Monday, May 25, 2015

Zio Nino

In memoriam: Bartolomeo "Nino" Pivetta (1922-1944?). My paternal uncle, an infantryman in the Italian Army, went MIA during in the Siege of Stalingrad. He was never heard from again.
With his Belgian wife and two-year-old daughter in tow, he tried to sneak back to the family farm near Pordenone, Italy. Alas, the carabinieri nabbed him at the border. He became fodder for Mussolini's war.
The court historians insist my uncle did not die for freedom. After all, he was fighting against Stalin, FDR's beloved Uncle Joe, and on the same side as Hitler. Hitler, as we all know, was the Implacable Enemy With Whom No Compromise Is Possible in 1944. Stalin wouldn't take Hitler's place for another year.
Timing is everything in a world of empire, perpetual war, and shifting alliances. Sorry, Zio Nino.
I honor him for putting his family first. Everything else is just a lie. As my late father once put it, in his own inimitable way:
"What? Fight for your country? Are you crazy?! Where do you get ideas like this? No! You have no country! You know where my country is? Right here! Between my legs! That's my country! It's all I live for! It's all I fight for! It's all I'll die for!"

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Memorial Day Goes Groundhog

By all means, make it about a three-day weekend. Make it about parties and the beach. Make it about playing polo or square dancing or throwing a frisbee in the park. For the love of all that is decent and reasonable, make it about just about anything else.
What's the alternative? Honoring their sacrifice?
They killed and died in senseless wars. Isn't that clear to you by now? If we honor killing and dying in senseless wars, the politicians will keep sending them off to kill and die in senseless wars. Haven't you had your fill of that?
What does it take to get through to you? Do I have to grab you by the shoulders and shake you? Myth-building mantras do not reality make.
Those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Groundhog Day loses all charm when it showcases an endless loop of drone-struck foreigners and American flag-draped coffins. Enough already.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Into Great Silence

I thought immediately of the Carthusian monks when I saw today's Word of the Day. The 2005 film Into Great Silence ( gave us a taste of their asceticism and the rhythms of their monastic life. 

It took a level of asceticism just to sit through this 162-minute cinematic tour de force.  Those who did could not help but emerge with a newfound appreciation for the Carthusians' simplicity, spirituality, and self-discipline. Interestingly enough, Buddhists and New Agers were as apt to be seduced by this "slow" film as traditional Catholics--proving, once again, that Truth knows no religious, cultural, racial, national, or socio-economic barriers. 

[This was sent to Anu Garg, in response to asceticism, the Word of the Day for Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Needless to say, Garg ignored it.]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Baseball & Liberty

Baseball, it has been said, holds the key to the American character. The Grand Old Game embodies communitarian and individualist impulses that made the country itself grand. Each player does good for this team by doing well for himself.
All nations, though, as wily old Ben Franklin himself warned, eventually succumb to tyranny. Nowadays, wealthy baseball team owners enlist the State to dragoon taxpayers into paying for their stadiums--and, in a mind-boggling display of chutzpah, expect hosannas for picking up the short end of their own tab!
Not so long ago, baseball could still lay claim to its exalted status. Natural grass, quirky stadiums (not the cookie-cutter monstrosities of today), and the pitcher's place in the batting order ensured the game's integrity and continuity with the past.
Not so long ago, undeclared war and diminishing civil liberties still sparked controversy and dissent. As goes baseball, alas, so goes the cause of American liberty.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Atheists Make Themselves in the Image of a God

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. -Anne Lamott, writer (b. 10 Apr 1954)

You can safely assume you've created yourself in the image of a god when it turns out you hate all the same people fellow atheists do. (For more on this, please see the French Revolution, Cristeros War, and Gulag Archipelago.)  ~Edgar J. Snarkenfarker (b. 6 Jun 1966)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Schizophrenic God of Reason

The Randroid espouses one version of Natural Rights. The Randroid's version of Natural Rights wildly diverges from the noninterventionist libertarian's version of Natural Rights. Each camp claims to derive its version of Natural Rights from the self-evident premises of The Great God Reason. No leap of faith required! I can only conclude that The Great God Reason is a cruel and arbitrary god. Thank (the Christian) God I'm a Great God Reason atheist.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cretinous Policy Intellectuals

From “Rationalizing Lunacy” by Andrew J. Bacevich:

What the three shared in common, apart from a suspect education acquired in New Haven, was an unwavering commitment to the reigning verities of the Cold War.  Foremost among those verities was this: that a monolith called Communism, controlled by a small group of fanatic ideologues hidden behind the walls of the Kremlin, posed an existential threat not simply to America and its allies, but to the very idea of freedom itself.  The claim came with this essential corollary: the only hope of avoiding such a cataclysmic outcome was for the United States to vigorously resist the Communist threat wherever it reared its ugly head.

The present-day successors to Bundy, Rostow, and Huntington subscribe to their own reigning verities.  Chief among them is this: that a phenomenon called terrorism or Islamic radicalism, inspired by a small group of fanatic ideologues hidden away in various quarters of the Greater Middle East, poses an existential threat not simply to America and its allies, but — yes, it’s still with us — to the very idea of freedom itself.  That assertion comes with an essential corollary dusted off and imported from the Cold War: the only hope of avoiding this cataclysmic outcome is for the United States to vigorously resist the terrorist/Islamist threat wherever it rears its ugly head.