Sunday, December 16, 2018

Vespers: Bethlehem Down

The choir of King's College Cambridge sings "Bethlehem Down."

Founded in the fifteenth century, the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is the pre-eminent representative of the British church music tradition. It is most famous for singing A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, the Christmas Eve service that the BBC has broadcast since 1928.

"Bethlehem Down" was written in 1927 by Bruce Blunt (1899-1957) (words) and Peter Warlock (1894-1930) (music). 

Peter Warlock was the pseudonym of Philip Heseltine (1894--1930), whose principal legacy was an important body of solo song. Bethlehem Down, with its gentle lilt and tenderness riven with sadness, is a brilliant marriage of music and words. Yet it was created in a mood of flippancy due to the impecunious state of Warlock and his poet friend Bruce Blunt (who were both notorious for their Bohemian behavior). 

As Blunt recalled: "In December 1927, we were both extremely hard up, and, in the hope of being able to get suitably drunk at Christmas, conceived the idea of collaborating on another carol which should be published in a daily paper. So, walking on a moonlit night between the "Plough" at Bishop's Sutton and the "Anchor" at Ropley, I thought of the words of "Bethlehem Down". I sent them off to Philip in London, and the carol was completed in a few days and published (words and music) in The Daily Telegraph on Christmas Eve. We had an immortal carouse on the proceeds and decided to call ourselves 'Carols Consolidated.'"

“When He is King we will give him the King’s gifts,
Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes”, said the young girl to Joseph
Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

Bethlehem Down is full of the starlight
Winds for the spices, and stars for the gold,
Mary for sleep, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

When He is King they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

Here He has peace and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen to keep Him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

Wonder why mainline churches are in decline?

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. ~ Matthew 7:15

Let's look inside the modern church.

Jesus was once unborn. A group of Ohio religious leaders criticized lawmakers’ efforts to pass protections for unborn babies during a pro-abortion protest at a church in downtown Columbus. The Rev. Terry Williams, a United Church of Christ minister: “I will not stand here idly and let them strip away the rights of women and others in our state to make the right decisions for them and their families.”

Belt it out, baby. Do you think God approves of a man, dressed in drag, "singing" a provocative song in a chapel, on the chancel, next to the altar? Well, that is exactly what happened recently at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America seminary chapel, a school charged with raising up pastors who will be shepherds to ELCA members. The school is Luther Seminary, the largest pastor-producing seminary in the ELCA.

I'll see your $500k. It was reported recently that a couple of nuns out in Southern California had ripped off the Catholic school where they worked for many years to the tune of at least $500,000. They spent the money on gambling sprees to Las Vegas, among other pursuits. They hail from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet — a “social justice” religious order, naturally.

And Jesus said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. ~ Matthew 12:13

I refuse to converse. A Dedham Massachusetts church is receiving mixed reaction over its ‘controversial’ nativity scene wherein baby Jesus is in a cage, separated from Mary and Joseph. St. Susanna Parish says its goal was to spark up a conversation about how poorly illegal aliens are treated at the US-Mexico border.
Sounds like quite a moment. While the Church of England – the largest Christian denomination in the United Kingdom – is stopping short of calling its newly instituted blessing for “transgenders” a second baptism, priests are being directed to offer baptism-style ceremonies for those announcing their new sexual identity. In a newly issued pastoral guidance, clergy are being told to call men by their new female names, and women by their new male names. The guidance declares, “For a trans person to be addressed liturgically by the minister for the first time by their chosen name may be a powerful moment in the service.”

Allahu Akbar! A Chicago theater company debuted an original production last week which tells the story of Jesus’ birth through the lens of the Quran. The play premiered at a theater at the Chicago Temple, home to First United Methodist Church, where Silk Road Rising is the church’s company in residence. The creator of the play worked with Muslims to ensure that they weren't insulted.

Going for the gold.
Wouldn't that be a golden idol? ... Oh, forget it. Liberal Lutheran pastor and author Nadia Bolz-Weber has encouraged women to send her their purity rings to be melted down and recast into a golden vagina in protest of evangelical purity culture.

Oh, then it would be okay. Pastor and author Nadia Bolz-Weber says her new book—Shameless: A Sexual Reformation—touches on the issue of sexual ethics and the church. Bolz-Weber argued we shouldn’t shame those who consume pornography if, and only if, the pornography is “ethically sourced.”

Maybe she's thinking transfiguration. A United Church minister who had faced an unprecedented ecclesiastical court hearing over her professed atheism is no longer in danger of a defrocking after the two sides reached an agreement in the long-running case. Rev. Gretta Vosper and the church settled ahead of what some had dubbed a “heresy trial,” leaving her free to minister to her east-end Toronto congregation. “It’s going to be wonderful,” Vosper said. “We’ll be out from underneath that heavy cloud. Now we’ll be able to really fly.”

Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and they will lead many astray. ~ Matthew 22:4

Scripture: He proclaimed the Good News

Alessandro Allori, "The Preaching of St John the Baptist"
From The Lectionary:

Luke 3:7-18

3:7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

3:8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

3:9 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

3:10 And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?"

3:11 In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."

3:12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?"

3:13 He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you."

3:14 Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

3:16 John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

3:18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Casual Friday: After Midnight

Just two working days til Monday!

"It's ten years since I went out of my mind. I'd never go back." ~ Ken Dodd

The Madness: Our Semi-Annual Christmas Edition

Tap water amoebas turned woman's brain into "bloody mush," doctors say. ~ New York Post

I told you there's something in the water! We always check in on The Madness on Fridays. This week, in the spirit of season, we're offering our official 17th Semi-Annual Christmas Edition of The Madness.

Kentucky fried amoebas.
Colonel, call your office. KFC is kicking off the holiday season with a log that it says smells like fried chicken.

Choristers should be roasting on an open fire. A singing group at Princeton University has removed a Little Mermaid song from its repertoire amid recent concerns that it promotes misogyny and “toxic masculinity.”

Who are these people? After The Donald canceled the White House Christmas party for the press, The Daily Beast tweeted how “Trump has become the president who stole Christmas," a theme taken up by many on social media. Another person tweeted: “The Grinch is in the White House!” while CNN political analyst April Ryan, who was criticized by Trump this year, tweeted: “This is just sad on a lot of levels!”

How do you spell Gomorrah? They’re called “Vaginaments.” And as you might have guessed, they’re Christmas ornaments meets female genitalia. Why, you ask? Because there are enough crazy feminists out there who’d buy it! These were actually promoted on a website named "Kidspot."

Well, he does have a whip. “Viewers are noticing the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer may not be so jolly after all,” a video at The Huffington Post said. “And they’re sharing their observations online.” Among those observations was the suggestion that the TV classic was a story about racism and homophobia, while calling Santa Claus abusive and bigoted. “Yearly reminder that #Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a parable on racism & homophobia w/Santa as a bigoted exploitative prick,” read one comment. “Santa’s operation is an HR nightmare and in serious need of diversity and inclusion training,” read another.

I think it stands for jerk. An elementary school principal in Nebraska was placed on leave after telling teachers to avoid Christmas-themed ornamentations so as not to offend those who don't celebrate the holiday. Even candy canes were not acceptable, because, "Historically, the shape is a 'J' for Jesus."

A woke version of the Christmas classic:

Christmas Tips and Tricks

(Maggie's Farm)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Don't look now, but someone is following you

Tracking Lisa Magrin.
A New York Times investigation revealed that hundreds of apps are tracking our every move. They know exactly where we are and where we have been at almost any moment in time.

Here's what they know about one woman.
She leaves a house in upstate New York at 7 a.m. and travels to a middle school 14 miles away, staying until late afternoon each school day. Only one person makes that trip: Lisa Magrin, a 46-year-old math teacher. Her smartphone goes with her. 
An app on the device gathered her location information, which was then sold without her knowledge. It recorded her whereabouts as often as every two seconds, according to a database of more than a million phones in the New York area that was reviewed by The New York Times. While Ms. Magrin’s identity was not disclosed in those records, The Times was able to easily connect her to that dot. 
The app tracked her as she went to a Weight Watchers meeting and to her dermatologist’s office for a minor procedure. The data is so specific that The Times could determine how long she was there. It followed her hiking with her dog and staying at her ex-
boyfriend’s home, information she found disturbing.

Lisa Magrin is the only person who travels regularly from her home to the school where she works. Her location was recorded more than 800 times there, often in her classroom.
In about four months’ of data reviewed by The Times, her location was recorded over 8,600 times — on average, once every 21 minutes.
Tracking the mayor of New York City.
At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year.

The database reviewed by The Times — a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company — reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

Read the whole thing to learn which companies are doing this.

Fentanyl: Is this the new WMD?

Seized near the border.
Fetanyl as a terror weapon? A mass killer? That's what the authorities are worried about.

Fentanyl is an opioid used as a pain medication and together with other medications for anesthesia. It is 50 times more potent than heroin, with which it is often mixed. In its strongest form, called carfentanil, it is used legally as an elephant tranquilizer.

American deaths linked to fentanyl grew more than 50 percent to 29,406 last year, from 19,413 in 2016. A lot of it comes from China, but more and more is coming across the Mexican border. Officers confiscated 1,132 pounds of fentanyl from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017. However, just halfway through fiscal year 2018, they are already 94 percent of the way to hitting last year's total haul.
Last April Nebraska State Trooper Sam Mortensen stopped a truck marked “U.S. Mail” swerving onto the shoulder along Interstate 80.

In the back he found 42 brick-shaped packages, weighing 54 kilograms, full of fentanyl. The drug is so potent that even a small amount — the equivalent of a few grains of salt — can be lethal.
In fact, the amount he found, 118 pounds, could to kill 25 million people.
The use of fentanyl as a weapon isn’t new. In 2002, 50 armed rebels held more than 800 hostages in a crowded theater in Moscow, demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya. After a few days, Russian forces used a gas, reported by state news agency Interfax to be fentanyl, to incapacitate the attackers, though more than 100 hostages were also killed.
If ground-up fentanyl is placed on everyday objects, people could easily put their fingers in their mouths or rub their eyes and have a deadly reaction, said Bloom, the American Council on Science and Health official. 
Containing a fentanyl attack would be difficult for police and emergency medical officials. Overdoses of the drug are hard to reverse with existing formulations of antidotes such as the Narcan nasal spray.
But there's that darned money.
“It doesn’t take much more than a half-competent chemist to be able to manufacture it,” Crystal said. “And it’s cheaper to manufacture than heroin.” Fentanyl is also extremely lucrative. One kilogram purchased from China for $3,000 to $5,000 can generate revenue of up to $1.5 million in the U.S.
Something to think abut this evening.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Stay out of cornfields, Jimmy

Little Jimmy Comey is an odd duck, isn't he?

This week he told a Congressional committee that he didn't know nothing about nothing. This is a former FBI director making a mockery of our government and its citizens.

He also asked American voters to end Donald Trump’s presidency with a “landslide” victory for his opponent in 2020. “All of us should use every breath we have to make sure the lies stop on January 20, 2021.”

This was an FBI director, the nation's top cop, and he's doing everything he can to persuade us that he is politically biased.

Of course we knew this about Comey already. He made a mockery of justice with his pretend investigation of Hillary Clinton. He let her skate.

And he was FBI director while the Justice Department was investigating the Uranium One affair involving Hillary and Bill. He did nothing then, either.

We know that Comey was right smack in the middle of the coup against The Donald. Perhaps he suspects he will be indicted, and he's become a bit addled at the prospect.

You coulda dressed up a bit, Jimmy.
It is apparently a family thing. “I’m pretty sure that at least my four daughters, probably all five of my kids, wanted Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president. I know my amazing spouse did. My wife and girls marched in the women’s march the day after President Trump’s inauguration. There was a lotta passion in this house for Hillary Clinton."

Maybe he's just losing it. Remember when he posed for a picture out in an Iowa field wearing a gray T shirt?

“So good to see new growth in Iowa and across the country,” Comey tweeted out.

Maybe they'll put you in a prison with a farm, Jimmy.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Vespers: There is No Rose of Such Virtue

Chanticleer sings "There is No Rose of Such Virtue."

Founded in San Francisco in 1978, Chanticleer is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for the seamless blend of its twelve male voices ranging from countertenor to bass and its original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz, and from gospel to venturesome new music.

One of the founding members, baritone Charlie Erikson, was in the midst of reading Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. To name the group, he suggested Chanticleer, the name of the “clear singing” rooster in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale. [Chaucer had actually borrowed the name from the ancient French tale, Renard the Fox; it is a combination of the French words chanter (“to sing”) and clair (“clear”).]

This is a carol from the first half of the fifteenth century. It is one of the best-known medieval carols. The Middle English Dictionary entry for vertu makes interesting reading in conjunction with this carol; the sense here blends several of the word's potential meanings, 'the quickening power of a flower or root; the life-sustaining force within a plant; the vegetative power of nature', 'divine power, divine might', and 'moral excellence, goodness'. 'There is no rose of such power' would really be a better translation. 

More about the carol and other versions here.

Of a rose, a lovely rose,
Of a rose is all my song. 

Listen, lords, both old and young, 
How this rose began to spring;
Such a rose to my lykynge [delight]
In all this world never knew I none. 

The angel came from heaven's tower, 
To greet Mary with great honour, 
And said she would bear the flower 
That would break the fiend's bonds. 

The flower sprung in high Bethlem, 
It is both bright and shen: [fair]
The rose is Mary, heavenly queen, 
Out of her bosom the blossom sprung. 

The first branch is full of might,
It sprung on Christmas night, 
The star shone over Bethlem bright 
Which is both broad and long. 

The second branch sprung to hell, 
The fiend's power down to fell: 
Therein could no soul dwell; [no soul had to remain there]
Blessed be the time the rose sprung! 

The third branch is good and sweet, 
It sprang to heaven, crop and root, 
Therein to dwell and be our bote; [redemption]
Every day it appears in the priest's hand. 

Pray we to her with great honour, 
She who bore the blessed flower, 
May she be our help and our succour
And shield us from the fiend's bonds.

Scripture: The voice of one crying out

Nicolas Poussin - St John the Baptist Baptizes the People
From The Lectionary:

Luke 3:1-6

3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene,

3:2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

3:3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,

3:4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

3:5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;

3:6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

Friday, December 07, 2018

Casual Friday: Minnie the Moocher

Just two working days til Monday!

"A friend of mine is into Voodoo Acupuncture. You don't have to go. You'll just be walking down the street, and... Ooooohhhhhh, that's much better." ~ Steven Wright

Bill and Hillary will be paying lawyers to play for them

Brazen is the word that comes to mind when we look at the Bill and Hillary Clinton's shameless influence peddling.

Hillary sold her position as secretary of state to the highest bidders. This article lists 10 of the most egregious examples. One that stands out:
Clinton State Dept. approved transfer of 20 percent of U.S. Uranium to Russian Government, as Clinton Foundation took in $145 million in donations from investors of the deal 
According to a New York Times investigation, Mrs. Clinton’s State Department was one of nine agencies that had to approve the Uranium One deal to the Russian government, which it did. 
“The sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States,” the Times reported. According to their analysis, $145 million in donations was given to the Clinton Foundation by uranium executives lobbying for the deal. Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock, the Times reported.
I use that one as an example, of course, because of the endless accusations, without proof, that The Donald colluded with the Ruskies. Right there in plain sight is $145 million worth of collusion.

So far nothing has been done about this. James Comey, the oddball and criminal FBI director, deliberately sabotaged an investigation. I believe that a lot of what Mueller is all about is covering up the involvement of himself, Comey and a number of other big players in the uranium deal.

Now, it seems, we may be making progress on Hillary and Bill. Judicial Watch, a conservative legal organization in Washington, has been at the forefront of uncovering the details of Hillary's homespun email system. There is little doubt that she used this, and deleted tens of thousands of emails, to coverup her pay to play schemes.

Now a federal judge has gotten tired of the cat and mouse games. U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth has castigated the departments of Justice and State for obstructing an investigation into Hillary's emails.
... his [President Barack Obama’s] State and Justice Departments fell far short. So far short that the court questions, even now, whether they are acting in good faith. Did Hillary Clinton use her private email as Secretary of State to thwart this lofty goal [Obama announced standard for transparency]? Was the State Department’s attempt to settle this FOIA case in 2014 an effort to avoid searching – and disclosing the existence of – Clinton’s missing emails? And has State ever adequately searched for records in this case?
At best, State’s attempt to pass-off its deficient search as legally adequate during settlement negotiations was negligence born out of incompetence. At worst, career employees in the State and Justice Departments colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA, and hoodwink this Court.
The current Justice Department made things worse. When the government last appeared before the Court, counsel claimed, ‘it is not true to say we misled either Judicial Watch or the Court.’ When accused of ‘doublespeak,’ counsel denied vehemently, feigned offense, and averred complete candor. When asked why State masked the inadequacy of its initial search, counsel claimed that the officials who initially responded to Judicial Watch’s request didn’t realize Clinton’s emails were missing, and that it took them two months to ‘figure [] out what was going on’… Counsel’s responses strain credulity. [citations omitted]
We also are now learning that whistleblowers inside and outside the Clinton Foundation have amassed "6,000 pages of evidence attached to a whistleblower submission filed secretly more than a year ago with the IRS and FBI." That would include the foundation's chief financial officer, who obviously doesn't want to go to prison.

Bill and Hillary's inability to draw a crowd at their carnival side shows is only the start of their heartache.

The Madness: Look at it from the fish's point of view

"The bioaccumulation of chemicals and toxic metals often from repeated low-level exposures is the cause of many chronic mental problems." ~ Paula Owens

Yes, there is something in the water, and aren't you glad it's Friday, when we survey the madness all about us? I know I am. Here we go:

You'll put your eye out kid. Anthropologie has a "Birch Branch Bundle" on its website that is literally just a bunch of birch twigs and sticks barely held together by two strands of twine. It somehow sells for $42,

Don't be a feline-ist. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending over $200,000 on "enhancing diversity" of veterinarians.

Does this mean I don't have to eat okra? The children’s Christian television show, “VeggieTales,” apparently perpetuates racial stereotypes. A female student who worked on the project said in an interview that the accents of the evil characters tend to sound ethnic, such as Latino, while the good characters sound white.

Is this a chicken joke? A PETA ad campaign is titled ‘You Can’t be an Egg-Eating Feminist.’ The second line of the billboard reads, 'Eggs and Dairy Are a Product of the Abuse of Females.' “Many people who consider themselves feminists are unthinkingly supporting this violence against females every single day by consuming these cruel foods,” says the narrator in a video for the ad campaign.

Just don't drink the water. Proponents of drinking your own pee and rubbing it on your skin claim the practice leads to the fountain of youth. “After I started fasting, the pee stopped smelling and started tasting like coconut water,” said Julia Sillaman, a 26-year-old painter from Maryland.

Commit me! A topless female protester with a moustache rushed the steps of the Supreme Court during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s private swearing in ceremony.

I know I would be scared. At a Vigil for Fish during a fishing tournament: “We’re vegan activists, and we want to bring awareness to what fish go through," said protester Daniel Veber. “Look at it from this fish’s point of view. If you were in your home, you would not want a hook to be hooked in the mouth, you would not want to be pulled up, you wouldn’t have to fight hours for your life to be pulled up. It’s scary.”

Not Trump's wall. Comedienne Kathy Griffin recently admitted that she built a wall at her $10.5 million mansion to shield herself from a neighbor who supported the president after her controversial photo shoot showing her hoisting Donald Trump’s bloody severed head.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Miracles & Wonders: Testing for all cancers in just 10 minutes

I don't like to report things that aren't actually happening yet, because you never know. However, I'll go for this one.

Researchers have developed a test that could be used to diagnose all cancers. It is based on a unique DNA signature that appears to be common across cancer types.

The test has yet to be conducted on humans, and clinical trials are needed before we know for sure if it can be used in the clinic. The next step is to do a large clinical study.

The test employs gold particles, which are commonly used to help detect biological molecules (such as DNA). The researchers discovered that cancerous DNA strongly binds to the gold particles.

I'm wondering if in the future this test might be paired with whole body scanning, which can create a 3D video that could help diagnose disease, track the spread of cancer or infections. So you go in one room for your DNA test, then another room to get scanned if the first test shows something suspicious, then you get a lollipop for being brave.

Science fiction in real life.

Notes & Comment: Too much spandex, pomp and toilet water

Ideas with which I agree.

Don't ask.
Camille Paglia. In short, #MeToo from a historical perspective is a cri de coeur from women who are realizing that the sexual revolution that many of us had once ecstatically embraced has in key ways devalued women, confused their private relationships, and complicated their smooth functioning in the workplace. It’s time for a new map of the gender world.

Alert the Department of Unintended Consequences.

Glenn Reynolds. FOR ONE THING, THE RIDERS WEAR MORE SPANDEX AND ARE MUCH MORE ANNOYING: How bicycles have changed in the last 25 years.

It's all about looking cool.

Peter Blackmire. College, once a haven for free thought, challenging ideas, and ritualistic debauchery, has devolved into a paranoid, politically correct surveillance zone where anyone who dares not conform to the feminist lunacy risks total ruin. The workplace, once a place where men could work, speak frankly, curse, smoke and drink is now a drab detention center monitored 24/7 by commie, men-hating feminists in HR. Make an ‘off-color’ joke and you get to choose between putting your balls in a cinch while watching re-educational videos or being fired outright.

Maybe reruns of NCIS?

Eric Peters. The government decided that people were using “too much” water in the bathroom. The solution was a fatwa outlawing toilets as they had been and requiring that new toilets be designed to use less water (1.6 gallons, about half the volume of water used in the old, “wasteful” toilets). It now took two or more flushes to get the job done — which ended up using twice the water. Sometimes the job didn’t get done at all. Eventually, the problems caused by the low-flow toilets was fixed by modifying the toilet to operate at higher pressure, so as to make more effective use of less water. These toilets, of course, cost more than the old “water waster” toilets, now outlawed.

How many decades will it take to get this crap out of our homes?

Avner Zarmi. Well within my lifetime, the world has been turned upside down and twisted completely out of shape. When I was a teenager and a young adult, it was absolutely the norm that girls had it pounded into their heads to hold out for the marriage certificate, and boys, despite any lies told to their friends, generally respected that. The overwhelming majority did get married before they had any thought of having children, and there were no contraceptives to permit risk-free hanky-panky. To modern ears in the sex-saturated 21st century, the above sounds at best quaint and old-fashioned. But there are those of us for which these are still standards held.

Oh but look how good everything is today.

Charles C.W. Cooke. It is in no way to insult George H. W. Bush — or any other president, for that matter — to ask whether the retooling of their calendars is an appropriate way for the people of a republic to respond to the death of an elected representative. rrespective of whether he was a great man or a poor one, George H. W. Bush was a public employee. He was not a king. He was not a pope. He did not found or save or design the republic. To shut down our civil society for a day in order to mark his peaceful passing is to invert the appropriate relationship between the citizen and the state, and to take yet another step toward the fetishization of an executive branch whose role is supposed to be more bureaucratic than spiritual, but that has come of late to resemble Caesar more than to resemble Coolidge.

Because cable news needs filler.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Let's allow the old warhorses to lead the way

Take off your cynic's cap for a moment.

Back in 1980, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Sen. Bob Dole were somewhere in New Hampshire for a debate in the presidential campaign. There was some dispute about how many candidates would be allowed to speak. That's when Reagan famously said, "Mr. Chairman, I paid for this microphone."

Dole was angry at Bush for not saying anything in response, and, according to one report, later encountered Bush and whispered, "I'll get you someday, you f------ Nazi."

Whoa there, Bob. Then this week we had that endearing image of Dole saluting his former opponent.
Of course more recently, The Donald said of George H.W.: "What the hell was that, by the way, thousand points of light? What did that mean? Does anyone know?"

And George H.W. returned the love: "I don't like him. I don't know much about him, but I know he's a blowhard. And I'm not too excited about him being a leader."

This week we learn that George H.W. wanted The Donald at his funeral. The family agreed. The Donald sent Air Force One to bring the former president back to Washington. Melania Trump invited the Bush family to the White House for a visit. On and on.
The Donald said of 41: "President Bush always found a way to set the bar higher."

In the spirit of Reagan and O'Neill, they are all setting the bar higher and showing us how it's done. We don't seem to know anymore, because we have cast aside Judeo-Christian values, and all we have left is politics. We can't separate people from their political beliefs. A spiritual life demands that we "Love our enemies, do good to those who hate us." We don't do that anymore; we go on Facebook.

Did anybody listen in Sunday School? Hate the sin, love the sinner. Apparently this came from from St. Augustine. His Letter 211 (c. 424) contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly to "With love for mankind and hatred of sins." The phrase has become more famous as "love the sinner but hate the sin" or "hate the sin and not the sinner."

Has anyone not heard of the ad hominem fallacy? It is defined as, "marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made." Separate them.

Theologically and logically, we need to get a handle on things.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

A Gumbo Blog Public Health Alert

Act now before it's too late for you and your family.

(Thanks, Thomas)

Can we just let the guy rest in peace?

The Left hates George H.W. Bush, and many of my fellow Trumpers dislike him immensely.

I understand the arguments -- some of them here -- but let me say this: When I was 18 I didn't go off to war and get shot down over the South Pacific and survive only to get back into the fight. And there was a war on at the time. I didn't go.

Let me also say this. I'm a commoner, and I wouldn't be comfortable visiting Kennebunkport. I wouldn't know where to sit or what to say. So I don't have much use for elite families and their dynasties.

But the Bush dynasty sent its sons into public service. Unlike, say, mob families or rum runners like the Kennedys. So if they made decisions I wouldn't have made, that's okay. Funny how we ordinaries are quite assured in our criticisms of people who are smarter and braver and better educated and more experienced in the world than we are.

(Some call the Clintons a dynasty. Heck, they're just trailer park grifters. I have no inkling of why the Bushes befriended them. Or, for that matter, why W seems to like to hug Michelle.)

I'll let you in on another secret. I would have no idea how to run the CIA, although I'd really like to be a spy, or be an envoy to China. I don't even know what an envoy is. I'd have to look it up.

And this: When -- if -- I celebrate my 75th, 80th, 85th and 90 birthdays, I'm probably not going to do it jumping out of an airplane. Save me.

Monday, December 03, 2018

An update on the coup d'├ętat underway in Washington

A lot is suddenly happening in The Swamp as the Democrats gird their loins for taking over the House of Representatives. This is what the coup instigators have been waiting for, because it will certainly end the House investigations of their chicanery.

Speculation is all over the place about Robert Mueller's game plan. Will he indict The Donald or just issue a report that House Democrats can use for impeachment? With the election results, he has options.

If you think that Mueller, as a longtime Federal employee, a Republican, and a member of the establishment, is playing fair, you're just silly. If that was his intention he wouldn't have loaded up his special counsel team with Clinton advocates. That well-known fact just sits there waiting for us to be astonished.

Moreover, consider the recent actions of other establishment Republicans, good looking guys with nice suits and taxpayer pensions. I'm talking the likes of Ryan, Flake, Corker, McCain, Bush. Just middle school antics for these pretty boys. They're establishment; Trump is Queens.

Here's some of what's going on.

FBI raids. Distressing and inexplicable was the November 19 FBI raid on the home of Dennis Nathan Cain, a whistleblower who gave evidence that federal officials failed to investigate potential criminal activity respecting Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and Rosatom, the Russian company which purchased Uranium One to Inspector General Michael Horowitz and which was then properly transmitted to the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
The law protects whistleblowers that follow the procedure Cain did. Nevertheless, the FBI charged that Cain possessed stolen government property and used this to obtain permission for the raid from federal magistrate Stephanie Gallagher. The details of this seemingly shocking use of the FBI were reported by crack investigative reporter Richard Pollack. For six hours agents rifled through Cain’s home even after he handed over the documents to the FBI he’d already given to Horowitz.
Why would the FBI raid the home of someone who had already turned everything over? Was Mueller trying to seize information that would reflect poorly on him? Doesn't Trump's man now run the DOJ? Or does he? Is the department working behind his back? We just don't know.

The gotcha plot. John Hill, who has been reporting this from the beginning, has detailed how the FBI tried to set The Donald up.
Interviews with more than 50 witnesses and reviews of hundreds of pages of court filings confirm the following:
  • At least six people with long-established ties to the FBI or to U.S. and Western intelligence made entrees to key figures in the Trump business organization or his presidential campaign between March and October 2016;
  • Campaign figures were contacted by at least two Russian figures whose justification for being in the United States were rare law enforcement parole visas controlled by the U.S. Justice Department;
  • Intelligence or diplomatic figures connected to two of America’s closest allies, Britain and Australia, gathered intelligence or instigated contacts with Trump campaign figures during that same period;
  • Some of the conversations and contacts that were monitored occurred on foreign soil and resulted in the creation of transcripts;
  • Nearly all of the contacts involved the same overture — a discussion about possible political dirt or stolen emails harmful to Hillary Clinton, or unsolicited business in London or Moscow;
  • Several of the contacts occurred before the FBI formally launched a legally authorized probe into the Trump campaign and possible collusion on July 31, 2016.
That's what a coup looks like.

Heroes: He decided to record his last moments

Aaron Parmley, a young deputy sheriff in Butte County, California, was on duty when raging fire overtook the town of Paradise. He drove into in the flames to search for a group of nurses who had become stranded.
His car stalled out, and he was forced to continue his search on foot among the flames.

The smoke was so thick he couldn't see beyond 10 feet. He didn't think he would survive, so he turned on his body cam to record his last moments of life.

He did survive, however, and found the nurses, and they set off on foot. Eventually they came upon a bulldozer, which was able to take them to safety.

Here's the video Parmley took.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Vespers: Pachelbel's Canon

Voices of Music performs the original version of "Pachelbel's Canon in D Major" based on the earliest original manuscript and performed on instruments from the time of Pachelbel.

San Francisco based Voices of Music performs both renaissance and baroque music, drawing upon the many and varied sources for historical performance practice.

Johann Pachelbel (1653 – 1706) was a German composer, organist, and teacher who brought the south German organ schools to its peak. He composed a large body of sacred and secular music, and his contributions to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue have earned him a place among the most important composers of the middle Baroque era.

Today Pachelbel is best known for the Canon in D, The circumstances of the piece's composition are wholly unknown. Hans-Joachim Schulze, writing in 1985, suggested that the piece may have been composed for Johann Christoph Bach's wedding, on 23 October 1694, which Pachelbel attended. Johann Christoph Bach, the oldest brother of Johann Sebastian Bach, was a pupil of Pachelbel.

The subversive stories of Christmas

Today we don't appreciate the Christmas story as early followers of Jesus would have. In their choice of words, the Gospel writers made it clear that the Christ was challenging the Caesar and the whole Roman Empire. 

Tricia Gates Brown, a theologian and writer, explains:
First, let us look at what the gospel writers were doing in the first place by calling their writings evangelion (the Greek word translated “gospel” or “good news”). So much is contained in that word. Prior to what we now know as the Christian gospels, the word evangelion had not been used to denote an account of a person in the way the gospels are narrative accounts of Jesus’ ministry. 
Before Christian usage, evangelion was essentially a news-bulletin of the empire, heralding some imperial accomplishment (“good tidings”). For example, after the Romans would conquer a new people, or would march into a rebellious colony and wreak havoc and murder to get them in line, or otherwise achieve some military victory, they would post an evangelion (or more commonly plural: evangelia) stating what they had accomplished to advance the empire. There is also at least one instance when the word evangelion was used to announce or commemorate the birthday of Caesar Augustus, who was called “Lord” and “Savior” and “Son of God.” The birth of the Caesar was considered to be a divine birth.
Moreover, many of the lauds imperial subjects were required to lavish upon the Roman emperor are lauds written about Jesus in the canonical gospels and other New Testament writings. These include: “Caesar is Lord,” “Savior,” and “Son of God,” as listed above. But subjects were also commanded to say of the Emperor: “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we may be saved,” the very words used to describe Jesus in the book of Acts (4:12; Acts being “Part two” of Luke’s gospel, written by the same author).
In short, she writes, "the gospel writers were most definitely subverting the proclamations of the Roman Empire by claiming that the Galilean teacher Jesus (rather than Caesar) was “Lord” and “Savior” and “Son of God.”

Scripture: In those days ...

"Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem," Francesco Hayez
From The Lectionary:

Jeremiah 33:14-16
33:14 The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

33:15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

33:16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: "The LORD is our righteousness."

Friday, November 30, 2018

Casual Friday: That's When Your Heartaches Begin

Just two working days til Monday!

"Elvis has left he building." ~ anon

The Madness: Looking for intelligent life

It's Friday, so it must be time to check in on ... The Madness!

Need a good shoe joke here.
It's what's for dinner. PETA sent a letter asking the English village of Wool to change its name to Vegan Wool.

Do you have to be a woman to attend? With admission averaging at only $475, Everyday Feminism is offering readers the opportunity to attend “Heal From Internalized Whiteness” seminars where they can learn to identify racism in their daily lives.

How about, 'Where ya been?' At Colorado State University (CSU), administrators have designated the common greeting "long time, no see" as non-inclusive language.

Do they smell? New York congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' first pair of campaign trail shoes are being loaned out to the Cornell Costume Collection exhibit for those who want to witness what “hard work” looks like.

Give her your husband's rib and make her a new woman. “Ruth Bader Ginsberg can have my ribs. And my kidneys and a lung. And anything else she needs. She can even have my husband on Thursdays,” actress Alyssa Milano tweeted.

Does it smell? A dog was accused of a hate crime after fouling outside a London home. Police notes said the dog fouled and "victim perceived this to be a racial incident."

I just need love. In the progressive haven of San Francisco, complete strangers can literally come together for an actual "Cuddle Party," a place where people pay money for "four hours of cuddling at a secret location in San Francisco's Richmond neighborhood."

We'd have to find some first. We could build a laser that could send signals to extraterrestrial intelligence. It's not clear if aliens would immediately recognize the laser as a signal from intelligent life-forms, James Clark, a graduate student at MIT, said. "But it would certainly attract attention."

How Connecticut chose its new governor: II. Illegal voters

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy...”

~ Alexander Fraser Tytler, Scottish lawyer and writer, 1770

Gov. Malloy at church where illegal immigrant took refuge.
In a previous post I suggested that as many as 252,000 unionized state employees, retirees and their spouses could have dwarfed the 44,415 vote difference between the Democrat and Republican candidates this year. The state employees count on the Democrats to keep their generous wages and benefits going.

Who else had a special interest in the election.

Illegal voters. Connecticut has approximately 108,000 illegal residents. In the 2014 election, the race was decided by 30,000 voters. Four years earlier, the contest was decided by just about 6,000 votes.

So there was some concern that Connecticut is allowing the DMV to register voters. The DMV!
It’s a concern for state Rep. Arthur O’Neill, a Republican, that the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles—which recently misidentified more than 50,000 people for having unpaid taxes on their vehicles—will be in charge of voter registration. 
“If you misidentify 30,000 voters, that’s more than enough to swing an election,” O’Neill, deputy minority leader of the Connecticut House, said.
Of course Connecticut grants illegal aliens a driver's license.
Skepticism about the Connecticut DMV’s competency to handle more responsibility, and a state budget crunch, are among the reasons an automatic voter registration bill died in the legislature during the 2016 session. In lieu of legislation, the secretary of the state’s office entered a memorandum of agreement with the DMV, in which a customer of the agency automatically would be registered to vote unless he or she opts out. This arrangement is set to take effect in 2018. Currently, a DMV customer is registered to vote only by opting in.
Chris Powell, managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, observes:
Connecticut does not require any documentation of citizenship from people registering to vote. Only documentation of identity and residency are required, and it’s up to municipal voter registrars to decide what sort of documentation they will accept, even whether to accept the identification cards that “sanctuary cities” like New Haven have been issuing to illegal immigrants to facilitate their violation of federal law.

New voters need only to attest under penalty of perjury that they are citizens. For Connecticut considers it too onerous to require new voters to produce a birth certificate, and there are no checks of the eligibility of applicants and no audits of the eligibility of those already registered.

Since the state’s illegal immigrant population already is estimated to exceed 100,000 and keeps growing thanks to the “sanctuary cities,” more illegal immigrants are likely to register over time. Since illegal immigrants have no reason to vote Republican, their registering is in the interest of the Democratic administrations of the “sanctuary cities” — not just New Haven but also Hartford and New London and, probably, soon, Bridgeport as well.

Those cities always produce big Democratic pluralities and their administrations have great incentive not to be fastidious about the citizenship requirement for voters.
Unless there's any objection I'm gonna go ahead and put those 108,000 votes -- oh, I know some of them are children -- in the Democratic column. So how many are old enough to vote? 44,415? Then again, why would age matter since they're illegal to begin with?

The reason they vote Democratic is that they get $957 million a year from Connecticut, but return only $32 million in taxes. So households headed by U.S. citizen cough up $857 a year so that these illegals can vote for Democrats.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The diabetes, gum disease, Vitamin D connection

If you're one of the 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the population – who have diabetes or one of the 84.1 million who have prediabetes, you need to think about your gums.

Apparently diabetes can lead to gum disease and vice versa -- gum disease can increase your chances of getting diabetes. Moreover, researchers have found that a low level of Vitamin D can contribute to gum disease.

This doesn't mean that scarfing down Vitamin D will cure your diabetes. It does mean you can ask your doctor to check how much is swirling around inside you. Here's an idea of how much you need. Too much can be toxic.

This does also mean that you should see your dentist regularly and have his sadistic hygienist, Ophilia, inflict pain upon your mouth.

Here's why: Randomized controlled trials consistently demonstrate that mechanical periodontal therapy associates with approximately a 0.4% reduction in HbA1C at 3 months, a clinical impact equivalent to adding a second drug to a pharmacological regime for diabetes.


What then is gratitude? - II

Van der Leun's former home.
The other day I wrote about people expressing gratitude in unlikely situations. Here's another. Gerard Van der Leun lived in Paradise, California, until the raging fire burned the town to the ground. He writes:
It’s late in the evening on the 20th of November 2018; otherwise known as “the month that will not end.” Since the initial shock of the Camp Fire incinerating my home and my hometown, I’ve been struggling with details small, large, and life-altering. My house is burned out and for now so am I. 
But all is not gloom and doom. I have, against all odds, actually secured a small apartment in Chico, a town where there are no apartments or houses to be had for love or money — unless it is a LOT of love or a LOT of money. In my case, it was the love of many here in Chico for my mother. Through what I have taken to calling “The Power of Lois” an apartment appeared on my path and I took it. What is even better is that it is located close to my mother’s apartment. This enables us to go from being “roommates” to “neighbors.” 
The apartment is a tiny place (about a sixth of what my house was) but it is quite secure and recently refurbished and it will suit me down to the ground. 
This forms one of the three pillars of my own personal salvation and deliverance from the fires of Paradise. The second pillar is formed of a living chain of my friends and readers whose help and support have carried me through and, in all senses of the term, returned me to life. To say I am deeply moved and grateful for all your unremitting and instantaneous aid is to barely touch my gratitude. I am a man of words and I have always been suspicious when I read “there are no words.” But all of you have made me a believer. 
The third pillar has to be the continuing and mysterious grace of God. 
Now it is late and I am, I confess, very, very tired. I’ve been running on empty for many days and I think I am going to have to take a break for tomorrow and for Thanksgiving and perhaps the day after. I have many notes and will have many things to say about this unmitigated catastrophe, but they will have to wait. 
Farewell for a bit and God bless you all. Have a deep and profound Thanksgiving. This year I know that my family will when we gather at my brother’s home. At my brother’s, we don’t normally drink a great deal of wine but this year we will toast all of you. Each and every one. 
And then I will go outside into the woods near his home in Grass Valley and for all those who did not survive the fire this time I will turn down an empty glass.
Amazing grace.

Lin Yutang: nonessentials

"Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials."

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Rough and tumble populists in the White House

One of the many reasons people don't like The Donald is his boisterous, populist manner. But he's hardly the first. Consider:

Andrew Jackson. Known as strong-willed, argumentative and combative in his day, Jackson’s critics point to his harsh treatment of enslaved workers and his forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands. His fans, on the other hand, cite him as a populist hero who challenged the political establishment and ushered in a new era of exploration and American expansion. Jackson is considered so influential that his face is on the front of the $20 bill.

Before being elected to the presidency, Jackson gained fame as a general in the United States Army and served in both houses of Congress. As president, Jackson sought to advance the rights of the "common man" against a "corrupt aristocracy" and to preserve the Union.

Teddy Roosevelt. It was clear that a new type of President was in town. The Presidency had been dormant since Lincoln's time. Congress seemed to be running the government, and big business seemed to be running Congress. Although he himself hailed from the wealthy classes, he strongly believed that no individual, no matter how rich and powerful, should control the people's representatives.

He never went anywhere without his photographer. He wanted Americans to see a rough and tumble leader who was unafraid to get his hands dirty. He became the first President to travel out of the country while in office and the first to win the Nobel Prize. Unlike his quieter predecessors, Roosevelt knew that if the Washington politicians resisted change, he would have to take his case to the people directly. He traveled often and spoke with confidence and enthusiasm. Americans received him warmly.

Any of this sound familiar?