Saturday, June 27, 2009


06/26/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw, 24, of Steilacoom, Wash., died June 25 in Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment...


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Joshua L. Hazlewood, 22, of Manvel, Texas, died June 25 in Arifjan, Kuwait, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 614th Automated Cargo Documentation Detachment.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Casey L. Hills, 23, of Salem, Illinois, died June 24 in Iraq of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Ma Piruz mishavim yek Ruz

Joan Baez sings "We shall overcome" adding a verse in Farsi for the People of Iran:

Security personnel gather during a march on a
street in Tehran. Confrontation between opposition
supporters and the police have faded as the
government crackdown intensifies

Photo from Times (UK) Online

Outside of Tehran University where 5 students were brutally murdered by the basij and countless other horrors took place, people hold an illegal candlelight vigil. There is a voice of a man in the background warning the people that they will get caught, but no one seems to care. Also, pay attention to all the camera phones documenting the event. If the vigil doesn't make you sad, that should because that is the only connection they have now to the outside world. (26.06.2009)

h/t to Nico Pitney's liveblogging at HuffPo

--the BB

Still growling

Biden yesterday about the gay brouhaha:

“I am not unaware of the controversies swirling around this dinner,” Biden said, “swirling around the speed -- or lack thereof -- that we’re moving on issues that are of great importance to you and, quite frankly, to me and to the President and to millions of Americans.”

No, it's not the lack of speed. It's the fact that you compared us to pedophiles and incest. The fact that you're still kicking out two gay service members a day, and that you have the power to implement a stop-loss order immediately.

The sad part is, it's actually possible that no one even told him what the problem actually is.
--John Aravosis at Americablog

[Emphasis mine]

Quite so, John. I think we all understand and can live with lack of speed. We are not unaware of political reality. It's the fucking brief Obama's people filed that is so damned insulting! Why the fuck do they NOT get it?

--the BB

I am a great fan of Bizarro

Today's cartoon is just perfect!

You may see Bizarro daily here.

--the BB

Interpretation versus experience

How often do we sacrifice doing something for the sake of talking about doing it?

It is certainly a human failing to choose discourse over doing. I know I am guilty of it. Let's discuss it, analyze it, speculate about it. Doing it: not so much.

It is as though we are on a quest for a concept.

Selling our birthright for pottage.

While reading Bill Moyers' book, Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times, I was struck by this passage in which he discusses Joseph Campbell:
In our last televised conversation he talked about the "guiding ideas" of his work: to find "the commonality of themes in world myths, pointing to a constant requirement in the human psyche for a centering in terms of deep principles."

"You're talking about a search for the meaning of life," I said.

"No, no, no," he answered. "I'm talking about the experience of being alive!" He explained: "People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is the experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive." (p. 196)
Which, in turn, makes me think of the Buddhist counsel to experience the reality of the moment instead of getting lost in the traps of interpreting it.

Which makes sense to me and seems consonant with so much that the desert abbas and ammas had to say to their disciples many centuries ago.

--the BB

Celebrating with Kirstin

The last injection of interferon. She has done what she needed to do for her future health. It has been a long year and her accomplishments through all this are impressive. May the transition to having energy again be smooth, swift, and delightsome!

Cyberhugs and cyber champagne.

--the BB

Let the festivities begin

On Monday my brother-in-law turns 60 (youngster!). The big party is this evening but the mostly out-of-town crowd started last night.

The requisite ritual public humiliation started early.

Didn't know I was related to Santa Claus, did you?

My sister-in-law Janet

The Bay Area crowd came in on a later plane
but finally got fed nonetheless. Check out
the lemon and pecan pies on the sideboard.

Know you know why blogging is spotty this weekend. I did get 8 hours sleep last night but not enough all week long and am totally dragging ass today.

Saw lots of folks I have not seen for years. Some from the Grand Canyon rafting trip in 1999 (?) and some since my ordination in 1990. [I realize that last sentence fragment is grammatically awful but I'm letting it stand.] Of course, they are all much younger in my memory/imagination. That new camera works well but is so brutal. They all look fabulous, actually, and I mean that, but ... a pook less young. I am not looking forward to seeing the shots our nephew took; with my camera I was always behind the lens.

--the BB

Friday, June 26, 2009

The License

Sent to me by my friend JoAnne

Love. Trust. Equality.

Traditions worth keeping.

--the BB

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yes, we have volcanoes

“Three of my grandchildren are your subjects. Can you ask a better assurance?”

Those were the words of Baron T., intended to reassure and mislead M. at the same time.
At this point in the story you can'y trust anybody. Alliances have shifted in the past few days and will undoubtedly shift again as people weigh their estimations of who will triumph. Who doesn't want to be on the winning side?

Btw, congresscritters, if you support a public option for health care you will - with the American People - come out on the winning side. Just saying. Your HMO-Pharma overlords may pay you well and fund your campaigns but they do not cast ballots every two or six years. Remember that.

The photo above is of the volcanoes on the edge of town. They are like the Sandias, defining the city only on the west rather than the east and MUCH more subtle. After all, the Sandias rise 5000 feet at the edge of Albuquerque. Not subtle. Spectacular.

I love los volcanes too.

I think I have a fix on which armies are where for the next fictional week. Most of them, anyway.

Sweet dreams, my giggling goldfinches.

--the BB

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A reunion

The warmaiden and the princess reconnect.
R. looked at her seriously and asked, “How are things, my sister?”

Č. could not think of words to capture what was happening or her own feelings. Anguish contorted her face and R. remembered that this kind and brave daughter of Gizli was but four years into her womanhood and facing the destruction of her world. The disciplined warmaiden summoned her own strength, fixed Č. with a stern but loving look and said, “We shall set the world right, by Vrotni’s Crown.” R. gave the princess a tightlipped smile. Č. returned it and nodded, a single tear escaping at the outer edge of her eye. They turned to face the others.
[Note: Vrotni, the Fierce Mother, is the goddess of war. Her crown consists of skulls with flaming eyes. Warmaidens and warriors are called servants of Vrotni and this is no casual oath when spoken by the greatest warmaiden of the eastern forest. In another aspect, Vrotni is depicted as a lioness with her cubs and is the goddess of new mothers and of midwives, blessing them with ferocity in protecting newborns. As I wrote this just now I thought of grandniece Katie constantly there for Clara and Olivia. Fictional mythology having power in our daily life.]

I am now up to the middle of page 96 in the book (over 47,000 words). The third army will soon join the other two.

And once again it is just past midnight (and I have not even toured facebook yet).

--the BB

This evening's drive home

On the drive home after work I deviated from my usual route by about half a mile so I could get different views (and capture some of the distant rain). Stopped again at my usual photo spot. All in all 76 photos. I was having fun. Here are five of them. You may click on them for detail.

It appears we have an early monsoon season this year. I hope it holds off for my brother-in-law's 60th birthday party this weekend.

Soon it's gonna rain, I can see it.
Soon it's gonna rain, I can tell.
Soon it's gonna rain,
What're we gonna do?
--The Fantasticks

UWSP Musical Theatre Final Forum Spring '08.
Creg Sclavi and Sadie Langemo perform Soon It's Gonna Rain from The Fantasticks.

This is not a polished professional version but I think these two capture so much of the spirit of the Fantasticks - I never saw the musical performed but had the album way back when and used to be able to recite or sing the entire thing. (Oh all right, in spite of my protests that I don't like musical theatre.... I have had lapses.)

--the BB

An angel fell to earth

I found its broken wing

--the BB

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Biochemical warfare (in another world)

Just before the [northern party's] mangonels were within striking distance of the walls, the mangonels of Š. released their burdens.

G. had learned from the death of the late prince. With infinite care innovative missiles had been crafted and now arced across the field to strike the earth near the closest [northerners]. On impact they split open in a puff of gray dust.

Warriors began to fall.

The missiles were ... carefully filled with ... powdered toxin.... That the stars would even allow mortals access to such a plant raised questions that had vexed philosophers for centuries. Anywhere these engines of death landed became ground over which it was no longer safe to venture. Š. poisoned its own fields to halt the enemy.

Dozens of the ... globes were hurled until there were few yards left where an approach was safe. ... The day T---- intended for glory was fast turning into a day of slaughter, with nary a blow exchanged. A few gusts of wind blew the powder back toward the city and handfuls of [midlanders] took [the Shepherd’s] hand without warning.

It was effective yet horrendous to watch. G. stood at the ramparts.... He shook his said and said, “What have we become?”

O. waited a while before responding.

“A people who would survive, [Lord].”

“At what cost, O.? At what cost?”
Volume one spoke of torture. This volume (# 3) brings up biochemical warfare. Will volume 5 cover weapons of mass destruction or just an excess of evil?

Sweet dreams, my rambunctious rottweilers!

--the BB

Because I can

Click image to embiggen

The photo on the left is what I shot, unretouched. I then made two copies of it, one with whites emphasized and the other with blacks. The whites essentially made the mountains and sky disappear. The blacks made the foreground turn black. I cropped the two and juxtaposed them for the dramatic combination you see on the right.

We all need to play now and then.

--the BB


This is for my sisters, Kirstin and Margaret. It is a day for roaring. A big "mwah" to you both as well.

--the BB

My family back in Central California

This is Jay, my eldest nephew - the one with the recent diagnosis of diabetes and the broken leg and tremors. He is holding Clara. The blog tells us he said "I love you" when he first held her.

No one I know has a more loving heart than Jay.

Thanks for you prayers on his behalf and for the girls, Olivia and Clara. And for my sister Shirley who had a fall recently (I still don't know what this means going forward). And for my Aunt May who became very weak and has been in hospital and will be doing therapy in a nursing home.

Lots of other pics at Hoff Hoopla. Mimi can go there and get all soppy over babies while I get weepy over other stuff.

--the BB

Why I love where I live

I paused on the way home, just about three miles from my house, and took some pictures. Here is the first one. Click on it to embiggen.

--the BB

Monday, June 22, 2009

Now it gets really nasty

The heartlessly ambitious do battle with the desperate and the tale is not very pleasant at this point. I spend my time thinking of ways to kill and destroy. I must say, writing fiction is a great purge! Almost every spare conscious moment is spent pondering how one army might attack another and how the second might defend itself.

I can't help thinking of the siege of Leningrad at this point, and the tales I have heard and read, including comments from the next generation when we were in St Petersburg in 2001 and 2004.
Š. was not as ill-prepared as the towns upriver. The cities of central F. had labored together to resist an invasion from the north. The chief approaches were porcupined with sharpened stakes planted too closely for a horse to pass, though warriors on foot could still weave their way through. Trenches and traps created an obstacle course for those who got past the stakes. Even before the ring of stakes, caltrops were scattered liberally to wound hooves and feet alike, many of them hidden among the summer grasses. Every approach from the north was sown with their nasty points.
Sorry, my animal-loving friends, but this is not a movie and the SPCA is not on hand to attest that no horses were hurt. They are victims of war, taken to their doom by humans. Just remember, it's fiction. No ACTUAL horses were harmed in the writing of this epic. 'K?

Caltrop from Vietnam 1968 (Wikipedia)

A caltrop (also known as caltrap, galtrop, cheval trap, galthrap, galtrap, calthrop, crow's foot, or in Latin: tribulus or in Japanese: makibishi or tetsubishi) is an antipersonnel weapon made up of two or more sharp nails or spines arranged in such a manner that one of them always points upward from a stable base (for example, a tetrahedron). They may be thought of as the landmines of antiquity, useful to shape the battlefield and force the enemy into certain paths and approaches, or to provide a passive defense as part of a defensive works system. Caltrops serve to slow down the advance of horses, war elephants, and human troops. They were said to be particularly effective against the soft feet of camels. In more modern times, caltrops are used against wheeled vehicles with pneumatic tires. [Wikipedia]

It pays to have studied history.
--the BB

What have we become?

Just because we claim not to do it anymore, so long as no one is held accountable we remain a nation of torturers.
The May 10 Techniques memo reveals that, when CIA's IG reviewed the program in 2003 and 2004, the maximum allowable time which a detainee could be subject to sleep deprivation was 264 hours--an amazing 11 days straight.


--the BB

I thought maybe he should hear - updated

I received an e-mail from the President today (and one from the First Lady yesterday). His had the theme "Time to roll up your sleeves" and touted volunteerism. I applaud this.

I also hit "reply" and wrote this.

Dear Mr. President:

I am very excited that you are our President, I yearn for your success, and I pray for your well being.

I also earnestly desire that you roll up your sleeves and undo the damage that has been done by the administration around DOMA.

I am among the many LGBT Americans who are hurt, ashamed, and furious at the way that was handled in the brief. I retired my Obama sweatshirt and T-shirt over it and will not contribute a cent to any Democratic entity until this is undone.

Thank you.

It's rather nice to get e-mail with this return address:

If I get a response, I will share it with y'all.

I also got an appeal from one of my senators, Tom Udall, for support of the New Mexico Democratic Party. The NMDP has been very supportive of LGBT rights but I hit reply and sent them a copy of my e-mail to the President to let them know that I want every level of the party leaning on the President and they too will not get a penny until this gets fixed. So my pocketbook is on strike.

If all the queer money ceased flowing into Dem coffers, they would feel it. I have no problem grabbing my party by the balls and having a little heart-to-heart chat.

--the BB

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Treason upon treason

“If you realize, D., that I am no fool, then you must know I have seen you will not answer the choice I put to you. I therefore declare the barony of M. forfeit to the Black Lion on the grounds of high treason.”

Well, that's a pretty sentiment from someone who commits high treason by considering himself the Black Lion!

And then his sister commits one of the gravest of sacrileges by violating the eagle feathers and slaying the baron. Those two are nasty pieces of work.

In the entire weekend (including Friday when I stayed home with a sore throat) I have only written half a chapter. Ah well.

I did have a lovely brunch with my friend Kathy at the Indigo Crow in Corrales today. That was after a nice service at San Gabriel with our second baptism. (Not bad for a little mission only two years old, eh?)

I was looking in my library for my commentaries on Mark this weekend, getting ready to preach. It appears they are still in boxes somewhere in the garage because they clearly are not in the library yet. (Hey, I've only had three years to unpack; let's not rush things.) I ended up drawing on a quote from Augustine of Hippo and another from a fellow blogger (which really tied everything in the sermon together). Спасибо!

Photos this weekend were of my friend's garden. My own has nothing spectacular to photograph, though it does have tomatoes! So nice to see them already. Still small and green, of course, but promise of things to come.

Next weekend is my brother-in-law's 60th birthday (young whippersnapper!). I will get to see folks I have not seen in a while but it threatens to be rather chaotic. I am hoping to get a good chunk of writing done this week as next weekend will be a "lost weekend" (at least from an introvert's perspective). A much smaller party for the Fourth of July the weekend after.

The birthday boy is Janet's husband, and this is a lot going on while she recuperates. Everyone is pitching in and virtually nothing is demanded of her, but please continue to keep her in your prayers.

--the BB

White House photo ops versus justice

Michelangelo Signorile:
This is pretty outrageous. In the midst of all the anger from LGBT people over the DOMA brief and the inadequate response -- so far -- by the Obama administration, gay lobbyists, executive directors and assorted others who comprise what is identified as the gay leadership apparently have been invited to a party at the White House thrown just for them.

It's another photo-op in which everyone -- the president and the gays -- can look happy and like they're having fun, but more so, it's a way for the White House to wank off the gay leaders a bit while still not delivering. None of them should fall for it -- and that means they should not attend this event -- least of all the Human Rights Campaign. We don't want cocktails for high-paid gay and lesbians lobbyists and executive directors looking to schmooze and feel important. We want action on our rights, and at this point it means DOMA and DADT....
Pam Spaulding:
OK. Who said Congress shouldn't be held accountable? But where does it get its cues from -- the White House. Come on, we're not stupid. We've heard apologists say that Obama's rogue DOJ issued that brief without anyone in the WH knowing. Gee, when Bush was in the White House, we sure nailed the fact that Alberto Gonzales was working hand-in-glove with Dear Leader's constitutional wrecking crew at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. So which is it people? I'm tired of the excuses, and bad ones at that.
John Aravosis:
The biggest betrayal of all? Our leaders are going to the White House to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. Irony is not lacking in this White House.

But we got cake! (And a gay band in the parade!)
Until a truly satisfactory retraction of the DOMA insult comes along, I doubt that self-respecting LGBT folk want to even be seen with the White House. They could have fucking done nothing and we could have been patient and understanding, but such an egregious slap in the face is like challenging us to a duel and then expecting us to show up for caviar and champagne and smile for the camera. I don't think so.

Why are we so pissed? Well, it seems some DOJ types went out of their way to be do some really vile arguing in a case.
Holy cow. Obama invoked incest and people marrying children.

The courts have followed this principle, moreover, in relation to the validity of marriages performed in other States. Both the First and Second Restatements of Conflict of Laws recognize that State courts may refuse to give effect to a marriage, or to certain incidents of a marriage, that contravene the forum State's policy. See Restatement (First) of Conflict of Laws § 134; Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 284.5 And the courts have widely held that certain marriages performed elsewhere need not be given effect, because they conflicted with the public policy of the forum. See, e.g., Catalano v. Catalano, 170 A.2d 726, 728-29 (Conn. 1961) (marriage of uncle to niece, "though valid in Italy under its laws, was not valid in Connecticut because it contravened the public policy of th[at] state"); Wilkins v. Zelichowski, 140 A.2d 65, 67-68 (N.J. 1958) (marriage of 16-year-old female held invalid in New Jersey, regardless of validity in Indiana where performed, in light of N.J. policy reflected in statute permitting adult female to secure annulment of her underage marriage); In re Mortenson's Estate, 316 P.2d 1106 (Ariz. 1957) (marriage of first cousins held invalid in Arizona, though lawfully performed in New Mexico, given Arizona policy reflected in statute declaring such marriages "prohibited and void").

Then in the next paragraph, they argue that the incest and child rape cases therefore make DOMA constitutional:

The fact that States have long had the authority to decline to give effect to marriages performed in other States based on the forum State's public policy strongly supports the constitutionality of Congress's exercise of its authority in DOMA.
You can read more thanks to John Aravosis at Americablog - if you can keep your meal down while you read it. I don't need to go further than having our relationships compared to incest and pedophilia. It is a vile comparison and flawed legal reasoning. It should be laughed out of court.

Tony West, James J. Gilligan, and W. Scott Simpson (the last a Bush political holdover) who wrote the brief are, in my opinion, reprehensible scum. I am sure they feel the same about me.

Yes, on this particular topic I am awarding Obama an F! As in "failing grade" or, let's be honest, a huge "FUCK YOU!"

I believe in evaluating policies and actions one by one. I may, and expect to, support the President in many areas while disagreeing and vigorously opposing in others. An all-or-nothing approach is not acceptable. (The blanket condemnations of Bush had, well, a lot to do with the fact that almost everything he touched turned to owlshit - or, more properly, profits for his buddies and disasters for the US and the world.)

I am not going to conclude that Obama is "just like all the others." (Consider where we would be if McCain were president: too horrible to contemplate.) Obama's imperfect. He's flawed. So am I. He can learn and grow. We need to help him learn and grow.

h/t to Pam for the instructive Malcolm X video
--the BB


06/21/09 :
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
Command Master Chief Jeffrey J. Garber, 43, of Hemingford, Neb. died of non-hostile causes June 20 aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the North Arabian Sea.

06/21/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Melton, 26, of Carlyle, IL. He was an Illinois Army National Guardsman assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry, Marion, Illinois... died Kandahar, Afghanistan of wounds sustained when their vehicle was hit by an IED.

06/21/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Paul G. Smith, 43, of Peoria, IL. He was an Illinois Army National Guardsman assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry, Aurora, IL... died Kandahar, Afghanistan of wounds sustained when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.

Three names have not been released yet.


DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Chancellor A. Keesling, 25, of Indianapolis, Ind., died June 19 in Baghdad, Iraq of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 961st Engineer Company, Sharonville, Ohio.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Sgt. Joshua W. Soto, 25, of San Angelo, Texas, died June 16 in Iraq of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss Texas.
Twenty-five year old Joshua Soto, father of a ten month old son, died last week in Tallil, Iraq of wounds suffered in a roadside bomb attack. He was serving his third tour of duty in Iraq, having received a Purple Heart during his first tour and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star according to
The Fresno Bee reports that Sgt. Soto's brother Shane, who is a member of the Air Force, was notified of his brother's death and is accompanying his remains home to the family.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Capt. Kafele H. Sims, 32, of Los Angeles, died June 16 in Mosul, Iraq, of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 18th Engineer Brigade, Schwetzingen, Germany.