“Handel” with care

Your feel-good video of the day

This is a miracle of modern science that will make you smile:

Hat tip:  Hit & Run (Reason Magazine)

Daniel in the lion’s den

I’ve written about the warriors among us.  By that, I do not mean people who are simply willing to kill.  That’s easy, if you have the right mind set.  Instead, I mean people armed with an overwhelming sense of justice and morality, who will push themselves far above and beyond ordinary people in order to do the right thing.  This teenager reminds us that age is not a necessary requirement for this kind of moral courage:

Hat tip:  Hot Air

Honoring both the dead and the living on Memorial Day

Yeah, I know it’s not quite Memorial Day yet, but sometimes things come my way that I can’t wait to pass on.  This morning, it’s two posts from Greyhawk, at the Mudville Gazette.  The first one is both a memorial to the dead, and a bit of background to the second one, which honors the living.  Both will make you feel incredibly proud of our American families and their children and, if you’re like me, at least one of them will make you cry.

Remembering Ed Freeman

I got an email from a friend about Ed Freeman, a Medal of Honor winner due to his courageous and inspiring service during the Vietnam War.  The email implies that Freeman died recently, which isn’t true — he died in August 2008.  Nevertheless, having learned of his service history, I would be remiss if I did not reprint it here, at my blog.  I think we all benefit from learning about those people who, because of transcendent courage, values and generosity of spirit, go far above and beyond the call of duty.  Here is the citation from Freeman’s Medal of Honor (which I’ve edited to add paragraph breaks, to make it easier on the eyes):

Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, of Boise, Idaho, who distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on 14 November 1965 while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

As a flight leader and second in command of a 16-helicopter lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam. The unit was almost out of ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force.

When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone because of intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water, and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights, by providing the engaged units with supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, directly affected the battle’s outcome. Without them the units would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life.

After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area because of intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew 14 separate rescue missions, providing lifesaving evacuation of an estimated 30 seriously wounded soldiers-some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to 200 meters of the defensive perimeter, where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements.

Captain Freeman’s selfless acts of great valor and extraordinary perseverance were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

By the way, if you feel like being inspired, please visit the Medal of Honor website.  Pick any war, and fall back in amazement when you read of the courage our troops have shown over the years.  It’s certainly a nice website to visit when you feel soiled by the tawdry headlines about so many of today’s pop culture “heroes.”

What a day this has been….

I love the old Lerner and Lowe song:

What a day this has been,
What a rare mood I’m in,
Why, it’s almost like being in love….

As I get older, though, the song has become somewhat bittersweet. One of the shames about growing older is that emotions don’t feel as strong. It’s nice that I don’t cry as much, but I don’t laugh as much either.  My intensity is simply reduced.  Sometimes, though, something will happen that punches through the emotional carapace age has created.  (For those who don’t know me, I’m not that old.  Haven’t hit 50 yet, but it’s in striking distance.)  If you’re unlucky, the emotional punch is something rotten, such as the death of someone close to you.  On a lucky day, though, that moment comes when two thinkers you admire tremendously give you an accolade on the same day.

I woke up this morning to discover that my post about Rush Limbaugh had been Instalanched.  I was thrilled.  A nod from Glenn Reynolds has two pleasures:  someone whose intelligence and world view I admire has looked approvingly on my work and I get lots of hits.  I may blog obsessively (that is, I’d write even if no one reads), but I’d be a liar if I denied the pleasure I get from traffic. As far as I was concerned, my day was already off to a healthy start.

And then, just as I was about to leave to take my Mom to an appointment, I suddenly got a slew of emails from the many wonderful friends I’ve made since I’ve started blogging, and all said the same thing:  Rush is talking about your post.  “Oh, my God,” I thought, “they’re kidding.”  Higher rational brain kicked in.  Twenty different people who have no connection to each other cannot be kidding.  “Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!  Oh, my God!”

And — here’s the bad part — I can’t do anything about it.  Because I’ve got to go, I can’t sign into my blog, which has crashed anyway.  And because my mother needs my undivided attention, I can’t listen to Rush on the radio, nor will I have access to the KSFO archives on which I rely so heavily.  I’ve had my biggest moment ever as a blogger, and I’m completely paralyzed.

But there is a good side to that.  Had I instantly gone on line and instantly been able to participate fully in my own exciting moment, the thrill would have been over as quickly.  As it was, while driving and sitting with my mom (very pleasant experiences on their own merits), I was also able to nurse a little excitement.  I knew something big was out there, but I just had to wait patiently, take care of things, run errands, etc.

So here I am at home, almost four hours after this whole thing started, and I’ve finally heard Rush reading from my post.   And I’m excited all over again.  I wasn’t kidding in my post when I said those nice things about Rush (i.e., it wasn’t just a publicity stunt).  I’ve come to believe that Rush is one of the most brilliant conservative commentators on the scene.  I trust my analysis about Rush’s ability precisely for the reasons I mentioned when I opened this post:  I’m not young anymore, and I don’t rock ‘n roll purely with my emotions.  I’m an analytical person who avoids the highs and the lows.  I hear Rush with my brain, not my heart, and my brain tells me something very good is going on there.

Given the respect I feel for Rush, you can imagine how utterly delighted I was to hear him read the words I wrote, and say my blog name aloud.  He may not know me, but I’ve spent enough hours in his company to know him, and I am mighty flattered.  As they said in the old days, and don’t say much anymore (shame, too, ’cause it’s a great expression), “Praise from Caesar is praise indeed.”

UPDATE:  Two post scripts I want to add here.

First, I cannot thank enough those of you who sent me your congratulations and your kind words.  For the last six years, I’ve lived in two different worlds simultaneously:  the corporeal world, which is made up of family, work and friends; and the cyberworld, which is made up of politics and those friends I’ve made through my blog.  Although I’ve met very few of my cyberfriends face-to-face, I value these friendships every bit as much as I do the corporeal friends I meet and greet on the street.  (Whoo, and she’s a poet too.)  That means that, when you write to me to congratulate me, or to say nice things about me, I value those words as much as I would if I were in the room with you.  So thank you, and many cyberhugs (which you should really appreciate, because I am so not a huggy kind of person).

Second, since I’ve had this launch, please believe me that I will take seriously this opportunity to write more thoughtful posts, and not just ruminate about the wonders of Las Vegas, as I did all last week.  But really, I do think Las Vegas was deserving of some posts.  Barack Hussein Obama may diss it, but I think it’s an awesome place, one that has something for everyone, even a tee-totalling, non-gambling, non-smoking mom with two kids in tow.

This is why they’re called the Greatest Generation

I remember the floods and slides of 2005.  Significant parts of Marin were inundated with water.  One of my friends, an elderly lady, was homeless for almost a year (living in various friends’ houses) while her house was being repaired.  Harold Lezzeni’s house was under repair for four years, but it wasn’t a dilatory insurance company that caused the delay.  It took so long because Lezzeni, who is now 85 years old, repaired the entire house by himself:

THERE’S A Celtic blessing embedded in the stone wall near Harold Lezzeni’s Fairfax home. The sign, placed there by his father almost a century ago, reads, “May God bless the dwelling, Each stone and beam and stave, All food and drink and clothing, May health of men be always there.”

The signpost is almost all that’s left of the wall. The rest – as well as the blackberry bushes that grew behind it, the orchard that grew behind that and the hillside that supported them both – came crashing through Lezzeni’s living room on New Year’s Eve 2005, filling his home with mud and debris 4 feet deep.

Lezzeni, 85, has spent the past four years restoring his home in the Fairfax hills. He’s rebuilt the walls, replaced the windows and painstakingly restored the inlaid oak floor his father designed in the 1930s. And he’s done it without financial support from his insurance company, the federal government or the owner of the property whose slide damaged his home.

“I had a lot of people tell me it was too big a chore, too much to handle. But I kept at it,” said Lezzeni, an architect who designed the post offices in Fairfax, Ross and San Anselmo.

Lezzeni had been asleep for only a few hours on New Year’s Eve 2005 when he was awakened by what sounded “like a freight train” striking his home.

“The mud was approximately 4 feet deep in his living room,” said Fairfax Building Official Mark Lockaby. “The picture windows in his living room were bashed out, and his kitchen was completely full of mud. (Lezzeni) was trapped upstairs. The fire department had to rescue him out a window.”

The wall of mud hit Lezzeni’s home with such force that it knocked the tiles from the walls of his kitchen and bathroom, pushed his ’85 Buick up and over his retaining wall and twisted the trunk of a massive oak tree.

Read the rest here.  It’s inspiring.