Saturday, December 25, 2010

Minus 18.6 degrees in Castlederg

On the above map, point B is Castlederg, a small town in north County Tyrone. Point A is my hometown, Dungannon, or, as I call it, Dungannistan ( hence the name of my blog, as y'all should know).

Castlederg, like most of the country, has experienced record breaking low temperatures this Christmas. My brother Timothy, who lives just across the border from Armagh, had no running water as of a few hours ago, because of the severe frost.

Meanwhile, I am here in Cleveland, Ohio (see below), where it is cold but barely freezing.

The Lewis Chessmen

The Lewis Chessmen, a collection of chess pieces found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831, have comical facial expressions ranging from overdone gravitas to worry and fear -- one rook appears to be glancing over his shoulder, wondering where he might run away to. Then there are the Beserkers -- several of the medieval 78 pieces carved from walrus tusks and whale bone represent Beserkers, warriors who were so fierce that they fought in a trance-like fury, and are seen chewing their shields in readiness!

Yet contemporary scholars suggest that what to us seems comical, may to the makers and original owners of the chess pieces have seemed perfectly solemn and serious... The 78 pieces may be Norwegian in origin and may be the remnants of as many as five complete chess sets.

Merry Christmas

"Mitchum's! Mitchum's Deodorant! I swear by Mitchum's Underarm Musky-scented Roll-on for Men!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Signing Away

"Now in its closing [days], the 111th Congress is the busiest one in eight decades in changing the U.S financial system on both regulatory and household levels."
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', the odious 1993 policy that 'prohibited' gays and lesbians from serving in the U.S. Military, is no more.

I'd much rather herald a world in which societies questioned the need for militaries and armies, than one in which we celebrate that a heretofore marginalized group can now join up and join in preparedness for slaughter (what else is a military for, even in defense?) BUT: Obama signed Don't Ask Don't Tell into the closet of history today and gave us all a good dose of feel-good. His remarks are worth reading:

Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied Forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire. The men were traveling along a narrow trail. They were exposed and they were vulnerable. Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy.

And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. And dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. But one soldier, a friend, turned back. And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground.

For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone. It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay. He had no idea. And he didn’t much care. Lloyd knew what mattered. He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. It was his friend.

And Lloyd’s son is with us today. And he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed; that what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of Europe is the reason that we are here today. (Applause.) That's the reason we are here today. (Applause.)
And the President has gone to Hawai for the holidays.