October 3rd, 2015

Ancient jewelry

I’m not all that fond of precious jewels. That’s very fortunate, because I don’t own many.

Richard Burton would have gotten off easy with me. When I got married, I wore a plain gold wedding ring, one that had been in my family since the 1800s, and never missed or thought of a diamond engagement ring. It just wasn’t my thing.

I have plenty of non-precious pieces of jewelry, though, and I’m particularly keen on this guy’s work (if you’re interested in a gift for somebody—they look better in real life than in the photos, for some reason). On reading the maker’s bio, it occurs to me that the following may be the underlying reason I’m so fond of his jewelry:

I was inspired as a young boy by visiting the great art museums in New York City, and spent many hours in the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art looking at the gold jewelry.

Aha! Ancient jewelry was his inspiration. Now that, I’ve always liked. And the thing that has long fascinated and amazed me about very ancient jewelry is that the design of most of it could be easily worn today; it never dates. And what’s more, jewelry that is thousands of years old and displayed in museum collections looks, for the most part, practically new.

For example, please take a look at the stunning examples here and reflect on how very old most of them are.

Care to guess the age of this one?


Hint: it’s from Ur.

Which makes it about 4500 years old, give or take a few.

Here’s one that’s practically modern:


And to the inhabitants of Ur, it would be futuristic. But to us, it’s a bit old: it’s made of emeralds, garnets, and gold, and is a Helenistic piece from about 200 BC.

And of course, the whole thing also reminds me of poetry, in this case Yeats:

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Although neither Grecian nor Byzantine (the latter being the site of where Constantinople and now Istanbul lies), and made in the late 1700s in India, this is something akin to the way I always pictured the artifact in the last verse of the poem:


Or this, also from India and the same period, which includes enamel and gold (as in the poem):


Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

October 3rd, 2015

Electoral votes and illegal immigrants

This Politico article makes a very interesting point that I hadn’t heard talked about before, although you can bet your bottom dollar that the left has long been aware of it:

the census counts illegal immigrants and other noncitizens equally with citizens. Since the census is used to determine the number of House seats apportioned to each state, those states with large populations of illegal immigrants and other noncitizens gain extra seats in the House at the expense of states with fewer such “whole number of persons.”

This math gives strongly Democratic states an unfair edge in the Electoral College. Using citizen-only population statistics, American University scholar Leonard Steinhorn projects California would lose five House seats and therefore five electoral votes. New York and Washington would lose one seat, and thus one electoral vote apiece. These three states, which have voted overwhelming for Democrats over the latest six presidential elections, would lose seven electoral votes altogether. The GOP’s path to victory, by contrast, depends on states that would lose a mere three electoral votes in total. Republican stronghold Texas would lose two House seats and therefore two electoral votes. Florida, which Republicans must win to reclaim the presidency, loses one seat and thus one electoral vote.

But that leaves the electoral math only half done. The 10 House seats taken away from these states would then need to be reallocated to states with relatively small numbers of noncitizens. The following ten states, the bulk of which lean Republican, would likely gain one House seat and thus one additional electoral vote: Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

In other campaign news, did you notice what Obama said about his dear friend and ex-SOS Hillary Clinton the other day? No love lost there.

October 3rd, 2015

Carson the knife

Ben Carson is a candidate who has surprised a lot of people.

He’s surprised a lot of liberals and leftists who buy (and/or spread) the meme that Republicans and conservatives are racist, because his popularity has been growing and he’s now one of the frontrunners for the Republican nomination. But to those who don’t see things primarily in racial terms, or who don’t buy the “Republicans are racists” myth, he nevertheless remains surprising because in a tough, crowded, and often-bombastic field of candidates, such a quiet, soft-spoken man has risen to become one of the leaders.

But his gentle voice belies the fact that he is hard-hitting and actually quite blunt. Witness his discussion of Islam and the presidency and the phenomenon of taqiyya, and his refusal to back down in the face of criticism of what he has said.

His voice may be soothing, and he is a healer by profession. But remember that he is a healer who cuts in the process of healing. He also is a healer who took radical steps in some of his operations—very controversial and radical steps, such as his revival of the hemispherectomy as a surgical procedure.

If you know much about Carson’s life, you know this:

In his book Gifted Hands, Carson relates that in his youth, he had a violent temper. Once, while in the ninth grade, he nearly stabbed a friend during a fight over a radio station. After this incident, he began reading the Book of Proverbs, applying verses on anger and thereafter “never had another problem with temper”.

Actually, although I don’t have time to find a better link right now, the story I heard him relate is that he DID stab at the guy, and would have injured him badly because he tried to stab him in the gut, but that the boy’s belt buckle stopped the knife from penetrating.

Now, that’s a man who wasn’t always projecting “nice.” That’s a man who is intense, but has matured and conquered his character flaws through sheer force of iron will as well as religion. His intensity shows, too, if you take the trouble to notice it.

Note, also, the continuity of the theme of the knife. The would-be killer’s blade became the surgeon’s healing scalpel, at least in the symbolic sense.

An amazing story, a very unusual person, and one who should not be underestimated.

[NOTE I: Carson is showing a facility with social media as well as a fearless tendency to stand up for his religious beliefs.]

[NOTE II: The reference in the title of this post is to this song, which is about a character very different from Dr. Carson.]

October 3rd, 2015

Stuff happens

Like, for instance, Wasserman Schultz and Obama take the lead, and the Democrats follow in distorting the words and message of a Republican candidate. The idea is to distract from their own failings, and to undermine the opposition

So, what else is new?

The fact that this particular distortion is about Jeb Bush, who is already falling way down in the polls, is irrelevant. It still works to create a meme about thoughtless, uncaring, mean old Republicans, and it still matters.

October 2nd, 2015

Richard Fernandez and the puzzle of Barack Obama

Richard Fernandez notes that some of his most ominous predictions appear to be coming true lately. But rather than gloating, he’s not very happy at all:

The validation of so many sad insights is of little consolation unless one is like those movie paleontologists so happy to be vindicated in their prediction that dinosaurs still exist that they do not care that they are about to be eaten by one. One can only hope the readers of this site are not similarly consoled. A history of good guesses does nothing to answer the problem which desperately needs solving: alright we’re in a crisis, but what do we do now? How do we dig ourselves out of the hole?

I’m neither the prognosticator nor the writer that Richard Fernandez is, but I’m enough of both to feel the very same sentiment when my dire predictions appear to have been on target.

In another post, Fernandez riffs off a Bret Stephens article that discusses Obama’s foreign policy failures as essentially of the “fool” (“Obama is unteachable”) variety in our old “fool vs. knave” debate.

But I’m with commenter Subotai Bahadur, who writes:

Obama is not ideologically deceived. He is not doubling down on failure. He is doing what he is doing deliberately, and he is winning.

If it was incompetence, if there was an element of chance, if any statistical probability was operating; at least once in his two terms Obama would have done something that was not harmful to the country in either the foreign or domestic fields.

This is calculation. This is careful calculation and concerted action.

Once is chance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

…And the Gods of the Copybook Headings are preparing a page to be written in Crimson.

Actually, I think one of the fascinating things about Obama (and I don’t mean “fascinating” in a positive way) is that he is subject to so many interpretations. I’ve been studying him since 2007, have read probably millions of words about him and have written possibly hundreds of thousands on the topic, if not more. And yet, and yet, something about him continues to elude—not just me, but many extremely intelligent people such as Fernandez, whose intelligence I respect just about as deeply as I respect anyone’s.

I think it may stem from the unusual fact that Obama is a consummate actor, a man so practiced and so ideological that everything he says and does is purposeful and is a piece of propaganda. There are no spontaneous moves, no impulsive actions, although sometimes he tries to make us believe that he’s doing something impulsively. Nothing is apolitical, either, except perhaps his golf game.

This is what my gut tells me, anyway. And he is remarkably consistent, one of the most consistent people I’ve ever observed, although if his underlying purpose isn’t discerned he can seem meandering and even foolish and inconsistent.

I believe that Obama’s purpose—the overarching impetus for all he has done as president (and indeed, for much of his life before that) is something I wrote about back in 2009:

Obama considers himself a man of destiny. He seems to have believed that his election itself would have a transformative effect on America, separate from any particular programs or policies he would put into place once inaugurated. He promised change, yes; but the very first change would be the fact that he–Barack Obama, an African-American man–had been elected president. If slavery was (and in some sense still is) America’s original sin, and if the Civil War wasn’t enough to undo that fundamental flaw, then Obama’s election would be a sign that America had finally taken a decisive step to purge itself of that sin.

A step, yes; but only the first in a lengthy process. The second step would be confession. And there were many other sins as well for which America must begin to atone. That is why Obama proceeded to go on a worldwide tour early in his presidency, apologizing to nation after nation for America’s manifold sins of hubris and exceptionalism, militarism and imperialism, greed and excess. These were the many ways in which Obama and his fellow leftists have reframed American exceptionalism as American tyranny.

If Obama has anything to say about it, there will be further steps in America’s journey of penance and redemption through the mechanism of his presidency. The redistribution of income is only fair and moral, since taxing the rich will punish them for their greed; and cap and trade will be the penalty for having used more than our fair share of resources. Foreign policy is a major mechanism by which this country will be made level with other countries–just one nation among the rest, stripped of much of its power and its weaponry.

Obama is here to punish America for its sins, and he’s been very successful at that. That the left and many liberals continue to love him, continue to support him, is a puzzlement to many people. But why wouldn’t those who have been successfully taught that America is a great evil in the world—birthed in evil, steeped in evil, and empowered by evil; especially racial evil but also countless other evils big and small—applaud his efforts?

In my recent post exploring the life and work of the remarkable Brit F. L. Lucas, I came across a quotation that’s particularly apt:

“One may question whether real civilisation is so safely afloat,” he wrote in his last published letter (1966), “that we can afford to use our pens for boring holes in the bottom of it.”

Obama could never have been elected, or in particular re-elected, if generations of intellectuals and not-so-intellectuals had not spent so much time and effort boring holes in the bottom of Western Civilization. Obama is merely reaping the fruits of their lengthy and patient labor.

October 2nd, 2015

Netanyahu’s speech yesterday at the UN

From Netanyahu:

But most dramatically, he rebuked the membership of the very institution where he was speaking — the United Nations — for tolerating Iran’s relentless threats to destroy the Jewish state and “rushing to embrace” the regime. “Seventy years after the murder of six million Jews, Iran’s rulers promise to destroy my country, murder my people. And the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here,” he charged furiously, “has been absolutely nothing. Utter silence. Deafening silence.”

And then Netanyahu paused, staring defiantly, reproachfully out into the hall, head nodding slightly. For 44 very long seconds. In silent rebuke. And in apparent mourning for international morality.

If you read the comments to this video at YouTube, you’ll understand how the Nazis were popular with quite a few people, and still are.

October 2nd, 2015

Jobs report

Not good.

But then again, why should it be?

October 2nd, 2015

More on the Oregon shootings

There are many reports that the gunman singled out Christians for killing. We don’t know why, although it’s easy to think of several possible reasons: to get attention, because he hated Christians, because he was an anti-Christian Muslim, because he was an anti-Christian atheist, because he was an anti-Christian leftist, because he really did think Christians were going to go to heaven, because he thought Christians were from Mars and were trying to plant electrodes in his brain.

What you won’t hear from the left, which is intent on using this and all other such incidents to shill for more gun control, and then more and more and more gun control: this was a gun-free zone, a fact which only stopped law-abiding citizens from defending themselves; fewer people were killed by guns in this mass murder than are murdered in a typical month in the city of Chicago; and so far we know absolutely nothing about whether this gun (or guns) was obtained legally or illegally, or much of anything else about it.

UPDATE: All of the shooter’s firearms were purchased legally.

October 1st, 2015

Oregon shooting [UPDATED]

News recently broke of a fatal mass shooting at Umpqua community College in Roseburg, Oregon. There are preliminary reports of 10 killed and 20 injured, but as we know, that can change.

I have a very busy day today and might not be able to post till some time this evening, so this is an open thread where you can discuss it.

UPDATE: As is usually the case with news stories like these, the best coverage seems to be coming from the British press. That’s “best” as in “offering most information.” One is never completely sure whether, in all the rush, the information is correct. But I’ve noticed in the past that the British press gets it right more often than not, and at least as often as the US press, and much more quickly, too.

This article in the Daily Mail is typical. So far, it appears—despite all sorts of theories being offered about the politics or causes espoused by the shooter—that his belief system was chaos and nihilism, and his cause was to become famous as he left (with a bang rather than a whimper) a world he didn’t much care for. For those reasons, I’m not discussing too much more about him, unless I get some information worth mentioning.

His horrific crime will be turned into a cause by political factions looking to prove their points. First and foremost is our very own strawman-bashing, fact-twisting, crisis-exploiting president.

October 1st, 2015

Out with the old, in with the new

People are starting to be evicted from their rental homes/apartments in order to make way for the influx of “refugees” from the Middle East to Europe:

A woman in Germany is being evicted from her home of 23 years to make way for asylum-seekers, in the second such case to emerge.

Gabrielle Keller has been given until the end of the year to leave her flat in the small southern town of Eschbach, near the border with France.

The flat belongs to the local municipality, which says it is needed to house refugees.

Ms. Keller is 56 years old, and she pays rent; she is not a ward of the government.

The mayor commented thusly:

Mario Schlafke, the mayor of Eschbach, says the town had no choice but to ask Ms Keller to leave.

“The council hasn’t taken a frivolous decision,” he told Welt newspaper. “The alternative would have been to set up beds in the gym.”

No; we couldn’t have that, could we?

The city says it has offered to help her find other accommodations, but Keller has denied this and retained a lawyer.

October 1st, 2015

Hey, it could happen to anyone

Just a little computer glitch. Not to worry:

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Crime Stoppers reportedly are offering cash rewards for any information that helps capture a convicted killer who was accidentally released from prison last week.

Benjueil Johnson, 32, was serving a 40-year sentence at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, La., after pleading guilty to manslaughter and illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon…

…Johnson was released on good behavior from Dixon for prior charges September 23. He was then transferred to East Feliciana Parish jail to be booked on a misdemeanor count of battery of a correctional officer. After he was processed, Johnson posted a $10,000 bond and was free to go because the manslaughter conviction didn’t appear in his state Department of Correction file.

An interesting tidbit connected with the story: Johnson has a tattoo on his left arm that says “Timed Up.”

October 1st, 2015

Putin vs. Obama: no contest

Go to Drudge today and you’ll see plenty of links that cover Putin’s actions in Syria. Or go to Memeorandum, paying particular attention to this article:

…Putin sees a necessity in humiliating the United States. That’s business. And yet, despite Putin’s obviousness, the White House team and its acolytes publicly scratch their heads and other body parts, saying, “We’re not certain what the Russians intend.”

So let’s help them. Here are Putin’s clear strategic goals:

In the short term, rescue the failing regime of Russia’s ally, Syria’s blood-drenched President Bashar al-Assad. And in doing so, eliminate all opposition groups except ISIS, leaving the United States, Europe and the world with the stark choice of “Assad or Islamic State?”

In the mid-term, create a fait accompli, irreversible circumstances, on the ground in the Middle East (and in Ukraine) that will defeat the next US president even before he takes office.

We come back to the old “fool vs. knave” debate, in the sense of asking this question: is Obama really humiliated? Or, rather does he acquiesce in his own humiliation and consider it a small price to pay to achieve the goal of humiliating—and disempowering—the United States?

I think the latter, although the particular public form it is taking right now confers a bit more personal humiliation than he bargained for. As for his lackeys—such as Kerry—I’m not even sure they’re aware that they’re being humiliated.

But there’s this:

The attacks came despite President Barack Obama sitting down with Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday at the United Nations for 90 minutes of what both camps called “business-like” talks.

One week ago, Kerry — despite being in frequent contact with Lavrov — told reporters that Russia’s deployment of war planes was consistent with their only defending their own base.

And just hours before the strikes began he appeared on CNN to say that Russia’s involvement could be an “opportunity” to persuade them to apply pressure on Assad to moderate his behavior.

[NOTE: All those conservatives who refused to vote for Romney in 2012—happy now?]

[ADDENDUM: More here on Putin and Obama in Syria.]

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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