Saturday, August 28, 2010

Zach's Mountain Bike

Several weeks ago I posted some photos of Zach and me building him a mountain bike.  I'd planned to build the bike over the course of the summer, and in the process, teach Zach a bit about bikes, tools, and patience.  In the end, then, I'd hoped he'd still be interested, and we'd do some riding together.

We both learned some things along the way.  Zach probably learned some of the things I'd hoped to teach.  (Some of them he no doubt knew already.) and I learned a bit about patience myself. 

Finally we got everything put together.  I built a roof rack for my car, we put the bikes on top, and off we went to some trails near Guincho.  The bike worked great and we both had a fantastic time.
 The obligatory break check in the parking lot.
Zach's a natural climber and has a fantastic sense of balance.
Tired but happy.

Cabo Raso

A week or two ago, I posted photos of two small studies I did for this painting.  I'm not quite prepared to say this is finished yet, but it's close enough that I can show it to you.

This has been a frustrating project, just because it's been very hard to find time to work on it lately.  And although I had no time to paint, this image wouldn't leave me alone, so I found myself dreaming about it several times.  The lighthouse, by the way, is one in the series that runs from Lisbon out the mouth of the Tagus to the Atlantic Ocean.  They dot the coast here, and even though there are many of them and they're often quite close to each other, no two are even remotely alike.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rangel VS Obama - First Round

NEW YORK – Rep. Charles Rangel has shot back at President Obama’s recent comment that he “end his career with dignity.”

Speaking at a candidates'  forum in Harlem Monday night, Rangel said the president hasn’t “been around long enough to determine what my dignity is.” When advised of the congressman’s retort, President Obama drew back, placed his hands on his hips and said, “Oh no he di’ n’t.” He added, “Haven’t been around long enough? I been around long enough to know that Old Spice doesn’t cover up Colt 45, which is more than I can say for that old silverback. He smell like a walking yeast infection.”

Still in Harlem, congressman Rangel received a tweet of the president’s remarks from an aid and said, “Oh snap. It on, now. Yeah I been around a long time, I been around a long time like Obama mamma.” When the aid whispered in his ear that the president’s mother was dead he paused for a moment, but shrugged and said, “Not my fault he don’t take care o’ his wimmin. And have you seen that wife o his lately? She getting chunky these days. She keep eatin’ cake, she gonna need her own zip code.”

The president, who received word of the congressman’s remarks on his ever-present blackberry, struggled to respond. After fruitlessly consulting the blank teleprompter he said, “That Charlie a chip off the old block. He ugly just like his momma. She so ugly she gotta back into a room to keep the furniture from running away.”

To which the congressman quipped, “Back into a room? At least my momma didn’t go ‘beep beep beep’ when she back up like Michelle do.”

Journalists asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs about the exchange, but he claimed he was unaware there had been any unpleasantness. When presented with a transcript of the jibes, he gesticulated broadly and said, “Yo, ain’t no disprespect in two homeboys doin’ the dozens.”

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, when apprised of Gibbs’ remarks, said that “homeboy” was a racist term when used by a white man, and that it was doubly racist when used by one as white and pudgy as Robert Gibbs. He demanded an immediate apology, as well as a significant donation to the RJJFPSORED (Reverend Jesse Jackson Fund for the Purpose of Stamping Out Racism And Enriching the Downtrodden.)

Beyond Islamaphobia?

Daisy Khan, wife of faux-moderate Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, said that opposition to the Cordoba mosque goes, “beyond Islamaphobia.” In a statement that is guaranteed to earn her a podium finish in a competition for the year’s most ironic statement, she went on to liken opposition to “a metastasized anti-Semitism.”

First of all, let me say that, for people who refuse to denounce HAMAS, the claim to suffer from anti-Semitism is ludicrous. Secondly though, I have to say that I agree that opposition to the mosque – at least in my case – definitely goes beyond Islamaphobia.

To blame my opposition on Islamaphobia would be to imply that my opposition is based on fear, and that I fear what I do not understand. Nothing could be further from the case. It is my understanding of the mosque and what it represents that informs my opposition. That understanding is based on a master's degree in Mid East Studies and more than 20 years of experience with the Middle East, Islam, and the Arabic language.

I oppose the mosque precisely because I understand that it will be a monument to the system that perpetuated a violent attack that killed 2,996 innocent human beings. I oppose the mosque because it represents an incursion into the Land of the Free by a system that is determined to strip us of our freedoms and impose upon us laws and customs that are completely incompatible with the Constitution. I oppose the mosque just as I would oppose a monument to Shintoism erected at Pearl Harbor – not because I would deny anyone the right to worship as they see fit, but because their right to worship does not include the priviledge of crowing over a victory that would, among civilized people be the cause of profound and abiding shame.

Friday, August 20, 2010


What kind of un-American, closed-minded bigot would write something like this:

In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar (mohammed), the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent god; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE…Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. The war is yet flagrant…While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon the earth, and good will towards men.

Clearly no appreciator of human dignity, individual rights, or tolerance, right? 

Or could it be that the author wrote in a time when different values pertained, and these words are simply a reflection of those times?  If so, then shouldn't we be expected to exercise some tolerance?  If the author, one John Quincy Adams, lived, wrote, and served in a time when truth was seen as a greater virtue than tolerance, can we really hold that against him?

(Hat tip to my friend Bob Belvedere at The Camp of the Saints.  Click on the title of this blog to visit his site.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Saying goodbye to the New York Times

In today's Weekly, Joseph Epstein writes about his disenchantment with the New York Times, and how it has lead him, after half a century, to cancel his subscription.  (Please click on the title of this post to read the original article.) His piece reminded me of a letter I wrote back in 2006 in response to the Times' inviting me to renew a long-lapsed subscription.  I post my letter below:

TO: The staff and writers of the New York Times

RE: Subscription

Ladies and Gentlemen of the New York Times,

Thank you for your kind invitation to subscribe to your paper. Please be assured that I did not   reject it out of hand.

Rather, I gave the matter quite a bit of consideration, and I must tell you that from every angle from which I reviewed it, a subscription made no sense.

First, there is the matter of truth. I know what you’re thinking. You, being sophisticated citizens of New York and highly educated members of the media elite, know there is no such thing as objective truth. I however, being a simple military man, have yet to be disabused of the quaint notion, so I object to reading on your pages items that contradict directly things I have seen with my own eyes (albeit eyes that may have been, at the time, stung by tears, or the sands of Iraq).

Closely related to truth is the small matter of objectivity. I know that the value you place upon your socialist agenda, the fervor with which you support liberal candidates, and the disdain you feel for the vast majority of Americans outweighs this outmoded principle, and that the cause you serve will, in its victory, absolve you of your departure from what journalism was meant to be. You may be absolved, but there is no requirement on my part to fund you in your efforts.

Timeliness is quite another matter. There is nothing you can get to me in print that I could not have, hours before, read on line and verified for truthfulness (a purpose for which I believe you once employed editors, but which now must be performed at home by your readers.)

This is not to say I will never again subscribe to the New York Times. If some day you were to reinstate journalistic integrity and objectivity, I would gladly overlook the timeliness issue. And since I know you recently fired hundreds of your employees due to financial constraints, I’d even be willing to pay a little extra.

Until that time (and I do hold out hope that there will be such a day, because, unlike your editorial staff, I believe in the power of the market) I cannot in good conscience subscribe to your paper.

I do thank you kindly for the invitation though.


Steven A. Givler

Monday, August 09, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Ground Zero Mosque

From Hot Air (Click on title of this blog to see the article) with thanks to Ace of Spades HQ, where I first noticed this story. 

Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah, writing in today's Ottawa Citizen, decry the decision by fellow Muslims to pursue plans to build what will be called the Cordoba Mosque in the vicinity of the 9/11 attack in New York City.  While many people are probably happy to see criticism of this provocation from "moderate Muslims," I have to point out a couple problems I have with their premise. 

First, the authors ask, So what gives Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the "Cordoba Initiative" and his cohorts the misplaced idea that they will increase tolerance for Muslims by brazenly displaying their own intolerance in this case?

The answer is that Imam Feisal isn't the least bit interested in increasing tolerance, and it's disingenuous to suggest that he is.  Just about everyone else engaged in this debate knows that Imam Feisal has made statements in Arabic media that make it clear that inspiring religious tolerance is not one of his goals.  Why are not our authors aware of this?  I believe they are.

It's just as disingenuous to pretend that the Koran's command to "Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book" isn't superseded by later commands to never make friends with unbelievers, ("People of the Book" or otherwise) to offer them the chance to convert and if they refuse, to kill or enslave them. If Ms. Raza and Mr. Fatah have chosen to disregard those commands, I will be the first to commend them, but I cannot congratulate them for spreading the fiction that that they don't exist.

The authors also tell us that, "If Rauf is serious about building bridges, then he could have dedicated space in this so-called community centre to a church and synagogue, but he did not." This is where their attempt at moderation becomes farce.  Nobody who is serious about their monolithic religion would consider the possibility of dedicating some of their space to practitioners of other religions.  No one who knows anything about Islam would believe that this would, even for a moment, be a serious consideration. The assertion is laughable, and calls into question whether our authors are really what they claim to be.  Yes, they are presenting themselves as critics of Imam Feisal's extremism, but their portrayal of moderation rings so false to me, that I cannot believe that is where they are truly coming from. 

Don't believe me?  Consider the authors' translation of  the word Arabic word fitna, which they refer to as the spreading of mischief, in particular among the non-Muslim community in which the mosque is to be built. This translation is a good deal less than accurate. Fitna refers not to Muslims causing mischief among nonbelievers, but very specifically to sowing sedition within the ranks of Islam.  Muslims are forbidden from spreading dissent and mischief amongst themselves; there is no prohibition whatsoever against them doing it among unbelievers.
The authors also assure us that the "Koran implores Muslims to speak the truth, even if it hurts the one who utters the truth."  Ironically, they are again not being truthful in their translation. The Koran insists that Muslims deal honestly with each other, but it places no requirements upon Muslims to be truthful with unbelievers.  A lie, when told to an infidel, is not a lie. 

In a happier world, there would be such a thing as moderate Islam.  In this world, however, the only way Islam can present itself as moderate is to deny essential elements of its nature, and to lie about its doctrine.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Two Small Studies

Here are two small studies I did in preparation for a large painting of the lighthouse that appears a couple of posts below.

The paintings are very small (2 x 3 inches) but I think despite their size they translate well, a fact that I attribute to lots of contrast.  I'm looking forward to doing the large painting now.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I support Charlie Rangel

In light of his recent difficulties, I thought you might forgive me for reposting this November, 2006 piece, in which I affirm my undying support for Uncle Charlie:

I support Charlie Rangel in his call for a draft. Clearly, certain elements of our society are missing from the roles of those who serve, while other elements are too-well represented. This is an egregious error, and will cause untold problems in the not-too-distant future.

To rectify the situation, I propose that we instate not only a draft, but a selective one at that.

Effective immediately, I would press into service members of those under-represented classes, and force out many of those currently serving.

If put into action, my plan would remove liars, cheats, thieves, and whoremongers from Congress and replace them with Midwestern farmers, New Jersey mechanics, Texas ranchers, and various small businessmen from all the other states.

I know it will cause a strain on the under-represented honest classes, and I know they will resist. A certain number might even flee to Canada to avoid serving their terms. In the long run though, I believe the country will see that this is in everyone's best interest.

Please write your elected representatives and tell them to institute the draft.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Congressman Pete Stark (D, CA) - You are part of the problem.

Please click on the title to this post and watch the video of Congressman Pete Stark  getting taken to school by the people he thinks work for him.

Of particular note is the woman who questions him at 3:26 into the video.  To paraphrase, she asks, "If the federal government can do this (nationalize healthcare) what CAN'T it do?"

The response from a man who has been elected 18 times in the last 37 years to support and defend our Constitution - "The federal government can do just about anything."

Ah, Congressman, you are what our founding fathers warned us about. 

Sunday, August 01, 2010

This Morning

I like getting up early on weekends.  I get up early all through the week, but on weekends I enjoy it.  Being up before most people is peaceful and it gives me time to think.  It also gives me the opportunity to get on the bike and get out to locations where I find scenes like this. 

Of course, getting up early means that by the time I get where I'm going, the light is just the way I like it.  

Just because it's early doesn't mean I'm the only one out and about.  Somebody abandoned a litter of 8 of these puppies along the beach road.  I wish I could have taken one home with me.