Thursday, December 31, 2020

Stan Hershey

Stan Hershey was a little man. 5 foot 5 maybe. He was about 10 years older than my dad, I don’t think I ever knew exactly, and if I did I don’t remember. My dad met Stan around 1950 when he got a job at the State Theater. Stan was running the projectors, a skill in those days, and my dad started out as an usher. That would make my dad 17 and Stan around 26 or 27.

Stan taught my dad to run the projectors. They worked the evenings and cleaned up and closed after the last show. They got to be friends and stayed friends even after my parents married and moved away. I knew my dad would always make time to go visit Stan when we went home on vacation. I also knew my mother didn’t like Stan much but she never made a fuss about my dad visiting him.

As I got into my teens, sometimes in the evenings I would go out with my dad when we were on vacation in his hometown. We would get a donut and ride around, past his boyhood home, out to the beach, just run the back roads through the woods. Only one evening stands out as different. It was the time in 1972 he took me along to visit Stan.

I was probably 14 or just turned 15. I couldn’t have been any older because after that I had jobs in summer camps and I stopped making the annual pilgrimages back to New Hampshire. I was old enough to know without being told that, while I wouldn’t lie, there was no reason to bring up to my mother the fact that we had driven all the way down to the seacoast to visit Stan.

On the way there, I learned a little more about Stan Hershey, although it is just enough to give you an outline. That 10 year difference in their age meant that Stan was born in 1923 or 1924. He turned 18 in 1942. I don’t know if he joined or was drafted, but I know he was Army.

He was part of the invasion forces that built up and trained in Britain from 1943 into 1944 and he landed at Normandy on D+2. His infantry unit was in combat off and on for the rest of war in Europe.  He survived, wasn’t ever injured, but the stories my dad heard from him were of the losses and deaths and injuries Stan’s friends and comrades suffered.

When the war ended in Europe, Stan was shipped back to the United States. The country was building the invasion forces for the landing on the home islands of Japan and all the available troops were being formed into new units and trained on bases in the midwest. That’s where Stan was when he learned about the atom bombs and learned that he would live to go home.

We would call it PTSD now. But whatever name you want to give it, Stan gave his life in the service. What was left was broken in ways beyond anyone’s ability to repair. Stan coped by drinking. He lived with his mother until she died, worked at theaters running projectors, and drank to keep his demons at bay.

My dad liked him, pitied him too I think, and realized that it was an accident of time and place that separated them and their life experience. Stan was in my parent’s wedding. And he got very drunk. So drunk that my dad stashed him at his own parent’s house to sober up so Stan wouldn’t have to go his mother’s place. My mother never really forgot that and couldn't understand.

With that background story told, we arrived at the beach late on that June evening in 1972, parked on an empty side street, and walked up to the theater. It was closed, but we knocked and Stan came down and let us in. We went up to the projection booth and they sat on the only chairs. I sat on a shipping crate for film reels.

They talked. I listened. And we all drank warm Black Horse Ale. Stan had broken them out when we arrived and after the first round, he offered me one. I looked over, got a nod, so I took it. At least in my memory, Black Horse Ale is the fermented essence of skunk urine. It has no redeeming qualities except that it would put a young kid off drinking for years. 

 


 I don’t remember the conversation, this was 50 years ago, but I know they were glad to see each other, comfortable enough to sit there for a couple of hours, and sorry to see the time come to an end. It was the last time I saw Stan. Stan had been drinking steadily since the war. It finally took it’s toll on him.

We drove back to my grandparents house and tiptoed in like we were both kids sneaking in late. I don’t ever remember my mother asking where we went or what time we came in. Maybe she asked my dad. Whatever other questions I had about Stan then or questions I could come up with now will go unanswered. 

 

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

--Winston Churchill

 

Music for New Year's Eve

I ran across this song a year ago.  It is not only traditional for New Year's Eve (according to no less than Robert Burns who wrote Auld Lang Syne)  but is also traditional as a farewell song to the dearly departed.  My Mom and ASM826's Dad both passed this last year, and so this beautiful cover by the Face Vocal Band is a fitting end to 2020.


Mom and Dad loved light classical music, and I picked up that same affinity.  Last year I (quite by accident) found this delightful piece by Ernest Tomlinson, Fantasia on Auld Lang Syne for Orchestra.  It weaves not just Burns' magnum opus but snippets of 152 other songs as well.  


To all our readers, we wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

Planning for New Years Eve 2020

 Here's a review to help you decide what to drink tonight.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

February Southwest Florida Blogshoot

Apologies for the lack of posting - The Queen Of The World and I had a houseguest from the Camp Borepatch days, and while it was great fun it pretty much filled the days.

But folks are asking about the February blogshoot so let me poll the readership.  Leave a comment if you can be in the area for a blogshoot on February 20.  Also say whether you know of a range that could handle the crowd (we had over 20 for the first).  

I'm pretty sure I can get the private range at the gun club this far out (and will make sure that the wires won't get crossed again - we will have both a 25 yard pistol range and a 200 yard rifle range).  If we do it here again The Queen Of The World says she'll cater it again but some people couldn't make the trip and I'm happy to travel if there's another range.

Friday, December 25, 2020

It's Not Just The Trees

 It's the rest of the decorations, furnishings, and televisions. Most of the readers of this blog will remember when Christmas looked like this.

Raise up your voice

Go ahead and sing along.  Christ Jesus was sent to redeem us all, even those who sing off key.


 This needs to be watched in full screen mode and with the volume up.

The Nativity

 This is a repost from the days of Random Acts of Patriotism. It speaks to me of the heart of what the Nativity represents.

________________________________________________________

We want things to be pretty and perfect. So much so that we ignore the reality of the story and beautify it, making it into art and yard displays.


 

Joseph was a carpenter, not a wealthy man. He lived in an occupied country under the rule of the Roman Empire. He engaged to Mary, a young pregnant teenager, and by what accounts we have, he did not believe the child to be his. By governmental decree, he was required to go to his family’s hometown to be counted in a census. He took the girl with him.

No paved roads, not much money for food, no place to stay. The movement related to the census would have been disruptive to everyone and created difficult traveling conditions. When he got to the town, she was in labor. There was no one to take them in, no place to stay. Just to get shelter they went into a stable.

Now a lot of us don’t have farm animals anymore, and unless you do, one rather pungent fact might escape you. Stables stink. Even the most well kept stables, which this one most likely was not. If there were sheep and cows housed there, and perhaps a camel or two, it smelled like a zoo. But it was warmer than outside, and there was a roof.

Mary went though labor and delivered a baby there. Not in a sterile medical birthing room, not even at home with her female relatives to attend to her, but in a dark stable, likely alone except for Joseph. She was perhaps 14 or 15 years old. Whatever fears and loneliness she felt are unrecorded. When the baby was born, they cleaned and wrapped him in what garments they could and laid him in a trough used to feed the animals, because that trough was off the ground and cleaner than anywhere else they had to put the baby.

They were as poor and alone as any new family you can imagine. That’s the heart of this story.


Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
–The book of Luke, Chapter 2:1-7

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Huron Carol/Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philippians 2:5-8
We all know the story, that's the problem.  We know it so well that we don't think about the story, and what it means.  It helps to put the story in a different setting to make us think on the meaning again.

Huron Carol is the oldest Christmas Carol from Canada, and perhaps from the New World.  It was written in 1642 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary to the Huron tribes.  It tells the story of the nativity in terms that were familiar to the Huron: instead of a stable, the baby was born in a lodge of broken bark.  Instead of three wise men there were three chiefs from far off tribes.  Instead of frankincense and myrrh there were gifts of fox and beaver pelts.  He wrote in their native language, as necessity called for.  If you would tell a tale, you must use words the listener will understand.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Redeemer.  Amidst the holiday cheer, gifts, and yes, feasting, think on the familiar meaning as explained in a different tongue, a tale made new again.



Huron

The original words of the carol in the Wyandot language (Huron).
Ehstehn yayau deh tsaun we yisus ahattonnia
O na wateh wado:kwi nonnwa 'ndasqua entai
ehnau sherskwa trivota nonnwa 'ndi yaun rashata
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Ayoki onki hm-ashe eran yayeh raunnaun
yauntaun kanntatya hm-deh 'ndyaun sehnsatoa ronnyaun
Waria hnawakweh tond Yosehf sataunn haronnyaun
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Asheh kaunnta horraskwa deh ha tirri gwames
Tishyaun ayau ha'ndeh ta aun hwa ashya a ha trreh
aundata:kwa Tishyaun yayaun yaun n-dehta
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Dau yishyeh sta atyaun errdautau 'ndi Yisus
avwa tateh dn-deh Tishyaun stanshi teya wennyau
aha yaunna torrehntehn yataun katsyaun skehnn
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Eyeh kwata tehnaunnte aheh kwashyehn ayehn
kiyeh kwanaun aukwayaun dehtsaun we 'ndeh adeh
tarrya diskwann aunkwe yishyehr eya ke naun sta
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

English

The 1926 English version by Jesse Edgar Middleton.
'Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp'd His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high...
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory
On the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

 

The Christmas Truce

The opening weeks of The War To End Wars were nothing like what we think.  In many ways it was worse for the men on the ground, which only makes the spontaneous outbreak of peace even more amazing.  The bitterness that the soldiers of both sides must have felt would have burned bright, and yet the feelings of the season overcame all that.

When we think of that war, we think of trenches, barbed wire, and machine guns.  That's quite a good description of the western front, but not until 2 or 3 months into the conflict.  Initially instead of a slog over No Man's Land, it was a war of movement, with massive armies covering hundreds of miles.  August and September 1914 saw men pushed to their limits because they had to march 15 miles and then fight the enemy, and then wake up and do it all over again.  And again.  And again.

The losses were unbelievable.  The first six weeks saw the following killed, wounded, and missing: 300,000 (France), 300,000 (Germany), 300,000 (Austria-Hungary), 250,000 (Russia), 200,000 (Serbia), 15,000 (Britain).  That last seems out of place with the rivers of blood from the other combatants, but Britain's army in 1914 was not a mass of draftees - rather, it was a small force of professional veterans.  15,000 was a quarter of the entire force.

October followed up these million and a half with the Kindermord, the "slaughter of the children".  The generals were horrified at the losses, not so much because of the incredible human loss but because their forces were so rapidly depleted.  Trainees were rushed from basic training straight to the front.  At the First Battle of Ypres 60,000 of these kids were mowed down as they marched, singing, into the rifles of the Cold Stream Guards.

The German artist Käthe Kollwitz made a sculpture in remembrance of her son, Peter, killed in the Kindermord.  He, like most of his comrades, was 18.  You can see it if you go to the Vladslo German cemetery in Diksmuid, Belgum.  The grief and bitterness is captured in stone.



Only then did it settle down to trenches, barbed wire, and No Man's Land.  So if anyone was justified in holding a grudge, it was everyone in a trench on the Western Front on December 24, 1914.  And yet, this happened instead.
 
Image from the Illustrated London News, 9 Jan 1915
The Generals were less than amused, and cracked down in following years.  Captain Sir Iain Colquhoun was Court-marshalled for his participation.  After they convicted him someone recalled that he was related to the British Prime Minister, and so they swept it all under the carpet.

Historians now occupy the field of battle because all the eye witnesses are now long dead.  All that we have are stories from those who remember those witnesses. But we know that December 1914 saw something unique in trench warfare: Christmas showed that the human heart still beat on the front lines.  This song from 1984 was back when some of those men still lived, and John 
McCutcheon tells of how some of them came to his concert because they heard the song on the radio:
All our lives, our family our friends told us we were crazy.  Couldn't possibly have happened to us.  Then we heard your song on the radio and said "See? See? We were there."


Christmas In The Trenches (Songwriter: John McCutcheon)

My name is Francis Tolliver. I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here,
I fought for King and country I love dear.

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen field of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lyin' with my mess-mates on the cold and rocky ground
when across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound.
Says I "Now listen up me boys", each soldier strained to hear
as one young German voice sang out so clear.

"He's singin' bloddy well you know", my partner says to me.
Soon one by one each German voice joined in in harmony.
The cannons rested silent. The gas cloud rolled no more
as Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished a reverent pause was spent.
'God rest ye merry, gentlemen' struck up some lads from Kent.
The next they sang was 'Stille Nacht". "Tis 'Silent Night'" says I
and in two toungues one song filled up that sky.

"There's someone commin' towards us" the front-line sentry cried.
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side.
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
as he bravely strode, unarmed, into the night.

Then one by one on either side walked into no-mans-land
with neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well
and in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.

We traded chocolates, cigarettes and photographs from home
these sons and fathers far away from families of their own.
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
this curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more.
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war.
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung.
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
had been crumbled and were gone for ever more.

My name is Francis Tolliver. In Liverpool I dwell.
Each Christmas come since World War One
I've learned it's lessons well.
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
and on each end of the rifle we're the same.

This Christmas Eve, remember those caught up in the killing fields of Flanders, and the Ardennes, and Khe Sanh. And remember those who still stand post far from home and family tonight. 

(This is something that I've posted each year for quite a while)

In lieu of politics and snark ...

This is your read of the day.  I can't imagine a more perfect message for this Eve of the Feast of the Redeemer. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Quote of the Day, Consequences edition

The whole thing is long but hits center mass.  Here's an excerpt:

f) long-term, having a large class of unemployed, under-employed, and broke, hungry, shiftless lumpenproletariat is how revolutions start. Middle classes do not revolt. This year has seen the biggest targeted wipeout of the middle class, worldwide, and shifting them to the lower class, than anything since the Great Depression. And we're still in the early innings of it, as COVID2.0 now appears to be clearing its throat.

g) That's before the blatant disenfranchising of a third of the adults in this country by the most ham-fistedly blatant electoral fraud (outside of every election in Central America, ever) in living memory.

Yup.  You should go read the whole thing.  And it's been a while since I posted this: New Gingrich on what the Second Amendment is really about.  It's long, but really gets rolling at about 5 minutes in.  Newt's point is exactly the same one that Aesop makes.

The Continental Congress was an unauthorized, unsanctioned, unlawful, treasonous, and seditious assembly, and every man-jack of them were eventually targeted for arrest and hanging.


Monday, December 21, 2020

Michael Bublé - I'll Be Home For Christmas

This was written in 1943, as we had 15 million men overseas staring down the Nazi and Japanese super races.  It's sadly newly fresh again, as Governors from sea to shining sea tell us not to go see our families for the Holidays - under threat of force of law.


 Somehow I suspect I know how those 15 million men would have taken the orders from Govs Cuomo, Newsom, and Whitmer ...

A Christmas Story (updated for modern times)

I must confess that I'd never watched A Christmas Story until I met The Queen Of The World.  It's just one of the many ways that she has improved my life.


It's awesome, and if you have never seen it, the line from the film to remember is You'll shoot your eye out.  You see, the kid in the film wants a BB Gun for christmas and everyone tells him, well, you know.  The Queen Of The World made me a T-shirt with that caption and the picture of a set of glasses with one lens shattered.  I wore it to the gun show last weekend to great hilarity. 

Anyway, via T-Bolt (you do read him every day, right?  Thought so.) we find this most excellent mash up.  Embedding seems to be broken in the new Blogger interface and the new one can't seem to find this video even though it's there (WTF, Youtube?) - bit it's worth the click.

And remember, T-Bolt is your go-to Zombie Defense guy.  'nuff said.

For you lucky sumbitches out there

Suppose you have one of those sweet, sweet M1 Carbines - you know the ones: light, short, handy, low recoil and fun to shoot all day.  You lucky sumbitch.

Well, Ammoman has a sweet deal on .30 Carbine to feed your habit, just in time for the holidays: 1080 Mil Surp .30 Carbine cartridges in 10 round stripper clips in nine bandoliers for $520 (!).  You lucky sumbitch.

And remember, ammunition makes great stocking stuffers.


(No comment on how Gov. Cuomo gave Gammy the gift of Eternal Peace this past year ...)

Just remember, a shotgun is not a defense against zombies.  C'mon - this is an expert on the subject. 

The Bronze Star Prayer

December 1944 saw the German Army launch a blitzkreig on the western front, designed to cut the American Army off from the British Army, and drive to the port of Antwerp cutting off the Brits.  It was Hitler's last roll of the dice.

For the first few days, things went all the German's way.  They overran a lightly defended area in Belgium, making big gains towards their objectives.  Only the crossroads town of Bastogne held out, bottling up part of the advance.

Eisenhower had kept George Patton on a shot leash - at the urging of British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery (he and Patton detested each other), but now Ike needed his best field General.  Patton turned on a dime and had six divisions point north to relieve Bastogne.

The problem was that the weather was awful.  Clouds and snow kept the Army Air Corps grounded while the SS Panzer divisions ran wild.  Patton turned to the Third Army Chaplain, Col. James Hugh O'Neill and asked him for a prayer for better weather.  Here is what the Padre came up with, which was distributed to the entire Third Army, issued on this day in 1944:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. 

Amen.

The weather cleared almost immediately.  Patton got Col. O'Neill awarded the Bronze Star for his intercession withe the Almighty.

Note: if you are not following OldAFSarge's online novel about this battle, you're missing out.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Damn all you new gun owners!

Well, no - but everyone who is saying things like "ZOMG tHe amm0 factoryz ar3 bogarting t3h ammo" need to think on the old saying about war:

When it comes to war, amateurs think about strategy.  Professionals think about logistics.

Now think on the 7M new gun owners this year: they've never owned a gun before.  They think it's needed to protect themselves and their families in an increasingly lawless Republic.  They got themselves a gun, joining us in the defense of the right to defend ourselves.

They also need a couple or 3 (or 10) boxes of ammo for their new heaters.  So 7,000,000 time 4 (boxes) times 50 (rounds per box) is {scribbles on paper} 1.4 Billion rounds of ammo for new gun owners.

Yeah, they went to the front of the ammo line at your gun store.  They bought a gun, and need ammo, amirite?

So how many billion rounds do you think that American manufacturers make each year?

Dwight (you do read him everyday, right?) sends a video of a CEO of an ammo manufacturer explaining this.  Again, Youtube is weird about embedding so you need to click through.

UPDATE 21 December 2020 11:48:  Oops, I forgot to give credit to Dwight who pointed me to this video.  You do read him every day, don't you?

Joe Bonamassa - Christmas Boogie

If this doesn't get your toes tapping, we can't be friends anymore.


 Interesting to see Joe B. without his trademark suit and sunglasses.

Ralph Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on a Christmas Carol

Other than the movie theater, the only other place that the American public seems to have a taste for classical music is at Christmas.  I think that this is primarily due to popularizers like Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, and particularly composers like Aaron Copeland and Ralph Vaughan Williams who here takes the familiar and spins it in new directions.



Saturday, December 19, 2020

Vince Guaraldi - Linus and Lucy

This is, of course, from the A Charlie Brown Christmas special.  The Studio Execs were nervous about the show: the explicit Christian themes, the use of child actors, the lack of a laugh track.  Of course, the show was a sensation: almost half of everyone who had the TV on that evening had it tuned to that show.  This year is the show's 55th anniversary (!).

And yes, the music is as iconic as everything else from the show.


Notes from the Gun Show

Now that I live in the Gunshine State, I went off to the Palmetto Gun Show to work the booth for my gun club.  It was interesting (and fun).  Here are some more or less stream of consciousness thoughts:

  • There was a good turnout.  This was the opening day of the show but they do this every month.  Traffic was brisk from beginning until I left after lunch.  There were whole families there and every race in the rainbow was represented.
  • There were a lot of guns for sale on dealer's tables.  I haven't been comparison shopping so can't say definitively about prices but in general they looked reasonably sane.
  • I'm not sure about the guys bringing their own heaters around to sell by themselves.  One guy had what he said was a vintage WWII 1911 with web belt and holster and was looking for $1800.  That seemed rich to me but ask I said I haven't been pricing on the antique market.
  • Ammo was at a premium.  Pricing was high and it looks like dealers were buying out other dealers before the show started (and then marked each box up).  While I'm not enormously well stocked, I'm well stocked enough not to have to spend $20 for 50 .22LR (!).  I mean, seriously?
  • There was a LOT of Donald Trump stuff there, and not in a let's clear out the old inventory sense.  People were walking around in MAGA hats and there was what looked like a lot of fresh inventory being scooped up by the crowd.  However this plays out, The Donald is not fading away.  Oh, yeah - several vendors had "Biden Is Not My President" T-Shirts for sale and I saw more than one dude walking around in them.
  • Didn't see any tables of Nazi memorabilia.  Might be the first gun show I've been to that didn't sport that.
  • Where the heck is the jerky?  I don't think I've ever been to a gun show where you couldn't buy any.
  • Finish Mosins were going for how much?  Sure if you want a Mosin you want one done by the Finns, but the days of the box of $50 Mosins are long gone.
  • There was a big area where they were signing people up for Concealed Carry classes.  It was mobbed.
  • Lots of people were interested in my gun club.  A bunch asked about the Appleseed sessions we offer.
  • The last two are a good sign - people aren't just buying guns but in practicing and carrying them.
My takeaway is that the gun culture is very strong here in Florida.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Run, Run, Rudolph

You want kick-ass Christmas music?  Gotcha covered.


 You're welcome.

Good writeup on forensic analysis of Dominion Voting System

It is very long, but detailed and nicely broken up with quotes from the report interspersed with commentary and analysis.  If you are interested in this topic, or if you are interested in computer security, you need to spend some time reading this.  Note that this is a two part series, and you need to click through to the first installment.

My take as a 35 year veteran of computer security?  Angels and Ministers of Grace, defend us.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Ahhhhh

 


And it's nice to be near the grandkids, too

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Hunt AAR

 A couple weeks ago I posted What deer rifle for an old hunter?  Many of you left comments and I'm happy to say that Tim emails saying that the hunt was a success and he got his deer.  He has a nice After Action Report posted.

I agree with him that the local deer populations seem to be pretty strong.  I used to see them regularly in Maryland and Wolfgang would chase 'em if he got a chance.  He never got close, of course, but if you're a deer in a subdivision then neighborhood dogs will be an occasional encounter.

When America's Elite actually were elite

The Queen Of The World spotted this on Facebook.  I reproduce it here without any commentary because it needs none.

Months after winning his 1941 Academy Award for best actor in “The Philadelphia Story,” Jimmy Stewart, one of the best-known actors of the day, left Hollywood and joined the US Army. He was the first big-name movie star to enlist in World War II.

An accomplished private pilot, the 33-year-old Hollywood icon became a US Army Air Force aviator, earning his 2nd Lieutenant commission in early 1942. With his celebrity status and huge popularity with the American public, he was assigned to starring in recruiting films, attending rallies, and training younger pilots.

Stewart, however, wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to fly combat missions in Europe, not spend time in a stateside training command. By 1944, frustrated and feeling the war was passing him by, he asked his commanding officer to transfer him to a unit deploying to Europe. His request was reluctantly granted.

Stewart, now a Captain, was sent to England, where he spent the next 18 months flying B-24 Liberator bombers over Germany. Throughout his time overseas, the US Army Air Corps' top brass had tried to keep the popular movie star from flying over enemy territory. But Stewart would hear nothing of it.

Determined to lead by example, he bucked the system, assigning himself to every combat mission he could. By the end of the war he was one of the most respected and decorated pilots in his unit.

But his wartime service came at a high personal price.

In the final months of WWII he was grounded for being “flak happy,” today called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

When he returned to the US in August 1945, Stewart was a changed man. He had lost so much weight that he looked sickly. He rarely slept, and when he did he had nightmares of planes exploding and men falling through the air screaming (in one mission alone his unit had lost 13 planes and 130 men, most of whom he knew personally).

He was depressed, couldn’t focus, and refused to talk to anyone about his war experiences. His acting career was all but over.

As one of Stewart's biographers put it, "Every decision he made [during the war] was going to preserve life or cost lives. He took back to Hollywood all the stress that he had built up.”

In 1946 he got his break. He took the role of George Bailey, the suicidal father in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The rest is history.

Actors and crew of the set realized that in many of the disturbing scenes of George Bailey unraveling in front of his family, Stewart wasn’t acting. His PTSD was being captured on film for potentially millions to see.

But despite Stewart's inner turmoil, making the movie was therapeutic for the combat veteran. He would go on to become one of the most accomplished and loved actors in American history.

When asked in 1941 why he wanted to leave his acting career to fly combat missions over Nazi Germany, he said, "This country's conscience is bigger than all the studios in Hollywood put together, and the time will come when we'll have to fight.”

This holiday season, as many of us watch the classic Christmas film, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” it’s also a fitting time to remember the sacrifices of Jimmy Stewart and all the men who gave up so much to serve their country during wartime. We will always remember you!

Postscript:

While fighting in Europe, Stewart's Oscar statue was proudly displayed in his father’s Pennsylvania hardware store. Throughout his life, the beloved actor always said his father, a World War I veteran, was the person who had made the biggest impact on him.

Jimmy Stewart remained in the USAF Reserve following the war, retiring as a Brigadier General in 1968. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985 and died in 1997 at the age of 89.

-- Ned Forney, Writer, Saluting America's Veterans


Actually, since this is Borepatch, you know that I can't just shut up and so will tell a personal anecdote about Jimmy Stewart.  On a family vacation to Los Angeles to see grandparents (this would have been probably in 1972, but may have been 1967) we went on one of those Trolly Tours to see the houses of the stars.  They would drive slowly past each of the houses while the tour guide gave a description of the roles and awards each star had.  But at Jimmy Stewart's house the trolly stopped.  The tour guide explained that if Mr. Stewart was home he would typically come to the window and wave.  He did this because everything he had in life came from his fans, and the least he could do is thank them.

I don't recall that he was home that day but the contrast between him and the rest of the Hollywood bunch stuck with me all these years. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The end of the American Empire

Every person has two educations, one which he receives from others, and one, more important, which he gives to himself.

― Edward Gibbon

This is a long, long post that you probably need to spend some time on (especially watching the embedded videos).  This post is in particular for the folks that think that the end of America will be a cakewalk/simple/glorious.  I don't argue with the Desired End State; I'm not at all sure of what will be left when it's all done.  You know, this glorious future:


I've written before about the fall of Empire, and how fast and hard it falls:

This is Monte Testaccio in Rome.  It is a hill made entirely of broken pottery, and it dates to the first and second centuries AD.  It's over 100 feet high, around a kilometer around, and historians think that it used to be much larger but has eroded over the last two millennia.  The Roman "bread and circuses" was a huge welfare project that fed much of the city's population, and which required huge imports of not just grain but also olive oil - over a million gallons of oil each year, every year, for hundreds of years.  The oil was shipped in big clay pots, but what do you do with the pots when you've distributed the oil?  The Romans were the best engineers until at least the eighteenth century, and so they came up with an engineering solution: they made a mountain out of broken up pots.


And then it all fell, and fell so far and hard that it was forgotten.  The Roman Forum itself - the political center of the Ancient World for four centuries or more - became a cow field, the Campo Vaccino.

The Testaccio-monte is being excavated today, and is a treasure trove of ancient Roman economic knowledge that had long since fallen into a barbarian black hole.  You can skip this video if you don't care about how hard Rome fell; but if you think that the end of the American Empire will be comfortable you really should watch it all.


The Roman Empire was unique until the 1700s, in that large amounts of bulk goods were shipped all over their Empire.  Back In The Day, you could eat off of dishes made in North Africa and drink wine from Greece even if you lived in England.  But then it fell.  And it fell so hard that it took a millennium to recover.

Kenneth Clarke's outstanding series Civilization confronted this head on in a way that looks to get him canceled in today's "everybody gets a trophy" world.  Clarke really gets to the heart of the matter about what caused a great civilization to fall between about 7:30 and 10 minutes into his first episode.  I recommend you watch all of them ( all 13 episodes), all the way through which will make you better educated than 90% of anyone you will ever run into.


And in answer to the inevitable questions, yes I did watch this series when it was shown on PBS in the early 1970s.  Dad was a history professor and Mom was a librarian - of course they made me stay up and watch this.  And so if you have a problem with posts about events with historical interests - posts of Borepatchian length - I blame my parents.

Except they never played this, which circles back to those who think that it's time to hoist the Black Flag:


Man, Freddy Mercury and Queen were a talent for the ages, although I'd also love to hear the music that was composed by Nero.  Presumably he was also a talent for ages, but we will have to be satisfied with his final words: What a talent dies with me.  Probably he was no Freddy Mercury.

None of this is to say it's not worth fighting for the America that we knew and grew up with.  It's just to recognize that like Monte Testaccio, that may already be lost in the past.  But we should also realize that the fight - if fought - will be brutal beyond our imagination.  When Civilization falls, it falls hard and takes a long, long time to recover.  The 1200 year recovery is shown well here between 2:30 and 5:00 into the video, although (as with all of the videos here) I encourage you to watch them all.  Think of it as Borepatch University:


And so to the fall of Civilization: there have always been winners and losers, down through history:

Rome's Intelligentsia had been failing from the mid- Second Century, say around 140 A.D. The Dark Ages arrived by the Fourth Century. Certainly it seemed that way to the bulk of the population. Those who were not chattel slaves were bound to the soil as serfs by 330 A.D., by an act of Constantine. Sharecropping the huge latifundia estates, they neither knew nor cared who was running the show. An ever smaller elite, relying on a fabulously expensive bloated bureaucracy, held on by hiring barbarian mercenaries until the barbarians finally realized they were running the show in all but name. It was then but a short step, and sic transit gloria mundi.

Certainly the elites were horrified at the change. For them, it was the beginning of a Dark Age, as the skills they had carefully nurtured suddenly were seen to be worthless by the new Overlords. It's said that history is written by the winners; the history of the fall of Rome was written by the losers.

The current Intellectual Elite sound eerily similar to those ancient scribblers. A world view has run out of gas, and is looking like it will be replaced, and those at the top of Fortuna's Wheel fear that the wheel will keep spinning, and the only direction for them to go is down. The Progressive Agenda has had a 160 year run, but has not produced a truly first rate intellect since John Kenneth Galbraith, or possibly Pat Moynihan. The last 30 years have been a desert, where the interesting intellectual action has all been on the other side.

And so back to the original topic of the post, those who think that the end of America will be a cakewalk/simple/glorious.  I don't argue with the Desired End State; I'm not at all sure of what will be left when things are done. It think it might be a lot like this (although I can't understand the language, but things get particularly spicy around the 5:00 mark). [Embedding is disabled, but I strongly encourage your to watch this]

Like I said, I don't argue with the Desired End State; I'm just not at all sure of what will be left when things are done. But I do have a feeling, like one written down in the 11th Century and put to music in the 20th.  O Fortuna:

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
and waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
poverty
and power
it melts them like ice.

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
you are malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
shadowed
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

Fate is against me
in health
and virtue,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating strings;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!


Fortuna's Wheel has winners and losers.  We shall all of us have to choose when we think we have more to win from another spin of the wheel.  Just understand that while you might win, others might lose.  Your calculus should consider who they are and whether fate should pluck their vibrating string.

Because when Civilization collapses, it falls hard.  I posted before about the Fayum Mummy Portraits from the Roman Empire and how portrait painting was a thriving (and stunningly competent) part of their civilization.  Then that civilization fell and it took a millennium to recover.

My opinion is that this was the greatest portrait (that we know of) for 1500 years, faded by 1900 years.  It dates from around the reign of Emperor Claudius, or possibly Nero.

And then it was gone, as if it had never been.

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:—
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand."— The City's gone,—
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.
- Horace Smith, "Ozymandias"

May God Bless this Republic.  We will need it.