The Steyer Mire

Silicon Valley Big Tech gazillionare Tom Steyer is on a tear to impeach Donald Trump. He has committed some $40,000,000.00 to the effort and can be seen regularly (at least on day-time TV) flogging his lame idea. On my deepest dark side, it would be a delicious outcome to be tiptoeing across the feces flecked Union Square in San Francisco, the heart of darkest leftism, and encounter an impoverished Tom Steyer begging for handouts having blown his fortune tilting at the windmill that is Donald Trump. I don’t hold out much chance of this. I suspect that $40M is but chump change to him and besides, he didn’t get that much cash by being fiscally stupid. More’s the pity…

Certainly there is much about The Donald that is off-putting. He has not stayed in the proper lane through life or even in office. His bluster and braggadocio does little or nothing to increase his base and, according to many pundits, his reelection is likely in jeopardy. But impeachable? That requires some reflection.

The Founding Fathers were certain that an impeachment process was necessary to good government. Elected officials must be accountable to the people and be removable if circumstances warrant. But they shied away from being definitive and instead used the term of art high crimes and misdemeanors instead. They did so to make impeachment essentially a political act, not a statutory one. (Here I would suggest you look up the commentary of Andy McCarthy at National Review. He has examined this issue at length from his knowledge as an attorney and as a federal prosecutor. It will be worth your trouble.)

In his TV pitch, Steyer claims that he has a list of ten impeachable acts, though he doesn’t cite anything specific. This is where his whole campaign falls apart. The deliberately unspecific specification has never been followed by any legislation detailing what might constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, and the fact that presidential impeachments have been so rarely used means that Steyer’s list is of no merit. In short, Steyer could claim that any act of Trump is impeachable and it would be nothing but the ranting of a loon with too much money and time.

Finally, it must be noted that Steyer started his campaign even before Trump was sworn in. It is a “hang ’em first and find a reason later” effort. That is evidently from his generic distaste for Trump, coupled with delusion that the election was somehow illegitimate. But Trump was legitimately elected. One may question the effectiveness of the electoral college system, but it is sheer fantasy to argue that the 2016 election was erroneous.

So keep on, Tom Steyer. Squander your fortune on your effort. And if it comes to it, I will keep an eye out for you in Union Square.


Saturday was a fishing day. The FFFC, Fresno Fly Fishers for Conservation, held a monthly outing at Avocado Lake. It is a popular swimming and recreation location and fishing spot. The lake itself was not the target for the day as the Kings River flows right nearby. This stretch of the river is designated as a catch and release area, meaning that any fish caught must be returned to the water, preferably alive. Moreover, only artificial lures may be used -no bait! Trout is the dominant species so it is popular for fly fishing, of which I am a devotee -of sorts. (Another blog will give you an idea of the area.

I have been fishing ever since childhood. Kings Canyon was a frequent choice for family outings and we would make our way there once or twice a year from San Francisco, an arduous journey. I remember arriving late at night with the stars shining through the tall trees. Camping in Cedar Grove became a family tradition. My first trip there was in 1946 in old Studebaker sedan. Sadly I do not have pictures from any of those trips though I am certain they still exist.

My father was an ardent fly fisherman but in my earliest days, he provided me a bait casting rod and reel meant for little guys like I was. It was not until my teens that he began to introduce me to the gentle art. I have been fly fishing ever since and greatly prefer it, especially dry flies.

Michael's first fish for 2019
Michael with his first fish of the year, a 20″ beauty taken from the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam.

However, I have been anything but diligent, fishing only infrequently over the years. Until recently. Allow me to introduce my grandson, Michael. How and when he discovered fishing I do not know, but a few years ago, he discovered the FFFC. The club (which you can find at has for a number of years held a youth academy. The Roger Miller Youth Academy is an annual event during which interested young people are taught the basics of fly fishing and fly tying. Michael applied with the stated purpose of being able go fishing with his grandfather. We have been members ever since. (There is more to the story, but that is for another time.)

This day, however, Michael could not participate. His schoolwork is pretty intense and he has to devote considerable time to it and give it first priority. We did get out earlier this year, with a very satisfying result -for him, at least. For myself, Saturday was quite productive. We found a hole right near our picnic site where a large school of trout were holding. They must have been hungry (I think they were recent transplants) as several of us were able to take (and release) fish. I caught three, the largest about 13″ and a strong fighter. I was not disappointed. It was a very good day.

I know Where the Grinch Lives…

The BBC Internet news feed featured an item recently, a story about a panel of “experts” warning  parents not tell children about Santa Claus. The story must have got some push back because it disappeared rather quickly. Stories on the Beeb often linger for days, sometimes weeks but this one vanished almost as soon as it was posted.

Those experts stated that parents should not lie to children as it might do irreparable psychological harm to the kiddies when they finally realize they have been deceived. They are right, of course. Parents shouldn’t lie to their children.


Anyone who is or has been a parent knows that it is not that simple. Not every child’s questions should be answered, or can be answered in a way a young child can comprehend. And then there are those questions parents would rather not deal with right at the moment. Kicking the can down the road is a useful strategy, and sometimes a little deception satisfies. (Ask my grandsons about the gypsy detector…)

So what brought on the BBC article? One might keep in mind the ever present need to generate copy, and the ever present desire for a little attention and publicity among those “experts”. But take them seriously for a moment, even if it is a stretch.

First, if this is a problem, there ought to be evidence of the consequences. But there is no crisis of confidence, no traumatized tykes rioting in the streets because they have been told that Santa isn’t real. Instead we are treated to the sight of Santa being joyously greeted at the annual Macy’s parade. Parents scramble to get the kids to sit for pictures with “the jolly old elf” and Christmas programs abound in churches and schools (in spite of the ongoing grinch-like effort to euphemize them into “holiday” programs).

The simple fact is that Christmas and Santa flourish regardless. Parents find that Santa motivates toddlers to some semblance of good behavior. Children look forward to Christmas and the mad exchange of gifts of every magnitude. In short, Christmas and Santa go together and, even with all the frenzy of gift shopping, it is happily anticipated by one and all, no matter what they think or know about Santa.

But there is a dark side to this matter. Those “experts” are up to something more than quashing a harmless little fiction. I look back to a Christmas short story that became a family tradition when I was young. In the telling, a preacher in a country church explains to his Sunday school class how Santa came to be. As the preacher told his young charges, Jesus is for grownups but Santa Claus is for kids.

There in a nutshell is the whole issue. The reality is that Santa Claus is a stand-in for God and what the experts really want is to destroy the faith of children. Implicit in their argument is that, as Santa is not real, God does not exist and all children should be raised to be happy atheists. Sadly, too many have followed that path.

Still, Christmas and Santa persist. Sure, we make up fictions about Santa and the North Pole. Sure, no expedition to the North pole has stumbled upon a vast toy factory or flying reindeer or any of the rest of it. But the Santa story teaches children to understand faith in the face of relentless secularism. And, as one Facebook meme put it, they go from believing in Santa to becoming Santa. The whole concept of generosity is wrapped up in the annual gift giving binge. No one can participate in the spirit of the holiday if they cannot enjoy both getting and giving. Experts fail to see that but children absorb the idea that there will be gifts under the tree and from that grow to understand and have faith that God will  provide.

For me, I still hear the bell even though I know that Santa Claus is the modern manifestation of the true story of a generous ancient bishop. The generosity of St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra is legendary and he has been greatly revered throughout history. We honor him still. I, for one, do not think that Christmas or Santa will fade  away. It will be a cold day in this world if Christmas is reduced to a mere winter holiday. And while I dream of Christmases past, I wonder what story Charles Dickens might have told had he listened to the experts.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Loyal to… ?

A recent poster on Facebook lamented the possibility his son might have to join the service under that “moron-in-chief” obviously referring to the current president. What he seems not recognize is that every president in recent times has been disdained by some portion of the populace. Thus the epithet would have been used in regard to presidents every party.

This is a minor matter but there is a an underlying principle that is being forgotten. Those who join our military services swear an oath to “preserve and protect” the constitution. This oath remains in force regardless who is in the White House. In fact, many military members serve through the terms of more than one president and no repeat oath is needed.

Why is this? As I stated, the oath is to preserve the constitution not the president, or any other person for that matter. The founding fathers wanted no royalty and that oath is an expression of that desire. Thus presidents, governors and all the rest can come and go but “the Union stands as she stood, rock-bottomed and copper-sheathed, one and indivisible” as Stephen Vincent Benet phrased it in The Devil and Daniel Webster.

There will always be those who find it onerous to serve a particular president and that will be true of presidents of either party. This will not be a problem unless it develops as a widespread sentiment. But that will only happen if the military lets up on its dedication to serving the country.

Das Boot, Max!

This is not about submarines or the movie Das Boot. It is about the strange journey of one Max Boot, late of the conservative world and his conversion to a fire breathing true believer of climate change.

Max Boot was a familiar figure in the conservative world and was generally recognized as well versed in Middle East matters. He was, that is, until 2016, late 2016. Evidently nonplussed by the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, Max went deep into the “Never Trump” camp and pretty much vanished from the pages of the various conservative sites to which he was previously contributing.

He had company. Among others, writers such as George Will, columnist for the Washington Post, and Bill Kristol, editor and founder of The Weekly Standard, abandoned the Republican Party on the grounds that the GOP had become unmoored from its professed principles. They had a point, as The Donald certainly displayed no perceivable moral principles. But in the minds of many Trump supporters, the Democratic Party’s continuing support for Bill Clinton seemed to negate that as a matter of concern. Sort of an “if they can do it, so can we” stance.

That obviously did not sit well with Max who began issuing a stream of vitriolic laden commentary making it clear that he was against Trump and any who might side with The Donald even slightly. Conservative pundits have taken note of this and have, here and there, commented on him. Now it seems, he has completely rejected the conservatism he once espoused and has embraced the progressive side. The climate issue is only the latest manifestation of his “conversion”.

There are others in the Never Trump camp who have been on the receiving end of Boot’s ~and others’~ disdain. Jonah Goldberg, for example, has been subjected to endless anti-semitic assaults. he gets it from both sides, the right for being against Trump and the left for being on the right and thus supposedly pro-Trump. it is a messy scene.

So climate alarmists* ought to think twice before deifying max Boot. It is hardly likely that he is concerned about climate above all else. Characteristic of his stance since 2016 is a clearly reflexive opposition to Trump. If the Donald goes to McDonalds, max will prefer Burger King. There is not one matter nor one event about which Max will allow himself to agree with Trump, no matter the outcome or the ultimate facts. Goldberg, while clearly and emphatically not in favor of Trump, will at least give due credit when Trump gets something right. Max Boot  has simply gone off the deep end and completely changed his supposedly closely held philosophy simply because of Trump. The contrast between him and Goldberg is stark. Jonah opposes Trump because The Donald does not appear to hold true conservative values. Max opposes Trump only because he is Trump.

*So you think the term climate alarmists is a slur? Please then explain why the term climate deniers is not. Those who use it are either utterly tone deaf to the obvious comparison to Holocaust deniers, or are deliberately taking a cheap shot. The argument that “you are a Nazi because…” appears over and over again. It is unwise and undeserved. The use of alarmists, on the other hand, is not pejorative. In fact, if you truly believe there is an approaching climate catastrophe, being called an alarmist would be appropriate. On the other hand, being called a denier is to be excluded from any possible dialogue. This is a matter of science, not dogma. No scientific proposition should ever be accepted without question. It is shameful how much the “scientific community” has abandoned the principles of true scientific inquiry.

IOT: Internet of Trouble

As I dabble in electronic gadgetry, owing to my professional occupation, I frequently am made aware of the so called Internet of Things. In this universe, gadgets of every imaginable purpose are designed so as to be accessible and controllable through the Internet. Just add the appropriate interface and the code to match and Voila, you can turn on your oven from half a world away, from the moon even, should you ever get there.

Why is this so wonderful? Certainly it satisfies the curious and the tinkerers. There is a comical scene in a Big Bang Theory episode when the boys, true geeks that they are, make it possible to control their lights in this way, not to mention the RC cars similarly enabled. In their case, nothing untoward occurs, but it ought to be recognized that much mischief might result.

What provokes this line of thinking is an article on the Weekly Standard website discussing how Internet connected driver-less cars might be turned into WMDs. The thrust of the article is to insist that more must be done for cyber security but never asks the question as to why they should be connected at all. One troubling possibility is that the desire to inform the rider that there are three coffee shops nearby or the nearest McD is just 1.5 miles away overrides the obvious potential for disaster.

On a larger scale, occasional mention is made that there just might be cyber attacks on the power grid. Our entire power generating capacity is Internet connected, but why should we give access in any form to hostile actors. Really, does anyone ~anyone~ in Kazakhstan need to know what PG&E or Southern Cal Edison are doing? And worse, should it be possible for them under any circumstances to be able to control any element of that or defense systems or anything?

Perhaps we need to step back and address the wisdom of the IOT concept. There is little benefit to be had from connecting a myriad of devices that heretofore were working just fine thank you without remote control. It might just be time to start disconnecting things from the Internet. Do we really need our lawnmower ~or the neighborhood nuclear reactor~ to be at the mercy of someone in say, Tehran?

Let barking dogs lie…

There is one thing that will not be missed when we return from Greece, that is the dogs. Especially the barking dogs. Especially the loud, really loud barking dogs. I don’t know where they find them, but they can be so loud that it is not possible to hear normal conversation because of them.

Greeks are particularly fond of dogs. They are numerous and usually kept in the small, cramped apartments typical of Greek city life. Dogs are by nature gregarious pack animals. Yet they are most often left alone when their owners are gone, in a yard, on the ubiquitous balconies. One near us was kept on a rooftop.

We once had a dog, a cairn terrier, inevitably named Toto. He was a good dog but nervous. Once when we went camping, we tried to leave him outside our tent. In the pleasant summer weather, it seemed a reasonable thing to do. It quickly became obvious that our nervous little dog was afraid of the dark. He began barking continuously and the only thing we could do was bring him inside our tent. It was not unlike the plight of many dogs left by themselves by busy owners.

Neighbors can do little about this, other than to pass suggestions or complaints to the owners. This is true in Greece and anywhere else. Dogs left alone are lonely and nervous and express their anxieties by barking. As long as people keep dogs, this will be so.


Roe, Roe, Roe…

With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court, Right to Life advocates see the prospect of the overturn of Roe v. Wade looming on the horizon. Perhaps it would be best not to be too eager. The politics of the matter, plus the question of precedents, does not make for an easy process. Leave both the political and legal issues aside. Roe presents a stark decision point for any society, and especially for a secular, pluralistic one such as ours.

The decision point is how to treat matters of faith. To understand the dilemma, it is necessary to consider how the unborn are considered by the Right to Life movement, and most religious communities. That must then be held in contrast to the atheistic view. I subscribe to the principle that life begins at conception. This is not technically correct, as life is in reality a continuum. To say that life begins is to suggest that inanimate materials have somehow been endowed at some moment with those characteristics we recognize as life. None the less, the phrase is useful if it is taken to mean that the life of an individual begins at conception. This is inarguable as we can infer from genetics. The DNA that identifies an individual (human or otherwise) is established at the time of conception.

In the materialist view, this is all that happens. But there is more to consider. We are, we believe, endowed with a soul, something that is not of the material world. It has been argued (and there are diverse views on this even among the religious) that abortion might be acceptable at any time before the developing embryo/fetus becomes human. The soul is essential to humanity and when ensoulment occurs is thus a critical moment. Again, I subscribe to the idea that ensoulment occurs simultaneously with conception. This is the only time that is not an arbitrary choice. Any other point further along depends on an arbitrary choice with unclear delineation. If you say that a beating heart is necessary, you cannot pin down the moment it starts. Brain development and other physical characteristics take place gradually and the clear moment is not readily discernible. Though we cannot easily detect that moment either, conception takes place almost instantly and thus it is a certainty that this new individual has both soul and body. it follows that abortion at any stage takes the life of a soul-endowed individual.

But does it matter. I certainly believe that it does and it is a matter of great importance to that God that endows us all with soul. Absent God, it does not matter at all. Then any arbitrary moment can be regarded as a dividing line, or no point at all need be established. It is entirely up to the people to decide, and it can change on a whim. There is nothing to stand in the way of any decision taken. But the words of the Declaration of Independence should matter, both because of the clear meaning and the understanding of the Founding Fathers who certainly believed in a creator, even if they could not agree on how to worship. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Jefferson wrote, “that we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Truly, we cannot live up to those words if we have no respect for life, even at the earliest stages. Remove life, and liberty and happiness have no meaning.

Overturning Roe v Wade, will not be the panacea that some think it would be. It would only mean returning to status quo ante, wherein the matter is returned to the states. This will satisfy the federalists among us, allowing the matter to be resolved state by state. It will be an almost dead certainty that some states will retain legal abortion, perhaps legalizing even more extreme methods and circumstances. This will also mean that the socio-political divisions will likely become even sharper. In that future, Roe might be gone but chasm that exists between us will grow ever deeper.

Should Roe be upheld or retained? Consideration must be given to the dilemma judges face when such questions are brought before them. As has been rightly observed, the word abortion appears nowhere in the constitution. Thus there is no clear statement as to how it should be treated. In that circumstance, a judge must resort to other sources, or try to distill some reasonable conclusion from thin air. it is worth noting that there was a decided interest in considering Roe or a like case at the time. Given that there was nothing to go by, it is reasonable to think the decision was made before the case even came to court. Should Roe be overturned, there will inevitably follow a further effort to solve the matter “for once and for all”, meaning that it will not be put to rest, and attempts to litigate it will continue into the indefinite future. Without Roe, the attempt would be to effectively make the Declaration into law, something that could have profound, unforeseeable consequences.

The real solution is, as it has been all along, to convince the people of the rightness of the Right to Life cause. And too, to emphasize Lincoln’s admonition that a house divided cannot stand. Even if, as with the Founders, we cannot agree on the manner of worship, we must ultimately be of one mind on this issue. For me, I will continue to believe that all human life is precious, that it begins, both in soul and body, at conception. All this I have derived from observable facts and right reason and I am firmly committed to the words of the Nicene Creed. “I believe in One God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and everything visible and invisible…”

Belief: A Choice

via Home

To begin with, you should know that I am an Orthodox Christian.* More importantly, I am a believer. I believe in One God, Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. If you do not recognize that phrase, it is the opening line of the Nicene Creed, which is the essential expression of the core beliefs of the Orthodox Church.

The title of this page indicates what I wish to convey in this essay, that belief in God is one’s to choose, not something to be imposed. Yes, you may quibble by suggesting that raising a child in your faith is an imposition of belief, but all parents have a need, an obligation even, to provide their children with the tools and knowledge necessary to make their way in the world. Certainly, given that the majority of the world’s population holds religious beliefs, ignorance of religion, with or without belief, is a significant handicap.

Free will is, in the Orthodox Christian faith, absolutely essential. This is in opposition to the materialist view that everything and everyone is at the mercy of the inexorable laws of nature. In the material universe, there are no accidents, no coincidences, no lucky ~or unlucky~ occurrences. All is determined from the very beginning by the interactions of the multitude of atomic and sub-atomic particles created in the big bang. We only lack complete knowledge to predict everything that will happen in the future.

Free will changes all that. We become responsible for our actions, for the choices we make, for what we believe. And there are ramifications. Along with free will, we believe that God wants us to love Him, and to do so freely.** A side effect of this belief is that it makes it futile to prove the existence of God.

The material universe is still bound by the laws of nature. Thus, when Isaac Newton observed the apple falling, it did not take a random direction. Obedient to the force of gravity, it fell to the ground, as does any dropped object. We, however, are the intersection of the material and spiritual realms. While our physical body will fall, our spirit is not so restricted. To fully love God, we must be free to choose. That being so, it must follow that not one atom of the material world can have been arranged to force our belief. Evidence of God’s existence abounds, if you choose to recognize it, but that Q.E.D proof that would force the logical thinker to believe simply cannot exist.

Now I did not come to Orthodoxy as most do, that is, by birth. For the “cradle Orthodox” all the beliefs and habits of the faith are ingrained. For me, it has been a long learning process. It is possible to reason one’s way to faith, but as I have demonstrated, there is a point at which that “leap of Faith” is necessary. Reason will take you to this point, but not beyond.

All this does not fully explain why I choose to believe. If it is not possible to reach a hard logical conclusion that compels a choice, then there must be more than mere whimsy involved. Indeed that is so and there are benefits that accrue to the individual as well as the society. Most important of these is the foundation for morality. Without God, we can only be regarded as so much animated mud. In this state, even though a moral code can be constructed, in the end it fails and degenerates to a question of power. In it each individual can do whatever is necessary to survive and to prevail. The society then must impose the moral code all the while knowing that it is in the end entirely arbitrary. With no higher authority to answer to, the inevitable outcome simply resolves to who has the most power. Put God in the picture and there is at least some restraint on behavior and an understanding that there is a morality that exists in all time and every place.

Thus, I make my choice. Πιστεβω I believe.


*You will find that Orthodox Christians often call themselves simply, Orthodox. I have had the experience of being thought to be Jewish because, of course, there are Orthodox Jews. And since Christianity is divided among the Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and more, it is better to keep the Christianity in Orthodox.

**In referring to God, it has been fashionable to argue that God is not specifically male. This is erroneous, I think, as Jesus prayed to Him as Father. Moreover, the Trinity is the expression of God as Father, as well as Son and Holy Spirit. However, unless it is clumsy to do so, I try to refer to God as GOD, to avoid the more biological image.

Why Blog?

This site is intended to be a general blog in which I will record various and sundry rants on whatever comes to mind. The title is taken from the Lewis Carroll poem, The Walrus and the Carpenter, which has been strip-mined by so many in so many ways that it is near impossible to make a clear reference. Try it. Look for, say “sailing ships and sealing wax”. You will find blogs evidently started and forgotten as the poem was likely the only inspiration. Once accomplished the authors seem to have nothing further to say. But the URL stays on whirling around in a digital never-land for nought.

What this blog is not is a cooking or recipe page. While I dabble from time to time with desecrating sundry pieces of meat and occasionally shove some flour in a bread machine, I am not a serious cook and have no expertise. For that I direct you to, wherein you will find excellent recipes and more by a superb cook and blogger. It is greek but much more than greek so do not hesitate.

What I intend is to have a place to record thoughts on many subjects that have been occupying my mind for a long time. There is much in the world of socio-politics that deserves attention and clear minded analysis. Too much of our politics is taken up by booga-booga drum beating that only muddies the waters and leads nowhere. By that I mean the kind of thing which reduced to its basics is typified by the message, “booga boog [insert current issue here], send money”. We can do better and I have no other place that will allow such commentary.

I intend more. The theme, conveniently provided by WordPress, of travel is a good choice. I have traveled extensively and will add commentary and observations and pictures from my vast collection (30,000 and counting images) of photos. There ought to be a place to display what I have and this will have to do.

So stand by, there will be more to come. Certainly I should be able to do than just an empty title whirling around in virtual eternity…

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton