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Chainsaw Phil


Once upon a time I lived on islands. Not always the same one, but always
islands. The first time I moved to one it was in the Caribbean and it was
supposed to be for a couple of months. I didn’t come back to the continent
for 12 years. And even then I lived on barrier islands. For awhile I lived on
two islands at once–one in the Caribbean the other a Florida barrier
island–and commuted.  On Fridays I’d walk to the dock, take a ferry to St.
Thomas, a surrey-bus to the seaplane terminal, then the Goose–a
seaplane–to St. Croix, then a surrey bus to Christiansted or Frederiksted, do
my work and return home the same way.

I met a lot of interesting people.

One of them was Chainsaw Phil–or, as people called him more or less
affectionately, Chainsaw–the most consistently pessimistic, skeptical, cranky person I ever met.

BTW, on this particular island there were three things one was never supposed to ask.  “Where are you from, what’s your last name, what do you do for a living?”

Chainsaw just kind of appeared on the Caribbean island at some point,
having migrated from the Pacific Northwest where he’d been a lumberjack.

He was, and probably still is, the second most profane human being I have
ever met. Because of his profession, and the fact that much of the bush to
be cleared was cassia, which is full of thorns, Chainsaw was always
scratched, cut, bleeding, and with a patchwork of other occupational wounds in
various states of healing/scabbing. His T-shirts suffered the same fate and were invariably torn in several places.

Chainsaw, however had hidden depths. Brilliant, literate, and with a
massive database of general liberal arts information, Chainsaw was quite a
conversationalist. He could riff on various obscure philosophers, contemporary fiction, history, you name it. We had a number of fascinating chats over the years.

I only ever saw him happy once. After a huge hurricane had pretty much
squashed the island, all the locals had to pitch in to clear the roads and get
the power back on. None of the airports were open so each island was pretty much on its own.

I came around a corner and there was Chainsaw, dangling above the debris strewn roadway from one of the few trees still standing, by one arm, the other swinging along with the chainsaw like a damn bullwhip, cutting the hanging branches dangling from also-dangling wires and trees, just a-whoopin’ and hollerin’ like a cowboy gettin’ some little dogies along on the dusty trail.  He sounded like Slim Pickens in the final scene of “Dr. Strangelove” (one of the greatest films ever made).

Chainsaw had this huge grin on his face.  I’d never seen him smile–normally even when he laughed he frowned.  I wasn’t even aware he could smile

*BTW for Goose flights they would have to take passenger weights to determine if the lumbering aircraft could safely get airborne and land.  Seems as though I recall that here’s an old VI Daily News photo somewhere of the Lt. Gov. or Gov. or head of the legislature, something political…wading in the shallows having been forced to abandon a Goose plane for reasons I can’t recall.  The seaplanes had a reputation for being rickety but there were a limited number of ways to get to St. Croix from St. Thomas, and the Goose was the quickest one.

Ummm, Excuse Me CNN, Puerto Ricans Are NOT Permitted to Vote for US President!


I hope I misunderstood CNN’s Poppy Harlow this afternoon.  She was discussing the presidential election with someone–I wasn’t paying much attention, just flicking through channels, and didn’t notice who it was–when Ms. Harlow seemed to make an incredibly uninformed remark.  She was asking about the “growing Puerto Rican vote”.

Uhhh, Puerto Ricans, (and voters in the other U.S. Territories) are NOT, repeat NOT permitted to vote in U.S. presidential elections. They can vote in primaries but not the general election.  Ya’d think a political reporter/anchor should know that very basic fact.

I sure hope that I’m the one who’s wrong here and that I did misunderstand Harlow because, if not, then she is far too ignorant to be permitted to open her mouth on international television at least about the presidential election.

It was also evident today how individual TV “News” networks are trying to influence the vote.  Within five minutes I cycled through CNN, MSNBC and Fox News channels and they each had a different cherry-picked presidential poll that they were reporting.  Fox News said polls show Clinton five or six points ahead, CNN said she was ahead by 12 and MSNBC said she was 20 points ahead.

Of course, I rarely even look at the news anymore because of the incessant yammering about the election and the dearth of any real facts being reported while the respective “news” networks are spewing opinions day and night.  God only knows what might be going on in the rest of the world because we’re sure not gonna hear about it on the “news”.   Presumably this is not reporters’ fault, my guess would be they are all getting their marching orders from corporate HQs.

All together now–can you say “media whores”?

 

All In the Family


During this election season when the histrionics of the media about whether we can expect armed revolt should the Donald lose are growing ever more frenetic, here’s a true tale about transfer of power (and family dysfunction)  in the old days.  I came across the information while doing a genealogy project for an old friend.  When she was elderly and could no longer see, she had to abandon her attempts  to discover her ancestry prior to her death.  Since she always helped everyone else, when she was on her deathbed I promised to try and complete this project for her.

At Hospice an index card had fallen out of her prayer book and it had the birth, death and marriage information about a pair of her great grandparents, which is what prompted the promise.  I thought it would be a simple matter to trace a few generations, at most, before coming to the end of the trail.

Things turned out differently because, as it happened, she–unknowingly–came from two very well-documented colonial families.   It seems her people arrived in what is now the USA back in the early 1600’s.  Her ancestry is a glittering one and goes back hundreds and hundreds of years.  History books are full of her family’s deeds and exploits.

After finding all these names in genealogies on the LDS FamilySearch website, I started looking up some of those folks.  That led to a whole host of ancient manuscripts and documents, which were translated into English in the 18th and 19th centuries. Gildas, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon,, Nennius, William of Jumieges, William of Poitiers, Orderic Vitalis, etc. all had plenty to say about my friend’s ancestors.

Turns out that, among other things, her many-greats grandparents were heavily involved in ending Saxon rule in England, changing our history forever.

One of those Grampas was Gryffyd ap Llewelyn, King of Wales who had an ally, Aelfgar III, Earl of Mercia, who had been exiled by Edward the Confessor, King of England, for treason in 1055.  Alefgar had a beautiful young daughter, Ealdgyth, who married Gryffydd, probably having no say in the matter.

In 1063, Gryffydd was murdered by his own men in Snowdonia, Wales.  (Hey, it
happens.) His men took Gryffydd’s head and the figurehead of his ship, as proof of Gryffydd’s demise, to Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinsson.  Harold then took the head to  Edward the Confessor, presumably because Edward would be grateful for the removal of the troublesome Gryffydd.  Edward the Confessor had also previously exiled Harold, his brothers and his father Godwin, but by the time 1066 came around Harold had become a close ally of Edward.  It doesn’t seem likely that Harold was just being a nice guy and dropping off the head because he was going to be passing by the neighborhood, he was expecting to get something out of it.  Regardless, a grateful king can presumably be a handy person to know.

Since Lllewelyn’s widow, Ealdgyth was very pretty, as well as well-connected, Harold married her.  No word on how she felt about screwing the guy who’d carried her husband’s head around like a damn basketball or something, although, he was reputedly a total hottie.

Then on October 14, 1066, a few months after Harold Godwinsson had acceded to the throne of England, despite having sworn not to do so to another of my friend’s many-greats grandfathers, William the Conqueror, all hell broke loose.  William  invaded England and the Battle of Hastings ensued.  The outcome is well known–Harold did not survive it.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.   Harold Godwinsson had only just finished successfully leading his men three weeks earlier on September 25, 1066  at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, against his brother Tostig, Earl of Northumbria.  Why?  Because Tostig had convinced Harold Hardraade, King of Norway to invade England and try to overthrow  Harold Godwinsson, King of England.  Harold Hardraade thought he should be king of England (there seems to have been a lot of that going around) because Edward the Confessor had seized the English throne from Norwegian king Hardacnut back in 1042.  Hardraade claimed that Hardacnut had promised the English throne to King Magnus of Norway, and, since he was Magnus’ successor, then he–Hardraade–should have the English throne by default.

And, just to complicate matters further, Tostig’s brother-in-law was Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, who was also William the Conqueror’s father-in-law and another many-greats grandfather of my friend.

Soooo, one of my friend’s many-greats grandmothers loses her husband, and then turns around and marries the guy who was running around Wales and England with the husband’s head.  And then, another of my friend’s many-greats grandfathers later kills the SOB who’d been running around with her other grandfather’s head.  And then that ancestor was crowned in the brand new Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066.  (Westminster Abbey was consecrated in January , 1066.)

Now that’s really keeping it all in the family!

And that’s how power was transferred back in the day.  Busy, busy, busy, as the Bokononists used to say.

So my friend’s family history brings new (or old depending upon how you look at it) meaning to the term “transfer of political power” .  Puts it in context, so to speak.

I am so sorry my friend did not survive to learn of her glittering and gaudy ancestors and their frisky ways. Their doings make soap operas pale in comparison.  You think you’ve got a dysfunctional family?   And I haven’t even gotten into Eochaid IV “the Venomous” King of Scotland (what does one have to do to earn such an adjective) or Boleslav “the Cruel” Duke of Bohemia!

How William II Duke of Normandy Became William I King of England and England Became French Because of Two Vikings


Back in the day, well, in 1051 or thereabouts, Edward “the Confessor” King of England named William II, Duke of Normandy to inherit his title, for reasons that are not entirely clear.  (Edward wasn’t married at the time and had no kids.)

At the same time there was a powerful family of Earls of Danish extraction,  Godwin pater et fils.  Harold Godwinsson’s dad was the Earl of Wessex and when he died in 1053 after choking to death at the King’s table, Harold inherited the title.  To avoid getting bogged down in family pedigrees, let’s skip to the point which is that Earl Harold Godwinsson was a powerful warrior with great connections.

Now at this time in Europe warriors made war.  All the time.  They just couldn’t help themselves and besides, if you didn’t make war against someone, someone would make war against you.  It’s what they did.  I think they just didn’t like hanging around the house, or castle/palace, because their wives got on their nerves.  They needed an excuse to get out and about soooo…war it was.

In 1063 Earl Harold Godwinsson had been busy murdering every Welsh male who crossed his path, including Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Wales.  Harold, in fact, carried Gruffydd’s head to Edward the Confessor, kind of a gruesome present but…hey, it’s what they did, back in the day.  Gruffydd’s widow Ealdgyth, who was supposedly very pretty, then married Edward the Confessor (apparently she wasn’t the sensitive type).  But they had no children either.

Then in 1064 Earl Harold was shipwrecked off the coast of Normandy and captured by Guy of Ponthieu.  William II Duke of Normandy ordered Guy to release Harold and in no time William and Harold were best buds.  They used to go hunting together.  Harold had agreed to support William’s claim to the throne of England.  But Edward (the Confessor) in 1066, on his deathbed, decided to name Earl Harold his successor instead of William.  Harold had been busy at the time, routing his brother Tostig’s army and killing off the bro.  (Now that’s sibling rivalry!)  Harold, pitching William overboard (metaphorically speaking) in a heartbeat, seized the English throne for himself.  He’s there, it ‘s empty, whatta ya gonna do?

When he heard about this Duke William, whose four greats grandfather  BTW, was Rollo the Viking–so he and Harold were actually both of Viking extraction–was hunting in the park of Quevily, near Rouen.  William stormed off, totally pissed off!  He was sulking and pouting, huffing and puffing in his great hall.  “He spoke to no man, and no man ventured to speak to him.  Crossing the Seine in a boat, he entered his palace and sat down moodily on a bench in the hall, covering his face with his cloak and leaning his head against a column.” (J.R. Planche, The Conqueror and His Companions, Vol. 1.)

Just then the Duke’s Dapifer/Steward/Seneschal, bold William FitzOsbern, enters the hall “humming a tune” and advises the Duke that he should just invade England and take that damn crown.   (Not only had it had been promised by Harold Godwinson, he and William had sworn oaths on it, on holy relics, which was a big deal back then.)  Then FitzOsbern the Dapifer goes around to each of Duke William’s most influential supporters & best warriors schmoozing them to support William in invading England.

They were all against it and asked FitzOsbern to speak to the Duke on behalf of the whole group and point out that they were not bound to support him anywhere except in Normandy and that they really didn’t want any part of such an enterprise. So then, having gotten himself appointed spokesman, FitzOsbern “with the greatest effrontery” goes to the Duke and assures him that he has the unanimous support of all, “That to advance him they would go through fire and water. They would not only cross the sea, but double their service.”.

When the chieftains found out how he’d misrepresented their position they were all furious and there was a near-riot among them. “The barons were as indignant as astounded at this unwarrantable declaration.  Many openly disavowed him; all was tumult and confusion.  No one could hear another speak; no one could either listen to reason or render it for himself” (from Wace’s Roman de Rou).  Now that’s some onions!

The rest is history.  Duke William et. al. invaded England 10/14/1066 and it became Norman,  not Saxon via the two warring Viking descendants.  (BTW, the Saxons were by no means originally locals, they’d invaded Britain back in the fifth century, but nobody seemed to remember that and spoke of Saxons as if they were natives since, well, forever.)

Ya just gotta love FitzOsbern for being so bold.  And duplicitous! And changing our history.

EU’s Juncker; Unqualified Clueless Old Fart, Former Prime Minister of Luxembourg!


Why is Britain being slammed for voting for Brexit, for leaving the totally lame EU?  Some more pertinent questions might be:  How did the capital of a pissant little country such as Belgium get to be the capital of Europe anyway, and wasn’t its only previous claim to fame as the overnight stop for Germany whenever it invaded France?   Jeez, Belgium can’t even protect itself, let alone provide and plan for  the security of a whole continent.  Brussels can’t even keep track of terrorists in its own tiny country, so why would anyone expect that they’d do a better job for the whole continent?  As it stands now the EU capital is seemingly awash with terrorists and the numbnuts in charge didn’t even realize it until bombs started going off several terrorist incidents ago.  Yeah, that inspires confidence, no?

And the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker?   You know, the old guy with the too-much-alcohol-nose and the snippy attitude, who won’t speak English in the EU anymore?   His previous claim to fame was as the Prime Minister of Luxembourg.  That’s right–Luxembourg!   That’s the country with a massive population of–wait for it–about 556,000 (in 2014) of which 44% are foreigners.  And Juncker gets to run Europe?   No kidding, that’s the resume which supposedly prepared him to manage the affairs of half a billion people.  That’s like telling us in the USA that the Bahamas should rule America and expecting us to hold still for it.

Now why would the UK bitch about this state of affairs?  Gee, one wonders.

Furthermore, in the history of “you can’t make this stuff up” Juncker’s rise to power is even more laughable.  He was in a traffic accident in 1989, apparently suffered a concussion and spent two weeks in a coma.  Immediately upon regaining consciousness he was elected to Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies and then promoted to Minister of Finance.  Of Luxembourg!  Hmmm, where have I heard this story before?  Oh, right.  Juncker’s like the character Chance Gardener in the movie “Being There”.   Remember?   The film is about a simpleton gardener, Chance, who corrupt and clueless politicians decide–through a bizarre set of circumstances–to choose as their candidate for President of the United States.  It’s a classic comedy about misplaced power.

How on earth did the continent of Europe become subjugated, voluntarily no less, to someone (Juncker) with flimsy qualifications and a country (Belgium) with similarly threadbare capabilities for running a continent?   It’s ridiculous and the UK is smart to get out while the gettin’ is good.

The financial world and the media, meanwhile, are having a bad case of the vapors (fetch me the smellin’ salts and a mint julep would ya dahlin’ ah feel faint) because a financial powerhouse like the UK decided to bail on this ship of fools.

Yeah.  Our oldest ally is getting pounded because they are practical, because they’d like to manage their own affairs, protect their own borders and determine wherein lies their own self-interest.  Bad Britain, bad.

Sorry, but the EU seems like an old whore–can’t be too picky, and will screw anyone and do anything for a few bucks.

And BTW, to what countries does the EU expect  the UK  to subordinate its own self interest?   Here are a few of the lesser lights:  Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Poland.  Nice countries to visit but would you really want to have your economy and security dependent upon them?  Don’t forget, EU membership means that anyone from these member countries can cross into the UK without being vetted, can secure employment, and, basically, be a citizen.

And guess who’s up next.  Serbia and Albania.  Not exactly beacons of human rights, peace, financial probity or stability, eh?

Yeah, America, how would you like that?  What could go wrong?  So give it a rest.  There are some things that are worth more than money, although I think big corporations may have bribed Congress to make saying so against the law.

There’s NO Proof Clinton Has the Democratic Nomination “Locked Up”


What a sleazy trick.  The day of the California primary Hillary and her ever-complicit media whores state–without evincing any actual supporting evidence–that she’s the winner of the nomination.  Just because someone who’s known for lying, who, in fact, seems to be a pathological liar, says she has more than 400 superdelegates does not mean she actually has those votes.

Hillary has far, far fewer verifiably committed delegates, enumerated through an actual formal voting process, than needed to become the nominee.  You have to take her word for the rest of them.  But of course the media, buying into the Hillary “inevitability” BS is determined to keep its collective thumb on the scales in order to help implement its decision.

If either of the Clintons told me the sky is blue, I’d go outside and take a look before believing either of them.

This election is far, far more sickening than anything I’ve seen before. Bleah!  My prediction is that many Bernie fans will not vote for Bill Clinton’s wife.  Of course that could just be whistling past the graveyard.

What graveyard?  Republic dead, news at 11.

Putting Bernie’s Persistence in Context


It’s amazing to see/hear the Clintonistas and the media trying to hound Bernie Sanders out of the presidential race.  Yeah, he should just quit.   Hillary didn’t when running against Obama.  But that’s different, right?

Just imagine if, during the 2016 NFL playoffs, the media hounded the Denver Broncos to quit before playing the New England Patriots because they would be hurting the Patriots’ inevitable chances of winning the Superbowl.

Or what if  everyone tried to push the Golden State Warriors into quitting the 2016 NBA semifinals because they were hurting the Oklahoma City Thunder’s chances of winning the NBA title?

Yeah.  But expecting Bernie to quit so Clinton can coast to the democratic presidential nomination, well, that’s entirely reasonable.  Because Hillary’s inevitable, right?  Right?

Yeah, she’s the inevitable winner just as the Patriots and the Thunder were.