January 19, 2021

Saturday Ramblings: November 21, 2015

1966 Rambler Marlin Fastback

1966 Rambler Marlin Fastback

I’m in Nashville and feeling a little sporty today. How do you like this hot little number from 1966? Sweet, huh? We’ll have to take turns riding together, but I’ll be glad to have anyone who wants a wild ride to join me for a ramble this Saturday. I’ll take anyone, but my wife gets the first ride, since it’s her birthday today. Let’s ramble!

Ramblers-Logo36Today, we feature a heavyweight insult bout between two of the 16th century’s great wordsmiths: Martin Luther and Will Shakespeare. Martin’s at a bit of a disadvantage because he can’t use his punchy German in this venue, but I think you’ll agree he can hit pretty hard in translation too. However, he could be in trouble; few can match the Bard’s skill at dressing down an opponent.

This match is brought to you by Chris Seidel’s Shakespeare Insulter and the amazing Luther Insulter at ergofabulous.

And yes, now you know what the Internet was invented for. You’re welcome.

Luther insult 2Shakespeare insult 1

Ramblers-Logo36World and local events force me to start with something serious today.

This week, I found another reason to say I’m embarrassed to live in Indiana, where our governor makes decisions resulting in consequences like these:

2901Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy welcomed to his state Wednesday a family of Syrian refugees diverted from Indiana because of security concerns raised by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“It is the right thing, the humane thing to do,” Malloy told reporters. “Quite frankly, if you believe in God, it’s the morally correct thing to do.”

The family of three fled from Syria to Jordan when their 5-year-old son was less than 1 and is the first family to be redirected after 26 governors objected this week to accepting Syrian refugees, according to The New York Times.

The status of a family of four that was supposed to arrive Dec. 10 in Indianapolis, where they have friends, is in limbo as Catholic Charities weighs how to respond to Pence’s request that the family be directed elsewhere.

“There’s still just a lot of information that we’re all waiting on,” said Heidi Smith, director of refugee services for Catholic Charities Indianapolis. “In the meantime, there’s refugees that have no control of their lives and no place to go and nobody wants them. And we have to think about what it would be like to be in their shoes.”

The state Division of Family Resources sent a letter Tuesday to Exodus Refugee Immigration and to Catholic Charities Indianapolis asking that all Syrian arrivals be “suspended or redirected to another state that is willing to accept Syrian placements until assurances that proper security measure are in place have been provided by the federal government.”

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s a really sad week for Hoosiers,” said Carleen Miller, executive director of Exodus. “I don’t think this represents Hoosiers, as we’ve been overwhelmed with calls from supportive people wanting to help Syrian refugees. We need to have a welcoming message for refugees in this state.”

Indianapolis Star, 11/18/15

By the way, on Thursday French president François Hollande announced that France will continue to resettle refugees. Over the next two years, Hollande said that France would welcome 30,000 refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, among others. This is even more than his September commitment of 24,000.

Now that’s how you overcome evil. With good.

Luther insult 1
Shakespeare insult 4


And then there’s this cartoon Clark Bunch sent me

Ramblers-Logo36Then again, A. James Rudin argues at RNS that “Americans have a long history of negative policies toward refugees and immigrants.”

Just ask a Catholic. Or a Jew.

Here are some of the examples he gives:

  • Catholics were legally barred from living in Virginia by a 1642 law that was soon imitated by Puritan Massachusetts.
  • In 1835, Lyman Beecher, a prominent Presbyterian preacher and president of Cincinnati’s Lane Seminary, publicly advocated the exclusion of Catholics from any western settlements as Americans moved in increasing numbers beyond the eastern seacoast.
  • In 1842 a Catholic convent in Charlestown, Mass., was set on fire, and there were other acts of violence directed against Catholics, including an 1844 riot in Philadelphia that resulted in the deaths of 13 people and the destruction of two Catholic churches in William Penn’s “City of Brotherly Love.”
  • When Bishop Francis Kenrick of Baltimore, the most prominent Catholic theologian and biblical scholar of his time, objected to Catholic children’s using the King James Bible in public school, the American Protestant Association was formed and denounced the “principles of popery” because they were “subversive of civil and religious liberty.”
  • Kristallnacht, the anti-Jewish pogroms in Germany and Austria, took place in Nov. 1938. While President Franklin Roosevelt decried Kristallnacht, he announced there would be no change in America’s harsh immigration laws. Strict numeric quotas would remain in place, effectively closing the nation’s doors to the large number of Jews seeking refuge.
  • In February 1939, Sen. Robert F. Wagner, D-N.Y., and Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers, R-Mass., co-sponsored a bill permitting 20,000 German Jewish children, a modest number, to enter the U.S. as nonquota immigrants. Eleanor Roosevelt unsuccessfully urged her husband to support the bipartisan Wagner-Rogers bill. Anti-Semites and isolationists attacked the legislation, as did the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the bill died in committee. FDR’s cousin Laura Delano Houghteling, whose husband was the U.S. commissioner for immigration and naturalization, opposed the Wagner-Rogers legislation, declaring: “Twenty thousand charming children would all too soon grow into 20,000 ugly adults.”

Luther insult 3

Shakespeare insult 3

Ramblers-Logo36We’ve been talking about megachurches in the U.S. this week, and thanks to Damaris, here’s some news about the phenomenon as it is playing out in Singapore.

Kong HeeSix senior officials of Singapore’s City Harvest megachurch have been jailed over a $50m Singapore dollar ($35m; £23m) fraud case.

The evangelical church’s pastor and founder, Kong Hee, was jailed for eight years – others received between 21 months and six years.

The court ruled last month the group had misused church finances to fund the music career of Kong’s wife, Sun Ho.

All denied the charges – the church had supported them during the trial.

State prosecutors said before sentencing it was “the largest amount of charity funds ever misappropriated in Singapore’s legal history”.

Known for its slick image and wealth-focused brand of Christianity, City Harvest Church (CHC) has some 17,500 members in Singapore and branches around the world.


A business is a business is a business, religious or not. And if you don’t run your business right, you’re gonna get in trouble. Just because you call yourself “Christian” and your business a “church” doesn’t put you above the law.


Ramblers-Logo36Carly Simon ended years of speculation by telling us who the song “You’re So Vain” is about. At least the second verse.

Those words not about Mick Jagger. Or Cat Stevens. Or James Taylor.

They are about Warren Beatty. What she said specifically is that verse two refers to Beatty, while the other two verses refer to two as yet unnamed gentlemen.

carly+simon+warren+beattyYou had me several years ago when I was still quite naive
Well you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved and one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and…

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? don’t you?

Of course, she also confirmed that Beatty thinks the whole song is about him.

Luther insult 4

Shakespeare insult 5

Ramblers-Logo36Next Thursday is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year for being with family, feasting, and simply relaxing. We’ll be with my wife’s family in Nashville, TN. It will be a big week for us. My nephew is getting married today, which also happens to be my wife’s birthday. Then comes Thanksgiving and my daughter’s birthday a couple of days after that. We should be quite a bit more fat and poor by the time the next Saturday Ramblings roll around.

Well, at least we will get a bit of exercise by participating in the Boulevard Bolt, a 5-mile walk/run in Nashville sponsored by Immanuel Baptist ChurchSt. George’s Episcopal Church and The Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom to raise funds to help those who are homeless.

Thanksgiving-DinnerFor your own Thanksgiving planning, here is some information you might need:

  • Here is the all-important NFL schedule.
  • Here is a list of retailers that will be OPEN on Thanksgiving Day
  • Here is a list of 13 who will be CLOSED.
  • You can watch “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” on Tuesday at 8pm EST on Tuesday, Nov. 24 on ABC.
  • Bon Appétit offers you four new ways to prepare the bird on the big day.
  • And here’s how Julia Child would have cooked that turkey.
  • If you decide to eat out instead, here are some of the best Thanksgiving restaurants around the country.
  • Be prepared. Here’s the AccuWeather travel forecast for Wednesday, Nov. 25.
  • Here are some readings about Thanksgiving from ReadWorks.org for different grade levels.
  • My two favorite Thanksgiving movies are “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Broadway Danny Rose” and “The Big Chill.” Anything you plan to watch (besides football)?
  • If you’re traveling to New England, you can go HERE and “experience the traditions of an early 19th-century New England Thanksgiving. Learn about 1830s dining etiquette and watch the men of the Village compete in a post-dinner target shoot. Smell the scents of roasted turkey and pies warming by the fire. Learn about Native American food traditions and customs and hear the minister talk about the true meaning of Thanksgiving in the Village’s historic Center Meetinghouse. Learn how preparations were made for this holiday meal, and learn about wedding preparations of the 1830s, as marriages often took place on the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Or, if you’re going to New York, you can get a room at the Marriott with a great view of the Macy’s parade and other Thanksgiving treats.

If you’ll be in the U.S. and plan on celebrating the holiday, how about if you tell us something about your plans for Thanksgiving this year?

Luther insult 5

Shakespeare Insult 6

Ramblers-Logo36Finally, last week in music history . . .

By 1987 on last week Dire Straits had set a UK album sales record with their album, Brothers in Arms. It remains one of the world’s best selling albums of all time, surpassing 30 million in sales. I was going to post this last weekend, my favorite music video of all time, at the end of a week when people marked both Remembrance Day in the UK and Canada, and Veterans Day in the U.S.. But I’m going to play it anyway today, a week late, because I also think this melancholy lament of the war we make on each other is appropriate given the violence and conflict that have been so much on our minds in recent days.

Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it’s written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers in arms


  1. God hath not given a spirit of fear. That’s what politicians are for. Many of us Georgians are also embarrassed by our otherwise decent governor as well. I’d call it “leading from behind” if it constituted leadership at all. Georgia had already settled a whopping 59 Syrian refugees. As I recall, Mike up in Canada the other day said HIS OWN CHURCH would be helping 50 Syrian refugees.

    God bless Canada. And France.

    As alluded to in the post, the US didn’t accept many Jewish refugees at all as the Holocaust unfolded. As time went on, one of the excuses was that some Nazi spies might possibly get through.

    You can supply the requisite Spinoza quote at this point yourself.

    • Andrew Zook says

      My heart aches too over this, but in some ways I’m not surprised. I suppose most of these governors are only doing what their base wants… (See this article, “Christians Debate State Bans…” at ChristianityToday.com) Who is most opposed to syrian refugees? White evangelicals. The same crowd who’s most in favor of torture…
      Now I can report that said constituency at the evangelical church I attend is pretty solidly behind helping and welcoming syrian refugees.(But we have a sprinkling of anabaptist/mennonite/MDS/MCC sensibilities, so that probably helps steer us to the more Christlike attitude)
      But I also see on my social media a reflection of the divide amongst evangelicals and depending on where they go to church and what voices they’ve surrounded themselves with, you see a completely aberrant, unChristian rhetoric in the vein of Ben Carson’s “rabid dogs”. This group calls for not only shutting the doors but outright persecution of them if they are Muslim or worse (one guy (white, evangelical) claimed that 80% of the refugees are fighting-age men…and coupled with the ‘lets start another huge ground war’ call from the same crowd; I’m guessing this means we should be killing or imprisoning most of them before they can come here and do the terrorist act that they are all planning…

      Saddened but not surprised by most of these states… the people in power in these places and their fearful, hate-filled ‘christian’ nationalist, america-worshipping base, love and believe, at the non-personal level, that it is their christian duty to make others not like them miserable…

      • I’m not surprised either. But the anti-Muslim animus exists and is growing stronger in Europe, too, where it’s obviously not dependent on their tiny evangelical population. Fortunately, it has not changed the commitment of France and some of the other nations to help the refugees; but that would change if the far right parties, which have become more powerful in the wake of these attacks, had their druthers and were voted into office.

        Europe is far from safe from virulent anti-Muslim sentiment and actions. And some European Muslim leaders have already protested that the sweeping investigations and raids have been conducted without regard to the civil rights and safety of innocent bystanders. Let’s remember that in much of Europe, France included, the authorities are not very fastidious with regard to respecting the civil rights of suspects and those around them in the wake of events like this; in fact, France is known for having a heavy police hand in these matters. None of this is connected to evangelical religious bigotry.

      • That Other Jean says

        Unfortunately, the Governor of the generally-blue state of Maryland is responding less to what its citizens want, and more to what his political party wants. For lack of a strong Democratic candidate, in the last election, we chose the Republican, although the rest of offices up for grabs went to Democrats.. I hope–and trust–that he will be ignored, and Marylanders will welcome Syrian and other refugees.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      God bless Canada indeed – except my province, SK,where our premier called for a halt to the government’s program. He is of course theologically one of the most conservative premiers in Canada, being a Mennonite. Many parts of this provincebypu can virtually not be elected unless you are Mennonite. I live in a majority Mennonite town – and my kids have asked to go to a city school because they can’t stand the racism, Islamophobia, general bigotry, etc anymore – and that includes at least some teachers.
      And lets not forget the passive aggressive bullying.


      • Fascinating, O Weight-Sum-of-Saskatchewan — my own impression of Mennonites in the political realm here in the US is colored largely by the complete withdrawal from politics by groups like the Amish. Certainly not all Mennonites in the US are Amish (I had a EE roommate who was Mennonite back in grad school!), but it’s still odd to imagine Mennonites having either the political clout to control local politics or to be associated with bigotry at all– that’s the opposite of my general impression of them in the US.

      • Klasie

        Not all those of the Mennonite tradition have the same way of seeing. I’ve come across a Blog by a young pastor in Lethbridge (AB, Canada) whose voice is intelligent and faithful to the teaching of Jesus. I find many on the prairies are tainted by the Conservative Evangelical juice and have not stayed true to their Mennonite roots. Here in Alberta we are for the first time in many years hearing a ‘new’ voice from our new NDP Premier.
        It’s been refreshing and we are looking forward to welcoming refugees to our province and cities.


        • Klasie Kraalogies says


          Here in SK the previous NDP premier was an ex- United church minister – the opposite end of the theological spectrum. Mennonite is another word for conservative here.

  2. And yes, now you know what the Internet was invented for.

    I must be remembering the song wrong…

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    We’ve been talking about megachurches in the U.S. this week, and thanks to Damaris, here’s some news about the phenomenon as it is playing out in Singapore.


  4. seneca griggs says

    Does the Democrat leadership actually give a rat’s behind about Syrian refugees or are they just playing politics themselves.

    Personally, I really don’t think the current Demo leadership actually cares about the Syriran refugees.

    Call me cynical if you must but if you think they really care I’m going to call you naive.

    • Richard Hershberger says

      Perhaps, but given that the alternatives are the guys who are doing the right thing for cynical reasons and the guys who are doing the wrong thing for cynical reasons, the choice really isn’t a tough one. We don’t know what is in their hearts, Democrat or Republican. But we do know what are their actions.

    • Of course you don’t think that they care. Because you used your careful analytical skills and thinking to come to that conclusion. At no point did you simply reflexively assume the worst of someone from the Other Tribe.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      I wouldn’t call you cynical, so much as blinded by your own political spectacles. Perhaps the question you should be asking is if you give a rat’s behind.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Actually, since a significant percentage of House Democrats voted in favor of “tightening” refugee policies, I have to admit that someone in that party doesn’t care.

      In the end, though, I don’t need my politicians to care; I just need them to do the right thing, regardless of what their sentiments are.

    • Of course they are playing politics. Doesn’t mean they also don’t care. Altruism can be dangerous. If good gets done, so be it.

      And I agree with Marcus. Just need them to do the right thing, whether or not their motives are as pure as the driven snow.

  5. Happy Birthday to Gail!

    And wow, those are quite the insults by Shakespeare and Luther. We had an English teacher in high school who got upset about the way some students were acting. He said that the class was “Rude, crude, and ill-bred!” Ouch! When some of us get together, we like to say, “We are rude, crude, and ill-bred!” That same teacher was the favorite of many and produced great musical plays along with the music teacher that would involve maybe 20 percent of the school’s students. Lots of great memories.

  6. “We leak in your chimney.”

    That rolls off the tongue so nicely…

  7. The ’66 Marlin was definitely an eye pleaser. Though, for quality reasons I’d rather have a Barracuda …


  8. For those who are in favor of taking in refugees or giving citizenship to all illegal aliens, I would suggest you stop using the Indian and Pilgrim cartoons. Those who are against taking in refugees or against amnesty for illegal aliens often argue that we could be letting in people who will eventually harm us, or that by sheer numbers our culture will ultimately be destroyed by the foreign culture. The cartoons actually work in their favor, as the once native culture was harmed and eventually overcome by what was at that time, the foreign culture.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      A good point. We should, instead, be using cartoons that depict 1930s/1940s anti-Semitism cartoons, or cartoons that depict anti-French sentiments at the turn of the 19th century. We could also use Reconstruction cartoons, in which newly freed slaves were treated as a lower form of human being with dangerous, animalistic sexual urges.

      Or, better yet, as the average American’s comprehension of their own history is so inadequate, we can probably go back a couple of months to when Mexicans were the party du jour coming into the country to rape our women and steal our jobs.

      The people who are arguing that, by letting in refugees, we will be exposing ourselves to people who will harm us, have no idea, and are not willing to comprehend, how difficult it is already to obtain refugee status in America. They also start with the assumption that “refugees” includes able-bodied, calculating men and women, not terrified families and their children who are fleeing certain death in their homeland. They seem to also forget that American culture is shaped by immigrants, for better or for worse, and that our country has the resilience to assimilate (and, in some unfortunate circumstances, misappropriate) the unique cultural traditions of immigrants into our own.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        We could also use Reconstruction cartoons, in which newly freed slaves were treated as a lower form of human being with dangerous, animalistic sexual urges.

        — Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles

        They seem to also forget that American culture is shaped by immigrants, for better or for worse, and that our country has the resilience to assimilate (and, in some unfortunate circumstances, misappropriate) the unique cultural traditions of immigrants into our own.

        And each group of immigrants that has gotten stomped on becomes “Native Americans” after assimiliating and turns right around and stomps on the next group getting off the boats. Remember the Bowery Boys vs the Dead Rabbits in 1840s New York (fictionalized in the movie Gangs of New York)?

        (In the mid-19th Century, “Native Americans” meant “The Anglo-Saxon Race”, keeping America Pure from all those Micks and Spics.)

  9. As a species it seems we are not very good at calculating odds or evaluating risk. If US governors really wanted to keep their people safe, they would ban cars, cigarettes, and fast food, not Syrian refugees.

    While I am appalled and saddened by the attacks in France, I also notice that around thirty times more people –children as well — have died trying to get to safety from the Middle East so far this year than died in Paris. More people in Syria die every day from violence and related causes than were killed in the Paris attacks (http://www.iamsyria.org/daily-death-toll.html). The people in Paris should not have died; neither should these others. We probably need to ask ourselves why the Paris attacks seem so much more immediate and horrific than what has been happening in the Middle East.

    On a different note, Thou puny, guts-griping pignut is a masterpiece of English prose.

    • Well, I think that many Americans rightly see the attacks in Europe as an indication of the increased vulnerability to the same thing happening here (as if 9/11 weren’t evidence enough of that, but in many ways we’ve forgotten about 9/11 in our domestic life, though it still controls much of our foreign policy). Syria seems like a world away, and it’s currently undergoing a bloody civil war that is spinning wildly beyond anyone’s control; Europe seems close, and is not in the grip of civil war, and we imagine that things should be under control (more-or-less) there. That things are not under control in France and the rest of Europe (pray for Brussels) is felt as an existential threat by many Americans. And of course there is the very real factor of American Euro-centrism, but I don’t think that is entirely the result of mere bigotry.

      • That explains it, Robert, but doesn’t excuse it.

        • I’m not sure that I see things exactly the way you do. I certainly believe that the West should help the refugees, far more than it has; and I certainly agree that there is far less concern than there should be for the victims of terrorists in non-European places around the world.

          But the fact is that our situation here is more like that of European nations, with regard to our security, social arrangement, and polity, than it is with nations in other places around the world. A threat to Europe is closer to being a threat to the US; national governments exists in large part to protect us from such threats, and the closer to our home and interests such threats are, the more official and unofficial attention they will get from us. This is true of every nation, not just the US; that may be ethically questionable, but as Niebuhr pointed out, nations are far less capable of being consistently moral than are individuals.

          With regard to the comparison with mortality fromm cigarette-smoking, etc., government only secondarily exists to protect us from our own bad personal choices. It’s primary purpose is to keep the domestic peace; where it fails to do so, the very reasons for its existence are put in question. This can lead to the usurpation of a relatively benign existing government, and its replacement by something far worse; this happened in many places in Europe not too long ago. We are right to be concerned that Europe not fall into a bottomless pit of radicalization on both sides, and to be alarmed when we see violent disturbances that push it in that direction. There are moral reasons for this, too.

          • Good points, Robert.

          • As far as I’m concerned, the greatest danger to Europe is that it will react to this attack and whatever others may follow by going down the path to fascism. That is a moral danger as much as it is an existential one, and it would reopen the abyss where the demons that stalked Europe in the first half of the twentieth century have been held in restless captivity; if that were to happen, who knows what level of Dante’s inferno would be made present in our world, and who knows whether the US could resist the temptation to dive into the abyss.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            As far as I’m concerned, the greatest danger to Europe is that it will react to this attack and whatever others may follow by going down the path to fascism.

            That’s what I’m thinking, too. All that’s needed is more attacks, more ineffectiveness by existing governments, and the Fascists step in promising “Obey Us And We Will Protect You From THEM”. For the Fascists have a solution to the raghead problem. A Final Solution.

            When I was doing a space-opera novella years ago, my backstory of Earth was the World Wars and Cold War were followed by a century-long Islamic Wars, a string of wet firecrackers that just kept going on and on, back and forth until they escalated into Them-or- Us genocide. Europe tore itself apart between Fascists and Jihadis re-enacting the Crusades until nuclear-armed Hashasheen spawned ten times their number of Vlad the Impalers set against them. After which, China (which had been sitting on a mountain watching the two tigers fight) stepped in and scooped up all the pieces, ruling over the gwai lo until the fall of their Red Dynasty. The few Wahabi that survive still make their Hajj to the trinitite craters where Mecca stood, flaunting their radiation-induced cancers as proof of their great faith and devotion.

            In many ways, Fascism is just a secular funhouse mirror of the Islamic Fascism you find in ISIS and the other Jihadi types. Just as German Fascism was a funhouse mirror of Soviet Communism in WW2’s Russian Front — total opposites on the surface, identical beneath.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        I don’t think much is the result of “mere bigotry,” but I also don’t think bigotry can ever be described as “mere.” Rather, it is the intersection of a lack of education on the world (I strongly suspect most of these anti-refugee folks couldn’t point out Syria on a map if the countries were labeled), a reliance on social media that sends ideas around the world in minutes (regardless of whether they are actually true or not) to inform them on world events, and a mistrust of anyone whose identity doesn’t match theirs (handed down to them from generation to generation, and reinforced by the idea that, “Well, I don’t want to sound racist, but I’m just trying to see both sides of the issue.

        • +100, Marcus. The sad thing is not so much that ignorance and bigotry exist — I’m sure I have my own share of it — but that we are led by ignorance and bigotry. Is that the inevitable result of democracy? Aristotle thought it would be; I’d rather be more sanguine, but I’d like some more evidence that I should be.

          • Aristocracy throughout history have exhibited levels of ignorance and bigotry equal to or in excess of the masses. Aristotle himself, as well as most other members of his class, was ignorant of the full human value of those he possessed as slaves, and that he said should be slaves because it was in accordance with their nature. Choose your poison: ignorant and bigoted princes, or ignorant and bigoted peasants. Either way, democracy is not at fault.

          • Actually, it’s hard for me to imagine Aristotle being sympathetic to the plight of the Syrian refugees; and it’s hard for me to see where he has a place in his political or ethical philosophies that allows for sympathetic feeling toward, and compassionate action for, people like the Syrian refugees. Aristotle had some universally applicable things to say and teach, but his political and ethical philosophies are filled with the concerns of aristocracies in city-states, city-states with high walls that kept the vast majority of foreigners out, especially the lower classes, unless they came as slaves and attendants to important and powerful visitors.

        • I did not intend to suggest that bigotry is a small concern or influence, only that it’s not the only influence.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      We are actually very bad at that kind of risk calculation. I can recommend Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” on the subject matter. He is a psychologist who won the Nobel prize for economics. I once exchanged emails with him – a really nice man too!

      • I’ll check that out, Klasie. Some years ago I read a really good book about our failures of risk assessment, but I can’t remember the name of it. More recently, Jared Diamond touches on the issue in his book The World Until Yesterday.

        • Brianthedad says

          I would recommend two books by Leonard Mlodinow. Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior and The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. Both deal with how we perceive things and process them into decisions. Very well written, Mlodinow takes complicated subject matter and makes it interesting and clear. His wit and writing style are well suited for non-theoretical physicists.

  10. I like the collection of information and links related to Thanksgiving Day. I’m glad to see stores advertising the fact they are closed all day Thanksgiving. Big props to Nordstrom that doesn’t have anything Christmas out yet and will not until next Friday.

    We spent nine years in Kentucky and moved back to Georgia in 2012. I began pastoring a church late in 2014 and we moved into the parsonage earlier this year. Our extended family will come together at our house for Thanksgiving (there should be 12) and my wife’s parents will come down for Christmas. Iit will be there first visit to Georgia since 2010. We’re excited about having a big living/dining room and being able to host things.

    • *their first visit

    • Brianthedad says

      I like the collection, too.

      We’ll be celebrating our first thanksgiving where we’re not hosting or attending at one of our parents’ places. This year we’ll be at my son and daughter-in-law’s where his in-laws will be joining us all. They’ve just marked their first anniversary and will be soon welcoming our first grandchild. considering the size of our families, that could be quite a bit to bite off for their first year!

      On a serious note, given all that is going on here and abroad, I am humbly thankful for sons who are making their own way in the world, daughters who are growing in wisdom and maturity, healthy grandbabies, growing extended families, a friend whose cancer is shrinking, and many, many other things. among those things I number internet monk, a great place to read and reflect on Jesus and how that should affect my relations with my neighbors, brothers, and sisters. Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful thanksgiving.

  11. No Thanksgiving love for “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”?

  12. Being from Huntsville, Alabama, we remember a group of German refugees that were welcomed to our town in the 1950’s. The ones that designed the rocket that took man to the moon.

  13. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    I am so disappointed with the response to Syrian refugees. My own family, on my mother’s side, were Armenian refugees. While the Seljuk slaughter is generally recognized as genocide against the Armenians, it should be noted that the conflict was precipitated by Armenian “freedom fighters” who objected to the heavy social penalties imposed on those who were not Muslim. In today’s rhetoric, they would be called terrorists (although their fighting style was definitely 19th century, and did not include things like suicide bombings or beheadings). But my family were just people who literally ran for their life. I’m glad they were not excluded just because others from their country had guns and shot people. I’m glad America welcomed them with open arms. I’m glad that they were given the opportunity to succeed, and proud that within three generations we have graduates from Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Penn State, Florida State, Loyola, etc., etc. I’m glad that we had the opportunity to obtain PhDs and other doctorates, MSs, MBAs, and MAs. I’m glad we were able to provide this nation with engineers, business man, lawyers, and medical professionals. I’m glad that I have had tremendous opportunity, and am happily employed with a job that pays well enough for my wife to stay home with our two beautiful children. I stand solidly with all refugees, especially those displaced in large part due to US foreign policy. Christ have mercy.

  14. I think we are witnessing the long expected war between the poor south and the rich north. I’m guessing no one expected it to appear in the form of an Islamic war rather than a communist revolution. It seems like a perfect outlet for impoverished rage and desperation. And Jesus remains the mascot of the rich, oppressive north.

    “One day you will rise up from your habitual feast to find yourself staring down the throat of a beast they call a revolution” – Bruce Cockburn.

    • True, Ox. It’s also been pointed out that climate change has been an element in this disaster: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-11-03/what-does-climate-change-look-like.

      • This idea that this can be solved by killing ISIS is insanity. How many bullets do you need to kill a 1-3 billion people?

        • What does the number 1-3 billion people represent?

          • Klasie Kraalogies says

            Good question. Daesh and other radicals are bit a very small percentage of Muslims, if that was the reference.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Not bullets.





          “…ALL BIRDS FLYING.”

          “…ALL BIRDS FLYING.”

          “…ALL BIRDS FLYING.”

    • Assad, Hussein, Mubarak, the Shaw, Kadaffi, etc, etc, were creations of the north as a totalitarian wall to protect itself from the south. The Arab Spring destroyed that wall. Yes, the Iraq war was one of many dominoes which lead to its fall.

    • “And they call it Democracy…”

      Cockburn doesn’t get enough air time.

  15. Oh is Thanksgiving still happening? You wouldn’t know it with the Christmas lights going up, etc. etc. I thought we were just skipping it this year.

    • I know!! My neighborhood has a high Indian population, so in early November many of my neighbors decorated their homes with lights for Diwali. While I respect their celebration, inside of me I keep thinking those are my religions Christmas lights. It’s a little conflicting for me. I miss the anticipation of seeing the first lights show up after Thanksgiving.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      We should be seeing “WAR ON CHRISTMAS!” coming from the pulpit, but it seems to be absent this year.

      Paris derailed the usual Christian Culture War mobilization?

  16. I see nothing wrong with ALL immigrants passing security checks, done well and respectful. It doesn’t matter who or where. It only takes one bad egg. As long as it’s someone else, it’s ok but wait until it’s your daughter or son that’s gunned down at a local Starbucks. Can’t happen, yes it can, and will, sooner or later. You just can’t bring in thousands of unknowns without consequences I’m not anti-immigrants, Muslims or Mexican. But some type of getting has to be in place? Five hundred Frenchmen are living the stark reality of that even as we speak. Just sayin……

    • I don’t think there’s a one of us, who welcome refugees, who are also asking for a no-vetting, no-checking, free-for-all process… but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in some quarters of the rightwing MSM, that that is how our welcome is being spun…

      • Yes, it only takes one. But that one could already be your neighbor, like the guy a few miles from me who took his gun and attempted to shoot out his neighbor’s light on a pole above their pond. It was too bright & it ticked him off. Unfortunately, his aim was poor and he missed, shooting the 3 year old who was standing underneath the light. The bullet went through the toddler’s head, killing him on the spot. Yes, it only takes one unbalanced young man with an arsenal at his fingertips to walk into an elementary school a start shooting…
        I am certainly not against vetting incoming immigrants, but let’s not blow this out of proportion. We have a dangerous mix of easy access to all kinds of weapons, a lousy economy leaving many in the dust, and the Internet which allows anyone with a crazy, violent agenda to easily find others with same mindset. The next terrorist act could just as easily come from the likes of another Tim McVeigh as some Middle Eastern refugee.

        • I agree, Suzanne, and have been thinking the same thing. The OK City bomber, the theater shooter, the man who shot the congresswoman, the Sandy Hook murderer — all nice young American white men. Perhaps we should ban guns for young American white men.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      Just saying what, exactly? Was the Roseburg shooter an immigrant? Newtown? Virginia Tech? How about the 294 mass shootings we have had in the US in 2015 alone – oh wait; not one of those was precipitated by an immigrant. It isn’t that you are confusing correlation with causality – it is that you are inventing a correlation where one doesn’t exist.

    • “I see nothing wrong with ALL immigrants passing security checks…”

      People coming through the system as documented refugees are already going through such a system.

  17. Sorry, getting. BTW, Trump is lost in a garden somewhere.

  18. VETTING! I hate my phone!

  19. I, too, am ashamed of our Governor here in Indiana for his heavy handed response to the French terrorist attacks. Ironies of ironies, he replaced Mitch Daniels, a two-term very popular governor who at one time was considered a serious contender for a presidential bid and who is partially of Syrian ancestry. His paternal grandfather was a Syrian immigrant and Daniels was very proud of his heritage.

    Wonder if he would be elected now? Or even considered?

    I can remember in my younger years wondering how in the world a genocide happens. How do otherwise sensible people go out and kill, or remain uninvolved while others go about their killing? Sadly, it’s no longer a mystery.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And on the flip side of that, I remember in school during the First 1960s about “Why didn’t anyone stop Hitler when they had the chance?”

      With today’s responses to an aggressive X-Treme Islam (from “Shut up and Go Shopping” after 9/11 to wagging-finger lectures about Islamophobia and Diversity), I think we have the answer. We can lecture about “We’re not at war with Islam” or “It’s not religious, it’s Terrorism”, but al-Daesh IS at war with us (and anyone who is not al-Daesh) to the cry of “The-God Is Most-Great!”. Having God completely on your side justifies a lot of things.

      There’s even an End Time Prophecy tie-in in al-Daesh’s ideology (at least as much an ideology as a big gang of land pirates can have) where they are the chosen ones to bring about a Koranic Armageddon in Syria and the Holy Land (i.e. Left Behind as sourced from the Koran instead of the Bible). I don’t know about you, but when you have an aggressive group with a Start Armageddon ideology (It’s Prophesied, It’s Prophesied), you’ve got TROUBLE. (Somewhere in the IMonk archives there’s an old old essay on how Christian and Islamic End Time Prophecy scenarios and beliefs can go destructively synergistic with/against each other and take a lot of the world with them.)

  20. Wrote this on SFL first… If I wasn’t #Done before all this, when I stopped regularly going to any church a year ago…I’m done now.

    I can’t believe what’s happening.

    And yet. I can. I can all too well.

    Found this on Wil Wheaton’s Tumblr, seems about right:

    Bernie is saying the Middle East must be the leader in fighting the extremism that has risen out of it. The people of those nations must, with strong American support, dictate their own future. Similar to how a foreign power could not come into the U.S. and force us to become a real democracy, we cannot eliminate extremism from a region that is not our own.

    How would we feel if a foreign country invaded us to stop Donald Trump or Ben Carson from becoming president? The racist, hateful, xenophobic part of America is ours, and ours alone, to defeat. A foreign nation could not fight the prejudice and discrimination that exists in America, and neither will the leadership of the U.S. destroy the plague that is ISIS. We cannot command a fight that is not ours.

    Real change has to come from the people, the citizens who make up the communities, the human beings who live there.

    This is not our battle to lead. It is ours to support.
    This is the difference between Hillary and Bernie on Daesh.
    If America goes to war in the Middle East, we are playing exactly into ISIS’ hands.
    They want more American troops to attack their countries, not only for ISIS to kill, but so hatred of Americans will increase. They want our soldiers to commit evil acts, so they can recruit more people who hate the West.
    America spurred this hatred by spreading terror and murder in Iraq, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, and, by intervening again, we only spread more.
    It is exactly what ISIS wants.
    Bernie Sanders is the only candidate running for president who won’t commit America as a nation and our military to even more endless wars. That matters to me, a lot.

    • Trump is actually emerging as the anti-war candidate on the GOP side.

      He even said he’d talk with the Vladinator whereas Hillary, Cruz, Rubio et.al seem to be slavering for open war with him.

      Trump vs Bernie would be a good anti-interventionist campaign.

      • I think Trump has fallen victim to the illusion that he and Putin are cut from the same cloth, and would have mutual understanding as ubermensch brethren; personally, I think Putin would chew him up and spit him out before breakfast. And I have to admit that I would find that an amusing spectacle, all other things being equal.

    • Whatever you may think of his other policies, Rand Paul is actually a fairly reluctant person to go running off to war. So Bernie is not the only one.

    • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

      Normally I would make Big Bang Theory joke here, but Wheaton is spot on!

  21. Burro [Mule] says

    I’m glad to see two things – first, that most here are still in favor of bringing refugees into this country. Although it took some time for the alternative voices to make themselves heard I am also glad to see the acknowledgement that it is not entirely without risk, and that putting the more vulnerable among us at greater risk is likely to be the result of such a policy.

    I live in the middle of an area where Donald Trump has a lot of support, an area where there has been a lot of Hispanic imigration recently, like in the last 10 years, my wife among them. They aren’t happy about it. Preferring people like yourselves is a pretty common constant in human behavior, and people are getting tired of getting scolded for it. Even the people here, when they get out of schoolmarm mode, behave this way. Dealing continually with people who act differently to what you expect takes a lot of energy. On both sides.

    I remember a movie starring Robert Mitchum set during the Korean War where a group of North Korean irregulars hid themselves in a column of refugees. For ten or so minutes Mitchum, not allowing a single ray of internal conflict escape from the event horizon of his black hole of a face, had to decide whether to fire on the column or not. It was the tensest part of a very tense movie. .Now we are being asked to make that decision together, as are the Europeans. It would be nice if you could refrain from saying you were ashamed to live among people who would make Mitchum’s decision differently than you.

    • I fear we’ll see more of this. I’ll think twice before flying Southwest again.

      Before I boarded a flight last year,mi noticed a group of 5 young men waiting for the same flight speaking what sounded to me like Arabic. I admit feeling some fear, but quelled it. After all, the airport in my area is small & not likely to be a terrorist target. So I boarded as did they and away we went. After we landed, I struck up a conversation with one of the young men. He was an exchange student from Jordan, very pleasant, and he told me I should come visit his country sometime. The Middle East, he said, is nothing like Americans think it is. I often think of that brief encounter of two people from opposite ends of the world, how easy it would have been to give into the fear, and how glad I am that I didn’t.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Here’s my Paranoia Party on a Plane story:

        A year or two after 9/11, I was flying cross-country to the East Coast on the July 4th weekend. Rumors were flying that al-Qaeda was planning something BIG for the weekend, just like how in the Korean War the Norks would time their attacks for enemy holidays.

        (Even Muslim bloggers like Sandmonkey from Egypt were joking that when they’re on a plane and see someone in turban, beard, and dishdasha board followed by a burqa they start placing bets as to whether they’ll live to their destination.)

        On the leg out, I was sitting at the back of the plane, right across from this old Arab woman. Very Old Country, hijab and all. She was scared of flying, so she was dealing with the fear by reciting her Koran. Out loud. Very interesting five-hour flight, especially with the rumors and timing.

        Then on the first leg of the way back, they had to delay the flight because the head count of passengers was two over the official manifest. Like there were two stowaways. It was cleared up as a miscount, but everyone in that plane was thinking “Two? Mohammed and Osama?”

      • I used to tutor Arab women in ESL. I actually miss hearing spoken Arabic.

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        Holy crap. I can’t believe that is a real story. Seriously.

    • After 9/11, a rather hysterical blogger whose name now escapes me was on a plane with a group of classical musicians (Arabic classical music, that is) and she was convinced that their instrument cases were hiding guns and explosives. She caused a LOT of problems as a result.

      And the State Dept. was refusing visas to Brazilian and European touring musicians who had no Arab ancestry, were not married to people from the ME< the works. It really was insane, and it sounds like we're in for another round of it now.

      • At the risk of getting HUG started,

        George Orwell, from 1984:

        “In some ways [Julia] was far more acute than Winston, and far less
        susceptible to Party propaganda. Once when he happened in some connexion to
        mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that
        in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily
        on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, ‘just to
        keep people frightened’. This was an idea that had literally never occurred
        to him…

        “… he discovered from some chance remark that she did not remember that
        Oceania, four years ago, had been at war with Eastasia and at peace with
        Eurasia. It was true that she regarded the whole war as a sham: but
        apparently she had not even noticed that the name of the enemy had changed.
        ‘I thought we’d always been at war with Eurasia,’ she said vaguely. It
        frightened him a little. The invention of aeroplanes [which the Party
        claimed to have invented] dated from long before her birth, but the
        switchover in the war had happened only four years ago, well after she was
        grown up. He argued with her about it for perhaps a quarter of an hour. In
        the end he succeeded in forcing her memory back until she did dimly recall
        that at one time Eastasia and not Eurasia had been the enemy. But the issue
        still struck her as unimportant. ‘Who cares?’ she said impatiently. ‘It’s
        always one bloody war after another, and one knows the news is all lies

  22. My two favorite Thanksgiving movies are “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Broadway Danny Rose” and “The Big Chill.”

    It’s like I always say – There are three kinds of people in this world: those who can count, and those who can not.

    😛 sorry, couldn’t resist.

  23. I notice that Will says more than Martin with fewer words: I guess that’s the difference between a poet and a preacher.

    • Nah, Luther was quite the poet, though his poems did often grow to 15+ stanzas. If you want to see him densely succinct and articulate, check out his explanation of the creed in the Small Catechism. Never has the entirety of the Christian faith been so beautifully summarized in such few words. In my colloquy we are actually taught to write in this style of “crafted sentences,” which are to say as much as necessary as briefly as possible, without a superfluous word. This is the way that catechisms for children are written. Shakespeare, of course, applies this technique to insult: I guess that’s the difference between an entertainer and a revolutionary. 😛

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        As well, Luther in German is much more succinct. There is a translation handicap. That being said, I love the Bard for his double entendre.

  24. And now, for a completely different Isis:


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