The Bookworm Beat 12/31/15 — Out with the old edition and Open Thread

New Year bookworm womanHappy New Year! Okay, it’s not quite the new year, but I hope to usher it in for you with a lengthy and satisfying list of things to read as you see in 2016. Because I have so many things to share, I’ll strive for brevity, but I make no promises in that regard:

It’s going to get worse before it gets better — the foreign policy edition

The astute Lee Smith is not sanguine about 2016, at least not when it comes to America’s foreign policy. He warns that Obama Unbound will mean things will get a lot worse overseas, especially in the Middle East. The thing is, Obama’s not even pretending anymore. He’s just acting out his agenda here and now, which is to withdraw America entirely from the Middle East, once he’s successfully marginalized the Sunni powers, strengthened Iran’s reach, and weakened Israel.

It’s going to get worse before it gets better — the Second Amendment edition

Obama is planning to use his executive powers to limit American’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms. You might want to start writing checks immediately to your favorite Second Amendment group to make sure to stop that plan in its tracks.

And no, I don’t want Congress involved. Rather than asserting the Second Amendment, the Republicans in Congress will enact some stupid law that theoretically stops Obama but, in fact, makes it appear that Obama actually has the power to limit the Second Amendment. Congress doesn’t need no stinkin’ law to assert the Second Amendment — and Obama doesn’t have any actual power to block it.

For an exceptionally lucid explanation of the unalienable self-defense principle underlying the Second Amendment, I recommend Charles C.W. Cooke’s article explaining precisely why sane people want a firearm — and why it’s been a hallmark of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence for centuries:

To peruse the explanatory strictures of the Founders’ era is to discover just how seriously the right to protect oneself was taken in the early Anglo-American world. Writing in his 1768 Commentaries on the Laws of England, the great jurist William Blackstone contended that “self-defence” was “justly called the primary law of nature” and confirmed the Lockean contention that it could not be “taken away by the law of society.” In most instances, Blackstone observed, injuries inflicted by one citizen on another could wait to be mediated by the “future process of law.” But if those “injuries [are] accompanied with force . . . it is impossible to say, to what wanton lengths of rapine or cruelty outrages of this sort might be carried, unless it were permitted a man immediately to oppose one violence with another.”

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The Bookworm Beat 12/27/15 — the illustrated edition and open thread

I’m going through one of my periodic “inert” phases, when neither brain nor fingers will cooperate to create a post. I know it will pass, so I’m waiting patiently for my mental energy to regenerate. In the meantime, I’ve got posters and cartoons, starting with the final batch of Christmas-themed cartoons (until next Christmas, of course):

Obama's nativity scene

Santa's sexual harassment trial

FAA approved Santa

Santa kill little Timmy

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Holiday gift-giving; or you can’t make the leopard change her spots — and Open Thread

giftI’m a lousy and reluctant gift-giver.  As every school or sports club my children have attended knows, I am very generous with my time.  Ask me to be on a board or a committee and I’ll say “yes.”  Need me to pick up your children?  Yes.  Can I run an errand for you?  Yes.  Would you mind proofing or writing something for me?  I wouldn’t mind at all.

But gift giving. . . .  That’s different.  It’s not that I’m cheap, although I am kind of cheap.  It’s just that I don’t seem to have a knack for intuiting what people would like.

I know that I’m bad at gift giving because I’m so bad the people in my life are not shy about pointing out the failings in the gifts I give.  As far back as I can remember, my mother would always say, “Thank you so much, sweetie.  You’re so sweet to have given this to me.  Thank you.”  Then she’d wait a beat, or an hour, or a day, and ask rhetorically, “You don’t mind if I return this, do you?”  Well, no, of course not.  I clearly gave you something so wrong you can’t keep it, so naturally you should return it and get something you really want.

Others in my life tend to say things like, “Why did you give me this?  You know I don’t like this kind of thing.”  Or “I can’t believe you were so cheap.  My best friend got X, Y, and Z.”  Or “You never give me what I want.”  Or “Yeah, I liked it at Joe’s house, but that didn’t mean I wanted it for myself.”

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Rainy day open thread

pinball_ball_ricochet_hg_clrMy apologies for the blog silence.  I suddenly got slammed with work which, when added to my existing responsibilities, has taken up all of my available time.  As I said to a friend, I feel like a pinball bouncing around from one thing to another, desperately trying not to get sucked away into the hole at the bottom of the game.  Things should ease up tomorrow afternoon.  In the meantime, feel free to add here whatever you find interesting that you’d like to share.

P.S.  Here in drought stricken California, it’s an incredible blessing that it’s a rainy day, so my using that word in the post caption should not be taken as a complaint; instead, it’s a celebration.