Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Chosen, by Chaim Potok

When I first encountered this book during the 1960s I suppose Jews and Judaism were as much a mystery to me as they are today. I’d had a couple of Jewish landlords during the 18 months I’d lived in Boston, whom the other tenants assured me were the awful human beings they were because they were Jews, but I didn’t put much stock in it. I’d come across enough nastiness in Baptists, Church of Christers, Catholics and a Mennonite to convince me you could find that anywhere.

What a person did on Sunday, Saturday, whatever, I concluded, didn’t have much to do with what he did the rest of the time. Nobody to my knowledge has a monopoly on A-hole-ism.

I recall during basic training a guy named Wenick, from Baltimore who was ahead of me on a night march at Fort Jackson, SC, and let the barrel of his M1 sag, stopped suddenly and caught me under the chin with it was unapologetic. Clacked my teeth together on my tongue so’s it bled. Blamed me for not seeing it in the dark.

But until the other GIs told me it was because he was a Jew I didn’t know he was one. Just a careless, skinny nerd, seemed to me, who kept to himself. By hindsight I suppose he was denying his mistake because if he admitted it he’d have been blamed and it would have been attributed to his Jewishness. He was in a no-win situation.

However, other than those experiences I mostly just went around not knowing and not caring whether people were Jews unless they made an issue of it. Same with other religions.

So, when I came across The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, during the 1960s I didn’t come in with much baggage. I doubt I’d even ever wondered what it would be like to be a Jew. Particularly not a young Jewish man in New york City during WWII. The Chosen hooked me on Chaim Pokok and I read all his other books I could lay my hands on.

Lately when I was packing books I came across this one, thought I’d probably put it aside without another read this lifetime. But after I managed to offend one person living in Israel whom I admired and got a savage attack for my troubles from the other guy whom [I believe] is a piece of work and a story in his own right, I decided to refresh my memory with a quick read.

There’s a fair amount of European Jewish history in the tome described through the perspective of a Jew. There’s an explanation most non-Jewish readers won’t have known about acrimony between various sects of orthodox Jews. An inside look at operations inside the houses of worship and study.

And a fairly nice plot, character development, everything it takes to create a worthy novel.

Any of you folks out there who aren’t of the Jewish faith, who only know what’s said about them by the northeastern Jew haters, who’d like to learn more without deep studying of non-fiction might find it worth your while.

Along with other books by Chaim Potok:

My Name is Asher Lev
The Book of Lights
I Am The Clay
In The Beginning
The Promise

There might be others as well – These were listed in the front of The Chosen and I have vivid recollections of the first, vague rememberings of the others

Old Jules

The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 by Jake Saunders, Howard Waldrop

The recent thing about Israel here got me remembering this book I read back in the early 1970s. I thought I remembered it being authored by Fritz Leiber or Philip Jose Farmer, but I was remembering wrongly.

In any case, it was a heck of a good read. I’m going to keep a watch for it in thrift stores.

In a lot of ways Texas and Israel share some traits. Texas cows are the kineliest anywhere. Etc, etc, etc.

Old Jules

The TexasIsraeli War: 1999 is a 1974 science-fiction novel by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop

The TexasIsraeli War: 1999 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_TexasIsraeli_War:_1999

The Texas-Israeli War: 1999

Reviews:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/847218.The_Texas_Israeli_War

Learning debts incurred Universe-wise

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately, learning a lot, some of which might be false, but I learned it anyway. Now that I’ve blown out enough tires on two different RVs to satisfy my curiosity I’m willing to try to apply some of it. Even though it robs my macho because of not knowing it before when I knew all manner of things.

First off, there’s the thing about tires. They ain’t as good as they used to be. Old guy behind the counter at the tire store and I conversed about it a while when we shared mutual memories of having bought junkyard tires and run them until they were down to the threads. Lots of them, and neither of us remembered much in the way of blowouts.

But now the DOT mandates they date those tires. And as a consequence, he opines they blow just about when the DOT predicted they would. The DOT gave the tire industry a leg up against criticism by providing them an “I told you so!” escape and they made great engineering use of it. Supposition, but possumly true.

Secondly, another old guy pointed out all the tires I’ve blown were right-rear dooleys. Beginning with inside ones. He opined that what I’m doing is running with that right rear wheel too near the pavement edge, maybe off it, forcing the inside-rear tire to carry all the weight. Which makes a hell of a lot of sense.

I’d been mulling over the fact every blowout I’ve had happened on highway RR479 north bound and wondering at the coincidence. It’s a fairly good Texas Ranch Road with a lot of hills and curves. Might just be I’ve been letting it drift, one wheel off the pavement instead of hugging the centerline.

Thirdly, I’ve also satisfied my curiosity about whether I’m interested in arm-wrestling lug nuts put on with impact drivers. Even with a 5 foot cheater, even with a T-bar after they’re loose, I was having to take breaks between lugs. And after I put them back on and tightened them, I’d stop a few miles down the road to check, they’d always be loose enough to require a little more tight with the bar. Half-dozen times between here and Kerrville. If an impact tool’s able to take care of just that problem of reality and confidence, it’s worth the price of admission.

[Debating with myself here, can’t recall whether 4th is spelled, Fourth, or Forth – what-the-hell]

Next: Careful examination of the half-inch drive corded hammer-drill suggests it might function as an impact tool, but it’s going to need a half-inch adapter between the drill-chuck and male socket whatchallit. If it works it’s going to be a lot cheaper than an off the shelf impact tool, and it doesn’t have a battery to go kerplunk.

Next: That trim above the right-rear wheel well [see pic] was destroyed when the tire blew. No way that piece of trim is going to jump out of the Universe at me to be replaced, so I’m going to have to find a way to innovate. Not entirely for aesthetics, but some places are pickypickypicky wanting to see pics of the rig before they’ll consider a person who wants to clean up their trash, mow their grass, listen to complaints of RV owners. In exchange for a pad with hookups, etc.

Last, I’ve been troubled because my ALT gauge doesn’t tell me squat about whether the alternator’s working or not. Couldn’t figure why. A guy on one of the vintage RV groups answered my question about it by telling me he had the same problem. Bought a cheap digital gadget plugs into the lighter socket. I got one yesterday and hot diggety damn. Yes, HOT diggety damn! You heard me right.

But I’ve digressed. The crux of it all is that, after having been provided all this new stuff to learn, I have to live long enough to use it, damn me if I don’t. Got myself a karmic debt on my Credit Card with an obligation I might carry spang into my next lifetime if I kick before using it.

So now, instead of just having to live long enough to pay back Keith and Rich for the lifesaving loans to get the RVs, instead of just having to outlive the damned cats, I’ve got to spend the remainder of my life changing blown tires and unscrewing pesky lug nuts.

Sheeze.

Old Jules

Texas Gals Kick Ass

Tastefully tattooed on the inside of the thigh of the Goldilox behind me in line at Walmart.  She saw me trying to read it and lifted her leg to make it easier.  “Awsome?”

I’ve seen worse.”  I was a lot younger and mostly drunk, but a number worse ones still came to mind.

She frowned at meand I squinted my brain trying to figure out just what the hell “Texas Gals Kick Ass” could be intended to communicate to readers.  Luckily the cashier interrupted.  “You want the two-year return plan for $5 more?”

Me grabbing for straws welcoming any distraction, “Yeah.  Sure.”

A person gets a statement tattooed anywhere there’s bound to be meaning hiding in it.  Something intended to happen in the mind of the person who sees it.  From now until she’s my age.

Hell, maybe she’s into Kung Fu, or plays soccor.  Maybe she’s a wild-burro rider on the rodeo circuit.  I was surprised by the ‘gals’ part… wasn’t my impression young women today would sit still for being called gals. 

The ‘Texas’ part?  I count it a relief.

I honestly don’t like to think about gals outside Texas going around kicking ass, or saying they do.  Thinking they do.

Not bad in the thigh department, though.

Old Jules

Tequila sunrise

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Old Ms. Niaid managed to off Brother Rattler without any consequences evidently, so she’s going to have to find something else to flesh out her life experience, I reckons. Her long hair’s growing back from the sheep shearing when the hot weather hit, and it’s filling up with beggar’s lice and grass burrs, which might serve to fend off whatever’s around here dangerous to aging bachelorette felines.

Ms. Tabby, on the other hand, has a nose and front-of-her-face of the usual Tabby-summertime variety. Can’t keep her nose out of cactus, or out of the business of something capable of adding color and romance to an otherwise nondescript Tabby face. I’m thinking when we get out of here she might turn out to be a regular-looking cat.

I decided yesterday I’m going to add mothballs to that storage building to get those rattlers out where they can enjoy life instead of bickering and snarling inside that dark storage building. Can’t tell when someone’s going to want something else out of there and the anxiety level trying to find it ain’t worth not stepping on a snake some night going from the RV to the cabin to check my email.

Today I’m going to nurse the Escape Route V 2.51 into Kerrville on three tires on back and have the two blown ones replace with respectable 10 ply exceptions to the rule. Provided the spare on the ground right-rear doesn’t decide to blow the plan. I’ll try to take back roads and get the roadwork done early before the pavement gets too hot.

Keith emailed me a while back he’s planning to be in New Mexico late August or September, and I’m going to tentatively plan on getting out to visit while he’s in the area. Hopefully by then everything will be settled out here and I’ll be able to think of out-there as home for a while.

Maybe get me a nice little piece of ocean-side ground on the east, or west coast of New Mexico, once all the damned ice goes away and raises sea-level to a reasonable altitude. 4000′ mean sea level might be about right. Maybe the cats and I will open a little bait shop on the west coast near where Arizona used to be. Or maybe rig a surfboard and hang ten mornings after we pray the sun up.

I figure the west coast will probably be less jam packed with Arizonians than the east coast will be with Texans because those Texans already all go to New Mexico deliberately to ski and gamble at Ruidoso and Angel Fire. Arizonians and Californians never go to New Mexico deliberately unless they’re just going through it to get somewhere else.

By the time they wake up and discover they’re living in a salt-water swimming hole I’ll have things nailed down on all the corners, wave to them as they swim to shore, or ride in on their bass boats. Sell them some bait, maybe.

Big plans for the future here.

Old Jules

Pore old Brother Rattler

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Gale had a hip replaced recently, and he’s doing the recovery routines. Called me a few days ago asking me to search around in one of the storage buildings for a wheel chair and walkers stored in there somewhere. I used to store chicken feed in there and hadn’t looked inside much after I got rid of the flock.

So I opened the door and began clearing away all manner of things before the first rattler announced himself, followed by another somewhere on the other side of the path I was creating. I moved something else and a third, maybe a fourth kicked in to the orchestra.

I tippee-toed around and carefully got the wheel chair and walkers out without anything attaching itself to my leg, called him to let him know it’s all down here where it can be picked up. We discussed the plethora of rattlers, how to get them out of there. And whether I actually wanted to get them out of there before I’m ready to hit the pavement.

On reflection, I like them a good bit better in there than outdoors where they can get underfoot. My thought is I’ll leave them to themselves for a while if they’re happy there. When the time comes he can run them out with mothballs or ammonia. He’s thinking he’d like to try forcing them out the hole they came in and have people standing around to shoot them as they emerge. Which I want no part of. I mostly have no argument with pore old Brother Rattler. If he’ll leave me along I’m content leaving him alone, tending his own affairs.

However, half-hour ago I was inside the RV when Niaid announced she’d come on prey, or caught something. I looked out the screen door and watched her leap on something in the weeds. Quicker than I can tell it she had a 3 foot rattler in her mouth dragging it toward the RV, meowing out the sides of her mouth as she came.

Brother Rattler was still trying to grasp the fact he was dead, his head and neck squashed. Squirming and wiggling between her forelegs as she brought him to show off.

I’m keeping a close eye on her. No way of telling yet whether she was bitten, but she seems okay. Not favoring any body parts.

Life in the big city, I reckons.

Old Jules

If you can’t trust the Japanese, then who?

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Most of you will probably agree the Japanese are the most intelligent, advanced, scientifically advanced, politically and economically savvy people on the planet. It’s the reason most of you are driving Japanese automobiles.

Think about it: Japan invaded and raped East Asia for a decade, was bludgeoned to death by a costly sea war followed by two atomic bombs before they’d surrender. And within half-decade the US was at war defending Japan. “Korea,” Doug MacArthur declared, “is a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan!”

Obviously the Japanese were one hell of a lot smarter than those governing the US. The bombed-out Japanese industries were rebuilt by US taxpayers, providing them with decades newer steel mills and manufacturing capabilities than those on US soil. Ultimately the result was decline in US production and the slippery slope decline of US economic stability.

Think about it: Today the Japanese have a better space program than NASA:

http://www.dogpile.com/info.dogpl.t10.6/search/web?fcoid=417&fcop=topnav&fpid=27&q=japanese+space+program&ql=

Japanese Space Program
JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (former Nasda) is Japan’s version of Nasa.

  • Hayabusa was launched 9 May 2003. The probe sent to gather samples from asteroid 25143 Itokawa. After numerous glitches, the probe returned to Earth. Scientists have not yet opened the sample container.
  • In 2006, JAXA launched Akari, an infrared astronomy satellite. Its mission is to survey the entire sky in infrared. On 6 August 2007 it has surveyed 94 percent.
  • Selene was launched September 14, 2007. Selene was the largest lunar mission since NASA’s Apollo, Selene orbited the moon for 20 months. It provided data used to improve topological and gravity maps.
  • Oicets – This experimental satellite was designed to demonstrate optical communications between distant satellites. Launched in 2005, it was retired in 2009.
  • H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) first flew to the International Space Station on 10 September 2009.
  • In 2010 IKAROS probe was the world’s first spacecraft to use solar sailing as the main propulsion

The best engineers in the world are Japanese. Agreed? The most competent scientists in the world are Japanese. Agreed? The most savvy politicians and economists in the world are Japanese. Agreed?

If any scientists and engineers anywhere can be trusted to be right about important matters involving human science, engineering and environmental issues, the place to look for affirmation should be Japan. Agreed?

Japanese science and engineers designed and produced the three nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima power plants.

Are the most competent, advanced scientists and engineers in the world concerned about manmade climate change? Are they concerned about contaminating the North Pacific with radioactive cooling water? Obviously they are not.

After the disaster, then until now, have the most advanced, competent scientists in the world bothered to do anything to contain the cascade of environmental problems supposedly associated with nuclear fuel rods exposed to the atmosphere and sea water? They have not.

Japanese scientists and engineers knew everything they could know about the tectonic environment of Japan. They designed those plants and built them with all that in mind, took the worst possible scenarios into account. Obviously.

So how is it the populations of nations with less competent scientists and engineers, the people who drive Japanese automobiles, come to believe anything their own scientists postulate concerning other matters involving advanced science?

The most advanced, most intelligent, the most savvy scientists and engineers on the planet proved themselves capable of ignoring the obvious, of assuring Japan their nuclear power plants were safely constructed.

How can anyone bring himself to believe what any scientist, any engineer, any politician says about manmade climate changes? Particularly any scientist or engineer who isn’t Japanese.

Old Jules

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Heinlein circa 1966

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Just when you think the early work of RAH is bogging itself down in frozen-in-time anachronisms he drops a mickey into your martini.  Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one such.

Suddenly he’s taking a close look at political revolutions, at the institutions of marriage, at the relationships between men and women [and why they become what they become], why revolutions don’t work usually, and how to prevent them from becoming what revolutions invariably become.  He throws in a quickie about how you can always, always come out ahead betting the horses.  And an imaginary penal colony on the moon, several generations later when the prisoners are only a tiny percentage of a population composed mainly of the descendants of prisoners.

A society where males outnumber females 10 to 1, where the earth is on the brink of starvation and depends heavily on the labors of the Luna population for wheat production, crops catapulted to the earth surface to land in the Indian Ocean.  Depleting inevitably the water-ice reservoirs on the moon with no attempt to replace, even pay for the labors of folks who physically will never be able to ‘return’ to earth.

This was a great read in 1966, the first time I read it.  2013 I read it again, and aside from pickypickypicky details, it’s still a great read. 

Sheeze, catapults on the moon hurling rocks down the gravity well turning out the equivalents of H-bomb explosions after the earth governments dig in their heels and bomb moon colonies as an alternative to replacing the water required to grow the wheat.  A computer gone intelligent.  Marriages lasting 150 years through dozens of multiple-husbands and wives, always being replaced when one dies. 

I’d rank it one hell of a lot better than Stranger in a Strange Land.

Old Jules

Fad science and self-made a monkeyof-ism

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by.

Some of you thought I was joking with my recent post about climate change and the current yakyakyakyak by the excitement industry concerning ‘manmade global warming’.

Some of you probably also didn’t notice the comment by Trapper Gale remembering a time four-or-so decades ago when the previous generation of the same institutional experts ran in increasingly small circles setting their hair on fire predicting a coming ice age.

AmericaLaurentideIceSheet.jpg

http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/climatechange2/01_1.shtml

http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/images/AmericaLaurentideIceSheet.jpg

The last of the ice ages in human experience (often referred to as the Ice Age) reached its maximum roughly 20,000 years ago, and then gave way to warming. Sea level rose in two major steps, one centered near 14,000 years and the other near 11,500 years. However, between these two periods of rapid melting there was a pause in melting and sea level rise, known as the “Younger Dryas” period. During the Younger Dryas the climate system went back into almost fully glacial conditions, after having offered balmy conditions for more than 1000 years. The reasons for these large swings in climate change are not yet well understood.

Which is an understatement.

Academians have a vested interest in manmade climate change today. They get their names in the journals and newspapers through the power of positive speaking. If they can stir up enough fear by presenting what they don’t know as ‘not yet well understood’ they generate government grants, jobs, power and prestige within their fields. Further study of what they don’t yet well understand, it’s assumed, will provide better understanding in the direction of their assertions.

Somehow the fact their disciplinary ancestors also didn’t yet well understand similarly the precise opposite interpretation of the data. Mined it for all it was worth at the time in study, grants, power and prestige. Opened new frontiers for their progeny when the time came, by reversing what a few decades later remained not yet fully understood.

I’m not suggesting there’s no manmade climate change. Maybe there is. And I’m not suggesting that if there is, it won’t speed the natural progress of planetary warming.

What I am saying is that anytime scientific observers examine data with an expected, hoped-for outcome, [especially when power, money, career advancement and prestige are factors] they have a way of observing selectively.

Same as human beings are prone to do in all other walks of life.

What I’m also saying is that three, maybe four decades from now there’s a reasonable possibility they’ll have mined this crisis dry and be setting their hair on fire with a new crisis to be mined for power, prestige, money and career advancement. Humanity induced plate tectonics, maybe. Earth’s decaying orbit because of atmospheric drag created by airliners.

Maybe they’ll be right. Hell, there’s even a remote chance they’re right about of what they’re saying today. Some piece of it-or-other.

The damned problem is you can’t trust them. They watch the same television you do. They know which way the wind’s blowing and muddling along trying to sail downwind getting the most out of it while it’s hot. Joining the gold rush with the knowledge when this one plays out there’s another lode in Alaska or Nevada they can move to.

Same as the rest of us.

Old Jules

The underlying fundamental truths

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

If you’re like me, you are probably asking yourself why Johnson grass, crabgrass, beggars lice, goatheads, thistles and, say, salt cedar, thrive through the most difficult of times while all the stuff you deliberately planted requires care, nurturing by various means, irrigating.  You’re probably wondering why skunks can overwinter with rabies, throwing off the virus to all their kinfolk, while almost everything else dies within days of manifesting symptoms. 

Yeah, you’re probably wondering also why the skunks in Homeland Security run you about as you’d figure,  and the entrepreneurs in the private US penal systems are wallowing around in profits without ever getting their lives dirtied by contact with inmates.  Wondering why faceless ghosts in places such as the NSA would, not only wish to know the intimate details of your life, but actually be able execute a plan to do it.

You’re probably wondering why classy, wonderful aircraft with glide ratios and whirling propellers are rotting in hangars and on airstrip tiedowns while unnatural aluminum monsters incapable of manned flight zoom around carrying people places they didn’t need to go.  Why the only damned propellers anyone cares around are horizontal wings beating the air to death and crawling over the carcass.

Well friends and neighbors, if I had more time I’d explain it to you.  Because it’s one, or part of one of the fundamental truths of the Universe.

Unfortunately, this has gotten a bit long and there’s no point in me doing it right now.  It’s a proven fact that people don’t read long blog posts and that they click somewhere else the moment anything gets fundamental, or truthful.  Or if there are no pictures of naked dancing girls, celebrities, politicians, or tsunamis.

And hells bells, part of one of the basic truths of the Universe is that I can’t upload a damned thing.  So you’ll have to figure it out for yourselves.

Old Jules