Friday, December 28, 2012

Occasional as a Heckler's Heckler

Oh go on then – heckle!
I love a good debate. Mrs Occasional generally can’t stand them. We have to agree to differ.
For me, the quickness of repartee and the swift put-down from either side makes for stimulating entertainment, even if both sides ultimately remain convinced of their original positions.
When I lived in London I used to visit what was called Speakers Corner. This was just by Marble Arch, where criminals had been executed a few hundred years before. Here, people of all persuasions – generally extreme – could stand on a soap box (literally) and sound forth. At the time, only talk of outright treason was banned. The crowds would “debate” with the speakers. There were political views from extreme right and left, wild-eyed evangelists predicting dire destinies for the boisterous crowd, an old guy tattooed from head to foot who claimed to have been Al Capone’s driver, and a sallow faced man with bad teeth who was adamant that the entire world’s sexual depravity was caused through eating too many beans. For a teenager, this was all good free entertainment.
It couldn’t really be called debate by any stretch of the imagination, but one of our favorites was the yodelling woman. She was short, rotund, of indeterminate age, and she just went from audience to audience and – well – yodelled. Nothing could be guaranteed to put an evangelist off his text quicker than the yodelling woman. Having reduced one to a gibbering wreck threatening hell and damnation, she would move on – and the bulk of the crowd with her – to see what the fate of the United Workers Liberation speaker would be. It would be similar.
You'd better not Say That Again!
Sometimes though, it is the quick witted put-down that stays in the mind. I remember at a folk festival listening to an earnest singer-songwriter from a remote Canadian fishing village. After one intense ditty on the human condition, he explained how, where he came from, there were only two choices – to become a musician or a fisherman... A drunken voice called out from the back – “So which did you choose?” I think “nonplussed” is the best word to describe the reaction.
Sometimes it works the other way, when a heckler is upstaged by the response. Back in the late 1960s when Britain was struggling with Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of independence for what was then called Rhodesia, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was explaining at a televised meeting what they were trying to do for the black majority. An angry voice cried out from the crowd “All you’re interested in is a load of ***** savages!” Quick as a flash, Wilson shot back on primetime TV – “Yes, and we even allow them into our meetings”.  You could almost hear the sound of horrible great skid marks as the heckler was silenced.
Today, we are probably all conditioned to live debate on TV from chat shows, including the bear-baiting kind associated with USA’s Jerry Springer or UK’s Jeremy Kyle. Back in the 60s the style was pioneered in Britain by a very young David Frost. They would get someone controversial into the studio for an interview, and fill the audience with their opponents. The armchair audience would settle back in comfort at home to watch the carnage. Only sometimes there were surprises.
Wafting back through the decades was a classic example featuring Sir Oswald Moseley. Moseley was a controversial figure in British history; he led the British Fascist party in the 1930s, his followers wore black-shirts, and his oratorical style owed a great deal to Hitler and Mussolini, as did his politics. He was locked up by the British authorities for the duration of the war. But here he was in the 1960s, a totally unrepentant old man who was still embroiled in far right politics. So the David Frost program loaded the audience with what could only be described as a busload of ardent Zionists. Historically, they had every good reason to hate everything Sir Oswald stood for. It should have been a TV massacre, what with Frost at his young incisive best. Only, for this viewer, it didn’t turn out that way.
Moseley dodged and parried with skill, and kept his cool, while the audience got increasingly heated, and Frost made the mistake for the era of not even attempting to appear fair and even-handed as interlocutor and moderator. One memorable moment – someone in the audience had been shrieking abuse at Moseley, and Frost’s attempts to silence them had fallen on deaf ears. Moseley turned full face to the camera. “You asked me why we had the black-shirts in the 1930s” he said. He gave a withering smile full camera and pointed a pudgy finger straight into it – “it was to throw people like you out of our meetings!” There was a shriek of anguish and rage, and the program ended with Moseley sitting Buddha like and serene while chaos continued around him. I hold no truck with Moseley’s views, but from a debating point of view, on live TV, he knew how to use the media – even better than Frost did at the time in my estimation.
Perhaps the debate I enjoyed most of all was a religious one. A member of the religious group I support was once invited to a live TV debate to represent their views before an audience made up entirely of theologians. The location was at a theological college in a university city. The program was fittingly called “Daniel in the Lion’s Den.” He was to explain his beliefs, and then defend himself from the combined efforts of the leading lights of the established Church.
The “lions” started off quite condescending and dismissive, but as “Daniel” got them down to specifics, it got rather interesting. He invited his audience to turn up and read a verse in Matthew 24 with him. There was a rustle of embarrassment – none of the theologians making up the audience had actually brought a Bible with them. So Daniel, laboring the point quite effectively, produced a stack of Bibles and helpfully offered to hand them out to the audience. Their condescending manner evaporated into something a lot testier as the debate progressed – Daniel reading verse after verse direct and his audience, wrong-footed, trying to quote from memory. It ended with the final comment Daniel was allowed (quoting from memory) – after extolling how his own faith had given him a purpose, and strengthened his relationship with God, he turned on his audience – “your belief has so weakened your faith that not one of you even bothered to bring a Bible with you!” There was howl of annoyance from the assembled worthies, and the program faded out to Daniel plying them with question after question machine-gun fashion, and refusing to let them escape when they didn’t answer to his satisfaction.  Yes, a memorable program.
On a personal note, about ten years after that program, I had the experience of visiting the same theological college with a colleague to represent the same religious views in another debate. This time it was with their third year students, moderated by a couple of teachers, and no, it was not recorded. This time they had Bibles. I concentrated on history – my subject even then – and we debated the finer points of translation for key proof texts from either side. It was amicable, there was tea and cakes afterwards, and it was moderated extremely fairly by a college official. I am sure we all went away as fixed in our positions as we had been before we started. And no – there were no memorable put-downs on this occasion.
I really did behave myself for once.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Treasure Hunting

Okay, so I found this on ebay. It was listed as an albino cut square from Brazil. I was the only bidder. This isn't an albino cut square (prepaid envelope corner). And it's not from Brazil. This as the embossing proof provided to the Mexican government for a series of prepaid envelopes. This, dear hearts, is very rare. Nice huh?

The reverse embossing at top is a notation from the Paris-based printers.

The finished design is below.

Naples, Italy - Magic Lantern Slide

The Taxi

The American Exchange, seen in the background, plays a minor part in our work in progress.

Bare butt poetry

So … I’m still living in dark days. I’ve taken a lot of personal time off the last three weeks, spending most of my time in my feeted jammies, vegetating in my comfy chair. The doctor is trying a new medication. … or tried it. It didn’t exactly work out. It gave me nose bleeds. I had to stop taking it. I have a quilt soaking trying to get the blood stains out of it. I gave up on the sheet and bought a new set. 

Did I mention that I like feeted jammies? They’re snuggly, come off easily when the mood strikes and well … they’re comfy. …. Especially when my body temperature drops.

There are hazards though.

For instance, a day or so ago daughter five was following me up the stairs chattering rapid fire about a book of child’s poems. (She is still in a poetry mood. See earlier post.) She’s asking question too quickly for me to frame an answer but wants then all answered yesterday. So … she tugs on my jamma bottom. And swish! They’re around my knees, then ankles.

“Annie!” I shout.

Unabashed, she giggles. “Sorry, Mom,” she manages.

Now this wouldn’t have been so bad, except most of the rest of this household were at the foot of the stairs.

Events happened more or less in this order:

Knobby knees snickers and mildly scolds Annie while repressing snickers.

I reach for my pants which seem unaccountably resistant to my grasp.

Liz, who thinks of herself as my personal body guard, scolds Annie.

Daughter four has her hand over her mouth.

Daughter one scolds Liz for scolding Annie so harshly.

I’ve managed to get my pants up to my knees where they seem to be stuck.

Daughter three wiggles around her sisters and helps me free my pajama bottoms.  “You’re standing on them,” she says. “Here, lift your foot.”

Modesty regained, I frown. “You!” I point to knobby knees, “You’re going to buy me Chinese take out. Take some of these rude children with you.”

“I could help you up stairs,” he suggests.

“No. Go. Buy food. Take children.”

Among shouts of “I want to go!” I hear Annie say, “Mom, about the poems …”

The rude people who live in my house more or less dissipate. Annie resumes her chatter as if nothing happened, following me into my bedroom and plopping on the bed.”

“See, here,” she says, “I don’t understand why ….”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Note ...

I'm allowed to be rude and crude. It's my blog. You aren't.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This came in the mail today ...

I'm trying to complete my Bavarian postal stationary collection. Some to go for that. ... But this is a nice addition to my collection.

Snow, Desk top sex, and frustration

This post hasn't got any reference to desk-top sex, but it's an idea. ....

I’m sick, and I don’t LIKE being sick. ….

I’ve had to measure each movement and each thought by its worth, which means I’ve spent a lot of time in my comfy chair trying not to move. I’ve moved into my workroom, because I’m dizzy enough that climbing the stairs is like climbing the North Face without equipment. As I’ve said somewhere on this blog, I keep a queen bed in there for days like this. …. Except this time it’s been more than a few days.

So if you’ve gotten even minor attention from me in the last two or three weeks you should be flattered that I’ve found you important enough to respond. Sick pixies do not like to move. We molt and pout instead.

I’ve managed to teach my classes. That made things worse. One of my students came with strep, and guess who now has it.

In a fit of madness, I agreed to teach an additional class next semester. ….

I still have the strong sense that we’re missing important themes and that our research is incomplete. I don’t mean that we’re missing detail. There’s always more detail. I mean that we’re ignoring or haven’t found what motivated key players in this history. Incidental to that is an absence of documentation for the primary sects expansion into the American west. We can document a presence from the early 1870s, but what we have is so sparse that we can’t tell a connected story. Most of what I’ve found dates from after 1900, leaving a considerable gap. We know of individuals and groups in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and California – but with no really helpful details.

One brief, though really important, article comes from one of the California newspapers. It recounts C. T. Russell’s convention visit in 1904.It’s import rests in a reference to Russell’s connection to Methodists. Still, this is “iffy” because it was said in connection to a Methodist conference that occurred at same time as a Watch Tower convention, and that calls into some considerable question the statement’s value.

A newspaper notice tells us the Millennial Dawn people in Los Angeles were using the name Gospel Church (Millennial Dawn) in 1899. I can’t date this to an earlier time, though I suspect its usage is somewhat older. Within a couple of years they had renamed themselves “Millennial Dawn Readers” and somewhat later as Millennial Dawn Friends.

It snowed briefly this morning. That might have led to true depression, but it turned to rain. I’d rather it was summer. I’d rather be dressed in a skimpy bikini absorbing the sun’s heat. Maybe I’d race around the swimming pool. Maybe I’d be setting on Knobby Knee’s lap whispering things into his ear. Maybe we’d go camping for a night or two, or just sit outside all night and watch the universe spin.
This might get Anthony's attention ....
Speaking of KK, he’s going back to Salem for a week in January. Salem, Oregon, that is. Not that place that had the witches and stuff. He wants me to drive the girls down to Lincoln City and spend the rest of the week there. That depends on me feeling better and on how many school days they’d miss. The Pacific Ocean takes a dramatic turn in the winter. Watching the storm tossed waves is hypnotic. We’ll see.

I think mermaids really exist. Don’t you? But I’m sure if you kissed one, they’d taste like sushi. Besides, while being part fish they may be well schooled, they’re not particularly hygienic creatures.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

From Harry

Domestic violence. When I was a member of the local volunteer rescue squad I saw it. Our dear deputy pixie has seen it. Sadly too many of us have seen its brutality.

I wasn't expecting to see it when I arrived in the school parking lot this morning. A couple of minutes earlier and I would have witnessed the attack on one of our teachers. Her assailant had assaulted her in the parking lot. Two other teachers, a husband and wife went to her aid and struggled to stop what was happening. The assailant left, but not before battering his victim, leaving her laying in a pool of blood.

The police and ambulance had already been called when I got there. I helped with first aid. and assisted the rescue squad when they arrived on scene. Luckily none of the buses had arrived at this time, and when they did the children were unable to see what had happened.

Soon it was over. A fellow teacher, a member of our school family, was on her way to the local trauma center and the police were taking statements and gathering evidence including a large knife that thankfully was not used.

Teaching was difficult. I still, five hours later, have a hard knot in my stomach. Middle school age kids laughed and made jokes not knowing what had happened. I wanted to scream at them, but managed to remain professional.

Finally we got two bits of good news. Our collegue had a clear CAT scan and would be release later today, and her assailant has been arrested and is behind bars. The school day goes on and we can pray for a better day tomorrow.

Note from the Pixie:

Last Monday one of my students threatened me. I'm not giving details for obvious reasons. No one else witnessed it, but he is on his way out of our school. Even though I'm small, I'm perfectly capable of cooking his goose. But it's still an upsetting experience.

Update: This young man was expelled from school as of 10 pm this morning.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Re-writes are a pain in the butt

I’ve temporarily suspended work on one chapter to re-write another. Over the last few months we’ve gotten drips and drabs of things and a more complete name for one of those we mention. We lost the digital file to a crash, but I have it all as hard copy; so I’m re-typing and fact checking as I go. I needed to know what the uses of white lead were. A gentleman who was a key player for a few months in 1881 was a sales agent and partner in a company that made the stuff.

Coryton, who posts here and does magic with old photos, found interesting bits of biography for a Methodist Connexion believer. I’ve included that material. I’m still dissatisfied with the detail. I’m dissatisfied generally.

We have endless and interesting detail for the chapter that precedes this one. It explains the distribution and reaction to a small book freely circulated in the United States. We’ve found photos, not all of which we’ll use, and we’ve found significant press discussion. The chapter I’m working on discusses the book’s circulation in the United Kingdom. We have one pitiful mention of the work in Ireland. The basis for the story as it unfolds in the UK is scattered comments from a religious magazine published in the United States.
We can’t tell the story with anything like the same detail. We don’t have many names. We have one photograph. …. I don’t know how to remedy this. I know of a significant number of writers on this subject who’d just make stuff up. We don’t do that.
I am fascinated that Lewis Carroll of Alice fame had a copy of the book in his library. The Charles Dodgson (his real name) papers are not available to us. We’d have to travel to England and plow through what papers there are with no expectation of finding anything significant. But, I’d like to know why he kept the book. Dodgson’s relationship to Alice L. is not a factor in this chapter. All the pertinent diary pages and letters were destroyed by his family anyway. That reminds me of another personality in this story whose family had sequestered most of his diaries, because, so one said, their release might give him a bad name.

Some things will never be known. Though people like Edmund Gruss who wrote on the same subject as we do felt comfortable manufacturing things, we don’t. Another who made things up was Vandenberg. (My WP knew him. The relationship was frosty.) On a few occasions we explore possibilities. We limit that. And we do not present our speculations as firmly established fact. It amuses and puzzles me that “Christian” writers do that. Hatred overcomes ethics. Bearing the name of Christ does not make one Christ-like.

I do not have a happy relationship with most of these writers anyway. One can disagree with the doctrine of this group, but what one writes should be honest and based on quality research. This is almost never the case. A man using the name “Terry” makes sweeping and unfounded statements that his readers swallow without thought. I find the man dishonest. I see no value in contacting him. My writing partner knew Richard Rawe. Rawe was an accumulator. I’d like to know what happened to his files and papers and books when he died. Rawe fostered improbable comments in other’s work but published nothing of his own. I don’t know whom to blame, Rawe or those who cite him. Citing Rawe as an authority is bad practice. He did not represent original source material. He wasn’t a contemporary of anyone he discussed. And, according to Bruce, he was wildly speculative even when he was favorable to the groups we discuss.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Kazoo-ing Occasionals and Other Musical Notes

By Occasional Reader

Once or twice a month, and more so on vacation, we tend to gravitate towards the local folk clubs and – er – sing. This post is about how Occasional tried to increase his limited repertoire by mastering the technique of the Kazoo.

For the uninitiated in Kazoo-lore, you have to go back in Britain to a time to when toilet paper wasn’t soft, but hard shiny sheets. If you placed one of those sheets over a comb and hummed through it, you produced a sound. It did something strange to your lips, akin to them going numb, but well – it was a sound.  A Kazoo works on the same principle; it’s an instrument for those who can’t play instruments.

For many of my songs at folk clubs, I can plunk along on my baritone ukulele while singing, but they do require an instrumental break in the middle. A proper musician would do a show-off finger picking routine before returning to vocals. I can only strum, so a Kazoo seemed to be the answer.

Occasional Music by the Mr and Mrs Occ 

The trouble was, you can’t actually sing with a Kazoo in your mouth – at least I can’t – and when it got to the break, I needed to get the thing into my mouth. The first time I grabbed it from the table, hardly missed a strum, stuck it in my mouth and blew. The wretched thing immediately shot out of my mouth across the room and hit the beer glass of a doleful man who had regaled us with a 28 verse long death ballad.

So in the interests of the current British obsession with Health and Safety I determined to fashion a Kazoo holder. You may remember seeing Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen do their asthmatic harmonica stuff using a special harmonica cradle in front of them. But I saw on YouTube how it was possible to make a Kazoo holder from a wire coat hanger. You twisted off the end, made a shape around your neck, stuck the two sharp ends into the end of the Kazoo – it was that easy.

They lied.

First, coat hangers may appear to bend but it is very hard to get them to bend the way you want them to. The first real concern just placing it around your neck is to avoid putting out your eye. Then you have to fix the Kazoo into the contraption so that it stays put and doesn’t swivel upside down. And then you have to try and play the thing. For some reason it becomes a variant replay on the Greek myth of Sisyphus, the King who forever failed in his attempt to roll a boulder up a hill. As you stretch out to grab the thing – without missing a beat – somehow the movements affect the improvised holder so that the Kazoo itself just shifts imperceptibly out of reach. You carry on playing your G, C and D7 as if that’s what you intended all along between verses, while chasing a wretched piece of metal piping around your upper chest. By the time you reach it, laughter (your own) has taken over, and that tragic hymn to the human condition with which you were hoping to reduce an audience to tears has been well and truly trashed.

We finally hit upon a solution involving Mrs Occasional. The first step was winding masking tape around the mouthpiece, the sort of stuff used in decorating and electrical work. It doesn’t exactly taste too good, but it does allow a normal sized mouth to hold onto the thing for as long as the instrumental break might last.

At the key second Mrs O picked the Kazoo off the table and rammed it into my teeth. She then burst out laughing. Mrs O sometimes appears to lack all sense of occasion. So I do the break with the nifty blues chords, and then I am imploring her with my eyes, and a subtlety in the notes blown that she really needs to rescue it again. Please... Sometime before the end of the evening, preferably NOW... Spitting it out onto the floor has a certain commonness about it.
So we are still working on it. I’ve tried to get Mrs Occasional to play the Kazoo instead of me, but so far she has politely declined. I mean, I help put her off with my harmonies, and thump my leg unrhythmically during her solos, but there seems a sad lack of goodwill and cooperation from her side.

And to think that folk music was all about peace and love and changing the world.

This is what it's all ablout ...

Most of my regular readers know I'm a Country Reserve deputy. I've experienced some satisfying moments, and seen some really nasty things. But this is what being a peace officer in America is really all about ....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I can't fix this ...

... and I want it fixed!

I have a freebie photo editor now no longer supported by Microsoft. I can't remove the "dot" pattern from this photo, nor can I get good contrast. Any suggestions?

Coryton's Art!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Uncle B sent this to me ...

for my collection. I'd never buy it for myself, too expensive. But he has loads of stuff from years ago when it was inexpensive. And when he finds stuff I don't have he gives it to me. Nice huh?

This was issued for the 1936 Olympics. It is one of two. I don't have the other one.


A historian's cute tail, being wrong, sex in the morning, and noodles

This is a bad day. Fortunately I only have two important tasks today, my English class and a stop at the post office to pick up a registered letter from Israel. If my friend doesn’t register his letters, they get hijacked somewhere between there and the USA. He thinks that happens in Italy. I have no way of knowing. It gives me some nice stamps, but I’m almost never home when the mail comes. I hate the drive to the post office just to sign for a letter. 

My artist friend sent me two goat girl pictures. I won’t be posting those. …. Just sayin’. One of them is really cute though. It just shows too much for a PG blog. She read Pixie Warrior and is convinced that I’m really a goat-girl pixie. The internet is full of similar ideas. Here with is a slightly sanitized sketch.

Goat Girl, Unknown Artist.

I got up really early this morning, five ante-meridian to be exact, and wrote up stuff. I’m not very happy with it, but I never am with first draft material. Knobby Knees woke two hours later. I entertained him with bacon, eggs, a smooch or six, and a story daughter three told me. He’s working from home today, and I’ve left him alone all morning long except to bring him coffee. That won’t last, of course. Eventually I’ll wander into his work room, sit on his lap and make suggestions. …. 

I think we have a section of one chapter wrong. I can’t prove we’re wrong. All evidence suggests we’re right. But it feels wrong. I’ll keep poking that with a stick. Maybe the body will animate and confess to nefarious wrong doing. Or something. 

I see one of our invitation only blog readers posted on one of the controversialist sites, trying to put them straight on some historical matters. I don’t think those people are in the mood to listen to reason. They’re too busy trying to justify bad behavior.

I really am doing quite poorly today, to the point where my right side vision is distorted. This is not fun.

I had a longish talk with a former student. She’s very troubled. I don’t think I helped very much. She comes from a Catholic background, and it’s left her with issues she hasn’t resolved.

I read a translation of a Babylonian religious text. Babylonians were fixated on sex. One of these days I’ll have to write a book … let’s call it Sex and the Babylonian Whore Goddess.

I’m plagued by the feeling that we’ve overlooked something. We’re telling a coherent story. I think we’re telling an accurate story. When we find we’re not right, we update our manuscript. But I feel we are missing key elements. These center on motives; we can’t probe motive – at least not to the degree I wish to probe it. I’m not going to put words in a dead man’s mouth. If they don’t tell us why they did something, we will never know.

A sense of divine entitlement characterizes many of these men. I am puzzled by it. What makes someone feel they have a special divine appointment? The prophets of old spoke to God, and he gave them their messages, certifying them with miraculous events. None of these men have that kind of certification. They have an endless sense of importance, however.

I need a good photo of William Imre Mann. I can’t find one. I’d settle for a bad photo, as far as that goes. W. I. Mann was a Scots immigrant to America, an engineer for steel companies, and an inventor. I can find photos of one of his sons who was mildly famous and has a library named after him, but none of W. Mann himself.  

Back … didn’t know I was gone, huh?  

I smell all nice and clean now. Not that I was especially “ripe” before. But it’s nearing time for my class so I disrupted KK’s examination of architectural plans and then hopped in the shower. I also ate some left over noodles and chicken. I make good noodles, thick and eggy. 

I was outbid on an example of private advertising postal stationary. Sad, huh? It was a nice piece. However, I did manage to buy some inexpensive Bavarian postal cards for my collection. I cannot hope for completeness for my collection of Bavarian stamps and postal history. Some of it is just way to expensive for this pixie’s limited budget. But, I’m close. And I continue to find scarce material mixed in with bulk lots. I think I can come within maybe fifteen or ten examples of being complete. That’s not too bad when you think about it.


I’m working on Danzig and Wurttemberg at the same time. Lots still left to buy there, and many of them are inexpensive. 

I’m a little disappointed that our latest on the private blog generated no comments. There is new material in that post, things most people won’t know prior to reading it. We worked hard. The writing needs a good edit, but the material is great. … The reception was a polite silence.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From Harry

December 21, 2012. I hope no one is getting too nervous, but the end of the world is at hand. Of course that depends on who and what you believe. New Age mystics have been speculating since 1975 that there would be a global "transformation of consciousness" due to a galactic alignment.
“Others suggest that the 2012 date marks the end of the world or a similar catastrophe. Scenarios suggested for the end of the world include the arrival of the next solar maximum, an interaction between Earth and the black hole at the center of the galaxy, or Earth's collision with a planet called "Nibiru".” (See 2012 phenomenon from Wikipedia”)
As for me, I am looking forward to a well-deserved winter break from school, starting ironically on the 21st, and celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with family and friends.
But what if we were on the verge of the Apocalypse? Ya’ never know. What would you do? What would your bucket list be? Here’s some things I’d like to do before the crack of doom:

  • Make a successful parachute jump.
  • Get a short story published (not enough time to write that novel).
  • Spend a week on a movie set taking it all in.
  • See Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower.
  • And while I am headed in that direction, meet and kiss a pixie.

That’s my bucket list. What is yours? I’ll leave you with a comment from one of my students today when I brought up the topic of the world ending. He said, “Well at least there won’t be anymore poverty.” Don’t you just love silver linings?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stranger and Stranger

Thanks to our faithful blog reader, we know much more about dirty, nasty Albert Delmont Jones. You gotta love this story. So … Jones and his second wife flee St. Louis. She takes to the stage; he fails as a commodities investor and becomes a clothing store clerk. She files for divorce. End of story? By no means …

Under the name Albert R. Delmont, he marries Bambina (Bimbie) Maud Scott. This is a woman after his own heart. She’ gains a reputation for blackmail and fraud. The part by 1900. We know this because we find good ‘ole Albert in Illinois where he is married to someone else and is working as a small-time publisher. But Bambina goes off to Hollywood, where she is mixed up in the Fatty Arbuckle affair. Such fun!

The connections never cease to amaze me. We have relatives of two presidents. One is on the silly side, and the other is nefarious. We have Bambina Delmont, a fraudster connected to Hollywood.  We have a then famous merchant whose body was kidnapped and held for ransom. Who says religious history isn’t fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marriage of Strongbow and Aoif - Daniel Maclise

Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, is still reviled, unfairly I think. I like "strongbow" as a character from history. He contributed red hair to many in my family, including my oldest sister and grandfather.

Treasure Hunting

So ... some time ago I bought a Towle silver plate center piece at the Goodwill story, paying two dollars for it. I finally got around to researching it and polishing it up. It's in Old Master pattern and sells for seventy-five dollars at Replacements Ltd. Not bad, huh?

A. D. Jones' Second Wife

Followed him from one fraud to another, took to the stage, finally divorced him when his last scheme failed and he couldn't buy her pretty things anymore. This photo from 1902 was discovered by one of our history blog readers! Excellent

I've returned posting to as it was

Sorry, Anthony. I have to reinstate word verification and anon. posting. Too many of my regular posters can't get on. I'll try to work everyone through this, and then try again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Redlands, California, 1917


I bought at auction a small lot of stamps from Danzig. They arrived today. They're much nicer than the poor quality photo suggests.

Except for two, I already have these as mint (unused) examples, but postaly used copies are significantly harder to find. I've been bargain hunting for good, sound, used examples. I'm pleased to have these.

With these came a lot of Danzig officials. I bought that lot (also for very little) to complete a set. It's very pleasing to finally complete a set.

My stamps let me relax. I sit in my chair, sometimes with dau 5, and just turn the pages and look. Cares, hurts and worries melt at least for a while.

I (maybe foolishly) agreed to teach an additional class next semester. It will be a creative writing class for 4-6 graders.

I did my show and tell for my second graders. This was total fun. I worried that they may not be at all interested. They were - intensely. I elected to not put the items in our display case. There was a misunderstanding with the art teacher. She filled it with models her students designed and built. That gave me an excuse not to leave very rare and expensive items in a not very secure display case.

Surprisingly, the kids were impressed with the really ugly and repaired Mound Builder's bowl. It's not very attractive. They also loved a set of tea spoons from the 1850s. They're very ornate.

I had to shoo them out of the classroom at end of period. It's pleasing when I know I've really taught them something. Next week we "do" pirates. Some fine art, and a story. I'm not sure which story yet. My assistant read them the original version of Aladdin today, following that with a drawings based on the story. We put the drawing up each week. It's fun to watch them drag their parents or friends down to the end of the hall and hear then say, "That's my picture. I drew that."

I have some really talented writers this year. Some of them have been in my writing class for three years. They keep coming back, and they keep improving. I think I have three, maybe four, who could get themselves published in one of the little on-line magazines.

Some of you who post anonymously will have to get a google account. I don't want to lose your comments, but the spam became too hard to handle. If you just sign up for a g-mail account, that will give you a google ID.


I've had to block anonymous users because of a spam issue. If you have a google account, you can still post comments. Open ID works too.

overly pale face ...

A friend to our research went looking for material on dirty old man swindler creepy guy Albert Delmont Jones. Boy did he find stuff! Such fun. He found a longish article about Jones’ nefarious deeds that adds bits we did not know. This is good. But what really strikes my fancy is a short, one paragraph article in the New York Press of Feb 2, 1890. It describes Jones. Finding descriptions of some of these people is hard. It’s always fun to find one. Jones is described as “stylish looking, with long black hair and peculiarly white face.” He affected “black sombrero hats and has the air of a crank.” Understand that the “air of a crank” comment is newspaperese for “I think he is a bad ‘un.” Good stuff, huh?

Monday, November 12, 2012

you mean this one?

What I don't do for second graders ....

I’m putting together an exhibit primarily for my Classics for Kids class (GATE project). This week my second graders will consider containers and utensils as art. These are second graders, so this won’t be that complex.

I’m using a mixture of objects that span about two thousand years. It helps to live in a house that resembles a museum. ….

Thus far I’ve selected two pieces of Chinese porcelain, (and discovered that I don’t know how to spell ‘porcelain.’). One is a pale green and yellow bowl from the mid 1600s. It’s very small, very elegant. The other is early 20th Century rice drop pattern. It too is very pretty.

From America I’m including native American bowls from the South West and the Mississipian Culture. The Pueblo culture bowl is black and brown with fugitive white designs. It dates to about 1450. The mound-builder’s bowl is from about 1040 or so. Both are classic shapes.

I’m including two pitchers. A pewter pitcher with a hinged lid dates to 1692. The date is engraved on the pitcher. It’s a family item. Next to it I will place an American hand blown art glass pitcher. It’s very a deep, rich green.

I’ve selected a very small, very fragile Geisha Girl bowl from the mid 19th Century, an English iridescent glass vase, an American cranberry glass vase, and a German stein. These will probably sit next to a 1st Century Roman pitcher and two oil lamps from the same era.
Also included will be a 15th Century German silver spoon, some mid and late 19th Century silverware, and three or four spoons c. 1740 by New England and South Carolina silversmiths.

That should do it. It will be on display for a week, then move on to another school. I’m holding my breath that none of this gets lost or broken ….
I may (still thinkin’ ‘bout it) include a sterling silver and ivory mirror, brush and comb set. It has a family crest on it. It originally belonged to my 8th Great Gramma, Archduchess of ***. (Bet you can’t guess.) My gramma gave it to me. I’ll give it to one of my daughters

Nice, huh?

Janet Reid@Janet_Reid

Quite the evening in the #Crimebake bar. A good time had by all, esp those brave chums who had query/pages chomped. #ThereWillBeBlood

Rachael de Vienne@Janet_Reid I've made comments on your blogs for ages, but I'd quiver in me pixie boots if i had do stand in front of you and hand you pages

Janet Reid‏  @RMdeVienne well, you'd never have to do that since I already read and love your work.

6:38 PM - 11 Nov 12 · Details

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Daughter - Scotland, About 1855

Daughter of the Woman in the Gold-Framed portrait. Damaged tin type. This is the best I can do.

Mary ... about 1910

No rude comments about pixie noses.

To answer Robeto's question from "comments"

Christina, Robert the Bruce’s sister, married Gartney, Earl of Mar in 1292. Their son Donald married Isabel Stewart (yes, those Stewarts). Their daughter Margaret married William, Earl Douglas. In turn their daughter Muriel married Richard, Baron Lovel. 

This side-step descent continues. The Lovels become de Moels; then de Courtenay, then Peverell, then Hungerfords for several generations. A Hungerford daughter eventually married Nicholas, Baron Woodroofe. Understand that all these families mix and remix. More Bruces marry in, more Stewarts, the Machells, Lewknors, Wroths, the Kings champion shows up. I am, sir, a mutt. If it’s European, North African, or Middle Eastern I have it in me somewhere if you go back far enough.

My Husband’s family and mine connect several times. The closest common ancestor died about 1701. 

The German bits are varied. You may have caught that from some of the photos I post. The Austrians are mostly Isenbergs or Habsburgs or near relatives. I have close relatives who live in England, France (they frown at Bonaparts and anyone with the last name Anjou), Germany and Austria. It’s a very mixed up family. Some of my relatives are fun, loving people. I have a cousin living in New York. (Her husband works at the UN.) When we were small we passed as twins. The resemblance persists, though we no longer look like we’re identical twins. She visits once or twice a year. The rest of that family live in Germany and England. 

There is, through my mother’s side an American ancestry too. Mother was Austrian by birth, but she married an American. My American ancestors extend back to the early colonial era. One of them died Christmas day 1620 at Provincetown Harbor. One of them was a Jamestown settler. They came in waves, someone new coming with each generation. Some are well known figures in American history; some are obscure.

I posted once about my ancestors who were writers. It is interesting to me that so many of them wrote, even if many of them are now forgotten. I’ve spent a lot of time tracing down the articles written by one of them who wrote Civil War history. I don’t believe he wrote a book. He wrote articles for the illustrated weekly press back in the late 19th Century and was a Civil War veteran himself. His personal history is very interesting.

An Isenberg distant uncle wrote articles for teacher’s magazines and an Educational Psychology text. I have his photo. If you read my little novel, Pixie Warrior, you met some of my relations scattered through the story. I’m not telling which they are though.

Life in the Wilderness - About 1880

Two men more or less ran away with from home in Germany, one in 1867 and the other in the early 1870s. One of them ran away with the maid, more or less, mostly more. They made babies in the American Mid-West, tried to farm, and then turned their hand to business or writing. These are their children.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Jeanne Stewart - Probably 1861

Scotland - about 1855

Glasgow - 1884

The original albumin print is damaged. I've cropped the scan to remove the damage, but there is still some distortion. It's too interesting not to post.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Mr. Occasional and the Scottish Life

It was strange being without internet access for two weeks. How could that happen in Britain? Travelling to the rurals of lowland Scotland, that’s how. 

Like many from England, I used to have preconceptions about Scotland – a land of whisky, haggis, mist, and girls with complexions like the heather.

But we had a two week vacation in Scotland, and yes – it had its moments. A stop-over in Edinburgh and then what is called the Perthshire Amber folk festival.

We flew from London. One hour in the airplane, and five hours at the airport due to fog. There was a crowd of young people with their minders, coming back from a trip to America via London. As we finally came into land at Edinburgh airport, a young voice shouted out “Wha’s tha’ smell?” It was followed by a wistful pre-teen treble: “It smells like home.” This was immediately followed by a dour teenage grunt:  “Naw – it smells like Sco’land!”

My last foray into Scotland was in the 1970s when I cycled from John O’Groats to Lands End – the two points furthest from each other in the British Isles. I caught the train to Wick, cycled to Thurso where I stayed a night, and then took just one day to cycle to John O’Groats to get my picture taken, and then cycled due south back through Wick, Inverness, along the Great Glen, ending up camping on Hamilton Race Track near Glasgow. My memory of Glasgow was at closing time, where I’ve never so many people fighting in the streets and being bundled into police wagons before or since. I put my head down and just pedalled. The second day I had left Scotland some way behind on my journey.

But Edinburgh was a new experience. Actually it was a very positive experience. We did the castle, which is impressive, both for its size and location and also for what they have packed inside it for modern tourists. In a very short time we also crammed in the Camera Obscura, a weaving exhibition, Holyrood House (seeing the spot where Rizzio was wasted by Ruthven and friends), and ended it all off in what was called the Whisky experience – where you are trundled around in barrels, allowed to smell various malts as you learned their history, and given samples to try on the spot. A most pleasant experience. To coin an old joke – I would have made it back to the hotel alright if Mrs Occasional hadn’t stepped on my hand... To follow it up with an even worse one – that night I slept like a log... (pause) ...woke up in the fire place...

The Castle - 1884

But I really was tired at the end of our tourist experience. Shattered. Wiped out. The family all dragged me into an Indian restaurant, but it was very hard for me to stay awake. At the end of the meal they brought us all some mints, and a strange white wrap inside cellophane. ‘Ooh that’s kind of them’ I thought ‘to bring us a sweet pitta-bread wrap to finish with’.... and sank my teeth into a warm wet face cloth they had provided for us to clean ourselves up with before leaving. For the rest of the vacation various family members regaled me with enquires of – ‘fancy another edible napkin?’

Then the folk festival called the Perthshire Amber. The “Amber” suffix came from the autumn scenery in that part of Scotland which really was spectacular. The folk festival could be worth a post of its own – except that if you don’t like Scottish folk music it would bore you to tears. Personally I have always gravitated towards American folk music. To an outsider, America is a land of immigrants (probably all illegal according to the Comanche). But it seems to give the United States a variety in folk music not found elsewhere. But daughter is big into all things folk and Scots artiste Dougie MacLean in particular, and was singing at open mikes and attending instrument and song writing workshops, so we went along – and enjoyed it. Scots folk music has its share of the usual historical ballads (generally against the English) but a considerable amount was pastoral – and none the worse for it.

So memorable moments? I’ve already mentioned the autumn colors. But some oddments. The decorated wheelbarrow procession (Brits really do know how to do ceremonial). Spotlessly clean rest rooms (life must be sad in Britain for that to be a memorable experience). Singers like Edwina Hayes (who writes for Nanci Griffiths) and Julie Fowlis (who sings in the Disney film Brave but does everything else in Scots Gaelic). One’s own daughter at the mike. Discovering a singer-songwriter from Nova Scotia, Buddy MacDonald, whose songs are so accessible (that is, easy for even Occasional to try and sing). Bus tours with sing-a-longs all the way. Grabbing Mrs Occasional’s hand to get across a busy highway in Perth, only to find it wasn’t Mrs Occasional... Workshops for weird guitar tunings, bodhrans, and song writing. A young Scotsman in full national regalia guarding the gate for one event, when snow suddenly came down. “You could do with a coat” shouted someone from the queue – “I ca’ doo wi’ a pair o’ troosers” came the doleful reply.

So it’s back to the pixie’s blog. What has Sha’el been up to? What treasures has she unearthed? What events at school have annoyed her? What domestic incidents have occurred? What uncooperative institutions have been in her sights? And what fools has she not suffered gladly? And then what about Harry, Anthony, Roberto, Midge and the rest? What has been written that might have prompted an Occasional riposte, had I been around? A couple of weeks seems a long time in Cyber-land. Old posts are generally dead posts, so I must take up reading again – and try and remember who I am supposed to be on the blogs and message boards I support under various names.

But it’s also back to a mountain of washing the size of Mount Everest (including for my elderly mother who we left with carers while away). Back to a telephone answering machine full of plaintive patients and religious queries. Back to a zillion emails – 99% junk but some gold as well, requiring urgent attention.

But after just a few hours back, it seems like I’ve worked around the clock on catch-up. And I’m again tired – shattered – exhausted – bushed – dead-beat – worn-out – all-in.

You know – I really do think I need a vacation.

Ileana - Born a Pixie

Edinburgh - 1884

Woolly Scots, 1884

Related to Pixie Children.
I don't kiss fuzzy scots. You must shave first.

James (Jimmy) S. Royal Scots Fusiliers, 1855

The original is very faded. This is the best I could do.

Scottish Regiment - Uncertain Location, about 1918.

Displeased Pixie


The pixie is displeased. …


On September sixth my writing partner sent a letter to a notoriously secretive religious organization trying to pry out of their grubby hands two documents. Two months later, we’ve had no reply. I expected a prompt reply this time. I don’t know why exactly. They’re noted for cult-like secrecy and for a policy of non-cooperation with academic researchers. Still … my WP was encouraged because of an exchange between him and someone who writes for that organization.

It was a nice, but firm letter. Bruce has been feeding them historical material since the early 1970s. With this letter he sent material they could not possibly have. He offered them continuing access to our research, even in areas where we are not ready to share with anyone else. This represents thousands of pages of original documents, few of which they’d have seen.

He asked for the return of one document within two months. They haven’t returned it, and, as far as I can see, they have no intention of returning it. We’re writing to them today asking for its return. I’ve read three drafts of my WP’s letter. I think the final version is a nice, polite request. It’s far nicer than any I would write. He enclosed the first page of an historical document that they will not have – only the first page. Bravo! It’s about time he gets some spine and tells them “where the bear went in the buckwheat.”
I think approaching an organization noted for cult-like secrecy is a waste of time. Understand that I find much to admire among their members. I don’t admire their policies. They foster a dual mythology by trying to control what elements of their history are published. Secrecy opens the door to speculation and falsification. So there is the mythologized version of history they present and there is a wrong-headed, sometimes purposely falsified version their enemies present. A forum poster named “Terry” presents some of the poorest researched material I’ve ever seen as absolute truth. Those who read that forum swallow it whole and praise him for research of such poor quality that he would have failed any of the classes I taught. The blame for this rests with the body of ruling bishops of the organization in question.

A frank and thorough presentation of their history would serve them well. They’re afraid of it, however. That leaves key questions and objections unaddressed. It abandons the field to those who oppose them. The effect, if not the intent, is the promotion of a series of lies.

I’m cranky anyway. I feel bad and I’m unhappy generally – to the point of significant anger. The problem is, I don’t know where to direct my anger. Yesterday, God and I had a long argument over his behavior. Okay, so that was a one-sided argument. He was probably busy with something else. The day before, I bit an employee’s butt, saying things such as “that’s not a hard decision to make,” and “I have an hour and a half’s drive in front of me and you’re wasting my time.” It took them 15 minutes to make a decision a normal person could make in thirty seconds or less. But … I was angry beyond what her dithering ways reasonably should have caused.

The anger attaches to my condition. I fight it daily. I’ve lost the fight three times this past fortnight. I probably need my medication levels checked again.

Friday, November 02, 2012

I wish ..

... everyone would keep their posting names consistent. Pixies are easily confused.

Alexandra von Hannover and Frederick von Mecklenburg

Signed to a family member by Alix in 1903.

Great great Gram and her mom are in this photo

Taken in Denmark.

Fairies with Attitude, Frustrated Researchers, and Scotland

I’m a bit unhappy. I’ve spent a week of research time tracing down an article published in the early 1880s. I found what I believe is the original article, but it’s nothing like how it was described by someone else, so I may be mistaken. I’ll re-read them all again sometime this weekend. There is also a reference to a “tabernacle chart.” I may have identified that too, but the emphasis here should be on the “may have” part of this sentence.

I’m certain that this would be easier if I weren’t so sick lately. The world turns into a darker and more confusing place when I’m sick.

On to other matters:

Remember when I turned Knobby Knees into a shape-shifting dragon? Well, last night, while sipping hot chocolate with marshmallow melt on top, I turned him into a half-fairy with attitude. You may laugh at this if you wish, but this helps me develop my characters. I really must write new chapters before I forget what I have imagined. I now know how dragons kill their prey. I will find a way to describe what I see mentally that’s not as graphic as my vision of it.

I wish O. Reader was back from Scotland’s damps and dews so he could say something pithy and entertaining. Maybe he’ll send us a youtube video of him singing about Old Black Joe or something.

A good portion of the last two days were filled with class-room drama. I can’t tell you about it in detail because of privacy issues. The result, however, is that I’ve banned certain items from my classroom, and a student has withdrawn from our school and been transferred to another, less demanding environment.

My writing partner passed on a copy of Liz Kessler’s The Tail of Emily Windsnap. This is a fun book! I may use it in one of my classes next year. Imagine a 12 year old girl slipping into a swimming pool for her first lesson. She’s never been in the water before because of her mother’s phobias, but now she’s taking her first lesson. And … imagine something happens to her legs! Imagine that she discovers she’s not what she always thought she was. Fun. Good read. Part one of a series.

The world of imagination is a place of tame frights, interesting creatures, a place where wickedness can be controlled or expressed with little danger to self. I like the world of imagination. But there are dark things there. If you enter it, you must decide what kind of person you really are. You may deceive yourself and others in your real life, but when you step into the ‘other worlds’ the real you will show. If you are Satan’s child, your imagination will show it. If you are God’s own, your imagination will show that too. Choose.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The world is an honest-to-goodness ....

weird place. .... search term of the day:

"nude woman running a backhoe."

From Rochester NY., which is amazing because that sorta stuff usually comes from a middle eastern land.

All I got from the Middle East was a Saudi looking for "hot sex." One would think the desert would provide enough of that, but maybe the camels are sexually repressed.

Why Pakistan will NEVER be Civilized

The West sighed in relief when Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl arrested in Pakistan on August 16 for allegedly burning pages of the Quran, was finally released. Yet the West remains clueless concerning the graphic abuses—including rape and murder—Christian children in Pakistan routinely suffer, simply for being Christian. Consider two stories alone, both of which occurred at the same time Rimsha's blasphemy ordeal was making headlines around the world. 

On August 14, another Christian girl, 12-year-old Muqadas Kainat (which means "Holy Universe") was ambushed in a field near her home in Sahawil by five Muslim men who "gang raped and murdered" her. At the time, her father was at a hospital visiting her sick mother. He and other family members began a frantic search, until a tip led them to the field where his daughter's body lay. The postmortem revealed that she had been "gang raped and later strangled to death by five men." Police, as usual, did not arrest anyone. As a Salem News report puts it, "Complicating matters is the fact that several Christian girls in this remote area have been raped and forced to both marry into the Muslim community and abandon their own religion, human rights groups report…. there is a history in this part of Pakistan according to the Christian community, of local authorities failing to investigate cases of rape or other violence against Christians, often for fear of influential Muslims or militants."

Similarly, on August 20, an 11-year-old Christian boy, Samuel Yaqoob, went to the markets of Faisalabad to buy food for his family, never to return. According to Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, "After extensive searching his body was found near a drain in the Christian colony, bearing marks of horrific torture, with the murder weapon nearby. His nose, lips and belly had been sliced off, and his family could hardly recognize him because the body was so badly burnt.

Some 23 wounds by a sharp weapon have been identified in the autopsy. When sending his body for an autopsy, police raised the possibility of sodomy. Parts of Pakistani culture have a strong homosexual pederast culture, and Christian and other minority boys are especially susceptible to rape and abuse because of the powerlessness of their community and their despised status. In one case fairly recently, a Christian boy was kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed by a police officer, his body similarly being dumped in a drain.

These were just some of the stories concerning the sexual abuse and murder of Pakistan's Christian children that occurred last August—even as the world stood in awe at the Rimsha Masih blasphemy case. Here are 20 more examples, chosen at random from the many former documented cases:

Nisha, a 9-year-old Christian girl was abducted by Muslims, gang-raped, murdered by repeated blows to her head, and then dumped into a canal (May, 2009).
Gulfam, another 9-year-old Christian girl, was raped by a Muslim man. Though not killed, she was left "in shock and in the throes of a physical and psychological trauma." During her ordeal, her rapist told her "not to worry because he had done the same service to other young Christian girls" (December, 2010).

Lubna, a 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped, gang-raped, and murdered by a group of Muslims (October, 2010).

Kidnapped last Christmas Eve, a 12-year-old Christian girl known as "Anna" was gang raped for eight months, forcibly converted and then "married" to her Muslim attacker. After she escaped, instead of seeing justice done, "the Christian family is in hiding from the rapists and the police" (October, 2011).

After gang-raping a 13-year-old Christian girl, a band of Muslims came to her house when all male members were away working and "mercilessly" beat her pregnant aunt causing her to lose female twins to miscarriage: "They murdered our children, they raped our daughter. We have nothing left with us," lamented an older family member. The police went on to accuse the 13-year-old raped girl of "committing adultery with three men" (June, 2012).

A Muslim man murdered a teenage Christian girl, Amariah, during an attempted rape: he had "grabbed the girl and, under the threat of a gun, tried to drag her away. The young woman resisted, trying to escape the clutches of her attacker, when the man opened fire and killed her instantly, and later tried to conceal the corpse" (December, 2011).

Muslims abducted a 14-year-old Christian girl, Mehek, at gunpoint in broad daylight from her parents' house. One of her abductors declared he would "purify her" by making her "Muslim and my mistress" (August, 2011).

Shazia, a 12-year-old Christian girl, was enslaved, raped, and murdered by Chaudhry Naeem, a rich Muslim lawyer, who was acquitted. His wife and son had participated in abusing the child (November, 2010).

Nadia, a Christian girl who was abducted in 2001 when she was 15-years-old and forced to marry a Muslim, only recently returned to her Catholic family (January, 2012).

A powerful Muslim businessman had two Christian sisters kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam, and "married" to him (May, 2011).

In every one of these cases, Pakistani police either failed to act or sided with the rapists and murderers.
The anecdotes represent a mere sampling of the documented atrocities committed against the children of Pakistan's Christians, who amount for a miniscule 1.5% of the nation's population. Then there are the stories that never make it to any media—stories of silent abuse that only the nameless, faceless victims know. For example, it took five years for the story of a 2-year-old toddler who was savagely raped because her Christian father refused to convert to Islam to surface. After undergoing five surgeries, her anatomy remains disfigured and she suffers from several permanent complications. Her family lives in fear and hiding.
How many Christian children in Pakistan are being mauled in silence, with their stories never surfacing?

And what animates this savagery? Discussing the aforementioned rape of 9-year-old Gulfam, local sources in Pakistan put it well: "It is shameful. Such incidents occur frequently. Christian girls are considered goods to be damaged at leisure. Abusing them is a right. According to the [Muslim] community's mentality it is not even a crime. Muslims regard them as spoils of war."

Indeed, here is how the late Majid Khadduri, "internationally recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on Islamic law and jurisprudence," explained the idea of human "spoils" in his War and Peace in the Law of Islam:

The term spoil (ghanima) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children). … If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.

From here, one can begin to understand the rabid fanaticism that possessed Pakistan's Muslims concerning the Rifsha blasphemy case, which resulted in mass riots, Muslim threats to take the law in their own hands, and the dislocation of Christians, some of whom have been forced to live and worship in the wilderness: if infidel Christians, especially their children, are seen as mere "spoils" to be used and disposed of with impunity, certainly it must be intolerable for Muslims if one of these "sub-humans" dares to desecrate Islam's holy book—the same book that ordains their inhuman status.

And herein is the true significance of the Rifsha Masih case: success can be measured not in the fact that this one particular Christian child got away from the savageries of Islamic law and culture, but whether her ordeal will begin to open Western eyes to the terrors Pakistan's Christian children routinely face.

This article is by Raymond Ibrahim, Associate Fellow Middle East Forum