Archive for May, 2010

Memorial Day – Arlington

May 30th, 2010 3 comments

This is a video found by my buddy Dan, with many thanks! Though I’ve got the album (CD to those younger than I), I didn’t know about this beautiful tribute with slides to a wonderful song. So for today’s post, please take the time to watch a quiet song honoring our fallen citizen soldiers, and perhaps it’ll jerk a few tears from you as it did me. While you’re at it, drop on by for a look at my online buddy Tom’s entries at ResponsibilityFreedom Demands It… the second has another video that is well worth the time it takes to watch it.

Strength, Honor, Courage

~The Skald

Theatrical Thursday in New York

May 27th, 2010 No comments

The most protean aspect of comedy is its potentiality for transcending itself, for responding to the conditions of tragedy by laughing in the darkness. ~Harry Levin

The perception of the comic is a tie of sympathy with other men, a pledge of sanity, and a protection from those perverse tendencies and gloomy insanities in which fine intellects sometimes lose themselves. A rogue alive to the ludicrous is still convertible. If that sense is lost, his fellow-men can do little for him. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I figured a laugh would be a nice thing to have this Thursday morning, and these guys have a ton of laughable videos on YouTube. I haven’t been around to see someone pull off a goofy stunt like this, but the chuckles, laughter, or at least bemusement seems like it would have made the experience worth the while.  So enjoy this Theatrical Thursday, and I’ll see you later.

Cheers all 😀

Categories: Culture, Fun, Tidbits, Video Tags:

Who is Iron Man? WE are Iron Men.

May 20th, 2010 3 comments

Visit PJTV: Why we are all Iron Men

This will of necessity be a short post, but there will be another in short order. Right now, after having mulled through and over the second installment of Iron Man, and after hearing “I’m tired of this liberal agenda” from the speakers in a movie theater, well – I REALLY LIKED IT! Not enough? You’re right of course, but I can’t offer the kind of commentary that PJTV can in this case. Tired of property rights violations by our government? Tired of crony capitalism? Take about 12 minutes out of your day, take a trip over to PJTV… of course they’re stingy capitalists and won’t let you (read “me”) embed their work…

BUT, if “You think Tony Stark is a bad-ass capitalist? Milton Friedman would kick his butt. Bill Whittle tells you why: We Are Iron Men

Bill Whittle doesn’t simply praise the movie and claim Milton Friedman would kick his (Iron Man’s) butt, he reintroduces us to Friedman in a segment from the Phil Donahue show. When it comes to notions of liberty and freedom… well, Milton Friedman often says some fantastic things:

“In a much quoted passage in his inaugural address, President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” It is a striking sign of the temper of our times that the controversy about this passage centered on its origin and not on its content. Neither half of the statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. The paternalistic “what your country can do for you” implies that government is the patron, the citizen the ward, a view that is at odds with the free man’s belief in his own responsibility for his own destiny. The organismic, “what you can do for your country” implies that government is the master or the deity, the citizen, the servant or the votary. To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a grantor of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshiped and served. He recognizes no national goal except as it is the consensus of the goals that the citizens severally serve. He recognizes no national purpose except as it is the consensus of the purposes for which the citizens severally strive.”  ~Milton Friedman

Believe me, Bill’s video is well worth the 12 minutes of your time… and it’s actually fun to watch too 😀 Click the link or click the picture and let me know what you think. Look quick because the video may go to “Subscribers Only” fairly quick.

Cheers All!!

Categories: Culture, Fun, Government, Manhood, Philosophy, Politics Tags:

A Simple Love – Redux

May 18th, 2010 No comments

I realize I’ve posted a similar video, but… well, tough. In case you don’t travel over to YouTube to watch it, here’s the blurb I wrote after remaking the video:

This is to celebrate the birth of my grandson, and to provide something happy for his Mother (who is serving her second 15 month tour in Iraq) and his Father (who is holding down the fort at home and already did his tour), for his Aunt Karla (who did her tour of duty in Iraq) and his Aunt Lladro (who takes care of Grandma and Grandpa).

For you family members and friends interested in watching, enjoy, for my regular readers – a new post by Thursday 😀

Categories: Culture, Fun, Music, Photography, Video Tags:

The Gospel of Lazlo

May 15th, 2010 No comments
The Gospel of Lazlo by J. Ethan Begley: Book Cover

My Nasty Romance - Author's Website

It’s here! The newly published freshman novel by J. Ethan Begley is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu – the publisher! In the recent past I sweat my way through a book review of The Gospel of Lazlo to somewhat competent effect and even wider readership – it’s been in the top ten posts for some time now. Take a look at the review, or not, but buy the book – it has the important elements of modern literature… it’s fun and entertaining, screw the deeper meaning, it’ll slap you on the back of the head after you read it =)

From Amazon’s page, here’s a small blurb describing the story:

Apparently the reprinted scrapbook of a possibly disturbed individual, The Gospel of Lazlo tells the tale of Mr. Lazlo Epps, a suicide clean-up worker who takes up residence in a dead man’s townhouse. His “really real” world is soon shredded by a chocolate peddling holy man, a deranged Goth clown, and a would-be penguin terrorist.Stumbling through the wreckage of his life, Lazlo finds himself hounded into a relationship by Sophie Bogota, an enigmatic password psychic, and embroiled in a cultural revolution he cannot personally abide.Lazlo must either find truth within himself or step aside as a fictional messiah pulls back the veil of belief to expose the reality most people fear too much to accept. Decide for yourself whether this fantastical urban fairy tale is real or merely the product of a diseased imagination.

Cheers all,


Daughters, Sons, Patriots, and Me

May 13th, 2010 8 comments

One Brick at a Time @ Responsibility

My apologies for not posting regularly these past several weeks, especially since I’d promised to attempt a minimal once a week update. I had considered blowing this whole enterprise off as a wasted or failed effort, but again, reconsidered. As I promised in my last post, I planned to give an account of my absence – I think this will go a bit further than that…

Why this extended absence? Illness, anger, and an unusual despondency are the straightforward explanations. Very nearly two weeks were consumed with a flu that kicked my old tired ass around the work place, home, and… “does it really make sense to disappear on your motorcycle when you have pneumonia?” While my wife is absolutely right to pose the question as though I were a teenager, it is also true that sometimes, that little teenage rebellion might be worthwhile. Little rides like this help me. As I mentioned to an online blogger buddy “I needed some time by myself to recharge, get my shit straight, and screw my head back on.”

While that explains part of my failure to provide regular posts, the other parts are at once more personal and more public. I received a few phone calls and several posts enquiring as to my well being – all much appreciated! So, on the other end of a little despondency, and in response to those initial communications I threw up the last post with every intention of getting right back to business. Here’s where the story gets a little squirrely.

With great thanks to a gift card to The MacStore from my daughter and son-in-law, I purchased a new Mac Book Pro. I’ve often found that the quickest and most direct route to learning something is “total immersion.” I resolved to avoid my desktop until I was reasonably proficient with my new laptop… I’ve answered many emails LATE because I failed to sit down at my desktop and check mail. Though I am getting the hang of my Mac 😀  Poor excuse, but it is the explanation of record. You have my sincerest apologies for not answering emails much sooner.

I ran across several [emails] that both entertained and admonished – which made me rethink continuing this blog. I received several versions of a very similar sentiment: “You said once a week,” “Hey, WTF? Once a month updates??” “Get your lazy ass back to work, and don’t make excuses, POST SOMETHING.” “You need to post something more often than once each month or so…” From a subject line: “I sure hope you are on vacation” Thanks to all of you that wrote or called – even being called a “lazy shit” made me feel special 😀

What does that have to do with the anger and despondency? Daughters and patriots? So here’s the post!

T.A. Barnhart, a contributor at Blue Oregon, wrote an article on July Fourth of last year entitled We are all patriots, not just arrogant generals with big mouths. In it, he castigates General Bednarek for the following statement:

“Honor. Duty. Patriotism,” Bednarek said. “Unfortunately, there’s way too many people in our country who have forgotten it, don’t understand it or never got it.” – Savannah (GA) Morning News

By the nature and tone of Barnhart’s reporting, I suspect he wasn’t there for the whole event. I suspect this because Barnhart doesn’t marshal any other real evidence of Bednarek’s supposed offence, and yet spends a tremendous amount of space attributing various vile character defects to the general for that one statement. He variously calls the general or his words a “fool,” “grotesque, shameful, and unprofessional,” “And stupid.” Read the article, you’ll pick up Barnhart’s “inappropriate, irresponsible and reprehensible” comments about the general.

In addition to the character attacks Barnhart launches without one whit of evidence, he also attributes beliefs to the general that are patently of Barnhart’s own invention.   According to Barnhart the general’s arrogance “is unbecoming of an officer, an American and, above all, a patriot.” First, the notion that the general was directing his comments at Barnhart is an absurdity. It’s common to many people. Imagine a manager, not wishing to call out a few employees, mentions that “everyone needs to do [enter chosen task here] better.” A fair share of employees will immediately take offense even though none was proffered. Second, to throw out a challenge that the general’s words were unbecoming an American and patriot reveal Barnhart to be a hypocrite. How is it that Barnhart is allowed to define patriotism and denies that same right to the general? Simple, Barnhart is a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, self-centered hypocrite.

I didn’t comment on that post, nor did I comment on his follow up a week later entitled, Fear, anger, and a son too far away that was loaded with more unreasonable vitriol. Except there he does precisely what he accuses but never demonstrates the general of doing. He claims his anger, then accuses the American people (hyperbole or not, this is BS):

I am angry at the American people whose self-centered, piss-ignorant fearfulness (where is our cherished trust in God?) let them approve with hearty cheers and huzzahs the tossing of their children into the maw of war. The steadfast refusal of too many Americans to learn a goddamn thing about the world and people who are neither bad nor wrong but merely “foreign” has resulted in this obscene war and occupation. The blood of all those who’ve died or been torn apart by this war is on the hands of an American populace with no desire to care about the rest of the world unless they can feel all warm and fuzzy via a tax-deductible charity.

Why didn’t I comment on the posts? The reason was simple. His son was in harm’s way and I had two daughters and two sons-in-law in the same sandbox. I understand being angry. In fact, I believe Barnhart is a patriot, just as I believe the general is a patriot. More to the point, I agree with the general, that there are too many today that have “forgotten… don’t understand… or never got…” honor, duty, and patriotism. Witness the past (ENRON et al) and current crop of corporate thieves (pick a bank that passed their risk on to his fellow citizens) who have raped our economy. Moreover, think about the various groups of American citizens saying things like “Goddam America,” etc.

Hmmm. Should I assume Barnhart was addressing me as one of those “self-centered, piss-ignorant” Americans? Perhaps. I didn’t, but perhaps he was referring to people like me. I disagree, strongly, with a great number of things Barnhart writes, but I rarely doubt his love of community, and by extension, his love of country.

I was passionately opposed to the war in Iraq, as was my wife and many of my friends. Many, on the other hand, supported the invasion of Iraq. So why was I angry? Because my president (yes, I say that, even though many on the left wouldn’t call Bush their president) still hasn’t got my kids out of Iraq, and more important, he [the president] just sent one back for another tour of duty. I am angry at my government for not delivering on one of the promises made during a campaign. Moreover, I am angry at writers like T. A. Barnhart who create a clamor out of imagined insults and contribute to the very divisiveness they claim to abhor.

At this point I think it’s worth defining patriot. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first listed meaning of the word is rare or obsolete as a compound “a fellow-countryman, compatriot.” However, the primary meaning with a caveat about usage before the late seventeenth century is:

2.a. One who disinterestedly or self-sacrificingly exerts himself to promote the wellbeing of his country; ‘one whose ruling passion is the love of his country’ (J.); one who maintains and defends his country’s freedom or rights.

In this use, at first, as in French (see Littré), with ‘good’, ‘true’, ‘worthy’, or other commendatory adjective: cf. ‘good citizen’. ‘Patriot’ for ‘good patriot’ is rare before 1680. At that time often applied to one who supported the rights of the country against the King and court.

Why mention the definition? Because of Barnhart’s title “We are all patriots…” This kind of political correctness is a chain and anchor to mediocrity. Let’s not indulge in this kind of nonsense. Here’s a wonderful bit of dialogue from one of my favorite Pixar flicks, The Incredibles that demonstrates the point:

Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

Angry – and maybe a little despondent that I’m not sure I’ll change a thing. Do I take the long view or the short view? Do I stop this silly writing and activism, or keep on going? Like Barnhart’s challenge to the general, I’d match my patriotism against Barnhart’s any time – and probably for similar reasons. I’m an optimistic pessimist – I believe countries, communities, groups, and even individuals are capable of change… whether I believe in it or not.

I stole the above photo from Tom over at Responsibility – click it for a great post. I’m working on my next brick. I said thanks for the encouragement earlier, but it wasn’t specific enough – thanks to Tom, Jeff, Mr. Grim, Tony, Andy, Cindy, Moira, and Billy.

Cheers all!!

Let’s keep marching forward.

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