Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Rhapsody on a Windy Night"

It's time for another of the very finest, most impressionistic poems of T. S. Eliot, probably the greatest poet of the 20th century. People often ask of Eliot's verses, "What does it mean?" That's largely open to interpretation, and, more than 90 years after its publication in 1920, the real answer is another question: "What does it mean to you?" Critics can give us valuable insights into the forms and techniques used by any poet, but the final interpreter is often the reader. If this one sounds vaguely familiar to you, it's because it was used in the song "Memory," from the Broadway musical Cats. But Eliot, who wrote a book of children's poems about cats, probably wasn't thinking of them when he wrote this. Don't invest too much energy in trying to "figure it out:" just let the words wash over you, and move you in ways that only you can be moved.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Battle

"And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him" (Mark 9:26).

 Evil never surrenders its hold without a sore fight. We never pass into any spiritual inheritance through the delightful exercises of a picnic, but always through the grim contentions of the battle field. It is so in the secret realm of the soul. Every faculty which wins its spiritual freedom does so at the price of blood. Apollyon is not put to flight by a courteous request; he straddles across the full breadth of the way, and our progress has to be registered in blood and tears. This we must remember or we shall add to all the other burdens of life the gall of misinterpretation. We are not "born again" into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest.





"Faith of our Fathers! living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene'er we hear that glorious word.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!

"Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children's fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!"




(from Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles Cowman, 1925)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pollard: enough is enough!

Unless there is a last-minute change, this coming Monday, November 21 will mark the beginning of Jonathan Pollard’s 27th year in an American prison for passing classified information to Israel.


The current time period, known as “the holiday season” in the United States, is also the time when the U.S. President traditionally grants pardons and shortens prison sentences. This has led the organizations working to free Pollard to redouble their efforts these days, in hopes that a really strong effort might finally bring about Pollard’s release.

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“In the past year, many former officials and other people who know a lot about the case, even people who were against Pollard’s release in the past, have said that enough is enough,” Adi Ginzburg of Justice for Jonathan Pollard told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday. “We know about James Woolsey, we know about Kissinger and Shultz.”

“We know that the support for Pollard has increased among the Jewish leaders and the Jewish community because everyone agrees that enough is enough,” he added.


Ginzburg spoke of the recent statement made by Vice President Joe Biden, who said that President Obama had considered freeing Pollard but that he (Biden) refused to allow it and said, “Over my dead body… If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.” Ginzburg said that many people were angered by these statements and noted that while Biden said he was willing to meet with Jewish-American leaders about this issue, a meeting has yet to be scheduled.


“More than a month and a half have passed but this meeting hasn’t taken place yet,” Ginzburg said. “We really hope it happens soon because it will allow Jewish leaders to give all the arguments and all the reasons that Jonathan Pollard should be released.”


One initiative that has recently taken place is in the form of a letter sent to Obama by bereaved families who lost loved ones to terror acts in Israel and who recently saw their loved ones’ murderers being released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.


In the letter, which was signed both by families who were against the Shalit deal as well as those who were in favor of it, the families tell Obama that if they were able to pay such a high personal price to save Shalit, they are sure that he can find it in himself to save Pollard for no price at all.


Ginzburg emphasized that now is the time for everyone to raise their voices and demand that the American government free Pollard.


“Today is the time for everyone, especially in the United States, to raise their voice and ask their community leaders and representatives to do the right thing and have this tragedy come to and end,” he said.



(Text courtesy of Israel National News, by Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski, 11.17.2011)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Studies in Islam: Monkeys, apes, and pigs

Anyone who's studied "the religion of peace" very much has heard that the Muslims' "holiest" texts, the Koran and Hadiths, refer repeatedly to Jews and Christians as the descendants of monkeys, apes, and pigs.  But the "moderate" Muslims, i.e., the ones who either don't know their own religion, or are lying about it, deny this.  They tell us that the "sacred texts" can never be understood properly by reading them in translation, because only "the original Arabic" is inspired.  (This sounds very much like certain Christians yammering about "the original Greek," but most Christians don't disavow other translations.) In any case, I thought, in continuing with the animal analogy, that we'd simply cut through the doubletalk, and go straight to the horse's mouth.  Here are the scholarly, scientific reflections of two Muslim "experts" who are quite familiar with the Arabic texts:

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Hmmm.  For a minute, I thought that Dr. Al-Sattar was going to say that the animal references were used metaphorically; but no, we're dealing with Muslims here, who wouldn't know a metaphor if it crept into bed with them.  He finishes up by saying "they are, indeed, the descendants of apes and pigs, as the Koran teaches us."  Well!  I guess that puts me in my place, huh?  I'm a believer in God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ. Should I go eat a banana, or try to root up some truffles?

Let's get a second opinion, shall we?

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"The offspring of pigs and apes."  Yikes.  If such a hybrid exists, I hope it never wanders into my front yard!

This sacreligious nonsense is amusing, but it ceases to be funny when you realize that this is the crap they're teaching their youngest and most innocent children.  I've posted this video before, but it deserves a second viewing. I'm a grandfather, and this precious, pathetic child will grow up alongside my grandchildren.  (Please notice that even she says that the apes and pigs idea comes from the Koran: she's been indoctrinated very precisely.) If you have tears, prepare to shed them now:

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jimmy Wilde: the greatest of them all

As the boxing world mourns the recent loss of Joe Frazier, and anticipates the third bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez,* I thought it might be interesting to step away from the headlines for a moment, and remember the career of the man many consider to be the best pound for pound fighter of all time.  I refer to Jimmy Wilde of Wales, undisputed Flyweight Champion of the World from 1916-1923.




The best introduction to Wilde, who stood 5'2" and never weighed over 110 pounds, is simply his career record. Although the official record books show 134-145 fights in a pro career lasting only 13 years, the actual number is probably 153.  He won 137. He lost four; the others were draws or "no decisions."  A number of these fights were to heavier Bantamweights. 100 of his victories came by way of knockout.


No modern fighter can claim such a record of sheer activity - - - although, in fairness, this is partly because modern boxers are not allowed to fight as often as they might choose. Joe Louis' pro career consisted of  67 fights: 64 wins, three losses. Rocky Marciano retired undefeated after 49 fights. Muhammad Ali's record was 61 fights: 56 wins, four losses.  Roy Jones Jr., who may be the most naturally gifted boxer of the modern era, fought 62 times, scoring 54 victories.  Only Julio Caesar Chavez, with 115 fights and 107 wins, can approach Wilde's record, and the approach is not close.


Wilde was known to sportswriters and fans as "The Mighty Atom," or "The Ghost with a Hammer in His Hand."  The latter nickname came from Wilde's elusive style: he could slip a punch like no fighter before or since.  (Get outta here, Floyd Mayweather Jr.: you're a brontosaurus compared to Wilde.) Even the fastest fighters were astonished when they threw their best, sneakiest shots, and suddenly Wilde's head simply moved a fraction of an inch out of their reach.  They called him a ghost for a reason.  As for the "hammer in his hand," his 100 knockouts might explain that part.


The son of a Welsh miner, Wilde began boxing all comers at the age of sixteen.  It's been estimated that he fought around 500 bouts before turning pro, and routinely knocked our tough miners weighing as much as 175 pounds.  In addition to his inexpicable punching power, he had an unorthodox stance and an unpredictable style that baffled the best fighters of his day.


The names of his opponents don't mean much today, but they shouldn't be forgotten. Wilde fought such men as Young Jennings, Joe Symonds, Tancy Lee, Young Zulu Kid, and (obviously) many others. These men were not tin cans.  And these were not ten or twelve round fights, as we see today; they often went for 20 rounds or more, although most were stopped long before that by a Wilde knockout.


In 1921, Wilde was stopped in 17 rounds by the American bantamweight Pete Herman. For a long time after that fight, he suffered head pains, and finally decided to retire .... until he was offered $60,000 to fight the ferocious Filipino-American, Pancho Villa. At the age of 31, Wilde and Villa (who was much shorter, but much stronger, and ten years younger) stepped into the ring at the Polo Grounds in New York City, before a crowd of 10,000 fans.




In Round One, Villa attacked with everything he had, and the old Ghost managed to minimize the damage.  Both men were stunned by heavy blows in Round Two.  Then the bell rang, and the round was over.  But Villa proceeded to land a crashing blow to Wilde's head after the bell had sounded. This horrendous foul, which was somehow unseen by Referee Patsy Haley, was (I believe) unintentional.  Nevertheless, the damage had been done. As the fans screamed for Villa to be disqualified,  Wilde hung on until Round Seven, when he was floored by a left hook, and carried unconscious from the ring.  Villa was proclaimed the victor, over the fans' outrage.


Wilde was unconscious for hours.  When Villa visited him in his dressing room, he broke down and wept over the damage he had done.  Eventually, Wilde regained semi-consciousness, but it was three weeks before he could even recognize his wife, who was at his side constantly.  He never fought again, although he lived until 1969.  Ironically, Villa died two years after their fight, from blood poisoning caused by an abscessed tooth.


Wilde was inducted into the original class of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.  The Ring magazine has named him the third greatest puncher of all time, and the Number One Flyweight of All Time.  Pancho Villa is rated second.


Although much has been said of Wilde,  Heavyweight Champion Gene Tunney simply said, "Jimmy was the greatest fighter I have ever seen."




*The third Pacquiao-Marquez fight, on Nov. 12, 2011, resulted in one of the most outrageous, corrupt decisions in recent memory.  Marquez won the fight, but the depraved Las Vegas judges awarded it to Pacquiao.  Jimmy Wilde would never have stood for anything like this.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pakistani Actress Thumps on the Mullahs

Veena Malik is a television and film actress from Pakistan, who has had a very successful career, primarily because she's easy on the eyes: she may or may not have much talent.  But she has become known as one of the voices of "liberal Islam," as if there were such a thing.  Obviously, "liberal Islam" is merely a cultural construct, since any believing Muslim is required to be about as "liberal" as Genghis Khan.  Ms. Malik has appeared in a number of Indian productions, which has infuriated Pakistan's mullahs, given the horrendous and historic border dispute between the two countries.  Ms. Malik appeared on an Indian "reality show" entitled "The Big Boss," in which a group of housemates were gradually voted off the show, much like certain American and British programs.  This was too much for the mullahs.  Veena Malik is not my idea of a heroine, nor would I want my daughter and granddaughters to view her as a "role model," but in this video, she puts one of the mullahs in his place, and it will undoubtedly be regarded as her finest hour.  Good for her!

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Veena Malik hot

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jerry Clower: Uncle Versie & the Gambler

It's been a while since we had a good laugh in this blog (other than when considering the claims of Islam, that is), so perhaps it's time to hear once again from the late Jerry Clower, a genuine folk humorist, original and clean, who was offering authentic, recognizable sketches of the American South before Jeff Foxworthy ever heard (and capitalized on) the word "redneck."  Judging from his comedy routines, Foxworthy's concept of the South comes from clichés he's heard from scalawags and carpetbaggers.  Jerry Clower is the real thing.  I hope you enjoy it!


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