Archive for June, 2015
30 Jun 2015

The Thrill of Forrest Fenn’s Chase

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ForrestFenn

Taylor Clark, in California Sunday Magazine, has a helluva story about a still-ongoing treasure hunt arranged for his own amusement by a colorful millionaire art dealer.

Five years ago, a legendary art dealer left his home in Santa Fe, traveled to an undisclosed location somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and hid a 42‑pound chest filled with priceless treasure.

In the summer of 1988, not long after doctors removed his cancer-plagued right kidney… late one night, Fenn had an idea… He would stuff a treasure chest with glittering valuables, write a clue-laden poem that would point to its location, and then march out to his favorite spot on earth to take some pills and lie in eternal repose with the gold, like a doomed conquistador in an Indiana Jones movie. All he needed was someone to write and publish the book in which he’d place the poem. “Because there was no point in hiding it if no one knew I hid it,” Fenn said.

“Forrest told me the idea at lunch one day,” recalled the bestselling author Douglas Preston, a longtime friend and one of the first writers Fenn approached. “His plan was to inter himself with the treasure, so that anyone who found it could essentially rob his grave. I said, ‘God, Forrest, that’s a terrific story — ​you’re the guy who’s going to take it with you!’” Still, Preston didn’t go for the idea… and neither did any of the other writers. “I think they didn’t like the idea of me dying out in the trees someplace,” Fenn said.

Fenn’s failure to launch this scheme was no great disappointment, however, for the simple reason that his cancer treatment worked. Yet he couldn’t let go of his treasure idea. He held on to the chest he’d bought, an ornate bronze lockbox, and spent years filling it. Fenn tinkered with its contents constantly, aiming to create a stash that would dazzle anyone who opened it: gold coins, Ceylon sapphires, ancient Chinese carved-jade faces, Alaskan gold nuggets the size of chicken eggs — some of these items coming from his own private collection, others acquired just to add to the hoard.

For the next 20 years, Fenn kept the chest in a vault in his Santa Fe home, covered with a red bandanna. Occasionally, he’d test out its amazement quotient on friends, who tended to view the whole thing as just another amusing Fennian lark. Certainly, few of them expected he’d actually hide it. For one thing, the man was a born raconteur who readily admitted to embellishing his stories. For another, the treasure was worth a fortune — seven figures, most likely — and not even Fenn was crazy enough to just give something like that away. And after so many years of talk, if he was really going to do it, wouldn’t he have done it already?

Then, sometime around 2010, Fenn did it. Without even telling his wife, Peggy, he slipped out and squirreled away his chest — to which he’d added a miniature autobiography, sealed with wax in an olive jar — somewhere in the wilds of the Rockies. It took him two trips from his car to get all of the treasure to the hiding spot, because it weighed 42 pounds and he was in the neighborhood of his 80th birthday by then. For a while, Fenn kept what he’d done secret. His own daughters didn’t find out about it until he self-published his memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, complete with the poem he’d spent years refining.

Read the whole thing, and bring your shovel.

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The author serves up an anecdote from his first meeting with Fenn, which illustrates beautifully that grand eccentric’s philosophic approach to collecting historical artifacts.

I tell you what,” Fenn said at the end of our first afternoon together, hoisting himself up from the leather sofa. “I’ll give you a treat.” He shuffled over to one of the floor-to-ceiling bookcases that line his library and pulled out an old green bottle that I recognized immediately from Too Far to Walk, one of the nine other books he’s written.

“This is the Jackie Kennedy brandy,” I said, startled.

In June of 1984, Fenn lodged Kennedy in the guesthouse of his gallery, where she was a model visitor. “A lot of people stayed at my guesthouse, and she’s the only one who left my cleaning lady a $50 tip and a two-page handwritten letter,” he told me. When Kennedy departed, she left behind a mostly empty bottle of Korbel brandy, which now enjoys pride of place next to Fenn’s Air Force medals. In the past 30 years, he has offered sips from the bottle to only two people. He unscrewed its top and extended it to me.

“Now, you take a big swig, I’m gonna punch you out,” he warned.

I held the bottle for a moment, hesitating. Wasn’t this, in its way, a piece of American history? I took the tiniest volume of liquid that could plausibly be called a sip into my mouth, held it for a moment, and swallowed.

“So, do you feel different now?” Fenn asked.

I couldn’t say that I did. History tasted pretty much exactly like old brandy. Yet for the rest of my life, I’d be able to say I shared a drink with Jackie Kennedy.

“See, when I look at you taking a sip of this, I would think of you feeling like you’re on a different plateau,” Fenn said, grinning. “Because you’re part of it now. Instead of being a spectator, you’re a player.”

30 Jun 2015

Hipsters Are Annoying

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30 Jun 2015

Amen!

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RemingtonThirdDay

29 Jun 2015

Long-Eared Owls React to Strange Sound

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29 Jun 2015

Publishing Today

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WilderPublications

They are a sleazy operation and have been put putting these warning labels into their reprints for years.

29 Jun 2015

States Considering Abolishing Civil Marriage

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SmallGovernmentThanksgiving

Last year, Stella Morabino argued that abolishing civil marriage would be doing exactly what left-wing statist most desire.

Abolishing all civil marriage is the primary goal of the elites who have been pushing same sex marriage. The scheme called “marriage equality” is not an end in itself, and never really has been. The LGBT agenda has spawned too many other disparate agendas hostile to the existence of marriage, making marriage “unsustainable,” if you will. By now we should be able to hear the growing drumbeat to abolish civil marriage, as well as to legalize polygamy and all manner of reproductive technologies.

Consider also the breakneck speed at which the push for same sex marriage has been happening recently. The agenda’s advocates have been very methodical in their organization, disciplined in their timing, flush with money, in control of all information outlets, including media, Hollywood, and academia. And perhaps most telling is the smearing of any dissenter in the public square, a stigma made de rigueur by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in his animus-soaked opinion that repealed the Defense of Marriage Act.

We’ve seen also how the Obama Administration’s push for same sex marriage has occurred in lockstep with policies that are hostile to marriage, such as the severe marriage penalty written into Obamacare.

Activist judges have taken their cues from Attorney General Eric Holder who used the DOMA repeal to proclaim open season on any state that recognizes marriage as an organic (i.e., heterosexual) union of one man and one woman. In their crosshairs are state constitutions, businesses, students, communities, churches, and all of those bogus “conscience clauses” that were written into same sex marriage legislation in order to sway wavering state legislators to vote “aye.”

The tipping point came soon after certain big name conservatives and pundits swallowed the bait on same sex marriage. Folks like Michael Barone, John Bolton, George Will, S. E. Cupp, and David Blankenhorn have played a huge role in building momentum for this movement, which, as we will see, is blazing a trail to the abolition of state recognized marriage. And whether they know it or not, advocacy for same sex marriage is putting a lot of statist machinery into motion. Because once the state no longer has to recognize your marriage and family, the state no longer has to respect the existence of your marriage and family.

Without civil marriage, the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. This has huge implications for the survival of freedom of association.

The notion of marriage equality was never about marriage or about equality. It’s all about the wrapping paper. It’s been packaged as an end in itself, but it is principally just a means to a deeper end. It is the means by which marriage extinction – the true target — can be achieved. If marriage and family are permitted to exist autonomously, power can be de-centralized in society. So the family has always been a thorn in the side of central planners and totalitarians. The connection between its abolition and the limitless growth of the state should be crystal clear.

Read the whole thing.

28 Jun 2015

The Ultimate Public Service Announcement

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28 Jun 2015

Let’s Start Electing the Supreme Court

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roe-gay-marriage-cartoon

Andrew C. McCarthy thinks it’s time to drop the fiction that Supreme Court justices are following the law. Last week’s decisions demonstrate once and for all that the majority of the Court is comprised of partisan politicians.

Already, an ocean of ink has been spilled analyzing, lauding, and bemoaning the Supreme Court’s work this week: a second life line tossed to SCOTUScare in just three years; the location of a heretofore unknown constitutional right to same-sex marriage almost a century-and-a-half after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment; and the refashioning of Congress’s Fair Housing Act to embrace legal academe’s loopy “disparate impact” theory of inducing discrimination.

Yet, for all the non-stop commentary, one detail goes nearly unmentioned — the omission that best explains this week’s Fundamental Transformation trifecta.

Did you notice that there was not an iota of speculation about how the four Progressive justices would vote?

There was never a shadow of a doubt. In the plethora of opinions generated by these three cases, there is not a single one authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, or Sonia Sotomayor. There was no need. They are the Left’s voting bloc. There was a better chance that the sun would not rise this morning than that any of them would wander off the reservation.

There was not an iota of speculation about how the four Progressive justices would vote.

How can that be? Jurisprudence is complex. Supple minds, however likeminded, will often diverge, sometimes dramatically, on principles of constitutional adjudication, canons of statutory construction, murky separation-of-powers boundaries, the etymology of language, and much else. Witness, for example, the spirited debate between the Court’s two originalists, Scalia and Clarence Thomas, over a statute that, in defiance of Obama policy, treats Jerusalem as sovereign Israeli territory.

But not the Court’s lefties, not on the major cases.

And it is not so much that they move in lockstep. It is that no one expects them to do anything but move in lockstep — not their fellow justices, not the political branches, and certainly not the commentariat, right or left.

It is simply accepted that these justices are not there to judge. They are there to vote. They get to the desired outcome the same way disparate-impact voodoo always manages to get to discrimination: Start at the end and work backwards. Guiding precedents are for the quaint business of administering justice. In the social justice business, the road never before traveled will do if one less traveled is unavailable.

But there’s a problem. Once it has become a given that a critical mass of the Supreme Court is no longer expected, much less obliged, to do law, then the Court is no longer a legal institution. It is a political institution.

That is where we are. We should thus drop the pretense that the Court is a tribunal worthy of the protections our system designed for a non-political entity — life-tenure, insulation from elections, and the veil of secrecy that shrouds judicial deliberations.

If the justices are going to do politics, they should be in electoral politics. If John Roberts is going to write laws on the days when he isn’t posing as powerless to write laws, if Anthony Kennedy truly believes the country craves his eccentric notion of liberty (one that condemns government restraints on marriage 24 hours after it tightens government’s noose around one-sixth of the U.S. economy), then their seats should not be in an insulated third branch of government. They should be in an accountable third chamber of Congress.

If, for old times’ sake, we want to maintain some harmless vestige of the charade, then let them keep wearing their robes to work — for at least as long as they can persuade voters to keep them in these jobs. Let’s dispense, though, with the fiction that their judgments are the product of legal acumen rather than sheer will.

Read the whole thing.

28 Jun 2015

Slippery Slope

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GoatMarriage

27 Jun 2015

Off My Porch!

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27 Jun 2015

Ikea Humor

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IkeaCrucifix

26 Jun 2015

Scalia Nails It

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judicialtyranny

From Justice Scalia’s dissent:

The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance. Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

26 Jun 2015

You Could Tell This Was Coming

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StatueofLibertyWeepingAngel

Breaking News via SCOTUSBLOG: There is a right to “marriage equality”. Opinion: J. Kennedy.

Scalia’s dissent, footnote 22: “If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

25 Jun 2015

My Personal Boycott: Amazon, Ebay, KMart, Walmart

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NoAmazon

I sent this email this morning to Amazon PR:

If you look at my account, you will see that I am a very active Amazon customer. Additionally, I had been linking Amazon books via my blog and am an Amazon Associate.

In response to Amazon’s absurd removal of Confederate flag-related merchandise in contemptible obedience to the whims of the radical left, I will be removing my blog links to Amazon and purchasing absolutely nothing from Amazon for one month.

Deo Vindice,
David Zincavage

I’m sending a similar email to Ebay, where I am also a very active customer. I don’t actually shop at KMart or Walmart, and I mean to make a point of continuing not to do so.

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