November 2014

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You've no idea.

You’ve no idea.

Been talking with a friend about great cars I’ve driven. Have a sense it doesn’t compute with him. Everyone’s too young. Today’s Asian vehicles are faster and safer. The German ones are more refined. They hum. But the old ones were much MUCH more fun.

I recommended this one to my friend. He, like me, is no longer young. He doesn’t need a Ferrari/Lamborghini/Corvette girl trap. He needs a life injection.

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Not very fast. Just a nice thrum. Life spread out before you on the open road.

I’ve driven practically everything. Tell you about the Bugatti later. But have you been behind the wheel of one of these?

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It’s not the exotica of its looks that gets you. It’s the straight six motor. Makes you believe that God Himself is a straight six motor. The car itself can kill you at any time with its oversteer. But the sound, my word, the sound of that motor, thrilling you into a smile that will not quit.

Had one of these too. Now we’re talking fast.

Chrysler 300 with a 440 and dual exhausts.

Chrysler 300 with a 440 and dual exhausts.

Zero to one hundred before you’re ready. An ocean liner with a whoosh of seat-slamming acceleration. It can cruise at a hundred all day long. It can corner like a sports car. I know. I’ve driven it like that. When the carburetor’s secondaries open it’s an instant affirmation of everything worthwhile in life.

Godawful fast.

Godawful fast.

Friend of mine bought one of these from the classifieds. Wasn’t fast enough to suit him. Then one day we heard the sound of a bearing spin. The previous owner had run it without oil. Engine totally screwed. So my friend rebuilt it absolutely to spec, bolt by bolt. He also bought a plain Firebird hood to disguise its Trans-Am-ness. Then he raised holy hell all over South Jersey. I remember one night getting into an impromptu road race with a Chevy Monte Carlo. We were just riding his tail until a long straight materialized before us. Doing about 110 mph. Then my friend punched the accelerator. At 110 mph. The secondaries opened, and the Trans Am emitted this predatory growl and leaped forward like a beast unleashed. We were at 130 mph and gaining speed in an instant. Usually, the car felt like the standard GM piece of junk, rattly and loose. But at top speed it got svelte, quiet, and nimble. It became a race car. The Monte Carlo blew its engine. Just like in the movies.

There are other stories about this car. I won’t bore you with them unless you ask, which you won’t, because none of you are old enough to know what real driving is like. Which brings me to the Bugatti shown above.

All aluminum. You could dent a fender by leaning on it. (This one had a red aluminum custom body with fenders to die for.) The cockpit was aluminum too. Right hand drive. Ever had to shift left handed? Big wooden steering wheel. It was designed to be able to go 88 mph. Fifty years later it could go — 88. We did. On New Jersey Route 55. A state cop car, standard cop car, gradually pulled alongside, stared down into our open cockpit, and pulled away. They hadn’t seen what they had seen. Because cops are people too.

She 's only 10 or so.

She’s only 10 or so.

When I was a kid or so, I had a Westie and I had a cairn. Also had two wire haired fox terriers. Nothing prepared me for deerhounds, but nothing can.

Always wanted a Scottie. Looks like we might be about to get one. They kick ass.

What Raebert needs at this point. Are we all cool on the desirability of this outcome? Thought so.

I will drink your bloooood.

I will drink your bloooood.

Truth to tell, Raebert is not doing well. He misses the greyhound Molly and his grieving process has been physically exhausting for us. His mood has been bleak and dark.

Exit Mrs. IP’s declaration that there will be no more dogs in this household. We rang up Scottie Rescue, and they have what might be just the right bitch to keep Raebert in line.

Filled in the application and within minutes the missus is going to conduct a FaceTime house tour to convince the rescue people that we, parents of five rescued greyhounds, one rescue pug, and one rescue Boston terrier, are worthy of an aged Scottie. Sounds fair.

Wish us luck.


Not really. An operational brain against a weak Brit radish.

This is fun. Let me set the scene. My wife went to the Amish Market for oodles of good food. I was left alone with the deerhound, the pug and the injured orange cat. Also, the Ohio State-Michigan football game. She knew I had big concerns. Michigan stopped winning long ago and their team really sucks this year. The Buckeyes are like other teams we know, slow to anger and flex their muscles.

So I didn’t watch the beginning at all. I watched, sort of, a silly romantic movie called “The Lake House” and browsed Facebook, where I discovered someone had taken a casual swipe at me. I alerted him that that was a wrong thing to do. He wanted to get it on.

I’m showing you the whole exchange. It’s pretty funny. He patronizes me from the outset and continues to joust for quite a while without ever citing a single fact to back up his uninformed opinion.

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He gets the last word, of course. It’s his proof of triumph. Never mind that he didn’t make a single point.

It’s just the way lefties are. If you cite facts, those facts were made up by righties like yourself. They never have to cite facts because everyone they know agrees with them, unless they’re righty dimwits. Their first resort is always insult.

What’s fun is that this is a laboratory exercise, a proof if you will, of how their damaged minds work. They don’t make any argument and then pronounce themselves victors by virtue of their impeccable arrogance. It’s also always more fun when such trolls are Brits. They presume they are better educated. But they can no longer write at all. Or think at all. They’re just dead minds on the vine.

My dare still stands: “Wait till you turn your head, white boy.”

P.S. Yes, Ohio State won. Don’t congratulate me all at once. My mother and her parents went there. When they win this game, for me it’s like a family reunion.

We went out for Thanksgiving. For the first time.

We went out for Thanksgiving. For the first time.

Funny. We took our granddaughter to a nice hotel for Thanksgiving dinner. Otherwise she’d have been alone on course for a Thanksgiving Day shift at the mega-pharmacy, where she is excelling by doing the job, sort of. Which we defeated by having Thanksgiving at noon. She’s majoring in Sociology. She’s got an upcoming course in class stratification. Along these lines, she wants the Redskins to change their name. Everyone at her college agrees with her. All she needs in the way of moral force, and all us oldsters need not object. She made a face when I referred to the six years of hell this president has given us. Who would know better about such matters than a college student in 2014?

She wasn’t interested in the view from the hotel ballroom.

She wasn't interested in the view. Symbol of American hegemony.

Battleship New Jersey. Symbol of American hegemony. Sexist too.

My wife was happy. The girl ate like a champ, working through a mountain of seafood. She’s majoring in sociology, she tells us again, and they’ve done her good. I mean they’ve done her good. I was wearing a nice tie and I tried to explain. “I just want you to know that I was in the university where most of this leftist garbage got started nearly 50 years ago, and it has never ever worked, not once.”

“Things have to change,” she said. “If they didn’t there would be no feminism and there would still be slaves.”

“Things change all the time,” I said. “Things change because people change their minds, not because young people in classrooms decide they have an imperative to impose change on the rest of us.”

So she got up and procured more crab claws and desserts. Impressive trencherman. Truly impressive.

My wife was delighted to spend the morning with her. I’m delighted my wife is delighted. Not delighted that our granddaughter is being turned systematically into another self-satisfied leftist.

So. Happy Thanksgiving. Everyone.

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Thanks to all my shiny new friends at Facebook I have something funny to share with the two of you who are still reading me here. (If you click on the maps, they’ll get way bloody bigger.)

It’s an annual Brit competition to fill in the names of the states in the map of the U.S.A. Here’s at least 20 minutes of guffawing.

The best one (not really, but a taste anyway)

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Problem is, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that even these careless but deadly wits know the right answers better than your own kids. Tell me (or better, show me) how wrong I am. Or show me YOU know better.

Nothing is worse.

Nothing is worse.

I know I’ll get pilloried no matter how I approach this subject. But it needs to be approached. We live in a time of massive and ludicrous contradictions papered over by a tissue-thin wall of entertainment and other mass media propaganda.

Consider how many hours of programming you’ve been subjected to. All the Hollywood and TV movies, all the true crime stories, all the local news footage of women screaming, “My baby!” on the sidewalk after the sad event. How many Oscar turns have we seen of actresses playing mothers who sink into catatonia, cut off relations with their husbands, and live in the staling museums of their lost child’s bedroom? Meanwhile the husband buys an old pickup truck and drives around mooning after faint resemblances to his lost progeny. The end of their own lives is what’s now expected of parents who lose a child. You never ever get over it. Nor should you. It’s the new measure of the desolation of life itself. Anything less would be insufficient. Even morally derelict. Whatever moral means these days. Mull that for a moment.

My paternal grandparents grew up in Victorian times in the Philadelphia area. By a strange coincidence both came from eight-child families constituted the exact same way. An older sister, six brothers in a row, and then a younger sister. Both experienced the same loss — one of the brothers falling ill to appendicitis, operated on after peritonitis had already set in, on a kitchen table, and then his death in childhood.

I knew them both into their eighties. They could still speak affectingly of the loss, but it did not wreck their lives. Their families did not fall apart, they were not subsequently ignored in favor of prolonged dramatics of grief. They believed their brothers had gone back to God, and their own duty was to continue living.

Of course, a couple of things were different then, even as late as the late nineteenth century. Not all children made it out of childhood. Childhood, and infancy in particular, as well as childbearing were dangerous times. Grief was a real and regular occurrence, but it was also part of the routine passage of life. Why the maintenance of faith and your personal relationship with God were high priorities.

Why, perhaps, the ultimate sin in those days would have been a mother’s decision to kill a child before it was born. The odds against the babes were bad enough without the additional threat of murder in the womb.

Another difference. Men married women before they made babies. Two parents improved the riskier odds against child survival. A mother to keep watch and a father to instill discipline and good judgment. A stable long lasting arrangement, very rarely busted up by divorce, that gave children the smoothest possible passage to adulthood.

These days, I hear young women crowing about the progress of feminism who are themselves the product of broken homes and the consequent uncertainties of economics and even physical safety. I do not condone male infidelity, but how much have women given away of their ability to raise their children properly by becoming impoverished single mothers for the fleeting satisfaction of undoing their vows to husbands who strayed? They’re empowered. They’re bold brave feminists. They’re living in the No Man’s Land of contradictory standards: they love their children more than anything, but they’re willing to blight their children’s lives because forgiveness of a man is the hardest, most insurmountable peak a woman ever tries (and usually fails) to climb.

Result? They no longer believe in marriage, however much they love, worship, profess their willingness to sacrifice anything and everything for their children. So they hook up with even more worthless and promiscuous men, and have babies out of wedlock they can’t care for, can’t properly parent, and therefore don’t properly parent. So that the day comes when there’s a body in the street and they scream, as if after the fact emotion will rectify a life of selfish refusal to consider consequences or the evidence under their noses. “My baby!”

That lonesome wail does not a mother make.

Not making this up. There’s a street in my hometown I creep down at 15 mph. Because small children are left alone to play on the sidewalks, and sometimes a ball or a doll bounces into the street. There is no time to react when a child darts between two cars after a toy. “My baby!” Where were you ten minutes ago when a scream might have made a difference?

“My baby!” Not said about the countless abortions sought by the poor and unmarried. Just about the unintended consequences of careless life with no acceptance of real parental responsibility. How a big athletic teenager manages to become a drugged up thug who attacks a police officer and gets gunned down. Never your responsibility, never your fault. The Man murdered “my baby.”

Reason enough to reorient your life around exacting revenge for your tragically ruined life. Yeah. Not the child’s tragedy. Yours.

But you have your correlatives in the middle and upper classes too. Neglect and narcissism take many forms. The medical profession actually has a term for the maternal ailment it represents: Munchausen’s By Proxy, meaning a mother who seeks sympathy via the ills that befall her children, accidentally or willingly.

Death comes to us all. If it comes to your children and you feel guilty, confess the guilt and seek forgiveness. If you feel no guilt, repair the hole in your life and resume your responsibilities to the dozens of other people in your life. If you kill your marriage, your career, your family relationships, you are tantamount to a suicide, a lost pebble that sends out unending ripples of pain, and loss far greater than your own.

O Entertainment Industry! Please quit extolling this kind of histrionic martyrism. It’s death in a very thin disguise.

We ALL live with loss. What life is. Not living with it is the sin.

The Serendicity of Facebook

The Serendicity of Facebook. (Click for bigger.)

I could write a LOT more than a thousand words about this random compilation of photos my Facebook page has assembled. About the photos themselves, their placement, their meaning. Six images that say everything important about me. Humbling for a writer who has written millions of words about being me.

Only one will I mention. Between heaven and faith is a picture of a woman not my wife. But she is my wife, an incarnation of the Boudica who will not allow me to take her picture. Take your cue from the eyes. You don’t want to mess with those eyes, make them mad, make them worse than mad. A beauty worth living up to without trivial grudges or malefactions of any kind.

Why it’s a meaningful portrait at the heart of a symbolic array.

Go ahead and ignore it. But sometimes seeming accidents are the purest Serendicity.

Who is Ilya Somin? He says I got personal. Did I?

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Didn’t call his mother any names. Didn’t call him any names. I said he doesn’t care. He doesn’t. Is that personal? Maybe. My wife and I quarreled about it. We arrived at an agreement. Yeah, it may be personal. If you don’t care about American citizens and I call you out on it, maybe you should take it personally. I sure do.

P.S. Tired, tired, tired. The Ilya Somins of the world are the most tiresome of all. They ban. I never did. Not in ten years. They ban when they’re losing. And the Somins are always losing. Nobody can stand in the arena with me and win. Not ever.

What I always do is win. Without banning. Tell Ilya Somin. He can come here if he really wants to fight. Winning is out of the question though. Not to get personal or anything, he’s just not smart enough.

Let the Games Begin!

Let the Games Begin!

The 2014 edition of the games got underway last night (as required) with a dramatic opening ceremony in Ferguson, Missouri. First was the traditional torching of a police car, followed by touchingly nostalgic tributes to the games’ customary events — including the looting of liquor stores, nail salons, and dollar stores, the burning to the ground of hair salons, the overturning and burning of parked cars, and the ever popular hurling of bottles and obscenities at police.

Competing teams in other cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, DC, and Oakland, played their part in inaugurating the (expected) two week long event by conducting parades through their planned target zones.

Movingly, the president played master of ceremonies, offering encouragement to the rioters with a becoming nostrum or two about fair play.

Needless to say, the opening ceremonies were covered live, with outstanding play by play coverage, by all three cable news networks, who will also share minute by minute coverage of individual events in the weeks to come.

Enjoy this time-honored production as it unfolds before us. I’m sure we’re all proud to be witnesses.

Eagle

Nearly killed.

Nearly killed. Like last week in Green Bay

No. Not about Philadelphia. Surprise. About an Eagle. Hit by a truck. Is he dead? No.

He's got his own couch now. He’s got his own couch now.

Why Eagles fly. Yep. It’s about Philly’s Eagles after all.

And the best voice in football, Merrill Reese.

Fly they do.

P.S. ONE MORE REASON TO HATE THE COWBOYS. Number 33, Duane Thomas. They screwed him. Like they do to everyone.


Pretty funny Yale propaganda film. I also went to Cornell for grad school. So that part’s funny too. Shame they had to film in cheesy New Haven locations.

It’s no big deal but today is The Game. Harvard versus Yale. The only thing I like about Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League anymore. Football. It’s still a game, not a business. No athletic scholarships. No spring practice. Sure there are dumb jocks but they have to be able to do the classwork. There are no challenge flags. What the refs call is the law. Games move smartly along. Pun intended.

Overall, Yale’s way ahead in the series. They always had more dumb jocks. Recently, though, Harvard’s been kicking Yale’s ass. Some number of years worth in a row. If you know what I mean. (Okay, it’s not Alabama-Auburn. I don’t know exactly.) But I’m worried this year. Yale keeps beating everybody worse than Harvard does. That’s a sign, right? And sooner or later, Yale’s going to rise up and beat Harvard, because every dog has his day. Even if it’s a drooling, half-witted bulldog. Right?

Harvard rarely goes undefeated. (Only 19 times now that I’ve done the research.) They like to think it’s a noblesse oblige thing. Truthfully, it’s a not quite good enough at football thing. But right now Harvard is 9-0. About where they were in 1968. Yale was undefeated that year too. When they had Calvin Hill, who became a huge star with the Dallas Cowboys. Figures. Dallas Cowboys and Yale go together. Lots of stars, lots of sex scandals, not much in the way of solid accomplishments for a long long time if you know what I mean.

Not that Yale isn’t old. It is. Like Bill and Hillary are old.

Anyway. Back in 1968 there was a unique confrontation. Both Harvard and Yale were undefeated. (Not this year. Yale lost to Dartmouth early in the season.) That year, maybe for the last time, The Game meant something. Yale was ranked somewhere in the the top 25 nationally. Harvard was, well, Harvard. So with 42 seconds left on the clock, Harvard was losing 29-13. When a miracle happened. The next day, the headline of the Harvard Crimson read, “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.” They even made a documentary about it. Because when a bunch of people go to Yale and Harvard and something unusual happens, you can bet a movie will be made about it eventually.

Not feeling good about this one. This year, The Game is at Harvard, but there’s no real home field advantage in this contest. It’s not like Lambeau, where everybody stops breathing when Aaron Rodgers has the ball. Everybody’s drunk and not paying attention. And the two schools are so close geographically that it’s pretty much 50-50 Harvard and Yale regardless of where they’re playing.

Worse, Marist grad and self-nominated Harvard man Bill O’Reilly is attending The Game. Yuk.

Nobody has to root one way or the other. We’re focused on The Game because we’re still getting over pet deaths. The deerhound Raebert runs away from Philadelphia Eagles games because my wife cheers too loudly. She’s much more restrained about Ivy League games. As am I.

Why? Because it’s just a game. Saving grace.

There are slur walks, don't you know?

There are slutwalks, don’t you know? Dirty secret. Women are exhibitionists.

Ya see, women can wear whatever they want, anywhere they want, because women can do whatever they want, and men are all rapist bastards. Got it?

Like men aren’t allowed to wear this shirt.

Hellacious shirt.

Hellacious shirt.

They can’t wear it unless they get in line to buy it from a sold out queue offered by the woman who designed it.

Yes, there are lines. For example, I did not look at the nude photos hacked by whoever that featured Jennifer Lawrence and company. I agree with her that if these were private photos, looking is a kind of crime.

On the other hand, when women want to be looked at, I’m delighted to look. Kim Kardashian is only a celebrity because she wants to be looked at. So I’m happy to help her out.

Any guy out there who won’t look at this?

Thongs are nice.

Thongs are nice.

So are transparent blouses.

I've never had a single objection to nipples if women want to show them.

I’ve never had a single objection to nipples if women want to show them.

And — NSFW NSFW NSFW NSFW! — I, like every other guy on the planet, am fearless about confessing my willingness to see women’s private parts if they want to show them.

She has private parts. I'm grateful she doesn't keep them private.

She has private parts. Such a shame she doesn’t keep them utterly private.

Not really. Speaking as I am for most men, we always want to see those parts. Why men are men and why women have so much power. Get used to it.

P.S. Nobody look at these additional pictures of Kardashian. They’re not suitable for evil rapist bastards to look at.

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Hardly. But it just sold for $44.4 million.

Georgia O’Keeffe was a mediocrity who painted female genitalia. A one-joke artist who swindled the 20th century. Maybe a symbol of what feminism has become. Pretention as a substitute for vision.

Men have demonstrated more imagination about this subject. With some exceptions. With men there are always exceptions. But female parts are not always a flower. Sometimes they’re something else. If you study the output, women are mostly the cruder ones, men the helplessly admiring ones. (Old anecdote: man sees vagina; woman says seen one seen them all; man says seen one, want to see them all.) Witness this. And, well, this, which I actually like. Because like all men, I’m a bum.

Maybe a good reason why women in particular should read this essay by Mollie Hemingway.

NSFW or Not.

Lena Dunham. Herself.

Lena Dunham. Herself.

I’m thinking not. In that it’s not obscene, meaning something that excites prurient interest.

Are you feeling any prurient interest? I know I’m not. Feel free to comment. She’s gone out of her way to make this and many other photos of her naked body available to us. She’s daring us NOT to find her prurient. If your boss comes and peeks over your shoulder and accuses you of watching porn on the job, repel him. Tell him, “This is no sexually attractive woman. She has breasts like a shaved nursing chimpanzee, droopy and anti-erotic. She has a tummy that would look pregnant if it were only firm rather than flabby. She has thighs like the liquefying concrete columns of a Hyatt hotel. Sure there’s a vagina somewhere between them, but who wants to bring the jackhammer to open the way? She has a face that not only could but probably has stopped a clock or a gross of them. Worse, we can’t even call watching her voyeurism. Us seeing her naked is all she lives for. That’s how pitiful and repugnant she is.”

Even women are tired of defending her. Here’s the saddest commentary of all.

I won’t say enjoy. You won’t. And I won’t apologize for sounding mean. It won’t matter to her. This is attention. What she lives for and can’t live without.

I truly wish it were otherwise.

The inestimable Tim has done me the honor of replying in kind to my many many movie recommendations. I haven’t seen this yet, but I will. He understands the value of reciprocity, for which I am truly grateful.

A Teen Flick Worth Watching

You’ve doubtless heard of Twilight and the Hunger Games. You may have even heard of Divergent, which is not at all the Hunger Games. But even if you are already burnt out on the recent young adult movie craze, there’s one that you should sit down and watch with any young adults in your life.

It’s called The Giver. You may have missed it because it wasn’t in theaters very long. Like the other YA films I’ve mentioned in comments, this one is based on a book I haven’t read. The premise is that it takes place at some undetermined date in the future. All that’s left of society lives in one city, atop a gigantic plateau somewhere. Everyone dresses the same, lives in the same type of house and is even given the same type of bicycle when they turn nine. Mist swirls all around the plateau’s edge so nobody can see anything below. Not that anyone is too curious about what’s out there, because they all take daily “medication” which suppresses emotions. For their own good, of course. They also have five rules to follow, among which are do not lie and do not murder. Clearly an efficient culture since they only need five commandments.

The big event for this society is an annual ceremony when, among other things, 18 year-olds find out what profession they will be assigned. These range from working with babies to mechanical maintenance, and whatever job they get is performed for life. Also, the elderly members of the population no longer able to perform their duties are thanked for their service and enter retirement to “Elsewhere”. More on that in a bit.

The protagonist, Jonas, discovers he has been chosen to be the new receiver of memory. He will receive not just any one person’s memory but the collective memories of humanity from the past (don’t question how, just go with it). Because in this idyllic, peaceful society, only one person at a time is allowed to remember anything about life before the current regime, and then only in case the leadership (played by Meryl Streep) requires consultation. The rest of the time, the receiver lives in his own little house, away from everyone else on the very edge of the plateau. On the first day of training, Jonas learns one of his new job rules supersedes a larger community rule: the receiver is permitted to lie.

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Jeff Bridges plays the titular Giver, who transmits the memories to Jonas. The first one he shares is of riding down a hill on a sled. Jonas is wildly exhilarated by it because he has never experienced even a thrill that simple in his life, nor has he ever seen snow because the weather is controlled…

The receiver encounters many memories, most of a way of life long gone. We are invited to experience what we know from the viewpoint of someone who does not know, and thus to see it all anew.

The point to make is that the film shows, even if unwittingly, the realization of the nanny state. The citizens in the Giver know a lot and nothing simultaneously. They can genetically engineer people, perform maintenance on complex machines, and are all fit as fiddles. Yet their lives are completely detached from any knowledge of history and the past. They are told things are better this way than they ever were before, so there’s no need to know about any of that stuff.

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The ultimate nanny, played by Meryl Streep, is not trying to be death personified, not really. She’s a true believer, not hateful in the way that Agent Smith is. She just knows it’s better to give people no choice other than the rules. Don’t let them choose. Let the smart ones, chosen by the previous generation of smart ones, figure out what everybody else should be doing. And if anyone gets out of line, there are thug guards and drones waiting just around the corner, out of sight. Because every utopian civilization needs thug guards and drones.

I linked to RL’s Agent Smith post above because I thought of that very post while watching this film. The elephant in the room the Giver never quite addresses is that its society is atheist as well as totalitarian. Yes, they finally got rid of “Sky Cop”, which is great. God not only hands out all of these rules, but he allows suffering in the world, so he’s a jerk. Who needs him? The atheists knew better and created a society free from pain. So how did they create this perfect society? Electronic cameras & mics everywhere, all to monitor everyone and tell them what to do. Killing critical thought, curiosity and individuality, as well as inflicting suffering on those who don’t get with the program. And the drones, of course. Sky Cop, indeed.

The greatest poignancy in the film is the character of the Giver, which unfortunately is not explored as deeply as it should have been. He, rather than Jonas, begs for more narrative attention. The millennials who comprise the target audience probably couldn’t empathize with him, which is sadly similar to the fictional world being portrayed. Instead, we get a power bike chase. Cue AC/DC.

I think many readers here, though, can understand the Giver. He is one old man, full of memory and history, surrounded by people who don’t want to hear it. His purpose is to serve as a glorified Google search, should a select few need to reference something from the past. He lives the memories of those who came before him, but feels his own cannot measure up. He cannot share anything he knows, and the majority of the population would not understand if he tried. And every day, he is forced to view the tragedy of seeing the world as it has become against the memory of how it used to be. Some days, this fate doesn’t seem very farfetched to me at all.

Thea-tuhhh!

The-a-tuhhh!

Olympian Swimmahs!

Yeah, we had an Olympic swimmer at Harvard too.

Yeah, we sent an Olympic swimmer to Harvard too.

No longer know what to say. I feel like I should curl into a ball. But the truth is that Mercersburg has become the premier prep school in the country, the richest per student, the most beautiful, the most beautiful, and again, the richest and most beautiful.

Sorry, Ron. Beauty is it's own reward.

Sorry, Ron. Beauty is its own reward.

Eeew… now they’re playing the president’s daughters’ school in football, and dutifully taking a dive. Aren’t we soooo correct? Sidwell Friends. Don’t know about you, but I’m impressed. (Gotta scroll past all the Hun School highlights. Scroll, scroll. Great M’burg runback in there against SF somewhere.)

Yeah, they lost. Can’t tell you how puffed up I am that my old school is now doormatting for Sidwell Friends. An honor, right? Uh, no. Quakers aren’t they? Phooey. We used to be a feeder school for Cornell, land of Ed Marinaro. What’s become of us? The shame.

Dunno. Maybe this week.

Before there was this there was that. Long long time ago.

Not Groton and Not Lawrenceville. Better.

Not Groton and not Lawrenceville. Better.

Place to the left. Swank Hall. Where I was a freshman. Small 12 year old. No bullying. Why I’m a skeptic. People have always taken care of me. They’ve always known they should.

Jeez. Apparently, Mercersburg is a billionaire. American version of the shard. And btw we do English lit too.

Jeez. Apparently, Mercersburg is a billionaire. American version of the shard. And btw we do English lit too.

How Old Am I?

Been there, done more than the current lot.

Been there, done more than the current lot.

Interesting bit of querulousness at The Corner today, courtesy of NR enfant terrible Tim Cavanaugh:

The astute media critic Jay Rosen — who as far as I know is neither a conservative nor a Republican — goes full J. Jonah Jameson on reporters’ lazy assertions that the GOP congressional majority needs to “show it can govern.” Rosen sets up several phrasings of this truism– from the U.K. Telegraph, The New York Times, and NPR Congressional reporter Ailsa Chang — before knocking them down:

These are false statements. I don’t know how they got past the editors. You can’t simply assert, like it’s some sort of natural fact, that Republicans “must show they can govern” when an alternative course is available. Not only is it not a secret — this other direction — but it’s being strongly urged upon the party by people who are a key part of its coalition.

Now keep in mind that for NPR correspondents like Chang, a ‘factual basis’ is everything,” Rosen writes. “They aren’t supposed to be sharing their views. They don’t do here’s-my-take analysis. NPR has ‘analysts’ for that. It has commentators who are free to say on air: ‘I think the Republicans have to show they can govern.’ Chang, a Congressional correspondent, was trying to put over as a natural fact an extremely debatable proposition that divides the Republican party. She spoke falsely, and no one at NPR (which reviews these scripts carefully) stopped her.”

Which got me to reminiscing. Almost immediately after I became editor of the Mercersburg News, I experienced an almost allegorical journalistic challenge. It was 1969, the year of all years in the iconic sixties. A school which had always been its own self-contained world was suddenly bursting with the desire to be relevant in the exotic new youth culture. In a mere two years, drugs — chiefly marijuana and LSD — had rolled into a campus where drinking a beer used to be an expulsion offense. Seniors contemplating next year’s radical campuses were looking for an opportunity to prove their Woodstock manhood.

Easy answer? Break an ancient ironclad rule in a dramatic way. Led by four year boys, the would be radicals staged a mass walkout from our required 8:45 am Saturday chapel service. Dramatic it was. Half the school exited after the opening prayer. I stayed. My best friend left with the cool guys. Our aged headmaster, who used to reward his best students with musket balls he’d dug out of the turf of Gettysburg, was stunned. He took the pulpit to call for a school meeting in the auditorium RIGHT NOW.

Those of us still in chapel passed the word and the walkout kids were happy to obey this particular order, which promised an opportunity for “airing all views.”

I took my seat near the aisle in the auditorium, and then I saw I was being signaled by the faculty adviser of the News. He was a former John Lindsay speechwriter, one of the radicals of that day, a five pack a day smoker, and he bent toward me to ask, “Are you taking notes?” He was smiling a mile wide smile.

Hadn’t occurred to me. But boy did I take notes. The headmaster recognized every student with a hand up. Everything spilled out, every resentment, every chafe against rules, every ounce of rebellion against our disciplined life, and he stood there like the man he was and took it, clearly grieving that his school had been sucked into the cultural hurricane of the age.

When the meeting — or manifesto, or tantrum, or political protest, or whatever it was — ended, I hunted down my chain-smoking mentor and asked him a single question: “Can I put out an Extra of the Mercersburg News?”

Yes, it really was the best of the bunch for many years.

Yes, it really was the best of the bunch for many years.

Within an hour I had permission. A hundred years of the Mercersburg News, most of the last 40 or so of which, the paper had been the best newspaper in the private school world, but never ever had there been an extra, maybe not in the whole private school world. When is there ever actual news, actual trauma in a closed community?

Which is when the journalism questions began.

I personally opposed the walkout. With every fiber of my being. But I was the editor of the Mercersburg News. How did one get chosen for the position? Lecture articles. Every Monday, some outside professor, writer, or scientist came in to educate the whole school during the last afternoon class period in the auditorium. One poor slug like me was assigned to take notes and write up the whole lecture, 25 to 27 column inches, for delivery to the newsroom before class on Tuesday morning. The paper had to go to bed by late Tuesday, so it could be published by Saturday morning in student mailboxes.

The guy that did the most lecture articles became editor. Why? He had to learn that his job was to report, not characterize, not comment. The speaker said this. He said that. There was no hint of review permitted. It was a lesson in the ABCs of journalism. Why Mercersburg had won so many awards. Our ancient Aussie carillonneur adviser prior to my Lindsay activist had established the tradition and the discipline.

When you became editor, you could express opinions in editorials. No one else on staff could.

So I went to the smartest faculty members and students I knew on both sides of the walkout controversy and asked for equal column inches from both. They all agreed to participate because they believed I would be fair. I also wrote up — maybe 30-40 column inches — of reportage from my notes of the school meeting, without a single snide comment or intimated dismissal. Just what happened, what people said. What I had been taught.

Even my editorial was even-handed. I realized after reading the contributors who had volunteered that there really were two sides to the walkout. I still thought it was a bad idea, but it was also true that there was no longer a closed community. We were all being drafted into the culture war of the sixties. And much as I might defend the Vietnam War, I still loved my Stones. I was torn just as the school was torn.

The Extra was published on Wednesday. I was more a journalist at fifteen than the NPR glunks Jay Rosen is talking about. Why?

Multiple reasons:

1. I was heir to a tradition of excellence perpetuated for many many years by an exquisitely literate and conscientious adviser named Bryan Barker.

2. His successor was a liberal in the old sense of the term. He kept talking about the New York Times. (In my subconscious, he looks like FDR, with a cigarette holder. Actually it was just a cigarette.) He personally approved the dead equal balance I sought between pro and con on the walkout event. He was delighted with the newspaper product, not seeking propaganda.

3. I had been taught how to write journalistic copy, omitting the emotional and prejudicial words even to a fault.

4. The physical process of producing a printed newspaper enforces a respect and discipline of its own that requires one to live up to it.

I imagine most can work their way through to understanding the first three reasons. Why I choose to dwell on the fourth.

The Mercersburg News was a very physical creation. It commanded respect on that account alone. The newsroom looked a lot like the photo up top, though the typewriters weren’t so spiffy. But they were manned by unpaid writers who produced eight pages a week, ranging from sports coverage by people who were trying to be Red Smith to columnists who were trying to be Woody Allen or James Thurber.

There was also a row of wooden drawers containing woodcuts, only partially represented by this image of press trays. Commonalities: wood, shallow slots, sense of age.

Everything in the print world used to look like this.

Everything in the print world used to look like this.

All right. Let me walk you through it. Images in those days were blocks of wood with something on top, a quasi-daguerreotype of a camera photo or a metal relief sculpture of some kind.

We had drawers full of these.

We had drawers full of these.

Either or both had to fit into a physical page created by a Linotype machine.

Here’s how it works, you see. The Extra was the first time I had to oversee it all. Get the copy, pick the woodcut of the Chapel (which would be our only graphic in four pages), and hustle everything to downtown Mercersburg.

Not quite what we ran but close enough.

Not quite what we ran but close enough.

Then comes the Linotype machine. You have no idea. You’re staring at the world’s biggest typewriter.

You should hear the clack clack clacking. Are you worth it?

You should hear the clack clack clacking. Are you worth it?

The columns of writing weigh many pounds.

You'd better be as precise and clear as the lines.

You’d better be as precise and clear as the lines.

Yeah. Wanna hear? Go for it. Humbling.


I stood over his shoulder to watch the Extra being born. I felt like I was being whipped. What it sounded and felt like.

Think I’m boasting, talking triumph? No. Five years after the walkout, ten of the kids I’d known were dead. Mostly NOT Vietnam. Drugs, suicide, and other misadventures. I knew I’d witnessed a sundering. One that continues today. My Extra was ineffective puffery. But I was trying. Which when I look at it from my age doesn’t count. Like so much of journalism. But at least it was that. An attempt to see all sides.

I’ve reached an age of self examination. Thinking most of today’s “journalists” will never get there. So be it.

Sorry for all you Grottlesex boys. We had life in our hands...

Sorry for all you Grottlesex boys. We had life in our hands…

The Lefty Olympics

The Lefty Olympics

Amidst all the other crimes of the administration, this one has to rank high. An ongoing conspiracy to set American cities aflame in the name of racial justice.

The evidence is a matter of open record, however spun by mainstream media.

The newest news, buried in an article in the New York Times, gives us this, as reported by Gateway Pundit.

President Obama met with Ferguson protest leaders on November 5th, the day after the midterm elections. The meeting was not on his daily schedule. He was concerned that the protesters “stay on course.”

Gateway’s source is a sentence or two buried in the Times article titled In Ferguson, Tactics Set for Grand Jury Decision in Michael Brown Case, 21 paragraphs in.

Some of the national leaders met with President Obama on Nov. 5 for a gathering that included a conversation about Ferguson.

According to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has appeared frequently in St. Louis with the Brown family and delivered a speech at Mr. Brown’s funeral, Mr. Obama “was concerned about Ferguson staying on course in terms of pursuing what it was that he knew we were advocating. He said he hopes that we’re doing all we can to keep peace.”

Peace? That’s been the objective? Really? Maybe if you add a Monty Python-style wink-wink. Consider the prelude. And remember, we are still awaiting a grand jury decision about the facts of the matter. But back in September, the president was already speaking prejudicially about Ferguson before international audiences:

President Obama, once tight-lipped about the volatile situation in Ferguson, Mo., has been speaking out a bit more in recent days, changing his approach to the conflict and unrest there nearly two months after the shooting of Michael Brown.

In a few different forums in recent days, Obama has mentioned the situation. He has done so even as there is clearly little political benefit to doing so — and more likely, a bigger downside.

First, he riled conservatives by citing Ferguson in his United Nations speech as an example of America’s imperfections. Then, this past weekend at the Congressional Black Caucus event, Obama sounded a somewhat different note from his earlier comments on Ferguson.

He said before that “sentencing may be different … how trials are conducted may be different,” when it comes to African Americans in the criminal justice system.

On Saturday, he was bolder and more unequivocal: “We know that, statistically, in everything from enforcing drug policy to applying the death penalty to pulling people over, there are significant racial disparities. That’s just the statistics.”

Meanwhile, he had already turned Eric Holder and the Department of Justice loose to conduct an investigation before there was any factual disposition in the case.

Attorney General Eric Holder travelled to Ferguson, Missouri, Wednesday to personally intervene in the investigation of the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unprecedented and highly questionable move…

The issue in Ferguson is possible police misconduct. Investigating such misconduct is the responsibility of the Criminal Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The primary mission of this Section is to prosecute individual police officers under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242. These criminal statutes prohibit officials who are acting under color of law from willfully depriving individuals “of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” In this case, the government must prove that Officer Darren Wilson used excessive force against Brown during the apparent confrontation that the two had. If Wilson is convicted, the punishment can be extremely severe, including life in prison or the death penalty.

The unrest in Ferguson has obviously been triggered by unproven – and increasingly unlikely, given the emerging evidence – allegations that Brown was targeted by Officer Darren Wilson because of his race. Brown is not only a suspect in the robbery of a convenience store, but Wilson was apparently severely injured in the struggle with Brown. The notion that Wilson deliberately targeted Brown, let alone used vastly excessive force in the interaction, seems a bit dubious at this point. Still, Holder has dispatched a team of lawyers from the Criminal Section to supervise over 40 FBI agents sent to Ferguson to investigate this tragic situation. The attorneys “deployed to lead this process,” says Holder, are the “Civil Rights Division’s most experienced prosecutors.”

What Holder did not say is that it is these “experienced prosecutors” in the Criminal Section who he is so “proud of,” along with lawyers in the U.S. Attorneys’ office in New Orleans, who were accused last year by a federal judge in Louisiana of “grotesque prosecutorial abuse.” In a shocking 129-page order in a civil rights prosecution of New Orleans police officers after Hurricane Katrina, the judge castigated the Justice Department, using terms like “skullduggery” and “perfidy” to describe the misbehavior of prosecutors. This included making anonymous postings on the website run by the New Orleans Times-Picayune that “mocked the defense, attacked the defendants, and their attorneys, were approbatory of the United States Department of Justice, declared the defendants obviously guilty, and discussed the jury’s deliberations.

Fair and objective? Two smoking guns on this question. First, Holder’s reaction to leaks from grand jury suggesting that Darren Wilson might have been acting in legitimate self defense.

Attorney General Eric Holder says that he is beyond exasperated — he is “mad,” in fact — at the leaks pouring out of the investigation into the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Holder even went so far as to advise those responsible for leaking the information to “shut up” in a public interview at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday.

“I think that somebody, these leakers, have made the determination that they’re trying to somehow shape public opinion about this case,” Holder told The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart.

“And that’s inconsistent with the way in which we conduct investigations, and especially grand jury investigations which are supposed to be secret.”

The leaks include claims that the grand jury weighing whether to press charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson has been provided with evidence that the officer fired two shots inside of his car during a struggle with Brown and that blood was found on Wilson’s gun. That would seem to support Wilson’s claim that Brown attacked him.

Second, a letter from a responsible law enforcement official making a damning charge.

As the Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings for new Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch and as outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder continues to allocate Department of Justice resources to the situation in Ferguson, former FBI Assistant Director and Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Ron Hosko has sent a scathing letter to President Obama detailing the damage done to the relationship between law enforcement and DOJ over the past six years.

“The hyper-politicization of justice issues has made it immeasurably more difficult for police officers to simply do their jobs. The growing divide between the police and the people – perhaps best characterized by protesters in Ferguson, Mo., who angrily chanted, “It’s not black or white. It’s blue!” – only benefits of members of a political class seeking to vilify law enforcement for other societal failures. This puts our communities at greater risk, especially the most vulnerable among us,” Hosko wrote in the letter exclusively obtained by Townhall. “Your attorney general, Eric Holder, is chief among the antagonists. During his tenure as the head of the Department of Justice, Mr. Holder claims to have investigated twice as many police and police departments as any of his predecessors. Of course, this includes his ill-timed decision to launch a full investigation into the Ferguson Police Department at the height of racial tensions in that community, throwing gasoline on a fire that was already burning. Many officers were disgusted by such a transparent political maneuver at a time when presidential and attorney general leadership could have calmed a truly chaotic situation.”

A bunch of political posturing? No. Real human lives and property are on the line, all over the country.

BOSTON — From Boston to Los Angeles, police departments are bracing for large demonstrations when a grand jury decides whether to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri…

“It’s definitely on our radar,” said Lt. Michael McCarthy, police spokesman in Boston, where police leaders met privately Wednesday to discuss preparations. “Common sense tells you the timeline is getting close. We’re just trying to prepare in case something does step off, so we are ready to go with it.”

In Los Angeles, rocked by riots in 1992 after the acquittal of police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, police officials say they’ve been in touch with their counterparts in Missouri, where Gov. Jay Nixon and St. Louis-area law enforcement held a news conference this week on their own preparations. Brown’s family is urging people to stay calm.

“Naturally, we always pay attention,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a police spokesman. “We saw what happened when there were protests over there and how oftentimes protests spill from one part of the country to another.”

Preventing violence in Ferguson while awaiting grand jury
In Las Vegas, police joined pastors and other community leaders this week to call for restraint at a rally tentatively planned northwest of the casino strip when a decision comes.

And in Berkeley, Missouri, a town neighboring Ferguson, officials this week passed out fliers urging residents to be prepared for unrest just as they would a major storm – with plenty of food, water and medicine in case they’re unable to leave home for several days…

Imagine this whole thing explodes, as it well might, into rioting, looting and arson in cities across the country. Where would we look for the source of a nationwide detonation device? You know where.

Has this president and his administration ever done anything that wasn’t ultimately destructive of American good will and brotherhood?

No. Never. If America riots after the grand jury verdict, Obama and his minions should be arrested for incitement to riot.

Forget impeachment. Handcuff him and lead him away. Charge him in every death with conspiracy to murder. Tired of this malevolent paranoia and thirst for revenge for evils he never experienced.


The best one. Even the music doesn’t sound like an Irwin Allen building falling down. It sounds as sweet as Claire Trevor and Laraine Day.

Not that one is needed, but there is a line of reasoning here. There was a good air disaster movie once, called The High and the Mighty. Then there was Fate Is the Hunter and subsequently many others, reaching an apogee with a series of blockbusters named Airport Something.

All but the last of these featured professional pilots landing airliners in extraordinary trouble. John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Dana Andrews, Charlton Heston. You know. Men. Then the bottom fell out. Suddenly, damaged and stricken airliners had to be landed by someone other than a commercial airline pilot. Some movies stand out. That’s our subject for today. Read and learn.

Terror in the Sky. This isn’t one of the five. It’s the line of demarcation between the excusable past and the inexcusable present. When I broached the title to my wife and asked for nominations, she said Airplane.

Wrong! Airplane was the movie that swept away all previous air disaster movies.


Completing the circle: Robert Stack was the pilot John Wayne slapped in The High and the Mighty.

Airplane cleared the field for a raft of new abominations. Why Terror in the Sky is not on our official list. Its claim to fame is that it was the movie Airplane was based on. An airliner is crippled by food poisoning, and a desperate stewardess discovers that a Vietnam helicopter pilot is the only flier on the passenger manifest. He’s a PTSD case (obviously) and has to overcome his personal demons to land a vehicle the like of which he has never flown. Hilarious. Starring Doug McClure. It was almost funny enough in its own right not to require the gigantic hit spoof. But not quite. Why, incidentally, Leslie Nielsen owes his late and unforeseen comedic career to the guy who played Trampas in The Virginian TV series.

Sorry. Getting into the weeds here. Bear with me. My writing bones are broken at the moment, or at least sprained. Forgive me. What I’m aiming to convey is that in air disaster movie terms, Airplane made the tabula suddenly rasa.

Anyway. The new narrative had been set. Thanks to Doug McClure and Robert Hays, we knew that absolutely anybody can land a heavily loaded 747. And then anybody and everybody did. Starting with the president of the United States.

Air Force One. Time for an important point of definition. A bad movie can still be fun to watch. As are all of the movies on this list. I’ve watched Air Force One a bunch of times. It’s abundantly enjoyable. It’s also a terrible movie. But you’d have to be dead or not American to experience no thrill when President Harrison Ford says, “Get off my plane!”

Executive Decision. A movie with something for everybody except people who insist on good movies. Steven Seagal haters get to see the worst CGI effects ever in his unexpectedly early death scene. Halle Berry fans get to see her do all the heavy lifting while Kurt Russell skulks from baggage compartment to cargo bay in his tuxedo. I forget who the terrorist is, but he can’t stop one of them from landing the plane.

Snakes on a Plane. Oops. Did I already use the phrase “worst CGI effects ever?” Apologies. As a guy with a lifelong fear of snakes, this soporific movie featured some of the most lifeless plastic serpents ever shown on screen. The Samuel Jackson part was also lost on me. A guy getting a paycheck for what amounted to an Internet hoax: Make this movie and we’ll come see it. Except we won’t and didn’t. Because it was a bad bad movie with only one redeeming moment. The plane landed by a video gamer who had flown airliners virtually on the Internet. Cool.

Airspeed. Now we’re getting somewhere. From ludicrous to, er, ludicrouser. Spoiled brat on a private jet pisses everybody off and then has to save everybody’s life in an impossible sequence of events that includes a failed attempt to inject Charlton Heston (or somebody) into the cockpit en route. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Turbulence. Just saw this one. It’s so horrendously wonderfully awfully transcendently bad that it’s the reason for this whole post. A fine cast in an embarrassing disaster of a disaster movie. Ray Liotta is a serial killer who insists he’s innocent. He isn’t, of course. He’s Ray Liotta. Lauren Holly is still just young enough to be a stewardess. Ahem. So she lands the plane after hours and hours of running and falling and dropping convenient weapons until Ray finally almost begs her to shoot him in the head and get to the closing credits. The coolest ever. Then Lauren goes on a date with Ben Cross. What more could you want?

Honorable Mention: Passenger 57. My wife mentioned this one. I don’t remember it. I mean I’ve seen it and all, but I have no recollection of the event.

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