Ripley’s Believe It or Not – The “Eye Smoker”

Alfred Langevin, the “Eye Smoker”

The miracle of the Internet allows one these days to do a deep dive into the oddities of humanity, and many of Robert Ripley’s stories can be either verified, clarified, or debunked. I was an inveterate consumer of Ripley’s collections as a youth, and this particular item always intrigued me. As it turns out, this story happens to be entirely accurate, as documented at Human Marvels.

Included at the link is a video that shows the late Mr. Langevin demonstrating his odd talent.

Science Source - Artwork of a cross-section through a human skull
Cross-section of a human skull

A lot of the human skull is empty space, and as you can see from the above illustration, there’s a very small partition between the sinuses and the orbits of the eye. All it would take is a small malformation or injury to either the skull or the nasolacrymal duct to connect the eye with the sinuses, and Bob’s your uncle.

Determination: Believe it!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not – Premature Aging

THE BOY WHO DIED OF OLD AGE BEFORE HE WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD

Cross-posted from Livejournal

THIS strange anomaly of an aged youth attracted considerable attention during the last century. He was Charles Charlesworth, born of normal parents in Staffordshire, England, March 14, 1829. He reached maturity and grew whiskers at the age of four and died suddenly in a faint (syncope) when but seven years old.

Charlesworth was of small stature and proportions, and with imperfectly developed clavicles, lower jaw, and membrane bones of the skull. His face was wizened, hair and whiskers white, skin shriveled, hands knotted with conspicuous veins and tendons, voice piping, and gait and standing posture those of an old man.

Ref.: “Progeria” and “Premature Senility” in any Medical Text Book.


Progeria is now a well-known and well-understood phenomenon, although there is no known cure. It was not described until 1886 by Jonathan Hutchinson and independently in 1897 by Hastings Gilford, after which it was named Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome (HGPS). In 2003, it was discovered that progeria caused by a point mutation in position 1824 of the LMNA gene, replacing cytosine with thymine, creating a form of the Lamin A protein which cannot be processed properly and accumulates in the cell nucleus. Lamin A is a major structural protein of the human cell nucleus. When Lamin A is altered, it affects the shape and the function of the nuclear envelope. These changes cause other cells to die prematurely. (see Progeria at Wikipedia.)

One other famous case of accelerated aging was also documented by Ripley in a later series. His description, accompanied by one of his own illustrations, was lifted almost verbatim from the Huntingdon, PA “Daily News” of 25 September 1830:

Clarence was also written up in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of September 27, 1830 (this photo also appeared in Charles Addams’ Dear Dead Days (Putnam, 1959, p. 18)

Time Magazine of Monday, Oct. 06, 1930 described the event in these words:

At Toledo, Clarence Kehr Jr., 6, standing 4 ft. I in., weighing 87 lb., was barred from both public and Catholic schools because he has a bass voice, smokes, has to shave, is as strong as a grown man. He can lift persons bulking 250 lb., 200-lb. dumbbells, can push without strain a lawn roller, or an automobile filled with passengers. Prime stunt: lifting Jack Dempsey when Dempsey scaled 202 lb. Born normal, Clarence Jr. continued so until 9 mos. old. Between 9 mos. and 3½ years he grew ten years physically in all things except height. When 4½ he was physically 14½, at 6 he is 16. He has no use for girls his own age, prefers them 16 or older.

Doctors attribute his precocity to some defect in his pineal gland. This ductless gland, apparently the rudiment of a third eye,* lies in among the interior folds of the brain. Its functions are not well understood. One thing it certainly does is to inhibit sexual development of children. Because all the ductless glands of the body delicately control and balance one another’s forces, when one acts abnormally as in Clarence Kehr’s case, or in Harold Arnold’s case (see col. 2), it incites a physiological riot. Clarence Kehr’s parents plan to appeal to Ohio’s State Board of Education. Meanwhile he is being tutored privately.

*In some lizards and other reptiles and in the larva of the lamprey, the pineal gland is on a stalk (like a crayfish’s eyes) and is near the top of the head. Here it has a distinguishable retina and lens. French Philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) believed: “There is a small gland [the pineal] in the brain in which the soul exercises its functions more particularly than in the other parts.” Contemporaries agreed.

It appears that Kehr was not a victim of progeria – Psych Web Resources describes Kehr’s case in this manner:

Accelerated aging can also be produced by hormonal imbalance, as shown by the case of Clarence Kehr. This illustration is from a 1931 article in American Psychologist titled, “A clinical study of ‘Toledo’s Strong Boy'” (McClure & Goldberg, 1931). It reports “the strange case of Clarence Kehr, Jr., who skipped from the cradle to adolescence in physical development.” Clarence, shown at age 6, is in the middle of the photograph, with his brother and sister on either side.

Toledo’s Strong Boy” (from McClure & Goldberg, 1931)

Clarence’s development was radically accelerated. He was able to lift his mother off the floor at the age of 5. He had prominent muscles, a mustache, and a baritone voice at age 6.

Clarence was proud of his weight-lifting abilities. He boasted of being the strongest boy in the world. He did not associate with other children, preferring “to do the same things that older people do.” His mustache began to appear when he was 11 months old. By the age of 4, his sexual development was the same as a 14-year-old boy, and he was interested in girls.

X-ray studies revealed that Clarence, at age 6, had bone structure typical of a sixteen to eighteen year old. At the time the article was written, Clarence’s parents were trying to work out a program of private instruction for him. Mentally, he was a normal 6 year old with average or below-average academic abilities. For example, he could not copy a diamond pattern, or verbally describe a picture, both standard items for 7-year-olds on the 1930 Stanford-Binet IQ test.

Verdict: Believe it!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

We deserve way more than we’re gonna get

This is a bit modified from something I saw in a meme dump recently. That one was about relationships, but this one is about all of us and our relationship with our nation’s leaders.

No matter who gets elected in 2020, whether it’s the Orange Screechweasel or Joe Biden, we’re not even going to get the bare minimum.

The current *administration is dedicated to self-aggrandizement and personal enrichment; The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office is a pathological narcissist and serial liar, and Moscow Mitch is concerned only with his ego-orgasms every time he spites the Democrats.

While you can be sure I’m going to cast my vote for Biden if he’s anointed the official Democratic candidate, and I’ll do so with only a little less gall rising in my craw than I had in 2016 when I pulled the lever for HRC, it’s not what I want for our nation.

Instead of this clown-circus dumpster fire, I want a government that is driven by one principle and one only:

“If it doesn’t make the world a better place… don’t do it.”

Robby Novak, “Kid President”

I want a government that is willing to play in the World Game, defined by R. Buckminster Fuller as:

“[Making] the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

This isn’t pie in the sky. This isn’t utopia. It could be done if human beings would drop their “us/them” mentality, and stop with the “I’ve got mine, screw you” philosophy. Many humans would be willing to do this. The ones who won’t… well, that’s why we need government regulation. Trust busting. Taking down the robber barons. Punishing the Enrons and the Wells Fargos and the Bank of Americas. Taking on the Facebooks and the Amazons, closing loopholes that permit companies and the super-rich, legally, to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by offshoring profits and other accounting skulduggery.

And it’s been done in the past – just have a look at history. When the people of our nation got tired of being treated like serfs, they rose up and elected men and women who were willing to make the world a better place. FDR was a democrat, and he gave us the New Deal programs. Eisenhower was a Republican, and he kept the world at peace, balanced the budget three times, ended the Korean war, gave us the Interstate system, and sponsored the Civil Rights Bill of 1957¹.

I want people like this again. They were not perfect, but they gave a rat’s South-40 for you and me, and our kids, and everyone. What we have now is a disgrace, a sham, and a grave embarassment to the Republic our founders gave us.

Unless some miracle happens, American’s best chance for a democracy that works for everyone, with no one left out, was sidelined by the moneyed interests of the Democratic National Committee. Bernie Sanders offered an opportunity to elect someone who wasn’t bought and paid for by superPAC dollars, instead of the corporate shills who pretend to represent their constituents.

Congress should be killed. : killthosewhodisagree

So whatever happens in 2020, it’s not going to be what America deserves. But the dream is still alive, and the struggle continues. If we keep working, new torchbearers will arise to carry that dream into reality. I may not be around to see it, but perhaps my children and grandchildren will.

As long as I have breath, I will continue to fight.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹Sadly, the bill was amended by Congress which severely weakened its effectiveness, but it was a worthy effort.

You Can’t Take the Sky From Me

Image: Gabe Pyle via Woot! Shirt

Yesterday Bernie Sanders ended his campaign. After 7 years of supporting his runs for President, it was a difficult moment. I will take exactly 24 hours to grieve for the lost dream of an administration that would put the American citizen first, instead of wealthy corporations and oligarchs… and then I will go back to working for that dream, much as Bernie has done for the last 4 decades in the face of continual opposition and derision.

It will happen. Just not on this day.

Political winds shift regularly, and the political pendulum swings over time. What makes the “Bernie Revolution” so critical in our day is that the pendulum of ideology has swung so far to the right over the last 40 years that putting a moderate or centrist Democrat in the White House will only be good enough to slow the progress of our society toward an evangelical fascist nation, the beginnings of which have been painfully evident in the most gangrenous *administration I have experienced in my almost 70 years of life.

America doesn’t need a moderate right now, it needs a more radical approach to governmental transformation, and Bernie would have been just the ticket.

There’s an old aphorism floating around out there that basically says “If you aim for the trees you’ll hit the ground, but if you aim for the stars you’re more likely to hit the trees.”

Anyone who’s ever practiced archery or marksmanship knows this. If you want to shoot higher, you need to aim much higher than your target, and any candidate who tries to get elected by promising to preserve the status quo is guaranteed to hit the ground and not the target, only dooming America to a continued march toward corporate-funded despotism.

Bernie had thoughts about just about everything. For reference, a basic list of his positions, consistent over decades is found below.

Capital Punishment / Death Penalty: Abolish it
Cash Bail Reform: End it
Cocaine Sentencing Disparities: Scrap the disparity
Mandatory Minimum Sentences Reform: Eliminate them
Private Prisons: Eliminate them
Election Security: Mandate paper ballots
Affordable Housing: Construction funding, rent control and taxes to curb speculation
Big Banks: Bring back Glass-Steagall
Income Inequality: Raise taxes on the wealthy, create new social programs
Minimum Wage: Raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour
Paid Leave: Support several months of broad paid leave
Reparations: Study reparations
Charter Schools: Restrict charter school growth
Cost of College: College should be free
Student Debt: Cancel all student debt
Teacher Pay: Boost teacher pay
Campaign Finance: Unlimited spending should not be allowed in politics
Electoral College: The Electoral College should be eliminated
Felon Voting: Felons should be allowed to vote while incarcerated
Nuclear Power: Support closing down existing nuclear power reactors
Oil and gas drilling: Ban fracking everywhere
Reducing carbon emissions: Impose government regulations
Farm Economy: Break up agribusiness
Farming and Climate Change: Pay farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices
Nutrition: Universal free meals in schools
Rights for Farm Owners and Workers: Expand farm worker protections, but no specific plans for USDA civil rights
Assault Weapons: Support a voluntary buyback program
Background Checks: In favor of universal background checks
Bernie Sanders’ views on: Abortion
ACA / Coverage Expansion: All in on Medicare for All
Drug Costs: Importation and patent breaking
Medicare For All: Medicare for All or bust
DACA: Citizenship for Dreamers
Illegal Entry: Repeal the statute
The Wall: Don’t support additional wall funding
Transportation: Boost infrastructure spending, but no stated funding mechanism
Legalizing Marijuana: Legalize it
Marijuana Convictions: Scrapping past pot convictions
Defense Spending: Slash the defense budget
Overseas Deployments: Bring the troops home
Capital Gains Taxes: Increase the capital gains tax rate
Corporate Income Taxes: Eliminate tax breaks for “offshoring.”
Wealth Taxes: Create special taxes on wealth
Rural Broadband: Create a public option for broadband
Social Media: We should consider holding companies legally liable for user posts
Tech Competition & Antitrust: Break them up
China: Support the goal, change the approach
NAFTA / USMCA: Against the USMCA
Tariffs: Use tariffs to crack down on certain countries
TPP 2.0: Oppose joining CPTPP or opposed TPP

I don’t think even the most radical of Bernie’s supporters convinced themselves that every one of these platform planks could be enacted into law. But every one is something that would make life better for all citizens, not just Democrats.

If we could get the three I have highlighted in red enshrined in American law – A decent minimum wage, universal single-payer healthcare, and repealing Citizens United – it would go a long way toward creating a better life for every American.

There’s no question that I’m sad. I know that there are people out there who will be exulting in the copious “liberal tears” that are being shed at the moment, and I’m sad for them as well – because they’re essentially cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Bernie will continue serving the American people without compromising his principles as a senior Senator as he has always done, and until he can serve no more. There will come a day when he will go the way of all the earth, and it is my fervent hope that there will be those who come after – young people like AOC, or others who have not yet arisen – who will mature in government service and pick up Bernie’s torch. In the meantime I will do what I can to support progressive candidates who will work to build a world that works, in the words of R. Buckminster Fuller,

“for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

Thank You, Bernie Sanders

As I commented to a Facebook acquaintance, I am approaching the twilight of my life, and in these uncertain days one never knows how much time is left. When my own time comes, I need to be able to go down to my grave knowing that I did all that I could to leave the world a better place for my children and grandchildren; I need to be able to look them in the eye and say that I voted for freedom, for prosperity, for equality, and for human dignity. For me – and your mileage may vary – to support the current occupant of the White House for another 4 years would be voting to keep my posterity in a state of servitude to the wealthy, to say to them in effect “You must remain poor. You do not deserve a living wage. You do not deserve affordable healthcare. In order to get an education, you must undertake a lifetime of debt. You girls do not deserve the right to choose your destinies, you must submit to abuse at the hands of any man who feels like you are nothing more than property, and if you happen to become pregnant, too bad for you. You have no choice.” This I cannot do.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Another day, another shooting.

This was an odd one. It happened at a Naval Air Station, where people essentially carry weapons for a living. So that muddies the water a bit. And, it turns out that the perp was a Saudi national, and an aviation student to boot, which raises a *whole* lot of questions in my mind, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Before anything else, my heart is broken for those impacted; the victims, their families, and their loved ones. People die every day from all sorts of reasons – illness, unavoidable accidents, natural causes, even violence – but death by terrorism is especially hard on those left behind. And I make no apologies for calling it that. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

But now comes the summum bonum of this post: According to CBS News, ” The number of mass shootings across the U.S. thus far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year, according to a gun violence research group. Before this year has even ended, 2019 has already had more mass shootings than any year since the research group started keeping track.”

This doesn’t even take into account the little ones. Individual shootings by unbalanced or patently evil people. As of today, the total is 36,518. Now, in terms of national statistics, that’s only roughly 3/4 the number of deaths by suicide from any cause, according to the CDC, and almost the same number as automobile fatalities in 2018. So some might argue that in terms of overall numbers, it’s not a big deal.

But it is. It’s a big deal. It’s too many, and too horrible, and too traumatizing, and gun violence takes adults, and children, and breaks hearts and shatters families and reduces our safety (the NRA would argue the opposite) and the quality of our life.

Image result for 2nd amendment

So here’s the question, directed at those of my friends and associates who fall on the “cold, dead hands” side of the equation:

What are you going to do to stop this carnage. What are you doing right now to make sure that guns don’t get into the wrong hands, the hands of people who will use them to destroy the innocent?

I exhort you: don’t get me wrong. I support the 2nd Amendment as long as it remains part of the Constitution.

These are patches and such that I earned as a youth. I remain proud of them to this day. I learned gun safety and responsibility and enjoyed target shooting immensely. (Thanks, Hutch.) We own a 30-30. I’m not a “gun grabber,” as the NRA loves to pigeonhole people who advocate for gun control. But the situation today has far exceeded what I consider madness.

The courts have repeatedly ruled that you have the right to assemble an arsenal that would be the envy of a small nation. I think that if the Founders, in their wisdom, could see what that those 27 words had wrought in our day and age, they would weep in outrage and promptly need to go home and change their pants. But that’s my interpretation, and the wisdom of the 2nd is not what I’m discussing. It’s a fact, and we need to deal with things as they are.

I think our nation would be far safer if there were no guns in private hands, but if the right to bear arms is never going away, it needs to be tempered with a responsibility to bear arms safely, and I support treating guns in the same way we treat cars, none of which contravenes the wording of the 2nd Amendment:

  • Gun owners should be trained, licensed, and insured for each type of weapon owned.
  • All weapons should be annually registered, inspected, and taxed.

So what are your solutions? How will you preserve your rights and still stop the daily carnage? Change my mind.

Go.¹


¹ Note: I’m inviting comments for this post, despite the fact that it’s a divisive and often inflammatory issue. I have attempted to be as impartial and even-handed as possible in laying out my feelings. Comments that are ad-hominem attacks (i.e. “You gun-grabbing pussy!”) or not based on reason (“I disagree!”) will simply be deleted without ever being seen. I want to know how you would fix things, and preserving the status quo is not an option. So choose your words wisely.

An excoriating repudiation of our current *president.

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday in response to an assertion by the *president that special counsel Robert Mueller’s entire Russia report was protected by executive privilege, members of Congress took the opportunity to vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for not providing the complete and unredacted Mueller report.

Many congresspeople spoke, but the most powerful commentary was delivered by Congressman Jamie Raskin, representing the 8th District of Maryland. The full transcript of his powerful remarks are below. If you really care about what’s happening to this country, you must acknowledge that every word he spoke is backed up by facts, by decency, and by common sense.

“Madam Chair, I think we need to remark how far this president has lowered our country. First, they destroyed the norms and the values of society – things that we’d always taken for granted.

  • You don’t mock people with disabilities.
  • Men don’t mock women’s bodies on television.
  • You don’t ridicule people and give them obnoxious nicknames, at least after you graduate from the third grade.
  • You don’t falsely accuse other political leaders of treason.
  • You don’t accuse other political leaders’ parents of assassinating President Kennedy.
  • You don’t use disgusting, profane language to disparage other people’s countries and you don’t call neo-Nazis and Klansmen ‘very fine people.’
  • You don’t give aid and comfort to the dictators of the world like Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin by flattering them and being their sycophants.

But then you destroyed the norms and the values of your office.

  • You called the press the enemy of the people.
  • You called true facts fake news and you call fake news true facts.
  • You vilify, you demonize the hardworking employees of the Department of Justice and the FBI.
  • You accuse them of being a part of a fantasy deep-state conspiracy just for doing their jobs.
  • You falsely claim millions of people voted illegally while you deny and dismiss the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller that there was a sweeping and systematic campaign to disrupt our elections in 2016.
  • You refused to divest yourself of your business interests or to put them in a blind trust as other presidents have done.
  • You traveled to your own business properties and the hotels on government expense.
  • You double initiation fees to Mar-a-Lago.
  • You turn the government of the United States into a money-making operation for your family, for your business, and for yourself.
  • And then you violate and undermine the laws of the United States.
  • You sabotage the affordable care act to try to deny millions of people access to their healthcare.
  • You separate children from their parents at the border. You pull out of the Paris climate agreement, making our country an international environmental pariah and outlaw state.
  • You lie about what science has shown about climate change.
  • You call it a Chinese hoax.
  • You collect millions of dollars from foreign princes, and kings, and governments in violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution.

And now the president, aided and abetted by the attorney general, tears at the very fabric of our Constitution. He orders that a curtain be pulled down over the executive branch. He says there will be no cooperation with the lawful demands of Congress for information. Congress shouldn’t be looking any more. The president-king declares, this is all. It’s done. No tax returns, no Mueller report, no witnesses, not Don McGahn, not John Gore. The president declares himself above and beyond the law. James Madison said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance and those who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives. The people through the Constitution gave us that power. We must exercise it. If you act with contempt for the people in Congress, we will find you in contempt of the people and of Congress. And I support the resolution.”

Any subset of the above allegations would constitute impeachable behavior, simply in terms of incompetence, malfeasance, and outright inhumanity. There is a lot of debate right now in progressive circles as to whether such an effort is even worth the time and money, particularly in view of the unlikelihood of conviction in the Senate.

Personally, I wish the House would vote to impeach, if only to show The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office that actions have consequences. Let it be remembered that Bill Clinton was
impeached by the House in December 1998 on two charges, one of perjury and one of obstruction of justice; while he was acquitted, the charges stemmed from a single charge of sexual harassment by Paula Jones. The laundry-list of horrors perpetrated by the current occupant of the White House makes that transgression, while serious, look like a peccadillo.

But even if the House takes a path of political expediency and moves on to other pressing business of our nation, it is the obligation of every human and decent citizen of our country to sweep this horror from the political stage in 2020 and relegate him to the status of a terrible mistake of history.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

*Comments are disabled for this post. If you have other opinions, feel free to write about them on your own blog.

Can you think of anything stupider to fight about?

Cross-posted from LiveJournal

Arguing about the nature of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If you’ve been touched by his noodly appendage, this is not supposed to happen.

An experience interacting with a rather un-Christian biblical apologist some time ago left me somewhat unsettled, and I wasn’t able to think about much else for a couple of days. The thing that unsettled me the most was that despite my best intentions, I felt myself being dragged into the fray.

Additional research on the internet has led me to a plethora of websites of every possible permutation.

  • Atheists vs. Apologists
  • Evangelicals vs. non-orthodox Christians
  • Muslims vs. Jews
  • Muslims vs. Christians
  • Jews vs. Gentiles
  • Secular humanists vs. Believers
  • Mormons vs. Atheists
  • Evangelicals vs. Mormons
  • Bible-believing Christians vs. Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Scientologists vs. Everybody
  • 7th-Day-Adventists vs. …

You get the picture. Choose one from column A, and one from Column B, and you’ll be able to find it out there.

Incredible amounts of time, effort, indignation, anger and outright hatred are being spent in attempts to prove, by logic, or reason, or scripture, or exegesis, or tradition, that which is virtually unprovable – hence the cartoon above, which I created more for my own benefit than anyone else’s. And it all comes down to the most basic of human addictions, the addiction to being right.

Of course, none of this is new. It’s only that the internet era gives us fingertip access to the full spectrum of human maladjustment and brings it into clearer focus. People have been killing each other for their differences, religious and otherwise, since the dawn of time [be careful, that link is a bit grim]- and since the same epoch, there have been those who have risen up against the madness.

I remember back in the late 60’s and early 70’s when Vietnam was in full swing, a popular bumper sticker read, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”, and that led me to an odd thought. My own faith holds out that before Christ comes again, the earth has to be made ready for his coming. Part of this involves preaching the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, which is why almost everywhere you go, you see our young missionaries out spreading the word.

That’s well and good, but what’s the ultimate point of that Gospel? Imagine with me for a moment that the earth was divided into only two nations, Exegetia and Harmonia.

The Republic of Exegetia consisted of three billion people. 99% of those belonged to a single faith – the “correct” one, whatever that happened to look like. Other than that, things were pretty much the same way they are now.

In Harmonia, there were also three billion people, of all different persuasions, religious and secular – and it was not uncommon to find a mosque and a synagogue built next to each other, right across the street from a Hindu temple, an Anglican chapel, and a chapter of the Harmonian Humanist Society.
While not everyone was rich, there were no poor, because everyone believed in a society where everyone wins.
People didn’t covet one another’s goods.
People didn’t lie, or steal, or rob, or murder, or slander or persecute one another.
People lived simply, so that everyone could simply live.
People respected their environment, and did all they could to be good stewards of the only planet they had to live on.
People were kind, and loving, and charitable.
Lawyers and judges were out of work, because nobody wanted to sue anyone else.

If you were God, which nation would you want to walk with? “Wait, wait, God loves everyone, he’s not a respecter of persons!” Well, you’re right but you get my point, which is:

“In the end analysis, God cares less about which Church you belong to, or don’t, than how you’re treating your fellow man.”

This, then, is the Ecumenism that I support. It has nothing to do with the various faiths trying to become like one another. It has nothing to do with everyone joining the “First Church of Blah Unsalted Farina”. It has to do with each one of us, regardless of our walk in life, reaching out to every member of humanity and doing our best to create an entire planet where everyone wins, and helping every other member of our species to make it across the finish line.

Utopia won’t come cheap. Given human nature, there will always be poor folk, there will always be those who don’t obey the rules, there will always be illness, natural disasters and everything else that makes our world a challenge to live in. But what if we were to make it even halfway to that glorious goal? Wouldn’t that be better than maintaining the status quo?

The more time goes on, the more I become committed to bringing people to Christ (which is my particular walk) by raising the human condition, rather than worrying about what they wear, which scriptures they read or which direction they face to pray – or if they even pray at all. I may be the only book of scripture that some people ever read.

Just saying that could get me heaved out of my own faith by certain people.

I’ll take my chances.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Speech *I* Wish a President would give.

On the 8th of October, 2003, some time subsequent to the Desert Storm operation a veteran named Dennis Chapman posted this. It circulated widely on the Internet after that, in various forms as is not uncommon, people feeling the need to edit or improve things according to their own whims. It is the earliest known occurrence I can find, and I have no reason to suppose that Mr. Chapman was not the original author.

The Speech We Wish a President Would Give
My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.
Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.
This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq. This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.
Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short. The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.
The other list contains everyone not on the first list. Most of the world’s nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.
Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war.
The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hellholes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption.
Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France.
In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.
Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France, or maybe China .
I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France, Germany, and Russia . Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bon chance, mes amis.
I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don’t care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York.
A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.
Mexico is also on List 2 President Fox and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra tank and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put ’em? Yep, border security.
Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty – starting now.
We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we’ll be drilling for oil in Alaska – which will take care of this country’s oil needs for decades to come. If you’re an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there. They care.
It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, “darn tootin.”
Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just about everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won’t forget.
To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.
God bless America . Thank you and good night.
If you can read this, thank a teacher.
If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier.


Dennis Chapman

15 years ago I was still smarting from the insult of the 9/11 attacks, and on more days than not my gut instinct was to agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Chapman’s sentiments. I think had 45 been running for president in 2004 using this fictitious letter as a campaign platform, I might have (to my discomfort now) pulled the lever for a straight GOP ticket with great enthusiasm. So it’s not like I don’t have a sense of what 45’s base is feeling, and why they support him so doggedly.

Fortunately for my conscience, in 2007 I began a journey into a different space, thanks to some amazing seminars produced by Klemmer and Associates. People finish these leadership training experiences with many different takeaways, depending on their own particular biases and preconceptions, and which ones they are willing to look at. For me, the bottom line was that mankind consists of “one village,” and without each other we cannot maximize our potential as human beings. I landed on the concept of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game” (hence the title of this blog), which goes like this:

“Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.”

R. Buckminster Fuller

There were other important lessons as well, but this one ended up informing what’s left of my life, and made me realize that the “Yeah Baby ‘Murica First” philosophy was incompatible with my heart and soul.

As a result of thinking long and hard about what kind of America I believe in, and how I would like to see it led, I have crafted the speech that I wish an American president would give.

My Fellow Americans,

It is a privilege to address you this evening. To begin with, it will not be surprising to any of you if I say we are still living through one of the most challenging political, economic, and social periods that our nation has faced. But before anything else is said, it needs to be acknowledged that we are Americans, that we have survived difficult times before, and that as a nation and as a people we will survive this time in our history and emerge the stronger for having done so.

As eloquently pointed out by President Lincoln, the founders of our nation envisioned a republic where all people would be free and equal. While their vision did not fully encompass people of color or women, subsequent modifications to our Constitution, along with various decisions by the Supreme Court, rectified most of those time-relative cultural oversights. With the exception of certain fanatical or misguided groups, and despite the fact that there is still work to be done, the vast majority of Americans support the concept of a nation where every person is equal in the eyes of the law and has an equal chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sadly, today’s reality does not live up to those founding principles, and it is my intention to devote the next four years rectifying that and other underlying problems which are holding our nation back from achieving its full potential.

The first group of people I would like to address is my colleagues in the press. You have been warmly invited to cover this address with open arms, and it is my intention that this state of affairs will continue. The relationship of the office of the President with the Fourth Estate has never been an easy one, and while I cannot promise that this administration will be the media’s darling, I can promise one thing: you will never be lied to by me or my spokespeople. In the interest of national security, there may be questions we cannot answer, and if that is the case, we will say so directly. But I and those in my administration are determined to make you our allies in building an America that works for everyone, with no one left out. Journalism is driven by money, money comes from advertising, and sensationalism sells ads. I don’t expect to change the rubric of your profession in a brief four years (or eight, if that happens to be the will of the American people) – but I ask you for an agreement of honor. I expect you to shine the harsh light of reason into every dark corner of this government, and to act as Amerca’s watchdogs. If there is malfeasance, or corruption, or injustice, I expect you to uncover it – and this administration will be your partners in doing that. In exchange, I ask that you make your coverage fair and balanced, and as devoid of sensationalism, partisanship, and outright falsehood as possible; your training as journalists has prepared you to do this, and I expect nothing less. If I, as president, have something to say to the nation, you will be notified by a televised address or by the time-tested channel of a press conference – and not by some social media platform.

To our military, and our police forces, and our first responders, I have only this to say: I honor you for your service, for your sacrifices, and for your daily willingness to put yourselves in harm’s way for the safety and security of our nation and our allies – and I want nothing more than to build a nation where your services will be seldom, if ever, needed. You belong with your families, and it’s my job to make sure you can spend as much time with them as humanly possible.

To the nations of the world, I offer the hand of friendship. There have been some serious bumps along the way, but the past is written and unchangeable. What we have is now, and tomorrow. If you will work with me in building a world of safety and prosperity for the almost 8 billion sojourners on our spaceship Earth, you will find me a willing and eager partner. If you oppose the general welfare of humanity, you are likely to find me a formidable and immovable opponent.

Of my colleagues in Congress, I ask this: send me legislation to sign that builds our nation, that makes it stronger, that is designed to benefit everyone – not just the privileged few – and that extends beyond our borders in areas of diplomacy, of science, of health, and of the environment. I will work with you to this end, but I will not support unfairness, or cruelty, or selfishness, or dishonesty. If you truly work for the benefit of humanity, we will be able to make sensible progress together.

To the people of America, I say this: I was elected by a democratic process, and I will never forget that I represent the hopes and dreams of everyone in this nation – the ones who voted for me and the ones who didn’t. In past years and after past elections, I have heard a similar refrain from both parties, to the extent that “We won, and you people (the opposition) are now irrelevant.” That is not an America that I support. Whether you believe in me or my party’s platform is irrelevant – but you are not. However you would like to see it happen, I know that what you mostly desire in life is health, safety, security, and opportunity for yourself and your children. It may be that we have different approaches, but I want those things for you – for all of you – and will work to see that you get more of them than you have now.

If you have a spiritual walk, then join with me in saying God Bless America. If you turn to the wisdom of humanity for your strength, then may your efforts to build a humane and peaceful country bear as much fruit as you can make happen with your efforts.

My fellow citizens, I thank you. May you prosper in all that you do.

As a point of practicality, I have disabled comments for this post. Like it if you wish, I always appreciate knowing if people resonate with my thoughts. Or don’t, if you disagree. But this is not reddit or YouTube, and not a place for debate – if you have other thoughts, the best place for those will be your own blog.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

It sure is a scary time for men

At least, according to the thermonuclear bowel evacuation currently disgracing the Oval Office. (Yeah, I’m talkin’ ’bout you, Donny).

He had no problem mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for her “unfounded allegations.” He has no problem claiming that George Soros is paying all these democratic protesters (read: Women) to protest. He has no problem apologizing to Brett Kavanaugh for the anguish he was subjected to during the orchestrated circus the GOP called a hearing and investigation. And he has no problem saying that this is a “scary time for men,” worried that they might be unjustly accused and their lives ruined on a whim.

Well, isn’t that just special?

The damage inflicted on our nation by execrable, hateful, power-drunken despots like 45 and Mitch McConnell and their congressional sycophants will continue for decades, generations even. But if the catastrophe spawns a sufficient storm of outrage from average Americans, specifically women, and specifically the young, and specifically minorities – all groups targeted by Cheetolini for particular disdain – and they get to the polls in 2018 and 2020 to vote, our nation may yet survive as the republic which the founders envisioned.

There is hope. A song written by Lynzy Lab and posted to YouTube has already garnered half a million views in three days.

Lyrics:

Hi, I wrote a song and it goes like this:I can’t walk to my car late at night while on the phone
I can’t open up my windows when I’m home alone
I can’t go to the bar without a chaperone
I can’t wear a mini skirt if it’s the only one I own
I can’t use public transportation after 7 PM
I can’t be brutally honest when you slide into my dms
I can’t go to the club just to dance with my friends
And I can never leave my drink unattended…

But it sure is a scary time for boys, yeah
Gentleman band together make some noise
It’s really tough when your reputations on the line
And any woman you’ve assaulted could show up any time
Yeah, it sure is a scary time for guys
can’t look at any woman or look her in the eyes
It’s so confusing, is it rape or just being nice
So inconvenient that you even have to think twice

I can’t live in an apartment if it’s on the first floor
I can’t be wearing silk pajamas when I answer the door
I can’t have another drink even if I want more
And I can’t make you feel invalid on the scene or ignored
I can’t jog around the city with headphones on my ears
I can’t speak out against my rapist after 35 years
I can’t be taken seriously if I’m holding back tears
And I can never speak earnestly about all these fears cuz…

It sure is a scary time for dudes
Can’t text a girl repeatedly asking for nudes
Can’t make a girl have sex when she’s not in the mood
And what gives her the right to give you attitudeIt sure is a scary time for men
Girls like to act like you’re to blame and they’re the victim
Her dress was short and she was drunk she’s not so innocent
Thank god your dads a judge and you won’t be convicted…

Oh that’s right… oh yeah, yeah;
It’s not such a scary time for boys
They’ve always had the upper hand, they’ve always had a choice
It’s time for women to rise up use our collective voice
The day to vote is Nov 6th so let’s go make some noiseGo vote

Mad props, Lynzy. The future of our nation is in your hands and the hands of young people like you.

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The Old Wolf has spoken.

The rivers of life

Shower thought on the passing of a virtual but nonetheless very dear friend and colleague. Inspired perhaps by a confluence of this XKCD and this story which I posted earlier:

“Our lives through time are like streams of water, and can cross and re-cross and diverge from those with whom we sojourn on this earth. It is at those precious points of convergence with souls who lift and enrich us, even though tomorrow our streams may once again separate, never again to reconvene, that some of life’s greatest joys are captured.

Moments. They’re all we get.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.