Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Year of Mud and Squealing

I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. –Winston Churchill

Once again it’s time to grade my predictions for 2018 and look ahead to 2019. On the Chinese calendar, 2018 was the year of the Dog. 2019 is the year of the Pig. I was born in a Rabbit year and that means I should get along quite well with Dogs and Pigs. 2018 was a good year for this Rabbit, so I’m optimistic about 2019. I mean if you can’t trust the Chinese, who can you trust?

The 2018 Prediction Results and the Grades

1.I went with Alabama again to win the Natty.

Grade: A. It was close, but ‘Bama did it.

2. I predicted that GDP growth tails off in the second half of the year. A shortage of workers and the mid-term election cycle put a damper on the economy.

Grade: A-. I got the call right and the labor shortage as well as the mid-term elections contributed. But, the Trump tariffs, the on-going chaos in his administration and the Fed’s rate increases are probably doing more to slow down the economy than anything else.

3. I thought The Post would win Best Picture

Grade: F. The Shape of Water won it. I could write an entire blog about what I actually think of this movie.

4. I thought oil prices would just bump along at current levels, maybe down a bit.

Grade: C. For most of the year I was right, but oil prices are down more than just a bit.

5. Said that China would handle N. Korea.

Grade: B-. The jury is still out on N. Korea, but my sense is that China has played a role in toning things down there. We’ll see.

6. Figured that the Democrats would win big in the mid-terms.

Grade: B+. I think the Dems won big. But I really expected it to be even more lop-sided. So relative to my expectations, I can’t give myself an A on this one.

7. Thought we would finally pass an infrastructure spending bill.

Grade: F. Well, I should have known we can’t get anything done in Washington. Ridiculous.

8. Predicted that The Mueller Investigation goes nowhere, but keeps on going.

Grade: C+. This one is tough to judge. But, more has happened here than I expected. Clearly, several of The Donald’s inner circle were up to some shenanigans. How far this will reach remains to be seen.

9. Guessed there would be big news on the UFO question.

Grade: F. There’s always news about UFOs, but not the biggie I predicted.

10. Said that The Dodgers would meet the Astros again in the World Series. Dodgers win. (And, of course, picked New England to win the Super Bowl.)

Grade: C-. The Patriots got to the Super Bowl and the Dodgers got to the Series. So I’m not taking an F on this one.


Now for the 2019 Predictions:

_1. Alabama wins another National Title.

_2. The economy continues to slowdown, but we don’t go into a recession until 2020. The tariff wars cool off which helps stabilize the economy for now.

_3. Oil prices remain relatively low.

_4. The Democrats will spend most of their time investigating Trump and Trump’s associates, but they won’t pursue impeachment. They will talk about it a lot, but it’s not a battle they can win. (Unless of course Trump does something really crazy…which is always a possibility.)

_5. Trump gets to fill another Supreme Court seat. Get your popcorn ready.

_6. LA Rams beat the LA Chargers in the Super Bowl. Super Bowl television ratings are in the toilet.

_7. Red Sox and Dodgers meet again in the World Series. This time the Dodgers win.

_8. I think we will get an infrastructure bill and immigration reform passed this year. Both parties realize that they have to get something done with the 2020 election coming up. I know it’s hard to imagine anything getting done in Washington, but it might just happen this year. Whatever gets passed it won’t be great, but maybe a step or two in the right direction.

_9. Russia will continue to push the boundaries in the effort to expand its influence in the Middle East. They will take advantage of the lack of leadership in the West.

_10. The Best Movie award will go to another movie I have not watched, nor will I ever. (Unless it goes to Crazy Rich Asians…really good movie, two thumbs up)

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Peace on Earth?

We see it on Christmas cards. It’s even still acceptable to say or display the phrase without offending too many people:

“Peace on earth. Good will toward men.”

Of course, the critics note that these words are preceded by the exclamation of Glory to God in the highest and in our secular culture that is a big no-no for sure. But I have good news for those who want no part of the Bible or Christianity to diminish the Holiday Season for those of other faiths or those of no faith at all. The King James Bible translation may read “Peace on earth. Good will toward men”. But that’s not really how the earliest Bible manuscripts read. It’s an issue between the Greek word eudokia and eudokias. That one letter,’ s’, makes all the difference.

What the oldest Greek manuscripts really say is something more like:

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”

And most of the newer translations, do not say “Peace on earth. Good will toward men.” But for the Christmas season we like to stay with our traditions and the King James Bible is tradition with a capital T.

This translation issue is a pretty significant difference though. It certainly clears up some of the confusion regarding Jesus saying he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. That sword, of course, is The Word or The Logos…Divine Reason.

You see this time of year we like to get all warm and fuzzy with Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men. Some of us even say or sing such things as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” or “God bless us one and all.” Time to come together and “We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet…”

And then we’ll go back to tearing each other apart. Even if the Bible did actually say and mean "Good will toward men", perhaps even all men; a lot of it would be left up to us and we know how well that's worked out over the centuries. Perhaps for those with whom God is pleased, there will be some small measure of peace for their souls. But there will be no lasting Peace On Earth and no universal Good Will toward all men. At least not until The Logos returns.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Seeds and Soil

A few years ago I wrote about my DNA test. I took the basic DNA test, so it didn’t drill down to towns and villages or trace my lineage back to Adam. But it did destroy the story my family had always told that we had Indian blood. That my paternal great-grandfather was ½ Cherokee.
As it turns out, the test showed that I have no Native American DNA. I suppose if I took out a loan and purchased the comprehensive, down to the gnat’s ass DNA test, I might end up with the Elizabeth Warren (aka Pocahontas) version of Indian ancestry. (No thank you).

My actual DNA profile was about ½ of what I expected. I knew there would be plenty of English, Irish and Scottish ancestry. And it is there for sure. Over half of me from those groups. But then there was this big chunk of Scandinavian. Didn’t see that one coming until I realized just how prolific the Vikings had been in the British Isles, Scotland in particular. The other surprise came when it said that 15% of my DNA could be traced back to people from the Iberian peninsula . And I had just a bit of “Western European”. Also a surprise, since the Clicks came to America from Germany. I always figured that I had a lot of German ancestry. Turns out not so much.

Frankly I was baffled by the large Iberian print on my DNA and the lack of Germanic ancestry. I guess it wasn’t that difficult to imagine that somewhere along the way one of my ancestors had been Spanish. There was a good deal of interaction between Spain and Great Britain on the other side of the Atlantic. Some of my family was early into Texas, so maybe one of them married into the Spanish bloodline. Or maybe a Spanish pirate had just jumped on board somewhere along the way.

The lack of Germanic ancestry was curious. I finally concluded that neither my full blooded German ancestor who came to America nor any of his descendants ever married anyone from Germany or anyplace that would qualify as Western European. The boundaries and lines there were constantly moving, In fact, I had read on one ancestry posting that the Clicks had originated from the Alsace region of France which regularly passed back and forth between France and Germany (or The German Confederation or Prussia or whatever name it might have had at any given time.). Regardless, my DNA barely registered any connection to Western Europe.

The Click who came to America was from the village of Dannstadt, Rhineland which is in Southwestern Germany. His name was actually Ludwig Heinrich Gluck. And he arrived in Philadelphia just before the American Revolution. His parents were also from Dannstadt as were his grandparents. But I decided to dig further and finally found evidence that the first Gluck who moved to Dannstadt actually came from a region in far Southwestern France known as Aquitaine. The original inhabitants were tribal people who became known as Aquitani and whose descendents are now the French Basque. The region is bounded on the south by the Pyrenees Mountains and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It is generally considered to be part of the Iberian Penisula. Bartholomaeus Gluck, Sr was born there in 1617 and died in Dannstadt in 1674. His son Bartholomaeus Gluck, Jr was also born in Aquitaine in 1649. So sometime between 1649 and 1674 the family moved to Dannstadt.

My next question is why did they leave Aquitaine and move to Dannstadt? Best guess is that they were Protestants, French Huguenots most likely. Their persecution by the Catholic church in France began in the late 1500’s. Many fled to Germany and other more Protestant tolerant countries. Those in places like the Aquitaine region stayed longer. But, I suppose the Glucks could see the writing on the wall and ultimately decided to get out and make a better life somewhere else. Most likely others had moved to the Rhineland. And their letters back home persuaded old Bartholomaeus to pack up and join them.

That drive for a better life must have passed through to his great grandson, Ludwig Heinrich Gluck (Lewis Henry Click). He sailed off to America, landed in Philadelphia and became one of the early settlers in Tennessee, stopping in Virginia long enough to start a family that included Malachi who’s son Samuel eventually made it to Texas and is buried in Collin County in what is now some very expensive real estate (McKinney, Frisco, …). Samuel would be my great grandfather’s grandfather.

We Americans are mostly a nation of mutts, mixed breeds. The best and the worst of many. That we fight and fuss with each other is natural. We want more. We expect more. And we are more alike than we are different. I truly believe that. I am more like an African-American, or Latino-American or Asian-American or Muslim-American or Jewish-American; than I am a Scotsman, or an Irishman, or a Scandinavian or a German or an Iberian. Being an American is special. Being a Texan and an American just means that God smiled on me twice.

It’s nice to know where you come from. But, it’s better to be thankful for where you ended up.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Baby It's Crazy Outside (and Inside)

If one looks at the calendar they might think this is the Christmas Season (oops..I meant Holiday Season). And they might be right as long as they consider it is also the season for political correctness.

It seems that traditional Christmas songs, stories and movies have now been identified by the PC Police as violators and line-crossers of “The Code”. “The Code” is don’t say, sing, write or draw anything that might make anyone uncomfortable. Therefore, the 1940’s vintage song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” , is now too “date-rapey” and is not to be played. Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer is somehow racist and homophobic. So long to that Christmas Classic. And the 1980’s movie “A Christmas Story” crosses all kinds of lines: guns/violence, wife/mother stereotyping, homophobia (somehow, doesn’t everything?), consumerism, animal cruelty (one of the Bumpass’ hounds ear being caught in the door), child abuse and eating disorders (meatloaf, beatloaf, I hate meatloaf…).

I’m not sure where this nonsense will end. We’ve already taken Christ out of Christmas and eventually will manage to take most of our traditions and fun out of the holidays. I suppose it’s still acceptable, at least for now, to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Some folks just need to lighten up and get one.

“Political correctness is tyranny with manners.” – Charlton Heston