The Bookworm Beat 5-22-15 — the “no more doctors, please!” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My post title notwithstanding, I am well, I have been well, and I expect that I will continue to be well. It’s just that I’ve spent between five and fifteen hours every week for the last few weeks in doctors’ offices thanks to my mother and my kids, all of whom are well, but who needed a variety of maintenance appointments. I’m all doctored out. Politics, however, still interest me:

Obama’s ego is all that stands between Israel and destruction

Obama sat down for an interview with his go-to Jew, Jeffrey Goldberg. Goldberg worships at the Obama altar, but periodically manages to sound as if he cares about the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people. I used to be fooled. I’m not anymore.

In any event, James Taranto caught Obama in a fascinating narcissistic moment in that interview. First, here’s what Goldberg wrote:\

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The Bookworm Beat 5-15-15 — “knock yourself out” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingNot a bad day, but a busy one. Legal work in the morning, followed immediately by taking my mother to an appointment, followed immediately by a lunch that I’ll tell you about, followed immediately by taking my son to the barber, which activity will be followed immediately by joining some gal pals for dinner. I’m grabbing a five minute interval between activities to tell you about that lunch and to offer you a couple of links.

The person I met for lunch is the client of an attorney friend whom I’ve been helping for the past months, since she’s been very busy. He and I talked on the phone about discovery issues and, since we kept getting sidetracked on non-legal matters, we agreed to meet for lunch. We lunched for two and a half hours! About twenty minutes into the conversation, when he mentioned Friedrich von Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, I knew that the lunch was going to go very, very well. We talked law, politics, society, child-rearing, etc. and found ourselves to be in sync ideologically, but with different funds of knowledge and different thoughts about significant issues. It was a very enjoyable lunch. Next time, we’ll try to get our spouses involved since, coincidentally, our spouses work in similar fields.

I always enjoy these reminders that, no matter how old I get, and how regimented my days can be, life still offers surprises. You just have to say yes when opportunities offer themselves, and pay attention so that the surprises don’t pass by without your even being aware of them.

Oh, and the posts I wanted you to see. Wolf Howling directed me to an Open Letter an Air Force enlistee penned after having to sit through a mandatory annual training given by her base’s Sexual Assault Response Coordination (SARC) office. She came a way furiously angry but, unlike a Michelle Obama-esque person, she didn’t come away furiously angry at men, she came away furiously angry at a military culture that tries to paint her as a victim and then treat her accordingly:

You made me a victim today, and I am nobody’s victim. I am an American Airman in the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you made me into a helpless whore. A sensitive, defenseless woman who has no power to protect herself, who has nothing in common with the men she works with. You made me untouchable, and by doing that you made me a target. You gave me a transparent parasol, called it an umbrella and told me to stand idly by while you placed everything from rape to inappropriate shoulder brushes in a crowded hallway underneath it. You put my face up on your slides; my face, my uniform, my honor, and you made me hold this ridiculous contraption of your own devising and called me empowered. You called me strong. You told me, and everyone else who was listening to you this morning that I had a right to dictate what they said. That I had a right to dictate what they looked at. That I had a right to dictate what they listened to. That somehow, in my shop, I was the only person who mattered. That they can’t listen to the radio because they might play the Beatles, or Sir Mix-A-Lot, and that I might be offended. That if someone plays a Katy Perry song, I might have flashbacks to a night where I made a bad decision. I might be hurt, and I’m fragile right? Of course I am, you made me that way.

That’s just a taste, but you really need to read the whole thing.

Now that I’ve got your dander up, let me calm it down with one of the nicest stories I’ve heard in a long time. Wait. Make that two of the nicest stories.

You don’t have to lower the standards; you just need exceptional women

captain-sarah-cudd-665x385In New York, the Mayor’s office has gutted physical standards so as to let more women firefighters onto the job — never mind that the standards are directly related to the job requirements.  Wolf Howling says what I would have said if I’d written on the subject.

My addition to the topic is that New York now enters the San Francisco era of fire fighters. Between women and small Asians, the City long ago stopped making any effort to have firefighting standards that are actually related to, you know, fighting fires. I’ve actually written about this issue before.

If the standards are reasonably related to the job’s demands, it’s unreasonable and dangerous to water them down to meet the ever-escalating demands of the Social Justice Warrior crowd. And keep in mind that, no matter the standards, there are women out there who can usually meet them. One of the most ferocious, hard-kicking, downright dangerous martial artists I ever met was a female San Francisco firefighter. A lot of the guys were scared to fight her.

And then there’s the amazing and wonderful Captain Sarah Cudd, who completed a 12-mile hike, with a heavy pack, over rough terrain, in two hours and 45 minutes in order to earn her Expert Field Medical Badge. More than 75% of the people who attempt this course — and that means mostly men — fail. Captain Cudd didn’t and it’s tremendously moving to watch her push herself through the fatigue, as well as to see the outpouring of support for her from the spectators (most of whom, again, are men):

From the Facebook post that first brought her to the world’s attention:

CPT Sarah Cudd from Public Health Command, Fort Knox is only 1 of the 46 candidates who earned the EFMB yesterday at Fort Dix, NJ..27 April 2015. This is her last few seconds of the 12 Mile Foot March. The Foot March is the last event of the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB), and must be completed within 3 hours. If you want it, you have to go get it. Watch this video. This EFMB candidate wanted it, and she got it. It took heart, guts, determination, falling down and getting up, and a little motivation from the crowd to get across the finish line. Check this out.

Stolen valor exposed right here in our own Marin County

Marine capAlmost five years ago, I wrote a post about 1st Lieutenant Gregory Allen, a retired United States Marine who ran a fitness center in San Rafael (part of Marin County), the purpose of which was to get young people ready for military boot camp. The City of San Rafael was trying to shut Allen’s gym down, and people who supported his mission sent out a flier seeking money to keep the gym open in spite of new fees that San Rafael was imposing on the gym.

In a twist no one could have expected five years ago, it turns out that there was no 1st Lieutenant Gregory Allen, USMC ret. Instead, there was stolen valor:

For more than a decade, “Lieutenant” Gregory Allen pumped up young military hopefuls at his gym in San Rafael, California. The bulky and bald-headed drill sergeant told war stories from his stint in Vietnam, collected donations, and even posed for photos in a U.S. Marines uniform with a Purple Heart and Bronze star.

The only problem: the Marine Corps says Allen, 67, never served. Now the wannabe jarhead is under investigation by the FBI and Department of Veterans Affairs for allegedly faking his entire military record.

The sham soldier’s fall from grace came last week, after one former Marine’s own detective work prompted the federal probe.

“He’s helping young people who want to join the Marine Corps, but he was doing it through lies and deception,” said James Brown, the watchdog who tipped off authorities.

There’s no doubt that Allen genuinely ran a gym and that the gym did mimic the training young people do at boot camp, especially Marine boot camp. Allen’s whole bio, though, was a lie through and through:

But Allen’s story publicly unraveled after a Bay Area TV reporter exposed his dubious military career Friday. He never served in the Marines or in Vietnam, and never received any medals, ABC 7 discovered through a records request.

Instead, the poser Marine enlisted in the Navy in 1968 but was discharged after eight months because of a knee injury that he sustained playing football prior to enlisting.


Brown teamed up with [local ABC news reporter Dan] Noyes to investigate Allen. It all started when the sergeant major for the local Marines asked Brown if he knew who Allen was and why he was taking so much credit for helping young recruits.

Brown told The Daily Beast it wasn’t hard to poke holes in Allen’s story: pictures of the supposed lieutenant did the work for him. In one online photo, Allen stood next to the flag-draped casket of a fallen Marine, but the medals on Allen’s red Marines blazer were out of order. (This Marine was mentored by Allen, and later committed suicide while in the service, Brown said.)

“He’s got a combat action ribbon above the Purple Heart and Bronze Star,” said Brown, a board member of the Wine Country Marines. “Anyone fresh out of boot camp would have known that was wrong. Veterans look at ribbons as resumes.”

In some photographs, Allen donned a Marine Corps Rifle Marksman badge, while in others he had a Rifle Expert badge. But Brown says a Marine can’t be both once you’re a veteran. (“What you have qualified for when you get out of the service, is what you’ve got for life,” Brown said.)

Allen was also wearing a different number of ribbons in various photos.

The fake Marine couldn’t answer questions on the names of his boot camp, class or drill instructors, Brown said.

Adding to the pile of suspicion was the original name of Allen’s gym: “Fitness Boutique.” Brown says Allen transformed his business into a military-style stomping ground 10 years ago after fitness boot camps gained popularity.

Allen has a felony record to boot. He served a three-year prison sentence for violating a restraining order in 1997. According to the ABC7 report, Allen climbed to his wife’s bedroom window and threatened to cut her throat and shoot her.

Apparently Allen dreamed up the whole scam a decade ago in order to capitalize on the growing trend in fitness circles for “boot camp” style training.

Incidentally, Dan Noyes knows the real deal when he sees it: His son just turned down some serious water polo scholarships to enlist in the Marines. Grayson’s a great kid and I know he’ll do the Marines (and his family) proud.

The Bookworm Beat 4-27-15 — “not yet the Apocalypse” edition and open thread

Woman writingMy brain is filled with Apocalyptic imagery, but it’s not because Obama is president, the Middle East is in flames, our southern border has collapsed, our economy is stagnant, Greece may drag down Europe, and Islamist’s are resurgent everywhere. It’s actually because last night, when my work load finally showed signs of a much-desired longish-term slowdown, I started reading two excellent books.

The first is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s lyrical and highly informative Jerusalem: The Biography, which takes the reader from Jerusalem’s pre-Biblical beginnings, to Old Testament and New Testament history, and then through post-Biblical history, all the way up to the 1967 War. It’s a lovely book, but I’ve just finished reading about Jesus’s crucifixion and am working my way toward’s the Kingdom of Israel’s destruction in 70 AD, so you can see why I’d be having an “end of days” feeling.

The second book that I’m reading, equally good so far, isn’t helping. It’s John Kelly’s The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time, another elegantly written book that makes you realize the speed with which civilization can collapse (as if the recent Ebola scare wasn’t reminder enough). I think too that Kelly, with a historian’s true knowledge rather than a Progressive’s fantasy-science melange, might just be a climate change skeptic. It’s this bit of information that’s the giveaway, about the changing climate and demographic conditions in Europe in the five hundred years leading to the plague:

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The Bookworm Beat 4-26-15 — the “writer’s block” edition and open thread

Woman writingI know this is going to surprise those of you used to my usual output of posts, but I’m suffering from writer’s block. The last few weeks have been so chaotic, my opportunities to write so random and infrequent, and the news of the world so overwhelming that, now that I finally have time to sit down and write, I’m frozen. After sitting her for a while, I decided that the best thing to do would be to clear my spindle. I know some of the contents are outdated, but they may still be of interest, and getting through the backlog may help spark my dormant (I hope, rather than extinct) yen to write.

Obama fiddles with Iran while the Middle East burns and Israel is forced to go it alone

All eyes may be on Obama and his desperation to get a deal with Iran (despite the fact that, in a sane world, the smaller, weaker, poorer Iran would be desperate to get a deal with Obama), but the fact is that the entire Middle East is a flaming disaster thanks to Obama’s habit of alternately meddling in and abandoning Middle Eastern affairs.

Bret Stephens explains that, thanks to Obama’s policies, it is now impossible for Israel to walk back the way in which he’s abandoned and isolated it:

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The Bookworm Beat 4-14-15 — the procrastination edition and open thread

Woman writingI have work to do today, but no actual deadlines, so naturally I’m procrastinating like crazy. And what better way to do so than to share a few interesting things with you? How about my starting with the most inspirational. I’ll go from the sublime to the ridiculous, which means I’ll end with links to articles about Hillary’s candidacy.

Noah Galloway, American soldier, DWTS contender

Noah Galloway lost his left arm and leg in Iraq. His appearance on Dancing With The Stars was a little bit by way of being a gimmick because how can someone dance without an arm and with a totally lost leg (i.e., no knee)?

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The Bookworm Beat 4-10-15 — the mother of all round-ups

Woman writingThis is it — the ultimate round-up, consisting of more than 20 links that I’ve collected over the past couple of days and wanted to share with you. Nothing works better at squeezing a nice long blog post than a series of legal pleadings I really don’t want to write. By the way, these squiblets aren’t in any particular order, so you never know what gems you might not find as you scroll down.

The weakening of the Leftist mind

In an earlier post, I wrote about the fact that our younger generation has turned into a passive, sheeple generation, meekly towing the Leftist party line. Astute readers pointed out that, aside from the 1960s children, who were spoon-fed their rebellion by communist spies, past Americans generations also weren’t given to a rebellion. That’s true — but at least past generations were taught analytical and reasoning skills. If they desired, they could analyze and challenge their era’s zeitgeist. Our current generation can’t.

And how do I know I’m correct in reaching that conclusion? Because my reasoning coincidences with Daniel Greenfield’s. In a post about the closing of the liberal mind, Greenfield explains how so-called “liberals” have reduced themselves to this state:

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Are members of our military the most romantic people in America?

Camo heartI’m going to bounce off of you a theory that’s been playing in my head. The genesis was a friend who told me that, while he was in military academy, he played a very romantic pop tune during a talent show and, rather than being the subject of jeers and insults, received very nice applause. My first thought, of course, was “That’s weird.  Warrior types, especially the young ones, aren’t romantics.” My second thought, though, was that they may be America’s last true romantics, notwithstanding the fact that they don’t go around showing their feelings at the drop of a hat.

Patriotism is inherently romantic: The patriot loves his country. He’s not blind to her faults, but he still loves her. When he sees the flag wave, a warm feeling wells up inside of him. Patriotism may be founded in rational arguments — my country is more free, more safe, more wealthy, more naturally beautiful — but patriotism itself is an emotional response.

And who are America’s greatest patriots? Those who are willing to put their lives on the line for her. Sure, some troops are there for travel, or action, or adventure, or to satisfy some sick blood lust, but the vast majority, when asked, will say some variation of “I love my country.” If that isn’t a declaration of romance, I don’t know what is. So yes, these guys have “feelings,” perhaps more than the ordinary desk jockey who doesn’t care very much about anything other than baseball, beer, and sex.

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