December 31, 2009
December 30, 2009
Battle of Trenton: An Eyewitness Account
Posted By Publius
From the American Revolution Website: Here is an eyewitness account of the Battle of Trenton written by an officer on Washington’s Staff
New Town PA, December 22, 1776
Things have been going against us since last August, when we were forced to give up Long Island, losing 3000 men and a great amount of supplies. In October we were forced to evacuate New York and cross the Hudson into New Jersey.
We reached Trenton Dec. 2. It was prudent forethought on the part of General Washington to send General [William] Maxwell ahead to secure all the boats on the Delaware River and have them at Trenton upon our arrival. If it had not been done we should have been in a bad fix with [British Army Lieutenant-General Charles] Cornwallis at our heels. As it was the Hessians under Count [Carl von] Donop and Colonel [Johann] Rall arrived in that village in season to fire a few shots at the last boat.
According to last accounts General [William] Howe [the British Commander-in-Chief] and General Cornwallis have gone to New York leaving General [Sir James] Grant with a few hundred English troops at Princeton, Colonel Rall with 1500 Hessians at Trenton and Count Donop with 2000 at Bordentown, ten miles down the river from Trenton.
Washington’s headquarters are here in this little village of New Town, back from the river northwest of Trenton. General [Nathaniel] Greene and General [John] Sullivan, with their divisions, numbering 2500 men and sixteen cannon, are ten miles up stream at McConkey’s Ferry. A portion of the boats are there. General [James] Ewing, with 2000 men, is on this side of the river a little below Trenton, and General [John] Cadwallader and General [Israel] Putnam are at Bristol, ten miles further down, with as many more.
I rode along the river yesterday morning and could see the Hessians in Trenton. It is a pretty village, containing about 130 houses and a Presbyterian meeting-house. A stone bridge spans the Assunpink creek on the road leading to Bordentown. There are apple orchards and gardens.
Rall has his own regiment and Knyphausen a few dragoons and fifty riflemen. The Hessians call them Yagers. He has six cannon. Knyphausen has two of them, two stand in front of Rall’s headquarters, and two up by the Pennington road. A scout just in says that General Howe has issued a proclamation, offering pardon to everybody in New Jersey who will lay down their arms and take the oath of allegiance. He says that Howe and Cornwallis are well satisfied with what they have accomplished. Cornwallis is going to England to tell the King that the rebellion is about over. Howe is going to have a good time in New York attending dinner parties. For what I see I am quite certain Washington intends to make some movement soon. He keeps his own counsel, but is very much determined.
- Orders have been issued to cook rations for three days. Washington has just given the counter sign, “Victory or Death.” He has written a letter to General Caldwallader at Bristol, which he has entrusted to me to copy. He intends to cross the river, make a ten-mile march to Trenton, and attack Rall just before daybreak. Ewing is to cross and seize the bridge crossing the Assunpink. Putnam and Cadwallader are to cross and make a feint of attacking Donop so that he can not hasten to Rall’s assistance.
– A scout just in says that the Hessians have a picket on the Pennington road half a mile out from Trenton, and another at [Brigadier-General of the New Jersey militia Philemon] Dickenson’s house, on the river road.
– Christmas morning. They make a great deal of Christmas in Germany, and no doubt the Hessians will drink a great deal of beer and have a dance to-night. They will be sleepy tomorrow morning. Washington will set the tune for them about daybreak. The rations are cooked. New flints and ammunition have been distributed. Colonel [John] Glover’s fishermen from Marblehead, Mass., are to manage the boats just as they did in the retreat from Long Island.
Christmas, 6 p.m.
– The regiments have had their evening parade, but instead of returning to their quarters are marching toward the ferry. It is fearfully cold and raw and a snow-storm is setting in. The wind is northeast and beats in the faces of the men. It will be a terrible night for the soldiers who have no shoes. Some of them have tied old rags around their feet; others are barefoot, but I have not heard a man complain. They are ready to suffer any hardship and die rather than give up their liberty.
I have just copied the order for marching. Both divisions are to go from the ferry to Bear Tavern, two miles. They will separate there; Washington will accompany Greene’s division with a part of the artillery down the Pennington Road; Sullivan and the rest of the artillery will take the river road.
Dec. 26, 3 a.m.
– I am writing in the ferry house. The troops are all over, and the boats have gone back for the artillery. We are three hours behind the set time. Glover’s men have had a hard time to force the boats through the floating ice with the snow drifting in their faces.
I never had seen Washington so determined as he is now. He stands on the bank of the river, wrapped in his cloak, superintending the landing of his troops. He is calm and collected, but very determined. The storm is changing to sleet, and cuts like a knife. The last cannon is being landed, and we are ready to mount our horses.
Dec. 26, Noon
– It was nearly 4 o’clock, when we started. The two divisions divided at Bear Tavern. At Birmingham, three and a half miles south of the tavern, a man came with a message from General Sullivan that the storm was wetting the muskets and rendering them unfit for service.
“Tell General Sullivan,” said Washington, “to use the bayonet. I am resolved to take Trenton.”
It was broad daylight when we came to a house where a man was chopping wood. He was very much surprised when he saw us. “Can you tell me where the Hessian picket is?” Washington asked. The man hesitated, but I said, “You need not be frightened, it is General Washington who asks the question.” His face brightened and he pointed toward the house of Mr. Howell.
It was just 8 o’clock. Looking down the road I saw a Hessian running out from the house. He yelled in Dutch [German] and swung his arms. Three or four others came out with their guns. Two of them fired at us, but the bullets whistled over our heads. Some of General [Adam] Stephen’s men rushed forward and captured two. The other took to their heels, running toward Mr. [Alexander] Calhoun’s house, where the picket guard was stationed, about twenty men under Captain Altenbrockum. They came running out of the house. The Captain flourished his sword and tried to form his men. Some of them fired at us, others ran toward the village. The next moment we heard drums beat and a bugle sound, and then from the west came the boom of a cannon. General Washington’s face lighted up instantly, for he knew that it was one of Sullivan’s guns.
We could see a great commotion down toward the meeting-house, men running here and there, officers swinging their swords, artillerymen harnessing their horses. Captain [Thomas] Forrest unlimbered his guns. Washington gave the order to advance, and rushed on the junction of King and Queen streets. Forrest wheeled six of his cannon into position to sweep both streets.
The riflemen under Colonel [Edward] Hand and [Charles] Scott’s and [Robert] Lawson’s battalions went upon the run through the fields on the left just ready to open fire with two of their cannon when Captain [William] Washington and Lieutenant [James] Monroe with their men rushed forward and captured them. We saw Rall come riding up the street from his headquarters, which were at Stacy Potts’ house. We could hear him shouting in Dutch, “My brave soldiers, advance.”
His men were frightened and confused, for our men were firing upon them from fences and houses and they were falling fast. Instead of advancing they ran into an apple orchard. The officers tried to rally them, but our men kept advancing and picking off the officers. It was not long before Rall tumbled from his horse and his soldiers threw down their guns and gave themselves up as prisoners.
While this was taking place on the Pennington road, Colonel John Stark, from New Hampshire, in the advance on the river road was driving Knyphausen’s men pell mell through the town. Sullivan sent a portion of his troops under [Brigadier-General Arthur] St. Clair to seize the bridge and cut off the retreat of the Hessians toward Bordentown. Sullivan’s men shot the artillery horses and captured two cannon attached to Knyphausen’s regiment.
Dec.26, 3 p.m.
– . . . We have taken nearly 1000 prisoners, six cannon, more than 1000 muskets, twelve drums, and four colors. About forty Hessians were killed or wounded. Our loss is only two killed and three wounded. . . .I have just been with General Washington and Greene to see Rall. He will not live through the night. He asked that his men might be kindly treated. Washington promised that he would see they were well cared for.
Dec. 27. 1776
. — Here we are back in our camp with the prisoners and trophies. Washington is keeping his promise; the soldiers are in the New Town Meeting-house and other buildings. He has just given directions for tomorrow’s dinner. All the captured Hessian officers are to dine with him. He bears the Hessians no malice, but says they have been sold by their Grand Duke to King George and sent to America, when if they could have their own way they would be peaceably living in their own country.
It is a glorious victory. It will rejoice the hearts of our friends everywhere and give new life to our hitherto waning fortunes. Washington has baffled the enemy in his retreat from New York. He has pounced upon the Hessians like an eagle upon a hen and is safe once more on this side of the river. If he does nothing more he will live in history as a great military commander.
December 29, 2009
December 27, 2009
December 26, 2009
GNN has learned that the remains of a four-foot Oryctolagus cuniculus discovered during excavations four years ago, on an MGM back lot, have been positively identified as those of cartoon star Bugs Bunny. Bunny vanished in late 1958 after a violent dispute with his agent and Mel Blanc, Bunny's voice coach. Emerging story.
While allowing my holiday meal(s) to digest, I browsed my Favorites Library and deleted a couple years of news items. I recalled my pleasure at THIS one, because I love crabmeat, and not the stringy shreds known as Snow Crab that you buy in the canned-fish aisle of the Pig Out Supermarket for $89 for a 4 oz can.
Owing to global warming in Antarctica, which (see the link) is apparently harmless to penquins, whales and fish, predators like crabs and sharks are sneaking back into Antarctic waters for a "Smorgasbord" of the hapless bottom dwellers that have flourished there since crabs and sharks were chased away by the cold 40 million years ago.
King Crabs, especially, hate the cold. Magnesium dispersion is difficult for a crab in cold water. He gets high, probably wears a periwinkle shell on his head, then drops deader than a Democrat's conscience. But warm water produces a perfectly healthy, sober crab with a day-tripper to an Antarctic buffet.
And sharks have their own problems with cold water. One is chemical, which bears a damaging relationship to water temperature (cold is bad); another is that sharks need to move, move, move, which is hard to do in cold water. (I question this, because a large shark enthusiastically nudged my leg in 56 F shallow water off the coast of Maine once, then hung around for a while. He seemed perfectly happy).
In any case, when Antarctica warms up, sharks and crabs will chow down like Goomba and DC on a budget Carnival Cruise. When those two blitzkreig the shrimp mounds, beware of undertow and tail shrapnel.
But Confusion reigns! A third specimen of famished shark, the Spiney Dogfish, is the subject of much confusion by the fishologists who study these things. According to the link, the "virtually global" Dogfish will be the scourge of Antarctica when the water warms, but an imbedded link in the same article states that they're disappearing and endangered...and add to this befuddlement this: the lack of ice will allow the Orcas to massacre the Spiney Doggish. You decide, because the "science" can't. My pet Spiney Dogfish won't answer my questions, either. As for the King Crabs, sharks eat them too...but, so what?
Finally, someone tell me why Antarctica has been free of sharks and King Crabs for 40 million years. Warming and cooling is cyclical..right?
December 24, 2009
December 23, 2009
What a strange season this is. We have slipped into Winter.
Andrew Wyeth said:
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the boneThis nation has slipped into Winter and night. Our Founders weep as patriots are forced to witness the rape of Lady Liberty. Military veterans will approach this Christmas season in much the same way one must move forward despite the death of a beloved child. Citizens should cower in shame that over 200 years of the American Experiment died on our watch, pulled into the undertow of ignorance, selfishness, weakness and Socialism.
structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it,
the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath
it, the whole story doesn't show.
But, as Wyeth says: "Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." What doesn't show is Spring when seeds of discontent will burst forth with the sweet fruits of vengeance. Spring will enter majestically to a symphony of sharpening sabers and gathering armies. As buildings are rebuilt brick by brick, the American Revival will be achieved one small battle at a time. Spring is coming. Prepare for battle.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
The midnight Christmas votes on bills nobody has read - with the exception of the Apollo Alliance or whoever wrote them...the Sunday evening votes on matters so controversial that "debate is not allowed"...creating fundamental change to the nation when those changes are NOT WANTED by the majority of Americans... two hundred years ago, legislators would be lynched for doing this - today, they are enriched by special interests who pay to play. Good-Bye America
December 22, 2009
All 58 Demos, plus the Indy-Socialist Sanders, plus the supposedly-conservative Joe Lieberman (even after he was eviscerated in the last election by Democrats) voted in lockstep with Reid. Can we finally put and end to hopeful fairy tale that Joe Lieberman -- Al Gore's old running mate -- is some sort of conservative?
Even without the Stupak anti-abortion language that the House insisted upon anywhere in the Senate bill, the "principled" Ben Nelson took his spoils and stuck the rest of us with increased Medicaid costs at the same time -- and left the unborn to fend for themselves.
When are people going to wake up?
This is what happens when the Demos are in charge of the government .... Senate rules blatantly broken to get to the precious objective ... all-night Senate sessions in the snow to pass something the public is overwhelmingly against ... bribes being doled out left and right with your money to pay off the traitors in D.C..
Just like the Republicans?
Now, it will be up to those with a brain and a fighting spirit to either stop or undo this.
December 21, 2009
I've believed for a long time that anyone desiring public office should be disqualified from holding it for that reason. Moral flexibility, and - in the beginning - the incipient greed and power lust that eventually consumes the person, is necessary to stay afloat in the chunky, fetid pools of politics, and some men and women seem to like it. You can't be better than the worms, when you spend your professional life in a bait box.
Christopher Dodd, the oleaginous, wax-faced, ravening creep from my state collected $100 million from the despicable Harry Reid for a vote that Dodd would have made for nothing. Mary Landrieu got $300 million, but Ben Nelson has set a new record for pretense and corruption as a phony hold-out on the Senate's Obamacare bill.
He's surrendered his anti-abortion credentials for what seems like the paltry treat of relieving Nebraska of MediCaid expenses. Whatever insults and degradation the Senate has proferred in its bill, it's also now passed these expenses from Nebraskans to everyone else.
Nelson is actually a cheap whore. Dodd and Landrieu got more for less. Anyway, if you're feeling low, read THIS. It took a long time for the disease of progressivism to take hold, and it will take a long time to wipe it out. It can be done.
December 19, 2009
The responsible cheese-eater gets THIS advice from "Slate".
"What Axelrod and I had in mind is something your factories can bang out by the millions...a little Obama doll, maybe in a toga or a Speedo....I'm tellin' you...what was your name again? This will be big, really big! We'll get WalMart to sign on. Mail order? You never saw such a deal, Wang...Wing, whatever!"
I never liked this dough-faced clod to begin with, so this is easy. Affecting the manner of the stereotypical rural American of the first half of the last century, in print, on-stage and over the air-waves Garrison Keillor disgorged inside jokes, homilies and snark that amused urban philistines and manques in every liberal pest hole from Vermont to California.
He's an orifice, although a successful one. Pandering to elitist liberal conceits and nourishing their cruelty and viciousness is (or was) a post-war industry of enormous proportions. Today, public radio and TV, and the occasional podium in Cambridge linger like some lost outposts after a catastrophe, waiting for instructions from the home office - reading from the same old dispatches to a world that is moving on and figuring these poseurs out.
Read THIS. Keillor doesn't like Jews writing Christmas songs.
December 17, 2009
Hey, could you pass me that credenza to put in front of D. Harry's office? Thanks. And make sure those 12 chairs are stacked up in front of Sanders' hole. Good work.
First, using Senate rules he required the Senate Clerk to read the 767-page amendment spelling by Bernie Sanders, the Socialist from VT, spelling out a single-payer, government-run health-care system.
Sanders then angrily scurried to the floor and pulled the amendment. Funny and strange. But more funny. It violated Senate rules for Sanders to do so (rules required the entire amendment to be read, even if it did inflict the entire chamber with narcolepsy and/or nightmares). Still, for comedic relief, perhaps we can forgive the Demos/Socialistas/Same Thing on this one.
Then, going for the comedic, pointy-toed-kick-to-the groin double-header sweep, Sen. Coburn proposed an amendment that each senator certify that he/she has read the bill and also understands it. No fooling. But it's even better than that. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) objected. You can't make this up.
The only thing that bothers me about this grand day is that I have to give credit to Oklahoma ... for giving America Sen. Coburn. But I will. Sen. Coburn is about as good as there is in Washington.
The Demos are imploding, ladies and gentlemen. But stay vigilant. It appears that Harry Reid is planning some sort of midnight vote on Christmas Eve -- about the time when Jacob Marley paid Scrooge a visit.
December 16, 2009
Human Arm and Bicep Movements from da Vinci's journal
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects - Robert Heinlein
December 15, 2009
Emerson's revolutionary milieu, described in his lecture, included those who wanted to abolish marriage, those who wanted to abolish money, and those who claimed diet was the mainspring of good or bad behavior. Don't eat meat or leavened bread. Another movement sought to liberate all beasts of burden from the yoke; a lot of people wanted to eliminate mechanical transportation, including trains and wagons.
Still another, group maintained that "Even the insect world was to be defended - that had too long been neglected - and a society for the protection of ground worms, slugs and mosquitos was to be incorporated without delay". Homeopathy and socialism was popular in this circle, vocations like lawyer, minister, merchant, manufacturer, scholar were not. Emerson tells us that a man who was excommunicated from his church for abolitionist ideas, publically ex-communicated his church. This was, after all, Massachusetts.
Education and Socialism (which had established itself in three Massachusetts communities fell to Emerson's condemnation.
Education: The popular education has been taxed with a want of truth and nature. We are students of words, we are shut up in schools and colleges and recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words and do not know a thing. We cannot use our hands, or our legs, or our eyes or our arms. We do not know an edible root in the woods, we cannot tell our course by the stars. It is well if we can swim and skate. We are afraid of a horse, or a cow, of a dog, of a snake, of a spider. The Roman rule was to teach a boy nothing that he could not learn standing...I notice too, that the ground on which eminent public servants urge the claims of popular education is fear: "This country is filling up with thousands and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from our throats"".
Socialism: "...it may easily be questioned whether such a [socialist] community will draw, except in its beginnings, the able and the good, whether those who have energy will not prefer their chance at superiority and power in the world to the humble certainties of the Association, whether such a retreat does not become an asylum to those who have tried and failed. I have failed and you have failed, but perhaps together we shall not fail. The candidate my party votes for is not to be trusted with a dollar but he will be honest in the Senate because we can bring public opinion to bear on him. All the men in the world cannot make a statue walk, cannot make a drop of blood or a blade of grass any more than one man can..."
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Collectivists have been trying to work their dread magic for a long time, under the cloak of "Reform". Emerson was a reformer who wanted to reform the person first, because without private virtue there is no public virtue, and no society is good unless individuals are good, and no society is free unless the individual is free.
"What is divine in man is elusive and impalpable, and he is easily tempted to embody it in a collective form - a church, a country, a social system, a leader, so that he may realize it with less effort and serve it with more profit...Yet the attempt to externalize The Kingdom of Heaven in a temporal form must end in disaster. It cannot be created by charters or constitutions, nor established by arms. Those who set out for it alone will reach it together, and those who seek it in company will perish by themselves"
December 14, 2009
"Progress is a comparative for which we have not settled the superlative" (1905)
"Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm because they are afraid to look back" (1910)
"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around" (1908)
December 13, 2009
We love Christmas. But we realize that tempers can flare over this frantic holiday. So we here at Goomba Central have prepared this list of non-blasphemous stress relievers for that very special occasion. They're from "A Christmas Story", shaken in the air and proven to make you feel better. I feel better just reading them to myself...
For that VERY SPECIAL OCCASION, reserved for some mechanical device that chooses to malfunction at the worst moment, memorize this:
"Ah, blasted! You two blurt rattle flat camel flirt! You blotta battle beast jerdoff brat! Stanna once bradda fradda ratta ratta smelly wump wussler! Drab dump frattin house stickel fifer!"
You feel better already, don't you?
December 12, 2009
The liberals of my generation, now fixed like dried blood on the pelt of America - in the universities, in the news bureaus and entertainment industries,- and throughout the towers of government, once claimed to be rebels. Today they're more dangerous to individual liberty than the totalitarians of the last century. You know who and what they are. We don't need to list their demands. Their asssumptions are so awful, political correctness was rigged to shield them from scrutiny and the tools of perception through ordinary language.
These folks "dropped out" (I know; I was there) by dropping in to a counter-culture which was already in place and a creation of the capitalism they claimed to despise. They considered themselves courageous for having adapted to a permanent masquerade party. Except for some skirmishes in the Civil Rights movement, they never fought against anything that posed a real danger.
Like jackals they snapped at the heels of dazed returning veterans, the hard-working bourgeoisie, or more broadly, at the soft, basically decent American culture and the squeamish authority of parents who were busy building the modern world. When these conformists discarded the tie-dye uniforms, they rode the wave of post-war prosperity into professions and material ease as no generation before them, and believed that they had something to do with it.
Now they're in Act II, Scene III of their lives and they plan to go out oppressing and controlling everything in sight. They're in charge almost everywhere, their ideas are the default ideas of the lazy, the stupid and the "idealistic", and the cancer of following the prevailing mood grows and grows. Consider the following, from "The Art of Non-Conforming" (1953) by British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge:
"If I were to write the Confessions of a Non-Conforming Man, they would begin with an assertion that the mid-twentieth century, far from being a period of enlightenment, has been notable for credulity and servility to a quite exceptional degree. It would be necessary, I should go on, to go back at least to the Dark Ages to find a generation of men so given over to destruction, superstition, and every variety of obscurantism...
Questioning, thus, the basic assumptions of the age, the Non-Conforming Man cannot but find its pretensions particularly derisory. Ironically, ignorance seems to grow with education and freedom seems to decay to the accompaniment of protestations and devotions to its cause...
Civilization presupposes the integrity and inviolability of each separate human being, and it is contemporary neobarbarisms like Fascism, Nazism, and Communism which have sought to destroy the individual in favor of the collectivity...the materialists, the power-worshipers, the demon-demagogues of our time, insist that individual men and women are of no account, and have no destiny of their own apart from mankind's...
Against such a trend, the impulse not to conform constitutes a kind of resistance movement, whose practitioners...are liable to be forced to become maquisards...living cautiously on the fringes of society. Without them, collective assumptions may pass unchallenged, and there may be no one to puncture the pretensions of established authority.
The basic failure of our time, future historians may well decide, has lain in the too ready acceptance of current orthodoxies, whether through fear of being suspected of rebelliousness and consequently punished, or just as a result of mass persuasion...Conformity is more and more the order of the day, inevitably bringing with it that subservience to prevailing fashions of thought, values and behavior which prepares the way for - to use the sombre expression by Belloc more than four decades ago - The Servile State.
To a civilized and free mind any enforced orthodoxy is abhorrent. It is inconceivable that the last word should ever be said about anything, or that history should reach any sort of finality. Non-conforming is a recognition that Man and all his works are inherently imperfect, and therefore susceptible to criticism, if not ridicule.
...Non-conforming is the basis, the very fount, of all humor. A totally conformist society never laughs - laughter itself being a kind of criticism, an expression of the immense disparity between human aspiration and human performance. As such, it is intolerable to all orthodoxy enforcers from Torquemada to Stalin...
...to the twisted fiend Harry Reid, the spider Nancy Pelosi and the monstrous Albert Gore. Today, this is the difference between them and us. They're the end of time, the death of imagination and free thought. We're not. Persuasion won't change them. This is war.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an internet cafe in the Old City of Jerusalem? It's like trying to find a Christmas tree in Berkeley.
OK... it's time to come clean. I didn't come to Israel for the waters, nor the nightlife. Some months ago I realized that major life changes are in my future. Jerusalem is my pilgrimage. It has confirmed my faith and made me all the more confident in my decision.
Since my childhood I have heard many spiritual and downright breathless tales of visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The church includes within its walls the last 5 Stations of the Cross:
10..........The site where Jesus is stripped of His garments
11 & 12...The site of Christ's crucifixion and death on the cross
13...........Where His body was removed from the cross and prepared for burial
That's my preface. Read about the place. It's amazing.
A friend of mine told me that he had heard that, through the centuries, there have been times when pilgrims have been allowed to stay within the church after it had been locked and secured for the evening, allowing for an an exceptional opportunity for prayer and worship. It requires permission from a whole lot of religious folks who don't always get along. I had contact leads from US officials, and other recommendations from religious mucky-mucks. I was told that approval was a slam dunk. When I arrived here, I learned that was not the case. I was told "It can't be done".
For a week I appeared at the Church twice a day... each time requesting permission and each time being refused. After a week of requesting, the Franciscan priest near the entrance rolled his eyes and said "Be back here at 5:00 tonight. No promises. We'll see."
OK, here we go. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is considered the most holy Christian site on the face of the planet. Every Christian in the world would, once in his life, like to stand and worship where Christ was crucified and died, and pray at the tomb from which he rose. There is no chance of getting to view the tomb without a lengthy wait and some level of security.
The small tomb, of course, is decorated with priceless collections of gold, icons, lamps etc. There's a priest eyeballing the waiting throng for suspicious characters. There's also a priest inside keeping the process moving... no dawdling, keep moving, don't touch that, etc. No bags, backpack or purses are allowed. There is usually a line of pilgrims from all over the world, hundreds deep, waiting to spend 10 seconds in the tomb. It was my hope that my overnight visit would allow me to horn in on the Carmelite nuns' ever-present nighttime vigil to allow myself a reasonable amount of time to complete a prayer.
When I appeared at 5:00, Makmoud (the young Palestinian doorkeeper whose family through the generations has been given the responsibility of locking and unlocking the Church) escorted me to meet what seemed to be the Friar-on-duty. He had a New York accent.
So you want to stay the night?
We close the doors at 7. Be here at 6:45 and sit on that bench. That will tell the police that you'll be staying. Bring a bottle of water, something to eat, and dress warmly. We'll let you out when we reopen at 4 in the morning.
That was pretty straightforward, so I did as he said. I was there on time. The friar came over and sat with me and waited while the Israeli police cleared the church.
Here are the rules. First, no singing. The acoustics here sometimes tempt people to break into song. Second, no sleeping. Third, don't light any candles. The Greeks (the Greek Orthodox priests) will be here at 11:00 for a mass. When you see them starting to gather, leave the tomb. Otherwise, you have the tomb for four hours, 7 to 11. The Greeks will be out of here by 1:00. After that, you will be the only one in the church. The priests will all begin reappearing at about 3:00. Go where you want to go. Pray where you want to pray. Touch what you want to touch. Take all the photos you want. Just don't break anything.
(I couldn't believe what he was saying.)
And the nuns?
Not tonight. It's all yours.
Don't you have any paperwork? Do you want my name?
(My head was actually thumping with excitement.)
I won't share (and I'm not capable of sharing) what happened during those 4 hours or the hours at Golgotha (Calvary). I will tell you that many of you and your children were included in my prayers. Even you, Odie.
I do miss blogging and look forward to battling the dark forces again when I return after Christmas.
Happy Hanukkah and Shalom
December 10, 2009
Of course, I jest. Actually, it's ... What a disgrace.
We start with the obvious: Yes, we know the college football system for crowing a national champion is flawed. So, what else is new? Last year, my beloved Longhorns were denied the right to play Florida for the title because pollsters and computers deemed Oklahoma (a one-loss team like Texas) worthier -- even though Texas had beaten OU on a neutral field by 10 points. Cry me a river, TCU, Cincinnati, Boise State, whoever. That's college football and life.
But it's not just football, tough luck or life to our beloved Joe Barton (Allegedly R-Texas). You see, Joe's district (TX-6) cuts a wide swath through Aggieland and ends up in Arlington and south Fort Worth. And also ... the TCU Horned Frogs (this year's dissed Cinderella) hail from Fort Worth.
And don't you know ... those Texas Aggies don't like Texas (who did get the nod to play in the BCS Championship Game vs. Alabama). And it just so happens that Joe is a Texas A&M graduate. Golly!
You know, on one level you could argue it's just sour grapes by those who favor certain teams, like I favor the Longhorns.
But on another level, it's deeply disturbing that we have fallen so far from a clear understanding of the proper role of the federal government.
It's outrageous. How can Republicans stand and argue that the Demos are reaching too far with their attempted takeover of health care when they simultaneously argue the government should interfere with even our recreation and sports?
Remember these characters preening for the cameras when that goofball Roger Clemens was making an ass of himself?
Where are the statesmen?
December 9, 2009
It appears that Reid is desperate and trying to cobble together the 60 votes he needs (the brilliance of our system shows itself again), but he keeps running into roadblocks.
Key point made by Bill Kristol is that Reid is trying to create a sense of inevitability ... and thus cause certain dominoes to fall. So far, it's not working. Stay strong.
December 8, 2009
On the morning of the Goomba-Bubba Summit, fog rolled in from the Bay, per usual.
Flags unfurled on a breezy, cold morning ...
Upon meeting Nick, I was overcome with joy. I found the man in the hat. But he was much taller in person than I expected.
On the street ... these two characters were found charging women passing by to take their picture. One guy insisted that every one have on their favorite team gear. The girls just squealed and loved it. These guys made $3.27 in just two hours.
So, at the summit, we decided: 1) We are glad for and amazed at the power of the internets; 2) We are grateful for this blog to vent, inspire, and inform, and we enjoy the banter with all of you; 3) Nick is going to come to Texas to visit the Cutter clan; 4) God has blessed us both in unique ways over the course of some twisting trails and trying travails; and 5) Most importantly, we love each other.
December 7, 2009
It's as apppropriate as ever to do so. The free do not have to outnumber the tyrants. But they do have to be stronger and remain vigilant.
In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, the report of my meeting with Goomba will be up tomorrow.
See you then.
December 6, 2009
Take this. Last summer the Ad Council in Connecticut told us that "900 kids a year drown in swimming pools". Not an average of 900 kids a year, but 900 kids a year! This is ridiculous, because it means that a kid's chance of drowning in a swimming pool shrinks as the number of mortalities expand. And over time, the families whose indifference to water safety reduces their numbers, will be socially Darwinized out of bodies of water, therefore lowering the number even more. The questions and implications surrounding a fixed number of deaths are many.
The Ad Council has probably told us, somewhere, that there are 47,000 kids killed by guns every year, a similar number killed in auto accidents. Some charitable organization in New Haven makes regular claims, by radio, that "every 1 in 5 babies is born dangerously premature". This is a mixture of the more stupid factoid that "every fifth baby is born dangerously premature" and the proveable statistic that"1 out of 5 babies is born dangerously premature". They're all different. But the first claim is numerically ridiculous, and syntactically idiotic, but it rolled off an copywriter's keypad, and it points to the odious nature of what is known as a Public Service Announcement.
PSA's, don't impart knowledge, because they're not meant to. They substitute information disguised as knowledge. The information is not quite wrong and not quite right; it's un-wrong and un-false but not exactly right and not exactly true. It's propaganda. As such, PSA's fall at the nexus of dogma and convenient fact, where tax dollars for the public good can be leveraged out out of a deceived population. In that way they're evil, and are indistinct from cynical, dishonest evangelism.
If you think that a more enlightened, educated population would be immune to the charlatanry of the PSA, you'd probably be wrong. Take the evidence gathered by Dan Gilbert in his 1991 article "How Mental Systems Work" (Google it). Hammer through the cement of academic jargon, and you'll learn something about yourself (the rational skeptic), and that other guy, the credulous nitwit.
You'll learn that, for most people, belief precedes doubt and doubt requires more mental effort than belief. Belief is a default state; it's passive. It occurs with simple comprehension. Even a negation statement like "the sky is not yellow" requires that the mind affirm the yellowness of the sky, and then evaluate the validity of the proposition. Truth or verification require work and guts.
Consider the advancement from gullible childhood to skeptical adulthood. Skepticism arrives late in the human mind, and under pressure it's one of the the first things to go. Distraction, stress, psychological manipulation; all of them disable the evaluative process of the human mind, and allow the default position, belief, to prevail. It's easier.
There's a whole lot more in Gilbert's article - thoughts on visual perception, the evolutionary value of immediate belief over doubt, thoughts on the"mind" and more. Just imagine...people who rule us know this stuff inside and out. I believe that's depressing.
December 5, 2009
The grotesque, foam-rubber goober with the big "O" on his shirt is, I assume Ollie - leading several adolescent girls in some degrading, witless, activism-is-cool fandango.
Never mind that the girls are much too old for this assinine folly; the accompanying rhyme is so awful, so cloying, idiotic and manipulative that it could only be the work of a liberal.
Apparently, "Air", when you breathe it in twice, causes you to slide from exhausting rhyming couplets to free verse!
God help you when these mushwits are in charge of anything.