The Pope and the Politicians

May God Protect You from the Evil Politicians

May God Protect You from the Evil Politicians

The Catholic Church has always had this problem with Papal bureaucrats. Yesterday, Pope Francis lit into them at a Christmas gathering and nailed them on fifteen counts, including the “sickness” of considering themselves immortal, immune, or indispensable as well as “spiritual Alzheimer’s Disease.” These clerical politicians have needed to be taken down a peg—for at least two thousand years or so.

I admire Pope Francis and sincerely hope that he watches lest one of these cassock-wearing baddies slips rat poison into his hot chocolate. They are probably saying to themselves, “Yes, Pope Francis is a saint. And the sooner we send him to heaven, the better!”

During my lifetime, their have been two popes I’ve liked, John XXIII and John Paul II—both of whom have recently been elevated to sainthood. I hope Francis can somehow reform the Vatican bureaucracy while he is still walking among us. I may still have numerous disagreements with the Catholic Church, but spiritual leaders like Francis keep me from severing all connections.

He is a man of the people, whereas his targets are men of power. Kind of like corporation executives.


Couldn’t They at Least Get Crimea in Exchange?

Russian Yakovlev Yak-3 Fighter from World War Two

Russian Yakovlev Yak-3 Fighter from World War Two

If you’ve seen the above photograph, it was in February 2013 when I wrote a posting about the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica. At the time, I was impressed by the Yakovlev Yak 3 fighter. When Martine and I looked for it today, we were told that the museum gave it as a gift to the Russian people. Did the Russian people give anything in exchange? Not really, but the Russian Consulate in San Francisco did send a Christmas card.

According to one aviation website:

Design began at the end of 1941 of a single-seat fighter using the new VK-107 engine, requiring the least-possible drag, smallest dimensions and weight consistent with a manoeuvrable and tough machine. Due to delays with the new engine and pressure to build the maximum number of aircraft already on the production lines, this new Yak-3 programme was shelved. A new small wing was developed and tested along with other changes on a Yak-1M in late 1942, and the first Yak-3 prototype was flown in late 1943. Although evaluation aircraft flew in combat, the first series Yak-3s did not enter operation with the 91st IAP until July 1944. The Yak-3 was found to be an exceptional dogfighter at altitudes up to 4000m. Its improved performance was remarkable, particularly as the initial non-availability of the VK-107 engine forced reliance to be placed on the VK-105PF-2 that had powered earlier Yaks. Built to a total of 4,848, the Yak-3 achieved fame and a very high score rate against German aircraft in 1944-45. The Yak-3 equipped the famous Free French ‘Normandie-Niemen’ unit, and achieved its peak of perfection when the VK-107A engine of 1268kW became available in limited numbers from August 1944, the type’s maximum speed then improving to 720km/h at 6000m.

Russian fighter pilots and ground crews actually preferred the Yak 3s to the P-51s and Spitfires being sent via Lend Lease. Could it be because the instructions were in Russian?



Don’t Toque to Me About Chefs!

Making a $25.00 Tower of Exotic Foodstuffs

Making a $45.00 Tower of Exotic Foodstuffs

The problem with American restaurants is that there are too many chefs and not enough cooks. Ever since the Food Network went on the air, people started paying too much attention to people with large white toques who like to mess around with food, forming little towers of quinoa with raspberry sauce and maybe a small amount of meat or fish. The less the foods appear to go together, the more renown the chef is likely to earn for his or her daring.

It’s become an epidemic. The tutsi-fruitsie is king. The ice tea is contaminated with passion fruit or other petrochemical waste. Side dishes avoid the usual rice or potatoes and provide instead broccolini with mashed yeast and ground Murano glass and Galena lead pellets.

Whenever I see some Culinary Institute of America (CIA) chef wearing a towering white toque, I know I’m in for a pretentious soaking. On the other hand, when I see what Hungarians call a szakács or szakácsnő (cook, masculine or feminine gender respectively), I know I am likely to have an excellent meal. There must be no toque or other sartorial trimmings. I want a good, honest cook who knows how to prepare food. And no little towers!

As for the Food Network, I hope they switch over to running “Antiques Roadshow” or “Pawn Stars.” Or maybe they can talk about Kim Kardashian or some other celebrity twinkie. They certainly have not done anything to improve the quality of food in this country.

Spare Me the Fame

Why Would Anyone Want My Help in Setting Up a Blog?

Why Would Anyone Want My Help in Setting Up a Blog?

Mine is not a particularly striking looking website, yet each week I get numerous requests for information on how I put it together, together with questions as to whether I would link to their website. The odd thing is that I don’t believe these people, especially since:

  1. Their e-mail address indicates they are in some dubious business, such as selling designer knock-offs.
  2. Instead of referring to a recent posting, they seem to be linking to my media file, especially to photographs from postings of several months ago.
  3. They never say anything that would indicate they actually read what I write—never any link to any actual content.

You never see these requests because I erase over 99% of the entries identified by WordPress’s Akamai (means “smart” in Hawaiian pidgin) Spam filtering system, and that’s where these usually end up.

Another group of pseudo-comments wants to see me get a lot more hits and to be at the top of Google searches. Why? Obviously, I’m not into blogging for the fame. If thousands of people daily visited Tarnmoor, my life would turn to crap: Imagine having to filter through hundreds of comments.

If you found this site because it was on page ten of a Google search, and you like what I do, you are most welcome. If you want to tell the world what a great blogger I am, I would think you would be doing me a disservice. If I have to spend all my time tending to this site, I would just as soon give it up.

In fact, I like to write. I like to use the process to think things through. And I like interacting with my friends. So don’t offer any suggestions how I could crud up this site by using clickbait the way that Weather.Com and most news websites do. There’s no clickbait here, and no advertising. If you like what I write, well and good. If not, there are other places you can go.

You Don’t Say … Please!

William Macy as the Car Salesman in Fargo

William H. Macy as the Car Salesman in Fargo

Whenever I hear one of the following words or phrases, I cringe. If you’re using them to try to sell me, you can see a “NO SALE!” pop up on my eyelids. They appear here in alphabetic order, together with a few comments:

  1. alright – Not really a word, so stop it all ready!
  2. amazeballs – Any expression invented by Perez Hilton deserves to be consigned to the nether regions, dunked in gasoline, and lit.
  3. bipolar – Usually this just means moody. The earth is bipolar, but I don’t know any people who are.
  4. embolden – This was a favorite Dubya term. Everything anyone did that he didn’t like would end up “emboldening” the terrorists. As if the terrorists, by their very nature, would accept anything as a setback! (They know all about spin.)
  5. give 110% – I would like to make that the income tax rate for people using this phrase.
  6. going forward – How about “from now on”? Is that too plain for you?
  7. irregardless – Try “regardless” instead. It doesn’t make you look like an idiot.
  8. let’s touch base – I don’t let salesmen touch my base or anything thereunto appertaining.
  9. like – If you’re not using this in a simile as a preposition, you’ll sound like a Valley Girl. (There, I used it in a simile.)
  10. LOL – Usually means you’re trying too hard. A simple smirk will usually do.
  11. OMG – Again with the Valley Girls?
  12. pwn – What’s this? A Welsh vowel? And the “p” is pronounced “o”? Give me a break!
  13. synergy – A word used in conjunction with mergers and acquisitions which means, in short, “It makes us look good for fifteen minutes, anyway.”
  14. 24/7 – You can contact us by phone at any time, but you will never get any degree of satisfaction from us! Myself, I’m an 8/5 person.

Do any of you have any terms to add to the list?


A True Life Adventure? Not Really!

Lemmings Committing Suicide En Masse

Lemmings Committing Suicide En Masse

We have all heard of the mass suicide of cute little Arctic lemmings, but has anyone ever seen it? You have if you’ve seen the Walt Disney True Life Adventure called White Wilderness (1958), directed by James Algar. And the reason you’ve seen it is because the filmmakers faked it. According to the Alaska Fish & Wildlife News in September 2003:

According to a 1983 investigation by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation producer Brian Vallee, the lemming scenes were faked. The lemmings supposedly committing mass suicide by leaping into the ocean were actually thrown off a cliff by the Disney filmmakers. The epic “lemming migration” was staged using careful editing, tight camera angles and a few dozen lemmings running on snow covered lazy-Susan style turntable.

“White Wilderness” was filmed in Alberta, Canada, a landlocked province, and not on location in lemmings’ natural habitat. There are about 20 lemming species found in the circumpolar north—but evidently not in that area of Alberta. So the Disney people bought lemmings from Inuit children a couple provinces away in Manitoba and staged the whole sequence.

In the lemming segment, the little rodents assemble for a mass migration, scamper across the tundra and ford a tiny stream as narrator Winston Hibbler explains that, “A kind of compulsion seizes each tiny rodent and, carried along by an unreasoning hysteria, each falls into step for a march that will take them to a strange destiny.”

That destiny is to jump into the ocean. As they approach the “sea,” (actually a river—more tight cropping) Hibbler continues, “They’ve become victims of an obsession—a one-track thought: Move on! Move on!”

The “pack of lemmings” reaches the final precipice. “This is the last chance to turn back,” Hibbler states. “Yet over they go, casting themselves out bodily into space.”

Faking documentaries is nothing new to the film industry. In the famous early documentary Nanook of the North (1922), filmmaker Robert J. Flaherty had to teach his Eskimos how to build an igloo. And the women who were supposedly the star’s wives were actually Flaherty’s common-law wives, who happened to be Inuit. So much for verisimilitude!

An Actual Lemming. Cute, Huh?

An Actual Lemming. Cute, Huh?


Blake’s Milton

The Expulsion of Satan and His Angels from Heaven

The Expulsion of Satan and His Angels from Heaven

William Blake was not only a great poet, but he was also a great artist. When I was younger, I used to think that his art was a bit clunky—until I started reading his poetry. Then I saw that both the poetry and the art were all of a piece: they were like flames from a mind and heart on fire.

It was in his greatest poem, “The Marriage of Heaven & Hell,” that William Blake wrote this line:

The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels and God, and at liberty when of Devils and Hell, is because he was a true Poet, and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.

Certainly, Book I of Paradise Lost shows a Satan who is unrepentant and verging on the magnificent:

What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That Glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me.

At the same time, Milton’s God is also splendid. When he hears that Satan is loose on Earth, he foresees what is to come and sends the Archangel Raphael to explain to Adam and Eve the story of the fall of Satan and his angel followers. Blake illustrates the scene thus:

Note the Snake Wrapped Around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Background

Note the Snake Wrapped Around the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Background

In actuality, Milton has Eve fall into a sleep while Raphael talks with Adam.

Blake’s Eden is strangely desert-like, whereas Milton gives us a verdant creation in which Adam and Eve are early agronomists who take care of the plants as part of their daily tasks. No matter, Blake is an artist in his own right and has no compunctions about creating his own Paradise Lost in pictures.