“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas


  1. Love is the Reason
    For the Season.

    Merry Christmass
    Winter Solstice
    Feliz Año Nuevo

  2. I wrote a poem last night on a couple napkins entitled Beyond beyond, from my rainbow picture my wife put on my phone and entited
    Beyond beyond, catering to my transcendental urges.

    Working Subtitle - A little of bob, a little of Ted, a little of tbe ale's frothy head, witten on a napkin sleeve, as I watched my daughter dance, on Christmas eve.

    Much moaning and groaning to acheive love's transcendental outlook.

    But it's not for public consumption.

    Say, Quirk, please, no poem about ol' bobbo.

    Thanks, and I really mean it.

    It would make me feel unconfortable.

    I'm not a fit subject for a poem, besides you really don't know me.

    Let's just continue our fratricidal warfare on the level we're at.

    I enjoy blowing your brains out


    the best of time the worst of times

    May we all have a wonderful day and a great coming year

    Special Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Trish.

  3. Say Quirk, what's the best love poem in the English language?

    and no help from you, Melody, cause you already know the answer.

  4. It's a wonderful Christmas where Jesus was born...

    50,000 visitors celebrating the birth of their Lord and not a Jew in sight...

    The President of the Palestinians celebrated by stating Palestine will be a state in 2011 and not one settler will live within it's borders and Jerusalem shall be it's capital..

    It's quite the story really...

    Billions of Christians celebrate Jesus the Jew's birth and tens of thousand visit the town of his birth, a place where Jews were ethnically scrubbed like viruses...


    Christians enjoy your day, but be warned about your support of a real racist state of "palestine".

    A state the denies the existence of the Temple Mount in jerusalem, state that will be purged of all it's christians within 10 years...

    Aint it fun partying in the birthplace of the promised Jewish Messiah, for the Jewish People with the people in control being Jew hating murderers?

  5. I note, on this second most holy day in Christiandom, the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, the only Jewish philosopher I know much about. (I'm basically ignorant of Jewish philosophy)

    But he said, and I've always remembered and liked this, I feel that Jesus is my good older brother.


    I like that for several reasons, one of which is I think in the Bible the older brother often isn't so good.

    We Christians and Jews have so much in common, let us from henceforth always have peace and striving for understanding among us.


  6. .

    Say, Quirk, please, no poem about ol' bobbo.

    No worries Bob. I didn't say I was going to be writing about you.

    I said I would write a poem about "a subject of interest to you."

    The pain (and/or glory) of growing old.

    The transcendant nature of man.
    Life's sweet mystery.

    Stuff like that.

    Haven't decided on a subject yet.


  7. .

    Say Quirk, what's the best love poem in the English language?

    I stopped in for a second to see what was happening before heading out and this one will unfortunately take a little noodling. Besides the subject of love is not one I'm real strong on so I'll have to approach it in a more or less academic sense.

    The question sounds simple but it is not. There is no right answer. It’s a good subject for discussion but you pose the question as a sort of a contest when it should be worded to open up a general discussion.

    There are technical questions to be answered first.

    First, you are confining it to authors whose ‘native’ language is English, right, thus eliminating guys like Kahlil Gibran or Bhartṛhari?

    What frame of mind are you bringing to the question? Will form matter? Will the brevity of Dickenson be discounted against the sonnets of Shakespeare?

    "Best" is ‘at best’ a subjective word. It would have been better (again subjective) to have asked "What in your opinion is the 'best' love poem in the English language.

    Likewise, it would be helpful if you could pin down what you mean by love. Love of friends and family, a subject I am more attuned to? Physical love? Emotional attachment? Love of God and neighbor in the Christian tradition? Love for love's sake as in the chivalric tradition? Or is it open to all the above which would in a way make it an impossible question to answer in any objective sense at all.

    What exactly do you mean when you say love, Bobbo?


  8. I went to church last night.

    Those South Hills Presbyterians really know how to do it.

    "You don't always get what you want,"
    said the minister.

    "But sometimes you get what you need," I said to myself before he completed this little bit of wisdom.

    That made me smile.

    I listened to that goddamned song day after day last autumn as the construction workers next door in Virginia played the radio from the rooftop.

    I half expected the choir to start singing it.

    But, no. The whole service was lovely. In fact, it was perfect. And perfectly moving.

    I was told to go in peace.

    So I did.

  9. Christianity is a reformed religion and it needed reforming. It is an outgrowth of Romanism, Judaism and Mithraism. It has borrowed much from Germanic pagan traditions over Christmas.

    Jews may have their problems with Christianity but Christianity is likely the only religion willing and able to protect Judaism from her enemies.

    In fact, without Christianity, Judaism would probably cease to exist except in a new diaspora.

    There were certainly some serious problems between some Christians and Jews in the past but that was then, this is now. Onward Christian soldiers.

    Merry Christmas.

  10. .

    I was told to go in peace.

    So I did.


    Merry Christmas Trish.

    And Deuce.


  11. Re: Christianity

    Ordinarily, I would let you have your day without comment, wishing you well. But since poor little ole Judaism NEEDS Christianity to survive, I will reply.

    I will be short and sweet: Christianity lacks a theology outside the Jewish scriptures. That is, Christianity's texts make no effort to study or understand the nature of G-d. Instead, they mistranslate and misappropriate Jewish scriptures to that end. This explains why Christianity has over one thousand denominations, e.g. "The Seventh Third Baptist Church Reformed On Mondays In The Name of Jesus' Holy Spirit Washed In The Blood."

    The great Church father Marcion understood this completely and did his best to excise any reference to the "evil" god of the "Old Testament". In fact, he went so far as to declare the Jewish scriptures the devil's work and better burned. His point of view had considerable success until he and it were declared hereitical. Despite this, he would have considerable influence in the Roman Church into the 10th century C.E.

    Here's a bet: In a few hundred years (optimistically) when America's churches become warehouses and museums, like those of Europe, we (Jews) will still be around.

  12. desert rat said...

    "Love is the Reason
    For the Season.

    Merry Christmass
    Winter Solstice
    Feliz Año Nuevo


    I'm on my way, honey.

  13. ..."They mistranslate and misappropriate Jewish scriptures to that end."

    They by implication would be fundamental Christians as They are the Christians that rely mostly on scriptures. Coincidentally, They are the ones who are the most ardent supporters of Israel.

    They are accused here of misappropriating, or embezzling, the very things they hang their religious beliefs on. As if any of this makes the slightest bit of difference, which it doesn't.

  14. Another Blogger Monster Comment Eating Treat.
    (Deleted Twice, So Far)

    Private Enterprise Insight vs Government Employee Hysteria

    Gardner conducts business as usual as agent pursues parking ticket terrorist.

  15. Ah, good.

    Between the boys and the girls, Quirk.

    And I recall one Christmas back when all 18 of us were at peace in grandfather's mansion, and mom was trying out the new automatic sewing machine and took four stitches in her fingers. :) Bled like a stuck pig. Made a big stir.

    Another year at the dinner table the court called, jury's in. Judge and jury wanted to get home for dinner. Bad news for defendant. So mom, and I, go to court, she with her steno pads, she took the testimony down in shorthand. Just the judge, mom, deputy sheriff, me watching,defendant, lawyer and 12 jurors and an alternate. Have you reached a verdict? Yes your honor. Hands verdict to mom to read- count one, did on blah blah blah - guilty count two guilty. Jury is thanked everybody goes home, defendant goes to prison. Can't recall what the charge was, but it was a biggie.

    Schedule your trial at some other time than the holidays.

    Mom spent the rest of the holidays typing up her shorthands of the trial.

    O my lost world!

    And in fiction the Daedalus's at dinner, men arguing Irish politics and religion, vehemently. Mrs Daedalus "Oh for the love of heaven. Not this day, not this day, not this very day of all the days of the year!

    Chr;istmas remembered.

  16. Here's a bet: In a few hundred years (optimistically) when America's churches become warehouses and museums, like those of Europe, we (Jews) will still be around.

    Half right, half wrong.

    Hopefully the Jews will still be around.

    But after two thousand years, I'd wager the church will be too in some form or other.

    The diversity of Christian denominations in America is a strength, not a weakness. They have to compete. They have to pay attention to the needs in the pews.

    The state church in say Sweden, doesn't.

  17. I'm stiuffed.

    Good grief, Hagadone's may be a little spendy but the portions are huge and it's always a couple of doggie bags going home.

  18. Merry Christmas.

    For the moment.

  19. Deuce,

    You haven't a clue. Have another drink.

  20. burp

    Merry Christmas, Trish

    Since we have only an interim pastor right now there wasn't any midnight service last night, something I've always loved, seeing those candle lights passing around among the people.

    Some about light shining in the darkness, you know. Loved it as a kid.

    I wasn't in town anyway.

  21. And while we're at it one of these holy days, I say let's get rid of the old R.I.P.

    Rest In Peace - I hate that.

    Let's say Racing Rufus were to die - after all, he's already died once, as I recall.

    I don't want to think of Racing Rufus as resting in peace. The peace part is ok but the resting, well it has the smell of the rest home and decaying flesh.

    I'd rather think of Racing Rufus as rafting down a rapid white water river with a good broad and a bottle of his finest sipping whiskey, for instance.

    And it seems to me such a conception is closer to the idea of a resurrection, or a life in the world to come, than resting in peace.

    What a lousy idea for the other world, resting in peace.

  22. Rapid River Rufus, a radical ripping redhead, a racing river raft, and a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red - there's an image of the other world that amounts to something, rather than resting in peace.

  23. Well, Bob, you've finally come up with an "after-death" thought that I can get "on board" with.

  24. My dad said to send you something for Christmas. Here you go.
    Merry Christmas

  25. Thankee, River Ruf, I aim to please.

  26. Capricorns have no time to waste on silly flirtations


    And thank Santa for that!

  27. You can't ever put one over ;) on old Saint Nick ;;;)!!

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. Anyone looking to a Capricorn better be in for a long siege.


  31. Thank you Mikhail. That was Excellent.

  32. We're watching the Wizard of Oz.

  33. .


    Ah, good.

    Between the boys and the girls, Quirk.

    I've thought about it Bobbo. The answer to the riddle is there is no 'best' love poem in the English language.

    Some are good some bad (again subjective), some speak to universal truths and some are situational; in most cases, there is someone out there who likes each of them even if it's only the author.

    Here's one that might be termed 'situational' from one of my favorite authors. It speaks of an aging man and a women, the reality of our natures, and the pity, kindness, and comfort contained in some lies. It talks to the human condition and is applicable to people of all ages. The author is a man yet he speaks of the heart of a woman.

    Her Dilemma

    By Thomas Hardy.

    THE two were silent in a sunless church,
    Whose mildewed walls, uneven paving-stones,
    And wasted carvings passed antique research;
    And nothing broke the clock's dull monotones.

    Leaning against a wormy poppy-head,
    So wan and worn that he could scarcely stand,
    --For he was soon to die,--he softly said,
    "Tell me you love me!"--holding hard her hand.

    She would have given a world to breathe "yes" truly,
    So much his life seemed hanging on her mind,
    And hence she lied, her heart persuaded throughly,
    'Twas worth her soul to be a moment kind.

    But the sad need thereof, his nearing death,
    So mocked humanity that she shamed to prize
    A world conditioned thus, or care for breath
    Where Nature such dilemmas could devise.


  34. .

    Yes, thank you Mikhail. As Bob said, that was excellent.

    If I can, I'd like to offer my sympathy to you and the rest of Viktor's family on his passing.


  35. Did everyone have a nice Christmas?

  36. No, for various reasons this was the worst Christmas season of my life except for the time with my daughter

  37. Here tis Quirk, my choice -

    by John Donne

    WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,
    A pregnant bank swell'd up, to rest
    The violet's reclining head,
    Sat we two, one another's best.

    Our hands were firmly cemented
    By a fast balm, which thence did spring ;
    Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
    Our eyes upon one double string.

    So to engraft our hands, as yet
    Was all the means to make us one ;
    And pictures in our eyes to get
    Was all our propagation.

    As, 'twixt two equal armies, Fate
    Suspends uncertain victory,
    Our souls—which to advance their state,
    Were gone out—hung 'twixt her and me.

    And whilst our souls negotiate there,
    We like sepulchral statues lay ;
    All day, the same our postures were,
    And we said nothing, all the day.

    If any, so by love refined,
    That he soul's language understood,
    And by good love were grown all mind,
    Within convenient distance stood,

    He—though he knew not which soul spake,
    Because both meant, both spake the same—
    Might thence a new concoction take,
    And part far purer than he came.

    This ecstasy doth unperplex
    (We said) and tell us what we love ;
    We see by this, it was not sex ;
    We see, we saw not, what did move :

    But as all several souls contain
    Mixture of things they know not what,
    Love these mix'd souls doth mix again,
    And makes both one, each this, and that.

    A single violet transplant,
    The strength, the colour, and the size—
    All which before was poor and scant—
    Redoubles still, and multiplies.

    When love with one another so
    Interanimates two souls,
    That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
    Defects of loneliness controls.

    We then, who are this new soul, know,
    Of what we are composed, and made,
    For th' atomies of which we grow
    Are souls, whom no change can invade.

    But, O alas ! so long, so far,
    Our bodies why do we forbear?
    They are ours, though not we ; we are
    Th' intelligences, they the spheres.

    We owe them thanks, because they thus
    Did us, to us, at first convey,
    Yielded their senses' force to us,
    Nor are dross to us, but allay.

    On man heaven's influence works not so,
    But that it first imprints the air ;
    For soul into the soul may flow,
    Though it to body first repair.

    As our blood labours to beget
    Spirits, as like souls as it can ;
    Because such fingers need to knit
    That subtle knot, which makes us man ;

    So must pure lovers' souls descend
    To affections, and to faculties,
    Which sense may reach and apprehend,
    Else a great prince in prison lies.

    To our bodies turn we then, that so
    Weak men on love reveal'd may look ;
    Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
    But yet the body is his book.

    And if some lover, such as we,
    Have heard this dialogue of one,
    Let him still mark us, he shall see
    Small change when we're to bodies gone.

  38. This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. "the best of time the worst of times"

    I'd say so.

    I'd recently been remembering a night maybe fifteen years ago now. In Georgia. I was sitting in the kitchen. Reading. Writing. My husband came in and I started going on about something. I can't remember what.

    At some point I said, "I'd sell my soul..."

    "And I'd buy it," he interjected.

    I don't have a favorite love poem to contribute. I'm not much on poems.

    But as for love - romantic love especially - that brief exchange captures it for me.

  40. Looks like Philadelphia is going to get some real winter.

  41. Yeah that's really good, Trish.

    My wife is reading Bryson's Big Country I think it is, that book of newspaper articles.

  42. "To our bodies turn we then, that so
    Weak men on love reveal'd may look ;
    Love's mysteries in souls do grow,
    But yet the body is his book."

    I was going to ask for the easy, Illustrated Classics version.

    But never mind.

    That is wonderful.

  43. "...that book of newspaper articles."

    Dayum. Bob.

    : )

  44. Lady says to Churchill "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."

    Churchill "If you were my wife I'd drink it"

  45. Goodnight Trish and everyone.

  46. 45. Walt
    It is Christmas Day, early afternoon where I am, and I would like to relate the story of how the X got in Xmas.


    The most important battle ever fought on planet Earth may very well have been the battle of Milvian Bridge, on October 28, 312 AD, between the forces of two Roman Emperors, Constantine and Maxentius. Though outnumbered, Constantine won, and by winning assumed sole control of the government of Rome. Legend has it he saw a sign in the sky the night before the battle, a sign that said In Hoc Signe Vincit, In This Sign You Shall Conquer.

    The sign was the Christian sign of the Chi-ro, the first three letters of the name of Christ. Constantine had his men paint the sign on their shields, won the battle, and later made Christianity the state religion of Rome.

    Europe therefore was Christian when the Arab invasions began five centuries later, and a Christian Europe united in defeating the Muslim armies. It is difficult to see how a non-united non-Christian Europe, with many differing religions, could have resisted the sword of Islam any more than the Middle East, North Africa and the eastern lands stretching from Persia to India had been able to resist.

    Had Constantine not won the battle of Milvian Bridge, Europe would not have been Christian, and we would all be Muslims now.

    There would have been no Enlightenment, no science, no Western culture, no democracy and no United States.


    We wish you a merry X-Mas
    A sentiment just fine
    But did you know that Xmas
    Has its roots in Constantine?
    Back in the day of Roman clout
    When Legions reigned supreme
    A couple emperors duked it out
    To see who owned the dream
    Old Connie told his soldiers he
    Had seen in the night sky
    A sign proclaiming victory
    And gave the reason why
    He said the sign did light the night
    The sign of the Chi-Ro
    That promised he would win the fight
    If allegiance he would show
    The sign proclaimed the Christian King
    Whom they would recognize
    To rule the earth and everything
    From seas to shining skies
    Thus Constantine did give the word
    “The sign upon each shield!”
    The morning saw his army gird
    For battle they’d not yield
    The Christian god now on their side
    The troops were confident
    That no defeat would God abide
    And into battle went
    You know the rest, they passed the test
    And Constantine emerged
    A Christian king, one of the best
    The pagans they were scourged
    What was that fiery sign you ask
    That flared in bold relief
    That gave to Constantine the task
    Of changing men’s belief
    From many gods to the one True
    I’ll tell you so you know
    The sign that flared up in the blue
    Was the old Greek Chi-Ro
    The letter X, that sounds the same
    As Ch, and then with Ro,
    The letter R, becomes the name
    Of Christ, to those who know
    And still today the letter X
    Stands for the risen one
    And not a slight designed to vex
    Adherents of the Son
    Had Constantine not climbed the ridge
    And to the sign did bow
    He’d have lost that day at Milvian Bridge
    And we’d all be muslims now
    So Merry X-Mas as we dine
    On this fine Christmas Day
    And drink a toast to Constantine
    Who showed us all the way


    - Walt

  48. Good Lord, 10-20 inches here in Philly.

  49. .

    Noted Bob.

    As I said, it's subjective.

    Donne speaks of an ideal Hardy of reality. I prefer Hardy.

    You have to take comfort where you may I guess.


  50. .

    Take comfort Melody.

    This too shall pass.

    (However, probably not without some shovelling.)


  51. That is an interesting fiction, that a "United" Europe defeated the assorted Muslim invasions.

    A complete fiction, but it does play into the "Clash" scenario that the Military Industrial Conservatives are selling, today.

    The were no Englishmen at the Gates of Vienna and no Polish troops with Charlemagne.

  52. There was no "United" Europeon Army in Romania, with Count Dracula, Vlad the Impaler, no he was a Christian, standing alone.

  53. When the Libyans, then known as Carthaginians, conquered Spain, it had little to do, with religion.

    Northern Africa has been at war with Europe since the time of the neanderthals.

    Well before monotheism.

  54. .

    You are right to point out that the world has been at war since day one with power and possessions as motivating factors.

    You are wrong to downplay religion as a factor in providing motivation or merely an excuse.


  55. Yes, but last year on the first major snow storm my daughter and I got drunk and she put hair extension in my hair.

    p.s. I don't shovel.

  56. .

    Yes, but last year on the first major snow storm my daughter and I got drunk and she put hair extension in my hair.


    And how did that work out, you both being drunk and all?


  57. Religion is a factor in motivating the troops and in maintaining social cohesion, no doubt of that, Q.

    But the African Muslims were not "on the march" because they were Muslims. Those societies have always been "expansionist".

    The Persians fighting the Greeks, when God-Kings born of mortals still ruled the earth.

    The Russians expats are not in the Levant "because" they happen to be Jewish.
    They are there because Russia sucks and the shores of the Med, don't.

    Those Russians, the "went to the beach". For the weather as much as any other cause.

    Same as everyone else.
    Using religion as a crutch, an excuse for more worldly issues.

  58. .

    Ah, as I suspected rat.

    I knew this would lead back to the Levant eventually.


  59. It always does, Q, in the "Clash of Civilizations".

    We are in the midst of the Jewish Crusade. Another Europeon adventure, on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean.

    There is a real historical thread to the modern religious clash. It does center around control of the Levant. It is geographic clash, though, more so than religious.

    From a historical perspective.

  60. You can see it in the Israeli propaganda. The common claim that Israel represents "the West" and how, if the Jews are dislodged from control of Jerusalem, "the West" will suffer a combined loss.

    It's poppycock.

  61. When Alexander was spreading "the West" across Persia, Afpakistan and India, it was not for Christianity nor Judaism that he marched.

    Doubtful he even thought he was marching for "the West".

    He was, after all, his own God.

  62. Given the locale of the majority of the battles, in the "East - West" context of history, it is the Europeons that are the expansionists.

    Most of the battles taking place "over there", rather than in Europe, itself.

    Though there is an ebb and flow across the geography of history.

  63. While, today, the Muslims cannot even field a regular Army, anywhere, that can stand against "the West".

    The battle, now, is ideological, not military. We are still winning.

    It is not even a close contest.

    We have helped to fracture that whirled. We continue to do so.
    Arming up those that attacked US in 2001, to do so.

  64. Mikhail Silo said...
    My dad said to send you something for Christmas. Here you go.
    Merry Christmas

    Thank you, Mikhail. I feel honored that Victor remembered us.

    Victor was a man who live life in full and it was my pleasure to know him from afar.

    I pray that your family is well this holiday season and I wish you all nothing but fond memories and healing laughter.

  65. To Whit, Rufus and Quirk: You are most welcome.

    I was worried about how Christmas would go but when family and friends gathered yesterday it turned out to be a grand day with much laughter and camaraderie.

    My wife is pregnant and is due in late May. At the end, my father felt my wife's small bump and said, "Life ends and life begins."

    And so it does.

    Thanks to those of you who took time out to express concern and sympathy.

  66. I always let mother nature do the shoveling. She always get the job done, sooner or later.

    Thing is Quirk I think he is talking of a real experience, not an ideal, though quite rare.

  67. My neighbor shovels his driveway even with a dusting.

    The only time my driveway warrants shoveling is more than eight inches. Everything else two to three inches.

  68. Mother Nature is a cheap worker, just demands to do things on her own time schedule.

    I think you may well get more snow back there than we do here.

    You go east of here and up a bit, it gets rough.

    McCall, Idaho always has a really heavy snowfall. Along the highway they'll have these high poles in winter so you can tell where the road is.

    A little elevation makes a lot of difference. Moscow is 2500 feet, out where my farm is it's about 500 feet higher, and it's always the same year after yeare, out there the snow is much deeper, and stays.