We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
We attended a family funeral on Saturday down in NJ. All of the vets' graves had flags. There were so many that it looked like a field of flags. The husband, my uncle-in-law, of the sweet gal who died was in the Normandy invasion, and in the war until it ended. By the end of the war, he was one of four surviving from his original platoon. Still in good shape. His war stories are remarkable - taking a castle! I sat next to a cousin-in-law USAF Col. at the funeral lunch. Vietnam Vet. All Irish, all warm and amusing - and all fairly sober.
I have mostly exhausted my interest in posting about the complexities of the "mad or bad" topic but in this case, based on minimal evidence, I'd guess "bad."
Psychiatry has little influence over evil. That's for theology. Evil fantasies are things we (and everybody, pretty much) deal with routinely, but actions are another matter. The devil is stronger than we doctors are. Some evil is everywhere, from boardrooms to government to priests and pastors to teachers to cities to campuses. Please do not tell me that this kid had "PTSD," or an "anger management problem." Some people lack a moral compass almost entirely, but that moral compass spectrum spans from none to spotty to obsessionally scrupulous and fearful. We can deal with the latter relatively easily, but not the former.
The truth is that some people are "born to be hanged," and, at the least, removed from the gene pool. We too often piously imagine that happy and good are default settings for humans as if we could get everybody there with a rearranged psyche and a right environment (we term that "psycho-utopian"). It's an evil lie and an evil vision because it denies the existence of evil itself. My life, and history, have taught me that sin has great power. For all we know, violence, deceit, and destruction of good cheer are the default settings, and civilized behavior a special, difficult undertaking. That happens to be what Freud concluded, and he was smarter and a deeper thinker than I am. Not to mention many prophets, and Christ himself.
It is a positive comment on our level of Western civilization that we are surprised by gross acts of evil rather than taking them for granted. Quite remarkable in human history.
Good and evil remain the basics, as they always have done.
Addendum: I realize that my metaphors sounded as if I believed that evil is genetic. What I mean is that some people simply seem destined for trouble.
2300 Americans died in that invasion. Did the Sicilians want us there? Of course not.
At that point, I think it was the most massive invasion by sea in history.
I reflect on all of the historical invasions of Sicily by sea - the Greeks, the Phoenicians, the Moslems, the Norman Vikings, the Spanish (barely an invasion), and the take-over by Italy (again, hardly a serious invasion but Italy did send military forces to annex Sicily). Uniquely, the Allies didn't invade to own it and had no aspirations to, but it was a strategic, temporary necessity.
(Reader reminded me that I omitted the Romans and the Byzantines. Too much to keep track of. Everybody wanted to own Sicily, and all of that history is still right there, right down to the Phoenician fortifications, the Greek temples, the Norman castles, the Roman cities, and the couscous and the mosques - and even Greek temples - converted to churches.)
Image is the historic flag of Sicily - most interesting flag in the world.
17:22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, "Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.
17:23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands,
17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.
17:26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live,
17:27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him--though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
17:28 For 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.'
17:29 Since we are God's offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.
17:30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
17:31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Notably, choice schools can hire their teachers based on their own criteria — such as advanced study and experience — not the criteria used by public schools, which look at the number of education courses completed. Moreover, Walberg writes, choice schools pay teachers based on their performance, and teachers who do not perform are likely to be fired.
Bob Dylan might be a poet, a thief, a genius, or a fraud. He might be stone-cold crazy, like the Dylanologists who worship him. But he’s not what you thought he was. He’s much more interesting than that.
At six o'clock we were waiting for coffee, waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb that was going to be served from a certain balcony --like kings of old, or like a miracle. It was still dark. One foot of the sun steadied itself on a long ripple in the river.
The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river. It was so cold we hoped that the coffee would be very hot, seeing that the sun was not going to warm us; and that the crumb would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle. At seven a man stepped out on the balcony.
He stood for a minute alone on the balcony looking over our heads toward the river. A servant handed him the makings of a miracle, consisting of one lone cup of coffee and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb, his head, so to speak, in the clouds--along with the sun.
Was the man crazy? What under the sun was he trying to do, up there on his balcony! Each man received one rather hard crumb, which some flicked scornfully into the river, and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee. Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle.
I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle. A beautiful villa stood in the sun and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee. In front, a baroque white plaster balcony added by birds, who nest along the river, --I saw it with one eye close to the crumb--
and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb my mansion, made for me by a miracle, through ages, by insects, birds, and the river working the stone. Every day, in the sun, at breakfast time I sit on my balcony with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee.
We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee. A window across the river caught the sun as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony.
Boating season, finally. Boats with the sea are those things that make life rich. An over-40 victim of fate? Not me, not yet. See y'all in Newport, or maybe Watch Hill, Cuttyhunk, Block, Hyannis, Montauk, or the Vineyard. The tune brings a tear to me, every time. I can not imagine life without boats and salt water, and I don't care what sort of craft.
For a change this season, my pals and I are leasing a 35-foot sailing craft to share, instead of power. Will maybe get one photo, despite my photo-phobia (cameras ruin direct experience, I was taught by my Dad who has refused to ever take a photo so I have never owned one).
Karl Barth was the greatest theologian since the Reformation, and his work is today a dead letter. This is an extraordinary irony. Barth aspired to free Christian theology from restrictive modern habits of mind but in the end preserved the most damaging assumptions of the ideas he sought to overcome. This does not mean he no longer deserves serious attention. Barth now demands exceptionally close attention, precisely because his failures can teach us how profound the challenges of modernity are for theology—and show us the limits of a distinctly modern solution to them.
When we look back from our trip, it's no surprise that we came home tired and needing a beach vacation. It's also no surprise that I lost 5 lbs. - we covered a lot of ground. Go-go, Hi-ho is us. The BD family never sits - except in Italian cafes for a short spell. Carpe diem.
But first - don't forget the "cannolis" (connolo is singular, cannoli plural, naturally). I confused a waitress by asking for un cannoli.) I got the same stern "Are you retarded?" look I'd get when we didn't want vino with meals. Even tho Italian food doesn't taste too great without a glass or two of wine (as I have said, Italian food is designed for wine on the side), I really do not want to feel sleepy at 2 pm in a special place.
A sign in Petralia Soprana:
The cannolo di ricotta is a Sicilian-origin afternoon pick-me-up treat, same as gelato is. After school, kids pack the gelato and cannoli "bars" on their way home. In Sicily, the shells are thick, very hard and crunchy, deep-fried hard. They do not fill them from a pastry bag until you order one, like an ice cream cone. The filling is thick and only slightly sweetened. At your request, they will dip the ends into chopped chocolate or chopped pistachios. Mrs. BD and I would share one, but I have no pics because we consumed them too fast.
Speaking of pistachio, a great thing on an antipasto plate: Slice of fresh ricotta sprinkled with chopped pistachio and then a drizzle of honey. Simple country food.
More good fun travel adventures and info below the fold -
A commenter there noted "The peoples of European countries never voted for, and don't want, a "United States of Europe". They want individual sovereign States within a Free Trade Area, which IS what was voted for."
Pic is my caffe gelato and my caffe, and her nocello gelato just off the large piazza (to annoy Mrs. BD, just ask which way to the Pizza del Domo) in Ortygia during the passaggiata. Prego.
The history of gelato dates back to frozen desserts in Sicily, ancient Rome and Egypt made from snow and ice brought down from mountaintops and preserved below ground. Later, frozen desserts appeared during banquets at the Medici court in Florence. The Florentine polymath Bernardo Buontalenti is said to have invented modern ice cream in 1565, as he presented his recipe and his innovative refrigerating techniques to Catherine de' Medici, who in turn brought the novelty to France as Queen consort, where in 1686 the Sicilian fisherman Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli perfected the first ice cream machine. However, the popularity of gelato among larger shares of the population only increased in the 1920s–1930s in the northern Italian city of Varese, where the first gelato cart was developed. Italy is the only country where the market share of handmade gelato versus industrial one is over 55%.
Do you have to be raised Italian to know what the word "prego" really means? Probably. I've tried and I don't get it. It's used for answering the phone, and it's used when they deliver a gelato to you. Literally, I believe it is translated as "I pray" or something like that, so I think the connotation is something polite like "at your service" mixed with "you're welcome," "thank-you", "hello," and other things.
They are not wanted. Too confusing. The Closing of the Collegiate Mind - Opponents of free speech have chalked up many campus victories lately as ideological conformity marches on. She begins:
There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs of regimes America was fighting abroad, the venues gradually reversed. Open debate is now protected only in the polity: In universities, muggers prevail...
It's time for a new free speech movement on the campi.
At a recent meeting with two dozen Chicago leaders, some Democrats, some Republicans, I asked a simple question, “Can anyone name a significant American achievement in world affairs over the past five years?”
The room was completely silent. Since the group had traveled widely, I posed a second question, “Have any of you visited countries where relations with America are better than five years ago?” Again, silence.
Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World - See more at:
Pic above is the NYC central PO, the James Farley US Post Office. Once a beehive, now pretty empty inside the grand building. A temple to commerce, paper communication - and Christmas mail.
They are communal spaces where everybody goes - or used to. They employ many people who might not be easily employable elsewhere. They lose money, but so do schools, libraries, parks, highways, passenger rail, and the US Navy. Everything governments do loses money. Organizations and institutions exist, in part, to do things that are difficult or unprofitable to do otherwise.
Naturally, whenever large numbers people are involved, politics enters and, at that point, money mainly is about votes.
Why is the Post Office any different?
Well, perhaps it isn't any different. What seems different today is that many government civic "amenities" and "services" have competition from private operations who carry the risk, so taxpayers are less willing to throw their money away to governments who don't really worry about the money.
Parks are operated by operations like Coyote's, libraries have to compete with Kindles, government schools have to compete with charter schools, government rail has to compete with cars and air, and even the military hires tons of private contractors. Despite the massive increase in the size of government, there are more and more people willing to provide traditionally (meaning since the Progressive Era) government services more efficiently, more cheaply, and unburdening the hapless taxpayer of the risk of money-losing services.