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When the world is running down.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has much to say, but hasn’t been making the time to say it. There is so much to say about Israel and Gaza. (Your Maximum Leader comes down squarely for Israel; but admits that Israel makes mistakes that should be addressed.) There is much to say about Ukraine. (Where your Maximum Leader is sympathetic to the plight of Ukraine; but does wonder what exactly we can do there that would be constructive.) There is much to say about ebola. (Calm down everyone. No really. Calm down.) There is much to say about the trial of Bob McDonnell, former Governor of Virginia. (Which your Maximum Leader thinks is just sad all around.)

All these subjects and more that call for comment… But are met with silence here.

Your Maximum Leader’s kids will be out with grandparents this weekend… Perhaps he’ll write…

Maybe he’ll tell you about his recent trip to Canada… (Yes… He visited with Skippy!)

Oh yes… Happy Birthday wishes to your Maximum Leader’s mum… Today is the big day…

Carry on.

So I Was Out On The Interwebs When This Award Came At Me

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was perusing some blogs recently and discovered that he’d been nominated for the Liebster Award. He was nominated by his virtual friend, Professor Mondo. One day your Maximum Leader hopes to meet the Professor in real life, by the by…

So… It seems that your Maximum Leader must reveal of himself for this whole Liebster Award thing to work. So if he slips out of his familiar to you all 3rd person narration, you must forgive him in advance.

First up… 11 random tibits about your Maximum Leader:

1) He was recently advised by his doctor to “cut back on carbs.” Your Maximum Leader has effectively only seriously “cut back” on one carb. That carb is ice cream. He’s not had ice cream (or a milkshake or similar ice creamy foodstuff) in a few months.

2) Did your Maximum Leader mention that he REALLY REALLY loves ice cream? He should have if he didn’t.

3) Your Maximum Leader is addicted to a game on his phone called “Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North” by a group called Kabam.

4) In the “Kingdoms of Camelot” game he just mentioned above, his screen name is Lord Blackadder. He chose the name Lord Blackadder because he loves the old Rowan Atkinson show “Blackadder.” Your Maximum Leader was told about the show many decades ago, but only got around in the past few years to watching all of them thanks to Amazon Prime. Although your Maximum Leader thought he’d like the first season the best (which was the one he’d actually seen some episodes of years ago), but in fact he thinks the second season is the best. (The second season follows Blackadder during the reign of Elizabeth I.)

5) In the same vein as Blackadder (to wit: a person on the fringes of famous historical persons or events), your Maximum Leader is a great fan of George MacDonald Fraser’s “Flashman” books.

6) Your Maximum Leader is trying to teach himself to stop putting two spaces after a period when he types. It is a problem when he is on Twitter as that extra space uses up a valuable character. (Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader!) In case you were asking why this is a thing… Your Maximum Leader is of an age when he didn’t take a “keyboarding” class in high school but took a “typing” class in high school. He learned to type on an IBM Selectric Typewriter. He was taught that you always put two spaces after a period to make the sentence breaks easier to spot.

7) Your Maximum Leader owns a kilt. Which he bought in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1985. He’s had it altered once. He trots it out about once a year.

8 ) Your Maximum Leader owns more shoes now than he has at any other time in his adult life. (2 pairs of boots. 3 pairs of “good” dress/formal shoes. 1 pair of saddle shoes - which seem more dressy than casual but not really dressy. 2 pairs of nice shoes for work. 2 pairs of sneakers.)

9) Your Maximum Leader cures his own bacon, grinds his own sausage and cures ham - but not “country” ham. It disappoints him that he’s not done a good country ham. He doesn’t have a place where he controls temperature and humidity well enough. Or barring temp and humidity control, he doesn’t have a large enough vessel to completely pack the ham in salt.

10) Your Maximum Leader owns a few guns, but he doesn’t own a shotgun. (But he really wants one.)

11) Your Maximum Leader once had a conversation with the late Senator Edward Kennedy. In a men’s room. In the Kennedy Center.

There you go. Pretty random…

Now for questions from the good Professor…

1. If you could give a really painful (but not permanent — we’re not awful people) charley horse to anyone in the world without fear of retribution, who would it be?

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that he is worked up enough about anyone to want to give them a charley horse. He thinks that Vladimir Putin could use one, just on principal. Plus, it seems like ole Vlad doesn’t have to take a lot of abuse from anyone. (Certainly not from any Western leader recently for sure…)

2. DC or Marvel?

This is sort of tough. When your Maximum Leader was younger he read some DC comics. He was a fan of Batman comics. He is a fan of most of the Batman films. He enjoyed Superman comics when he was young. But he is not a fan of any of the recent Superman movies. Intellectually, Superman is the most interesting and should have the most potential. But no one can seem to translate that to the screen. Your Maximum Leader had high hopes for “Man of Steel” but it fell way short of expectations.

That being said, after looking through some boxes in the attic, it appears as though your Maximum Leader owned and kept more Marvel comics than he did DC. He still has many copies of “Tomb of Dracula,” “GI Joe,” “John Carter, Warlord of Mars,” “Conan the Barbarian” and some others. All Marvel titles.

So… Your Maximum Leader supposes he is a Marvel guy.

3. Who would you cast to play the lead in a biopic of you?

This is a toughie. Your Maximum Leader had a whole bunch of actors in mind. The list contained actors that your Maximum Leader thought could capture his essential qi. (He didn’t try to think of an actor that resembled him physically - that would be a fruitless endeavor…) Among the actors that bounced around in your Maximum Leader’s mind were: Gary Oldman, John Malkovich, Christian Bale, Michael Sheen, or Edward Norton. (Those last two by the by happen to be the same age as your Maximum Leader.)

But in the end it was none of those fine actors…

In the final analysis, should a biopic of your Maximum Leader’s life be made, he would like to be played by Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry is a great actor and all around fine human being. And in the end all we can hope to be is a fine human being. You can check out Stephen Fry’s website here; or follow him on Twitter here.

4. Preferred pizza crust — Thin? Pan? Whole wheat? Other?

Generally speaking, thin. But from time to time he craves a good Chicago style pizza. Not too often. But it has been known to happen.

5. Is there a song that makes you hit the channel change/shuffle button as soon as it starts? What is it?

Almost anything my 9 year old son has purchased in the past 6 months.

6. What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” movie?

Very tough. Recently it has been Disney’s John Carter. But over time it has been Bruce Campbell’s Army of Darkness.

7. Bluegrass or World Music?

Bluegrass.

8. What’s the most unusual thing in your fridge?

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that he has anything particularly unusual in his fridge. He keeps the fridge pretty clean and goes through victuals regularly. If by unusual you might mean something “out of the ordinary” then it might be a stash of the greatest candy bar in the world… The Cadbury Crunchie bar. (Buy them here.)

9. What have I got in my pocket?

Front or back pocket? Hummm….

As for me… The contents of my pockets on a typical day (such as today) are: iPhone, handkerchief, wallet (from the Scuola del Cuoio as it turns out - a lovely and thoughtful gift), my car key, and a key ring (containing home and work keys).

As an aside… The key ring on which your Maximum Leader’s home & work keys hang has a brass oval fob that reads “10 Downing Street, London”. He has had that key fob since he bought it in London on his first trip there in 1985. Also… In his wallet he still has a folded up One Pound note from that same trip to the UK in 1985. So… For 29 years, your Maximum Leader has carried a One Pound note in his wallet…

10. What topic is most likely to make you start talking as your friends say, “Now you’ve done it.”?

Probably something about Elvis or Winston Churchill. Or possibly curing bacon…

11. What question were you hoping I’d ask you, but I didn’t?

In the tradition of “Pulp Fiction,” are you a Beatles man or an Elvis man? Your Maximum Leader is, very much, an Elvis man… Indeed his iTunes library shows 745 Elvis songs and 167 Beatles songs.

Now comes the nomination portion of our program…

Your Maximum Leader will nominate the following blogs:

His buddy Kevin.

Bill of Bill’s Comments.

Robbo of TPSAYE

Elisson

Big Stupid Tommy

FLG of Fear & Loathing in Georgetown

Skippy

Mrs P

Joan of Primordial Slack

The Amazing Ben of Badass of the Week

Eric of Straight White Guy

And here are the questions from your Maximum Leader:

1) What food do you most resemble - physically?

2) Assume that everyone has an ability that they could call their “superpower” what would yours be?

3) What is the earliest memory you have?

4) A good day would be…

5) A bad day would be…

6) Cameras on every single portable electronic device. Blessing or bane?

7) Favorite Pixar character? Why?

8 ) Tell me about one deeply held belief of yours that has evolved or changed over time.

9) Your favorite word?

10) If I met you at a dinner party, what would you NOT like me to ask you?

11) Tell me something I don’t know.

Question #9 is courtesy of Bernard Pivot and James Lipton.

Questions #10 & #11 are courtesy of one of your Maximum Leader’s favorite podcasts, The Dinner Party Download.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on the Tweety: @maximumleader

Happy Thanksgiving & a Family Tale

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all (or at least you Americans) a happy Thanksgiving. His turkey is in the oven and various side dishes have been prepped and are awaiting their cook time. He is taking a little break and trying to relax a little before doing more cooking…

For some reason this little family story popped into his mind today and he decided to share it…

Many years ago, your Maximum Leader was sitting in his maternal grandmother’s kitchen discussing what he and his maternal grandmother would be cooking for a family gathering. In the course of discussing the menu, your Maximum Leader’s maternal grandfather said that this would be a good time to pull out “that cookbook I got you” and use it to plan a menu. Your Maximum Leader asked what cookbook while glancing over at his maternal grandmother. Grandma suddenly had a sour look on her face. Your Maximum Leader again about the cookbook. At that point his grandfather got up and went to another room; returning shortly with a beautiful book.

Your Maximum Leader is serious. It was a gorgeous book. It was bound in thick green leather and debossed with gold leaf (real gold leaf in fact). On the front and spine the lovely script said the book was the “Cordon Bleu Menu Cookbook.” As your Maximum Leader opened the book the spine made a noise. It had obviously not been opened in years. The book was published by the Cordon Bleu school in Paris in the early 1950s. (Your Maximum Leader was looking at it in the late 1980s.) The pages were heavy bond and had wonderful hand. The book was divided by season and holidays. Each chapter provided a number of complete formal menus for breakfast, lunch, brunch, tea, and dinner by season or holiday. The menus were described in detail with recipes, order of service, description of what to use to decorate the table, what wines to serve with the food. All of this was in French and in English. The photo pages were spectacular.

So… Your Maximum Leader leafed through the book and commented that it was a lovely book and asked how long it had been hanging around without him ever seeing it. At that point Grandpa started to tell the tale of the book. Grandpa worked for the Department of the Army from the 1939 to 1969. During the 1950s he was often assigned to various NATO related tasks and would often travel to Europe (with a cool diplomatic passport that your Maximum Leader still has). So, the tale progressed. Grandpa was on NATO business in Belgium and France and happened to be in Paris. It occurred to Grandpa that he ought to try and bring Grandma a different type of gift than his usual. He was in the habit of buying some fancy perfume or article of clothing for Grandma while he was abroad. This time it was going to be different.

Your Maximum Leader’s maternal grandmother was a great cook. She was taught by her mother and grandmother. She could bake (and was a great baker). She could cook. In a kitchen she was an expert. In your Maximum Leader’s life, he couldn’t remember seeing her study a recipe to make a dish. She did have a copy of The Joy of Cooking but it seemed to be for quick reference or to jog her memory when she was cooking something.

Grandpa continued that one night on this business trip to Paris he was being wined and dined by some French official. The dinner was prepared by students and professors at the famed Cordon Bleu school. Of course, back in the 1950s there was only one Cordon Bleu in Paris - now they have them everywhere… Anyhow, at some point during the dinner, or just after, Grandpa commented on the quality and breadth of the dinner and how it lived up to every preconception of fine French dining. His host noted that the students and professors had put together a book with recipes and other instructions for how to put on a similar type of meal. Grandpa asked where he could get a copy and was told that they would deliver one to him the next day.

And so Grandpa acquired the large green-leather bound debossed in gold leaf cookbook.

Needless to say, Grandpa was pretty excited that he’d found such a thoughtful and unique gift for his wife. He had it wrapped up for presentation when he arrived home…

Well… The gift didn’t go over as planned. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure of the exact circumstances under which the gift was exchanged from Grandpa to Grandma; but it didn’t go well. Apparently Grandma took the cookbook as a subtle jab that she wasn’t well versed in preparing fancy meals. To your Maximum Leader’s knowledge, Grandma never looked at that cookbook after that first instance. It sat on a hidden bookshelf in your Maximum Leader’s grandparents house for 30 years before Grandpa retrieved it that day.

After perusing the book, your Maximum Leader said that the book was really cook and would be a handy reference when planning a formal dinner party. Right after saying that, Grandma said sternly, “If you like the book you can have it. I never use it.”

So the book passed from Grandma to your Maximum Leader…

Unlike his grandmother, your Maximum Leader used the book a few times. He prepared multi-course meals for friends, girlfriends, girlfriend’s parents and others. (NB - Your Maximum Leader cooked a huge meal - six or seven courses - for a girl he dated for a while and her father and step-mother. It must have been sort of impressive because years later when he happened to encounter his now-former-girlfriend’s father at the mall the father reminisced that he could still remember the meal and that your Maximum Leader was the only boyfriend of his daughter of whom he had approved. In fact he encouraged his daughter to consider me a fine marriage material.) That cookbook came in handy on more than one occasion.

So, on this huge feast day in America is your Maximum Leader using this great tome to help him make a great Thanksgiving dinner? Well, no… Sadly, the book is no longer with your Maximum Leader…

You see, a number of years back, your Maximum Leader was dog-sitting for his sainted Father-in-law and beloved Mother-in-law while they were on a trip to Canada. One of the dogs (there were two - they were beautiful purebred Chesapeake Retrievers) had never been to the Villainschloss before and was a little nervous. After overcoming his nerves, he decided to start marking the Villainschloss ash his… He decided to pee all over one of your Maximum Leader’s bookcases… Sadly, the primary landing point for the pee was the Cordon Bleu cookbook. This happened while your Maximum Leader was out at work, and Mrs Villain did her best to rescue the book. But it was not to be. Mrs Villain threw the book (and a few other favorites that met a similar fate that day) away….

And thus the book’s karma was fulfilled…

Today, while planning the Thanksgiving menu, your Maximum Leader did wish that he still had the book… For reference purposes…

Happy Thanksgiving….

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader.

Positively Orwellian

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has deceived you. He deceit is that he’s led you to this post with a misleading title. You might think that he is going to rant about some element of Obamacare or other political item in a way that will make them out to be Orwellian.

That is not so.

It turns out that our bloggy friend Professor Mondo links to a website called “I Write Like” which attempts to take a piece of submitted writing and tell you what writer your writing is most like.

After submitting his short fiction piece “The Commissar” the web site told your Maximum Leader that he wrote like George Orwell.

Other blog writing samples came out predominately as Cory Doctorow.

All in all, your Maximum Leader would be very pleased with himself if he did, in fact, write in a style similar to Orwell. Your Maximum Leader is fond of Orwell’s style and many of his works. Sadly, your Maximum Leader has never read any Cory Doctorow. Thus, he can’t comment on the “I Write Like” analyzer’s efficacy on his other writings. Perhaps your Maximum Leader should pick up some Doctorow and read a bit.

Thanks for the neat link Professor! (He writes while doffing his bejewelled myllan cap in the Professor’s direction.)

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader)

Various thoughts on Death

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is trying to make some time to blog. Why you might ask? Well, no reason in particular save that of thinking that he might have something to (virtually) say. There was one specific impetus today to write. He read a blurb on some website he frequents (and cannot recall now) that interviewed some very tech savvy people and asked them what ancient technology they insisted on keeping though it was very much outdated. One person talked about an old touch tone phone at their home they loved. Another talked about an old calendar notebook. But one said a blog.

A blog you say…

Hummm… Your Maximum Leader has one of those. Is this medium truly ancient and dead? Well. If it is it makes your Maximum Leader more resolved to try and keep using it.

So…

Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about death a little bit recently. The thought was first brought on a few weeks ago when Mrs Villain’s grandmother passed away. She was 105 and 3 months. She was, if your Maximum Leader might be forgiven for sounding uncaring, ready to go. And it was her time. Indeed, it was past her time. Probably 3-7 years past her time depending on which event one might want to use as a delineation. (She broke her hip about 7 years back and became mostly immobile at that point. But about 3 years ago her sight and hearing gave out pretty much continually - there were days when she seemed to be able to hear better than others.)

Regardless. She shuffled her mortal coil without excessive suffering or illness. As your Maximum Leader tweeted that night (using a paraphrase of a prayer that jumped into his awareness), the long burden of years was lifted for her.

In some ways, the long burden of her years was lifted for the rest of us as well. Your Maximum Leader doubts that she really remembered who he was for the past few years. There were times when she seemed to recognize Villainette #1. She did always remember Mrs Villain. Your Maximum Leader was amused to himself that she was able to recall Villainette #1. Your Maximum Leader’s eldest did make an impression on “great nannie” as we called her. We took Villainette #1 up to great nannie’s house in Rhode Island a few times before age and the onset of some infirmity required the move to the assisted living facility. Great nannie must have really bonded with Villainette #1 in a way that few did afterwards. Your Maximum Leader was amused that great nannie would remember Villainette #1; but wasn’t too sure about the father of this growing girl.

Great nannie also loved the Wee Villain. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that she always knew that the Wee Villain was her great grandson; but he was always sure that great nannie loved boys. She raised two of her own. She always seemed to prefer the company of men (over the company of “weak women”). Your Maximum Leader thinks that, with her own strong New England personality, she just had little toleration for the public face of women in her age.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure exactly how he should feel about great nannie’s passing. He is a little relieved. He thinks that it is something of a blessing. At some level he might even be happy for her. But he generally isn’t sad. He’s prayed for her (now that your Maximum Leader is trying to be more observant of his Catholic faith). But he isn’t sad. Should he feel some guilt about this? Perhaps. But as far as deaths go, this one is as good as one can get.

After thinking about this peaceful passing, there are other ruminations on death that come into his mind.

Two cases in particular. That of murderer Jodi Arias and kidnapper Ariel Castro.

Allow your Maximum Leader to step back and go over some ground that he’s not trod here in a while. For those of you who might not have been around years ago at the onset of this blog (and if you weren’t your Maximum Leader has to wonder what on earth brought you here more recently), your Maximum Leader has for most of his life favored and supported the death penalty. That effectively changed thanks to a post by our bloggy friend Skippy. The post concerned the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. That post, the links in it (especially to the New Yorker piece on Cameron Todd Willingham) and later the movie Incendiary basically changed the way your Maximum Leader thinks about the death penalty and its application.

(NB: You should read all of those links. And if you get a chance, rent Incendiary. Your Maximum Leader drove from his home in Fredericksburg, VA to downtown DC to see the movie during its limited run at one cinema in the area.)

Basically, the death penalty is over applied in the US. We like to think that we are being tough on crime by prosecuting and convicting in death penalty cases. But really, we are in the end harming our justice system. The harm is caused by a pervasive sense of doubt as to how the death penalty is applied and if it was called for. Was the death penalty sought because the accused was poor? Was black? Was marginally mentally competent? Was the prosecutor up for re-election? Too many questions.

But then just as one’s mind starts to ponder the many questions about the death penalty, as person like Jodi Arias comes around.

Without restating the whole sorrid case allow your Maximum Leader to summarize Jodi Arias thusly: a somewhat cute crazy bitch murdered her sometimes boyfriend. Unlike Skippy your Maximum Leader doesn’t find Jodi Arias all that physically attractive so he doesn’t quite get the national fascination with the story. (We Americans do like to follow capital cases with a hot defendant. Your Maximum Leader is willing to concede that he might have been more interested in the Arias case if a) he had found Arias more physically attractive and b) it hadn’t just gone on and on and on and on.)

Now… In the case of Jodi Arias, the state should go ahead and execute her. This is as clear a proper application of the death penalty as there can be. Crazy woman has wild monkey sex with boyfriend in the shower. He tells her afterwards that he’s not taking her on vacation with him. Crazy woman stabs and shoots him to death and then plays stupid. Jodi Arias should, now having been convicted, be ushered quietly in front of a firing squad and shot. Sadly, only Utah still shoots people - so lethal injection it is.

Unless you are against the application of the death penalty in all cases (and bully to you if you are); your Maximum Leader can’t see any reason why Jodi Arias shouldn’t be executed. (NB to Skippy: Okay there is one reason. To be Skippy’s sex-toy for a period and then be executed.)

So now having stated a case where your Maximum Leader has no trepidation in serving up an execution, let him move on…

At lunch with some respectable men about town the other day your Maximum Leader mentioned off-handedly that Ariel Castro should not be considered for the death penalty.

Just in case you missed it, Ariel Castro is the Cleveland man who kidnapped three young girls. Raped them. Beat them. Induced miscarriages in them. And ultimately fathered a child (of rape) by one of the kidnapped girls. He repeated these crimes over and over on these girls for a period of at least 10 years.

Yet this man shouldn’t, in your Maximum Leader’s estimation, be prosecuted for capital crimes. The most simple reason for this is that none of his victims died. Now, you are thinking to yourself, “Self, what about those miscarriages.” Good point. Although he’s against abortion, it isn’t quite the same. Pregnancies end for many reasons. Even the healthiest and most careful women can miscarry. Though there is a purposeful element to the miscarriages/abortions inflicted by Castro on those poor girls, your Maximum Leader isn’t able to commit to them being murder under the laws of the land. (NB: If it turns out that there is evidence that the babies had reached a stage of development where they might have lived outside the womb if delivered; then your Maximum Leader will reconsider this opinion.) Castro is a terrible waste of a human being. But his victims live. Because of that, the state shouldn’t attempt to kill him.

Your Maximum Leader didn’t realize the shock that this position would cause at the lunch table. One of his friends asked if his opinion would be different if the victim was one of the Villainettes? Of course it would. Your Maximum Leader would seriously advocate for the execution of people who inflicted minor harms on his daughters. But, that is because your Maximum Leader is their father. The law should be applied without that passion. It should be applied rationally and at arms length. Being as objective as possible, Ariel Castro, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion shouldn’t die for his crimes. A lifetime of solitary confinement punctuated by prison shower sodomy? That seems just. But death seems too much.

You may disagree (and frankly you are welcome to). But from what he knows now, that is how your Maximum Leader sees it.

So, there are some thoughts your Maximum Leader has been having about death… And look at that… He’s made a blog post out of them. Perhaps this medium isn’t as moribund as expected.

Carry on.

What the deuce is this? A post?!!?!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t dead. He is just living the dream of being a father with responsibilities. He wants to blog. Trust him on that. He does. It is just carving out time to do it.

So what is going on that he wants to comment upon? Well… Too much for the short time he has to write this. He hopes that he can write some this weekend. Here are some possible bloggy topics: His trip to the Land of the Great Mouse in Orlando Florida earlier this year; his trips to various Civil War battlefields with his family (to commemorate the 150th of many of these battles); his tribulations as a father of two teen girls and a boy who persists in pushing his buttons; and the regular stuff political and social.

What your Maximum Leader really needs to do is cut out a block of time (an hour or so) once or twice a week to just write a post.

As if that will happen….

If you happen to get on the ole Twitter machine, you can find your Maximum Leader at this twitter handle: @maximumleader (or clicky this link).

Carry on.

In need of updating

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s blog is in need of updating. He has comments that he is planning on posting very soon about Richard III and Benedict XVI. Perhaps some political comments as well. Perhaps this Sunday will be the day of updating…

In the meanwhile, please refrain from being martyred on this “holiday” known as “Valentine’s Day.”

Carry on.

Gang aft agley

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s Christmas & New Year’s did not go as planned. The trip to the National Christmas Tree did go wonderfully. We had a Suburban full of kids and had a great time going to DC to see the tree. Then the illnesses hit. Luckily, your Maximum Leader’s immediate family was spared. But his extended family was not. His Christmas dinner for 17 turned into dinner for 7. (That has meant that your Maximum Leader has been finding new and exciting ways to re-heat roast beef for a week.)

Then the post-Christmas quiet contemplation your Maximum Leader had hoped for evaporated quickly. Apparently, your Maximum Leader’s offspring decided to bicker and argue pretty much constantly for days.

It wasn’t the best.

Then, Mrs Villain declared that since January is shaping up to be a busy one for us… All the Christmas decorations had to come down. Once the decree had gone out, it had to be accomplished. So the Villainschloss is completely de-Christmas-ed. That makes your Maximum Leader a little sad; because he likes to keep the house festooned until at least the Feast of the Epiphany…

Anyhoo…

Yesterday, New Year’s Day (Rabbit by the way), was quiet enough. Most everyone in the Villainschloss stayed in their rooms and interacted very little. Your Maximum Leader watched a number of “Sherlock” episodes on Amazon Prime. Your Maximum Leader isn’t a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes “re-boots” that have come out. The 1st Robert Downey Jr. film was enjoyable as a “buddy film” but wasn’t Sherlock Holmes. Your Maximum Leader has also seen “Elementary” on CBS. While your Maximum Leader is happy to look at Lucy Liu for an hour in almost any circumstance, that show isn’t all that. But Stephen Moffat’s “Sherlock” is a different beast all together. It is great. If you haven’t had a chance to see the six episodes (all done before Benedict Cumberbatch had to go off and make the new Star Trek film and then Martin Freeman had to go and make the Hobbit films) you should watch them.

Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a happy and prosperous 2013.

Carry on.

Alive and Well

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is alive and well. His family is alive and well. His property is undamaged by Hurricane Sandy. For all of that his is thankful. His heart goes out to those in New Jersey and New York who are suffering so much right now.

Your Maximum Leader spend the weekend before the storm getting the Villainschloss ready for the storm. We cleared up the leaves. Cleaned gutters. Secured loose items in the yard. Verified the backup generator was working and that we had spare fuel. All the stuff you do. The only real concern we had was for the many trees around the house. You can never tell when one is going to decide to give up the ghost and fall on your home or auto.

Providentially, nothing bad happened. We didn’t even lose power. It flickered once or twice, but remained on. Your Maximum Leader believes that the derecho storms of this past June helped us out. Those storms, which left your Maximum Leader without power for nearly three days, probably culled out lots of the trees that would have fallen otherwise during Sandy.

Your Maximum Leader is, again, thankful that he doesn’t have anything interesting to report.

Carry on.

An open letter to our friend Skippy.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been thinking about this for a while now…

Dear Skippy.

We hope that you know that among all the bloggers of the world, you are among our most favored. Your political insights and commentary so often mirror what we are thinking that often we don’t see the point of writing on a subject after you have discoursed on it. This election year (in the US) has not been different than past election years in that respect. We, like you, have thought from early on that Romney will be the nominee. We have also believed, as you have that President Obama will win re-election. This is not due to his deserving to be re-elected; but due to Romney and the Republicans being so pathetic.

We have read and taken to heart your many exhortations (including the latest one) that we should vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson for President of the United States. After much consideration, we have decided that we could, in good conscience, cast our vote for Governor Johnson. He is a sensible Libertarian, and although we don’t agree with him on all the issues - as if we have ever agreed with every candidate on all the issues, he does have a reasonable plan for addressing the most pressing problems facing the United States today.

This is a big step for us. We normally don’t believe in voting for 3rd party candidates in national elections. We believe that voting for the 3rd party candidate is not a “protest” vote in a meaningful sense but more “throwing one’s vote away.” This year though, the two major party candidates just aren’t doing it for us. So we have thought long and hard about voting for Governor Johnson.

But then a crazy thing happened to our home state of Virginia four years ago. For the first time in our life, Virginia went for a Democrat in a Presidential election. Virginia awarded her electoral votes to Barack Obama in 2008. Now, in 2012 it looks like Virginia is a “swing state.”

We wouldn’t need to see a talking head on some cable news program to tell us we are living in a swing state. We’ve lived it for nearly a year now. You can’t turn on the TV or radio (or often the interwebs) without being bombarded with political ads.

You know, for years we’ve wanted to see all the attack ads and know what it is like to be a contested marketplace. Now we’re wishing we could go back to the days when the only time you saw a political ad was when it was highlighted on the news or when you went looking for it on the interwebs. It has been hell. The ads are maddening in their omnipresence. It is enough to drive a man to drink (much more than he normally does).

So, Virginia is a swing state. For the first time in our lifetime, our vote actually does mean something (Presidentially speaking). Now we find we are faced with a major problem. Do we cast our vote for a deserving man (Gary Johnson) who has no chance of winning or cast our vote for Romney or Obama in hopes that our vote does affect the outcome of the national election.

We know that the press are reporting that (alternately) Virginia is very close or the President is slightly ahead. According to information we’re getting from people who have access to internal polling from the various campaigns, everything is within the margin of error of any poll.

If we thought that Virginia was going solidly for either Romney or Obama, we’d vote for Gary Johnson. But this year it seems to be a more prudent course to use the lesser of the evils approach to casting our vote. Although we don’t think it will help him in the broader Electoral picture, we will likely vote for Romney. He is not our first (or second or probably third - okay he is our second choice actually) choice; but he is a better choice than voting to re-elect President Obama. And just so you know, even using the lesser of two evils approach the choice between Romney and Obama is an unpleasant one. Neither man has a serious plan for directly addressing the most serious problems facing the US. But one man has had nearly four years to work on those problems and has pretty much fucked it up at every opportunity. So, perhaps change is the best course.

We’re actually quite disappointed that it has come to this. But there it is. We’re pretty much screwed no matter how we vote; but it is wiser to do it this way than any other.

Cordially,

Your Maximum Leader

PS - if you are ever down our way, you have an open invitation at the Villainschloss.

So there you have it.

Sad.

Carry on.

Moribund

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was asked by one of his buddies if this blog was dead. He replied it wasn’t dead, but apparently was quite moribund.

mor·i·bund/ˈmôrəˌbənd/
Adjective:
(of a person) At the point of death.
(of a thing) In terminal decline; lacking vitality or vigor.
Synonyms: dying

Your Maximum Leader hopes that it is just lacking in vitality and vigor and not into the final death spiral; but time shall tell on that.

Carry on.

June nearly gone

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a shitty blogger. If by shitty one means “infrequent.”

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader sees on Twitter some interesting graffiti from Pompeii. “hic ego cum veni futui, deinde redei domi.” Apparently this translates as “I came here, had sex, and went home.” It tickled your Maximum Leader so he added it to the random tag lines to this site…

The month of June is nearly half spend, and this is the first post… Crazy how that works. Let’s review some of what your Maximum Leader has done recently…

He saw Prometheus Wednesday night. Your Maximum Leader’s review? Meh. Your Maximum Leader thought the pacing of the movie was fine. He says this because a frequent critique of the film he reads is that it was boring. Your Maximum Leader wasn’t bored. He thought the speed (pacing) of the film was fine (as he just wrote); but it seemed edited for time. Perhaps this is becoming a Ridley Scott thing… He makes a film. He releases the film in the cinema. Then he started amending and remaking the film until it is closer to the film he wanted to release in the first place. Your Maximum Leader could see that this would be a problem back in the 1980s (he is thinking Blade Runner specifically) but can’t imagine that Scott would be “forced” by “studio suits” to release a movie before it was (at least pretty close to being) ready. Prometheus feels like it was: 1) either rushed to meet a release deadline or 2) released with every intention of Scott working on it for another 20 years and periodically releasing new “director’s cuts” until he (one day) gets what he wants.

All in all, your Maximum Leader doesn’t think he could recommend Prometheus to you. The story was interesting, yet it felt incomplete. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t require that a film raise questions and then answer them; but he does feel as though questions that arise from the narrative be addressed in some way. Prometheus doesn’t do that.

Re-reading that last paragraph makes your Maximum Leader feel as though he should go into more detail. He doesn’t want to give out too many spoilers - in case you’ve not seen the film and plan on doing so… That said, the big open ended question of the film is “what was on the ‘engineer’s’ mind?” The ‘engineers’ are the alien race that apparently created life on Earth, and according to character exposition during the film are trying to destroy it with xenomorph creatures they are manufacturing on LV-226 (the planet begin visited by the Prometheus). Now, some other sites have speculated that the answer to the big question was given in the film by the android character, David (played magnificently by Michael Fassbender). In the film David asks why he was created by man and receives the answer “because we could” then David replies that it would be disappointing for man to travel across the galaxy to speak to their creators and receive the same answer. It is entirely plausible that the ‘engineers’ created humanity because they could; and that they would like to destroy humanity for the same reason. While that answer to the question actually amuses your Maximum Leader more than anything else, it is a weak bit of storytelling.

In other news… Your Maximum Leader is going on a cruise next week. Baltimore to Bermuda. It will be his first time on a cruise ship. He is looking forward to the trip. He expects some quiet and time to read.

Speaking of reading, your Maximum Leader broke down and bought a Kindle Fire. For a few years now a number of people have told him that he should get an e-reader. He’s resisted, until now. He opted for the Kindle Fire for the overall entertainment possibilities offered by that device. Books, movies, TV and internet. So far he is very impressed. He’s found he’s been watching some Amazon Prime streaming movies and TV shows that have entertained him very much. He’s also downloaded about 100 books that are in the public domain (some Edgar Rice Burroughs, Raphael Sabatini, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander Pope, Thomas Hardy, Plato and Shakespeare among others) to read. While he doesn’t believe that he’ll ever get away from real books on paper, the Kindle is a good device that serves the purpose for which it was bought.

(NB to readers: Your Maximum Leader still believes that the basic iPod Classic is the greatest piece of personal electronics in recent times.)

How about politics…

Your Maximum Leader voted in the Virginia Primaries this week. He had to vote for a Republican to take on Tim Kaine (Democrat former Governor) to see who will replace Jim Webb (D-VA) in the US Senate. Your Maximum Leader voted for George Allen. Mostly on the basis of the other choices being a Tea Partiers and likely (or possibly actually) insane. Your Maximum Leader will vote for Allen in the fall against Kaine. He hopes that the Republicans will take the US Senate. He also hopes that the Republicans will retain the US House. He further believes that President Obama will be re-elected. So we’ll get at least 2 more years of divided government. Divided government, at this point, serves no purpose other than to moderate the unchecked idiocy of the left and right. Sadly, no one is actually doing anything to address the actual issues that are most in need of solving. No party or person seems to be looking to step up and say what needs to be said either. Your Maximum Leader did read something about Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) repudiating his “no tax increase” pledge. That is a good start. Since both parties seem pathologically incapable of serious action on the debt, spending, and revenue. When Americans start to realize that our economic situation must be addressed with a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases then we might start to get politicians who will act.

Of course, getting voters to vote against their self-interests is a silly hope to hold out… Your Maximum Leader wasn’t sure what he was thinking there…

Basically we’re screwed…

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader will be going on a cruise…

Carry on.

Tedious

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was thinking of his blog and remembered a nice turn of phrase. He spent some time looking for it. Then he found it on the Outer Life blog. To paraphrase, writing about not writing is tedious to read.

Your Maximum Leader has been very tedious for a long time.

Carry on.

What’s goin’ on?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader thought he’d give you all a quick update on the blog.

Let us see how the past few weeks have gone…

They started with your Maximum Leader being in a car accident that totaled the Villainmobile. He should now remark that it is the late Villainmobile. Sadly his 2003 Mercury Marauder is no more. It was shattered on the Falmouth Bridge in icy conditions Halloween weekend. Your Maximum Leader is fine; but he is a little sad to see that great American made behemouth with its 400 horsepower engine leave his garage. Your Maximum Leader has a new Villainmobile. It is a 2012 Volkswagen Passat. Better mileage, sufficent space, 4 doors, German engineering. It is a wonderful change. So, there is that.

Also… The computer situation at the Villainschloss as improved - somewhat. Mrs Villain has a netbook computer she is using now (Thanks Kevin! I still owe you for this.) She is pleased with it. Villainette #2 saved up money from odd jobs and such and bought herself an HP laptop. So she is set with computing. Now Villainette #1 has also saved up money and decided to get a very nice HP laptop as well. It is a refurb from Woot in fact. Your Maximum Leader was a little weary about getting a refurb computer, but his experience (through his daughter) has been a positive one. So your Maximum Leader has been left to deal with his aging desktop. The desktop he built (with the help of a friend) back in 2003… It has served a long and distinguished life, but it is slow and beginning to be persnickedy. (The most aggrevating thing is the boot time - which has now topped 9 minutes.)

Your Maximum Leader contemplated buying new guts for the desktop and having it solider on, but in the end he’s decided to go with a laptop. So, he broke down and went the way of his elder daughter and bought a refurb off of Woot yesterday. It is a Samsung with an i7 processor, LED display, blu-ray, 750GB storage, a very high end NVIDIA graphics card and 6GB of RAM. And it was only $600. (He configured a similar laptop at Dell, Samsung, Sony, HP and Alienware and found the prices ranged from $1200-$1500 for new.) Your Maximum Leader figures he got a deal. He’ll find out when it gets to him.

Of course, all this laptop computing around the house leads your Maximum Leader to think that he needs to upgrade his 5 yrs old wireless router to something with a higher capacity…

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader has been following teh politics recently. He was pleased to see Rick Perry falter. Your Maximum Leader will vote for a no-chance 3rd party odd-ball before he votes for Rick Perry for anything. If you need to know why… 3 words. Cameron Todd Willingham. As far as your Maximum Leader is concerned, Governor Perry cannot retreat to Texas fast enough and from there proceed to obscurity.

Your Maximum Leader was a little disappointed to learn of Herman Cain’s troubles. Cain was entertaining and engaging, even if your Maximum Leader had no intention of ever voting for him. Your Maximum Leader was disappointed because of Cain’s handling of the sexual harassment situation. He’d hoped that Cain might just put everything out there and move ahead. You see, your Maximum Leader had a pet theory that in the post-Bill Clinton age old sex scandals weren’t going to derail a candidate. It appears as though Cain will not be the test case for this theory. To test the theory the candidate would have to fess up to everything and then say it was “all in the past” and that he’s learned and grown since then and then see if the mess blows over.

Of course it is possible that this theory might only be true for Democrats - who don’t seem to have problems with sex scandals by other Democrats any more.

Your Maximum Leader was taken aback by the sudden surge of Newt Gingrich in the polling. Great jeezy chreezy! Is every one of the candidates going to get a moment in the sun? Is Rick Santorum next? (By your Maximum Leader’s count the leaders have been: Romney, Bachmann, Paul, Romney, Perry, Cain, Gingrich. It would seem to be Santorum’s turn.)

The most crazy thing about all these changes in the polls is that they just reinforce the weakness of the field. One of the weaknesses of the field to your Maximum Leader (but he doubts it is a weakness to the great majority of poll-ees in the Republican party) is that none of the candidates seems to be terribly serious about anything except beating Obama. All in all they are not particuarly innovative thinkers in any sort of policy way. They don’t seem to have clear messages on any particular subject. And they don’t seem particularly presidential.

Of course the primaries don’t engender a “presidential atmosphere.” They do promote the articulation of a plan and sound positions. They do promote the hectic and harried pace at which someone might have to actually be President. So, in a way, they simulate the job - without really giving you the trappings of the job. (The trappings of office which give you some respectability and decorum - two elements lacking in primaries.)

Your Maximum Leader believes that the Republicans will likely default to Romney (it is his turn afterall) and that it will be a close election. If the economy does not improve by next fall - it will be perilously close for Obama. All things being equal, it is hard to unseat a sitting president - and that is the only thing one can be certain of for next year.

Your Maximum Leader never did sum up his thoughts on the baseball season past… Since it is already well into hockey season he will give the short version. Congrats to the Cardinals! There is a lot to like about the Washington Nationals for next year and the upcoming years. Your Maximum Leader was worried that Davey Johnson’s day had past - but it apparently has not. Your Maximum Leader thinks the Nats could be a .500 team next year (or even a little better than .500).

Also, thank goodness that Wilson Ramos was rescued from his kidnappers.

That is about it for now… Your Maximum Leader is ruminating over a few other posts… So you might see more in this space in a little bit.

Carry on.

Blathering.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has not forsaken this blog. Well… You wouldn’t know it from looking at how rapidly he’s been updating it recently. He keeps thinking of a good post here and there, but doesn’t get around to writing. He knows he’s been playing this tune for over a year… But it is the tune of the moment so it will keep playing.

Your Maximum Leader sees that FLG is now on Twitter… Huzzah. Follow him here.

Are you following your Maximum Leader on Twitter? You can get him @maximumleader.

Your Maximum Leader has had three urges lately. The first is to watch Dr. Zhivago. The second is to go to Venice for Christmas. (You are all getting pretty sick of hearing that one and wondering when your Maximum Leader will just go already…) The third was to cure some bacon.

That third urge was a little more difficult than he suspected. Normally, your Maximum Leader goes to his local butcher and grabs some pork bellies and gets to curing. Sadly, the butcher has been running out of pork bellies of late. Apparently, lots to people are buying pork bellies for various uses. It is crazy but now your Maximum Leader is on a waiting list to get some when it comes in. (He could have had some on Wednesday, but didn’t feel like paying an extra $2.50/pound to get it special ordered.)

Your Maximum Leader’s church is beginning to roll out some of the changes to the Mass. Today we got the new Gloria, Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen. In a few weeks they will be remembered. The big problem for your Maximum Leader will be the new translation of the Nicene Creed. That will be a toughie.

Speaking (a little) about religion… Rick Perry ought to get some of his more religious followers to shut the hell up. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure there is a polite way of saying that Mormonism is a cult. And if you can’t be polite about it, you might as well just shut the hell up about it.

Of course, your Maximum Leader doesn’t much care that Rick Perry is faltering in the polls. If your Maximum Leader may be frank (and it is his blog so he will be frank), there is not a circumstance under which your Maximum Leader would ever (EVER!) vote for Rick Perry to hold any office of public trust at any level. Your Maximum Leader would no sooner vote for Rick Perry for dog catcher than he would for President of the United States. If (in the seemingly more and more unlikely event) Rick Perry gets the Republican nomination for the Presidency your Maximum Leader would throw his vote away on a third party candidate - or even write someone in on the ballot. Your Maximum Leader knows that the great Commonwealth of Virginia might be close next year. Even that knowledge would not lead him to change his mind.

You see, your Maximum Leader believes Rick Perry is unfit to hold any public office after his involvement in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. If you haven’t read or do not know about Cameron Todd Willingham, you would do well to start with this article from the New Yorker magazine. You might also check out the Innocence Project’s page on Cameron Todd Willingham for more information on this heinous miscarriage of justice.

The case of Cameron Todd Willingham horrifies your Maximum Leader so much that he is continually rethinking his support of the death penalty. For the record your Maximum Leader has long supported the death penalty. He knows that it is quite possible that people have been executed for crimes they did not commit. But often those executed had long track records of hideous criminal behavior and while perhaps not guilty of the crime for which they were executed; they likely had it coming. (Which your Maximum Leader knows is no justification for being “satisfied” with an execution. This is nothing more than a salve for his conscience.) But as best your Maximum Leader can tell Cameron Todd Willingham was executed having committed no capital crime whatsoever. (NB: Willingham did have a criminal record including theft and other petty crimes. Not anything that would rise to the level of a capital offense.) Rick Perry is at least partially responsible for Willingham’s death, and as such he is not qualified to be President.

While your Maximum Leader is going on about those who are not qualified to be President… He is glad that Sarah Palin is not going to run. But he is saddened by the fact that she still has a soapbox from which to speak to the masses. While your Maximum Leader can’t imagine voting for Sarah Palin for President, he would consider he for other political positions. County Council or City Council leap to mind. She might also be an effective mayor of a small to medium sized town. She would even be okay in Congress; but your Maximum Leader couldn’t imagine casting a vote for her to any federal office. Regrettably, plenty of news outlets continue to give her time/coverage and we have to listen to her…

Your Maximum Leader was listening to APM’s Marketplace recently. On Marketplace, David Frum has been a longtime commentator who spoke “on behalf of the right.” Your Maximum Leader wrote “spoke” there because Frum has left Marketplace. The reason? He no longer feels as though he speaks on behalf of the majority of the right. Your Maximum Leader knows how he feels. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t really feel at home in the current iteration of the Republican party; and feels marginalized on the political right.

Your Maximum Leader is not a Tea Party type of fellow. He doesn’t think President Obama is a full-out Socialist. He doesn’t deny evolution. He is an old fashioned conservative. He would likely be labeled a RINO by many. Or a “Rockefeller Republican.” Or even a “Moderate.” Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that he is any of those three things… But he is thinking that more and more he is becoming the old man yelling for the kids to get off his yard. Only in this case he is yelling at the kids that he is a true conservative and they are something else…

Your Maximum Leader believes in small government. But there is a role for government in society and it is possible for government to be too small. (Ours is too big now, by the way.) Your Maximum Leader believes that taxes are a price we pay for civilization. But he doesn’t see that tax cuts now will help our economic situation. (Neither will a tax increase by the way. Uncertainty - about all things economic is at the heart of our current crisis.) Your Maximum Leader is in favor of a strong national defense. And currently the US is overextended around the world and in need of a rethink of priorities. Your Maximum Leader is pro-life. But the best outcome a pro-lifer can hope for in the nation today are some restrictions of some types of abortion. Your Maximum Leader is a pretty traditional guy and does believe that permissiveness in many areas of civil society is damaging to that society in the long run. But he also believes that government is not the agent of social change many think it is and should be. Your Maximum Leader appreciates science and learning and is put off by those who seem to flaunt their ignorance.

So what is he to think? Your Maximum Leader likes to think he is a rational right-leaning fellow. That said he certainly doesn’t think that he is in the mainstream of the political right. Neither is he off to the far right. He thinks that the right have moved further right and he is looking to be more of a centre-right type of guy.

Of course, this is all from his perspective… To many it would look like your Maximum Leader has moved left and become a squishy centrist…

Ah well…

Carry on.

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