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Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wants to remind all of his loyal minions that today is the 130th anniversary of the birth of your Maximum Leader’s great hero. Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born this day (St. Andrew’s Day in fact - St. Andrew the patron saint of Scotland) in 1874 at Blenheim Palace.

Churchill’s life is one of the most interesting lives of modern times. It is filled with glorious triumphs and equally disastrous failures. But through it all Churchill “kept buggering on.”

Your Maximum Leader shudders to think where this world would be today were it not for Churchill taking the wheel of the ship of state in Britain in World War Two. For those who would dismiss Churchill’s role in keeping Britain in the war, your Maximum Leader will commend to you John Lukac’s fantastic book “Five Days in London: May 1940.”

Inside the front door to the nave at Westminster Abbey there is a plaque on the floor a few feet from the poppy-lined memorial plaque dedicated to Britain’s war dead of the Great War. The plaque reads “Remember Winston Churchill.”

And we all should today.

Carry on.

Update: Your Maximum Leader thought it incumbent on him to beef up this post and make it worth of the great man.

If you’ve never been, visit the site of the Churchill Centre. It is a great resource.

If you are into the faddish (if that is a word derived from fad) trend of short biographies, then you want to read John Keegan’s Churchill biography he wrote for the Penguin Lives series. It is the best short biography of Churchill.

If you want to “get a feel” for Churchill and don’t want to commit yourself to the 208 pages of the Keegan work… Well if you can’t bring yourself to read 208 pages you need help. But in case you need help and want to “get a feel” for Churchill; go to your public libarary (or Borders Book Shop) and get William Manchester’s “The Last Lion: Alone.” Then sit down and read the first 30-odd pages of the book. The chapter is entitled, “Chartwell, 1932.” It is worth your time.

If you are visually stimulated and want to see a great depection of Churchill on film. Rent (or better yet - buy) “The Gathering Storm” with Albert Finney. The bit about Ralph Wigram may be a bit over dramatised, but it is a movie.

Of course, if you are a true Churchill fan (like your Maximum Leader) you need to read the works of the greatman himself. Any of them will do. (He did win a Nobel Prize for Literature afterall.) Don’t read an edited work containing bits of speeches, articles, and sundries. Get his 6 volumes on World War Two. Or his 4 volumes on World War One. Read those.

Or listen to Churchill’s wartime speeches.

In closing, you should do something to remember the man whom your Maximum Leader thinks is the seminal figure in the 20th Century, and without whom we would be living in a world made dark by the perversions of Nazism.

Carry on.

Hello. I’m Ellen James

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader read with some sadness this article on the Reuters news wire: Plath’s Daughter Pleads: Let Her Rest in Peace.

The article reminds your Maximum Leader of one of his favourite books, “The World According to Garp.” And how TS Garp has to try to live with his mother’s legacy. And there is probably some tangential connection your Maximum Leader could make between the Plath-hangers-on and the Ellen Jamesians…

Carry on.

Grazing Dairy

Producing milk on pasture is better for the farmer, better for the environment, produces healthier milk, solves the problem of overproduction and manure management , and is MUCH more humane for the cows.

We need more dairies like this.

Don’t Let the Doorknob…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader waves his hand from the Villainschloss balcony and bids that the doorknob hit John Edwards on the arse as he winds down his absentee Senate career with a Farewell Tour of North Carolina.

Your Maximum Leader is sure that John and his fabulous hair will rebound quickly. Perhaps he’ll get back into medical malpractice and sue some drug companies for some reason.

Carry on.

Cooler DVDs

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a number of dual sided DVDs in his collection. (The Man Who Would Be King is the first that leaps to his mind.) And they are always a pain. You have to be careful which side you put in. They are hard to read, since the text describing the disk is printed in a very small font and only on the clear inner ring fo the disk (where it is easily obstructed by fingers and such). So it is with great anticipation that he reads that a firm has introduced a text-friendly coating for 2-sided DVDs (and CDs). Very cool.

And he has also been reading about all this DVD-HD stuff too. He supposes that soon he’ll have to buy a new DVD player too. And a new Hi-Fi to plug all this stuff into. Damn.

Carry on.

So They’re Supposed To Look Like That.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader would like to bring to your attention a flash off the AP news wire concerning Visa photographs. Yes, yes. Your Maximum Leader knows that there is trouble in the Ukraine. There are suicide bombers in Iraq. Julia Roberts (the whore) gave birth to twins. And General/President Musharrif is urging face-to-face talks on Kashmir with India. But he wants to focus on Visa photos.

According to this article, smiling is discouraged in Visa photos. Why? Because it messes up the biometric scans that should be done on you entering or leaving the country. And here your Maximum Leader always assumed it was because they wanted the photo to accurately reflect how you would look after waiting in the visa check lines for hours at the airport.

Carry on.

Rough Weekend at Sweet Seasons Farm

As many of our readers know, the Minister of Agriculture is an organic farmer.

One way that I use to control weeds and brambles in the pasture without spraying chemicals is multi-species grazing. The sheep eat broom straw and I have a goat that tackles the brambles in the fenceline. The organic control seems to be working rather well. I don’t have enough sheep to totally handle the broom straw, but the flock will expand over time.

But the goat.

He’s a pain.

He is too smart for his own good. He figured out, by watching me, how to open the barn door. On Thanksgiving morning, he popped open the doors, strolled into the barn, and overturned the bins of grain I had for the chickens and my lactating ewe. Bonnie followed him in. And ate a whole bunch of grain.

Grain is not good for cattle. Their rumens are designed to process grass. The bacteria that live in their stomachs break down grass into digestible bits. Given time, and a slow introduction of grain, the bacteriapopulation in cattle stomachs can adjust to digesting grain as a raw material. But, in anything but small quantities, the animal will always be uncomfortable on a high grain diet (kind of like humans who subsist entirely on junk food - it may feel good, they will put on weight, but they will feel lousy). This is a major reason why I raise grass-fed beef. Force-fed grained animals live their lives in constant stomach pain as the grain causes the acid levels of their stomachs to rise - acidosis.

So Bonnie, who does not eat grain, gorged herself. And suffered from lactic acidosis. It was a mild case, but she was clearly unhappy - walking stiff-legged, holding her tail up and out, squirting diarrhea, and laying about moodily.

I had to give her a caulking gun (literally - I used a caulking gun) full of a charcoal solution to neutralize the acid in her stomach, inject 9 ccs of nitrogen into her neck muscle, and feed her a bacteria paste to replace the rumen bacteria killed by the acid conditions. She was not a happy camper. I can’t imagine how people whose animals are wild are able to treat their cattle. Bonnie is like a big, 900-pound dog, but a 900-pound dog who doesn’t want a caulking gun shoved into her throat is 900 pounds.

She seems a bit better, but is still not back to her old self. I really hope that she didn’t loose her pregnancy. The vet is coming for a follow-up next week.

Cross your fingers.

This Explains Everything

Right-thinking fellow travelers often ask how I can remain friends with the Maximum Leader despite our innumerable political disagreements.

The answer is simple.

Whenever we disagree and I’m tempted to be annoyed at the ML, I remember Hanlon’s Razor.

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Amazing. Your Maximum Leader was quoting Hanlon’s Razor just over the weekend. Even more amazing is how humble the Smallholder is in this post for not mentioning that he, not your Maximum Leader, is the stupid one.

UPDATE FROM YOUR MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE: Yes, oh great leader with purge power, that is exactly what I meant. (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more to our readers).

The Judas Thing

Here is my take.
Jesus had a lot of followers, not just “the 12″. But there came a point where he was to whittle the group of followers down to the famous 12 Disciples. In Luke 6:12 you can find the passage but pretty much he went up a mountain, spent the night praying, came down the next day and made his choice.

This must have been a difficult task as the Disciples are “special” people that have to have specific personality traits of they won’t fit into the flow of sequence of events. By that I mean, he couldn’t have chosen 12 Macho Rambo types that would have fought to the death to “save” Jesus from his eventual death. Nor would he want 12 super-intellectuals (like the ministers at Nakedvilliany). He needed certain personality types and men that could be teachers and do it his way. Along with that he needed a traitor in the group.

I don’t look at is so much as “pre-determined by God” and that Judas could not escape his fate because God had it out for him. I think about it more along the lines that you have free will to do what you want, but God knows what you are going to do before you do it.

And in a way, I have this power too. I bet that if you put your hand on a hot stove, that you will take it off. I know that you will do this even before you do it. I am not controlling your action and you have free will to leave your hand on the hot stove, I just know what you will do.

So Jesus knew that Judas was the kind of person that, put in the particular circumstance, would betray him. Jesus also knew that Peter would deny him three times and said so before the event.

Jesus knew that Judas would betray him and told the 12 disciples at the last supper. Matthew 26:21 says “and while they were eating, he (Jesus) said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me”. Jesus tells them that the one who dips their hand into the bowl is the one that betrays him and Judas says “Surely not I” (but at this point Judas has already cut the deal to betray him”.

So Judas had the free will to do what he wished, but God/Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart and what kind of decisions he would make.

Religion itself is a Giant Leap of Faith. You can’t prove it in a laboratory or dig up a rock that has all the answers inscribed on it to prove it beyond all doubt. This, I think, is the design. If it was “provable”, than anyone would be an idiot not to believe. But since it is an act of faith to choose to love and follow God, it is an act by man that is not forced on us.

I guess that God doesn’t want us to love him because of the fancy tricks/miracles that he can do or because scientist in a laboratory have proven his existence thus we should all do it. God wants us to love him like we want to be loved, willingly and by choice.

If you could give your partner (or potential partner) a magic potion that would “make them love you” would you really give it to them? Do you want to be loved because someone is forced to or is made to love you? While it does sound intriguing, I think that the idea would quickly wear on us. We want to be loved for the person we are, warts and all.

And God feels the same way too.

That is why we have the choice to do what we will. But God knows what we will do and loves us enough to give us the choice.

Back to the Trenches…

Minion Molly’s Mailbag, Part the Second

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been seriously remiss in posting comments on some e-mails he has gotten. He is particularly delinquent in thanking a few minions for their thoughtful comments on his Pontifications post. So to those of you who sent kind words, unkind words, or other articles for your Maximum Leader’s consideration; he thanks you.

But, of all the minions out there your Mximum Leader owes his Divine Minion Molly the most material. So, with that in mind, here is a little something for Minion Molly.

Many moons ago now Minion Molly wrote: “I think you need to blog on what makes a liberal and a conservative.” A sensible question indeed. Your Maximum Leader has wracked his brain trying to think up some definitions that were broad enough to encompass the common daily usage of these two terms. But at the same time, not be too partisan or snide in the defining.

Your Maximum Leader could only come up with these definitions. And they only really fit the usage of Liberal and Conservative insofar as domestic affairs in the United States go.

Here they are:

A Liberal seeks to utilize the government as the primary agent to affect social, economic, and civic change as rapidly and evenly as possible.

A Conservative seeks to minimize the intrusion of government, where ever possible, into social, economic, and civic life.

Not terribly exciting eh? Well, they are broad enough to be inclusive of most of the common usages of the two terms. But, being broad, they fail to capture the nuance extant in both the “Liberal” camp and the “Conservative” camp.

Your Maximum Leader would prefer, and might yet, to come up with a series of more “tight” definitions that would convey nuance.

Now you think this is the end of the post. Well you are wrong on that count minions. There is more.

Your Maximum Leader recently received a message from Minion Molly in which she commented on recent posts. Your Maximum Leader thought he would go ahead and share them with you.

Minion Molly writes on the subject of Alexander the Great. (In response to a post in which your Maximum Leader mentions Alexander obliquely, and in the context of a post by the Poet Laureate.) She writes:

First, Alexander the Great was bisexual. The Greek government can get over their homophobic selves. There are numerous primary sources that allude to it. Also, this was 300 years before Christ, and this was the norm for men in the military.

The Spartans were taken away from their parents at the age of 6 and trained. They lived in barracks and weren’t allowed to marry until they were in their 30s. Alex was schooled in Athens and would have learned the Greek ways.

You can look at pottery and mosaics from this time period and it is depicted there. I think it’s a moot point. He had conquered almost 90% of the known world at this time and was a great strategist. So what if he loved another guy?

Don’t you just love a woman who can comment on Alexander the Great as “Alex?” Your Maximum Leader surely does. On this point your Maximum Leader will have to agree with Minion Molly. It is fairly clear that Alexander was what we would now term a bisexual. But, as Molly alludes, sexuality was not what it is today. An important element that has been missing in the ongoing web discussion of Alexander’s sexuality is the idea of love espoused by the ancient Greeks. A critical element of love is that it could only occur between equals. And since men and women were not equal, love among equals was out. Your Maximum Leader says sure Alexander batted for both teams, but that doesn’t diminish his formidable accomplishments.

Really now. Compare your life to Alexander’s. King at 16. Conqueror of the world by 32. Hard not to feel as though you haven’t been reaching your full potential.

Excursus: Your Maximum Leader was watching some interview program on TV with Oliver Stone, Colin Farell, and Angelina Jolie discussing “Alexander.” Damn Angelina Jolie. Your Maximum Leader can’t figure out what draws him to her. She must have the “kavorka.” Your Maximum Leader cannot turn her off. No matter what it is, if Angelina is in it your Maximum Leader watches with rapt attention. And in the true confessions mode of blogging, your Maximum Leader got all hot and bothered when, in the interview, Angelina stated that she couldn’t have played Olympias (mother of Alexander) until she had become a mother. She said that she knows what it means to be a mother. She said she’d kill someone to protect her son. And your Maximum Leader thought to himself, “Damn, and she only has an adopted son. She’d likely kill thousands for a child sharing half her genes.” If Angelina Jolie needs some genes for a child, your Maximum Leader will offer them up gladly. Hummm… Where does this leave Jennifer Love Hewitt… She’s still number one with your Maximum Leader. Jolie may have the kavorka, but she is also likely to cut you when you’re not looking.

Not only did the Divine Minion Molly comment on Alexander, she also commented on Judas Iscariot. She writes:

Next, the Judas question. I was raised free will Southern Baptist. I have a great Aunt that left the Baptist Church and became Calvanist. She probably knows the Bible better than anyone I know. Her family learned Greek so they could read the Bible in its original form. I had never been crazy about predestination and election, but she in her wily way got me to thinking….

…If you believe in election (the correct term for predestination and election), he was predestined to sell Jesus out. Period. You just have to accept this on faith. So does this mean if any person or persons in history do something “bad”, that they can be excused from this because they have been predestined to do this and it was God’s will? I have a problem with that. I’m having lunch with my aunt tomorrow and will discuss this further with her.

First off, allow your Maximum Leader to tip his bejeweled floppy hat in the direction of your aunt. Learning ancient Greek to read the Bible. That is worth a hat tip. And your Maximum Leader is keen to know the thoughts of Minion Molly’s aunt on Judas.

As for the Judas question. Your Maximum Leader was musing more on the condemnation (or the assumption of the condemnation) of Judas. If you believe in predestination,** then Judas was picked by God to betray Christ. But he was also (presumably) condemned for doing so. There is the heart of the issue at which your Maximum Leader was driving. If your Maximum Leader was predisposed towards believing in predestination, then he would have no problem believing that Judas was picked to do the deed. But if you believe in a benevolent God, why would God then punish Judas forever for acting in the only way God would allow? Even if you don’t believe in predestination, the Gospel accounts are pretty clear that Jesus knew what was coming. And Jesus also knew that one of his disciples (perhaps he didn’t know Judas specifically) would be the one to betray him. This gives rise to one thinking that, again Judas was ordained to betray Jesus. And once again one wonders if God’s punishment was just in the face of Judas apparently having no choice in the matter.

** - Your Maximum Leader feels that predestination might be a better term to use in this context. In his experience the term “elect” or “elected” in this context generally refers to those who have been “elected” by God to go on to heaven and not suffer eternal damnation. Your Maximum Leader has never heard the term “elect” used to describe the condemned sinners.

So the real problem your Maximum Leader (and the always thoughtful Bill) was pondering was the nature of Judas’ punishment. If there is free will, then Judas made his own choice and was punished for it. But if Judas had no choice in the matter, then is punishment really fair.

As Bill wrote in his post, this question gets really to the heart of Christian doctrine. If God has determined our course since the beginning (or before the beginning) of time; then is the punishment we receive for a sinful life really just? Afterall, we didn’t have a choice in the matter. An all-poerful God, before whom we are powerless, willed our lives to be sinful and for punishment to be metted out accordingly. This hardly is in accord with the typical concept of an omni-benevolent God.

Hummm… Your Maximum Leader is curious to know the minds of other minions in this matter.

Carry on.

Sports Team Names

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader just finished watching the Virginia vs. Virginia Tech football game on TV. (Tech wins! Tech wins! Tech wins!) And while holding the wee Villain, drinking a beer, and letting his mind run wild he thought of a number of things. But one of them is the subject of this blog.

High Schools, Colleges, and Professional Sport Franchises are always in a quandry about what to call their teams. Your Maximum Leader submits a few little used (but fear inducing names) for your favourite team:

Huns
Goths
Visagoths
Ostragoths
Mongols
Turks
Golden Horde
Moghuls
Aryans
Hsiung-nu
Philistines
Scythians
Moabites

and of course…
Barbarians

And while Spartans is very popular, the more correct Lacedemonians is not. Humm… Must be that Lacedemonians is hard to embroider on a uniform.

Carry on.

DNC Chairman Troubles Solved.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sometimes amazes himself. Aside from his rapier wit, his propensity towards cleaver understatement, and his mastadon-like genitals; he sometimes just has ideas come to him which are, in fact, penetrating insights into current problems.

Take for example the current problem that the Democratic party is having finding a new party Chairman. There are so many problems confluencing in the position of DNC Chairman. How do we win elections? How do we communicate to the American people that we “believe in something?” How do we convince Americans that we have a “heart?” Etc, etc, etc.

Well your Maximum Leader has the perfect nominiee for DNC Chairman. Ready for it?

Aaron Sorkin.

Yes. Aaron Friggin Sorkin.

He isn’t writing for “The West Wing” anymore. And as best your Maximum Leader can tell the only Democrats the American people have any love for at all are those fun-loving liberal ideologues who alternate between highbrow whimsy and furrowed brow concern for one hour every week on NBC and a billion hours a week on Bravo.

Yes Democrats of America, your Maximum Leader, who recently freely dispensed advice to the Kerry Campaign which could have turned the tide, now gives you the perfect DNC Chairman candidate. It is time you heed your Maximum Leader’s words; or continue to despair.

Carry on.

Thanksgiving

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes all of his loyal minions and readers (far and wide) a happy Thanksgiving. He especially wishes our brave soliders, sailors, and marines overseas and at home a very happy Thanksgiving.

At first your Maximum Leader had thought that he would try and list off some of those loyal minions for whom he is particularly thankful. But, for fear of leaving someone off, he ditched that plan. Know that your Maximum Leader is thankful for the lot of you.

As it stands now, there is a 22 pound turkey roasting in the ovens of the Villainschloss. Soon the potatoes will be started. The pies are done (Blueberry/Blackberry; Apple; Mince; and Pumpkin), the Onion and Peanut casserole is done. The aparagus and hollandaise will be completed just in time for eating. Rolls are baked. The wheel of Stilton is resting. The spinach salad is refridgerated and waiting for the oil and vinegar. And your Maximum Leader has just poured a jigger of 110 proof bourbon into his egg nog. The holidays have truly begun.

But, just in case you’ve started to believe that this day is just about feasting (or in case you’ve never read it), your Maximum Leader presents to you a Thanksgiving proclamation from George Washington for your consideration.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted’ for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote te knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.

(signed) G. Washington

Excellent thoughts for this day. May our great republic continue to be blessed with good government, peace, progress, and civic virtue.

Carry on.

Fallen on Porn.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader laughs at his little play on words there. Heh. Regardless of your Maximum Leader’s sad attempt at humour, he commends you go over and read the Smouldering Fallen’s comments on his recent comments on Porn addiction. Very good stuff. Married couples take heed. Keep your sex life interesting.

Carry on.

Afghani Cultural History preserved.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader always likes to hear good news from Afghanistan and Iraq. In case you missed this post over at Wizbang you should review it.

It seems many treasures from the Afghani National Museum were hidden by dedicated staff when the Soviets invaded; and they have been hiding them in complete secrecy ever since. Now the heroic custodians of the priceless artifacts of Afghanistan’s history believe the situation is stable enough for the museum’s collection to be restored.

If that isn’t good news, your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what is.

Carry on.

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