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MEMORIES OF THE BRITISH OPEN: the King and his court
Posted:Jul 24, 2017 7:04 pm
Last Updated:Jul 26, 2017 10:01 am
First of all, I know it's proper to refer to this championship as The Open Championship. It has place of pride among the world's golfing events, and only in the US and Canada is it called the British Open. That being said...

The summer of 1981 found me in our mother country for 8 weeks. I was a "fellow" at an American-run program at St,. John's College, Oxford, through very little merit of my own, and the duties were as light as the living was easy. I had made the astute move of equipping myself with a full BritRail pass. When the Open week rolled around, I was delighted to find that British Rail had put together an excursion to the tournament, which was at Royal St. George's in Sandwich, for a very modest cost. My recollection is £20, including admission. Sweet, thought I, and jumped the train for the final round on Sunday. Given the remarkable compactness of England it wasn't much of a trip -- about an hour to London and another hour to Dover.

This was the era of Palmer, Nicklaus, Trevino, Watson, Ballesteros, Miller, and a host of other Hall of Famers, none of whom won that particular tournament. But I was determined to see everyone of the greats strike a shot, and I believe I did.

The train dumped us off right alongside the course, and I was wafted along by the crowd in the direction of the course. A helpful gentleman dispensed printed strips listing tee times and pairings. My recollection is that we were at the 2nd tee. The printed strip indicated that Palmer had just teed off at the clubhouse. I jockeyed for position on the tee.

Big golf tournaments have an elaborate system of roping to separate the galleries from the gods. As I stood there, the ropes dropped 10 feet away, and there framed by the gallery was ... Arnold Freaking Palmer! Just as he was supposed to look -- a little browner than I expected, a little smaller, but with the Popeye forearms and the unmistakable kingly bearing. Since this was the final day, there were only two to a group, and the other tall young man in Palmer's pairing I did not recognize.

Palmer was just 51 in that summer of 1981. Not over the hill at all in golf terms, though he would never again win anything of note. Palmer held the honor and went first. The smaller British ball, which flew a little farther, was still legal, and most players used it. The longer shots were struck by wooden clubs actually made out of wood!! ...persimmon, to be precise. Palmer stuck his tee peg into the ground, and addressed the ball, like the executioner receiving pardon from the condemned man. It was a blind tee shot. He coiled, he whirled, he smote the air with a furious unwinding of his torso and drove the ball in a high parabola into some distance planet. I stood there gaping, like the natives seeing the coke bottle drop from the skies in "the Gods Must Be Crazy." I had never seen a PGA professional drive a golf ball. The tall long-haired young man, whose fair hair seemed almost bleached,, then drove. To my amazement, his ball seemed to seek an even more distant planet. The younger golfer, 26-year-old Greg Norman, also did well for himself in his career, as it turned out.

Of course, the balls did come to earth, and we chased over the hill after them. I did not stay with the Palmer-Norman pairing long -- I spent most of the day following around Tom Watson, then and now my favorite golfer. I recognized his wife Linda in the gallery -- unlike other golfers who fancy blonde flight attendants, Linda was Jewish and dark-headed. I discreetly stalked and lived a few holes through her eyes. (She was a nervous wreck, Tom was cool.) The tournament was ultimately won by Bill Rogers, a Texan who was enjoying the day of his life. But by the time he collected the claret jug, I was already clattering back toward Oxford for a meal in the college hall.

BELOW: Arnold Palmer takes a mighty whack on the practice tee, ca 1981.

Posted:Jul 20, 2017 7:48 pm
Last Updated:Jul 22, 2017 7:37 pm
I seem to be the only blogger who keeps an eye on sports, but I find them to be an interesting mirror of the national consciousness. Perhaps you have missed this story: ex-NFL quarterback Michael Vick, an African-American, publicly advised national-anthem-dissing QB Colin Kaepernick, also a man of color of indeterminate ancestry, that he would stand a better chance of being picked up by some NFL team if he adopted a more conservative coiffeur.

Considered as a bit of tonsorial advice, I would have to say Vick has a good case. Kaepernick looks like an anachronistic dork with his bushel-basket-sized afro, and it is a self-inflicted wound, as he is an OK-looking guy underneath the 'fro and he has an impressive physique. I enclose two photos, before and after. There are NFL owners who might be willing to overlook Kaepernick's sadly fading production as a quarterback if he didn't insist on looking like a Jimi Hendrix-manqué. The NFL is entertainment as well as sport, and owners are at some point justified in considering the show-biz angle.

Kaepernick would be within his rights to say MYOB (mind your own business.) But what I am interested in is how the narrative of the media and the progressive left who own the media and the social media has shaped the kerfluffle: Vick has done the unthinkable in criticizing a leftie icon who has offended the tattooed slabs of fat who are white American football fans. Nothing other than abject apology is acceptable. And so Vick appeared on the Dan Patrick show with this message:

“What I said, I should have never said,” Vick said. “I think it was taken out of context in regards to what I was trying to convey, but I only want to help Colin Kaepernick. I’m not a general manager, I’m not the guy who makes the decisions on getting him signed, and I’m truly sorry for what I said."

The narrative of our ruling class brooks no compromise.

BELOW: Kaepernick earlier in his career
BOTTOM: Michael Vick on the left, Kaepernick on the right

Posted:Jul 16, 2017 4:48 pm
Last Updated:Jul 18, 2017 10:05 am

Most of us lament that you did not hold to your promise to devote yourself to a HIGHER CALLING. You head-faked us again as we knew you would, and you are back with your revolting mix of FAKE NEWS (mostly courtesy of Raw Story ), juvenile attacks on others on this site, and foully bigoted attacks on entire segments of our population.

You are a first-class bigot and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Just go. Take Roxy under your right arm and North Dakota under your left. They are fittingly your last fans.

Go. Va. Vayase. Gehen Sie. Fous le camp.
Posted:Jul 15, 2017 8:20 pm
Last Updated:Jul 17, 2017 10:03 am
Chattanooga NAACP members have a lot of time on their hands. Chattanooga is not now and never has been a city plagued with racial tensions. City Hall is run by a slick young progressive Democratic mayor. Blacks are well represented on the city council. My district, which includes the ancient money (older than old money) enclave of Missionary Ridge, is represented by a black ex-felon Demetrus Coonrod (who is a young woman, BTW.)

This is not to say there are not problems facing the black community. For one thing, they are almost exclusively the victims of Chattanooga's murders, which are almost all drug-related. Blacks have lagged behind on the economic recovery. Predominately black public schools lag behind others in achievement. Predominately black neighborhoods between where I live and downtown are not tourist attractions.

So what does the NAACP chapter decide to do about it? Hey, let's protest the statue of the Confederate dude in front of the courthouse ... there's gotta be one right?

And in fact there is, though I, and most Chattanoogans, were unaware of it. There in front of the courthouse is a statue of Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart, CSA, who rose to the rank of corps commander at the battle of Chickamauga and was present on many fields contested by the Army of Tennessee. He is not however remembered for any particular military feats, though he was a capable, West Point-educated officer who served with valor. Like many Confederate officers, he was anti-slavery, owned no slaves, and was opposed to secession. His moral uprightness bordered on the severe -- his nickname was "Old Straight."

The likeness which stands in front of the courthouse (see below) stems from his residency in the city years after the war from 1890 to 1906 when he served as commissioner of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which was a joint enterprise between North and South, and a collaborative, not a divisive, enterprise. Chickamauga was the first major Civil War battlefield to be turned into a national park and it remains one of the best managed and largest. Gen. A. P. Stewart was in his 70's when he undertook this work and a local historian records he learned to ride a bicycle because it was useful in overseeing the engineering work on the park.

NAACP members, couldn't you just have a bake sale

BELOW: Lt. Gen. Alexander P Stewart
BOTTOM: Chattanooga mayor Andy Berke, seen here with homeless Chattanoogan

Pictures added today: 1) one of the more impressive piles atop Missionary Ridge 2) a monument placed by the state of Illinois atop the Ridge. There are many of these monuments throughout the Ridge and in Chickamauga.

Posted:Jul 14, 2017 8:54 pm
Last Updated:Jul 16, 2017 9:28 am
after it has been up for 18 hours and has generated 21 comments, it's a little puzzling. Such was the fate of my blog about Trump Jr's meeting with the Russian lawyer. I naturally went to "view my blog" and was a little surprised to see that it had been stricken for "profanity," with the suggestion that I edit and re-submit.

I did not think the blog had been profane in any way, but I went through it line by line, and sure enough I had used a vernacular expression for a .. ahem ... female dog in estrus. It is not really profane, though some might say vulgar. It seemed to me to be the best description of the media reporting a negative story about the Trumps.

But.....I am curious....obviously what I wrote did not trip an automatic taboo word or it would never gone up at all, much less stayed up throughout a day.

And so I rub my whiskers in contemplation ..... the thought crosses my mind that someone is reporting me to the SFF inquisition because they don't like what I have to say. Nawww, say I, nobody here is so mean-spirited. Excuse me for a moment....

There ... I am back under control.

But to you, the coward censor, whoever you are ... YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.

BELOW: Any resemblance to actual persons is coincidental.
Posted:Jul 10, 2017 11:52 am
Last Updated:Jul 13, 2017 10:17 am

The Senate Healthcare bill has not yet officially been stamped D.O.A., but it is becoming clear that it is. On the face of it, our present Congress seems incapable of solving this problem. How can this be with Republicans in charge of both chambers of Congress and the White House?

1) A GOP majority is not the same thing as a Democratic majority. The Dems march to the beat of the same drummer -- and if they miss a beat they get drummed out of the party. The GOP always has its "mavericks," its RINOs, and it extreme libertarians and can almost never agree completely within itself. With so much at stake in a healthcare bill, I do not see how any bill can make it through the present Congress.

2) Our helpful media always energetically work to predispose the public against any GOP initiative.

3) Rank and file Republicans are dismayed that after opposing Obamacare for 7 years, their leaders had no clue how to replace it. Paul Ryan, what happened? The Dem propaganda commercial showing you rolling grandma off the cliff was wrong -- you were actually in the chair and you were rolling yourself over the cliff!

.... to borrow Lenin's question.

1) Repeal Obamacare immediately but delay the implementation of the repeal for one year. I am relying on the wisdom of Samuel Johnson here: “Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

2) Establish bipartisan congressional panels in both houses to hammer out a set of mutually shared objectives, with a deadline of 6 months.

3) In the ensuing 6 months, draft and pass a bipartisan bill.


Get with your best policy people and put forward your own SINGLE-PAYER basic insurance coverage for all citizens. As drastic as it sounds to us conservatives, I think we need to consider the possibility that some form of universal coverage is coming, and for good reason. Americans have been fed a half-entitlement in the form of Obamacare and it has been unsatisfactory, but its clientele will not let go. The public is justified in feeling jerked around by both parties on what is perhaps their most immediate concern.

The GOP should offer something along the lines of what is being called "Medicare for All." Every citizen would be guaranteed an entry into the health care system with one wellness visit to a physician per annum and catastrophic medical coverage. Yes, it will cost and arm and a leg, but our present system costs an arm, a leg, and an eye. I am sick of enriching private insurers on the backs of the average citizen. "Cadillac" insurances plans, meaning anything beyond the most basic coverage, would continue to be the responsibility of the individual (like Medicare supplements presently are.)

President Trump, think about this: the two most eminent European conservatives of the 19th century, Benjamin Disraeli and Otto von Bismarck, made their parties and ideologies survive by addressing the concerns of their radical opponents and co-opting them. It is simply sound governance. We have no constitutional right to health care of any sort but .... it may nonetheless be a wise and humanitarian government policy. You, President Trump, who are not really supported by the leadership of either party, are the logical person, the necessary man, to make this happen.
Posted:Jul 6, 2017 10:54 am
Last Updated:Jul 10, 2017 7:28 pm
Whenever I read the periodic lamentations about how this blogging site has declined, I try to fit it into my own perception of the situation....and I am never able to do it. This may be because I do not count trolls and flamers as true bloggers. Perhaps there are more of these creatures now than previously, but some of our present trolls have been around for years and years. In my occasional reading of blogs in the archives, I see the same divisions and rancor as I see now. In some cases it was worse because accounts/reviews of bashes were often used as attack weapons to shame other members.

I need to define terms. Let me use wiki's definition of troll:

"a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll's amusement."

Sounds about right. And what then is a flamer? Again from wiki:

"Flaming is a hostile and insulting interaction between persons over the internet, often involving the use of profanity. It can also be the swapping of insults back and forth or with many people teaming up on a single victim."

Clearly there is much overlap between the troll and the flamer, but the two groups are not identical. In many instances, a non-troll may be led into a flame in the heat of battle, but will not seek to inflame as his basic raison d'être for being on the site. I admit that I have flamed a few times myself. Flaming can simply be the spontaneous overflow of feeling. On the other hand we have the phenomenon of Leaf, whose entire blog can be seen as one big flame.

I regard blogging as essentially a positive, creative effort. For me a c & p is to be judged on its merits, but it is not really a blog. A blog need not be grand, but it should represent a distillation of some idea or event in the life of the blogger presented to blog readers for their enrichment. An annotated photo taken by the blogger or a recipe prepared by the blogger is a perfectly satisfactory blog. A blog usually requires thought, often times research, organization of images, etc. It is work. It often takes time, and sometimes painstaking assembly of ideas.

None of this is in the domain of the troll. Trolling can be done in an instant. The troll sees the blogs of others as a way to feast upon them and to sow the seeds of discontent and rancor. The super-troll carries a grudge for years and rushes to the archives to find examples of past indiscretions. The super troll is usually well-versed in technology and uses "screen saves" and other information-gathering tools to use as weapons. And of course there are many levels of trollery -- at the bottom you have the petty pot-stirrers and at the top you have what theorists call "domination trolls" who are megalomaniacs as well as trolls. (Don comes to mind.)

I also think we are all inclined to give trolls a pass who are flaming away at a shared enemy. Politics can color the judgment of the best of us. What I have seen (I would love to hear other opinions) is that the political center of the site has moved a couple of degrees to the right. Whereas conservatives seemed to be the punching bags in 2010, they now often provide the most substantial, well-researched, and cohesive blogs. The trolls are almost uniformly liberal/progressive in their politics. The true troll doesn't care whether he/she has a coherent philosophy, it suffices to inflame and ridicule, often with irrelevancies.

Part of the lament of those who deplore the end of the golden age in blogs is that their side is no longer automatically the dominant voice in the polemical wars.

I welcome your thoughts.

BELOW: The Three Billy-Goats Gruff, as recited by my grandmother, was one of my favorite fairy tales as a kid. Wouldn't it be nice to be the 3rd billy-goat gruff? He was the big one who got to head-butt the troll's a$$ into next week.
Advice to Chris Christie: STAY OFF THE BEACH!!
Posted:Jul 5, 2017 10:39 am
Last Updated:Jul 7, 2017 3:26 pm
It's getting harder and harder to remember, but New Jersey governor Chris Christie was once the fair-haired boy of the GOP, perhaps the face of its future. When Christie emerged into the national spotlight as a first-term governor, he made quite a splash (not a fat joke) with his NY/NJ tough-talkin' style and his confrontational approach to problems. The beach leitmotif in Christie's career emerged in 2011, when he announced at a press conference "Get the hell off the beach" as a storm approached.

Then came hurricane Sandy at the very end of Oct. 2012, days before the presidential election between Mitt Romney and Obama. Though the hurricane had been downgraded by the time it hit the Jersey Shore, it was still the focus of media attention. Mitt Romney, who carried his integrity and responsibility like a cross, suspended his campaign. Obama did likewise, but he held an advantage -- he continued to be in the public eye as "Comforter-in-Chief" (Karl Rove's phrase). Then came the moment of horror: Christie and Obama, clad in windbreakers, met on the beach and embraced. It was an awkward cross between a little fat kid trying to get LeBron James's autograph and a grotesque perversion of Gustave Klimt's The Kiss. It might have been funny if it had not had serious consequences: Romney's campaign flat-lined as he played solitaire on his computer, the oh-so-presidential Obama surged, and Christie looked like a dope.

Then .... Beach Disaster II (cue Jaws theme) on July 3. Due to a budget dispute, the State of New Jersey had closed down a number of beaches to the public. All of the public that is except for Christie, his family, and friends. In a move of breathtaking stupidity, Christie and company toddled down to the closed beach to enjoy a little conversation in the sun. Of course, a paparazzo was there to capture the unforgettable image of Christie wallowing in a beach chair in a ball cap and shorts. Oh, the humanity! (Reference to a previous NJ blimp disaster.)

The response was likewise inept. Christie's spokesman stoutly argued that "He did NOT get any sun. He had a baseball hat on." Kathryn Timpf was moved to write: " Just how in the world Mr. Murray was able to get those words out without laughing, crying, or punching his own face remains unclear." Christie himself later airily explained in an interview that the public should suck it up: "Well, I'm sorry ... they're not the governor."

Something tells me we're not going to have Chris Christie to kick around much longer.

BELOW: The grotesque embrace.
BOTTOM: Sand sculpture based on paparazzo photo created overnight to commemorate Christie's moment in the sun.

Posted:Jul 4, 2017 12:05 pm
Last Updated:Jul 7, 2017 8:20 pm
Sometime after midnight dreary last night, as I pondered weak and weary, I came across something online which very nearly made me laugh out loud. Kevin Williamson, writing in National Review, contemplated the boldness of our founders in challenging a notion that every state must have a king:

King George III surely had courtiers and sycophants who demanded that the colonials “respect the office.” And they meant it about the office: The idea that a people could not only survive but thrive without a king, or something very like a king, was seen as beyond radical and more like just plain nuts. Even the Most Serene Republic of Venice had its doge.

But it was the strikingly bold thought of a group of men, mostly landed gentry rather than rabble with pitchforks, that this did not need to be the case. At the risk of their own necks, they confronted the King himself in a remarkable public letter. As Williamson tells it (and this is what had me stifling a laugh):

The Americans thought differently, and they sent the king and his courtiers a public letter written by Thomas Jefferson:

“Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”

That is polite 18th-century English for “Kiss my a$$.”

The referenced sentence is of course from the Declaration of Independence, perhaps the most consequential public letter in modern world history, and it has defined for each succeeding generation the essential character of American democracy. It was an experiment which succeeded beyond the wildest expectations of its framers, and which has proved, given the transitory nature of most regimes and kings, remarkably enduring. We have had 45 administrations in our nation's history, but only one regime, the one founded by George Washington in 1789.

Now I don't mean to pick on old King George. He wasn't a bad guy, and who could blame him from going a little daft in the 1820's, and I daresay if he had been forced to hang Washington and Jefferson, he would have done it with little pleasure. But in the act of defying him, a new world order was born.

The illustration posted below represents the Sons of Liberty pulling over a statue of King George. It is worth recalling again that these patriot/ruffians were taking a big chance in tweaking the nose of the world's greatest nation. At the risk of being thoroughly ahistorical, I think I see in this picture how Trump, for all his flamboyant flaws, was able to forge an alliance with ordinary Americans. We can at the very least imagine Trump in the illustration below. It is hard to imagine Hillary Rodham or Barry Soetero in that gathering.

LEAF -- What happened to your HIGHER CALLING??
Posted:Jul 3, 2017 12:41 pm
Last Updated:Jul 5, 2017 8:59 am
We've had a taste of freedom from your disgusting and annoying non-blogs. And now you return with your childish disparagements and your assorted leftist bigotries. The disappointment is crushing.

How many times are you going to do this fan dance? Not one single person expressed disappointment at your absence. I imagine you have been combing through the blogs daily to see how much you were missed. You got your answer.

Keep looking for that HIGHER CALLING. Anything is higher than being the resident troll on a senior site.


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