Starting Another Year

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlbo...

The arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, are encircled by both the Garter and the collar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it very important to thank Jess for her wonderful article yesterday. She said many nice things about me, some of which are true. :-) Where she is really right, is the strain of writing a blog. I decided quite early that it was reasonable to post at least once a day, and while I have never really reconsidered, doing my 4-15 hundred words 7 times a week and 52 weeks a years has often been a strain. Part of that is the unrelieved gloom of the political situation. and part of that is my memory of a better America, where a man worried about his honor. The good thing is that I have found it still exists, you just don’t see it on TV. And not just us old Americans either. One of the lessons that Jessica brings us is that the generations coming after us, and indeed in England as well as America, are very much like we are. We definitely need to increase the tribe, but that can be done. We are not starting completely over.

And, never doubt that she is an integral part of this blog, her by-line hasn’t appeared much in the last few months, and there are reasons for that, I understand and agree with them, but without her, this blog would have gone under several times, when she has rescued me from the ‘Slough of Despond’. It will likely happen again. So, if you like what I write, remember what I told a distinguished contributor from her wonderful blog, All Along the Watchtower yesterday, ” A lot of it, which won’t surprise you, is Jess, more behind the scenes than I would prefer. Muse, partner, supporter, and more, I wouldn’t have made it this far without her.”

One of my hobbies (time-wasters, if you prefer) has become the real estate listings in the £ Daily Mail. No, I’m not seriously shopping but when you live in a world that was settled slightly over a hundred years ago, it is fun to look at houses that are a bit older. Like this one.

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Click to embiggen

It’s in the village of Painswick in Gloucestershire, and it’s called Castle Halle. The description says it is the third castle on the site which records say was occupied by Saxon Thane Ernsige before the Conquest. It passed into the control of the Lords Talbot, and the final Talbot, John of Shrewsbury  demolished the castle in about 1442 and there are some traces remaining. Sir Henry Winston lived here until his death in 1618 and presumably raised his daughter, Sara, here. Sara made a pretty good marriage, marrying Sir Winston Churchill whose son, John Churchill, later the First Duke of Marlborough, who became Queen Anne’s great general, and whose family eventually brought us another Sir Winston, and intermarried into the Spencer’s as well, thus being ancestors of Princess Diana as well.

I don’t care what you say, you just can’t buy a house with a history like that like that in Nebraska :-) I would bet ours are a bit more energy-efficient though.

But, hey, it’s Sunday and we try most weekends to have a movie. So let’s start the fourth year right, with a John Wayne flick. How about War of the Wildcats, and while we watch it, maybe we should think about having an oil boom somewhere besides North Dakota and Texas.

Enjoy

Video Monday: The (Mostly) Whittle Edition

In a sense, I’m cleaning up after the holiday, these have been in the queue for less than a week. All are valuable, and all but one feature Bill Whittle. Normally I would say enjoy, but in this case, pay attention and learn, and start thinking how we are going to fix it.

Obamadelphia, well, why not?

Trifecta on ISIS and why it has erupted, and some on its methods.

Continuing with Trifecta

And a reminder of who we are, and how we got that way.

Oh, yeah, from Norfolk, Nebraska. Which strikes me as a very significant name, combining the stronghold of the Parliamentary forces with a good conservative state.

Decisions: Good and Bad

English: Ameren lineman practicing a rescue.

English: American lineman practicing a rescue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right and wrong. Often we think of them as the two sides of a coin as it were, and often they are, but are they always? Let’s dig a little deeper here.

As a power lineman, and as an electrician I often deal with power that is concentrated enough to kill you quick. Not that it’s always in the line of duty.

Many years ago, a woman friend of mine had a TV fall into the bathtub with her child. The child was killed. It was called a horrible accident, and it was. Or was it? She knew, or should have known that you don’t let electrical appliances get anywhere near the bath, yes some, such as hairdryers are less dangerous because of safety regulations but still, you are taking a risk. And a CRT television (which was the only kind then) is very high on the list, risk wise. There are very high voltages and some are stored for a time. Bad news. She lost the bet. Sadly, although nothing could replace that child, neither could she have another. And so a woman who by most measures was a pretty good mother, is now childless. But it really is her fault, because of her carelessness. But I did and do feel sorry for her as well as the child.

Another story which I’ve told before

They were lucky but, every time Chris looks at his buddy, he’s reminded. Just as that woman in the first story is every time she sees a small child. We say it so often but do we believe it Actions have consequences. Believe it, they do.

And as a responsible supervisor, it is entirely my responsibility to make sure my crew is safe, from hazards known and unknown. Acts of omission can be (and often are) just as bad as acts of commission

I’m very glad neither of those accidents are on my conscience, I’ve been in a measure lucky but I was also taught to be careful, and what can happen when you are not. And yes, I do have some scars from near misses, both physical and mental. We do our best, that’s all we can do.

Church-of-EnglandWhat started me thinking about this now was that yesterday, my co-author Jessica’s fiancé was ordained a priest in the Church of England. And yes, I am extremely happy for them, and even more for the congregations that will have their services over their lifetimes. But what made me think about those stories above is this.

A few months ago, a young woman came to his rectory because she had heard she didn’t need an appointment to talk to a curate. She was in trouble, she was single, and she was pregnant and she didn’t want to be. But let us let Jess tell the story herself, because she was there and she shared with us then. Please do read it, it is here.

It is a remarkable story isn’t it? Especially the part about how she knew she had done wrong, what we would call grievous sin, although that term had no meaning to her.

And that is something that Jess and I have talked about with each other. In the United States, nearly everybody has some passing familiarity with Christianity, it may be entirely wrong, and yet, as a rule people, while they may think us judgemental (and sometimes we are) and with our noses in other people’s business (ditto), they have an idea of what we believe. In Britain, I gather that is not nearly as true. It is entirely possible to grow up and live your life without ever once coming in contact with Christianity. How that interacts with having a state church, I have no idea but, in any case it’s sad.

Most of you know that I consider abortion to be nothing less than infanticide, a fancy name for murdering your child, and I do.

But here’s the thing. In my examples above the actors knew what they were doing, they made an informed choice. In the case of Jess’ friend, she really didn’t. [As an aside here, she has become a stalwart member of the congregation, helping to run a homeless shelter, and very happy in her new-found faith, or so Jess tells me. I admire her greatly, and pray for her often.] But in Britain as in America, for a large part of the population, abortion is a convenience, used to avoid problems in your career and in your love life. In truth that was the case here.

But here, God in some hidden recess of her told her that she had sinned, and from what Jess said, I would guess that she was close to the point of adding suicide to her list of sins. I don’t know if you have ever been close to that black place of despair, I have, a couple of times, and one does not come back without help, of a friend, of a counsellor, or a pastor, and /or God himself. But if you do, you tend to come back stronger.

And that, my friends, is why I don’t condemn people. I do not know what they know, nor do I know how they reached their decision. This young woman reached out to those who were supposed to help her, and they were too busy, but she persisted and found a willing ear in a CofE curate. he listened and sympathised, as was right because he couldn’t make the decision for her. He moved her enough for her to want to see him after her abortion, and in that meeting, the three of them, plus God himself, saved that woman’s life. But reminding her that while those of us that are guilty (and that is all of us) must not cast the first stone, Jess’ friend as well as the woman at the well was instructed (as are we) “Go and sin no more“.

And the way I remember that is to always remember that one can only make decisions based on the knowledge that one has, if we have more complete knowledge, and they ask us, we must share our knowledge (and belief) but we may not, and even God does not, force them to use our knowledge. We all answer individually.

Pilger, NE: Before and After

This is interesting. You’ll remember that I showed a video of the tornado up in Pilger, shortly after it happened , here. Anyway, yesterday the £ Daily Mail ran some photographs taken from The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite. What’s interesting is that you can trace the paths of (both EF-4) tornadoes.

Here’s a before picture:

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And the same view after:

article-2673027-1F347EF900000578-460_634x421

There some difference in the vegetation which may or may not be connected with the storm (I don’t know) but the tornado tracks are as clear as day on this.

Here’s the town after:

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There’s more and a video at the link.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2673027/New-images-destructive-power-storms-hit-Midwest-visible-space.html#ixzz360xMdLns

Keep your head down when the sirens go off, this was bad, even for out here, and more are forecast in eastern Nebraska and Iowa today.

Into the Storm

This happened yesterday, in Northeast Nebraska, and yes there are a couple of dead to mourn, one of them a five-year old.

We’ve developed extraordinary systems to give us warnings over the years but, like anything man-made they don’t always work perfectly, or people get careless. It happens, but one must, and does try.

Back this time of year, in 1776, we were heading into a different sort of storm, and it too would be fatal to some, and as all things are, would also be beneficial to some. In this case the result would be beneficial to the entire world, although as usual, much of the world denies that plain truth of their eyes. Enjoy, A somewhat different version.

1776

 

 

“Trigger Warnings”, “Special Snowflakes”, and Failure

Condoleezza Rice London, England March 1, 2005...

Condoleezza Rice London, England March 1, 2005 source (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the blogs I most enjoy, is written by a neighbor (the way we figure things out here, anyway) Hercules and the Umpire, who is a Federal Judge in Nebraska, and yep, he is the one who had the guts to comment on how women (and sometimes men) lawyers dress in court. I have no idea what his politics are, although I suspect that like mine, they are based mostly on reality. Anyway yesterday, he posted this, and while I don’t have a courtroom, I think this is an appropriate warning to any of you ‘special snowflakes’ who wander in here as well because frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn about your feelings. Here we do and say thing based on experience, success yes, but more often failure, reality, and figuring things out enough to keep most unintended consequences at bay. Here’s Judge Kopf, read and heed, because it applies to life as well as his courtroom.

 

By the way, there are no “trigger warnings” in my courtroom, just a mean ass guy who doesn’t spend a lot time worrying about your feelings. Be damn sure you grow up before you begin practicing law. That’s legal realism.

via Note to law students: No “trigger warnings” in Kopf’s court « Hercules and the umpire..

 


 

 

From the things that do NOT work file: Rutgers University.

 

If you remember they disinvited Condoleezza Rice from being their commencement speaker. It sounded to me like they were afraid that their graduates might not survive a few minutes contact with the real world.  Anyway since he is a nice guy, P.J. O”Rourke penned a piece to help them out. Here’s some excerpts

 

I hear Condoleezza Rice stood you up. You may think it was because about 50 students—.09 percent of your student body—held a “sit-in” at the university president’s office to protest the selection of Secretary Rice as commencement speaker. You may think it was because a few of your faculty—stale flakes from the crust of the turkey pot pie that was the New Left—threatened a “teach-in” to protest the selection of Secretary Rice.

“Sit-in”? “Teach-in”? What century is this?

I think Secretary Rice forgot she had a yoga session scheduled for today.

It’s shame she was busy. You might have heard something useful from a person who grew up poor in Jim Crow Alabama. Who lost a friend and playmate in 1963 when white supremacists bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Who became an accomplished concert pianist before she tuned her ear to the more dissonant chords of international relations.

Secretary Rice was Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Denver and received a B.A. cum laude in political science—back before the worst grade a student had ever heard of was a B-.

The professor who influenced her most was Josef Korbel, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s father.

Secretary Albright and Secretary Rice don’t agree on much about international relations. But they don’t sit-in or teach-in at each other’s public appearances.

Secretary Rice got a master’s in political science from Notre Dame, a Ph.D. in political science from Denver and, in the meantime, was an intern at the Carter administration State Department and the Rand Corporation and studied Russian at Moscow State University.

Well, maybe nobody does need to be smart. But that’s your problem, sitting here thinking you’re so smart for graduating from Rutgers.

She rose from assistant professor to provost at Stanford. (Ranked fifth-best university in America byU.S. News & World Report. You’re ranked 69th.) While she was doing that, she also served, from 1989 to 1991, as the Soviet expert on the White House National Security Council under President George H. W. Bush. [...]

Some of your professors don’t believe that Secretary Rice would be worth listening to. Some believe you need to be taught to disapprove of her morals and ethics. I am quoting your state’s Star-Ledger newspaper: “‘Attending the teach-in will be a strong signal that we will not sit quietly while a small group of irresponsible people [although I’d thought we’d established who they were during the sit-in] dishonor our beloved university,’ said history professor Rudolph Bell.”

Rudolph “Jingle” Bell. It is to be hoped poor Rudolph doesn’t have a very shiny nose.

Anyway, you might have heard something good from Secretary Rice. You’ll hear nothing good from me.

Here you are graduating from Rutgers, which is, as I mentioned, the 69th-best university in America.  Maybe Rutgers should add more vegan selections to its cafeteria fare. U.S. News & World Report scorekeepers go for that kind of thing. Actually, you’re tied for 69th with Texas A&M, an NFL first-round draft with a small college attached.[...]

Now let me address just the young men in the audience. Guys, of the 21.8 million college students, 12.5 million are women and 9.3 million are men. Guys? What? As someone who’s been married a couple of times, I can tell you your wife was always going to be smarter than you. But you’re letting her frame it and hang it on the wall.

I have done research. I have done mathematical analysis. I have also done fieldwork. That is, I’ve talked to people who went to college after the jingle bells of academia took over the institutions. Gosh.

What constitutes a “college education”?

You need to study history, so that it doesn’t come around again and, per Santayana, bite you in the Ukraine. You’re thinking, “Santayana—historically great guitar player.”[...]

Eight or so subjects to get a college education. Think you could find 100 wonderful experts in each of these, 800 professors, for $1.4 billion? That’s $1.75 million a year apiece. There would be applicants. You could hold classes in the Moose Lodge or at the Y. Classes would be large. So was the agora where Socrates taught. But there’s no free WiFi in the Moose Lodge.  And this kind of college education sounds like work.  Which is something you’ll be looking hard for, starting tomorrow.

Go Forth and Fail.

via My Commencement Speech to Rutgers’ Geniuses: Go Forth and Fail

 

And along that line, Bill Whittle has something to say about our old friend failure as well.

 

 

Now start thinking, and failing until you get it right, just like every generation has done.

 

 

 

 

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