Thursday, May 26, 2011


Just got an email from Goshen College - they still are dilly-dallying about making a decision regarding the playing of the National Anthem at sporting events, and interestingly shortly thereafter I received another email from a friend about Patriotism.  Maybe the GC folks should consider this if they believe that they need to demonstrate a bit of patriotism via the National Anthem:

On Patriotism

by Fred Reed

Patriotism is everywhere thought to be a virtue rather than a mental disorder. I don’t get it.

If I told the Rotarians or an American Legion hall that “John is a patriot,” all would approve greatly of John. If I told them that patriotism was nothing more than the loyalty to each other of dogs in a pack, they would lynch me. Patriotism, they believe, is a Good Thing.

Of course the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor were patriots, as were the German soldiers who murdered millions in the Second World War. The men who brought down the towers in New York were patriots, though of a religious sort. Do we admire their patriotism?

Of course not. When we say “John is a patriot,” we mean “John is a reliable member of our dog pack,” nothing more. The pack instinct seems more ancient, and certainly stronger, than morality or any form of human decency. Thus, once the pack – citizenry, I meant to say – have been properly roused to a pitch of patriotism, they will, under cover of the most diaphanous pretexts, rape Nanking, bomb Hiroshima, kill the Jews or, if they are Jews, Palestinians. We are animals of the pack. We don’t admire patriotism. We admire loyalty to ourselves.

The pack dominates humanity. Observe that the behavior of urban gangs – the Vice Lords, Mara Salvatrucha, Los Locos Intocables, Crips, Bloods – precisely mirrors that of more formally recognized gangs, which are called “countries.” Gangs, like countries, are intensely territorial with recognized borders fiercely defended. The soldiers of gangs, like those of countries, have uniforms, usually clothing of particular colors, and they “throw signs” – make the patterns of fingers indicating their gang – and wear their hats sideways in different directions to indicate to whom their patriotism is plighted. They have generals, councils of war, and ranks paralleling the colonels and majors of national packs. They fight each other endlessly, as do countries, for territory, for control of markets, or because someone insulted someone. It makes no sense – it would be more reasonable for example to divide the market for drugs instead of killing each other – but they do it because of the pack instinct.

Packery dominates society. Across the country high schools form basketball packs and do battle on the court, while cheerleaders jump and twirl, preferably in short skirts (here we have the other major instinct) to maintain patriotic fervor in the onlookers. Cities with NFL franchises hire bulky felons from around the country to bump forcefully into the parallel felons of other cities, arousing warlike sentiments among their respective fellow dogs.

Fans. Fans.

Such is their footballian enthusiasm that they will sometimes burn their own cities in delight at victory or disturbance at loss. Without the pack instinct, football would hardly matter to them at all.  It’s everywhere. The Olympics, the World Cup, racial groups, political parties – Crips and Bloods, all.

Part of patriotism is nationalism, the political expression of having given up to the pack all independence of thought.  Patriotism is of course incompatible with morality. This is more explicit in the soldier, a patriot who agrees to kill anyone he is told to kill by the various alpha-dogs – President, Fuehrer, emperor, Duce, generals.

Is this not literally true? An adolescent enlists, never having heard of Ruritania, which is perhaps on the other side of the earth. A year later, having learned to manage the Gatlings on a helicopter gunship, he is told that Ruritania is A Grave Threat. Never having seen a Ruritanian, being unable to spell the place, not knowing where it is (you would be amazed how many veterans of Viet Nam do not know where it is) he is soon killing Ruritanians. He will shortly hate them intensely as vermin, scuttling cockroaches, rice-propelled paddy maggots, gooks, or sand niggers.

The military calls the pack instinct “unit cohesion,” and fosters it to the point that soldiers often have more loyalty to the military than to the national pack. Thus it is easy to get them to fire on their own citizens. It has not happened in the United States since perhaps Kent State, but in the past the soldiery were often used to kill striking workers. All you have to do is to get the troops to think of the murderees as another group.

If you talk to patriots, particularly to the military variety, they will usually be outraged at having their morality questioned. Here we encounter moral compartmentation, very much a characteristic of the pack. If you have several dogs, as we do, you will note that they are friendly and affectionate with the family and tussle playfully among themselves – but bark furiously at strangers and, unless they are very domesticated, will attack unknown dogs cooperatively and kill them.

Similarly the colonel next door will be honest, won’t kick your cat or steal your silverware. Should some natural disaster occur, work strenuously to save lives, at the risk of his own if need be. Yet he will consciencelessly cluster-bomb downtown Baghdad, and pride himself on having done so. A different pack, you see. It is all right to attack strange dogs.

The pack instinct, age old, limbic, atavistic, gonadal, precludes any sympathy for the suffereings of outsiders. If Dog pack A attacks intruding dog pack B to defend its territory, its members can’t afford to think, “Gosh, I’m really hurting this guy. Maybe I should stop.” You don’t defend territory by sharing it. Thus if you tell a patriot that his bombs are burning alive thousands of children, or that the embargo on Iraq killed half a million kids by dysentery because they couldn’t get chlorine to sterilize water, he won’t care. He can’t.

The same instinct governs thought about atrocities committed in wartime. In every war, every army (correctly) accuses the other side of committing atrocities. Atrocities are what armies do. Such is the elevating power of morality that soldiers feel constrained to lie about them. But patriots just don’t care. Psychologists speak of demonization and affecting numbing and such, but it’s really just that the tortured, raped, butchered and burned are members of the other pack.

I need a drink.

May 25, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

MAY 22, 2011

Well, May 21 came and went, and the Rapture did not come to pass, although there is the possibility that so few were taken that no one noticed.  Around Boulder, there were some spontaneous roadside parties going on, and we honked as we headed out for dinner at Oskar Blues in Lyons.    We did not purposely time our dinner such that we would not have to pay for our dinner until after 6, but it was good timing because if the Rapture had taken place, we would have gotten a free dinner!!  Alas, 6 o'clock came and went and we had to pay.  Precisely at 6, one table of folks started to cheer, and a fellow brought out a white t that was hand painted "I went through the apocalypse and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." <:-} Maybe next time....


On a much more serious note, May 22, 2011 is one year after I received the call from Randy Kunkel regarding the accidental death on May 21 of our dear friend Ron Wisner.  Remembering the good times......

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Whenever an old geezer like me catches on to something trendy, that something is no longer trendy.  And thus it is with Leet, [aka eleet, leetspeak].  Some Leet words have become common internet slang, often originating in keyboard errors such as replacing an O with a P, and thus "owned" becomes "pwned", or letter transpositions, with"the" become "teh",  and other combinations such as "pr0n" for "porn."  As you probably know, to 'own' someone is not to just win an argument or game, but rather to totally dominate one's opponent.  Nerds win.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Whenever the Colorado Rockies score 7 or more runs, Taco Bell offers the Rockies Special on tacos.  Tonight, Jason Giambi, a first baseman who backs up Todd Helton for the Rockies, singlehandedly provided the taco special.  Giambi hit three home runs and drove in all 7 of the Rockies runs in a win over Philadelphia.  The 40-year-old gray-bearded Giambi still has some punch!  [and paunch as noted by BB]

Colorado Rockies' Jason Giambi, right, hits a two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies in the third inning of a baseball game on Thursday, May 19, 2011, in Philadelphia.

One of Three

Saturday, May 14, 2011


This is yet another new theme - Pet Peeves.  As with most pet peeves, mine will most likely be trivial and idiotypic.  This pretty much sums up my first peeve:

My opinion is that if folks are going to identify themselves as followers of someone, they should have the respect to call the person by his or her given name.  Let me quote from the Nazarene Way:

"Yeshua is the original Aramaic proper name for Jesus the Nazarene, who lived from about 6 B.C.E. to 27 C.E. (A.D.) The word "Jesus" is actually a mis-transliteration of a Greek mis-transliteration. It is most proper to call Him Yeshua. It was indeed his proper name, given to him by his parents, and only in Hebrew does this name have any meaning. In Hebrew Yeshua means both "Salvation," and the concatenated form of Yahoshua, is "Lord who is Salvation." The name Jesus has no intrinsic meaning in English whatsoever. The first letter in the name Yeshua ("Jesus") is the yod. Yod represents the "Y" sound in Hebrew. Many names in the Bible that begin with yod are mispronounced by English speakers because the yod in these names was transliterated in English Bibles with the letter "J" rather than "Y". This came about because in early English the letter "J" was pronounced the way we pronounce "Y" today.

Today's tradition of pronouncing His completely hellenized name as "Jesus" has indeed obscured His true name, "Yeshua," and has shifted its perceived meaning much like most of His original teachings. Even His name, it would seem, became a part of this understanding. The name Jesus or Jesus Christ is often used in everything from idle conversation, to bumper stickers and jewelry, to enforcing false teachings, to justifying wars and political agendas, and is even used as a profanity. The name Yeshua however, has remained pure and holy, known and used only by those who would uphold His name and teachings in the highest regard and thus reserving His holy name for use only in spiritual matters and the most humbled and sincere of prayer and obeisances."

Get with it xians.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


The recent multiple tornadoes in the southeast US and the visit there of President Obama rekindled memories of the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak on April 11, 1965.  A map of the tornado tracks in northern Indiana and Michigan can be found here and you will see the time, F-scale, length, fatalities and injuries.  Johnny Johns had come over to our place for the afternoon, and we were most likely working on car models or on the previously mentioned HO train.  We went outside for a bit and were quite taken by the sky.  We stood in our front yard and watched the gray-yellow-green clouds angrily swirling and heading northeast.  It was not too long before we began to hear sirens, and so we went inside to turn on the radio and TV.  The news was pretty bad.


This was probably the worst of the many tornados of the afternoon - a double funnel that at times was almost a mile wide.  And as so often seems to be the case, a trailer park was in the path.  Of the 271 people killed by these tornadoes, 137 were in Indiana.  One of the tornadoes tracked right over Goshen.  It touched down briefly at the Elkart River dam, lifted and passed right over Rhonda's home at 414 Westwood Road, then touched down again east of town near the Elkart County Fairgrounds, and proceeded NE as a killer tornado.  Elkhart County had the highest death toll amongst all of the counties affected - 62 perished.

Soon after the outbreak, emergency centers were set up and donations began to roll in - I believe that we sent some clothes.  Similar to Obama's trip to the southeast, President Lyndon Johnson paid a visit to the Dunlap trailer park that was actually hit twice.

If you google Palm Sunday Tornadoes and click on Images, you will see some incredible pictures.  Amongst all of the tragedy, there were a few odd events.  The home of my good friend and college roommate John Riegsecker was half gone - one half missing and strewn about, the other half with the clothes still in the closet.  Another house was intact but apparently had been lifted off the foundation, a cow deposited in the basement, and the house reset albeit off a bit.  In the days and weeks afterwards, there was plenty of cleanup work to do, and I spent time cleaning up a woods.  We "tree-aged" the trees, with some of them being carefully cut so that they could be sold for lumber [cherry] and others cut up for firewood [poplar].  Amazingly there were many trees still standing.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


The Year Ahead

Forecast for May 2011 to May 2012

If You Were Born Today, May 3:
Thoughtful and involved, you express yourself well, possess quiet charm, and easily endear yourself to others. You have an artistic bent that is undeniable, and your creative mind can help bring financial success. You are multi-talented and many of you spread yourself over multiple career paths and hobbies as a result. You expect a lot from yourself, and sometimes too much, which can lead to indecisiveness. Famous people born today: Bing Crosby, Sugar Ray Robinson, James Brown, Mary Astor, Christopher Cross, Sherry Pennington, Brian Aschliman.
Your Birthday Year Forecast:
The New Moon in your Solar Return chart suggests that you will instinctively begin a new phase of your life this year. A decisively new direction has come about in your life. This can be an emotionally stimulating time in which you feel the urge to initiate and project, even if you are not quite clear about what you are projecting. Much of the energy in your life can have a magical quality to it as things are just automatically going in a certain direction. It is important to be intuitive at this time and allow the natural course to show you the way to the next step. Surprises (mostly very pleasant) pepper your year. New beginnings are in order, and you are bound to feel some level of excitement as the year unfolds.
Your year ahead is infused with enterprising spirit. Professional as well as personal opportunities are likely to arise. Your faith in your ability to produce and to win takes you places you perhaps never imagined. You are able to see the "big picture", which helps you to plan effectively. The energies of this influence favor negotiations, deals, legal matters, reasonable speculation, and travel. This aspect also favors positive outcomes in competitive activities, including sports and business, for example.
With Venus in a tense aspect to Saturn in your Solar Return, getting serious about love or money (or both) will be a theme this year. The need to buckle down with your finances may be necessary. This does not necessarily signify financial losses, but you are likely to have an increased awareness of your limits. The responsibilities of partnership are magnified this year. You are likely to be more earnest on a romantic level. An existing relationship may become more serious, or you may form a new partnership with a serious or older person. You are likely to work hard this year, and this could interfere with pleasure time. Opportunities to socialize may be reduced, and this could be the result of increased responsibilities or it could stem from your own insecurities or lack of confidence on a social level this year.
With Mars trine the Moon's North Node in your Solar Return chart, you may be actively involved with teamwork and collaboration with others this year. This can also indicate an increased need for sexual union, as it stirs the passions and generally indicates ease in satisfying one's desires through positive connections with others. This aspect is one indication of getting engaged, married, the beginning of a significant new relationship, or the intensification of an existing romance.
The year ahead is one of new beginnings. You are especially enterprising this year, possessing a strong desire to begin new ventures and to expand your knowledge and experience. You might often find you are in the right place at the right time, but you should be wary of over-reaching and overdoing. Some adjustments are required in your love life and with finances.

2011 is a Number Three year for you. Ruled by Jupiter. This is a year of sociability. It is a friendly time, when it is easy to enjoy life and other people. Focus is on personal freedom, reaching out to others, making new friends, and exploration. You are more enthusiastic and ready for adventure. It is likely to be a rather lighthearted year, when opportunities for "play" time are greater than usual. It's also a good year for expressing your creativity. Advice - reach out, but avoid scattering your energies.
2012 will be a Number Four year for you. Ruled by Uranus. This is a year of work and development. It's "nose to the grindstone" time. It's a time to deal with practical matters, and it's not a time to be lazy or especially gregarious. Sometimes, it can be a year that feels hard, monotonous and routine, and/or lonely. Positive new relationships are generally not formed in a Four personal year. Advice - get yourself organized, work to build your resources, keep busy.

Monday, May 02, 2011


I must disclose that I have never watched a single episode of The Office.  Somehow, it never struck me as worth the time.  But, a recent article in the Boulder Daily Camera caught my attention because initially I thought some Hollywood type was moving to Boulder - so, big deal [sarcastically stated].  Then it became apparent that the 'news' was about the fictional character played by Steve Carell.  Here are a few clips from the article:

Michael Scott, the boss on the NBC show "The Office," has officially left Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pa., and moved to Boulder.  On Thursday night, Scott drove to the airport to get on a flight, headed presumably to Denver International Airport. Once in Boulder, he planned to meet up with fiancĂ©e Holly Flax, who moved to take care of her ailing parents.  Now, he's joining an esteemed group of fictitious characters in Boulder, including Mork, who came to Boulder from the planet Ork in the early 1980s sitcom Mork and Mindy. "We certainly welcome (Scott) to Boulder," said Boulder Mayor Susan Osborne. "I will try to see if we can find a key to the city for him."

Sunday, May 01, 2011


Some say that confession is good for the soul - so I am happy to see that after 50 years, at least of a few of my cousins are fessing up that they touched my HO model train despite the onerous "DO NOT TOUCH" sign.  Here are a few pictures of the train in the basement of our New Paris CR142 house:

Click to Enlarge

My good friend Johnny Johns and I spent countless hours designing and building the 4' X 8' layout.  We carefully constructed each component - train, buildings, cars, trucks, track, roads, vegetation, and people, and we even strung thread between all of the telephone poles to add to the reality of the model.  What we did not want is fat-fingered cousins tampering with our master piece!!  But recently, a couple of cousins have spontaneously confessed that indeed they ignored the sign and touched the train.  Oh well, it must not have been too disruptive because Johnny and I would have surely noted.