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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Looking Back On 2020

As we leave 2020 and begin 2021, we look back on the annus horribilis. Here is the summing up:
 


May 2021 be much kinder to us than 2020!

Happy New Year!   
Calendar, work your magic!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Christmas Visitor



Posted by Warren

(Originally posted on "Longrange" for Christmas 2004)

4:00 am 12/24/04

There was a knock on my front door which startled me awake. My dogs were barking which required my dire threats to quieten them as I answered the door.

Maybe you have heard of our weather and the unusually cold temperatures and large amount of snow that has fallen in the last 24 hours. I live just south of Interstate 64 in Southern Indiana and you may have seen the news about the closed Interstate and stranded motorists on the national news.

A man in his early fifties, about my own age, stood at the door. He was wearing tennis shoes, jeans, a field jacket and sock hat. His glasses were frosted and his pale white hands and reddened knuckles gave witness that he wore no gloves.

He told me he was lost and asked for directions to a certain address. I told him that he missed his mark by a mile and a half and asked him where his car was. He said he was walking.

I invited him in and sat a chair for him by the warm air from the furnace vent. He was shivering uncontrollably and a faint whiff of alcohol was on his breath. I asked if I could fix him something to eat but he refused and accepted a hot cup of coffee.

My wife talked to him as he warmed himself and I could hear him speaking as I prepared his fresh coffee.

My son heard his voice and came into the living room to sit and listen, and to watch, just in case.

His story unfolded.

He was homeless, he had been sleeping in a box, under a bridge over the Ohio river, several miles to the West. He had decided that it was too cold and he might freeze to death if he didn't find safe shelter with more than a cardboard box to keep him warm. About midnight, he had left his meager possessions and headed for his sisters home, a mile or so from my own home. He had walked past in the blowing snow and the dark but continued walking. He was lost, confused and probably somewhat drunk. Hypothermia can add confusion to even the sober mind.

As he spoke, I realized that he had mental problems as do many of the homeless.

There are places that provide refuge for the indigent, I'm sure he knew, but they don't accept anyone who is intoxicated, which I'm also sure he knew.

He drank his coffee then asked me if I would drive him to his sisters home. He then offered me two dollars. Of course I refused the money but offered to take him where he wanted to go.

I intended to take measures to see after him and he seemed anxious to leave.

As I drove, he told me that his sister was out of town but he had permission to use her house in an emergency. I was worried that he was just lying for reasons of his own but I was determined to see the thing through, even if I had to call the police to ensure his well-being through this cold weather.

As we drove up to the house, there was a porch light on and smoke coming from the chimney vent. Even so, it was apparent that there was no one home, the snow around the house was undisturbed.

I asked him if he was sure he could get in, he said, "Yes, she (his sister) told me where the key is." He reached out his hand, as if for a hand shake, and when I offered mine, pulled my hand to his lips and kissed it saying, "God bless you".

I was profoundly embarrassed but stayed long enough to see him dig around in the snow and find a key, unlock the door and wave goodbye.

I drove home, my thoughts disturbed, by the events that had taken place.

My wife was relieved as I returned and I started preparing food (very early,) for Christmas Eve. As I cut up fruit for salad and prepared the turkey for baking, my son came up behind me, hugged me and kissing my head, said, "Dad, you did a good thing."

Again, I was embarrassed, not by my son's hug and kiss but by his praise.

It was the right thing to do.

My son told me that he tries to help the homeless ones that hang around his place of employment. We spoke of how little we can actually do for them and I was proud of my son for being a good man and doing the right thing.

As I continued to prepare food for Christmas Eve, my thoughts drifted to a couple seeking shelter in Bethlehem and the birth of the Lamb of the New Covenant, and I felt God's Peace.

May God's Peace and blessings be with you all!
Merry Christmas.

Warren

Post Note:

First, please watch "Mary, Did You Know?" as performed by the Pentatonix, an a capella group. I hope that you love it as much as I do:


====

Sixteen years ago, I first posted this true story and I am always asked to brush the cobwebs off and re-post it for Christmas. The post note is changed to reflect my feelings and events.

"Mary, Did You Know?" by the Pentatonix, is my favorite Christmas Carol. If you haven't heard this version before or if you would like to hear it again, I urge you to put on your headphones or good speakers and have a listen. Maybe below you could tell me your favorite Carol.
I'm spending Christmas this year with Mr. & Mrs. AOW

Once again,
Merry Christmas!
Warren


Merry Christmas to all who stop by this site. Be blest!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

2020 Christmas Letter

(Light blogging alert! Comment moderation will be intermittently enabled. And for politics, please scroll down) 


Dear Blogosphere Friends, 

2020 – the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I never thought I’d see the day that Americans were running around in masks! Some are even masked while driving alone in their cars – pure hysteria, in my view. Taking precautions is one thing, hysteria another. One of our precautions has been to postpone our planned moved to Indiana. Both Mr. AOW and I are quite high-risk for this virus. So, here we still sit in Northern Virginia and paying these outrageous real-estate taxes. Thanks, China. **heavy sarcasm** 

 This has been a sorrowful year for us. Our dear friend Patricia (aka blogger “The Merry Widow”), who helped us so much when I had kidney and other health troubles in 2016-2017 and who was also helping us with The Big Clean Out for our anticipated move to Indiana, died suddenly in Florida on March 29. What a terrible loss! Each of us an only child, Patricia and I considered ourselves sisters. She was planning to move with us to Indiana, too. We miss Patricia so much and on so many levels. 

This year, Mr. AOW and I have been having some health troubles – not a surprise for our age group (71 and 68, respectively). As of this writing, he is in Stage 4 Kidney Failure, and the doctors believe that the cause is long-standing diabetes and hypertension. My kidneys have been “acting up,” too; the treatment plan, if any, has not yet been determined. We’re doing our best to slog on. What other choice is do we have? Not much! 

Our other big personal news of 2020 is that we got a dog on September 3! Callie is an unruly three-year-old hound and Lab (and whatever else) mutt with poor training on nearly every imaginable scale – and nearly-total deafness, which her owner didn’t recognize before this mutt came to live with us. Her bloodlines and issues aside, Callie is adorable and has brought a lot of joy into our shut-in lives! I’m sure that our kitties Amber and Minxy don’t feel the same, though; they have had to cede to this canine brat quite a bit of in-house territory. 

The happiest time for us in 2020, annus horribilis, Governor Northam’s COVID measures permitting, will be another visit from our dear friend and this blog's webmaster Warren. He plans to spend the holidays with us. A wonderful time it will be – even if doing the tourist thing is well nigh impossible with regard to the usual Washington attractions: the Smithsonian and other D.C. and Virginia tourist sites are either closed or have impossibly limited hours during this pandermic. Nevertheless, the Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, is still, as of this writing, offering their usual dazzling displays; Warren and I hope to take in that beautiful sight. CHECK OUT THESE PHOTOS!  GLORIOUS! During the rest of Warren’s visit, all of us will be enjoying each other’s company. A wonderful gift in and of itself, especially during this time of lockdowns and isolated existence! 

Celebrating this Blessed Season and Merry Christmas to all who stop by here, 

Always On Watch 


Please enjoy my favorite choral Christmas song (composed by Richard Wayne Dirksen, 1921-2003, organist and choirmaster at Washington National Cathedral, and an important force in choral music here in the Washington, D.C. area):


The words for the above:
Welcome all wonders in one sight! 
Eternity shut in a span. 
Summer in winter, day in night, heaven in earth, and God in man, 
That He, the old Eternal Word, should be a Child and weep. 
Each of us his lamb will bring, each his pair of silver doves, 
Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes, ourselves become our own best sacrifice. 
Welcome all wonders in one sight!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A Few Changes Wrought By COVID-19

(For election-related politics, please scroll down a few posts)

Who knew that Hanna-Barbera's futuristic cartoon The Jetsons (1962), the Space Age counterpart to The Flintstones, would serve as a prophet?
Serious question: Have some of the changes wrought by the China Virus actually been of benefit?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Masking


I can barely tolerate wearing a mask,  I do so only because I must in order to enter any medical facility and any store — and because I'm a senior citizen at significant risk of contracting the China Virus.

When I'm wearing a mask, the seconds and minutes crawl by.  And I do mean crawl!

I recently had a kidney scan lasting almost two hours and was miserable beyond words.  The longer I have the mask on, particularly a medical mask, the more I gasp for air and — Get this!— begin to drool.  I can hardly wait until the time comes that I can sanitize my hands, then can rip off that mask and breathe.

And then came the day that I had to visit an oral surgeon for the extraction of a molar.  I had never before even laid eyes on this doctor of dentistry.  What an eerie experience!  I, of course, had to remove my mask, but the oral surgeon and his assistant were masked.  They were faceless.  They were nearly disembodied voices.  Twilight Zone time!  Remember this episode?
 

Here in this annus horribilis, we are being told that wearing a mask, even a cloth mask, is an important element of an effective method to curb the spread of COVID-19. An effective method now, that is.  At the start of the declaration of this pandemic, we were told that masks did no good and were even dangerous.  A few weeks later, we were told "Mask up!  I protect you, and you protect me."

Then the edicts from governors and mayors began in earnest.

Do masks protect us, really?  Or is something else afoot?


...Suffice it to say that some people are too much in a state of fear and ignorance to see mask mandates as anything but safety measures, but most of us know when we’re being played — and we are indeed being played. We can see it in the experts’ vacillation since day one of the pandemic. 

We began with “15 days to flatten the curve” to no end in sight for lockdowns and masks eight months later. We began with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s claim that “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” but now experts insist that they are “required” to stop the spread. We began with the logical assumption that a vaccine would bring us back to normal, but then we heard from Fauci that a vaccine won’t change anything “for at least a year.”...

"A vaccine won't change anything for at least a year"?  

Huh?  The way that talking heads and politicians of all stripes are pontificating about masks, we are led to believe that COVID-19 vaccines are magic talismans, along the lines of "We're going to wave the magic wand and get back to normal."

Meanwhile, masking has now progressed to lockdowns mandated by state and local governments.  Talk about isolation on steroids!  Sheesh.

Returning now to the above-cited essay, which ends as follows (emphases mine):  

If we wish to remain free, however, we should reject mask-wearing as any kind of normal. We should never get used to seeing a landscape of masked faces at the grocery store, at businesses, and especially out in the open air. Small children in particular should never have to adopt this as normal — because it is confusing and abnormal. It isolates us and erases our unique identities. 

Acquiescence to politicized mask mandates also removes our sense of common humanity. We end up living in a faceless, dehumanized sea of anonymous people, and that is no way to live.

Please read and consider the entire essay HERE.  Worth your time.

What do you believe about masking and lockdowns?

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Christmas Musical Interlude: The Wexford Carol

(For politics, please scroll down)


For this third Sunday of Advent, please enjoy this rather unusual offering....The Wexford Carol, performed by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma:


Lyrics for this traditional Irish Christmas Carol based upon the Nativity Story told in Holy Scripture:
Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.

[...]

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went this babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife.

[...]

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.
Merry Christmas to all who stop by this site. Be blest!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

COVID-19 Vaccines: Not A Panacea


[Caveat: this post is not an argument for refusing to take COVID-19 vaccines. For such an argument, see Tammy Swofford's Why this Registered Nurse will Opt out for the Covid 19 Vaccine]

China has ruined the world!  

Hyperbole?  Maybe, maybe not.  But China surely has changed the world for the foreseeable future.

Please be informed as to what these COVID-19 vaccines actually provide.  What they provide is not in line with what we have been led to believe — that is, that these vaccines will return us to normal.

Try not to get lost in the weeds here (emphases mine)....

From Time Magazine:
[E]ven after more people get the shots, we’ll still have to wear masks and stay a respectful six feet apart from each other. [...] 

First, there’s the question of efficacy. Yes, Moderna and Pfizer reported that their shots are 94.5% and 95% effective, respectively. But that efficacy refers to the vaccines’ ability to protect against COVID-19 disease—and not necessarily against infection with the virus. Both of the rigorous trials to test the vaccines were designed to measure COVID-19 illness—trial volunteers were randomly given either the vaccine or a placebo, and then asked to report any symptoms of COVID-19 they experienced, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or muscle aches. The study researchers then determined whether or not to test them. If people tested positive, they were logged as a confirmed COVID-19 case, and the researchers then looked at the group of COVID-19 cases and compared how many people had been vaccinated versus how many had gotten placebo. The effectiveness measured whether these people went on to develop more symptoms of COVID-19. 

That means that people who are vaccinated are not necessarily immune to getting infected; but they are more likely to experience fewer symptoms and not get as sick as those who aren’t vaccinated. 

[...]

[B]ecause the vaccines do not necessarily protect against infection, that means that public health measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings are still critical to containing the virus. 

[...] 

[T]he ultimate goal in controlling the pandemic, herd immunity, likely won’t happen until well into next year, when enough people are vaccinated and can ward off serious illness. “Not until a substantial proportion of the population is vaccinated, and the caseload has dropped to very low levels, will we be able to breathe (without a mask) a sigh of relief,” says Emanuel Goldman, professor of microbiology at Rutgers University. And even then, he points out, researchers will have to remain vigilant about tracking any changes in the virus as it finds fewer and fewer welcoming hosts. “The virus might have other ideas and try to change in a way that makes the vaccine less effective.” 

Only by vaccinating millions of people, and monitoring how their immune systems react, will experts get a better handle on what it takes to extinguish COVID-19 or at least make it much more difficult for it to spread....
Whether or not these first-generation vaccines prevent transmission of the virus remains unknown.  Therefore, masking and social distancing will likely remain the order of the day for a long time.  **sigh**

The best news is that, so far, a very small percentage of our population has caught this damn virus.  We shall see what we shall see when the Thanksgiving and Christmas surges have weighed in.


If you're inclined to read a medically-technical article in The Lancet, please see: What can we expect from first-generation COVID-19 vaccines?   This article also makes it brutally clear that these first-generation vaccines are not a panacea!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Unstoppable Establishment


Silverfiddle Rant!
If the past decade or so has not convinced you we are not a nation of laws, but rather a nation of The Establishment, by the Establishment, and for The Establishment, then nothing will.  Please stop reading this and put your head back in its storage compartment.

Obama ignored federal law and implemented DACA by royal decree, and it was all cool.  Trump tried to end it, but the progressive mullahs in black robes forbade him from doing so.

Obama and Clinton pardoned rich donors, terrorists, and politically-connected cronies. Trump Pardons General Flynn, and there are rumblings of a judicial challenge, all this after Judge Emmett Sullivan delays justice and conducts the prosecution on his own, running out the clock on the Trump Justice Department so Biden's team can continue the lawfare persecution against General Flynn.
"USA Today just issued an op-ed piece suggesting that the pardon of General Flynn could “be challenged in court as self-dealing, corrupt, and therefore illegal.” USAToday offered no evidence. Yet its piece also suggests such a challenge could prosper on appeal." (NY Sun)
This after it has been proven General Flynn's only crime was daring to stand up to Emperor Obama.

Monday, December 7, 2020

"A Date which will Live in Infamy"


Silverfiddle Rant!
I wrote this years ago to commemorate Pearl Harbor day.  The chances of our nation being attacked militarily now is almost nil.  An ignorant and debased nation of people easily propagandized is vulnerable to a variety of more subtle, non-violent attacks. Nonetheless, the lesson still applies.



My wife and I took our kids to a museum here in town on December 7th a few years ago. While there, we had the good fortune to meet a WW II Navy veteran who had survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. We also encountered the famous WW II picture of the Frenchman crying. These two contrasting encounters taught my family a lesson that I want to share with you.

At the beginning of our tour I spied the aging sailor wearing a veteran’s garrison cap emblazoned with the words “Pearl Harbor Survivor.” I crouched down and quickly tutored my children on the man’s significance upon that historical landscape. Fortunately, the kids grasped the meaning of the moment and we approached the gentleman. A mellow, unassuming man, he treated our questions with kindness and received our thanks with humility.

At the end of our museum tour we came face to face with the elderly veteran’s polar opposite: the picture of the Frenchman crying. Many of my fellow Americans would probably enjoy hearty anti-French belly laughs at this picture, but I feel only sadness.  This is the face of  people everywhere who lack the means or the will to defend their freedoms. This is the face that trades death and destruction for subjugation and humiliation.

I felt just as compelled to introduce my children to the Frenchman crying as I did to the aging hero. I directed my kids’ attention to the picture and asked them to describe it. “He’s crying,” and “That man is sad,” were the answers I got. They could see his distress and wanted to know what had caused it.

I told them this is how you end up when you're unable or unwilling to fight for your freedom. I told them that if they were not prepared to risk their lives for their country, they had better be prepared to stand on the street crying as the conquerors march by. I insisted they study the picture some more, observe the pain on the man’s face, notice the tears running down his cheeks. “Remember that face,” I told them, “and may that never be you.”

Reliance on Maginot Lines and international organizations provides a sense of security--up until the inevitable failure of such contrivances. Then, alas, it is back to blood and steel. Sadly, we are all too human after all.

The veteran and the Frenchman stand in stark contrast. Taken together, they remind us of two unyielding truths: The opposite of war is not necessarily peace, and freedom is never free.

---
As of September 2020, "according to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 325,574 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2020." (National WW II Museum)

Sunday, December 6, 2020

For Advent 2020

(For politics, please scroll down)

For this second Sunday of Advent 2020, savor this joyous rendering of "Carol of the Bells" by the St. George's Chapel Choir:
 

The St. George's Chapel Choir, Windsor Chapel have sung several times in the presence of Her Majesty and The Royal Family.
  
[about "Carol of the Bells", composed 1914 by Ukrainian Mykola Leontovych, who was assassinated by Soviet agents in 1921 while he was celebrating the Orthodox Feast of the Nativity]

Complete lyrics of "Carol of the Bells":

Thursday, December 3, 2020

President Trump on December 2, 2020: "This may be the most important speech I've ever made"

Whether or not you respect our POTUS — and I know that several readers here detest President Trump — in my view, we should give him a hearing to decide for ourselves if he has any valid points about fraud allegations related to our 2020 General Election. What he is alleging matters for our republic's future elections.
 

Gateway Pundit has been compiling a great deal of material of which WE THE PEOPLE should be aware.  Please take 30 minutes to read and watch HERE

Graphic from the above:

Monday, November 30, 2020

Free Speech


Silverfiddle Rant!

"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible." 
- George Orwell, The Principles of Newspeak 


One result of Election 2020 will be increased social media censorship of inconvenient speech.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc will please progressive government regulators by snuffing out speech that violates the progressive orthodoxy or morality of the moment.

What can we do?  Repealing Section 230 is not the answer.  Doing that would chill speech even more.

We The People established this government to protect our God-given rights. It does this by implementing laws and regulations, and we need a new statute that addresses the digital public square.

My proposed law would punish any social media corporation that violates our freedom of expression.  Some advocate an expansion of the Public Accomodation statutes to prohibit discrimination on the basis of political party and ideology, but I favor a federal statute that more broadly protects all speech.

Corporations now own the digital public square, so they should be declared public utilities under the law, and they should be compelled by law to respect our God given rights of free expression, and the Public Square Standards would be the same as an actual public square:  No vulgarity or pornography, no "fighting words," death threats, libel, slander, etc.

The law should be drawn to allow the widest latitude possible for all speech that does not violate the Public Square Standards. 

What would be the impact?  Would Fundamentalist Christian forums have to allow atheists free expression?  Must Muslim websites tolerate insults?  No.

If you have a forum dedicated to fly fishing, you can kick people off for talking politics, or cooking, or anything non-fly fishing related. Such on-line places would fall under the category of private club or religious organization as defined in the Public Accomodation statutes.

If you are a news outlet, you obviously have editorial standards and laws to follow, and none of us have the God-given right to compel a publication to publish our work or editorialize in our favor. The rights of a free press are well established and this would affect them not at all.

If you are a social media platform that entertains all kinds of speech, this federal regulation is for you!  You must honor the rights of everyone equally. You cannot establish your own community standards.  You cannot tell the street preacher to get off his orange crate and give the space to someone advocating the destruction of the internal combusion engine.  They both must be given the same opportunity to preach their message and attract adherents.

What say you?


NOTES:
Censorship:  The suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

Public Accommodation:  A place that offers goods and services to the general public such as a restaurant that is open to the public. Federal and state laws protect designated groups from discrimination in places of public accommodations, based on the premise that everyone is entitled to enjoy the goods and services of the public accommodation on an equal basis. 

Through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal government prohibits discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of the following: race, color, religion, national origin, and disability. The federal government does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. However, numerous states protect against age, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity discrimination.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

******
Image from MIT Medical

What a contrast to the above is the below often-used image of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony!
Should we then feel sorry for ourselves: that this Thanksgiving 2020 we may have to forego some of the usual family gatherings and festivities?  I think not!

In spite of my own doubts as to just how dangerous COVID-19 is, I think that we should reflect upon how un-deprived we are, here in the 21st Century! 

Let us note the true hardships which our Pilgrim Fathers endured: a rough voyage of 65 days on turbulent seas only to arrive in November 1620 to inhospitable shores during brutal weather; a lack of enough supplies until the next gardening season because the Mayflower was supposed to arrive to the already-established Virginia Colony, where there would have been stores enough for the winter and good shelter; the deaths of more than half of the English settlers aboard the ship, because of the combination of both poor nutrition and inadequate shelter for a New England Winter. 

Yet, our Pilgrim Fathers heartily gave thanks — and, before disembarking, even managed to compose the Mayflower Compact, ancestor of our United States Constitution:
...[I]n the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims wisely chose to establish a government based on civil agreement, not on compulsory divine or biblical authority....
Therefore, instead of whining about what we are not doing this Thanksgiving 2020 and instead of complaining about our draconian Democrat governors and their anti-Thanksgiving edicts, let us be mindful of what Scott Powell wrote in his Patriot Post 2018 essay Thanksgiving: The First and Essential American Holiday
Times are very different than they were nearly 400 years ago at the time of the Mayflower’s voyage to the New World. But the qualities of character that made the Pilgrims exemplary are as relevant today as they were back then. A contemporary Thanksgiving makeover might include: rekindling a quest for adventure; growing the faith to hold on to a vision of a promised land no matter what; mustering the courage to go against the crowd and defend the truth; gaining determination to endure hardship; rejuvenating a joyful willingness to sacrifice for others; revitalizing respect and tolerance of people of different beliefs; and renewing the predisposition to extend love and gratitude at every appropriate opportunity.
Please read Scott Powell's entire essay HERE.  Worth your time.

Let us count our blessings!  They are too numerous to count!

There will be time enough later to take our draconian, anti-Thanksgiving political leaders to task.  For now...



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down) 

One of my favorite classical pieces — the first movement of Symphony No. 40 (1788) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791):


Peace.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Stick a Fork in It


Silverfiddle Rant!
The first clue President Trump's efforts to overturn the election were not serious was when he appointed stumblebum Rudy Giuliani to head up the effort. Everything that boob involves himself in is quickly reduced to a farcical shambles.

Rudy drools on himself in the courtroom and makes Biden look like the picture of youthful mental clarity, and judges all over the US are throwing out lawsuits left and right, but Team Trump continues to bang the drum on rightwing cable and talk radio.  Is this a money grab of some kind, keeping the campaign going? I have my own suspicions...

They can yammer on all day about voting machines and mathematical algorithms, but until they bring the proof in a court of law, its all BS. It's time to pack up the circus tent, send Rudy off to rehab, and have the president deliver a gracious concession speech.  

To my fellow Donald Trump voters, I urge you to turn it off, tune it out and drop the bullshitters from your life.  Donald Trump did great things and showed the GOP how to win, but its time for him to go.  And not return.

Disagree?  Bring Evidence.  Not Hannity blather, not talk radio talking points or news conference video.  Evidence that can be presented to a judge in a court of law.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

"The People have Spoken. The Bastards!"


Silverfiddle Rant!

Clarity

Every now and then, some reality pokes through the "mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia." This rare event has happened twice in four years, and both times, Donald Trump was the catalyst.

He shocked the world four years ago and shook the arrogant progressive class from its confident perch upon the arc of history, and he instigated teeth-gnashing turmoil on the right.

El Donaldo struck again this election, with a different result and different realities surfacing. The margins in the upper Midwest that swept him to victory four years ago are not so different this time, but the President is on the losing side, no Jill Stein to siphon Democrat votes.

Here are the realities as I see them:

Both parties continue their unholy alliance with global corporations and international finance, but The Democrat Party is becoming the party of upscale elitists, while the GOP is looking more like the party of  rural folks and the working class. The GOP is now the America First party, and the Democrats are the standard bearers of globalism and interventionist foreign policy. 

Demographics is not destiny. Hispanics are now the nation's largest minority group, but they don't herd easily and they are not a homogenous group.  Donald Trump won between a third and a half of them, doubled his black vote and saw a solid increase of the LGBTQ+ community voting for him.  Will the Republicans pay attention and build on that?

We are a divided nation.  Working class whites and working class people of color have more in common with each other than each group does with its professional, university educated class.

Biden did not restore the upper Midwest "Blue Firewall."  Those are now battleground states.

The South is no longer solid red.  Georgia is now a purple battleground state, and North Carolina is four to eight years behind Georgia, on the same trajectory.

Biden's margin of victory came from people who just wanted this four year national heart attack and leftwing toddler temper tantrum to end.  He is the calming Mr. Rodgers, here to soothe the nation, turn down the volume, use nice words and restore sanity and civility.  I think those people are delusional, but I understand them.
 
The sole Democrat win of Election 2020 was the presidency: a pyrrhic victory that will produce two years of gridlock. Republicans will hold the Senate (even a tie would produce gridlock), and the GOP has taken 9-12 seats (at least two in California) from Democrats, trimming Empress Pelosi's majority to a threadbare margin, and ending all that foolish talk about what a political genius she is. 

The Democrat political strategery will be to promise everybody everything:  Full bailouts for businesses and corrupt, fiscally criminal blue states and municipalities; student loan forgiveness; free college; "green jobs" for everybody who wants one and Lord knows what else.  This will force the GOP to be the party of No and make them look hypocritical, coming off a multi-year, multi-trillion dollar spending jag.    

Census 2020: People are voting with their feet.  For the first time ever, California will not gain a congressional seat.  New York, Illinois and other creaky blue Midwest and east coast states will lose seats.  Texas could gain three. 

Republicans will dominate redistricting at the state level, so prepare yourself for tortured screams of "Gerrymandering!" from the left.

My conclusion is, a bare majority of voters wanted Trumpism without the bombast, vulgarity and gratuitous insults of Trump himself. Republicans can build on this GOP big tent, if they are smart.

All the entertainment this next two years will be on the Democrat side.  The loony lefties and the sensible Democrats will be in open warfare.  

This is America, a vibrant and diverse nation.  The map is never static.

Quotations:
"The People have Spoken...  The Bastards!" -- Dick Tuck

George Orwell:  
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia."

Monday, November 16, 2020

COVID-19: The Long Term Effects?

I have long expressed concern about exactly what recovery from COVID-19 looks like.  What the medical profession considers recovery is really not a desirable recovery. 

After all, Mr. AOW is considered recovered from his stroke of September 15, 2009, but the recovery doesn't look good at all: hospital bed in the living room, bedside potty in the living room, mobility scooter, and totally dependent on me his caregiver for his ADL's (bathing, getting dressed, etc.), frenetic searches for a viable restroom when we're out, the occasional pit stop at the side of the road.  You get the picture, I'm sure: Mr. AOW's stroke recovery is one of total disability.
 
Also, the tragic case of Nick Cordero got me to wondering, "what does recovery from COVID-19 look like?"  
 
Apparently, the variables are many and even unknown.

Before weighing in, please watch the short video below and read the articles at the bottom of this blog post.
 

Mayo Clinic article (October 7, 2020) HERE.

From Harvard Medical School (October 8, 2020): The hidden long-term cognitive effects of COVID-19.

Questions, then, arise: 

What is the appropriate and Constitutional role of the government for COVID-19 prevention during this pandemic?  

Have certain state and local governments overstepped with the measures they are taking?  Two examples of recent measures, and there are many more recent clampdowns: (1) the mayor of Chicago has basically canceled Thanksgiving and Christmas and (2) the governor Virginia has limited all public gatherings to 25 people or fewer (previous limitation was 250).

Do we even know which measures work?

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)
 
That time of year — although, where I live, the peak has ended:


Program music for the above:
Allegro 
Celebrates the peasant, with songs and dances, 
The pleasure of a bountiful harvest. 
And fired up by Bacchus' liquor, 
many end their revelry in sleep. 

Adagio molto 
Everyone is made to forget their cares and to sing and dance 
By the air which is tempered with pleasure 
And (by) the season that invites so many, many 
Out of their sweetest slumber to fine enjoyment.

Allegro 
The hunters emerge at the new dawn, 
And with horns and dogs and guns depart upon their hunting 
The beast flees and they follow its trail; 
Terrified and tired of the great noise 
Of guns and dogs, the beast, wounded, threatens 
Languidly to flee, but harried, dies.

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Future

I know that many of you don't like Tucker Carlson and what he often has to say. Even so, if you have not seen the video clip below, please watch now.
Related reading, this comment by Bocopro, frequenter of Z's blog, and this comment well states the future I see for our country (erstwhile republic)...
O.K. Everybody who voted “for” Biden – living or otherwise – legally or not – only once, or frequently – by proxy – whatever . . . listen up: 

Until the intermittent moron, quid-pro-Joe, mysteriously disappears from the White House and the Marxist concubine wiggles her seditious butt into the power position, just remember – you own it. 

And when Sundowner Joe is in ICU at Walter Reed after a massive cerebral artery clog and Horizontal Harris begins issuing EOs in end-runs around the Senate, just remember – you own it. 

Let’s not hear complaints about higher taxes, new taxes, excise taxes, value-added taxes, rising prices, unemployment increases, inflation, exorbitant health care costs – just remember, you bought it. 

Don’t get your knickers in a wad because of massive fees to support climate control or skinny paychecks because of reparations – you asked for it. 

Just suck it up when your stocks deflate and your 401K dries up like a west Texas mudhole in August . . . it won’t be Trump’s fault. 

Become a devout stoic when your children learn nothing in school except political correctness and “F-E-E-E-E-lings” and “White males are the problem” even though the costs have risen exponentially – it’s what liberals do when they have the power. 

Step into your big-boy hat and big-girl panties when you lose your job because millions of illegals suddenly become citizens and millions more Muslim “refugees” appear and take your job – that’s what you wanted, isn’t it? 

And be reasonable when minimum wage rises to the point that employers can no longer afford to employ you or your children or your grandchildren, much less offer them benefits . . . it’s only fair, right? 

And when “peaceful” protesters such as Antifa and BLM destroy city property and crime rates soar and your community is no longer safe to live in . . . hey – that’s the “new normal” you said we have to adjust for. 

And when jobs dry up because the capital left the country and it’s cheaper to import things from Asia, just remember who told us that “China is not our enemy”: that was quid pro Joe, who made grunches of money off deals with China. 

And you should be happy when interest rates on loans get so high that you can’t even consider asking for one, and you can’t afford to replace that old Chevy, and you’re suddenly upside down on your mortgage – that’s your boy, the silver-tongued sniffer. 

No complaints, Dems . . . the hateful Orangeman is gone and Happy Days Are Here Again now that we have a proper career politician running things. It’s what you asked for . . . so just keep your trap shut and own it. Nobody wants to hear you bitching about getting what you said was best “for the American people.” 

You asked for it, and now you own it. Congratulations, Meathead.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Weekend Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

An unusual piece for this most unusual year of 2020 — performed by The Choral Arts Society of Washington, my favorite choral group in the area in which I live: 


Text for the above:
A flame 
Dispels the dark 
Its delicate light dispels the shadows 
A flame alone 
Brings within its flicker 
A welcoming warmth 
A single flame 
That shares its light 
Is but strengthened by this splitting in two 
And as each flame 
Begets another 
Its life and life are multiplied 
To become unending 
Forever burning 
A beacon that both beckons and guides 
So to light the world.
Many years ago, I was privileged to be an alto in The Choral Arts Society, then under the baton of the founder, Maestro Norman Scribner (1936-2015).  What a wonderful and unique education I received during those three and one-half years!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Now What?

So, here we are, the day after the 2020 National Election.  At least six states are "too early to call."  Why is that?

Both Democrats and Republicans are claiming victory, with the latter crying "Foul!"  Perhaps the Democrats are, too.  I haven't checked.0

The great divide continues.

Where does America go from here?

Monday, November 2, 2020

Breaking Speculation!

Delivered with dramatic lead-in music and breathless voices — as if those touches will change or predict a single thing. My email inboxes reaches overflow within a few hours every single day the past few weeks. 

 I wonder how many hours I have spent deleting emails? Those hours must have added up to at least several weeks. I kid you not! Hours upon hours deleted from my remaining finite hours.
I'm so sick of all this breaking speculation with regard to the 2020 National Election. We will find out the election results when we find out. 

Days? 

Weeks? 

Months?

Meanwhile, "THE COVID" is doing what viruses do: spreading.  Hysteria does nothing to prevent the spread.

Friday, October 30, 2020

BOO!

(For politics, please scroll down)

The theme music for the 1983 science-fiction thriller The Dead Zone, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, was composed by Michael Kamen (1948-2003), who, by the way, collaborated with Pink Floyd on the album The Wall.

Nick Bode, a commenter at YouTube, noted about the theme to The Dead Zone:
When Michael Kamen was composing this score, he'd play it over & over on his piano at home. His neighbor called & said "Please stop playing whatever that music is. You're giving my family nightmares." Epic.
Listen to this music. Do you agree with Mr. Bode?
 

Related reading: The True Stories Behind 11 Hair-Raising Urban Legends, From Candyman to Slender Man.  Interesting stuff!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

More Beheadings In France — This Time INSIDE A Cathedral (with addendum)

During morning mass at the largest Roman Catholic Church in the city!

Dateline...Nice France, October 29, 2020: 
Three people are killed - with church warden and woman beheaded - and several others wounded in terror attack at a church in Nice before attacker is shot and arrested while chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ 

Three killed - two of them beheaded - and several more stabbed in a terror attack inside a cathedral in Nice Attack began around 9am before police swarmed the area, where they shot and arrested the attacker 

Mass had just begun inside cathedral - largest Roman Catholic church in Nice - when the attack started 
Comes fortnight after teacher [Samuel Paty] was beheaded near Paris; a month after stabbings near Charlie Hebdo offices
Read the rest HERE.

The marching orders of Allah: "When you meet the unbelievers, strike necks" (Qur'an 27:4)

ADDENDUM: 

Two hours later man armed with a handgun and shouting Allahu Akbar was shot and killed by cops in Avignon 

Meanwhile a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was stabbed and wounded by a knifeman 

Attacks come after Macron sparked fury by defending cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and amid the Mawlid festival when Muslims celebrate the Prophet's birthday

Monday, October 26, 2020

Ghost Town: New York City?

From The Federalist's October 23, 2020 essay Of Course New York City Is A Ghost Town:
 

Read the essay HERE.

What is it like where you are?  

Here in the greater Washington, D.C., area, most of the cultural amenities are not happening  or are chocked full of procedure to follow: concerts, including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts;  most Smithsonian Museums with restrictions destroying spontaneity (the Museum of Natural History, my favorite, even worse because that particular museum is completely closed, as is the D.C. National Air and Space Museum).

Dining out is a tedious experience.

Not much of a festive season this year.

Thanks, China.  **snarl**

And thanks power-hungry governments and linguine-spined sheeple.  **snarl again**

Related: Big Brother stomps on Thanksgiving in California. Excerpt:
...• Only three households may gather for Thanksgiving. 

• People must dine outdoors, although shade structures are allowed. (Depending on where one is in California, Thanksgiving and the December holidays are likely to be both cold and wet.) 

• Even while celebrating together, each of the three permissible households must stay at least six feet away from the two other households at all times, even while outdoors. 

• People may remove their face coverings only briefing to eat or drink. 

• The whole gathering must end within two hours. 

• Attendees must try not to sing, chant, or shout. 

• Musical instruments are allowed only if the musician is also a guest -- and that guest really shouldn’t play a wind instrument (e.g., trumpet, flute, etc.).... 
Read the rest HERE.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Ain't It The Happy Truth?...

(For politics, please scroll down)

...Especially during this more-contentious-than-usual election season!

Have a good weekend!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Black Trump Supporter Viciously Attacked

From Gateway Pundit, dated October 17, 2020:

On Saturday black Trump supporter Philip Anderson attended a rally for free speech in San Francisco. 

 Philip was attacked by an Antifa street thug while escorting a fellow conservative from the rally. Philip Anderson did not see the punch coming. 

He was sucker-punched by an Antifa thug and lost both of his front teeth while he was trying to help a fellow patriot get to the event safely....

Read and watch the rest HERE.

Vote accordingly.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down) 

Enjoy Frédéric Chopin's Waltz in C# Minor, performed by blogger and pianist extraordinaire FreeThinke/Franco Aragosta (April 11, 1941-October 7, 2020).  All the more amazing because Roger had to memorize every note, which he could barely read on paper: he was almost completely blind by the age of 77.
 

YouTube blurb for the above: 
The first section of the C#-Minor Waltz, casts a spell tinged with Chopin’s characteristic aristocratic elegance, but at the same time world-weary, and nostalgic. The haunting, more animated second section has about it a beguiling aura of nocturnal mystery and enchantment. It beckons us, but where it wants to lead us remains shrouded in mystery as the music keeps dancing gracefully but dissolves into the mist. With each of three repetitions we are left ever more curious, - and a bit fearful -, wondering what might be found if we dared to move beyond the edge of the perfumed garden to parts unknown. 

ROGER TREFETHEN began his piano studies with Joseph Erwin of the Juilliard Preparatory School. He also worked briefly with Ada Brant of Aurora, Illinois. At the Eastman School of Music he studied under Cecile Staub Gerhart, Postgraduate studies with Claude Frank at the Mannes College of Music, Adele Marcus and Albert Fuller at the Juilliard, and finally acclaimed interpreter of Beethoven, Bruce Hungerford, rounded out his music education.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Open Thread

So, what's on your mind? 

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

Please note! 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 

Comments consisting of blog gossip will be deleted as soon as a blog administrator becomes aware of such comments.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

"Indigenous Peoples Day Of Rage"

What purpose does all this mayhem on Columbus Day 2020 serve?

 

 

The above are. a merely a few samples from the link at the beginning of this blog post. Read and watch the rest HERE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Joe Biden's Hot Streak

You can't make up this stuff! Dated October 10, 2020:
And, yet, the polls still show Biden winning on November 3. Go figure!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

We Can Never Go Back to Manderley Now

By Kurt Silverfiddle

It is much easier to understand Franco if you understood his considerable talents, and the era he came from: Where literary giants like Norman Mailer, William F Buckley, Gay Talese and Gore Vidal thrusted and parried, as did poets, musicians and denizens of various artistic communities, jealously guarding their reputations in the clawing, catty, neverending fight for recognition, celebrating success, and celebrating the failures of your rivals.

He was a man of many talents and a fiery ego, although in person-to-person conversation he was gentle as a purring kitten.  His voice reminded me of a more baritone, less nasal Mark Steyn, and he had the wit to go along with it.

He was also incredibly generous.  He supported at least two families and people suffering from cancer, and his generosity extended to undocumented immigrants.  He went so far as to seek legal aid for a family he had grown close to.  He could argue vociferously on principles, but he loved people and pulled considerable amounts of money out of his bank account to help those who needed it, including the widow of our departed friend Jersey McJones.

He told me back in August he was ready to go.  Failing hands, failing eyesight, his disgust at the cultural rot encircling us...

I'll close with my favorite poem by him, made more poignant upon his death.

We Can Never Go Back to Manderley Now

Should I care if I get cancer

In this wretched, troubled, world

Where all seems swiftly headed towards the rocks?


Since we live with devolution,

Marred and poisoned with pollution

Cancer gives us absolution,

Since our kids don’t care enough to wear their socks.

 

As towards The End we're whirling

With flaming batons twirling,

And last night's dinner hurling towards the rug


And no one seems to notice

As they take positions lotus

To escape the awful bother,

Despite demur from failing father,

To remove the dreadful stench, at which they shrug


And each, emaciated limb

Grayish, pale, translucent, slim

Flailing in St. Vitus' Dance

Keeps death watchers in a trance

As with dead, unseeing eyes they watch and long

With fading final song for their ultimate demise


I’d be grateful to have cancer

It has given me an Answer

In this wretched, troubled, world

Where my life now lies unfurled

Wherever I have travelled

All behind me lies unravelled,

And backward glances give me naught but shocks.

As I see we’ve ALWAYS headed towards the rocks.


~ FreeThinke

Friday, October 9, 2020

RIP, Franco Aragosta/FreeThinke

(For politics, please scroll down) 


Franco Aragosta (aka FreeThinke), one of the friends of this blog as well as my personal friend since 2012, passed away suddenly very early on the morning of October 7.  He would have turned 80 years old on his next birthday, in April.
This talented man was an accomplished pianist, an astute music critic, and a writer of poetry (both serious and light-hearted).  In fact, for years, he composed acrostic sonnets as a daily mind-sharpening exercise.  A Renaisssance Man in several ways!

I will miss him.

FreeThinke/Franco was quite fond of English composers and their works, particularly their lesser-known compositions.  Consequently, I am posting "In Moonlight," composed by English composer 
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934), in honor of Franco/FreeThinke:

 

YouTube blurb:
Extracted by Elgar from his concert overture "In the South (Alassio)", "In Moonlight (Canto popolare)" is played here by the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Paul Goodwin. The paintings are by the English artist John Atkinson Grimshaw.
!--BLOCKING--