Fulcrum Ruminations

Monday, March 27, 2006

Big Wheel Keep on Turnin'

The Director of National Security, John Negroponte, has ordered the release to the public of tons of documents from Iraq. Much of this haul has not even been translated yet. But already some interesting tidbits are surfacing.

For instance, this piece in the Weekly Standard points out that there seems to be documentation supporting the existance of a link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. Saddam and Osama. Hmmm . . . if this proves to be true, that nicely deflates one of the Left's talking points about the Iraq war. They've been harping on "no connection between Iraq and the terrorists" for some time despite the easily proven existance of such a link, namely the program Saddam had to pay benefits to the families of suicide bombers. Altho this was not a direct link to Al-Qaeda, it was pretty conclusive proof of support to terrorists.

Given the generally untrustworthy nature of a lot of information coming from Iraq, I wouldn't go betting the farm on this just yet. But like I said, there are thousands and thousands of documents in this cache of captured material. Who knows what might be hiding in there?

There were demonstrations today by people opposed to tougher illegal immigration measures in the US. I don't get it.

One of the defining attributes of a nation-state is its ability to control its own borders. Illegal immigrants are by definition breaking the law. There is a legal means of entering the US and becoming a citizen (tho it is creaky and grossly inefficient). And yet we're seeing large and growing demonstrations against any effort to stem the tide of illegals coming into the country.

Why? These people put a huge burden on our economy, sucking up welfare-state benefits while pumping money back home to support those they left behind. Some have even tried to cast any tightening of immigration restrictions as racist. This boggles my mind. They're here illegally. ILLEGALLY. This is about as cut and dried as issues get.

Last November, we here in Virginia elected Democrat Timothy Kaine as our governor. Perhaps not suprisingly, given that he is a Democrat, our new governor is now pushing for something Democrats love: higher taxes. All to alleviate our horrible traffic congestion problems, of course. Nevermind the record budget surplus we have right now. Taxes are too low and the burden must be increased. PAY, DAMN YOU!! PAY!!

*Sigh* So predictable . . .

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Abdul Rahman, a Muslim, faced death because he converted to Christianity. I find it interesting that blogger Jurassic Pork, who was so concerned about the fate of Jill Carroll, a hostage seized by Iraqi insurgents, had absolutely nothing to say about Rahman's case.

I guess only certain people are worthy of concern.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Still We Remember

Generik was kind enough to pass along the eulogy delivered at Bert Tilley's funeral. I repost it here in further remembrance of a man taken too soon from us.

According to a legend, the exact circumstances surrounding the death of the 11th century Spanish Hebrew poet Ibn Tabirol are unknown. One version relates that a Muslim peasant, jealous of Ibn Tabirol's genius, killed him and buried his body beneath a tree. Some time after, people began to notice that a fig tree in the garden of the Muslim was bearing a particularly large, luscious fruit, unlike anything that had ever been seen in the encircling area. Curiosity was aroused, and the tree was dug up in order to discover the secret of its remarkable fertility. Then it was discovered that Ibn Tabirol was buried there.

All life grows riper and fuller when rooted in the lives of upright men and women, when its soil is enriched by deeds of loving kindness and mercy. All life becomes lovelier when it is watered by streams of memory and fed by the cool springs of recollection and remembrance. Our assembly today, to commemorate the life of a truly fabulous person, Bert Tilley, breaks through the crust of the present and preoccupation with the present and revives the past. It stirs half-forgotten memories of childhood, of innocence, of happy, unconscious acceptance of life as good. Such memories are a blessing when they are woven into the fabric of life. In all likelihood the recollections that each of you possess of your dear son, uncle, cousin and friend, Bert Tilley, are mostly joyous ones; memories of a life distinguished by goodness, memories of a wonderful person who not only accepted life as fulfilling and worthwhile, but also strove earnestly to make it better.

Another Jewish legend mentions that the world exists by reason of 36 gentle people who live in withdrawn areas, who are not known to the great multitudes, and who are themselves unaware that they are among those who, by reason of their tenderness, sustain the entire world.

I have often believed that Bert Tilley belonged to this rarefied company of spirits who helped to sustain the world. One often wonders how, through its history of convulsions and revolutions, mankind has managed to survive. Quite possibly it must be that in quiet places unrecognized, unknown, frequently uncelebrated, there live centers of tenderness that preserve the human image even in time of worldwide sturm und drang ("storm and stress"). Bert Tilley walked in the light of purity, pleasantness and performance. Those of us who were privileged to come closer and pierce the wall of reticence behind which he lived knew that we were in the presence of a vital and significant personality.

Verily a tribute to Bert Tilley comes readily, because his life was beneficent even as his character was worthy and benign. His nature combined strength and sweetness -- the strength derived from inner stamina, from intellectual honesty, from loyalty to familial duty and a following of the voice of conscience. His sweetness was the result of innate kindliness, thoughtfulness and considerateness -- a genuine friendliness to people as people, and a real sense to be helpful to them.

Bert Tilley was a warm, devoted and loving son. Jean and Burrow, Fayette, Peggy were so blessed to have such a caring and loving son as Bert. Other family members, including LeaAnn and Derwin, Scotty and Jessica, Aunt Sandra and Uncle Jimmy and cousins -- all were profoundly impacted by Bert Tilley's loving spirit and presence.

Indeed, what was there NOT to love about Bert Tilley? He ingratiated himself easily to others. This is not surprising. By nature he was outward and gregarious. His persona, his temperament, his indomitable spirit exuded his joie de vivre, his buoyant enjoyment of life. Bert Tilley was an avowed partisan of the funnybone and could always find (or create) humor even in the most serious seriousness.

Bert Tilley was exceptionally well-read. He was conversant in history, politics, science, the world of entertainment (actors, movies, radio, television, Broadway, directors, etc.). He was knowledgeable of airplanes and transportation. His was an eclectic taste for the aesthetics, including classical music, blues and jazz. Bert Tilley was an exceptionally gifted photographer. He enjoyed art and in a real sense of his life resembled an artist's brush stroke of many pastels. No wonder he was admired by those who were acquainted with him -- his life reflected the Biblical injunction of "loving one's fellow human being as oneself." (Leviticus 19:18)

Another aspect of this most worthy person's life was his volunteer work. Bert Tilley rightfully recognized his responsibility to his surrounding society; when one lives in a community long enough, one needs to pay a form of civic rent. For well over a decade, Bert Tilley offered his talents and service to our area's Gadsden State Community College. Bert donated long hours on a weekly basis as a tutor for blind students. In addition, he devoted enormous time to the college's radio station in production and broadcasting to ensure quality programming. Bert Tilley was generous without measure. He would always do the right thing.

Bert Tilley was a sensitive, loving, kind and compassionate human being. Despite some hardships, he never complained about anything. His infectious smile brightened our darkened society. Bert Tilley was a person of initiative, courage, vision and integrity. His word was his bond. Of such an individual, the scriptures remark, "The righteous shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)

Actually, what is life? Is it not, in the main, memory? The present passes even as I mention it. The future is an unknown factor. It is the past that is factual and historic, and that past we keep alive through memory. And when we are fortunate enough to have memories such as Bert Tilley leaves behind, we can say of him, "Blessed was his coming into the world!" Bert learned how to live significantly. He made every day count for himself and for all who knew him. A blessing, indeed, were the days of his life. As the Bible teaches, "The memory of the righteous shall be for a blessing" (Proverbs 10:7). Memories fashioned by Bert Tilley will indeed remain an everlasting blessing, and in them, you, his loving family and friends -- all of us -- will find a true source of solace and comfort. May the memory of Bert Tilley always be recalled lovingly for abiding blessing.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Remembering a Friend

Today I received the news that a friend of mine has died.

In the late 90s, when I had just gotten online, I went to the SciFi Channel's website. At the time the site was a joy to use and full of great features, unlike the bloated and bland thing it is these days.

The best part of the site was a thing called Caption This! This wonderful page ran screengrabs of whatever the SciFi Channel happened to be showing and people could write brief captions for the images which were then posted to a continuously updated display board, or "gallery." I fell right into it and passed many happy hours pursuing the activity of "capping" with a small crowd of regulars. We all came to know one another, greeting each other thru the caption gallery and forming a community.

We started an eGroup, which became a Yahoo group when Yahoo bought out eGroups. There were many and diverse personalities in that community, and I enjoyed them all immensely.

One of them was a guy who went by the handle of "144b", but we came to know him as "Uncle Bert."

Bert Tilley wasn't the best typist in the world - his typos were the stuff of legend and made him that much funnier on the caption board - but he had the soul of a storyteller. He was reliably entertaining and his posts to the Yahoo group were adventures unto themselves as Bert told us of his life. He told stories the way other people breathe. It flowed out of him and carried you away.

And now he's gone, at the unfair age of 43. His website will remain as a memorial, at least until the account runs out.

Dammit, Bert, this isn't right. You shouldn't be gone. You leave a hole in the world that won't ever be filled.

He was no less a friend because I never met him in real life. I knew him from thousands of words sent across the internet. When I got the word of his passing today, I was at work and I sat for some time with tears in my eyes.

Rest in peace, Uncle Bert. We remember . . .

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Only two posts for the whole month of February. And it's not like there isn't stuff going on that deserves comment . . . the press's total meltdown over the Dick Cheney hunting accident (how dare the VP not make running to the press his first priority after accidentally shooting his friend?), the insane "Intoonfada" by the retrograde barbarians of the Islamic world, the Dubai port take-over deal, the ever-growing disconnect between what we're doing in Iraq and what our near-worthless press is reporting, on and on and on.

But y'know what? Since I got back from Antarctica, it's just hard to make myself care about any of this. I have seen a better place, and it's cold, clean, and empty. Watching the Left and Right bloviate themselves into hysterics in this country brings only a sort of detached amusement. I spin thru the blogs I have linked on the right of this page (plus a few others I glance at) and I can't summon the energy to do more than shake my head ruefully.

I'm sorry, gentle reader, because you deserve better. You deserve to have another voice from the fulcrum helping to balance the lunacy of the poles.

It all just seems so unimportant . . .