Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Witch of Fife

“Where have ye been, ye ill woman,

These three lang nights frae hame?

What gars the sweat drap frae yer brow,

Like drops o’ the saut sea-faem?

“It fears me muckle ye have seen

What gude man never knew;

It fears me muckle ye have been,

Where the gray cock never crew.

“But the spell may crack, and the bridle break,

Then sharp yer word will be;

Ye had better sleep in yer bed at hame,

Wi’ yer dear little bairns and me.”

“Sit dune, sit dune, my leal auld man,

Sit dune, and listen to me;

I’ll gar the hair stand on yer crown,

And the cauld sweat blind yer e’e.

“But tell nae words, my gude auld man,

Tell never a word again;

Or dear shall be your courtesy,

And driche and sair yer pain.

“The first leet night, when the new moon set,

When all was douffe and mirk,

We saddled our nags wi’ the moonfern leaf,

And rode frae the Kilmerrin kirk.

“Some horses were of the brume-cow framed,

And some of the green bay tree;

But mine was made of ane hemlock shaw,

And a stout stallion was he.

“We raide the tod doune on the hill,

The martin on the law;

And we hunted the owlet out o’ breath,

And forced him doune to fa’.”

“What guid was that, ye ill woman?

What guid was that to thee?

Ye would better have been in yer bed at hame,

Wi’ yer dear little bairns and me.”

“And aye we rode, as sae merrily rode,

Through the merkest gloffs of the night;

And we swam the flood, and we darnit the wood,

Till we came to the Lommond height.

“And when we came to the Lommond height,

Sae lightly we lighted doune;

And we drank frae the horns that never grew,

The beer that was never browin.

“Then up there rose a wee wee man,

From neath the moss-gray stane;

His face was wan like the colliflower,

For he neither had blude nor bane.

“He set a reed-pipe till his mouth;

And he played sae bonnily,

Till the gray curlew, and the blackcock flew

To listen his melody.

“It rang sae sweet through the green Lommond,

That the night-wind lowner blew;

And it soupit alang the Loch Leven,

And wakened the white sea-mew.

“It rang sae sweet through the green Lommond,

Sae sweetly and sae shrill,

That the weasels leaped out of their mouldy holes,

And danced on the midnight hill.

“The corby crow came gledging near,

The erne gaed veering bye;

And the trouts leaped out of the Leven Loch,

Charmed with the melody.

“And aye we danced on the green Lommond,

Till the dawn on the ocean grew:

Nae wonder I was a weary wight,

When I cam hame to you.”

“What guid, what guid, my weird, weird wyfe,

What guid was that to thee?

Ye wad better have been in yer bed at hame,

Wi’ yer dear little bairns and me.”

“The second night, when the new moon set,

O’er the roaring sea we flew;

The cockle-shell our trusty bark,

Our sails of the green sea-rue.

“And the bauld winds blew, and the fire-flauchts flew,

And the sea ran to the sky;

And the thunder it growled, and the sea-dogs howled,

As we gaed scurrying bye.

“And aye we mounted the sea-green hills,

Till we brushed the clouds of heaven,

Then soused downright like the stern-shot light,

Fra the lift’s blue casement driven.

“But our tackle stood, and our bark was good,

And sae pang was our pearly prow;

When we couldna speil the brow of the waves,

We needled them through below.

“As fast as the hail, as fast as the gale,

As fast as the midnight leme,

We bored the breast of the bursting swale,

Or fluffed in the floating faem.

“And when to the Norroway shore we wan,

We mounted our steeds of the wind,

And we splashed the floode, and we darnit the wood,

And we left the shore behind.

“Fleet is the roe on the green Lommond,

And swift is the couryng grew;

The rein-deer dun can eithly run,

When the hounds and the horns pursue.

“But neither the roe, nor the reindeer dun,

The hind nor the couryng grew,

Could fly o’er mountain, moor, and dale,

As our braw steeds they flew.

“The dales were deep, and the Doffrins steep,

And we rose to the skies ee-bree:

White, white was our road that was never trode,

O’er the snows of eternity.

“And when we came to the Lapland lone,

The fairies were all in array,

For all genii of the north

Were keeping their holiday.

“The warlock men, and the weird women,

And the fays of the wood and the steep,

And the phantom hunters all were there,

And the mermaids of the deep.

“And they washed us all with the witch-water,

Distilled frae the moorland dew,

Till our beauty bloomed like the Lapland rose,

That wild in the forest grew.”

“Ye lee, ye lee, ye ill woman,

Sae loud as I hear ye lee!

For the worst-faured wyfe on the shores of Fyfe

Is comely compared wi’ thee.”

“Then the mermaids sang, and the woodlands rang,

Sae sweetly swelled the choir;

On every cliff a harp they hang,

On every tree a lyre.

“And aye they sang, and the woodlands rang,

And we drank; and we drank sae deep;

Then soft in the arms of the warlock men,

We laid us dune to sleep.”

“Away, away, ye ill woman,

An ill death might ye dee!

When ye hae proved sae false to yer God,

Ye can never prove true to me.”

“And there we learned frae the fairy folk,

And frae our master true,

The words that can bear us through the air,

And locks and bars undo.

“Last night we met at Maisry’s cot;

Right well the words we knew;

And we set a foot on the black cruick-shell,

And out at the lum we flew.

“And we flew o’er hill, and we flew o’er dale,

And we flew o’er firth and sea,

Untill we cam to merry Carlisle,

Where we lighted on the lea.

“We gaed to the vault beyond the tower,

Where we entered free as air;

And we drank, and we drank, of the bishop’s wine,

Till we could drink nae mair.”

“Gin that be true, my guid, auld wyfe,

Whilk thou hast tauld to me,

Betide my death, betide my lyfe,

I’ll bear thee company.

“Next time ye gang to merry Carlisle

To drink of the blude-red wine,

Beshrew my heart, I’ll fly with thee,

If the deil should fly behind.”

“Ah! Little ye ken, my silly auld man,

The dangers we maun dree;

Last night we drank of the bishop’s wine,

Till near near taen were we.

“Afore we wan to the sandy ford,

The gor-cocks nichering flew;

The lofty crest of Ettrick Pen

Was waved about with blue,

And, filchtering through the air, we fand

The chill chill morning dew.

“As we flew o’er the hills of Braid,

The sun rose fair and clear;

There gurly James, and his barons braw,

Were out to hunt the deer.

“Their bows they drew, their arrows flew,

And pierced the air with speed,

Till purple fell the morning dew

With witch-blude rank and red.

“Little ye ken, my silly auld man,

The dangers we maun dree;

Ne wonder I am a weary wight

When I come hame to thee.”

“But tell me the word, my gude auld wyfe,

Come tell it me speedily;

For I long to drink of the gude red wine,

And to wing the air with thee.

“Yer hellish horse I willna ride,

Nor sail the seas in the wind;

But I can flee as well as thee,

And I’ll drink till ye be blind.”

“O fy! O fy! my leal auld man,

That word I darena tell;

It would turn this warld all upside down,

And make it warse than hell.

“For all the lasses in the land

Wald mount the wind and fly;

And the men would doff their doublets syde,

And after them would ply.”

But the auld good man was a cunning auld man,

And a cunning auld man was he;

And he watched and he watched for mony a night,

The witches’ flight to see.

One night he darnit in Maisry’s cot;

The fearless hags came in;

And he heard the word of awesome weird;

And he saw their deeds of sin.

Then ane by ane, they said that word,

As fast to the fire they drew;

Then set a foot on the black cruick-shell,

And out at the lum they flew.

The auld gudeman cam frae his hole

With fear and muckle dread,

But yet he couldna think to rue,

For the wine came in his head.

He set his foot in the black cruick-shell,

With a fixed and a wawling ee;

And he said the word that I darena say,

And out at the lum flew he.

The witches scaled the moon-beam pale;

Deep groaned the trembling wind;

But they never wist that our auld gudeman

Was hovering them behind.

They flew to the vaults of merry Carlisle,

Where they entered free as air;

And they drank, and they drank of the bishop’s wine,

Till they could drink nae mair.

The auld gudeman he grew sae crouse,

He danced on the mouldy ground,

And he sang the bonniest songs of Fife,

And he tuzzlit the kerlyngs round.

And aye he pierced the tither butt,

And he sucked, and he sucked sae lang,

Till his een they closed, and his voice grew low,

And his tongue would hardly gang.

The kerlyngs drank of the bishop’s wine

Till they scented the morning wind;

Then clove again the yielding air,

And left the auld man behind.

And aye he slept on the damp damp floor,

He slept and he snored amain;

He never dreamed he was far frae hame,

Or that the auld wives were gane.

And aye he slept on the damp damp floor,

Till passed the mid-day height,

When wakened by five rough Englishmen,

That trailed him to the light.

“Now wha are ye, ye silly auld man,

That sleeps sae sound and sae weel?

How gat ye into the bishop’s vault

Through locks and bars of steel?”

The auld gudeman, he tried to speak,

But ane word he couldna finde;

He tried to think, but his head whirled round,

And ane thing he couldna mind:

“I cam from Fyfe,” the auld man cried,

“And I cam on the midnight winde.”

They nicked the auld man, and they pricked the auld man,

And they yerked his limbs with twine,

Till the red blude ran in his hose and shoon,

But some cried it was wine.

They licked the auld man, and they pricked the auld man,

And they tied him till ane stone;

And they set ane bele-fire him about,

To burn him skin and bone.

“O wae to me!” said the puir auld man,

“That ever I saw the day!

And wae be to all the ill women

That lead puir men astray!

“Let nevir ane auld man after this

To lawless greede incline;

Let never ane auld man after this

Rin post to the deil for wine.”

The reeke flew up in the auld man’s face,

And choked him bitterlye;

And the low cam up with an angry blaze,

And he singed his auld breek-nee.

He looked to the land frae once he came,

For looks he could get ne mae;

And he thoughte of his dear little bairns at hame,

And O the auld man was wae!

But they turned their faces to the sun,

With gloffe and wondrous glare,

For they saw ane thing baith large and dun,

Comin sweeping down the air.

That bird it cam frae the lands o’ Fyfe,

And it cam right tymeouslye,

For who was it but the auld man’s wife,

Just comed his death to see.

She put ane red cap on his head,

And the auld gudeman looked fain,

Then whispered ane word intil his lug,

And toved to the aire again.

The auld gudeman he gae ane bob

I’ the midst o’ the burning lowe;

And the shackles that bound him to the ring,

They fell frae his arms like tow.

He drew his breath, and he said the word,

And he said it with muckle glee,

Then set his feet on the burning pile,

And away to the air flew he.

Till ance he cleared the swirling reeke,

He luckit baith feared and sad;

But when he wan to the light blue aire,

He laughed as he’d been mad.

His arms were spread, and his head was high,

And his feet stuck out behind;

And the laibies of the auld man’s coat

Were wauffing in the wind.

And aye he neicherit, and aye he flew,

For he thought the play sae rare;

It was like the voice of the gander blue,

When he flees through the air.

He look├Ęd back at the Carlisle men,

As he bored the norlan sky;

He nodded his head, and gave ane grin

But he never said gude-bye.

They vanished far i’ the lift’s blue wale,

Nae mair the English saw,

But the auld man’s laugh came on the gale,

With a lang and a loud guffaw.

May everilike man in the land of Fife

Read what the drinkers dree;

And never curse his puir auld wife,

Right wicked although she be.


In ancient Britain and Ireland, the Celtic festival of Samhain eve was
observed on October 31, at the end of summer. This date was also the eve of
the new year in both Celtic and Anglo-Saxon times and was the occasion for
one of the ancient fire festivals when huge bonfires were set on hilltops to
frighten away evil spirits. The date was connected with the return of herds
from pasture, and laws and land tenures were renewed. The souls of the dead
were thought to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival
acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black
cats, fairies, and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the
time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature.
In addition, Halloween was thought to be the most favourable time for
divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death.

The Hag

The hag is astride
This night for to ride,
The devil and she together;
Through thick and through thin,
Now out and then in,
Though ne'er so foul be the weather.

A thorn or a burr
She takes for a spur,
With a lash of a bramble she rides now;
Through brakes and through briars,
O'er ditches and mires,
She follows the spirit that guides now.

No beast for his food
Dare now range the wood,
But hush'd in his lair he lies lurking;
While mischiefs, by these,
On land and on seas,
At noon of night are a-working.

The storm will arise
And trouble the skies;
This night, and more for the wonder,
The ghost from the tomb
Affrighted shall come,
Call'd out by the clap of the thunder.

-- Robert Herrick

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Age Nonsense gone amuck...

Sweat Lodge Survivor Beverley Bunn Says James Arthur Ray Played God Before Deadly

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (CBS/AP) Beverley Bunn, a Texas woman who took part in an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony that resulted in three deaths, says the man who led the event pushed people too far, even after several participants got sick and passed out.

Bunn, who spoke to the Associated Press, is the first survivor of the sweat lodge tragedy to talk publicly about the ceremony.

The forty-three-year old told the AP in a series of interviews this week that by the time the ceremony began, the participants had undergone days of physically and mentally strenuous events that included fasting. In one game, Bunn said, spiritual guru James Arthur Ray even played God.

Within an hour of entering the sweat lodge on the evening of Oct. 8, people began vomiting, gasping for air and collapsing. Yet Bunn says Ray continually urged everyone to stay inside. The ceremony was broken up into 15-minute "rounds," with the entrance flap to the lodge opened briefly and more heated rocks brought inside between sessions.

"I can't get her to move. I can't get her to wake up," Bunn recalls hearing from two sides of the 415-square-foot sweat lodge. Ray's response, she recalled: "Leave her alone, she'll be dealt with in the next round."

By that time, Bunn had already crawled to a spot near the opening of the sweat lodge, praying for the door to stay open as long as possible between rounds so that she could breathe in fresh air.

At one point, someone lifted up the back of the tent, shining light in the otherwise pitch-black enclosure. Ray demanded to know who was letting the light in and committing a "sacrilegious act," Bunn said.

The account marks a significant revelation in the investigation because it portrays Ray as driving participants to stay in the lodge despite signs all around him that the situation had gone horribly awry. Until now, few details had surfaced about Ray's actions inside in the sweat lodge.

Investigators are considering bringing charges against Ray in a case that has cast a harsh spotlight on him and his self-help empire as he led dozens of people into the sweat lodge during a five-day retreat that cost more than $9,000 per person. He has hired his own investigative team to examine the tragic events.

Ray led the group in chants and prayers during the ceremony, Bunn said. People were not physically forced to stay inside but chided by Ray if they wanted to leave as he told them they were stronger than their bodies, and weakness could be overcome.

Bunn lasted the entire two hours, but nearly two dozen others suffered serious injuries that sent them to the hospital.

Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., and James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, died upon arrival at a hospital. Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn., lingered in a coma for more than a week before dying.

Sheriff's investigators in Arizona's Yavapai County are treating the deaths as homicides but have yet to determine the cause.

Investigators are looking into the construction of the sweat lodge, the fact that people had fallen ill at previous sweat ceremonies led by Ray and questionable medical care on site, as they try to determine whether criminal negligence contributed to the deaths and illnesses.

Authorities have said a nurse hired by Ray was directing rescue efforts including CPR when emergency crews arrived. Ray is the primary focus of the probe but others also are being investigated, Sheriff Steve Waugh has said.

"I too want to know what happened that caused this horrible tragedy," Ray wrote on his Web site Tuesday.

He vowed to continue with his work.

"I have taken heat for that decision, but if I choose to lock myself in my home, I am sure I would be criticized for hiding and not practicing what I preach," he wrote.


I will take my chances with the Presbyterians, thanks!
-Beth Maxwell Boyle

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Earth Is The Lord's, And The Fullness Thereof

The Earth Is The Lord's, And The Fullness Thereof
Psalm 24:1
The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

The scarlet of maples

"The scarlet of maples can shake me like a cry
Of bugles going by.
And my lonely spirit thrills
to see the frosty asters like smoke
upon the hills."
- William Bliss Carman

Saturday, October 17, 2009

At auction, buyers get their goats

By Jay Tokasz
Updated: October 17, 2009, 5:04 PM / 0 comments

Wearing a faux mink stole and a jeweled collar, Zasu Pitts strutted her stuff like a runway model.

A spotlight shone, accenting the sprayed glitter on her black-and-white coat. The emcee pointed out her impeccable pedigree.

And by the time the bidding was finished, Richard and Rica Waldeman from North Carolina bought a goat for $2,050.

Not just any old goat, either.

Six-month-old Zasu Pitts was among the 17 finest young goats in the country selected as part of the annual American Dairy Goat Association Spotlight Sale this morning in the Adam's Mark Hotel.

"It's hard to part with her," said Zasu Pitts' previous owner, Sheila Nixon, a California goat farmer who named the flamboyant goat after a 1930s and '40s era film actress.

"They're very intelligent, curious animals," said Nixon. "This week, I taught her to dance for her dinner. She wags her tail and gets on her hind legs and jumps up and down a little."

The four-hour auction was the capstone event of the association's 105th annual convention, which began Oct. 10 and ran through today.

Here, no one was blaming the goats for anything.

They traveled from as far as California, many in airplanes, with only so much as a few bahs, and ended up drawing winning bids that ranged from $800 to $3,800.

Handlers outside the hotel prepared each of the goats for their momement in the spotlight, brushing coats, applying glitter and feeding treats of animal crackers and ginger snaps.

The goats acted as if it were just another day at the farm.

Elenna, an American Saanen doe, got the top bid of the day. White as a fresh snowfall in Buffalo, Elenna calmy strode the stage and coaxed $3,800 out of an Oregon dairy farmer, Flavio de Castellanos.

Shari Reyna, a fellow Oregonian, submitted the winning bid on Castellanos' behalf and told him by phone "you got a really good doe."

Reyna made out all right, too, picking up two bucks for herself.

"I didn't intend to buy anything," said the owner of Ferns' Edge Dairy in Lowell, Ore., which has about 300 goats.

Her purchases proved too much of a bargain to pass on. She plans to breed a purebred Nubian buck named Forevermore, which sold for $1,900.

"He'll sire a lot of daughters," said Reyna. "He will pay for himself in a year or two, there's no doubt in my mind."

About 500 people participated in the weeklong convention, which included, yes, a trip to Goat Island at Niagara Falls, as well as a variety of health workshops with veterinarians, a goat first-aid class and seminars on cheesemaking.

The Spotlight Sale is typically a highpoint of the week. Goats bought from the sale will be used for breeding, showing and producing milk.

"These traditionally are going to go to show homes and be exhibited at fairs and shows throughout the country," said Kristina Bozzo-Baldenegro, co-chair of a committee that organized the auction.

And if you thought $3,800 was a lot to spend on a goat, Bozzo-Baldenegro said a single goat once sold at spotlight sale for $16,000.

The sale brings out the best young goats in the country, submitted by nomination to the American Dairy Goat Association. Because of the difficulty with travel, larger adult goats aren't included in the auction.

"They are the cream of the goat crop," said Doni DeVincent, a hospital laboratory technician who owns 40 goats on 16 acres in Middletown.

DeVincent started caring for goats 25 years ago, when her parents purchased two Nubians to help clear away the woody brush on their property.

Now, "it's an obsession," she said with a smile. "It's my hobby that takes all my money."

Reyna's raising of goats stems from her own lactose intolerance and discovering that while she could not drink cow's milk, goat's milk was easily digestible.

Interest in goat's milk is growing rapidly, she added.

"Now, goat cheese is a really big deal," she said. "My milk is selling at $7.99 a half gallon, and I cannot fill all the orders."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Joe Biden Should Resign by Arianna Huffington

Pollyanna progressives can only carp and wail because they had such ridiculously high expectations for this administration. It's sad to see Arianna has begun pulling her hair out so soon. Arianna has stepped into a political pundit's cow pie with this one. Bad misstep, Arianna. Very bad! Is this revenge for the recent blogger comments made by the Whitehouse about pajama clad bloggers? I could not disagree more with your comments. Joe Biden is Obama's connection to the real Democratic party not the New Age self-congratulating Democratic party. With no Joe Biden I would not have voted for Obama and with no Joe Biden in 4 years I would not vote for him. Well off ,smug yuppies do not make the Democratic Party work real hard working Americans who are not afraid to get their hands dirty make it work. Biden is Obama's only connection to reality. Most of America wants the war in Afghanistan to end and they want Obama to start showing some teeth concerning education, health care and the reform of Wall Street. Obama has taken the Democratic party back to the right and is beginning to look more like a moderate Republican than a Democrat. Biden is the true blue Democrat on the ticket.-Beth Maxwell Boyle


Posted: October 14, 2009 02:32 PM

Why Joe Biden Should Resign
by Arianna Huffington

Joe Biden met with CENTCOM chief Gen. David Petraeus this morning to talk about Afghanistan -- an issue that has pushed the vice president into the spotlight, landing him on the cover of the latest Newsweek.

I have an idea for how he can capitalize on all the attention, and do what generations to come will always be grateful for: resign.

The centerpiece of Newsweek's story is how Biden has become the chief White House skeptic on escalating the war in Afghanistan, specifically arguing against Gen. McChrystal's request for 40,000 more troops to pursue a counterinsurgency strategy there.

The piece, by Holly Bailey and Evan Thomas, opens with details of a September 13th national security meeting at the White House. Biden speaks up:
"Can I just clarify a factual point? How much will we spend this year on Afghanistan?" Someone provided the figure: $65 billion. "And how much will we spend on Pakistan?" Another figure was supplied: $2.25 billion. "Well, by my calculations that's a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a question. Al Qaeda is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every dollar we're spending in Pakistan, we're spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?" The White House Situation Room fell silent.

Being Greek, I'm partial to Biden's classic use of the Socratic method -- skillfully eliciting facts in a way that lets people connect the dots that show how misguided our involvement in Afghanistan has become.

It's been known for a while that Biden has been on the other side of McChrystal's desire for a big escalation of our forces there -- the New York Times reported last month that he has "deep reservations" about it. So if the president does decide to escalate, Biden, for the good of the country, should escalate his willingness to act on those reservations.

What he must not do is follow the same weak and worn-out pattern of "opposition" we've become all-too-accustomed to, first with Vietnam and then with Iraq. You know the drill: after the dust settles, and the country begins to look back and not-so-charitably wonder, "what were they thinking?" the mea-culpa-laden books start to come out. On page after regret-filled page, we suddenly hear how forceful this or that official was behind closed doors, arguing against the war, taking a principled stand, expressing "strong concern" and, yes, "deep reservations" to the president, and then going home each night distraught at the unnecessary loss of life.

Well, how about making the mea culpa unnecessary? Instead of saving it for the book, how about future author Biden unfetter his conscience in real time -- when it can actually do some good? If Biden truly believes that what we're doing in Afghanistan is not in the best interests of our national security -- and what issue is more important than that? -- it's simply not enough to claim retroactive righteousness in his memoirs.

Though it would be a crowning moment in a distinguished career, such an act of courage would likely be only the beginning. Biden would then become the natural leader of the movement to wind down this disastrous war and focus on the real dangers in Pakistan.

The number of those on both sides of the political spectrum who share Biden's skepticism is growing. In August, George Will called for the U.S. to pull out of Afghanistan and "do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units."

Former Bush State Department official and current head of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haas argued in the New York Times that Afghanistan is not, as Obama insists, a war of necessity. "If Afghanistan were a war of necessity, it would justify any level of effort," writes Haas. "It is not and does not. It is not certain that doing more will achieve more. And no one should forget that doing more in Afghanistan lessens our ability to act elsewhere."

In Rethink Afghanistan, Robert Greenwald's powerful look at the war (and a film Joe Biden should see right away), Robert Baer, a former CIA field operative says, "The notion that we're in Afghanistan to make our country safer is just complete bullshit... what it's doing is causing us greater danger, no question about it. Because the more we fight in Afghanistan, the more the conflict is pushed across the border into Pakistan, the more we destabilize Pakistan, the more likely it is that a fundamentalist government will take over the army -- and we'll have Al-Qaeda like groups with nuclear weapons."

And Senator Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam vet and Biden confidant, told Newsweek that, while "there are a lot of differences" between Vietnam and Afghanistan, "one of the similarities is how easily and quickly a nation can get bogged down in a very dangerous part of the world. It's easy to get into but not easy to get out. The more troops you throw in places, the more difficult it is to work it out because you have an investment to protect."

And doing so, as we've seen, usually means losing more and more of that "investment": each of the last six years of the Afghanistan war has been more deadly than the one before.

Both sides of the Afghanistan debate were represented on this Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Sen. Diane Feinstein offered up a few rationales for why Obama should rubber stamp Gen. McChrystal's wishes. First, she said, "there has to be a process of finding out, which of these people can we work with and which can we not." Really? Seven years in and we still haven't checked that one off our to-do list?

Feinstein then broke out the latest trendy, new-for-fall reason why we need to up the ante in Afghanistan -- it's all about the women. " I particularly worry about women in Afghanistan," Feinstein said, "acid in the face of children, girl children who go to school, women who can't work when they're widowed, huddled on the streets, begging, women beaten and shot in stadiums, you know, Sharia law with all of its violence."

This is indeed very tragic, and I share her concern. But missing from the discussion was the fact that "Sharia law with all of its violence" has just been made the law of the land by President Karzai -- you know, our man in Kabul. The Sharia Personal Status Law, signed by Karzai, became operational in July. Among its provisions: custody rights are granted to fathers and grandfathers, women can work only with the permission of their husbands, and husbands can withhold food from wives who don't want to have sex with them. On the plus side, if a man rapes a mentally ill woman or child, he must pay a fine.

Of course, even with America standing guard, only 4 percent of girls in Afghanistan make it to the 10th grade, and up to 80 percent of Afghani women are subjected to domestic violence. As one of the Afghan women interviewed in Rethink Afghanistan sums up the current situation: "The cases of violence against women are more now than in the Taliban time."

So can we please put to rest the nonsensical rationalization that we're there for women's rights? And don't be surprised if that reason is soon replaced by another -- those pushing for escalation in Afghanistan seem to have learned the Bush administration's old tactic of constantly moving the goal posts. Don't like this reason? Fine, here's another one.

Countering Feinstein on Stephanopoulos was Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, who has taken the lead on this issue in Congress, introducing a bill calling for an exit strategy in Afghanistan.

"I think adding more American forces to Afghanistan would be a mistake," he said. "I think it would be counterproductive. And I think there's a strong case to be made that the larger our military footprint, the more difficult it is to achieve reconciliation."

McGovern then amplified Biden's concern that the real threat is elsewhere:
When I voted to use force to go to war after 9/11, I think I and everyone else in Congress voted to go after Al Qaida. That was our enemy. And Al Qaida has now moved to a different neighborhood, in Pakistan, where, quite frankly, they're more protected. And we're told by Gen. Jones that there are less than 100, if that, members of Al Qaida left in Afghanistan... So we're now saying we should have 100,000 American forces to go after less than 100 members of Al Qaida in Afghanistan? I think we need to re-evaluate our policy.

Or, as Biden put it, "does that make strategic sense?"

In June, Gen. Jones, the president's National Security Advisor, was at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, meeting with U.S. commanders there. This was shortly after the arrival of the 21,000 additional troops President Obama had sent over. Jones raised the question of what the president's reaction would be if he were asked for even more troops. Well, Jones said, answering his own question, if that happened, the president would probably have a "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment." In other words, wtf?

Well, Obama has gotten that request, but it wasn't a "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment" for him after all. Sadly, Newsweek reports that Obama is typically "looking for a middle way." But this isn't a negotiation for a used car, where you split the difference. It's either in our national security interest to be there or it isn't. It's either a necessary war or it isn't.

Newsweek's profile makes much of Joe Biden's loyalty. He's a "team player," one close friend says. And after he dissented on Afghanistan this spring he "quickly got on board."

I have no doubt that Joe Biden is a loyal guy -- the question is who deserves his loyalty most? His "team" isn't the White House, but the whole country. And if it becomes clear in the coming days that his loyalty to these two teams is in conflict, he should do the right thing. And quit.

Obama may be no drama, but Biden loves drama. And what could more dramatic than resigning the vice presidency on principle? And what principle could be more honorable than refusing to go along with a policy of unnecessarily risking American blood and treasure -- and America's national security? Now that would be a Whisky Tango Foxtrot moment for the McChrystal crowd -- one that would be a lot more significant than some lame, after-the-fact apology delivered in a too-late-to-matter book.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Riding



John Emerson, Open Left - Populism is politics which opposes wealth and power in the name of the common folk. It takes both left wing and right wing forms and sometimes degenerates into bigotry and attacks on minorities. Populism can be faked, and that is being done right now - e.g., Limbaugh and Beck. Populist appeals can be made by spokesmen for special interests who have no intention of fulfilling their democratic promises, but who are just opportunistically faking populism as part of an attack on some enemy. . .

Since the Fifties the Democratic Party, whose populist wing was critically important during the New Deal, has avoided and repressed populism. Individual populists such as Paul Wellstone have occasionally been elected, often in defiance of the party machine, but they have never had much influence in the party. The Democratic strategy has been cooperation with big business, and their slogan has been "a rising tide lifts all boats" -- "win-win" solutions where everyone wins and nobody loses. . .

When they made their deal with big business, the Democrats became a wonky party of technocrats and expert administrators . . . As part of this transformation of the party, the Democrats needed to misrepresent populism. Since then there's been an almost unmixed stream of slanders coming from both parties, until by now anyone counts as a populist as long as they're abusive, ignorant, racist, and dishonest. . . .

During most of the period since the Civil War, however, progressive energy in this country has mostly come from movements of the populist type working outside the parties or against the party leadership: Greenbackers, Progressives (three kinds), Socialists, Farmer-Laborites, Nonpartisan-Leaguers, and independents -- to say nothing of unions, farm organizations, and civil rights groups. (Martin Luther King's movement was essentially populism, albeit minority populism).. . .

The Populist Party was a national party only from 1890 to 1896; when they endorsed the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan, in return for very small concessions - this basically destroyed the party. . . Altogether the Populists elected ten governors, six Senators, and about forty Congressmen. In 1892 the Populist candidate got 8.5% of the vote for President and carried four states and parts of two others. . . Presidential third parties seldom come close to winning, and the populists are no exception. Furthermore, as often as not the third party doesn't survive the election, and that was essentially the case with the Populists. But the Populists had enormous significance -- by bringing poor farmers and labor, and their issues, into the electoral equation for the first time, by stealing voters from some of the Democratic and Republican constituencies, and above all, by disrupting the other two parties' strategies. . . .

After the collapse of the Populist Party the attitude of the Democratic Party toward small-p populism was ambiguous. Many of the Populist issues were kept alive by progressives working mostly at the state level -- the national campaign organizations in 1912 and 1924 were ad hoc and short-lived. The Democratic leadership was as stodgy and business-dominated as ever, but) if they ever wanted to win they still needed to get as many votes as possible from ex-Populists and their Progressive successors. .

By 1932 the Populist Party itself was a distant memory, but between 1932 and 1938 (Roosevelt's most progressive period) Roosevelt and the Democrats relied heavily on support from populist - progressive Senators and Representatives - some from third parties, and some from dissident factions of the two major parties. The progressive-populist faction pushed Roosevelt steadily to the left in domestic policy. . .

Because of the religious appeals, moralism, and majoritarianism of the Populists (and many Progressives), from WWI on, the technocratic New Republic liberals held Populists and Progressives in very low regard despite their many valid proposals, . . .

In 1948 the Democrats purged its left, much of which had populist roots, and the right populists mostly ended in the Republican Party. . . Meanwhile, Democratic intellectuals. . . developed a theory holding that all populism is ultimately totalitarian, either Fascist or Communist.

My main conclusion is that the Democrats have crippled themselves by renouncing populist and majoritarian appeals while presenting themselves as expert administrators and effectively allowing the Republican Party to cash in on fake populism. This strategy hasn't worked since 1968, and it has crippled the Democrats by making them incapable of counterattacking against blatantly dishonest fake-populist appeals by the Republicans. . .

The institutional Democratic Party is not anti-populist by accident. In order to change its direction, we will have to take it over from the bottom up and bounce the present leadership.
-Sam Smith

96 Maine Street #255
Brunswick ME 04011
202 423 7884

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No Susan Boyle But Shining Brightly like a Star!

Willard Boyle

Willard Sterling Boyle, one of the Fathers of Digital Photography Born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, he was the son of a medical doctor and moved to Quebec with his father and mother Beatrice when he was three. He was home schooled by his mother until age fourteen, when he attended Montreal's Lower Canada College to complete his secondary education. Boyle attended McGill University, but his education was interrupted in 1943, when he joined the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. He was loaned to the Britain's Royal Navy, where he was learning how to land Spitfires on aircraft carriers as the war ended. He gained a BSc (1947), MSc (1948) and PhD (1950) from McGill University. After receiving his doctorate Boyle spent one year at Canada's Radiation Lab and two years teaching physics at the Royal Military College of Canada. In 1953 Boyle joined Bell Labs where he invented the first continuously operating ruby laser with Don Nelson in 1962, and was named on the first patent for a semiconductor injection laser. He was made director of Space Science and Exploratory Studies at the Bell Labs subsidiary Bellcomm in 1962, providing support for the Apollo space program and helping to select lunar landing sites. He returned to Bell Labs in 1964, working on the development of integrated circuits.

In 1969, Boyle and George E. Smith invented the charge-coupled device (CCD), for which they have jointly received the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1973, the 1974 IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award, the 2006 Charles Stark Draper Prize, and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Boyle was Executive Director of Research for Bell Labs from 1975 until his retirement in 1979. In retirement, he settled in Wallace, Nova Scotia, and helped launch an art gallery with his wife Betty, a landscape artist.

Boyle and Smith will share the prize!

The day Boyle and Smith invented the CCD sensor

(AFP) – 9 hours ago

STOCKHOLM — The CCD sensor, the digital camera's "electronic eye" which earned inventors Willard Boyle and George Smith the Nobel Physics Prize on Tuesday, was drawn up in a few hours in October 1969.

It was 8:30 am, 40 years ago, and Willard Boyle was sitting in his office at Bell Laboratories in the US state of New Jersey. The videophone rang, and it was Jack Morton, Boyle's boss, according to an account on the Canadian website cited by the Nobel committee.

"What are you semiconductor guys doing? The heck with transistors. Try and come up with something different. I'll call tomorrow."

After lunch, Boyle was joined by his colleague George Smith, and together they worked on "an idea for handling little pockets of charge in a silicon matrix," the website explained.

The pair "fiddled with some math and drew some sketches on the blackboard," with Boyle declaring: "Okay, this looks pretty good," after about an hour and a half of brainstorming.

"We should name it something," suggested Smith.

"Well, we've got a new device here. It's not a transistor, it's something different," replied Boyle.

"It's got a charge. And we're moving the charge around by coupling potential wells," said Smith.

"Let's call it a charge coupled device," said Boyle.

"Sure,'CCD'. That's got a nice ring to it," Smith agreed.

The CCD was at that point only a theory, explained the website, which was quoted in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' press release announcing Tuesday's Nobel laureates in physics.

Boyle and Smith decided to take their invention one step further, and took the plans to the workshop down the hall to see if the CCD could be made.

"Some months later it was made, and it worked exactly as expected," the website said, noting that CCDs can, in addition to their use as image sensors, be used as computer memory, electronic filters and signal processors.

"As imaging devices, they have revolutionised astronomy; virtually every large telescope... uses CCDs because they are about 100 times more sensitive than photographic film and work across a much broader spectrum of wavelengths of light," said the website, run by a non-profit society based in western Canada.



Willard Boyle

N.S. resident, father of digital photos, shares 2009 Nobel Prize in physics

Tue Oct 6, 6:04 PM

By Michael Macdonald, The Canadian Press

HALIFAX, N.S. - Willard Boyle was born in a small town in Nova Scotia and spent most of his childhood in a rough-and-tumble logging community in northern Quebec, where his mother home-schooled him in a log cabin.

His nickname was Butch.

It was an unlikely beginning for a man who would later help invent a complex gizmo that would lead to the birth of digital photography, earning him the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics.

Boyle, who learned of winning the prestigious award Tuesday at 5 a.m., said much of the credit for his groundbreaking work should go to his mother, who always inspired him to do great things.

"She liked to read about science and then ask me to explain to her how this worked ... 'How did they do this?' " the 85-year-old Halifax resident said in an interview.

"She felt I could do no wrong ... I knew differently, but that didn't bother her. She was convinced that I was the brightest thing on two legs. That helped, really."

When he was 14, he was sent to Lower Canada College, a private school in Montreal, where one teacher challenged him to excel at physics. He went on to earn a PhD in physics at Montreal's McGill University.

He was a fighter pilot during the Second World War and later spent one year at Canada's Radiation Lab and two years teaching physics at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

He joined Bell Labs in New Jersey in 1953.

"There were many times when we stayed up late in the lab ... nine o'clock, 10 o'clock at night," he recalled. "We might have had a beer at the end. That was it."

He co-invented a type of laser, worked on the Apollo space program, and in 1969 helped develop an image sensor, later hailed as a scientific breakthrough.

The charge-coupled device or CCD, developed with the help of American scientist George Smith, transforms light into a large number of digitized image points, or pixels, in a split second.

Today, the device is used in most digital cameras and camcorders, including the tiny, delicate ones found in operating rooms and the heavy-duty versions inside massive telescopes.

The stunning deep-space images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Mars Rovers came from CCDs.

"Digital cameras are big and everyone has one," Boyle said Tuesday. "It's having a tremendous effect on how we live and how we do things."

He said the CCD enabled people to handle light in the same way the transistor allowed them to handle sound.

"That's something you couldn't do with plain film," he said. "Before that, with good old Kodak films, you had to wind them up, put them in the baths and all the rest of it."

In its citation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said: "CCD technology makes use of the photoelectric effect, as theorized by Albert Einstein and for which he was awarded the 1921 year's Nobel Prize."

The academy said the CCD "revolutionized photography, as light could now be captured electronically instead of on film."

But Boyle, who retired in 1979 and spends most of his time at his cottage in Wallace, N.S., remains humble about his accomplishment.

"These things come and go," he said, adding that he still enjoys dabbling in digital photography.

"It's like lady's fashions. Everybody's all excited about a certain technology ... and in a few years, a lot of the stuff we have today will be superseded in some way or other."

Boyle said he knew the Nobel Prize was about to be awarded but thought it was taking too long and he had written off any chance of winning.

"You know how it feels when the phone rings at 5 a.m.," said Betty, his wife of 62 years. "You think emergency or wrong number."

Boyle, who was born in Amherst, N.S., was incredulous when he heard a woman with a Swedish accent tell him he had won.

"I thought, 'Oh, God. Not that same old joke ... And then in the sweetest voice she said, 'I'm in Stockholm and I want to tell you about the Nobel Prize.' "

The award's US$1.4-million purse will be split between the three men who shared the prize Tuesday.

Boyle and Smith will get US$350,000 each. American scientist Charles K. Kao gets US$700,000 for his breakthrough involving the transmission of light in fibre optics.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper congratulated Boyle and his colleagues on receiving the Nobel Prize in physics, calling it "a remarkable accomplishment."

"Thanks to the work of Dr. Boyle, people in Canada and around the world benefit in their everyday lives and the boundaries of science have been expanded," Harper said in a statement.

The prize ceremonies will be held in Stockholm on Dec. 10, and Boyle plans to attend.

Boyle is the second graduate of McGill to receive a Nobel Prize this week.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last Night by the River

Last Night by the River
Neither wind nor bird
That was my voice you heard
Last night by the river
In the wind that stirred the grass
And whispered when you passed
That was my voice you heard

Neither wind nor bird
That was my heart you heard
Last night by the River
Making thunder through the land,
Shaking earth where you did stand
That was my heart you heard

Neither wind nor bird
That was my blood you heard
Last night by the river
Pouring into your heart's lake
Running redder for your sake
That was my blood you heard

In the moonlight through the pines
In the deepest part of night
My heart called your name
Last night by the river

Music by Connie Dover
Lyrics by Connie Dover, inspired by the traditional Shoshone love poem, "Neither Spirit nor Bird."

From the CD, The Border of Heaven, by Connie Dover © Taylor Park Music/Connie Dover

Thursday, October 1, 2009


It should be no wonder that military personnel are committing suicide at an alarming rate. It used to be that the military was a "band of brothers (including sisters). Now, in the Air Force especially, it is a band of Christians who promote their faith ahead of their oath to the Constitution. The lack of leadership shown by general officers and senior non-commissioned officers in establishing clear limits on religious fanaticism has seriously hurt our ability to defend ourselves. You want to improve morale and unit effectiveness in the Air Force? Get rid of the born again Christians. Simply put, if they are not willing to respect the non-discrimination laws, court martial them. They will think that they are suffering for Christ, and our Air Force can once again become a band of brothers. - A Man

About Me

My photo
I grew up in Chautauqua County, NY. I graduated from Edinboro University of Pennyslvania in 1981 with a BFA in Jewelry and Metalworking. I have been married 31 years. I currently run a small business with my husband. We both enjoy the outdoors and animals a great deal and live on a tiny farm in Western, NY.