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, November 28. 2013
First day of Chanukah
Although almost all use quotations from the Bible to buttress modern day arguments, relatively few have ever read it. Actually, I should say any of them. For there's the Jewish Bible, the Catholic Bible, and various Protestant Bibles, and among these are various translations, inclusions and exclusions.
One of the narratives, that of the Maccabees, is not included in the Jewish Bible. There's several reasons offered: The two Books of Maccabees are in the Alexandrian Greek version, and only those Books in the original Hebrew are included. (Other Books of similar non-Hebrew language or not accepted as divine scripture, like Judith, are as well in the Apocrypha, some in some denominations' Bibles.) The reign of the Maccabees' heirs were not of the sacred line of David and, therefore, unworthy to be treated as kings. Their rule was tarnished by corrupt practices, and contributed toward the internal divisiveness and, then, destruction by the Romans of the Jewish homeland, the wholesale massacres of Jews there and diaspora to alien lands for the remainder. Then, there's the rationale that for a people in exile, subject to survival under and adaptations to inhospitable or suspicious foreign ways, it was not good politics to exalt recent Jews as warriors in the codification of the Jewish Bible.
Today, with the increased ability of Jews to practice openly and participate constructively in Western societies, and with pride in having a homeland to secure safety for all Jews who would return there, the relatively minor holiday of Chanukah is celebrated widely. Providing a celebration for Jewish children at the time of year that others celebrate Christmas has made of Chanukah a major holiday. lt also fits with the recovery of a homeland of refuge in
Still, if Chanukah is degraded to just blue-and-white lights in place of red-and-yellow, or icicles, Chanukah is made meaningless.
One must remember there are two Books of Maccabee. The first Book deals with the profanation and oppression in which many Jews went along to survive -- leading to the brave fight by a few for religious freedom that overwhelmed seemingly undefeatable might.
(There's also the side-story of Hannah and her seven sons, who endured the most severe tortures practiced in those times, the descriptions of which would even sicken a surrealist, rather than renounce their faith.)
The second Book deals with the resanctification of the
I'll leave the canonical and scholarly debates here for others, in order to draw a lesson. Chanukah and the Maccabees fits within the Jewish Bible's narrative, whether formally or by custom. And, more attention deserves to be given the first Book, to understand the second. Fight, or surrender to comforts and fears and, thus, perish.
The Jewish Bible is a series of opportunities for living the guidance provided by G-d through experience and direction, often failing to do so in successive generations and paying terrible prices to relearn and return to basic truths. In this sense, Jews are fated to be a small self-selecting people, those who adhere to these basic truths, while by basic frail human nature others fall and fail by the wayside, merging into ostensibly safer masses.
The modern state of Israel struggles with these choices, and so far has risen beyond any expectations -- by rejecting the sophistry of self-serving internal weaklings, defectors, and collaborators paid off by Israel's enemies, and by evading false friends in high-places within other governments, who all recommend paths that are well-known to lead to defeatism and doom.
So, depending on the transliteration, to all a Happy Chanukah, or Hannukah. These young people in a flash mob on Ben Yehuda Street are the spirit that bring pride to fighting to endure in basic truth, for the benefit of all. There are onlookers and there are participants. Without modern Maccabees, participants in fighting for life, all would be enslaved.
Wednesday, September 4. 2013
The Jewish High Holy Days begin this evening with Rosh Hashanah.
One of the traditional Rosh Hashanah greetings is Shana Tovah, which literally means have a good year. The meaning goes deeper. To have a good year is to have sincerely repented one's transgressions and set yourself on a better acting and thinking path.
The eve of Rosh Hashanah, and the concluding of Yom Kippur in the evening 10-days later when our fate is sealed by G-d, is a period of especially intense inspection of self and correction of self. It is Jews' most solemn holiday period (read, Holy Days).
It is also a time to come together with loved ones as well as to find ways to come together with former adversaries. It is a time to enjoy our customs, especially the blowing of the ram's horn (shofar), especially at Rosh Hashanah, to literally "come awake" to ourselves, our relationships with others and with G-d. And, it is a time to enjoy apples and honey, to symbolize our hopes for a sweet new year. It is a time of long days of prayer. For me, the longer the better, as it is not the words so much that are important as entering a sense of transcendence in which I rise above ordinary thoughts to reach new breakthroughs, understandings, and ways to become better.
Like for other Jewish occasions, Rosh Hashanah has become a time for our modern youth to create new music, to bring new verve into our traditional ways. Enjoy this one. (I'm not getting it to embed, so please click through to YouTube.) P.S.: In the video, the tossing of bread into moving waters (tashlich) is to symbolize casting off our sins.
Here's a snippet of the verses: "Atonement's what I'm after; It's a new year, now we gotta do something"
The Jewish High Holy Days, and the Hebrew month of Elul's introspection preceding them, require of each of us to "do something", at the very least, to create a better self and world. Our custom has been adapted into Christianity with Lent, and into Islam with Ramadan. May we all earnestly work to be better. We all need to and we all need it.
Friday, August 30. 2013
Salif Keita is "an afro-pop singer-songwriter from Mali. He is unique not only because of his reputation as the "Golden Voice of Africa" but because he has albinism and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita."
He was scheduled to appear at a charity fundraiser in Israel for albinos. Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) zealots tormented and threatened him, which is their common tactic to get artists not to appear in Israel. The "Golden Voice of Africa" used his voice, via his albino foundation, to tell off the BDSers. This is what he experienced:
August 22, 2013
While elsewhere in Africa, at a South African university, members of the BDS there "sing, “dubula e juda” (“shoot the Jew”) as concert attendees to hear an Israeli saxophonist were entering the music hall, according to a newspaper affiliated with the university.
That's their lie and they're sticking to it!
Wednesday, July 10. 2013
Sunday, June 30. 2013
If, coulda, woulda, shoulda about history may not change it but does change our understanding of what happened and why. The two gravest mistakes the US made in Vietnam were to participate in, even bless, the overthrow of President Diem and then to not use our overwhelming force to bring North Vietnam to its knees.
The overthrow of Diem in 1963 upended the South Vietnamese pacification efforts and disrupted the organization of the professional army, requiring the large-scale US involvement. The failure to then use our massive force, especially in the air on North Vietnamese strategic targets instead of sending multi-million dollar planes against cheap trucks, allowed the North to extend its reach and prolong the war.
Mark Moyars wrote the book "Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965." It details how Diem's efforts were succeeding and were destroyed by the coup. In the June 29 Wall Street Journal (behind the paywall) Moyar reviews three other recent books that come to the same conclusion. Wise guys in Washington should not be in such a hurry to think they can superimpose their ideal of Western democracy where the foundations have not been laid and in the midst of war requiring unified stern measures.
Of historical note is, not only in 1964-5 the failure to bring to bear the Joint Chiefs' recommendations for strategic targeting of the North, but how in 1970 there was a similar failure of will in Washington. As President Nixon showed in 1972 by launching such a ferocious air attack on Hanoi and Haiphong, the war could have been shortened and many thousands of lives saved. Rear Admiral Joe Vasey was right hand man to Admiral John McCain Jr, Commander-In-Chief Pacific Command during 1968-1972. In an exclusive to this blog, for historical record, Joe Vasey has agreed to publish the below "after inaction" report on what could have been in 1970. (My apologies for the spacing below, due to copying-pasting from an email.)
Continue reading "What could have beens in Vietnam"
Thursday, June 13. 2013
“Did you kill any babies, Bruce?” As we lay in bed on New Year’s Eve 1970, this is what the girl asked who a friend had introduced me to when I returned from Vietnam a couple of months before. I got up and drove home in the snowy streets from Queens to Brooklyn. I didn’t even try to date another girl for almost a year after. But, I moved past it and didn’t dwell on that night.
Some returned soldiers and Marines had worse experiences and some had better and almost all just blended back in after an initial adjustment. Studies show that most were more successful in their lives than their non-serving peers. But, what the major media and liberal opinion-setters painted was an image, usually grossly ignorant and mendacious, of a mentally and morally scarred Vietnam veteran. The purpose was to reduce support for the US commitment to South Vietnam. It took several decades before this image from the Left was reversed and due pride in veterans’ service returned to America. Yet, that erroneous and harmful image of Vietnam veterans still lingers in many minds.
Aside from the opprobrium poured upon us Vietnam veterans from the Left in the pop culture and academia, the goal of our war was lost and we had little reason to exhibit pride in the outcome of our service as millions of IndoChinese were murdered by the conquering communists in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The perfidy of so many of our Senators and Congressmen, and the indifference of most opinion-leaders, only deepened the alienation from authority, and increased the vulnerability to the anti-Vietnam messagers.
That’s what the fall of Saigon has to do with the life paths of Vietnam veterans.
Rarely do two books appear on widely different aspects of the Vietnam War which based on meticulous research weave an understanding of the still confusing Vietnam War that, as Paul Harvey used to say, tells us “the rest of the story.”
Continue reading "“Did you kill any babies, Bruce?”"
Monday, June 3. 2013
Recently, a young boy who admired the Marine Corps lay at death's door. Notified by his father, a group of Marines came to honor him. One of the Marines went further and stood guard at his room until the boy died.
Here's the story (verified by Snopes), and the Marine's wish for all of us. It's a short video, so please watch.
Thursday, April 25. 2013
It was a tiring, three-plane, 24-hour flight, getting in late the night before, April 7. We stayed at a delightfully friendly inn near the Prime Minister's residence, about a 15-minute stroll to the Old City. We slept and had a hearty breakfast from the inn's large, delicious buffet. After 2-minutes of sirens all over Israel during which all stop to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jason's Bar Mitzvah took place at 10:02AM on April 8 at the Haas Promenade overlooking all of Jerusalem, the Old City at the center of view. Here we're carrying the Torah to the Promenade, then part of the view over Jerusalem (hazy due to a sand storm in Saudi Arabia blowing sand far into Jerusalem's skies).
Instead of a long post with deeper observations, maybe to come later, instead this post will simply present some of the joy on Jason and younger brother (8) Gavin's faces at their experiences. (Jason was totally jazzed, and performed his prayers and Torah portion with enthusiasm and ease. Gavin was a bit jet-lagged in the morning of the 8th but recovered his boisterous energy and spirits by noon.) A few photos with me may sneak in. But. for me, these of Jason and Gavin are the most important. Look back at your albums. The photos of sites are nice momentos but the photos of your children at the sites are the heart that beats and stirs.
Both boys rose to be champion travelers, terrifically behaved and engaged, and their reflections on what they saw and experienced have been all that a father could hope for from this exposure to the land, history, and traditions of our Jewish religion and peoples. Jason acts and takes seriously that he is now a young man, with such responsibilities following this core rite of passage. Gavin says he will be nicer after experiencing and discussing the centrality in our faith of replacing bad with good in ourselves and the world, bolstered by meeting so many pleasant Israelis and visitors from all over the globe.
(Many more photos below the fold; There is a 10-hour difference between California and Israel, so the dates on the photos reflect San Diego time, not Israel's)
Continue reading "Jason's Bar Mitzvah Trip To Israel"
Saturday, January 19. 2013
What a surprise (not)! Journal News map listed guns, permits stolen from New City home, cops say
Court ruling in Prop. 30 case limits use of 'spot bills' in budget: "The opinion does not affect the passage of Proposition 30 but could limit the Legislature's future use of so-called "spot bills," placeholder bills included in budget packages and passed as urgency measures only after they are filled with language later. Such budget-related bills are useful to lawmakers because they require only a majority vote and take effect immediately."
Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/01/court-ruling-in-prop-30-case-limits-use-of-spot-bills-in-budget.html#storylink=cpy
Friday, January 18. 2013
Bird Dog is off somewhere or other, so you are stuck with what is on my spindle for today and tomorrow. Today there is a lot piled on my spindle. (Please notify Guinness) Tomorrow should be a shorter stack.
Is the MOOCs Panic Under Way? (MOOC = massive online open courses)
The Veil Descends (Mark Steyn)
Ironic Lede: "The Chicago Bears hired a Jewish head coach, Marc Trestman, to improve their pigskin prowess."
George Will: Some questions for Hagel
Gold Digger!: An amateur prospector hunting for gold in Australia has astonished experts after stumbling across a mammoth nugget worth some £200,000.
OK, the long chain of links may not have been sexy, but to keep your interest, count the links in these chains:
Sunday, December 30. 2012
So you won't be disappointed, this will not be so much a review of the movie Django Unchained as a review of many reviewers. I've read about twenty reviews after seeing the movie. Django is pure Tarantino, over-the-top vulgar and violent, funny at times, the photography excellent and the actors fulfilling their roles well. In short, Django Unchained is a terrific shitkicker.
It is an action-revenge film that takes place in the pre-Civil War South, which along the way grips the viewer with White-on-Black violence and degradation of the worst imagination or fact and Black-on-Black violence (the Mandingo fighting a historical fraud, according to experts) and intra-Black slavery-facilitating discrimination and repression.
Most reviewers and audience polled give the film a high rating at review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. They just take it as Tarentino's outrageous brand of entertainment. Probably most viewers knew that going in to the theater.
Some reviewers, Black and White, criticize the ahistorical emphases within the film or the depiction of some Blacks (I don't recall any of these reviews reflecting similarly about the Whites), or wonder whether the film is a useful ideological guide to today's Blacks. They are entitled to their points of view, and their excesses can be forgiven for having to find enough words to fill their column. Still, most manage to lesser or greater extent applaud the film's execution even if disturbed by its supposed meanings.
Instead, don't look for meanings, or imagine them. Just enjoy a pure Tarantino shitkicker, with Shaft melded with Clint Eastwood and upping the gunplay, and every bad guy blown to spectacular smithereens.
Wednesday, December 26. 2012
Those of us who served in Vietnam have fond memories of the traveling cover bands, usually very good, and their female dancers and singers, also very good and sexy. I saw a quote earlier that although we are now old, at least we got to see the great music groups. I'd include these show people who brought fun into our horny lives in Vietnam.
Cinammon Stillwell is an accomplished reporter. Her mother made this documentary about the entertainers who visited us wherever we were in Vietnam. It is one of a kind, something that to my knowledge has not been documented before. The film does not have an embed, so you have to go to this site to watch it. I know that us Vietnam vets will, and I think others out there will enjoy it and learn something different than many misconceptions.
Just for the heck of it, here's one of my blurry (I should say beery) photos in the 1st MarDiv HQs E-Club from back then:
Friday, December 21. 2012
Wednesday, December 19. 2012
During college I worked at Jack Frost Dry Goods, a fabric and yarn store in Bedford-Stuyvesant. The owner contributed extra cloth to the Little Sisters of the Poor in the nearby Bushwick neighborhood. My uncle had owned a nursing home in the Bronx when I was much younger than that, and the Little Sisters facility and care was superior.
The Little Sisters of the Poor are another example of religious based charitable organizations whose scruples and finances would be violated by Obamacare's requirement that it provide medical insurance that includes contraception and medical treatments that cause sterility or can cause abortions. Aside from its 300 sisters working in their facilities, non-users but still charged for the increased premium, the Little Sisters hires without regard to religion and cares for people without regard to religion. So, according to Obamacare, the Little Sisters of the Poor does not qualify for exemption.
Continue reading "Obama Vs. Little Sisters of the Poor"
Monday, December 17. 2012
Human rights abroad are not of real concern to President Obama. This is clearly signaled by the potential nominations of John Kerry and Chuck Hegel to be Secretary of State and Defense, respectively, two men who throughout their careers have buddied up to tyrants and downplayed oppression.
None are arguing for direct armed intervention in every case of brutality toward human rights, or the US would be invading at least half the members of the United Nations. But, where US foreign policy interests are aligned with defense of the human rights within a country, there is no justification to ignore or excuse or downplay the gross denial of basic rights, nor for that matter not to aid those aligned with Western values.
This is not a new concern unique to the current administration, but it is a heightened problem in the Obama lead-from-behind or the Obama skedaddle-from-town foreign policy.
The major human rights organizations have a spotty record of holding this administration’s feet to the fire. Should Kerry and Hegel be the policy-making and public face of US foreign policy, the major human rights organizations either better rise to their pretenses or be self-labeled as frauds.
A prime example of the hypocrisy of a leading human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, is 9/11 truther, virulent anti-Israel pro-Hamas apologist Richard Falk's membership on its Board of Directors. The anti-Israel animus in President Obama's potential appointments of Kerry and/or Hegel are described by Caroline Glick.
Thursday, December 13. 2012
Tuesday, December 11. 2012
My son Jason, 12, is volunteering at a local senior citizens facility. A project called COME ALIVE through music revives residents in its acute care and Alzheimer wings to make contact with themselves through the music they loved in their younger years. Residents who are otherwise inert and non-communicative are sparked to move and verbalize their memories and feelings. If you think this isn't possible, please watch the entire video below.
Jason's project is to rip 20s and 30s Swing and Big Band, 40s-50s Show Music, and even some of the best 60s rock (there are some disabled younger residents) music and songs from CDs onto individualized mixes that can be played for the residents on their iPods and earphones. College students who are majoring in therapy track the results and tweak the mixes. The benefit to the residents is astounding and heart warming.
For legal copyright reasons, the music can't be simply ripped from Youtube. It must come from CDs.
Many of you have CDs at home that you no linger listen to of these types of music. PLEASE donate the CDs to this project. Just Comment below and I will directly email you, or email me directly at BNKSD1@aol.com and I will quickly get back to you with the address to mail the CDs.
A BIG Thank you in advance.
P.S.: The Post Office has good rates for mailing packages using their boxes.
Monday, December 10. 2012
When Israel announced that planning would begin for some housing in an area known as E1, the New York Times led the media howling that building there would cut off the northern from the southern parts of a future Palestine in the areas of the West Bank. Despite the Palestinians publicly announcing at the UN their breaking the Oslo Accords, a reason had to be found or created to hold Israel to blame for obstructing peace!
This map (courtesy of Honest Reporting), for example, shows that not to be true.
The New York Times must have bought a map, and just ran two corrections to its prior reporting, if it can be dignified as such. Blind ignorance is blamed on an “editing error.” Yeah, and Delaware is our largest state.
That area has never been offered to Palestinians in any of the many proposals for 98% of the West Bank to be theirs for a state. See this map:
Continue reading "New York Times Sells A Bridge, Then Buys A Map"
Sunday, December 9. 2012
Tuesday, December 4. 2012
Most of the most prominent in the West who claim to want peace in the Middle East are, instead, prime facilitators of hate.
By disdaining those Muslims who are closer to Western values, instead pandering to Islamist extremists, or one-sidedly denouncing the defensive measures of the only Western oriented nation in the Middle East, Israel, the claimants of upholding peace have consistently encouraged those who believe and act out of hate.
There are a host of reasons, actually excuses, proffered by those who cloak themselves in plastic doves. At root they shield self-hate for enjoying civilization’s comforts while others purportedly suffer. Their solutions all come down to the same end, take away what has been deservedly earned and give it to those who haven’t earned it. One may argue that many of those supporting this redistribution would also be affected, but in reality they usually shield themselves or are just too blind to realize that until the taker is at their door and their generosity has been squandered or stolen.
I haven’t the slightest care if the above offends anyone who is too effete to speak the truth or so befuddled as to not recognize it or so deceitful as to deny it or so quibbling as to host relative trivia against overriding facts.
There may never be peace in the Middle East so long as, as usual, Muslims hate each other and their rulers are primarily concerned with filling their foreign bank accounts. There certainly will not be peace in the Middle East as long as they use Israel as a distraction from their own fetid culture and politics. To now, the only periods of peace have been when Israel soundly thrashed its attacking enemies, and that has only been temporary as the despoiling hatred of the Arabs reblooms and is watered and nourished by the Western morons who confuse payoffs for hate with peace.
Sophistry that masks surrender with endless compromises that are unrequited by the haters is unacceptable.
Monday, December 3. 2012
Friday, November 30. 2012
"Building a better you is the first step to building a better America."
On Wednesday, Zig Ziglar died at 86. Zig Ziglar's many books carried the motivational message of hard work and faith will out, and doing so to fill others' needs is the path to success. I remember my father reading Zig Ziglar when he started a business from scratch in the early 1960's, and so was I when I started out in the '70s. Ziglar was correct, I think, because he wedded hope with effort with common sense that didn't make or tolerate excuses. Ziglar kept writing books until last year. Here's an obit. Here's another obit.
Here's more Zig Ziglar quotes.
Wednesday, November 28. 2012
Most days on the way home from school, I take the boys in to Jamba Juice. It's healthier than cookies for an after-school snack. And, I usually have twofer coupons. Another treat is that Bronson is a Jamba Juice Juggler as he prepares the healthy drinks. Jason used his iPod today to make a video of Bronson's performance.
Tuesday, November 27. 2012
For those of us who enjoy destructo videos, this one is a champ...for chumps.
According to 11foot8.com, this train trestle is 100 years old, so it was built at a time" when there were no standards for minimum clearance." They are not raising it because the Norfolk Southern Railroad doesn't care: it's their bridge and the only thing they want is to guarantee the safety of their trains. "As far as they are concerned, they solved that problem by installing the crash beam," 11foot8 says. Any potential solution ”like raising the bridge or loowering the road” is too expensive to be worth it. The city of Durham installed warning signs along the three blocks that precede the bridge, but imbeciles keep ramming into it on average once a month.