Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The painter who captured America

Strangest Art Form

Yuan Tumbling Again Leaves Investors Unperturbed

Bernie is winning

Record number of China Grads



Strategic Retreat From the Ocean

Now we know she messed up.

Hillary Clinton Embraces Ideas From Bernie Sanders’s College Tuition Plan - The New York Times
When she is borrowing from the left, she knows she's in trouble.

Did the FBI just sink Clinton over emails?

Krugman think about more useless than he is (which is quite a large number)

It seems that the obvious report states the obvious

Bush largely ignored UK advice on postwar Iraq, Chilcot inquiry finds | UK news | The Guardian

In the next report,  it will tell us that George W.  was a Bush.

Ms Ckinton

A Damning Reprieve For Hillary Clinton - The New Yorker

 The problem with Hillary for President is expressed in one simple sentence.  Her supporters say,  because she was not compatible she is therefore called white to be president.  think about that,  date you get to work this morning and not have some officer say "Well I suppose it is not exactly illegal for you to have made that turn. So I have to let you go,  there are too many other things that are more illegal and that."

That is beyond anything that even "white privilege"  can do,  That is even beyond "there are two sets of rules,  one for the rich one from poor."  It is the prerogative of a queen,  and frankly,  if we are to pick a queen -  one  can do better than Hillary.  So all the talking  you do will not convince someone to vote for "Yes, I want to Queen."  And the more you support the  liberalism  program,  more chinks in the concept there are.

So to get to things out of the way,: yes, I am a  Bernie supporter,  no I do not think that most of the issues of this period  are her fault.  But they do have to stop someplace,  and that means holding the present person responsible.   So Bill will not be responsible for his - many -  mistakes,  nor will Obama.  That leaves Hillary. So enjoy your 4, or 8,  years left. Because then you will be reviled.

The only thing that saves her is that the Republican party is a monster.  So instead of  voting for Mister D-Day  during the war,  we have someone quite  far down from  that.  You do realize,  Mister and Ms. Baby-Boom,  that you are going to be  vilified for what you have done to the society.   It is not as if we do not know,  it is that for the moment you shut us up.  Which is all annoying,  and obvious.  But a large fraction of you will have to live with it.  The rest of course,  will be dead.

The Dogs of War - 3


Albrecht picked his way through the twilight, but realized that it was increasingly hopeless, which ever direction he road in, he could see columns two abreast of footmen bearing torches, and marching at a double time. They were not long columns, and he did not feel that he was in a country occupied, but certainly as if every direction was being over-run. Which meant he had two choices. One was to abandon the ship and pick his way to someplace where he and his horse could rest, the other was to make for the ship itself and warn them. However, they had already been warned that Death would be back. Was he being marooned? Left behind? He, and he alone, had been sent out. He picked through the possibilities, and understood that this was indeed one of them, though more remote than simply being mistaken about how fast death would come knocking on their door. The speed of the movement of the armies was surprising, and he considered that if he, one of the two veteran ground campaigners, had guessed badly wrong about how close to launching the war was, then so might well have all of the others.

He stared up to the zenith, and wondered where all of this had come from.

Fortunately, it is not difficult to shadow forced marching footmen who are determined to march by torchlight, and who are moving in quick columns. He disapprovingly noted that they didn't have pickets, that their hackbuts were slung and unloaded, that their tinder boxes were aside. In every way the disposition of their order showed that they were laying all on a quick strike. He was soon behind them and to the side, behind the parallel rolling dunes to the road, keeping his pace not much more than theirs. He allowed himself to creep up to hear the banging of marching drums, a smashing of timpani from the side of a horse, the clatter of armor and leather, the bang of boots. This surprised him, given how unprepared they seemed, he had expected a rawer force, one less practiced. Instead, these were as drilled as any squad he had ever seen, arms and legs moving in unison in the latest fashion.

The latest fashion. As from Eowilonwey. Strange.

He closed and heard a heavy chorus of gruff voices half singing and half chanting, it was a tune he was familiar with, it was the marching tune of House Ganymede, one of the equatorial trading houses, that specialized in metals and weapons, and who did not hire mercenaries, but, instead, trained their own troops, and fielded their own army.

Your father was a bastard,
your mother was a whore,
Fighting's all you are good for.

Hi ho, to slay we go,
Your father was a bastard,
your mother was a whore,
that's why you are meant for war.

Your armor is a battered
your sword is made of rust,
it won't last a second thrust!

Hi ho, to slay we go,
Your armor is a encrusted,
your sword is made of rust,
Drink the blood and spit the dust.

Lost your last penny,
and your a brawl,
your dick is limp, and far too small.

High ho to slay we go,
You lost your pennies and a brawl
your dick is limp and far too small
Stand up straight to marching call.

That's all you are good for,
That's why you are meant for war.

Verses continued ad infinitum, with the drummers calling out the words, and the marchers repeating them, before coming around to the known verses every four. Most were of poor quality, all degrading and derogatory, some to the speakers, but some to the enemies. Here he guessed that they were moving against a specific force, because the use of the words “He,” “Him,” and “His,” were distinctly pointed, but the foe was never named.

He longed for a way to speak through the ether, or to send a flare or signal. He knew that summoner's could send daemons, and that sorcery could send a call over miles by way of sound, but neither of these arts were in his arsenal. His heart was sweating and shaking, because even with warning, and preparation, it was highly doubtful that the crew could survive, let alone defeat, the intersecting columns. His lungs were strained from the exertion, and the accretion of sweat left him feeling as if he had grown a carapace, and needed to molt, rather than merely bathe.

The horse was getting weary, and he knew that the best was to groom it, care for it, and make camp, hoping that there was not follow up column in range. This he did, with the racket of the column fading into the distance. He mad a zig zagging pattern along what seemed to have been, if not fields exactly, then at least not entirely a stranger to cultivation, and followed them until he found an abandoned grain hive, a bit larger across than his horse was long, and made a could camp there, chewing on bland biscuit, and drinking the stale water, with its overtone of leather, from his skin. He did a quick scout around, found a well which seemed good, and refilled all of the water skins, and after this it was time to return to the hive and settle in. However, no sooner had he settled his back against the wall inside, then he startled, thinking he felt motion or heard a shift of sand that was off. 

He listened intently, and for some minutes heard nothing. It seemed safe to relax.

Then there was a snap. Since there had been no trees, and no drift or twigs, this was an extremely bad sign, because he could not even visualize how the sound had been made, let alone who or what made it. He inched his rapier out, and then his main-gauche, and rolled to his feet, both weapons near his body, knees slightly bent, rapier up, main-gauche down. He turned and had his back to the inner wall of the grain hive, it's aged bricks grooved with wind and water. Slowly, very slowly, he slid along the inside out to the doorway, and as soon as he peered around it, he saw a swift motion towards his face. Reflexes carried him to the right, in time to see a long thin steel blade strike through where his head had been. He engaged the blade on forte from quinta, and followed down the length of his attacker's rapier, until he was body to body with his opponent, and he could see a cold impassive stare from a pale hooked nose man, with a scar running along his right cheek. The eyes were focused on him, and the livery was black, with white lace trim along the collar. He could not seen an insignia, but perhaps it was on his belt. Albrecht cursed himself for deciding to go main-gauche down, which was a play for ambush, because now it was not in position to deliver a blow to the belly. As soon as this thought crossed his mind, he realized that his opponent may have a second weapon to the ready, so instead of trying to use the blade, he brought his foot up and did a stamp kick to break the locking.

He felt no hard breast plate or other armor, which was, in its own way, a relief: a straight coup de main would be enough. The shove was more effective than he imagined, as the other swordsman stumbled backwards, perhaps over a loose fallen brick or rock, but maintained his footing and his guard, albeit having to swing an arm out and squat down for balance. He used this moment to swap his main-gauche to fighting position and began trying to take the measure of this enemy. They both crouched low to avoid giving away their respective heights, and arms were curled into t leave maximum extension for a lunge or strike. They began to slowly move around each other, each trying to force the other to be back against the slight rise on the sides of the grain hive, or in front of the doorway, where there was no real retreat. But neither would permit that, and so they reached a point where they both stopped, each just outside of measure, each with the tip directed at the other's face, each unwilling to so much as extend.

Finally Albrecht became annoyed, at the silence and called out.

“I know you can speak, and understand me, there's no reek of death about you.”
“Surrender now, and I will run you through clean.”

“Not much of an inducement to parlay.”

“There's much worse waiting.”

“But who is it waiting for, and who is it waiting on?”

“I serve the new lord Death.” He said this as he opened the fighting with a simple advance strike straight at Albrecht's chest.

“To whom? I imagine he's rather tough and stringy.” With a simple parry and a step back.

“You laugh little man?” Another advance.

“I don't believe that you rose to be a guard captain speaking like that.” Parry, engage, circling rapiers until they were cup to cup, and then pushing away.

“What does wit matter now? It has no point. Will your wit save you?” Another ill timed advance. 
Truly, his moves were leaden, and entirely out of keeping with the first clever attack. The blood was flowing out of him, but there was more to it.

“No, but my point might.” Knocking aside the clumsy thrust and slashing with the point across the man's face. “That's two. Your move.”

They stood apart, both rapiers down, as if by common agreement to rest.

“New forces unleashed on the world.”

“Calleth forth the dogs of war?”

“They are the gods of war.”

“Gods? Not godlings?” He was not precisely clear on the distinction, but he knew it was there, and wondered what a more expert mind might pass as judgment on this.

“Gods, little man, you should have been first to worship when you could.”

“Stale bread, idle threats, flat beer, and surly swordsmen. Are there no end to the pleasures that you will grant? No limit to the blessings?” It had been hard to notice, but even his finery, which could not be that old, because the lace was of a new style, was looking thread bare. The belt was cracked, the hat dropped, the boots did not shine in the meager light.

“Bags full of spiritual coin, for each death comes with payment. There is a price on every head. A better afterlife, for depriving others of their life. A fair trade, for a penny or farthing.”
With this he whipped his rapier back as if idly chopping the air, but which drew attention to a horse that was tied near by. It was hard to tell in the light, but some rounded bags could well have been heads tied by their hair.


“Heads. I will display them on spikes, the metal tip crunching through the top of the skull.”
“A pale rider with a pale rose cometh? But why does he need you?” Albrecht took an advance, a beat, and then a more serious thrust, each time being met with easy parries, but pushing his opponent backwards. It allowed him to get closer to the horse, so that he could verify that, indeed, the enemy was taking heads.

“As he needs any mortal, for which to slay and increase his bounty.” It seemed as if he was giving ground intentionally, knowing that Albrecht was giving distracted glances to the left in the direction of his mount.

“So no need to worship death.”

“Why should the ferryman take the tolls?” On one sidelong glance, the attacker took the moment to try a forceful lunge, but his footing seemed shaky. It took a fast block from quarta to hold it off, and Albrecht spun away with the distraction firmly behind him. One often doesn't get a chance to make the same mistake once.

With this the other beat a step and took, purely for nuisance value, a strike at Albrecht's face. It was an easy beat back, but there was no avenue open for a counter strike. So it happened again, and again, and again. Albrecht decided that this was to create noise, and hope to draw aid. He must have friends, but not close.

“I was just thinking, it seems your clothes are aging fast. Is this another of the gifts of Death? Or perhaps is there another lord I should thank.”

“They are four, and they ride even now to claim this world.”


“The ancient four: War, Plague, Famine, and Death.”

In his mind's eye he visualized briefly four godlings incarnate, mounted on their terrible steeds, charging with a storm rising behind them, and a gale that overturned all before them. Behind that was stretched out a great army, hungry to kill for killing's sake.

“I was just wondering which you should thank specifically for having your riches become rags.”

A pattern began to emerge even his opponents attempts to kiss the button, as swordsmen called harassing attacks to the face or mouth, and that was that there was a slight knee jerk before each one. So he let it go on for three more feinting attacks, and then when the tensing of the body before the jerk happened, he put himself into high guard, engaged the blade, slid down again and the slammed himself with force into the opposing body, using the cross on his hilt to foul with the opponents cup and cross. From there he stabbed over and over again into the side, with punctures feeling a resistance at first, which then broke as the point finally pierced clothes, skin, and ran along bone.

Three jabs, his opponent fell away and to the ground, but Albrecht stepped back, both because it was the more cavalier thing to do, and because in the dark it would be easy to be run through by an unseen blade. He took a solid inline stance, just within measure. Against the black there was a glint of polished steel, leading him to believe he had guessed correctly that the fall had been a ruse to invite a hasty attempt for a coup de grace. With renewed respect for the courage of this one, he studied the stance again, before he could even get a beat off, his adversary was in stance, in line, and point forward. Clearly, he had judged quickly that the attempt to draw Albrecht in was not working.

“You will have to do better than that.”

Albrecht nonchalantly spoke back, “Clearly. But so will you. And only one of us is bleeding.”

Even before the exchange was finished, the man in black launched a barrage of short extension strikes, intent on driving Albrecht back, to gain room, and to press for some opening to equalize the hurts born. However, Albrecht, his guts still floating from previous injuries, was in no mood to allow cheap strikes and desperate advances to yield anything. Every minute was adding to his advantage in the fight. After this press, his opponent drew back and reached across his body, perhaps for a weapon, perhaps for a pistol. Albrecht did a fast fleche bringing his rear foot forward and then extending for lunge onto it. The strike pierced the man's hand, holding the pistol. There was a loud hiss, and then a crack, with a bright trail flowing downwards and to the right. Almost instantly there was a shattering into hot streamers, and a scorching singing feeling. Albrecht shielded his eyes and dived aside.

The bright blue-green spatter of sparks settled down and burned out to embers, but Albrecht had only the vaguest sense of where his opponent was, that is, until the opponents powder bag took to light and burst with an sharp flash. This kicked up black dust and sand, and Albrecht felt some kind of wet spatter across his face. This time, he guessed that there would be no hidden blade waiting, and he lunged forward and down catching the target by the throat. Taking no chances he withdrew the dagger, squatted down, and did a murderous strike through the eye with the main-gauche. He hurriedly ransacked the corpse, saddled the first horse, and was riding again, this time on a line away from his last guess at the column's line of march. He untied the other horse, and sent it running into the distance. He thought of looting it as well, but decided against it, not wishing to be close to whatever was now afoot. Last thing he needed was a strap to snap while he rode. However, thinking again, he decided that there might be some use here, he stripped of his riding clothes and pulled out a spare tunic and gloves. He stripped the fighter, and buried the corpse in a shallow grave some distance from the grain hive, folded the clothes and life them hidden in a corner of it. He also deposited the clothes he had used, and dressed again, at some distance away. He was torn between wanting to bathe, and not wanting to foul the water, but decided to bathe, because it seemed that none were living here any more. He used a bit of chalk to scrawl a skull and crossbones, for poison, on the well and inside of the grain hive.

After this accomplished, it was time to set off, and he did so, with some haste, hoping to put distance between himself and that place. The time he had taken was a risk, but he reasoned that if there had been others nearby, then the flare igniting would have called them, and they would have made themselves known by their sound, even if they had decided to wait at a safe distance.
Over the hours gallop turned to trot, and trot turned to slow plod. Dawn was upon them, this day being at Korana's maximum tilt towards its current sun, and he rapidly surveyed the terrain. Sadly, there was not one landmark he recognized, and even the gyre had shifted enough that he could not tell which way to work back to the ship. He blinked, and realized he should get off the horse, walk with reins in hand, and try and find some inhabitation which was neither camp, nor haunting. After an hour, he thought he could see some kind of blue green of water to his right, so he set his feet in that direction.

He could see the rim of a cliff or escarpment to his right, and a beach that stretched from it to the water. And if he strained his eyes, he thought he could see something on the beach, perhaps a beached ship, or hovel, or dock. He wasn't even sure it was anything, but both he and the horse were beyond caring. He pursued his lips and whistled to press away the gloom that was pushing in on all sides of his soul. He was marooned, caught between Death's own legions, and a mad goddess. He sighed, thought of the princess, and what would be best to do for her, but knew he knew it not.

“To give a fair princess, a penny, a farthing... To search for... What? What is it that I search for now?”
Finally he found something that resembled a cave. He slowly led the increasingly skittish mount by the reins, each step having to half wait for it to finally agree to follow. There was danger within, and danger without. He did not know what lay within, but he knew that without would be more marauding troopers of the invading forces, and they had a deep spiritual devotion to the doctrine of shoot on sight. Ah for the days when mere anarchy was loosed on the world.

He was in the lip of the cave, and there was a stillness. He pondered whether it was a deathly stillness, however. He took another step in. The floor was beige stand. Perhaps the currents of the ocean invaded it? He stooped down and checked it, it was without the cake of salt that sand that has recently touched the sea has. A touch he learned as a boy, playing beneath the windmills, or trudging with some package as an apprentice, or chasing some girl in the reeds. Several times, he felt the crunch of salt encrustation beneath his toes, his shoes, and his boots. This was loose.

Another step ,and then another, the horse was completely inside. If it were truly fell, this horse would not have entered it. The other, bearing a rider riddled with death, he did not know. Finally, he pulled out the metal horse stake, pounded it down into the sand and tied the horse to it. He brought out the flint and steel, and chipped until he had a small fire going, and lit one of the torches from the back of the pack. He went back until he found the back of the cave, which was only about five horse lengths in, found no sign of recent inhabitation, and let his mind clear. Perhaps there was no danger here, presently, and the days had just been eating on him. He made all of the usual preparations, unsaddling and grooming the horse thoroughly, feeding it and water it, and then turned to his own. He stripped clean of clothes and used the sea water to destringe the layer of grime and dead skin he had accumulated, and set down the bedding roll, a gift from the unknown gendarme that he now valued above all others, and sprawled himself out. He tried to clear his mind, though it chased sights and sounds of the last few days, from the tower, to the launching of the ship, to the three sided battle. He paused on that, and wondered about Bartine. These troops would have left before Korana went silent. Before. He breathed in and mused on who knew what when, and then finally he drifted into a nodding state, where he ached to see her, the one and only her, again. But he knew that she would return some short, but polite, statement, which would end any conversation before it started. He recalled when setting off that he had half-accused Niccolo of arranging things this way, to which the Captain and spat back “I know my place in the cosmos, I suggest you learn yours, while you still have one.” There was a pain in his gut, and he finally let it go.

With this he felt his mind drain down from his head, and amidst swirling thoughts of how to survive this situation, and whether he could even trust his companions – or rather whether they trusted him, which came to the same thing in the end – his grasp on consciousness slipped and he tumbled downwards and then felt himself float upwards into a half-sleep.

Pound hits new low