Did I mention that I get up at 5 in the morning to watch the news on TV?

Now that I’m retired I get to do a lot of things I like to do. One of the things I like to do is get up and watch the news on cable TV at 5 in the morning. An advantage is I get to see all that stuff that happened while I was asleep. There are others.

What I saw yesterday morning was CNN anchor Chris Cuomo interviewing Peter Sprigg, speaking for the Family Research Council:

Sprigg joined the FRC in 2001, and his research and writing have addressed issues of marriage and family, human sexuality, and religion in public life, and opposition to same-sex marriage and gay rights. He has testified before federal, state and local courts on these issues. He has argued that gay marriage is not an issue of civil rights. He has linked homosexuality to pedophilia, and argued that homosexuals are trying to brainwash children into accepting homosexuality through public schools. Sprigg has publicly suggested that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would encourage molestation of heterosexual members of the military and suggested Kevin Jennings may have engaged in statutory rape. In February 2010, Sprigg stated on NBC’s Hardball that gay behavior should be outlawed and that Lawrence v. Texas was wrongly decide by the U.S. Supreme Court and that “criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior” should be enforced; FRC President Tony Perkins later declared that criminalizing homosexuality is not a goal of the Council.

Readers should note the Wikipedia article excerpted above contains notes that certain sources may be unreliable. Follow the link and review the sources for yourself to get the full story. Take some time to view the clip. It may not be on CNN forever, but by now somebody has posted it on YouTube, where it will likely live for all eternity.

In the mean time Mediaite has posted a digest of the conversation, which I am posting here almost in its entirety:

“There is a picture that’s circulating around of the governor as he signed [the bill],” Cuomo said. “Several of the people in the picture are outspoken critics of gay existence. Now, that’s not a coincidence. It’s not a coincidence why you’re against it. Let me ask you, why do so many Christians these days believe that the exercise of their faith requires exclusion and judgment of others?”

“Some people have a sincere, conscientious belief that marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman,” Sprigg replied. “In fact the majority of Americans believe that.”

“Popularity is not the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong if protecting rights under the Constitution,” Cuomo said. “The question then goes to: why do you need this? What is it about someone being gay or someone wanting to marry someone of the same sex — what is there in that that is keeping you from being the Christian you want to be?…If I said, Mr. Sprigg, you must go marry a man right now, you can say, no, that’s a violation of my faith. Maybe that, you would be able clear this burden. But how is wanting to judge others somehow stopping you from practicing your faith?”

Sprigg objected that the burden placed on gay couples to find another florist or wedding photographer was nothing near the burden placed on religious business owners whom he said would be forced to violate their faith or suffer penalties.

“Everybody has the chance to be who they want to be in America except for apparently Christians in the wedding industry,” Sprigg said.

That is all so very interesting. “Everybody has the chance to be who they want to be in America except for apparently Christians in the wedding industry.” According to Peter Sprigg, what some Christians want is to not do business with a class of people they consider inferior to themselves. It would be a violation of some people’s faith to do business with homosexuals. At this point we may begin to wonder what kind of faith is it that considers some honest and law abiding citizens to be of a lower class.

The joy continues.

This morning they are still discussing the matter on CNN. The headline is “Indiana Governor: New Law “Grossly Misconstrued.'” Chris Cuomo is also announcing that Arkansas has a similar law on the path to adoption, with Governor Asa Hutchinson promising to sign it. Cuomo interviewed Ryan McCann, Policy Director for the Indiana Family Institute:

Ryan McCann serves as the Director of Operations and Public Policy at the Indiana Family Institute, a nonprofit public policy development and advocacy organization focused on strengthening Hoosier families.

Serving in this capacity for the Institute, McCann assists the President in managing the day-to-day operations of the Institute, with a special focus on influencing public policy within Indiana and informing Hoosiers of ways in which they can mold their government and culture in family friendly ways. IFI is among 34 Family Policy Councils across the nation, and is affiliated with Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs, Colorado, ministry; Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C. based think tank; and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation. These organizations all share a passion for promoting policies and practices in the public sphere to strengthen families, the bedrock institution of all great nations.


The conversation went something like this:

Cuomo: Are you taken by surprise at this backfire at the law?

Cuomo is obviously talking about Indiana’s Queer Law. You would not know that from Ryan McCann’s response:

Yes, I am taken a bit by surprise. Thank you for having me on.

We were able to get through a legislative session and committee hearings and give a lot of information about the bill, how it passed in 1993 on the federal level…

Wait! The Indiana bill was passed this month. What happened in 1993?

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, Pub. L. No. 103-141, 107 Stat. 1488 (November 16, 1993), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb through 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-4 (also known as RFRA), is a 1993 United States federal law that “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected.” The bill was introduced by Congressman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on March 11, 1993 and passed by a unanimous U.S. House and a near unanimous U.S. Senate with three dissenting votes and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

The RFRA was held unconstitutional as applied to the states in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision in 1997, which ruled that the RFRA is not a proper exercise of Congress’s enforcement power. However, it continues to be applied to the federal government—for instance, in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal—because Congress has broad authority to carve out exemptions from federal laws and regulations that it itself has authorized. In response to City of Boerne v. Flores and other related RFR issues, twenty individual states have passed State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that apply to state governments and local municipalities.

To make it short, the video shows McCann going on and on about “RFRA” until finally Cuomo brings him back to reality. You can catch it all in the video. In the mean time I’m going to again fall back on Mediaite for a summary:

Things got personal when Cuomo demanded McCann account for the real motives behind the bill, which was supported by “groups like yours, that are Christian-based, with an animus toward the LGBT community. Own who and what you are. There’s nothing wrong with that you’re allowed to believe it but you’re not about native americans or people who want liver transplants, right?”

Cuomo tried to get McCann to answer whether he would support making gays and lesbians a protected class in Indiana, which critics of the law say would stunt its discriminatory impact. McCann would not answer; Cuomo even at one point cited George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Indiana Governor Mike Pence, in which the governor repeatedly dodged a yes or no question on the bill.

McCann ended by saying he was “offended” by Cuomo’s accusation that he was anti-LGBT. Cuomo put up and read a quote from McCann’s 2009 blog post in which he argued that homosexuality could be fixed. McCann claimed no familiarity with the language, essentially accusing Cuomo of making it up.

Further, McCann objected to what he considered an unwarranted attack by Cuomo—a mis-characterization of his views on homosexuals. Cuomo insisted he was only going on what McCann has previously stated as his position. Then Cuomo did something exceedingly cruel. He dredged up McCann’s own words and posted them for all to see:



I will do something almost as cruel. I will put up some words (in abbreviated form) by another person from long ago:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

The pertinent text is in bold.

Now I will put up recent words. These are by me:


Ryan McCann is a liar. Peter Sprigg was a liar before him. Indiana Governor Mike Pence was a liar before that. They have been coming on the news and telling us “The Indiana Religious Freedom Act” is not aimed at protecting discrimination. Really? Let’s take a look at another image.


That’s the governor signing the Religious Freedom Act. It’s not a public ceremony. Apparently nobody from the press was there. Apparently a photographer was there. Supporters of the law, including Ryan McCann, have pointed out the law will protect the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-gender people. Here we see a number of them in attendance and giving support to the governor for protecting their liberties. I am currently not able to identify any of the LGBT community present in support at the time, but CNN has provided another image:


Now that really is cruel. The news media can be so heartless when ratings are at stake. Here’s what the images show. Standing behind and very close to the governor are:

Curt Smith: Heads up the Indiana Family Institute. “Indiana Family Institute is a statewide research and education organization affiliated with Focus on the Family that is a voice for traditional families in Indiana. It is our mission to persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.”

Micah Clark: “Used biblical passage about it being ‘better to have a millstone tied around your neck and thrown in the sea’ in reference to the Boy Scouts accepting gay youth: ‘What did Christ say about harming the least of these?’  He said it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown in the sea on the day of judgement than to cause a child to stumble into sin.  And if we’re going to support organizations telling kids that homosexuality is okay—which is treatable, changeable, you don’t have to be homosexual, but if you are, you are at significantly higher risks of mental harm, psychical harm, emotional harm and spiritual harm—we cant be a part of that.  (Source; starts around 2:00 mark)”

[Edited for spelling]

Eric Miller: Executive Director of Advance America. “Hate crimes laws only apply to behaviors that are already designated as crimes, so no speech would ever be impacted. The Indy Star notes that Eric Miller, head of Advance America, has campaigned heavily against hate crimes protections based on sexual orientation for many years. In that regard, he’s been successful, because Indiana doesn’t even have such a law. If constitutionally codified discrimination is rejected, it will impact neither hate crime laws nor the freedom of speech — for pastors or anybody else.”

These are people who would not even walk across the street to protect the liberties of LGBT people. But they would show up to celebrate the signing of a law that allows Christians to discriminate against these people.

Somebody is lying.

There’s more to this story, and you’re going to see it. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Institutional Advertising


I believe this has come around before:

So now I’m watching the news on cable TV, and I see a lot of ads by Norfolk Southern. And these are really glitzy productions. There’s a cute jingle playing over the video (“Helping this here country move ahead as one”), and there are beautifully choreographed sequences of products being moved and trains and powerful locomotives moving in perfect harmony. Steven Spielberg, you need to watch this.

I considered it so odd that Norfolk Southern, a railroad company that doesn’t provide service into the region where I live, would be advertising themselves to me. Again this morning, as they have been for weeks, Norfolk Southern is showing all the stuff they haul. It’s impressive.

Cargo containers filled with manufactured goodies from across the Pacific.


Train loads of coal to fire my power plant. And steel products. New automobiles.


Would that I had that much stuff to ship.

But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the company is trying to build brand loyalty. If it wasn’t shipped by Norfolk Southern, then you don’t want it.

I’m telling you, it’s an impressive ad. There are these two train engineers talking over things in the yard, discussing what they’ve been hauling. They seem like earnest, committed railroad men. I’m sold. From here on out it’s Norfolk Southern for me and my family. Before Barbara Jean and I make the next purchase at the H-E-B store we’re going to ask, “Can you verify these carrots were shipped on Norfolk Southern?


Keep reading.

Indiana’s Queer Law


I will start with this famous scene from a famous movie. Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi prowl a low-life bar in Mos Eisley, looking for somebody who will pilot them off the planet of Tatooine, and away from the grasp of Imperial storm troopers. In the bar is a menagerie of critters from all over the galaxy. It’s a Hollywood make artist’s dream (though the movie was made in England). The problem comes when Luke tries to bring two ‘droids, robots, into the bar. The barkeep is quick and adamant. “Hey! We don’t serve their kind here.”

And that’s what this is all about.

I’m using a word in its traditional sense, odd, or even strange. And it certainly is a queer law. At its heart here’s what it says:

Sec. 9. A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending
violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. If the relevant
governmental entity is not a party to the proceeding, the governmental entity has an unconditional right to intervene in order to respond to the person’s invocation of this chapter.
Sec. 10. (a) If a court or other tribunal in which a violation of this chapter is asserted in conformity with section 9 of this chapter determines that:
(1) the person’s exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened; and
(2) the governmental entity imposing the burden has not demonstrated that application of the burden to the person:
(A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest; the court or other tribunal shall allow a defense against any party and shall grant appropriate relief against the governmental entity.
(b) Relief against the governmental entity may include any of the following:
(1) Declaratory relief or an injunction or mandate that prevents, restrains, corrects, or abates the violation of this chapter.
(2) Compensatory damages.
(c) In the appropriate case, the court or other tribunal also may award all or part of the costs of litigation, including reasonable attorney’s fees, to a person that prevails against the governmental entity under this chapter.

Sections 9 and 10 of Indiana’s Senate Enrolled Act No. 101 are the pertinent parts. The significant language is “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened…” About this time you want to ask, “Burdened in what way?” For that you need to go back a few years. Decades.

You have a business. It’s yours. You are in complete control. You can do what you want with your business. You can turn away customers if you want to. Just ask the Mos Eisley Cantina barkeep. That was Tatooine. This is Earth. This is the United States. Here’s what we used to have in the United States:

From Google Images

From Google Images

There was a problem. A large segment of the population was offended. A large segment of the population was inconvenienced. A large segment of the population was disenfranchised. You were not white in this country, and there were places you just could not live. Ferguson, Missouri, was a sundown town. There were signs in some parts of the country that said, “Nigger, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You In This Town.” These signs were countenanced by local governments. These signs were enforced by law. America was not exactly the “land of the free.” Besides levying an insult on its citizens, these practices were coming to be an embarrassment. The world was wondering if America was serious about “equality.”

The government did what it does. It fixed the problem with a law. That law as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a part of it known as the Public Accommodation Law.

SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

(b) Each of the following establishments which serves the public is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of this title if its operations affect commerce, or if discrimination or segregation by it is supported by State action:

(1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence;

(2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station;

(3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and

(4) any establishment (A)(i) which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection, or (ii) within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment, and (B) which holds itself out as serving patrons of such covered establishment.

(c) The operations of an establishment affect commerce within the meaning of this title if (1) it is one of the establishments described in paragraph (1) of subsection (b); (2) in the case of an establishment described in paragraph (2) of subsection (b), it serves or offers to serve interstate travelers or a substantial portion of the food which it serves, or gasoline or other products which it sells, has moved in commerce; (3) in the case of an establishment described in paragraph (3) of subsection (b), it customarily presents films, performances, athletic teams, exhibitions, or other sources of entertainment which move in commerce; and (4) in the case of an establishment described in paragraph (4) of subsection (b), it is physically located within the premises of, or there is physically located within its premises, an establishment the operations of which affect commerce within the meaning of this subsection. For purposes of this section, “commerce” means travel, trade, traffic, commerce, transportation, or communication among the several States, or between the District of Columbia and any State, or between any foreign country or any territory or possession and any State or the District of Columbia, or between points in the same State but through any other State or the District of Columbia or a foreign country.

(d) Discrimination or segregation by an establishment is supported by State action within the meaning of this title if such discrimination or segregation (1) is carried on under color of any law, statute, ordinance, or regulation; or (2) is carried on under color of any custom or usage required or enforced by officials of the State or political subdivision thereof; or (3) is required by action of the State or political subdivision thereof.

(e) The provisions of this title shall not apply to a private club or other establishment not in fact open to the public, except to the extent that the facilities of such establishment are made available to the customers or patrons of an establishment within the scope of subsection (b).

And that just about took care of that. It’s your money. It’s your business. There are limits to what you can do with your money and your business. You can’t use it to make life miserable for a segment of the American population. You can’t use it to embarrass the United States of America. What I have skipped over in the foregoing is that there are economic consequences of doing what you want with your money and your business, and those consequences impact the well-being of the United States, and that gives the government constitutional authority to enact such laws.

You think everything has changed in 50 years?


It would appear we haven’t quite gone the full course.

Come forward 50 years, and there is yet another segment of society feeling the rebuff of Mos Eisley Cantina’s barkeep. “Hey! We don’t serve their kind here.” That would be those who are sexually different. These people are not like the rest of us. They’re different. They do queer things. “We don’t serve their kind here.”

But there’s the Public Accommodation Law. Does it mention homosexuals or transsexuals? No. It does not even mention sex: “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” The Public Accommodation Law is only Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII provides equal employment opportunity regardless of sex (or sexual orientation?), but protection in other areas is not covered. Subsequent provisions of federal law do provide protection:

The U.S. and many state governments have robust protections against discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, or sex. However, the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens are currently in a state of flux. Gay and lesbian individuals are protected by a patchwork of federal, state, and corporate rules and regulations.

With this in mind there have been some exemplary cases, of which this is one:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from a studio that refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony, letting stand a New Mexico high court ruling that helped spur a national debate over gay rights and religious freedom.

The justices left in place a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling last year that said Elane Photography violated New Mexico’s Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph the same-sex ceremony “in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

Please note that a state law is involved here—not a federal law. There were consequences:

The court upheld the nearly $7,000 fine in finding that the studio is a “public accommodation” — an establishment that provides services to the public — that, under state law, may not refuse its services on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or sexual orientation, gender identity or physical or mental handicap.

Was this a case of a lesbian couple targeting a photographer of known prejudices in order to make a point, or to obtain an award? Apparently not, but the possibility always exists. Regardless of whether this was a targeted case, the company considerably misplayed their game. I do not have the particulars of the case, but I’m going to substitute imagination for fact here. I’m supposing it went like this. “We want you to photograph our wedding.” “That’s wonderful! We can do that. Who’s getting married?” “My girlfriend here and I.” “Two women? Ugh! We don’t do that kind of stuff. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. We don’t serve your kind here.”

Full disclosure: I have photographed a number of weddings, and I never turned down a reasonable assignment. Once a guy sent me an email. He wanted me to photograph his wedding. In Tucson. I just said, “No can do.” I never accused him of being a pervert. If Elane Photography didn’t want to handle the assignment, they could have avoided a lot of trouble—and expense as it turns out—by stating simply, “We do not have experience in same sex weddings, and we don’t think we could do an adequate job. Here is the name of one of our competitors who has considerable experience with same sex weddings.” I’m thinking that Elane Photography didn’t do that. They likely said something like, “God hates fags,” and showed the prospective customers the door. And it cost them.

The Indiana law is designed to protect concerns like Elane Photography. You hate fags, you don’t have to do business with them. All you have to do is to claim it’s a burden on your religion to “serve their kind here.” And the law will protect you from legal action.

As a result of the Indiana law we should not expect to see signs like the one above posted on business saying:


It’s going to be a lot more subtle than that. Not like old times.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

We Are So Thankful


Tuesday morning, and the news was bad. It quickly became worse. What we knew to be possible but believed to be improbable had come to pass. A fully functional airline pilot deliberately flew a plane load of people into a mountain side.

You cannot imagine the feeling of relief in some circles when it was learned this mass murder was not associated with a recent religious conversion. We can all be so thankful.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Bad Movie of the Week


It’s Hunt the Man Down, and it’s one I never saw before. That’s no surprise, because about the time this came out I was living in a small Texas town, and we had only one movie theater, and it had only one screen. No film got more than two days screen time, and, even so, Hollywood pumped out more releases than we could handle. It’s likely this one just went right on by without showing there.

This is from RKO in 1951, and it stars Gig Young as public defender Paul Bennett of Los Angeles County, California. It starts with the story of William Jackson (James Anderson), who works in a bar and sometimes plays the piano, especially when cute Sally Clark (Lynne Roberts) asks him to. Only, his real name is Richard Kincaid, and he’s wanted for murder, and neither Sally nor anybody else in Salinas, California, knows this.

Nobody knows, that is, until one night a bandit comes in to rob Sally of the day’s receipts. The robber opens up on William/Richard, who wins the battle and kills the bandit.


This gets Richard some unwanted publicity.


The district attorney in Los Angeles County can read a newspaper, and shortly Richard is on trial for a murder that happened 12 years ago. Broke (he’s a dishwasher), Richard meets the public defender, and the story gets started. Richard tells his story.

Back before the war Richard ran into some strangers in a bar, and finished up the night with them at a party in somebody’s house. Here we meet all the critical characters in the drama.


Things would have gone all right for Richard, except part way through the party the husband of the woman Richard is with arrives. The husband is not in a good mood. Blows are exchanged. Threats are made. The husband winds up dead later that night. Richard is brought to trial, but he escapes when his guard collapses of natural causes.

Now public defender Paul Bennett needs to work up a case for his client, and here is where the movie gets interesting. A lot has happened to those people at the party in the past 12 years, and more is about to happen in the movie. One gets murdered. When Paul’s father, a retired cop with one arm, drives a witness back to town he gets ambushed by a couple of gunnies.


Bennett senior wins the gun fight, and the two gunnies are off to Boot Hill. If ever Paul considered his client might not be innocent, those thoughts have now vanished. However, he doesn’t get the break he needs until the trial is well under way. He gives one of the witnesses (now blind since the war) a lift to a cemetery to pay respects to his girl friend (now deceased) from the party. What Paul sees at the cemetery turns the trial completely around.


I won’t tell you any more than that, except I will note I did verify there really is a Picture Rocks Road in Tucson. It’s on the map, and I’ve been there.

As with a number of the movies I’ve reviewed recently, this one is not all that bad. The least useful plot turn introduced by writer DeVallon Scott is the interlude with the murdered man’s widow and her new husband, also one of those at the party. It goes nowhere and only gives viewers something to watch while Paul wades through his interviews of witnesses.

Gig Young got started in movies in 1940. He appeared without credits in Sergeant York (1941), which film I’m going to review on the 100th anniversary. He won an Oscar for best supporting actor in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? The end of his life was like one of his Hollywood dramas. In 1978 he married an actress decades his junior and three weeks later shot her to death and then himself.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

Some of these “bad jokes” are actually humorous. The following may or may not be actually responses by children.

Angels, as explained By Children.

I only know the names of two angels, Hark and Harold.

Gregory, age 5

Everybody’s got it all wrong. Angels don’t wear halos anymore. I forget why, but scientists are working on it.

-Olive, age 9

It’s not easy to become an angel! First, you die. Then you go to Heaven, and then there’s still the flight training to go through. And then you got to agree to wear those angel clothes.

-Matthew, age 9

Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to go do something else.

-Mitchell, age 7

My guardian angel helps me with math, but he’s not much good for science.

-Henry, age 8

Angels don’t eat, but they drink milk from holy cows!!!

-Jack, age 6
Angels talk all the way while they’re flying you up to heaven. The main subject is where you went wrong before you got dead.

Daniel, age 9
When an angel gets mad, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten. And when he lets out his breath again, somewhere there’s a tornado.

-Reagan, age 10

Angels have a lot to do and they keep very busy. If you lose a tooth, an angel comes in through your window and leaves money under your pillow. Then when it gets cold, angels go south for the winter.

-Sara, age 6

Angels live in cloud houses made by God and his son, who’s a very good carpenter.

-Jared, age 8

All angels are girls because they gotta wear dresses and boys didn’t go for it.

-Antonio, age 9
My angel is my grandma who died last year. She got a big head start on helping me while she was still down here on earth.

-Ashley ~ age 9

Some of the angels are in charge of helping heal sick animals and pets. And if they don’t make the animals get better, they help the child get over it.

– Vicki , age 8

What I don’t get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them.

– Sarah , age 7

Stranger in a Strange Land


I have this cell phone, but I think it’s only for emergencies. I seldom get any call unless they’re from Rachel. But on Tuesday I got a call from my friend Zack. Zack’s a religious guy, and he was calling me up to find out if I planned to watch the CNN special report Atheists, Inside the World of Non Believers. I told him I was, and I was going to record it. And I did.

So here is what I found out. It’s an hour long, and it’s about how atheists get along in a world that’s wall-to-wall believeniks. It starts off with the story of a middle-age couple who are deeply religious. Christianity is the foundation of their lives. The problem is their college-age son is an atheist. Not only that, he heads up the atheist group at his college.

Of course the parents are devastated. They still love their son, but they are sure he is lost. That’s lost in non-recoverable, not just missing action. He’s going to Hell. They will never see him again after they die. Family meetings are strained. Conversation is limited. Religion can do that to people.

There’s also the case of the preacher, quite successful at conveying the good word to his flock, who has read more from the Bible than he should have (that’s dangerous). It came inexorably to him that Christianity was a big hoax. There is no magic sky person. Furthermore, nobody, but no body, is going to Hell. He carried on for a while, during which time he learned some useful skills. Then he resigned his position, moved to another town and entered legitimate employment.

There is also the case of the practicing pulpiteer who no longer believes. He gets up in front of the congregation Sunday after Sunday and issues forth reassurances. And other days besides. And he gives good advice and tends to the spiritual needs of his people. He’s a good pastor. He feels he’s helping people. But it’s all based on a lie.

You can’t cover atheism in a whitewash world without including Richard Dawkins and David Silverman. Dawkins is a world class biologists and an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford. He is the author of numerous books explaining biological evolution in language for the masses, and he is a vocal spokesman against religion of all stripes. Wikipedia says this about Silverman:

David Silverman (born August 13, 1966) is the current president of the American Atheists, a nonprofit organization that supports the rights of atheists and the removal of expressions of religion in public when possibly interpretable as governmental endorsement, in accordance with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

There’s that and a lot more, and it’s all about people of good sense living in mind-locked society. It’s about how they cope and how society views them.

I look around me, and I see a lot of that. There’s an aspect of atheist activism that is all wrapped up with how society treats atheists. How atheists need to be accepted and recognized as worthy citizens. I’m not like that.

My problem is I’m not all that concerned about people’s attitude toward me. I long ago learned that a chunk of what people accept as truth is an inch shy of reality. If I end my existence stepping on a land mine, it’s not going to be because I trusted somebody’s phony mine detector.

And that’s why I’m not out there with a bunch of others clambering for acceptance. I’m stuck enough on myself not to need it. Whoa, you may say. Aren’t you going to miss out on a passel of worthwhile relationships? Not likely. People who do not accept me tend to be those who sell phony mine detectors. I’ve had my feet for a long time, and I plan to keep them.

Blessings of Faith

This came up earlier this week. We were watching the CNN special report, Atheists: Inside the World of Non Believers. And some of the people featured on the show were preachers, or former preachers, who do not believe in God. Jerry DeWitt was one of them:

Jerry DeWitt is an American author and public speaker, and a prominent member of the American atheism movement. He is a former pastor of two evangelical churches, who publicly deconverted to atheism in 2011. DeWitt is the former executive director of Recovering From Religion, a group which helps people find their way after a loss of faith.

But there was another. Another preacher who does not believe in God. And he’s still preaching. He gets up on Sunday and goes before his congregation and sounds forth the good word. Maybe on other days of the week as well. In his case nobody knows. The congregation has no clue they are receiving inspiration for somebody who does not believe.

And it came to pass that Barbara Jean spake unto me and said thus: “Tell me John, for you are my husband and most trusted advisor. How can such be true? Dost thou imagine that a multitude of the Lord’s messengers bear false witness?”

And I thought to myself. But only for a fraction of a second, for I know that a human life is but a second compared to the immense span of the history of God’s Universe. And I said unto Barbara Jean, “Yes.” And I proceeded to illustrate by example, for the Lord had recently provided me one by way of a cute meme posted on my Facebook feed. And here, forthwith, it is:


Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Hitler’s Super Weapons

I’m trying to recall when I first learned about the German Vergeltungswaffen (retribution weapons or vengeance weapons). My dad subscribed to Popular Mechanics, and in the mid-50s there was an item about rocket weapons, and there was likely mention of the V2 there. Arthur Daniel was our social studies teacher in high school, and he managed the library. We had some great books for a small time school, and one of these was Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel, by Willy Ley. Willy Ley grew up in Germany between the wars, and his fascination with rockets and space travel led him to the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (Society for Space Travel). Another member was Wernher von Braun, the brain behind the V2, for Vergeltungswaffe 2, rocket.

The VfR was a society of amateurs, whose interest was space. The group included some serious thinkers, including Hermann Oberth. Oberth significantly worked out (actually a straight forward problem in integral calculus) how a rocket’s mass ratio and exhaust velocity relate to the maximum velocity obtainable by the rocket. Nazis were just a troublesome fringe political group when the VfR was founded in 1927, but when they came to power in 1933 they were seen as a source of funding for rocket research. In this respect the VfR sold itself to the devil, with von Braun eventually becoming a party member.

I have said this before, and I’m repeating myself now. One of the best assets the Allies had in the European war was Adolph Hitler. His early successes cowed experienced German military commanders to the point that eventually few dared to question his decisions. Eventually Hitlers amateurish meddling in management of the war helped to grind the German war effort into the dust. One of Hitler’s pet ideas was a maniacal aversion to defensive. He considered talk of defense to be defeatist. In his autobiography Luftwaffe fighter ace Adolf Galland tells of his continued failed attempts to get Hitler (through Goring) to come around to placing more emphasis on fighter defense:

After a while Peltz and I were called in to Goring. We were met with a shattering picture; Goring had completely broken down. His head buried in his arm on the table he moaned some indistinguishable words. We stood there for some time in embarrassment. At last Goring pulled himself together and said we were witnessing his deepest moments of despair. The Führer had lost faith in him. All the suggestions from which he had expected a radical change in the situation of the war in the air had been rejected. The Führer had announced that the Luftwaffe had disappointed him too often. A changeover from offensive to defensive in the air against the west was out of the question. He would give the Luftwaffe a last chance to rehabilitate itself. This could be done by a resumption of air attacks against England, but this time on a bigger scale. Now as before the motto was still: Attack. Terror could only be smashed by counterterror. This was the way the Führer had dealt with his political enemies. Goring had realized his mistake. The Führer was always right. All our strength was now to be concentrated on dealing to the enemy in the west such mighty retaliation blows from the air that he would not risk a second Hamburg. As a first measure in the execution of his plan the Führer had ordered the creation of a leader of the attacks on England.

Galland, Adolf (2014-08-18). The First and The Last (p. 96). David Rehak. Kindle Edition.

Early on the V weapons were seen as a risky proposition, possibly not needed. This was supposed to be a short war. Then it became a long war. But by then some basic economics had set in.

Look at a map. In the beginning Germany was surrounded on all sides by enemies, except for Italy or by water. Then Germany made a deal with the USSR, eliminating the enemy on the east. In the mean time Germany had eliminated the enemy to the southeast, Czechoslovakia, through the aid and connivance of England and France. Germany first took advantage of the new void to the east and attacked defenseless Poland. That left only enemies to the west. Germany next struck west at the uncommitted countries of Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium. Then France and, when it finally become necessary, at England. Here Germany’s advance cracked. Germany’s economic dilemma was now crystallized. It was this:

  • Germany could not get food or military supplies from overseas. The British Navy blocked these routes.
  • Germany had enormous industrial capacity, but it did not have sufficient raw materials for a protracted war. Eventually petroleum, metals, even food, had to come from the east and the south.
  • Italy was an ally, but it was a poor source of war materials. Not apparent at first, but Italy was eventually to become a millstone dragging down the German war effort.
  • Germany’s wherewithal to prosecute the war came from draining its war conquests. Conquered countries were exploited for slave labor, war materials and food. People in conquered countries were murdered to eliminate their drag on the war effort.
  • Sweden became the only neutral country supplying the German war effort, chiefly iron ore. It was not enough.

Starting with its attack on the USSR on 22 June 1941 Germany was on a rigid timetable to win the war or to die. With the entry of the United States into the war in December 1941 the timetable became breathtakingly short. Reverses at Stalingrad and in North Africa late in 1942 made it apparent the war would be lost. Hitler’s desperation began to show. He was now ready to give the V weapons serious consideration.

The first of these to come to fruition was not the famous space rocket but it was the world’s first cruise missile, the V1.

The V-1 was developed at Peenemünde Army Research Center by the Nazi German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. During initial development it was known by the codename “Cherry Stone”. The first of the so-calledVergeltungswaffen series designed for terror bombing of London, the V-1 was fired from launch sites along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts. The first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944), one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landing in Europe. At its peak, more than one hundred V-1s a day were fired at south-east England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. After this, the V-1s were directed at the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last launch site was overrun on 29 March 1945.

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

The operation of the V1 was straightforward. It was a small airplane, no pilot. It had an autopilot to keep it flying straight and level at a prescribed altitude in a specified direction. On top was a pulse jet engine.

The interesting thing about a pulse jet engine is its simplicity. It’s got only about one moving part. That part is a flapper valve in front. It works like this: A fuel-air mixture in the compression chamber is detonated. The explosion drives exhaust gases out the back, creating thrust. The pressure also keeps the flapper valve closed so that no exhaust is expelled out the front, which is also the air intake. When the pressure wave from the explosion reaches the open end of the tail pipe, a low pressure wave is reflected. Ask any racing engine builder about tuned exhausts. When the low pressure wave reaches the front end of the combustion chamber, the flapper valve swings open, and more air enters, even if the engine is standing still. I have seen a demonstration of one of these engines (not on a V1) in operation. It just sit there and makes a horrible buzzing noise. Hence the name “buzz bomb.”

The V1 needed some assist taking off, so it had a rocket motor to propel it down it’s launching rail. The rocket motor was dropped off after the V1 cleared the launch rail, and the V1 continued on its mission.

The technology for autopilots had been perfected for decades. It’s been around in torpedoes since World War One. A gyroscope provided directional stability. Now the flying bomb was headed toward its target. It was just a matter of knowing when to dive into the ground. This was managed by a small propeller turning in the wind stream. So many turns of the propeller meant the V1 had arrived at its target, and the V1 dived toward the ground. It’s warhead of 850 kg of amatol-39 was fused to explode on impact. Not intended, but the dive of the V1 caused its engine to starve and shut down, so when the buzzing sound stopped people on the ground knew death had arrived.

V1 attacks on London and other parts England began seven days after the Normandy landings in June 1944. This was no coincidence. The idea of the Germans was to give the invaders something else to think about besides invading France. Initial launch sites were located near the French coast facing England.

Marschflugkörper V1 vor Start

From Wikipedia

Hitler had hyped his super weapons to a selected audience within the Reich. They were going to be the salvation of his collapsing regime. However, they were no secret to the Allies. Ground intelligence and aerial reconnaissance had given the Allies fair warning of what was to come. Already, attacks on Peenemünde and other installations had stalled progress. When the first blows began to fall the impact was no less alleviated.

During the first V-1 bombing campaign, up to 100 V-1s fell every hour on London. Over an 80 day period, more than 6,000 persons were killed, with over 17,000 injured and a million buildings wrecked or damaged.

Unlike conventional German aircraft bombing raids, V-1 attacks occurred around the clock in all types of weather, striking indiscriminately, causing suspense and terror among the population of London and parts of Kent and Sussex.

Since I’m analyzing the war against Germany in terms of economics, it’s only fitting I provide an economic excerpt. American General Clayton Bissell published an analysis. He produced the following table:

Blitz (12 months) vs V-1 flying bombs (2¾ months)
Blitz V-1
1. Cost to Germany
Sorties 90,000 8,025
Weight of bombs tons 61,149 14,600
Fuel consumed tons 71,700 4,681
Aircraft lost 3,075 0
Personnel lost 7,690 0
2. Results
Structures damaged/destroyed 1,150,000 1,127,000
Casualties 92,566 22,892
Rate casualties/bombs tons 1.6 1.6
3. Allied air effort
Sorties 86,800 44,770
Aircraft lost 1,260 351
Personnel lost 2,233 805

This compares the twelve months of The Blitz (beginining September 1940) to the critical period of V1 attacks from June to October 1944. The figures are for England and do not include the continued attacks on Belgium after V1 launch sites were overrun by advancing Allied soldiers in October. Also, General Bissell’s table does not include a number of German personal and aircraft lost in action related to their own V1 attacks. Note that the table lists 351 Allied aircraft and 805 crew lost in attacks on V1s and their installations, but it does not include Germany’s losses in defense of them.

Neither does this include the economic cost of the missiles.

Throughout the war over 34,000 V1 rockets were produced while roughly 10,000 were actually launched. Of those launched, around 25% reached their targets and caused extensive casualties. Over 12,000 people were killed outright and many more were injured, with most of the casualties occurring in London and Antwerp, which were the main two targets. What made the V1 so successful was its relatively simple design and low cost in terms of both money (5000 Reichsmarks, compared to 100000+ Reichsmarks for a Panzer tank)  and materials.

34,000 units at 5000 Reichsmarks each works out to 68,000 Reichsmarks for each bomb that exploded on a target. Now you still do not know what a Reichsmark is worth, except that it took 100,000 of them to build a Panzer tank.

The facts behind the low success rate of the V1 are worth noting. Since there was no pilot, the flying bomb could not take evasive action. It flew in a straight line until it was time to dive. That made for gunnery practice, and the fact is that the Brits quickly figured out the path of incoming V1s and stationed all their Bofors guns along the route—none in the target areas, principally London. The falling shells from the Bofors were considered comparable in destruction to the V1s. The deliberate targeting of V1s over the English countryside had the effect that people living there were killed who had thought they would be safe. The economics of war spoke for the benefit of this approach.

Also, the V1 was fast, but not that fast. At an average speed of 350 miles per hour it was vulnerable to a very fast fighter, especially if the fighter could make a diving attack. A dangerous occupation was to get behind one and pump rounds into it until it blew up. Gun sight footage of such an encounter is worth viewing. Another tactic was to fly alongside a V1 and nudge its wing over with the tip of the fighter’s wing.

The Brits also employed some counter intelligence. The Nazis had some spies on the ground, but eventually all known sources were turned by British intelligence. There existed a quandary about what the double agents should report back. If they reported that all V1s were falling long, then the Germans would get wind that something was wrong. Newspaper accounts, accessible to all the world, were telling of destruction throughout London. Eventually a compromise was reached, and enough erroneous reports were transmitted to cause the Germans to revise their aim—in the wrong direction. Interestingly the Germans put radio transmitters in some units to get a more accurate picture of where the bombs were impacting, but they even came to doubt this source in favor of the phony spy reports.

The short operating range (160 miles) was the V1’s ultimate undoing. Allied forces began to overrun the available launch sites in the summer of 1944, and they pushed into Holland in September and October, effectively shutting down the V1 blitz.

By September 1944, the V-1 threat to England was temporarily halted when the launch sites on the French coast were overrun by the advancing Allied armies. 4,261 V-1s had been destroyed by fighters, anti-aircraft fire and barrage balloons. The last enemy action of any kind on British soil occurred on 29 March 1945, when a V-1 struck Datchworth in Hertfordshire.

That was 70 years ago.

The V1 was not the showcase product of the von Braun and the VfR. That was the V2. It is appropriate to say the V2 was, after the atomic bomb, the most advanced weapon of the early 20th century. It embodied numerous technical achievements, any one of which would be a candidate for a Nobel Prize in engineering, if there were one. von Braun and his crew took the early work of Robert Goddard and carried it further an order of magnitude. Accomplishments included:

  • A liquid fuel rocket motor using a cryogenic oxidizer (liquid oxygen).
  • Boundary layer cooling of critical combustion chamber regions.
  • Thrust vector control to stabilize rocket flight until aerodynamic control could be established.
  • Aerodynamic control at supersonic speeds.

From Wikipedia

Once again Hitler resisted the enormous expense of developing a weapon that would not be needed in a short war. When the balance of the war shifted following 1942 Hitler came around.

By late 1941, the Army Research Center at Peenemünde possessed the technologies essential to the success of the A-4. The four key technologies for the A-4 were large liquid-fuel rocket engines, supersonic aerodynamics, gyroscopic guidance and rudders in jet control. At the time, Adolf Hitler was not particularly impressed by the V-2; he pointed out that it was merely an artillery shell with a longer range and much higher cost.

In early September 1943, von Braun promised the Long-Range Bombardment Commission that the A-4 development was “practically complete/concluded”, but even by the middle of 1944, a complete A-4 parts list was still unavailable. Hitler was sufficiently impressed by the enthusiasm of its developers, and needed a “wonder weapon” to maintain German morale, so authorized its deployment in large numbers.

It was a matter of too much too late. By 1944 German industry was on its knees. Allied air attacks regularly dismantled key pieces of the infrastructure. Materials were in short supply and becoming ever more scarce as Soviet and Western forces smothered their sources. The Wehrmact had lost millions killed, incapacitated and captured, and draft age men were pulled from their work places into the military. German war industry was running on women workers and slave labor from conquered lands, and slaves were dying by the thousands, squandered as an expendable resource.

Now came the V2, with essentially the same payload as the V1, but at multiple times the cost.


From Wikipedia

As with the V1, the Allies knew about the V2 in advance. Operation Crossbow was a major Allied effort to quash the V weapons programs at the source. It was a costly drain on our offensive resources, drawing bomber assets away from more strategic targets and at a great cost in assets and personnel.

Operation Hydra was a Royal Air Force attack on the Peenemünde Army Research Center on the night of 17/18 August 1943. It was the first time a master bomber was used for the main force. Group Captain John Searby, CO of 83 Squadron, commanded the operation. It began the Operation Crossbow strategic bombing campaign against Nazi Germany’s V-weapon programme. 215 British aircrew members and 40 bombers were lost, and hundreds of civilians were killed in a nearby concentration camp. The air raid killed two V-2 rocket scientists and delayed V-2 rocket test launches for seven weeks.

As British Field Marshall Montgomery’s troops prepared to push into Holland the Germans initiated operations with the V2.

After Hitler’s 29 August 1944 declaration to begin V-2 attacks as soon as possible, the offensive began on 8 September 1944 with a single launch at Paris, which caused modest damage near Porte d’Italie,. Two more launches by the 485th followed, including one from The Hagueagainst London on the same day at 6:43 p.m. – the first landed at Chiswick, killing 63-year-old Mrs. Ada Harrison, 3-year-old Rosemary Clarke, and Sapper Bernard Browning on leave from the Royal Engineers, and one that hit Epping with no casualties. Upon hearing the double-crack of the supersonic rocket (London’s first ever), Duncan Sandys and Reginald Victor Jones looked up from different parts of the city and exclaimed “That was a rocket!”, and a short while after the double-crack, the sky was filled with the sound of a heavy body rushing through the air.

V2 casualties in Antwerp (from Wikipedia)

V2 casualties in Antwerp (from Wikipedia)

A V2 attack was different from a V1 attack in just about every conceivable way. People could hear a V1 coming from miles away. The V1 was small and fast, but it was still visible to people on the ground, wondering just when it would suddenly cease its journey and plunge to the ground. Anti-aircraft guns, barrage balloons and fighter interception were effective against the V1.

The V2 literally came from outer space. Thirty seconds after launch it reached the speed of sound. It’s engine shut down after one minute, and the 47-foot-long monster continued into the lower reaches of outer space, reaching altitudes of over 55 miles and speeds of 3850 miles per hour before plunging down to earth and impacting at 1790 miles per hour. Considerably faster than sound, it hit the ground before anybody heard it coming. Its descent was so quick few people witnessed the event and even fewer photographs exist.

Despite carrying slightly more (1000 kg vs. 850 kg) of the same explosive charge (amatol) the V2 was substantially more destructive on impact. The entire airframe plus warhead (3780 kg) impacting at 1790 miles per hour delivered over a billion Joules at the impact point. And that was before the warhead went off. The warhead had a contact (impact) fuse, meaning the explosion occurred at or below ground. This diminished the destruction from the warhead, but the shock wave from the airframe was sufficient to do much damage to nearby structures.

A scientific reconstruction carried out in 2010 demonstrated that the V-2 creates a crater 20 m wide and 8 m deep, ejecting approximately 3,000 tons of material into the air.

At first the British were reluctant to announce the V2 attacks to the citizenry. They weren’t fooling anybody, and 10 November 1944 Prime Minister Winston Churchill admitted that England had been for some weeks under rocket attack.

Besides attacks on missile production and launch facilities, the only effective defense against V2 attacks was, as with the V1, misdirection. The British leaked information that V2s were overshooting their main target, London, and thereafter V2s started falling short as the Germans “corrected” their aim.

For all time the V2 remained an area weapon. From an extreme range of 200 miles enough variation in flight control crept in to produce a CEP (circular error probability) measured in miles. Regardless, people were dying:

An estimated 2,754 civilians were killed in London by V-2 attacks with another 6,523 injured, which is two people killed per V-2 rocket. However, this understates the potential of the V-2, since many rockets were misdirected and exploded harmlessly. Accuracy increased over the course of the war, particularly on batteries where Leitstrahl-Guide Beam apparatus was installed. Missile strikes that found targets could cause large numbers of deaths — 160 were killed and 108 seriously injured in one explosion at 12:26 pm on 25 November 1944, at a Woolworth’s department store in New Cross, south-east London.

England was not the only target:

These attacks in Germany were among the last in the war. American forces stormed and captured the Ludendorff Bridge across the Rhine at Remagen on 7 March 1945. It was the first bridgehead established across the Rhine, and Hitler was furious, ordering all means to destroy the bridge. One missile hit in the town and killed six American soldiers. By this time 70 years ago the German Reich was entering its period of catastrophic collapse. Hitler and many top Nazi officials had just days to live. The last of the V2s were fired off before the barrage fell silent:

The final two rockets exploded on 27 March 1945. One of these was the last V-2 to kill a British civilian: Mrs. Ivy Millichamp, aged 34, killed in her home in Kynaston Road, Orpington in Kent.

An analysis of the effectiveness of the V2 is due, and the numbers are not good for the program. For starters, two people killed for each rocket in London? And the economics were not impressive. The V2 was far less a bargain than the V1.

The German V-weapons (V-1 and V-2) cost $3 billion (wartime dollars) and were more costly than the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb ($1.9 billion). 6,048 V-2s were built, at a cost of approximately 100,000 Reichsmarks (GB£2,370,000 (2011)) each; 3,225 were launched. SS General Hans Kammler, who as an engineer had constructed several concentration camps including Auschwitz, had a reputation for brutality and had originated the idea of using concentration camp prisoners as slave laborers in the rocket program. The V-2 is perhaps the only weapon system to have caused more deaths by its production than its deployment.

The V-2 consumed a third of Germany’s fuel alcohol production and major portions of other critical technologies: to distil the fuel alcohol for one V-2 launch required 30 tonnes of potatoes at a time when food was becoming scarce. Due to a lack of explosives, concrete was used and sometimes the warhead contained photographic propaganda of German citizens who had died in Allied bombing.

Of that $3 billion mentioned, $2 billion was for the V2, making it more expensive than America’s atomic bomb project.

Army Corps of Engineers General Leslie Groves was a man of big projects. After completing the construction of the Pentagon Building he was tapped for the new Manhattan Project. With a blank check, almost unlimited power and little detailed planning he built in a few months the largest industrial concern in the world at the time. The Manhattan project encompassed wholly new research laboratories and huge industrial plants erected on newly-purchased land. An observer noted later that the United States essentially duplicated its entire automobile industry to build the bomb.

This was in Nazi Germany, not the United States. Part way into the war the German economy was already dragging bottom, while the United States was producing 50,000 war planes and partying with the lights on right up to the final victory day.

Add to the cost of the rocket, the cost of launching one was daunting. The site lays out the grueling steps involved in a mobile launch. I will just summarize the description here:

German Mobile Firing Procedure for A-4/V-2
(Photo stills taken from film Operation Backfire)

  1. The V-2 was launched from hidden wooded areas or even vacated city streets. Seen above is the entrance to the Duindigt area in Wassenaar and a city street Stadhouderslaan in Den Haag, 1945.
  2. Triangulation marks on trees, the Duindigt Estate entrance, and steel sleepers used for launch table stabilization.
  3. Rockets arrive by railway, where they are met by the Technical Troop at the transfer point. Two rockets occupy 3 flatcars. The mobile crane is positioned to lift the rocket from the flatcar to the Vidalwagen road transporter.
  4. The Technical Troop transports the rockets to the field store where the warheads are attached and minor adjustments made. The field store was not usually in the vicinity of the firing areas, but some kilometers away.
  5. The mobile crane is later towed to a prearranged spot where the Technical Troop meets the Firing Troop. This was usually done in another secluded location, so as to not draw attention to the field store or firing locations. The Vidalwagen pulls under the crane, and the Meillerwagen pulls next to it. The V-2 is hoisted and moved to the Meillerwagen vehicle.
  6. With the rocket secured in the clamps of the Meillerwagen, the Vidalwagen pulls away. The Meillerwagen is hitched to the towing vehicle, in this case a Hanomag SS-100, and then driven to the firing location.
  7. Back at the railhead, the liquid oxygen railway tanker is approached by members of the Supply Detachment. Using a small gasoline-powered engine to run an external pump, they attach the hoses and tow the Betriebstoffanhaenger liquid oxygen road tanker alongside the rail tanker.
  8. The super-cooled liquid oxygen soon creates frost on the hoses and attachments. The white vapor is exiting condensed water vapor. Meanwhile, the Firing Troop tows the Abschussplattform (firing table) onto the launch site.
  9. The legs of the Pfaff-manufactured Abschussplattform are screwed down to lift the weight of the platform. The towing dolly is then removed. The dial-sight is adjusted, and then the Meillerwagen is wenched backwards to the firing table.
  10. The extending supports are swung out and screwed down at the rear of the Meillerwagen for the support needed while raising the rocket. A small Volkswagen gasoline engine operates (2) hydraulic rams, which, are controlled by one man to raise the arm of the Meillerwagen into the vertical position. The Meillerwagen is then rolled back about 96 cm after the V-2 is resting upright on the Abschussplattform. Also shown is the electrical cable mast that is mounted at one corner of the Bodenplatte. These cables travel to the Feuerleitpanzer launch control vehicle and the Steyr power supply vehicle..
  11. Soon the Supply Detachment or Fueling Troop was moving quickly to the location of the firing site. In this case, we see a Hanomag towing an alcohol bowser, followed by the Opel Blitz alcohol tanker towing a trailer pump, followed by a Hanomag towing the liquid oxygen trailer and finally, (the small truck in the distance) is the Opel Blitz t-stoff tanker.
  12. At the firing site, the survey crew is busy measuring to make sure the rocket is level. The protective engine jet covers are removed from the venturi in the combustion chamber.
  13. The fragile carbon graphite exhaust rudders are carefully bolted in place. Fueling started with the alcohol bowser being pulled up to the rocket. The Meillerwagen arm was built to also act as a servicing tower, with built-in plumbing for permanent delivery of alcohol and liquid oxygen when fueling. The hoses were connected to the Meillerwagen at the tanker and at the top of the V-2 fuel tanks.
  14. The towed trailer pump in action. Alcohol fueling took about 10 minutes. When alcohol fueling was almost completed, the liquid oxygen tanker was towed to the other side of the rocket.
  15. The bevey of vehicles surrounding the V-2. Directly infront of the rocket is the t-stoff tanker (hydrogen peroxide). The liquid oxygen was always pumped into the rocket no more than one hour before firing to prevent the internal valves from freezing. The sodium permanganate was kept heated to quicken the reaction with t-stoff when powering the steam turbine. The alcohol bowser is finished and pulls away. This bowser shown was not used by the V-2 troops—it was a Luftwaffe piece of equipment.
  16. During the liquid oxygen fueling, the hydrogen peroxide is manually pumped into a pre-measured container mounted to the Meillerwagen, which, is emptied into the t-stoff tank by gravity. A technician climbs up to the midsection joint and adjusts the tension created by 8 tons of added fuel. The z-stoff is removed from its heater, and emtied into the rocket manually. Fueling completed, the liquid oxygen tanker pulls away.
  17. The support vehicles retreat to a safe distance. The igniter is prepared to be inserted in the combustion chamber and the rocket is oriented by using a dial sight on the Abschussplattform. The arm of the Meillerwagen comes down.
  18. Meillerwagen heads away from the area. The members of the Firing Troop take cover in slip-trenches prepared earlier. The Feuerleitpanzer (Sd.Kfz.7/3) firing control vehicle is located about 100-150 meters away from the rocket, usually down in a protective trench that was dug when the site was prepared. The launch control officer and crew enter the Feuerleitpanzer. Inside, the launch control officer asks the man on the steeringtable, “Steuerung klar?”—”Steuerung klar!” is the answer. Everything is quiet. The soldiers are only whispering. The launch officer calls, “X1” (t-minus one minute).
  19. The officer steps on a small perch in the Feuerleitpanzer. He is able to see the launch site, “Schlüssel auf Schießen!,” he orders. “Ist auf Schießen, Klarlampe leuchtet!,” says the man behind the propulsion controls. The fuel ignites, flowing under gravity, burning at 1.5 to 2.5-tons of thrust.
  20. After a precisely established sequence of commands, the last order of the officer is barely heard over the roar of the engine, “Hauptstufe!” After that, the man at the propulsion controls pushes the button and the fuel pumps and steam turbine begin to scream. The earth is shaking and vibrating under the pressure of 25-tons of thrust. The rocket goes straight up and turns itself slow to the target. A man at the propulsion table jumps to the table and turns the spanner of the high pressure bottles down. The soldiers slowly go to the launch site, that ironically, looks very empty.

cap001   cap016

cap043   cap051


James Oberg produced the following comparison:

24,000 fighters could have been produced instead of the inaccurate V-weapons.

Air Ambush


When I was in the Navy Reserve I was in a fighter squadron. As a kid I always had a fascination with fighter airplanes. Movies about World War Two were playing in the local theater, and the specter of two high-performance fighters dueling to the death in the sky had an enormous appeal on my young self. When the Korean war came alone there were now jet fighters, and these were even more cool. We lived on a bluff overlooking the Brazos River, and one day I heard the screech of jets in the sky over the flat lands beyond. I went out and saw two jets engaged in a mock fight just a few hundred feet up and across the river. They had their fun for a minute or so and then were gone.

All that is past me, but starting in 2005 The History Channel produced two seasons of Dogfights, consisting of recreations of combat using computer generated imagery (CGI) and created by Cynthia Harrison, Jason McKinley and Brooks Wachtel.

This episode relates the events surrounding Operation Bolo and the background behind the mission. Operation Bolo was the product of veteran combat pilot Robin Olds. He had become a fighter ace (5+ victories) in World War Two, flying P-38 Lightning fighters over Europe. By the time the Vietnam conflict came around his services were sorely needed.

The American military had become overly reliant on missiles. Fighters were being designed to attack multi-engine bombers, and fighting skills had been neglected. While our forces had enjoyed a victory ratio in excess of 7 to 1 in Korea, at the outset of hostilities in Vietnam this advantage had shrunk to around 3 to 1. Robin Olds was set to straighten things out at his base in Thailand. He placed emphasis on combat skills and tasked junior officers to come up with an aggressive program. One thing they came up with was Operation Bolo.


This was 2 January 1967, and about this time American forces were bombing the stuffings out of North Vietnamese facilities. What we used a lot at the time were F-105 Thunderchief jet fighter-bombers. You might think looking at an F-105—with its sleek, rakish profile—that this was one daunting foe to go up against in the air. It was not. This was no fighter, especially when it was carrying an external load of bombs. Instead of “Thunderchief” it was typically call the “Thud.” Anyhow, the Thuds needed fighter protection. MiG-21 fighters of the North Vietnamese Air Force were having Thuds for lunch. The United States Air Force was determined to do something about the MiG problem.

The scheme was this: Lure the MiGs into an aerial fight with somebody who could take them on. What Olds did was to set up a flight of F-4 fighters to look like a flight of Thuds. They flew the same schedule typical of a Thud attack, following the same routes and duplicating standard Thud formations. They even equipped the F-4s with the QRC-160 jamming pods used by F-105s. The F-4s flew in multiple flights, arriving over the designated area above a cloud cover. The cloud cover was an advantage. The North Vietnamese could only track the incoming F-4s by radar, making the deception that much easier.

After a few minutes over the target area the MiGs began to pop up above the clouds (the cloud cover had delayed their take-off), only to discover F-4s instead of F-105s. The North Vietnamese pilots were distressed to no end. The news reports at the time described their distress. Intercepted radio traffic was telling: “They are F-4s, not 105s. I repeat, F-4s.” And, “I would like to come down now.” North Vietnamese pilots were trained to strictly follow orders, and by the time their ground control got a handle on the situation seven of the MiG-21s had been downed. The Americans lost none of the F-4s. Seven might not seem like a big bag for a combat mission, but at the time the North Vietnamese had only about 12 to 15 MiG-21s. The MiGs were not such a big problem after that, with North Vietnam being reluctant to risk its remaining fleet.

The Dogfights production features interviews with actual pilots involved in the combat, including Robin Olds in this case. They were fortunate to get the interviews, as the retired Air Force General died in 2007. There is some available footage of the actual events, but even better are the CGI sequences, which are remarkable in their realism. Contributing to the educational nature of the series are illustrations of the air tactics employed and comparisons of the opposing weaponry. Here is a graphic depicting an F-4 making an attack on a MiG-21. In this case the MiG is drawing a bead on an American fighter when the F-4 executes a hard right turn from above to get behind the MiG. Hint: The MiG did not go home that day.


At the time the Air Force employed AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. We still use them, but new and improved models. Both are currently developed and manufactured at Raytheon’s facility in Tucson. The Sparrow is radar controlled. The Sidewinder uses passive infra-red tracking.

One thing brought out in recounts of the Vietnam combat was the unreliability of the Sparrow. Apparently primitive maintenance facilities in Thailand resulted in a high failure rate. A Sparrow shot was about 10% likely to score a hit on the target. A high percentage of the Sparrows, when launched, simply fell off the rail and dropped to the ground.

Sidewinders were mechanically more reliable. They typically launched successfully, but the model used at the time was adapted for taking down multi-engine bombers. A highly maneuverable fighter could dodge an oncoming Sidewinder by making a last-second maneuver. The Sidewinder, going several times the speed of sound, could not correct fast enough.


A comparison of the F-4 and the MiG illustrates the relative advantages of each. The MiG-21 was famous for being able to “turn on a single molecule of air.” F-4s defeated this ability by taking the fight into three dimensions, using its tremendous thrust advantage to climb rapidly and maneuver over the MiG.


I’ve since talked to some fighter pilots, and one thing they are aware of is the physics involved. For one thing, you can’t shoot at an enemy plane unless you can get him in front of you. If you are along side the enemy, or if you are too close behind for a missile shot, you have to somehow back off and get behind. If you just cut power your airplane will become less maneuverable as you lose speed. One tactic to get behind an enemy, if you have the power, is to keep the throttle wide open, but pitch up. You lose some speed, but you don’t lose any energy (physics again). You trade speed for altitude. If you execute what amounts to a high barrel roll you come back down to the enemy’s altitude, but now you’re behind him, and you are back up to, or above, your original speed.


The CGI recreations of combat are stunning. There’s is better detail than you could have obtained from gun camera video. Here is shown an F-4 letting loose with two Sparrows. Pilots often fired these expensive assets in salvos to increase the possibility that one of them will hit a target.


Some reality is sacrificed for viewer appeal. Here an F-4 is about to take down a MiG. The F-4 in this case was supposed to be nearly a mile behind the MiG.


Again, great detail. The F-4 is executing a rolling maneuver, exposing all its external stores. Lighting and shadows are meticulously rendered in what was surely the expenditure of billions of computer processor cycles.


The end of the day for a MiG-21. A Sparrow missile is coming up from behind.


Camera footage from 2 January 1967. F-4s return from Operation Bolo after a victorious day.







No Man Left Behind

U.S. 14th Armored Division Infantry of the 19th Armored Infantry Bn. with supporting M4 medium tanks from the 47th Tank Bn. (both units of the 14th Armored Division), during the successful drive to Hammelburg, 5 April 1945, following the failed Baum Task Force of March.

U.S. 14th Armored Division Infantry of the 19th Armored Infantry Bn. with supporting M4 medium tanks from the 47th Tank Bn. (both units of the 14th Armored Division), during the successful drive to Hammelburg, 5 April 1945, following the failed Baum Task Force of March.

Came last May the news that U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released by his Taliban captors in exchange for five senior Taliban officials we were holding. At first sight, this appeared to be an asymmetrical prisoner swap. When I tried to put it into perspective I came up with, “Suppose during World War Two we had captured Rudolph Hess (we did), Albert Speer, Reinhard Heydrich, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Martin Bormann and were prepared to trade them for Private Ryan.” As I reported previously:

These five we are giving up are classified by us as prisoners of war. When the war against the Taliban winds down in a few months we are going to have to give up all POWs. And next year we get nothing in return.

These are bad guys, and they have worked to kill Americans and will do so in the future. The government of Qatar has guaranteed these men will not leave Qatar for a period of one year, and they will not engage in Taliban activities while in Qatar. At this promise I expose  my bare bottom. Let me start my egg timer. These guys are going to be out of Qatar before I get back from summer vacation. Do we have a bet?

Are these guys going to be a threat to American soldiers? Most likely not. The Taliban are not a world-wide terrorist organization. They are a tribal force whose main concern is Afghanistan and their Western Pakistan enclave. Prior to our invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 they never were a threat to our security. Their crime, in our view, was harboring Al-Qaeda following the attacks on the United States in 2001. Once we leave Afghanistan we will likely hear no more from the Taliban. Afghans are in for some rough times, but that seems to be where we came in twelve years ago.

The reasoning given by the Obama administration was, “We leave no man behind.” Which brings us around to an event that has its 70th anniversary today. On 26 March 1945, Task Force Baum set out to rescue American prisoners held at a camp near Hammelburg in Germany.

Task Force Baum was a secret and controversial World War II task force set up by U.S. Army general George S. Patton and commanded by Capt. Abraham Baum in late March 1945. Baum was given the task of penetrating 50 miles (80 km) behind German lines and liberating the POWs in camp OFLAG XIII-B, near Hammelburg. Controversy surrounds the true reasons behind the mission, which may have been simply to liberate Patton’s son-in-law, John K. Waters, taken captive in Tunisia in 1943. The result of the mission was a complete failure; of the roughly 300 men of the task force, 32 were killed in action during the raid and only 35 made it back to Allied-controlled territory, with the remainder being taken prisoner. All of the 57 tanks, jeeps, and other vehicles were lost.

What was this all about? Did an American general throw away a contingent of 300 men plus weapons and vehicles in a failed attempt to rescue his son-in-law? Apparently so.

Colonel Waters had been captured in Tunisia two years before while we were fighting the Germans there. In the tragedy of the failed operation, he was wounded by a German soldier during a failed truce negotiation, and had to be left behind when our forces, what were left of them, withdrew. By this time the war in Europe had about seven weeks left, and Waters was eventually repatriated. Following the war his military career resumed, and he rose to the rank of general (four stars). He died in 1989. No thanks to his glorious father-in-law.

And what did our most successful general in the European war get for his efforts? I’m glad you asked:

This latest cycle had begun on April 18th, when Patton fired a SHAEF censor (over whom he had no authority) for having passed a story about the ill-starred Hammelburg raid. “Ike had taken Patton’s hide off,” Butcher then wrote. “But I think Patton must have as many hides as a cat has lives, for this is at least the fourth time General Ike had skinned his champion end runner.” But now it seemed that Patton was down to his last hide.

General Eisenhower realized at once that this time he could not save Patton’s skin. But he was still determined to give his stormy petrel the benefit of the doubt and the due process of a fair investigation. He instructed Robert Murphy to ascertain all the facts of the case and assess the damage Patton had done by falling into a sly reporter’s trap. But the pressure to punish Patton became so great that Eisenhower decided to take personal charge even before Murphy’s report was in his hands.

On September 24th, he ordered General Bedell Smith, his Chief of Staff, to call Patton on the phone, trying to clear up the incident without the necessity of employing more radical measures. Ambassador Murphy had a luncheon date with Patton that noon and had arrived early at the General’s villa at the Tegernsee, on the former estate of Max Assmann, deposed head of the Nazi Party’s defunct publishing house. He was chatting with Patton while a gifted Polish artist named Boguslav Czedekowski was painting the General’s portrait.

Farago, Ladislas (2005-05-03). Patton: Ordeal and Triumph (Kindle Locations 13782-13793). Westholme Publishing. Kindle Edition.

General Patton’s career was by now in a death spiral. He was killed in a traffic accident in Germany three months later.

The Fat Nazi Sings



It was 70 years ago. But first a side story.

The musical connection is with the familiar operatic role of Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, the last of the immensely long, four-opera Ring Cycle. Brunnhilde is usually depicted as a well-upholstered lady who appears for a ten minute solo to conclude proceedings. ‘When the fat lady sings’ is a reasonable answer to the question ‘when will it be over?’, which must have been asked many times during Ring Cycle performances, lasting as they do upwards of 14 hours. Apart from the apparent suitability of Brunnhilde as the original ‘fat lady’, there’s nothing to associate this 20th century phrase with Wagner’s opera.

What is so ironic is Götterdämmerung is “twilight of the gods.” Seventy years ago it really was the twilight of the gods. A once dreadful beacon was failing, and it had been for a long time.

In 1940 when Hitler’s armies had vanquished all of Western Europe he cared for at the moment he turned his eye toward England in expectation. He expected British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to grasp reality and to consider making a deal. In a prophetic turn for Hitler, Churchill’s response was was chilling:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Hitler answered Churchill’s challenge with an air assault and plans for invasion. The air assault became known as The Battle of Britain. The fat Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Göring sought to defeat the Royal Air Force, and in that endeavor he failed. It marked the first major defeat of arms for the Third Reich, and it marked the end of Nazi success in the West. And Hitler’s war was only into its 13th month.

The fatal blow actually fell the following year. Turning from the inconvenient Mr. Churchill, in the summer of 1941 Hitler faced toward his principal foe, Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. It was here that real disaster struck. Starting too late in the season, Hitler’s armies were stalled by the Russian winter within sight of Moscow and were eventually driven back. The failure to defeat the Soviet Union with the initial strike was a death knell to all who would hear.

What student of those times does not wish he could have been in the room with Adolf Hitler when the news came through of the defeat of von Bock’s army? Did, in a private moment, Hitler’s famous arrogance fade? Was there a tug at his heart as a moment of recognition seeped in? Who can doubt—despite the bellicose pronunciations, despite the brave talk, despite the reassurances—a chill was starting to infiltrate.

One year later the awful specter of defeat became impossible to ignore. When  Friedrich Paulus’s 6th Army was surrounded and cut off in the Battle of Stalingrad, and when British  Lieutenant-General Bernard Montgomery‘s forces defeated Field Marshal Erwin Rommel at el Alamein, the final outcome could not be ignored. Unfortunately for all involved it was ignored.

The Allied landings in North Africa in November 1942 closed the door on any remaining Nazi aspirations. From that time on allied air bases on the continent ensured that Rommel’s forces could not be safely evacuated, and 250,000 Axis troops were left behind when the Germans pulled out in May 1943. By then the Battle of the Atlantic had been decided, and American supplies and troops were ferried across to the European war with little risk. The success of the Normandy Invasion became a foregone conclusion.

With Soviet forces relentlessly pushing from the east, Allied armies advanced north through Italy and France toward the German border. A cascade of blood accompanied these advances, on both sides. And it was all for nothing.

On 29 June Rundstedt and Rommel were summoned to Berchtesgaden for a further meeting with Hitler, at which they repeated their demands, and were again rebuffed. On his return to Saint-Germain, on 30 June, Rundstedt found an urgent plea from Schweppenburg, who was commanding the armoured force at Caen, to be allowed to withdraw his units out of range of Allied naval gunfire, which was decimating his forces. Rundstedt at once agreed, and notified OKW of this decision. On 1 July he received a message from OKW countermanding his orders. In a fury, he phoned Keitel, urging him to go to Hitler and get this decision reversed. Keitel pleaded that this was impossible. “What shall we do?” he asked. Rundstedt replied “Schluss mit dem Krieg, Idioten!” This literally means “Finish with the war, idiots!”, but is usually translated as “Make peace, you fools!” There has been some doubt raised as to whether Rundstedt actually said this, but Wilmot says the incident was recounted to him and Liddell-Hart by Blumentritt, who was present.

But the fools would not make peace. By now Hitler had lost all contact with reality, and at this time he possessed total domination over the German military. The carnage continued into the following year and right up to the point of complete annihilation of German society.

Days before the death of the Third Reich the obvious could not be ignored.  How do you know that it’s over. Here is one way to tell:

On 24 Mar, Churchill crossed the Rhine River in an LCM (landing craft, mechanized), setting foot on the eastern bank of the river, symbolizing the crossing of the top British political leader over the traditional border of Germany that no foreign army had crossed in 140 years. He later went as far as the railway bridge at Wesel by Montgomery’s staff car, a bridge that was still under enemy fire.



Patton pisses in the Rhine


And here’s another:

But it’s also worth noting that pissing has a distinguished place in American military history. Most famously, General George S. Patton relieved himself in the Rhine on March 24, 1945—and made sure he was photographed doing so. Patton later recalled: “I drove to the Rhine River and went across on the pontoon bridge. I stopped in the middle to take a piss and then picked up some dirt on the far side in emulation of William the Conqueror.” (At the time, actually, Patton was less concerned with emulating William the Conqueror and more worried about finishing off the enemy. Later that day he sent a communiqué to General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in command of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force: “Dear SHAEF, I have just pissed into the Rhine River. For God’s sake, send some gasoline.”)

It wasn’t just American generals who seemed preoccupied with pissing back in 1945. Three weeks earlier, Winston Churchill had visited the front lines near Jülich. Churchill had long dreamed of urinating on Hitler’s much-vaunted Siegfried Line to show his contempt for Hitler and Nazism. Unlike Patton, Churchill forbade photographs of the occasion. But General Alan Brooke, chief of the Imperial General Staff, who was with Churchill that day, later wrote: “I shall never forget the childish grin of intense satisfaction that spread all over his face as he looked down at the critical moment.”

When the British Prime Minister pisses in your river, then it’s over.

Digital Display Color Mapping


This was over 20 years ago, and it was sort of a fun project. We weren’t working with Windows. I think it was UNIX or maybe VAX VMS. Anyhow, we were using bit-mapped images, and we had this color graphics display, and the figure above illustrates how images were formed. Each image pixel was formed using three color dots, red, blue and green. Full disclosure here. Color displays may double up on one of the colors.

Anyhow, a color pixel can be formed by three color shapes grouped closely together. To make green, for example, you just activate the green dot and turn off the red and the blue. To make white you turn on all three. To make black you turn off all three. You can make intermediate colors by setting the brightness of individual dots.

Suppose for each dot you have 256 intensity settings. Black is zero, and maximum brightness is 255. Now, to form an image using all possible colors you need three octets (eight bits each), and you would have 24-bit color. If you wanted to store this image in computer memory you would need 24 bits for each pixel, and for a large image that would be a bunch of bytes for each image. What you do is reduce the image file size by incorporating color palettes. Here’s how it works (and how we did it).

Our display incorporated a CRT, so each pixel was scanned 30 times a second (could have been 60). For each pixel the three electron beams were set according to the required color intensity. Only the beam intensity was not set directly by the bits in the image file. They were set by the output of a color palette generator. The palette generator was a chip that accepted input from the image file (using the color palette) and outputting the beam intensities. It worked like this:





Each pixel was stored in the image file as one byte (8 bits). To display the image you transfered the file contents to an image memory in the display controller. The display hardware continually scanned the stored image, sending each byte in succession to the palette generator. The palette generator had 256 registers of 24 bits each. The 8 bits of the image file were used as an address to select one of the 256 registers. Each register contained the 24 bits needed to display the color of the pixel (8 bits for each color).

Obviously with 24 bits available for each displayed pixel you have to be picky about which colors you actually display. Usually what you do is analyze the image (with the computer) and determine which colors are the best fit. Then you program each of the selected colors into one of the registers, and map each image color to one of the palette colors. Then, instead of storing all of the true image colors in the image file, you store the map addresses. You can also store the mapping (register contents) in the image file, and when you display the image, just read the register settings and set them into the palette generator.

Back 25 years ago all of this was a lot of fun and made work a little more interesting.

Happy Days


Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let’s sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again.

Folks, it does not get much better than this. The “Happy Days’ theme appears to be off to a long run. Last week Donald Trump announced he will run for President. I thought I could not be happier. How wrong I was. Today Texas Senator Ted Cruz also announced he is a candidate.

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas announced on Monday morning that he would run for president in 2016, becoming the first Republican candidate to declare himself officially in the race.

Weaving the hardscrabble story of his immigrant father with the resolve of the founding fathers and his own faith in “the promise of America,” Mr. Cruz spoke at length about his family and his faith as he laid out a case for his candidacy.

“God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet,” Mr. Cruz said before thousands of cheering students here at Liberty University. “I believe in you. I believe in the power of millions of courageous conservatives rising up to re-ignite the promise of America.”

At last I can say with some sincerity, “Bye bye, Bachmann.”

Additionally, according to The New York Times, Senator Cruz said, “It is a time for truth, it is a time for liberty, it is a time to reclaim the constitution of the United States.”

I find that so refreshing coming from a candidate for President of the United States. “It is a time for truth.”

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas made those remarks in a speech this morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Liberty University teaches its students the Earth is less than 10,000 years old.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Codswallop 201


Now that I’m retired I get to do a lot of things I like to do. One of the things I like to do is get up and watch the news on cable TV at 5 in the morning. An advantage is I get to see all that stuff that happened while I was asleep. There are others.

Saturday morning there was an ad. It’s from Hillsdale College, and they’re advertising one of their courses on-line, for free. Free is good. I decided to look into it, especially since the subject matter caught my attention. The course is Constitution 101. What, I was wondering, motivation would a small private college in Michigan have for offering a free on-line course?

The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans — yet very few know exactly what it says and what freedoms it protects. Hillsdale College is working to make 2015 the “Year of the Constitution”, dedicating this year to educating millions of Americans about this critical document. That’s why the College is offering it’s most popular course, “Constitution 101” for free, when you sign up now.

That’s what piqued my interest. “The U.S. Constitution is the key to securing liberty for all Americans.” I studied American History in college, and I learned about the Constitution. One thing I did notice about the Constitution is there is not much in there that secures liberty for all Americans. As originally written, there is bare mention of “liberty.”

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Past this point “liberty” is not mentioned again. So where does Hillsdale College get that notions of liberty are enshrined in the Constitution, a document that in its original form tipped its hat to slavery?

I decided to find out. My Google search hit first on Constitution 201, which is why you are reading about this course and not the other. I pulled up the top page and found:

Constitution 201: The Progressive Rejection of the Founding and the Rise of Bureaucratic Despotism

That’s just the headline. The first thing that struck me about this was that it smacked of Glenn Beck. I was beginning to think, “I can listen to Glenn Beck for free. Why would anybody pay to take a course when I can get the same for free by listening to Glenn Beck? Here are some lectures:

  1. The Founders’ Constitution and the Challenge of Progressivism
    Larry P. Arnn
  2. Woodrow Wilson and the Rejection of the Founders’ Principles
    Ronald J. Pestritto
  3. Woodrow Wilson and the Rejection of the Founders’ Constitution
    Ronald J. Pestritto
  4. Overview: Founders vs. Progressives
    Thomas G. West
  5. FDR’s New Bill of Rights
    William Morrisey
  6. Total Regulation: LBJ’s Great Society
    Kevin Portteus
  7. The Transformation of America’s Political Institutions
    Kevin Portteus
  8. Post-1960s Progressivism
    John Grant
  9. Case Study: Religious Liberty in the Administrative State
    Thomas G. West
  10. Restoring Constitutional Government
    Larry P. Arnn

Right away we get the idea that Hillsdale is down on progressivism. It will be interesting to see what they have to say about the matter. A review of some of the lecturers is instructive.

Larry P. Arnn:

Born in Pocahontas, Arkansas, Arnn received his B.A. (1974) in Political Science and Accounting from Arkansas State University. He earned graduate degrees in Government from Claremont Graduate School — an M.A. in 1976 and a Ph.D. in 1985. Arnn studied in England from 1977 to 1980, at the London School of Economics studying International History and then at Worcester College, Oxford University in Modern History. While in England, he worked as Director of Research for Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill.

And also:

In 2013 Larry Arnn was criticized for his remarks about ethnic minorities when he testified before the Michigan State Legislature. In testimony against the Common Core curriculum standards, in which Arnn expressed concern about government interference with educational institutions, he recalled that shortly after he assumed the presidency at Hillsdale he received a letter from the state Department of Education that said his college “violated the standards for diversity,” adding, “because we didn’t have enough dark ones, I guess, is what they meant.” After being criticized for calling minorities “dark ones”, he explained that he was referring to “dark faces”, saying: “The State of Michigan sent a group of people down to my campus, with clipboards … to look at the colors of people’s faces and write down what they saw. We don’t keep records of that information. What were they looking for besides dark ones?”[9] Michigan House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel condemned Arnn for his comments, which he called “offensive” and “inflammatory and bigoted”, and asked for an apology. The College issued a statement apologizing for Arnn’s remark, while reiterating Arnn’s concern about “state sponsored racism” in the form of affirmative action policies.

So, Larry Arnn is not your grandfather’s liberal college professor.

Ronald J. Pestritto:

Glenn Beck, Progressives and Me

The TV host has a point when he says a limitless view of state power is un-American.

On television, on radio, in books, and in a widely viewed speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year, Glenn Beck has pronounced “progressivism” as the “disease” that afflicts America. His progressive opponents, meanwhile, seem obsessed with attacking him for this obsession—the Center for American Progress has even launched a series of papers to “set the record straight.”

This battle reveals a deeper dispute about American history. Mr. Beck and others—such as Jonah Goldberg in his 2008 book, “Liberal Fascism”—tie today’s progressives (the new word for liberals) to the progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century. They contend that the original progressives—including leaders such as Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt—rejected America’s founding principles. Mr. Beck also claims that today’s leftist policies are the culmination of a journey begun by progressives over a century ago.

I was wondering how long it would take for Glenn Beck to pop up.

Thomas G. West:

Thomas G. West is Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, beginning in the Fall of 2011.[1] West previously taught at the University of Dallas from 1974 to 2011.

He is also a Director and Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute, which has supported and publicized his research. Born in 1945, Dr. West received his B.A. from Cornell University in 1967 and his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in 1974. He served in Vietnam as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1969-70. He was Bradley Resident Scholar at the Heritage Foundation in 1988-89, and Salvatori Visiting Scholar at Claremont McKenna College from 1990-92. He has translated, with Grace Starry West, Plato’s Charmides, Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, and Crito, as well as Aristophanes’ Clouds. He has also published Vindicating the Founders, an analysis and defense of American political thought in the Founding era.

Those are the lecturers who stand out. A look at the overview for lecture 1 provides some insight into the direction Hillsdale will be taking us:

The principles of the American Founding, embodied in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution, came under assault by Progressives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Progressivism rejects the Founders’ ideas of natural rights, limited government, the  separation of powers, representation, and federalism.  Progressive government, exemplified by the modern administrative state, has fundamentally transformed key aspects of the American way of life.

I took a look at the first lecture. It’s a video, so I don’t have text from it. However, here’s the opening screen shot:


There’s a quiz. Here is one of the questions:

  1. The Declaration of Independence refers to the “Laws of Nature and of ___________”:
    The Church
    Nature’s God

If you’re having trouble with this question, I’ll give you a hint: It’s the last one.

It gets me to wondering: Is any semblance between this and a rigorous, for credit, college course on the United States Constitution purely illusionary? What is a Hillsdale graduate going to say when asked about his college transcript at a job interview? “I have the basic courses in English Composition, General Science, College Algebra and Political Indoctrination.”

Anti-progressives—call them conservatives—may say that what American students are getting now at public colleges is political indoctrination with a liberal’s eye for history and government. Somewhere I missed all that when I attended the University of Texas at Austin. I took the required courses in American Government and American History. That was over 50 years ago, and I no longer recall the names of my professors. However, a few points remain.

My government class was in Waggener Hall, and the professor was an elderly gentleman. At one point the term socialism came up. He asked for a definition. I offered that it was a society in which people were “wards of the state.” That drew gasps from some of my fellow students and a chuckle from the professor. Actually, my characterization was based on a popular catch phrase of the time and was not strictly correct. Socialism is not the same as social welfare. Strictly defined, socialism is a society in which the government controls (owns) the means of production. Some of those today calling President Obama a socialist will need to look around at how much of the means of production is owned by the government.

In American History the professor was quite young—mid-thirties at the most. He stressed his point that slavery was not the root cause of the Civil War. He laid the tension between North and South to a divergence between the Northern and Southern economies and the respective economic and political powers of the two regions. The North’s greater population gave it a greater vote in Congress, and with that vote came the ability of the North (with little need for slavery) to abolish the institution.

The stereo-type radical liberal professor I never encountered in my academic career. This was the real South, fresh out of racial segregation. The University’s faculty club, the Forty Acre’s Club, was whites only and was being picketed by students. The Supreme Court had only recently ruled the University of Texas School of Law must accept blacks. I lived in the Campus Guild, a student co-op house. We accepted black students. I reviewed at least one application who stated he (it was men only) would not live with a “nigger.” The faculty was wall to wall anti-racist. That was as radically liberal as it got in those days.

After getting my degree I went to work at the University. It was in the Astronomy Department, and the faculty was densely populated with liberals. The department head was liberal to the core and one of the younger professors was near radical. The engineering staff, where I worked, tended to be conservative. I was an exception. They weren’t racist, but some of the stain was only just leaving a few. Two, including my boss, were staunch gun advocates. The discussion came up during the five years I was there. That included the day Charles Whitman killed a number of people, shooting from the clock tower next door to our building.

Does the University currently hold an anti-conservative bias? If it’s there it’s hard to find. An encounter eleven years ago with a UT Austin philosophy professor showed a high tolerance for radical right wing thought.

I will debate the notion of liberal tyranny in American academia in another post. For the moment the conservative push behind Hillsdale’s curriculum is defeated by its own hand. I need only point out a single element. Note the reference to natural law.

Natural law is supposed to be a commonsense recognition of what is right and what is wrong. Political proponents of natural law in this country have appropriated the term and given it religious implications:

“We cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God,” he said on the show “Life Today.”

Despite what Mike Huckabee says and despite what Hillsdale College wants to teach us, people write the laws, and people enforce the laws. A consequence of this special invocation of natural law is the laws that come from God will be the laws that come from those who speak for God. The rule of law will become the rule of the pulpit. Certain provisions of the Bill of Rights will be contravened. The distinction between the United States of America and an Islamic state will become hard to find.

There is enough interest in this topic for a couple of lines of action. My efforts, so far, to obtain a cheap history text will be pursued. I need to discuss any so-called liberal tyranny in the class rooms on the basis of what is being taught rather than on 50-year-old experiences. Additionally I will sign up for Hillsdale College’s free Constitution 101 course. Watch for a review in the near future.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Bad Movie of the Week


I should be saying that I saw this when it first came out, but I’m sure I didn’t. This movie was released in 1944 when I lived in Tolar, Texas, and Tolar never had a movie theater. What I am sure of is that I first saw this at the Palace Theater on the town square in Granbury, Texas, so this means that Republic Pictures must have re-released it later. A quick check with IMDB reveals this is, indeed, the case. Republic released it again in 1954, which was about the time I must have seen it. It’s The Fighting Seabees, starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward.

I obtained this colorized version of the  movie on a VHS tape. That’s a horrible thing to do with a black and white movie. These are screen shots from my DVD copy of the VHS, and I have removed the color.

America has entered World War Two, and we see a transport ship docked in what is presumed to be New York City. This presents a problem with the film, which I will get to later. A bunch of Navy people are getting off along with men in civilian clothes. The civilians are construction workers employed by Wedge Donovan (Wayne), who is there to greet them.

Tragedy has struck. Some of the men are injured. Some are missing (dead). Donovan’s company was employed to construct an airfield on a Pacific island infested by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. The workers complain to Donovan the Navy refused to give them weapons to defend themselves when the Japanese attacked. Donovan is incensed. He quickly is given the opportunity to vent his displeasure in the person of Lieutenant Commander Robert Yarrow, who was in charge of the whole mess. Donovan also gets to meet Commander Yarrow’s pretty girlfriend Constance Chesley (Hayward).


It is so good that Susan Hayward is in this movie. Else this would be nothing but a story of some people coming up with the idea of a special Construction Battalion of uniformed engineers and fighting some Japanese. Hayward adds a bit of sex to an otherwise dry movie. Unfortunately for my teenage hormones back in 1954 this is not Hayward being Hayward at her best. At least not the Hayward of five years before.


I mean, really hot stuff.

Apparently a rarity in John Wayne films—he also dances. Donovan throws a wild party for his workers and ends up doing a mad jitterbug with Twinkles Tucker (Adele Mara). Catch it if you can.



Now we get down to business. The reason the Navy would not give weapons to the construction workers is such a practice is against the rules of war, to which the United States is a signatory. Civilians found carrying weapons of war in a war zone are not treated as war criminals by the enemy and can be summarily executed. That the Japanese did that regardless is no matter. See the example of Wake Island.

On 5 October 1943, American naval aircraft from Yorktown raided Wake. Two days later, fearing an imminent invasion, the Japanese Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara ordered the execution of the 98 captured American civilian workers who had initially been kept to perform forced labor. The 98 were taken to the northern end of the island, blindfolded and executed with a machine gun. One of the prisoners (whose name has never been discovered) escaped the massacre, apparently returning to the site to carve the message 98 US PW 5-10-43 on a large coral rock near where the victims had been hastily buried in a mass grave. The unknown American was recaptured, and Sakaibara personally beheaded him with a katana. The inscription on the rock can still be seen and is a Wake Island landmark.

Anyhow, Donovan refuses to accept the Navy’s invitation to assist in the formation of a combat construction corps, and he returns with his men, still civilians, to the Pacific. Only, against all orders, he smuggles weapons along with the construction equipment. Disaster.

When the Japanese attack, the civilians are ordered into a shelter, while the Navy sets up a defense to ambush the Japanese. Donovan and his men spoil the plan by taking up weapons and rushing into the combat zone. The movie shows what happens when civilian street fighters go up against a trained military force. Donovan’s men suffer tremendous casualties. Pretty Constance, now deeply in love with John Wayne, is badly wounded by a Japanese bullet.


Commander Yarrow does not have Donovan stood up against a palm tree and shot, else there would be no more movie. Back in the States Donovan and his men join the military and form the C.B (Seabee) corps. They undergo military training, are taught to use their weapons and also learn how to fight as an organized unit.

Back on a Pacific Island we see Donovan’s men performing much better in combat, but again Donovan proves to be unfit to lead, when he takes his men out on an unauthorized patrol to put down Japanese sniping.

There’s a final battle, where the Japanese are attacking in hordes, and the Seabees are using construction machinery in the fight. Here’s a bulldozer named Natasha (driven by a Russian), pushing a Japanese tank off a cliff.


A Japanese machine gunner kills the driver, and Donovan takes over. Lashing a thermite charge to the blade, Donovan heads toward a fuel storage tank. The idea is to rupture the tank, set the contents on fire, said contents to spill down the narrow gorge where the Japanese are, driving them out and into the guns of the other troops. It all works, except that the Japanese gunner kills Donovan before he can leap off the bulldozer.


So Commander Yarrow ends up getting the girl, and the Seabees become a force to reckon with from that point forward.

Except this is a fairly bad movie. Where to start?

We see the workers leaving New York harbor, bound for the Pacific? Never going to happen. The east coast of the United States at that time was happy hunting grounds for German submarines. A trip from New York to the Pacific would involve running that gauntlet before passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific. The sensible route, the one most used for Pacific operations, was to go across country by rail and depart from a West Coast port.

We see Seabees landing on a Pacific island. In Higgins Boats? We did not have Higgins Boats that early in the war. Also, Republic Pictures wants to show us Japanese troops landing on the island. They are landed in Higgins Boats.

We are warned the Japanese may infiltrate the island by some of the many waterways. They do. Only they bring tanks in this sneak invasion. Who’s going to land a tank from a small boat in a secluded waterway?

The final scene of the movie heralds the Seabees’ gallant action of June 1942. In June of 1942 we were just getting around to giving the Japanese Navy a drubbing in the Battle of Midway. We were not fighting any Japanese on any isolated Pacific islands. All of the action leading up to that final battle was supposed to have occurred in the months January to May 1942. History has no details of such encounters during this period.

The movie shows how the Seabees got the name. C.B. for Construction Battalion (a battalion is about 1000 troops). C.B. goes to “sea bee.” By sea and working like busy bees. See the insignia.


IMDB notes, and I concur:

Taken as a bit of propaganda and entertainment, and not reflecting in any way historical fact, it achieves it’s aim. IMO, it is not up to the standard of some of Wayne’s other WW2 films of this period such as Sands of Iwo Jima and They Were Expendable.

I have these other two movies, and I will post reviews in a few weeks. Spoiler alert: John Wayne gets killed again.

It was the best of times, it was the end of times

From Google Images

From Google Images

Jesus, it seems I’m doing one of these End of Times posts about every six months. Is there something paradoxical about that?

Nearly four in 10 U.S. residents blame weather catastrophies on end times – poll

By Reuters Staff December 14, 2012
Nearly four in 10 U.S. residents say the severity of recent natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy is evidence the world is coming to an end, as predicted by the Bible, while more than six in 10 blame it on climate change, according to a new poll.

The survey by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service found political and religious disagreement on what is behind severe weather, which this year has included extreme heat and drought.

So what’s next. I’m glad you asked:

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles knows what is to blame for the record California drought: gay people and legal abortion.

You have to hand it to Rick. That makes a lot of sense. See, it works this way. Every time a gay man puts another man’s…

All right, maybe here is a better example. When a baby is born it gives out a little cry. Maybe a big cry. But when a fetus is aborted there’s no cry. And because of the “butterfly effect,” then this gets amplified into the Pacific Ocean currents causing the El Niño to…, and that causes…

Anyhow, you can see how all that goes. You do? Then explain it to me.

In the mean time, Right Wing Watch provides additional information:

While discussing the drought on his “Trunews” radio show yesterday, Wiles said that measures to conserve water are not going to help the state since it is currently experiencing divine punishment.

“Rain will follow repentance,” Wiles said. “The state is in the forefront of spiritual rebellion against God: abortion; homosexuality; pornography; Hollywood’s movies that promote sexual immorality, violence, bloodshed, witchcraft, occult practices; the television industry; the crime and street violence in California cities. All of it has combined to reach a level of depravity that has reached Heaven and God has no other choice but to cut off the rain. So let’s see how long Californians will suffer without water before they humble themselves, repent of their sins and call upon God to save them.”

It’s obvious that’s going to require some explaining. Maybe some Skeptical Analysis.

First, abortion. “The state is in the forefront of spiritual rebellion against God: abortion…” Let’s check the figures.

California: 27.6 per 1000 women (age 15 to 44) in 2008

Compare that to

Arizona: 15.2

That’s interesting. Last time I was out in those places Arizona was getting a lot less rain than California. Possibly we need to look at more figures.

New York: 37.6

It’s obvious New York beats California hands down when it comes to abortion rates. Rain, as well. Could it be God forgot to turn off the tap in New York? Maybe there was some confusion between Arizona and New York. The names are similar. Maybe there is no actual correlation between abortion rates and God’s retribution.

But wait! Is there possibly another explanation? Is it possible that Rick Wiles is just an enormous gas bag, blowing into the microphone and saying anything his audience is likely to believe? Nah! Couldn’t be. But let’s take a look and see which way the wind blows. Right Wing Watch has another bit:

End Times radio host Rick Wiles warned his listeners last week that they have a year to “get out” and “flee America” before Obama destroys the country.

Saying that he also predicted that “Obama would destroy” Syria, Wiles warned that the president is “a man of destruction, darkness and evil” and will “destroy this nation too.”

And more:

Religious Right activist and End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles, who has previously scored interviews with GOP congressmen, dedicated the Monday edition of his “Trunews” program to arguing that President Obama created ISIS in order to build an Islamic caliphate that he will one day lead.

Mother’s, get your daughters off the streets. Did I forget to mention Ebola?

Now this Ebola epidemic can become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague. It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming. Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion. If Ebola becomes a global plague, you better make sure the blood of Jesus is upon you, you better make sure you have been marked by the angels so that you are protected by God. If not, you may be a candidate to meet the Grim Reaper.

Oh, Jesus! I forgot to mention the Nazis:

Wiles said that anti-gay activists need to become more vocal because gay rights advocates are literal Nazis who idolize Adolf Hitler. Wiles said that Nazis had nothing to do with promoting the Aryan race but were instead bent on creating “a homosexual special race.”

“Hitler was trying to create a race of super gay male soldiers,” Wiles said, predicting that gay people in the US will realize Hitler’s goal and launch a mass “slaughter” of Christians.

There. That about covers all the ground. There’s nothing left for Rick Wiles to spout on. Right!

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash, was one of the greatest political sages this country has ever known. Some of his sayings:

1. Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.

2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

3. There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works.

4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

5. Always drink upstream from the herd.

6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.

8. There are three kinds of men:

The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

10. If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.

11. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.

12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring.
He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him.
The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.


First ~Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

Second ~ The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

Third ~ Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me; I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way.
I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved.

Fourth ~ When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.

Fifth ~ You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

Sixth ~ I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.

Seventh ~ One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it’s such a nice change from being young.

Eighth ~ One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.

Ninth ~ Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

Tenth ~ Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft.
Today it’s called golf.

And, finally ~ If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.


Perkins in a Time Warp


You think a time warp is just a device of science fiction? You could be wrong. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins may have found one. Here’s what he said:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke yesterday on his radio show “Washington Watch” with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) about a sex trafficking bill which sparked outrage after Republican leaders included an anti-abortion provision in the otherwise uncontroversial legislation. During the program, a caller suggested that the government combat trafficking by following Levitical law which, according to the caller, “requires the death of the people who enslave or the people who fund the enslavers.”

Perkins responded to the caller by lamenting that the separation of church and state has contributed to sex trafficking in America.

He added:

If you think — you know when people say, ‘oh things aren’t that bad, we don’t need religion, we don’t need God,’ when you take God, the creator, out of the equation, you kick the Ten Commandments out, you remove prayer, the Bible, you remove all of that from the public square and it’s quarantined to churches for an hour or two a week, this is what you get.

Here’s what I think he said: Once we had prayer and the Bible in the public square (government). Now we don’t. One consequence is trafficking in human beings, or at least an increase in such trafficking.

So, when was it that we did have prayer and the Bible in the public square? It must have been before about 1960, about the time the courts started enforcing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. That took prayer and the Bible out of the public square. Before the courts started enforcing this law the power of the government was regularly used to proselytize for religion by promoting Christian prayer in public schools, plus other niceties. Enforcing this law has contributed to the scourge of human trafficking.

When was a time when we did have prayer and the Bible in the public square? It must have been before 1960. Human trafficking was not the problem then as it is now. And it’s because we started enforcing the law.

How was the problem back before we started enforcing the law? I needed to do some research.

A quick check does not bring me any hard statistics. I will just have to go on personal experience. That experience, based on what was printed in the newspapers years ago and what is revealed from popular culture in those days, is that human trafficking did exist. More so than now, it’s hard to tell. There is one source of hard information. That source would be some books on United States history.

History books reveal that years before 1960, back before the law was enforced and prayer and the Bible were excluded from the public square, there was a time when human trafficking was open and rampant in this country. Before it was outlawed in 1865 human trafficking was condoned and widely practiced. What’s more, history shows that proponents of this institution often provided biblical justifications for the practice of slavery:

Exodus 21:20-21King James Version (KJV)

20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

And some more.

I read through that biblical passage a few times, and I never got out of it that there was something wrong with keeping slaves. Readers of the Bible are assured that slaves are legal property.


The Bible offers additional advice:

Judges 19:22-29 King James Version (KJV)

22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.

24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.

25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.

26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.

27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.

28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.

29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

Removing these good words from the public square is going to bring on the ruin of 21st century society.

May Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Happy Days


Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let’s sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again.

When you get to be my age you run out of things you haven’t seen before. Given that, I have a number of topics that continue to amuse me. Donald Trump is one of them:

(Reuters) – Real estate mogul and TV personality Donald Trump took the first steps on Wednesday toward launching a 2016 presidential campaign, a sign the businessman may jump into the Republican race after publicly considering it in years past.

It would appear I’m in for more good times. I’ve laid mention of The Donald a few times in the past, but it may be time now for some serious fun. Where to start? How about with this one:

Mr. Trump was on Fox & Friends a week or so ago, seemingly to pitch his new cologne “Success,” and he made some waves with his comments on “monster shots” and a supposed link between vaccines and the rise in autism. This was indeed relevant conversation, for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently reported that the number of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) had risen to an estimated 1 in 88 (1.1 percent), up from the 1 in 110 estimates released just two years prior. The problem is, although Mr. Trump called his rantings “just a theory,” there was little to no effort made by him nor the stellar Fox & Friends crew to seriously discuss the stunning lack of science behind his claims.

While we never get tired of The Donald’s musings, we may miss out on one of my favorites:

He’s at it again. Last spring, Donald Trump used his television and pop culture celebrity to push a dead issue on whether the President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, was indeed a U.S. citizen. That campaign ended with the release of the President’s long form birth certificate and Mr. Trump announcing how “very proud of himself” he was.

I’m guessing what he’s going to come up with next: “Hillary is a space alien.” You read it here first. Fasten your seat belts, folks. We may be in for some fun.