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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!


The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy (1902):
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
If an aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small can find something to sing about in the growing gloom, we should try to do the same — at least from time to time.

Additional reading from one of my former students of decades ago: Thank God We Get Another Year.  Worth your time and consideration.  Well said, Becky!

[Note to readers of this blog: "Nincompoopery Poll," a regular feature here at this blog, will return on Saturday, January 3]

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Photobucket


Please read about the origin of the beloved Christmas song "Silent Night." Then enjoy the music and the video:


DEUTSCH

Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

=========

ENGLISH

Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: John Freeman Young, 1863

Silent night, holy night
All is calm all is bright
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heav'nly hosts sing Alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
A blessed Christmas to all who stop by here!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cameo And The Christmas Tree

(This re-post will be stuck here throughout the Christmas season. Please scroll down for more recent material, including political topics.  And I will have another post specifically for Christmas Day 2014)

With many thanks to Stogie, who made the graphic for this post in 2011! Click directly on the picture to enlarge it:




I wrote the story below the fold in 2005. Over the past few years as she has aged, Cameo has mellowed — somewhat, anyway.  But the memories of those bygone days Cameo's terrorizing the Christmas tree still bring a smile to our faces. I hope that the anecdote will bring a smile to your face, too.

Welcome All Wonders


Many years ago, I had the privilege of working under the baton of Richard Wayne Dirksen at the Washington National Cathedral. Below is one of his choral pieces, a glorious celebration of the birth of Christ the Lord. Ever since I obtained a recording of "Welcome All Wonders," I never let a Christmas go by without listening to this glorious musical celebration of the birth of Christ the Lord:


Sunday, December 21, 2014

O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" and Jack Schaefer's "Stubby Pringle's Christmas"

The final sentences of the story reminds us of something that we too often lose sight of when giving and receiving Christmas gifts: true wealth is not material but rather spiritual love.
...[I]n a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the Magi.
Updated reading of the classic 1905 tale by O. Henry (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910):



A lesser-known Christmas story, with a drastically different setting, by another American author:


Jack Schaefer, best known as the author of the 1949 Western novel Shane, wrote a delightful Christmas story called "Stubby Pringle's Christmas."  Read the 1964 story HERE.

Of such is the Christmas spirit as the characters in the two above stories illustrate.

May each of us find that same spirit in our own hearts this Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

This Week At GWU

More than two-thirds of the students approached in approximately one hour signed the petition in the name of social justice:


Read the Campus Reform article HERE.

Okay, in the comments section, let's list specific Americans whom we are willing to trade for illegal immigrants.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sony's Cowardice And Obama's Cuba

Cowardice on display — cowardice which further shreds the First Amendment. 

Sony Pictures Entertainment, a multinational conglomerate owning Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems, and more has canceled the Christmas Day release of The Interview.  Read about the film HERE.

Sony has apparently announced no release whatsoever of the film — not even online or via DVD. North Korea must not be offended!


undated photo of Fidel Castro
Meanwhile, on the political front, the big news is that Obama has decided to normalize relations with Cuba after 50 years of Cold War policy.

The Washington Post has more information about the details of this "normalization."

The upside of this "normalization" is the availability of Cuban cigars — or something.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa's Evolution

(Click directly on images to enlarge them)

When you think of Santa Claus, what images come to mind? Probably something along the lines of the two graphics immediately below:

Clement Clarke Moore's poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Undated greeting card

Santa Claus (aka St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle) didn't always have such a jolly physical aspect, however.

This article from Smithsonian Magazine offers some fascinating facts and photos. For example, St. Nicholas had this less-than-jolly appearance in 1837:

As portrayed by Robert Walter Weir (1837)

Quite the impish trickster!  Is he bringing gifts — or burglarizing the house?

Read more about Weir's portrayal HERE (a different link from the one above and the one below).

Click HERE to read the article and to see the slideshow of images.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Surveillance State

From this source:
Congress this week quietly passed a bill that may give unprecedented legal authority to the government's warrantless surveillance powers, despite a last-minute effort by Rep. Justin Amash to kill the bill.

[...]

The provision in question is "one of the most egregious sections of law I've encountered during my time as a representative," Amash wrote on his Facebook page. The tea-party libertarian, who teamed up with Rep. John Conyers in an almost-successful bid to defund the National Security Agency in the wake of the Snowden revelations, warned that the provision "grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American."

The measure already passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Tuesday, and it is now on its way to the White House, where President Obama is expected to sign it.

The objections from Amash and others arose from language in the bill's Section 309, which includes a phrase to allow for "the acquisition, retention, and dissemination" of U.S. phone and Internet data. That passage will give unprecedented statutory authority to allow for the surveillance of private communications that currently exists only under a decades-old presidential decree, known as Executive Order 12333....
In the Digital Age, there is no way to insulate oneself completely from such intrusion on the part of the Surveillance State. To some extent, technology owns each one of us. Just try to get through one day without using the technology upon which we depend — whether or not we want or seek that dependence.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Musical Interlude

The easy-listening sound of Crooning Christmas with Bing, Frank & Dean:


Playlist below the fold:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cutting Retiree Benefits


The cuts involve the ailing Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, an independent agency of the federal government.  This portion of the Wikipedia article explains how the PBGC is funded.

Excerpt from the Washington Post article Congressional leaders hammer out deal to allow pension plans to cut retiree benefits:
A measure that would for the first time allow the benefits of current retirees to be severely cut is set to be attached to a massive spending bill, part of an effort to save some of the nation’s most distressed pension plans.

The rule would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets....
Note the example cited below the fold.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Liberalism

Accurate graphic (hat tip to Stogie of Saberpoint):


Choose a pillar and expound upon how that pillar has been used to pound away at the destruction of American principles.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Incoherence

With a hat tip to Infidel Bloggers Alliance (Warning! Strong language!):


I wonder how many Americans "think" the same way as those spewing the irrationality shown in the above video.

Related reading and video: Protesters flood California highway, throw explosives at officers, police say (CNN, dated December 8, 2014).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nincompoopery Poll

(Nincompoopery — and worse — abounds! This edition of "Nincompoopery" offers specific links, and readers have the option of taking a poll as to which story they find the most outrageous. Discussion available in the comments section)

Links to read:

ONE: Washington Redskins Blasted for Offensive Thanksgiving Tweet

TWO: Theresa May says tens of thousands held as modern slaves in Britain: The shocking number of people held in conditions of slavery in modern Britain has been revealed by the Home Secretary

THREE: Time magazine’s POPULAR results for MAN OF THE YEAR voting [Ferguson protesters winning by a large margin]

FOUR: Lucky Yodelling Christmas Pickle Ornament

FIVE: Koran should be read at Prince Charles' coronation says top bishop

Please cast your vote in the following poll, which closes on Tuesday:

surveys & polls

Friday, December 5, 2014

Recommended Reading

(Two posts today. Please scroll down)

See The Role that Obama’s Runaway Bureaucracy Played in the Death of Eric Garner at PJ Media.  

One sentence from the essay:

This Week On The Gathering Storm

Listen to The Gathering Storm Radio Show, hosted by WC and Always On Watch.

The show broadcasts live for 30 minutes every Friday beginning at noon, Pacific Time.

The call-in number is 646-915-9870. Callers welcome!

Our scheduled guest this week is Mr. Ducky. We will be discussing film noir and Duck's thesis that the original movement represented a sense of the breakdown of the American myth.

Listen to the December 5, 2014 edition of The Gathering Storm Radio Show, live or later, by CLICKING HERE.

UPCOMING SHOWS:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

FEATURED QUESTION: Immigration

(This FEATURED QUESTION stuck here for few days. Please scroll down for other material)

Time and again, we hear the following: "These hard-working immigrants do the work that Americans will not do."

President Obama has characterized immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, as "workers who pick our fruit and make our beds."  As if those are the only tasks undertaken by illegal immigrants!

Another Steep Learning Curve

My Secret Magi in the homeschool group for whom I teach classes gave me an incredible gift on Tuesday. An iPad Mini!

Fortunately, I have a former student who is an Apple guru, who gave me an iPad lesson yesterday. I already had a bit of knowledge about an iPad because Mr. AOW has had such a device since 2010.

I plan to use my iPad Mini primarily for work. Thus far, I have purchased a calculator app and a stopwatch app.  I have also made use of the Notes app, which was preloaded onto the device.

Next up: getting a protective case for my iPad Mini — and an iPhone.

Any advice as to what kind of protective case I should get for my new iPad Mini?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Will Insurance Pay?

Aerial view of Ferguson, Missouri, after riots and looting in November

Will insurance policies pay for those business establishments damaged or destroyed in the recent Ferguson riots?

Most people do not read their insurance policies. Details matter, however, for the process of reimbursement or restoration.

Last summer, I received a notice of change in policy coverages for my homeowner's policy. The change in policy coverages reads as follows:
Coverage is provided for direct physical loss except for losses caused by any of the following:

[...]

3.  War, including the following and an consequence of any of the following:

a. Undeclared war, civil war, insurrection, rebellion or revolution:

b. Warlike act by a military force or military personnel; or

c. Destruction, seizure or use for a military purpose.

Discharge of a nuclear weapon will be deemed a warlike act even if accidental.
Photographs of the documents I received (Click directly on images to enlarge them):






We should not assume that those damaged and destroyed businesses are going to recover because they have insurance coverage.

People from all over the world have opened their wallets to help at least one Ferguson business to get up and running again. That business is Natalie's Cakes & More: A Victim of Ferguson Rioters Finds Justice in Kindness of American People.

After selling her baked goodies at flea markets to get the seed money for a business establishment, Natalie DuBose opens her bakery in June 2014

On the other hand, check out these results from Time Magazine’s poll for Man of the Year:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Open Thread


So, what's on your mind?

Here is your chance to opine within the parameters listed below:

We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective

Friday, November 28, 2014

This Week On The Gathering Storm

Listen to The Gathering Storm Radio Show, hosted by WC and Always On Watch.

The show broadcasts live for 30 minutes every Friday beginning at noon, Pacific Time.

The call-in number is 646-915-9870. Callers welcome!

Our scheduled guest this week is my dear friend and web guru Warren.

Listen to the November 28, 2014 edition of The Gathering Storm Radio Show, live or later, by CLICKING HERE.

UPCOMING SHOWS:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

(This blog's most recent political thread is HERE)

(Custom graphic by Stogie of Saber Point)


During this season of Thanksgiving, may we put aside all matters except the counting of our bountiful blessings!

This Thanksgiving 2014, what are you most thankful for?

Don't wait until something or someone you esteem is gone before you feel gratitude for that particular blessing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

With Gratitude

(Two posts today. Please scroll down)

A short time back, I posted about the rough patch that Mr. AOW and I have been going through.

I want to thank Stogie of Saberpoint and Curmudgeon of Political Clown Parade for rounding up "the troops" to donate to my PayPal account.  Thanks to all who chipped in, Mr. AOW and I have made a dent in the looming bills.

The blogosphere is filled with screeching and vilification.  Amid all the rancor, however, there really are people of fine character on the web.

Ferguson And Beyond (With Addendum)

Even as President Obama called for calm, a split screen showed the following:


List of protests scheduled for the evening of November 25, 2014. Demonstrations are scheduled all over the United States.

Addendum

Excerpt from this article in the Washington Post:
...[W]hat distinguishes Ferguson from the crowded historical catalogue of racially-motivated street violence is what has happened in recent weeks: The unseemly buildup to the announcement of the grand jury’s conclusion that no crime was committed in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown has produced an expectation of ugliness. What occurred Monday night — and may continue in the days ahead — is rioting as planned event, so pervasively predicted, so extensively prepared for as to obscure the power and meaning of the protests.

A news media obsessed with predicting the next step, a security apparatus equipped to put down almost any uprising, and a political power structure apparently seeking to head off violence by predicting it have combined to produce an unprecedented sense of inevitability, reducing what has historically been an explosion of frustration to a kind of staged performance....
Read the entire article HERE.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Can We Govern Ourselves?



The most recent immigration bill to pass the United States Senate is 1198 pages long in PDF fomat.

1198 pages!

HERE are the hot-linked subtitles for various sections of the immigration bill S.744.ES. You have to see that list to believe it!

This is what we're paying our elected public servants to do? See their salaries HERE.

Congress Critters today make famous sufferers of hypergraphia pale in comparison.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Silhouette

The oak tree overhanging the driveway entrance here at our house (Click directly on the image to enlarge it):


I took this photograph in October — when leaves were still on the tree.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "The Oak":

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Open Thread

(For other material, please scroll down)


So, what's on your mind?

Here is your chance to vent, but please observe the guidelines listed below:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Presidential Speeches

Notice the trend in Who Was America's Most Well-Spoken President? According to the article:
Speeches have grown less sophisticated over time....Despite President George W. Bush's reputation as a poor speaker, Obama's speeches are only slightly more sophisticated.
The analysis was done with the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test.

Read the entire article HERE by clicking on "Next" when that word appears.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unprecedented Territory


Our nation will be entering unprecedented territory if the President grants immigration amnesty via executive order.

Constitutional scholar Jonthan Turley on that topic:



In December 2013, about the President's changes to the ACA, Mr. Turley stated the following in his Congressional testimony about the separation of powers and the dangers of unilateral action:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Recommended Reading: Obama's Science Czar

See Obama's Biggest Radical, an essay about Science Czar John Holdren.  The essay was published in February 2009.  Why isn't this information getting out to the American public?  If you read nothing else over the next few days, read this essay.  Mull it over.  Something horrifically nefarious is afoot! Furthermore, the essay explains some of what's behind some of the Obama Administration's policies. Excerpt:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Unhinged Rage

In the blogosphere and elsewhere (Jonathan Gruber, for example, although not a ranter), we see on vivid display what Leftist true believers actually believe:
Republicans lie, they want to see you dead, they’d rather make money off your dead corpse.
There should be spittle all over their collective faces and, in the case of television, the camera lens covered with streaks and globs of projective spittle:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Overwhelmed

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

This purpose of this blog post: an explanation for my sporadic participation recently here in the blogosphere.

Right now, I'm not particularly enthusiastic about blogging.  I'm dealing with matters which are more pressing.

A perfect storm of Murphy's Laws — yes, laws in the plural — has borne down on this household.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lawlessness At The Top

Welcome to AmeriKa:


Barack Hussein Obama has a pen and a phone. Furthermore, he knows that he is not going to be impeached. He is ruling with impunity.

WE THE PEOPLE and Barack Hussein Obama don't have the same definition of "the public good," and he really does hold all the cards — never mind the results of the 2014 Elections and the parameters of the United States Constitution.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Paradigm Shift?

From Salon (dated October 25, 2014) comes this stunner about the nature of Islam:
...[W]hat of all those ISIS warriors unschooled in French semiotic analysis who take their holy book’s admonition to do violence literally? As they rampage and behead their way through Syria and Iraq, ISIS fighters know they have the Koran on their side – a book they believe to be inerrant and immutable, the final Word of God, and not at all “malleable.” Their holy book backs up jihad, suicide attacks (“martyrdom”), beheadings, even taking captive women as sex slaves. This is not surprising; after all, the prophet Muhammad was a warrior who spread Islam by the sword in a dark, turbulent time in history. (Christianity’s propagation had, in contrast, much to do with the Roman emperor Constantine’s fourth-century conversion and subsequent decriminalization of the faith.)

Moreover, the razor-happy butchers of little girls’ clitorises and labia majora, the righteous wife-beaters, the stoners of adulterers, the shariah clerics denying women’s petitions for divorce from abusive husbands and awarding sons twice the inheritance allowed for daughters, all act with sanction from Islamic holy writ. It matters not a whit to the bloodied and battered victims of such savagery which lines from the Hadith or what verses from the Koran ordain the violence and injustice perpetrated against them, but one thing they do know: texts and belief in them have real-life consequences. And we should never forget that ISIS henchmen and executioners explicitly cite their faith in Islam as their motive....
Read the entire essay HERE. Worth your time.

Yes, the tone of the essay is anti-religion. Any religion. But that Salon has actually published the ugly truth about Islam represents a paradigm shift.  For the moment.  People have the inordinate ability to shrug off reality.  Until the situation gets so bad that they can't shrug it off, that is.

And, yes, the Canadian Parliament gunman was obeying the literal word of Allah.  Waiting for those hordes of "moderate Muslims" to make themselves known in a meaningful and visible way.

From the "mouth" of Allah (Click directly on the image to enlarge it):

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day 2014


How to thank a veteran:
Rather than writing off the decision to serve with a sterile “Thank you for your service” this year, own the sentiment and make it personal.

Thank a veteran that you knew you would be present for the birth of all your children.

Thank a veteran that you have pursued your educational goals safely and uninterrupted.

Thank a veteran that you can sit home nights and write.

Thank a veteran that you have pursued a successful professional career and are living the high life.

Thank a veteran that you have the security to be a stay-at-home parent.

Thank a veteran that you have chosen to make your home close to or far from your family, close to the ocean or deep in the mountain… but you are able to choose it.

Thank a veteran that you were able to attend every one of your child’s sporting events, music recitals, spelling bees, and parent-teacher conferences.

Thank a veteran that your loved ones come home predictably every day.

Thank a veteran that you have your weekends free.

Thank a veteran that you pursued your passion as an actor, professional athlete, model, musician, etc.

Monday, November 10, 2014

239 Years

(Two posts today. Please scroll down)

My dear friend Mustang reminds us that today is the 239th anniversary of the United States Marine Corps and has posted the video History of the U.S. Marines. Go to Mustang's site to watch the video.

God bless the USMC!

Thought For The Day

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

Is there no safe place on the planet?  Is almost everybody on edge or in a state of short-fused rage?

Saturday, I was physically assaulted by an irate Asian Indian woman.  In front of the library's reference desk and several witnesses!  The altercation occurred because two groups, mine and hers, were seeking to acquire a first-come-first-served study room for two hours. 

The woman poked and shoved me, and it's a wonder that I didn't topple backwards.  I might have — except that she was at least a foot shorter than I.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Football Season Humor

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

My father (b. 1911) cared about only one sport: baseball. 

Dad was a baseball player himself, so excellent at relief pitching that he was offered a position on the New York Yankees when a NYY's scout spotted Dad in a local sandlot game. Dad turned down the offer because he didn't like to travel. Bummer!

As a result of my upbringing, I've never understood football. This explains the game:

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Few Ideas


Post-election euphoria on the part of the victors is normal. Euphoria, however, is not governance.

What are the realities of the American political situation once the new Congress takes office in January?

Let's talk specifics — feasible specifics.