Bad Movie of the Week

MurderMan-01

This is a low key item from MGM in 1935. It’s The Murder Man, starring Spencer Tracy and Virginia Bruce. It’s mainly a vehicle to showcase Tracy’s emerging talent, and there is not much more than that.

Opening scenes show two crooked business men named Halford (Theodore von Eltz) and Mander (Harvey Stephens) coming up short in a tangle with the law. They run a shady investment firm that makes money by bilking investors. Halford goes beyond that, screwing and ditching a married woman, who, in despair, dumps herself off a ferry boat. They are accumulating enemies. Somebody is going to have to pay.

Mander gets a phone call to pick up a message at a shooting gallery located in a nearby store front. When he gets there, there’s no message but a lot of shooting going on and distraction for the manager. Halford happens to be passing by in his chauffeured car. When he arrives at his destination he is dead. A bullet from the shooting gallery has killed him.

MurderMan-02

Word quickly spreads in the press pool at the police station. One of the reporters is Shorty, played by James Stewart. This is before Stewart appeared in The Shootist, before he starred in It’s a Wonderful Life and before he went off to war and flew 20 combat missions.

MurderMan-03

Ace reporter for The Star is Steve Grey (Tracy), and his assistant is Mary (Virginia Bruce). Steve is assigned to cover the story of the homicide and the subsequent trial of Mander for the murder of his philandering partner.

MurderMan-04

And that’s about it for the action in this movie. Mander is set to be executed for the murder, but Grey won’t allow that to happen, since he is the one who took advantage of the distraction at the shooting gallery and shot Halford. His was the ex-wife who dumped herself in the river, and his was the father who lost a family fortune with the crooked investment firm.

There’s a lot of implausibility going on here. The only case against Mander is his name as beneficiary of a life insurance policy on partner Halford. He was at the scene of the shooting, lured there by the mysterious phone call, but nobody witnessed him doing any shooting. And with everybody around, nobody noticed Grey pilfering a gun from the counter and returning it after the shooting.

The plot attempts to end on an up note as the police chief observes that juries often give consideration for extenuating circumstances. Gray may possibly get out of the slammer in time to make whoopee with sweet Mary before she’s tool old for that sort of thing.

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Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

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Dating Ads for Seniors found in a Florida Newspaper.

You can say what you want about Florida, but you never hear of anyone retiring and moving north. These are actual ads seen in ”The Villages” Florida newspaper.

(Who says seniors don’t have a sense of humor?)

FOXY LADY:
Sexy, fashion-conscious blue-haired beauty, 80’s, slim, 5’4′ (used to be 5’6′),
Searching for sharp-looking, sharp-dressing companion.
Matching white shoes and belt a plus.
—————————————————-

LONG-TERM COMMITMENT:

Recent widow who has just buried fourth husband. Looking for someone to round out a six-unit plot. Dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath not a problem.
—————————————————-

SERENITY NOW:

I am into solitude, long walks, sunrises, the ocean, yoga and meditation. If you are the silent type, let’s get together, take our hearing aids out and enjoy quiet times.
—————————————————-

WINNING SMILE:

Active grandmother with original teeth seeking a dedicated flosser to share rare steaks, corn on the cob and caramel candy.
—————————————————-

BEATLES OR STONES?

I still like to rock, still like to cruise in my Camaro on Saturday nights and still like to play the guitar.
If you were a groovy chick, or are now a groovy hen, let’s get together and listen to my eight-track tapes.
—————————————————-

MEMORIES:

I can usually remember Monday through Thursday.
If you can remember Friday, Saturday and Sunday, let’s put our two heads together.
—————————————————-
My favorite

MINT CONDITION:
Male, 1932 model, high mileage, good condition, some hair, many new parts including hip, knee, cornea, valves. Isn’t in running condition, but walks well.

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

ca. 1850 --- An illustration from a mid-19th century copy of Grand Catechisme des Familles (Christian Doctrine for Families). --- Image by © Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis

ca. 1850 — An illustration from a mid-19th century copy of Grand Catechisme des Familles (Christian Doctrine for Families). — Image by © Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis

Bryan Fischer again? Does he every run out of wacko pronouncements? We can only hope not:

Fischer has talked about resisting, and now he’s talking about prosecution and shutting down churches. If you’re like me by now you are starting to wonder how all of this would play out. First of all, how would Fischer suggest we “resist?”

Better news. He’s back:

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer took a call from “Rebecca in College Station, Texas” who shared her theory that the massive flooding taking place in Texas is God’s punishment for “witchcraft and sodomy.”

As Rebecca explained, the only parts of Texas that are underwater are the parts “that are overrun with witchcraft and sodomy” like Austin and Houston, which has a “sodomite mayor.”

First, we see “Rebecca” making these statements, not Bryan Fischer. What Fischer said in response is equally fascinating:

“If you’re going to attribute the flooding in Texas to some kind of supernatural cause, you can make a geographical connection between the flooding and the practice of the occult and witchcraft and the embrace of homosexuality,” he said. “That’s where the disaster is being felt the worse.”

Fischer then explained that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was also a very localized natural disaster that “just wiped out those two cities where homosexuality had been embraced [so] if you’re going to make a case that there is some supernatural origin to this natural disaster, that would probably be the place to look.”

I have been accused before of being picky. Here’s what brings on those complaints.

  • Much death and destruction occurred in Wimberly. This is in the heart of a very religious and conservative region of the Texas Hill Country. In fact, the Texas Hill Country, where much of the death and destruction was observed, is a region noted for its religious and conservative values.
  • Additional destruction was observed recently in Garland, again a community noted for its religious and conservative values.
  • Beyond all all that, the sad news for Fischer is that rain and flooding are the result of well understood principles of geology and meteorology. Human activities can exacerbate nature’s affliction by building in flood-prone regions and by additional construction that contributes to the flooding.

In short, the mighty hand of God has been noticeably absent this week.

Do I appreciate Rebecca’s innocence regarding varied sex acts? I do, as do we all. “Sodomite mayor?” Does Rebecca know the definition of sodomy? Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker is an acknowledged lesbian. The sex acts that lesbians indulge do not involve sodomy.

Wacko right wing religious fanatics do say the darndest things.

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

Odd Ball Conservatives Say the Darndest Things

Gage Skidmore via Flickr. Phyllis Schlafly

Gage Skidmore via Flickr. Phyllis Schlafly

I’ve always suspected that they do. Still, you can never tell what might come out of their mouths next. Maybe you have a general sense, but the exact language tends to surprise even me:

“Women like to marry a man who makes more than she does,” she explained, “so then she can take time off and work fewer hours when she has something she’d rather do like have a kid and look after her children. So the pay gap, really, is something that women like.”

Of course the famous founder of the Eagle Forum is dead on in her observation that women really enjoy the pay gap. I’m retired now, but as an engineer I managed projects that sometimes had women engineers working on them, and they were telling me constantly not to put them in for a pay raise. Their attitude was so heart warming. It actually hurt me when they opened their pay envelopes and saw that extra money. Some, I’m sure, have never forgiven me.

But, seriously. Just what is it that odd ball conservative Phylis Schlafly said that catches our attention? For starters, there is a (fairly) recent column in WND:

A shocking 46 percent of recent college graduates work in jobs that do not require a college degree. Boys are more likely than girls to look at the cost-benefit tradeoff of going to college. The imbalance of far more women than men at colleges has been a factor in the various sex scandals that have made news in the last couple of years.

So, what’s the solution? One solution might be to impose the duty on admissions officers to arbitrarily admit only half women and half men. Another solution might be to stop granting college loans, thereby forcing students to take jobs to pay for their tuition and eliminate time for parties, perhaps even wiping out time for fraternities and sororities. I went through college while working a full-time manual-labor job, and I don’t regret a minute of it; it was a great learning experience.

Mrs. Schlafly is lamenting the fact that student populations are increasingly dominated by women, and all these sex-hungry women are competing for a dwindling penis base. In this competition, vulnerable young women are giving up not only their innocence but also their ability to say no to male predators. Is it too late for me to go back to college?

I grant all the foregoing may not be the darndest. There is more. A short check shows:

  • The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God. [Quoted in Raymond Coffey (1982-07-08). “Women are the Best Warmakers“. The Day.]
  • The worst censors are those prohibiting criticism of the theory of evolution in the classroom. [Schlafly, Phyllis (2004-12-29). Time to End the Censorship. Phyllis Schlafly Columns. Retrieved on 2007-03-30.]
  • Every country that has experimented with women in actual combat has abandoned the idea, and the notion that Israel uses women in combat is a feminist myth. [Schlafly, Phyllis (2005-06-01). Women Don’t Belong In Ground Combat. Phyllis Schlafly Columns. Retrieved on 2007-03-30.]

Mrs. Schlafly has a problem with modern science, and the outcome has been additional remarks of note:

Liberals see the political value to teaching evolution in school, as it makes teachers and children think they are no more special than animals. Childhood joy and ambition can turn into depression as children learn to reject that they were created in the image of God.

For the record, modern theories of biological evolution are based on findings by sincere scientists gathering evidence from studies of the history of this planet and the manner in which modern organisms are related through a common ancestry. Mrs. Schlafly’s comments appear to be drawn from her belief in a 3000-year-old myth concerning a magical person who created everything and works to manage everybody’s lives to this day.

As an aside, Mrs. Schlafly’s output has not been limited to odd ball remarks. Her son Andrew is founder of Conservapedia:

It might be wiki, but it’s not Wikipedia. It may not even be a pedia. It’s Conservapedia.

Suppose you have a science book, and you can never work the problems at the end of the chapter. Suppose, again, that you are a book publisher. The temptation is great. You have power.

You can write your own book, and you can edit the solutions in the back of the book to match your own. You can be a contender!

Now you get the idea behind Conservapedia.

I don’t know when it first came about that conservative politics and a conservative outlook on life diverged from physical reality, but Conservapedia seems designed to meet this need. Some with a conservative bent find it more convenient to bend reality rather than to deflect their world view.

Read more of the writings of odd ball conservative Phyllis Schlafly to get a better understanding of this peculiar segment of American conservative politics. I will have more to say later.

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

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

Lamech and his Two Wives 1795 by William Blake 1757-1827

There may be a contest going on. We know that politicians say the darndest things, but are the wacko right wing religious fanatics going to beat them out:

For his part, The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of  Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is using all the tools at his disposal to manage the Court’s decision, unfortunately for Graham and his cause. While some of the best legal minds in this country have applied their method, which involves arguing the case before the Court, Graham is employing a method that has never been known to work:

That would be hard to beat. But what we have now is wacko right wing religious fanatic Bryan Fischer:

Bryan Fischer is the former Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association (AFA). He hosts the talk radio program Focal Point onAmerican Family Radio and posts on the AFA-run blog Instant Analysis (formerly Rightly Concerned).

Fischer opposes abortion, national health care, gay adoption, and same-sex marriage. Fischer’s comments about homosexuality caused the AFA to be designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in November 2010. To avoid being classified as a hate group, the AFA has officially repudiated Fischer’s views on Muslims, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, The Holocaust being caused by homosexuals, the outlawing of homosexuality and that LGBT parenting is slavery, and that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian.

We get all of that, but what has Bryan Fischer said that is really outlandish? It could be this:

Christian conservative Bryan Fischer is calling for civil disobedience if the Supreme Court strikes down state bans on gay marriage.

The high court is expected to hand down a ruling next month in a case challenging bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

“This has got to be a non-negotiable red line for us,” Fischer told his radio listeners on Wednesday. “It is absolutely imperative that that we categorically, unambiguously, and publicly declare that we will NEVER … accept the normalization of homosexual marriage, and will NEVER capitulate to any Nazi-esque order from any government at any level to violate either conscience or biblical principle on this matter.”

A particularly curious point from this is the phrase “Nazi-esque.” It’s almost humorous, because normalizing homosexual marriage would have been one of the last things the Nazis of old did. I’m not saying Fischer’s language is incongruous, just humorous. Fischer goes on to say:

“They can’t arrest us all. They can’t prosecute us all. They can’t lock us all up. They can’t shut down every Christian-run business. They can’t shut down every Christian-run school. They can’t shut down every Bible-believing church. They can’t shut down every Christian ministry.”

Fischer has talked about resisting, and now he’s talking about prosecution and shutting down churches. If you’re like me by now you are starting to wonder how all of this would play out. First of all, how would Fischer suggest we “resist?”

So two men get married. We should resist. How? We can approach the happy couple and announce, “No, no. You are not really married.” Are we going to get arrested? Certainly not. The First Amendment is not going to be abrogated by any legalization of homosexual marriage. Nobody is going to be arrested for telling people those two men are not married.

How about the churches? What have churches to do with homosexual marriage? What have churches always had to do with marriage? According to the law, nothing. The law does not recognize a religious marriage ceremony. Excluding what is termed “common law marriage,” people are married when they obtain and execute a marriage license from a government agency. This certificate is then presented by a married couple when they want to take advantage of any of the legal advantages of marriage. Those advantages would include filing joint tax returns, inheritance rights, custody of children. Nothing churches do affects this aspect of marriage.

About this time some explanation is in order.

What changes in the law are about, what the court decisions are all about is what public officials do. What people in this country have to do to have their marriage legally recognized is to petition the government, in all cases a local government agency. The federal government does not perform this service. People wanting to have their marriage recognized ask a favor of a local government agency. “Please issue us a marriage license.” It is state agencies refusing to accept certain petitions for marriage licenses that is at issue. Notice in all of this no church is involved.

I was unable to reconcile Fischer’s reference to Christian-run schools with the matter at hand, so I’m going to let that slide. How about Christian-run businesses? Here is where the law comes into play, and it is not about homosexual marriage.

There is a federal law from 1964 that prohibits business that are open to the public from excluding customers based on their religious and racial backgrounds and such. Some courts have extended this to discrimination based on sexual preference. Put bluntly, legalizing homosexual marriage would likely have no effect on similar court rulings in the future. A notable case in New Mexico involved a photography studio, open for business to the public, refusing to provide photo services for a homosexual wedding. The rejected customers sued and won. The legality of the homosexual marriage would not have affected this case. What the business said in essence was that homosexuality is a sin, and the company did not want to do business with homosexuals.

Some digression here. I have been in that business. I have been in the business of photographing weddings. It’s one of the scariest businesses on this planet. It’s only a notch down from open heart surgery. The risks and consequences of failure are legion.

  • If you have an equipment malfunction, and the photos are ruined you can be sued. The cost of the wedding might have been multiple thousands of dollars, and you have spoiled it completely by denying the happy couple their only photos of the event.
  • Once a bride posed incorrectly, the tiara was not at the correct angle. The photographer didn’t catch the mistake. The photographer did not even know there was a correct angle. There was a law suit.
  • One couple later changed their minds and wanted a different wedding. The photographer was sued for the cost of re-staging the wedding (photographer won the suit).

I can imagine a photographer, in business for decades, being approached for the first time to photograph a homosexual wedding. He might feel as though he were peering into his open grave.

Wedding cakes are a matter. “We want a homosexual wedding cake.” “I can do that.” “We want our cake to have figures of two men on top of the cake.” “We have some figures, they are only of of a man and a woman. We don’t have any with two men.” “We insist you make us a cake and put figures of two men on the cake.” You can see there are possibilities the law of 1964 will be abused.

And do you know what? None of these cases result from the legalization of homosexual marriage. Regardless of whether homosexual marriage is legally recognized in a locality, these cases can still come up. Remember, all the local government does is to issue a license, a certificate. The business owner requested to photograph a homosexual wedding and the bakery requested to supply a cake never ask to see the license. That never enters into the business transaction. A business may be required to serve all customers regardless of whether homosexual marriage is recognized by the government.

Finally, “shut down every Christian ministry?” Really? The government will be shutting down churches? The First Amendment is now history? If the government ever got into shutting down churches it would have started with the People’s Temple.

jimjones_jonestown

Nah, I don’t think it’s likely the government is going to be shutting down any churches.

Back to Bryan Fischer. What is he thinking? Is he thinking? I’m thinking he is not thinking. I’m thinking his revulsion for homosexuality needs some outlet, and he is allowing his voice to vent his frustration absent any working of his brain.

And that’s just fine, because this sort of thing provides amusement for the rest of us and employment for me.

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

Why Obama Won

This came up in an exchange recently. It went something like, “This explains how Obama got elected twice.” The actual reason given was an obvious joke, but I got to wondering about the real answer. How did Barack Obama get elected, and twice at that? I did a little research and came up with some answers.

In his first run for the office in 2008 Barack Obama exhibited an amazingly capable electioneering strategy. His team was in tune with the electorate that counted, knew how to organize popular support, and spent campaign resources wisely on the votes needed to win the election without wasting a lot of effort getting votes his campaign did not need. He received 68,498,516 of the popular vote, or 52.9% of the total against Senator McCain’s 59,948,323, or 45.7%. The remaining 1.4% voted for other people. Obama carried 28 states plus D.C. and 2 of Nebraska’s 4 electoral votes, for a total of 365 electoral votes. Senator McCain obtained 173 electoral votes.

That was the first round. In the 2012 election, then President Obama doubled down on his strategy of four years before, organizing the party loyals and working the critical voting mass. In 2012 the President obtained 332 electoral votes against Governor Romney’s 206. The President was re-elected with 51.1% of the popular vote against Romney’s 47.2%.

And that was how the President did it. But there was more. President Obama had help. He had help from an unlikely source. He had help from the Republicans. Here is what happened. Start with 2008. See the following photograph:

Photo from Google Images by The New York Times

Photo from Google Images by The New York Times

This photo was taken prior to the 2008 election, and it shows Senator McCain in Iraq. Specifically we see him telling viewers that the situation in Iraq is vastly improved and is quite safe. The problem is that people seeing this photo and video from the trip can’t miss noticing that the senator is wearing body armor and is protected by armed soldiers. His statements at the time were seen as naive at the least and duplicitous at the worst. My appreciation of the electoral process holds that voters can stand a duplicitous candidate but not a naive one. Strike one against Senator McCain going into the election.

Here is another photograph.

www.washingtonpost.com Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin acknowledges the crowd during a campaign rally for John McCain at the Pima County ...

http://www.washingtonpost.com Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin acknowledges the crowd during a campaign rally for John McCain at the Pima County …

That’s right. This is the image that sank the McCain campaign in 2008, and it was engineered entirely by Republicans. The moment I heard that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin had been selected as the Republican vice presidential candidate, I knew, and most others in this country knew, it was game over. At that moment I knew Senator Barack Obama would be the next President of the United States. My logic, and likely the thinking of others went like this. There had been much talk about the 3 a.m. phone call. Which person, Barack Obama or John McCain would be best to take the 3 a.m. phone call requiring immediate and decisive presidential action. The selection of a vice presidential candidate is one such critical decision, and by signing off on Governor Palin’s nomination, John McCain demonstrated that when the chips were down he could not be counted on to make the right decision.

In addition to the two major Republican gaffs just mentioned, the Republican Party had for the eight years prior to the 2008 election given the Democrats a sledge hammer with which to beat them. The Iraq war was seen by all as a major military, diplomatic and financial disaster. The Republican president at the time, former Texas Governor George W. Bush, followed up the Iraq disaster with continuing lapses of leadership, not the least of which was the government’s response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. By the time  the Bush presidency was over Americans were willing to elect:

  • A black man
  • A black man whose father was Muslim
  • A black man whose father was not an American citizen
  • A black man whose middle name was Hussein
  • A black man whose last name rhymes with Osama

Americans were that tired of President George W. Bush and the Republican party. And that’s how Barack Obama got elected the first time.

The second time around, now-President Obama continued to get tremendous lift from Republicans. In particular, Republican candidate Governor Mitt Romney showed disdain for the American electorate by mentioning  that “47%” of voters would vote for the president, because they were dependent on the government and could not be convinced to take personal responsibility. Governor Romney made these remarks at a private fund-raising event, and the remarks were directed toward people he expected to support and to fund his campaign. Many voters interpreted this episode as meaning Governor Romney would owe allegiance to these donors and not to them. Supposing the governor were right with his 47% remark. That would mean he would lose all of those 47% and would have to obtain over 90% of the remaining votes to get elected. President Obama surely said a quiet thank you to Governor Romney.

Additional help came from the other prominent Republicans. People in the news media caught on to a trick question and brought it up in interviews. “What are your thoughts on biological evolution? How about global warming?” With few exceptions, the remaining Republican candidates were unable to correctly answer these questions from basic science. A large section of the American electorate will vote for a candidate who demonstrates little benefit from a 20th century education, but the Republican Party’s nearly solid stance against science was enough to put off a significant block of others. Governor Romney, though not sharing these odd views on science, nonetheless saw a lot of his luster rub off due to his association with the Republican Party.

Additionally during this period the Republican Party was becoming to be known as “the party of God.” The First Amendment notwithstanding, a big part of the Republican agenda seemed inclined to make the United States Government the agent of a narrow religious sect. It possibly came as a surprise to Republican candidates at election time, but even deeply devout Christians, Jews and Muslims do not hold to having the government become an arm of the church.

During this time, as well, the Republican Party increasingly exhibited disdain for segments of society deemed unworthy. This particularly included members of the LGBT community. Republican candidates were reluctant to endorse legislation that specifically protected the rights of homosexuals and others. The religious arm of the Party was part and parcel to this slant. Republican positions opposing consideration for homosexuals were reinforced by the Republicans’ religious agenda. Religious fundamentalists interpreted biblical scripture as condemning homosexuality, and Republicans defended maligning homosexuals on religious grounds. Voters watching from the side perceived that these people found homosexuality repulsive and were using religion as a moral backstop. Otherwise conservative voters abandoned Governor Romney and voted for the candidate who advocated an inclusive government.

In 2010 President Obama managed to push his promised Affordable Care Act through Congress, and it became law. It is a mandate laid on the insurance industry, and its goal is to make affordable medical insurance available to many who were previously unable to obtain it. Republicans threatened to repeal the ACA at the first opportunity, and Governor Romney lost votes of those who would benefit from the law.

In 2011 President Obama signed off on a special operation that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The President was beginning to look like a person who could get things done.

Come election night on 6 November 2012 President Obama must have again acknowledged the special contribution the Republican Party made to his re-election.

And I thank you, as well. Every last one of you.

This Gun for Hire

It’s a classic from Graham Greene. I don’t have a dust jacket image, so I’m just going to post an image from the movie.

ThisGun-02

It’s This Gun for Hire, originally titled A Gun for Sale in 1936. The movie from Paramount came out in 1942 and featured Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake and Robert Preston. My involvement comes by a circuitous path.

I wanted to review the film noir spoof Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, which features Steve Martin and a number of Hollywood classics by way of clips worked into the narrative. But first I needed to review some of the classic films noir that get sucked into the plot. I obtained a copy of the Alan Ladd movie for review and decided I needed to review the Greene novel, as well. Here we are.

The movie is set in California. The novel starts out in London. The plots are parallel, but distinct, with one observation. Greene has taken what should have been a Mickey Spillane plot and written Sons and Lovers. Locale and character development are helpful for a crime novel, but Greene at times buries the plot in sparkling prose. Additionally, the treatment is uneven.

Much is made of the formation of the evil that is Raven, the assassin. There is considerable breadth but not much depth. His father was a criminal, ending life at the end of a rope. His mother cut her own throat, leaving her young son to find the body. English “homes” were properly Dickensonian, cruel and uncaring—factories for criminals. But Raven, still in his twenties and already an accomplished killer, views the world with a comic strip mentality. He has executed an assignment to kill a Czech minister and is revolted at the injustice of being double crossed by the people who hired him. He perceives that people working on the same side of the legal divide should play fair. Greene would have done better to give Raven a more cynical outlook.

Anne is the young and attractive show girl who is engaged to the detective assigned to track down Raven. Considering how her character is so essential to unfolding the plot, she remains a cardboard cutout compared to Raven. Anne meets Raven on the train to Nottwich, where she has an assignment in a musical review. Raven is going there to take vengeance on the industrialist who hired him and then exposed him to the police. Raven kidnaps Anne on the train and uses her as cover to elude the police at the Nottwich station. He plans to murder her to keep her silent, but this plan (as in the movie) is foiled when others barge in, and Anne escapes. In the mean time Anne has learned from Raven about the plot to murder the Czech minister in order to start a war. She decides to throw in her lot with Raven, with the idea of stopping the war. A better view of Anne’s background would have helped readers appreciate what is driving Anne.

Irony upon irony tumbles without end the remainder of the narrative. I don’t dislike irony. Irony makes for interesting stories. Irony can work for plot development. A good story should not be all about irony. This one practically is:

  • Anne is engaged to the detective who is tracking Raven.
  • Of all the people on the train to Nottwich, Raven picks Anne to kidnap.
  • Once Anne has escaped from Raven, keeping their escapade to herself, the very person she meets at the show rehearsal is Davis, the man who hired and double-crossed Raven.

The plot flows from there, already carrying an overload of irony. Anne, for reasons unknown to a thinking person, decides to play detective and to probe the man Davis. She gets herself invited to a luncheon date with Davis, who shortly sniffs her acquaintance with Raven. Davis makes a play at murdering Anne in a rented bedroom but decides instead to merely truss her up and stuff her into the fireplace. Raven, tracking Davis, rescues Anne.

Next comes the need for Raven to penetrate the security of Midland Steel, where the evil Sir Marcus manages his schemes. Marcus has ordered the murder of the Czech minister to get a war going to save Midland Steel from financial ruin. Fortunately, with war approaching, a gas attack drill is scheduled for the day. Raven filches a gas mask to use as a disguise. He filches it from medical student Buddy Fergusson, out on the street during the drill to catch people not wearing their masks. Greene dives fathoms into the Guy Fawkes pranks that lead up to Buddy’s rendezvous with Raven along a deserted street. A different writer would just have Raven waiting in a dark alley to catch the first chump to come along with a gas mask.

The climatic scene is in the office of Sir Marcus, where Greene draws out the final moments of Raven. Spillane could have accomplished this in three sentences or fewer:

Raven watched him with bemused eyes, trying to take aim. It wasn’t a difficult shot, but it was almost as if he had lost interest in killing. He was only aware of a pain and despair which was more like a complete weariness than anything else. He couldn’t work up any sourness, any bitterness, at his betrayal. The dark Weevil under the storm of frozen rain flowed between him and any human enemy. “Ah, Christ that it were possible,” but he had been marked from his birth for this end, to be betrayed in turn by everyone until every avenue into life was safely closed: by his mother. bleeding in the basement, by the chaplain at the home, by the soft kids who had left it with him, by the shady doctor off Charlotte Street. How could he have expected to escape the commonest betrayal of all, to go-soft on a skirt? Even Kite would have been alive now if it hadn’t been for a skirt. They all went soft at some time or another: Penrith and Carter, Jossy and Ballard, Barker and the Great Dane. He took aim slowly, absent-mindedly, with a curious humility, with almost a sense of companionship in his loneliness: the trooper and Mayhew. They had all thought at one time or another that their skirt was better than other men’s skirts, that there was something exalted in their relation. The only problem when you were once born was to get out of life more neatly and expeditiously than you had entered it For the first time the idea of his mother’s suicide came to him without bitterness, as he fixed his aim at the long reluctant last and Saunders shot him in the back through the opening door. Death came to him in the form of unbearable pain. It was as if he had to deliver this pain as a woman delivers a child, and he sobbed and moaned in the effort. At last it came out of him, and he followed his only child into a vast desolation.

[This Gun for Hire, pp. 146-147]

Then comes the denouement. Anne has wrecked her life, to say the least her plans for the future with Detective Mather. She is on the train back to London and likely jail. She has not stopped the war. Three people, including Raven, are dead. And she is complicit.

Then the train compartment door opens. It’s her lover, Detective Mather. He tells her they need to get married when the train reaches London. He’s getting a promotion. She’s to receive a grant. She has averted the war. (For the time being. The war started three years after this was published.) By this means Greene brings his convoluted narrative to a crashing conclusion. And I’m not going to dive into the enormous side issue of the crotchety old woman who ran the rent-a-bed joint and her addled husband Acky. That would be too much.

Recapping from a previous post:

Greene is an author I have long overlooked:

Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH (2 October 1904 – 3 April 1991) was an English novelist and author regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene had acquired a reputation early in his own lifetime as a great writer, both of serious Catholic novels and of thrillers (or “entertainments” as he termed them); however, even though shortlisted in 1967, he was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through 67 years of writings which included over 25 novels, he explored the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world, often through a Catholic perspective.

He also wrote The Third Man, which, along with the movie, I will hold for review until the 70th anniversary. Add to this  The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana, and you have quite a contribution to 20th century Hollywood. I have not seen Our Man in Havana, but I have seen The Quiet American. No review is planned.

Bad Movie Wednesday

ThisGun-01

I wasn’t able to record this one from Turner Classic Movies, so I ordered a copy from Amazon. It’s This Gun For Hire from Paramount in 1942. The story is by Graham Greene, who also wrote the screen play for The Third Man. I will do a review later.

Alan Ladd is Phillip Raven, a hired gun, and his day is off to a bad start. He’s going to be wearing the same suit until the final scenes. His alarm clock gets him up in time for his appointment with a chemist, who has stolen the formula for a poison gas. Raven is supposed to pay for the stolen formula, then kill the chemist. He goes to the mans apartment. The man’s sexy girlfriend is there. Raven accepts the offer of cookies off a platter while waiting to complete the exchange and the killing.

ThisGun-02

When Raven shoots the chemist his girlfriend takes refuge in the kitchen. He shoots her through the door. These are famous scenes that will later show up in Steve Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. That’s for another review.

ThisGun-03

What Raven does not do is to kill the little girl sitting on the stairs as he enters and leaves. He discovers she is blind.

Later Willard Gates (Laird Cregar) pays Raven off with hot money, the idea being the police will exterminate Raven, leaving Gates and his own employer in the clear. That’s not going to work.

ThisGun-04

It doesn’t take long for Raven to pass one of the hot bills and get the police on his trail. Gates is headed for Los Angeles, where Nitro Chemical Company is located. Also one of Gates’ night clubs, where Gates has engaged Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake) to perform her singing and magic act. By coincidence Raven seats himself on the Los Angeles train beside Ellen, and Gates sees this. He thinks she is in cahoots with Raven. Actually, she has just volunteered to spy on Gates for a Senate committee investigating treasonous Americans (this is during World War Two). Also, by coincidence, Ellen’s fiancée is police detective Michael Crane (Robert Preston), who is assigned the case of tracking down Raven, for the time being wanted only for the murderous heist.

ThisGun-05

It gets complicated, and I’m not going to diagnose the plot.

ThisGun-07

Raven saves Ellen after Gates and his henchman arrange to have her dumped into a large body of water. In gratitude, Ellen assists Raven to elude a police dragnet, and Raven penetrates Gates’ secure office wearing  the henchman’s uniform and gas mask (there is a poison gas drill going on at the company).

ThisGun-06

Raven forces Gates and his employer, the treasonous head of Nitro Chemical Alvin Brewster (Tully Marshall), to sign a confession. It’s all for naught. Brewster immediately dies of a heart attack, and a bullet dispenses with Gates. Additional bullets dispense with Raven. He dies as Ellen Graham assures him he did the right thing.

What’s mainly wrong with this is it’s disjoint with the original plot. The book, A Gun for Sale, was published in 1936, when the United States was not even thinking about getting involved in World War Two, which was due to start three years.

Character motivation in this movie is at odds with good sense. Gates apparently engineered a heist at Nitro Chemical, including killing a guard, to obtain the hot money to pay off Raven. Talk about unnecessarily complicating your life! Once Raven gets wise to the hot money, there is not much to keep him from dropping a dime (and the hot money) on Raven. Of course the police will still be looking for him in the chemist killings, but that secret is soon out anyhow.

Raven tends to kill people who can expose him, and he makes plans to kill Ellen, which plans are interrupted by pesky workmen arriving in the nick of time. However, when Raven gets the drop on Gates’ henchman (while rescuing Ellen) he merely shoves him down the stairs and takes his gun.

A lot of it doesn’t make sense.

However, it’s a good story. The Third Man came out in 1949 and boasts an even more perforated plot. I will get into that in the next few weeks.

Graham Green wrote A Gun for Sale in 1936, and the plot has been dramatized multiple times. The acrobatics that transformed the original story into this movie are something to behold. It’s as though the producers said, “That’s a good story line, but the details are all wrong.” My take (could be mistaken) is that plot lines are cheap. I can come up with ten good ones on a rainy afternoon. It’s the details that make the story. Dore Schary wrote the movie script. The plot skeleton seems to be the only thing preserved from Greene to Hollywood:

  • Greene’s story starts in London and moves to the fictional town of Nottwich. The movie starts in San Francisco and moves to Los Angeles.
  • Greene’s Raven has a deformed lip that makes him identifiable. Schary’s Raven has a broken wrist.
  • Greene’s Raven kills a disaffected Czech minister and his secretary. Schary’s Raven kills a traitorous chemist.
  • Greene’s murder case threatens to start a war. Schary’s murder case uncovers a Japanese espionage plot.
  • In both stories Raven is paid off in hot bills from a contrived heist.
  • In both stories an attractive show girl has a fiancée who is a police detective involved in hunting for Raven. In both stories the girl travels on the same train Raven takes to track down the man who set him up with the hot cash. Both stories have Raven kidnapping the girl on the train and taking her to a secluded place to kill her. In both cases his plan is thwarted by unexpected intruders.
  • In both stories the girl runs afoul of Raven’s betrayer and is imprisoned—left trussed up in a fireplace (closet in the movie). Raven rescues her, and they team up and spend the night, holed up together in an empty shed (railway car in the movie) while the police surround their hideout.
  • In both cases the girl helps raven escape by wearing his hat and coat and decoying the police. Raven shots a cop and escapes.
  • There is a gas drill, and Raven cops a gas mask and uses it as a disguise to infiltrate the office of the aging and wretched industrialist who masterminded the original murder for hire. Raven kills both the king pin and the middle man, to the delight of the top guy’s long-suffering valet. The police kill Raven.
  • Green’s tale has the girl’s actions averting a war. In the movie the Japanese espionage plot is foiled.

Greene is an author I have long overlooked:

Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH (2 October 1904 – 3 April 1991) was an English novelist and author regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene had acquired a reputation early in his own lifetime as a great writer, both of serious Catholic novels and of thrillers (or “entertainments” as he termed them); however, even though shortlisted in 1967, he was never awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through 67 years of writings which included over 25 novels, he explored the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world, often through a Catholic perspective.

Besides the two works already mentioned, Greene is responsible for The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana. I obtained the retitled This Gun for Hire from Amazon in the form of a trilogy 3 by Graham Greene. It’s no longer in print, and mine is a second hand copy, just a few dollars plus shipping. No Kindle copies, which is a shame. E-books are becoming such a convenience, particularly for me and especially for every reader running out of shelf space.

Keep reading.

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

SamsonTemple

I think I’m beginning to find my stride. Not only am I never going to run out of the darndest things politicians say, I’m never going to run out of politicians. They must be breeding somewhere off in the dark:

It may be only a sad fact for Governor Huckabee, but it’s another side of this that bears attention. That other side would be the Governor’s fact-deficient statements regarding archeology and the Bible. Contrary to what Governor Huckabee believes, contrary to what Governor Huckabee wants us to believe, archeology does not support the Bible. Nor does history. Where to start?

But that was only former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. What about the other presidential contenders? What about Senator Marco Rubio of Florida?

“We are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech, because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater,” the Florida senator said. “So what’s the next step after that? After they’re done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech. And that’s a real and present danger.”

I grant this is a strong statement. How about a little Skeptical Analysis? How about starting with “[I]f you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.” Let’s refine that. Translating it I get “If you don’t carry an LGBT banner down the street, then you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.” I hope that’s not what the senator meant to say, because I don’t carry the flag, and you would be hard put to label me as such. How about this translation: “If you denounce homosexuals as sinners and second class citizens, undeserving of equal treatment, then you are a homophobe and a hater.” That’s closer to reality. But it’s not exactly what the senator said. What’s next?

How about, “[T]he next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech.” There could be some truth there, depending on how you define the teachings of mainstream Christianity. If you define the teachings of mainstream Christianity as something like, “Jesus teaches us that we are all God’s children, equally deserving of our kindness and consideration,” then you would be hard put to argue “[T]he teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech.” On the other hand, if you define the teachings of mainstream Christianity to be, “God hates fags,” then you’re going to be dead on concluding this would be considered hate speech.

Finally, regarding “a real and present danger,” Senator Rubio should look to the decadence within. The Bible recounts the tale of a temple that needed to be brought down:

Judges 16:25-30 King James Version (KJV)

25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them.

27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.

28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.

30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

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

Odd Moments

CircuitBoard-01

In college I didn’t go for a degree in electrical engineering, because I considered the EE equations to be very messy, dealing with various harmonics and such. But I did take one EE course and obtained a degree in Engineering Science. Eventually I got a job as a mechanical engineer for a company that made optical character recognition equipment and document processing systems.

This was about 40 years ago, and we hired this guy Bill. Bill was an ex-Air Force electronics technician, and he was a sharp guy. He didn’t have a college degree, but he knew how all that stuff worked. I talked to Bill a lot and picked up some good knowledge from him.

I had this team of engineers, and we were designing a system to go in banks and process checks that people brought to the counter. And there was this other guy, Bob, and he wasn’t in our group, but he was an EE, and he was really sharp. He worked on some of the cutting edge stuff the company was developing, and one of the things he was working on was ASICs. ASIC is just a short term for Application Specific Integrated Circuit, and the idea was that companies that made them had a set of prepared designs, and you told them what you wanted your circuit to do, and they would produce a photo mask for the die. They would then produce short production runs of the die. A die is the proper term for an integrated circuit chip, and these could be quite large and complex.

Anyhow, Bob was a real whiz, and he got a lot of respect wherever he went. When he walked through the area people tended to just step back and let him pass.

Anyhow, Bob was working on a new concept, and he stopped by my desk and asked me about the problem he was having. I listened to him for about a minute, and it dawned on me what the problem was. I explained it to Bob, and he said something like, “Oh, yeah.” And he went away happy.

Then I looked up, and some of the guys on my team were looking at me, and it was a kind of strange look. I got back to working on what I was supposed to be doing, but I thought I could feel eyes on my back. For a few minutes it was a weird situation, and I thought about it again earlier this week. It was one of those odd moments.

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

From Raiders of the Lost Ark

From Raiders of the Lost Ark

Yes, this is not going to get old. When the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is not so delightful, and there are no reports of UFOs landing on the White House lawn, I can always count on politicians saying the darndest things:

That’s it. That’s the answer. There was a person. There is a person who supervised the design of all life on this planet. A quick search of the CNSNews article does not reveal the identity of this person. Does Dr. Carson anywhere say who this person might be? Does Dr. Carson conjecture who this person might be? Does Carson even know? The world wonders.

Not to be outdone, noted politician and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee has stepped forward to fill in for the absent UFOs. He has help.

Meet Harry Moskoff, the man who is becoming known as the “Jewish Indiana Jones.” A filmmaker and researcher by hobby and an IT specialist by trade, Moskoff has spent the last 25 years of his life dedicated to uncovering the location of the Lost Ark.

“Truth of the matter is, for the last 25 years, it’s been a personal hobby of mine to find the Makom Hamikdash, the exact location where the Jewish Temple once stood,” he told Breaking Israel News.

Inspired by the teachings of Maimonides, Moskoff has met with world renowned rabbinical and archaeological authorities in Israel as he comes closer to finding the Lost Ark.

Moskoff’s book is The ARK Report: The Ark of the Covenant and the Tunnels of Israel. A co-author is Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg. Prominent is a lengthy interview with the former governor. Mother Jones cites an excerpt from this interview:

HUCKABEE: One of the great things about archeology is that it’s never controverted a biblical truth. It’s always affirmed it. Archeology is one of the best friends truth will ever have. It’s certainly one of the best friends the Bible will ever have, because every discovery validates that which has been presented in scripture. And those who want to say well, the bible, we can’t depend upon it; so far what we can know is that when there’s an archeological (sic) discovery, it brings a validation to the point of the Bible,rather than to a repudiation of it. That ought to be comforting to every person of faith. Now, will that result in the world standing back and saying, well, we didn’t know that you have these archeological and historical facts now to back it up, so we’re going to change our view?

Governor Huckabee goes on to say people’s views are not going to change, and observes this is a sad fact.

It may be only a sad fact for Governor Huckabee, but it’s another side of this that bears attention. That other side would be the Governor’s fact-deficient statements regarding archeology and the Bible. Contrary to what Governor Huckabee believes, contrary to what Governor Huckabee wants us to believe, archeology does not support the Bible. Nor does history. Where to start?

Let’s start in the beginning:

Genesis 1 King James Version (KJV)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

No.

No archeology, no history, no findings of fact support the first few sentences of the Bible. The same goes for the first few paragraphs, the first few sections, the first few books, and hardly a word of the remainder. All rigorous analyses of the geological evidence produces the conclusion that the Universe came into being about 13 billion years ago, and that the Earth was formed from remnants of an exploded star about 4.5 billion years ago. Facts being what they are, the Bible contains two accounts of the creation of the Earth. And they contradict each other.

Daniel Lazare “is a journalist and author of three books.” An item he wrote for Harper’s Magazine in March 2002 discusses a number of conflicts between the Bible and reality. A prior post from The North Texas Skeptics highlights some troubling issues:

  • Use of camels. Abraham sent out a servant with camels to find a wife for his son, Isaac. This was about 2100 to 1800 BCE Actually, camels were not much used for transport in this area until after 1000 BCE
  • Isaac and Abimelech. Abimelech was king of the Philistines, and Isaac sought help from him, which could not be much later than 1800 BCE Problem is, there were no Philistines present until after 1200 BCE
  • Heshbon and Edom. Hebrews fought King Sihon at Heshbon and also the king of Edom. But these two cities did not exist at the time of the supposed battles.
  • Forty years in the Sinai. Archeologists cannot find any trace of such a large number of people living in the Sinai during the time the Jews were supposed to be wandering or camped there.
  • Invasion of Canaan. There is no indication of an invasion. It appears “a distinctive Israelite culture arose locally around 1200 BCE as nomadic shepherds and goatherds ceased their wanderings and began settling down in the nearby uplands” according to Lazare. 2 The Israelites were there all along and were much like other cultures in the area at that time. They differentiated themselves from the others by abstaining from pork, as evidenced by a lack of pig bones in the archeological digs.
  • Envy of the hillbillies. Supposedly David and Solomon of Judah built a great civilization and lived lavishly during the time 1005 to 931 BCE and also ruled over the kingdom of Israel to their north. Archeological evidence does not indicate the southern mountain tribes were all that prosperous. Evidence does exist for a prosperous and worldly tribe of Israel, and there is no indication the two nations were ever joined.

I wrote the above review and used the term “Jews” when “Hebrews” would have been correct.

Given this, it would be well for Governor Huckabee, when he has time in his busy schedule (running for President) to cite some factual research to back his assertions. It may be well, but it will not be likely to happen. The Governor has dug himself in too deep. Start with a Newsweek interview eight years back:

I wanted to follow up on a question you and the other candidates got at the YouTube debate about whether you believe every word in the Bible. Do you believe the Bible is inerrant?
I believe it is. There are some things in the Bible that were clearly intended to be figurative: “If the eye offends thee, go pluck it out.” Did Jesus mean that we were supposed to take our fingertips, reach deep into our eye and pull it out if we see something we don’t think we should see? Obviously not. “Inerrant” means if you follow the direction of the Bible, it will not lead you into error.

Governor Huckabee may have said a number of things following his first sentence, but those four words are going to be hard to back out.

Be assured we will be hearing much more from the former Governor of Arkansas.

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

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

 

BaptismOfChrist-01

And the beat goes on. Is there any end to this? We hope not:

Not wanting to be pedantic, but lunar eclipses are a natural occurrence and have been scheduled by the forces of nature in action millions of years ago. We know enough about this natural feature to forecast blood moons for the next few million years. Whether people misbehave has no effect on whether there will be a blood moon, much less a blood moon as a “heavenly billboard.”

As with all hope, ask and ye shall receive. Thank you Reverend Graham:

I appreciate all of you who have joined me in praying for our Supreme Court Justices individually over the past five days. Today, let’s focus our prayers on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has served on the Court for over two decades. Those who support same-sex marriage consider her an ally in their fight to toss God’s Holy Word aside. As the Supreme Court continues to deliberate over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, let’s pray that Justice Ginsburg’s eyes would be opened to the truth of Scripture and that she would not be deceived by the arguments of those who seek to impose their “new morality” on our nation.

Franklin Graham, son of the more famous Billy Graham, is concerned about the issue of government sanction of marriages for same-sex couples. This is now before the Supreme Court, and Graham is concerned that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg will vote in favor of the mandate. He has great reason to be concerned. Bookmakers in Las Vegas are likely giving ten to one odds.

For his part, The Reverend Franklin Graham, president of  Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is using all the tools at his disposal to manage the Court’s decision, unfortunately for Graham and his cause. While some of the best legal minds in this country have applied their method, which involves arguing the case before the Court, Graham is employing a method that has never been known to work:

During the same weekend that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over the wedding of a same-sex couple, evangelist Franklin Graham was writing a prayer to change her mind on same-sex marriage.

“As the Supreme Court continues to deliberate over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage,” Graham wrote in a Facebook message, “let’s pray that Justice Ginsburg’s eyes would be opened to the truth of Scripture and that she would not be deceived by the arguments of those who seek to impose their ‘new morality’ on our nation.”

If The Reverend Franklin Graham’s prayer defense is all the anti-LGBT crowd has going for it, then same-sex marriage is a shoe-in across the nation. Worse news is that The Reverend Graham has a reputation for misconstruing reality:

On July 26, I learned that one of our key Samaritan’s Purse doctors, Kent Brantly, medical director of our case management center in Liberia, had tested positive for the Ebola virus. In that moment my heart sank and I could hardly speak. As I hung up the phone, overwhelmed with uncertainty and anguish, I prayed—along with hundreds, and soon thousands, of others around the world.

Seven days later, with God’s help and assistance from the U.S. State Department, theWorld Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the world watched Brantly, dressed in hazmat gear, slowly walk into a special isolation and treatment unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. We owe a debt of gratitude to all these partners, and we thank God for his release from the hospital today.

In case you missed The Reverend Graham’s point, what he said was, “I have found that I can achieve more with a prayer and modern medicine than I can with prayer alone.”

Is The Reverend Franklin Graham finished with his public displays of incongruity? We can pray that he is not. And our prayers will be answered.

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

Politicians Unclear

Yes, this isn’t likely to go away soon. History motivates this conclusion:

All right. That just about unraveled all the good sense that went before. Senate Majority Leader Norris reminds us, “I hear Satan snickering. He loves this kind of mischief.” Ignoring completely what is well known, that Satan is a mythical character. Can we surmise Senator Norris thinks The Great Pumpkin will be snickering, as well?

What is it about otherwise intelligent people that bubbles the stupid to the top the moment they get the hots for public office. Do they feel the need to plumb the depths of the electorate gene pool? Possibly.

Then, who’s the candidate of the day? That would be Jeb Bush, son of a famous U.S. President and brother of another. And Mr. Bush said what?

“Look, first of all, the climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said.

“It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t even have a conversation about it. The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality,” he said.

The first thing I pick up from this is that Mr. Bush’s reading list must be short. His statement, “I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural,” indicates he missed a few issues of Science, Nature or even Popular Mechanics. For the record, here is the measured concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere since 1960.

875px-Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide_Apr2013

The CO2 concentration has been steadily rising. The only thing contributing to this rise is human activity. Natural fluctuations cannot account for this pattern. The small ripples in this curve are due to seasonal growth in the Northern Hemisphere, where most plant growth exists. No volcanic eruptions and other natural fluctuations exceed this seasonal variation.

This plot is named the Keeling Curve, after Charles David Keeling, who initiated these measurements in 1959. Compare this to the deep history of CO2 levels:

Over the past 400,000 years, CO2 concentrations have varied regularly from about 180 parts per million during the deep glaciations of the Holocene and Pleistocene to 280 parts per million during the interglacial periods. Following the start of theIndustrial Revolution, atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased to 400 parts per million and continues to increase. This has caused the phenomenon of global warming which is mostly attributed to human CO2 emissions

CO2 concentration has not been at present levels in the past 400,000 years.

Now look at the effect of greenhouse gases on atmosphere and ocean temperatures.

750px-Greenhouse_Effect

This diagram can benefit from some elaboration. Here is a dissection of the part showing the consequences of radiation from the sun entering the atmosphere and being absorbed. Some (67 Watts per square meter) never reaches the surface. It is absorbed by the atmosphere. The remainder (168) is absorbed by the surface (land or water). This does not include the radiation that is not absorbed as it comes from the sun.

13

This shows energy radiated into space. 195 Watts per square meter is radiated from the atmosphere into space. The remainder is radiated from the surface and is not absorbed by the atmosphere.

14

This shows how the greenhouse effect recirculates energy back into the atmosphere after it has been absorbed by the surface. Note that only a small fraction of the radiation from the sun is in the infra red spectrum. Greenhouse gases absorb the infra red. They are mostly transparent to visible light, the bulk of energy from the sun.

15

Visible light that is absorbed by the surface mostly goes into heat energy, which warms the surface. The surface temperature of the Earth is on average 15 C. At this temperature a body of matter (idealized as a “black body”) will not radiate in the visible spectrum, but it will radiate in the infra red. See the following illustration:

BlackBodyRadiation

37 C is the temperature of a human body. Visible light has a wavelength in the range 390 to 700 nm (nanometers). That’s off the chart to the left. Objects about the temperature of the Earth’s surface radiate copiously in the infra red spectrum, and that is where greenhouse gases absorb.

What are the consequences? Here is another diagram.

800px-Global_Temperature_Anomaly.svg

As expected, with the increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, the land-ocean temperature averages are increasing. No other explanation for this rise has been proposed other than human contribution to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Mr. Bush’s statement that, “I don’t think the science is clear what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural,” is at best naive, bordering on stupid and at worst dishonest. Most damning is his statement, “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t even have a conversation about it. The climate is changing, and we need to adapt to that reality.” Yes, the climate is changing. Yes we are going to have to adapt. To lay off the cause to other than human activity is disreputable to the core. Our nation deserves better.

Bad Movie of the Week

Untitled-1

This movie is really bad. I saw this when it first came out, and it was my initiation into the concept of space travel. It’s Rocketship X-M from Lippert Pictures in 1950, and it stars Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Beery, Jr., Hugh O’Brian and Morris Ankrum. It was only two years later that Lloyd Bridges starred with Gary Cooper in High Noon, but to me the two seem a decade apart.

It’s also interesting that 1950 was the same year that Destination Moon came out as the definitive space travel movie of the time. However, I have yet to see Destination Moon, and I saw Rocketship X-M for the second time only after I purchased the DVD from Amazon. After 65 years I still recall the simple plot line:

  • American crew blasts off in the first rocket to the moon.
  • Something goes wrong, and they wind up at Mars.
  • They land on Mars and explore.
  • They encounter hostilities, and some of the crew are killed.
  • Survivors head back to Earth in the space ship.
  • There is not enough fuel for successful re-entry, and all aboard the space ship die when it crashes into Earth.

The opening scene shows a security guard patrolling along a chain link fence of the U.S. Government Proving Grounds, White Sands, N.M. A loud speaker announces, “X minus 18 minutes.” The rocket is due to blast off in 18 minutes. We see the crew filing into a briefing room full of reporters. The manager of the operation explains that this is to be the first rocket to the moon.

Seated at the table up front are the five crew:

Lisa is attractive as well as very smart, and Col Graham has his eye on her. Noah Beery, Jr., plays the comic relief part required for all space missions. See Earl Holliman as the crew’s cook in Forbidden Planet. Son of the most famous Noah Beery (senior), Beery, Jr., enjoyed a lasting career that included Sergeant York and Little Fauss and Big Halsy.

Right away 21st century movie goers are going to be put out by the lack of technical acumen. It’s 18 minutes before lift off, and the astronauts are not already in their space suits, much less strapped in. There’s more. They don’t even climb aboard until about five minutes before the rocket is touched off.

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Then it goes, and part of the ascent sequence may have been stolen from actual launch clips. The exhaust trail is strikingly similar to what we are accustomed to for a Shuttle launch. Space savvy viewers get no additional relief for the remainder of the 72 minutes run time.

Following launch the crew experience the novelty of weightlessness, for example when Major Corrigan has trouble keeping his harmonica under control. Other than that the occupants of the rocket walk around much as they would on a movie set. The loss of weight is explained by the increasing distance from the Earth and not by the absence of a dynamic force on the rocket.

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It is correctly explained to viewers that to reach the moon the rocket must travel initially parallel to the Earth’s surface, but this is only after a shot straight up to 350 miles altitude. Even prior to the just-concluded World War Two rocket engineers had determined there is a synergistic path a rocket must follow to trade off gravity and atmospheric resistance and minimize fuel requirements. The producers did not read the manual.

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Oops, tragedy strikes when an attempt to throttle up the engines goes wrong, and everybody blacks out. When they come to they find the rocket has over-sped immensely, and they are off course. Way off course. They are at Mars.

Viewers find this incredible. The crew finds this incredible. However, they make the most of it, and land on Mars. There they discover a lost civilization that was destroyed by nuclear war. They also discover the movie is no longer in black and white, but has taken on a sepia tone to evoke the color of Mars.

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Besides the remains of a lost civilization, the crew discovers a retrograde population that closely resembles people. They closely act like people and make war on the humans. Their means of attack consists almost entirely of throwing large stones off nearby cliffs onto the humans below. The humans never learn the trick of defeating this form of attack by stepping back from the base of the cliff, and only three survivors make it back to the ship. Col. Graham and Lisa Van Horn are two of the survivors. The other is the astronomer Chamberlain, badly injured.

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As they approach Earth Lisa takes a final fuel reading and realizes they do not have enough fuel. They are all going to die. Lisa and Floyd embrace and regret never having made it to bed before the mission as they watch doom rush up to meet them.

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Project Director Dr. Ralph Fleming (Morris Ankrum) breaks the sad news to the press and announces that tomorrow they will begin construction of Rocketship X-M2.

Yes, this movie is completely tech-devoid. They won’t need pressure suits on Mars, because it has an atmosphere. The Mars atmospheric pressure is about 1/100 that of Earth. Human blood will boil at that pressure. When exploring the surface of Mars, the crew takes along their fire arms, including a carbine rifle and a pistol. They were initially heading to the moon, and they were taking fire arms?

Anyhow, everybody needs to watch this movie at least once to get his space cadet stripes. The DVD from Amazon is cheap. It may be available on Netflix. Don’t miss it.

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

 

 

NoahArkYellow

Is this getting to be a trend? No, in the sense that it’s not just now getting to be a trend. It’s been around a long time:

Yes, readers, its wacko right wing religious fanatic Rick Wiles again. Talk about reliable sources. The guy just keeps on giving. And talk about self-fulfilling prophecies, we don’t need an asteroid impact to blow down the world. The wind from this gas bag gives inspiration to hurricanes. And a dry wind it is.

But this is not about wacko right wing religious fanatic Rick Wiles. This is about another wacko right wing religious fanatic. It’s about one who does his wacko just a few miles from my house. It’s about wacko right wing religious fanatic John Hagee. More specifically, The Reverend Hagee has written a book Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change, and what a fascinating book it is. Fascinating, yes, surprising, no. It’s the kind of book we should expect from a WRWRF. For example:

The meteor that crashed into Russia— the nation that swore there was no God— was sent a supernatural FedEx message that basically said: I am God, and there is none like Me, not in the heavens above nor the world beneath. From everlasting to everlasting I am God. (This truth is based on Isaiah 46: 9 and Psalm 41: 13.) The fact that God hurled stones from the heavens to defend Israel in Joshua 10 is living proof that God will use stones as a weapon of war to crush the invading Iranian and Russian forces coming against Israel. This will happen as recorded by the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 38: And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him . . . great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. . . . Then they shall know that I am the Lord. (vv. 22– 23)

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (pp. 20-21). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

What is noteworthy about this is the number of fallacies packed so tightly. Where to start?

True, a meteorite of significant size did smash into Russia recently. It broke windows and caused other damage. That aside, Russia, “the nation that swore there was no God?” For the record, the country of Russia existed for many years under the rule of Christian emperors, the last being Tsar Nicholas II:

Nicholas II (Russian: Николай II, Николай Александрович Романов, tr.Nikolai II, Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov[nʲɪkɐˈlaj ftɐˈroj, nʲɪkɐˈlaj ɐlʲɪˈksandrəvʲɪtɕ rɐˈmanəf]) (18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1868 – 17 July 1918) was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Duke of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Tsar Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias. Like other Russian Emperors he is commonly known by the monarchical title Tsar (though Russia formally ended the Tsardom in 1721). He is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church and has been referred to as Saint Nicholas the Martyr.

So much for Godless Russia of old. Nicholas and all his family, along with others of the household staff were murdered by members of the Godless communist regime that took over the Russian Empire in 1918. This created the Godless Soviet Union, which existed until it was dissolved in 1991. Modern Russia is ruled by the autocratic Vladimir Putin, who, though he is doubtless without religion, has allowed, even fostered, the resurgence of the Orthodox Church. These days, and during the time of the great meteorite strike just mentioned, all other churches in Russia are proscribed by government action. Godless Russia, indeed!

So much for The Reverend Hagee’s grasp of modern geography.

According to Hagee, Russia “was sent a supernatural FedEx message that basically said: I am God, and there is none like Me, not in the heavens above nor the world beneath.” Two things are amiss with this statement:

  • The falling of meteorites, even small comets and asteroids is known in recorded history and from geological evidence. All such instances have been attributed to natural forces.
  • Assuming a supernatural force named God, somebody who could do the thing just described, you would have to ask, “WTF?” If this is the same God who created the Universe, the Earth and everything else in six days, why resort to chucking rocks to send a message? Why not just take over all the radio and TV stations and put out the message in clear language?

But, I haven’t touched on the Four Blood Moons. Here’s some detail:

Jewish tradition teaches that exile is the penalty for the three cardinal sins of murder, idolatry, sexual immorality, and for neglecting to keep the laws of Shemittah! The next Shemittah year occurs in 2015, which is also the appearance of the final Four Blood Moons that align with the Feasts of the Lord within this century.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (pp. 47-48). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This is from The Reverend Hagee’s book. Notably, a “blood moon” is the appearance of the moon at the height of a lunar eclipse. The darkened moon is lit only by light reflected by the Earth and takes on a red color. The Reverend Hagee’s excitement concerns the four blood moons that are occurring this year.

Before we can fully grasp the significance of the coming Four Blood Moons, we must know and understand the spine of biblical prophecy concerning the end of the world as we know it. We will look closer at the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew to reveal the blueprint of things to come.

The Author of Matthew 24 is the only Master Teacher of Prophecy who ever lived— Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of David, our King, and our Redeemer. Let’s join Jesus, the Rabbi, and the twelve disciples at His Prophecy Conference on the Mount of Olives.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 54). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Additionally:

God has not replaced Israel, because as we will see in coming chapters, His heavenly billboard of the Four Blood Moons is directly tied to significant events in the history of the Jewish people. And when Jesus Christ returns to earth as Messiah and King of kings, He is going to identify with the Jewish people.

Jesus introduces Himself in Revelation 5: 5 as “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.” In His earthly ministry Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, and He will return as “this same Jesus,” according to Acts 1: 11. The Jewish people have certainly not been cast aside, not now or in the future.

According to Paul’s testimony, Jesus is in heaven right now speaking Hebrew.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 113). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Enough said about Jesus speaking Hebrew. Others have him speaking Aramaic.

But let’s get on to the matter of “His heavenly billboard of the Four Blood Moons is directly tied to significant events in the history of the Jewish people.” Heavenly billboard? God, a mythical person conjured up about 3000 years ago in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, uses blood moons as a “billboard?”

Not wanting to be pedantic, but lunar eclipses are a natural occurrence and have been scheduled by the forces of nature in action millions of years ago. We know enough about this natural feature to forecast blood moons for the next few million years. Whether people misbehave has no effect on whether there will be a blood moon, much less a blood moon as a “heavenly billboard.”

So far everything is just fine. The Reverend Hagee has his mega church just a ways from me and north of Loop 1604. And hundreds show up regularly to sing songs of praise and to heap largess on The Reverend Hagee and upon his church, and everything is just fine.

Except that The Reverend Hagee talks to elected officials. These are not just people who are allowed to have sharp objects. These are people who make laws that restrict our lives and take our money. These are elected people.

And these elected people listen to The Reverend Hagee. And that’s OK, too. What concerns me and what should concern you is that these elected officials listen to The Reverend Hagee, and they don’t laugh out loud.

And there you see the problem.

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

Master of Death

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I’m posting this on the 70th anniversary of the death of Heinrich Himmler. On critical anniversaries of World War Two I am posting various historical notes and reviews. Along those lines I have obtained Kindle editions of biographies of Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels and Hermann Goering published in 1960 by Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel. This book is Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and GestapoThis is not so much a review of Himmler and his life as it is of the Manvell and Fraenkel book. It’s not going to be possible to talk about the book without getting into the life of the man, so this will include biographical highlights of Heinrich Himmler.

The authors published their trilogy 15 years after the end of the war, and this was a critical time. The collapse of the Third Reich and the Nazi Party was so complete and so cataclysmic that complete documentation was not immediately available. Important records were presented as evidence in the war crimes trials of 1946 and subsequently. In the mean time the Soviets had overrun the major institutions of Nazi power, and they were initially slow to disclose their holdings. Manvell and Fraenkel were able, by 1960, to obtain access to records not available to early writers. Also people central to the story were still available for interviews. The collaboration with Fraenkel was key to construction of these biographies:

He himself escaped from Germany just in time to avoid being arrested on the night of the Reichstag fire, and he subsequently took part in the foundation of the Free German movement in Britain. He also assisted at the independent legal investigations into the causes of the fire which were conducted in Britain by Sir Stafford Cripps and other world-famous lawyers, and he has written a number of books and pamphlets on Germany under the Nazis.

Fraenkel, Heinrich; Manvell, Roger (2010-09-06). Doctor Goebbels: His Life and Death (Kindle Locations 100-103). Frontline Books. Kindle Edition.

Heinrich Fraenkel has made numerous visits to Germany on research for this book. He has interviewed many people, some of them prominent in the S.S. or former members of Himmler’s staff who have asked to remain anonymous. Owing to Himmler’s methodical nature, vast quantities of private papers, official correspondence and secret memoranda have survived and are held in the various official archives we have indicated. Many new facts have come to light during the past two years from captured documents recently handed over by the American government to the German Federal Archives at Koblenz. These and other files have been studied and what they have shown has helped to complete this portrait of Himmler.

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo . Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

A less likely candidate for Nazi leadership in oppression and murder you would not find than Heinrich Himmler. Historically, he came almost from oblivion into the forefront of crimes against humanity. In the introduction the authors summarize him:

It remained for Himmler, the idealist without ideals, at once the most diffident and the most pedantic man in the Nazi hierarchy, persistently uncertain of himself and yet perpetually militant and power-loving, to accumulate in secret the ultimate control of Germany. Looked at from his own point of view, it was Himmler’s personal tragedy that while loving the thought of power so dearly he proved so utterly incapable of using it to any positive ends once he had acquired it. It remained a dead weight in his hands and a constant source of anxiety. While the very mention of his name struck terror into the hearts of millions of people, he himself was nervous to the point of timidity and became utterly speechless if Hitler chose to reprimand him. He cowered behind his own autocracy, and lost all powers of initiative in the face of personalities stronger or more persistent than himself, especially those on whom he came to depend, such as Heydrich, Schellenberg or Felix Kersten, his masseur, the only man who could relieve him of the chronic cramp in his stomach which was exacerbated by worry and despair. Yet it was Himmler who towards the end held most of what trump cards there were left in the hands of Nazi Germany, and who was regarded by many as the certain successor if Hitler collapsed.

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo. (Kindle Locations 100-103). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels superseded his own slight stature and physical debility with fire and energy. Nothing in Himmler’s manner or performance accounted for the absence of the Nazi superman myth within him. His average physical stature (69 inches) was not compensated by a manly physique. He was virtually chinless and had a body befitting a shoe salesman. In the cauldron of Nazi politics Himmler was a glass of warm milk, albeit a deadly one.

His unfortunate body plan made Himmler easily recognizable and a prime target for caricature.

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Cartoons of World War II by Tony Husband (Kindle edition, location 492)

He came to his position of power by the most chance of circumstances. Nothing in his beginnings hints at the monster he was to become:

The first personal note by Heinrich to survive is a fragment of a diary he kept during 1910 in Munich. In a typical entry on 22 July he wrote: ‘Took a bath. The thirteenth wedding anniversary of my dear parents.’ It is a diary in which he simply adds up the smaller facts of his life from taking baths to going for walks, and he is careful always to show his respect for adults by entering their correct titles. The impression he gives already is that he has a painstaking primness of nature.3

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo (p. 2). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Despite later pretensions, he did not serve during the Great War, getting into a reserve position days before Germany’s capitulation. His military contacts did, however, bring him into association with Ernst Roehm, later to become head of Hitler’s gang of street fighters, the SA. It was Himmler’s association with Roehm that was soon to bring him into contact with Hitler.

Already Himmler’s anti-Jewish sentiments were beginning to appear in his personal notes:

He was, however, already developing his anti-Semitism, a feeling common enough among the right-wing Catholic nationalists in the south. From 1922 anti-Jewish sentiment grows stronger in Himmler’s diary, although on one occasion he softens a little towards a young Austrian-Jewish dancer he met in a night-club with a friend called Alphons, who had managed to persuade him to indulge in this most unusual expedition. He noted that she had ‘nothing of the Jew in her manner, at least as far as one can judge. At first I made several remarks about Jews; I absolutely never suspected her to be one.’ He made sentimental excuses to himself on her behalf, no doubt because she was pretty and gave him a pleasant shock by admitting she was no longer ‘innocent’. He is less indulgent to a fellow-student and former fellow-pupil at school, a Jew named Wolfgang Hallgarten6 whom he calls Jew-boy (Judenbub) and a Jewish louse (Judenlauser) because he had become a left-wing pacifist. From now onwards there are occasional references to the ‘Jewish question’ in the diaries.

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo (p. 11). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

When the Nazi party was banned in the aftermath of the failed “Beer Hall Putsch” in November 1923, Himmler found himself cast adrift and had to return to live with his family in Munich. Leaders of the putsch, including Hitler, were jailed for several months, and the Party splintered, close to total disintegration. Himmler took up with the Strasser brothers Otto and Gregor at this time as a worker in the Party office. During this time the Versailles Treaty required strict disarmament of the German military, but secret rearmament began almost immediately:

The creator of the nucleus and structure of the future German Army was General von Seeckt. As early as 1921 Seeckt was busy planning, in secret and on paper, a full-size German army, and arguing deferentially about his various activities with the Inter-Allied Military Commission of Control.

Churchill, Winston (2010-06-30). The Gathering Storm: The Second World War, Volume 1 (Winston Churchill World War II Collection) (p. 40). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

In this enterprise the Strassers put Himmler to work:

He was responsible for surveying the secret arms dumps which were kept concealed in the country districts away from the eyes of the Inter-allied Control Commission. Himmler, aged twenty-four, enjoyed this underground activity; it filled him, says Otto Strasser, with nationalistic pride, and he preferred it to the office work which he had to carry out for Gregor Strasser who, as well as being a Reichstag Deputy, was in charge of Party activities in the district of Lower Bavaria, a position he had held since 1920.

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo (p. 15). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Himmler grew in his position as an office functionary for the Strassers, and Otto took amusement at Himmler’s fascination with Jews. However, this position soon put Himmler on the path to his niche in the Nazi Party and to a special place in world history:

Himmler’s ambitious diligence, however, won him the position of Strasser’s deputy as district organizer in Lower Bavaria, working of course under Hitler’s shadow in Munich. He also became second-in-command of a small corps numbering some two hundred men and known as the Schutzstaffel, or S.S. The S.S. was originally a group formed in 1922 before the Munich putsch and called the Adolf Hitler Shock Troops, a special bodyguard of tough men who kept close to Hitler on public occasions and guarded him from attack. According to his official record Himmler had joined the S.S. in 1925, receiving the S.S. number 168. The reformed S.S. marched past Hitler at the second Party gathering in Weimar in 1926, and they were given a special ‘blood-flag’ for their services to their leader in the November putsch. These services had been to wreck the printing presses of the Social Democrat newspaper in Munich.

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo (p. 16). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

It was as the organizer and leader of the S.S. and the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei), that Himmler was to earn his special place in Hell.

Himmler’s anti-Jewish radicalism and even more so that of Joseph Goebbels helped secured the pair their special bond with Adolph Hitler. Himmler’s younger lieutenant Reinhard Heydrich only surpassed Himmler’s zeal in eliminating European Jewry. However, a team of Czech and Slovak agents ambushed and killed Heydrich in 1942, leaving Himmler the sole warden of the Holocaust.

Despite his brutal efficiency in killing internal enemies of the Reich and undesirable elements in European society, Himmler lacked the iron backbone required for this most grisly of tasks. On an early occasion he went to the front lines in Eastern Europe to a place where Jews were being shot and their bodies thrown into pits. A witness later being interviewed for the documentary The World at War told that some blood or brain matter spattered onto Himmler’s boots, and he became queasy and had to leave. In his private notes he mentions his supposed revulsion at the task he has assigned to himself:

The destruction of human beings, who were themselves so much more destructive than the animals, was in fact forced on Himmler, and he accepted this fearful task because he believed it to be the only, as well as the ‘final’, solution to the problem of securing the racial purification of Germany which remained his deep-rooted ideal. Belief in the maintenance of racial purity in the modern world, if it is to be carried to its logical conclusion, must lead either to complete segregation or to genocide. Himmler, in the circumstances of total war, came to accept genocide as the only solution. The primitive hatred and fear from which such absolute ideas originate forced Himmler, who was neither primitive nor passionate by nature, to take the supreme crime of mass murder upon his uneasy conscience.

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo (pp. 183-184). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Toward the end, as it became obvious to Himmler and to others when it would never be acknowledge by Hitler, that Germany would be crushed by the Allied forces, he attempted to posture himself in semi-private notes, as a victim of circumstances rather than the chief architect of the atrocities.

However, the end came without remorse in the spring of 1945, and Himmler’s concern turned to his own survival. He abandoned the Nazi leadership holed up in a Berlin bunker and sought to prolong the inevitable by taking a convoy of his guards and closest aids through the debris that had been northwestern Germany. With resolute finality the drama played out to its end. Forced to abandon their vehicles Himmler’s party trudged across the landscape until they could go no further. A military check point halted them, and Himmler resolutely owned up to his identity.

Then Colonel Murphy and Captain C. J. L. Wells, an army doctor, came in to carry out the routine inspection of their prisoner. They still suspected that Himmler was carrying poison. When he had stripped, they searched all over his body — his ears, his armpits, his hair, his buttocks. Then the doctor ordered him to open his mouth, and, in the words of Colonel Murphy, ‘immediately he saw a small black knob sticking out between a gap in the teeth on the right hand side lower jaw’.

‘Come nearer the light’, said the doctor. ‘Open your mouth.’

He put two fingers into the prisoner’s mouth. It was then that Himmler suddenly turned his head aside and bit down hard on the doctor’s fingers.

‘He’s done it’, shouted the doctor.

Both the colonel and the sergeant jumped on Himmler and threw him to the ground, turning him on his stomach to prevent him swallowing. The doctor held him by the throat, trying to force him to spit out the poison. The struggle to preserve his life by using emetics and a stomach-pump lasted a quarter of an hour; every method of artificial respiration was used. ‘He died,’ said the sergeant, ‘and when he died we threw a blanket over him, and left him.’

Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007-09-17). Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo (p. 248). Skyhorse Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I thought of this scene years later when I learned how the human wretch that was Muammar Gaddafi was run to ground and killed inside a car along a dusty road. The absence of pity is comparable.

Fraenkel and Manvell take similar approaches to development in each of their three biographies, and here, as well, the same issue is encountered. It’s not possible to unroll these stories in a strict chronology. Separate narratives must be developed in parallel, meaning it’s often necessary to retrace the same ground along multiple threads. This can leave the casual reader at odds as to the time frame. I found it helpful to consult additional sources as I read this Kindle edition over a period of days.

This volume appears to have escaped most of the lapses that occur when a print edition is converted to a computer file. When OCR (optical character recognition) technology is employed to convert print to computer text, strange character substitutions can pop up. This edition has a few of those, but not as many as I have found in other Kindle editions of print classics over the past year I’ve been reading these.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

A beautiful young New York woman was so depressed that she decided to end her life by throwing herself into the ocean. But just before she could throw herself from the docks, a handsome young sailor stopped her.

“You have so much to live for,” said the sailor. “Look, I’m off to Europe tomorrow and I can stow you away on my ship. I’ll take care of you, bring you food every day, and keep you happy.”

With nothing to lose, combined with the fact that she had always wanted to go to Europe, the woman accepted. That night the sailor brought her aboard and hid her in a lifeboat. From then on, every night he would bring her three sandwiches and make love to her until dawn. Three weeks later she was discovered by the captain during a routine inspection.

“What are you doing here?” asked the captain.

“I have an arrangement with one of the sailors,” she replied. “He brings me food and I get a free trip to Europe. Plus he’s screwing me.”

“I can vouch for that last part,” replied the captain. “This is the Staten Island Ferry.”

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

Angel-Of-Love

This has got to be about the ninth of these I’ve put out to date. Will I ever run out of them? Will we ever run out of politicians? Does the bear … ?

Anyhow, retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson has announced his candidacy for the office of President of the United States. And I must say that my joy is beyond description. Does that mean we will no longer hear the darndest things from Dr. Carson. Thank God, no:

Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins and the author of six best-selling books, rejected some of the fundamental tenets of Darwinian evolution as “incredible fairy tales,” asking how could “something come out of nothing” or “life evolve from non-life”? He also stressed that mutations in species tend to “degeneration,” not improvement, and emphasized that “there are no intermediate species” to support the theory of evolution.

This is from that left-leaning publication Cybercast News Service, bent on making Dr. Carson look bad:

Cybercast News Service (also known as CNSNews.com) is a conservative American news website founded by L. Brent Bozell III and owned by Media Research Center, Bozell’s Reston, Virginia-based organization.

Then, I’ve been wrong before.

But that’s just water under the bridge. Dr. Carson is saying that biological evolution by natural processes amounts to a made-up story. Given that, what would he consider a more reasonable account? Good question. Dr. Carson has an answer:

A little earlier in the interview, which took place in February 2013, host David Boze asked, “What about the diversity of life here. How has your examination of life here influenced your view on the theory of evolution and whether or not there’s an intelligent designer?”

Carson, who was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center, said, “Well, the evolutionists look at the similarities that you see in the various life forms and they say, because this creature and this creature share the same type of digestive system or the same type of structures in their head, that clearly one evolved from the other.”

“I don’t know how clear that is,” he said.  “Because if you have an intelligent designer, why wouldn’t he use a basic structure that works on multiple different creatures? Just like an automobile manufacturer. General Motors, same basic chassis as Chevrolet, a Buick, a Pontiac, or a Cadillac. And yet, they’re all different. And one did not evolve from the other.”

That’s it. That’s the answer. There was a person. There is a person who supervised the design of all life on this planet. A quick search of the CNSNews article does not reveal the identity of this person. Does Dr. Carson anywhere say who this person might be? Does Dr. Carson conjecture who this person might be? Does Carson even know? The world wonders.

We may not know the name, the address, even the email of this person, but there is one thing we do know. We know what we would call a mythical or unknown magical being. That would be “fairy.”

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

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

Official Portrait

Official Portrait

It’s almost a rite of passage. If’ you’re going into politics you are going to have to cough up some pretty weird stuff. Take Congressman Jody Hice from Georgia, for example:

Jody Brownlow Hice (born April 22, 1960) is an American politician, syndicated radio show host, political activist, and Southern Baptist pastor who is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 10th congressional district. He was elected in 2014.

That’s well and good, but what has the politician from Georgia said recently? For one, it’s not all that recent, and for another it’s not what the congressman said. It’s what he wrote. In 2012 the congressman published a book, It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America. That’s an interesting title, and it appears to speak to a worthwhile cause. Reclaim America. Like, America was pawned. I always suspected that, and Congressman Hice seems to be on the same page with me. In particular, Congressman Hice is terribly concerned, as we all are, about the gay rights agenda. Gay rights agenda, indeed! Gay, indeed! Rights, indeed! We can all concur there are just too many rights floating around.

Here is what the congressman had to say about the gay rights agenda:

The Gay Rights Agenda: Destroying America

In 1987, Michael Swift wrote and article known as the ‘Gay Revolutionary.’ The article was submitted to the Gay Community News (GCN), an important magazine within the gay community. Although the views expressed by Swift may not represent everyone in the gay lifestyle, it certainly represents a significant number. These shocking words by Michael Swift have been considered part of the ‘gay manifesto’ by many, and reveal the radical agenda that is currently threatening our nation.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (pp. 69-70). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

It’s there, all right. Congressman Hice has stated so in his book. And he has the quotes to back it up:

“We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar lies. We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your sports arenas, in your seminaries, in your youth groups, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your army bunkhouses, in your truck stops, in your all-male clubs, in your houses of Congress, wherever men are with men together. Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding. They will be recast in our image. They will come to crave and adore us.

The family unit—spawning ground of lies, betrayals, mediocrity, hypocrisy, and violence—will be abolished. The family unit, which only dampens imagination and curbs free will, must be eliminated.

All churches who condemn us will be closed. Our only gods are handsome young men.”[60] (Italics added for emphasis)

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 70). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

The citation [60] points to

[60]   Michael Swift, “Homosexual Manifesto: An Essay on the Homosexual Revolution,” Presented to the PhilFam Committee on June 10, 1998, http://panindigan.tripod.com/homorev.html.

The link points to:

THIS ESSAY is outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.

We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of you shallow dreams and vulgar lies. [Etc.]

Wait, “This essay is outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy…?” It’s a joke? A fantasy? And Congressman Hice takes it seriously?

Of course, because… Because he needs to … to make a point. And that point being? That point being that the LGBT community, otherwise known as United States citizens, want to do damage to American society. Their reasons for seeking such damage are not made clear by the congressman. He does comment further:

Again, not everyone in the homosexual movement is an extremist like Swift. Many are productive and law-abiding citizens; however, it is abundantly evident that those within the movement who are radical are really radical! There are literally thousands of examples to draw from, many of which I have personally addressed on radio. One need not look very far to discover the overall agenda of militant homosexuality, and its attempt to permanently change American society.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 70). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

Congressman Hice goes on to cite the case of graduate student Julea Ward at East Michigan University School of Counseling. Readers will do well to dig deeper into this case. I will provide my references on request, and I will likely execute some of my own Skeptical Analysis.

In the mean time, Congressman Hice has taken a quote, a joke, a spoof, out of context and used it to make a point. His point being, I suppose, that the LGBT agenda is not only without merit but is also destructive to American society.

The congressman additionally has some choice words regarding religion, or variations on religion. Here I quote just a salient piece of a larger text:

When taken in its entirety, Islam is not a religion! Rather, it is a totalitarian way of life complete with its own legal system (Sharia Law), financial structure, military and government system. Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology. It is a complete geo-political structure, and as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 151). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

Not deserving of First Amendment protection? That is so cool, Congressman Hice.

The congressman further cites U.S. Army Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, who describes a Muslim plot to take over this country. General Boykin, readers will recall, is known as a high-profile Christian political activist. Congressman Hice is less circumspect:

Islam is Incompatible with America’s Foundation

Our Founding Fathers gave us a nation firmly established upon Judeo-Christian principles. This condition alone describes the major problem with any discussion of Islam and the American way of life. In fact, the system of government the Founders designed would not succeed in any other environment than Christian. It was unique to America, and we cannot survive as a nation without the foundation our Founders gave us. If America continues to ‘flirt’ with the erroneous effort toward leniency with Islam, she will eventually fall with no capacity to rise again. We are already dangerously close. Islam’s mindset is not one of tolerance with America, but control and dominance. There is no room for merging two opposing philosophies. The ground on which the ideological war is being fought is worldview. Saturating the soil of these foundational beliefs and values rests the blood of untold soldiers over centuries past. They died, not merely for ‘freedom,’ but for our distinctive Christian worldview! An Islamic worldview is directly opposed to America’s and although peaceful Muslims deserve every liberty and the freedom to worship as they choose, those who embrace the radical teachings of Islam and its geo-political structure have no right to claim First Amendment protection. To do so would be to violate our Constitution by providing legal fortification for a system designed to destroy America. This, we cannot allow!

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (pp. 156-157). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

What I gather from it all is America is reserved for the Christians and the Jews. This is destined to become an increasingly sensitive issue when Christians and Jews become a minority in this country:

The Pew Research Center for Religion & Public Life reported in a massive study this week that 22.8 percent of Americans identified with no organized religion, a dramatic rise from 16.1 percent in 2007, the last time the nonprofit research group took such a sweeping look at religion in America.

It’s not going to happen any time soon. Maybe by then Congressman Hice and others like him will begin to find the First Amendment more attractive.

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

asteroid2

“Feed me.” (Audrey, Little Shop of Horrors).

I’m not there yet, but the machine needs to be fed. Fortunately there’s a limitless supply.

Readers might think I’m repeating myself. Close. Actually, it’s wacko right wing religious fanatics who keep repeating themselves:

Speaking of limitless supply, out in California there’s a fire hose:

With the Supreme Court expected to rule on the legality of same-sex marriage in June, an End Times broadcaster served a chilling warning that legalization of gay marriage may prompt God to send a “fireball from space” in retaliation.

Call me a skeptic if you wish, but when the big guy lets the big fart I want to be there to watch.

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles spoke with Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel on his “Trunews” program yesterday about what will happen to the United States if the Supreme Court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, neither was optimistic.

“Now the communists rule this nation,” Wiles said in a monologue before his interview with Staver, “and everywhere communism takes control, they go after the churches and they kill the pastors and they demolish the church buildings and they reeducate the church children. That’s what’s coming to America. It’s already started.”

“We are at the end of the road as a nation,” he warned. “If the Supreme Court dares to defy Almighty God one more time, I’m telling you it will be the last time.”

Yes, readers, its wacko right wing religious fanatic Rick Wiles again. Talk about reliable sources. The guy just keeps on giving. And talk about self-fulfilling prophecies, we don’t need an asteroid impact to blow down the world. The wind from this gas bag gives inspiration to hurricanes. And a dry wind it is.

The communist rule this nation? That would be the Democrats and the Republicans. Who would have thought? He continues:

“I believe I am speaking under the unction of the Holy Spirit,” he continued. “I’m telling you there will be swift, sudden and devastating consequences for the United States of America. America will be brought to its knees, there will be pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country. The word that I hear in my spirit is ‘fire.’ I do not know if it refers to riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space. I simply know that a sweeping, consuming fire will come across the United States of America and this country will be charred and burned.”

He told his listeners to “prepare for the fire that will sweep across America if the United States Supreme Court dares to defy God one more time and rule that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right.”

All this calamity is going to come if the “Supreme Court dares to defy God one more time.” One more time? Isn’t that what you guys were saying 61 years ago when the Supreme Court defied God and decreed it was OK for black kids and white kids to go to the same school? That plus a number of instances since.

Rick Wiles speaks for TrueNews, a source of ludicrous quality. For example:

We believe in one God, existing eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Creator of heaven and earth.

The reality is if you buy into that, then it’s a short and fitful step to purchasing the remainder of Wiles’ sheep dip. And you won’t need an asteroid. You’re singed already.

I’m never going to run out of dip from Wiles. Be sure of that. And the wacko right wing religious fanatic well is never going to run dry.

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