19 April 2015

April 19 ...

You're about to be remembered forever if you are:
1775 - Major John Pitcairn
1943 - A resident of the jewish ghetto of Warsaw 
1993 - David Koresh or any other Branch Davidian,
1996 - Timothy McVeigh
2014 - The Tzarnaev brothers

Go ahead, look them up in your Funk and Wagnall's , uh, Wikipedia?

I more like to remember Major Pitcairn. His most famous quote, the exact words of which are not universally remembered the same, are:
Disperse, you rebels! Damn you! Lay down your arms and disperse!
This was followed by a command to open fire on Lexington Green. His account of the action, written a few days later, goes as:

Report on the Battles of Lexington and Concord

Major John Pitcairn
April 26, 1775

Boston Camp,
To: General Thomas Gage

As you are anxious to know the particulars that happened near and at Lexington in the 19 th Inst agreeable to your desire, I will in as concise a manner as possible state the facts, for my time at present is so much employed, as to prevent a more particular narrative of the occurrences of that day.
Six companies of Light Infantry were detached by Lt Colo Smith to take possession of two bridges on the other side of Concord, near three in the Morning, when we were advanced within about two miles of Lexington, intelligence was received that about 500 men in arms were assembled, determined to oppose the Kings troops, and retard them in their march. On this intelligence, I mounted my horse, and galloped up to the six Light Companies. When I arrived at the head of the advance Company, two officers came and informed me, that a man of the rebels advanced from those that were assembled, had presented his musket and attempted to shoot them, but the piece flashed in the pan. On this I gave directions to the troops to move forward, but on no account to fire, or even attempt it without orders; when I arrived at the end of the Village, I observed drawn up upon a Green near 200 rebels; when I came within about 100 yards of them, they began to file off towards some stone walls on our right flank. The Light Infantry, observing this, ran after them. I instantly called to the soldiers not to fire, but surround and disarm them, and after several repetitions of those positive orders to the men, not to fire, etc. some of the rebels who had jumped over the wall fired four or five shots at the soldiers, which wounded a man of the Tenth and my horse was wounded in two places, from some quarter or other, and at the same time several shots were fired from a meeting house on our left. Upon this, without any order or regularity, the Light Infantry began a scattered fire, and continued in that situation for some little time, contrary to the repeated orders both of me and the officers that were present. It will be needless to mention what happened after, as I suppose Colo Smith hath given a particular account of it..
I am, Sir, Your Most Obedt
Humble Servant
John Pitcairn
The Pitcairn Report 

What else transpired that day has become a mixture of fact, fable and myth. The fact is that "the shot heard round the world" happened on April 19, 1775. That is why the 19th of April is called Patriots' Day and is a holiday in many places, notably Massachusetts and particularly Boston. That's also the reason that McVeigh and Tsarnaev chose to do what they did on the days they did it - McVeigh as a response in date to the Branch Davidian invasion and slaughter by Attorney General Reno (my opinion - your opinion and your mileage may vary according to your own individual driving habits) and the Tsarnaevs because it was a convenient day to blow up as many people in one place in Boston as would be possible with their pressure cookers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson chose to immortalize the events with his famous poem:

"Hymn: Sung at the Completion of the Concord Monument, April 19, 1836
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
 Emerson's son, Edward Waldo Emerson,who edited The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1904), noted: 'In the early editions of the Poems the date is given as 1836. This is a mistake. The Middlesex Yeoman gives the account of this celebration in 1837, and on the original slip in my possesion some one sending it to a friend at that time, has written "Sung by the people on battle-ground at the completion of the monument, 4th of July, 1837."'

Emerson, either one actually, was not there at Concord Bridge. Neither is the bridge that you see today at Concord, as it is a reconstruction of what was originally there and may or may not resemble the original (being a former bridge designer at one point in my life, I can fairly confidently say that you would never build it the same the second time). Nonetheless, several thousand painters who were there, have been there, or have never been there have succeeded in painting not only the bridge but also the various interpretations of battle scenes that there took place.

Overall, the initial clash at Lexington Green was somewhat muddled. [1], [2], [3], and reported in an eyewitness account written nearly 50 years later by a no longer young man who was there [4].

But, it will always be known as the shot heard 'round the world.*
 Incidentally - during the British retreat, the Minutemen kicked butt according to all accounts. Pitcairn lost his mount, having it shot "out from under him" in word if not in total deed and had to walk back to Boston.

*Unlike NASA launching a space shuttle containing 4 cattle orbiting the earth 3 times before landing, thus becoming the herd shot 'round the world.  

18 April 2015

Thoughts Between Remembrances

It seems to me somewhat ironic, although I am sure that it is not as I believe history drives the future, as those who do not remember the past are forever condemned to repeating it, that the Tech memories each year are the precursor to dates of fame and infamy, April 18 and April 19.  

Anyone who has been following me on Facebook knows that I went to Virginia Tech for graduate school, and that Thursday the 16th marked the 8th anniversary of the loss of 32 Hokies in one unforgettable day.

I won't elaborate. I have said before that it is one of those events that will remain forever etched in my memory. Eight years ago was the first of what have become annual remembrances of the fallen, in which the huge drillfield is filled with those paying their respects.

We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness....
 We will prevail....
-- Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor, poet, activist

But, what of the history of the dates that follow:
April 18 and April 19. 

First, let's go back to 1775. Paul Revere doesn't know it, but he is about to go for a famous ride, due to the following orders:

Orders to Lieut. Colonel Smith, 10th Regiment ’Foot

General Thomas Gage

Boston, Massachusetts

April 18, 1775


Lieut. Colonel Smith, 10th Regiment ’Foot,


Having received intelligence, that a quantity of Ammunition, Provisions, Artillery, Tents and small Arms, have been collected at Concord, for the Avowed Purpose of raising and supporting a Rebellion against His Majesty, you will March with a Corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, put under your Command, with the utmost expedition and Secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and distroy all Artillery, Ammunition, Provisions, Tents, Small Arms, and all Military Stores whatever. But you will take care that the Soldiers do not plunder the Inhabitants, or hurt private property.

You have a Draught of Concord, on which is marked the Houses, Barns, &c, which contain the above military Stores. You will order a Trunion to be knocked off each Gun, but if its found impracticable on any, they must be spiked, and the Carriages destroyed. The Powder and flower must be shook out of the Barrels into the River, the Tents burnt, Pork or Beef destroyed in the best way you can devise. And the Men may put Balls of lead in their pockets, throwing them by degrees into Ponds, Ditches &c., but no Quantity together, so that they may be recovered afterwards. If you meet any Brass Artillery, you will order their muzzles to be beat in so as to render them useless.

You will observe by the Draught that it will be necessary to secure the two Bridges as soon as possible, you will therefore Order a party of the best Marchers, to go on with expedition for the purpose.

A small party of Horseback is ordered out to stop all advice of your March getting to Concord before you, and a small number of Artillery go out in Chaises to wait for you on the road, with Sledge Hammers, Spikes, &c.

You will open your business and return with the Troops, as soon as possible, with I must leave to your own Judgment and Discretion.

I am, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant
Thos. Gage.
  These are not the only significant days in the history of April 18. 
  • 1521 - Martin Luther, the chief catalyst of Protestantism, defies the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V by refusing to recant his writings before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire at Worms.
  • 1906 - The Great San Francisco Earthquake
  • 1942 - 16 American B-25 bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet 650 miles east of Japan and commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, attack the Japanese mainland.
  • 1956 - American actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier of Monaco in a spectacular ceremony.
  • 1983 - The U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is almost completely destroyed by a car-bomb explosion that kills 63 people, including the suicide bomber and 17 Americans. The terrorist attack was carried out in protest of the U.S. military presence in Lebanon. 
  • 1989 - Thousands of Chinese students continue to take to the streets in Beijing to protest government policies and issue a call for greater democracy in the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC). 
  • 2012 - Dick Clark, the TV personality and producer best known for hosting “American Bandstand,” dies of a heart attack at age 82 in Santa Monica, California.
 Think about these things, and then tune in tomorrow. April 19 is a big deal ...

06 April 2015

02 April 2015

When Dr. Stanley coincides with the press, my Bible reading and the my conscience it is a sum pretty strong coincidences.


The time has come to rise to the aid of 

God and Country

The Cross of Jesus Christ, the name of God, and the fundamental bases on which our Confederation was assembled are now under vicious attack by those who preach against the very acts they have been directing on fundamental Christians and our beliefs.

The Ten Commandments 
According to SOB 
(Sweet Old Barry) 

Where do I start? That's not a rhetorical question, it's addressed to myself. I guess it starts with me pulling out the copy of the Constitution that I carry with me (you do carry a copy with yourself, right? No? Well, email me and I'll tell you where to get one, and if you don't have the money, I'll pay for it) and re-reading the First Amendment. 
  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I also re-read Thomas Paine: “This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.” –Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

OK. Here's a bunch of links to check out that have my defense of liberties fuming and ready to write. I am going to simmer down now and try to address them, civilly, one at a time. But go ahead and check them out, please.

National Security Just Keep Talking

Hands Up, Don't Discriminate Against Gays! By Ann Coulter

Indiana and the Culture Wars By Cal Thomas

Sex Among the Goofballs By R. Emmett Tyrrell

The Democrats Win in Indiana By Michael Reagan

Obama's Surrender to Iran Postponed Negotiations with the Islamic Republic will extend until June -- as Congress prepares to act. By Arnold Ahlert

 Indiana Groans and the Template of Doom By Tony Perkins

Liberal Legislation Continues to Disrupt Our Healthcare System By James Shott

Vanity By William Stoecker

Who Will Save the Constitution? By Timothy Rosen

Obama Does It Again By Michael Oberndorf

Restoring Religious Freedom, Restricting Government By Andy Kerl Jr.

National Security Just Keep Talking

Obama Submits U.S. Pledge to UN for Climate Treaty

24 January 2014

The fine line between wisdom and scorn?

Yep. Check out TODAY 's Daily Devotion

Usually when I need it, my namesake, Jimmy Josephson, comes up with something that I am in need of considering (either him or Sol Davidson or Paul Hoganmächer). It boils down to gittin' too smart for your britches:10   Out of one mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing: my brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11   Doeth a fountain send forth at one place sweet water and bitter?
12   Can ye fig tree, my brethren, bring forth olives, either a vine figs? so can no fountain make both salt water and sweet.
13 ¶   Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show by good conversation his works in meekness of wisdom.
14   But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, rejoice not, neither be liars against the truth.
15   This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.
16   For where envying and strife is, there is sedition, and all manner of evil works.
17   But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, and without hypocrisy.
18   And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace.

(If that sounds strange, it's because lately I have been using The Geneva Bible. It is the last English translation before the "Authorised" Version, aka King James, bestowed on a crown of glory by so many well-intended individuals. I say if you can't read Hebrew and Aramaic, and Koine Greek, then you really can't read the "original" version, so rely on as many sources as possible. Remember, Martin Luther (the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther) got perturbed with the Latin vulgate translated into high German.

But that's an aside. The main point of the Short Daily Devotion today was based on verse 13, translated in the ESV as Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  Going to my go-to The Message: Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. And, my absolute go-to, the NASB: Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

I roll on the megachurches, although I must certainly say that through them I am inferring that many souls have been saved. After salvation, though, I wonder where the flock is led by their shepherds, so I tend to rant about some of the biggies. But, as you know, I really like Charles Stanley. What's the difference?

Dr. Chuck is like my dad: he knows so much about everything that it becomes obvious when he merely shares essence with his flock, and then with the world, not caring to show off how smart he is. God knows how smart everyone is; He doesn't care. He cares about what everyone does with the wisdom He has given us. In that regard I consider First Atlanta to be exceptional. My home congregation, Gloria Dei in Urbandale, is a considered a megachurch though not equivalent to Lutheran Church of Hope in numbers. There is a level of personal lost in this church, and although there are myriad activities and "missions" going on, I don't seem them as ultimately fulfilling and rewarding endeavors to the flock or to the community.


Maybe in a fine sense it is. That is why I say the fine line between wisdom and scorn. But God also has been certain to emphasize that He wishes us to be able to discern, and that means it is up to each of us individually to make these decisions.

So, when Daily Devotional writes: "

In what ways have you been overly critical of other Christians, churches, or ministries? What does this tell you about the good you should be doing?"
it strikes home. We are each to do good. I have always relied, again, on James: 1:15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
16  and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
and, over all: 1:27  Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
I should follow my own practice of interpreting scripture with scripture, though, and in particular read 1:26 -- If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. That does NOT leave anything to imagination or misinterpretation.

I guess, then, that instead of speaking out against megachurches I should be speaking in favor
of good works, regardless of the branch from which they spring. If I "find fault" with a given congregation, what I should really be thinking is that "here is a congregation that does not choose to interpret the Word as I do" or "here is a congregation whose good works aren't easily fulfilled by what I have found to be my God-given talents and my spiritual gifts". And, more than being critical of a congregation, I should find ways, as so many Christian writers have said, of blooming where I have been planted.

08 January 2014

Freezing Poor People

Today I want to think about freezing poor people.

I never really lived in the east - I figure Virginia and Pennsylvania are like Middle Atlantic and above the fall line. I have only ever visited New Jersey and Delaware briefly, spent time eating seafood on the dock in Annapolis (lovely place), and camped at Shenandoah National Park to go into D.C. itself in the summer. I do have the dubious distinction of having slept on the same floor of the Park Central that John Hinckley did. That was a nice hotel, had rooms at the government per diem rate and had a Blackie's Jr. steakhouse in it where a steak dinner and your first beer for free was, in like 1978 or so, only $8.99. But, never having actually lived there, I cannot really imagine how this winter storm is affecting the East Coast.

When I think about that it helps me realize how totally differently people in the major cities live and feel. Living in Evanston was not really the same as living in Chicago by any means. I am sure you spent enough time in DC to understand a bit more about life in the city. This weather is just devastating to many people, I am sure.

The other thing that I come to realize as I contemplate the homeless and the jobless in the cities: here in Iowa, there is more than likely a place to find a roof and a bed on any given day, and there really are jobs available, not glamorous, barely enough money to buy smokes and clothing and a little food, but they are here so 6 months of unemployment payments is probably about right. But in the eastern cities, it's a real challenge to we the people. There is not enough in the "insurance fund", if there ever was, to pay extra unemployment benefits, but if we cannot help these people we are killing them as surely as if we poisoned them, drowned them, or threw them out the 14th floor window of their unheated walkup and likely condemned apartment. Now, we of the "middle class", whatever that is, have always felt taxed to death, although other countries certainly tax at higher rates. Local economy (supply, demand, worth, propensity, all that stuff) adjusts, kinda like in a family 2 people adjust to living with that 3rd little person even though there is really no more money. National economy cannot, from a logical perspective, "adjust", because the nation, as a whole, presents multiple niches that need to be adjusted.

Peg and I are really only a coupla checks away from who knows what. I suspect more people are than ever want to admit it. But "hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way," as Roger Waters said.

The Bottom Line -
You are right to support your local homeless shelter. Anyone is. Far better to spend the money locally than to expect that by running it through the government bureaucracy, federal, state or local, it would be better spent. You get more there and you can see where you think it is most needed. What can, though, "we the people" strive for on a national level, what should we be encouraging our representatives and senators to do, should we make recommendations and comments to President Obama? They really do all see to it that everything they get is read. My congressman and senators always respond to me - they probably think of me as that eccentric old fat bald guy in Clive who complains about too many different things but occasionally stumbles across a good point. At least I hope that is the worst they think of me.

How can we do a Feed the Children or a World Vision or whatever IN the U.S. itself?
Should we?

02 January 2014

Creative Use of the English Language

I have been reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. If you think you have a pretty good vocabulary, give it a try -- good old Billy Shakespeare would probably have a run for the money with those books - I love 'em.

On the street, in the office, at home, people are insulted every day. Today, it's all guttural and obscene language that shows little, if any, class - back in the old days, it seemed to have even been possible to curse with class. Now, with all the swear words roaming around, I got this from a friend showing:


These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

Pay attention for Churchill and his wonderful dryness.
Too, you always have to admire Mae West's way with words:

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West

*************"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the
dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:
She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the
gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or
your mistress."

************"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -
Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great
pleasure." Clarence Darrow

*************"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the
dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time
reading it." - Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved
of it." - Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a
friend.... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is
one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." -
Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." -
Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." -
Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on
it?" - Mark Twain

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." -
Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts -- for support
rather than illumination. " - Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho