Thursday, December 31, 2009

Amping Up At Government Motors

Your tax dollars bought G(overnment) M(otors) as a gift for the United Auto Workers. The Chevy Volt Dance at the Los Angeles Auto Show should really boost your confidence that the "company" is on the road to profit.



We'll be funding this nightmare for a long time. Absolutely revolting.

Source: National Review Online and a host of others

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Once In A Blue Moon

In Lost Horizon, one of my favorite books - and films - the lamasery of Shangri La sits in a valley shadowed by the towering mountain, Karakal, or Blue Moon. Tomorrow night, the world has an opportunity to lift its eyes to another Blue Moon, a name given to a full moon appearing outside the expected monthly cycle. Though the definition may be challenged, everyone agrees that such moons do not come often. Generally, we can expect one about every three years.

Of course, tomorrow's full moon also will be special as it occurs on the last day of the calendar year - at least in most parts of the world. For more information on the elusive meaning of "blue moon," check out this NASA link.

Source: spaceweather.com

Sunday, December 27, 2009

California As State Of Failure


This article from the current issue of The Claremont Review is receiving growing attention from several bloggers. Well worth reading as I still view the state as a bellwether for the rest of the nation.

The Myth Of The Poor, Oppressed Jihadist

. . . Barack Obama clings, like so many willfully blind, to the myth of the poor, oppressed jihadist in the face of years and years of contrary evidence. The "essence" of the 9/11 "tragedy," he wrote days after that attack, "grows out of a climate of poverty and ignornace, helplessness and despair." This woeful misdiagnosis allows the apologist to treat deliberate, carefully planned evil acts of the long-waged Islam war on the West as responses to social injustice.
Read the rest of the story here, including a long list of wealthy Islamic terrorists and a dozen links for further reading.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Music For A Christmas Morning

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Carter's Timely Apology To Jews

The Associated Press and other sources are reporting that Jimmy Carter has issued a letter of apology to Jews world-wide. Carter is seeking forgiveness for any "words or deeds" critical of Israel that may have marred efforts at peace with their Islamic neighbors. By the way, his grandson, Jason Carter, is running for the Georgia Senate in a suburban Atlanta district with a 'vocal Jewish population." Of course, this campaign has nothing to do with the elder Carter's change of heart. Furthermore, the fact that the announcement comes on the day before Christmas Eve, an excellent time to dump nasty, embarrassing news, is simply a coincidence.

According to the Jewish Daily Forward, the younger Carter is running in a "university district" - it's Emory - with a "substantial Jewish community." The candidate has been unsuccessful in reaching out to leading Jewish politicians there who broke with the elder Carter in 2006 after the publication of his controversial book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Perhaps this move will melt some of the hard feelings. After all, Jason Carter should be running on his merits, not those of his grandfather.

As for Jimmy Carter, perhaps he will temper his associations with extremists and their money. As for the rest of us, we should be ever wary of motivation, intention and loyalty, especially with politicians of any age and persuasion. And always remember to follow the money.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hezbollah And Mutaa Marriage

Trust me, you will not be reading about this subject in the mainstream or state-run media. And I wonder why NOW, the UN, and every "rights" defender isn't exposing the radical Islamofascists who impose this psycho-sexual nightmare on their society?

Winter Solstice


The Sun stands still.

A solar cycle ends. A solar cycle begins.

Source: Simon Banton, Sunset at Stonehenge 12/20/2009. Spaceweather.com

Monday, December 14, 2009

Paradigms & Weltanschauung

Shrinkwrapped has some thoughts on anthropomorphic global warming (AGW) couched in terms of two insightful posts by Dinocrat and Matthew Yglesias. Thomas Kuhn's seminal book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), gets mention in Dinocrat's post. The book was important in shaping my understanding of science and has become a favorite title recommended to friends and associates for over forty years.

Seeing The Real Iran

William Katz (Urgent Agenda) notes a very significant editorial on Iran appearing in today's Times of London. I really love the historical references here. Too bad the American press has forgotten the past.

Changing Times

Decline has always seemed a psychological state. Rome had as much territory and as many people in A.D.450 as it did in 30 B.C. What was different was that millions no longer followed Roman protocol or thought themselves to be Roman - a fragmentation brought on by a corrupt governing elite, and a sense that Latin, habeas corpus, transparent courts and taxation were no longer to be part and parcel of being a civis Romanus.
The American oracle, Victor Davis Hanson, speaks from the heart in this observation from his Works and Days blog.

Source: Instapundit

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cooling The AGW Hoax

How pleasing to see the junk science of global warming unwinding before our eyes. Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit has a nice summary here. It is amazing to watch the believers - Boxer comes to mind - twisting in the wind and blaming the email "thieves" as the bad guys. This is quite the reversal from the "Pentagon Papers" days when those who would expose suspected wrongdoing stood for truth, justice, and the American way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday

No posts these last few days. I'm on holiday in Benton County, Arkansas, where the Ozark Plateau gives way to the Central Lowlands as one move west into Oklahoma. Good company and weather have been spectacular. Warm dry winds, new commercial aviation corridors, new song birds, long-known and loved family. There is much to enjoy here. Expect continued light posting for several days.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Barbie As The Absolute Ultimate Sex Toy

My favorite psychiatrist on the Internet, Dr. Sanity, is supposed to be on hiatus during her move from Michigan to California. Still, the news environment remains rich, giving her every opportunity to post zingers on the cultural wackiness around us. Her observations on Burqa Barbie as a new low in degradation pull the wraps off the psycho-sexuality driving much of the Arab world.

Elections By The Numbers

Here is some excellent number crunching by Jim Geraghty involving key races in suburban counties earlier this month. There are some dramatic shifts in loyalties going on, perhaps the most significant in the last fifty years, and they will impact next year's midterm elections. As we move closer to the election, I expect to see similar work coming from Michael Barone, the dean of American political analysts, and Patrick Ruffini, a younger wired wizard on the rise among conservatives.

High Taxes Continue To Drive Wealthy Out Of Maryland

The Baltimore Sun has another report today about the effect of high taxes on Marylanders with net taxable incomes over $1 million. If you're a tax collector, the 30% decline is worthy of study. Has the recession reduced their incomes or have they abandoned the state for safer tax havens? Maryland faces increasing budget deficits next years and beyond and growing resistance to the state's effort to tax anything and everything. The taxmen had better hope an improving economy restores most of those millionaires to the tax rolls.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Mirror Doesn't Lie

The White House couldn't be pleased about the president's trip to Asia when it looked in Der Spiegel this morning. In a nutshell, he returned to Washington weaker, empty-handed, and looking a lot like Jimmy Carter. For more on the story, read Leslie Gelb's piece at The Daily Beast, and Victor Davis Hanson's take on liberal anger over the tour at National Review Online.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Mind Of The Modern Liberal

Fred Siegel, writing in City Journal, has an interesting history lesson for us in on the origin of modern liberalism in America. I posted this today on the anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy because it reminds us of how liberalism has changed since his passing. His defense of liberty (1961), ". . . we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to insure the survival and the success of liberty," is one we are not likely to hear again from liberalism. Of course, times do change. In those 46 years, my personal political views have moved from the posture of what Siegal calls "the 68ers" to the center-right where I would be happy to support what has become known as the Kennedy Doctrine. That so many of my generation have turned their backs on 1961 to cling to 1968 leaves me quite puzzled.

Photo: President Kennedy authorizes the naval blockade of Cuba during the 1962 missile crisis.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald: An Odd Friendship

Bonnie Greer writes about this unusual friendship in an article at Times Online.

Friday, November 20, 2009

President Bush Goes On Trial In NYC

Mona Charen may have nailed the real reason why Attorney General Eric Holder, wants to try our Guantanamo captives in a civil trial in New York. If she's right, I think this will a fatal political mistake for the Obama administration, the Democrat party, and leftists in general. History tells us you cannot pander to the fringe in American politics and expect to survive. Personally, I'm very happy these folks from the Oval Office on down never took an honest history course. They won't know what hit them come November 2010. Thanks to NRO for the post.

Is The Global Warming Hoax Really Exposed?

It looks that way from reports coming out of telegraph.com. The controversial global warming expert responsible for the famous "hockey stick graph" apparently has been exposed through a number of incriminating emails. Over 1000 messages and 79 documents were released. Penn State Professor Michael Mann now has a lot of explaining to do. If his explanation is insufficient, much of the junk science and the international conspiracy promoting it will be revealed and prove beyond reasonable doubt that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a hoax. Gateway Pundit provides a good summary and several links for the backstory.

UPDATE: The story has reached Fox News and Drudge.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Johnny Mercer: Too Marvelous For Words

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Johnny Mercer, the great American lyricist and sentimental gentleman from Savannah, Georgia. This time last year, I wrote a seven part series on this man whose talent left us with almost 2000 published songs and a host of images in song that continue to entertain us more than thirty years after his passing in 1976. I can't improve on last year's essays, so will link to them in this post for your convenience and enjoyment. They are:

Day One: Mercer's Early Years
Day Two: Hoagy And Hollywood
Day Three: Sense Of Humor
Day Four: The Bread And Butter Songs
Day Five: On Line And Print References
Day Six: Personal Favorites
Day Seven: Cover Artists And Organizations Keep The Music Alive

Hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is a new addition for the Mercer reference shelf: The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer, by Kimball, Day, Kreuger, and Davis. This 500 page hardcover was published last month as the seventh volume in Knopf's Complete Lyrics series.

A Merry Little Nazi Christmas

Building on the destructive and humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the National Socialist movement in Germany wasted no time in using patriotism and propaganda to remove Christ from Christmas beginning in 1933. World War II, which began with the invasion of Poland in 1939, made them even more determined. The goal was a holiday without Christianity and its Jewish antecedents.














Imagine baking your own swastika cookies for the holidays or decorating the tree with ornaments glorifying Germanic culture. Mail OnLine has the story and additional illustrations here. "Chilling" is a reasonable description.

The article notes that German churches did not protest the attempts to cleanse the holiday, probably out of fear. That should please the ACLU.

Source: Jonah Goldberg, NRO, The Corner

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Very Best Of Hands

I think this song sums up the feelings of lots of Americans today:



Tomorrow, there will be more about the man who wrote this lyric.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunspots In Our Future

Dr. Stuart Clark makes some important observations about anthropogenic global warming (AGP) and sun cycles in his guest column in today's Times Online. Climatologists are eagerly awaiting signs that the current cycle of low sunspot activity is coming to an end. The planet has been cooling these last few years. Will global temperatures increase with the growing number of sunspots expected in the next five to seven years? We shall see. Although science can reconstruct solar history to some extent, astronomers have only had a 150 years to observe such cycles, first described around 1840. Let the correlations begin. I'd say we should have some defensible conclusions either way within a generation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Serve Seniors

The Washington Post reports that the Congressional Budget Office has prepared a report on the impact of the new health care bill on seniors. Adding an estimated 30,000,000 people to the insurance roles will result in enormous increases in costs. The bill calls for reducing Medicare funding by as much as $500,000,000 to "spread the wealth" of new coverage.



That can only mean a reduction in services for older Americans. Will this bill force senior to "renew" years before their time under the old plan? Certainly looks that way. I wonder how many older Democrats expected reduced benefits when they cast their vote for hope and change?

Photo: Last Day, from the film, Logan's Run

Afghanistan In History

Christopher Booker, writing for telegraph.com, tells us why today's conflict in Afghanistan will be very difficult for the West to resolve.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"From Every Kind Of Man Obedience I Expect ...."

By protocol, American presidents don't bow to heads of state, but the message still hasn't reached Obama, as the picture below shows.














Yesterday's bow to Japan's Emperor Akihito elicited this response from Scott Johnson at Powerline:

Obama's breach of protocol is of a piece with his foreign policy. He means to teach Americans to bow before monarchs and tyrants. He embodies the ideological multiculturalism that sets the United States on the same plane as other regimes based on tribal privilege and royal bloodlines. He gives expressive form to the idea that the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world. He declares that the United States is a country like any other, only worse, because we have so much for which to apologize.
Read the whole thing here.

Title courtesy of W.S. Gilbert, from The Mikado

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Afternoon White House News Dump

Just when the weekend is on our collective mind, the White House announces another controversial decision. This one brings five Guantanamo detainees/terrorists, including a 9/11 mastermind, to New York City for trial in a civilian court. Here is the story as reported by The Washington Post.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feds Move Against Iranian Terrorism

We should all sleep better knowing that our government will seize assets of the Alavi Foundation, an "alleged front organization" secretly operated by the Iranian government. The Washington Post reports the story here. Scott Johnson, at Powerline, reports on radical Islam in the Twin Cities area and the possibility of similar actions there. I wonder if his report is a real foretaste or just an interesting coincidence.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran




My Great Uncle George, standing on the left with his fire brigade in Jacksonville, Florida, served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army in World War I, the Great War. To him, this day was Armistice Day, the day marking the end of that war at the eleventh hour of the eleventh month of 1918. I was ten when he died and didn't know him, but much of what he was as a veteran is present in my house. His portrait hangs just off our foyer. The pocket Bible he carried is in a keepsake cabinet nearby along with his military issue binoculars and a silver-plated swagger stick - a gift from his unit - made from machine gun shells casings and the Seal of the U.S. Army. The last item is one he never saw, but it summarized everything he did as a soldier. That item is the flag that covered his coffin. To my knowledge, it's still in the original triangle fold made the day he was buried over fifty years ago.

As much as I value these mementos of George's life, they cannot surpass the value of his service in defense of family, nation, and faith. Whether you know today as Armistice Day or Veterans Day, take some time to remember and thank the men and women who have served to keep freedom alive both here and abroad.

Diversity Incident Boiling At The Naval Academy

Powerline (Scott Johnson) is reporting on a disturbing discrimination issue involving the Naval Academy's color guard and its appearance at the World Series on October 29. It seems the guard would have been "performing while white and male," so administrators replaced two of them on October 28 with a white female and a male of Pakistani descent as a person of color. This attempt at diversity backfired when the Pakistani forgot his shoes and cover and had to be replaced by one of the original guard members. It gets better.

The color guard at Annapolis is a competitive, extracurricular activity for which members compete. In other words, they earn rank. The incident has created anger and frustration among the middies and the alumni. The Academy administrations attempt at a cover up, including a gag order, and contradictory written statements is testimony to what Mother always told you: tell the truth. Be sure to follow all the links in Johnson's post so you can enjoy the comedy as it builds, and understand the sad reality that a multi-culti diversity policy poses for our military.

Environmental Mythology And The Evil White Christian Capitalist

In 1983, the environmental historian, William Cronon, published a seminal book on American Indians and colonist in New England and their relationship to the land. Most prior scholarship accepted and reinforced the idea that Indians were dependent on the "wilderness" in which they lived. Cronon's work introduced a far different picture of the Indian as an active shaper of the American landscape. Although the mythology of the "noble savage" living harmoniously with the Earth Mother is still very much alive, a generation of new studies confirms it wasn't so. Unfortunately, much of the environmental movement will never accept this premise as its membership is largely composed of leftist ideologues hellbent on crushing the free world. Believe me, I know because I worked with some of them.

This morning, a post on Moonbattery links to highlights from an article on the pre-Columbian Americas written by Charles G. Mann and published in The Atlantic in 2002. It shows readers how far the new scholarship has come in a generation by exposing a full range of myths about Indians and Europeans alike. There is a link to the full article in the first paragraph. Be sure to read all of it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vatican Conference Addresses Extraterrestrial Life And Its Implications For The Church

I'd call this the Galileo Effect. Have to give them credit for long-range planning. It's only a matter of time before we find life - or it finds us - elsewhere in this universe.

Multi-Culti Political Correctness And Our "Don't Ask, Don't Kill" Policy In The Military

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley blames the Fort Hood assault on our love of guns. President Obama says it's a matter of cracking over stress. The state-run media talking heads provide deep cover for the counter intuitive blather from the leftists about the "alleged" gunman, the "suspect" Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a "purported" Muslim.

Thanks to the British journalists, we're getting an ever clearer picture that this event was closely linked to radical Islam. Unfortunately, our love of multiculturalism and political correctness has prevented us from seeing what has become a dangerous reality. That this policy infects our military has likely led to the killing and wounding of fifty American soldiers and civilians inside a domestic military base. Even policies have tipping points, and I believe we're rapidly approaching one that will realign our thinking about the PC insanity swirling about us. Perhaps most of us could have lived reasonably with "Don't ask, don't tell," but there is no way we can tolerate "Don't ask, don't kill." For more on the Fort Hood story, read this at Blue Crab Boulevard, this and this at Gateway Pundit, and this from Victor Davis Hanson at NRO.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Berlin Wall Comes Down: 11-9-1989

Scott Johnson channeled my thoughts perfectly in his post on the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago today. It would be impossible for me to add to it, so I'll simply supply a link here.

Johnson uses Peter Robinson's recollection of the event for the body of his post. Robinson is a key player in the story as he wrote the famous "tear down this wall" speech for his president. Readers already know of my great respect for Robinson. If you have not read his memoir, How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, please add it to your reading list.

Essential Transparency From The Foreign Press

William Katz (Urgent Agenda) makes note of superb reporting - and essential reading - on American politics by Tony Harnden at telegraph.com.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Obama's "In Other News" Style

Several news sources, including Chicago's NBC affiliate, have picked up on yesterday's presidential public relations disaster AKA the President's statement on the Fort Hood shooting. I saw that statement live. It was another horrible reaffirmation that the White House is filled with clueless handlers. The President has surrounded himself with people who either do not understand their responsibilities or don't know how to carry them out. An experienced leader would know how to address an emergency issue. Unfortunately, we don't have experienced leadership in the White House at this time. One would expect such a "leader" to surround himself with experienced staffers to insure at least the appearance of competence and professionalism. Neither competence nor professionalism was apparent in yesterday's statement. What kind of staff would let President Obama ramble on for two minutes about an Interior Department conference before addressing the killing and wounding of over thirty American soldiers at a domestic military base? The news types and bloggers are ranging it from insensitive to disgusting to amateurish. I'll leave it at "clueless" for the staff. There's an old government saying that says the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing. It was too obvious yesterday.

As for the president, I am far more concerned that, in his mind, a conference took priority over mass murder. The true colors are revealed more and more each day and Americans cannot be pleased with what they see.

When you click on the links, be sure to watch the video. The state-run media is already editing out the first two minutes of the statement to cover up the President's bizarre performance.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gram Parsons: Some Say He Was A Star

Gram Parsons spent his brief musical life searching for what he called "cosmic American music," a sound emerging out of gospel, R&B, country and rock traditions. He was born on this day in 1946 into a wealthy Florida family, a circumstance that encouraged both his exploration of music and the drug abuse that killed him in 1973 (September 17). Parsons performed with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers before attempting a rocky solo career that went nowhere until he met a young singer in Washington, D.C. Her name was Emmylou Harris. Parsons soon partnered with Harris and they went on to produce some of the finest sounds from the early fusion days of country and folk-rock. With his passing, one of American music's greatest inventors was stilled, but others, including Emmylou, would use his inventions and adapt them over the next forty years into the country rock music we know today.

Here is some music to help you understand the history. The first recording is a Gram Parsons-Bob Buchanan song that appeared on The Byrds album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, released in 1968. The Byrds went deep into classic country here and introduced Parsons to a rock audience.





Here's a Parsons,Chris Hillman song, dating from 1969 and the days of The Flying Burrito Brothers. Parsons can be identified by his marijuana leaf Nudie suit.



And here is Parsons with Harris performing their song, In the Hour of Darkness, from the album, Grievous Angel, released four months after his death. The text and comments with the video give you some insight into the lyric.



For a Gram Parsons bio, visit this CMT.com link. For a longer immersion in the world and music of Parsons, go to David Meyer's 2008 biography.

Parsons's body met with a notable and very illegal cremation in the hills of Joshua Tree National Park. For the story, go here. Room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn, the location of his death, is now a shrine to Gram Parsons. Here is a post from some recent visitors.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Societal Regression

The good doctor blogging as Shrinkwrapped evaluates societal regression and its potential in the United States during these unsettled times.

Rasmussen Won Big In Last Night's Elections

Most of the political punditry today is still focused on the candidates as winners and losers. Moonbattery notes that there was a big winner yesterday who wasn't on the ballot. That winner is independent pollster, Scott Rasmussen, president and founder of Rasmussen Reports. Moonbattery notes, "he was the only pollster to call New Jersey accurately." The post links to an interesting Slate commentary on winners and losers, leading off with details on the Rasmussen polls.

It is amazing that their last poll prior to the New Jersey election called it 46-43-8 (Christie-Corzine-Daggett). Actual result was 49-45-6. This pollster - not always on the mark, but far ahead of the pollster pack - is doing something right and bears careful watching.

Pay Raises Count As "Saved" Jobs

Never in my lifetime have words coming out of my country's government lost so much meaning. If you have a working brain cell, you can see straight through this deception. It leads me to believe this administration holds its citizens in complete contempt. Here are the details as reported by Hot Air. Note that Chicago officials are reporting that stimulus money saved more jobs than exist. Madness.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More Detroit: Potential For The Urban Prairie

Check out this post from The Urbanophile for some cutting edge ideas on the future of Detroit. Even if you don't care about urban studies, you''ll enjoy the graphics. All of this comes by way of a brief opinion piece by Michael Barone - a Detroit native - in the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential column. If this is your subject, be sure to link to the other Urbanophile columns he mentions.

Source: Instapundit

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"What A Delightful Culture:"

John Hinderaker at PowerLine reminds us again why peace is not a process. A sample:

This one shows a guy with a fake rocket surrounded by a group in burial clothes. I take it that the latter is the usual celebration of death via mass murder bombing.

Halloween 2009





The evening quiet sits over our house on the ridge in the woods.

The fireplace coals bear a white ash blanket telling us they're ready to be put to bed for the night.

We had thirty little goblins, critters, and assorted characters brave the wind and rain to visit our door for treats. Simply a perfect Halloween. The OTR house hopes you had one as well.


















These postcards, all dated 1910, are from the family archives

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Herzog's Nosferatu The Vampyre

In a superb post at NRO, Andrew Stuttaford recommends Werner Herzog's 1979 production of Nosferatu the Vampyre for your holiday viewing pleasure. It is remake of Friedrich Murnau's masterpiece, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) and Stuttaford calls it "the grandest vampire movie of them all."

Here is the opening scene to whet - perhaps "wet" - the appetite of all vampire lovers in the blogosphere:

Future Forests On The Road To Hell In Bozeman

Municipal governments have a responsibility not only to make cities function efficiently, but also to make them visually attractive. We also know that, especially in government, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Herein lies the challenge. How do cities find a workable balance between the built environment, its function, and a natural setting? The question has been asked for centuries. As one interested enough in human geography to make somewhat of a career out of it, I had my share of urban studies and landscape courses. Those studies took place next door to Greenbelt, Maryland, a New Deal planned town, and more contemporary and ambitious projects, including Reston, Virginia, Columbia, Maryland, and Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Furthermore, some of the best minds in the field attended nearby conferences and often visited our department. The two I remember most were Edmund Bacon and Ian McHarg, both extraordinary teachers from the University of Pennsylvania. It was an honor to receive such training and it proved valuable over a near forty year career. Today, it's turned me into an observer of urban scenes where the best of intentions sometime create opposites bordering on the absurd.

Welcome to Bozeman, Montana, home of Montana State's Fighting Bobcats and the fifth largest city in the fastest growing county in the state. Bozeman is a progressive city where "the environment" takes on an added dimension. If you don't think so, check out the city's homepage where you can get the latest information on urban chickens, toilet rebates, and sustainability. Nothing wrong with this. I applaud any city's attempt to improve itself, to take extra pride in improving the quality of life for its residents and visitors alike. All things, however, must be carefully evaluated from broad perspectives, then orchestrated through planning and construction. Once a plan is in the landscape, it tends to stay there for a very long time. Best get it as right as one can the first time. And the first step is to recall the dictum of the great American architect, Louis Sullivan, that "form must ever follow function." Herein is an object lesson for the well-meaning authorities in Bozeman.

This city of near 30,000 people serves as the commercial nexus for a much larger regional population as well as a service center for traffic on I-90. As expected, commercial growth has occurred primarily along a few corridors linking downtown with the interstate. The town was a convenient stopover on a trip my wife and I and another couple took last month following the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery to the Pacific Ocean and back to St. Louis. The four of us arrived in Bozeman from the west at dusk and decided to have a light dinner at the North 19th Avenue exit before checking in at our motel a few miles to the east. The first mile of North 19th is new, dense commercial construction. The next mile features more mixed use, but retains a strong commercial character. The key word here is "commercial." The overwhelming purpose of this area is to conduct business.

Unfortunately, Bozeman authorities have made it extremely difficult and downright frustrating for travelers or anyone unfamiliar with North 19th to use it safely and efficiently. There are two primary reasons. First, meaningful signage simply doesn't exist. Local ordinances apparently allow signs perpendicular to the highway only for shopping centers. We saw few of them, none over twenty-five feet high, and all of inconsistent design. If you own a store in the center proper or are an independent business, you have to rely on the name on your facade for identity. Too bad if your business happens to be 300-500 feet off the avenue, as scores are. Often, those signs were unreadable unless you had a recognizable brand.

If this were not enough, a second obstacle made sign reading into a physical exercise. The culprit was a tree-lined buffer anywhere from 25-100 feet wide. This challenge had us bobbing and weaving trying to interpret signs in the dark as we cruised the avenue at 35 mph. Granted, the intermittent planting of conifers and deciduous trees was attractive, but it did not help customers find their stores. Perhaps over time, the leafy trees will grow out of being obstacles. That will never happen with the conifers. I couldn't help noticing that once inside the buffer the vast expanses of shopping center parking were interrupted by attractive arrays of landscaped islands. Very well done. But it still didn't help me find my chili and salad.

After a half hour of searching a 2.5 mile segment of North 19th at the end of Bozeman's "rush hour," one of us spotted our destination. It was 300-400 feet off the main drag in the midst of other businesses and identifiable only by its name - a brand - on a facade. The place was essentially invisible to drivers coming off the interstate.

Finding our lodging was much easier, I suppose, because it was nicely clustered with other motels at the North 7th Avenue exit. Again, we never saw a free-standing sign and identified the place by its name on a facade. Once inside the cluster it was almost laughable to see that one motel had installed its brand sign at street level. The setback off North 7th and height made it almost useless from North 7th and completely invisible from I-90. The only exceptions were a familiar "M," not for a motel, but for Ronald McDonald's eatery at the end of the street and a free-standing, low motel sign at the complex entrance. All of the signage, though obviously regulated, had about it a feeling of complete randomness. Randomness doesn't mix well with interstate travel.

Now perhaps I've been a bit tough on the city of Bozeman and its well-meaning authorities. Some things, like those landscaped islands in the parking lots, they are doing right. The wooded buffer and absence of workable signage is quite another story. It may be a sign that officials are interpreting "the environment" to mean "nature" only and excluding the built environment as the other half of the equation. Furthermore, Bozeman is a university city - quite liberal, I'm sure - in the young West whose officials may be feeling a bit negative about capitalists and their enterprises. It wouldn't be the first case of "environmentalists" acting as anti-capitalists. Do they see business as a dirty enterprise worthy of being isolated from the community? Could be, for in spite of all the buffers, the tiny or non-existent signs, the sky-glow friendly lights - I didn't discuss them - and more, it appears that North 19th street has been zoned into nothing more than a huge, dreaded strip mall. Progressive types should be entertaining mixed-use zoning where businesses and multi-density residences co-exist and the car is a tertiary form of transportation. A little adjustment would go a long way to improving function and livability. Perhaps some Fighting Bobcats commissioners will read this post. I don't expect these decision makers to be urban planning experts. But they should be aware of basics; therefore, I'd like to offer them some advice to reinforce their good efforts. First, check out this SUNY Small Business Development Center site on signage, then this site on neighborhoods, and finally, this site maintained by the Congress For The New Urbanism. Maybe this information can soften the hearts of the more strident "environmentalist" types as well. We should all remember the power of the middle way.

Next year, we hope to return to Montana and Bozeman. I like the city, and I'm not alone as the place consistently rates high on any number of "best" lists. It obviously has enthusiastic boosters, a university community to keep it edgy, and economic growth during a national recession. All are good signs for the city. At least this visitor won't need signs next time, as long as he wants a motel room, and a Wendy's chili and a salad on the Road to Hell.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Feral Detroit

Our species seems to have a natural interest in abandoned places. Some cultures revere such places, some fear them, others find them a curiosity. I've blogged about this phenomenon a few times over the past year. Earlier today, City Journal sent me an email about an article in their Autumn issue describing how wildness is taking over parts of abandoned Detroit. The author mentions the contribution of two residents in their blog, Sweet Juniper. Clicking on the link in the article will take you directly to the wildness. If you like empty places slowly reverting to nature, you'll enjoy their work. Here are two examples:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Raid On Radical Islam In Michigan

Fox News is reporting on the death of a radical iman and arrest of several followers during an FBI raid in the Detroit-Dearborn area.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Will Scandinavia Be Next?

We've established here in this blog that meanings reside in people. For the most part, we share our perceptions and meanings in terms of common understanding. Sometimes, those meanings both define and confine people into the narrow corridors of obsession and paranoia. Unfortunately, threats to the self can translate into national illness, especially when we stray from reason into the netherworld of political correctness and multiculturalism. Here is a classic example from Penn State of what happens when reason is no longer part of the intellectual equation.

The Internet is full of this story. My source: Moonbattery

Iran: Scenario For Disaster

Peter Robinson has another important series of Uncommon Knowledge interviews in progress at National Review Online. This week, Victor Davis Hanson and Richard Baer discuss Iran's intentions and their impacts on a free world. The interview, even early in the week, has caught the attention of several bloggers. Your link is here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Future For "Cool" Science Fiction Movies

Ever since George Pal's remarkable production of War of the Worlds (1953) played at the local drive-in, science fiction has been a part of my world. American film audiences have always enjoyed being scared, even terrified when the subject drifted away from sci-fi to horror as it has in the last generation or so. And there's a third element in sci-films that can be so strong as to burn images in our minds. That element is "coolness." One good example of "cool" is the opening scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, you know it when you see it. John Scalzi delves more into the subject in this post at AMC's SciFi Scanner and includes a few of his favorite from the past decade.

Source: Instapundit

Our Town

Three weeks and 7000 miles on the road, much of it in new territory, generates a score of story threads, each one screaming for elaboration. The priorities are falling into place. The piles of reference materials with notes on notes get a bit neater but never what one would call orderly. Even the electronic outlines show signs of healthy word growth. Somehow, sometime, coherent essays will come out of all of this. For now, I'm still content to wander - and wonder - over the whole expanse of people and places over time. Occasionally, observations in search of comment fly off this great spiral. Here's one of them.




Vastness is a striking element of the High Plains and Northern Rockies. Distant features on the horizon seem pushed beyond unreachable by the perspective. There is a similar vastness overhead in that huge dome of sky, but interestingly, it seems so close that one could reach deep into it and grab a handful of cloud. But it only works directly overhead. Look to the side and the perspective makes one feel very insignificant. In sum, it is a landscape of isolation. At the same time, the great cultural quilt called the Public Land Survey System, a concept out of the mind of Thomas Jefferson, insured that settlers would have roads, schools and urbanization, at least on a small scale.

In the century or so that this region has been settled by the farmer, the miner, and the merchant, thousands of towns have indeed developed. I visited many of them, the smaller towns, on my journey: Glendo, Wentzville, Buffalo, Percival, Harlowton, Beatrice, Medora, Yanktown, Glendive, Mobridge, Forsyth, Roundup, Dickerson, Washburn. Some of them seemed to be thriving; others just holding their own. For most, the shining moments had long passed into the vacant storefronts, quiet streets, a subsistence economy, and aging population. Still, there was a sense of pride in those towns. The commemorations were evident in their vernacular monumentation to origins, the famous and infamous, the veterans living and dead, to love of country, and to spiritual beliefs. Elementary schools, regardless of age, were also well kept, reflecting the enthusiasm of their young charges who couldn't care less about the adult realities around them.

Why do these places survive? Whether it is yesterday or a century earlier, it takes a special kind of person to stay in the rural Dakotas and Montana no matter how beautiful the land. I can't think of more than a handful of my urban friends who would be interested. Perhaps these small towns persist because they are a product of the investment in the tough, isolated life around them. The sense of ownership, of "home," must be strong among these people as is the bonding. But, are the incentives social or are they driven by a range of economic factors from self-employment to poverty? I can't answer that. I can say, however, that today's small towns everywhere face a continuing out-migration to large metropolitan areas. It is a trend likely to continue. The towns in my list have lost many of their ambitious young adults to Bismarck, Great Falls, Rapid City and bright lights beyond. The older populations left behind sustain them and may do so in the future. After all, I expect many of the sons and daughters will return "home" to end out their lives in the places that nurtured them. Will that be enough? I suspect not, for abandoned towns are a rather common feature in urban history over much of the globe. As a man binds his house, so a town binds its people, but permanency is not a part of the formula. Let us accept it and move on.

I'm leaving tomorrow but I don't want to go
I love you my town, you'll always live in my soul
But I can see the sun's setting fast
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts

Friday, October 23, 2009

Clean Sex

Somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind, I knew there was a good reason to help with the housework. Actually, with several years of cleaning experience as a single adult it never occurred to me to stop after marriage.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit for finding this piece of vital news.

Mean Living

If you've read this blog over the past year, you've heard frequent references to the "middle way" or "holding to the center." Seeking the middle way has been good advice in flush times in the U.S. and golden advice when the flush times soured. These days, those who own modest debt can sleep soundly even when the experts mention deflation. Those on the other end of the debt scale live at the mercy of the rule makers. Some of those rules are about to change, bringing wealthy voters to their senses and significant changes to their lavish lifestyles.

When you link to the article later in this post, you'll be reading about a neighborhood in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I know it well from my time in the Washington area. The author presents a very accurate picture of the town as a crowning achievement in the pursuit of capitalism and the American dream. Furthermore, I can understand how that achievement could result in the flowering of Obama yard signs during the last election. When the time is very good, it is time to share the wealth.

But how will these Obama supporters react when the Bush income and capital gains tax cuts expire at the end of 2010 and in the midst of a prolonged recession? Can anyone expect Obama Democrats to support the extension of tax cuts with their new "programs" rocketing debt into the trillions of dollars? Perhaps sleeping with the enemy is in order, but I suspect images of torches and pitchforks will keep Republicans on their feet for the coming election.

In any case, here is Mark Falcoff's brilliant observation on the political and social realities facing those who both live and think far beyond the mean.

Soupy Sales

The wacky pie-in-your-face comedian, Soupy Sales, died yesterday. What a character. If you were around in the '60s and old enough to love slapstick, you loved Soupy.

New Target For The White House

Dick Cheney is the new target of the Alinsky Rule 12 tactics being carried out by the White House. They have made their choice, now watch carefully over the next week or so to see how this target is:

1. Frozen
2. Personalized
3. Polarized

Look for points that isolate Cheney from his support network, listen for the usual negative adjectives directed at his person as a means of rallying the leftist fringe, look for ridicule, hyperbole and the redemptive call to take the "high ground" with progressives everywhere. This is scary stuff, my friends. Thanks to Instapundit for the alert.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Huzzah Free Speech

May I propose a rousing cheer for free speech in the United States. With some luck, the Obama White House will overlook this indiscretion and allow my humble blog to continue. Though you may find this hard to believe in this country, the White House actually tried to ban Fox News from interviewing our pay czar ,Kenneth Feinberg, at a joint major media outlet briefing they have attended since 1997. The five Washington bureau chiefs from those outlets stood together opposing the Fox News ban. They chose to hang together rather than hang separately. The White House soon relented.

I'm glad the chiefs understand this behavior on the part of the White House cannot be a part of American journalism. Read the incredible story for yourself.

Confident, accomplished leaders control without controlling. That they feel such a need should be a warning to those who stand with the principles of the Founding Fathers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Slump And Slide

Growing up in the Ridge and Valley region of the Appalachians, I came to enjoy studying geomorphology and cultural landscapes. Those interests have endured throughout my career and into retirement, so it's always pleasing to see the subjects presented to everyday audiences. The Sunday edition of The New York Times has just such an article on land in motion near Santa Barbara, California. Fire is an important component of landslides in that region; however, they can occur virtually world-wide, brought on by any number of factors. Interestingly, very little is known about the actual process or physics behind slumping and sliding land.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can Obama's Communications Director Be That Dumb?

Power Line's John Hinderaker asks the question, then answers it simply and completely in the affirmative. How else could you describe anyone who admired the philosophy of a 20th century tyrant who killed 70,000,000 of his own people? Amazing. And where is the state-run media on this one?

White House Invokes Alinsky's Rule 12 Against Fox News

The White House has used Rule 12 from Saul Alinsky's community organizer manifesto, Rules For Radicals, to attack Fox News. This is a simple tactic and one they have used repeatedly since the inauguration. In fact, it's getting so easy to recognize, I wonder how much longer it will take the average voter to catch on. The whining only goes so far.

Rule 12 is very simple: "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." It's a great way to divert attention from unpopular situations and rally the loyalists. Look for Rule 12 to be with us for a long time.

If you care about the fate of your country and don't know this book, you will not be prepared for next year's campaign.

Source: Jim Hoft, now blogging at First Things.

Tune Out, Turn Off, Drop Out

Victor Davis Hanson tell his readers why he is a cultural dropout in this new post in his Works and Days series. Source: Big Hollywood

Saturday, October 17, 2009

For Conservative Movie Lovers

Big Hollywood has a great series coming every Saturday if you are a conservative film fan. Leo Grin will be choosing one film representing each year from 1915 to 2007 and writing about it in an expanded multimedia essay. Read his introductory essay here.

Just to whet your appetite, here is the brief video opening the post:



Wow. Grin is a superb young writer - see his NRO columns - coming at his subjects from a broad background and rapidly working himself into a 21st century polymath. Now there's even more to look forward to on Saturdays.

Friday, October 16, 2009

American Tragedy

This story has been making the rounds on the Internet today. There is a high school in Chicago where 115 of the 800 girls attending are either mothers or mother-to-be. I've linked to William Katz's comments and story link because he mentions Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), a brilliant classical liberal and one of the 20th century's finest observers of the American social fabric. Moynihan warned his fellow Democrats and the nation of the dangers of certain welfare policies built into the War on Poverty. He was ignored and paid dearly at the time, including being called a racist, but survived the criticisms to enjoy a long career in the U.S. Senate. Today, much of the dysfunction he predicted, particularly in the black American community, has come to pass. Many agree that forty years of flawed federal welfare policies have contributed significantly to that decay.

Friday Afternoon White House News Dump

Right on schedule, when the weekend is on our mind, here's the dire news coming out of the White House announcing the nation's largest fiscal year deficit since 1945. Source: NRO, The Corner

Magnetism Isn't What It Used To Be

Here is some new science about magnets with one pole. The discovery has significant implications for computer technology. Better still, it could rewrite our understanding of quantum physics and cosmology. Source: Instapundit

NFL Owners Who Use The N-Word And Wet Their Pants Onstage

Don't wait for CNN to fact-check this story. Big Hollywood has the scoop on the "actual CURRENT NFL owners" who can get away with the divisive language Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, says has no place in professional football. This makes Goodell look like a complete fool.

Your link is here. LANGUAGE ALERT

Source: Instapundit

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Has Been "Duked"

The political talk on radio and television sells plenty of soap and keeps the pot stirred for the faithful, but I don't think it adds much to the serious debate. It does, however, provide opportunities to expose politics at its worst. Generally, I ignore the entertainments, but sometimes the results simply cannot be ignored. The case of Rush Limbaugh and his phantom racism comments is one of those times. The slander coming from the left has worked its magic and damaged Limbaugh to the point where he likely has a good legal case against the lie merchants at CNN, MSNBC, and ABC. If the corporate lawyers at these "news" organizations can't find those nasty quotes in the original sources at the Limbaugh archives, El Rushbo, if he wants to endure litigation, could buy a network and a football team with his winnings.

Some of the best coverage of this sad truth, for example, this piece by Tony Harnden writing at telegraph.com, is coming from the foreign press. The Duke University lacrosse team scandal should have been a good lesson for the left, but they managed to escape relatively undamaged. This foray into falsehoods could have a far different outcome.

Hyper-Inflation

Here's a bit of instruction on the Weimar Republic's - Germany, 1919 to1933 - experience with hyper-inflation and some advice on surviving the money explosion should it occur in our near future. Source: Instapundit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Wall Street Journal: #1

Via Gateway Pundit, here is an article from The Politico reporting that the WSJ is now the top daily in the U.S., surpassing USA Today by about 125,000 copies per day. The Journal has long been more than a business paper. It's nicely balanced politically, although its editorial page does lean center-right. I've written before how my dad subscribed to the Journal in the late 1950s, hoping it would help him sweep his tiny stock portfolio into a seven-figure bonanza. Never happened. Not even close. Still, I came to enjoy the paper and even subscribed for a time in the 1970s. Today, the WSJ Opinion Journal is one of my must-reads. It should be one of yours as well.

What If The Recession Ended And All We Got Was A Lousy Economy

While our government plays some old Keynesian approaches to improving our economy, it's just not the same old dance. Shrinkwrapped has a perceptive post - loaded with tantalizing links - on why we could be breaking out of a recession and into a flat lining economy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Art Tatum: A Magician At The Keyboard

Today is the centennial of the birth of the extraordinary American jazz pianist, Art Tatum (1909-1956). He was virtually blind from birth, but had perfect pitch and lived in a musical household where he was picking out hymns on the piano by the time he was three.

Tatum's piano technique was all his own. As a child he learned compositions by ear listening to recordings, piano rolls or, later, to the radio. He often had no idea that he was copying in two hands a musical performance by four hands. Indeed, he was a magician at the keyboard.

If you enjoy the Great American Songbook and remarkably innovative play on all 88 keys, you need to listen to Tatum. And the opportunity to listen to him is easily at hand as he left us a large performance archive in his brief time - he died at 47 - among us. When you do listen as one who has enjoyed jazz over the last fifty years, you'll hear Oscar Peterson, Billy Taylor, Thelonious Monk, Johnny Costa and many others as Tatum dances effortlessly across the keyboard. He was so good, his legacy in music may be timeless. In fact, the great stride pianist, Fats Waller, once said upon seeing Tatum enter the club where Waller was performing, "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house."

And here is the almighty Tatum at work, performing his magic on a George Gershwin favorite:



Here he is playing a Richard Whiting tune with a title that describes the Tatum style perfectly:



For more information on Art Tatum, check out his Wikipedia entry here, and this National Public Radio Jazz Profiles page that includes eight audio clips.

Personal rant: My friends, jazz is genuine American music. It's insulting to think that many jazz musicians find a better reception for their music in Europe or Asia rather than in their native country. If you like jazz, spread the word. It is a far more creative and positive art than what passes for most "popular music" in the U.S. today.

An Interesting Question About The Fall Of Communism

The Soviet empire fell twenty years ago, but you don't seem to hear much about it. For the most part, it was a brief flurry of activity occurring at the end of a long and slow decline. [Dismantling the Berlin Wall, left, is a good example of news at the time.] In addition, the event may have impacted a large area, but reports seemed to focus only on celebrations on borders and other interfaces that made for "good" television news. There's no question that the end of the Cold War was a big event in the free world. Why have we ignored it over the years? William Katz at Urgent Agenda draws our attention to Reason magazine and its post by Matt Welch that may enlighten us on why we don't acknowledge this event perhaps as much as we should. Your link is here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Was It Giovanni Caboto?

Caboto? Cabot? Yes, it's the same explorer. John Cabot, often identified as the "English" navigator was really an Italian who financed his "discovery" of North America in 1497 - not just a few islands as Columbus did in 1492 - with English money. Leave it to those crafty English to Anglicize him and create mass confusion among school children and armchair authorities for centuries to come.

Could it be that all of the hell fire and damnation unloaded on Christopher Columbus by the politically correct "progressives" should really be dumped on Caboto/Cabot? James C. Bennett explores this possibility in a thought-provoking post at Free Republic.

It's Monty Python!

Could Monty Python make it in today's world? Jeremy Clarkson ponders this question in a TimesOnLine post. The comments are worth reading, as well. Source: Glenn Reynolds



Python forever!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Powerline

Four Powerline entries for 10/11 are must reads: Paul Rahe on Obama's Nobel, a cache of Anglo-Saxon gold discovered in England, a film review of "Inglorious Bastards," and the new series of pamphlets being published by Encounter Books. The blog should be on your daily reading list; therefore, the link takes you to the blog, not the individual stories.

The entry about the U.S qualifying for the World Cup didn't make the cut. I'm not a soccer fan, but for those readers who are, my congratulations and best wishes are in order.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Thought On Obama's Prize

From William Katz at Urgent Agenda:

It is a dangerous move by the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Obviously it's intended to put pressure on Obama to be more like Carter, which is his natural instinct anyway.
. . . .

It is a terrible day, in which the cynicism of European leftists politics embraces the most radical president we've ever had. The world will not be better for this award . . . .

Read it all here.





Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

We could laugh at this event and move on, but Daniel Pipes tells us why the award happened and the danger its aftermath may pose for American interests. Here's a sample:

The absurdity of the prize decision will harm Obama politically in the United States, contrasting his role as international celebrity with his record devoid of accomplishments.

Powerline's Scott Johnson has posted more on thus subject here, including evaluations by Professor Paul Rahe and Charles Krauthammer. The comments are frightening.




Thursday, October 8, 2009

Diversity And The Leftist Victimhood Food Chain

One of the hilarious consequences facing leftists is the confrontation of diversity and multiculturalism with the victimhood hierarchy, a natural outcome of both policies. Sooner or later, anyone allied with the "coalition of the oppressed" will be faced with the need to choose one victim over another. Does being gay outweigh being black? Is a lesbian Indian higher on the scale than a disabled, transgendered Hispanic? Dr. Sanity highlights columns by Mark Steyn and Johann Hari in her discussion of this dilemma.

Exploring this issue is both humorous and tragic. When I see articles like this, I can't help but wonder how any rational person could embrace the identity politics we have embedded in our nation in the last fifty years.

Relativism Run Amuk

Gregory of Yardale posted a short note today on Moonbattery defining the madness that surrounds us under the "progressive" label. He draws attention to the announcement earlier this week that an Israeli woman won the Nobel prize in chemistry. At the same time, a few miles away in Gaza, Palestinian authorities passed a law forbidding women to ride motorcycles. One culture celebrates the achievement of women on the world stage. The other suppresses a simple public activity by women that would go unnoticed on any American street. Any rational individual who supports the spirit of freedom and equality as expressed in the truly progressive ideas of the Founding Fathers could not support that suppression. But today's liberals and "progressives" have no problem throttling Israel as an oppressive regime determined to crush the unfortunate "Palestinian people." That liberals of this ilk inhabit the White House should repulse all of us.

Here's the link if you want more.

Satire As Dissent

I can't pass up a good article on satire. Scott Graves posted this one at Big Hollywood, complete with a nice helping of graphics and sound. There's no argument that Graves also identifies The Peoples Cube - thank them for the illustration - as the top source of satire on the wire. Enjoy.

BTW, I've been a Marxist since early childhood.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Cloward-Piven Activity?

Moonbattery provides us with some analysis of how a global tax proposed by the International Monetary Fund would bring about "hope and change" by driving the United States and the free world into financial ruin. Frankly, I wouldn't give this line of thought a second of my time, but it makes too much sense given some of the loony left policies emanating from the White House these days.

If the Cloward-Piven strategy is new to you, go here.

Singularity Summit

Here is a report on the Singularity Summit held in New York last weekend. Source: Instapundit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Narcissism

Scott Johnson provides us with evidence and comment on the blatant narcissism displayed by the Obamas at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Norway last week.

About ten days ago, I found myself standing in front of the home of Bess and Harry Truman in Independence, Missouri, contemplating the presidency of an ordinary, everyday couple thrust into the leadership of the free world. I suspect the Democrat party will soon wish it had a "Give 'em Hell, Harry" to replace the sorry example it and the state-run media ushered into the White House in 2008.

One Thousand Trillion Operations Per Second

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has posted an article about Kraken, a supercomputer at the University of Tennessee that has achieved the petascale - see the title for a definition.

Zora Neale Hurston: Keeping Black Folk Culture Alive

Learning never stops. That's good because the minute you stop learning, you stop growing as a person. Thanks to my daughter, I learned about Zora Hurston in an article in the summer issue of City Journal. The quarterly is one of my favorites and the article supports my contention that it is a hallmark of fine writing and essential information.

If anyone preserved and promoted the folk culture of Americans of African ancestry in the first half of the 20th century, it was Hurston. In the second half of that century, desegregation, diffusion, and assimilation all worked to diminish the culture she worked so hard to preserve. The fact that she was a conservative who believed in self-sufficiency and fierce individualism did not endear her to her contemporaries. Today, her soaring literary legacy and the folkways upon which much of it is based, have returned her to popularity among a wide range of readers.

You can discover Zora Neale Hurston for yourself at this City Journal link.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Calling Long Distance

Political and social upheavals almost always lead to displacements in time and space. Something as commonplace as a telephone book may answer the lingering questions that accumulate as people rebuild their lives and associations far removed from the place they knew or imagined. Such is the case with a 1958 phone book from Cuba, one that presents information and impressions of the island BC, "before Castro."

For the last fifty years, anti-capitalist forces here and abroad have worked overtime to create a negative image of Cuba BC. Thanks to Babalu Blog and its link to evendon.net, you can explore the real Cuba before communism destroyed it. Let your fingers do the walking. There's nothing like an original source.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Home

Our 21st century Voyage of Discovery from the mouth of the Missouri River to the High Plains, Rocky Mountains, and approach to the continental divide at Lemhi Pass has ended. It has been a long and rewarding three weeks. Traveling in the traces of Lewis and Clark was an opportunity for personal discovery that I will write more about over the coming weeks. OTR's news aggregation and personal comments on the American experience will resume, as well.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Coincidence

Today marks the birthday of two American artists, one recognized by almost anyone, the other an obscure introvert who remains almost unknown outside a small but growing circle of admirers. Both were filled with creative genius.

George Gershwin was born in New York in 1898. He went on to become perhaps the most beloved American composer through his many composition for the musical stage, the concert hall, and what has become known as the Great American Songbook. Gershwin's appeal comes, in part, from his colorful and lively incorporation of jazz motifs in all his music. He died in 1937 with what could only be called a wonderful career ahead of him. I often think what he could have brought to us had he lived.

The second artist, Walter Inglis Anderson, was born on September 29, 1903 in New Orleans. After training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the mid-1920s, he spent most of his career associated with Shearwater Pottery, a family enterprise founded in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Though deeply troubled with mental illness for much of his life, he produced thousands of vivid works of art searching to celebrate the unity of human existence with nature. I often describe his work as painted illustrations that play freely with figure and ground and the positives and negatives of visual perception. His realizations of nature explode in the mind's eye. Observing Anderson is a meditative experience.

If I had to choose two personal favorites among American artists, I would choose Gershwin and Anderson. My mother and father enjoyed his music and listened to his work on the radio and records, and later, on television. I discovered Anderson on my own in the 1970s during the dedication of an Ocean Springs visitor center that featured architectural elements incorporating his motifs as well as the display of several of his nature paintings. Studying these artists came much later in my life and, in the last five years, that study led to a startling revelation: I share a birthday with them.

George, Walter and OTR, a coincidence made somewhere in the stars beyond time. I don't want to attempt an explanation. And there's no delusion here; OTR will never approach their genius. Not sure I'd want to. I'll simply leave it at that and listen and observe the greatness knowing that we share a quiet and inconsequential commonality.

Later this week after the Voyage Of Discovery returns to Atlanta, I'll post a bit more about the artists and post some examples of their work.

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