Monday, September 30, 2013

Celebrating kindred spirits, known and unknown

I went to a reception for a celebrated watercolorist/collage-ist at Northern Oklahoma Collage this evening, looked at the artwork he produced (which included acrylic, as it happens, but that's done with water, too, sorta) and a speech at the end.  He said that one of his favorite art subjects, especially in Oklahoma, were all the derelict homes and barns one finds while driving around in the countryside.  He said that all these old buildings had stories, and they talk to him. Well, well, well--that's part of what makes me a time traveler, exploring history  that isn't in books. If you look at my profile description, you'll see that architecture is part and parcel of my jaunts into time of the past.

 Jim Bray at his exhibit, "Vanishing Landscapes"

People who share an interest in common are labeled by professionals as "demographics" (yes, they call other things demographics as well, but that's not the point), but people who hear buildings talk aren't of commercial demographic interest, I'm sure, but I see them as special people all the same...

I don't know this guy from Adam and yet a connection was made, via the art.  And I know I wasn't alone in that, either.  Also in attendance was Tom Boepple, Enid's official greeting card watercolorist.  If I remember correctly, Bray was Boepple's instructor many moons ago.  I was happy enough to chat with Tom, at least.  Not only buildings talk to Tom, I knew, but also old abandoned farm machinery and assorted vintage tin, as it were.

The ever-amiable Tom Boepple & somebody
Actual contact with kindred spirits don't always work out, but this was one that did, and still does. Sorely wish that they all could.

(The above tune is associated with an old mansion--Collinwood.  Rather appropriate for October...Dark Shadows.)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Latest technology renders a prehistoric generation?

Among all the big topics on the talking head programs this weekend was the fact that schools in most states don't require learning cursive handwriting anymore, the excuse being that literacy isn't dependent on that, that keyboarding is the thing to learn in gradeschool.

I'm stepping forward to point out that if Plato had that technology back in his day, we wouldn't have a clue as to who he was, let alone what he wrote, because when technology becomes just two years old, it's perishable, let alone thousands of years.  Think about what the term "prehistoric" actually means.  As in, history that pre-dates written record.

Just because data is written on silicon, it's not really carved in stone.  Picture an archaeologist digging up an ancient personal thumb drive 2000 years from now. Has he discovered the personal letters of some famous person of the past?  I'll bet he'll never know.

Related article

The Friday immediately following the date of this post was a day that NHK World ran a story about how the Chinese government expressed similar issues with basic Chinese spelling and it's now periodically running lesson blurbs on China state media, even where it's explaining the root of the nature of Chinese characters, at their basis, hieroglyphic. Hmmm.

November UPDATE: Doris Kearns Goodwin echoed the above sentiment at the 2013 Miami Book Fair International on a panel discussing presidential history (took place on November 24), observing that letters on paper won't exist, by and large, for our current era and therefore it's a lot that's going to be lost to future historians.  In another posting regarding the Enid City Council, I did say to Google this and that about stuff that happened just a few years ago, let alone decades ago, and because much of what I wrote back then has been taken off of the Internet by the hosts of those websites, I'm sure nobody can google, say, HuffPo's Off The Bus project prior to the time that HuffPo was sold to AOL.  There's a lot that's lost, including my old MySpace blog.  Gone.  Well, gone off of the Internet, that is.  I did make a point of making my own archives of that, but as to the rest? Poof.  And Google no longer produces archived (cached) stuff in its searches anymore.  It used to.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

B-25 and Springs Fling

Events overtook blogging again with Fling at the Springs, and so put off posting about the vintage B-25 yet again. Fling at the Springs (in the park in Enid named Government Springs) is an annual music event that showcases local talent and is filmed then aired on PEGASYS at a later date. Kind of like what they have been doing with the parade in past weeks to the near exclusion of a lot of other things they usually air.
That's the PEGASYS camera on stage there...
It's a gorgeous park...
...but...I'm overdue posting about what I intended to post about  earlier: the Maid in the Shade war bird that was on display at Woodring Airport just outside of Enid.

It kinda had a Studebaker signature.  If this had happened in an automobile garage, a person used to be able to say "A Studebaker was here". :)

The last time a vintage warbird was advertised to be on display, the thing got stuck in Kansas and couldn't make it in at all for the entirety of the scheduled display. Ya sorta get a feel for why that is, right here.  At least this bird was able to make it in from Arizona. GO ZONIES!

Side window gun...
The cockpit and tail guns were blocked off...
...but that doesn't stop a camera with a good zoom on it...
The view of the tail section...
...and a better shot of the two tail guns...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Limbaugh is a time traveler now. Really?

Last night while I was fixin' to post a blog entry about Maid in the Shade, the antique B-25 currently on display at the Woodring Airport just outside of Enid, The Colbert Report reported that Rush Limbaugh has written a kiddies' book about a time traveling horse he rides under the guise of Rush Revere.  I'm sure that last name is something his listener base gave him the impression of, but that's THEIR problem.

For the record, the claim I make as a time traveler does NOT in any way resemble Limbaugh's second childhood fantasies.  When I do it, I do it for the purpose of establishing accurate history, not to rewrite it.  However, here's another cautionary note to actual historians: time travel is adventure, it's sexy, and you guys are just melba toast by comparison even when you "bring history alive" with your two dimensional presentations.  Limbaugh has invented a third dimension--I urge again that you guys shoot for an actual one.  Doctor Who has a much bigger avid audience than Doris Kearnes Goodwin.  So does Marty McFly, for that matter. Remember that.

Wikia on Time Travel, for what it's worth
 My version
What I do--the basics

Speaking of Yahoo Answers, I've found the new changes there to be daunting and so I'm not participating as much in that as I used to.  Still there, but not much.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Iranian developments, new over old

Young folks who find that talks with Iran are actually possible at the UN quite astonishing would do well to review just how western Iran's elders actually are.  I should know, because those elders are my contemporaries and I went to school with a few of them when Iran was ruled by a western-backed tyrant named Shah Pahlavi.

Back in that day, Iranian students in the U.S. were numerous, but they were also organized in protest to the Shah.  I should know--I joined that protest.  It was like a Persian Spring when the Shah was deposed, but what happened to Iran is what Egypt fears happening in its own land now: simply trading one tyrant for another.  That wasn't what was supposed to have happened, even by Persian protester standards.

Believe me when I say that I know that what opposition exists in Iran is led by western-schooled Persians that I know enjoyed what freedoms they had in the U.S. and hold that as a high standard, but that includes the freedom to be Muslims--freedom of religion--something the Shah had prohibited.  Iran went from one extreme to the other, but here we have before us today is an opportunity to normalize, AND with Iranian support.  A different Ayatollah is in charge from the one that took power after the Shah was exiled, and a different president presides.  There are Iranian elders that see this as promising.

Let's not blow it, America.

That was CAIF in the late 1970s. Today's CAIF

A gal representing the IRIB on Facebook has more than just a page representing Iran Radio on shortwave now, and has invited me to like all of those pages.  I did, mainly to keep a closer eye on where official Iran is at on various topics.

Iran English Radio Blog on Facebook
Media Blind Spot Facebook Page
Save Palestine on Facebook

With all the hullabaloo over the #shutdown it seems that the rest of the world's news came to a screeching halt over here.  Had to go on Twitter to watch what my Middle East follows were posting.  Interestingly enough, Fire Dog Lake posted an interesting take on it, re: Bibi and including Syria.  So, what of Netanyahu now that our government doesn't have the money for his big ideas?  Hmmmmmm.

I know which party claimed all along that shutting down the government would be a good thing and nobody would notice the difference unless it was an improvement, but I'm sure none of them are members of AIPAC, or the American Jews who were convinced enough by Romney's claim that Republicans were Israel's best friends forever to vote for him in the last presidential election.  So--who else is being pissed off by the #shutdown? Republicans in "red states" with military bases because their privatization effort means that civilian support gets the axe first.  Thanks for proving that privatization doesn't work well in government, genius.  Republican patriots my arse.  What they're good at is making Khrushchev look like a prophet by fulfilling his wildest dreams.

Sorry I haven't written an update on this topic although one is called for after recent P5 talks with Iran.  Another meeting is scheduled and it's too soon to comment further, although I will when the situation develops into something in less fluctuation than is the case currently.  By all means, stay tuned.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alawites, sectarianism, "Islamic law" differences between the sects

Damn. I've avoided this subject until Reuters reported the killing of 14 Alawites in Syria, and for many, many reasons that made this topic avoidable until now.

I know I risk pissing everybody off in broaching this, too.  To my Muslim friends, you might very well accuse me of being an Orientalist for doing this, and Christians who think they already know everything there is to know about Islamic jurisprudence will eagerly stomp on my neck as well, but here's the deal:

Unless and until we understand each other in terms we're all familiar with, unnecessary argument, war, and killing will continue.  For making this understandable to westerners, it's necessary to go Orientalist because that's what they understand.  The reverse is also true, and before I begin I want to point out that I was invited to join and recently did join the Facebook Group "Libyans and Americans", a number members are also members of the American-Libyan friendship group as well, and it's well known among those circles that I am an atheist, and am accepted on those terms.

There is no wider difference in Islamic law than that which exists between Shiites and Sunnis, and none of it is based entirely on the Koran, words of which constitute the only commonality between them.  Yes, they share a few Hadiths, too, but Islamic law is decided on a tribal basis (Sharia) as well as based on the Koran and Hadiths, so westerners, toss out your concept of precedence right now.  It does not apply.  Nailing down Islamic law as something simplistic is like trying to nail Jello to the wall--you can't do it, it can't be done.

Muslims, in order to understand western thinking, you'd be well advised to understand precedence.  That is a concept where previous court case rulings and past legislation can be applied to a case being tried even though the case being tried is ALSO regarded exclusively on its own merits, and this is for the purpose of achieving uniform justice, the lack of which is often of serious issue with Sharia, even strictly among just Muslims.  The reliance of western law on precedence is why lawyers keep getting more expensive--as time goes by, more laws get passed, more court cases get heard, and therefore it takes longer to research all laws and court cases to obtain precedence cases for use in a current case yet to be decided.

Sunni sectarians have recognized this difficulty with Islamic law as such and have established schools of thought (5 of them) regardless of the Sunni sect studying law, but it's still fragmented insofar as no fewer than 5 schools exist, where uniformity of justice is concerned.  Shiites are considerably more fragmented depending on tribe, and it's one of the big reasons why Iran's Ayatollah system of justice/government remains on shaky ground where the governed are concerned.  It's a case of one sect imposing the law of a single tribe on all other tribes accustomed to their own local jurisprudence.  Without a tradition of more centralized jurisprudence, Shiites are more resentful of any attempt at imposition of such without further discussion and agreement among all sects of Shiism.  Similarly, the House of Saud runs into finding authoritarianism a necessity because they're imposing Wahab Sharia on other tribes...and thus we find, in this manner, that Syria is just another re-reun of sectarian strife.

Knowing this will also invoke an understanding of how Turkey has managed a secular government although it's primarily Muslim, but it takes its prominent military to do this and it may be the only way Egypt can emerge as a secular democracy as well, but in Egypt the military command remains Mubarak flavored. And the remnants of Mubarak are just as problematic for Egypt as Islamic Brotherhood authoritarianism.  There exists no easy progress for Egypt under those circumstances.

And then there are the Sufis who attempt to be above all the sectarian differences in jurisprudence, and in doing so become a sect themselves to a certain extent, although it's possible to be a Sunni Sufist or a Shiite Sufist, and that introduces other wide variations in Sharia.  It's why the largest protest in global history occurred in protest of Morsi in Egypt--he was setting himself above constitutional law in favor of imposing the Sharia of his tribe (in this case, his political party) over all other tribes, and that's not how Islamic law has ever worked.  Ever.

It is also the case that Islamic law is so complicated and varied that no single book can properly explain it, and even after years of attempting to get a grasp of just exactly what the deal is with Islamic law, one always finds new stuff that causes one to lose one's grip, too.  It's a messy, weedy subject that will piss off everybody, and over which nobody can claim to be an expert--not even Muslims themselves.  Worse than a big can of worms, it's a blind posting remains under construction periodically, and I especially welcome Muslim comments thereon.

First, I'm going to establish what exactly I mean when I use certain terms:

Fundamentalist, fundamentalism: the disregard of currently practiced tradition and Sharia rulings with the insistence on adhering strictly to the Koran and Hadiths--the latter of which will be the most significant difference between Sunni and Shiite sects. I find it something of a self-contradiction when some news org claims that some fundamentalist wants to impose Sharia law.

Sunni, Shiite: I will sometimes use a "y" when spelling "Shiite", as in "Shiyat" or "Shiya", and remind one and all that Arabic-to-English is necessarily phonetic, which renders such words as "Quran" and "Koran" equally correct in spelling.  I will refer to these two in aggregate as the Islamic division, not sects, because there are many sects to be found within each, and certainly there are more different Shiite sects than there are Sunni.  And I will refer to Wahabs and Salafis as sects, even though there are subdivisions in those as well.

Fatwah: Not a simple declaration. This is a court-level decision based on a series of questions, so westerners, if you still think you know what a fatwah is because of the ones you hear about in the news, e.g. Salman Rushdie's, you'd be dead wrong.  Tribes under the direct government of a cleric will indeed produce pronouncements by those clerics (something more common among the Shiyat than the Sunni) but it's not ever pulled out of a hat.  Court is involved, questions are examined, then answered, and it's the conclusion reached as the result of the evaluation of the questions and their answers is what a fatwah is. You can call the whole procedure "due process" and still be correct.

Sharia Law: Court rulings on matters of conflict between tribal practice and core Islamic beliefs.

Now then--Muslims, you should be acutely aware of the fact that it's Sharia that gives Islam a bad rap because what Sharia does is turn a blind eye to barbaric tribal practices by separating those practices from Islam and then giving them license.  This is the problem from the reputation for oppressing women to the matter of "female circumcision" which I do recognize as a tribal practice as separate from Islam, but it has been OKAYED by tribal Sharia.  This is not a good thing.

I am also aware of the Koran's view on women, which is not that of oppression, and yet this oppression occurs because Sharia recognizes that as a legitimate tribal practice.  This is not good either.

Westerners, Sharia isn't the big religious boogeyman people make it out to be. Oklahoman lawmakers, you're completely ignorant on this. There will always be a need for Sharia rulings as long as there's a need for Muslims to resolve conditions they find with the culture they move into with the religion they believe.  That's what Sharia is for: determine what's Islamic and what is local custom: not Islamic but okay.  Where Muslim immigrants run into trouble is Sharia of the land they're from conflicting with the laws of the land they move to.  As long as the Muslim immigrant is a member of a particular tribe with particular Sharia rulings, it should be clear that the old Sharia does not apply even though it is recognized tribal ruling before immigration. Sharia poses no threat to the non-believer outside of what comes in conflict between old tribal practice and new surroundings.

Shiyat founder was a woman: Fatima, daughter of Mohammed, though Ali was the caliph. Fatima was one of Mohammed's daughters by his first wife and Ali was Mohammed's adopted brother, second convert, and then son-in-law by marriage to Fatima.

Sunni founder was a woman: Ayisha, Mohammed's second wife,  with whom Fatima took issue.  Although many Muslims would have us believe that the only difference between Shiite and Sunni is succession, it's not true.  Sunnis have Hadiths of Ayisha which Shiites believe to be heretical, and because Shiites not only refuse the Ayisha Hadiths but the Sunnah as well, Shiites are considered to be heretical by Sunnis.  They have been at life-wasting battle with each other beginning with The Day of the Camel --and what peace they've enjoyed during Ali's caliphate through the rise and fall of the Islamic Empire, it's always been just temporary, as today's sectarian violence bears out.

It's far past time to stop.  The only reason that the first Califate Empire succeeded was because of the accord reached at the conclusion of the battle on The Day of the Camel. Sectarian differences were settled then, and throughout the golden age of the Califate Empire, so they shouldn't have been unearthed at all even today.

UPDATE: So far, no negative reaction from Muslims, but there has been pointed out a need for clarification on a few things.

First, when I made mention of all Muslims should be aware of western precedence, I didn't mention that western Muslims--Muslims raised in western countries--are already familiar with the concept either by being raised western or actual study in law school.  The further east you go, the more important tribal affiliations get, even above and beyond national affiliation in some cases.  With the focus on Syria and the preceding "Arab Spring" events, my focus presumed non-western Muslims when I should have said so.

The rest, as yet unchallenged, remains accurate unless I'm told otherwise by properly authoritative sources.

Too many of my atheist friends go all ballistic against any/all religions, and I can understand that--but one of the things that will cause difficulties between myself and my fellow atheists is that I myself do not; further, I've told my Muslim friends (and this is true) that although I'm an atheist, I often find myself in the peculiar position of defending Islam because much of what atheists believe about Islam is Christian and/or Jewish (as in Zionism) junk that just isn't true, and I'm an atheist because I value facts.  Verifiable facts, not theocratic mythology.  This is another reason I find it preferable to be a time traveler rather than an historian.  This difference has served me well in sorting out the mess that is Islamic history, which is something I know my Muslim friends would in fact take issue with.

An historian will read some wonk's evaluation of what happened, from some author's point of view.  A time traveler visits the time in question and looks around to see what's going on, what the scuttlebutt is being passed around, and take a look at events from several different perspectives, and then triangulate.  An historian's account of history doesn't involve navigation; a time traveler's account of history does involve navigation.  And no area of history requires more nimble or more intrepid navigation skills than Islamic history does.  It's thereby that I arrive at my own accounting of Islam--and in the various debates I've gotten involved with in that regard, I have not ever encountered a dispute with a Muslim with what facts I've presented, not even via this post.

The dispute of fact that I typically get into involve both atheists and Christians, and *some* Jews.  The term "Zionist" isn't just a general epithet--it has a specific meaning that dates back to Theodor Herzl, and we're not talking the usual junk one finds about World War II/Holocaust.  This is World War I stuff--the Great War, with the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.  Prior to that, Muslims and Jews got along just fine in the Ottoman Empire--it was the Christians that were persecuted, by both.

There's a lot of historical junk told by western historians about how Islam "spread by the sword" and that's a mischaracterization entirely.  Islam spread by conversion and by the rewards of spoils.  Take a step back and look at General Muawiya, for example.  That lone guy, who served under Calif Omar, traversed the entirety of northern Africa along the Mediterranean coast, and established the Emirate of Cordoba in Spain.  All by himself?  Hardly.

He started out from the Levant with the usual size of a battalion, but by the time he got to Gibraltar, he had amassed a rather large army that was WILLING to fight for his cause.  You can't get military recruits by slaughtering the people you need for your army, and you can't force people to be loyal fighters for you either.  In this regard, westerners got snookered by history written by the losers.  Any claims that Muslims simply planted a flag, proclaimed the residents to be their citizens and killing everybody who disagreed is just flat out BS.  Historic Christian BS, but BS all the same. One has but to analyze just how persuasive Al Shabab's attack on that Nairobi mall in making Islam attractive. It doesn't, and corpses can't join any armies.

So, what actually happened and how do I know exactly what happened?  The first answer is a rather long one, but the second answer is navigation via triangulation. Perspective of one belligerent's  side, perspective of the other belligerent's side, and the perspective of a third observer party, and when I navigate history, I prefer to utilize more than one third party. Every conclusion about history that I have ever uttered are 100% my own conclusions obtained via navigation; not a single one of them have parroted anything from any book.  Of what I've written on such matters, I am, in fact, the original author.

So--what happened? People did die by the sword, but not by Arabs. First, let me provide biblical clues to the powers that were when the Arabs arrived, as in, the Roman Empire.  That was an empire that began as a unification of Italian tribes for the purpose of expelling Celts, followed by an adoption of various aspects of the various tribes under a single leadership, including the adoption of Latin as its unifying language.  At its birth, it did NOT speak Latin, and the Latins were just one of a number of tribes.  The Roman confederacy grew to be the Roman Republic, but went downhill from the point it got corrupted and became the Roman Empire, with not one but two biblical references to how important it was to pay taxes.

Basically, the ruled weren't happy about paying ever-increasing tax rates for ever-increasing imperial needs to expand the empire AND to raise resources to keep the conquered in line.  It was the conquered that readily converted to the force which went up against the Empire, and it was by the swords of the Roman-ruled/vanquished that Roman officials fell.  Basically, the spread of Islam was a large-scale Roman rebellion against the Roman Empire--what Muawiya did was gain support from the Roman-vanquished Carthage Empire people. The Levant was always entertaining Messiah rebellions ever since the mid 80's BCE when the Mithraic kingdoms were finally vanquished by Rome..which were Mithraic for centuries, not Jewish. This highlights the error that the U.S. commits when it claims exceptionalism via its system of being a representative republic.  It was NOT the first, nor was it the only.

Even the Califate Empire recognized this principle, and that's how Sharia developed. Tribal self-determination with allegiance to the religious empire, only slightly different than the way the Roman Republic ran.

It's clear once again that further clarification is necessary, to my non-western Muslim friends regarding Sharia and tribal/sectarian violence.

Islam was given birth as a tribal strife: the Koreish tribe, specifically, and even though that strife was somewhat resolved during the events surrounding the Hijra and the eventual conversion of Mecca, it still remained an issue even through the events surrounding the Treaty of Medina (Yathtrib) insofar as the Koreish was still regarded as an enemy.

For my western friends, there is need to point out that Mohammed was Koreishi himself, and that his best friend and father-in-law via his second wife was a prominent general of that same tribe as well.  And yet Islam, since Mohammed, in the name of mercy, accommodates the practices of many different tribes by way of Sharia.  So it makes NO SENSE for an elected Muslim to impose his idea, or his party's idea, of his own Sharia on any tribes other than his own, and, further, that's not what he was elected to do even in his own tribe.  My non-western Muslim friends, it's this singular fact that renders any/all Islamist radicals unIslamic, and it certainly removes them from the category of fundamentalism.

But has any Islamic court considered questions regarding heresy committed by Islamists and issued a fatwah decision on those questions?  No.  At least, not to my knowledge.  It needs to be done, and by more than one court, and by both Sunni and Shiyat.  In weak Islamic nations ("failed states" like Yemen) it's clear that Islamic law and their faith in it is too weak to take on these unIslamic radicals, so therefore those courts lack the same faith in Allah that you have.  Consider that carefully, and at length.  These questions must be asked, and answered.  And a ruling made on them by all who believe.  Yes, I know that the Saudis will find this impossible because during the entire reign of the House of Saud, they have imposed Wahab Sharia on all other tribes within Saudi borders, but that's exactly why their sovereignty remains on very shaky ground, and why recent reforms (related) will not be enough.

My western friends must understand that the Koran cannot be functionally compared to any Bible, and some of my western Muslim friends seem to have forgotten that the Koran is a recitation in Mohammed's version of Arabic (and there are many versions of Arabic out there), which is why exacting care has been taken in the training for such a recitation.  Written word doesn't contain accurate inflection and can change the meanings of words just on the basis of inflection variation alone.  The Koran is regarded as a revelation and not as law by itself, which is why Hadiths are also relied on for the establishment of law, and that's also why different Muslims have different laws even though the Koran hasn't changed all these centuries, for either Sunni or Shiyat.

I am astonished at Muslims who hold the Koran in a book as sacrosanct as any written Bible because of the issue regarding idolatry. The Koran, as written, has always been considered as inferior to the recitation because of the inaccuracies introduced by simply putting it into writing.  Sure, the desecration of a Koran book shows disrespect for Islam, but in regard to those who would burn Koran books, it should be made clear that the book is an inferior rendition to begin with.

Othman put it into writing for the understanding of those people who were literate enough to read, and that's all.  It wasn't translated to any other language until the 1930s when it was translated into Turkish, and the reason given was for the purpose of Turks to understand, as reciting words that have no meaning to the people of another tongue was a type of idol worship (idol being Mohammed) under such circumstances.  If the Koran is to be believed, it necessarily needs to be understood.

I understand these things, knowing the more objective form of Islamic history, and it's why I won't join in with my fellow atheists in arguing Koranic passages, and despite being an atheist, too often find myself in a position defending Islam--it's the accuracy of the facts that I'm concerned with, although I fully realize that there are too many Islamic "experts" running around out there and that suspicion directed at my own expertise is actually a good, healthy thing.  Don't trust until you verify, but that's why navigation of history is more important than taking the approach of an historian.  It's not just important, it's extremely crucial.  Anyone who successfully navigates this most treacherous terrain in history will eventually come 'round to realizing that I've been correct.  It is just a matter time.



NPR/PRI's "The World" delved into the current sectarian strife in Syria when it mentioned Alawites (Syrian Shiites) in Turkey's (Sunni) refugee camps. It went into great detail about how ancient sectarianism is still very much in play today.  From the Islamic history that I know, I would like to add the following: the Islamic empire that emerged right after the death of Mohammed was able to quell sectarian differences in the name of imperial Islam, which fell when the Empire fell under Genghis Khan' horde.

Sectarian supremacy arose again with the fall of that Islamic empire because no central leadership could be recognized, and once again tribalism was the mainstay until the Turks drove out the Mongols and then established the Ottoman Empire.  Trouble is, those Turks were mainly Sunnis, and on top of that, Turkish tribes that weren't Ottoman affiliated were Shiites, thus giving rise to Turk tribe vs Turk tribe on certain occasions. The Ottomans initially were the merging of the Seljuk and the Uygur tribes, eventually incorporating the Mamluks of Egypt,  and were thus tolerant enough of each other as long as they were just Turks.  Armenia's conversion to Islam occurred before the Ottoman Empire, although Armenia was primarily Christian, and so you have the seeds sown for what eventually resulted in the Armenian Massacre, the precursors of which are still in dispute although through time travel, I have ascertained pretty much what happened.  Not that anybody would believe me, though.

And so what we have between Shiite tribes and Sunni tribes are sectarian, but they're tribal as well.  Note that Turks also have a big problem with Kurds, who are also Sunnis for the most part--so the Shiite/Sunni divide isn't all there is to any tribal story.  Regardless of how secular Turkey's Turks claim to be, they're still religiously/tribally biased to a significant extent.

UPDATE additional material provided by a Yahoo Answers question regarding Islamic law over non-Muslims, and it's to be stressed that the law which existed under the Islamic Empire, aka Saracen Empire, aka Califate Empire, is considerably different than the Islamic law imposed by the Ottomans.
Also related

The following YouTube vid was brought to my attention, posted by TrueStoryASA about Muslim prayer in public, not in a mosque, which raised the question of required ablutions, why they're required in mosques and not public prayer.  I asked that question and am awaiting an answer.

...and the answer is: ablutions are still required and they were done before the vid rolled.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Celebrating the Cherokee Strip Land Run Weekend

Welcome to my new Adds on Google Plus! Thank you! :)

Yes, there was a guy who actually showed up to do the Land Run on his big wheel. This is the guy that commemorates that aspect of the Land Run every year.

Here you see the parade's grand finale first--a commemoration of the Chisholm Trail cattle drive.  Here's the video...

You might have noticed that the view didn't follow the announcer. Well, I have a thing for antique vehicles, Studebakers in particular, and Studebaker started out as a horse buggy manufacturer until it started producing automobiles.  And yes, I have visited the Studebaker factory in South Bend, IN, too, where one also finds Packards. Enid's not half bad as an auto manufacturing town, either. It's the home of the Geronimo.

Finally got the mural unveiling video to upload. Blogger's really been finicky of late, so I divided up the original vid into smaller pieces. The artist explains each panel after it has been revealed, but I'll have to break that up into smaller vid pieces too, later...

And now, Yarnstormageddon....

Each yarn display also sports a tag, promoting some event. In Enid? No. This particular lamp post was promoting a rather remote part of Oklahoma...

Not bad.

Update, rainy day/Monday: good day to process more pics and vids, but I decided instead (at least, right now) to whip up a batch of Enid history in the form of Acme Flour banana cake.  It's a "from scratch" recipe, which means I have to use soured milk, I have to separate the eggs and beat the whites, folding in the foamy whites last.  Yes, there is sound chemistry behind these requirements, not to mention a good way to use milk that has soured.  Back in the day, milk was soured on purpose, not just for cake baking but also for making cottage cheese.  You set a bowl of milk out on the table overnight, during which it curdles.  Pour off the whey, add a bit of sugar, and you've got breakfast. Will process pics & vids later, guys. :)

Jen-yoo-wine horseless carriage, with spider-clad gazebo in background --

Next, is a sweet, sweet machine, vintage 1960.  My very favorite model, the Studebaker Lark.  Mine was white, and 1963.  Studebaker made the last model in 1964.

The one I had was owned by a guy who lost the keys and the title, so the only thing that could happen to it was for a junk yard to get a salvage title for it.  It turned up in a local junk yard with no radiator, no transmission, and largely gutted.  Found out that its overhead valve six cylinder engine had a cracked head, but that didn't stop me either.

I bought it from the junk yard, put a Chevy Impala radiator in it (only had to re-drill the mounting holes--it fit perfectly otherwise), put in a Rambler transmission (Borg Warner generic, actually), new clutch, had the engine block re-bored, fresh set of rings, new ones of a lot of this n that, reupholstered the original seats (they reclined all the way back--no other car of more recent vintage could do that) and put in a new, heftier clutch release linkage because the stock linkage was so weak it always bent while in use.

30 days after purchase, I got it roadworthy and licensed, and made a trip to Montreal and back for a shakedown cruise.  And to attend the ANARC convention at Radio Canada's La Maison in 1978, of course.  My sketch of that appeared on the cover of Review of International Broadcasting, proclaiming ANARC OR BUST!  Larry Magne took a pic of me standing beside ole Nellie Belle right after the Montreal trip and just before I embarked for NUvention in Indianapolis (hosted by the late John Moritz).  Yeah, THAT Larry Magne--the Passport to Worldband Radio Lawrence Magne.  He'll always be Clandestine Cranny Larry to ME, ha.  And it was on the Montreal trip that I dropped by the Studebaker factory in South Bend.

This is my car's namesake, the Jeep driven by Pat Brady...

The remaining critters are Bullet, Trigger, and Roy Rogers.

My Nellie Belle died in Arizona in 1999, victim of theft by somebody who couldn't figure her out very well.  I'm probably the only person who knew what parts did which, exactly, and the reason I named her for this Jeep is because she had a personality as well as being just as temperamental. Like Stude hobbyists say, "every other car is just Brand X".  I had no idea as to her fate until I went to the DMV to renew my driver's license.  I was told I couldn't unless I paid the $50 towing fee to the state, so it's clear that they not only got her, but sent her packing to a junkyard too. RIP, Nellie. Anyhoo, back to Enid...ya just can't leave out Enid Symphony's Doug Newell out of the festivities...

Vids continue to be a major bugger to upload on Blogger. There's still more, too.

Blogger is still being stubborn about vids, so here's a pic of the ribbon cutting at Enid High, which also took place the same week. It's a college prep facility, and the room numbers have q-codes on 'em.  Kids, toss out your cheap smart phones because it's only the expensive ones that do q-codes. Poor kids, get a smart phone.  Just ask Santa for one.
Man--Blogger gave me guff about uploading the pic, even. Google, get yer act together already.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Are you a river rat? I know that I am. Pleased to meet you.

NPR's definition of "river rat": a person born and raised on the Mississippi River.

Interesting program on NPR's On Point this morning, about a new book written by a guy who kayaked down the Mississippi River.  On the show, Paul Schneider talked about his trip between St. Louis MO and Cairo IL and dang if that wasn't my ole stompin' grounds right there.  Before My Space got gutted with the change of hands, one thing I'd blog over there was that river, the Mark Twain Trail, the Great River Road, where to find the Trail of Tears nearby on the Illinois side, where the pirates used to hang out, and all that.  I did save a copy of my My Space post somewhere, links and all, and I'll have to dig that up and post that here, as I'm sure that China's river folk in particular would be interested.

I've traipsed up and down that river a bazillion times, and via a steamboat named The Admiral a few times. By rail, back when St. Louis' Union Station was actually still a passenger train station, went all the way down to New Orleans and back.

As I dig up more stuff on this subject, I'll add it here.

S. S. Admiral. Usually moored between the legs of the Arch when it was in service. It's been scrapped, alas.

My own photo of the Admiral's rooftop calliope. Camera: Kodak Tourister. Film: 620 black & white.

 The Admiral before it became the Admiral

 A shot of the Admiral's ballroom (Blue Salon) on the upper deck. The band always played "Hokey Pokey" for the kids, too.

 I was hoping to find an online picture of the engine room, but nobody (not even me, dang it) saw fit to take a picture of at least Popeye and Olive. Those were the humongous drive arms (one on each side of the hull) that drove the propulsion.

Wikipedia on the S. S. Admiral 

And here's a salute to a Buffalo Soldier river rat, William Cathey, registered male.  Nee Cathay Williams, female.

Bayou Zydeco

Okay, I found the HTML copy of my MySpace blog posting, and given that it was first posted May 2007, the HTML copy/paste might not work on the current site.  I may have to edit the HTML to bring it up to date, so here goes....

Mary Morris was recently plugging her book, "River Queen" on a couple of my favorite radio sources WGN's "Extension 720" (April 19) and NPR's "All Things Considered".  However, I have to say that I found Morris' appearance on Extension 720 exceedingly unimpressive, as it appears that she forgot so many things about the towns along the Mississippi that she confessed that she needed to have a map in front of her to recall any of it.

A great deal of what she admitted to forgetting was significant, and I know this because I used to be a Mississippi River rat, and that's my old stomping grounds, especially the part between Memphis TN and St. Louis MO (tho I've been further north on rare occasion, and further south).  I happen to know that there's another river town in Missouri that has just as greatly significant, historically as St. Louis and Hannibal, and that would be Ste. Genevieve.  

I would strongly advise anyone who wants to make a trip down the Mississippi to make a point of visiting Ste. Genevieve, as its remarkable history isn't confined to pioneering days; it has an equally remarkable recent history insofar as the massive flood of the Mississippi River in 1993 is concerned, too.  Its historic graveyard was raided by the river's waters, and they've been all a-hustle to restore this and its other historic landmarks as the result of that.  

There is a bridge there, that looks like one might take it to cross the river to Illinois, and I've been faked out by that appearance.  The bridge is historic and has been closed to traffic for many years.  Between Cape Girardeau and St. Louis, the only way of crossing the river by road bridge is at Chester IL/Perry MO.  One must not leave out visiting the historic Fort Kaskaskia on the Illinois side, either. Both of which Mary Morris failed to mention or recall in her interview.  

Just as she forgot Cape Girardeau and East Cape.  Political animals know full well that Cape was Rush Limbaugh's old stomping ground.  When his show first launched on TV, I do recall Limbaugh taking in a phonecall which mentioned The Purple Crackle, and Limbaugh said that he frequented the joint.  And I could tell you stories about the Purple Crackle.  I never went inside myself, but the locals had plenty to speculate as to why it was frequently visited by fires.  

The Purple Crackle burnt down for the last time and no longer exists in its old location just across the bridge from Cape Girardeau in East Cape on the Illinois side, but the legend lives on.  Last time I checked, it was replaced by a convenience store that gladly sold Illinois Lottery tickets to Missourians during the time when Missouri stubbornly held out against having its own state lottery.  And during the time that Coors beer wasn't sold on the east side of the Mississippi, it was bootlegged across. Not that it was worth the trouble--its nickname, "Colorado Koolade", was well deserved.

Added note: when I found the article by KFVS-TV about The Purple Crackle, I had no idea that its owners were running the lotto operation, and was taken aback by the news that they plan on turning it into a strip club, although given its seedy past, I can't say I'm surprised.  There is also a Purple Crackle in the former "Hambletonian Capital of the World", Du Quoin IL.

But ya know how that goes with stuff subject to one form or another of Prohibition--the bootleggers do brisk business.  And so it was with the 4th of July fireworks market, too.  Illinois residents would go across the bridge and buy fireworks from roadside stands to bring back.  Lower gasoline taxes were in Missouri, and there was a lot of going across the bridge just to fill up, and this was just as true over the Cape bridge as it was at the Chester/Perry bridge and the St. Louis bridges.

What really shocked me out of my shorts, though, was Mary Morris' total unfamiliarity with the legendary steam sternwheeler riverboat, S.S. Admiral.  On Extension 720, they took a call in by a guy who was the son of a prominent piano player (Virgil  Dorman) who not only got regular gigs around the St. Louis metro area, but also played in the Admiral ballroom AND played its calliope.  I was just plain ole stunned at this.  Before The Arch, the major riverside landmark in St. Louis was the S.S. Admiral, especially since it didn't look ANYTHING like the stereotypical 19th century steamer as it did when it went by the name of The Albatross.  It had a very shiny metallic skin and was rounded and sleek instead of boxy, Art Deco style, in its renovation.  There's no pic on the Wiki page of its '30's-style appearance, but I found one HERE

In THIS pic, the calliope was basically located in that section behind the smokestack on the uppermost level, and this was right above the ballroom. The ballroom was very, very classy indeed, featuring big bands when it was in service; below, the public wasn't permitted around the steam engines as such, but in the arcade section, one could view the massive piston arms that drove the paddles in alternate fashion.  One was named "Popeye" and the other "Olive" (the steam engine was removed when it became permanently anchored), which brings up another important point Morris missed--Chester IL claims to be the home of Popeye. It is also the home of that river-side prison that the original Blues Brothers were released from--Menard State Prison.  She mentioned only Metropolis IL and its celebration of being the hometown of Superman.  That's it.

(Latter day correction note: in this old post to MySpace, one drive arm was misidentified as Olive; they were actually named Popeye and Wimpy.)


She did speak much of Hannibal, of course, as it not only was Mark Twain there but she said her dad lived nearby Twain's house.  A caller had pointed out that a picture of her dad's house might be the one in the background of a pic that showed up in the National Geographic, on page 122 of the July, 1956 issue.
Anyhoo--The S.S. Admiral got decommissioned from excursion service and for a while it stayed anchored in its customary spot near The Arch and Eads Bridge in St. Louis, and then got sold down the river.  It was moved to New Orleans, where it stayed a number of years, and then St. Louis got it back again.  At this point I have NO IDEA which of those two places it resides now, tho I suspect that if it didn't get wrecked by Katrina, it's in St. Louis because of it.  Should you take a river trip yourself, you owe it to yourself to visit this boat whether it's in New Orleans or St. Louis.  There's nothing like it.
Should you drive instead of take the river, I recommend, on the Illinois side, Route 3 (the Illinois section of The Great River Road) for a scenic leisurely rural trek; if you desire a nearby Interstate, on the Missouri side there's I-55, which does extend further south down the river, as you might expect.  Should you choose the Route 3 road, it's important that you remember that the Mississippi River is also a major flyway for migratory birds, and you WILL hit birds with your car during a major migration....not to mention deer.  But on the Route 3 side you will also have an opportunity to explore the part of the Trail of Tears that approaches the Mississippi, and that would be a bit north of the Anna-Jonesboro turnoff.  It runs roughly along route 146 beginning from Cave-In-Rock (erstwhile former HQ of river pirates) on the east of Illinois' tip thru to East Cape.  But don't forget to visit the breathtaking Bald Knob at Alto Pass on the Illinois side either.
The Shawnee National Forest on the Illinois side-- like the Mark Twain National Forest on the Missouri side--is well worth your while to tarry a bit in your journey all the same.  Converted desert rat or not, it's stuff like this that still makes me proud of my origins as an Ozark hillbilly, one who is fully within her rights to refer to Oklahoma as "Ozarks West".

Missouri Great River Road--See Also:
Bowling Green
Cahokia Mounds

Cape Girardeau
Crystal City
East Prairie
Egypt Mills
French Village
La Grange
New Hope
New London
New Madrid
New Wells
Old Monroe
Point Pleasant
River Aux Vases
St. Charles
St. Francisville
St. Mary
St. Peters
Scott City
Stark City
Valley View
West Alton
West Quincy

Well, well, that worked out just fine without modification.  Enjoy.
I don't think I can move back there and be comfortable because of all the years I spent in Arizona.  From river rat, used to humidity, I morphed into a desert rat and I now find humidity horrendous. Oklahoma (Ozarks West to me), drought and all, is really a good compromise.

The soil is every much desert hardpan that I learned how to garden in thanks to the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. which presented workshops on that, and it's greener here. No escaping Spanish here in Oklahoma.  I don't know of any francophone who could live in either Arizona or Oklahoma and managed to escape it either.  When all has been said and done, it's all Latin anyway, and because of Latin via the Vatican, even the Quebecois and the Cajuns are just as Latino as any Spanish speaker, as are any Creole and the residents of Haiti and French Guiana. All of these people, of a certain age, certainly used to all speak Latin--in church.

So--where does that leave Spanish-speaking Protestants?

UPDATE January 8, 2014:  As the result of receiving an alumni magazine from one of my alma maters, it's become necessary to make an honorable mention of the city of Metropolis IL in its history of steamboat building technology as reported therein by one Gordon Pruett on page 21 (Vol 75, No. 4, December 2013 issue of Southern Alumni) about Metropolis resident Bob Swenson.

The article says that Swenson has cataloged 65 ships built in Metropolis between 1855 and 1915,  and that some of them were large enough to ferry locomotives, being equipped with rails.  I never would have guessed that Golconda was a ship-building area, too, but apparently it was, according to this.  One of the ship builders that worked with James Eads near St. Louis was a guy that had a tugboat named after him: Alfred Cutting.  Eads we already know because of the St. Louis bridge named after him, of course.  Their shipyards were around Carondelet rather in St. Louis proper.

That's a right tidy piece of research.  The photos came from the Metropolis Public Library.

Western Kaintuck legend John Prine, the way I remember him.
And John was right about the Peabody Co. They, and coal, were part and parcel of Mississippi River history. I'm sure a bunch of self-important historians in W. Virginia like to pretend that theirs was the only coal that built the U.S. but us river rats know different.  WVA remains coal country because their coal is low sulfur, but fact is that the coal that fueled U.S. expansion came from Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas...
Ladies and gentlemen: John Prine now, on the Colbert Report--
Well, DAMN that copyright claimed by Viacom. As a published article writer, you'd think that I'd be in favor of this high level of protectionism, but you'd be wrong.  I know the history of the evolution of copyright, patent, trademarking and "intellectual property", but that would set me off on a rant about Tom Edison mixed with Bill Gates/Steve Jobs, all of whom you can thank for the current mess with current copyright law, which is a travesty IMHO.  Don't Edison-Gates-Jobs have more to do with just patents? Enter software and the material recorded, judged to be unpatentable but fall under copyright law until Gates invented "intellectual property" as a legal concept, and the answer is not only NO, but HELL, NO.  Don't get me started.  Instead, give this NPR feature a listen, toward the end, when "Mission to Set Chopin Free" is covered.
The Takeaway (audio player) mp3
Some performances are just too damn outstanding to be condemned to death-by-copyright. Robin Thicke clearly knows this, and that's why his one song (Blurred Lines) went viral and has been coronated "Song of the Summer". He shared, and now he has a bigger fan base accompanying a bigger demand for his other stuff.  Copyright law, as it currently stands, benefits only the entertainment "plantation industries" like the ones Prince and Pearl Jam rebelled against. Performers, not so much. Being stingy with one's rights not only quashes anything from going viral but squashes demand as well, and in biblical terms, amounts to putting one's little light under a bushel basket.

Let all the little lights shine--some are brilliant. Justin Bieber would still be an unknown nobody if he hadn't shared on You Tube, ya know.

Found an embeddable version of John Prine on the Colbert Report on the CR site itself, so here it is...not anymore.  That chingaderra keeps auto-launching so I'm going to just post a link to it instead of embedding it...

LINK to Colbert Nation's video

The Chopin Project on Kickstarter