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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: