19 Jun 2024

John Lennon’s Watch

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The New Yorker recounts the complicated history of a preposterously valuable timepiece.

[S]ometime around 2007, in the early days of social media, a new kind of watch obsessive materialized, equipped with native computer skills and an appreciation for the places where pop culture and the luxury market intersect. In those pre-Instagram years, fanboy wonks traded watch esoterica online: an image of Picasso wearing a lost Jaeger-LeCoultre; Castro with two trendy Rolexes strapped to one arm; Brando, on the set of “Apocalypse Now,” “flexing,” as watch geeks say, a Rolex GMT-Master without its timing bezel, a modification he made to better inhabit the role of Kurtz; and—the Google image-search find of them all—two frames of an uncredited snapshot of Lennon and his Patek.

“I’m not a watch guy,” Sean Lennon said. “I’d be terrified to wear anything of my dad’s. I never even played one of his guitars.”

Since its discovery, around 2011, the image has appeared online again and again, fuelling a speculative frenzy about what the watch—which cost around twenty-five thousand dollars at Tiffany in 1980—might bring at auction today, with estimates ranging from ten million to forty million dollars. (Bloomberg’s Subdial Watch Index tracks the value of a bundle of watches produced by Rolex, Patek, and Audemars Piguet, like an E.T.F.; the Boston Consulting Group reported that, between 2018 and 2023, a similar selection outperformed the S. & P. 500 by twelve per cent. In 2017, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona broke records by selling at auction for $17.8 million.) But all the clickbait posts about the Lennon Patek, as it had come to be known, were regurgitations that contained few facts. There was never a mention of who took the photo, where it was taken, or even where the watch might be.

During the long, dull days of the pandemic, I decided to see what I could find out. Several years went by, as I traced the journey of the watch from where it was stowed after Lennon’s death—a locked room in his Dakota apartment—to when it was stolen, apparently in 2005. From there, it moved around Europe and the watch departments of two auction houses, before becoming the subject of an ongoing lawsuit, in Switzerland, to determine whether the watch’s rightful owner is Ono or an unnamed man a Swiss court judgment refers to as Mr. A, who claims to have bought the watch legally in 2014.

Having reached its final appeal—Ono has so far prevailed—the case is now in the hands of the Tribunal Fédéral, Switzerland’s Supreme Court, which is expected to render a verdict later this year. Meanwhile, the watch continues to sit in an undisclosed location in Geneva, a city that specializes in the safe, secret storage of lost treasures.


14 Jun 2024

Ban those 200-Round Magazines!

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After his son Hunter was convicted of lying on the federal form that must be submitted to allow the purchase of a firearm, President Biden shared with the nation his wisdom on Gun Control.

A few excerpts proving this president’s knowledge and understanding of the issues involved.

It’s time once again to do what I did when I was a Senator: ban assault weapons! I mean it. Who in God’s name needs a magazine which can hold 200 shells? Nobody. That’s right.”

I remember when I was campaigning, when I was a Senator, going through the wetlands of Delaware to meet all the people who were most upset with me—the fishermen and the hunters. And I came across a guy who was fishing. He said, ‘You want to take my gun?’ And I looked at him and said, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to take your gun. You’re allowed to have a gun, but I want to take away your ability to use an assault weapon…’ He said, ‘What do you mean? I need that gun.’ I said, ‘Guess what? If you need 12 to 100 bullets in a gun, in a magazine, you’re the lousiest shot I’ve ever heard.”

You know and I know: there are no 200-round or 100-round magazines for any rifles or handguns.

I used to be a law professor. When I was no longer the Vice President, I became a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Before that, I taught a constitutional law class and, well, talked about the Second Amendment. There’s never been a time that says you can own anything you want. You couldn’t own a cannon during the Civil War. No, I’m serious. Think about it.”

Joe Biden was, of course, never really a law professor. Joe Biden received a sort of honorary appointment at U of P that Politifact describes here:

The University of Pennsylvania named Biden as Benjamin Franklin Presidential Professor of the Practice in early 2017, after his vice presidency ended.

The university’s faculty handbook says a practice professor’s “primary” activity is teaching, but the job may also involve supervising independent studies and internships, serving on committees and attending school faculty meetings.

Biden served in his position for about two years because he went on leave for his 2020 presidential campaign. Biden was paid more than $900,000 for this university role from 2017 to 2019, according to tax forms he’s filed.

Shortly after Biden’s University of Pennsylvania appointment was announced in 2017, Kate Bedingfield, then a Biden campaign spokesperson, told the university newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian that Biden would not be teaching regular classes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2019 that Biden’s post “involved no regular classes and around a dozen public appearances on campus, mostly in big, ticketed events.”

And he’s wrong about private ownership of cannons in 19th Century America.

10 Jun 2024

“A Dear Visitor”

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Max Kurzweil, A Dear Visitor, 1894, Private Collection, Vienna.

10 Jun 2024

Notice Any Difference?

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08 Jun 2024

A Nice Story

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It isn’t that hard to find images of leonine aggression directed at automobiles. And they do apparently bite spare tires!

In the latest Spectator, Aidan Hartley shares a priceless family memory/

When my family farmed in West Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, my father had a fine Boran bull called Larasha. He adored that bull, which he had bought from the great Boran rancher Miles Fletcher in Kenya. At that time, a troublesome lion was regularly killing cattle out in the bomas of the neighboring Maasai pastoralists. One night dad’s stockman was driving home in our old Series 3 Land Rover, which had no windscreen or top, when the headlights illuminated a male lion on the track. He slowed down, expecting the beast to move off, but instead it placed its front paws on the radiator and roared at him. The alarmed stockman accelerated forwards and the lion, with its growling mouth visible over the bonnet and its hind legs planted on the ground, pushed back. The Land Rover’s wheels churned in the dirt, the lion roared and the two were locked in a deadly scrum. Then suddenly, the creature leapt up on to the vehicle and bit right into the rubber of the spare tire fixed on the bonnet. A blast of punctured air shot up into the lion’s face with sudden force, its fanged cheeks and black mane riffling in the wind, so that it was thrown backwards off the vehicle, allowing the now terrified cattleman to race off into the darkness.

On inspection later, a large tooth was found embedded in the shredded spare tire. My father suspected this must be the lion that had been troubling the Maasai — and its injury during the encounter with the Land Rover now made it even more of a threat to livestock. Very soon afterwards, the beast barged its way into one of our cattle bomas, jumped on to the humped back of that fine bull Larasha. With one mighty swipe of his paw the lion broke the bull’s neck and immediately he set upon its carcass, tearing into its guts. The herdsmen, who had been snoring nearby, woke up and gave the alarm. With shouts and whoops, the cowboys tried to shoo off the lion, but only when a man appeared with a shotgun and began blasting away, did the bloodied predator withdraw.


06 Jun 2024

Disney Ruins Star Wars Some More

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You have to wonder how it came about that practically all the greatest institutions and corporations in America have fallen into the hands of pea-brained conformist Woke nincompoops.

06 Jun 2024

80 Years Ago Today

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Omaha Beach, today and on 6 June 1944.

Timothy Jacobson visited the invasion site and came away with a nice story.

[A]n anecdote told by our guide later in the day as we stood atop the remains of a concrete fortification down on Omaha Beach — that most sticks in this pilgrim’s mind. It is a remarkably unremarkable coastline, of gray sand and scrub vegetation rising inland, today built, if far from built-up, with some houses and commercial beach establishments of the sort that would be familiar to beachgoers anywhere. As we gazed over the scene, not knowing quite what to say, our guide, sensing our awkwardness, told us of another group of visiting Americans from a few years before when aging veterans of Operation Overlord still returned to pay their respects. He recalled how one visitor, probably in his fifties and too young to have served then but evidently wanting to sound patriotic (perhaps he was), expressed disgust at the signs of commercial activity along the beach:

“Just look at that; it’s awful, disrespectful, a disgrace. American boys died here. This place should be preserved just like it was back then, for them.”

The group grew quiet until a companion traveler, twenty or thirty years older, clearly of a less-polished background but who in fact had been there on D-Day, corrected his younger countryman:

“Hey Mac, shut it! Y’dunno what you’re talkin’ about. Families on the beach and kids playin’ in the sand: that’s what we did it for.”

Merci, monsieur le guide. I wish I could remember your name.

04 Jun 2024

From the HR Department

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…of the New York City Department of Education. An actual email:

Happy Father’s Day (June 16)

On Father’s Day, we invite everyone to express love, gratitude, and appreciation for all individuals who identify as fathers. This includes fathers who have lost their children, those who have lost their fathers, those who yearn to be fathers, fathers with complicated relationships with their children, individuals who chose not to be fathers, and those who have strained relationships with their fathers, father-like figures, and guardians.

Let’s celebrate the many forms of fatherhood and show our appreciation for these individuals’ vital role in our lives.

31 May 2024

A Very Bad Day For America

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Richard Nixon was obviously guilty, but he was never prosecuted. President Ford acted on behalf of the general feeling of the country in simply pardoning him and letting him go.

Would anybody seriously claim that William Jefferson Clinton never paid hush money to any bimbos?

James Comey said that Hillary Clinton broke the law broke the law by her mishandling of classified information, but chose not to prosecute her.

Special counsel Robert Hur also admitted that Joe Biden, too, broke the same law, but decided Biden should not be prosecuted because he is an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

I’ve never seen half the country so angry.

John Hinderaker is a prominent Minnesota attorney and a Dartmouth graduate, not any kind of crazy extremist.

Yesterday, he wrote:

“the Democrats understand nothing except the raw exercise of power. Therefore, Republican attorneys general and district attorneys should bring criminal charges against Democratic officeholders wherever possible. No Democratic officeholder should be allowed to retire, in any jurisdiction with Republican law enforcement, without facing criminal charges. There can’t be a single Democratic official in America against whom a criminal case can’t be brought that is better than this case against Trump. It should be open season on Democrats in the criminal courts..”


30 May 2024

A Watershed Day in the History of the Republic

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Adolphe Yvon, Caesar Crossing the Rubicon, 1875.

John Lucas:

As the world now knows, former President Trump was convicted today of 34 criminal charges. It was a shameless political verdict shaped by an unscrupulous prosecutor, aided by a corrupt and incompetent judge, and rendered by a jury that supposedly considered six weeks of testimony and 55 pages of complex jury instructions, and then deliberated for one day.

These are small minds, who do not give a flying fig leaf for the good of the Country. They and those gleefully cheering the result do not care about the damage that they have done to the nation. Some, although not all, doubtlessly lack both the intellect and a knowledge of history and human nature to recognize the fuse they have lit. And the fact that some are well known public figures does not mean that the foregoing does not apply to them. It applies to government officials of every stripe – congressional representatives, attorneys general and prosecutors, lying CIA and FBI grandees, and to the platoon of pygmies in that New York courtroom.

I weep for my Country. Not because one man was convicted, but because this New York judge, jury and prosecutors have flung this Country into a downward spiral from which we may never recover. I hope that I am wrong, but I fear that I am not.

One of my former law partners, a world class trial lawyer, when faced with an adversary who wanted to engage in unprofessional “hardball” litigation tactics would say, “I can play the game; just tell me the rules.” The Democrats have made the rules, and their opponents will have little choice but to play the game.

This is not a game that can or will be played by one side only. The rules are now set. When Republicans have the chance, they will play the game. Many, perhaps most, will think that a response is mandatory and that “taking the high road” is no longer an option. Instead, it would be regarded by the “progressive” left — that is to say those now in charge of the Democratic party — as weakness if they roll over and fail to respond. This is an existential threat to the stability of our political system and nation. That risk makes this the most dangerous day in the history of the Country, at least in our lifetimes.

Henceforth, weaponization of the justice system against a political opponent will be the norm. Political grudges will be resolved by political opponents in cherry-picked courtrooms where conviction is most likely. All this confirms that when controlled by scoundrels, our judicial system is becoming more like what we expect in places like China, Cuba or Venezuela, where political opponents are routinely imprisoned or worse.


26 May 2024

“The Soldier’s Faith”

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Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was a Second Lieutenant in the 20th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. gave a famous speech at Soldiers Field on Memorial Day 1895, in honor of Harvard University’s Civil War dead. It’s a particularly appropriate read at this time of year.

Behind every scheme to make the world over, lies the question: What kind of world do you want? The ideals of the past for men have been drawn from war, as those for women have been drawn from motherhood. For all our prophecies, I doubt if we are ready to give up our inheritance. Who is there who would not like to be thought a gentleman? Yet what has that name been built on but the soldier’s choice of honor rather than life? To be a soldier or descended from soldiers, in time of peace to be ready to give one’s life rather than suffer disgrace, that is what the word has meant; and if we try to claim it at less cost than a splendid carelessness for life, we are trying to steal the good will without the responsibilities of the place. We will not dispute about tastes. The man of the future may want something different. But who of us could endure a world, although cut up into five acre lots, and having no man upon it who was not well fed and well housed, without the divine folly of honor, without the senseless passion for knowledge outreaching the flaming bounds of the possible, without ideals the essence of which is that they can never be achieved? I do not know what is true. I do not know the meaning of the universe. But in the midst of doubt, in the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt, that no man who lives in the same world with most of us can doubt, and that is that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause which he little understands, in a plan of campaign of which he has little notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.

Most men who know battle know the cynic force with which the thoughts of common sense will assail them in times of stress; but they know that in their greatest moments faith has trampled those thoughts underfoot. If you wait in line, suppose on Tremont Street Mall, ordered simply to wait and do nothing, and have watched the enemy bring their guns to bear upon you down a gentle slope like that of Beacon Street, have seen the puff of the firing, have felt the burst of the spherical case-shot as it came toward you, have heard and seen the shrieking fragments go tearing through your company, and have known that the next or the next shot carries your fate; if you have advanced in line and have seen ahead of you the spot you must pass where the rifle bullets are striking; if you have ridden at night at a walk toward the blue line of fire at the dead angle of Spotsylvania, where for twenty-four hours the soldiers were fighting on the two sides of an earthwork, and in the morning the dead and dying lay piled in a row six deep, and as you rode you heard the bullets splashing in the mud and earth about you; if you have been in the picket line at night in a black and unknown wood, have heard the splat of the bullets upon the trees, and as you moved have felt your foot slip upon a dead man’s body; if you have had a blind fierce gallop against the enemy, with your blood up and a pace that left no time for fear—if, in short, as some, I hope many, who hear me, have known, you have known the vicissitudes of terror and triumph in war; you know that there is such a thing as the faith I spoke of. You know your own weakness and are modest; but you know that man has in him that unspeakable somewhat which makes him capable of miracle, able to lift himself by the might of his own soul, unaided, able to face annihilation for a blind belief.


26 May 2024

My Father’s War

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My father (on the left, wearing jacket & tie, holding the large envelope), aged 26, was the oldest in this group of Marine Corps volunteers from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, September 1942, so he was put in charge.


William G. Zincavage, Fall 1942, after graduating Marine Corps Boot Camp


Military Police, North Carolina, Fall 1942
He was only 5′ 6″, but he was so tough that they made him an MP.


Third Marine Division

I Marine Amphibious Corps

First Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Solomon Islands Consolidation (Guadalcanal), Winter-Spring 1943
New Georgia Group Operation (Vella LaVella, Rendova), Summer 1943
“The Special Troops drew the first blood.” — Third Divisional History.

“We never saw them but they were running away.” — William G. Zincavage


III Marine Amphibious Corps

Third Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Marianas Operation (Guam), Summer 1944


V Marine Amphibious Corps

Fifth Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Iwo Jima Operation, February-March 1945


Navy Unit Commendation (Iwo Jima)
Good Conduct Medal
North American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Stars


While recovering from malaria after the Battle of Iwo Jima, he looked 70 years old.


But he was back to normal in December of 1945, when this photo was taken shortly before he received his discharge.

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