Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dealing with Our Demons

I just finished "The Emigrants" by W.G. Sebald. One of the great tragedies of the 1990's, in my opinion, was his untimely death. Other works by Sebald that I am familiar with are "Austerlitz" and "The Rings of Saturn." As per the Wikipedia article his novels:
"....are notable for their curious and wide-ranging mixture of fact (or apparent fact), recollection and fiction, often punctuated by indistinct black-and-white photographs, which are set in evocative counterpoint to the narrative rather than illustrating it directly."
To read Sebald, for an American who is the same age, is a moving experience. What is most striking, after some thought on it, is that Sebald describes a post war Germany that does not come to grips with their recent experience. (The post WWII America was an orgy of exceptionalism and vindication. We were proud that we had bombed Dresden. Germans were enemy, but not for long. (See below.)) He also describes the plight of Jews in prewar Germany in a way, at least for me, allowed some visualization of their plight. One of the most striking things about the situation for Jews in the late thirties there seems to have been their resignation to their fate. I am sure that there has been exhaustive analysis of this by others but I would venture that this was due to the extraordinary regimentation of German society at this time. There was, even amongst the Jewish population, a history of very strong support for the Reich.

As must be usual for people reading books like Sebald's, one is drawn to compare the scenario to one's own society. Certainly Sebald's descriptions of Catholic elementary school and life in a small village in Germany circa 1950 has some resonance, in a strange way, for me. But, again the terrible catastrophe that must have been the Allied bombing of Germany, and the humiliation of the occupation, receives little attention. There are a few observations of American G.I.'s in "The Emigrants." What struck the young Sebald was that the females wore pants and smoked cigarettes. They were also, I believe, uncouth.

Let me make a broad analogy. America has not addressed, in any substantive way, the unjustified invasion of Iraq and the subsequent carnage of the occupation. Not one major political figure of our times has made an issue of our collective moral culpability. In fact, even the current Administration, touted to be a morally responsible "change," has abdicated its responsibility in this issue. In an even more poignant analogy, except for the shrill spectators on the Left, and their numbers are very small, we have deliberately refused to address the abrogation of human rights included in the blanket designation "Torture." It is my opinion that if someone in authority labelled anyone from the midEast a "terrorist," and that person was in custody and electrodes were attached to his genitals, the average American would be happy to pull the switch that turned on the electricity. In both the war making and torture we are told "We must put this behind us and move ahead."

Sebald addressed the profound moral issues raised by WWII by simply bringing our attention to how people lived in those times. In the case of the population's moral responsibility, it is their situation even in the absence of discourse. In the case of the tragedy of the German Jews, the fatalistic acceptance of their plight. In the later case, I am reminded of "Riders in the Chariot" by Patrick White.

I am not sure how long it took America to come to terms with the German people. A friend of mine who lived through WWII felt that we never actually "hated" the Germans like we did the Japanese. And the latter was mainly because of Pearl Harbor (though the Japanese treatment of occupied territories and captured Americans is relevant to the discussion here.) It did not take long for the "bad guys" in Europe to become the Russians, in spite of the fact that we were recently allied with them. Certainly by the time of the Berlin Blockade (1948) the Germans were back on the road to being "good guys."

In "The Rings of Saturn" the narrator takes an unusual walking tour in East Anglia. There is much fodder or the chewing in it. As good as it is, however, it tends to be extremely dark. It is like the dark of the late afternoon right before a violent storm. And, indeed, there is a violent storm towards the end of the narrative.

England must predispose its inhabitants to take these meanderings. Why, we frequently encounter such journeys here, here, and here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

Ooh La La!

In praise of Boogers:
Joyce McKinney was a former Miss Wyoming who was arrested in England in 1978 for allegedly kidnapping and tying Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson to a bed and forcing him to have sex with her. In August 2008, it was reported that Joyce McKinney is the same person as Bernann McKinney, the woman who claimed to have had her dog, "Booger," cloned in South Korea.
Her dog Booger. So sweet.

And from here:
Joyce Bernann McKinney was charged in Carter County with criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to appear in court, said attorney David Crockett, who represented her in the Tennessee case. Authorities there said she instructed a 15-year-old boy to break into a house, and Crockett said she needed the money to buy a false leg for a beloved horse. (emphasis added)
Where to these people come from? Oh, I forgot. Wyoming. Home of Dick Cheney.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Of an evening

Virginia Beach, June 2009

I like this picture of a few of my staff and their children.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mr. Krab

An alert reader gave us a link to the Sponge Bob version of a Crab:

Mr. Krab owns the Krusty Krab, where the culinary specialty is the Krabby Patty. Mr. Krab can usually be found counting his money and is in a major fast food rivalry with Plankton, owner of the Chum Bucket. Eugene H. Krabs: Mr. cheap. Owner of the Krusty Krab. Employs SpongeBob and Squidward.

Please note that the Krusty Krab and Plankton occasionally have cameo appearances in "Friday Crab Blogging." Also note that Krusty Krab is always ready to open a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

An unusual collection of crabs today, so bear with me:

First we have some classics

I think this guy had just seen the new Transformer movie

Yes, this is a crab. The artist was trying to express her inner sense of play (notice how the overall design resembles a back yard swing set) but there is something missing. I would say the swings but others, those intellectuals among us, might feel that there is an existential loneliness that overwhelms the artiste, particularly obvious in her use of the color brown. (Actually, her brother hogged all the good crayons).

By report, for I have no T.V., there is a crab that figures on the Sponge Bob show.

Is this a sea gull, or a sea squall? We report. You decide.

This crab was worked on with great diligence by the artiste. She truly confessed that she did not know what a crab looked like (hard to imagine around here) but her imagination succeeded in showing us the rare retractile crab. It is said to be sort of like a turtle. Whatever.

These next two involve "find the crab"; the charm of drawing them is wearing thin

In addition to the crab, this is a puffer fish. A long discussion ensued on puffer fish and zombies. OMG, Zombies!!!!

Blush, who is that handsome guy?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Real Easton Flag

There is a claim on the Nets (h/t to JSBlog) that there is such an entity known as "The Easton Flag" created in a hamlet in Pennsylvania! Balderdash! There is only ONE Easton Flag and it is reproduced here:

This flag has an interesting history. It was created on the Eastern Shore of Maryland by the mistress of Tench (Tenchmouth) Tilghman during the "War" of 1812 (locally known as the Second Surge of the Brits.) You will notice that there are 50 crabs in the blue field. Apparently Tench's mistress, who was known as "SheCrab," had the ability to look into the future and as colonies states were added, so magically did the number of crabs increase. I did not know that flags were part of heraldry but, indeed, the design of the American Flag is under the aegis of the Quartermaster Heraldic Section & The U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry. Crabs are, of course found in heraldry:
Crabs, Crawfish, Lobsters
In English heraldry the lobster is not found, but lobster claws occur. Lobsters are also rare in continental heraldry, but crawfish (ecrevisses in French) and crabs are more common. They are usually shown in pale. Confusion often arises as to which animal is being depicted, so that blazons sometimes name the charge crab, crawfish, lobster or even scorpion.
Crab of Robslaw (Scotland): Azure a chevron argent between two fleurs-de-lis in chief and a crab in base or.
Crabbe (Flanders): Azure a crab or.
Crabben (Holland): Argent three crabs in fess gules, 2 and 1.
Krebser (Switzerland): Argent three crawfish gules.
Krebsberg (Franconia): Or a crawfish in pale gules issuant from water in base vert.
In any case, the Easton Flag [<-real] was carried by the valiant troops under Captain Tilghman particularly at the battle of Fell's Point in Baltimore where the Brits laid siege to Fort Bertha's Mussels. Most importantly, Tench's troops rallied at Obrycki's Crab House:

..accounting for the appearance of said crustacean on a field azure. The results of the battle, unfortunately, did not go well with the valiant Tench and historians have described it as "another Culloden."

I'm not sure. In any case, the REAL Easton flag has been kept in a bar in St. Michael's and is displayed every July at various Crab feasts from the tip of Tilghman Island all the way to Easton.

There are also other flags that should be noted. In particular we have JSBlog's contribution based on the Wipple Flag:

This is an interesting design but I detect a certain influence of AIPAC (not to be confused with AIG). Probably unintentional.

Finally, the most recent American Flag has been updated to jive with our national obsession.

Please note that the newest Flag has a flat plasma screen that is linked directly to the cultural barometer at Fox News. Plans are in the final stages to include an iPod hook up so that appropriate trash music can be included. There will eventually be the ability to text directly onto the strips.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

So many children think crabs are red! You would think they were a bunch of Soviet Pioneers.

I had to put this one in here. The little girl who drew it wasn't allowed to eat seafood because of allergies so she claimed she didn't know how to draw one, but she tried. Twice.

Now here is your patriotic blue crab.

I can't figure out if this is a top hat or a fedora. So, either Al Jolsen Broadway Crab or Elliot Ness Chicago Crab.

I don't know why Frank Baum used monkeys in the Wizard of Oz when he could have used flying crabs!

I've heard of ducks in a row but turtles?

Please note that the "animal" that is swimming in the upper right corner has its tail on the other side of the sun. This (red) crab is clearly performing his morning (or evening) ablutions.

I think this is related to Sponge Bob but I can't say I've done any research on it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Molecular Droste Sighting

Attention campers, we have a Droste sighting.

Where? Board Game Agricola

Screen Shot::

Comments on the page:
"Of course, the inhabitants of Agricola also play Agricola :)"


".. if you look closely enough at their in-progress game, you can just spot this very tile, complete with its own nano-game of Agricola!

Theoretically, you could continue this down to the molecular level, right? "

A Rose is a .....

Sequence abuse...

(why does it have to be configuration?)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

I was informed by the artist that this was a crab with "four eyes." Exactly.

I detect cubist tendencies. Sort of like a Beethoven Piano Sonata. Tries to fill all the observable medium. Artists abhor a vacuum.

One can muse for a long time on whether Walt Disney did us a favor anthropomorphizing everything from mice to lions to crickets. In this case, butterflies.

I wonder if I really have such a SEG. I thought I was mostly grumpy.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Slings and Arrows

Now if this had been Iran:
The rights group (Amnesty International; Dr. C.) was also critical of Israel's use of flechette rounds -- artillery shells which explode to emit hundreds of steel darts.

These are designed for use in open battle but were employed by Israel in built-up areas, a clear breach of the international rules of war, said Chris Cobb-Smith, an artillery expert engaged by Amnesty.
Or the Romans, for that matter