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22
Jul
14

Night owl chat – Archaeology heals wounded warriors

One of my favorite British shows is “Time Team”. Hosted by the awesome Sir Tony Robinson (Baldrick to you “Blackadder” fans), a team of archaeologists scours Great Britain for interesting sites to excavate.

In the just completed and final Series 20, the fifth episode finds the gang excavating on a military site on Salisbury Plain. Brought in to help, Tony et. al. are seconded to an already existing excavation. And a big part of this excavation is an organization which seeks to heal wounded UK vets reintegrate and heal their psychic and physical wounds via archaeology. I found myself smiling throughout the entire episode, especially when the program’s founder explained what had helped him escape the miasma of depression in which he was sunk after his tours of duty.

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Chat on night owls.

22
Jul
14

A few thoughts on Putin’s “strategic genius”

Middle aged Russian man searches for his masculinity.

It wasn’t so long ago that gumflappers on both the left and right were swooning over Russian president Vladimir Putin’s vim and vigor.

Pat Buchanan, that defender of all that is sacred and American, had this to say:

Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?

In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?

While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president’s state of the nation address.

With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered.”

“They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.”

Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.

No moral confusion here, this is moral clarity, agree or disagree.

President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire “the focus of evil in the modern world.” President Putin is implying that Barack Obama’s America may deserve the title in the 21st century.

Yes, because America is, finally, evolving beyond a blinkered social parochialism, it is now the “focus of evil in the modern world”. I wonder what Mr. Buchanan’s former boss Pres. Reagan would have to say about that?

Then on the left, we have the likes of Stephen Cohen, professional leftist apologist for the Putin regime. New York Magazine has a rather quick and dirty precis on Prof. Cohen:

The most prominent intellectual apologist for Putin is Stephen F. Cohen, Princeton professor, Russologist for the left-wing Nation. Cohen is a septuagenarian, old-school leftist who has carried on the mental habits of decades of anti-anti-communism seamlessly into a new career of anti-anti-Putinism. The Cohen method is to pick away at every indictment of the Russian regime without directly associating himself with its various atrocities. Is Putin persecuting gays? Well, Cohen wants us to know that various Ukrainians nationalists dislike gays, too. And also Barack Obama’s claim to snub Sochi because of gay rights is probably not on the level. Is Putin bullying and killing journalists? Eh,says Cohen, “Every time a journalist breaks a leg, they say the Kremlin did it.” Accidents happen.

This Vladimir Putin must be some sort of man to unite people as supposedly disparate as Pat Buchanan and Stephen Cohen.

But, with a bit of thought, it’s not that amazing that elements of right and left should view Putin as some sort of savior. What unites them is a vitriolic hatred of Barack Obama and the depths to which they view the country as having sunk. Thus on the right Putin is lavished with praise for his virility and family values. On the left, he’s seen as a thorn in the side of US imperialism, and that black president who dares to work for US national interests, instead of abjectly apologizing for past US sins and ceding influence in the international sphere.

What both sides prattle about is that Pres. Putin is smarter than Pres. Obama, running rings around him diplomatically.

Yes, about that.

Continue reading ‘A few thoughts on Putin’s “strategic genius”’

21
Jul
14

Night owl chat – A little poetry

Hat tip to our own Yardarm for this one: Vanessa Marco – Patriarchy

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Carrie Rudzinski – In America

Continue reading ‘Night owl chat – A little poetry’

20
Jul
14

Night owl chat – Music soothes the soul

Brahms, 3rd Symphony, movement no. 3

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Continue reading ‘Night owl chat – Music soothes the soul’

20
Jul
14

A Few Thoughts on Empathy

 

Three images from the past few days have stuck in my mind.

The first was a group of anti-immigrant protesters screaming at a bus thought to be filled with Central American child refugees. It was instead filled with kids from the YMCA.

The second, even more disturbing, was of Israelis gathered on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip, cheering as the Israeli Defense Force pummeled Gazans from land, sea, and air, Gazans unable to defend themselves, the rockets which Hamas launch towards Israel of no scope to combat a modern military.

The third was of drunken Russian separatists not permitting international investigators from working on the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines jet shot down by, well, Russian separatists (with, I’m sure, an able assist from Russian military), leaving the strewn bodies to fester in the summer sun.

I’ve been struggling to put the events of the past week into some overarching structure. Yes, we can castigate Israelis, Russians, and Americans at the border. But taken in isolation they don’t present a clear picture. Taken in totality, one working with the other, they present a narrative.

Humans are on a precipice. We face challenges not faced by any previous generation. Despite the end of the Cold War, we are on a road to ruin. Not, perhaps, by nuclear Armageddon, but by an Armageddon of a thousand cuts: a war here, an atrocity there, and the ever looming shadow of global climate change. We’re quite aware of the warnings, quite cognizant of the dangers ahead, but can’t seem to refrain from acting in the old, tired ways.

Continue reading ‘A Few Thoughts on Empathy’

13
Jul
14

Chat on – World Cup

Congratulations Germany! Well fought, Argentina!

See everyone to do it all over again in four years!

Chat away!




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