Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The ship bearing William Guiler’s wife and daughter sailed off to America without him. He had to wait a full week before he was able to board another ship sailing from Liverpool to New York. There was always hope that his ship might pick up some time on the ship carrying his family during the crossing. William desperately willed his ship to go faster.

William noticed that there were many young Irishmen on his ship. They were leaving home and country in the hope of starting a new and better life on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. They were not many days at sea before William’s ship was overtaken by a British man-of-war and forced to stop. Marines boarded the ship and impressed every man on board who seemed physically capable of being a seaman. (It is a known fact that due to a strong prejudice against the Irish, some English shipping firms notified the Royal Navy when a ship departed England with a large number of Irishmen aboard. Whether this happened in William’s case is unknown.)

William served aboard the man-of-war for many months. This particular ship spent most of its time waylaying ships sailing to or from the United States. Some ships were seized and taken over while others were stripped of men or cargo.

Early the following winter a rumor was passed around the ship that it were going to dock in Nova Scotia to take on cargo and supplies. Several of the Irishmen hatched a plan to jump ship if at all possible. Sure enough, the day arrived when land appeared ahead of them. One of the Irishmen lashed a rope to the stern of the ship and allowed it to slip into the water unnoticed.

Night fell early in December and the loading of cargo was still going on. In the confusion of the moving and stowing of the cargo the plotters slipped into the galley and each of them stole a loaf of bread which they tucked under their jackets. As the ship began to slip away from the dock the six young men slid down the rope and into the water where they waited silently until the ship was far enough away that they could swim to shore unnoticed.

The six stumbled ashore, soaking wet in the frigid December night. Much to their surprise, amazement, and distress, they realized they were not at a port. There was no city. There were no lights. There was no sign of any people living anywhere near where they came ashore. Their clothes began to freeze solid on their bodies and they had no idea where they were. What were they to do?

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I have always considered myself very fortunate that my ancestors kept such good records of our family history. The following story (in several parts) has been passed down in writing for more than six generations. It is a true story that took place between 1804 and 1806. The main character, William Guiler, was my father’s mother’s great-great grandfather; my great-great-great-great grandfather.

Shipping on the Atlantic Ocean was a dodgy business in the early 1800s. Great Britain and France were engaged in fierce naval warfare. Both nations attacked ships of neutral countries, boarding them and “impressing” the young men into naval service. The Barbary Pirates captured ships and demanded ransom.

During these years there was great poverty in Northern Ireland. There had been a succession of crop failures causing widespread unrest. Starvation was a very real threat for many families.

William Guiler and his wife, Elizabeth, decided to leave Ireland with their small daughter and go to America. All their assets were turned into cash. They purchased passage on a ship which was sailing from Liverpool to New York. William carried the precious remainder of their money safely in his inside pocket.

When they had boarded the ship, Elizabeth remembered that a pair of little red shoes which had been given to their daughter had been left on the window sill in the room where they had slept that last night. William found the ship’s captain, told him of his eagerness to retrieve the shoes, and was assured he would have plenty of time to get them before the ship sailed.

As William was hurrying back to the docks he saw the ship pulling away. He called and waved his arms in a frenzy, desperate to be noticed. He jumped into a small boat at the dock and with two other men tried to catch up with the ship, calling and waving all the time. It was no use. The wind and tide had shifted and the ship carrying his wife and little daughter had left for America.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


So were you able to catch the State of the Union address Tuesday evening? Youngest daughter, Mary, had a choir cabaret concert that night and it hit the two-hour mark at 9:00 when Anne of the House leaned over and whispered, “If you want to walk home to see the speech it would be ok.” I was out the door and hustling the mile to our house as fast as my short, aging legs would carry me through the snow. I only missed the first four minutes when the President was talking about the budget.

I was impressed with his new sense of humility. I’m not sure he has a lot of choice since the Congress has moved to the left side of the aisle, but I was afraid he would still come across as if he was trying to pick a fight. He seemed to be trying to reason with his audience more than in the past. Just a few comments on the subjects he addressed:

Tax breaks for health insurance: I think everyone should have health insurance. I also think many people don’t agree with me. Give people money to buy health insurance and many of them will choose to buy something else with it. I seriously doubt federal health care will make many people happy. (See: Great Britain)

No Child Left Behind: Nice sentiment. I don’t want to leave a kid behind if he wants to work and study. But our educational system is fast becoming one big international joke and if we don’t start leaving some kids behind we’ll all be stuck behind. Nations that realize college isn’t for everybody (See: Japan) have long since passed us. I think competition has a place in education.

Alternative fuels: It’s about time!

Immigration reform: It seems like a good idea to tighten up the borders and give temporary work permits. As it is now it is just too easy for anyone to get across the borders and I seem to recall we’re fighting a war against terror. Step 1: keep terrorists out of your own country.

Iraq: I don’t see any good solution and I’m tired of people saying, “Well, if you don’t like what the President is doing, what would you do?” Don’t stick this on me! If I was president we wouldn’t be in this situation. We had a number of alternatives before we invaded Iraq. It’s too easy to say, “Don’t criticize unless you have an alternative to offer.” It’s possible for a person to create a lose/lose situation without good alternatives and to require alternatives as currency for criticism is ridiculous. Some people say, “Just let the military deal with it!” No, I don’t think so. The military has a solution but I’m not sure I’m willing to see women and children blown up in their solution. I agree with the President’s statement that it is time for the Iraqi government to step up. Maybe I think they should step up even more than he does. It’s time for some multinational talks and I don’t mean the UN.

Did you hear the same interviews I heard after the speech? John McCain seemed to be struggling to be supportive of the President. Hillary could do nothing more than criticize. Barak Obama was scary good. Thoughtful, cooperative, creative.

Finally, how about Jim Webb’s Democratic response to the speech? Watch out for this guy! My prediction: potential vice-presidential timber or a presidential run. Was he smooth or what? Here’s my biggest complaint of the night. This may not be a perfect quote but it is close, “The majority of our nation does not support the way the war is being run.” This is where the Democrats really make me angry. Since when do they concern themselves with what the majority of our nation thinks? Let me tell you this, if I may, the majority of our nation does not support abortion either and the Democrats don’t seem too concerned about that!

Thanks for listening. You’re too kind.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Once upon a time there was a mighty nation that had ruled unimpeded for over two hundred years. It grew to be a superpower and it spread its style of government throughout the regions where it had influence. The leader of this nation believed with all his heart that every people and nation wanted to have the same kind of government and the same kind of lifestyle as he and his people enjoyed in their land.

Everything was good in the mighty nation. The people enjoyed a previously unknown degree of freedom and wealth. But while they were living their happy lives a power was rising in the East, in the land once known as Persia. A powerful leader arose and united many peoples against the mighty superpower. There were attacks against the mighty nation and many were killed. Something had to be done.

The leader of the superpower nation decided he had to build up his armies. This decision was to create both fiscal and political disaster at home. He issued new tax laws requiring people to cut back on their comfortable lifestyles. The people were not happy. The larger armies continued to fail in their effort to put down the new, powerful movement in the East. The citizens of the mighty nation began to feel like their leader might be wasting their resources. Their freedoms were being curtailed. Larger and larger armies were required and more and more of their men were being killed.

It seemed like the war with the people of the East might never be won. But the leader of the mighty nation would never give up. He sent more armies and more commanders to the East while things began to fall apart in the homeland. Eventually, after two generations of sending armies against the people of the East, there was peace. But the mighty nation had invested so much in the battle that it was weakened beyond repair. A new enemy arose and within a matter of years the mighty nation fell to this enemy.

Does this story sound familiar to you? It should. It is the account of the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire. Emperor Valerian fell to the King Shapur I of Persia beginning a long struggle between Rome and Persia which resulted in the division of the Empire into its two parts, East and West. Finally, Constantine and Diocletian subdued Persia only to find the barbarians (Huns, Vandals, Goths, Visigoths, and Alans) swarming across their northern borders.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Is anyone out there having any trouble posting pictures with their blogs? My accounts seem to have gone beserk.

I posted two blogs on Shilohman today. The first one worked with no problem; the one about LSU. The picture posted in the old fashioned way. The second, about Gerald Ford, won't let me post a picture. It keeps asking me to sign in with my Google account even though I am using my old blog and not the updated Beta version. I do have a Google account but it won't accept my sign in or my password. None of the Help links do a thing for me.

I posted on Shilohguy today also. When I went to post a picture it was just like the good old days, no Google prompt. But it won't post the pictures I'm choosing! What's the deal?

Is anyone else having trouble?


I think Gerald R. Ford was a good man. I believe he was very honest. He was evidently a good father and a loving husband. He was very intelligent and a hard worker. He was an excellent athlete and he had a very good sense of humor. I’ve always admired a man who can laugh at himself and not take himself too seriously. As a person, I would have enjoyed knowing Gerald Ford.

I spent a great portion of yesterday watching the funeral here in Grand Rapids. The service was held at Grace Episcopal Church. I was very impressed by the service. It was a traditional, liturgical service, full of the gospel and traditional expressions of Christian faith. I was deeply moved by the service itself. I was particularly touched by the obvious love and respect shown to President Ford by President Carter. Carter’s comments about the mutual faith they shared were powerful.

Gerald Ford was not a perfect man, but he was a brother in Christ and his faith guided him in a very difficult time for our country. Here is something I find very interesting. Ford was the first president I remember who made no apology for being a Christian and every president since has also made a clear profession of faith in Christ. Carter is a Southern Baptist. Reagan was a Presbyterian. George H.W. Bush is Episcopalian. Clinton is a Southern Baptist. And George W Bush is a Methodist. All flawed men. You may disagree with many or all of them. All have made very bad decisions both personally and politically. But I think all of them are genuine Christians.

Nixon was responsible for pushing me away from my Republican upbringing. By the time I was in college and thinking on my own I had begun to identify with the ideals of the Kennedys. I was unhappy with the way Johnson and Nixon handled the Viet Nam war.

Then came Watergate. Watergate was the end for me. The only hope the Republican party had with me was a proper prosecution of Nixon. He needed to be held responsible for his involvement. Ford pardoned him and I was gone. In my opinion, the office of president has never recovered from that decision. I don’t think a president has been respected trusted in the same way since Nixon abused the office and got away with it.

Nevertheless, President Ford was a good man and he did what he thought was right. I’m confident we will have a chance to discuss it in the future.


To the fans of southern football, Jonathan Moorhead, et al,

Jamarcus Russell may well be the most NFL-ready quarterback I have ever seen and that includes my USC guys, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. He is astonishing! Brady Quinn looked like a boy playing against a man last night. Poor Brady saw his draft day status slide way, way down. Russell's arm is phenomenal and his footspeed and view of the field is amazing.

LSU also has a tremendous running back in that Williams, #5, the true freshman. If Russell comes back (which I doubt) they should be ranked #1 or #2 preseason.

Notre Dame? They had no business in a BCS bowl game anyway. I'm sick of seeing Notre Dame given bowl games every year. They've now lost 9 bowl games in a row. They never beat a ranked team all year. I think the BCS should tell them they have to join a conference or there will be no more BCS bowl games.

USC? Yes, they played flat against both Oregon St. and UCLA. Every team has a flat game or two and USC had their flat games when OSU and UCLA played well. National champions can't do that. No, I don't think they deserve to be in the championship game this year. But I honestly think Ohio St. should be glad they're not playing USC!

What would I like to see? I'd like to see USC and LSU play. Or USC and Florida. Who beat LSU this year? Did Florida beat them? Must have. I've forgotten. Who else beat them?

I just want to give props to LSU. They deserve them. But I never really thought ND could stay with them as well as they did in the first half.