Why I Don’t Trust Disney With Han Solo.

The Conflicted Musings of a Pseudo-Fan.

Forty some-odd years ago, Han Solo was introduced as a lovable rogue.  We’ll find out this July if the character remains true to itself.


Star Wars itself took a lot of it’s inspiration from 19th century French history with the “far, far away” galaxy vacillating back and forth between Empire and Republic. Is Emperor Palpatine a Napoleonic archetype?   Eh.  Yes, but asserting that Ewoks are an analogy for Spanish guerillas during the French Army’s occupation of the Iberian Peninsula is a bit of a stretch. Recall that it took the combined armies of the rest of Europe to defeat Napoleon. I doubt very much he would have had too much trouble with a tribe of slingshot-wielding teddy bears.

Full disclosure: I went to a Halloween Party when I was 19 as Han Solo. No one was impressed. I would have preferred to go as Spock, but that would have required actually purchasing a Star Fleet uniform, and during the internet-less 80’s you really needed to plan ahead.  But dressing up as the the galaxy’s favorite smuggler?  I could to that with what I already had in my closet and a borrowed toy blaster.

Can’t Change The Laws Of Physics…

…but for enough money, you can ignore them.

Devotees of Star Wars have a lot to forgive, not the least of which are the franchise’s complete disregard for the laws of motion and thermodynamics.  It’s one of the reasons why I preferred Star Trek.

I have not seen The Force Awakens and could barely finish Rogue One. I’m not a fan. I might have been at one time, but then life happened. These days, I don’t think I’m a fan of anything. My daughter and son-in-law on the other hand are a different story, which makes Christmas shopping relatively simple. I took her so see the prequels during her formative years, so that might offer a partial explanation.

I do have an appreciation for Star Wars as art. The landscapes, the vistas, and all of the special effects – even with the overreliance on CGI – are still magnificent.

We saw The Last Jedi with our son right before he left for school at the end of Winter Break. Unwatchable. Mary Sue Daisy Ridley? Unwatchable. Carrie Fisher choking out her lines past that 5,000th cigarette? Unwatchable. Mark Hamill squirting milk from a giant manatee into his Yeti cup? The same. Purple haired Laura Dern? You get the idea.

True fans of Star Wars having put up with infinite plot holes over the years were presented with this huge, steaming turd: The Empire, clearly went bankrupt after pouring all it’s resources into two planet-cracker weapons.  Now theatergoers are asked to believe the remnants of that empire, reconstituted as the First Order, (so this is what, the Holy Roman Empire?  The Byzantines?) maintaining control of the remaining imperial cruisers, somehow scrape together enough cash to build a super-duper planet-cracker and continue to prosecute a civil war. Somehow, the destruction of that weapon didn’t finish them for good. Whatever. Disney, you owe me for sitting through the most boring chase sequence in movie history.

I guess Chivalry really is dead in Lucasville.

The Jedi Order originally paid homage to the Knights Templar. Stalwart, resolute, special agents, and advisors to kings and lords. Now we have Luke Skywalker contemplating murdering his nephew in his sleep. The story arc has clearly lost its way. The problem is that one wants these movies to be good. One is rooting for them to be good. Sigh.

So – Han Solo.

Past performance may not guarantee future results, but they do help us to manage our expectations.

The trailer received mixed reviews. Me? I liked it. A lot. As an origin story, the trailer promises a good, solid narrative of one of Pop-Culture’s iconic characters. The trailer leads us to believe that Solo, orphaned at an early age lived by his wits as a street urchin. Self-educated, and clearly gifted, he survives what was surely a brutal childhood and sidles his way next to some powerful people.

Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Hail, Caesar!) appears to have a good handle on the role without doing a Harrison Ford impersonation.

There's that smirk we all know and love.

There’s that smirk we all know and love.

I have one reservation and that is the snippet where Qi’ra, played by Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) says to Solo, “I may be the only person [here?] who knows what you really are.” The exchange stops short of being hostile and confrontational, but we see Solo’s usual cockiness falter. How should we, the audience take this?

If canon can be changed so easily, is it still canon?

I have mixed impressions of Qi’ra. Apparently she is a recent addition to the ever-changing Star Wars Cannon, since I don’t recall Solo’s character ever mentioning her. Someone let me know if I’m wrong about this. (Possible Spoiler) Likely she does not survive the movie, which we can presume blasts the boyish panache right out of Solo. This is the man we meet in A New Hope, a cynic at peace with the horrors of the world.

Well, at least these kids seem to be having fun.

Well, at least these kids seem to be having fun.

This is what the trailer promises, and I don’t believe a word of it. And for good, multiple reasons: Slaves saying “Yipee,” Jar-Jar Binks, 2-headed announcers spouting 80’s clichés, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy (seriously?) Smits, killing off the only interesting new character (Darth Maul), Midi-chlorians, elected queens, The Viceroy, “Roger-roger,” droid armies, 10-year olds building robots, immaculate conception of future Sith-Lords, bad Yoda impressions… by Yoda, prophecies without prophets, Gungans, field promotions to general officer rank for civilians, “we’ll take the long way,” “poodoo,” creepy Anakin, whiney Anakin, robots with Tuberculosis, lava-raft fighting, and infanticide.

Astonishingly, all this occurred before, before Mickey Mouse got his four-fingered white-gloved hands on the franchise. Going by how the story arc devolved in The Last Jedi, there’s very little cause for optimism. Disney has thoroughly subverted Star Wars’ original story.

If 21st century movie-making tells us anything, it’s that today’s studios and directors love to thumb their noses at the audience.  This is particularly true with science fiction.  J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), and Alan Taylor (Terminator Genisys) are two of the more bizarre  examples.  Ridley Scott (Prometheus) of all people took the Aliens series, his creation no less, in a baffling direction.

Disney, not to be out done, has replaced the Napoleonic/Templar leitmotif  with obsessive political correctness and a pathetic consecration of Social Justice Warfare. So no, I don’t trust them to leave Han Solo be with all his glorious arrogance intact.


Posted in Movies, Pop-culture | Leave a comment

The State of Our Dis-Union In the Age of Trump

The absence of grown-ups on the Left side of the political spectrum was on display for all to see last week.  Even Dana Milbank from the Washing Post lamented how President Trump played his political opponents.



Which brings me to my favorite meme from the president’s SOTU:


Few images sum up the impotence of the usually self-congratulatory Left than Nancy Pelosi looking like she was going after a piece of gristle between her dentures.

Trump’s Card.

I’m often asked by acquaintances on the Left “How can you support Trump?”  The particularly self-absorbed will go so far as to scream in incomprehensible rage, “How can you be a Christian and support Trump?”  Wrong question.  Because I don’t.

The question they mean to ask, even if they don’t know it in their systemic lack of self-assessment, is “how can you not share my frothing at the mouth apoplexy at the thought of a Trump presidency?”  I guess tantrums are a thing these days.  For adults.

I’m not particularly enthused by Trump.  I don’t hate him either.  I did see him as the alternative to a truly evil product of the Deep State, and that is what steered my vote, and will likely steer it the same way again in the next election cycle.  I’m also a keen observer of economic metrics to include the Federal Budget.  That will be the over-arching factor over the next four years as to whether or not you can count me in as a “supporter.”

Cameras Everywhere…

Yet They Still Can’t Mask Their Hatred For America.

Some on the Left refused to stand when the President of The United States entered the chamber.  They refused to stand or applaud job growth, higher wages, and a significant drop in Latino and African American unemployment.  Compassion?  Conspicuously absent when they refused to stand for a family who’s children were murdered by MS-13.  Furthermore, they remained seated rather than honor their own colleague, Louisiana Congressman Steve Scales (R) for taking a bullet.  Notable exceptions were three Democrat senators from states that went for Trump.

A rising tide lifts all boats, but if you despise the fleet and it’s admiral, then you would sooner see everyone run aground.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez was apparently triggered by chants of “USA, USA!,” and walked out.  This in spite of him being an elected official of… wait for it… the USA.  As is so often the case, the farce writes itself.

Ah, Yes.  The Memo.

Let’s get this out of the way.  Hillary Clinton is not going to jail.  Because none of the 93  U.S. Attorneys will prosecute her.  Unless the president orders the Attorney General to order a U.S. Attorney to do so.  And I’m not sure he has the power.

Clinton is 70 years old and will not run for office ever again.  She ended her last campaign in disgrace and her petulant behavior over the last year has ensured that history will not be kind to her.  Every moment she refuses to leave the stage makes her look more desperate for attention, more pathetic and more of a parody of herself.  The Clintons leave a legacy of destruction and ruined lives.  Their highest moral imperative?   Their own ambitions.  The ashes of what is left of their foundation, and their irreparable reputations will be their punishment, and the rest of us will have to be satisfied with that.

Bottom line, there was collusion during the 2016 election.  But not in the way the Deep State would have you believe.

The Shiv Felt ‘Round The World.

“Because Americans are Dreamers, too.”  Drop the mic, leave the podium.  Enjoy watching those who viscerally hate liberty seethe and cast about for way to vent their wrath.

Closing Thoughts.

1. Someone has to pull up the gate behind them.

Bill Maher of all people, once famously asked, “If a European country sometime in the future became 51% Muslim, would it be the same country?  Would it have the same values, the same laws?  Would laws change?”

A Townhall commenter who goes by Deplorable left a gem and I felt inspired to flesh it out: 

The issue isn’t that some new arrivals, legal or otherwise, can live peacefully and interact with a minimum of conflict with the native population.  If only.

The issue is that they are raised in segregated enclaves and are relentlessly and thoroughly indoctrinated into the CAIR or LA RAZA hatred of Western Civilization.

We can delude ourselves that they are “natural conservatives,” but the fact is that virtually all of them are raised to believe that the government is their provider.

Thus, no matter how often conservatives and libertarians reach out to them in good faith, they will never desert the marxist ideology that has now dominated the Democrat party for the last 50 years.  Nor will they ever move beyond the mindless indoctrination that asserts that anyone advocating for less government intrusion is inherently racist.

2. This is what real resistance looks like.

Ji Seong-ho, double amputee and North Korean defector raises his old crutches above his head at the State of The Union Address, January 30, 2018.

Ji Seong-ho, double amputee and North Korean defector raises his old crutches above his head at the State of The Union Address, January 30, 2018.


Posted in Current Events and Politics, Defining Western Civilization, Politics | 1 Comment

Performing The Pre-Trip Car Inspection

This is a sponsored post.

Why invest time in a pre-trip car inspection?  For those who are new to Manning The Wall, my job takes me to Fort Knox, Kentucky for about 6 weeks every Summer.

Phil Leaving

The drive is about 720 miles through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the winding hills of West Virginia. It’s a good amount of stress for my old Mountaineer, so a pre-trip car inspection is in order.

Here is what I always check at a minimum: Fluids, Hoses & Clamps, Air Filter, Belts, and tires.


  • Engine Oil.

This is the most basic, and anyone can do it. Even if the vehicle is not due for an oil change, one should check this prior to a trip of any length. Check the level and then get a sense if the oil is accumulating more dirt than normal. Clear oil on the dipstick is a good sign.


  • Transmission Fluids.

Also easy to do. Transmission fluid does not get can the same attention as the engine oil, but it is still an important component of a vehicle’s performance.

  • Coolant.

Ensure that the levels are adequate.

  • Other Fluids.

Brake Fluid, Power Steering Fluid, and Windshield Washer Fluid all have easy to reach reservoirs inside the engine compartment. Check the levels.

Hoses and Clamps.

Engines transfer fluids and air between chambers. For peak efficiency, the integrity of the hoses and clamps is vital.

Air Filter.

It’s going to be dirty if you haven’t replaced it within the last 30 days. Replace it before the trip.


Check for tightness, cracks, and missing teeth. One should replace every 40-60,000 miles.


Windshield Wiper Blades.

Among the most neglected when it comes to DIY basic maintenance.  Fortunately they are easy to check.  Is there wear and tear on the rubber?  And most of all, do they work to push the water off evenly and cleanly?


One of the biggest factors in terms of gas mileage is proper tire pressure. Low tire pressure is like throwing money out the car window. Make sure the tread is at least 2/32” deep. Use the upside down penny test. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 3.11.58 PM

There is a lot of cross-pollination when it comes to safety checks for winter, ensuring the well being of one’s family, and taking a road trip.  Cars.com has plenty of information.

For Emergencies.

A spare tire seems obvious, but a surprising number of us are riding around without a functioning one. Make sure your jack is in working order and ensure the presence of jumper cables and roadside reflectors or flares. Finally, make sure your phone charger is working. A working phone is always going to be your most useful tool in a tight spot.

Posted in Hacks and Tips | 11 Comments

Of Education and Dinosaurs

The Education System Is Obsolete

The American schoolhouse has followed the same model for a very long time. Technology has changed over the decades, of course. The combustion engine replaced horses, and the word “notebook” has taken on an additional meaning.  We need to come to terms with a simple fact: The Education System is obsolete and has been so for a while.

Still, we rouse our children at the crack of dawn, load them onto buses, or drive them to a building constructed and maintained with our tax dollars. Once through the doors, they are directed to a room with about 30 or so of their peers, and sit for a lecture on a pre-determined subject. Then a bell rings, and they move themselves to another room. Repeat.

Good Little Automatons…

This is the Prussian Model. Horace Mann, in charge of education for the State of Massachusetts adopted this model for his state education system in the 1840s. Every education department in the United States adopted this model in short order.

The idea was to prepare children for the rapidly industrializing world.  An assembly line system, based on rote tasks.

A few decades later, John Dewey, another influential figure in American education tweaked this system. Today’s schoolhouse remains virtually unchanged since the U.S. Calvary chased Geronimo through Skeleton Canyon.

Educations: Mr. Principal, your replacement is here. | @manningthewall.com

Mr. Principal, your replacement is here.

The United States, and much of the world’s public and higher education systems have calcified. Compounding the problem is a culture of arrogance. And why shouldn’t the administrators of these systems remain arrogant? They are flush with tax dollars and any talk of closing the valve, even a little bit, is both socially unacceptable (you must hate “the children”) and political suicide.  Even talk of cutting increases is couched in terms of “starving the children.”

Never the less, the system is obsolete and all the confiscatory taxes in the world won’t keep it from collapsing of its own weight. Here are the two reasons why:

1. The 6th Grade.

95% of all jobs start here. Every newspaper and magazine article you’ve read. Each and every work of fiction, how-to manual, and coffee table book. Every repair manual and set of assembly instructions. Everything you’ve read on the internet. Including what you’re reading now.  6th grade level.

As far as mathematics goes, virtually none of us have ever needed calculus, trigonometry, or algebra. The four functions of basic arithmetic – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division plus a basic working knowledge of geometry will keep you employed. By the way, when you internalize the fact that multiplication is just fast adding and division is merely fast subtraction, a huge chunk of the world falls into place.

2. YouTube.

Communication has become pervasive and instant. We can all thank the less than 1% of people who have gone beyond 6th grade mathematics to give us the Internet. Instructional videos on every subject are out there. Every. Subject. Pick you platform: YouTube, Daily Motion, Vimeo, Metacafe, Life Hacker, and Tinypic to name just a few. Need something repeated? Just click on the rewind button.

Want to learn mathematics? Just go to the Khan academy. It’s all there.


There are still a few occupations requiring a student and teacher to interact. Here is a sampling:

Anything mechanical. Becoming a good diesel mechanic requires guided hands-on practice. Same thing with HVAC systems.

Carpentry. This is also an exception to the 6th grade mathematical standard. Most carpenters need a significant knowledge of geometry beyond the 6th grade level. But again, the theory can be easily taught through video instruction.

Note that the common factor is that these occupations and skills require some form of apprenticeship.

Even Before the Internet…

One of my college professors told a pretty funny story back in the 80’s which may or may not have been true. Over the summer, a college professor recorded all of his lectures on cassette tape. On the first day of class, after getting all the administrative details out of the way, he pressed play and just sat there. After two weeks of apparent success, he had his graduate assistant bring in the cassette player. Mid-way through the semester he decided to check up on the class and walked in on a room of 20 cassette players recording the lecture

Now, interaction with a mentor and teacher is useful. Once market forces are brought to bear, that interaction can be done remotely. In other words, the best teachers will rise to the top. A single teacher can pass on his knowledge to hundreds of students, eliminating the need for administrators, school buildings, and a host of other factors serving only to confiscate your labor.

What will happen to all those jobs? What will they do? They will adjust to the new economic realities. Ask anyone who used to make vinyl records for a living. Or carburetors. Or mag cards (what? Look it up). Or buggy whips. Or buggies for that matter.

Going beyond.

It’s useful to remember the primary determining factor in an individual’s education: Internal motivation. But learning is hard. And propensity (or talent, if you prefer) matters. Internal motivation and talent. Most people don’t have it beyond a certain level of comfort.  Those two factors are why the ratio of engineers to baristas is what it is.


Posted in Science & Technology, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Butterfly’s Wings – Part One: The Tom Brady Edition.

We’ve been here before…

“The things that really change the world, according to Chaos theory, are the tiny things. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.” – Neil Gaiman

In two weeks as of this writing, Tom Brady will have appeared in 15% of all Super Bowls to date.  He’s already won 5.  The only thing that seems to be able to stop him is one of the Manning brothers, and since he didn’t meet one in the AFC championship game and will not meet one of them in the Super Bowl, we can expect him to collect his 6th ring.  I say good for him.  Yeah, if you’re not a Patriots fan you’re probably just a little fatigued with it at this point, but you can’t be mad at the man for trying, and since none of his current teammates were there in 2002, you can expect them to play like… well, like they’re in the Super Bowl.

And we can all thank a butterfly by the name of Morris Lewis.

Tom Brady Butterfly

September 23, 2001, Foxboro Massachusetts.

With 5:03 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jets linebacker Mo Lewis plowed into Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe along the right sideline. Bledsoe made a tremendous effort to continue, but internal injuries manifested themselves almost immediately, forcing him to the locker room. It was left to backup quarterback Tom Brady to finish the game, an anemic 10 – 3 loss.

Mo Lewis Drew Bledsoe

The Patriots began the season 0 – 2. With Tom Brady starting as quarterback, they managed to win 11 games, clinch their division, and go on to beat the heavily favored St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl.

Bledsoe, in spite of a one hundred million dollar contract extension, never got his job back.

The rest as they say…

To offer some perspective, Morris “Mo” Lewis, while certainly not a household name, is hardly an underachiever. Lewis spent 13 years at the top of his profession, all of them with the Jets. Let’s provide a little context on just how good one has to be in order to play in the NFL.

Pyramid of Football Greatness

Pop-Warner or Dwarf-Giraff Leagues.

Community football.  Kids having fun.  If you want your kid to play in High-School, you start him here.

High-School Football.

Brings out the worst in everyone.  70-year old men yelling that the kid on the opposing team is faking his injury and should be called for delay of game.  Moms who can’t be content with cheering for their kids but have to jump up and down on the bleachers screaming.  Dads asking the ref if the flag is safety-pined to the inside of his pocket (ok, that was me).  If you have nothing else going on in your town, then all your hopes and dreams live or die here.  You know if I’m talking to you.

College Football.

This is when it get serious.  Let’s be honest.  Any college counting on its Transgender Studies program to bring home the bacon is going to end up poor.  You’re already stupid for having the department.  Being poor and stupid just opens your University up to well-deserved mockery.

If you’re not one of the 8 Ivy League Schools, and you don’t have a decent athletic program, and your federal funding isn’t keeping up, you’ll end up like Antioch College.  (Wait, who?  Exactly).

The Pros.

Several levels here, but we’re generally talking about the National Football League.  The NFL serves as the gold standard for human genetic development, and athletic performance improves every season, even if only by increments.  The 2017 Cleveland Browns who went 0-16 would wipe the floor with the 1985 Bears, the 1972 Dolphins, or the 1968 Green Bay Packers.  Any number of rookie quarterbacks who were cut in training camp would out-play legends like Bart Star, Y.A. Tittle, or Bob Griese.

Levels Within Levels.

Within the NFL, there are degrees of good.  The guys you never hear about hold most of the records at their colleges, and were positively legends in High School.

NFL Pyramid

If you were not a superb player at the collegiate level, you would not even be considered for an NFL team.  Each year, tens of thousands of first-rate athletes compete for the 1,696 spots among the 32 teams.  Most of the players who make an NFL roster will last less than 3 years.

The truly magnificent and vanishing few will rack up a career spanning ten years or more along with the accompanying money and endorsements.

Elite Players PyramidThe NFL made it to 90 years with the “Greatest Quarterback of All Time” debate unresolved.  It was fun, because one could use all sorts of criteria.  Hey, for a while Ken O’Brien, yes Ken O’Brien of the Jets was ranked number 10 all-time according to the NFL’s own passer-rating calculation.

When it came to wide-receivers, the joke was, and still is, identifying the second all-time greatest because no one argued that Jerry Rice was the best.

Best Quarterback?  Sigh.  Yeah, it’s Tom Brady.  He sits alone at the top of the pyramid.  A few years ago he was sharing the space.  There are a few athletes – very few – with cross-over appeal.  There are players who transcend the game, become household names to those who otherwise have not interest in it.  Names like Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, and Joe Namath became known to all.  For a time, Brady sat there with them, and then inched his way past, one throw at a time.

You can’t hold it against him, because like every player from the pee-wees to the pros, Tom Brady is simply playing as hard and well as he can.

A Little More On That Other Guy.

I don’t expect Tom Brady to have a shrine to Mo Lewis in his living room.  Mo Lewis was doing his job, and Drew Bledsoe might have slid to avoid the hit.  Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, huh?

Mo Lewis

If Lewis had played on a better team, we would be mentioning him in the same breath as Lawrence Taylor, Jack Lambert, or Dick Butkus.  Those are the kind of numbers he put up. Never-the-less, Hall of Fame Ballots filled out every year.  Float, Butterfly.


Posted in Culture | 1 Comment

Time – An Obsession – 2018 New Year’s Edition

Time  – A Human Obsession.

Time – the non-spatial continuum – continues to hold the fascination of humankind. Last night the population of entire planet celebrated Time. It is the biggest event of the year – bigger than the Super Bowl, bigger than the World Cup, the Olympics – bigger than any any election. The celebration of Time is completely non-compulsory. Yet, of seven billion people, the overwhelming majority of us opt to link in one way or another. Why? Because we can’t control it? Perhaps.

Humankind continues it's most ancient celebration. In a tradition that goes back at least 8,000 years, people gather to mark the passage of time. The assembly in Times Square NY may be the most populous gathering, but it represents a mere fraction of the enormous planet-wide festival.

Humankind continues it’s most ancient celebration. In a tradition that goes back at least 8,000 years, people gather to mark the passage of time. The assembly in Times Square NY may be the most populous gathering, but it represents a mere fraction of the enormous planet-wide festival.

Maybe we can’t control it but by God – literally, by God, or by the gods depending on where and when (ha, ha, see what I did there?) you were born…  As I was saying, by God, we have always been determined to get a handle on this.

So here’s a quick summery of humans measuring Time. By God. Or by the gods.

Seconds, Minutes, & Hours.

Scientific American has a really interesting article which can be found here. In summery, the Sumerians/Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks collaborated on dividing the day into 24 segments, the hours into 60 segments, and the minute into 60 seconds.time

I’m sure the first astronomers attempted a digital system, but it didn’t fit. A true case of “outside the box thinking” by the ancients.

Seven Days In A Week.

I’m going with the Jewish Calendar here, and invite anyone to convince me otherwise. The Human body runs on 6-day on, 1-day off bio-rhythm.  We have a seven-day week because that’s the way God wants it.

The days of the week were originally just numbered, but we got creative and decided to name them.

Sunday – Yes, named after that big yellow ball in the sky. Or Sol Invictus, the Roman sun god.

Monday – after the moon. Monandaeg (old English, a derivative of Mani, the Norse god of the moon).

Tuesday – Twi’s Day. Twi was the Norse god of victory.

Wednesday – derived from Woden’s Day (old Saxon). Woden/Oden was the chief of the gods in the Norse pantheon.

Thursday – Thor’s day. God of thunder and war. Norse mythology again.

Friday – Figg’s day or Frieda’s day. Frieda was the goddess of wisdom and wife of Odin.

Saturday – The Roman god Saturn – sometime associated with Cronus, the god of Time.

In fact our New Years’ celebration is a derivative of Saturnalia, where servants and masters were supposed to trade places for one day.

The Months In The Year.

January – named after Janus – the Roman good of beginings and transistions. Originally named for Juno, the goddess and counselor of the Romans.

February – named after Februa – the ancient Roman ritual of purification.

March – Mars, Roman god of War.

April – this one is uncertain, but the word is likely derived from the Latin word aprillus which means “to open,” (think flowers) and therefore associated with the coming of Spring.

May – Maia, the Roman goddess of fertility.

June – Juno, see January.

July – Julius Caesar. Yes, he has a month named after himself.

August – Augustus, Ceasar’s grand-nephew and first Roman Emperor.

September, October, November, December – numerical – originally the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth months on the ancient Roman calendar.

Lunar Cycles and Seasons.

There are twelve lunar cycles during the course of the year, but it’s not perfect. One day, Julius Caesar woke up and there was snow on the ground in what was supposed to be the month of June.

Obviously the Calendar was off. Fortunately, his conquest of Egypt provided him with a good solution.

A notable paradox of the Romans was that they were superb engineers without being first-rate mathematicians. Nor were they particularly good at astronomy.

But they were good at absorbing the best of other cultures. And that’s what they did with their measurement of Time.

The Ptolemys, were the ancient Greek dynasty which ruled Egypt. Descended from one of Alexander’s generals they thoroughly adopted and immersed themselves into the culture of the nation they ruled. Their gift to the Romans was the Egyptian Calendar, tweaked and perfected down through the centuries.

This became known as the Julian Calendar and it worked well for many centuries.

Then 1,500 years later, Pope Gregory XIII woke up to snow in July, and determined that the calendar was off again. Duh.  Well the renaissance mathematicians and astronomers went to work, ratcheted the Calendar forward a few months, added 10 minutes and change to the length of the year and tweaked the leap-years.

And that’s the short version of how we got the Gregorian Calendar.

Today, the lengths astronomers go to ensuring the precision by which we mark the passage of Time is extraordinary.

If you are reading this on your commute, (and someone else is doing the driving) put some of this into your search engine.  It makes for fascinating reading.


Posted in Defining Western Civilization, Hearth and Altar, History | Leave a comment

The Politics of Chess.

Israeli players denied access to chess tournament held in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Government would not issues visas because the Kingdom does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Chess | manningthewall.comWell. then maybe your should work on that, fellas.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Handel’s Messiah – A Phil & Lois Story

It was one of the most memorable episodes in our story. And yes, Handel’s Messiah was the focus.  It was our first Christmas as a young married couple. Lois asked me if I would pick up some Christmas music on the way home from work. This was back when music stores were a thing.

But hold on.  I’m getting ahead of myself.

Some Background.

I was 14 years old when I first heard Handel’s Messiah live and in it’s entirety. My sister attended Kings College, which was then located in Briarcliff Manor, NY. A talented musician, she played the violin in the orchestra.

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As the youngest child, I was still getting dragged to all her… stuff.

Let’s be candid. Handel’s Messiah, in my never to be humble opinion, is the greatest Christmas cantata ever written. It’s also rather taxing. And not every movement is a masterpiece. To this day I don’t know if I would want to sit for the entire work. For a 14 year old boy, well…

But the second movement – the soloist left me… wow. Maybe it helped that this particular tenor was awesome. I don’t know who he was, but thanks to this fellow’s perfect pitch, my love for classical music in general began right then and there.

The second movement from Handel’s Messiah is taken almost verbatim from Isaiah chapter 40. In the right hands, or should I say with the right voice, it is one of the most pleasant things for the ear.

Comfort ye, comfort ye My people,                                                                                                  saith your God.

Speak ye comfortably to
Jerusalem, and cry unto her,

that her warfare is accomplished,

that her Iniquity is pardoned.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Make straight in the desert a highway for
Our God.


Back to us…

We rented a 3-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a two-family home in Richmond Hill, Queens. We were young. Really, really… young. And communicating with each other was something we were just learning.

I stopped on Austin Street in Forest Hills to pick up a double CD. Upon arrival at home, I proudly presented my wife with a copy of Handel’s Messiah. The mighty hunter, throwing the saber-tooth tiger at his woman’s feet, anticipating her delighted squeal. I was not prepared for her frown of puzzlement. Even less prepared for the look of utter disappointment in her big-doe eyes.

“I thought you were getting Christmas music.”

“This is the greatest Christmas music ever written.” I replied, all urban sophistication. My puzzlement was at least equal to hers.

“No, I meant – you know, Andy Williams. You know, Christmas music.”

Now we were just talking past each other and it was my turn to be disappointed. How can this lovely, smart girl I married be so…? Sigh.

Regardless, genetic programing overrode social conditioning. In other words, the desire to please my wife pushed out everything else. That weekend we went Holiday shopping and among our haul, was a copy of Andy Williams’ Christmas CD.

Thirty years later I have acquired an appreciated for Andy Williams.

And my wife will tell you that she loves Handel’s Messiah.


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God Does Not Inform Our Politics.

Claiming Your Politics Aligns You With God?  Really?

God does not inform my politics. Which means he doesn’t inform yours either. You can pray, seek guidance, but in the end, you really don’t know.

Sunrise | @manningthewall.com

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Jerusalem – What Took Us So Long?

For The Record.

Let’s get this out of the way up front. The City of Jerusalem is a Holy City to two faiths, not three. The Old and New Testaments mention Jerusalem throughout. The City is firmly embedded, root and branch in Judaism and Christianity.

golden gate Jerusalem | @manningthewall.com

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