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For Ayn Rand fans: a ghost

Perhaps you know Ayn Rand’s first novel, We The Living. It’s a story of two lovers, Kira and Leo, who try to survive together in the early Soviet Union. They fail, because of the myriad ways that communism (or dictatorship in general) degrades everyone and destroys their humanity.

You may also know that Rand based the character of Leo on a real person, a fellow anti-Soviet student in early 1920s Petrograd for whom she had an unrequited love. At the time, she was called Alissa Rosenbaum.

During her lifetime she wouldn’t give out Leo’s real name, but at some point after Rand’s death in 1982, her biographers/archivists figured it out. His name was Lev Bekkerman, and I recently web-surfed to this picture of him:

handsome photo of Lev Bekkerman

He is said to have been a tall, intelligent, self-confident womanizer, who had once hid some anti-Soviet students in his home. One reads that, sadly, Bekkerman was murdered in one of the Soviet political purges of the 1930s. By which time Rand had traveled to the U.S., married an American, and written and published We The Living (in English).

Life works strangely: if Bekkerman had returned her love, then Rand probably would have stayed in Soviet Russia – and been destroyed, much like Bekkerman and much like Kira and Leo in her novel. Instead, she came to America and became a great thinker and writer.

If anyone can read and translate the writing on the photo, please let us know what it says (in the comments).

This is cool

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 4:20 pm - November 12, 2014.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Science,Technology

The European Space Agency confirms that it has landed its probe, Philae, on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

As the CNBC writer says, “It’s the first time a man-made object had ever touched down on a comet. The lander will extract and analyze samples from the comet, and scientists hope the data could contain hints about the history of the universe.”

Some nice images of the comet in the video below, from about 7:30 to 9:50:

It’s natural for smarts to win in the end

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 6:59 pm - March 27, 2014.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Random Thoughts

A colleague sent me this, and I find it vaguely hopeful:

YouTube Preview Image

An orca (a large-brained mammal related to the dolphin) knew how to kill a Great White shark, cleverly by flipping it on its back.

I’m not sure for what that’s a metaphor, but I’ll think of something. Hat tip,

“It’s our choices that make us fat, not McDonald’s”

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 8:16 pm - March 8, 2014.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Food,Health & medical,Social Issues

I do NOT recommend this guy‘s diet, but he claims to have lost 56 lbs and counting, eating all McDonald’s – all the time.

Get regular exercise and honestly limit your calorie intake, and you will moderate your weight…it’s math. (Or science; take your pick.)

Monday night Beauty

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:18 pm - September 9, 2013.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Art/Art History

Van Gogh - Sunset at Montmajour

It’s the newly re-discovered Van Gogh.


Posted by Bruce Carroll at 12:38 pm - June 1, 2012.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,American History

I’m happy to turn the page over to long-time reader & commenter, John R.

Happy Birthday, John!



I have a very important announcement. Today, June 1, I am 90 NINETY years old!
I have lived through the following presidential administrations;

   Harding   Coolidge   Hoover   Roosevelt   Truman

   Eisenhower   Kennedy   Johnson   Nixon   Ford

   Carter   Reagan   Bush   Clinton   Bush   Obama

Which one was the best?  “I Like Ike”.

It was a very pleasant and peaceful 8 years. Unlike the previous years of wars and unemployment.

There were many teaching jobs because the country was now booming with kids. Many of my exGI friends became teachers after spending 4 or more years in college under the GI Bill. But spending years in college was not for me. I got a job in China, then Jpan and finally Alaska. Alaska was great!

TV was coming into its own and many of the ex-GIs who went to tech school now was busy setting up new TV stations and maintaining them.

Flying was becoming very important. It was a great and pleasant experience to take a trip. I was fortunate to have flown on most of the airlines. Between Anchorage and the East Coast NorthWest used a double decker. I cannot remember the name. (Getting senile) It had a bar downstairs and you could go down and make your trip even more enjoyable. The airlines started flying jets at the end of the 50s and flying has not been as good since.

So many things have happened in my life time. I could never write about them all here. I have written a history of my family starting from the 1600 and ending in 1958. I wrote it for my descendants and for my many cousin’s descendants. I had it printed at a large printing company in Silicon Valley. The owner called me and said that when they get my books printed could he print one for himself. That told me that I would not have to be embarassed giving it as a gift to others rather than just my relatives.

So if any of you would like a book, contact Bruce for my address or e-mail address. There is NO charge.

Merry Christmas… from Nashville!

Good evening everyone from Music City, USA. If you follow me on Twitter you know that PatriotPartner and I are on vacation in Nashville, TN.

Our normal Nashville trip is in June for the CMA MusicFest. But we decided to come during Christmastime because of Garth Brooks. Garth is having a series of charity concerts to raise money for victims of the historic floods that hit Middle TN this past May.

Tonight is the concert for us, but Garth will have had about 20 shows over 10 days when it’s all done. News reports say the effort has raised over $3.5 million.

Thanks Garth. And Merry Christmas Nashville!!

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Decision Points: The George W. Bush That The Media Didn’t Let You See

I’ve just begun to read President George W. Bush’s memoirs — Decision Points. I downloaded it on Kindle last night and haven’t been able to put it down.

I’ll discuss more later as I read more (I’m into the summer of 2000 campaign period now.)

But one takeaway already is that George W. Bush is smart, thoughtful, complex, honest, candid and not the cartoon the media liked to make him out to be.

Like or dislike him — this is required reading!

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

UPDATE (from Dan): I’ve also been reading the book, agree it’s difficult to put down and posted some initial reactions here and here.

Oct. 26 1985: When This Baby Hits 88 MPH…You’re Gonna See Some Serious Sh-t!

In the fictional world of Hill Valley, California today is a momentous day in history. Twenty-five years ago this morning, while being chased by angry Libyans, Marty McFly attempts to outrun them in a gussied-up DeLorean. Instead of escaping from the Twin Pines Mall parking lot, the DeLorean reaches 88 mph, the flux capacitor designed by Dr. Emmett Brown activates and transpors Marty and the fancy car back to the year 1955.

The movie Back to the Future actually premiered in July of 1985 — 25 years ago. But those of us die-hard fans know all of the movie dates all too well. Oct. 26, 1985 at 1:24 AM is among the most important moments in the film’s storyline.

I was 17 years old when I first saw the DeLorean disappear in a flash on the big screen. No other movie made such an impression on me in my teen years as BTTF did. Perhaps it was the fact that like Marty, I was also a bit of a loner in high school and anxious about my own future. And yeah, there were Star Wars geeks & Trekkies — but ever since BTTF I’ve been a time travel fanatic.

So cheers to Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis & Dr. Brown on the 25th anniversary of the first trip of the time traveling DeLorean!!

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

Barney Gets One Right, Favors Defunding ACORN

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 7:24 pm - September 23, 2009.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Congress (111th)

Well, Barney may not have learned from the role of the Community Reinvestment Act in creating the mortgage meltdown, but he does seem to have learned from the steady drip-drip of untoward practices in various ACORN offices around the country. And not just those uncovered by two twentysomethings dressed as a pimp and his prostitute.

The Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee believes it’s time for the federal government to cut off funding to the controversial and corrupt left-wing organization.  Had the Massachusetts Democrat not been at the White House for a ceremony awarding the Medal of Honor to a soldier who had lived in his district during the House vote to defund ACORN, Frank says he would have voted to cut of funding for ACORN:

I am very disappointed in the actions that were taken by members of ACORN, and I do not believe that ACORN’s response has been adequate for an organization that has received public funding.

There are questions about the constitutionality of Congress passing a law that singles out one organization, but the basic principle that ACORN should not now be receiving public funding is an important one. I have therefore urged the Obama administration to withhold any additional funding for ACORN at least until there is very firm evidence that the abuses of which ACORN members have been guilty have not only ceased, but that procedures are in place to prevent them from happening again…

Kudos, Congressman.

How Kennedy Saved a Girl from Bad Soviet Medicine

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:50 pm - August 30, 2009.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Family,Freedom

Yesterday, the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story on how many citizens of the city where I was born joined with Massachusetts’ Senator Edward Kennedy to help ensure the immigration in 1978 of a girl suffering from a syndrome which Soviet doctors could not treat in her native Moscow:

Jessica [Katz] was born in 1977 in Moscow with malabsorption syndrome, a disease that prevented her from digesting milk or food. Soviet doctors could not cure the condition, and as their infant daughter grew ever weaker, her parents realized her only hope for survival hinged on treatment in the West.

My family played a small part in helping Jessica through her ordeal, visiting her in Moscow in the summer of 1978.  (My Mom is quoted in the article.) The fall after our visit, in large part due to Kennedy’s intervention with Soviet authorities, her family was allowed to leave the Soviet Union where they could build a new life in Boston and she could get treated for her syndrome.

I visited Jessica’s father Boris several times when I was in college.  As most Soviet emigrés, he had strong anti-Communist views and great respect for the then-President of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan.  And though the then-senior Senator from Massachusetts harshly criticized (and actively sought to thwart) the Gipper’s aggressive foreign policy, Boris refused to criticize Kennedy, always recalling how he helped secure his release.

He only had kind words for the late Massachusetts Democrat.

Just a reminder that while we conservatives criticize Kennedy’s many flaws, he did do a great deal of good, a very deal of good, by one family suffering under Soviet Communism. And that should count for something.

You Know You’re in LA when. . .

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:18 am - July 25, 2009.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,LA Stories

.  . . you see a woman whose hair has obviously been bleached blonde, blow-dried and styled.  She wears a seemingly stylish sweatshirt without stain.  There is no blemish on her skin, at least none you can see for she has applied a generous (but not excessive) amount of makeup. And she asks you for money so she can get something to eat. For some in this town, appearance is more important than nutrition.

What Obama can learn from Captain Sullenberger

Welcome Instapundit Readers!! While you’re here, please check out two of my two recent posts on Bush’s Legacy: President Bush, the Surge, America & Second Chances and On Bush-Hatred and the Bush Legacy.

Last Thursday, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, demonstrated an essential quality of leadership when he calmly reacted to an unexpected crisis in the plane he was piloting.  When his plane, US Airways flight 1549, hit a flock of geese, he had only few moments to decide how to react. Like Barack Obama in the fall campaign, Sullenberger was “cool, calm and collected” in a crisis.

The difference is that whereas the then-Illinois Senator didn’t change course, Sullenberger had no choice but to.  He acted and decisively so, ditching the plane in the Hudson, saving his passengers and crew. While many have praised Obama (and rightly so) for running a brilliant campaign, we often forget that it was not always so.  Were it not for the crisis (i.e., the financial one) he faced, the conventional wisdom might be that the Democratic nominee crumpled when facing the unexpected.

Recall how off balance he seemed in the weeks after John McCain tapped Sarah Palin to be his running mate, changing the dynamics of the campaign?  Had McCain not seemed even more off balance as the scope of the finanicial meltdown became manifest, we might more readily remember Obama’s floundering in the first weeks of the fall. Thanks to a generous assist from the MSM, Obama was able to counter the Palin pick which had so confounded his campaign.

But, on its own, the Obama campaign did not have the wherewithal to successfully challenge a selection which helped recast Republicans as reformers. To be sure, once he takes office, the new president is likely to continue receiving assists from the media.

Unlike a candidate, however, an executive must do more than give speeches; he must act.  It is a good thing to remain calm in a crisis.  And I’m reassured somewhat that Obama has that quality.  But, what Sullenberger’s success teaches us is that being cool and collected in a crisis is not enough.

In most crises, President Obama will not have to act immediately, to change course as quickly as did that noble pilot, but he will not to act. And he can only learn from our country’s newest hero.

Stranger in a Strange Parking Lot

Last night, on my way to see Quantum of Solace, the latest Bond flick, I had an experience of which science fiction novels must be made.

From the moment I pulled into the  parking lot at the Century City Mall (where the theater was located), I seemed to have entered a world drawn from a novel of post-apocalytic world.  I heard the mechanical voice from the machine dispensing my parking ticket, but heard no other voice nor saw another person until I emerged from the lot into the shopping plaza.

It was strange as if the humans had disappeared and only their technology remained. There were cars in the parking lot, discarded shopping bags, a stray suitcase in a pile of junk.  But, I saw no organic life.  Not even a stray cat.

Indeed, I hadn’t seen any human beings on the streets outside the mall entrance.  Interestingly, this very area had (shortly after construction had been completed) served as set for the totalitarian future metropolis in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

There’s something surreal about seeing only products created by man without any humans present.  To compound the effect, the first humans I saw were speaking a language I could not recognize.  I would not hear any English until I attempted to go into the bookstore and the staff informed me it was closed.

Then, as I waited for my date in the lobby of the movie theater, I saw a steady stream of people coming down the escalator from the upper tier of theaters, but no corresponding troop going up.

Had I a science fiction novel in my head instead of a fantasy epic, I might have found inspiration in the strange sequence of events last night.  Perhaps Pierre Boulie or Richard Matheson had had such an evening at a different time with different technologies.  And those experiences sparked their imaginations and so led to books which would inspire many movies.

An interesting irony of this election:
Hillary supporter links Rush Limbaugh

In a post this morning, I noted the irony that those voting for Obama as a “change” from the last eight years will really get more (much more) of the same on domestic policy should their man win.  For like the Republican incumbent, the Democratic nominee favors ever higher levels of federal spending.

Another irony of this election is the number of people supporting their ideological adversaries.  We read regularly of conservatives backing Obama, perhaps the most liberal Democratic nominee ever.

But, the MSM are less wont to cover the numerous left-of-center feminists backing McCain-Palin.  Shelly Mandell, the president of the LA chapter of the left-wing National Organization for Women (NOW), has endorsed the Republican ticket, largely because of the party’s vice presidential nominee:

Now, we learn that Elaine Lafferty, former editor-in-chief of Ms. magazine, has been advising the McCain campaign.  This feminist dismantles some of the media myths about the Alaska Governor and finds her to be smart and a “quicky study.”

I only fully egistered the meaning of Ms. Lafferty’s defense (which a reader sent me last night) this afternoon when my left-leaning lesbian Palin-loving friend forwarded me an e-mail she got from her Hillary 2012 listserv, a link to Rush Limbaugh’s remarks on the Democratic Party’s threat to private pensions.

A Hillary supporter encouraging us to listen to Rush Limbaugh.  Ah the ironies of the 2008 election!

Comparing Electoral Success of Palin & Obama

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 3:27 pm - August 30, 2008.
Filed under: 2008 Presidential Politics,Amazing Stories

Over at Red State, Jeff Emanuel contrasts the presumptive Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin and the Democratic Presidential nominee, Barack Obama (via Instapundit). And while he references their “previous public jobs,” he does not discuss the manner of their various elections.

That difference really distinguishes the two candidates, showing the one-term Alaska Governor to be a much tougher competitor, a more formidable foe, than the junior Senator from Illinois.

Back in 1996, both won election to office, Palin as Mayor of Wasilla, Obama to the Illinois State Senate. And just how did that Democrat win against Alice Palmer, the incumbent Senator of his own party?

The day after New Year’s 1996, operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city’s South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama’s four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot.

That’s right, he had her name — as well of the names of his other potential rivals — removed from the ballot.

And Sarah Palin? How did she win election that year? She rain against a three-term incumbent Mayor John Stein and beat him.

Obama gets the incumbent’s name removed from the ballot. Palin defeats him in an open election.

Now, let’s turn to the first election to statewide office.


The Danger of Taking Things too Literally

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 7:28 pm - July 4, 2008.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Uncategorized

Today, my brother (who had sat with my Mom during her operation) joined my sister, step-sister and myself in my Mom’s hospital room and showed us a picture he had received in an e-mail.  As he had trouble forwarding it from his hand-held device, I decided to google the e-mail’s subject and sure enough found that a blogger had covered the very issue.

When I saw this picture, I was laughing so hard I was crying. It even helped cheer my Mom up (if she could be more cheered than having three of her six kids with her).

Seems some clerk in the bakery of a Wal-mart took a phone-in order a bit too literally:

Medieval DNA To Help With HIV/AIDS Research?

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 10:57 am - January 27, 2008.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,History,HIV/AIDS,Science

The remains of what DNA analysis showed to be a boy found in the Dutch Medieval village Eindhoven, could prove to be revolutionary for both archaeology and modern research on HIV/AIDS:

This chance discovery of ancient DNA has led to one of the most ambitious archaeological projects ever to come out of the Netherlands–a massive excavation in the St. Catherine’s Church cemetery and the establishment of a major ancient human DNA databank. With $3.4 million in funding, Arts and a team of archaeologists and physical anthropologists have now unearthed the skeletons of more than 750 Eindhoven citizens. And over the next two years, University of Leiden geneticist Peter de Knijff will attempt to recover DNA from these remains. “We expect that at least 75 percent of all individuals will have ancient DNA and proteins,” says [Eindhoven Municipal Archaeologist, Nico] Arts.

For researchers, the Eindhoven DNA bank could prove a major windfall, paving the way for a host of new studies. To unravel the mysteries of human disease, researchers are increasingly studying genetic variations in human populations that increase the risk of illnesses, such as diabetes, or boost resistance to infections such as malaria. By studying the variants over time, researchers hope to advance knowledge of these diseases and gather clues to produce vaccines or new drug treatments. And such medical research is where the Eindhoven DNA bank, which spans 600 years of history, could really shine.

The Dutch team hopes, for example, that their project will reveal the origin and prevalence of a genetic variant that increases resistance to one of the world’s most lethal viruses–HIV. Today, nearly 10 percent of people of northern European descent possess this variant, known as the CCR5D32 allele, and the discovery is sparking the development of a new class of AIDS-fighting drugs. Evidence suggests that this mutation first arose 3,100 to 7,800 years ago, but how did it become so prevalent across Europe in an age before the AIDS epidemic? Could this mutation also have boosted resistance to an earlier epidemic, such as smallpox or the Black Death? In search of new data, Knijff and his team will search for this variant in the DNA of Eindhoven’s citizens. “There is no doubt that these studies are valuable,” says Susan Scott, a University of Liverpool historian who has written extensively on the Black Death and its possible connection to the HIV-resistance variant. “Whilst I don’t think [ancient DNA] studies will yield a vaccine for AIDS, they may assist molecular geneticists to develop some gene therapy.” (Archaeology magazine)

Investigations into “why so many residents of Eyam, England, survived the black death when it hit the remote village in 1665”, produced similar evidence for this genetic resistance. All in all, a fascinating blending of archaeology and modern medicine which has the potential of not only providing us more understanding of our ancestors, but possibly could assist in research for diseases like HIV/AIDS today.

For more on the excavation at Eindhoven, click here.

h/t Per Omnia Saecula

— John (Average Gay Joe)

Common Heroes, Uncommon Valor

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 5:59 pm - October 21, 2007.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Freedom,General,Heroes,World History

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” – Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring

This is Andree Dumon, a Belgian grandmother. She doesn’t look very strong, does she? Yet this woman at the tender age of 17 showed just how strong a spirit she has when in the face of brutal Nazi occupation of her homeland and the terror of war, she joined others in the heroic efforts of the Comet Line. This resistance group didn’t kill anyone, wasn’t responsible for sabotaging anything, nor was it a source of great intel for the Allies. Yet the bravery of Dumon and others like her provided an invaluable service to the war effort as they are credited with rescuing and sheperding to safety 800 Allied soldiers and airmen. Many lost their lives, like Dumon’s father, while others were betrayed and endured the horrors of concentration camps, like Dumon did herself. A remarkable story of compassion, heroism and stiff resistance in the face of evil. Take a few moments and read about the Comet Line and people like Dumon, along with other experiences in occupied Belgium during the terrible days of World War II.

— John (Average Gay Joe)

Real “Shock & Awe”

Posted by Average Gay Joe at 11:10 am - September 23, 2007.
Filed under: Amazing Stories,Heroes,Military,War On Terror

This incredible story did indeed give me chills and I couldn’t let this one go by unnoticed. Spc. Channing Moss was about to be written off for dead after being impaled by a live RPG, when his buddies and medical personnel “broke protocol” by risking their lives to save his. I cannot help but see a touch of the miraculous here and thank God for it, along with once again being stunned by the caliber of men and women we have serving in uniform.

Spc. Channing Moss should be dead by all accounts. And those who saved his life did so knowing they might have died with him…

…Protocol, as far as Oh [the surgeon] knew, dictated that someone in Moss’s condition be placed in a sandbagged bunker and listed as “expectant,” which means he would be expected to die because nothing could be done for him.

But Oh believed something could be done for the wounded soldier before him.

He “was still talking to me,” Oh recalled. He choked back tears as he explained: “When he comes in like that, there’s no way you can give up at that point.”

After the EOD team arrived, Oh warned the volunteers one last time that the surgery could cost everyone their lives.

The operating room crew prepped Moss for surgery…

I’m speechless. You can watch the video interview here.

(h/t Ace of Spades & Infidels Are Cool)

— John (Average Gay Joe)