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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had to drive Youngest Gel to school this morning, Mrs. R being out of town with Middle Gel for a few days.  On the way, we got talking about the latest mass-murder.  This was a Good Thing, or so I’m told by the Experts.  Our Young People need Comfort and Support and Reassurance in the face of this latest National Tragedy, and since the Professionals can’t be absolutely everywhere at the same time, getting it from parents is at least better than nothing.

What the Gel said (and I swear I’m not making this up):

“You know, all I hear is ‘More gun control! More gun control!‘  But it seems to me that more guns might be the answer.  If somebody – the principal, teachers, guards, even students – had been armed, maybe they could have shot the bastard when he first cooked off and saved some lives.”

Ol’ Robbo would be lying if he said the Gel didn’t drive him absolutely batty at times, but all the same, I’m mighty proud of her.  Despite all the brainwashing of the current miserable Culture in which we find ourselves, she gets it.

We agreed that the only people actually affected by “Common Sense Gun Control” are ordinary, sane, law-abiding citizens, and therefore that this constitutes a surrender of liberty that has little or no connection with what is claimed to be its purpose.  (And just as an aside, I saw a tweet by Sen. Kamala Harris of California in which she calls for said control to stop the “killing of our babies”.  The woman is stridently pro-abortion.  What kind of a moral monster can carry these two ideas at the same time?)

We also talked about the alternative of Common Sense Loony Control.  After all, as is the case with pretty much every other non-terror related mass shooting (and maybe some of them, too), the gunman here is obviously a crack-pot.  Everyone around him knew he’s a crack-pot.  Everyone around him expected that he was going to snap sooner or later.  Some people even apparently tried to warn the Authorities that he was going to go ballistic.  Yet nothing was done.

Ol’ Robbo believes (and I told the Gel this) that the current rules about involuntary commitment of the mentally unbalanced are far too strict and should be revisited.  (I believe they’re based on a Supreme Court decision from somewhere in the mid-70’s.)  I’ve seen drugged out, drunken bums lying in pools of their own piss in the gutter and howling at the moon, surrounded by cops and EMT who couldn’t lay a finger on them because they wouldn’t consent to it.  On the other hand, I worry that there’s a very slippery slope here.  What, exactly, is the definition of “certifiable” that would allow involuntary commitment to a psych ward, and perhaps more importantly, who gets to decide that definition? I told the Gel about the various authoritarian regimes that use alleged mental illness as an excuse to jail political dissidents.  “Hell,” I said, “There are plenty of SJW’s in my own workplace who think that I, as a white, male, Catholic conservative, ought to be locked up for ‘reeducation’.”

So in the end, we agreed that perhaps the best defense – against both psychotic murderers and creeping authoritarianism – is self-defense.  In fact, we agreed that this is such an important concept that it ought to be enshrined somewhere in a major governing code of law.

Oh, yeah………

Almost as if those Founder fellahs knew what they were talking about.



Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo just got done watching the yootube video of this afternoon’s successful launch of the Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral.

Mind status:  Blown.

Seriously, I am astounded by the take off and landing of the main rocket plus its two boosters.  I’m old enough to remember watching the later Apollo missions to the moon, and of course to follow all the shuttle missions, but (and here you may throw the cliché flag if you wish), this one seems like something right out of science fiction.

And that it’s a private company that is pioneering this stuff is doubly gratifying.  I know Elon Musk is getting all kinds of sweet, sweet gub’mint money, but a) he’s ponying up himself, too, and b) this kind of thing is definitely worth it.

Indeed, I’ve long thought that NASA ought to step out of the way and let private adventurers set forth on projects such as colonizing the moon, sending an expedition to Mars, and mining asteroids.  Seems to me that this is a significant step in that process.

Oh, and speaking of such things, today’s launch reminds me that I must be the only person on the planet who remembers a short-lived Andy Griffith teevee series from 1979 called “Salvage-1“.  In it, Griffith’s character develops a scheme and the technical know-how to send a rocket (called “Vulture-1” I believe) to the moon to pick up all the junk left behind by the Apollo program (which he intends to sell back on Earth at a tidy profit).  Even back then, at the tender age of 14, Ol’ Robbo found himself thinking that private enterprise was the way to go when it came to conquering the final frontier.

Finally, as you probably know, the payload sent up today was one of Musk’s Tesla Roadsters, with a manikin in a space suit at the wheel.  If you go to the video linked above, at one point you’ll see a shot of the car and driver.  On the dashboard is a small screen with the words “Don’t Panic” displayed on it.  I about fell out of my chair laughing.

** Spot the reference.  And I’ll be impressed as hell if you get it.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, here we are in February already, and it’s living up to its reputation this year.  (As it happens, the sky is clear today but it’s too damn cold to do much outside.)

Because the mind of Ol’ Robbo works the way it does, whenever I come to contemplate the fact of February, I always think of the scene in Act 2 of the Pirates of Penzance where the Pirate King explains to young Frederick the paradox of his (Frederick) having been born on February 29 in a Leap Year:

For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be disloyal,
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February, twenty-eight

days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine-and-twenty.
Through some singular coincidence — I shouldn’t be surprised if it were owing

to the agency of an ill-natured fairy —
You are the victim of this clumsy arrangement, having been born in leap-year,

on the twenty-ninth of February.
And so, by a simple arithmetical process, you’ll easily discover,
That though you’ve lived twenty-one years, yet, if we go by birthdays, you’re
only five and a little bit over !

(Is this a leap year, by the bye? I haven’t looked it up.)

Anyhoo, I find myself in the Port Swiller library, laptop on lap, cat on arm of chair, thinking of this and that.

♦  I’m sure by now you’ve all heard about FISA-gate.  I won’t say anything about it here even though I’ve been following the whole biznay quite intently.  What’s that lyric from the Sting song? “At the stillpoint of destruction/ At the center of the fury/ All the angels, all the devils/  (Something, something) can’t you see?” A leetle too close for comfort.  I will just reiterate in general my philosophy that, even though I work in it, I consider government to be a necessary evil, not a religion.  This sort of thing is what happens when others feel differently.

♦   Speaking of religion, as Candlemas was yesterday, I took down and put away the last of the Christmas decorations this morning – specifically the crèche in the front hall and the wreaths on the front doors.  Mrs. Robbo managed to restrain herself from making cracks about how tired she was of looking at them until just the other day.  I think this is a compromise I can live with.

♦   In the Absurdity Department, I learn that Daisy, the Port Swiller Special Needs Dog, has been banned from the groomers.  They say she shakes and gibbers so much that it takes them far too long to finish with her.  So we’re investing in an electric trimmer and will have a go at doing it ourselves.  Anybody know anything about how to cut a dog’s hair?

♦   I am slowly – very slowly – working up the energy to finally getting around to reorganizing my library, which is presently quite a-jumble. Ol’ Robbo simply can’t bear the idea of actually getting rid of books – even those he has no intention of ever reading again – but it recently occurred to me that there is room in the basement where I can, as it were, circular-file them, leaving the library shelves upstairs free for repacking (and adding to).  So, once I summon enough energy, downstairs will go such volumes as the histories of commie-bastard Eric Hobsbawm (left over from college) and fellow-travelers Will and Ariel Durant (picked up at a garage sale when I was young and didn’t know any better); the novels of Hemingway and Steinbeck; the Dee Cee “Insider” books by people like Ken Starr and David Bois that the Old Gentleman continually sent me but I never read, and the like.  The choice of what to retire will be delicious.

♦   Oh, there is one book I’m throwing away:  Lisa Birnbach’s True Prep. Her original Preppy Handbook from back in the early 80’s was amusing (I still have it), but this updated version, capturing as it does the depth of narcissism into which the current so-called “Elite” have slid since then, is horrifying.

♦   And finally, speaking of narcissism, Ol’ Robbo has no intention of watching the Sooper Bowl this year.  Not that I’ve paid very much attention to pro ball since Marino retired, but I usually still tune into the SB for the sheer spectacle.  Not this time.  (Besides, I think a Pats win is pretty much a foregone conclusion.)  No matter:  Only eleven more days until pitchers and catchers report!

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Eldest Gel is back home this weekend because she left off getting her eyes checked until too late over Winter Break and had to come back to get her new contacts.  I am also personally accompanying her to make sure she gets her oil changed while she’s here (something else she didn’t get around to over all those weeks).

They grow up, but at the same time they don’t.

UPDATE: Of course, I was the perfectly mature, completely responsible adult when I was a college sophomore….not.

Mulling on this brought back to mind a perfect example of my own ridiculous behavior back in the day.  I was coming home from college at the end of my sophomore year in 1985, flying from Hartford to San Antonio.  I had not bothered much about shipping things ahead of time, which meant that I showed up at the airport with three perfectly enormous stuffed duffles.  The counterperson took one look at them and said, “Honey, you’re gonna have to write me a big ol’ check for those.”  (I didn’t have a credit card at the time.)

Now I had a local checking account, but I knew that I only had a balance of about 63 cents in it.  However, I was perfectly willing to write a dud check just to get myself and my stuff home.  I figured it could all be sorted out later on.  However, when I pulled out my checkbook, I discovered…..there were no checks left in it.


Somehow or other, I talked the counterperson into holding my duffles for me.  I then flew home, explained things to the Old Gentleman when he met me at the airport, and had him deal with the counterpersons there, paying the baggage fee and having them contact the people in Hartford.  The bags appeared at home the next day.

Why my parents didn’t kill me then and there, I’ll never know.  Except I suppose I do know.  Now.

UPDATE DEUX:  Well, it’s now nine o’clock Saturday Evening.  Funny how I was reminiscing about idiot kid travel arrangements earlier, because I just now learned that I’m going to have to drive Middle Gel’s friend, who was down from Boston for the weekend, to BWI airport at 5:30 ack emma tomorrow.  In the rain.  This is me trying not to twitch and failing – ((((((())))))))


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, it’s been quite a week at Port Swiller Manor.  The Younger Gels got involved in a fender-bender Tuesday morning (not their fault, just a squished rear bumper, no injuries), and then Mrs. Robbo’s 94 y.o. grandmother passed away earlier today.  As Mrs. R has been in Flarduh for nearly a week tending said grandmother, Ol’ Robbo has been handling all the fall-out of both events this end by himself.

Nonetheless, in between bouts of having to do Grown Up stuff, I’ve managed to squeeze in four movies since last weekend, none of which I’ve actually seen before.  So a few quick thoughts on each:

Cheyenne Autumn (1964).  John Ford’s last western.  A band of Cheyenne on a reservation in Oklahoma, tired of being shafted by the Gubmint, decides to go home to Wyoming.  The Army, naturally, pursues them.  This isn’t your usual frontier struggle set-up.  Instead, it’s a look at very shabby treatment of a beaten people, and could have been a very good movie due to its thought-provoking themes and its excellent cavalry scenes,  but for a couple of things.  First, there is a middle part in which the good citizens of Dodge City, Kansas, led by Jimmah Stewart as Wyatt Earp, panic because they think the Cheyennes are coming for them.  The bit is something near Olde West parody and really ruins the tone.  Second, although the action is supposed to take place in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming, a lot of the film was shot in Monument Valley which, although beautiful in its own right, looks nothing like any of those locations.  Very annoying to me.  Ricardo Montalban is the Cheyenne war chief.  Richard Widmark is the sympathetic cavalry officer who has to chase him.  Karl Malden, sporting a German accent, is another army officer in on the hunt. Edward G. Robinson, with no trace of gangster about him, is the sympathetic Secretary of the Interior.  And a lovely young Carrol Baker plays a Quaker missionary at the reservation. (I find, upon looking her up, that she played the mother of the psychopath in Kindergarten Cop.)  I’d give it two and a half out of five glasses – definitely worth seeing, but probably not a repeater.

Flight of the Phoenix (1965).  This movie had sat in my Netflix back-order queue for years, but TCM ran it the other night.  A cargo plane, piloted by Jimmah Stewart and Dickie Attenborough and carrying a dozen or so soldiers and oil-field employees, goes down in the Sahara.  There’s minimal food and water, and no hope of being spotted, so the survivors have to think of a way to get themselves out.  It’s basically one of your disparate personalities meets impossible situation dramas.  I must say, without spoilers, that I thought their Kobyashi Maru solution to be a bit…far-fetched, but, hey, this is the movies.  Ernest Borgnine and George Kennedy are among the crew.  I’ll go three out of five glasses on this one, too.  I’m taking it out of my Netflix queue, but this is the sort of movie that I’d watch any time it happened to come up on cable.

Cromwell (1970).  No, I really hadn’t seen it before.  This is an excellent film.  I mean, Richard Harris (as Cromwell) and Alec Guinness (as Charles I), for crying out loud.  The battle scenes between Roundheads and Cavaliers were really outstanding, I thought, courtesy, as I understand it, of the Spanish Army extras.  Historickally speaking, I thought the film somewhat more sympathetic to Cromwell than it could have been, although since it cuts out before he assumes dictatorial control, a lot of his, ah, heavy-handedness is excluded.  Timothy Dalton, of all people, plays Prince Rupert, which makes you realize just how long he’s been around the films.  Five glasses on this one – I’ll toss it back in the queue again for future viewing.

Demetrius and the Gladiators (1954).  Insert your “Joey, do you like movies about……?” snark here.  This is actually a sequel to the movie, The Robe, in which moody, broody Richard Burton’s Roman officer comes into possession of Christ’s robe after the Crucifixion.  In that film, Burton moodily, broodily is transformed by said Robe and all that it represents, and then is moodily, broodily sent off to his martyrdom for his new-found Faith.  D and the G picks it up at this point.  As Burton moodily, broodily marches off to his death, he gives the Robe to St. Peter, who apparently has no trouble standing about in Caligula’s audience chamber.  Peter then has to leave town on business, so he entrusts the Robe to Victor Mature’s Demetrius.  Demetrius subsequently gets in trouble with the Law and is hauled off to gladiator school.  Meanwhile, Caligula gets it in his head that the Robe has some magical power of divinity and sets out to find it.  At the same time, Messalina (played by yummy Susan Heyward) gets the hots for Demetrius.  Crises of Faith and pagan debauchery ensue, and only come to a close when St. Peter reappears to snap Demetrius back in line and Caligula is assassinated.  The Julio-Claudian history is…..loosely presented, at best.  Eh, I’ll give this one two glasses out of five.  For all the Christian themes at work, it really is just a movie about gladiators.

UPDATE:  Add Comanche Station (1960).  Randolph Scott rescues a comely young woman from the Comanch and then has to battle both Indians and Claude Akins to get her back to her husband.  (The young lady seems to fall into a suspicious number of creeks, ponds, and water troughs.  Just saying.)

The whole time, I kept thinking of this:

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Here’s a proposition for you: the terms “[fill-in-the-blank]-phobe”, “[whatever]-ist” and “hater” are to today’s cultural Marxism what the terms “wrecker”, “horder”, and “saboteur” were to the economic Marxists of Stalinist Russia, in terms of philosophical goals, tactical semantics, and intended targets, as well as their utter, willful  disassociation  from reality.

Hardly an original thought, I daresay, but it wandered into my braims this week when I was reading some article or other about the latest diatribes of the Socialist Juicebox Wankers against the nekulturny,  and I’ve been delighting (in a historickal geeky way, of course) in the parallels.

If and when the Cultural Revolution actually takes place and Ol’ Robbo gets hauled off to the camps (or, more realistically because of his age and uselessness, the bullet in the back of his head in the police station basement), I’m sure I will have on at least some part of my mind that tag attributed (apparently wrongly) to Mark Twain to the effect that history doesn’t repeat itself but it does rhyme.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As long time friends of the decanter will know, historickal trivia is pure catnip to Ol’ Robbo.  So you will not be a-tall surprised that I find this article fascinating: Salmonella May Have Caused Massive Aztec Epidemic, Study Finds.

See? See? What has your mother always told you? Don’t eat that human heart after it’s been sitting out in the sun all day!

Oi, vey!

Seriously, though, I love this sort of thing.  According to the article, new technology is providing the forensic advances to figure out the nuts and bolts:

A new algorithm allowed [Kirsten Bos, a molecular paleopathologist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and her team] to identify fragments of ancient salmonella DNA with extreme specificity.

“It was an analytical technique that was really the game-changer for us,” Bos explains. While scientists have been able to extract ancient DNA from bones and other tissue, until recently it was impossible to compare that extracted DNA to a wide variety of potential matches.

But a new computer program called MALT allowed them to do just that. “The major advancement was this algorithm,” Bos says. “It offers a method of analyzing many, many, many small DNA fragments that we get, and actually identifying, by species name, the bacteria that are represented.”

Bos and her team used MALT to match up the DNA fragments extracted from teeth of epidemic victims with a database of known pathogens…….

In the end, they found evidence of the deadly Salmonella enterica Paratyphi C bacteria.

Surprisingly, the new information does not appear to pin this epidemic on the eeeeeevil European invaders.

The study does not pinpoint the source of the bacteria, which is an area of great interest for biologists and archaeologists alike. The authors note that many epidemics of the period are believed to originate with European invaders who arrived in the region in the early part of the 16th century, but the new research doesn’t present biological evidence for or against that.

A previous study suggested the pathogen responsible for the epidemic originated in Mexico, and that the epidemic was exacerbated by drought. And, Bos notes, “the Europeans who were observing the symptoms didn’t know what it was, and Europeans got it as well,” which suggests it wasn’t a disease endemic to Europe.

That doesn’t mean, in NPR’s view, that said European invaders aren’t guilty as hell of biological warfare anyway:

But even if Europeans did not introduce the pathogen, they may still be responsible for its profound deadliness among indigenous people. “We know that Europeans very much changed the landscape once they entered the new world,” Bos says. “They introduced new livestock, [and] there was lots of social disruption among the indigenous population which would have increased their susceptibility to infectious disease.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that said “social disruption” might actually have been the revolt against the Aztecs of the surrounding tribes, greatly bolstered by the arrival of Cortez and his men, who were sick and tired of being carted off en masse to serve as human sacrifices to the Aztecs’ Sun God.

Incidentally, Eldest is taking a Latin American history class this semester.  She told me they watched a video today about early European contact that was, to her, surprisingly balanced in its presentation.  One of the things that was emphasized was the fluidity of societies among “native” Americans even before the Europeans turned up.   Empires rose and fell.  (I haven’t looked it up, but according to the Gel, the Aztecs had only recently established dominance over the Valley of Mexico when the Spanish first appeared.)  Tribes gained ascendency and then lost it.  Others were wiped out or subsumed. Territories changed hands.

This is important factual ammunition in the war against bloody Jean-Jacque Rousseau and his pipe-dream “Noble Savages”.  Ask the average hipster-doofus SJW what the Americas were like pre-Columbus and xhe’ll probably say something about how wonderful and peaceful and static it all was in its pristine harmony.  Utter rubbish.  I don’t deny the beastliness of Spanish colonialism in the New World for an instant.  What I do deny is the idea that the locals were any less beastly than their own means permitted.  As a general rule, Bad Things happen and people are shites wherever and whenever you go in history.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

One of Ol’ Robbo’s little delights in life is noticing links and gunnegshuns among things that, at first sight, don’t appear to have that much in common.  This came to me today regarding several books I have just finished or am currently reading.

To wit:

First, I may have mentioned it already but a week or two ago I finished The Horse Soldiers by Harold Sinclair.  It’s a fictional dramatization of Grierson’s Raid, a Union cavalry expedition through the heart of Mississippi in 1863 during Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign, and is the basis of the John Wayne movie of the same name (which I re-watch frequently).

Second, at my brother’s behest, I read Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, which tells the story of the great Galveston Hurricane of 1900, largely through the eyes of Isaac Cline, the resident meteorologist for the U.S. Weather Bureau who lived through the thing.  (Pretty good book. The science was fascinating and the depictions of carnage horrifying.  I was less impressed with the author’s attempts to get into the head of the man Cline himself.)




Third, as should not be any surprise to regular friends of the decanter who know that recently Ol’ Robbo has been reading novelisations of the French and Indian War, I’ve started off on my latest re-reading of Volume One of Francis Parkman’s great France and England in North America and am currently in the midst of the third book of that set, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West.

Now, anyone want to know what the Three Degrees of Separation are here?  Well, I’ll tell you:

First, the fictional hero of The Horse Soldiers is one Colonel Marlowe.  Marlowe is (very) loosely based on the real life Col. Benjamin Grierson.  Grierson, who had been a professional musician and band-master before the War, took the unusual step of staying in the Regular Army afterwards, much to the distain of the West Point crowd.  Among his other post-War assignments, Grierson served for a while as commander of Fort Concho in what was then the frontier town of San Angelo, Texas (where he was a great proponent of the so-called “Buffalo Soldiers”, again, much to the distain of his fellow officers).

This Fort Concho becomes the second literary link, because it just so happens that Isaac Cline was posted there in the early days of his meteorological training program with the Army Signal Corp (albeit not when Grierson was in command, but a few years later).

The third link comes in to play because, although Isaacs’ Storm is primarily about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, it also touches on Indianola, Texas, an up-and-coming 19th Century port farther southwest along the Texas Gulf Coast that got hammered by a pair of hurricanes in 1875 and 1886 and, as a result, was pretty much abandoned.  Now Indianola is (there are still a few houses there) located on Matagorda Bay, which is the same bay in which the great René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s attempt to sail up the Mississippi eventually foundered in 1685, and on the shores of which he established his ill-fated French colony before meeting his untimely death at the hands of mutineers in East Texas while going for help on foot.  Matagorda Bay also happens to be the water in which Ol’ Robbo did all of his salt-water fishing in his misspent yoot (at Pass Cavallo, largely, at which point La Salle came ashore and not very far from the resting place of his expedition’s sunken supply ship La Belle, as it turns out), so that makes it all the more personal for me.

So there you have it, you see?  Grierson to Cline to La Salle.

(This, by the bye, is an example of why Ol’ Robbo doesn’t get invited to many parties.  Seems pretty exclusive and hurtful, now that I think about it.  Aren’t we bores people too?  Why do you have to be so borephobic, you haters?)

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Possessed by some sudden onset of nostalgia, several months ago Ol’ Robbo tossed “Battlestar Galactica” into his Netflix queue.  Yes, I mean the real one. **

As a 13-year old kid when it came out, Ol’ Robbo loved this show.  I had models of a Colonial Viper and a Cylon Raider.  I had the soundtrack album.  I had a book version of the first episode that was basically a storyboard, combining stills from the show with printed dialogue.  I longed to possess one of those Colonial Warrior jackets.  Yeah, I was a nerd back then.

Now, I was curious to see what I thought of it, er, 40 years later.

Before I get into my thoughts, though, let me just get out of the way something I’m sure some friend of the decanter will bring up immediately: Boxy and his robot daggit.  This biznay wasn’t really defensible back then, and it isn’t defensible now.  I’ll give you that one, okay?

That said, I’m happy to say that I watched the first, extended episode last evening and was really quite pleased with how it held up.  The dialogue was tight and to the point, the special effects were pretty much as I remembered them. (Dykstra-vision originally pioneered for the Star Wars movies – I recall reading somewhere that BSG had an enormous special effects budget for a tee-vee series, which is probably why they had to recycle so many of the exterior shots over and over again.  I didn’t much mind when I was a kid, and it really doesn’t bother me now.)  And I loved the wave of nostalgia.  As originally conceived, the Cylons were a stand-in for the Soviet Juggernaut so ominous during the height of the Carter Malaise.  They didn’t get you through cunning or superior skills, they got you through relentless drive, overwhelming numbers, and exploitation of your own softness and self-doubt.  Clear-minded, freedom-loving individuals could fight them off, even in the most dire circumstances.

Then, of course, there was the question perhaps upmost on 13 y.o. Robbo’s mind:  The lovely and talented Maren Jensen?  Or the lovely and talented Jane Seymour?  Whelp, I believed then and I still believe today that if I had to flee the Cylon tyranny with one lovely lady, I’d go with Lt. Athena over Serina.  (Laurette Spang’s Cassiopeia and Anne Lockhart’s Lt. Sheba would battle it out for a distant third.)

So I’m looking forward to re-watching the rest of the original series.  (We will say nothing of the 1980 redux.)  I don’t remember much about it, except that there were a number of “guest” stars that included (I think) Fred Astaire as Starbuck’s shifty grifter father and Lloyd Bridges as the “legendary” Commander Cain.  I’m sure it will all come back to me, though.

And speaking of which, I am reminded again of the very amusing little bit from the later “A-Team” opening credits featuring Dirk Benedict (the real Starbuck, dammit) and an old nemesis:

Never gets old.

** Ol’ Robbo tried to watch the new version when it came out in the early 2000’s and hated it.  Dark.  Edgy.  And a camera that couldn’t sit still for two seconds on end.  Plus, if I understand correctly, it turned out in the end that all of the Colonial survivors were just Cylon fifth columnists themselves.  So, feh.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo mentioned below that he had been reading Charles Portis’s Masters of Atlantis yesterday.  Portis wrote five novels altogether, and it’s a habit of mine that once I get it into my head to read one of them, I’ve got to read the other four in rapid succession.  This happens probably two or three times a year (this time through triggered by my cousin’s mention of his True Grit at Christmas dinner) and is something of a testament to how much I enjoy his writing. (Norwood is a pleasant afternoon’s read.  The sausage-flipping scene always caused the Mothe to have hysterics.  My favorite book of the group is probably The Dog of the South.)

Anyhoo, having finished up MOA, I immediately leapt over to Portis’s novel Gringos.  It’s a story about a group of American ex-pats in the Yucatan, several of whom are involved with the somewhat shadier side of Mayan archeology and artifacts.  (I have a theory that its protagonist, Jimmy Burns, is a somewhat autobiographical character, by the bye.)

Perhaps because immigration reform is causing so much tongue-swallowing among the talking heads these days, a particular little fact nugget in the book jumped out at me this time around, namely Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution.

Article 33 states:

“The Federal Executive shall have the exclusive power to compel any foreigner whose remaining he may deem inexpedient to abandon the national territory immediately and without the necessity of previous legal action.”

It also states:

“Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.”

In other words, the President of Mexico can throw out any foreigner at any time and for any reason and without any due process.

Ol’ Robbo just thinks it’s interesting, given the hysterics over the proposition that U.S. immigration should be controlled by equitable rule of law, that such a genuinely arbitrary and capricious regime exists just across the border and that I wouldn’t even know about it except for the fact that I like the novels of Charles Portis.

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