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A Lesson Learnt

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is at the Villainschloss with his two daughters. Mrs. Villain and the Wee Villain (who isn’t so wee anymore as he is nearly 5 ft tall at 10 yrs old) are in the greater Boston area right now.

You see, last month, Mrs. Villain’s uncle died. He had been battling cancer, and finally succumbed. It was our family plan to change our vacation plans to Canada and divert to Boston for the funeral. But, the funeral was postponed until this weekend to accommodate the attendance of more relatives. Sadly, due to the beginning of the school year and some anticipated financial outlays, not all of your Maximum Leader’s family was going to be able to attend the memorial service/funeral which occurred earlier today. We determined early on that Mrs. Villain had to go. We bought a plane ticket and made arrangements. The Villainettes were, in a way, glad not to be able to go. Funerals aren’t their thing.

And that is what is prompting your Maximum Leader to write. Funerals aren’t their thing. To be honest, they have not faced much death in their short lives. Your Maximum Leader had dealt with more death in his family than they have at the corresponding time in their lives. The girls have developed something akin to a fear of death. It is your Maximum Leader’s pet theory that they have gotten this from their lovely mother, your Maximum Leader’s beloved wife. She has a fear of death. She doesn’t like to discuss death. When your Maximum Leader jokes about his own mortality - something he thinks he does only to poke a little fun at while at the same time annoying his lovely wife - she gets upset. His daughters may have a degree of fear of death that your Maximum Leader doesn’t have.

This isn’t to say that your Maximum Leader doesn’t have a healthy respect for death, or seeks it. He doesn’t. But he has come to peace with the idea that death is inevitable. And when one considers the randomness of the universe, it is something that can come unexpectedly and in a way that one cannot control. Your Maximum Leader feels (rather strongly) that we in the West have done our best to isolate, or perhaps better said - insulate, ourselves from death. As recently as 75 yrs ago people routinely died at home. With their family. In multigenerational homes grandparents regularly shuffled their mortal coils in the presence of their grandchildren. It just happened. Today people die in hospitals, or nursing homes. They often die without their extended families near. We have become, culturally, Louis XIV who banished the dying from Versailles so that he did not have to deal with his own mortality.

So. The Villainettes while not “happy” to miss their great-uncle’s funeral, weren’t all that upset to have to stay home.

But surprisingly, the Wee Villain was upset to stay home.

You may recall that a few short lines ago your Maximum Leader said that the Wee Villain was in Boston with his mother at the funeral. This was an ad hoc decision - to have him go. For a the past two weeks the Wee Villain would keep mentioning that he wanted to go to the funeral. Mrs. Villain and your Maximum Leader for a time thought that this was because the Wee Villain thought he’d be getting a trip to Boston out of it and might get some good food and catch a Red Sox game. After a few times mentioning it, your Maximum Leader took his son aside and asked him why he wanted to go to the funeral so much. His answer surprised your Maximum Leader.

He said, “I want to see our cousins and be there for them.” That answer wasn’t too surprising. But when your Maximum Leader pointed out that there wouldn’t be time for fun or pizza or baseball, the Wee Villain said “Civilized people bury their dead, and I need to help.”

Your Maximum Leader immediately recognized those words… Last summer, we traveled to New England (Boston & Rhode Island) for vacation; but also to bury Mrs. Villain’s grandmother (the mother of her uncle who just passed). She passed early last year, and again for ease of getting people together, the funeral was delayed. At the burial at the family plot, after the minister gave his remarks all were invited to place a shovelful of dirt into the grave. Your Maximum Leader’s children looked at him in horror as he held the shovel up and motioned for one of them to take it and place dirt into the grave. Your Maximum Leader walked up to his children and said, “Civilized people bury their dead. It is a sign of respect and I will not have you all shirk your duties in this. You will do it today for Great Nannie. One day I hope you will do it for me.” The first of his children to take the shovel from him was his son. All three of his children did what your Maximum Leader expected/told them to do.

Apparently, the lesson was really learnt by one of his children.

After his response, your Maximum Leader made arrangements for him to go to the funeral. He was there today, doing what civilized people do and burying his dead.

Your Maximum Leader is also told that there were lobster rolls and some baseball among cousins after the memorial service.

And that is good.

God bless you Bill. Requiescat in pace.

Or as they say in the land of our ancestry: Gus am bris an là

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

Middle East Diatribing

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been paying a lot of attention to the news of late. There is so much going on it is hard to get it all into a single post. He will try to get some highlights of his thoughts together in this post as his thoughts relate to the Middle East.

Let your Maximum Leader begin with the easiest part of the Middle East. That part is Israel. Your Maximum Leader isn’t saying that the whole Arab-Israeli conflict is the “easy” part of the Middle East. It isn’t. For your Maximum Leader, Israel is the easiest place to start his discussion. Allow him to start thusly. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is fully deserving of full and robust US support. Frankly it is the only country in the region worthy of the support of any rational person who supports Western Civilization in any meaningful sense. Israel is a fully functioning Western Democracy, born of the Western Tradition, with civil society and political institutions that would be familiar to any American. They are a rational actor in an irrational region.

This is not to say that Israel is perfect, or blameless, in how it conducts its affairs. It is not. But a rational and reasonable person can understand why Israel reacts the way it does and should be able to support Israel.

Has Israel treated the people of Gaza badly? Yes. Do the Gazans (of all factions, Hamas, PLS, Hezbollah, etc) have a legitimate beef with the heavy-handed Israeli blockade of Gaza that has gone on for years? Yes, they actually do. But on the other hand (the hand that your Maximum Leader puts more weight on right now to be clear), the Gazans are committed to the destruction of Israel. The Gazans are not good neighbors. The Gazans have consistently shown that they are unwilling to govern themselves in a civilized manner and show that they are undeserving of an independent state.

Hamas, a faction that has enjoyed wide and deep support among Gazans for a long time, wants to revert the area that is now Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and other territories to a single political entity in which Jews can be eradicated (and probably Christians too after Jews are gone). They are not looking to establish a tolerant, or moderate state. They are looking to create exactly what exists in the territories controlled by ISIS.

Frankly, when Hamas started launching rockets at Israel, your Maximum Leader thought Israel started off by being very restrained. They didn’t march in right away. They didn’t start retaliating right away. Frankly your Maximum Leader would have. He knows it’s a tired cliche, but if Canada started launching rockets from Toronto to Buffalo (or Vancouver to Seattle or Windsor to Detroit - yes even Detroit) or Mexico started launching rockets from Tijuana to San Diego or even if Minneapolis started launching rockets at St Paul; your Maximum Leader would be calling up reserves and bombing the crap out of the aggressor.

Your Maximum Leader will speculate on a few items here. 1) Does the perception of “disproportionally” offend some in the US and the West and make those offended people anti-Israel? This is to say that because the losses are so much higher on the Gazan side there is some perception of “unfairness” and these people can’t abide the perception of “unfairness?” This is a serious thought. Are some people turned off at seeing that there are thousands of dead Gazans for a few tens of dead Israelis they they just think Israel needs to be stopped? Your Maximum Leader thinks this does describe a number of those who are anti-Israel. 2) Is being anti-Israel or anti-Zionist just veiled anti-Semitism? Your Maximum Leader thinks that this is the case among many Europeans and a fair number of Americans. 3) Do some people project their own national guilt onto Israel and want to roll back time to assuage the guilt? This is a uniquely American position. Your Maximum Leader wonders if some Americans think that the creation of Israel is actually the root cause of the problem and if Israel were “uncreated” everything would be okay. The sublimated national guilt here is the “we took America from the Indians” guilt. People who feel guilt at the taking of America from the natives don’t want to uncreate the USA and displace themselves but would feel a whole lot better if they could uncreate another country and displace some others who shouldn’t be there anyway.

That last one is a little far out, but some conversations your Maximum Leader’s had recently do make him think that it could be plausible.

So… Let your Maximum Leader take up a point he made a moment ago and do a little segue. The Gazans have shown themselves incapable of being an independent state. Do you know who else has shown themselves to be incapable of being - or at least running - and independent state? Just about every nation in the region that was part of the “Arab Spring.”

Can we name the nations where the Arab Spring has turned out okay? Hummmm… Algeria…

Okay. That is it. Algeria. (And Morocco to a lesser extent in that the Arab Spring promoted constitutional reforms in the existing framework of the government.)

Where have “liberation movements” in the Arab world failed? Egypt. Libya. Lebanon. Syria.

You know. Back in the day when rational, intelligent, and grown-up behaving people “ran” the world there was a way of distinguishing “your bastard” from “the other guys bastard” from “a pack of murderous rabble.” Your Maximum Leader is thinking back to places like Chile under Pinochet. Yes, Chile could be a very unpleasant, dangerous and deadly place for people who didn’t support the Pinochet dictatorship. But the Pinochet dictatorship provided security and a free economy. Also, Chile was on “our” side in the Cold War. Pinochet was our bastard, so to speak. Sure many liberals didn’t like that the US supported Pinochet for all those years, but in the end, Pinochet was eased out. Chile became free politically. And there was no bloody civil war resultant from that changeover.

(NB: BTW, isn’t it funny how many liberal/progressive people who couldn’t stand the Pinochet regime are more than pleased with China. Isn’t China effectively the same type of nation? Political dictatorship with a secure and stable society with a reasonably free economy. Interesting…)

Anyhooo… Your Maximum Leader will posit to you all that we were better off - and frankly the citizens of many of the nations where the Arab Spring has failed were better off - with the dictators. Quadaffi was an evil murderous bastard - but is Libya better off now without him? Egypt’s military pulled the plug on their experiment with reform. Your Maximum Leader is glad they have. He actually had high hopes for Egypt. He thought that the moderate educated Egyptians who seemed to be the major protest force would somehow couple with the Army and create a secular moderate Arab Republic. Too bad they had to decide to rely on a democratic process that put Hamas in charge.

Syria is still fighting it out.

Let us think of Syria for a while here. Is there a sane human being out there that believes that Syria will be better off completely throwing off the yoke of Assad?

Okay. Let your Maximum Leader say it. He doesn’t. He is, at this point, hoping that Assad pulls this out and GOES BACK TO BEING THE BRUTAL DICTATOR HE WAS IN THE PAST. The key here is going back to the way he was. If he does win and crush the various rebelling factions assailing him and then decided to be a different kind of brutal dictator then we have a different problem. The whole House of Assad are evil men who do terrible things. But they are (or at least have been in the past) secular and rational. They act in their own self-interest, which is known and can be dealt with. They are not the (largely religious) crazies that are running Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS among others.

So… Now we get to ISIS. Or the Islamic State. Or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Or whatever they are called. Your Maximum Leader will go with ISIS for now (although it offends me because he doesn’t see why he would want to besmirch the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis in any way).

ISIS is what you get when you mix religion, organization and civil unrest. Your Maximum Leader was surprised when they appeared out of nowhere and suddenly controlled a territory larger than most US states. He was even more surprised when they were able to beat the pants off the Iraqi Army. He is now not surprised by anything ISIS is doing. They are a motivated, organized, dedicated and now well-equipped force. As much as it is repulsive to your Maximum Leader, the “state” ISIS is creating is more of a functioning state than either Syria or Iraq have been for a few years.

Your Maximum Leader can see how ISIS could take root in Syria. But he thought that Iraq would put up more of a fight. That Iraq is not able to defend itself or possibly even remain a viable state itself is due to the United States. To channel Colin Powell… We broke it. We broke Iraq. The good ole US of A. Your Maximum Leader was in favor of breaking Iraq. Let him be honest. He was for it. He wasn’t for it in exactly the way the Bush Administration was; but he wanted to see Saddam Hussein gone and he wanted to “shake up” the region.

Guess what. That was a monumentally stupid fucking call.

Your Maximum Leader, would take a completely different approach now. This is, of course, only with the benefit of hindsight. Seeing what is becoming of the area. Seeing how the Arab Spring has turned out. Seeing how unrest in the region leads directly to what can only be called Islamic theocracies with a murderous and expansionist bent. He would be happy to continue to contain Saddam Hussein and let the miserable bastard stay on.

But we didn’t and now we are paying the price.

So… What to do? Well… If you are President Obama you don’t have a lot of options. He can’t go back into Iraq because his whole foreign policy was to get us out of Iraq. He doesn’t have lots of tricks to use except airpower and arming groups to fight ISIS. Your Maximum Leader is all for arming the Kurds and letting them declare their own state. Sure it will piss off everyone else in the region; but at this point the options are all bad, we’re only trying to find the least bad options out there. Letting the Kurds fight for their own nation makes some sense. One supposes that we will do as much as we can from the air to support the rump Iraq. Perhaps in supporting a rump Iraq we might wind up getting a little closer to Iran - who one suspects will help the Shias in southern Iraq.

Again… There aren’t lots of options out there. And the ones that are there, all of them are bad. Your Maximum Leader is open to being educated to options he doesn’t see. But there is a whole lot of blame and criticizing and not a lot of presenting options out there. All your Maximum Leader has he’s put out here. Here it is again in case you missed it: Support Israel. Support the Egyptian military government. Don’t stand in the way of Assad taking back control in Syria. Arm the Kurds. Airstrike the crap out of ISIS. Hope a rump Iraq can make it.

That is pretty much it. And it sucks quite frankly…

All this, and your Maximum Leader hasn’t even touched on Russia, Europe and Ukraine… Or Ebola. Or healthcare. Or the impending US elections.

Ugh.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

William Paul’s Brother & Stuff

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader needed to write something to move his Easter piece down some. Certainly observant Catholics and Orthodox adherents will know that we are still in the Easter season; but it is time for this small corner of the interwebs to move along.

So, Mrs. Villain wanted to do something fun for Mother’s Day. We decided the fun thing to do would be to go to Annapolis, MD for the day. Your Maximum Leader put his usual avoidance of the whole state of Maryland on hold for the day and went with the family. Indeed, it was a wonderful day all in all. The weather was bright and wonderful. The city is always pretty, and was so during our visit. It was crowded, but that is to be expected.

We didn’t have much of a plan in going. But we did have a few things that Mrs. Villain said she wanted to do. She wanted to visit the US Naval Academy and (on your Maximum Leader’s suggestion) see the gardens at the William Paca house*. We did just that. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain hadn’t been to Annapolis in about 15 years. Indeed, during our last visit we also walked around the grounds of the Naval Academy. Proof of this is that we have a photo of a year old Villainette #1 sitting in a flower bed near the Herndon monument. Your Maximum Leader recalls how (a pregnant) Mrs Villain carried the little Villainette into the flower bed, propped her up and stepped out of the flower bed to take the photo. He also recalls some Midshipmen looking on horror as this happened. Your Maximum Leader generally isn’t much for putting babies in well-groomed flower beds at military facilities as a matter of course. But then again, your Maximum Leader is generally in favor of letting a pregnant woman do what she wants to do within reason. And staging a photo in a flower bed didn’t seem at the time to be too unreasonable.

Anyhoo…

We took the guided tour of the Naval Academy. Our tour guide was very pleasant, but he spoke both rapidly and quietly. If your Maximum Leader were to guess, he would say that our guide was originally from Maine as well. The combination of a quick-talking, hushed-toned New Englander and a large group made it hard for us to hear all he said. Indeed, your Maximum Leader and the Wee Villain made it a point to get close and listen. Mrs Villain and the Villainettes stood near the back of the group and later complained that they only heard about 15% of what was said (and the Villainettes said they understood only about 75% of what they did hear). (NB: Apparently our New Englander relatives aren’t accented enough for the Villainettes to have “picked up” listening to and understanding the accent.)

The Naval Academy tour ends with visiting the tomb of John Paul Jones. During the tour John Paul Jones (along with other naval luminaries) was mentioned quite a bit. During the discussions of Paul Jones, your Maximum Leader had a nagging feeling in his brain that there was some sort of “connection” between Paul Jones and himself. Not an ancestral connection; but another sort of connection.

Eventually (after arriving back at the Villainschloss), your Maximum Leader went onto Wikipaedia and looked up John Paul Jones. There was the connection! John Paul Jones, before joining the fledgling Continental (soon-to-be United States) Navy, was a frequent visitor of his older brother, William Paul. William Paul was a tailor in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Your Maximum Leader lives in Fredericksburg, VA and remembered seeing the grave of William Paul in the burying ground of St. George’s Episcopal Church. He also seemed to remember that he’d once seen a historical marker on a house in town that indicated that the house was William Paul’s house.

Thus started your Maximum Leader’s little “John Paul Jones” kick. Your Maximum Leader walked by St George’s and saw William Paul’s grave (embellished as it is now by “admirers” of his younger brother). He also walked on down to 501 Caroline Street in Fredericksburg and saw the plaque indicating that the house was that of William Paul and was where John Paul Jones stayed during his frequent visits to Fredericksburg.

Then your Maximum Leader decided he needed to know more about our nation’s first great naval hero, so he logged onto The Facebook and tried to bug our friend Robbo to see if he could recommend a biography of Paul Jones. Ultimately, your Maximum Leader went with “John Paul Jones: A Sailor’s Biography” by Samuel Eliot Morison. Your Maximum Leader is a fan of Morison and figured that this Pulitzer winning biography couldn’t be bad. Indeed, it is not disappointing your Maximum Leader. He is about a third of the way through and enjoying it very much.

So, there you have it. Your Maximum Leader’s (tenuous) connection to John Paul Jones.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader would have liked to have had the money when the William Paul house was last on the market. It was purchased for $150,000 a few years back. It is currently undergoing some restoration. Although he isn’t sure that he would want to own a nearly 300 year old house, it would have been cool and had some story value…)

Moving along to the other “stuff” mentioned in the header of this post…

Well… There isn’t much other stuff that your Maximum Leader is inclined to blog about. The day is beautiful and he might take his book and read outside for a little while. Thanks to the many inches of rain that has fallen upon this area in the past few weeks, the pollen isn’t as bad as it could be. On the other hand, the Villainschloss lawn has gone to seed. Literally, the grass has grown tall enough to go to seed. This is because your Maximum Leader’s lawn mower is in the shop and awaiting new blades. The old blades haven given up the ghost after 11 years of useful service. Thankfully, replacing the blades is all that was needed since the Honda engine is going strong and will likely give another 11 years of useful service.

Perhaps there is another post loitering around in your Maximum Leader’s brain that he will let fall out into the ether…

Until then…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

* - By the way, the gardens at the William Paca House were past their prime. One imagines that in a few weeks they will be bouncing back with some more flowering plants. Apparently we visited during the in-between time…

Is this a post I see before me?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader makes two posts in two days. Think of it. It is like we are back to the halcyon days of 2004 or something…

Okay. That was a big buildup for very little payout. Your Maximum Leader apologizes in advance. (If anyone out there is reading this…)

So, your Maximum Leader forgot to note the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Hobbes last weekend. The man labeled on the right side link bar of this site as “Our Philosopher” would have turned 426 on April 5. Your Maximum Leader has not, until the very moment that he typed these words, bothered to think about the accuracy of the birthday given that it was prior to the New Style Act of 1750. Regardless… April 5th it shall be for your Maximum Leader.

Speaking of ole Thomas Hobbes… Your Maximum Leader has begun over the past years to feel he is getting more stupid. He is forgetting things he used to know. What is worse, he has a lingering knowledge that he USED to know something that he’s now unable to recall. Contemplating Hobbes’ birthday reminded your Maximum Leader that other than the “common” things that any student of history and government would recall; he’s forgotten much of the detail he used to know about Hobbes’ works. This could likely be remedied by a re-reading of Leviathan and other works. But there is some inertia or laziness that keeps him from getting motivated to do so…

This inertia has also manifested itself in your Maximum Leader’s Lenten observances. Your Maximum Leader has tried not to make a big deal of it, but he’s been doing much better at being an observant Catholic over the past years. Without trying to sound hypocritical, he’s been very outwardly observant. But there is a lot to be desired in his inner spiritual life. This Lent has been one of disappointment. Unlike many Catholics, your Maximum Leader doesn’t try to “give up” something for Lent; but rather (and the suggestion of a priest many many years ago) “DO” something that will improve and grow your faith and well-being. This year your Maximum Leader resolved to read & contemplate some of the writings of his name saint, Augustine of Hippo. The plan was to read from Augustine’s writings, then take a nice long walk to contemplate what he’d just read. Well, how many times has that pairing happened? Exactly zero times. He’s walked. He’s read (though very lightly). But the pairing has not occurred. This is a Lenten resolution that will likely have to outlive Lent in order to give your Maximum Leader a feeling of accomplishing something.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader is exceedingly pleased at how his Washington Nationals are performing out of the starting blocks of this 2014 baseball season. They have done well against the Mets and Marlins. They took 1 of 3 against the Braves with another series against the Braves (in Atlanta) coming up. He hopes they continue to be strong and get a nice cushion of wins under their proverbial belts before the middle of the season. These early wins are very valuable over 162 games.

If your Maximum Leader can find the motivation and time, he hopes to write a short essay on independence movements in Europe. It is something he’s been thinking about off and on with all the news out of Scotland, Catalonia, Venice and Ukraine…

That is all for now…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

So what’s been happening?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sure that you are out there wondering exactly what he’s been up to since he doesn’t seem to be posting much any more….

Well… This has been a rather fun summer.

Your Maximum Leader was able to spend some time with family and take some nice day trips out to various Civil War battlefields and other National Parks around Virginia. He’s spent time trying to educate his family (by lecture and visit) about the US Civil War. He is doing this mostly because of the 150th anniversary of the conflict; not out of a great love of the period. Indeed, your Maximum Leader finds the Civil War one of the least interesting things about US history. The conflict was started to defend a bad institution. It’s outcome was a foregone conclusion; and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Indeed, the most interesting thing about the war was that it lasted as long as it did. More competent generalship by the Union would have ended the war sooner.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader and his family did get up to Massachusetts and Rhode Island this summer as well. We visited family and various historical sites in both states. He did a lot of sight-seeing in Boston and Newport. Also, while in Rhode Island he had the somewhat sad task of burying his loving wife’s grandmother. As you might recall, “great nannie” died earlier this year at the age of 105. We arranged for a good time for as many of the family to get together to celebrate her life and to bury her in the family burying ground.

There is something comforting about the very phrase “family burying ground.” Great nannie is the latest of many generations to be laid to rest in a good-sized plot in Warwick, Rhode Island. Who knows, perhaps one day Mrs Villain and your Maximum Leader will end up there?

NB: What is interesting is that a few yards away from Mrs. Villain’s family burial plot is the plot of a number of people who share your Maximum Leader’s family name. That name is not a common one, so it was a little shocking to see so many gathered together in death in one place. Your Maximum Leader is unaware of a family connection between these people in Rhode Island and his own family (who hail from Pennsylvania actually); but there may be one. (He was asked at the funeral if he was related to the people buried there, to which he can only answer that he doesn’t know.) Also vaguely interesting is the fact that one of his maternal cousins is doing some genealogical research on that side of the family and is discovering what, for the 19th Century, seems to be a disproportionate number of college professors and murderers in the family. It seems that the men were either educated pillars of their communities, or desperate killers fleeing the law and responsibility.

Anyhoo… How about your Maximum Leader share some photos of his trip…

Lobstah Roll
A lobstah roll your Maximum Leader had upon arriving in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is about 2-3 bites in.

Graves of British Soldiers at Concord
This is the grave of the British soldiers killed at the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA.

The Old North Bridge in Concord MA
Here is the Old North Bridge itself. Site of the “Shot Heard ’round the World.”

The Minuteman
Here is the statue of the Minuteman at the Old North Bridge.

Your Maximum Leader also spent some good time in Boston. Sadly, many of the photos there capture your Maximum Leader’s family - and in keeping with his long-standing tradition of not showing the members of his family… Most will not be shown here. But here are some others…

Boston from Fenway
Here is the Boston Skyline viewed from Fenway Park before batting practice.

Zen garden at Boston Museum of Fine Arts
The zen garden at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Santarpio’s pizza
A photo of some of the best pizza on the planet. It can be found at Santarpio’s in East Boston. Damn that stuff is good.

First Public School in US
If you walk the “Freedom Trail” you come upon this marker commemorating the location of the first public school in the nation. As your Maximum Leader believes that education is the only hope for civilization and democracy (and Mrs Villain is a teacher) this was a big deal for us to see.

Old Mass State House
Your Maximum Leader loves the contrast between old and new in this shot of the Old Massachusetts State House.

Old North Church
One if by land. Two if by sea. (And if you don’t know what your Maximum Leader is talking about, please stop now and google it.)

Old Ironsides
Old Ironsides. The oldest commissioned warship afloat. (NB: Your Maximum Leader will note that HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Sadly, Nelson’s flagship is in drydock and not afloat…)

Now skipping on to Rhode Island…

Riverpoint Congregational Church, W Warwick RIThis is the Riverpoint Congregationalist Church in W. Warwick, Rhode Island. Mrs. Villain’s great-great-grandfather helped to found this church after the Civil War. It is where her Grandmother’s memorial service was held.

After the memorial service the whole family went to Point Judith and the town of Galliee. There we ate at George’s. George’s has been an institution since the ’40s and we always make it a point of going when we are anywhere nearby… Here are more gratuitous food shots…

George’s of Galliee, RI
Here is George’s…

Stuffed Lobstah
Here is the stuffed lobstah your Maximum Leader had for dinner. It is stuffed with shrimp and scallops and slathered in lobster bisque.

Maximum Leader eating
Here is your Maximum Leader stuffing his fat face with all of the stuffed lobstah. If you happen to go to George’s in the near future; you might see this photo on the wall as you go in.

Mrs. Villain & Wee Villain
Violating his rule (somewhat) here is a nice image of Mrs. Villain and the Wee Villain enjoying the sunset at Point Judith, RI and watching the Block Island Ferry head off from the port.

Marble House
While in Newport, RI, your Maximum Leader visited Marble House…

The Breakers
He also visited The Breakers…

And the last thing he did before heading back to Ole Virginny… Was to buy lobsters to steam at home off of one of these lobster boats…
Lobster Boats

Well… That is about it… Your Maximum Leader might blog more in the next few months. He says this because he’ll be spending more time in front of his computer at home… He’ll explain why in another post… Until then…

Carry on.

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.

Hateful

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is angry. Very angry. So angry you should not be surprised if he drops the “royal we” in this post. Your Maximum Leader has thought a little about how he is going to write this in a way that preserves the privacy of those his friends. So, please excuse him if this post is somewhat obtuse or short on detail.

As you may recall from previous posts, Mrs. Villain (your Maximum Leader’s lovely wife) is a teacher. She works with a wonderful group of other teachers. Among those she works with is a colleague who’s same-sex partner is the principal of another local school. Both of these women are wonderful educators and charming people. Mrs. Villain’s colleague (Ms. A.) left school early today to be with her partner (Ms. B.).

As it turns out, your Maximum Leader’s beloved niece and nephew are students at the school where Ms. B. is principal. And it is through this connection that your Maximum Leader has learned exactly why Ms. A. left to be with her partner. Apparently, an unknown person posted a number of flyers and posters on the grounds of Ms. B’s school threatening Ms. B’s life. According to local police, the unknown person threatened, at least by extension, the lives of the many children in the school as well.

This unknown person is threatening the life Ms. B. because she is a lesbian. The police are taking the threats seriously enough (as one has to in this day and age) to lock-down the campus today and to close the school completely tomorrow.

Your Maximum Leader is angry. Very angry. He is angry that a dedicated and respected educator is being threatened because of her sexuality. He is angry that these threats are forcing the school to close. And he is angry that we don’t know who is making the threats.

Your Maximum Leader hopes that someone out there turns the bastard in to the police. It would be just as well if the police were able to discover who the miserable turd is on their own. He hopes the person is found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Your Maximum Leader and Mrs. Villain have called Ms. A & Ms. B. to offer what comfort and support we can. The call went to voicemail, but we wanted them to know that we are supporting them and opening our hearts and home to them.

That is all.

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.

Strange dream

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader woke this morning from the strangest and most real seeming dream he’s had in a long time. It goes like this…

Your Maximum Leader is going to the liquor store to buy some Scotch. He buys some and notices that right next to the liquor store is a church. The name on the church sign is “Saint Garrioch’s Anglican Church and Scottish Cultural Center.” Of course, your Maximum Leader goes in. He sat down in a pew and realized that the whole congregation seemed very lively and animated and very “scottish looking.” The pastor came out from behind an altar screen and invited everyone to come down into the common room downstairs. So we all got up and went downstairs. Once downstairs we were in a large room that vaugely resembled my paternal grandparents basement. It had late 60’s wood composite paneling and a dark colored shag carpet. There were chairs and sofas and more pews in the room. Your Maximum Leader sat down again in a pew. The pastor reappeared in clerical robes that seemed to be tucked down into a Royal Stewart tartan kilt. Around this point various bottles of whisky started to appear and everyone started drinking. The pastor began a sermon on drunkeness. Mid-way through his sermon he called out for our good lesbian friend “Michelle” to start the karaoke contest. Your Maximum Leader looked to his left and saw a very masculine woman stand up. As he looked at her more carefully, she seemed very familiar. Then he realized that the lesbian karaoke leader looked like a cross between your Maximum Leader and his great-aunt. At this point the pastor came over to your Maximum Leader, hugged him and declared “Laddie, your mum over there [pointing to the lesbian] is a fine lookin’ woman.”

Around this time your Maximum Leader awoke… Very strange…

Carry on.

Got nuthin’

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader meant to post yesterday. As you can tell by the unaltered timestamp on this post, he did not. August 2011 was not a particularly good month for your Maximum Leader. But September should turn things around.

Since your Maximum Leader seems to be suffering from a short attention span, lets give some Twitter-esque commentary here on ye olde blogge.

By the way, you can follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter at: @maximumleader.

Your Maximum Leader didn’t think it was possible for a President to screw up getting to speak in front of a joint session of Congress. Our incumbent President apparently has.

Your Maximum Leader’s favorite primate is the orangutan. (Your Maximum Leader was always a fan of Dr Zaius.)

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how he feels about the CIA CTC killing terrorists. To be more specific, he worries about accountablility. (He doesn’t really mind killing bad guys.)

It is getting hard to remember who the Prime Minister of Japan is at any given moment. They are on their 6th PM in 5 years.

Your Maximum Leader must agree with both Dr. Krauthammer and Robbo. Those Washington Natnals are going places. FYI - Your Maximum Leader often sees Krauthammer next to the Dippin Dots near Section 128. (Your Maximum Leader often mooches tix from a friend in Section 127. At a recent game in addition to Krauthammer, your Maximum Leader enjoyed a game in the company of George Will and Ben Bernake.)

Your Maximum Leader loved this little interplay between counter-agent and customer over at Ellison’s.

Your Maximum Leader wishes there was a person running for the office of President of the United States that could elicit more of a reaction than “hummmm” paired with a heavy exasperated sigh.

You know, if all you read was the Washington Post and NY Times you wouldn’t get much of a feeling of outrage at the recent debacle over at BATF known as “Fast & Furious.” This long piece from the WaPo is about as outraged as you would get.

Has your Maximum Leader mentioned how much he loves Doctor Who now? He does. He didn’t like it as much when he was younger (in the 1970s and 1980s). But now it is very cool. Very cool indeed.

Oh…

And… One day late…

Rabbit!

Carry on.

One word for you… Apokatana

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader mused the other night, on Twitter (@maximumleader if you care to follow him) that he felt like he should own himself a sword.

Now, it is likely that this sudden urge to own a sword stems from two elements in your Maximum Leader’s person. The first is that for the past month or so he’s been reading George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire.” (NB: He is now starting book four, “A Feast for Crows.”) There are lots of swords in those books…

The second is that swords are cool. Your Maximum Leader has always loved swords. (NB: He also thinks that a sword is a handy back-up weapon to have during a zombie apocalypse.) He, at one time long past, had a cheesy replica cavalry sabre. He doesn’t know what came of it (but it is likely that it wound up being sold or given away to someone). But he has, from time to time, wanted a sword.

He doesn’t want any sword mind you, he wants a sword with character.

For a long time your Maximum Leader has been torn two ways when it comes to swords. The first way is towards Japan. Like so many others, Quentin Tarantino for example, he believes that the Japanese samurai sword is about a great as you can get in a sword. Your Maximum Leader isn’t talking about a katana that is stamped out of pot metal, chromed, and sold in a Spencer’s Gifts in a mall somewhere. He is talking about a legitimate sword, crafted by hand by folding heated metal upon itself over and over again, then hand polished. Of course a sword like that is a work of art and, sadly, way out of your Maximum Leader’s current budget.

But there is another problem with an authentic katana. (Which is the only type he’d want.) It is Japanese. Your Maximum Leader is not Japanese. He feels a little weird about investing himself in a Japanese sword…

Your Maximum Leader is of good Scottish stock. So the likely sword for him would be the claymore. Now when your Maximum Leader says “claymore” he’s thinking about a full-out medieval two-handed great sword. That is a sword that befits a Maximum Leader. The very idea of a claymore stirs the Scottish blood in your Maximum Leader.

Then again, your Maximum Leader is American. And like America, we have got to make badass stuff that is our own.

That is where your Maximum Leader’s interweb acquaintance the Amazing Ben comes in. You may know the Amazing Ben from his kick-ass blog (Badass of the Week) or either of his two fabulous books (here and here). Ben also tweets at @badassoftheweek

If you know anything at all about the Amazing Ben Thompson, you know that he knows badass forwards and back. Ben, upon reading that your Maximum Leader was thinking of swords, and was thinking about how a sword would come in handy during the zombie apocalypse, suggested that your Maximum Leader check out a website that might satisfy his yen for a sword as well as be handy to have in the zombie apocalypse.

Your Maximum Leader now suggests you go on over and check out Zombie Tools.

Your Maximum Leader is not prone to cursing on his blog… But oh fuck yeah. This is what he’s talking about. Check out the blades they sell. (Here if you need a linky to clicky).

Your Maximum Leader is completely captivated by the Apokatana. (He is also pretty psyched by the d’Capitan, but the Apokatana seems to speak to him.) See the Apokatana in action (NB: they drop the f-bomb a few times - so be careful who is listening):

Need more?

How about the guys testing out their wares on Earl the zombie cow:

Well… Now your Maximum Leader is going to have to squirrel away money to save up and get an Apokatana for himself… There just ain’t no two ways about it. He’s going to have to have one…

Unless the guys at Zombie Tools decide to make a claymore style great-sword…

Carry on.

The death of wisdom

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader owns a number of books that used to reside in various public schools throughout the great Commonwealth of Virginia. These books were either purchased by your Maximum Leader (or his friend Smallholder) when the books were going to be purged from the school library. Although some of the titles he’s purchased have turned out to be lamentable works of scholarship; all in all your Maximum Leader (and Smallholder) have felt that it was better that the books live out our natural lives on a shelf in a home rather than being reduced to pulp or landfill fodder.

When these purged books wind up on his shelf your Maximum Leader has felt he’s done a good thing. High school libraries are not places of scholarship. Libaries in high schools are for reference. The old and out dated should be moved to make room for the new. It seems to be in the natural order of things.

But your Maximum Leader feels very differently about college/university libraries. Collectively, colleges and universities libraries are the storehouse of the accumulated knowlege of humanity. Every college, big and small, plays a role in preserving the history of humanity. The good. The bad. The lamentable. The very poorly written. The classic. The obscure. All works have a place in the libraries of the world.

Your Maximum Leader loves the very smell of “the stacks” of a college library. The older the better. (NB: The book preservationist would likely say that the smell your Maximum Leader likes is decaying paper. Sad thought…)

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that a book that finds its way into a college library should ever be purged.

Sadly… That is not the case as Professor Mondo details in a recent post. Here is the hardest part to read:

Finally, there was the sense that I was engaged in a kind of intellectual Black Mass, inverting the sacrament that I was meant to perform. I love my students, but I also love the worlds of literature and ideas; indeed, I show my love to my students by offering them these other things I value so much. These books, these ideas in them, matter so much to me that I’m devoting my life to the business of letting those stories and ideas survive another generation. But instead, I spent today making it that much less likely that a Mondovillian might encounter someone’s story or idea, even through a confluence of idleness and serendipity. Education is meant to help the mind grow, and I see libraries as symbols of the growth that has gone before us. Instead, I spent today making our symbol shrink. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the opposite of what I do.

Go thee and read the good Prof’s piece.

After reading the piece it makes me want to call my alma mater and make a donation and specify it goes to the library fund…

Carry on.

Canine Karma

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to have to “drop out of character” for this post. (He thought it “sounded” weird doing it in his normal third person style…)

So, I’ve got a dog. She is a mutt. Part Whippet and part Lab. We got her at the pound. She was six months old, had a bad rash that made some of her fur fall out, and was pretty pathetic overall.

Did I mention that she was also named “Tequila” at the time?

We took her home and changed her name and proceeded to love on her. That was 2001.

She has been one of the best dogs ever. She is smart enough to learn and obey a number of commands. She is dumb enough to remain cute and never give you pause to think that she’s trying to outsmart you in anything. She has survived three kids who have tried to ride her, pull her tail and otherwise molest her. Her temperament is everything one could ever want from a dog.

Two years ago she was running through the woods and got a cut on her right hind leg. We treated it topically and wrapped it up. It seemed to heal pretty well.

Then she started to lick her healing wound.

Before too long it became a large, swollen, infected mess. We took her to the Vet. She got a steroid shot and some antibiotics. Everything cleared up. But after a few months she started licking again and got the leg into a swollen, infected mess. So it was back to the Vet. More steroids. More drugs. Recovery! Then the licking started again… Eventually in addition to drugs and steroids she got “doggie downers.” This cocktail of drugs worked for a while. Eight months or so. But it hasn’t stopped…

Basically… My dog is OCD and licks herself to infection and great pain.

We keep treating her, but my wife and I lament that she is just dumb to keep hurting herself like this. Then again… She’s a dog.

The other day I was sitting in my chair reading and rubbing the dog with my feet. I stopped reading and thought about karma. I am not a Buddhist, or Hindu, or new-agey person so I don’t “believe” (in a religious sense) in karma. Sometimes “believing” in karma makes me feel better about myself or things happening in the outside world.

But I was thinking about my dog’s karma. I thought that if you consider karma and reincarnation together what would explain my dog? If she was a person in a past life, what could she have done wrong to deserve to come back as a dog? Then again, life with my family is a pretty good gig for a dog. She is fed, groomed, loved on and well-treated. That is a pretty good life all in all. Then I considered the leg. Was she being karmically punished for a past life? Had the wheel of fate placed her (even as a dog) in too good a position in life and was karma “fixing” the problem by making her OCD and inflicting suffering on herself where none had to exist?

Then I considered something else. Perhaps it was my karma to inflict suffering in her. Perhaps I am the problem in this equation.

Then I figured that considering this was too much for someone who doesn’t really believe in karma anyway.

So I got up and poured myself a Makers and ginger ale and went back to my book.

Carry on.

Addressing some comments.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sitting in the Villainschloss right now in the middle of a domestic crisis. Apparently the Doctor Who marathon on BBC America is not “family friendly” viewing. (So says Mrs Villain.) Additionally, your Maximum Leader has learned that Mrs Villain has no interest in any of the college football on TV right now. So your Maximum Leader has done the wise thing and vacated the TV viewing area for the solitude of his study. (He will likely move back in and watch something a little later this evening.)

Your Maxmium Leader is really looking forward to dinner tonight. Delmonico’s raised on Smallholder’s farm. Matched with baked potatoes and some sparkling wines from around the world.

Your Maximum Leader’s offspring are taking a pool to see which of them will fall asleep first. Your Maximum Leader bet all of them that he will be the only one up at midnight and that he’ll have to wake them all for the change to the new year. Indeed, your Maximum Leader raised the possibilty that he might turn in early and let them all fend for themselves.

Your Maximum Leader got some nice comments to his post on spinning the Civil War. Your Maximum Leader thought the post would elicit some sort of response from the whole “slavery wasn’t the cause of the Civil War crowd.” Sadly, those idiots must know that this is not the place for them.

The interesting comments were about your Maximum Leader’s speculation that Mitt Romney will get the Republican nod in 2012. From Professor Mondo: “Meanwhile, Mitt Romney remains a charisma-free zone. I’m just afraid that the folks down here in Mondoville will go for the Huckster, who is just another statist. At this point, I’m kind of pulling for Mitch Daniels.” Our friend Polymath wrote: “My Lovecraft fantasy has me wishing for a re-animated Reagan.” And our very own farmer, the Smallholder, wrote:

Republicans give their nomination to the last cycle’s runner-up.

But Romney may be the exception that proves the rule. Since Republicans are on a jihad against Obamacare, the fact that Obamacare is essentially Romneycare does not bode well for Romney. It will be difficult for him to squirm away from his record during the primaries, particularly given his preexistent reputation for flip-floppigng. Gingrich advocated a version of health care very similar to Obamacare in ‘94, but he may be able to sidle away because it never went anywhere - Romney actually got it passed.

Mondo, I kind of like Mitch Daniels too. But he’s a bit too centrist to survive the primaries. He would make a good VEEP to appeal to the middle.

Polymath, I doubt Reagan could actually get tea-party votes today. He was too much of a pragmatist, rasied taxes to balance the budget, was in favor of arms control, and advocated tax rates higher than Obama’s. Folks are in love with an idealized person who never existed.

First off, your Maximum Leader must put an end to all this re-animated Reagan stuff. WE CAN’T GO ELECTING ZOMBIES TO OFFICE. Any office, not just President of the United States. Every person with an iota of sense knows that a re-animated corpse is a zombie and zombies aren’t cool. Zombies just want to eat our brains. Your Maximum Leader fears that a re-animated Reagan would not be a strong leader because he could always be sidetracked by a plate of warm steaming brains.

(NB: could one distract zombies by throwing them turrines of sweatbreads?)

Anyway… Even if you were able to safely reanimate Reagan (which your Maximum Leader doubts by the way) the 22nd Amendment still applies and he wouldn’t be eligible. Your Maximum Leader fears that a re-animated Harry Truman is our only option for zombie chief executive.

Your Maximum Leader will stand by the charisma-less, former Massachusetts Governor as the leader for the Republican nod right now. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t really think he knows enough about Mitch Daniels to get worked up one way or the other about him. Smallholder’s comment about Daniels being too moderate for the primaries seems to ring a little false as John McCain (no raging social conservative) didn’t have much of a problem navigating the primaries in 2008. Of course one can argue that the results (and “rage” as the media likes to call it) of the 2010 elections might have changed that. Frankly, your Maximum Leader doesn’t think so. The primaries are the primaries and any Republican who wants a crack at the top job will cater to the base to win the nomination. We speculate about how this year it will be different from past years; but it rarely is that different one cycle to the next.

The whole Obamacare/Romneycare bit isn’t too much of a reach. One can spin it as a question of scale and affordability. Use the Constitution, Obamacare is massive federal overreach; but what Romney did in Mass. is not the same type of deal. States can implement broad social programs within the state if they want. Since the state has to pay for the program it isn’t an unfunded mandate to all or a major source of future debt. It is a subtle argument to be sure; but it might have legs. (Also, Romney can claim that the program has been mismanaged in the years since he left the Governor’s mansion.)

It was Professor Mondo’s comment that Mike Huckabee seems to be enjoying wide support down his way that caused a little distress to your Maximum Leader. Mike Huckabee is one of those potential candidates that really does upset your Maximum Leader. Perhaps your Maximum Leader has a latent prejudice against social conservatives who might actually rise up the the highest office in the land. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think that he is prejudiced against prominent social conservatives. He thinks his problem is when the conservative in question has ONLY social conservative credentials.

Winston Churchill once said that a fanatic was a person who wouldn’t change their mind and wouldn’t change the subject. Your Maximum Leader thinks that his major objection with many social conservatives is that everything boils down to abortion, prayer and whether or not the US is a Christian nation. Don’t get your Maximum Leader wrong, he is a pretty socially conservative fellow; but he is often looking for policy discussions on a whole host of subjects from his candidates, not just an exposition on religion and politics.

So back to Huckabee… He has executive experience (from a state that has already given us one chief executive). He also seems so authentic and natural as to be everybody’s friend. It is when he starts going on about his young Earth beliefs that he loses your Maximum Leader. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t begrudge anyone their own beliefs concerning the creation and age of the universe; but he finds that there is a strong correlation between those who believe that the universe was created exactly per the Book of Genesis and a lack of curiosity to the natural world. Curiosity in the natural world may not seem like a big prerequisite to higher office, but in your Maximum Leader’s mind it is. That type of curiosity should lead to an appreication for (if not an aptitude for) observation, recording of facts and formulation of hypotheses. Understanding and applying the scientific method (as it were) is a useful tool for developing mental acuity. Mental acuity is a trait of which your Maximum Leader is fond in political leaders.

So back to Huckabee… Your Maximum Leader just can’t imagine him as having the mental acuity needed to be president. This is based solely on Huckabee’s religious beliefs. This type of assessment (a prejudice if you will) is based solely on observations and experience your Maximum Leader has made of others. It may be that Mike Huckabee is a brilliant man with wisdom and understanding beyond what your Maximum Leader has observed. But given what your Maximum Leader has observed, Huckabee is sorta scary as a potential nominee.

Well… Your Maximum Leader believes that he’s run this train of thought off the rails and has no more to say (for the moment) on this subject. He’ll now open the first bottle of bubbly for the evening and see when he might get those steaks.

Carry on.

All is made clear…. ?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was, until about 14 minutes ago, blissfully unaware of the conspiracy that exists in this nation to exterminate a certain minority group. This conspiracy is based in the public schools, churches, Planned Parenthood, the pyschiatric profession and organizations of “European” manufacture.

To elaborate on this conspiracy further your Maximum Leader presents this video (about 14 minutes in length):

Your Maximum Leader is stupified. Just when he starts to forget how insane some people are a video like this one serves to remind him of what craziness people are willing to believe.

Oh yes, one more thing… Your Maximum Leader is glad that Mr. Johnson doesn’t feel the need to subject himself to the oppression of conventional spelling or grammar in the graphics of this video.

Carry on.

    About Naked Villainy

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