May 07, 2021

The Haunt of it is: He Came From Us

It's still kind of shocking to learn that the head of security and products for Dominion, a Canadian company responsible for the votes in some 28 U.S. states, is anti-American and a near psychopath. 

But would we expect otherwise? It's the new normal. If we eliminated near psychopaths from the job market our economy would grind to a halt. You'd be nervous with Coomer as your school janitor let alone being in charge of security for the largest voting machine software company in America and holder of the patent on voting adjudication. 

It reminds me of what Peggy Noonan wrote recently: 

Some of our policing problem is connected to a problem that affects everything: They came from us. Our police come from modern America, that jittery, jacked-up, broken place. They don’t really come from health and stability but from families that are fractured and a culture that is crude and violent, from hypermedia and videogames, from a society that doesn’t cohere. They don’t come from something boring and solid like the cop on the beat 50 and 100 years ago did; they don’t come from a world that went out of its way to teach them manners, morals, faith. How to act.  All the cops, and the perps, they came from us.

 














 

May 05, 2021

Arizona Audit

The post-election reaction to election integrity is much of the "the lady doth protest too much" variety. It's laughable that the audit was opposed by a team of 73 lawyers. The county and state are spending more on attorney fees than the audit itself. 

There's no better example of how we're really only a country on paper at this point, symbolized a few years ago by our failure to even agree on body posture during the national anthem but now demonstrated on a much more significant front. 

To paraphrase Jonah Goldberg, who was tweeting against MTG and Gaetz: If you're more upset, appalled or concerned about people questioning voting machines than with machine's actual code and security, then you should get up from the table and splash some water on your face.

It’s sad that voting integrity has gotten so politicized that even a drop in the bucket ($150k) is seen as a scandalous misuse of funds.  On the contrary, every dollar spent towards trying to pry open the “black box” that is our crap voting system is a good thing. If amateurs and bumblers have to do it, like the Cyber Ninjas, that is not a mark against them but against the ridiculous response by folks like Goldberg's Dispatch to the honest inquiry that made the audit necessary. 

Even if you believe there is no fraud, how can we avoid the appearance of the possibility of that when our voting system is controlled by two private companies? There is oversight, of course, but it still centralizes our voting system to an unhealthy degree. 

It’s sickening that the concerns of tens of millions of Americans are so discounted that even the proposal to wean ourselves from voting machines and to go back to paper ballots is seen as crazy conspiracy thought.  The lack of curiosity is especially stunning given that Senators from both sides of the aisle have expressed grave concerns about voting machines (see Warren and Klobuchar, who did yeoman service pre-2020). 

The Dispatch hit piece on the 'Zona audit was almost information-free other than “trust the experts”.  That ship has sailed. As Eric Coomer’s Instagram handle went: “HiddenInPlainSightForAllToSee".

April 25, 2021

We Only Taste Death

Good homily heard online:

“What does Jesus that we eat the bread of life and not die? After all, we who receive the Eucharist do indeed die. And elsewhere Jesus says we must die in imitation of him who died for us (“truly unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone else it bears much fruit”). So what does he mean? He means that after his Resurrection - because of his Resurrection - the very meaning of death has changed.  For those in Christ death is no longer death, the way it used to be. Those who have eaten sacramentally in faith, hope and love no longer die in the way that Adam died. No, we die in the way the new Adam died. 

"I think we get a little hint of this earlier in the gospel when Jesus predicts the Transfiguration: ‘truly I say to you there are some standing here who will not taste death until the Son of Man comes in his Kingdom.”  

“He says, ‘taste death’. This is significant way of putting it. After the Resurrection death is something that we only taste, just taste. It’s not something that persists. Whoever believes has eternal life - not “will have”. “Has” eternal life. We have eternal life. His risen life is even now our risen life, in mystery, in a hidden way. And that makes all the difference when we approach death. It’s something that we pass through. It’s something that we only taste.”


Interesting Comment Sighted

Interesting comment seen on social media about how the fear and loathing of politicians concerning the AZ audit:

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“Let me explain why the establishment is so terrified of the ongoing audit.

This is the first audit of its kind in the history of US elections. Currently, an understaffed tiny federal agency (EAC) and 2 private testing companies (Pro V&V and SLI Compliance) are responsible for certification of our nation’s voting systems. One of the chief employees at the EAC is a former 10-year executive of Dominion Voting Systems. Pro V&V and SLI Compliance like Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic are all members of CISA's Sector Coordinating Council.”


The same council that issued the "most secure election in American history" statement shortly after the election on Nov. 12th.


The testing from Pro V&V and SLI Compliance had been characterized as “superficial” and “cursory testing” by election security experts.


Enter Cyber Ninjas.


This is an unprecedented thorough audit of an election. From the voter rolls to the physical paper ballots and through the entire electronic voting system.


This includes the election management system, ballot images, adjudication machines, compact flash drives, USB drives, audit logs, election database servers, chain of custody documents, etc.


Everything will be audited under one all-encompassing audit by individuals not associated with the government or voting machine companies.”


Instead of a "superficial" testing of the machines or hand recounts that just run the same printed ballot images through scanners, this will be the first thorough independent audit of a US election in modern history.

April 23, 2021

St. Petersburg in 1915

Read a ridiculous David Brooks NYT column lamenting the despair conservatives feel and how 50% of us aren't so much focused on policy but on basic liberties.  I like what Rod Dreher wrote in response, that Brooks’ column could easily be mistaken for a pro-monarchy piece in a newspaper in St. Petersburg Russia in 1915. 

I think the seminal events for me were:

1. Obama needlessly persecuting the Little Sisters of the Poor over contraception. That his administration couldn’t write an exemption and spent political capital (and dollars in terms of government lawyers) for such a piddling thing. A wake-up that the Left isn’t into peaceful coexistence. 

2. The protests over the national anthem and how even lip-service patriotism was frowned upon in many quarters. Even if respect for the anthem was not from the heart there's the element of the compliment vice pays to virtue. 

3. Gay marriage forced on all states by the Supreme Court. 

4. Spy agencies attempting a coup to remove Trump on charges involving a fake dossier. 

5. And the ultimate insult was the reaction and prohibitions on questioning the 2020 election results.  Even National Review; I can forgive them for missing the voter fraud story but not for dismissing it so airily. There's no excuse, at this point, for thinking federal agencies like FBI and CISA still are on the up and up.  

In 2008 I was wary of Obama but never bought into the "born in Kenya" crap and thought maybe he could do some great good in uniting our country racially. I think by 2012-ish I realized the enemy was within. By 2017 I realized we were in a Cold Civil War. And now in 2021 I think it’s a tossup as to who is the bigger enemy: the Left in this country or China. 

Of course do we even have a republic now given that the FBI and career DOJ guys call the shots? And elections are fixed? Interesting to hear that Rock the Vote registration drives were fruitful regardless of actual voter participation because the registrations were the credit line for fake votes.  They could then pull votes from actual registered voters on precinct level, according to Prof. Douglas Frank, and researchers knocked on thousands of doors in PA and found a huge ratio of people who said they did not vote but for whom a vote was counted.

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My employer PAC sent an email explaining were now only going to contribute only to candidates supporting “diversity, inclusion and equity”, “of good character” (according to whom?), and to no congressman who was in favor of investigating the 2020 election results. 

Thirty seconds later I emailed PAC and asked that my membership contributions cease. 

It’s interesting to see how a trend - that of corporations steadily moving away from the GOP since the Bush years and accelerated under Trump - eventually reaches the local level, in this case my own company and involving my own contributions.  The new GOP will have to be funded by grassroots rather than corporations. 

I posted on the company internal social media this link - on why everything is liberal - which was cheeky but fortunately I have "I quit" money. 

April 12, 2021

Spontaneous Human Combustion and Other Worries

I read an email from The Dispatch (Jonah Goldberg's outfit) and it was hard not to think of the path not taken by my cousin Joe. It was written by journalist Rachael Larimore, from Cincy, who graduated OU in 1995, a very similar life path to Joe without the career results. He now toils in a far less glamorous job unrelated to journalism while she's a managing editor. I pondered fate when I read her story: 

"When I chose to go to OU all those many years ago, it was in many ways a practical decision. It had a highly ranked journalism school, which is what I wanted to study, and in-state tuition made it affordable. I was close enough to home that I could visit occasionally, but not so close that I could show up at home on a Saturday morning and beg my mom to do my laundry."

That would make her about 47, a few years older than Joe. She entered journalism before the jobs crashed due to Craig’s List and later Facebook. I’m guessing Joey is 43 now making them near contemporaries. But she entered the workforce in 1995 and he probably around 2000.  Newspaper revenues fell like a downed rocket beginning in 2000, an economic Great Depression for the industry. Certainly Joe had precious little time to break into that type of job if he desired to do so and the talent required to enter a dying field would necessarily be rare. 

As Warren Buffet said of newspaper decline:  “Simply put, if cable and satellite broadcasting, as well as the Internet, had come along first, newspapers as we know them probably would never have existed."

If Joe seems to be an underachiever then Jesus himself might’ve seemed a failure in the eyes of the world at age 30 before his public ministry. 

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I made it a priority today to find on google maps where the poet Donald Hall lived.  For some reason it felt important to concretize the airy dream of his descriptions of his farm in New Hampshire. I wanted to see it with Google in the way I wanted to see the Shroud of Turin as physical proof of Christ’s death and resurrection.  After a lot of fits and starts I located the cuss; the 1803-built house and 160 acres near the bottom edge of Eagle Pond, a mysterious Elysium come to life via the prying surveillance of Google maps. 

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Later during a workout I listened to Jimmy Akin talk about spontaneous human combustion.  So far the takeaway is that thin nudists will never have that issue.  I commend you all to the podcast “Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World” for further details. Being neither thin nor a nudist, I’m unrelieved of worry.

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I had to laugh at the Drudge (the modern day doomsday report I normally try to avoid) about covid strains being resistant to the Pfizer vaccine. All this trouble to get vaccinated and perhaps for naught. The anti-vaccers may have the last laugh. After a year of disruption and semi-heroic efforts, I think at some point we’ll all be ready to just die in the streets if that’s what it takes to burn out the covid strains.  Virus 1, world 0. 

In a similar fatalistic vein, I feel 2020 marked the epochal turning point at which the nation is set furiously on disunion, the rubicon passed. I’m finally at the point ol’ Hambone was back circa 2011: "burn it down".  The surreal insult to legislators in Georgia attempting to make elections secure just feels all of a piece, that 50% of us have no home here anymore. I'm with Texas, wherever she goes. 

April 09, 2021

Library of the Unabomber

After watching the show Manhunt: Unabomber last night I checked out a website that showed his cabin and saw a photo of his books. Inveterate book snoop that I am, I googled some of the titles. Turns out they weren’t much out of the mainstream except for a taste for literature on revolutions. Loved him revolutions. A wee bit shy on religious literature and Bibles, shockingly.  It seems his historical preoccupations centered narrowly on 1848 European revolt, conquest of Latin America, and Russian revolution. The lack of poetry or fiction reminds me a bit of Chesterton’s madman as one over-relying on reason; Kaczinsky is, after all, a math whiz. 

1. Revolution and Reaction 1848-1852, by Geoffrey Bruun  

2. Many Mexicos -Lesley Simpson

3. Zapata and the Mexican Revolution - J. Womack

4. Conquest of Peru - W. Prescott

5. Conquest of New Spain - Diaz

6. Conquest of Mexico - W. Prescott

7. The Origins of the Latin American Revolutions: 1808-1826, Humphreys/Lynch

8. A history of the Middle Ages, 284-1500 by Sidney Painter

9. Russia a History by Sidney Harcave

10. New Understandings in Administration by Harleigh Trecker, 1961, a social worker and studier of how groups and committees get work done. 

11. The World of the Maya by Victor W. Von Hagen

12. Baroque Times in Old Mexico: Seventeenth-Century Persons, Places, and Practices by Irving Leonard 

13. Guides to learning Latin, Russian, and Spanish. 

14. Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

15. Deerslayer and Last of the Mohicans

16. The Forest People, about indigenous peoples 

17. My Lives in Russia - Markoosha

Review of the last:

“My Lives in Russia is a wartime attempt [1944] to put lipstick on the Stalinist International Socialist dictatorship with whom ‘we’ were allied during the war against the National Socialist dictatorship. But it is a valuable book to compare with Ayn Rand's "We The Living." Both books cover the same country in overlapping eras. The difference is in the slant and spin Markoosha and Ayn put on their depiction of the same objective facts. The exact same events are soul-crushing descents into suffering and despair in one book, and necessary sacrifices joyously endured for the good of the collective in the other. Anyone interested in comparisons and frames-of-reference as applied to values will find this a very informative read.”

April 07, 2021

The Mystery of Raffensperger

Since the '20 election I've been fascinated by the tale of GA Sec. of State Raffensperger, his meteoric rise in politics and his trustworthiness.  An older gent with no history of political ambition, he suddenly ran for a lowly GA House seat in 2015. (Spoiler: by 2018 he was running the state's election system.) 

On January 6th, 2015 he had a problem though. He could not clear 50% of the votes in the special election* for the House seat, and so had a bitter run-off with opponent Kelly Stewart on Feb 3rd. A nail-biter of a race, he had one month to win it.  He went to the local Chinese community and said, "just get me 100 votes" which sounds eerily like Trump's phone call to him later. Of course he was saying it prior to the election so there's that...

And nothing wrong in asking for votes of course. 

But we know that Chinese spies were very active in our politics at this period. Swalwell's spy-lover was very active herself from 2011 through 2015:

She used political gatherings, civic society conferences, campaign rallies, and campus events to connect with elected officials... U.S. intelligence officials believed she was overseeing likely unwitting subagents whom she helped place in local political and congressional offices.

Fang attended regional conferences for U.S. mayors, which allowed her to grow her network of politicians across the country. She also engaged in sexual or romantic relationships with at least two mayors of Midwestern cities over a period of about three years. 

Sen. Feinstein's spy was also active during the same period, with the FBI showing up at the Senator's office in 2013 to warn her. 

Chris Wray acknowledged the threat Chinese spying in particular poses, saying, “China from a counterintelligence perspective represents the broadest, most pervasive, most threatening challenge we face as a country.”

So we have this Raffensperger fellow desperate for votes in this seemingly minor governmental position, perhaps in need of money, the grand money that all politics brings nowadays - and is meeting with a group of politically attuned native-born Chinese who, wittingly or unwittingly, had agents among them.  

* - the special election resulted when Lynne Riley was plucked by ethically challenged Gov. Deal (in trouble previously for having "office staff pressure Georgia officials to continue the state vehicle inspection program that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for his family's auto salvage business"); Reilly was later chosen by present Gov. Kemp as State Treasurer. Riley, Stewart, and Raffensperger all hail from John's Creek, GA, a town of 80,000 and apparently a hotbed of aspiring pols.

Late model political careers suit Georgians: Govs Deal and Kemp, Sec Raffensperger, Treasure Riley all got relative late starts after owning businesses (likely seeing how business and politics intersected and noting where the money was). 

April 06, 2021

The Verboten Book

It's fascinating to see how the mere idea of election fraud is treated like the ebola virus by the elites: they must eradicate, contain, quarantine any suggestion of fraud.  Is challenging Dominion Voting really the same as calling for the extermination of Jews?  Yet they are treated the same. 

For example,  a search for Mein Kampf is found as top search result on Amazon. 

While, hilariously, I watched in real time as The Deep Rig by Patrick Byrne became progressively harder to reach via Amazon's search engine. His bestselling ebook really got their attention.  In the first couple weeks, you could search for "Deep Rig" and find it among the first results. Then I noticed it would auto-change the word "rig" to "ring" and look for books around the title "Deep Ring".  This seemed odd. 

But that was a temporary measure because a couple days later I could type "deep rig" successfully in their search bar though it did not bring up Bryne's in pages of results.  But I noticed I could still type "Patrick Byrne" and get the result wanted. 

But that still wasn't enough.  The algo was tweaked again and they've thwarted that avenue. They are making sure the only way to find it is via direct links from other users. 

This review, by K. Martin, is represenative: 

5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Difficult to Find Must Read

Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2021

I searched for this book on Amazon, VERY difficult to find. Curious, it isn’t difficult to find about any book I want- Amazon often finds books/products with obscure search terms but for some reason this one is hard to locate, even searching for the title- “The Deep Rig” comes up with everything BUT the book. It’s almost as if algorithms are written to discourage idly curious people from finding and therefore buying this.

I read Byrne’s observations/account as he wrote them, I think it was a 6-part series on his website, almost a blog. I was absolutely mesmerized by the topic, his firsthand experience, what he uncovered, how he did it, why and the very fact that he spent tens of millions of dollars- his own money and by his account somewhere close to half of his entire net worth to pursue the truth- by a man who didn’t vote for President Trump appears to be entirely altruistic, unnervingly rare today- it seems that everyone has an angle, something to gain and his story is both fascinating and nauseating. I didn’t want to believe the depth and breadth of corruption in our country, in each of its agencies and to learn of this was insightful while disgusting, difficult to accept but easy to believe- the United States is in real trouble and on a level, depth and breadth that appears to be impregnable- there are just too many powerful people with too much to lose and it appears that all of the safeguards that the founders put into place to avoid the situation that we are in have not failed us, the people entrusted and sworn to defend and protect these documents and therefore us...the governed have most certainly failed us.

I see no easy solutions however continue to believe that the clown show of illegitimate leadership that “leads” the country today is a house of cards that must fall. The fact remains that our elected leadership will be held accountable- clearly vote fraud must be solved before anything substantive will change but I see no alternative. I have no idea how this might play out, how this might be solved but I simply refuse to believe that this is the end of our republic, this is where it all ends, this is the end of the road for the United States of America and therefore the end of the free world.

Of course I could be wrong, this very well may be the end but I still hold out hope and pray daily for a return to integrity, truth, justice and good over evil.

The political class stepped over the line long ago, they forgot that this doesn’t work from the top down and I simply do not believe that Americans will allow our country to be lost, to be stolen right in front of us. I don’t know anyone who believes that everything is normal, that it’s just another day, another administration, just another year. We are living in historic times and because of Patrick Byrne and others we know the truth, he has done our country an incalculably valuable service in investigating, documenting and disseminating the truth, giving us all the opportunity to make this right.

I am incredibly grateful for this man and his teams. Our country owes a debt of gratitude to all involved.

March 30, 2021

Seven Takes

Life was scary as a kid. I remember seeing TV depictions of quicksand and I actually thought that was a not completely unlikely death. Same thing with spontaneous internal combustion stories in the National Enquirer.  I can still remember my flesh crawling when reading about one in the 1970s, surely right after Mom brought the tabloid home along with the cinnamon bread that I liked to eat. 

It probably didn’t help to read Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!, which sometimes had a ghoulish aspect. Much worse was the horror of a local murder of a family at Easter, which was our generation’s Manson family killings.  Add to it the grisly details of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire and the ‘70s were sort of harrowing for tender youth. 

Other events didn’t effect me at all. The Who concert debacle where some people died due to too crowded conditions didn’t seem as terrifying. Elvis’s death also; he seemed pretty old to me at the time.  Now not so much...

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It’s interesting to consider there is spiritual gluttony and not just the eat and drink variety.  For example, I was always kind of envious of St. Paul, who received a special visitation from Christ. I didn’t grasp how much turmoil his life was thereafter, including prison and amputation of the head. 

But even St. Paul could’ve been spiritually gluttonous if he’d wanted. He could’ve yearned for more visitations, including while he was being shipwrecked or imprisoned or whatnot.  And he also could’ve yearned to have been one of the Twelve, to have gotten to know the human Jesus and witnessed the miracles, like the changing of water into wine or the feeding of the five thousand, himself. 

But the funny thing he wasn’t spiritually gluttonous because he didn’t need to be since he - and all of us - have all the Jesus we desire. God is omnipresent. There was no less Holy Spirit when Paul was in prison singing hymns than when Peter was on the mount of Transfiguration. 

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Great Heather King post: 
Christ’s death on the Cross made it possible for someone like me to be propped up, one day at a time, sufficiently to participate in life, to contribute in some small way, to feel occasional stabs of joy.

And to those who think attendance at Mass is the mark of a small, confined, rigid, parochial, lemming-like worldview, to me there is and could be nothing wider, deeper, higher than the sacrifice re-enacted on the altar. Nothing more sublime, nothing more mysterious, nothing more astonishing, nothing more counterintuitive, nothing that opens onto more infinite vistas. Nothing more unexpected, nothing more radical, nothing more of love. Nothing I deserve less– than to “stand in your presence and minister to you”–as the Eucharistic prayer runs.
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Cold and windy day follows sunny warm day. Rinse and repeat.  March giveth, and March taketh away.  

Ah Florida, sweet Florida. Glory days in the sun with 4pm beach beers and the promise of margaritas dancing in our heads. The panache of the Gene bookstores. The tucked-away bike paths. The yore of the yearn, the yearn of the yore. The glad-handling of groceries delivered as if by magic wand.  The morning walks and dusk strolls and the constant variety of seashells. The walk out pool.  The gator’d pond and jungled fringes.
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Patrick Byrne suggests in 6-8 weeks the whole election scam will exposed to all. Obviously the track record of the good guys on this has been spotty. But would be a great hopeful sign if the rot in our system would be exposed.  If it does get exposed National Review is certainly dead to me, as well as any conservative media who similarly treated election fraud as a joke.  
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From St. Ephraim The Evergetinos:
"Take care, my brothers and sisters, for the Evil One wars against spiritual strugglers in sundry ways. He works against man with unimaginably hypocritical cleverness. Thus, before sin is committed, the enemy diminishes its significance in the eye of the strugglers. More than any other sin, he puts before them the desire for fleshly pleasure as such a small thing that, prior to succumbing to it, it appears as insignificant to the conscience of a brother or sister as throwing a glass of cold water on the ground. When, however, the fleshly desire is fulfilled, then the Evil One greatly puffs up the sin in the conscience of the sinner, kindling in his soul numberless thoughts of despair, like black waves from Hell, so that the brother’s good thoughts of repentance are submerged and he is hurled into the depths of hopelessness."


March 21, 2021

Mission Talk from Priest Visitor

Heard interesting parish mission talk... Some notes: 

We talked yesterday a lot about mystery and even the theological mysteries of our faith, but also kind of the mysteries of reality itself. We can oftentimes arrive boundary at a limit and then because that's as far as our mind can go, and we presume that that's as far as reality goes. But that's not really the case. I found a quote: “mystery is not something about which we can never know anything, but something about which we can never know everything, so there is always something that we have not yet arrived at”. Horizons of possibility is what happens both in science - we saw yesterday that the highest degree of certitude in science is probability, and we have certitude and faith in so far as what Jesus Christ has revealed and has told us, aside from that is speculation and we reach horizons of the probable without being able to define and close the definition.

Faith - that which should be awe-inspiring - has become in too many cases too ordinary for us.  Autobiographically, I remember in the mid-80s having studied  in the seminary Thomas Aquinas and I studied theology in Innsbruck which was the theology basically of Karl Rahner and so these were my mindsets, my intellectual mindsets, about how to figure everything out. Because I always have to figure it out because I always have to be able to articulate it, and my Methodist father was a great debater and I never wanted to lose to him.  

But by the mid-80s I thought neither of those systems were really very responsive to the questions that I'm having with things or with my mind and my heart, and I thought, “I have to find something I have to find a new way.” A lot of times people decide at that point either to turn around and walk away, which was very popular in my day, or where they just kind of had to make it up themselves. 

But just making it up isn’t a good idea and I took this from Fr Romana Guardini. He was one of the great teachers fo the Faith and said most disturbing fact is if a man who is expounding on God relied upon subjective criteria and experience, his conception of God showed a suspicious similarity to his own personality.

Consequently, one man would find God to be a divine reality which best conforms to his own temperament thereby losing sight of the living whole. We run into a lot of people who say, “well you know I don't follow any organized religion that I'm a spiritual person” and they run this risk of being the creator of a god who looks too much like themselves to be too credible outside of their own consciousness. 

This doesn't mean that I have to know everything, I just have to know where I am in relationship to this thing we call faith.  And so at that time in the mid 80s I took a trip up to St. Bonaventure University to an older priest who I had been in graduate school and I was an undergraduate school and I told him I can't articulate the faith well anymore, I don't have the language, I don't have the concepts.  He said the language is exhausted and that what I have is inadequate. He said I should start reading St. Bonaventure which I did, and Bonaventure opened  something like windows because what I felt before was the idea that somehow or other Catholicism is confining, and that's what was troubling me because I don't like being confined in my thoughts or in my heart and soul. 

He opened the windows for me and as I explore those more and more I began to see other possibilities, other ways of being faithful, other ways of believing that I had had before.

Then later on, while I was pastor here, I was with a monk friend at the Abbey of Gethsemane, and I would go to confession and talk about things with Fr. Hewitt and we were talking and he said something very interesting. He said, “you know, I think the language we use is exhausted. If you want to continue to explore in this journey, you’re going to have to turn to physics.”  He said there’s a new science called quantum physics and it’s beginning to open up vast horizons about reality. And he recommended a book to me. 

There is a core, a secret, a mystery, who possesses the sacraments and is the one who owns them, and who possesses the words, the books of the Bible. What happened in the Protestant Reformation is once the Scriptures turned from being a person to being a book, then who makes sure what the book really means? If you put the book forward and Luther says, “this what the Scripture means and how you interpret it”.  What do you do when John Calvin comes along and says, “no it means this”.  Then how are you going to figure out what it means? 

Well, the solution was: “let’s subject it to literary criticism. And we will go back and analyze the language and the structure and we will go back and decide intellectually what it means and we will treat it like a book, any other book.” And all of a sudden there is no mystery, no secret anymore. It doesn’t have a meaning of great depth. It becomes maybe ethical, moralistic, historically questionable. All of those kind of things. So what is it? It’s another book. But that isn’t what it is because the word of God is a person not a book. 

And there was a great struggle that went on just before Vatican II, and a young doctoral student named Joseph Ratzinger was about to flunk the major exam of his life because he said that the Word, the Person, is the subject of revelation and that we know what that is in our relationship with him. The professor said that’s unacceptable because it means that something about the truth of Jesus Christ depends on how you or I interact with him, how we receive him in our lives, and that can’t be done. And Ratzinger overcame the difficulty and during the Second Vatican Council he basically wrote the document on the Word of God and he wrote what he wrote in his exam and so now is a conciliar document of the Church.  We receive the word in our own hearts. Without a relationship with the Word of God we have no entree into the secret of the words of God, i.e. the Scriptures.  Therefore subjectivity is part of Catholic faith.   Not that we take it and reconstruct it in ourselves any way we please. If a couple gets married in a good relationship but they don’t really care what’s inside the other person, they just know who they have to become to make me happy, it’s not going to last very long and it’s not going to be a pleasant scene. 

March 19, 2021

Seven Friday Quick takes

St. Joseph day today in the year of St. Joseph! A double celebration. I partook of meat and I swear it tasted better for the dispensation from the Lenten abstinence.

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Everybody and their brother (including my, ahem, younger brother!) seems to have no problem finding slots to get their vaccine. Mid-40s Dennis and my age Ron both have had the vaccine or had appointments. Ridiculous how they keep opening to young demographics when old me can’t even buy a shot.  

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St. Patrick's Day felt of Spring though not necessarily of St. Patrick’s Day. No festivities or parades at all but for a little obligatory Irish music on the radio. I yearn sometimes for those “sophisticated” nights on the town, in the little hollows of Columbus Irishdom where Bone and I tipped Guinness and Jamieson singing our lungs off. Sigh. But it was bound to end as Bone’s wife hated it... It’s all for the best I guess. 

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Today we drove some a half hour up to northern Plain City to some hamlet called Milford or whatnot and it came to nought.  We're looking for rural property to escape the 'burbs. The 5-acre property at 20000 Middleburg Plain City Rd in Milford Center showed up on the website as a delightfully wooded property with a stream. What it didn’t show was that there’s a giant electrical grid right in the middle. Standing some 50 ft tall, it looked like a cross between a windmill and a steel praying mantis.  A huge set of high wires glared overhead and cut through the whole property. We didn’t bother getting out of the car of course.  You have to laugh at how caveat emptor everything is.  We did a backdoor Roth recently and the broker didn't tell me they'd take 5% in fees. But I was fool enough not to have asked. 

___

Thrilled to learn today that Blessed Margaret of Castello, a 13th century cripple, is to be made a saint in September of this year. Downtown St. Patrick’s, where I used to frequent, prayed faithfully every Wednesday after Mass for her canonization. Literally for about 15-20 years. It felt kind of hopeless at times and I surely didn’t expect to see it in my lifetime as it took 300 years to make her a blessed and now almost 400 to see her a saint.  

___

Despite the unlovely and untalented Daylight Savings Time “feature”, which jacked with the clocks today, I headed out at the surreally early time of 9:15am (or 8:15am body clock) to a church much Hispanic-influenced.  One purpose was confession as it had been a month and, as I think Pope Francis said, “go to confession when you get your haircut”. 

No churches in my immediate vicinity offer confession on Sundays. The schedule for this church was 9:15-9:45 but when I arrived at 9:20 there didn’t seem any confessional action going on. So I asked someone and they directed me to go around and ask the priest.  Not ideal as this would obviously be face-to-face now. I walked in on the Mexican priest (this is a Mexicano parish famous in the city for its Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations and outdoor processions) reading his breviary. He said, “just a minute” so I loitered outside his office area and about 30 seconds later he came out to get me.  I said my piece and then tried my short version of the Act of Contrition but he shook his head and gave me a card with a fuller version, which I then prayed. 

A different priest, a white guy, had the Mass and said, “some people say confession is too easy, too simple. I tell them it’s not what we do, it’s what He does. Look at the Cross to see what it took Him to win our forgiveness.” He added that some people think Confession is a pain and too much trouble and he wants to say, “are you kidding? Look at the Cross...” 

He also mentioned that there isn’t enough preaching on Christ’s promise of Heaven. He meets with dying people often and sometimes the family looking on look at him like he’s crazy when he talks about eternal life. He mentioned that a significant problem in the last 100 years has been the question of why God allows suffering and that many get “tangled up in that, which is what it is, a tangling up”. He said he’s struggled with that in the past but the best remedy is to look at the crucifix as that’s the proof that God loves us and that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to prevent suffering if it weren’t for some purpose. He said one of his favorite Scriptures is “Jesus wept” because Jesus wasn’t weeping for Lazarus, whom he knew he would raise, but at the grief of Martha and Mary.  He said that a lot of it is bound up with free will as well and that God limits himself by allowing us to have free will in a similar way to how parents limit their authority by allowing their children freedom to do good or ill. 

Sure it’s familiar and we all know it but we can forget. 

As a local Dominican priest wrote:
WE EXPERIENCE GREAT SADNESS IN LIFE precisely because we forget things. Jesus institutes the Eucharist to make his love for us unforgettable. At the Last Supper, Christ chooses a scrap of bread to become his body in order to prove his desire to do the same with our nothingness.
The priest at this parish gave a short homily after both the first and second readings. That’s different! And then for Communion they had a deacon come out in the crowd and give everyone Communion that way (possible since every other pew was open due to covid, allowing the minister the room to get to everyone).  First time I’ve ever not had to move to receive Communion!  There were probably about 30-40 in church for this English mass. I’m betting the Spanish masses are very crowded.
___

Charles Smith in “Cheap Ticket to Heaven”:
“He began to think of the pure holy desire that was the infant’s life, and then he wondered where this went to, how it was possible to eradicate this desire, and then for the ten thousandth time he was amazed any of it disappeared, that all of them, every ordinary squarehead, was not ravenously and unappeasably grabbing every bright item he came across; he didn't know how anyone knuckled under for long, how anyone could stand not taking.”

March 09, 2021

Trip Log Sanity-Bel

Saturday: Boarded the Southwest plane in Columbus where everyone participated in the polite fiction (fact for some) that covid was over. Suffice it to say that if the person in the middle seat next to me has it, I now have it. And likely same true for any adjoining seats. Mask or no mask, sitting on a plane next to people for 4 hours (a promised 2.5 hour flight but oh well) is not ideal, especially when everyone within earshot is talking boisterously as if at crowded bar. 

So we got the travel day done. The promised noon to 2:30pm flight didn’t work out as promised. The flight was delayed and then to make up for it we sat for over 40 minutes waiting for a gate at Fort Myers. (They said, “ten minutes” which I guess is sort of the default time period when you have no time period).  So it ended up being a 12-4pm flight. We get to the rental car area and Budget, with whom I’d reserved a car from, had a line that looked like the one for the Racer roller coaster at Kings Island circa 1975. On a weekend. It snaked from the far end past about four other rental car lines sans social distancing. So it wasn’t a tough call. Got in a cab and cancelled my reservation. By 5pm we were bliss-bound. 

Got checked in easily and then faced life without a car, so we rode our bikes to Jerry’s and had a delicious meal. Mimosa and steak dinner and Steph had shrimp. Picked up beer and milk afterward only it was now pitch-dark and Steph wasn’t thrilled about riding the 1.3 miles in the darkness. But we got it done using a iPhone as a headlight. 

Do I detect a tinge of self-guilt over leaving the dogs to the tender mercies of the kennel this week? Far from their comforting routines and rich supply of treats? Perhaps a wee bit... they are creatures of habit and the habit is gone. 

Sunday: Gape-jawed at the full moon studding the horizon last night, framed by palm trees and the lit blue pool of the complex.  Somehow it feels like in January the warmth and sun is unearned or not quite as appreciated. By late February I’m desperate for Floridation. I keep waiting for the right moment to say to Steph, “we should live down here.” The example of relatives land friends who have done so nags. The advantage of buying is that then you can live here without guilt, like how you can eat as much as you want at an all you can eat buffet versus an ala carte menu. Going down for the month of February is easy to say but going to be really hard to do repeatedly given the mental barrier of the serial expenses.  

But the time isn’t right. She didn’t see the bike jaunt from Jerry’s last night as an adventure but more as a fail, blinded as she was by the oncoming car lights of busy San-Cap road. Then of course the frustration over familial concerns, self-inflicted. We tune into the eldercare station almost as often as he uses his pulse oximeter monitor. 

This first vacation morning when I wake up realizing I don’t have to serve the dog’s breakfast or do do work brings to mind the old time lyrics, “He flies through the air with the greatest of ease / a daring young man on the flying Trapeze.” 

Interesting homily at St. Isabela's where the priest mentioned a novel idea as to why Elijah and Moses were with Jesus at the Transfiguration. Perhaps to illustrate the contrast: both had easy deaths - in the case of Elijah no death at all but a chariot ride to Heaven. Moses fell asleep in the Lord while still in full vigor at an advanced age.  So it was a way of saying that that time has passed. Jesus’s death was anything but easy. 

So short stroll in the morning coupled with a cigar. Vacations always start “in the hole” and this one no less given the travel hassle and car rental problems. So an easy Sunday slated. Watching the waves and figuring I spent about 50 cents per wave to experience them, ha. 

Random thoughts: our idea of profound humor as kids was saying “whale on the beach!” upon seeing an obese person. Thought 2: I love the Gulf. Four feet from surf and tide hasn’t moved an inch!  Thought 3: George W Bush as progenitor of Trump, for he taught America that skull and boners commit frequent boners (like fighting the wrong enemy over non-existent weapon stashes) so may as well just go with amateurs.  

Took $10 flat rate taxi (Island Taxi) to George and Wendy’s restaurant and had a heavenly lunch/dinner there. Beers and split a margarita. Rack of ribs and salad. Yum. Beautiful summer weather.  Hungry and thirsty and there’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot day. 

Ordered groceries from Bailey's online!  So feels like we stole a day down here. 

____

Ouch...this from Russian writer Solzhenitsyn has the ring of truthiness about it: 

Long periods of wellbeing and comfort are in general dangerous to all. After such prolonged periods, weak souls become incapable of weathering any kind of trial. They are afraid of it. Difficult trials and sufferings can facilitate the growth of the soul. 

Not good vacation reading. 

Monday: 

Another stellar morning in the Floridian paradise. Fort Myers consciously refers to itself as paradise while Hilton Head makes no such bold claims. (Presumably because Hilton Head is no paradise during the winter months. )

Morning songs came to mind: Morning Has Broken and Three Dog Nights' Joy to the World (for the line, presumably, “joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea”). 

We sauntered the beach in the morn; it’s warm already. Steph might say “hot”.  77 degrees feels hot given our sharply chilled February. High of 79. 

I appreciate not having to plan the Normandy invasion to go outside as at home: like sweatshirt, followed by hooded sweatshirt, coat, hat, gloves, sling for coffee thermos, then.... leash the dogs and go!

I hold forth on my patio/Florida room, feeling the pronoun despite the trip’s brevity. I misunderestimate how much I enjoy eating out, at least eating out on a patio with a drink.  The little things add up, like not having to pick up dishes and bag up trash. Just eating outside in summer weather is part of the appeal.  George & Wendy’s Diner is perfectly in our wheelhouse. Also nice to see competence in the form of waitstaff and cooks. Pros. 

Reading the Florida novel Shadow Country and some Melville for old times’ sake. Our goals: drinks & shuffleboard, maybe a bike ride if we’re incredibly ambitious. 

Meanwhile, belated 12:45pm arrival to that point twenty-some miles shy of the horizon.  The exquisite pre-2pm sun, the viaticum  of guten morgen light. Oh grace-shimmer of water on shore! Waves seeking their sand-bound home, endlessly lapping.  A thousand constellations within eye’s reach. 

Moby Dick:

Oh, immortal infancy, and innocency of the azure! Invisible winged creatures that frolic all round us! Sweet childhood of air and sky! how oblivious were ye of old Ahab's close-coiled woe!

Tuesday: Enjoyed a morning respite along the banks of the pond on the quiet back property. Saw a duck with a bright-red head and an iguana the size of a small gator -- which is what we initially mistook it for.  (Funny to see a “no swimming” legend on sign outside a black water gator pond. As if! You really shouldn’t have to say it...)

Then biked to Bailey’s store and afterward  to our old friend Island Inn, a hotel so historic there’s a road named after it. A nice  shelled beach,  so we stayed and while Steph did the “Sanibel stoop” and I sat mesmerized by the narcotic of ocean waves.  An old BeeGees song came to mind: “Too Much Heaven”. 

I go into the little wing next to restaurant with bookshelves that I thought of as a sweet sunroom. Smaller than I remembered it. (Lo and behold it faces due south according to my iPhone compass.)

We were then busted by Island Inn worker who told Steph this was private property.  Former residents we were, but no alumni pass for us, boo. 

We biked right smack dab into a “summer afternoon”, or so it felt, the heat generous but not overbearing.  Rode past myriads of flowered hedges, shrub plants and scrub trees, and I wondered idly how different these were from the flora of Hilton Head.  The dark water holes where gators might lurk were certainly familiar. 

The lull-sea. Soothe and booze. Fish guts for shore birds. The pointillistic sun glued to the water like glitter. Romcom couples striding. Paperbacks by the seashore.  A gentle day of sea camp and beach walk and a 5 mile bike ride under “July” skies. 

Someone on beach was reading, “The Last Pirate”.  Which lead me to check amazon site which leads me to read a sample of a different but similarly titled book: “The Last Pirate of New York”.  (It had me at “pirate” and clinched it with “New York”. ) Also download a sample of Gringos,  a novel about an ex-pat in Mexico as mentioned by Amy Welborn in her blog. An ex-pat in Mexico, ahhh. Also some of Dave Barry’s funny book on Florida. Keep Florida weird I say. 

___

Thinking of an in-law's plight, it’s perhaps a poor analogy but I sometimes think of prayer of petition in “hopeless” cases similar to acquiring a lottery ticket. The ticket may not be a “winner” but it is still a live ticket with a chance at winning. To not play the lottery is to have an infinitely smaller chance of winning (i.e. 0%). 

Where the analogy fails is the lottery is random and impartial, while God is not random and is partial towards us.  And even a losing prayer-lotto ticket is not a loser because the prayer is answered in a different way: Jesus did not receive a positive answer for the cup to pass him by but was answered in the form of angels coming to his side at Gethsemane to comfort him.  

Wednesday: I hitched up the bike at 8am and rode on bike to St. Isabela Church for 8:30 mass.

Pelican soars overhead and seems unaware of the gift of flight and the envy humans feel. The story of us as well given we’re usually numb to our gifts.

___

Finished watching documentary “The Plot Against the President” free on Amazon Prime last night. Really well done and needful given most don’t realize how treasonous our intelligence services are. Nice to have extremely professional directing/photography/storytelling on the right side of the spectrum for once, although obviously this story is as bipartisan as it gets since an attack on the president is an attack on us all. 

___

So we had a cloudy spell from 10:30-2pm, so I lit out for the territories to Gene’s Books Too and then across the street to Gene’s Books. The former carries a splendiferous supply of history, politics and Florida genre while the latter is a cornucopia of fiction. I like the layout and atmosphere of the first one but the second one is charming as well given the labyrinth of rooms and cottages. Yes they have a path to at least two other small houses also full of books (one devoted to world fiction and the other to American fiction). As you walk in and there are aisles labeled “British Mystery”.  Who knew British mysteries were so popular?  Such that American fiction is banished to a backwater cottage? 

I was certainly amazed at the volumes of volumes. The two stores displayed avalanches of works such that I could’ve spent a whole day there, and it made me think how ridiculous another book about almost anything is given the redundancy.  

I came out with a dollar novel (Cheap Ticket to Heaven by a Charlie Smith, yeah, right, made up name), Vagabonds - light historical read about Edison and Ford, and a quirky book by a nature writer called Finding Beauty in a Broken World.  Have to support your local or non-local bookstore. 

I pick up Smith’s book and come across a lovely passage that reminds me of my desire to get lost in a field of corn, ala Field of Dreams. 

...the big yellow fields, soaring off like runways from across the street fascinated him: ornate smooth-topped grass you would probably run away into at least once if you were born in that town - fields children probably disappeared into, got lost in...running for you life you could vanish into wheat.  

Smith is a poet in addition to novelist which is ideal, like how a great 880 meters runner has natural gifts in the marathon should he have the endurance. Always bet on the poet with endurance rather than the workman plodder. 

___

I was impressed that Gene’s Books Too prominently displayed verboten conservative books right as you come in (Andy Ngo and Candace Owens) despite flying a gay flag out front. The things you'll do to make a living, right? 

So about ten miles of biking today and a mile jog along the beach at 3:30pm when I landed for the first time all day there. And the sun is back, Jack. 

But wind and chill kill the ambiance around 4 but we stick it out for an hour before exchanging it for the windless sun-pool. Ahhhh. Now I’m in the civilized glade riding the perishable sun down to its 6:30 denouement. There’s something to be said for the tranquility of the Florida sun cast on the paver pool deck, beer resting comfy and stable at my side, passersby at a minimum, and water still as a pane of glass. Nice contrast with the unruly sea scene where wind whips, sand heaps, people walk by in an endless parade, and the water crashes. Quieter and warmer, we make it till just shy of 6, so a 3-hour outdoorsy window. 

Thursday

Restful cloudy morning; up by 6:15 and napping by 7. Read a lot of Andy Ngo’s explications on antifa in Unmasked. By 8 finally up for good. 

Then we wandered like clouds to the fishin’ hole, fishin’ for gators that is. And we were rewarded with two little fellers on the far bank, sunning themselves and immobile as inanimate objects. 

Then off to pool when the sun came out and enjoyed some recess there. Ah, this is the life.  The odd thing is I can take time off at work and feel less “busy” than here. Between beach, biking, pool, pond, shuffleboard, drinking, etc... it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. 

I’m dinner-less tonight and tomorrow due to my lack of foresight on buying chicken and, for Friday, shrimp. Will have to Jerry’s it at some point today I guess. (Later: Uber Eats to the rescue! Ordered from Bayside Grill in Fort Myers).

We did a nice long 1.5 mile beach stroll looking for pretty shells.  Felt the water on my ankles and the obliging sand under foot. 

Best title of a 17th century book: “A Just and Seasonable Reprehension of Naked Breasts and Shoulders, Written by a Grave and Learned Papist” by Jacques Boileau.

Jacques would have a lot reprehensions here. 

Derek Walcott excerpts: 

"Five years ago even poverty seemed sweet, So azure and indifferent was this air, So murmurous of oblivion the sea, That any human action seemed a waste...

“the wounds that make you think.”             

"Heaven remains Where it is, in the hearts of these people, In the womb of their church, though the rain’s Shroud is drawn across its steeple. You are less than they are, for your truth Consists of a general passion, a personal need..."

Ah what a vacation I’ll remember fondly. The maze-like Harry Potter halls of the Gene’s Books, the espirit de corps lunch at George & Wendy’s, the non-tidal water edging, the beach walks into the happy-go-lucky sun, the quietude of the pool deck, Mass at St. Isabela’s, the sprint-run on Thursday, the visit to the genteel Island Inn, the new, fresh reads....

Friday

March here is great. January here is a bit cold. The difference of five weeks seems pretty clear.  Or maybe not so much: from 57-73 low/high to 61-76 low/high. Funny the difference four degrees makes especially when wind factored in.  A typical 11-14mph sea wind makes for a 5-7 degree drop so now it’s 51/67 versus 55/71. The sun adds a degree or two so probably feels closer to 53/69 versus 57/73, meaning overall average in January is 61 and in early March it’s 65. The latter is almost room temperature.  

By 10am it’s warmed up mucho and is pool weather.  A gluttonous sixth day in this paradise. Beautiful beach walk watching pelicans gobble fish-prey in shallow one foot water.  Rare for me to see them so close to shoreline. They float and fly, win-win for them. 

Nice variety of morning walks this week: two to the pond area, three on beach, and one bike ride to church. Showers all afternoon tomorrow so we getting out at perfect time.  

____

After a lovely bike ride down the winding paths near the old cemetery (while dreams of buying a condo in Florida danced in my head), and after passing by Spanish-styled mansions of hues red or orange and by hibiscus bushes the size of trees tressing the properties, we played some shuffleboard. Where I lost two games to Steph decisively. A low moment in my athletic career such than I’m even questing my athlete status. 

Then 3:00 is beach o’clock, a late call to the emerald waters and pluff sands, all of which will evaporate tomorrow morning - like Cinderella’s plight at midnight - and we will return to 35 degree reality, a climate colder than my refrigerator’s interior. 

We take a last walk - like a prisoner’s last meal - and come back to find crows had got into my bag and scored some of our popcorn. So now we have crow salvia on the popcorn. And a noisy feathered neighbor who refuses to leave with the others, knowing good popcorn when he tastes it.

I read Cheap Ticket to Heaven beside the unfailing waters. There’s something to be said about a new read on vacation, not picking up something already partially read under the conditions of home and work. Cigar smoke pleasantly wafts from precincts unknown. The tallest tree within eyesight is “the pelican tree” where more than a dozen rest from the fishing labors. 

A lovely white bird with a long neck, a species of egret likely, looked at me square on as if expecting something. Very unafraid. I brought him with a half dozen kernels of popcorn,  promptly ignored. Two minutes later a seabird scooped them up. How that bird knew they were food from the heights I do not know. 

And then time ran out. 6pm and the light was on the westward track to disappearance. Watched riveting Netflix limited series called “Murder Among the Mormons”. 

Saturday ; Sudden-thrust home, bereft of a leisurely sun-cast morning and hop-a-long afternoon just when I was getting my sea legs, just when I was reintroducing myself to poetry and getting lost in the clouds...























February 26, 2021

Friday Hot Takes

A balmy 40+ degrees this week, the first snow melt since January, a full month of having an exquisite snow blanket cover the ground. I think a month is enough and has served all my snow needs for a year. 

___

Kind of mesmerized by the earnest young people in our diversity meeting today. Touching how religious they are in their desire not to offend others by a stray remark. They really take to heart identity politics and have bought into their own guilt.  One fellow is Mr. Alan Alda, a sweet sensitive guy who wouldn’t insult a flea and yet feels a great need to improve in his diversity awareness. Says that if he sees a picture of the Board of Directors or any group photo of leaders he now notices if they were all white, which he wouldn't have before. He counts this as progress. Sigh. So much for MLK. 

God love them all. These young un’s are the answer to us GenX’rs who were raised on Dilbert cartoons and Letterman. Everyone rebels against the generation previous. 

___

Listened to a good podcast (Conservative Daily) with Michigan attorney Matthew DePerno who is doing the case involving Dominion and Antrim County. He alone was able to capture the prize of prizes in a sketchy election: a holy Dominion server. This deep dive into one county is what we thirsted for.

Inspiring to see his can-do Americanism, to see him smartly anticipate bad actors by having twenty-four guards stationed around a state office building. And sure enough he had to turn away someone at 1am on Saturday morning and another later that afternoon before getting the Dominion goods on Sunday. Reporters of course were inundating him with calls, incredulous that a judge gave him access to the holy of holies. The reporter's job, of course, was to gawk and shake their heads in disapproval, not to investigate. 

He seems capable unlike, God love her, Sidney Powell. She lost me with her basic lack of attention to duty, i.e. spelling errors in her briefs as well as some of her odd tweets. 

___

Kind of an ominous pair of Mass readings today. Jonah preaches to Nineveh: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  Jonah called for a 40 day fast, recreated by Jesus despite his sinlessness. In the gospel Jesus says, “no sign will be given to this generation except the sign of Jonah.”  If Jonah’s sign was “40 days of fasting or Nineveh shall be overthrown!” then Christ’s was “40 days of repentance or Jerusalem will be overthrown!”. And it seems telling it was 40 years between Christ’s death and the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans.   

___

John Henry Newman:

"The simplicity of a child’s ways and notions, his ready belief of everything he is told, his artless love, his frank confidence, his confession of helplessness, his ignorance of evil, his inability to conceal his thoughts, his contentment, his prompt forgetfulness of trouble, his admiring without coveting; and, above all, his reverential spirit, looking at all things about him as wonderful, as tokens and types of the One Invisible, are all evidence of his being lately (as it were) a visitant in a higher state of things."

___

With the temptation of Christ in the desert it’s interesting to follow the logic. 

The devil first attacks Jesus’s identity: “IF you are the Son of God” and tries physical appetite. Jesus follows with asserting that Scripture is food so the devil in next question quotes Scripture and subtly brings into question the love of the Father and angels. This approach worked on Adam and Eve where the main temptations were God’s love for them and the physical appetite.

In the final question he doesn’t question Christ’s identity or the Father’s love or appetites but goes for the raw power grab: worship me instead of them. And the devil is summarily dismissed.

February 13, 2021

Who Needs Russia When We Have the Lincoln Project?

Listened to an Axios podcast about the final days of the Trump presidency and they pointed out how the Lincoln Project ran a December ad only in D.C. and intended for an audience of one (Trump) with the intent to persuade him Pence would have a say in Jan 6th electoral vote. 

Steve Schmidt was reminiscing later about how they were joking that Trump probably didn’t know about Pence’s ceremonial role and came up with this “genius” way to manipulate him. 

What a despicable group of traitors, preying on the weakness of their own president. Who needs Russia or China when our own country sabotages itself from within? But that’s been the goal of the Democrats and haters since the November ’16 election by undermining the president of the United States, not the president of the Republican Party. 

February 11, 2021

An Answer to Rousseau

Excerpt from a Derek Walcott poem:

Meanwhile the steamers which divide horizons prove

Us lost;

Found only

In tourist booklets, behind ardent binoculars;

Found in the blue reflection of eyes

That have known cities and think us here happy. 


February 10, 2021

Update on CO Sec of State

I posted an update on the inexplicable and meteoric rise of the native Ohioan who is now Colorado Sec of State here.  She fits the mold of the type the Obamas like: female, pretty, unlikable, heartless, and ambitious. (See Kamala Harris.) 

February 07, 2021

Trafalgar Poll Tracks With Lindell’s Data

I watched Mike Lindell’s verboten video and the Ramsland fellow seemed credible in part because his research predated the 2020 election by a couple years. Also interesting to me was the web traffic that purports to show interceptions by foreign entities was centered primarily on Michigan and Georgia. 

Of course the obligatory disclaimer applies in that I don’t know how accurate the information is, and since no one with the ability to investigate is much interested in election fraud it’s likely to remain foggy.

But what’s interesting is the Trafalgar poll, which is probably as accurate as our crap voting system's Election Day Month poll, showed both states as easy Trump wins. He showed tighter races in WI and PA. So I suspect Trump got ripped off 32 electoral votes in those states putting him at 264, six shy. And Nevada probably should’ve given him those if that election was done above board. Even the anti-Trump folks at The Dispatch implied the Nevada election was shady. 


Ultimately our country has chosen to have a very complex voting system involving planes, trains, and automobiles as well as proprietary Dominion code that only the shadow knows what lay within. And it’s precisely in complexity where scams can easily take place due to the hidden nature. A field day for conspiracy theorists, sure, but also a field day for fraudsters. 




February 06, 2021

Time Capsule Tunes

Listened to a couple “time capsule” songs. One shouldn’t break them out too frequently or you’ll obliterate the original memories. Like a fossil unexposed to the elements for a thousand years and then ruined by the shock of air and light. Most nostalgia songs get ruined that way, like how “Sweet Caroline” got associated with Red Sox games. 

But if a song is preserved in amber well enough they can time-travel you. First up was some Clint Black circa 1989 singing “Better Man”.  Simpler time although I wouldn’t have believed it back then. After he sang it on Oprah’s show she was interviewing Black about how he became a better man after he sang it. 

A chance mention of Solzhenitsyn on a Catholic pod today led me to pick up The Gulag again and the great Russian soul writes of the familiar refrain, “It’s a mistake!”, which was the plaintive cry of those who were innocent but taken to the camps. 

Somehow the Gulag feels a primer of coming attractions, although probably after I’m gone. But time moves fast and the intolerance faster. 

That phrase triggered another distant memory: the Men at Work song.  I found it online and within a few seconds was magically listening to a song I hadn’t heard in maybe three or four decades?  I got the vibes of exactly where I was at the time the song was a hit and wikipedia confirmed the date in memory exactly.  Youth is a time so intense that it burns in memory while who can remember what happened to you at 40 versus 47?  Unless there was a searing event involved. 

It’s odd how sensitive I was during one of those intervening years to the deaths of people I didn’t really know.  They hit me hard and in succession.  William F. Buckley, John Updike, Richard Neuhaus and Michael Dubruiel. I actually met two of them however briefly (Neuhaus & Dubruiel), but when all of these distant heroes, to a greater or lesser extent, died, well... (Buckley’s death was made worse by my having read his son’s memoir of his last years.  Not cheery.)

Perhaps I was too cavalier about death (that it happened to strangers mostly) and too sensitive to its sting (as in not being able to say, “Death, where is thy sting?” with St. Paul).  As the old professor said, “everything happens for a reason.”  And my Uncle Tom, “This too shall pass.”

February 05, 2021

February 04, 2021

Why Trump Took Election Fraud Literally But Not Seriously

The poly sci course I took back in college was spot-on.  The number one takeaway was: proximity to power is power.  And reading the spy novel-like post about Patrick Byrne’s visit to the White House certainly affirms that message. 

So did my long ago reading of Nixon’s White House.  Nixon would give some order and those proximate to power would say “yes sir” and not do a thing. It was shocking then because, reading that, decades ago, I naively thought a hierarchical system like the office of the presidency had lines of authority. Ignoring of a president’s will was replicated in this instance by Mark Meadows with respect to not giving Sidney Powell a White House pass. 


Possible reasons Trump took election fraud literally but not seriously: 


1. Stuck to incompetent Rudy, come what may. 

2. Rudy and Sidney hated each other; see #1.  

3. Allured by the Greek sirens calling a 74-year old to Florida and ease. 

4. A dearth of information. 

5. Meadows and lawyers obstructed, anticipating their next job. 

6. Trump himself had already mentally moved on by 12/18...He was saying, “what we could’ve done the past four years...” Past tense. 

7. The NYT was to him what the Ring was to Gollum. 


Assuming Trump wasn’t playing them - which he certainly could’ve been although it’s hard to see why he would’ve engaged with them for an impromptu four-hour meeting running till after midnight - we see the usual mix of human weakness of failure of key personalities to get along, the allure of retirement and ease, the effective obstructions of the gatekeepers. 


They say that presidents are insulated from information but how can that be true not given the 24/7 news cycles? Was Trump really oblivious to the possibility of using the 2018 executive order? Or playing dumb to placate Powell and Flynn?  It’s certainly believable that the president’s aide, Pat Cipollone, wasn’t going to mention that option. And I doubt Fox News, in the post-Ailes era, mentioned it. 


Probably the key was that Trump was sticking to Rudy like white on rice. They were in it together, win or lose, but Rudy was going through the motions, getting drunk every night, blowing off texts or emails, mind firmly closed. Content to let the clock run out.  


Personnel is policy.  Maybe Trump surely suffered from his lack of education, of not understanding what that D.C. is famous for, that in the waning days of an administration all are playing it out with both eyes on their next job. Meanwhile Powell got herself sued as her next job. 


But perhaps the larger tell in the last days of Trump was his never-quite-cured addiction to the prestige that only the NY Times could offer.  It was always about respect, from the time Obama skewered him at the WH Correspondents’ Dinner. Respect that only the mainstream press could provide. Which is why all his covid press conferences were stacked with the usual players of CNN, NY Times, WaPo instead of answering questions from more serious media outfits.  He could never shake loose of that addiction, could never cross the Rubicon despite the excoriating press he received.  Stockholm syndrome I guess. 


Interesting section from Byrne on Antrim County:


The [computer security experts] went to work. It turned out the 75 year old lady who ran the place had a story about how, on the day after the election, some people from “County” had shown up and instructed her to insert her card and re-run her machine using some different inputs. What she was saying did not make sense, and it was clear that they had taken advantage of an elderly woman who probably does not send her own texts. Finally she mentioned that, unbeknownst to County, she had kept both the paper audit trail of the original run, and the re-run, and had stored them in a closet. Our geeks got excited, and had her bring them out: they unrolled them on a long carpet, and in a few minutes of study, they began finding things. Alarming things.


Those learnings and those affidavits were fed to a Michigan lawyer who was pursuing an own election fraud case in Michigan. Days later a judge read it, and found it alarming enough he gave a court order for a formal exploitation of the Antrim County voting machines. We returned to Antrim County and this time, with a proper court order in their pocket, they were able to image hard drives, and returned to base camp with those images. By working in staggered around the clock, over the next four days they performed a month’s worth of work, first breaking the security on the imaged hard drives, then reconstructing the files, then analyzing them. That was all fed up through the system, and emerged about a week later as an eye-opening report that created a national stir, known as the Antrim County Computer Forensics Report.


Well, he tells a good story.

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One of the downsides of computers is you end up with opaque almost unauditable code. Here is Krebs debugging from afar: 


“[CISA’s] Krebs also said that a photo he inspected from the report, which purported to show vote tampering and an effort to ‘zero out election results,’ appeared to him as nothing more than a ‘placeholder’ in a line of code in Dominion's programming system. He noted that these are Windows-based machines and he worked at Microsoft.


"It's a placeholder for a parameter," Krebs said. "It may be that it’s just not good coding. But it certainly doesn't mean that someone tried to get in there and hit 0.”


Makes me nostalgic for hanging chads.