“The long lived know how to love long.”
Not an old Norse proverb.
Happy Birthday Stevie Dall and Katie Dreaper
Birthday remembrance: Smedley Butler the man who saved the US from Fascism – He would have been 133 on July 31.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
The heat continues along with drought and ennui. I look forward to the hour or so each day spent at the archery range. HRM has been pleasantly well-behaved for a week. He says he is doing so in order to persuade us to buy him a pet Tortoise.
In a recent call, my daughter Jessica, who works in the US State Department assisting in coordinating the US response to international micro-biologic threats to the nation such as the recent Ebola virus outbreak and the like, bemoaned the attacks she gets from conservative relatives and friends for working for the government, obviously squandering the tax money they struggle mightily to not pay. I suspect they believe she should be working in some corporate lab somewhere improving the cosmetic uses of Botox. On a positive note she told me that she did not think the Ebola virus has mutated yet to become more contagious than it has been and therefore remains containable. These outbreaks are periodic and localized provided reasonable quarantine steps can be taken. The real fear would be if it mutates to become an air-borne pathogen.
I am always surprised, although I should not be, whenever I come upon examples of the hatred in America directed at those servicing the needs of others like, teachers, social workers, first responders, scientists and the like. My own experience indicates that this hatred comes all too often from men who have failed to achieve their dreams of dominating others physically or economically (some of the same men who believe that the only legitimate activities of government are to kill foreigners and regulate vaginas). These men seem also to be becoming less educated while women on the whole are becoming more so.
For these and other reasons, I believe that the modern world is both too dangerous and too fragile to be entrusted almost exclusively to men. Sooner rather than later, leadership of our major institutions needs to be changed from the 95% dominated by men to 95% managed by women. After all, why should political and economic power be overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of a gender whose only genetic basis for it is their ability to stand at the entrance to the cave and fend off attacks of saber tooth tigers while the real work of human survival is performed by the women within.
Then again, who the hell cares what I believe?
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
I have roamed through Ireland several times on extended trips of three weeks or more. In about 1980 or 81, I travelled with a group that took part in traditional Irish folk dancing in pubs throughout the country. Irish folk dancing or ceilthe consists of jigs, reels, quadrilles and the like set to traditional Irish tunes such as “The Walls of Limerick”, “The Waves of Tory” and “Antrim Reel.” On Saturday evenings in the remote villages when they stop serving alcohol in the pubs, they clear away all the tables and chairs, the musicians come in and the people of the village dance until the early hours of the morning.
One Afternoon, while on this particular trip, the group stopped at a pub in a little village in County Clare. There we met Junior Crehan one of Ireland’s greatest fiddlers and storytellers. Sitting with him was the Irish singer and composer Tommy Lenihan* and a representative of the Department of Irish Folklore, Tom Munnelly. Crehan and Lenihan were relatively elderly, in their late seventies or early eighties. We spent the afternoon and evening with them, buying them beer and listening to their music and stories.
Most of the stories described what it was like in the early days when they played their music at remote crossroads before the authorities and the priests found out and chased them away. At one point, however, after playing a tune, Crehan put down his fiddle, took a long swig of his beer, leaned back and said, “There was the time Diarmuid met the Queen of the West Indies.” (Diarmuid Ua Duibhne was a warrior of the Fianna and lover of Fionn mac Cumhaill’s [Finn MacCool in English] betrothed, Gráinne). He proceeded then to relate an elaborate tale about when Diarmuid and Fionn leader of the Fianna travelled to the West Indies and how Diarmuid tricked Fionn, bedded the beautiful but terrifying queen and got away with it. The telling, in obvious poetic rhythms, was mesmerizing and took the better part of an hour. Later Tom Munnelly told me that he had been following Junior around for ten years recording his music and hundreds of stories of the old Irish heroes and legends and had never heard that one before. The story also does not appear in the traditional canon of Irish myths and legends.
Diarmuid (Note: Diarmuid had a “love spot,” a mole on his back that when fondled made him irresistible.)
Lenihan, who was a farmer, had just come from working at his farm nearby. When he was not farming he composed songs and sung them in the fields as he worked and at the local pubs. He had composed about seven hundred songs and recorded many of them. He sang a few of them for us. One of those songs was called The American Wake, a beautiful and melancholy tale about a father during the time of the famine seeing off to the US his daughter on one of the immigration ships knowing he would probably never see her again.
Tommy Lenihan, Tom Munnelly and Junior Crehan as they appeared that day at the Pub in Miltown Malbay
A few days later we traveled to Spiddal a Gaeltacht (Gaelic Speaking) village on the shore of Galway Bay a few miles northwest of Galway city. There we met with Mary Bergin and her husband at their Gaelic musical instrument shop. Mary Bergin is perhaps the foremost penny whistle virtuoso in Ireland. The penny whistle became an instrument of choice for Irish musicians because it was easily hidden. That was a necessity during the several centuries of English occupation when after failing in their attempts to kill all the Irish so that the land could be settled by the English they resorted to the interesting tactic of making the playing of music a capital offense. They did succeed in killing all the Irish Harpers. It was during this time that the Irish bagpipes (uilleann pipes) were developed so that the musician could sit down in a cottage and play pipes that were not as loud as Scottish bagpipes and hopefully could not be heard by a passing solider. The pipers escaped the fate of the Harpers because the Ascendancy (Irish Protestant aristocrats) brought some of them into their homes as in-house musicians. Also, at this time Irish step dancing acquired that strange rigid arm at the sides form it is now noted for. It allowed dancing in the tiny cramped cottages where flinging ones arms about would be difficult.
That evening we went to a local pub where we sat with a man who was introduced to us a Ireland’s premier Gaelic tenor. I do not recall his name and although he was relatively young by the standards of Junior Crehan, he only spoke and sang in Gaelic. Although we could not understands the words, it appeared clear that many of the songs were of unrequited love of some sort or another and suitably heart rendering.
*Tom and Margaret Lenihan lived in a farmhouse in Knockbrack, a few miles outside Miltown Malbay. He was a farmer and also the local butcher as well as a well-known Irish traditional singer. His most popular album is entitled Paddy’s Panacea. The American Wake has been recorded by Irish musicians and singers several times since then but I do not know if they are renditions of Tommy’s original or separate creations. Perhaps someday I may get around to listening to them.
The Lenihan farmhouse
1931: Barbara Cartland, the British author best known for penning many — some say too many — romance novels, helped develop a technique of towing gliders long-distance. It was used to deliver airmail and later transport troops.
1870: Victoria Woodhull, American stockbroker. Along with her sister Tennessee, she set up Wall Street’s first female-owned brokerage company that year and made a fortune on the New York Stock Exchange. She was also the first woman to run for US president. We all know how that turned out, but hopefully we will soon see a different result.
A. Lowering Testosterone benefits everyone.
“According to Duke University researchers, creating art and complex tools became widespread among modern humans approximately 50,000 years ago.
New research reveals that human skulls transformed in ways that suggest a decrease in testosterone levels at about the same time that culture was flourishing.
‘The modern human behaviors of technological innovation, making art and rapid cultural exchange probably came at the same time that we developed a more cooperative temperament,’ explained lead author Robert Cieri, a biology graduate student at the University of Utah.
The research advances the argument that human society progressed when people began being kinder to each other, which requires that a smaller amount of testosterone be in action.”
Read more: http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/low-testosterone-levels-led-to-less-head-clubbing-and-more-art-technology/#ixzz39I088P6Q”
B. The ‘Night Witches,’ Russian WWII fighter pilots
“It was their enemies, the Nazis, who gave these women their nickname. Officially, they were the members of the Soviet Air Forces’ 588th Night Bomber Regiment. To the German pilots they fought, however, they were tormentors, harpies with seemingly supernatural powers of night vision and stealth. Shooting down one of their planes would automatically earn any German soldier the Iron Cross.
The legendary 588th was one of three all-female Soviet squadrons formed on Oct. 8, 1941, by order of Josef Stalin. The few hundred women who belonged to them — picked from thousands of volunteers — were the first of any modern military to carry out dedicated combat missions, rather than simply provide support.
The 80-odd Night Witches had arguably the toughest task of all. Flying entirely in the dark, and in plywood planes better suited to dusting crops than withstanding enemy fire, the pilots developed a technique of switching off their engine and gliding toward the target to enable them to drop their bombs in near-silence; they also flew in threes to take turns drawing enemy fire while one pilot released her charges. It was, quite frankly, awesome — as even their enemies had to admit. ‘We simply couldn’t grasp that the Soviet airmen that caused us the greatest trouble were in fact women,’ one top German commander wrote in 1942. ‘These women feared nothing.’”
Night Witch pilots and their planes
“In the past, the United States has sometimes, kind of sardonically, been described as
a one-party state: the business party with two factions called Democrats and Republicans. That’s no longer true. It’s still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction. The faction is moderate Republicans, who are now called Democrats. There are virtually no moderate Republicans in what’s called the Republican Party and virtually no liberal Democrats in what’s called the Democratic [sic] Party. It’s basically a party of what would be moderate Republicans and similarly, Richard Nixon would be way at the left of the political spectrum today. Eisenhower would be in outer space.”