My visit to The Big Apple – June 2022

The Statue of Liberty, from my kayak, during an attempt to paddle across New York Harbor

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.” (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well. To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

August 6, 2022 – Back in June I visited The Big Apple, New York City. Part of the trip included my trying to kayak across New York Harbor, from a boat ramp by the Statue of Liberty over to Manhattan. It didn’t work out the way I planned, but I’ll get into that in my next post…

Meanwhile, the main reason for the trip was to see my brother and his wife perform – with some other people – at Carnegie Hall. They were part of a concert by the New England Symphonic Ensemble on Friday night, June 3. The program listed their group as among “participating choruses.” Then in the week after the concert my family and I visited other sites as well. But during that visit I didn’t have time to do any updates on this blog. Then, when I got back home, I had to get ready for another road trip, as told in Catching up from my trip to Dubuque. (For the Fourth of July weekend.) Since then I’ve been busy getting ready for my next trip, overseas, previewed in Getting ready for Rome – and “the Way of St. Francis.”

In other words, I’m just getting back to normal. And speaking of getting back to a rhythm

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I made a lot of notes on Facebook driving up, ultimately through the western part of Virginia (via I-81), and up into Pennsylvania, before heading east to New Jersey. And a bit of foreshadowing: That’s the way I’ll drive back in all future road trips to NYC. Going home the other way – south through New Jersey, into Pennsylvania and then Delaware – the traffic and tolls were murder. (Metaphorically anyway.) Even trusty old rustic US 301 – going south from Wilmington and on over the Bay Bridge into Annapolis – is now a &^%$ toll road!

Not to mention I got a &^%$ fifty dollar parking ticket in Jersey City, for parking on a side street. (I stopped at a McDonald’s to get some breakfast before trying the “kayak across New York Harbor.”)

But back to the happy start of the trip. I left my home just south of the ATL late on the morning on Tuesday, May 31. (Last-minute packing and such, including the kayak.) I took back roads over to I-20 at Greensboro, then through Augusta and up I-77 toward Columbia. That day I made 270 miles, to Richburg South Carolina, 56 miles above Columbia. With the air-conditioning out in my car, and a kayak nestled up and over the front passenger seat. As always, traffic around Charlotte, NC stood like a hydra-headed monster for the next day…

Sure enough, and even though I started early, traffic came to a near-standstill near Pineville. So I got off I-77 and took more backroads over to Interstate 485 – the “Outer” way – and over to US 29. That’s mostly a four-lane highway without the traffic hassle of driving through Mooresville and Statesville. And speaking of no air conditioning, Ernest Hemingway wrote that Hunger Was a Good Discipline. I suppose heat – in the form of temperatures in the high 90s – could also be considered a good discipline. (It makes that first cold beer taste ever so good.)

On Wednesday, June 1, I made it to Lexington, Virginia. That was only 278 miles for the day, but the town looked so beckoning – nice and rustic – that I decided to stop there for the day. (Which is why I decided to take four days going up.) I stopped at the local Ruby Tuesday’s for a quick beer before checking out exercise opportunities. There I experienced some local drama. The wait staff, including the barmaid, were very disgruntled with management, and I was lucky to get that first draft beer before she closed out. (Or walked out) After that drama – and to clear my mind – I took a hike around the beautiful campus of Virginia Military Institute.

Later I went to the local Applebee’s, for two more draft beers and a cup of chicken tortilla soup.

My plan for Thursday, June 2, was to stop in Harrisburg, PA. I wanted to find a place to put in my kayak on the Susquehanna River. Unfortunately, there was no such place. Google Maps showed one possible site;* a park with a stream draining into the Susquehanna. But the only place to put in was above a dam and waterfall. All the rest of the stream-banks were too weed-choked and rock-strewn. Plus I saw enough congestion and bad traffic – just getting to the %^%@$ park – that I “proceeded on” to the Hershey PA exit on I-81.

There I found a nice Motel 6 and visited Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar at 7025 Allentown Blvd. (Technically Harrisburg, but I highly recommend it anyway.) I wrote later:

Long day putting around and through Harrisburg PA. No place to kayak, traffic sucked, and a travel tip. Gas up before you get to Pennsylvania. I paid $4.56 at the Sam’s Club, and was glad to get it. $4.79 a gallon wasn’t unusual.

Little did I know that gas prices were about to go higher still, once I got into New Jersey. On a more positive note, I followed up the two beers and sweet potato fries at Arooga’s with a rousing 70-minute hike through the Oak Park Trail. (Adjacent to Dauphin Middle school; I hiked a bit through their parking lot, as they were holding some kind of graduation-night event.)

Next morning I got up early and headed east on I-81 to where it split, becoming I-78 northwest of Jonestown PA. From there it was smooth driving, through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, until I crossed into New Jersey. Where you are actually fined if you pump your own gas. (Between $50 and $250 for a first offense, and $500 for subsequent offenses. For more, see the notes.)

On Friday, June 3 – the day of the concert – I stopped at my first Wawa convenience story in a long time. (On I-280.) That was before crossing over the Hackensack River and into the traffic in Jersey City and on into North Bergen. There my brother Tom had rented an upstairs apartment just down the street from North Bergen High School.

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The rest of Friday, June 3, was a blur. The three of us got checked in and unpacked, then got “dressed up” for Carnegie. (A note: We needn’t have bothered. The native New Yorkers at the concert were dressed just like us slobs back home; shorts, shirt untucked, whatever.) Then we hiked up the hill, to the stop by the North Bergen High School, for the first of many trips on the 154 bus over to Manhattan. We met up with the other brother and his wife – Bill and Janet – the ones who were singing at Carnegie. We had a pre-concert dinner at this place on Broadway, the Applejack Diner, shown below. As for the concert itself, we had some unexpected drama…

But I’ll save that story for a future post!

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I took the upper photo, from my kayak, near the start of my try to paddle across New York Harbor. According to Wikipedia, it’s “one of the largest natural harbors in the world, and is frequently named the best natural harbor in the world.” Also called Upper New York Bay, it’s “connected to Lower New York Bay by the Verrazano Narrows,” and other bodies of water that actually constitute a “tidal strait.Some foreshadowing, that “tidal strait” figures in the next post, on how that kayaking attempt worked out. For more on my other preparations for the trip, see Back to New York City – finally!

Re “Participating choruses.” The phrase in the program was “With participating choruses.” You can click on the near-upper-right “Calendar View” at Official Website | Carnegie Hall.) The chorus in question was The Trey Clegg Singers, Inc. My brother and his wife have sung with “Trey” for years.

Re: Getting back to rhythm. My first wife Karen (who died in 2006) used to say I wasn’t spontaneous enough, I was in too much of a rut. My response, “It’s not a rut, it’s a rhythm.” See also The Three Biggest Benefits of Good Habits – Top Three GuideWhy Habits are Important: 5 Benefits of Habits.

Re: Hunger Was a Good Discipline. See Hemingway in Paris, vis-a-vis the chapter starting on page 67 of the 2003 Scribner paperback edition of A Moveable Feast.

Re: “Google Maps showed one possible site,” to put in by the Susquehanna. It was New Cumberland Borough Park, on Yellow Beeches Creek, near the New Market suburb of Harrisburg.

Re: New Jersey’s ban on self-service gas pumping. See Why New Jersey and Oregon still don’t let you pump your own gas, and What’s the fine for pumping your own gas in N.J.? – nj.com. I knew beforehand about the ban, but didn’t know it’s long and complex history, over a century old. Initially full-service stations saw self-service as cutting into their thin profit margin. “Full-service gas stations played up safety hazards around self-service, arguing that untrained drivers would overfill their tanks and start a fire. But eventually self-service was seen to reduce costs and increase volumes of gasoline sold. One ironic note: “In New Jersey, the self-service ban, along with the state’s reputation for low gas prices, is part of its culture.” FYI: Gas prices in New Jersey were as high as in Pennsylvania, and 50 cents a gallon higher than back home in Georgia. (Another reason to call it “God’s Country.”)

For future reference (a new post) I noted some activities on Thursday, June 9, the day before we left for home. “After the walking tour of Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown – and hiking across the Manhattan Bridge and back – relaxing with a mint chip gelato, back in Little Italy. Cafe Roma.” Stay tuned…

The lower image is courtesy of the gallery in the Applejack Diner website.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 69-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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Catching up from my trip to Dubuque…

Downtown Dubuque, Iowa, as seen from a bluff high above the city…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.” (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well. To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

My last post said I was working on a new post on my early-June road trip to New York City…

However, that turned out more complicated than expected, so I posted a quickie filler-upper, “Why not 12 Supreme Court Justices.” (On the Supreme Court’s just overturning Roe v. Wade.) Since then I took another road trip, to Dubuque, Iowa. (Ten days up and back for the July 4th weekend.) And since that trip is more recent, I’ll get it out of the way first.

I went up to Iowa because I’d never been to such a lily-white Iowa/Midwest Fourth of July. (Not lately anyway, compared to the 4th in the Black mecca that is “the ATL.”) It was quite an adventure, featuring lots of visits to my companion’s family, and my eating way too much food while not getting nearly enough exercise. (I gained five pounds, and was lucky to limit it to that. One comment at a dinner on the evening of July 4: “That’s all you’re eating?”)

BTW: I wanted to rent a canoe or kayak and paddle across the Mighty Mississippi. That didn’t happen, though I did manage to paddle a rental kayak up the Galena River, detailed below.

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My companion and I – let’s call her “Nina” – left home at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 30. (After some last-minute packing.) Surprisingly, we got through the Atlanta Beltway in good time, but had a bad traffic delay coming into Chattanooga. Then more bad traffic trying to get through Nashville, after “gaining” an hour crossing into Central Time. We celebrated that traffic-choked first day’s drive with a nice split meal at the Applebee’s in Clarksville.

Friday, July 1 we drove from Clarksville to Champaign, Illinois. (I took my time driving up.) On Saturday, July 2, we drove from Champaign to Dickeyville, Wisconsin. Nina wanted to be in position for church in Dubuque the next day. (A 15-minute drive.) I’d booked a place that sounded rustic but was more of a dump. It did turn out entertaining though, as noted below. Anyway, Nina’s daughter picked us up and took us for two beers and a bar pizza at the nearby Kuepers III (“Keeper’s”), in Dickeyville. They didn’t have Bud Light on tap so I got a Fat Tire draft.

I thought that was that, but back at the Inn we found a cookout-slash-Saturday-night-celebration going on, courtesy of a group of traveling contract workers. The boss was a hefty local white guy, accompanied by a host of Spanish-speaking workers. (One from Portugal, another from Spain, some from other places.) To be polite we then had to eat more food – some of it quite exotic – along with plentiful bottles of Corona beer, often laced with salt, tequila or both.

For our stay in Dubuque, Nina booked a to-be-unnamed Airbnb. But there were problems in booking, and we weren’t sure the place was really available. (Due in part to her being unable to get verification. As a back-up, she’d booked a room at the nearby Quality Inn on Hwy 20, just in case.) She had the code to get in the bnb, but couldn’t make any payment. Some babe named “Olga” had Nina’s phone before, and so the company had the reservation in Olga’s name.

To make a long story short, Sunday morning we found the place all right, and managed to get in. (The code was pretty simple.) But the roomy two-story house was still being cleaned.* Beds unmade, laundry in the washer and dryer, etc. So Nina called the Quality Inn where she had the backup reservation. It turned out she couldn’t get her money back, so for that and other reasons we decided to stay there. It was a nice place, not as roomy but right across Hwy 20 from a Walmart. There was a great place nearby to get iced coffee in the mornings, plus they had a good continental breakfast – rare at motels these days – including a working waffle maker.

We unpacked, then went to the non-denominational Crossroads Church in Peosta. With two of Nina’s friends, Mike and Judy. Later I said on Facebook, “Penance for too much beer last night, celebrating getting to our final destination.” (A “foretaste of the heavenly banquet to come?”)

The Youth Pastor gave a great sermon, on the need to work together. (Largely ignored in later pronouncements on politics.) Late that afternoon we were treated to firework displays, from Kelly’s Bluff. (Close to the site of the picture atop the page.) Lots of history there, as described by Judy’s boss-man, who also supplied plenty of food. (We brought our own libations.) From the top of the bluff we could see a number of fireworks provided by other cities in the tri-state area.

I didn’t note anything for Monday morning, July 4, but later we had dinner back over in Peosta, at Mike and Judy’s. On Tuesday, July 5, we drove down to Galena and visited the U.S. Grant Museum in Galena. (95 degrees outside.) That’s where I saw the Thomas Nast carton at the bottom of the page, titled, “The crowning insult to him who occupies the presidential chair.” I thought it especially appropriate for the current occupant of the presidential chair.

The label on the hat says “Scapegoat.”

After the Grant museum we had lunch and a libation at Durty Gurts. Then I checked out Nuts Outdoors, on Spring Street in Galena. (Also known as the same U.S. 20 that runs right by the Quality Inn in Dubuque.) The next day – Wednesday, July 6 – I rented a kayak from Nuts and paddled upstream on the Galena River. I paddled 60 minutes upstream, then got back to the starting point in 20 minutes. Later that afternoon we shared dinner and rewarding beers at Thumser’s 19th Hole, East Dubuque, near where Nina’s daughter lives.

Thursday morning, July 7, we visited the Dubuque Museum of Art, mostly because of “Free Thursdays.” It was nice, and I enjoyed it, but I’m glad it was free. We then had lunch at BILL’S TAP, in Farley, near where Nina’s son and his brood live. “We” treated two of her cute granddaughters to lunch, and learned some new young-people slang. Like three terms for something especially good. 1) “It slaps!” 2) It “goes hard.” And 3) “It’s bustin.'” Now I have to check with my great-niece and -nephew back home and see if they’re up to date.

Friday morning, July 8, I visited the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. The Old Geezer discount cost $18.95, and well worth it. For one thing, you can go out and come back again, say, for a lunch break. Plus you can use it for two straight days, and frankly there’s too much to see in just one visit. Later that afternoon I visited the riverfront near the railroad bridge, then did some other errands and gassed up at the Sam’s Club. A pleasant surprise: Gas at a mere $4.35 a gallon. That was a welcome change. That evening we had dinner at Rhody’s, on the western edge of town, with Nina’s friend Judy. (I ordered something light.)

Next morning we left at practically the crack of dawn, and got to Evansville, Indiana. (And another Applebee’s. Google Maps helped me find one close to the motel.) We got home the next day, Sunday the 10th, eventually. Once again there was bad traffic in Nashville and Chattanooga, but we never made it to the ATL beltway. I ended up taking back roads north of Marietta, after leaving I-75 South. (Southwest on County Road 5, then southeast from where it intersects with CR 6.) The traffic tie-ups messed up the Google Map estimate of our arrival time. The initial estimate was 4:00 p.m., but it was getting dark by the time we reached Fayetteville. We found the Old Courthouse closed so we stopped at Twisted Taco, for one final road dinner-and-draft.

One point of order: For the next trip we RESOLVED that I would drive to Dubuque a few days early, and Nina would fly up and I’d meet her. Among other factors, that would allow me to bring my kayak and paddle across the Mississippi. (Dubuque has no place that I could find to rent a kayak or canoe.) And don’t forget that five pounds gained.

Next day, Monday the 11th, I went back to my regular diet and lots of healthy exercise.

BACK TO THE ROUTINE!

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“The crowning insult to him who occupies the presidential chair…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Dubuque, Iowa – Wikipedia. The city was named for Julien Dubuque (1762-1810), a Canadian from Quebec who settled near what is now the city. One of the first Europeans to settle in the area, he initially got permission from the Mesquakie Indian tribe to mine the lead in 1788. “Once he had received permission from the Meskwaki to mine lead, Dubuque remained in the area for the rest of his life. He befriended the local Meskwaki chief Peosta – for whom the nearby town of Peosta, Iowa is named.” He is believed to have married Peosta’s daughter.

The June trip was to New York City and Carnegie Hall. I previewed it in Back to New York City – finally!

Re: The trip to Dubuque. My current lady friend hails from there, and wanted to visit family, especially kids, grandkids and a new great-granddaughter.

Re: “Mighty Mississippi.” Click on the link to hear the song by the New Christy Minstrels [i]n 1963.

“The ATL” is the Atlanta Metropolitan Area that has been my new home for the past 12 years. It is one of several Black meccas, defined as cities to which “African Americans, particularly singles, professionals, and middle-class families, are drawn to live,” for reasons including greater income opportunities, greater political power and “harmonious black-white race relations.” For the record, I am much more comfortable in the Atlanta area, for reasons including that people “down south” are much friendlier. (As will be detailed more fully in my post on the trip to “Joisey,” featuring lots of cursing and horn-honking.) Plus gas prices have been lower.

Re: “Gaining an hour.” When we crossed into Central Time, 10:00 a.m. became 9:00 a.m.

Re: “Still being cleaned.” It appeared so, but no one was around.

Re: The “tri-state area.” Tri-state area – Wikipedia noted this is an “informal term in the United States which can be used for any of several populated areas associated with a particular town or metropolis that, with adjacent suburbs, lies across three states.” The article listed a number of such U.S. tri-state areas, and said the Dubuque, Iowa tri-state area “spills over into Illinois and Wisconsin.”

Re: Old Geezer discount. See the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium website and click on “Buy tickets.” The adult price for general admission is $20.95. One photo I took for Facebook showed a poster listing the 40 cents admission price in 1941 for a two hour “Showboat” stage performance.

The lower image is courtesy of Grant Made Scapegoat for Corruption | ClipArt ETC – FCIT: “President Ulysses S. Grant being made the scapegoat for continuing corruption.” (Some things never change.) Thomas Nast (1840-1902) was a “German-born American caricaturist and editorial cartoonist often considered to be the ‘Father of the American Cartoon.’ He was a critic of ‘Boss’ Tweed and the Tammany Hall Democratic party political machine. Among his works: The creation of the modern version of Santa Claus (based on traditional German figures, Sankt Nikolaus and Weihnachtsmann) and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party.” He did not create the donkey symbol for Democrats, but did popularize it through his work.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 69-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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“Why not 12 Supreme Court Justices?”

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I’m working on a new post, about my recent road trip up to New York City and Carnegie Hall. (Although based in North Bergen NJ; we took daily trips into “the City” via the 154 bus to the Port Authority bus station.) But that project is turning out to be way more complicated than I expected, and my last post came a month ago, on May 25.

So here’s a quickie, a filler-upper, based on the Supreme Court’s just overturning Roe v. Wade. (Speaking of the “ongoing Culture war,” as noted in the last post.) I found a draft post from some time ago, titled “Why not 12 Supreme Court Justices?”

Which leads to what Alexis de Tocqueville once wrote. He said the U.S. president may slip without the state suffering, and Congress may slip without the Union perishing, because both can be replaced by the voters. But if ever the Supreme Court “came to be composed of rash or corrupt men, the confederation would be threatened by anarchy or civil war.”

To many Americans, that prophecy just came true. (Thus the “chaos” image atop the page.) 

But taking the long view, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization won’t be the end of the story. This judicial effort to “turn back the clock” will lead to a strong reaction – as it has already – if not a strong “blue wave” some time in the foreseeable future. Which leads to the question, “How can we offset a way-too-conservative Supreme Court?”

For starters, there are ways to avoid or sidestep an unpopular “dictate from above,” in the form of a High Court decision. Just think of Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954, the then-Supreme Court ruled that “U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional.” The court added that states had to integrate “With All Deliberate Speed.” In response, “White citizens in the South organized a ‘Massive Resistance’ campaign against integration.” Almost 70 years later, we seem to be moving backward on that project.

Here’s another example of some Americans getting around such “orders from above:” 

Making alcohol at home was very common during Prohibition. Stores sold grape concentrate with warning labels that listed the steps that should be avoided to prevent the juice from fermenting into wine… The grape concentrate was sold with a warning: “After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine.”

You have to love a country where that happens. (“The popular will?”) Another thought: Dobbs just means that instead of one big battle, the combatants will now face 50 smaller battles.

Which brings us back to how to further side-step the current Court majority, of young and ardent conservatives. One answer: Court-packing. See What is Court Packing … FindLaw:

Article III of the U.S. Constitution … gives Congress broad discretion for establishing the structure of the judicial branch. The first court had six justices, before President John Adams and the Congress reduced the number of justices to five. The number of judges then fluctuated until it hit nine in 1869, where it has remained… So, it wouldn’t take a constitutional amendment to change the number of justices. Congress would simply have to pass a law, and the president would need to sign it.

Given all that, at some time in the foreseeable future a Democratic Congress and President could pass a law making the Court consist of 12 justices rather than nine. And there is ample precedent, including Biblical: 12 Apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, and in Common Law – for the longest time 12 people served on a traditional jury in England and America. (Before conservatives in many U.S. states to reduce the number to six, for ease of conviction.)

Then there’s “Consent of the governed.” 

That’s the idea that a “government‘s legitimacy and moral right to use state power is only justified and lawful when consented to by the people or society over which that political power is exercised.” On that note, I’d say the Dobbs majority’s thinking that most Americans will meekly accede to such an activist, conservative shake-up greatly misunderstands American history – and the American national character. We are definitely in for some interesting times…

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The upper image is courtesy of Chaos Images – Image Results.

The de Tocqueville quote is courtesy of the Anchor Book/Doubleday paperback version of Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America (1989), by Ethan Bronner, at pages 20-21.

I borrowed the “grape juice into wine” quote from Are we trying another “Noble Experiment?” In turn the quote came from  Prohibition in the U.S. – Wikipedia, which added: “Grape juice was not restricted by Prohibition, even though if it was allowed to sit for sixty days it would ferment and turn to wine with a twelve percent alcohol content. Many people took advantage of this as grape juice output quadrupled during the Prohibition era.”

The full court-packing URL is  What is Court Packing and Why Does It Matter? – FindLaw. Also, Consent of the governed – Wikipedia. See also Trump lacks the consent of the governed – NBC News: “In securing the unalienable rights of man, Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, ‘governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.’”

The lower image is courtesy of Interesting Times Image – Image Results, and by extension, Robert F. Kennedy Quote – Lib Quotes. See also May you live in interesting times – Wikipedia, May your children live in interesting times — a Chinese curse.

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On Mystic Christians – “The real ones?”

Was Obi-Wan Kenobi the original Mystic Christian? (As in, “May the Force be with you“)

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I’ve been struggling with what to call myself in the current, ongoing Culture war.

I despise the Radical Right – as heartless – but they don’t understand it when I respond, “Liberal my ass, I’m an Independent.” I tried that label back in July 2016, with The Independent Voter, and in 2019’s A reminder: “I’m an INDEPENDENT (Voter).” I also tried “Contrarian,” back in a November 2016 post, ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian. Then there was the February 2021 post, “I used to be quiet and shy, all moderate and nicey-nicey.” That one talked of me being “one of those people suffering from Trump fatigue.” 

So what am I? “Independent?” “Contrarian?” Somewhere between Radical Left and Wacko Right?

A week or so ago I tried the “Independent” label once again with my current lady friend. (Another conservative who voted for Trump; they’re all over the dang place.) But it didn’t go over – it “didn’t compute” – possibly because the label was too complicated. (For “those people.”) So I decided to “baffle them with BS.” (From a Quote by W.C. Fields, detailed in the notes.)

Put another way, I’ve decided to take the high road, to get away from talking politics altogether. (On Facebook, or dealing personally with Right-wing Wackos.) I turn the tables and use the Bible against them, saying things like, “How does that save souls?” It drives them crazy – which is worth the price of admission alone – mostly because “those people” have been using the Bible to advance their reactionary political agenda for decades now.

(There’s more on that radical agenda below…)

Besides, using “Mystic Christian” bring up the title of my new. soon-to-be-published book. The full title is “On Mystic Christians – (You know, the real ones?)” It follows up a book I did in 2018, “No Such Thing as a Conservative Christian.” (Under my nom de plume, “James B. Ford.”) It was designed as a bit of payback, or “turnabout is fair play,” a way of evening things out, mostly in response to Rick Santorum’s saying in 2008 that there’s “no such thing as a liberal Christian.”

The point is that logic and reason are mostly wasted in addressing the Wacko Right, “those people” who generally have no sense of humor. Which brings to mind an earlier mystic – and devout Roman Catholic – Thomas Merton. Someone asked him how you could tell if a person is “enlightened.” (Having gone through an inner, spiritual transformation.) He smiled and said, “Well it is very difficult to tell but holiness is usually accompanied by a wonderful sense of humor.” And such a sense of humor is noticeably lacking in the Radical Right.

On a related note, here’s another by-the-way: If you think I was being too political back in 2018 – when I published “No Such Thing as a Conservative Christian” – check out Televangelist Pat Robertson says God told him Trump will win. (Or Google “pastor God Trump win,” for similar results.) Either way, I’d say Robertson’s message from God got “garbled in transmission.”

The point is, if I was way too militant back then, I wasn’t the only one.

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I originally planned to have this post feature early pages in the ‘Mystic Christian’ book. I included those pages in the notes, but here are some highlights. Like how conservative Christians interpret most of the Bible literally, but not – in one glaring example – “The Bible’s ‘erotic love song:” But why don’t such Literalists interpret “Song of Songs” literally? Why don’t they adhere to the “exact letter or the literal sense” for this book, like all the others in the Bible?

Some Bible Literalists become snake handlers, based on a too-literal interpretation of Mark 16:18: “They will pick up snakes with their hands.” But I would say: “Be consistent. If you’re going to interpret Mark 16:18 literally, you should do the same with Song of Solomon 7:1-3: ‘Your rounded thighs are like jewels… Your two breasts are like two fawns…’”

On a more serious note – and speaking of using the Bible to advance a political agenda – there’s a question, Did Evangelicals Make Trump Their Messiah? (From early in the ‘Mystic’ book.)

The article opined that initially many Evangelicals supported Trump because they thought he shared the same politics and values. But then it seems that some Evangelicals – and other Christians – “supported him because they thought he was a Messiah. They saw Trump as infallible and became his disciples.” Which led one pastor (Franz Gerber) to worry that many in his congregation seemed to idolize Trump more than they worshipped Jesus.

“Nothing good can come from putting any single person on a spiritual pedestal. No one is infallible, no one is free from bias, and no one is honest all of the time, no matter how hard they may strive…”

Returning to “Trump-Messiah,” it noted the seeming hypocrisy of evangelicals who insist that Trump’s “morality” was nobody’s business but God’s, “while also casting great judgment on non-believers or those who don’t believe as they do.” Then came the matter of media coverage:

“What makes a good president is the ability to survive our constant scrutiny and the scrutiny of the free press. Through this process, which is critical, we can get a better sense of whether a politician is trying their best, and whether or not they generally have Americans’ best interests in mind…”

And speaking of borrowing a page from the Trump playbook – “baffling them with BS” – try this on for size. (Demonstrating how a mystic – Christian or otherwise – sees things differently.)

By his own admission, Donald Trump is: 1) a very stable genius, 2) a master negotiator, and 3) a true American patriot. Aside from that, he’s the only American Putin will allow into Russia.* With all that in mind, Trump could accept Putin’s invitation and negotiate an end to the war in Ukraine. By doing so he could end the needless suffering of millions of Ukrainians, and bring down the price of gas in America as well. If he did all that he would probably win the Nobel Peace Prize, which would certainly get him re-elected in 2024.

I wonder if he’ll do it? (In other words, “Fish or cut bait.”) 

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The upper image is courtesy of Obi-wan Kenobi Alec Guinness – Image Results. See also Obi-Wan Kenobi – Wikipedia.

Re: “Mystic.” For more see What is a Mystic and What Traits do they Typically Possess? One definition: “an individual who is born into a very specific role. Gifted with a deeper understanding of spirituality, and possessing psychic gifts and abilities, their role is one of guidance. In essence, mystics are here to use their powers to show humanity the correct way to live.” Merriam-Webster defines mysticism as “the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (such as intuition or insight).” But see also Christian mysticism – Wikipedia, noting the “mystical practices and theory within Christianity:”

Mysticism is not so much a doctrine as a method of thought. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic Church (including traditions from both the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches) and Eastern Orthodoxy… The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied. They range from ecstatic visions of the soul’s mystical union with God and theosis (humans gaining divine qualities) in Eastern Orthodox theology to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e. Lectio Divina).

Re: Thomas Merton (1915-1968), “arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race.” See also Thomas Merton – Wikipedia. His books included Zen and the Birds of Appetite, Mystics and Zen Masters, and the more conservative Praying the Psalms:

According to Merton: “To put it very plainly, the Church loves the Psalms because in them she sings of her experience of God, of her union with the Incarnate Word, of her contemplation of God in the Mystery of Christ….If we really come to know and love the Psalms, we will enter into the Church’s own experience of divine things. We will begin to know God as we ought.”

Re: The Force be with you. See Idioms … Free Dictionary, referring to the catch prase adapted from “Star Wars,” in which it is used as a blessing, “to protect or guide the other person.” See also 1st Chronicles 22:11, “The LORD be with you, and may you have success,” as well as Dominus vobiscum – Wikipedia. The latter noted that the phrase “the Lord be with you” is an “ancient salutation and blessing traditionally used by the clergy in the Catholic Mass … as well as liturgies of other Western Christian denominations, such as LutheranismAnglicanism and Methodism.” The response is Et cum spiritu tuo, meaning “And with your spirit.” 

And speaking of “Wacko Right,” Donald Trump was among the first to use the term, back in 2000. See THE STAUNCH-RIGHT WACKO VOTE – The Fleming Foundation, noting how in an early run against Pat Buchanan, “Trump told America that Buchanan’s supporters were the ‘staunch-right wacko vote.’”

Re: “Baffle them with BS.” According to Goodreads, the line is attributed to W.C. Fields: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” See also idioms … Free Dictionary: “In lieu of concrete facts or exceptional wit, you can convince people with artful, flowery, or misleading speech.” See also the Phrases website, which noted that the maxim has “been proven true, repeatedly, one need look no further than the American Republican party for evidence. Facts and logic have been swamped by absolutely preposterous nonsense.

Re: Putin’s invitation to Trump. See Russia bans 963 Americans from the country including Biden, Harris, Zuckerberg. But not Trump. For a different take, search “putin trump russia” for some interesting comments.

The lower image is courtesy of Fish Or Cut Bait Images – Image Results. Wikipedia explained that this is a common English language colloquial expression, dating back to the 19th-century United States, which among other things, “cautions against procrastination and/or indecisiveness.” Or in this case, saying you’re a very stable genius, a master negotiator and a true American patriot, but not doing anything with those sterling qualities. See also “Put up or shut up.”

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Here is the complete cut-and-paste from the first part of the new “Mystic Christian” book:

On the other hand there was my post, St. James … and the 7 blind men. It included the “parable of the Blind men and elephant,” and this thought:

Good Christians should be able to “argue” with each other –in the good sense.(The sense of “civil” lawyers presenting concise and reasoned bases to support their position, and not resorting to name-calling or “ad hominem” attacks.)

And a heads up for this book: I’ll haveSt. James … and the 7 blind menas a separate chapter later in the book. Before that though, it might help to review some parts of the “No Such Thing” book. (Then came the part about “rounded thighs, followed by:) – In the process of trying to find a less militant and more Christian title for this revised book, I originally came up with one that included “Evangelical” in quotation marks. I did that mainly because the word “Evangelical” these days means something way different than it used to.

To see what I’m talking about, search “trump and evangelicals today.” I did that and got 167,000,000 results. (That’s 167 million.) Those results included: 1) Trump Is Tearing Apart the Evangelical Church – The AtlanticThe Evangelicals’ Trump Obsession Has Tarnished Christianity, and Did Evangelicals Make Trump Their Messiah?

Taking them in order, Trump Is Tearing Apart said the “aggressive, disruptive, and unforgiving mindset” so much a part of our politics has “found a home in many American churches.” Put bluntly, too many Christians have embraced the worst aspects of our culture and our politics:

When the Christian faith is politicized, churches become repositories not of grace but of grievances, places where tribal identities are reinforced, where fears are nurtured, and where aggression and nastiness are sacralized. The result is not only wounding the nation; it’s having a devastating impact on the Christian faith.

Then there’s The Evangelicals’ Trump Obsession Has Tarnished Christianity. It talked about how the Trump era has affected the ability of Christians to share the good news about Jesus in a diverse and skeptical world:

If you believe … Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life,” then it makes sense to share the good news with everyone… But what happens when so many of Christ’s messengers have sacrificed their credibility and moral high ground by allying with a controversial political figure[?]

The author concluded, “Trumpism, I would argue, has damaged the Christian brand, as well as the conservative brand.”

(Then came the reference to Did Evangelicals Make Trump Their Messiah, followed by:) – Which brings us back to my struggle to find a better title for this new, updated, less hostile and more Christian re-write of the 2018 book.

That struggle started back even before I published the 2018 book. I went back and forth on what to call it, and once tried, “Not all Christians are Right-wing Wackos.” That certainly was direct and eye-catching, but way too hostile. (Again, I’m trying to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.)

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Back to New York City – finally!

 Carnegie Hall, where my brother and his wife will perform this June – with some other people…

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May 5, 2022 – A month from now I’ll visit Carnegie Hall, in New York City. That led me to wonder how long it’s been since I last visited The Big Apple. As it turns out, that was 2016, during a family visit headquartered on Staten Island. Which means it’s been six years since that last visit.

I didn’t realize it had been that long, but it’s been a busy six years. One thing that happened was the COVID pandemic, which screwed up family plans to visit back in June 2020. My brother, sister-in-law and other singers from our church* were scheduled to perform at Carnegie, but it got cancelled. (Then rescheduled for this June, 2022, which is where the “finally” comes in.) And speaking of busy, those past six years included – aside from COVID – three hikes on the Camino de Santiago – in 2017, 2019 and 2021* – and a three-week pilgrimage to Jerusalem in May 2019.

I’ll write more on the upcoming NYC trip in the future, but meanwhile it’s time to remember that last 2016 visit. As noted, my family stayed on Staten Island, which meant each day – starting on September 17 – we took the Staten Island Ferry over to Manhattan. And as you recall, that September was just before the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. Which election brought out a slew of grouchy old white people. (From where most had been hiding under a rock, or so it seemed.) That seemed especially true in Georgia, where I’ve lived since 2011.

Which made the trip to New York City in 2016 so refreshing – so “get away from it all” – that I did two posts about it: “No city for Grouchy Old White People,” and “No city for Grouchy Old White People” – Part II. For example, here’s what I wrote on Facebook on September 22, safely back on Staten Island: “New York City is a refreshing reminder that there’s more to this country than just the right-wing wackos so prevalent back home.” That Facebook entry also included this:

Ever since last Saturday, September 17, we’ve been taking the Staten Island ferry into and back from Manhattan Island. So that’s eight times – twice a day for four days now – that we’ve seen the Statute of Liberty, off in the distance…  And I don’t remember ONCE seeing a sign that said, “the heck with your tired, your poor,” those “wretched refuse … yearning to breathe free.”  WE’RE GONNA BUILD A FRIKKIN WALL!

(I also noted on Facebook that night that it had been a long day, but fun. “And I’ve had my usual one beer at the South Manhattan Terminal,* then another one on the Ferry itself, and I’m now finishing my third of the night, a ‘Corona Extra.’”) Ah, the memories…

And just for some excitement – I noted a Saturday ride on a double-decker tour bus, our first night in the city. The bus was delayed, but eventually made its way down Sixth Avenue toward downtown Manhattan, then over to Brooklyn. As we approached the Chelsea district, we heard a lot of sirens. Then we passed some streets blocked off, “and all kinds of murmuring crowds.” As we rode down Avenue of the Americas closer to Chelsea, we heard a whole lot of sirens. (Even more sirens and louder than usual in the City.) Texting a friend back home about all this, she texted back, “Explosion reported in New York..  be safe.” Which made me the first on the bus to find out about “New York City explosion rocks Chelsea neighborhood.”

The thing is, when the bombing happened – apparently – we were still back in that long line to get on the tour bus. And at the time we were kind of disgruntled about the long delay. But as it turned out, the delay meant that we DIDN’T drive by right as the explosion happened.

Which I figured was some kind of object lesson

I’ll do another post later on “Grouchy Old White People” – Part II, mostly because it’s so full of juicy memories. There’s lots of stuff on the Statue of Liberty, and some knucklehead saying the inscription is “just a poem,” with a citation about the Old Testament also be “just a bunch of poetry.” (Idiot.) And the American dream, and a visit to the One World Trade Center. And getting three “Stellas” at the Whitehall (Manhattan) Terminal, for the ride back to Staten Island. (One for me, one for my brother and one for my nephew.) And a hike on NYC’s “High Line,” followed by lunch at Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, in Chelsea.  (The same neighborhood where the bomb(s) went off Saturday night.) A visit to the Museum of Natural History – uptown – and later lucking into some $30 tickets to see “The Fantasticks” at the Jerry Orbach Theater, at 210 West 50th Street.  

Meanwhile, in February 2020 I posted Looking back on “the summer of ’16.” It talked about my learning to unfollow on Facebook, mostly because way too many of my high-school classmates had turned into grumpy old Trump-humpers.* It also talked about how – once the family vacation was over – I kayaked across the Verrazano Narrows, from Staten Island to Brooklyn and back, before leaving for home. (Via the Cape May Ferry and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel.) And noting that I was lucky I kayaked across “the Narrows” at neap tide, so I wasn’t either “swept by the currents into New York Harbor, or swept out to sea past Sandy Hook Bay.”

Gee, I wonder what adventures await this upcoming June…

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brooklynsideVN
My view of the Brooklyn side of the “Narrows”from an 8-foot kayak…

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The upper image is courtesy of Carnegie Hall Image – Image Results. It goes with an article, How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall? No, Seriously. | NCPR News, with lots of background information.

Re: “Brother, sister-in-law and others from our church.” They will be performing in one of several groups also performing “that night.”

Re: Three hikes on the Camino. Check the search engine above right for more details.

Re:  The “South Manhattan Terminal.” As Wikipedia noted, the formal name is “Whitehall:”

The ferry departs Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal at South Ferry, at the southernmost tip of Manhattan near Battery Park. On Staten Island, the ferry arrives and departs from the St. George Ferry Terminal on Richmond Terrace, near Richmond County’s Borough Hall and Supreme Court.

Re: “Grumpy old Trump-humpers.” I had toyed with the idea of going back to our 50th class reunion, after joining the reunion site on Facebook, but way too many negative political comments followed. As to the term Trump-humper, see “I used to be quiet and shy, all moderate and nicey-nicey,” from February 2021, and an earlier post, On “why it might be better…” (Gasp!). About why it might have been better if Trump had gotten re-elected. (Thus the “Gasp!”)

A note: I also reviewed the NYC visit in a December 2020 post, Now that the Trump Era is almost over. (For a while anyway.) And I took the photo of the “Brooklyn side” of the Verrazon bridge.

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Getting ready for Rome – and “the Way of St. Francis…”

This September “we” will hike the Via di Francesco – the “Way of St. Francis” – from Assisi to Rome…

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As briefly noted in the March 30 post, St. Patty 2022 – and the Way of St. Francis, my older brother Tom recently proposed a new adventure. (The brother I’ve had so many past adventures with.*) This September we two – along with Tom’s wife Carol – will hike, from Assisi, the 150 miles to Rome. Specifically, we three* will be hiking from Assisi to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, by way of the Via de Francesco. (In English, it’s The Way of St. Francis.) 

Which will no doubt be as much fun as last September’s “hike over the daunting Pyrenees.” (From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, via the Route de Napoleón, and from there – for me – on to Pamplona and Burgos.*)

One guidebook I found was The Way of St Francis … to Assisi and Rome, by “Sandy” Brown. It said the Apennine Mountain Range is “the thick spine of the Italian peninsula,” bordering the Way of St. Francis. And that because of its “challenging topography, the Way of St. Francis is a challenging walk.” The book noted that veterans of the Camino de Santiago (like us) may compare several days walking on the Way of St. Francis “to a walk over the Route [de] Napoleón that crosses the Pyrenees. A daily climb of 500 to 1000 meters is not unusual.”

Also, “sporadic rain is assured in any season of the year.” On that note, I still have plastic shoe covers from September 2021’s Pyrenees hike. And for Pyrenees hiking in the rain, I used a cheap plastic Walmart poncho. I covered that with a black windbreaker to keep the poncho from blowing all over in the wind. The combination was both lightweight and worked well.

Finally, the Sandy Brown guidebook said the region near the Francis trail remains green pretty much year-round. And that the trail offers breathtaking views from lofty mountain ridges, along with “long walks in ancient forests.” However, it’s also important for hikers “to plan and prepare well for the challenges ahead.” Which is good advice for any such adventure.

But first I have to get to Rome, and from there to Assisi. Which means finding an affordable flight, then booking a room, then getting from Rome airport to that room, and from there getting up to meet Tom and Carol in Assisi. (They’ll be flying in before me and doing some sightseeing up in northern Italy.) Which means this post will be devoted to some initial research.

So now for that first two days in Rome, after flying in. That is, before booking a flight, I booked a room at the “Biancagiulia Bed and Breakfast near Rome Termini Station.” Because Tom and Carol will be arriving early and doing some touristy stuff up in the northern part of Italy, I’ll meet up with them in Assisi near the end of August, 2022.

Which means I have to plan on either a bus or a train from Rome, which is why I picked Biancagiulia. It’s a four or five minute walk from there to both the central bus and train stations. “Termini is also the main hub for public transport inside Rome,” not to mention several museums nearby, and a place called LET IT BEER, Roma. (“Piazza delle Crociate, 26/28, 00162 Roma.”) One reviewer said of the latter, “Hard to find, but worth it. small live music joint. was there on a sunday, not many people, but a well playing local blues band. and of course: cpold beer.”

That “cpold beer” must have been really good. As far as finding the place, I’ll do some assiduous Google-mapping before I go, just like for my May 2019 pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And how I found the BEERBAZAAR JERUSALEM my first full day there. (On Jaffa Street. See This time last year – in Jerusalem!) Anyway, after checking both options, the bus from Rome to Assisi seems preferable to the train. The price is cheap – a mere $13 – and only takes three hours or so. The only downside? A departure time of 5:30 in the morning.

I saw from the link Rome → Assisi Bus: from $12 | FlixBus | Busbud, that the bus will leave Tiburtina bus station. (Rome Forum – Tripadvisor clarifies that it’s actually the “Largo Guido Mazzoni, next to the Roma Tiburtina train station.”) As for “Let It Beer Roma,” it’s said to be a two-minute walk from the station. I won’t be stopping there at 5:00 in the morning, but I would want to check the station the afternoon before, just to make sure I’m at the right place.

Google Maps also shows that the bus will arrive, at 8:30 a.m., at the Piazza San Pietro Assisi. The town of Assisi itself is much smaller than Rome, and it’s a mere three-minute walk from the station to the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, the town’s main attraction. (For us pilgrims anyway.) Assisi spreads out more toward the southeast, and I didn’t see any McDonald’s, but there is a quaint-looking Ristorante Bar San Francesco on the way. (Francesco, not Francisco.)

So now what I have to do is find an affordable flight. The two best choices for me are Delta and Turkish Airlines. I’d prefer Delta, both to support local business and earn SkyMiles®. But the cheapest Delta “Basic” flight doesn’t give SkyMiles, and it’s also non-refundable and non-changeable. (Not without a hefty penalty anyway.) So the cheapest feasible Delta flight hovers around $1,200, but I remember seeing a Turkish Airline flight for roughly half that. (Some weeks ago, and with a seven-hour layover in Istanbul.) And by the way, I flew “Turkish” to Israel in May 2019 and was reasonably impressed with their service. In the meantime I’ll meditate on that goal of reaching the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, and from there walking the 150 miles to Rome…

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The Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, starting point for a 150-mile pilgrim hike…

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The upper image is courtesy of Way Of St Francis Pilgrimage – Image Results.

Re: The brother I’ve had so many past adventures with. They include hiking the Camino de Santiago three times, once from Pamplona, once from Porto (the Portuguese Way), and once over the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Burgos. Others include hiking the Chilkoot Trail (“meanest 33 miles in history”), canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River, from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and canoeing eight days, 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, primitive camping. (“Dig a hole and squat.”) To see more, type in the subject in the search engine above right.

Re: “We three will be hiking.” The last time “we three” hiked together was on the Portuguese Camino, from Porto – where they make Port wine – up to Santiago de Compostela. See my posts, “Greetings from the Portuguese Camino,” and Here’s that second post on the Portuguese Camino. For the hike over the Pyrenees, We Three were joined by Carol’s brother Ray.

Re: My hike over the Pyrenees, in September 2021. In 2017 Tom hiked the entire “Camino Frances,” including over the Pyrenees, but I “wussed out” and met him in Pamplona. From there we hiked and biked 450 miles to Santiago de Compostela. My “wussing out” always bothered me, but I fixed that last September, and hiked as far as Burgos. Tom then guided Ray and Carol, who’d never done the Camino Frances, “back” to Santiago. For more detail see Hiking over the Pyrenees, in 2021 – finally!

Re: Sandy Brown guide. The full cite is The Way of St Francis: Via di Francesco: From Florence to Assisi and Rome. (From Cicerone Guides, Kindle Edition), by Reverend Sanford Brown. Updates available at Book Updates-2017a (2) … cicerone.co.uk, or Cicerone Press | Guides for walkers, hikers (etc.).

A note on the difference between the bus or train from Rome to Assisi. The train arrives at Assisi’s Santa Maria Degli Angeli station. And incidentally, there’s a “McDonald’s Assisi, Viale Patrono d’Italia,” about a two minute walk from the station. (According to Google Maps.) Another note of some importance: In Italy, be sure to “validate your ticket by stamping it in the station’s validation machine after your purchase,” or be ready to pay a 40 Euro fine. (Nice to know.) Finally, my initial research indicated I would have to change stations three or four times on the train, which affected my decision. Tom noted later there was an “Omio” direct train from Rome to Assisi, which meant a later departure time, of 8:30 a.m., and no train changes. But last year I really enjoyed the early morning bus ride from Burgos to Madrid, starting off in the dark and seeing the sun slowly rise in the east…

The lower image is courtesy of Basilica Of Saint Francis Of Assisi – Wikipedia – Image Results.

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Looking back – on March 2020

September’s “Way of St. Francis” – or Via di Francesco – runs in our case from Assisi to Rome…

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I’m in the process of writing two new posts. One is on an upcoming trip to Italy, to hike the Way of St Francis. (From Assisi to Rome, in September, barring World War Three or something like that.) The other post will talk about how Vladimir Putin started his Ukraine campaign of Cyberwar and Misinformation way back in 2014. But they’re both going to take some time to develop, and my last post came almost two weeks ago. So here’s another “look back” review.

From May 11, 2020, there’s Week 8 of the Coronavirus shut-down. And from June 6, 2020, there’s Random thoughts (on “Socialism,” etc.) – from March 2020. I’m not sure why I called the June post “from March 2020,” but I did turn 70 in 2021, so maybe it was a sign of early senility.

Let’s hope not. But anyway, “Week 8 … shut-down” had a lead image of Voltaire, as a prototypical “intellectual recluse” who lived well enough during an earlier time of “destruction let loose.” Which seemed to fit the early weeks of the COVID, and which brought up a question: “What did people do in the Olden Days when disaster struck?” But based on my life experience, I’d say that one question you don’t want to ask at such times is, “What else could go wrong?”

Cue the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and a new poser, “Do I Need a 4th COVID Shot?”

The “March ’20” post talked about how I passed the time in those early days of the pandemic. I described my exercise routine – at length – and also about watching lectures on Great Courses Plus. One course hit a chord, on how Americans who tamed the frontier West learned to “adapt, to cooperate with one another, and to treat each other as equals.” (Emphasis added.) And that by such means – mutual cooperation and treating each other as equals – they “subdued the wild lands around them, working out ideas and techniques unknown to their ancestors.”

Needless to say, I was struck by the words “cooperate with one another” and “treat each other as equals.” To which I can only say, “What the hell happened?”

The fact is that in those pandemic early days I was “busier than the proverbial one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.” Which meant following the advice Voltaire (right) set out in his 1759 Candide“we must cultivate our garden.” Or put in another setting, “Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s [own] garden.” (See Voltaire’s Solution to a Life Full of Thorns.) 

I also noted that I’d decided to make this Blog (I actually wrote “this post“) more like a series of personal essays. I even included a link for my own self-instruction, 7 Helpful Tips on How to Write a Memorable Personal Essay. One lesson, “Personal essays relate the author’s intimate thoughts and experiences to universal truths… They conclude with the author having learned, changed, or grown in some way and often present some truth or insight that challenges the reader to draw their own conclusions.”

I’ll try to keep that in mind, but just for “your” information: I’m retired now, and so prefer to write like I paint. “What I like,” and if you don’t like it, that’s your privilege. (On the upside, this is a great time to be retired.) Which means it’s time for Random thoughts (on “Socialism,” etc

There I wrote about the fall of 2019, when I toyed with the idea of going to my 50th high school reunion. So I hooked up with the Facebook reunion group, and “friended” some former classmates. But I was surprised to find out how many had become “grumpy old geezers.”

As evidenced by the many grumpy, whiny and negative posts that way too many of them put on Facebook. (Which is why I learned the magic of “unfollowing” rather than “unfriending.”)

Then too, for some reason “socialism” was a big topic at that time and among my former classmates. Along with the idea that Social Security is not an entitlement. “I earned it, I paid into it, and nobody is going to take it away from me!” Which led me to do a little research… It turns out that life expectancy is a lot longer now than it was when we first started paying in, back in the 1970s. The key is, we paid for our parents’ Social Security, and our children and grandchildren are paying for ours. But we’re living a full eight years longer – on average – than our parents did.

Which means that you – my typical Old Geezer high-school classmate – are getting a “free” eight years of Social Security benefits. In other words, for at least eight years of your life – assuming you make the “expected” life span of 79 or so – YOU’RE GOING TO BE A SOCIALIST! (In other words a mooch, a freeloader, or whatever other label you want to use.)

Then there were the George Floyd protests going on, not to mention the June 2, 2020 post by Jacob G. Hornberger, titled “Trump and His Standing Army.” As you recall, the Floyd protests spread across a number of American cities, which led to then-president Trump’s “warning to state governors that he is prepared to send his military forces to quell violent protests in cities across the land.” Hornberger wrote that Trump’s theory of power “serves as another reminder of why our ancestors had such a deep antipathy toward standing armies.” Which was illustrated by this bit of news: “Heavily armed men who refuse to identify themselves are patrolling the streets of Washington, DC. They were sent by the Bureau of Prisons.” 

That review – of March, 2020 – led me to think, “You know, maybe things today aren’t that bad.”

At least we have a grown-up in the White House…

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The upper image is courtesy of Way Of St Francis Pilgrimage – Image Results.

The lower image is courtesy of Responsible Leader Image – Image Results.

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On St. Patty 2022 – and the Way of St. Francis…

Saint Patrick’s statue at Saul, County Down.” His special day is March 17…

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My older brother Tom – the one I’ve had all the adventures with* – recently proposed a new one. (Adventure that is.) Hiking the 150 miles or so from Assisi to Rome.

Specifically, to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, by way of Via de Francesco. (In English, St Francis’ Way.) I had planned to do a next post on the subject, but then saw that my last post came on February 18, 2022. (Another Super Bowl (2022) is history.) But the “Way of St. Francis” post will take some time, so in the interim, here’s one on Saint Patrick, whose special day is March 17.

Patrick was the “fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the ‘Apostle of Ireland,’ he is the primary patron saint of Ireland.” (The 5th century ran from 401 to 500 A.D.) No one can say when St. Patrick was born, but he is said to have died on March 17. (Now celebrated as his Feast Day.)  In Irish his name would be Padraig, and that’s often shortened to “Paddy.” In turn, it’s seen as a derogatory term for Irish men. See Saint Patrick – Wikipedia, and also The Free Dictionary. That in turn  gave rise to the “Paddy wagon:”

The name came from the New York Draft riots of 1863. The Irish at the time were the poorest people in the city. When the draft was implemented it had a provision for wealthier people to buy a waiver. The Irish rioted, and the term Paddy wagon was coined.

See Urban Dictionary: paddy wagon, about the “police vehicle used to transport prisoners.” But back to St. Patrick. According to legend, he was born in Britain but at 16 captured by Irish pirates. Taken as a slave back to Ireland, he lived there for six years before escaping. He got back to his family, studied and became a cleric, and in the fullness of time went back to Ireland. Legend further says Patrick used the native shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish. 

One thing St. Patrick’s day is known for is drinking Green beer. Which raises the question: Why Do We Drink Green Beer On St. Patrick’s Day? That and the article The story of green beer and St. Patrick’s Day show that apparently the trend started in the early 1900s, in New York City:

It is thought that actual green beer got it’s start in the early 1900’s in New York. A newspaper article from 1914 describes a New York social club serving green beer at a celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner. In the article, the drink is attributed to Dr. Curtin, a coroner’s physician who achieved the green beer effect by putting a drop of “wash blue” dye in his beer.

A couple side notes: One, “they used to call beer that wasn’t fermented long enough, ‘Green Beer’ because it caused stomach issues or as they called it in 1904 ‘biliousness.’” Two, that  wash blue was, “in fact, poison, an iron powder solution used to whiten clothes.” (I think I’ll pass this year.) As to the day, see How America Invented St. Patrick’s Day | TIME:

The [St. Patrick’s day] holiday also spread by becoming a means for all Americans to become Irish for the day. The shared sense of being Irish, of wearing green and in some way marking March 17, has resulted in St. Patrick’s Day being observed in a similar fashion to July Fourth or Halloween. It’s the closest thing in America to National Immigrant Day, a tribute not only to the Irish, but to the idea that Americans are all part “other.” (E.A.)

(A radical idea these days.) So here’s to You, St. Patrick! Among other things, you and your Irish brethren “saved Western Civilization” from the barbarians. (See How the Irish Saved Civilization – Wikipedia.) All of which is a good excuse to have a tall, frosty mug of Green Beer!

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The upper image is courtesy of Saint Patrick – Wikipedia. It included the “quote” part of the caption.

Re: The brother I’ve had adventures with. They include hiking the Camino de Santiago three times, once from Pamplona, once from Porto (the Portuguese Way), and once over the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Burgos. Others include hiking the Chilkoot Trail (“meanest 33 miles in history”), canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River, from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and canoeing eight days, 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, primitive camping. (“Dig a hole and squat.”) To see more, type in the subject in the search engine above right.

Re: St. Patrick. There’s also the legend he “drove all the snakes out of Ireland.” Some scholars doubt the legend, for reasons including – they say – there were no snakes in Ireland in the first place: “all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes.

The lower image is courtesy of Green Beer St Patrick’s Day – Image Results.

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Another Super Bowl (2022) is history…

Moses at the Battle of Rephidim:  ‘If I let my arms down, the other team will win!‘“

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Super Bowl LVI – “56” – is now history. Which means that today there are undoubtedly some LA Ram fans who think their team won because of something they did. On the flip side, there are doubtless some Bengal fans asking, “Why did my team lose? What did I do wrong?

Which reminds me of the 2017* Super Bowl, when I found myself asking that same question.

Five years ago – in 2017 – I did a post on Super Bowl LI (51). In that game, “some clown named Tom Brady” led the New England Patriots to “the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.” Which is another way of saying my favorite NFL team – in the Super Bowl at that time – blew a 28–3 lead. (“My” Atlanta Falcons led 28–3 with 8:31 left in the third quarter.)

I felt at the time that – needless to say – there were some Patriot fans who thought their team won because of something they did. The flip side back then was that among Falcon fans, some were undoubtedly asking, “Why did they lose? What did I do wrong?” And – I’m a bit embarrassed to say – I was one of the latter. Which brings up the topic of “sports fan superstitions.”

For one example, see Two-thirds of sports fans are superstitious about game days. (The article added, “40% think a family member is bad luck!”) Dated November 2021, the post noted a survey that said “3 in 5 sports fans have blamed themselves following a loss by their favorite sports team.” So if I was being weird back in 2017, I wasn’t the only one.

In that 2017 post, I had my own game-time ritual all set. However, it got messed up by the lady I was dating at the time. The thing is, after many years of aggravation I had decided, “No more watching games on TV showing any team that I care about.” That became a big part of my game-time ritual – for teams I cared about – and it seemed to be “ritually efficacious.” It seemed to help my teams play better, and was way less aggravating for me. In turn, in 2017’s Super Bowl 51, that formula worked out well – for the first two and a half quarters…

We – or at least I – deliberately didn’t watch the game on TV. The lady and I went out to a movie, then to a late dinner, but every once in a while I’d sneak a peek at the game progress. The Falcons were doing unexpectedly well. Then we adjourned to her house, and I suggested we play cards. (To pass “game time.”) Then came my big mistake.

The Falcons had been winning big, but then we decided to stop playing cards and check out the game on TV. Which we did, but then it wasn’t long before the Patriots starting coming back. At that point I suggested – rather strongly – that we turn off the TV and go back to playing cards. But the lady said no, she was “invested.” Then the comeback – or “choke,” to Falcon fans – started in earnest, so I started begging her to turn off the TV and go back to playing cards. (“Bad karma,” or something like that.) She ignored my pleas, and that led ultimately – in the fullness of time – to the Falcons going on to suffer that biggest “choke” in Super Bowl history…

But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part came when she had the nerve to say, “You don’t seriously believe that us turning off the TV would change the outcome of the game, do you?”  

Which eventually led me back to the Battle of Rephidim. That’s where Moses became the first guy to ever say, “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work!” (Like that old Bud Light commercial?) Put another way, that Bible episode – at Exodus 17:8-16 – showed Moses “helping his team win:”

Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winningbut whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. [E.A.]

In other words, Moses “helped” his team in the same way that many modern sports fans help their teams win. (Mirrored by some fans who feel guilty because of something they didn’t do, or did wrong, or jinxed their team, or otherwise caused their team to lose.)

Which raises the question: Suppose Moses had listened to “logic and reason?” Or suppose his wife had come up the mountain and said to him, “Moses, you look ridiculous. Do you honestly think that holding your hands up like that is going to change the outcome of the battle?”

The short answer? The world as we know it would be much different. If nothing else, had the Amalekites beaten the Children of Israel, world history would be “worse, much worse.” Moses would never have had the chance to write – or at least finish – the first five books of the Bible, that “most influential, most published, most widely read book in the history of the world.”

So one point of all this is that devoted sport-fans love to think that if their team wins, they – the fans – helped out. (Through their rituals, their “lucky shirts” and the like.) But in doing so they aren’t acting any stranger or more weird than Moses did back at the Battle of Rephidim.

Of course there are skeptics. Like Faulty logic: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc « Gotham Skeptic: “It’s a natural tendency for people to make connections between events. ‘When I do this, that happens…’ Primitive people developed superstitions in similar ways.” In doing so, Mr. Snide-remark Skeptic not-so-subtly compared modern fans to “primitive people.” And by extension he compared Moses to those “primitives” as well, most likely because he didn’t know his Bible…

Either way, Moses seems to have used just that kind of “post hoc” logical fallacy at the Battle of Rephidim. “Hmmm. When I hold my hands up, my Israelites start winning the battle. But if I let my hands down, they start losing. Gosh, I wonder what I’ll do?” And as has been noted, “events that occur in succession may well be causally related, but they may also be completely unrelated.” In Moses’ case, I’m glad he didn’t take any chances. I’m glad he went with his gut.

“This works. This doesn’t. I think I’ll go with what works!” (It ain’t brain surgery…)

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And now, back to that “clown named Tom Brady.”

The good news is that in the fullness of time, he redeemed himself, at least to me. That is, after he broke the hearts of all those Falcon fans in 2017 – including me – I really didn’t like him too much. In fact, I never liked him or the Patriots all that much. The combination of the two – like Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators* – was just too obnoxious. But then, a miracle…

You see, before moving to the Atlanta area in 2010, I lived in Florida’s Tampa Bay area for some 50 years, starting in 1956. Which means I was a Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan for way longer – since 1976 – than I’ve been a Falcon fan. But after their breakthrough Super Bowl win in 2003, the Bucs suffered a long, 17-year “playoff drought.” They “would not win another playoff game until their second Super Bowl championship season in 2020.*”

And how did that happen? How did that drought end? A big part of it happened in March 2020, when Tom Brady officially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And then, less than a year later, he led my beloved Buccaneers to their second Super Bowl win, in a 31-9 “butt-kicking of Biblical proportions.” So the good news? “Tom Brady, all is forgiven…”

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In Super Bowl LVTom Brady “redeemed himself,” to one fan of the Falcons and Buccaneers…

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The upper image is courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett Millais‘ Victory O Lord! (1871).” Also, this post was gleaned in large part from posts in a companion blog, Moses at Rephidim: “What if?” And Romans 11 – and “What happened to FSU football?” See also – from this blog – On football, Moses and Rephidim.

A note about the 2022 Super Bowl. In a big sense, I didn’t have a dog in that fight. I was kind of hoping the Bengals would win, both because a lot of friends and relatives have them as their favorite teams, and because the &^%$ Rams beat my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the other hand, as a Buc fan I can now say, “Well, we lost, but only to the team that went on to win the Super Bowl…”

The “2017” Super Bowl. That game was played on February 5, 2017, to “determine the champion of the National Football League (NFL) for the 2016 season.” In the same way, the Buccaneers capped their championship 2020 season in the Super Bowl played on February 7, 2021.

The “ritual” link is to Superstitions, a sports tradition – The Aggie.

Re: The Falcons suffering that biggest “choke” in Super Bowl history. On the flip side, two “Atlanta area” teams later also redeemed themselves in 2021-22, ending what had also been long “sports droughts.” First, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series for the first time since 1995 on November 2, 2021, then on January 10, 2022, the Georgia Bulldogs football team won the 2021 college football national championship. (Georgia hadn’t won a national championship since 1980.)

The “old Bud Light commercial.” Searching that term got me 455,000 results, See also my October 2015 post, Was Moses the first to say “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work?”

Re: “Jinxing.” The link is to 20 Ways to Successfully Jinx a Sports Team. Among the ways: Forget to wear something lucky, leave a game early, or “talk serious trash.” The writer, from the Cleveland area, said, “I have yet to see any of my favorite teams hoist a championship trophy in my lifetime, and can recall plenty of times when I’ve truly believed to have jinxed one – or all – of them in a loss.”

Re: The Bible as “most influential, the most published, the most widely read book in the history of the world,” see Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One),  Avenel Books (1981), at page 7.

The quote beginning “Superstition is a large part” referred back to Super Bowl XLVIII, between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos:

Superstition is a large part of a fan’s repertoire these days, especially when the home team is in Super Bowl XLVIII today… Kenny Shisler has similar superstitions. The lifelong Broncos fan said he will wear Broncos gear all week long, but refuses to do so on game day… “Like the Bud Light commercials [say], ‘It’s only weird if it doesn’t work…’”

That is, Super Bowl XLVIII decided the title for the 2013 NFL season. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43–8, “the largest margin of victory for an underdog” in Super Bowl history. Also incidentally, the quote itself is from a “Gotham skeptic” article that is “now defunct.” But see also Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (Logical Fallacy … – Fallacy In Logic.

“Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators.” I went to law school at Florida State University – UF’s arch rival – and so became an ardent FSU fan and “Gator hater.” Not that I’m biased or anything…

The lower image is courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl – Image Results. With an article, “Super Bowl: Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate victory as Tom Brady wins seventh title.” 

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An update on Nell Gwynn – “Protestant Whore”

 Nell Gwynn, an English actress and “mistress of King Charles II of England.”  

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A nice lady from Iowa recently asked me, “What is voter suppression?”

I hemmed and hawed a bit, mostly because I figured most voter suppression is aimed at black voters. However, there aren’t many black people in Iowa,* so I had to come up with an answer that was “case specific.” That is, I had to frame it in a way that made sense to someone with her “purer” mindset. That is, to someone not that familiar with “diversity.” Which turned out to be way more complicated and time-consuming than I thought.

So in the meantime I offer up this reprise of “Nell Gwynn, Protestant Whore.”

That idea came from a post I did in March 2015, “When adultery was proof of ‘loyalty.” I based the original post on one of  Harry Golden‘s short pieces in his book Only in America. Harry’s column “dealt with the English Civil War, the execution of King Charles I, the Puritan Regime under Oliver Cromwell, and the Restoration of Charles II.” That is, Charles II of England.

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg

Briefly, England’s Puritans under Oliver Cromwell – seen at left – executed Charles II’s father (Charles I) in 1649. Son Charles fled to a long exile in France, and 11 years later – after Cromwell died – the English people were heartily sick of Cromwell’s Puritan regime. They welcomed back Charles II with “tumultuous acclaim.”

That is, the Puritan Regime under Oliver Cromwell had “imposed a very strict moral code upon the people.” One result: People having too much fun – or any – ended up “reported by friends, neighbors, and their own children.” (Basically, for dancing, play-acting, kissing on the Sabbath…  In short, “gaiety of any kind” was severely punished.)

Then Charles II got restored to the throne, and naturally there was some lingering concern. The new administration was concerned about people who weren’t loyal to the new king, because – after all – such people had executed the new king’s father. So in the era that followed, the best way to prove loyalty was “to have fun.” To enjoy yourself, and if you really wanted to prove to the new world order that you were “not now and never have been” a member of the Puritan Party, committing adultery was the most convenient way to prove it. (Said Harry:)

If a man and a woman were on a journey and they suspected the coachman of being a Government agent, they went to all sorts of extremes to prove their “loyalty” and throw the fellow off… And so when the coachman peeked, and saw what was going on back there, he shrugged his shoulders; “Those people are all right, they ain’t no Puritans.

In other words, after the Restoration of Charles II, “there was a bit of turnabout is fair play.”

One estimate said Charles II had 14 Mistresses, by whom he fathered 11 children. Nell Gwynn was but one, but the only faithful one. According to the site below, Gwynn “met Charles when she was just 17 and was faithful to him not just until his death, but afterward too.”

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There’s more detail in the original post, but in reviewing it I saw that – among other things – I had to upgrade the lead picture. That led me to Scandalous Facts About Nell Gwyn, England’s Royal Mistress, which led me to a story about how she got her nickname.

It seems that in 1681, Gwynn was passing through Oxford in a stylish coach. An anti-Catholic mob “besieged” the coach, mistaking her “for a Catholic rival in the king’s bed.” They started screaming at “the Catholic whore,” at which point Gwyn “popped her head out of the carriage window and assured the mob, ‘Good people, you are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore!'” Whereupon the mob cheered – “lustily?” – and let Gwynn “carry on her way.”

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I did an earlier update in March 2016, “The Protestant Whore,” and other posts from last March. (2015.) That made it March 2016, just about the time Donald Trump was solidifying his hold on Republican voters. So in March 2016, I thought maybe my “adultery – loyalty” post was a bit prescient. As in looking back to 1649, when “a bunch of radical conservatives took over the government, shook things up, and made every Englishman’s life miserable.

Which naturally gave rise to a whole lot of quasi-religious hypocrisy:

One may easily see how desire for office or promotion led to hypocrisy. If sour looks, upturned eyes, nasal twang, speech garnished with Old Testament texts, were means to favor, there were others who could assume them besides those naturally afflicted with such habits.

Back in March 2016 I asked, “Does any of this sound familiar?”  And in closing I noted one of Harry Golden’s main points, that history repeats itself in cycles. Which led to the question:

“Which cycle are we in now??”

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Joseph N. Welch (at left) tries to figure out a way to escape McCarthyism…”

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The upper image is courtesy Nell Gwynne – Image Results

Re: Black people in Iowa. According to Iowa Population demographics 2020, 2019, African-Americans make up two percent of Iowa’s population. (Which is 91% white, with “Hispanic or Latino” as the second-largest racial group.) Compare that with Georgia – where I’ve lived for 10 years now – which has a black population of 32.6 percent. (While “Non-Hispanic Whites” make up only 50.1 percent of the population – a bare majority – compared to Iowa’s 91 percent white population.)

Re: Number of “kingly” mistresses. According to the link in the main text, the record for most mistresses goes to King Henry I, who had twenty-two. And the site Henry I of England – Wikipedia listed nine illegitimate sons and 15 possible illegitimate daughters.

The “hypocrisy – sour looks” quote comes from the book by Winston S. Churchill, “The New World.” (Volume Two of a four-volume series, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Chapter XX, “The Lord Protector.” See also Chapter XXII, “The Merry Monarch,” which told of the relief the English felt when Charles II took “a mistress from the people,” Gwynn, and further that the King’s example “spread far and wide,” demonstrating a “sense of relief from the tyranny of the Puritans.” (More prescience?) 

The lower image is courtesy of McCarthyism – Wikipedia.  See also Joseph Nye Welch – shown in the lower image at left – as “head counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation by Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for Communist activities.” See also – re: history repeating in cycles – Historic recurrence – Wikipedia.

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