Dot Tom Cafe

BOLETO IDA-VUELTA / Round-Trip Ticket

Confessional, by Bonnie Swank


A. DATELINE HISTORY: 11/22/1963 - JFK Assassinated in Dallas...

1974 ... William Calley had just been freed after serving 3 1/2 years under house arrest following his conviction for the murder of 22 My Lai civilians in a brutal, divisive war.


Then & Now

I spent the final years of the Viet Nam era as a grad student at Texas A&M University, where anti-war protests didn't gather an audience of more than 50 from a student body numbering in the tens of thousands.

The Aggie Corps of Cadets, as a percentage of the student body, decreased yearly from 1968 to 1975, from more than 90% to less than 20%. But the core of A&M's identity, so to speak, remained Military. The University's marching band remained all BQ - Band Queers drawn from the Corps. The cute canine mascot was still named Reveille, the Fightin' Texas Aggie was still symbolized by Sarge, the now-infamous Bonfire was a Corps of Cadets project. And the death of any student, civilian or military, was memorialized by a Taps Ceremony, so silent, so dignified, & so deeply stirring of youthful sentiments that we Freshman Comp instructors universally banned it as an essay topic.

When the much-expanded & renovated Student Center was completed, it was rededicated as a memorial to A&M graduates who had died in battle. One hallway was graced by seven WW II Medals of Honor. You didn't walk on the grass surrounding that building, any more than you would tread on a soldier's grave. It was, as a long-since-graduated CT (Corps Turd) kept reminding me, Sacred Aggie Grass.

Universities being what they are in matters of tradition, I suspect that - except for the pre-Turkey-Day-Game Bonfire, which returns this year as a Not-School-Sponsored event - Aggieland remains much the same.


Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did

by Martin Van Creveld

He who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however, advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat; if U.S troops in Iraq have not yet started fragging their officers, the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high. That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did. Namely, with the last US troops fleeing the country while hanging on to their helicopters’ skids.

Martin Van Creveld is professor of history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has written a number of books that have influenced modern military theory, including Fighting Power, Command in War, and most significantly, The Transformation of War. He is also the author of The Rise and Decline of the State.



John Caudill, Re. Mid Term Exam

The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.


Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over. So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you, and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."



Speaking of University Days & the Literary Life:

Lory mentioned liking murder mysteries a while back. I've stopped reading in those, but I have fond memories of Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsy series - which together form a love story. Sort of like reading enstallments of Pride & Prejudice in which Elizabeth & Darcy solve one murder after another.

ALL ABOUT ROMANCE reviews The Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers
... The Lord Peter Wimsey Series. By Dorothy L ... There is one detective series I simply must have and that is the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L ...


Better still: Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small Mystery Series. Rabbi Small solves mysteries & explains Judiasm.

Fictionwise eBooks:
... Harry Kemelman's Rabbi Small Mystery Series. Description: Rabbi Small is a master of theological discourse and an analyst ... Monday the Rabbi Took Off [A Rabbi Small Mystery] ...


Carolyn also likes the Ella Klah series - crime & punishment on the Navaho Reservation - and the past master in that genre, Tony Hillerman. She also manages to keep track of all the horse-people mysteries Dick Francis seems to write faster than readers can make them best-sellers. And she like's Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta, Paretski's V. I. Washowski, and...


B. DATELINE HISTORY: 11/23/1889 - The jukebox made its debut, at the Palais Royale Saloon, in San Fransisco...


Science Fiction Notes & Links:

Thanks to the movie "Solaris" I became interested in Stanislaw Lem, upon whose novel the film is loosely based. Here's the opening to one viewer's response to the film:

"I rented this film, then did some last minute Christmas shopping. While I was gone, my husband watched the first half of "Solaris" and turned it off - twice. He then watched "Terminator 3," which he enjoyed.

"After he went off to bed. I started "Solaris." Unlike my husband, I was hooked from the start, and thoroughly enjoyed being reeled in. This is what I look for in a film - a compelling, nuanced story, involving complex characters."


And here's the movie's lead man, George Clooney, responding to a film-connoiseur-type critic...

Clooney Slams 'Solaris' Critic
11 February 2003 (WENN)
Hollywood heartthrob
George Clooney launched an angry tirade against a journalist at the Berlin Film Festival - after he described the star's latest film Solaris as "boring." The sexy actor was left furious after the Turkish journalist remarked on the Steven Soderbergh film at a news conference on Saturday night. Clooney blasted, "I find you fascinating. You crack me up, man. You just wanted to get up and be a rat, you know that? You just wanted to get up and say something rotten. What a jerk! I mean honestly, you know, what a s**t thing to say! You make a lot of films, do you? You make a lot of films yourself? Yeah, I'd like to see you make a film first before you get to talk about it. What a jerk!" Solaris opened in America to mixed reviews and has performed badly at the box office.


Further info about the film:


And here's a series of summaries & reviews of Stanislaw Lem, by an ardent & literate fan, a Mr. McIrvin:

Return from the Stars -

Unlike Mr. McIrvin I enjoyed the story of love - doomed because the man who had been gone for 20 light years and the girl born into the novel's distant future come from such different cultures.

Solaris -

As for me, I liked the movie better than the book - precisely because it provides an emotionally satisfying ending... Okay, maybe I've seen too many Disney movies.

Imaginary Magnitude

I've read into this - hilarious if you've read art criticism, & literary scholarship.


Science Fiction seems to have three main tributaries:

a. Realistic fiction set in an extrapolation of the present. May be dystopian, e.g. film "Blade Runner," novel "1984." Also Lem's "Return from the Stars" & "Solaris." May also be Utopian, e.g. film "2001," & novel Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward." And the film version of Lem's "Solaris."

b. Distopian Sci Fi leads into the Comic-Satiric use of the future in Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," for instance, and Douglas Adams' "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series. And Lem's "Imaginary Magnitudes."

c. Utopian leads into the Arthurian Romance, set in a long-ago and far-away galaxy, and featuring Knights, Wizards &c.



Helen Cariotis, Re. Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did by Martin Van Creveld

"He who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. ... As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however, advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma."


Who says the enemy is weak? Last time I looked the planet was populated by millions upon millions of Muslims, and their minions are propagating faster than any other world religion. And what is worse than the fact that there are so many of them is that so many of them want to kill us. They will use any means available to them to do that, even if it means strapping bombs to babies, booby-trapping their own dead and wounded, and sending small children out to drive VBIEDs. Oh yeah, I almost forgot how they like to dive bomb airplanes into buildings, torture, and behead.

Their only weaknesses that I can see are a real lack of courage and no morals.


"If U.S troops in Iraq have not yet started fragging their officers, the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high. That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did. Namely, with the last US troops fleeing the country while hanging on to their helicopters’ skids."


I am not even going to comment on Van Creveld's opinion of the dedication and discipline of our military, because that would take pages and pages. I don't really care what some foreign academic thinks...he probably never had to stand up and defend anything in his life. He sure as heck doesn't appreciate what he's got.


C. DATELINE HISTORY: 11/24/2004 - William F. Buckley celebrates his 79th. birthday.


Watching Andromeda

Browsing through a used VHS & DVD store I found a remaindered 2-tape set from the "Andromeda" TV series, four bucks. Like "Star Trek," the show claims Gene Rodenberry as its originator. And there are parallels between the two series. The Starship Enterprise, has been replaced by the Starship Andromeda, whose good-guy captain, Dylan Hunt, somewhat resembles Captains Kirk & Picard, in that he's born to command and serves as a benevolent father to his crew. But unlike Kirk & Picard, Hunt has been paired up with a beautiful, intelligent woman - a very real holographic projection of the ship herself, the sexy Drommie... Pygmalion, again, lust for the inflatable woman.

And unlike the crew of the Enterprise, which were handpicked by an inter-galactic government, the Andromeda crew is made up of would-be pirates.

Here's some backstory from the official website:

Once upon a time: "There was a civil war that plunged the Universe into a new Dark Age.

"One of the first casualties of that war was a Glorious Heritage Class starship called the Andromeda Ascendant. Most of her crew abandoned ship, but her captain - Dylan Hunt - remained on board as the ship fell dangerously close to a black hole.

"Three hundred years of darkness passed. The remnants of the old Commonwealth decayed.

"A salvage vessel called the Eureka Maru then found the Andromeda Ascendant and pulled her free. When they boarded, they found that Dylan Hunt had survived - the whole ship had been caught in severe time dilatation. From Dylan's perspective, only a few moments had passed since his crew escaped. But outside the black hole, darkness had fallen across his beloved Commonwealth.

"Dylan once protected civilization, he now felt an obligation to rebuild what had been lost. As someone who knew what it was like to live in a Universe that was for the most part safe and at peace, he felt he and his ship could bring back the Commonwealth. He recruited the crew of the Eureka Maru, and ever since they have been searching the galaxies for worlds who are willing to join the New Commonwealth." ...

Going where no man has gone before, amid a six-galaxy span.

The Show's Tagline sounds like a political slogan, which in a way it is:

Aboard the Andromeda, Hope lives again!



1. Mike Wright, Re. Light Years &c.

On Nov 23, 2004, at 06:07, Tom McClellan wrote:

"Unlike Mr. McIrvin I enjoyed the story of love - doomed because the man who had been gone for 20 light years and the girl born into the novel's distant future come from such different cultures.


I'm puzzled.

If we replace "20 light years" with the approximate equivalent in miles, we get:

"the man who had been gone for 117,575,722,000,000 miles..."

I don't get what it means to be "gone for" a particular distance. Or, did you mean "gone for the length of time that it takes to travel 20 light years"? (But at what speed?)


Mix: I guess this change wouldn't help: "returned from a 20 light years' journey." Does that leave unexplained how long it took him & how fast he was going? Okay, like Commander Hunt, he suffered from a severe time dilation. He returned from the stars to a society that had changed exponentially since his departure. Imagine Thomas Jefferson, stepping out of the door of his coach - into a modern airline terminal. That's the opening scene. And its a darn good book to introduce a major sci-fi author.

Back to you, Mike.


Looking at the review of "A Stanislaw Lem Reader", just below the "Return to the Stars" review, the mention of virtual reality reminded me of the Shepherd Mead novel, "The Big Ball of Wax: A Story of Tomorrow's Happy World", published in the 1954 and set in 1992. If you haven't read it, it's readily available at Here are some partial blurbs from the ABE site:

"Story of future (1990s--remember this was written in the 50s) when X-P, the first feelie system of electronic full-sensation amusment came out. Plus an evangelic stripper named Mary Blood and a world in the grasp of the modern advertising man."

"Molly Blood: Evangelist with a gimmick! Her revival meetings outdrew the World Series, the Miss America contests and the TV give-away shows, and were making a serious dent in the National Economy. True, she was built like a burlesque queen (which she was, once), but there had to be something more to it than that."

"Madison Avenue ingenuity can be depended upon to subvert all possibility of human progress in the direction of a totalitarian consumer state. ... Constantly inventive." ...

It was probably at least 1964 when I read it, and it seemed pretty funny then. I don't know how it's held up. Also don't know Rev. Blood's real first name.



Dear Mike: Maybe her first name was...


2. Sam Swank, Re. Helen, Helen, Helen

"Who says the enemy is weak?"

Hardly anyone that I've heard, except for maybe the Pentagon. It appears that Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz et al, thought the enemy was weak, and that we could go in with massively superior firepower and win this conflict easily. This is *exactly* the same mind set that Robert McNamera had at the outset of the Vietnam war.

It has turned out not to be the case, hasn't it? You do remember our president announcing the end of "major combat operations" well over a year ago? "Mission Accomplished" and all that? The military commanders have encountered a recalcitrant and tenacious opponent in Iraq, "major" combat operations are far from over, and the mission is nowhere near "accomplished". Wouldn't you agree?

"Last time I looked the planet was populated by millions upon millions of Muslims, and their minions are propagating faster than any other world religion."

Their "minions"? You mean their children?

"And what is worse than the fact that there are so many of them is that so many of them want to kill us."

It would appear that many of us, including you, are quite keen on killing them as well.

"They will use any means available to them to do that, even if it means strapping bombs to babies, booby-trapping their own dead and wounded, and sending small children out to drive VBIEDs."

Well, we did after all invade their country, and have killed thousands of innocent civilians in the process. Do you think this makes us look heroic and moral in the eyes of Muslims?

"Oh yeah, I almost forgot how they like to dive bomb airplanes into buildings, torture, and behead."

They don't hold the monopoly on torture, as the photos from Abu Grahib clearly show. And I really hate to bring up this trivial and most inconvenient fact, but Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of Sept. 11th, and had no connection with the terrorist organization that orchestrated it. Al Queda was not present in Iraq before the invasion, but they're sure there now aren't they?

I also find your attempts to generalize the entire worlwide Muslim community into a rodent-like "propagating" "they" group that murders, tortures, and flies planes into buildings as naive, racist, and intellectually dishonest.

Sam, Sam, Sam...

You seem to keep up with Standard Internet Terminology, so maybe you can answer this:

Has "Google" become, like Kleenex and Coke, generalized into a cover term & now meaning: "To use one's internet search engine"?

I'll bet if you google Muslim Threat, you'll discover that better minds than yours or mine have dealt with the issue of whether the Muslim Revival among non-westernized adherents of Islam represents a general danger to the peace & security of Westen Civilization. No less a minion of the Morning News than Rod Dreher dealt with that issue vis-vis Holland in a recent column. You really should renew your subscription.

Hang in there, Aboard the Andromeda, Hope lives again. Especially amid photos of Drommie (played by Lexa Sumdish) scantily clad at at The Sad Geezer's Guide to Cult Science Fiction:


3. Robin Glynn, Re. Helen C's Response to Van Crevald

Helen writes:

"Who says the enemy is weak? Last time I looked the planet was populated by millions upon millions of Muslims, and their minions are propagating faster than any other world religion. And what is worse than the fact that there are so many of them is that so many of them want to kill us...."

Wow, I can't read any further after this blanket statement about Muslims. I thought we weren't fighting a religious war?


Robin - There are American soldiers in the field who frame this war as a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy, a skirmish amid Armageddon, and who believe that Jesus will return when the dust finally clears.

Google Soldiers Blogs.

And tell Billy I have read quite enough Lemony Snicket for a while. Granted, Count Ulaf is, like Count Dracula before him, as malice-driven & evil a villian as one might wish. And Sunny Beudelaire is a hilarious name. Also, I find the author's definitions of words in context bright & fun. But I like stories in which the good guys win big & quick.





Kevin McNevins, Re. Truck Stop Thanksgiving

I had been behind the wheel since sunup, taking the second shift after a good night with six hours in the sleeper cab. It was Chuck and wife Diane's turn in the single-sized bunk between the Chevy C-50 Cab and the 18-foot bobtail box that carried all the sound, lighting and band equipment necessary to stage the Cat Stevens November 1971 US Tour. We had been on the road over three weeks from Orlando to Atlanta, D.C. to Jackson, Tuscaloosa to Houston, and a dozen other stops and were headed west from Denver for the final shows in San Jose and the Greek Theater in L.A.

It was satisfying work. The excitement of the live concert, the glamour by association with the backstage activity, and the sense of accomplishment when the equipment worked and the show went well. This was actually the best part, wheeling a powerful, high riding truck on gently curving interstate highways through mountain passes and forests with a simple, easily defined task - to get the gear from the Denver Nuggets Coliseum to the San Jose Fairgrounds on time without killing anybody.

I liked the night drives - not much traffic except fellow "knights of the road", headlights blazing down the road ahead as you sit in the glow of the yellow and red clearance lights, the steady roar of the V-8 mixed with the friendly chatter and "Smokey" warnings on the CB.

As long as you didn't get the notion to sleep.

Chuck and Diane were coming awake and Chuck asked where we were. I told him we were about 20 miles from the California State Line and were making good time. We had gotten along as well as you must in such circumstances and the tour was going well. We liked Cat Stevens music but had seen enough of his famous temper tantrums and when we all got in a car with "Steve" (real name Steven Dimitri Giorgiou) during a rare night out in Atlanta, and "Peace Train" came on the radio, even he was moved to change the station.

Chuck got down from the sleeper and picked up the phone. We rarely used the mobile phone because in those days the expense was ridiculous but it was very necessary for emergencies and itinerary changes. I must have looked somewhat disapproving because Chuck said, "Hey, it's Thanksgiving - I'm calling my folks." I went ahead and called mine, too and of course, they were surprised and I suppose, thrilled. As in 99.9% of such calls, all of us were "fine" and all of them were "fine".

After doing the state weigh station and inspection thing in California, we pulled off at the first giant Union 76 truck stop down the road and had a very pleasant traditional turkey dinner - large slice of turkey breast on top of a ice cream scoop of dressing and the giblet gravy in the perfect "crater lake" round indentation in the mashed potato mountain. There's something comforting about truck stop waitresses calling you "hon" (or were they calling this shaggy haired, denim jacketed 25 year-old, "Hun"?)

There were more adventures to come - the triple encore show in San Jose that put us late on the road to Los Angeles - the terrible accident we came upon with the overturned car with wheels spinning and the driver unconscious in the middle of the pavement, the passenger found later in a ditch - the big night out on the Sunset Strip with Steve at the Whiskey a Go Go, The Troubadour and a place featuring entertainment by "Raoul and the Sensuous Woman". That was thirty-four years ago but somehow my truck stop Thanksgiving always comes to mind this day of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving, Tom -

And Coffee Tablemates


Wow, Kevin. Nice piece. Maugham's holy trinity of Lucidity, Simplicity, & Euphony have found in you an adept champion.

This morning I woke to odors of roasting turkey and a tumble of staircase thoughts.

At one of my homecomings back in my college days, Dad welcomed me by suggesting I read Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. "He's right. You really can't, you know," said he. That stung me into silence at the time. But, climbing the staircase from sleeping to waking this morning, I thought, "I should have told him, 'Based on your behavior when visiting family, I thought your motto was that of the farmer in Frost's "Death of a Hired man": "Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in." And his wife replied, as yours would: "I should have said home is something you somehow have'nt to deserve.'"

Now it occurs to me that Dad was offering me literary fellowship & I took offense where none was intended, a long-time personal failing. Perhaps I ought to read Wolfe's book.


Here's some news to be thankful for if you're an Anglican... Reminds me of John Dryden's line:

With now and again a ludid interval.

Burundian Church leaders encourage unity, acknowledge diversity in Anglican Communion

"As long as we continue to exchange dialogue some issues would finish by themselves rather than arriving at confrontation." (The Rev. Pascal Bigirimana, provincial secretary of the Episcopal Church of Burundi, Ndayisenga)

[ENS, New York] Relationships between the Episcopal Church and Anglican provinces in Africa were strengthened as Anglican leaders from Burundi made a two week visit to New York, bringing news from their provinces and acknowledging dialogue as being crucial to the future wellbeing of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Samuel Ndayisenga, Primate of Burundi since 1998, offered words of encouragement about the unity of the Anglican Communion. "We came to visit as friends. We have many partnerships," he said. "We do not want separation. We are urging the Anglican Communion to remain together. What is a mistake in one country is not a mistake in another, so you cannot judge. We must not lose the focus of love, faith and unity. It is the work of the church to unite the people."

Joined by the Rev. Pascal Bigirimana, provincial secretary of the Episcopal Church of Burundi, Ndayisenga said he is heartened by the many conversations in which he had engaged during his visit, "because it is by talking, by dialogue, by listening with all our heart that we can feel that we are supported."

Bigirimana noted that he would never expect the Anglican Communion to be similar everywhere. "We want unity and diversity," he said. "We want to see a communion of people from different backgrounds but focusing on Christ and seeking the Kingdom of God, and a community which is characterized by Christian love: a community that is not -- shall we say -- judging each other, a community which is committed to praying for each other and to minding the needs of one another."

Addressing some of the socio-political concerns in Burundi, a country that has been ravaged by war since 1993, Bigirimana said that most Burundians need reassurance and that this is something they can achieve through knowing the Gospel of Christ. "We have succeeded in maintaining the Burundian people in peace and unity," he said. "There are problems in Burundi, but there are not many problems with Burundians. The church has done tremendous work in helping people to remain united."

Much of the conflict is political, Bigirimana lamented, expressing his trust in the international community. "If they help our politicians to find their way and the political issues are resolved, there won't be any social issues," he said.

But in the midst of Bigirimana's concerns, a message of hope. "We have told [the government] that they are abusing the people, and the politicians are now turning to us because they realize the tremendous work of the church," he said. "They value much that with the church they can bring Burundi far." At the request of the government, the church has agreed to monitor the upcoming elections on November 26.

Further optimism is characterized in the strong ecumenical ties that exist throughout the province. "Sometimes we can unite [with other denominations] to address common issues and ... tell the government what the denominations think," Bigirimana said.

Reaffirming the strong ties that exist between the Episcopal Church, USA, and the Episcopal Church of Burundi, Bigirimana said, "We'd like to thank the Church in America for the support that they have shown us. They need us as we need them and as long as we continue to exchange dialogue some issues would finish by themselves rather than arriving at confrontation."


Robin Glynn, Re. Soldiers of the Millennium

There are American soldiers in the field who frame this war as a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy, a skirmish amid Armageddon, and who believe that Jesus will return when the dust finally clears.

Like the old saying there are weirdoes in every group....


Right, darling daugther. And, if you'll recall my report on my visit to Magnet Arts - one of the teachers' saying to me, "You know, your daughters are really different... But then, you probably hadn't noticed." ...

And my tale of Dean at Leakstoppers' saying, "Tom, you are Weird." To which I responded, "Hold on. My workmate has a pony tale down to his butt, smokes more weed than I do, and lives with two women he calls his 'Girls' - and I'm the weird one?" The reply: "Oh, yeah, he's strange all right, but, Tom, you are Weird." ...

It follows that we have met the weirdoes and they are us.


Speaking of Jesus coming back when the dust settles...

I followed my own suggestion & googled Muslim Threat. I sent Sam & Helen this pair of excerpts, skimmed from the top 10 of "about 292,544":

George Tenet, then CIA Chief, 2/8/02

"...All of these challenges come together in parts of the Muslim world, and let me give you just one example. One of the places where they converge that has the greatest long-term impact on any society is its educational system. Primary and secondary education in parts of the Muslim world is often dominated by an interpretation of Islam that teaches intolerance and hatred. The graduates of these schools -- "madrasas" -- provide the foot soldiers for many of the Islamic militant groups that operate throughout the Muslim world.

"Let me underscore what the President has affirmed: Islam itself is neither an enemy nor a threat to the United States. But the increasing anger toward the West -- and toward governments friendly to us -- among Islamic extremists and their sympathizers clearly is a threat to us. We have seen -- and continue to see -- these dynamics play out across the Muslim world."


FACING THE MUSLIM THREAT by Thomas Fleming A lecture given at Matica Srpksa in Novi Sad, Serbia, September 11, 2003

"Most Western Europeans have lived at a long distance from the Islamic world. [And they have inherited a romanticised view of Islam from T. E. Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom," Fitzgerald's "Rubayyat of Omar Kyam," &c. in the Nineteenth Century; and in the century before, Edward Gibbon's admiring portrait of the Turks in "Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire."] In the west, the prevalent attitude for the past several centuries has been accommodation, and to justify this spirit of détente they have invented a myth. Muslim Arabs and Turks, they say, are heirs (like us) to the civilization of Greece and Rome, and Muslims preserved Greek philosophy and mathematics in a period when barbarian Christians were persecuting independent thinkers. Islam is one of three great monotheisms, and Muslims and Christians worship the same god only with different names. Therefore, the best tactic for dealing with Muslim powers is, so they claim, accommodation and diplomacy. This myth, to a great extent, defines the modern civilization, not of the West but of the Anti-West, and unlike many myths, which are a poetic means of getting at a deeper reality, there is not a particle of truth in it.

"The primary effect of the Arab conquest of North Africa and the Middle East was the destruction of the civilization of the Greeks and Romans. The Muslim conquerors persecuted and impoverished the Christians of the Eastern empire and proved themselves largely incapable of maintaining the institutions of civilized life. The same might be said of the Franks and Goths who invaded the Western Empire, but those German tribes quickly accepted the religion and culture of the empire and within 500 years were recreating a brilliant "Gothic" civilization. The Muslims, however, came only to loot and to destroy, and the culture they built up out of the ruins of Persian and Greco-Roman civilization was sterile, derivative, and uncreative. In fringe areas, like Spain, Bosnia, and Persia, Islamic principles were submerged, to a considerable extent, in the dominant local culture, and they produced independent-minded Muslim thinkers and artists, who made a creative use of the classical past, but insofar as Islam had an influence on their work, it was negative.

"What kind of art can there be, when human beings cannot be represented? What kind of philosophy, where thinkers must accept the crudest savage fatalism as the revealed word or an absolute first principle? What kind of social life, where women are treated, in principle, worse than slaves in Christendom? The exceptions of Spain and Persia only prove the rule that Islam, in its purer forms, is antagonistic to the forms and practices of civilized life.

"Then the question is, why did Islam, when it entered the world of Christian civilization, reject humane civilization along with Christianity? After all, they did absorb some things like mathematics and techniques of construction, just as they have taken to the culture of pornography, fast food, and pop music. There may be many answers to this question, but I can give one that may be the most significant: The theology of Islam combines the fanaticism of crude monotheism with the complete submission to the divine will that was preached, 4000 years ago, by ancient Akkadians and Babylonians. For the Middle Eastern mind, the gap between man and god is unbridgeable, and man’s only recourse, in this evil world, is submission to the will of Allah or Marduk or Moloch. This was the insight of G.K. Chesterton, both in his great poem on Lepanto and in his greatest book, The Everlasting Man.

"Although Muslims profess to revere Jesus Christ, it is only the caricature exhibited in the Koran they revere, not the man who claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus himself said he was the skandalon, the stumbling block on which the Jews would bark their shins and fall. Muslims were equally scandalized by the notion that God and man had anything in common. For them, Christianity was too fleshy, too pagan. They entirely rejected the teachings of the New Testament, but they incorporated many stories of the Old Testament into their mythology. Islam was only one of many heretical sects which have spurned the Incarnation and the Gospels in favor of the ruthless tribalism of the Old Testament."

[Translation: The Barbarians are at the gate, praying and reading the Koran!]


Sam wrote Helen a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, letter. Unavoidably, though personal, publishable:


Please know that whatever I might say directly or indirectly to you in the context of the coffee, that I'm sure you're a very nice person, and that I mean no personal animosity toward you.

You are passionate about your beliefs as I am mine. Sometimes my emotions get in the way of what I try to say from time to time. This is one reason I would make a lousy lawyer. Calling you naive was perhaps a bit over the top.

One thing that the media does (liberal or not) is foment this kind of "us & them" mentality between the political parties and their respective ideologies. Unfortunately, I find myself occasionally buying into this idea that anyone who disagrees with me is an "enemy" pure & simple. I suspect you often do that as well.

All I want to tell you is that I suspect you & I have more in common than we disagree on. And I wish that more people in this country could try and look for our similarities rather than our differences.

We can hash out whatever differences we do have on religious & political issues on Tom's coffee, but please know that whatever I say is to be taken in the context of debate rather than attack. I also want you to know that regardless of my opinion of the decision to invade Iraq, that I love my country very much. And whether you
believe it or not, I'm very proud of our troops in general, and you & Carolyn' sons in particular, and that I pray both for your peace of mind and his safe return home.


Sam Swank

Helen also responded.

Thanks, Tom. I fully intend to write more for Coffee on this unless you think it is too "flammable." Being an Orthodox Christian, and married into this Greek-American family, I am well aware of the Muslim threat. Ain't anyting new, that's for sure! The liberal media in this country, as with so many other topics, refuses to report what is happening all over the world in the Muslim/Christian clash of culture and religion. Nick has enough relatives living overseas, particularly in Cyprus and Macedonia, that we hear what really happens.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


mom of Cpl Stephen 2/24 in central Iraq


Oh, I am having a Happy Thanksgiving. Just tasted Carolyn's roast turkey. Tender as a mother's love. Falls right off the bone.

All my best to Alla Y'all.

And, with hopes that we shall all meet some day in "a place featuring entertainment by 'Raoul and the Sensuous Woman,'" I Remain, &c.