. Paul’s first of two letters to the Corinthians:

I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you--a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. Do you think I'd do this if I wasn't convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn't be the end of me? Not on your life! It's resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there's no resurrection, "We eat, we drink, the next day we die," and that's all there is to it.

Accepting one’s mortality was, and is, for Christians the first step towards recognizing the reality of resurrection, that which so strongly motivated Paul, and should motivate those disciples who follow. When I was recently “playing dead”, part of the liberation I felt was because I could at least pretend to be freed from worldly concerns such as chores and taxes. But Paul speaks of using that perspective not for detachment, but for engagement. Living for the Kingdom rather than the World, living for the life eternal rather than the life mortal, means that even common, temporal moments can be filled with spiritual possibility, grace, and wonder. And, as Paul noted, even without having to face wild beasts, it is the way in which Christians live heroically, sometimes in the face of daunting adversity.

Or even common adversity, as I now will mark my awareness of living in, but not of, the world to take that surprising number of flattened cardboard boxes to the town dump.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Well, It Looks Like They Now Have a Name

Meet ‘Generation Snowflake’ – the hysterical young women who can’t cope with being offended

Washington Post: "To fight ‘hate speech,’ stop talking about it"

Hateful speech is a real thing. But “hate speech” is an incoherent concept that confuses more than it clarifies.

Usually the term "hate speech" is employed to shut down discussion and debate so that the offending party is shamed and the accuser may luxuriate in self-designed moral superiority.

An Entertaining Visit with Winsted's Ralph Nader

Oh, yeah. You see it on campuses — what is it called, trigger warnings? It’s gotten absurd. I mean, you repress people, you engage in anger, and what you do is turn people into skins that are blistered by moonbeams.
Not just to be contrary [which is why this weblog exists these days], but the Corvair was a good car and I wish I owned one, especially a '67 convertible.

A Notoriously Outspoken Musical Fellow Visits My Home Town, the Rest is Predictable

Justin Bieber got into an all-out street brawl Wednesday night in Cleveland.

Nihilism is Neither Abstract nor Distant

Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration [Rome, Georgia] vandalized, ransacked, and set ablaze

Archaeological News. Drone Archaeology, Too.

Massive New Monument Found in Petra

Father's Day Gift Suggestions

Imagine That

Study suggests selling wine in larger glasses causes people to drink more

Surprising No One

Historic Low Approval for Connecticut Governor; 
Satisfaction with Life in Connecticut also Hits New Low

More Tales from Our Age of Nihilism

Bernie Supporters Accidentally Beat Up Each Other, Thinking They Were Assaulting Trump Fans...


Record Gun Sales Continue Through May


Young Male Sprinter Wins All-State Honors in Women’s Track and Field


Hillary Clinton’s New York primary victory speech in April focused on topics including income inequality, job creation and helping people secure their retirement. It was a clear attempt to position herself as an everywoman.

But an everywoman she is not — she gave the speech in a $12,495 Giorgio Armani tweed jacket.



You see?  Nothing in the world is real existence.  Words are meaningless, truth is fluid, being is nothingness.  What, then, is the point of an ordered life?

Are you beginning to appreciate the New Testament more?  More on that, later.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Today is World Oceans' Day

Reading list for World Oceans Day

Surfing in Cornwall in the 1920's. With Coffin Lids.

More from the Age of Nihilism

The State Department promises to release information on a date that doesn't exist:

Nihilistic Fear-Bunnies at Yale

In a petition to the English Department, Yale undergraduates declare that a required two-semester seminar on Major English Poets is a danger to their well-being.

Never mind that the offending poets — Shakespeare, Chaucer, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, et al. — are the foundational writers in the English language.

It is as if chemistry students objected to learning the periodic table of elements or math students rose up against the teaching of differential calculus.

The root of the plaint against the seminar is, of course, the usual PC bean-counting, where prodigious talents who have stood the test of time and explore the deepest questions about what it means to be human are found wanting because they wouldn’t be suitable models for a United Colors of Benetton ad.
I'm glad I attended Princeton.

What is Nihilism?

Some of The Coracle's readers know that I taught philosophy for a decade or so [along with poetry, theology, general literature, and ancient history during my twenty-one years as an educator], so I tend to frame contemporary events with whatever philosophical school best corresponds.

Lately, I notice nihilism in everything from the demands for "safe" spaces on college campuses to the bizarre presidential election season and its equally bizarre candidates.  The tendency in social discourse to label those with whom one disagrees by brutal terms such as "racist", "sexist", "breeder", "meat-eater" etc. in order to shame them to silence and claim a self-constructed moral high ground is a classic sign of the rejection of common perspective and the meanings of words.

But, since I'm warming to this theme, I thought it might be helpful to offer a definition of the term so that my musings are clear; or as clear as they can ever be.

Nihilism - the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless; extreme skepticism maintaining that nothing in the world has a real existence.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Today's Lesson in Ichthyology

There Are Whales Alive Today Who Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written

New York City ain't America, Mate

In many ways the US remains a strange land to Carey.

He has lived there for 25 years, is a dual-citizen and likens his life in New York to a Saul Steinberg cartoon depicting Manhattan as a thriving, self-contained microcosm looking out onto a bleak hinterland.

Carey says he rarely ventures into the rest of the country unless he's on a book tour.

"I'm terrified of the United States," he says.

Naturally, this fear-bunny is being inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an organization that only accepts 250 members at a given time.  He will, from that influential artistic perch, continue to reinforce this bizarre notion that the United States outside of Manhattan is some racist, sexist, violent, dull-witted dystopia populated by those with low-sloping foreheads.

Speaking as one who has been around the world twice, and represents in his DNA the most marginal of American experience, I regret that so bigoted as to artificially assign fearful, brutally stereotypical characteristics to one of the truly diverse and welcoming nations in the world.  If he would leave the cocoon of his apartment, he would discover unplumbed wonders in human nature.

What a nihilistic age this is, when artists confess their revulsion at 99% of the country in which they live and from which they willingly receive rare honors.

The Two-Party System

From the perspective of a poor half-breed from Ohio, it looks like just one expensive, happy party from here.

Personally, I'd Nominate the EPA for the Abraham Lincoln Award

Residents surrendered to federal demands only after an EPA work-crew turned the nearby Animas River bright yellow for nearly a week by releasing a three-million-gallon flood of acidic mine waste under extremely questionable circumstances in August 2015.

Suspended in the flood was 880,000 pounds of toxic metals, including lead and arsenic, that poured into the river that supplies drinking water for people living in three states and the Navajo Nation. The mine is just upstream from Silverton.
The Lincoln Award is not an honor, it's reserved for the government official or officials who has/have done the most harm to tribal Americans [what non-native people in the northeastern U.S. label as "Native Americans"].

I thought the "P" in EPA stood for "protection", as in "the government will protect you", rather than the organized crime meaning of the term.  Although, say "the government will protect you" out loud and try not to laugh.

In regards to everything you thought you knew about "Honest Abe", remember that the victor in any conflict is the one who writes the history.  The winner can create whatever historical narrative is most convenient to their sense of legacy.