Saturday, November 30, 2019

I'm of two minds about this

So it's the day of The Game.  Nonetheless, I'm on the fence about it.  Sure I want Ohio State to win.  Naturally. The problem?  The 'rivalry' has become so lopsided that, for many, it's starting to lose it's luster.

Ryan Day has been a phenom.   He was offensive coordinator for two years under Urban Meyer, and was hired to replace him last year.  Many were willing to give him that obligatory 'rebuilding' year.  This was especially true since he was taking most of the team from last year that Meyer had.

Meyer is like LeBron James.  Or the Patriots.  He's proof that there's more to athletics than stats.  On paper, he's simply one of the best coaches of all time.  Period.  His win percentages, his national championship, his record against Michigan (7-0) - he's one of the best. 

But there was always something 'off'.  When we lost during his run, it was often in terrible, humiliating upsets or thrashings.  Some of our worst losses in a century happened under him.  Plus we often seemed to 'under-perform.'  The team he had after the National Championship was pretty much the same team.  In such cases, that should have put us right back into contention for the title. Instead it was a botched, sloppy, barely squeak by year with controversy and chaos.

Meyer showed that in the modern media era, you can amass a great statistical record and still leave people thinking something is missing.  Enter Day.  A man who doesn't look like a multi-millionaire college football coach, he is quiet, soft spoken, and unassuming. Because of that, fans were willing to let him have that rebuilding year and weren't expecting much.  Our hope was that he wouldn't lose too many games.

And then?  Wow.  One of the most dominating seasons in many a decade.  Ohio State hasn't just won, it's trounced.  From throwaway teams to top ten contenders, the Buckeyes this year have all but obliterated the opposition.  Even teams - like Wisconsin - we were supposed to struggle against were manhandled and beaten down.  In most games the opponents have been held to a few scores while our offense have wracked up dozens and dozens of points, often being able to put the game in the hands of the second and third string by the third quarter.

So now we're heading into The Game, one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.  That Michigan is not the team it used to be is one problem.  Not since the 90s has Michigan really been what it used to be.  Plus both Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer had Michigan's number.  After John Cooper when over a decade and lost to Michigan almost every year, those coaches realized that if you lose every other game, make sure you beat Michigan.  And it worked.

But the downer is that many are beginning to see other teams as our emerging rivalries: Penn State and Wisconsin, while Michigan in many ways insists it has moved on to Michigan State or Notre Dame.  In fact, that could be a problem.  As culture warriors will tell you, if you insist there is no culture war, you'll lose to those still fighting it.  And just because Michigan has chosen to insist the game is no big deal doesn't mean OSU followed their lead.  Hence the lopsided record.  But when  OSU has won all but twice (and once was our broken season under penalty from the NCAA with a temp coach and a crippled program) in two decades, it is hard to maintain the excitement. 

So it's tough.  Michigan has got to win to keep the rivalry meaning something.  But this season Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have so exceeded expectations, being called by many in sports media the most solid and formidable team in the country, do we want it to be today?  Perhaps the greedy thing is that we win today, and lose next year.  But then, that's what we've been saying for over a decade.  We'll see.

In the end, we all want a good game, a safe game, and a fair game.  I think with that, if nothing else, we'll be happy.  Go Bucks!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

To honor the pilgrims and thank God

For all with which we've been blessed, the ultimate Thanksgiving hymn:

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
  1. He chastens and hastens His will to make known;
    The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
    Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
  2. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
    Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
    So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
    Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
  3. We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
    And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;
    Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
    Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!



Wednesday, November 27, 2019

It's that time of year again

In which I post, or link to, my favorite Thanksgiving TV memory.  That wonderful episode of The West Wing in which fictional president Bartlett discovers the wonder of the Butterball Turkey Hotline.

You can see an old post of it here.

Yes, The West Wing was an hour long liberal version of Rush Limbaugh in dramatic form.  The liberals and Democrats were generally the good guys, the Republicans and conservatives a bunch of warmongers, bigots, sexists, homophobes, racists and what have you.  Liberal policies saved the day, the polices of the right threatening the existence of humanity.

But it was a fun show.  Cutting edge in its day, it wouldn't make it today.  In one episode, it defies modern thinking and Pope Francis by suggesting there is a radical difference between fundamentalists and terrorists. As bad as fundamentalism is, so the show reasoned, it was merely a bunch of people who were likely good hearted but terribly wrong.  Ah, such were the days.

In later seasons, after it lost Rob Lowe, it became less subtle and more partisan.  Lowe's character Sam Seaborn was essential in that he was the token 'not always right liberal.'  It was often Lowe who spoke hastily, missed the point, or dared to insult this or that group not often considered in modern debates.  In short, he was the character who could actually be wrong when it came to policy and political thinking, not just the usual quirky flaws or obsessions about silly dramatic story lines. 

There are plenty of other things I could write about than this episode of course.  I could certainly focus on what I'm thankful for.  Or I could take the cynical route and zero in on the generations of young Americans taught to hate Christians, Europeans and Americans - including the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers and Christopher Columbus - the way Nazis were taught to hate Jews.

But I won't.  I'll let the link and the whimsical have its own, when humor could be beyond hating those we should hate with a smile, while also at least acknowledging there are some great things about our country. 

If you wish for a treasure trove of American history, Thanksgiving trivia, and an understanding of the holiday through the ages, you could do worse than visiting the always interesting The American Catholic. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Can you Google me?

Just curious.  I'm unable to reach my site by Google.  If I Google "Daffey Thoughts", it takes me to my old defunct page at Patheo.  I noticed that pageviews and visits have dropped like a rock in a day.  Just curious.  Even with me backing off blogging, I still - by virtue of existing on the Internet - will get a fairly consistent daily traffic.  But in the last day it's down to nothing.

So just curious if anyone else can Google and find me.  Various posts and pieces I've written will come up, but I've not seen the main page. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Dragons on the march!

So even the New York Times has gotten in on the act, reporting on the latest upsurge in popularity for the grand dame of RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons.  This is about the fifth time I've seen an article like this over the last couple decades.  Perhaps I'm more keen to it since my boys dove into the whole Fantasy/Sci-fi world, having grown up in the Fantasy Renaissance Part II, centered around Harry Potter and the Jackson The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Now, I'd lie if I said this is something I know much about.  I know fantasy and wizards and magic was everywhere back in my sons' day, as publishers and companies sought to jump on the Pottermania bandwagon.  But today things are eclectic enough to see almost any genre at any given time rise up in popularity, then fade away just as fast.  It's like wack-a-mole with pop culture.

An example the new online RPG players
I would say that, from what my sons indicate, it isn't that the game is popular again as much as there is some new, bizarre online 'RPG reality TV' version of it.  This is not where kids are rushing down to the old hobby shops and game stores to roll up a character, but instead they're sitting for hours, watching various individuals - including a sizable helping of easy-on-the-eyes girls - playing this game for the cameras.  Something that would have been foreign back in the era of its first big fad when I was a youth.

Speaking of which, I often wonder why anyone who played D&D (or similar games) back then would ever trust the press or the mainstream media culture or upper elite narratives today.  Apparently within the whole modern RPG world, there's this strange myth about how the evil religious fundamentalists sideswiped the game back in the 80s and ended up pushing it into the sewers of underground culture.

That seems to be a narrative that many - especially more liberal and secular - players of the game seem content with.  But that's not how I remember it.  They insist that religious fundamentalists ran around screaming 'It's of the Devil!" and eventually took a toll on the game's popularity.  But here's the thing.  Those religious fundamentalists did the same thing about rock music and heavy metal, about drugs and smoking and drinking, and about sex outside of marriage.

Guess what?  Most kids I knew happily ignored those religious fundamentalists.  In fact, in some cases - like rock music or heavy metal - the targets of religious zeal actually became quite popular, perhaps even because of the furor and outrage.  So it always struck me as odd to think that suddenly those same religious fundamentalists exercised such influence when it came to a game about hunting down dragons and wizards.

June 1982: When Elliott's jock brother plays D&D (from E.T.)
In fact, I don't think it happened that way at all.  I've often said the first time I actually saw anyone doing anything with D&D was my freshman year of high school, in the fall of 1981.  It happened this way.  A few guys were in study hall, not studying, but drawing strange shapes on graph paper.  In those days, if you had graph paper it was because you were in shop class or math.  What they were doing appeared to be neither.  I asked what they were doing, and they explained the basics of the game to me.

What's important is that the guys doing it were a hodgepodge.  A couple might have been geeks and outcasts, but one was a quarterback, one other a soon to be varsity letter man.  In fact, as I discovered how many guys were playing it (and yes, it was mostly guys), it included the unpopular, the popular, the football team captain, the varsity basketball player, class president, valedictorian, druggy, computer nerd, you name it.  There  was no rhyme or reason.  The game seemed to have as much stigma about it as the other big fad game at that time called Trivial Pursuit.  That is, no stigma at all.

Yet, by 1985, the year I graduated, I'd say the bulk of those guys wouldn't get caught dead playing that game.  Even if they were already upperclassmen in 1981, they were nowhere near it by my own senior year.  So what happened?  Those religious fundamentalists get the better of them?

No.  What happened was that American upper class media society came down on the game like a ton of bricks.  The press, doctors and medical experts, child behavior specialists and mental health professionals, politicians, and even pop culture began taking shots at it.  Soon, the narrative had been assembled and was being presented rather consistently: this game was for losers.  Not just geeks and nerds, but freaks, outcasts, morons, nobodies who couldn't get a date if they had a cage and a trap, as well as the psychotically inclined.

Starring a young Tom Hanks
Even by the time the laughable made for TV movie Mazes and Monsters was released in late 1982, the winds were beginning to change.  Back then, special made for TV movies were actually well known and often talked about the next day.  I remember kids talking about this movie, where a  bunch of outcasts and losers play an obvious D&D knockoff, and one ends up going bat crazy and nearly dying.  It was loosely based on a later debunked news story that was one of many the press was running with back then.  The important thing about the movie, however, was not that it portrayed the game as something that would turn you into a social loser freak.  It portrayed the game as something only social loser freaks would play in the first place.

The peer consensus was that, whatever this game, it was definitely for those loser types over there.  By the following school year (my junior year), I'd say half of the kids I knew who had played it had put in on the shelves and wouldn't get near it again.  Some even denied having ever played it.  While it was interesting seeing the alliance between the 700 Club and Tipper Gore, I always thought that the real torpedo in the side of its popularity came from this coordinated assault from every angle of our social and media outlets.  The same coordination we see more and more about a host of social and moral issues today.

There were no doubt other reasons for its demise.  Fads do wane after all.  Poor business decisions were apparently a part of the problem.  Also, some have argued that while kids usually ran out of the house when the parents were home to take drugs, smoke, drink or have sex, they stayed home and played D&D.  Thus the game was there in the presence of the parents.  I remember a Cross Country coach once saying he didn't let his kids play D&D, since he heard them playing it once and using language he had never heard his sons use before.  We had news for him, they used that language all the time, just not when he was around.

Nonetheless, perhaps it was an easy battle for the parents, who probably weren't playing their own D&D games, but might have been a bit fast and loose where drinking or pot or even the odd Playboy magazine (or at least Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue) was concerned.  A convenient symbolic scapegoat. Society says it's dangerous, look at me:  I'm being a good parent.

And since the press/educators/Hollywood/experts had all agreed that only the worst moron, loser, freak and mental outsider would ever play the game to begin with, it was a hill that most teens just weren't willing to die on.  Sure, let mom and dad have their victory here, we'll be at the KISS concert, smoking up in the parking lot and hoping to get lucky with the girls afterwards.

That's just a thought that came to mind as I pondered the press's sudden interest in yet another resurgence of this game that will never go away.  If I were a D&D player, the last thing I would do is assume that if the majority consensus of our elite betters is that something is true then it must be so.  After all, it wasn't just those religious types who did in the game they love back in the day and made its loathsomeness something of a dog bites man narrative.  It was the very press and other social betters who banded together to make it happen.

Monday, November 11, 2019

On Veterans Day

Food for thought*:



We may be the first generation that doesn't think wrongly about war as much as we just don't think about it.  Like AIDS, economic floundering, terrorist attacks and other maladies of the modern world, as long as it's someone way over there who is doing the suffering, it's a sacrifice we're willing to ignore.  Whatever you may say about times a'changing, I can't bring myself to think that this is a positive development. Especially when placed in juxtaposition to those who actually live what true sacrifice and humility is all about.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
*I was unable to verify the authenticity of the pictures, but even so, what they represent is real and speaks volumes. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

An autumn of ups and downs

So it came about that, just as my Mom was recovering from an injury to her leg (she has troubles moving about now), my third oldest son fell during a sports injury and hyper-extended his leg.  I had no idea that such an injury could incapacitate him the way it did.  Nor did I realize just how much money goes out the window over something like this.  Thankfully many came through and helped, not just through the GoFundMe that my oldest set up, but also by way of other charitable gifts from churches and family.

Through it all, we made it or, hopefully and prayerfully, will make it.  Nonetheless, times have already changed.  Our injured son has been a fixture here at home as we've helped him, along with months of physical therapy, to get back to where he should be.  The older two, between jobs and college and various social and church events, are seldom around.  Even though we leave them stay at home to cut down on expenses, and thus avoid debt if at all possible, they're here mostly on a motor lodge basis.

Despite this, they will still set aside time to do things with the family, especially with their youngest brother so that he doesn't feel left out.  To that end, we tried to salvage what is usually our favorite season of the year, though it wasn't easy.  Mostly, it was just getting through things.  Between a dry and blistering September of 90 degree weather (which doesn't bring much in the way of that Fall feel), and our son's injury, much of what we usually have done over the years just didn't happen.

Of course we explained that some of what we have done over the years we kept doing for our youngest.  We would have stopped years ago if the older boys had gotten older and moved on. We continue for his sake, but as he gets older, we expect some of those old kiddie times will pass on into memories, just as they should.

When all was said and done, however, we nonetheless managed to salvage at least some of the season for our youngest, since we realize it won't be long before he'll be growing on from these things.  His brothers also seemed to realize this, and did what they could to be with us on our trip to Southern Indiana and of course Tricks or Treats.

It all started out well enough, with everyone home to see the Harvest Moon

Because his 21st Birthday was hit between the two accidents involving my Mom and other son, his
oldest brother passed his OSU tickets over to him this year - not the best pic, but it was almost 11 PM

Still stumbling along, we couldn't do our normal 'cemetery run', so the boys decided
to postpone until the healing was over

Foliage-wise, it was not the best year, where spring floods, summer drought,
and 90 degree September all diminished the usual bright colors of an Ohio Fall



We went through S. Indiana, to old haunts my wife and I discovered years ago -
it was nice to be back. 

This is St. Meinrad, where I began my long and tumultuous walk away from Protestantism
and toward the Catholic Church - the crutches prevented a long tour (we had to leave as his leg
swelled up and needed iced down)

Another staple was a restaurant called The Overlook, for obvious reasons.  Unfortunately,
it was booked for a wedding on what turned out to be the most weddings on a single day this year - so it
was pictures, but nothing else

Not to be deterred, we went on All Souls Day (Western) to do our cemetery run
with the youngest.  Here they are, peering in a grand old mausoleum

Here they are, once again looking at a sealed up mausoleum here in our own hometown,
wondering what could be behind it all

The boys, there for their youngest - and each other


Taking a picture of a missing vault you say?


All things must pass - our youngest decided to go through a straw maze where we usually
get our pumpkins.  There was only one pumpkin worth buying, and he conceded he was a bit old to do it again

Halloween, dressing like a cop just like his older brother

Speaking of which, we don't know if the injury will be permanent, and what that
will mean for a career in law enforcement - he's making contingency plans

The oldest brother - smallest of the older three, and yet he often still calls the shots

Still planning on law school, our inscrutable second oldest went all out
along with the others in order to keep their youngest in the spirit of things

The boys together again - when all is said and done, that's enough



Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Today is the day

So today is it.  No, not Guy Fawkes day.  It's my last day blogging - or at least blogging the way I have been.

When I started this blog, it was from advice given by my then priest who had taken me and promoted me as an educator and lecturer over subjects like church history or the Bible.  He was impressed by my presentations, and the response was usually positive.  It was nothing for us to have to move to the sanctuary to accommodate the crowds (I was always a better speaker and teacher than writer).

He encouraged me to write a book, focusing mostly on history.  He also said my background of Americana Christian/agnostic/Protestant/Catholic would bring interesting insights.  Unfortunately, the bishop at that time had something about Protestant clergy converts.  Nobody quite knew why, but he seriously seemed as if he'd rather the Church slip into the 8th Circle of Hell than see a former clergy convert sweep the floors, much less hold any other position.

As a result, and as a result of shifting priorities and pathways in the 21st Century Church, I ended up going nowhere with my efforts.  As that happened, I nonetheless, by his advice, began a blog in 2010 to shore up my writing skills, such as they were.

I decided to do what most blogs do and just comment on this or that, with possibly writing articles on ethics or church history or spiritual reflections and the like.  By the time the blog was up and running, however, things had already taken a turn.  I was informed by more than one priest that a blank resume with no experience would be preferable to one with feeding multitudes and walking on water, but also including former clergy convert.  I had been let go from the Coming Home Network.  I was pretty much in a big nowhere at that point, and the pinch of the economic collapse was beginning to wear on us.

As a result, I did little in the 'deep reflection' or even 'whimsical reflection', and more and more 'look at the latest news story that shows where we're going!'   Yes, in those days some who read my blog told me they thought I was becoming jaded, if not a bit paranoid.  All my writing about a coming storm, and assaults on religious liberty and that someday we'd see Christians or Americans accused sans evidence, seemed the ravings of someone needing to get out more.  In fact, some early readers took their leave because they felt I was getting a skewed vision of what was happening in the Church, if not in the world as a whole.

In some ways, I do feel vindicated.  Most of what I predicted has become worse faster than I ever imagined.  In 2010 I certainly didn't think people would propose regulations that could punish a person for calling a boy a boy.  Not in my most off the wall paranoia.  And yet, here we are.

Nonetheless, somewhere along the line society was changing, and the developments in society seemed linked to the evolution of social media.  If things seemed crazy fifteen years ago, today they were becoming dangerous, if not deadly.  And Social Media was becoming a vehicle for the witch hunts, lynch mobs and digital book burnings that are becoming more and more common (and increasingly endorsed by the institutions that should protect us from the same).

When we witnessed some of the ugliest sides of the internet following the Dayton shooting (in stories not covered in our national propaganda outlets), I decided it was time to bring back my initial decision to set blogging aside.

I will still blog.  When the spirit moves me.  It will be this or that, a family photo or outing, or just something that piques my interest.  Right now I'm looking at Christmas carols and what it might say about where we are as a society.  I'll likely take my time, since one of the things that won't be happening is daily blog posts.  If it takes me a week or more to get around to it, that will have to do.  But I'll post on things that interest me.  If there is some grand crisis that defies all expectations (which would take a lot at this point), I may mention it.  But I'll try to keep it from a Christian point of view and avoid the politicizing of it.

That's the goal.  I'll be around.  How often?  No clue.  But hopefully it will help my boys, who are struggling with a world where everyone is doing things that everyone can see is a net negative, by me stepping back myself.  Lead by example they say.

An anticlimactic cautionary tale

So I secretly hoped my last visit to CAEI before pulling the plug on Patheos would yield one of Mark's more legendary 'all white Conservatives with white skin who dare defy the leftist state are ipso facto Nazis incapable of goodness' posts.

But it wasn't.  It was one of many posts twisting and turning as Catholics committed to the infallibility of Mother Church torture logic and reality to insist what happened at the Amazon Synod didn't, or it did and didn't matter, or it did and it's a wonderful thing, or nobody knows, everyone knows, Pope Francis rocks, Nazis!, and on and on.

Again, anyone who rubbed shoulders with mainline Protestant denominations in the 70s through the 90s can see where the Catholic Church is going.  Whether it's because the leaders no longer believe it, or are just so immersed in the bells and whistles of the latest, or it's the St. Saruman syndrome, I don't know.

But clearly most are abandoning the traditions and heritage and civilization that the Church built, and are willing to embrace almost anything that would have been called sin a decade or two ago, and take the most precious and sacred ideals of the Faith and reduce them to minor opinions located somewhere in importance between pizza toppings and which RPG is the best.

Because most on Mark's blog don't care because they don't caer about the Faith, reject Christ, mock Christ, mock God, mock the Gospel, mock the Church and are happy to jettison the Christian West for a world of mass slaughter, debauchery, tyranny and blasphemy, there wouldn't be many standing up against Mark.  Those who do will be set upon by Mark's non-believing readers, as shown, or by Mark himself.  Mark has, after all, cheered someone who said she was abandoning her Christian roots to end up anywhere or in any religion, or none at all, merely because she was also abandoning her conservative upbringing. After all, why would a Catholic apologist care if someone abandoned the Gospel of Christ, no matter how flawed in its presentation, for a decidedly different religion or none at all?

And that's the cautionary tale.  It's been said that the biggest clash you could imagine would be the clash between Mark Shea c. 2001 and Mark Shea c. 2019.  Apart from Mark stating he still believes core doctrines - like the Trinity or the existence of angels and the Resurrection and all  - there are almost no similarities between the two.

What happened?  Beyond spending most of his time calling what he once called good evil and what he once called evil good, or at least no big deal, you have the fact that he is near mental in how he responds to criticism.  Name calling, insults, false accusations, calumny, judgmentalism, partisanship, politically driven condemnation, elevating his politics to the level of the Gospel - it's a hot mess.

And it's a cautionary tale about what can happen if you get swallowed up in the unreal world of Social Media.  It reminds me of an old MASH episode.  It's one of the better ones from the later seasons.

In it, two of the primary surgeons - Col. Potter and Maj. Winchester - come down with the mumps. Short handed, they receive help in the form of a surgeon after Hawkeye and BJ's own heart, Capt. Steve Newsom.  He's irreverent, sarcastic, flips the bird to the army and the war, drinks, laughs, chases girls - everything they love.  He's also been at the front line, behind the front line, and seen levels of battle and combat that the good folk at MASH can't imagine.

All is well, until during a bad stretch of casualties, suddenly he runs out of the operating room.  Left holding the bag, the two remaining surgeons struggle to make it through the end of the  session.  When finished, they rush out to find him, enraged that he left them high and dry.  Then Col. Potter steps out of his quarantine tent and calms them down.  He motions into the tent.  When Hawkeye and BJ go in, they see him sitting curled up in a corner, rubbing his hands Lady Macbeth style, rambling incoherently about blood that won't go away, and tearfully wondering when it will end.

They step back aghast at what they're seeing.  Col. Potter says it's time to call in the mental health experts on this one.  Hawkeye and BJ then leave the tent in silence.  One of them then says that Newman was as strong as any of them.  At that, the other responds, 'Yeah, that's what scares me.'

I realize there are many explanations for the collapse and fall of Mark Shea.  The worst part is he is more in line with where the Church of Pope Francis appears to want to go than against it.  It could be he's just a canary in the coal mine, and more leaders across the board will have to get alone if they're going to keep suffering for Jesus while living the dying American dream.

I don't know.  I just realize that there is something off about the world of the Internet, social media, and all that comes with it.  Things that would have been laughed at a decade ago are now being legislated.  Rather than take a chance, I decided a year ago to stop the blog and where it was going.  It took me a year, as I said, hit as I was by the steep and sudden unraveling of the Church, the country and so much of society in the wake of Trump.

But I gathered myself, and decided it was time.  I have no clue what the future holds, but I'm not going to hang around and take the chance of succumbing to whatever demons that took hold of a blog once known for enjoying the Catholic Faith.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Just because everyone needs this at least one time a year


There have certainly been greater pianists than Chico.  But nobody played with such flair and aplomb.  The same goes for his brother Harpo's harp skills.  But that's for another post.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Some times are better than others

Yep.  There are some times in life that you look back on with fondness, some you wish you could forget, and then many that you eventually forget whether you want to or not.

In my life, there have been ups and downs to be sure.  Since I've had kids, the memories seem to run in a different way, being a hodgepodge of good, bad, scary, thankfulness and just never eager for the kids to grow up since I realize some day I will miss most of what they brought to the table while living at home.

Before I had kids, however, in hindsight at least, I had certain periods of life that were very good, and some not so good, and many forgettable.  Also, it's odd how certain things trigger and tend to bring you back to those better memories more often than not. Take this picture for instance:


I can't say I've ever only sat on a bench in the fall once in my life, but when I saw this on a page dedicate to all things Autumn, there was one memory that came right to my mind.

It wasn't a particularly proud memory, but yet it is one that marked a very good time in my youth.  It was late October of 1987, and it was my Junior year of college, the first semester that I had moved away from home to live at the main campus of The Ohio State University.  It was most of what one would hope for in their first foray at a major university, and it wasn't hurt by the fact that in that semester at least, the seasons were almost perfect.  From a warm late summer, to a crisp, cloudy autumn, to snow in the last weeks of the quarter, it seemed to give me almost everything I imagined college would be in the Midwest, at least atmosphere-wise.

Anyway, on this particular fall day, I was sitting alone and recuperating.  What was I recuperating from?  A friend of mine had invited me to a big post-midterm party with him and several of his friends from the theater and dance departments.  I was not in either department, but he and I had grown up together.  So I agreed to go. I even plucked up the courage to ask a fine young lass named Heidi if she would join me.  She said yes, against all odds.  So on that Saturday, I couldn't wait to be there and to see what might come of partying with a very well presented young woman I had come to like.

Now, it was the age before cell phones, before the internet, and before any way of contacting someone if you didn't know the phone number.  So I had no way of knowing she had been called upon to work late and couldn't come to the party.  Not knowing this, I became rather crestfallen.  My friend, being a stupid college kid, decided to help me 'drown my sorrows.'  And drown I did.  I drank, and drank, and drank some more.  I mixed drinks with wine, whiskey, beer, cocktails, and something blue.  I became so hammered I couldn't remember leaving.

I walked home alone in near that witching time of night, not wishing to get sick in front of everyone, which my inebriated brain was nonetheless able to communicate was going to happen.  And it happened.  Boy did it happen.  Back at my apartment, I continued to get sick over and over and over again.  One of my roommates woke up amidst the noise and took to fixing me tea and toast, just to give me something to get sick with.  It was so bad that I burst the vessels in one of my eyes, turning the whole orb a bright, blood red.  In addition, my face was swollen as if I had been in a fight, and the pain was from my head down to my side.

I was panic stricken.  My face, and worse my blood filled eye, could have been permanent for all I knew, and I had no way of knowing what happened.  My best friend was nowhere to be found, and I knew nobody else from the party. The next Monday I had to go to class.  I wore sunglasses through the classes to avoid showing off my visual impediment.  I then kept to myself while I waited for my late afternoon class.

As time for the class got nearer, I walked over in the chill of the day to the area near the class building, just beside the old Student Union.  I sat down on a bench, wrapped in my black overcoat and donning my sunglasses.  While sitting there, still smarting for reasons I didn't know, another student walked by.  Suddenly he stopped and came up to me.  He was African American and, being from a very white village growing up, I had a dearth of African American acquaintances.  I had no idea who he was.

He paused, and bent down as if to get a better look at me.  Then he asked if I was the fellow at the party Saturday night. I clarified the one he meant, and he meant the very party I had attended.  I said yes.  He then erupted with a smile and laugh and asked what happened to me and where I went.  I told him I left due to whatever reason I came up with.  I asked him how long everyone else stayed around.  He said almost no  time at all.  Apparently once I left the party broke up because, according to him, I was the life of the party.   He said most were only staying around to see what I would do next.

Fortunately it was nothing too embarrassing.  Though apparently I did guzzle half a bottle of Jim Beam as several of the young men bowed and genuflected before me.  Hence the sickness.  Also, one of the students who lived there, being in theater, had one of those large director's chairs that sit about five feet off the floor.  Apparently I had crawled up there at one point and then promptly fell, a dead fall straight onto the concrete floor.  Hence the pain and swelling in my face (as well as explaining a sudden scream I vaguely recalled but couldn't explain).

He talked a little bit more then continued on to wherever he was walking.  I never saw him again.  I chuckled to myself about what must have happened, and later found my best friend who assured me that I did nothing too humiliating, while also informing me why Heidi never showed up.  And yes, the swelling and the eye eventually worked themselves out and all ended up fine.  After that, I never binge drank again.

It's odd how that picture brought all of that back to my mind.  Again, it was a fine time, a good time.  There were many enjoyable memories from that time, especially that first Autumn semester.  I don't mean to be too gushy, but I might even call it one of the more magical times of my life.  Perhaps it's a bit of that ol'magic that allows a simple image on the Internet to transfer me back in the blink of an eye and remember something that still feels as if it happened yesterday.

Ohio State in the fall, as I remember it

Friday, November 1, 2019

Yes NASA fudged Climate data

So says Snopes. Snopes is, like most media today, a partisan outlet promoting its agendas and ideologies.  In Snopes' case, it does so under the guise of 'fact checker.'  That is, it takes a story and then rates it as True, False or something in between.  The assumption is that it is the neutral judge, the referee looking at the instant replay to determine the real truth behind various stories or political pronouncements.

So we had a blog cycle of people jumping on a story that suggests NASA was faking climate data.  The stories claimed that NASA had been caught 'red handed' in the scam.   Now, I'm no scientist, so all the delving into the facts doesn't really help me.  You might as well have people arguing over Sanskrit as to argue the numbers about Global Warming.

But since Snopes took up the cause to assess the claim's validity, I thought I would see if there is something there there.  Turns out, Snopes smacks the claim down with a resounding False!.  NASA did not fake the data, according to Snopes.  Or, I should say, according to an initial reading of Snopes.

Once I read through the article, however, I saw how Snopes did it.  Basically, per Snopes, the claims are true.  And they are what both advocates and critics have admitted for some time.  Climate data is not based on a thermometer on every square foot of the planet recorded and analyzed every day for the last five billion years.  It's based on data collected at particular places around the world, based on records that date only to about 150 years ago, and laden with assumptions and guesses to fill the gaps.

Think of that scene in the movie Jurassic Park, when the cartoon is trying to explain DNA cloning to an uneducated audience.  It says the DNA for the dinosaurs was extracted from fossils, particularly mosquitoes trapped in tree sap.  The DNA, however, was incomplete.  Therefore the DNA of other animals had to be fit into the DNA gaps to make a complete DNA strand (and therein lies at least some of the mischief in the Jurassic Park mythos).

Same thing here.  We don't have some magical science box that takes the temperature of every square foot of Planet Earth, analyzes it, and says 'Thus will the world be in a hundred years.'  We have very sparse data in some cases, sometimes inconclusive data, and data that could potentially be impacted by certain conditions - such as data collected deep in major metropolitan areas that tend to be warmer on average than more rural areas.  Everyone knows it.  Everyone admits it.  Scientists then step in to improvise where gaps or certain inconsistencies might arise.

And that's where Snopes focuses.  It's not saying the data wasn't tweaked or embellished or even flat out added to.  It was, and Snopes admits it.  It's saying the story is false because nobody was caught 'Red Handed'.  All of this was already out there.  There was nothing being caught.  And since Snopes accepts the obvious truth of Global Warming and, like Pope Francis, apparently assumes the purity of heart and intellectual efficacy of Global Warming advocates, that's all we need to know.

Here's the thing.  Perhaps the story is false in the usual 'Ten reasons Climate Change is a lie, #7 will shock you!' sort of way.  But the essence of the story is what critics have been charging for years; for decades.  It comes down to those pushing for a more hysterical approach to Climate Change insisting that all of these variables and subjective interpolations into the data are no big deal, versus those saying that such an approach to the data is a very big deal and could actually skew the resulting portrait of what is really happening, much less what will happen.

In short, Climate Change activists insist the practice, the variables, and the poetic licence used at times doesn't matter.  The findings are close enough, and we know Climate Change is real, so whatever trivial details are in the mix is small potatoes.  The critics, however, point out that this is the problem.  Since those adding the extra info already believe in the Climate Change Apocalypse to begin with, it's very possible that when they adjust something here or interpret a model there, they are doing so in a biased way; one that pushes the data where they want it to go, not where it should go.

Given the long history of failed predictions and adjusted paradigms for understanding just what is happening with the climate (is it Climate Change, Global Warming, Climate Disruption?), never mind the vast chasm between the hysterics and the actual personal sacrifice seen in so many Climate Change activists, I'm inclined to think there could be more to this story than Snopes wants to admit.

There sure is more to a sane conclusion than accepting the explanation of 'sure we're biased and what we adjust is likely based on our biases, but trust us, despite all the times we've been wrong so far, at least in terms of future predictions, this time we'll be spot on'.  I'm inclined to say what I've said, that Global Warming is a scientific molehill upon which a mountain of agendas and biases has been piled.

White is the new Jew

I've said that before.  The modern Left is using the term White the way Nazis used the word Jew.  It's gaining steam.  Almost overnight, not only can any individual say whites should be eradicated from the planet, but increasingly anyone who protests will be put in the same spot as Jews protesting the Nazis.  It's what happened then, and it's happening now.  In Christian circles, we call it sin.

You can see the development in a story that developed recently about racism on a college campus.  I saw the story when it broke, that two students had been arrested for hurtling racist words at fellow students.  I didn't realize you could be arrested for using racist words. Given the growing number of words and phrases - especially if used by white people - that is called racist, that's bothersome in itself.

But when the story was unpacked, and the suspects shown, I couldn't help but notice that they neither looked white, nor did their names sound particularly Anglo-European.  It turns out they aren't white.  And yet, a Princeton Professor runs in to explain that it's still the evil of whiteness that has done this.  You see, they are still 'white' in that by becoming racist, they were simply being tainted by the disease of whiteness.  White is used as being synonymous with sin; with evil.  This is very much in the way the Nazis saw the uncleanness of Jews, or the taint of Jewishness in the new Reich.

It's all very alarming of course.  Too many Christians have accepted this idea that evil only came to the world through the Christian West, therefore if there are problems, it's our fault.  If Muslims in CAIR say Christians who believe in salvation through Jesus should be barred from holding office, then it's no doubt fine.  If black editors write about their hatred for and disdain for the suffering of whites, it's what we deserve.  If people side with tyranny, communism and slaughter as long as it's not for anything linked to the Western Tradition, then it's OK.

The bigotry we lament took centuries, or millennia, to develop when it comes to racism against blacks, Jews and others.  It has taken barely a generation or so to develop today.  That means that what capped off these long developments in the form of Jim Crow, lynchings, segregation and the gas chambers, will likely cap off much sooner this time around.

I'm not saying 'whites of the world unite!'   I'm saying most in most groups probably don't think this way - yet.  In fact, the biggest noise makers in this development are liberal whites.  The same liberal whites increasingly intolerant of black conservatives, black African priests, Asian Republicans and others who get off the leftist plantation.  Sure, all groups have their bad apples.  And I don't believe for a minute that there aren't some out there in decidedly non-white demographics who want their pound of tyrannical flesh.

But if we keep on with a 'gee Dave, what can we do, we need to get along' approach that assumes as long as Christians are compromised, we'll be like Chamberlain going back to Munich three years later and trying again.  We will deserve the hatred and contempt that future generations who pay the price of our folly will have for us.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Yep


Just because it is Halloween


Happy Halloween!


A fun Halloween reflection on the sacred and the secular

From an unlikely source.  I stumbled on this blog years ago.  It was a blog post celebrating JRR Tolkien.  After that, I read several posts and realized it was mostly a blog about RPGs, Dungeons and Dragons and similar.  I would go back and sometimes he would have an interesting piece outside of the 'Inside RPG Baseball' stuff.  It looks like the blog is now defunct, though it's up for perusing old blog posts.

This one always struck me.  He's dealing more with artwork in various eras of Role Playing Games.  My guess is that he's no fan of recent versions.  My boys, who are into the RPG/Fantasy/Sci-Fi world keep me up with the latest of that culture, and it seems there is always a debate over the best and worst of the latest.

Anyway, he's comparing two pieces of artwork, but featuring the same monster, a demon named Orcus.  He contrasts two pictures, one from decades ago that appears almost amateurish, and one modern piece that seems right at home in our modern CGI laden world of CGI movies and PC games:


He explains his preferences and why he prefers the older, less refined version (some of it likely being a preference for older things in general - but that's an assumption on my part).  He spends much time discussing the overall evolution of art in the hobby, as well as other tidbits.

Then he comes to the point that grabbed my attention.  In unpacking the differences, he writes this:
Now, I'm not trying to suggest in the slightest that the Sutherland Orcus is a careful product of someone with a deep understanding of the medieval mind, because that'd be laughable. However, the Sutherland drawing, like most of the drawings in the original Monster Manual, is broadly consonant with medieval esthetics. Or perhaps I should say that it calls them to mind. There's something weirdly primal about that goofy Orcus DCS drew. I've always found medieval demonic images to be far creepier than modern ones, precisely because they have some atavistic connection to aspects of my cultural memory. Modern demons are just imaginary creatures; they're not monsters, if you catch my meaning. Wayne Reynolds' Orcus isn't a demon. Look at how muscular and physically powerful he is. That's a creature that inspires fear for my life, whereas Sutherland's Orcus is one that inspires fear for my soul.
You get that?  Beyond a fairly accurate take on how the medieval mind processed imagery in terms of the natural and demonic, he also 'gets' the difference between the sacred and the secular.  

We live in an atheist age.  Atheism had its Great Awakening at some point between the mid 19th and mid 20th centuries.  At some moment, atheism won the mind, and in some cases the heart, of a growing number of citizens of the old Western world.  It's been evangelizing the lost around the world since.

But with this comes a very material, physical, and IMHO shallow, grasp of things.  What does the secularist fear?  Physical pain, physical threats, physical death. What does the secularist crave?  Ultimately some form of physical pleasure since, to the secularist, everything is somehow physical or material anyway.  That second, newer painting speaks to that.  It's a buff, beat'em up type of monster that would feature in so many horror movies or Marvel films today.  Whatever it can do, it stops dead at anything beyond this physical universe.  Even the ability to destroy all life in the universe stops at all life.  There is nothing else to fear because, for the secularist, there is nothing else.

But as believers, we connect to that first old, silly drawing.  We know - or should know, if the doubts and assaults on the Christian World haven't taken their toll - that beyond this physical world is an entire part of existence that we must jealously guard, for the loss of that means the loss of everything, not just the small speck of time in which we live in this paltry material universe.

I thought of this old piece when I watched the strange events of the Amazon Synod, the confusion, and the statue that nobody seems to agree about, unfold.  In short, most defending Pope Francis, the synod, and the place of precedence for that female statue have emphasized the purpose of the synod, to reach out to the peoples of the Amazon regions, to find ways to increase access to the sacraments, to more or less apologize for the Western destruction of their ancient cultures (with no real call out to anything bad in their cultures), and of course an emphasis on the environment and ecological priorities.  All of these might be fine, but atheists - with the exception of the Sacraments - might sound no different in terms of priorities.

Somehow, the whole idea that possibly worshiping a pagan idol or 'Mother Earth' is no big deal, 'it's the environment stupid!' sounds much more modern, more material, and more like the monster in the second picture.  The problems Catholic and Christian leaders address today are big, bad and mostly physical - Global Warming, immigration, economy, sexual assault, racism and the like.  The idea of a pagan idol or pantheistic veneration of the world only matters if, well, you believe it.  Otherwise they're just material people in a material world doing material things - which is why material crises and material solutions are the focus.

I wonder if the world's Christian leaders were sitting around the table, rolling up the strange shaped dice we associate with RPGs, and getting ready to sally forth, just which of the two monsters would scare them the most. For the worst hysterics ginned up by Global Warming activists, for instance, might inspire fear for our lives, but as people of faith our main priorities should always be those dangers that are dangers because first and foremost they are threats to our souls.  And yet it's mostly those physical life saving issues our leaders are focusing on, often to the detriment of our soul saving fears.

Just a little pondering things as we get ready to wade through the torrents of yet another washed out Tricks or Treats.  Boo!



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Remember when men not showing their groin area to young children was considered a good thing?

Yep.  This strange, bizarre flanking maneuver called 'Drag Queen Story Hour' that is spreading like wildfire around libraries in America is one for the books.  It's basically just 'This is our country now, screw you!' to anyone not on board with the secular Left.

It's done in our public libraries.  Recently a local library tried the same, but there was backlash.  One of my sons was part of organizing the backlash.  The protest was less based on 'you can't do that' as much as it was 'will you allow a pro-life or anti-gay marriage presentation as well?'.   Of course the question was deflected, outrage at intolerance ensued (intolerance being defined as failing to conform to liberal dogmas), and finally the library said they had to cancel due to death threats.

No actual threats were ever posted.  The police insist the threats were legit, and yet the drag queen in question merely moved down the road to a comic book store to give the story hour.  Exactly why someone who's life was endanger was allowed to publicly declare they would be down the street a week later is beyond my understanding of security measures.

But I think this is one of those little diversions that happen in times of war.  In the movie The Guns of Navarone, David Niven plays the wonderfully witty demolition expert Corporal Miller.  At the end of the movie, as they are setting the charges to destroy the fortress, Miller is seen putting some explosives in the crevices of the monster guns they are commissioned to eliminate.  Gregory Peck's character, the leader Captain Mallory, asks what is going on.  Miller explains that the explosives in the guns themselves are more or less a diversion.  The Germans aren't stupid after all.  They'll likely find them.  Of course some German demolition expert might get careless and produce the desired results.  Nonetheless, Miller says his bet is on a different trick he's devised, and proceeds to show Captain Mallery what it is.

I think of that when I consider the modern Left.  Almost every day is a full assault from a dozen different sources against almost anything we took for granted as true a half dozen years ago.  I don't think they put much faith in these things going through.  I mean, showing our groin area to kids is not something they should think will fly.  And yet, they're doing it.  Anyone, no matter how debauched or decadent, is given a microphone, a camera, and a stage.  The purpose, my guess, is a diversion.

Nonetheless, if some fringe lunacy sticks - like the idea that sex and babies are barely related, or that boys and girls don't objectively exists - all the better.  So down the road, there may be nothing come of this.  If it turns out opening a door to sex with children and all sex celebrated, no problem.  My guess is that its main purpose, along with the whole Drag Queen Story Hour fad, is simply to keep the opposition running about, putting out endless fires, and not paying attention to the real clouds gathering on the horizon.

Donald Trump and Dracula: A Halloween reflection

Cover of the other Dracula issue I own
I was never a comic book fan.  Don't know why.   Not that I didn't mind a fun romp through the occasional adventures of this or that superhero, I just never got into them.  Still, because I was a kid, others must have assumed I liked them and so, at various times, I'd get one here or there as a birthday gift, a Christmas present or something similar.

Since it was others getting them for me, I ended up with rather an eclectic bunch of comics: Spiderman or Superman, The Micronauts, GI Combat or Strange Tales (or Dr. Strange), Ghost Stories or whatever bizarre one off comics featuring strange alien animals or Archie before someone at Riverdale became gay.

One of the comics I remember, and I had a couple of them, was called Dracula, Lord of the Vampires, or some such.  They featured Dracula as a sort of super-anti-hero.  Since I only had a couple different copies, I'm not hip to the backstory.  But one of the Dracula issues I have always stuck in my mind, and came to my thinking today, as I saw more evidence that the Left is going full 'down with America/up with a Socialist totalitarian state' crazy, almost drooling at the prospect.

That particular issue had Dracula hotly pursued by an entire army of pissed off vampires.  No clue why, that was likely explained in previous issues.  But flying lickety-split through the night, Dracula is only two steps ahead of the vampire apocalypse fast on his heals.

Meanwhile, a nearby log cabin is filled with kids having been left to their own devices.  Where the parents were I can't remember.  But IIRC it's the usual gang: older kid with issues, younger kids under tenuous protection, easy-on-the-eyes teen girl in charge.  All of a sudden Bang!  Dracula comes, desperately pounding at the door, begging to be let in (remember, vampires have to be invited in).  The kids let him in against their better judgement.  What happens next is the typical banter with bad vampire, smitten teen, rascally kids, ticked off vampire struggling with helping or eating kids, scared everyone as the army of vampires assaults the cabin ... and that's what made me think.

Trump is like Dracula in that issue.  We're the kids.  We don't want a vampire in our cabin.  Some might be smitten, others repulsed, yet others scared of what he could do.  But we have little choice, because outside is the beast, and it is hungry. In the case of that comic book, the beast is an army of vampire monsters with no desire for anything but slaughtering everyone in the cabin.  In our case, it is a rising force of tyranny, evil, slaughter, and persecution peddling narcissism and hedonism to dupe as many Americans as possible.

Like those kids, we might see Dracula as a villain, but we also know what happens if Dracula gets taken out by the hostile army.  We're next on the vampire horde's menu.  Likewise if Trump gets it, we're next.  Already the Left has almost proudly declared its hatred of Christians, the West and America; a disdain for the Bill or Rights, due process, or concern over guilt or innocence; embraced judging and condemning based on skin color or demographic label; the killing of babies; and a host of declarations that only half a decade ago would have been poison for any group, no matter how fringe.  Now one of America's two major political parties is embracing these assaults on our nation, as well as basic justice, decency and human life and freedom.

Trump, we suppose, is the only thing keeping the hordes out in the darkness.  And we know if they can take down Trump, anyone behind him is up for the ravaging.  Unless we join the ranks of former conservatives now embracing an 'if you can't beat'em, join'em' mentality, we see scant few options today other than the vampire in the cabin.  That, kind friends, is why so many - even now - continue to hope what they can hope for a president like Donald Trump.

Just because it's so darn fun


Possibly one of the best songs from Disney's repertoire, at least in terms of being fun.   It's also a fine adaptation, mixing in some of the Halloween fad of the 1950s.  Nonetheless we watch it every year, and it along with a host of other Halloween tunes get us into the mood quite nicely.


Why we homeschool in one simple image:


Yep.  This is where we are.  There is no science behind this.  The science, in fact, screams against it.  But once again, we see 'scientists, experts and researchers' eager to prove that the science says what those at the best parties with all the money want it to say.  Heck, even secular news outlets like the New York Times have run stories featuring those youngsters harmed by the mad rush to Frankenstein monster our children.

Nonetheless, onward we push. Our schools, like our universities, entertainment industry and news media are merely propaganda organs for the secular paganism of the emergent Left.  Christians will either abandon their faith once and for all, hoping that before it gets too bad they will die and go to whatever energy field - if any - awaits us.  Or they will have to face the fact that it's going to get ugly, violent and barbaric.

For now, my family and I eke out a living, scraping by to keep our youngest home and away from the indoctrination and brainwashing while also exposing him to it on our terms and preparing him for what will be once he steps out of the house.  What will happen in the long run remains to be seen.  There are glimmers of hope that youth are becoming worried about where things are going.

I fear too many Christian adults, however, are too cowardly or quite frankly no longer believe much in the historical faith and values we inherited to put up a fight. We'll see.  But right now, we're doing our part by keeping our youngest away from the madness and demonic that has become the indoctrination camps known as our public school system.