Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

July 29, 2015

Minnesota windmills

Filed under: Personal,Ruminations,Travel — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:57 am


I’ve been on the road for two weeks, starting from Oklahoma to Colorado, to Wyoming, to North Dakota, Minnesota and back to Oklahoma. I visited with friends each stop of the way, took some training and gave some training in martial arts. All in all a very productive trip.

I’ve always liked road trips and I like camping as well. Campgrounds are a cheap alternative to motels, and if setting up and breaking camp is a hassle KOA has cabins for about half the price of a decent motel. You have to bring your own bedding though. Big deal, it’s like a room with a bathroom down the hall except it’s across the lawn.

It’s like my old dad used to say, “The definition of a good traveling companion is one who doesn’t mind a bathroom down the hall.”

KOA cabins even have wifi, TV and air conditioning. However I found a campground outside Casper, Wyoming with cabins that had neither, but were only $25.

After a lifetime of moving around restlessly, I think I am beginning to master the art of travel.

When I was younger I was intoxicated by the idea of covering ground in a short time. Now I like to turn off the road and investigate whatever catches my fancy. The picture above was taken in Jasper, Minnesota a town of 633 residents located at the intersection of Minnesota State Highways 23 and 269.

There is evidently a windmill business in Jasper. These are the little decorative ones. What I missed about a mile and a half north of town was a 10-acre yard where Terry Rodman has a collection of larger working windmills.

Next time!

May 20, 2011

Ruminations, May 20

Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:11 am

* OK, IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn has really stepped in it this time.

I know, I know, innocent until proven guilty. But the mere arrest and charge has been enough to unearth a lot of not-too-deeply buried stuff about the same kind of behavior he’s been getting away with for some time now.

And why has he been getting away with it? Well for one, he’s French. For another, he’s socialist royalty.

Everyone else has said just about everything you can say on the subject. The French are really blase about this kind of behavior, socialists are really aristocratic snobs with a populist veneer, etc. All true, to be a socialist in this day and age requires an ability to believe things of breath-taking absurdity with passionate conviction.

It also requires rock-hard solidarity with fellow socialists when it comes to throwing the proletarians under the bus. But we always knew that. In DSK’s case, it appears that one victim’s own mother, a socialist politician, persuaded her not to make le scandale. Not from fear she’d be savaged by the French media, but pour la cause.

That young lady evidently was merely groped and had her clothes torn. I wonder what Maman would have said if she’d been actually raped, but then again maybe I don’t want to know. If her daughter had been forced to give DSK oral sex, as he allegedly forced the African maid, would she have used the Clinton defense “It’s not really sex”?

About the French… it’s difficult to say what les peuple think, as opposed to the aristos who own and run the media. There was that bit of a shocker when Roman Polanski was facing extradition a while back, when some policiticians had to back away a bit when they found that lo and behold, a majority of French actually supported sending him back to face trial among those barbarous Americains.

It does seem very evident that the aristos of La Belle France are shocked, shocked, to find the Americans actually believe that merde about “one law for the rich and poor alike,” however poorly we live up to it. (Chappaquidick ring a bell? Michael Kennedy and the 14-year-old babysitter?)

* The “adult baby,” 30-year-old Stanley Thornton Jr. has been living on disability. He’s 350 pounds and likes to wear diapers and be coddled by his long-term companion, who is evidently also living off public assistance.

This has to be seen to be believed. I was going to post a picture or a link, but I find I can’t bear to look at it again, so I’ll spare you. That’s one of those pictures I wish I could get out of my head.

I remember I heard about something called “baby play” when I was covering a Gay Pride march in Oklahoma City for a journalistm class. Also something called “bear play” which sounds weird, but not repulsive.

Do I have to say again that I don’t care what consenting adults do in private? I do reserve the right to my own opinion though, and speaking as a man who’s changed a lot of diapers in my time… no, I don’t want to go there.

What made this a public issue versus private kinkiness, is the fellow’s defiant, whining, insistence on his right to live on the dole. He threatens suicide if the public teat is removed.

“I have no problem killing myself. Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag,” he said.

So here’s my question. What’s wrong with saying, “OK, everyone has the right to elect the time and manner of his own destruction. See you in the body bag”?

I mean that literally, what’s wrong with saying that?

* And on a related note, Leroy Fick, 59, won $2 million in the Michigan state lottery and still collects food stamps.

“If you’re going to try to make me feel bad, you’re not going to do it,” he said.

Of course we aren’t going to make him feel bad by pointing at him with scorn. He likes the attention. This is the same kind of in-your-eye to society I used to see in Warsaw where homeless people would defacate in the elevators installed in the underground walkways under busy intersections for the convenience of the handicapped and mother’s with baby carriages.

My question in this case is, would somebody like to make him feel bad with their fists please?

March 1, 2011

Ruminations: Middle East unrest and Lara Logan

Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:38 am

Thomas Sowell has an as-usual excellent perspective on recent events in the Middle East here.

I commented thusly:

We have in this country I think, a misinterpretation of our own history that leads us to assume the creation of free government is merely a matter of getting rid of despotic government.

Though the Founders created the Constitutional structure in a year, it was built upon local institutions of self-government that had been in place for nearly two centuries, and a tradition of common law that had been evolving for over a thousand years.

As much as I’d like to hope the peoples of the Middle East can “secure the blessings of liberty to (them)selves and (their) posterity” I don’t see the underlying structure in place.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but it’s not going to be easy or quick.

* I should note when I was in Belarus last month, my libertarian friends were watching events in Tunisia with interest. They were watching for the specific economic factors they thought might trigger similar unrest in their country, perhaps next year.

And interestingly, it appears Qadaffi’s personal plane may have dropped off a family member, perhaps his daughter, seeking refuge in Belarus. Lukashenko has great relations with Libya and may very well offer Qadaffi refuge when things go south for him.

Enjoy it while you can Muamar, the girls in Belarus are spectacular but it ain’t gonna be a safe haven long for you.

* CBS corespondent Lara Logan had a bad time in Cairo. Lefty Nir Rosen was a swine in public about it (so what else is new?) and quite properly lost a cushy high-pay-low-work job over it. Further right, blogger Debbie Schlussel got unhinged about it, but oddly seemed to contradict Rosen. Nir called Logan a “warmonger,” and Schlussel seemed to think she was a Muslim sympathizer.

Ilana Mercer stated the obvious – which at times like this can be an act of courage. Covering the news in Islamic countries is freaking dangerous if you’re an attractive, blonde woman who dresses like a female American news anchor.

For the record, I don’t know Lara Logan’s work, I only heard of her for the first time when this hit the news.

Further for the record, I don’t know precisely what happened to Logan during her “sexual assault” – which is all the media will call it. However I doubt she was gang-raped, as some who don’t know either have said. I suspect strongly what happened was she got groped and had her clothes torn to shreds, with some bruises to show for it.

Why do I think so?

She was out of the hospital too soon for really bad stuff to have happened. And I am not making light of the traumatic nature of what she went through – but she’s covered wars and has to have seen some really gross things.

So let me tell you what I saw once in the Kingdom when I was teaching at an Industrial Training Center on the Arabian Gulf.

One day during the break between classes when all the students were in the hallways, I heard that sound which once heard can never be forgotten. The mass howl of a mob which has become a single organism with a single voice.

It’s the sound I imagine was the last thing heard by the victims of lynch mobs.

When students started to trickle back in I asked, “What the hell happened? Was there a fight?”

One answered, “It was a woman. An American woman.”

It turned out a party of American oil company executives were touring the ITC, and the one woman in the party got separated from the others and was walking alone through the corridors when the classes got out for break.

I was told later they were screaming things like, “Can I fuck you?”

She wasn’t touched to my knowledge, but it must have been terrifying.

Now consider, this didn’t happen during a demonstration when everybody was already worked up. It was just a normal day at the training center.

Granted, sexual segregation is far more extreme in Saudi Arabia than much of the Islamic world. I believe some of my students had never spoken to a woman who was not their mother or sister. But this is part of the reality on the ground in the Middle East, and anyone who thinks these countries are democracies waiting to happen would do well to keep this in mind.

January 31, 2011

New Years Ruminations, 2011

Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:24 am

* I see Egypt has blown up, after the fuse was lit in Tunisia. Everybody is wondering where the pieces will fall, except of course for those who think it’ll all settle down after a few soporific homilies from The Leader of the Multicultural World.

Some hope after the dust settles we’ll see some brand-new democracies in the Middle East. Pardon me if I don’t hold my breath.

Critics of the Iraq war used to warn about “destabilizing the Middle East.” Whatever you think of invading and/or nation building in Iraq, there is a logical flaw in this – it presupposes the Middle East is stable. It is not, it’s merely static for periods of time.

I would be very surprised if anyone who has lived and worked in any Arab country ever described the region as “stable.”

Before recent events if I’d had to name a country I thought revolution was least likely to start, I’d have said Tunisia, or Jordan.

Question: chaos in the Middle East is bad for us… how?

It could force us to override a lot of burdensome regulations and develop oil fields in the U.S. (North Dakota among others) estimated to be several times larger than Saudi Arabia’s.

Oh my, mustn’t let that happen! That would be bad for the environment. (Third world countries by definition have no environment.) Let’s start another war instead.

* Jim Goad pointed out in Taki’s Magazine that Elton John is “sick of being treated like a second-class citizen” in America. He can’t marry his gay lover here you see.

Ummm, Sir Elton you’re not an American citizen at all.

And as the estimable redneck Goad points out – all those Americans who made you richer than Croesus guessed you were gay a long time ago.

* This is leading somewhere I promise. A few months back I published an article in The Dakota Beacon addressing the question of whether the TEA Party is anti-elite education. (I’ll post it here by-and-by.)

An excerpt:

Jacob Weisberg writing in Slate, searched for what “right-wing populists” mean by “elite.” He cites an interview Brian Williams conducted with John McCain and Sarah Palin during the last election. Williams asked, “Who is a member of the elite.”

Palin responded first. “I guess just people who think that they’re better than everyone else,” she said.

“McCain then elaborated. “I know where a lot of them live—in our nation’s capital and New York City—the ones [Palin] never went to a cocktail party with in Georgetown—who think that they can dictate what they believe to America rather than let Americans decide for themselves.”

“Thus did the son and grandson of admirals, a millionaire who couldn’t remember how many houses he owned, accuse his mixed-race opponent, raised by a single-mother and only a few years past paying off his student loans, of being the real elite candidate in the campaign.”

(End excerpt.)

I pointed out a couple of things: Obama’s mother was single for much of her adult life – but more by choice than necessity. And, she had a PhD and wealthy parents who she gave the kid to to raise for much of his childhood. They in turn sent him to the toniest prep school in Hawaii.

And the Obamas may have just recently paid off their student loans, but not before they bought a million-dollar house.

Now every politician over the past two generations tries to poor mouth, if he can get away with it. American dream, log cabin, humble origins and all that.

Democrats play it up more than Republicans, like Joe Biden talking up his “working class roots.” But I do remember Everett Dirkson nominating Barry Goldwater all those years ago. Dirkson managed to get in a line about “grandson of that Jewish peddler” several times in his nomination speech.

I actually watched Obama’s speech to school children last year, and I was in a grade school class because of all the fol-de-rol about propagandizing kids, etc.

It was actually innocuous enough, with praiseworthy admonitions to the kids to work hard and study. It kind of made conservatives look a little silly for raising a fuss.

But there was something I noticed that nobody seems to have picked up on. When Obama was telling how his mother used to get up early to help him with his homework, and when he complained she said, “Hey, this is no picnic for me either.”

Then he talked about the First Lady and said, “And Michelle, well she didn’t have much either.”

(Acutally Michelle’s roots really are working class – but her father worked in Chicago public works. This is not a poverty trade and pays quite nicely thank you. He was also an influential ward heeler in the Democratic Party.)

But “didn’t have much either”? Exactly how much is “not much” Mr. President?

Back to Jacob Weisberg. His Wikipedia entry:

He is the son of Lois Weisberg, a Chicago social activist and connector celebrated in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. Weisberg’s father, Bernard Weisberg, was a prominent Chicago lawyer and, later, judge. His parents were introduced at a cocktail party by novelist Ralph Ellison.

(By the way, that Gladwell article on Lois Weisberg is, like everything Gladwell writes, fascinating.)

Now tying together Obama, Weisberg, and Sir Elton.

As I said, if your fan/voter base is left-liberal you probably poor mouth more than a conservative like cow-college grad Sarah Palin or John Boehner. (A genuine up-from-humble-beginnings guy, who so far hasn’t campaigned on it. Please don’t Mr. Speaker.)

It could be a cynical ploy for votes and support. But what if it isn’t?

What if Obama, Weisberg, Sir John really think poverty and oppression means… I don’t know, living in a duplex in a working-class neighborhood, not being able to marry your gay lover (whatever you think of the issue,) or whatever deprivation Obama suffered in that prep school. (Did he not get the basketball shoes the popular kids were wearing that year?)

We’re governed by people who think like this? Our arbiters of culture think like this?


For ten years in Poland I washed my clothes by hand – an experience almost no American of my generation has. (You put the clothes in the bathtub with detergent and the hottest water you can stand, then you pretend like you’re stomping grapes. Rinsing is a bitch though.)

I didn’t feel poor, I felt inconvenienced when I thought about it at all.

I’ve just returned from Minsk, Belarus (see below,) a delightful city with a thriving nightlife. Except there is still a KGB who can question you, imprison you, of flat murder you any time they feel like it.

I didn’t personally feel oppressed, because I’ve got that American passport. The worst that was likely to happen to me was deportation.

Oh, and they don’t have same-sex marriage either.

UPDATE: Excuse me, forgot a point I wanted to make about Obama supporters such as Weisberg et al.

They’re racists.

But they’re SUPPORTERS of the first black (or “mixed race”) president, I hear you say.

Did you catch the hidden assumption in Weisberg’s formulation? It doesn’t matter that Obama is in fact, a preppie from a privileged background. If he’s black he’s poor and disadvantaged.

Talk about stereotyping!

December 31, 2010

Royal Ruminations

Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:10 am

Well Prince William of the United Kingdom is getting married. And from what’s available in the news, Princess-and-Queen-to-be Kate is a looker, and better still seems to be stable and sane.

A telling indicator of this is, she hasn’t made a public fuss about her image on a commemorative medallion which is, to say the least, grossly unflattering. Diana would have thrown a hissy fit.

One interesting thing came out recently, Kate is what they call, “of Jewish descent.” That is to say, she’s Jewish on her mother’s side (“The half that makes me all Jewish” as one lady I knew once put it) but wasn’t raised in the faith.

That can’t be anything but good for future generations of Windsors. Class they’ve got. A sense of duty they’ve got. But brains have never been their strong suit.

Back when I was studying physical anthropology I once said in class we should all be grateful to Prince Charles for his contribution to the nature versus nurture debate about intelligence, and the effect of increased spending on education.

Consider, HRH Charles Windsor has without doubt been given the most expensive education of any human being in history. He’s had the highest-level personal tutors in any given subject. (A friend of my father’s who had one of the more extensive private microscope collections in the UK taught him how to use them.) He’s had capital ships of the Royal Navy and multi-engine military aircraft as educational toys. He’s had extensive foreign travel.

And all of it has made him no more than a reasonably well-educated intellectual lightweight. If intelligence was totally the result of nurture, he should be the greatest genius alive. (This observation was not appreciated in the social sciences set.)

But perhaps I do His Highness wrong. Since earliest childhood he’s been under the kind of scrutiny that notes and records for posterity every embarrassing deed and utterance.

I remember when the press quoted him as saying (rather smugly I thought,) “Oh I don’t know where they get the idea I’m so successful with women.”

What I thought was, “You jug-eared, weak-chinned… if you weren’t HRH The Prince of Wales and rich as Croesus do you think all these babes you squire around would give you a second look?”

Then there was his pronouncement, “American English is awful. They turn nouns into verbs and coin all sorts of words which should not be.”

My reaction was, “Oh, you mean like Shakespeare did all the time?”

But it can’t have been easy growing up under the kind of scrutiny that notes and records for posterity every potentially embarrassing deed and utterance.

My impression is the UK press has not been kind or even fair to HRH. Years back he came under quite a lot of criticism for being stuffy, aloof, and reserved. As compared to the warm and approachable Diana.

Then Charles gave an interview in which he let his hair down and talked about the burdens of duty. They savaged him. Particularly cruel was a cartoon of him bawling his eyes out, labeled, “The Prince of Wails.”

It speaks well of Charles that as it became evident that Diana brought a cuckoos egg into the royal nest, he has never acted as if Prince Harry were anything but his natural son.

Years before the story broke on this side of the pond we were told by our son’s English godmother Prince Harry was most likely Guards Captain James Hewitt’s son.

I thought it was an interesting rumor, till I saw news photos of Harry and Hewitt in profile compared side-by-side which erased all doubt. Harry is Hewitt’s son.

“Leave it to Diana to find the one cad in the guards,” was how Judith Hatton put it.

The royal family could very easily have sent Harry into harms way in Iraq or Afghanistan and created a royal hero/martyr. Instead they have chosen dignity and duty, and ignored the circumstances of his birth.

Still, they must be relieved that William is finally getting married and will presumably soon after provide The Firm with a legitimate royal heir.

And it seems that the pair is being allowed unprecedented latitude to make their own decisions as to how the wedding is going to go. This augers well for their future life in the royal spotlight.

I note, for example, that the Obamas are not on the guest list. Now this could be a message from the UK – payback for the gift snubs. Or it could be that the royal-acting presidential pair are not being invited because it’s plain they do not know how to behave in polite society.

Either way, good for the Brits. And it’s ironic that if the press lightens up on the couple more than they did William’s father, it may be the legacy of the good press Diana created.

June 13, 2010

Ruminations June, 2010

Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:58 am

* Redline on the weird-shit-o-meter.

For those of us who expected this administration to be very bad, the actual experience of living in the Age of Obama is… seriously weird.

Forget partisan politics. Even if you’re a freakin’ Democrat if you don’t have the feeling you’ve just unlocked Rod Serling’s door of the imagination and walked into the Twilight Zone, you must be off your lithium.

We the People elected a president who was supposed to be super-intelligent; never mind the “57 states” the “Austrian language,” and the academic transcripts that are evidently protected better than a lot of state secrets. (Hyperboly? How many state secrets have been leaked in the past few years? Wouldn’t you think a transcript would be easier to get ahold of?)

Now he’s cruising through his term with such an air of such eerie detachment it’s like, like… well, like nothing else in recent history comes to mind. It’s just weird.

And Democrats are getting alarmed, you can tell. When James Carville turns his shrill invective on a fellow-Democrat you know things are getting tense in the ranks.

* And by the way, why is the president so hinky about his academic record?

There is no shame in a “gentleman’s C,” academics isn’t for everybody – and it doesn’t neccessarily have anything to do with intelligence or leadership qualities. Winston Churchill had an abysmal academic record.

John Kerry promised to release his military record after the Swift Boat veterans made their charges. We’re still waiting, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Hillary Clinton evidently has a class paper kept under lock and key, lest the public discover how far left her opinions tend, or once tended. But then, that hasn’t exactly been a secret either.

But grades? Come on, there can’t be anything more than a little embarrassment involved here.

* The TV guide channel on our cable provider was showing ‘Paris Hilton’s BFF’ when I switched on the other day. I’d previously seen ‘Paris Hilton’s British BFF’ in passing.

I miss the interactive guide you could actually page through the whole day’s choices like we had in Oklahoma. This one just scrolls through the channels in a two-hour window while they show a program above the display at the bottom.

For those of you fortunate enough not to have seen it, the show is an elimination-round contest between a number of young ladies contending to become Ms Hilton’s party-pal.

So now that I’ve seen more minutes of it than I’d have tolerated if I didn’t have to, I can honestly say one thing. If I were single and courting again, I’d rather hear from the object of my affections that she’d been a hooker than a contender for Paris Hilton’s BFF.

* We took the kids to see the new Karate Kid movie last night. You do the same, it’s a worthy remake of a great flick.

One thing they fixed in this movie. In the original, the one thing that nagged was the unrealistically short time Daniel-san had to train before the tournament. I don’t care how great your teacher is, if you’re going to face bigger opponents with a lot of lead time in their training, most likely you’re in the deep doo-doo.

And, these Chinese kids were good.

What they did in the remake was show in passing that Dre (Jaden Smith) had a background in gymnastics and dance. That made his ability to do some spectacular moves believable.

* I read an interview with Jackie Chan about his role. He was quoted as saying he hoped this film would give him credibility as an actor, rather than just an action star.

Mr. Chan, you were always a comedic genius. Nobody should put down the ability to do physical comedy. Just ask Charlie Chaplin or Jerry Lewis.

March 22, 2009


Filed under: Politics,Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 1:46 pm

From the depths of depression, to guarded optimism. Come along with me on a roller-coaster ride!

* Political mercenary Dick Morris had this to say recently:

“In an effort to promote liquidity and boost the economy, the Federal Reserve yesterday announced plans to grow the money supply by another 50 percent to 60 percent. This ignores the profound observation of Gen. George Patton, ‘You can’t push a string.'”


This looks very bad to me. A credit crunch, high unemployment, and now here comes the inflation!

For those of you who’ve got money in savings, what are you going to do with it when the inflation rate starts to exceed the interest rate?

My guess is, buy stuff. Quickly.

A usually sober financial guru advised, buy a house on a plot of land of any size you can garden on.

Some have added, guns – and don’t leave a paper trail.

There was a time I’d have considered that advice paranoid and inflamatory…

* I sometimes wonder about Dick Morris. He’s one of the few examples of a political consultant who has worked both sides. That doesn’t happen often, you rapidly make yourself unemployable doing that.

What I wonder is, after working for the Clintons, is he pissed-off after enduring Hillary’s personal anti-Semitic slurs? And after Bill threw him under the bus (pics of a toe-sucking hooker showed up in the Enquirer if you remember) is he out for revenge?

Or did the reality that the Left is finally in a position to destroy captialism, the engine of our prosperity and power, finally sink in?

After years of screwing with the market to the extent that it’s on the ropes, the Left is pointing to their handiwork and saying, “See, capitalism is a failure!”

Morris has been around the block a few times. He can see what happens under socialism – and more specifically, what has happened to Jews under socialism.

* From America’s wisest public intellectual.

“One of the many symptoms of this decay from within is that we are preoccupied with the pay of corporate executives while the leading terrorist-sponsoring nation on earth is moving steadily toward creating nuclear bombs.
Does anyone imagine that we will care what anyone’s paycheck is when we see an American city in radioactive ruins?”

Thomas Sowell, Feb. 24

* From John McCaslin’s column:

…a Tennessee constituent of Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn said it best when he told the congresswoman: “I’m tired of the government spending money I have not made yet for programs I don’t want.”

* We just saw on TV that The One Who Causes Legs to Tingle has made ovetures to sell my wife’s country to the nation that within living memory, participated in the murder of 20 percent of its population.

That’s what it looks like from here at any rate. He’s putting on hold (meaning he’s going to drop) plans to base a missile defense system in Poland, that is no possible threat to Russia – it’s a turf thing.

I couldn’t help but remember a Polish colleague in Warsaw. It was some years ago when Poland wanted into NATO, and Russia objected. It didn’t look good for Poland then, although it did get in after all.

Piotr said gloomily, “It will be second Yalta. The West will sell Poland for peace.”

The Polish prime minister said they’d have to reevaluate how they trust America.

My wife just snorted derisively.

* I just got in from filling sand bags to fight the rising flood waters in our valley. I worked with a bunch of high school students, let out for this purpose.

These young men and women were great. They did the work cheerfully, with minimal supervision, and without slacking.

One small girl held bags for me while I shoveled. I could see the exhaustion on her face, but she never complained.

She did however, abandon me for a tall, handsome young senior. At one time he had three girls holding bags for him to fill, while I had none. 😉 (However, he was shoveling like a machine.)

So I paired with a woman closer to my own age who works in the juvenile justice system. She mentioned she recognized a few of the young folks around…

I feel better about a few things now, although I’ll be stiff and sore tomorrow for sure. These kids faced up to a crisis, and believe me it’s a crisis here, with guts, grit, and cheerfulness.

These kids have have been raised in a nation with a crap educational curriculum and an increasingly toxic culture. But when the chips were down, they came through.

I don’t know if this is just a local phenomenon, this is after all a pretty isolated part of the country. And I don’t know how they’d fare faced with a threat that’s not just impersonal nature but malevolent and evil, such as resurgent communism or radical Islam.

Still, I feel good about this – and the water is still rising.

“God will save you, fear you not. Be ye the men you’ve been. Get ye the sons your father’s got, and God will save the queen.”

February 21, 2009


Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:36 pm

*Gosh, aren’t you glad we didn’t elect McCain, a.k.a. “Bush III”?

Why, if we had more of the Bush policies, we might be maxing out the national debt and sending our troops to fight a probably unwinnable war in a far country of no strategic importance to us.

We’d have a cabinet of lobbyists totally in thrall to the multi-national corporations.

We’d be governed by a rich boys club who think the tax code us common folks live by doesn’t apply to them.

Boy wasn’t that a narrow escape?

*President Obama, to his credit, maintained a consistent position on the Iraq war from the beginning. Unlike opportunists such Hillary who trimmed their sails when it appeared to be going badly.

So what’s this Afghanistan thing?

Iraq is at the heart of the ancient Caliphate, rich in resources and population. Afghanistan is rough country good for hiding out in, but otherwise poor and lacking in resources.

Iraq has been conquered many times throughout history. Afghanistan eats armies.

Experience has shown Iraq can be pacified, if its people can be shown peace and security will follow.

In Afghanistan, raiding your neighbors – and those effete lowlanders, is considered manly sport.

To be fair, that could be a description of Scotland before my family came over. And Scotland was eventually pacified and civilized.

So all we have to do is to place a civilized but warlike nation, with ten times the population and resources, right next to Afghanistan.

*I see our new Attorney-General, Eric Holder has ripped aside the veil of silence and boldly tackled a subject we’ve been too cowardly to talk about.

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

Wow, what an idea. Let’s talk about race.

On second thought, how about we not talk about race for a change.

Of course I’m being sarcastic. It seems that all we do is talk about race. Like race is the single thing that defines us, more than say, character, intelligence, wit, staying out of jail…

Holder may have a point however. He went on to say, “If we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.”

OK, now we’re talking.

Let’s talk frankly about the fact that the difference in crime rates, especially violent crimes, between black people and white people is… “astronomical” is one adjective that comes to mind.

And explaining it away as a result of White oppression doesn’t wash. Young black men are mostly killing and assaulting each other.

Then there’s those nearly three quarters of black children being raised without a father in sight. Is this a recipe for social collapse or what?

The fact is, after every vestiege of legal oppression and discrimination has been abolished, Us White Folks are watching with horrified fascination what looks an awful lot like the mass suicide of an entire sub-culture.

Is that frank enough for you?

Thought not.

We’re not ever going to “to have frank conversations about the racial matters” because white people are afraid that if they did say what’s on their minds, they’d, 1) get called “racist” and lose their jobs, or 2) get assaulted.

Rumor has it that Asian people are not speaking their minds because, 1) their contempt for the both of us is really extreme, and 2) they’re waiting for us to destroy our society so they can pick up the pieces.

*Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders, currently being prosecuted in the Netherlands for his film “Fitna,” was denied entrance to the UK.

An English newspaper called “Fitna” a “nasty little rant against Islam.”

That’s true only if you consider actually quoting the Koran as a “rant against Islam.”

For nostalgia night, you might rent “Soldier of Orange,” to have a look at what the Dutch used to be.

To see what the English used to be… almost anything made before and during WWII will do. Or anything with David Niven in it.

February 4, 2009


Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 11:32 am

*From the AP wire:

‘Mother’ of Iraqi women bomber network arrested

BAGHDAD (AP) — A woman accused of helping recruit dozens of female suicide bombers looked into the camera and described the process: trolling society for likely candidates and then patiently converting the women from troubled souls into deadly attackers.

The accounts, in a video released Tuesday by Iraq police, offer a rare glimpse into the networks used to find and train the women bombers who have become one of the insurgents’ most effective weapons as they struggle under increasing crackdowns.

In a separate prison interview with The Associated Press, with interrogators nearby, the woman said she was part of a plot in which young women were raped and then sent to her for matronly advice. She said she would try to persuade the victims to become suicide bombers as their only escape from the shame and to reclaim their honor.


She said she was “able to persuade women to become suicide bombers … broken women, especially those who were raped.”

In many parts of Iraq, including conservative Diyala, a rape victim may be shunned by her family and become an outcast in society.

Police interrogators were not in the room during Jassim’s interview with the AP, but they were in an adjoining chamber.

Jassim did not offer additional details on her alleged role in the attacks, but suggested she was pressured into working with the insurgency.

She claimed that Ansar al-Sunnah provided her a house in Diyala, where she operated a shop selling the traditional robes for women called abaya. She added, however, that Ansar al-Sunnah once threatened to bomb her house if she did not cooperate.

“I worked with (Ansar al-Sunnah) for a year and a half,” she told the AP.

It’s at times like this I have to pray, “Please exist God. Please let there be a hell for such as these.”

Oh, and just one quibble. In “conservative” Islamic societies, women who are raped are not “shunned” by their families – they are killed by their families.

* Michael Phelps got caught on camera with his snout in a bong only a little smaller than the Olympic-sized pools he sets world records in.

Gotta watch that stuff, it really ruins your health!

It is one of the enduring mysteries of our time, that a vice which doesn’t involve sex, and is indulged in by a fraction of the population large enough to swing any election and is most likely just short of a majority – can still get you time and a career-destroying record.

What gives?

That’s not a rhetorical question, I really mean what the hell is going on here? What powerful vested interests give a damn about keeping pot illegal? (Aside from drug dealers I mean.)

The notion that pot would displace alcohol is silly. Ask any pothead what he wants after a couple of hits, a Pepsi or a beer?

*President Obama made his first overture to the Islamic world on Al-Arabiya, and seems to be clueless that he’s had a huge loss of face.

I am not going to crow about this, it’s my country too. But doesn’t he have Rahm Emmanuel at his side to clue him in?

*Something has been bothering me ever since the presidential campaign. I was recently reminded of it when going through old comments posted.

It’s about Sarah Palin and the brutal way the media treated her.

Understand, it’s not about sympathy. At its worst, I’d say it was THAT LOOK on Katie Couric’s face when interviewing Palin. You could see it in her eyes – Katie wanted to kill her.

But there’s a saying about heat and kitchens that covers that one. Palin was visibly unnerved, Katie was in control. (God how I wish she’d lost control, gone for Sarah physically – and gotten herself stomped.)

Practice Sarah, practice. And remember, femina lupa femines.

No, what bothers me is the merciless fun poked at her for that answer, “I can see Russia from my house”* in the Gibson interview.

Damn it, I knew what that meant right away! My wife knew it without having to think twice about it. Any Eastern European would know what it meant!

Or, think about this. If someone asked a politician from the southern border states, “What do you know about illegal immigration?” and they answered, “I can see Mexico from my house” – you’d know what they meant.

It means, “I pay attention to this issue – because I have to. Because I can’t avoid it.”

Turn my example around, “I can see Canada from my house,”* means nothing – because Canada is not threatening.

So did the media deliberately misconstrue that one?

Doesn’t seem likely, FOX didn’t pick up on it and go to her defense.

No, what’s frightening is, they flat didn’t understand.

That does not bode well for us.

Update: It just occurred to me that it might work turned around though. If a Canadian politician said, “I can see the U.S. from my house,” that could be very meaningful in certain contexts.

*Correction: What Palin actually said was, “There are parts of Alaska you can see Russia from.” That quote is how Tina Fey lampooned her. Point remains the same.

December 30, 2007


Filed under: Ruminations — Stephen W. Browne @ 3:21 pm

*Now THAT”S an Answer!

Go here for Fred Thompson’s answer to Michael Moore’s challenge to debate health care.

Class act!

*I’m finishing a fascinating book, ‘Hollywood Party’ by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley. I may review it – but it’ll be difficult because it’s so chock full of stuff that’ll grab any old movie fan.

It’s about “How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s.” The cast of characters that you’re familiar with and movies that you’ve seen makes it gripping.

Among the sordid lot of commited communists, fellow travellers and gullible dupes (which some of whom, like Humphrey Bogart, had the brains and guts to realize and admit) two stand out for sheer heroism.

One is a now-unknown labor leader Roy Brewer, a New Deal Democrat with socialist leanings.

The other is Ronald Reagan. (Who by the way, remains the only union leader America has ever elected President.)

A few salient facts that deserve to be remembered stand out:

1) the Communist Party USA was not a native American expression of communism, but a wholly owned – and funded, branch of the Comintern that followed it’s directives to the letter, even when the American party could have told them that their directives were counter-productive.

2) The House Committee on Un-American Activities, amidst all the publicity-seeking foofraw was actually asking some legitimate questions. Among them; in a conflict with the Soviet Union, which side would you be on?

3) Nobody’s life was “ruined” by the House investigations. Those writers who were blacklisted (by the studios – not the government by the way) never missed a paycheck. Many went abroad and wrote for Hollywood under different names – and paid little or no taxes on their earnings due to then-current regulations about working abroad.

Some actors fared worse, but it really seems like a question of not-overly-talented people who weren’t worth the trouble they caused the studios. Many of them went back to the stage and returned to Hollywood when the heat died down.

4) The CPUSA was dangerous. As in ruin-your-career and bust-your-head dangerous.

I’m reading it with my computer on the Internet Movie Database (

*George Will has an article on Shelby Steele on Barack Obama well worth reading, here:

America’s foremost black intellectual has published a slender book about the most interesting presidential candidacy since 1980. Shelby Steele’s characteristically subtle argument is ultimately unconvincing because he fundamentally misreads Barack Obama. Nevertheless, so fecund is Steele’s mind, he illuminates the racial landscape that Obama might transform.”

Interesting stuff – and yet I’m troubled. For one thing, I think Thomas Sowell is the foremost intellectual in America today, and he’s black.

Secondly, why did he have to say, “America’s foremost black intellectual “?

Yes, yes, I know he’s making a point about race in America and citing Shelby Steele because he might know a thing or two about it. Obviously I’m making a point here. (And do read the article, it’s interesting.)

My point is, every time we use a qualifier of race or sex ( I hate that term “gender”) we are implicitly implying an inferior category.

Think of “female athlete.”

No women compete with men in any major sport. They couldn’t, so they have their own category.

Some may remember when a man who’d had a sex-change operation, Dr. Rene Richards, wanted to compete in a women’s tennis tournament. Women players howled in protest. And quite rightly so. Dr. Richards still had the musculature of a man, in spite of all the cutting, chopping and rebuilding of his plumbing.

Point being, putting “female” before “athlete” clearly means, “can’t compete on an equal footing with men.”

So what does “black intellectual” mean? And what does the term say about the people who use it? (And no, I don’t mean George Will in this case.)

Notice that you rarely hear “black athlete.” If you do, it probably refers to historical time when sports were still segregated.

*In a similar vein, how do you describe a female friend?

Well you wouldn’t generally, but what if (like with George Will) you want to refer to the opinion of a friend on a subject where her sex is relevant to the opinion, i.e. that it’s a woman’s opinion on a subject where it matters?

Woman friend? Awkward. Girlfriend? That implies a romantic relationship if you’re male. Lady friend? Ambiguous. Female friend? Sounds too clinical.

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