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.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, April 2. 2020
Friday, February 7. 2020
Monday, January 27. 2020
Bob Turner and I have been friends during our college years and after in Vietnam military service and since and colleagues on defending the cause and rightness of South Vietnam's defense from communist takeover. Turner's career as the nation's leading professor of national security law and his contributions are summarized in the press release on his retirement from the University of Virginia law school.
It's worth reading. Please do, to recognize the lifetime of sacrifice, focus, and hard work to protect the security of the United States.
Fortunately, as Bob announces in his Facebook post today: "After more than 32 years on the UVA faculty, I will be retiring on Friday. I am not ceasing my work on issues I care about, and indeed should have more time to focus on them...."
Thank you Bob, from a lifelong friend, and from a grateful nation.
Friday, January 24. 2020
Back in the late '60's until the '80's I told friends that if they wanted to be really, although relatively quickly, informed about most sides of a complex issue, then they should be regular watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS. Unfortunately, his successors there have not kept to that high standard, devolving into just another partisan gab.
I had personal correspondence with Jim Lehrer back in the days when I wrote many times a day for posts and publications. One such sticks in my mind. I'd just visited the traveling Vietnam memorial wall, and commented that it brought up so many feelings and memories that I had nothing to say, I was dumbstruck. Until that time, I hadn't known that Lehrer served as a Marine officer. He wrote back to me that he had the same reactions and feelings as I.
In the linked obit, Jim Lehrer's standards of journalism are listed. I would add one more: if you've nothing really worth saying, don't say it.
Please read the Lehrer lessons for journalists, and share it with other aspiring or entrenched journalists.
Sunday, December 22. 2019
Differing Chanukah Stories Still Argued--Repost from 2012 and 2014 with 2019 additions at top and end re: during Holocaust
Dec. 22, 2019: My son is in Rome, en route to Jerusalem for a course during last week of month. Jews filled a large plaza in Rome for first night Chanukah menorah lighting by Chabad, with dancing in the street after.
The earlier written narrative of the Maccabean revolt against Hellenization and outlawing Jewish worship differs in emphasis from the later “official” Jewish take on the result.
The portion of the Apocrypha (biblical era writings not included in the Jewish Bible) dealing with the events does not mention a miracle of one day’s sanctified oil for the Menorah lasting 8 days. The Book of Maccabees speaks, instead, of eight days of rejoicing the victory to substitute for the eight days of the Torah requirement to celebrate Sukkot, which were missed due to the fighting. The eight days celebration of Chanukah (i.e., rededication) became a custom for every year.
Several centuries later, in the Babylonian Talmud (finalized approx. 5th century, Common Era) interpreting Jewish law and customs, the narrative takes on a new twist, emphasis on G-d’s “miracle” of the oil, which downplays the emphasis on the accomplishment of mens’ arms to retrieve the Temple and Judaism from Hellenistic extinction.
What had happened?: The fall of the Temple and the dispersal (Diaspora) of surviving Jews. No longer having a state, Jews had to survive through craft or accommodation (different than assimilation) to the religion and politics of the states they lived within and not by emphasizing their abilities to fight, not to mention win, when persecuted.
The rise of Zionism in the late 1800s and early 1900s emphasized Jews’ ability to fight and win, and to deserve and have a state to protect Jews from thousands of years of oppression, persecution, and murder, based on thousands of years of roots, presence, worship, investment, hard work, and unceasing yearning for Israel. The more secular Zionists’ pragmatic emphasis stood in stark contrast to the more pacifist or accomodationist teachings that had dominated for almost two millennia.
Today, although a small minority within Israel still cling to illusions of a “miracle” of Palestinians and Muslims transforming their hate into peace, a larger proportion of Jews in the US and Europe – less existentially threatened – cling to such illusions. In Israel and elsewhere, Jews light the eight lights of the Menorah with the extra “helper” light, but the emphasized meaning behind the ritual differs. Adherence to G-d may have given Jews the internal strength to fight and survive, but it was not (as during the Exodus) G-d who directly intervened.
Regardless of this difference, the overriding and more important thing that unites Jews is that regardless of how to get there, either way requires faith and hope. Without faith and hope, necessary for resilience, Jews would not have had reason, cohesion or the internal strength to survive the depredations and challenges to existence of the past two-thousand years since the fall of the Temple to the Romans. Hatikva, Israel's national anthem, means The Hope.
As long as the heart within
Our hope is not yet missing,
Chanukah starts tonight. Come celebrate the miracle of endurance and survival.
The Credo, by Zionist poet Saul Tchernichovsky:
Laugh at all my silly dreams!
For the most part, Hanukkah is a minor festival, with few specific obligations about what Jews can or cannot do over these eight days. But this story of tenacity and hope took on special significance for Jewish people during the Holocaust.
s Found Ways to Mark Hanukkah
Amid the Holocaust's Horrors, Many Jews Found Ways to Mark Hanukkah
Amid the Holocaust's Horrors, Many Je
Tuesday, December 17. 2019
Thursday, December 12. 2019
My son Jason is at a conference in Berlin. He visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp, about 20-miles from Berlin. The camp was the admin HQ for the Nazi camps, training site for SS to run the camps, and where methods of murder were experimented with before arriving at the efficiency of gas chambers. It was later used by the KGB and East German communist regime for ongoing oppression. The memorial to the crematorium:
My son is a sunny southern California boy. The 3-degree Celsius (37-degree Fahrenheit) and stiff wind was uncomfortable, and it not yet the height of winter. Imagine the suffering of inmates from the cold, hunger, torture, death labor: tens of thousands dead, including political prisoners, Soviet and then German troops.
Thursday, December 5. 2019
(First King Of Portugal, Alfonso I, reign 1139-1185; also called Alfonso the Conqueror for expelling the Muslims and securing independence of Portugal)
Portugal is a current go-to for Europeans and increasingly for Americans (including BirdDog). Rightfully so. The Portuguese people are renowned for their generosity to strangers. Except to Moors. They expelled them three centuries before Spain did.
The land is fertile, green -- even a kelly green to rival Ireland --everywhere, its cork trees supply the world, grape vines and olive trees are all over. Lisbon's verdant and luxurious Avenida Liberdade makes Paris' Champs-Elysees look like a version of cheesy Times Square.
The food along the way is mouthwatering, the baking rich yet light, the Portuguese table wine -- especially the whites, and of course aged Ruby Port, (as in Spain's reds) fragrant, crisp, rounded, and almost sensuous to the palate. The prices for these kingly repasts are relatively economic. I almost always had various octopus recipes, although not Kosher. I did avoid the giant tiger-prawns as large as small lobsters, and the pork roasts and bacons were appealing even to my Kosherist eye and nose. The national dish, a mix of cod and eggs and seasoning is superb. (Warning: as in any tourist country, never go into any restaurant with photos at the entrance or with hamburgers on the menu. Touristy mediocre food, and not much less cost, actually a much higher cost due to missing out on affordable great food.)
The weather was a mild 60F in the daytime but intermittently raining, not pouring, so the winter in Portugal's Med climate is fine for touring, plus far less tourists to bump into.
Now, on with some photos (OK, a lot of photos):
Continue reading "Portugal for 11 Days over Thanksgiving"
Monday, November 11. 2019
Sunday, November 10. 2019
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. For most, a day off from work and sales at shops is all that Veterans Day means. However, for those who served and those who care about those who served, aside from a few moments of contemplation, I heartily recommend going to the movie theater to see on the big screen the film Midway. I wasn't a pilot or sailor, preferring to keep my feet on the ground. The movie is entirely factual. The spectacular filming and bravery literally had me gripping my knees at some points.
I went yesterday afternoon, my younger son going into another theater at the multiplex. My theater showing Midway was fully packed. His theater, showing Joker, was one-quarter full. So, apparently many care. The ages and genders were mixed in my theater. IMHO, Midway is one of the top five war films ever made. The audience stood and clapped at the end. A stranger, the 40s-aged woman sitting next to me said, you men have incredible guts to go to war. Outside the theater was a middle age couple with his father, age 96, a WWII pilot of the same planes in the Pacific that won the battle of Midway, the battle that turned the war in the Pacific. He took some time to chat and added to the chills in my spine.
At Rotten Tomatoes, yesterday, of course the effete critics gave it a grade in the low twenties. The audiences gave it a 91%. Perhaps reacting/catering to the overwhelming support by audiences, today the critics are up to 41%, the audiences to 92%. I think you know who actually serves and cares.
Thursday, November 7. 2019
Monday, November 4. 2019
Beneath the fold is a letter from Scholars For Peace in the Middle East (SPME) to some faculty members at one college, whose petition is similar to such petitions at other colleges to silence those who disagree with Boycotting, Divesting from, Sanctioning Israel (BDS), which by definition is anti-Semitic for singling out Israel for claims that are false or really appropriate to despotic countries but aren't made by BDSers instead BDS being about hatred of Israel and Jews. The letter amply sums up the sheer hypocrisy and ignorance of the petition signers.
Continue reading "About BDS on Campuses"
Thursday, October 31. 2019
Tuesday, October 29. 2019
A parent wants their child to exceed the parent in life. I felt I'd succeeded on October 12 at the annual banquet of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation , the "the Nation's oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarship to military children. Their funding is provided by private supporters, including individuals, corporations, and other nonprofit foundations. The organization's mission is to "Honor Marines by Educating Their Children." "
My son Jason, and I, were invited as speakers about what the mission and generosity of the scholarships mean to us and to all the other Marines and their children among the 2300 awarded each year. I'm a pretty good and rousing speaker. Jason from his heart thanked the Foundation and me for the lessons of honor, commitment, courage instilled in him, and the importance of passing it on. Jason 's speech was better than mine. I felt I'd succeeded in his upbringing, and he'd exceeded me.
One of the strong supporters of the Foundation is David McCallum, star of Man From Uncle, NCIS, and a long career of performances. He is a very kind and pleasant man. In his speech he said the proudest moment of his life was becoming a US citizen. His lovely and gracious wife's father served in the Marine Corps at Iwo Jima and her brother lost his life in Vietnam.
Please reach in your pocket or ask your employer to contribute to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. The Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, Always Faithful, also applies to always being faithful to passing it on to the next generations to keep America strong.
Monday, October 28. 2019
The sons and I went yesterday to the Gene Autry Museum Of The American West, in north Griffith Park in Los Angeles. I'd heard good things but in all my decades in Southern California hadn't been there. If you are looking for a truly wonderful experience, go. There are costumes and homages to all the Western film cowboys from the silents to recent, including many Black ones in films you probably never heard of. The museum has the complete Colt company collection of firearms from the 1800's forward, including those specially made for US Presidents. And much more.
There was one room showing clips from Gene Autry films. One clip only showed the song below, without the intro or follow-up. The jaws dropped among some of the women in the room, while the men (if they could get away with it) smiled.
Saturday, October 19. 2019
Tuesday, October 8. 2019
Each year at the start of the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah, I ask a question, usually how to be more constructive and helpful in my personal relationships in general or with a special person. The answer eludes me and it troubles me that I can't see the way.
As I go through the days of prayer and reflection, various alternatives come from my mind, only to be rejected as too unreal or hollow or evasive or inadequate to the need.
On Yom Kippur, which begins tonight, the longest night and day of prayer, and of a 25-hour fast, the worry that I won't find the answer gets more urgent. My fear rises of not finding the answer. As my mind gets submerged in repetitious prayers and wanders, as I get more light-headed with hunger, as the prayers of repentance get more fervent, an answer always comes late in the day, from my heart.
It's never what I thought it would be. It is complete. It is not complex, though requires more focus, discipline, understanding. It always works for the coming year.
Life is only complicated when avoiding simple truths.
The miracle brings me closer to the person I want to be. It keeps me coming back for more.
Wednesday, October 2. 2019
Sunday, September 29. 2019
Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset tonight, beginning the ten days of Awe or Repentence that brings us to Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement and Judgment. Although every day we are to examine our actions and thoughts, making up and apologizing for our transgressions toward others and beginning to live a better good life, these ten days are especially intense introspection and self-correction.
Thursday, September 19. 2019
Ilya Shapiro at Commentary: Read it all for essential background.
The third branch of government has become the source of our greatest political contention because it isn’t doing its job
Sunday, September 15. 2019
I've known, learned from, and respected the views of Fr Paul Mcnellis SJ for over four decades. Whenever he has something to say, he's worth listening to. If you are in the greater Boston area tomorrow, Fr Paul, an assistant professor of philosophy at Boston College, will be addressing an important subject tomorrow evening. Free and invaluable.
Wednesday, September 11. 2019
Tuesday, September 3. 2019
Two of my early childhood TV favs have stars on Hollywood Blvd. Andy Devine, sidekick to Roy Rogers and others, also had the Andy Devine Show, Andy's Gang, with puckish star Froggy, my example.
And, heeeeere's Froggy:
Another early TV fav was recycled vaudeviller Pinky Lee. Hello It's Me...
Remember? Always infectiously happy.
Monday, September 2. 2019
Spent the day yesterday with the sons grueling 88 degree hot uphill 3-miles to Hollywood sign.
view at 1000+ feet elevation over L.A.
Then a stroll down Hollywood Blvd to Graumanns Theater to stump the sons on mini-bios of the real stars of bygone era in Hollywood. This star they recognized (look closely). :-)
Then on to Santa Monica beach, good pastrami sandwiches, and returned older son to UCLA.
Friday, August 23. 2019
NOT SO FAB FOUR: ALL THIS MONEY "All Bob's money I will give to you."
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