Streams

Sudley SpringsThere’s something about water and rocks.  I know from my course in limnology long ago that a stream is an alien world people populated by scary looking creatures. Really scary like hellgrammites, savage Dragonfly pupae or the killer crawfish.  Luckily they are all only a few inches long and they are all eaten themselves by the alert trout that marvelously brave and proud looking tasty fish which evolved in the moraines of the glaciers.  Or the Bass, Pickerel and Crappie.

Which in turn I hunt and eat.

So whenever I look at a stream I ponder the romance of that swirling world dropping its way to the sea through worn the down mountains and it’s rocks and leafy dark forests, sunny vales and course, the still bog.

Gotham Shield

See story in Daily Mail Here.  But what this Blog learned is that the Federal Government is going to simulate  a nuclear blast equivalent to ten thousand tons of TNT over New York City  by detonating ten thousand tons of TNT over the Left-Wing City of San Francisco and if it works the way Steve Bannon hopes it will the next simulation in the Gotham Shield Series will occur over Chicago. Then in no particular order Ann Arbor, East ST Louis, Baltimore, Ferguson Missouri and Philadelphia.

In a gracious, let bygones be bygones gesture by the Trump Administration has invited all the Democrat Party Congressmen to return home for these festive events.

What The Sad Part Is

 

Glory RoadWatching Republicans trying to pass a health care bill reminded me of the popular fantasy Robert Heinlein1 incorporated into his famous sci-fi novel Glory Road.  In it Oscar’s true love Star the Empress of Twenty Galaxies had a choice to make whenever a new law was proposed.   Either approve the danged thing (rarely the first pick) or execute the man dumb enough to offer it up.  There was no middle way.

A practice which has a certain logic because a new law, despite the advertising, almost never works out in favor of those whose labor or taxes support the government.

That much like the ancient Egyptians carved the length of the Son God’s golden arm into the Cubit2 Stone and decreed all the empire’s measurements must derive from it, our career politicians measure all legislation against a rule which states that anyone already receiving a government check must continue to receive it.  Forever.

Which is why the government keeps reinsuring and reinsuring and paying for and paying for the destroyed luxury beach front properties built on hurricane-bait sandbars a mile offshore.  It’s why when we know that subsidizing single mothers leads to horrendous social pathologies we will ignore their behavior and continue to send them checks.  Then more checks

Paul RyanAnd of course it was exactly with this standard of guaranteed entitlements that Paul Ryan began with, he said, to “repeal” Obamacare.  That is by insisting that the twenty million people having health care premiums paid by Obamacare, are untouchable.  There is a program to give poor people medical coverage called Medicaid but that’s neither here nor there.  There’s an underground economy in this country which in toto may be greater than the entire economy of Japan and a huge chunk of these people invisibly draw some or all of their income from that source but that’s neither here nor there.  And the appalling truth that while twenty million may have gained coverage a far greater number of working people lost it by having their deductible jump to $5, 000 or $10,000 or more, money they don’t have, is neither here nor there either.

Even the fact that few of these twenty million recipients voted Republican in the last election doesn’t matter.

Because almost every politician believes that they could paint giant Duke-of-Hazzards style Confederate flags on the top of their government limousines and expose themselves to the next group of Iowa high school girls touring the Capitol Rotunda and still stand a better chance of surviving politically than they would if they took someone’s check away.  Anyone’s check.    Because do it, vote to take school lunch money away from parents who make over $250,000 a year they’ll be accused of starving kids.  Vote to defund Planned Parenthood they’ll be accused of denying vulnerable women vital medical services.  Vote to defund the going nowhere in their sustainable energy research government supported algae farms and you’ll be accused of being in the pay or big oil so on.

Better not to try.  Besides it’s not like they’re giving their own money away.

And so in Washington’s Looney-Tune world once someone gets a government check they’re locked in.  Even those millionaires building their beachfront homes in hurricane alley.  Indeed they stand about as much chance of being defunded as Congress itself.

But here’s the sad part, a tragedy really.  Donald J. Trump is not a politician – its why we elected him.  He didn’t have get behind Paul Ryan’s insane plan to tweak Obamacare just enough that he and the Republican Party would wind up owning that disaster.  President Trump could have just stuck with his campaign trail arguments and advocated a free market in health care and so maybe in that way, kill the beast outright.  He could even elected to do nothing and let Obamacare implode.

But he didn’t.

Despite the fact that the worst which could happen was that at the end of four years he’d be living back in his gold encrusted four story penthouse in the sky.

 

 

  1. The best-selling author of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress the famous Conservative/Libertarian cult novel about the revolt of the Moon against the Earth’s oppressive rule. As well as many other titles.
  2. Yes, this is the source of the Biblical measurement and at something like a yard probably the origin of Imperial Measurements and so (more or less) the system used by the only nation able put a man on the Moon. A point you should make when your ten year old son or daughter comes home all in a tizzy about the new and much more modern and logical Metric System their teacher is pushing.

 

The Hound Of The Baskervilles

Hound Of The Baskervilles

Need a break from politics?  From the daily drumbeat of vituperation and lies?  More importantly do your kids need a break from listening to you and your spouse grousing about sub-committee hearings, thugs breaking up talks on college campuses – about immigration?

So what better way than with a classic horror whodunit?

And was there ever one like The Hound Of The Baskervilles?  It not only has all the basics it invented the basics: murder by paranormal means, a vast fortune at stake with its new heir being stalked by an ancient curse, dramatic tension winding tighter and tighter starting with the enigma of a misplaced boot and a warning composed of words cut from a newspaper, a quirky and interesting country doctor as interlocutor, an escaped convict murderer roaming about, a woman mysteriously sobbing at night, a ghostly stranger silhouetted against the moon,  and what a setting: a vast lonely moor, spooky old manor house, ancient prehistoric stone rings on lonely windswept hillsides, the fog reaching out for you in the darkness as the baying of a gigantic hound sounds nearby in the Great Grimpen Mire.

Don’t read it to your kids, have them read it themselves, maybe out loud.  This well written book cries out to be read aloud and your children will pride themselves on mastering this the famous of Arthur Conan Doyle’s worlds.  The richness of the simple language and artful turn of phrase.  The cadence.  It’ll change their sense of language and the sense of what they can do with it in their own composition.

Then on a dark winter night when a storm is rattling the shutters outside make a mound of popcorn, you and your wife gather the little guys all together on the couch under a blanket, turn the lights off and watch the original black and white 1939 movie with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson.

Thankfully, the film lacks all the 21st Century Hollywood essentials: the modern special effects, some version of Xena The Warrior Princess eclipsing all the men in hand to hand combat, the lovable “Gay Next Door”, an evil Republican CIA or maybe an evil White Man or an evil giant corporation polluting some sacred mountain, sacred beach, sacred tree or sacred river and of course the sub-plot of an ethnic hero in silver wraparound sunglasses or long gray dreadlocks.  No happy little pet dog, no hip hop children, no tattoos, no heroic environmentalist and no airplane crashes or helicopters blowing up.

But Savile Row, that is very well cut suits, on all the men.  Well, not the dog cart driver, but everyone else.

Hound puts that Hollywood tackiness and politically correct froth in the shade.  It’s a STORY.  It’s only agenda is to entertain – to grab you by the shirtfront, rattle your bones then send you to bed shaking your head.

And smiling.

The Blizzard

Sasquatch FeetWell it’s 10:00 Am here in Stone Ridge and the “Storm Of The Century” has been downgraded but up here north of the city we’re still getting dumped on. So much so that my buddy seventy-eight year old Eddie Slaterburgh who goes out every snow with his big phony Sasquatch feet in order to frighten the neighbor’s kids tells me he’s already made his rounds three times this morning.

Snowy Woods

Orangutan Boxing

Orangutan BoxingAs if there wasn’t enough to worry about in the news animal rights activists are up in arms over Orangutan Boxing in Thailand.  Don’t let the sign in the background fool you – it is Thailand even though that person in the front row with a handful of winning betting slips in his hand looks a lot like Michael Vick.

Makes You Want To Cry

Good article on America’s WW II internment of Japanese in today’s DM  Here.  With many photographs.  Check it out.

InternmentThe internment was a stain on America.  Having said that the camps weren’t Bergen Belsen.  And the internees deserve a lot of credit for the way they went along and harbored so few grudges against their fellow citizens.  And of course there was the incomparable 442nd Infantry composed entirely of Japanese Americans.  The most decorated Army unit in WW II.  Today most of them have passed on but as you enter Punchbowl Military cemetery overlooking Honolulu, there they are, their gravestones lined up with each other in military precision.   Makes you want to cry.  (Pictured is a Boy Scout Color Guard at a camp.)

On The Speech

It was a great speech and it’s hard not to agree with others that somewhere in the middle of it, Donald J. Trump became President of the United States.

Although he did miss several opportunities:

At the very beginning when the President turns and extends one bound volume each to the Vice President and the Speaker Of The House he should have made a crack about how glad he was that no Hollywood Democrat was responsible for handing the right speech to the right person.

And.

A few minutes in he could have commented about all the women in white in the audience.  Something like “the Democrats haven’t had this many people in White Robes since they ran George Wallace for President.”

And.

Midway through he could have paused, pointed up into the Gallery and announced that those men everybody sees moving around up there were Federal Agents arresting the illegal immigrants the Democrats had invited as guests.

Other than that my hats off to you Mr. President.

 

Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD See it Here.  He lives and writes in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York, blogs here and can also be reached at miniterhome@gmail.com

 

Do Not Walk On Wet Rocks

Piece and a video in the Daily Mail today Here about a boy being rescued from the surf in Hawaii.  Many readers wrote in to say how dangerous the waves are there.  I wholeheartedly concur because for someone raised on the North Atlantic’s pretty predictable shoreline they were a shock.

And reading the above linked story today reminded me of a goosebump inducing tale I was told when I was stationed on Oahu in 1964.

It goes like this:

There was a sign on a rocky beach on the North Eastern Coast – Danger From Waves – Do Not Walk On Wet Rocks.  (Meaning of course that wet rocks tell you where the surf is reaching)

Father and son take a hike. Son (who is walking on the dry rocks) says to father “Dad maybe you should stay off wet rocks like the sign said.”  Father replies “don’t worry about me son I can look out for myself.” Son looks away.  Son looks back. Father has vanished.

A Land Beyond Kings

After central governments began emerging in Scandinavia during the final decades of the Viking age more than a few of the those fiercely independent bands fled west.  Into the ocean mists where they gambled on their open longships surviving the unexplored North Atlantic.   Some simply vanished while others settled Iceland in 874, the Faroe Isles in 872-930 before going on to Greenland 980, and then mysteriously, the American continent.

No aids to navigation aids save the sun and rumors of land somewhere out there, cheek by jowl with two dozen armed rowers and their wives, children, livestock, fresh water and supplies, forever wet and always uncertain about their future.

But yet compelled, in their own words,  to find  A Land Beyond Kings.

A motive which foretold the much larger emigration headed towards America across that same ocean some six hundred years later.  Because just like the earlier Vikings these people too wanted to chance to work out their own lives in their own ornery fashion.  With nobody much outside their own circle, ever telling them what to do.

A not very well admired trait today.  Indeed during televised testimony I once heard Justice Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is of course a body which much like those earlier kings believes it has the God-given right to tell everybody what to do about anything, sneer at the Americans believed that they should be able to whatever it was they wanted to do.  And only for their own reasons.

So what  happened to that spirit?

Aha, and that’s a subject to itself explored.