Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
The bill, approved in the Senate by a 100-0 vote, totals $448 billion and is headed for Bush's desk for a signature.
The Iraq war is costing about $8 billion a month.
Terrorism "is not our fault," Bush said, paraphrasing recent comments by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "You do not create terrorism by fighting terrorism."
That depends on what you are doing to fight terrorism.
If you think our money is being well-spent, here's $75 million wasted on a police academy in Iraq.
A $75-million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partly demolished, federal investigators have found.
The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to help Iraqis take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rain from ceilings in student barracks, floors heave inches off the ground and water drips so profusely in one room it was dubbed "the rainforest."
The midterm elections are 5 weeks from next Tuesday. Housecleaning is in order.
Georgie doesn't talk much, and Lily just makes a bird chirp when she speaks. It's quite entertaining.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I listened until the song ended just to see what the station was up to. The two disc-jockeys, a man and a woman team, sounded like your run-of-the-mill professional morning drive time jocks until they said this: "Isn't it great to see young people kneeling and praying at a court house, or the post office, worshipping our Lord and Savior."
Interesting. I wonder if this evangelical Christian format is going to be the hot new trend in radio. Then they began encouraging listeners to participate in this "Prayer at the Pole ." At first I thought they were talking about polling places until I realized they were referring to FLAG POLES.
What would Jesus think?
I can telll you what I felt. Disgust. I listened to this for as long as I could stand it -- about 5 minutes -- and switched over until I found something more secular.
I'm not knocking this for people who are into that kind of thing. If there's a market for Christian rock music on FM radio, and DJs urging young people to pray at flag poles, more power to them. But praying at a pole? I'm fighting all kinds of humorous temptation but I shall resist.
I'll see those people at the POLL. Pray for your country. I'll vote.
crossposted at B3
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I'll be leaving here around 5:15 Wednesday morning, stopping at Starbucks for a quick coffee and then heading back to Austin. The drive back should be less stressful since it's interstate all the way, and I'm hoping to get home before rush-hour in Austin which is why I'll be leaving so early. Hopefully it'll only be about 8 hours of driving time. My butt hurts just thinking about it.
Off to bed now. Regular blogging will resume soon!
Monday, September 25, 2006
I stopped in Marshall, Texas to refuel and then drove on to Shreveport where I stopped at a Wendy's around 12:45 for my "lunch" of fries and a Coke. It's not always easy to find vegetarian food on the road and since I failed to research the options beforehand, I decided to take the quick and easy one, knowing I'd have a fine home-cooked meal when I got to my destination.
The trip wasn't as bad as I expected. It's interstate highway from Austin to Monroe, Louisiana which is the bulk of the trip. The last 2 hours or so involved mostly deserted two-lane blacktops. The most interesting part of the journey is definitely the stretch from Monroe to the Arkansas state line. If I stopped to take a photo at every opportunity, this would be a 12 hour drive instead of 9 hours.
I passed what must have been hundreds of little churches... and some huge ones which, in the midst of poverty-stricken towns, look a tad bit boastful in my opinion. When you only see run-down shacks and vacated store fronts and then are confronted with a brand-new megachurch and a Wal-Mart, something's wrong.
The one photo I wish I'd taken was of a church in a small town in Louisiana, it might have been Mer Rouge just outside Bastrop. The church name was something like this:
Church of the Holy Ghost -
Sounds like a hotbed of spiritual fun & games doesn't it? I could not help but wonder what goes on inside those doors. Are people rolling around on the floor speaking gibberish I could not understand? Are they jumping from chairs with their hands held high screaming about something? Are they waving snakes around?
There's something about coming here that absolutely depresses the hell out of me. Once I'm away from it, I forget about it. Then when I return, the feeling envelopes me again like a thick wet blanket. I can hardly breathe, and I want to scream but I'm not sure anyone will hear me. And I don't particularly want to attract that kind of attention anyway, so I sit here and quietly suffer, listening to the clock on the wall tick away the seconds, the minutes, the hours, until at long last I have my bags in the car and can start the engine for the drive home.
Sleeping isn't that easy here either. This is a railroad town, the house is just a couple of blocks from the tracks. Trains crawl through town during the night like cheap desperate aging whores blowing whistles to get attention during a shift-change outside a steel mill. Occasionally you'll hear the coupling noises of trains. It's not a pleasant noise -- very much like loud metallic claps of thunder.
I just finished lunch. After limited sleep last night, I need a short nap before I drive around town to see what else has either burned or been abandoned since my last visit.
UPDATE** It's late afternoon on Monday. My mother and I have driven up and down a number of streets and toured the town. There's plenty of houses for sale here, many at "reduced" prices. Everyone, come on down. Bargains galore. And there's amenities out the ass: a post office, a hospital badly in need of repair and updating, a Subway sandwich shop, a Chinese restaurant, a catfish restaurant, a Pizza Inn, and a Mexican restaurant -- I heard the Mexican place sucks. Oh, and there are PLENTY of vacant businesses for all you entrepreneurs. Lastly, there's a Wal-Mart. Quelle surprise!
As Dennis Hopper's character in Blue Velvet might say, "I'll be hitting the fucking road" in the morning.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Meet the key players:
Carole Keeton Strayhorn - Independent
Rick Perry - Republican
Chris Bell - Democrat
James Werner - Libertarian
Kinky Friedman - Independent
Things have begun to simmer with remarks by Kinky Friedman deemed racist by many.
The Burnt Orange Report has done quite a job reporting on the antics. You can check that out here and enjoy a Kinky audio clip of this:
Then I come down to Houston, I went to a bowling alley. I couldn't go bowling, there were no bowling balls. The people here throw 'em all in the sea, thought they were nigger eggs...thought they were nigger eggs.Although Friedman claims to have been holding up a mirror at racism, it sounds more like something I might say when I'm drunk and listening to Pimp C. Or this:
Friedman said he would put sexual predators in prison and "make them listen to a Negro talking to himself."There's more in the Houston Chronicle with Kinky's response to the recent negative publicity:
"When somebody bucks the ... two-party system like this, the system punishes them and it tries to ruin their reputation and assassinate their character," said Friedman, who added that he would "never" apologize as requested by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People because he doesn't think he's done anything wrong.Poor Kinky doesn't need any help with assassination of his character; he's taking care of that quite nicely. I do find the guy humorous and entertaining though. He also has the best website of all the candidates.
Not long ago, our incumbent governor, Rick Perry seemed a safe bet to win the race. As we edge nearer to election day, such certainty will hopefully fade. We deserve better. Whoever wins will likely do so with around 30% of the vote.
You'd think, with 5 candidates on the ballot, there would be one I could be excited to support. Sadly, there's isn't. Carole Keeton Strayhorn is an ex-Democrat turned Republican who has now turned Independent. Rick Perry is also an ex-Democrat turned Republican. Many on the political right are dissatisfied with Perry's record during the past 6 years, particularly those opposed to and affected by the Trans Texas Corridor. I know absolutely nothing about Chris Bell other than what I read on his website today.
What we have is a potential free-for-all and the results will be interesting, as will the next six weeks leading up to the election. I'm expecting a wild ride with a disappointing outcome.
A recent Survey USA poll showed Perry with 35 percent of the vote, Bell and Friedman with 23 percent, and independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn with 15 percent.
crossposted at B3
Friday, September 22, 2006
Aren't they all beautiful? I've always loved rivers. I've also always been impressed by the fact that you can cross some rivers and be in another state (political boundary). Or another country (political boundary). However, it is illegal to cross one of the rivers pictured (I won't tell you whether it's A, B, or C) . You must cross at an approved facility and have your paperwork in order. The white man says so.
Sometimes, I confess, I despise boundaries.
You know those brown skinned people who keep trying to cross our border and we call them illegal immigrants?
Well. Let me set the record straight. We white people are the immigrants. And we black people, for the most part, are the (involuntary) immigrants.
That little river down there we call a "border?" That little stream was never a "border" until whitey arrived. Prior to us, that was just another river, not unlike the Little Missouri.
Suddenly the white man made it a border with his artificial boundaries and now everyone sneaking across it, as well as the "line" across the deserts of California, Arizona, and New Mexico) has been declared an "illegal immigrant."
I am the descendant of illegal immigrants.
The same can be said of our northern border. Amber waves of grain, as far as the eye can see. But somewhere in the midst of all the waving grain is another border between us and Canada. And next year you'll need a passport to legally cross it.
I wanna give a shout out to the three affiliated tribes based in New Town, North Dakota.
I seem to remember that my grandparents came from Viking Territory. And then we tried to conquer the Dakotas. Of course, the goverment gave my grandparents the special little homestead. God Bless the U.S. Government.
Want to talk immigration? OK, let's go. We'll start with this John O’Sullivan piece at National Review Online, referring to the massive protests by immigrants awhile back:
If one listens carefully to the rhetoric of the marchers and their organizers, they deny the right of Congress and the voters to control immigration, to expel illegal immigrants, or even to place any conditions on their remaining — the conditions that the voters insist on as the minimum for any genuine compromise.
Such rhetoric comes under two headings. The first holds that the illegals are already Americans with the rights of American citizens since any distinction between citizens and foreigners is suspect as xenophobic or racist. The second is that the Americans are the real foreigners since they invaded America, stole it from the Indians and Amerindians, drew their own illegal borders across it, and now seek to criminalize the original inhabitants.
These two positions plainly contradict each other. Neither is likely to appeal to the voters. But the second is much more repellent to ordinary Americans than the first.
Repellant? Of course it is because the truth is often ugly. Read on... this piece at Houston Catholic Worker by Brian Frazelle is particularly interesting (emphasis mine):
There is always a touch of irony when a citizen of the United States complains about immigration. Except for those of pure Native American origin, every one of us is of immigrant descent. Native Americans inhabited the continent for over 12,000 years before the arrival of Europeans. The United States gained its territory largely through the dishonest and violent removal of the indigenous population. Yet somehow we maintain the idea that this land is ours alone and that it is not only harmful but immoral for other people to enter it.
Picture this: a state within the U.S. has been receiving a large number of immigrants from a foreign country. The immigrant population becomes so great that the public school system institutes bilingual education in many areas. Over time, abetted by political events, this practice becomes controversial and a public backlash forms against bilingual education and the immigrants themselves. One disgruntled state legislator declares, "If these people are Americans, let them speak our language."
Does this story describe California or Texas in the 1990s?
No, it describes Nebraska in the early part of this century. The immigrants in question are German immigrants (Daniels, Roger. Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life. New York: Harper Collins, 1990. ps.159-60). The history of the United States is a story of successive waves of immigration, each wave arriving from a different area on the globe. With each new influx of immigrants, the older population has balked, claiming that the new arrivals would cause harm to the nation. Chances are, what is said today about Hispanic immigrants was once said about your own ancestors.
We often question guests of Casa Juan Diego about their work experiences back home. Laboring in Mexican factories, they receive a little over $3.00 a day, not nearly enough to maintain an adequate living standard. This alone may not surprise people. What is surprising is that more likely than not, these workers are employed by United States' companies!
U.S. and European corporations now have the permission and the technology to locate factories throughout the third world. There they do not have to abide by the wage, safety, or environmental standards that are in effect here. Consequently, people in Mexico and Central America are receiving slave wages to manufacture products such as clothing or automobiles that will be profitably sold in the U.S.
The following text was borrowed from Texas Indians by R. Edward Moore. I hope he doesn't mind.
The Conchos lived next the Jumano Indians - just south of them. Most of the early accounts describe the Concho and Jumano as being friends and being very similar in appearance and culture. During the Spanish Colonial period the Jumano and the Concho Indians joined together several times to revolt against the Spanish. They did this because the Spanish were coming into their territory and capturing them as slaves. They would make these slaves work in Spanish mines. Working in the mines as a slave was very hard and dangerous work.Today, there was this article from the NY Times regarding the plight of fruit farmers in California who are unable to get labor to harvest their crops due to our national obsession with the brown menace from our neighbor to the south (emphasis mine):
This slave raiding by the Spanish seems to have helped destroy the Conchos. Their numbers got smaller and smaller. The diseases the Europeans brought also hurt them. Many of them died from disease. When their numbers got very small, some sources say they joined the Jumano and became Jumanos. This was sometime in the early 1700s.
Now harvest time has passed and tons of pears have ripened to mush on their branches, while the ground of Mr. Ivicevich’s orchard reeks with rotting fruit. He and other growers in Lake County, about 90 miles north of San Francisco, could not find enough pickers.While the xenophobic debates flare up across our nation, along with insane proposals for expenditures to benefit Boeing and other corporate conglomerates, I am ashamed of my own race. I'm not ashamed of being an American. I am one -- and I am equal to the brown babies who were born today to "illegal immigrant" mothers across our land.
Stepped-up border enforcement kept many illegal Mexican migrant workers out of California this year, farmers and labor contractors said, putting new strains on the state’s shrinking seasonal farm labor force.
As they sum up this season’s losses, estimated to be at least $10 million for California pear farmers alone, growers in the state mainly blame Republican lawmakers in Washington for stalling immigration legislation that would have addressed the shortage by authorizing a guest-worker program for agriculture. Many growers, a dependably Republican group, said they felt betrayed.
“After a while, you get done being sad and start being really angry,” said Toni Scully, a lifelong Republican whose family owns a pear-packing operation in Lake County. “The Republicans have given us a lot of lip service, and our crops are hanging on the trees rotting.”
The House has passed, and the Senate seems ready to go along with, a measure to require construction of a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border. That would cost at least $2 billion, and that's in addition to a $2.5 billion initiative, entrusted to Boeing Co. this week, to erect "virtual fences" along the northern and southern borders.
That, taken from the Washington Post, exemplifies the radical right-wing hate-mob's attitude towards natives who have claimed this land far longer than the white man who robbed them of it for their own gain.
Won't that fence be a beautiful addition to a beautiful & natural landscape? And, by the way, it won't do shit to stop "illegal" immigration. Money down the drain. Your tax dollars.
Think about it while you are paying a hell of a lot more for produce.
This post was written and inspired by txrad (the Viking reference) and konagod.
Proudly crossposted at B3
And Rebecca sent this photo of her Gus-boy with the comment:
"I think I take more pictures of Gus than I did my own kids. I'm going to be a weird old cat lady someday."
Rebecca dear, that day is here.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I have no idea if I spelled "tranya" correctly and I'm too fucking lazy to look it up.
And that's not even the point.
I'm here to tell you about us having our septic tank being pumped out today.
A guy came over about 8:30 this morning. Txrad was handling all the details.
They told us beforehand to make sure we had the area cleaned to avoid a $65 extra charge. Txrad went out yesterday to clear away grass from the septic tank cover. I must confess I haven't mowed in about a year but that's another story.
The guy showed up on time and began pumping our shit into his tank. I would like to have asked him if everyone's shit smells the same or if there is a particular house he's pumped where the shit smell made him double-over retching. I may have the opportunity.
You see, he needed to access our septic pump mechanism that lies under a round green lid in the yard near the shitdump. I've seen it a thousand times while mowing. But today, because I haven't mowed in so long, txrad couldn't find it. I finally went out in my shorts with no underwear, making sure to zip my fly up, grabbed my hoe and began to search for that elusive green disk along with the partner brandishing a shovel.
We were ripping up grass. The guy pumping our shit said this: "I'm 50 years old (he looked about 35) and back in the 70s I was in a hippie commune and you guys remind me of that, with the hippies out working the soil with shovels and hoes.
On Sunday my plans are to drive to Arkansas to visit my mother for her 83rd birthday. She broke her hip last year around the Thanksgiving weekend. I rushed up there for a quick overnight visit and planned to go back in January. Here we are nearing the end of September and I still haven't been back.
I dread this more than you can imagine. Not that I mind going there or being there, it's the getting there that drives me insane. From Austin it's about a 9-hour drive. Why not fly?
Well, I don't fly much since 9/11/01. I flew back once after 9/11 and was searched 4 times by security during the trip. That basically put the nail in the air travel coffin for me. I'm not saying I'll never fly again because I will. I'd like to go to North Dakota again to visit txrad's relatives and that's not a driving option currently. But for short hops, why deal with the hassles?
I could leave here at 7:00am and be at the Austin airport at 7:30 for an 8:30 flight which would put me in Little Rock around 11:30. By the time I got my checked bags (since I can't take my beloved toiletries on board) and got a rental car, I'd be doing well to be on the road by 12:00. My mother lives 2 hours from Little Rock which would put me there around 2:00.
By leaving at 7:00 and driving rather than flying, I'd get there around 4:00pm. Air travel would grant me a total time savings of about 2 hours. Not worth it. Not even close. And I don't have to deal with several strangers running their hands across my my body and into my privates. If an airline wants to pay me $300 to fly up there, I might take 'em up on the offer.
I do plan to blog while away. There's not much else to do in a decaying old delta town.
Meanwhile, I'll see you back here tomorrow and Saturday with as many blog posts as I can cram in!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
I'll cite this example from the February 2005 issue of Wired titled: "Nuclear Now! How clean, green atomic energy can stop global warming."
After some 20+ paragraphs extolling the virtues of atomic energy, we finally are given a small hint:
What's still missing is a place to put radioactive waste.
Now, check out this piece from the NY Times today regarding the Feed Materials Production Center, a uranium-enrichment facility in Fernald, Ohio.
From the time it opened in 1951 until it closed in 1989, the Feed Materials Production Center in Fernald enriched 500 million pounds of uranium, 67 percent of all the uranium used in the nation’s cold war nuclear weapons program.
The center also created 1.5 billion pounds of radioactive waste. It operated in obscurity until 1985, when neighbors discovered that the plant’s waste had polluted their air, soil and drinking water.
In just under 40 years, they enriched a half-billion pounds of uranium and generated three times that amount of radioactive waste. That sounds clean and efficient to me.
The site originally included a leaky silo filled with highly radioactive uranium sludge. At the time it was the largest concentration of poisonous radon gas in the world.
Officials at the Fernald center dumped radioactive waste into pits just 20 yards from a creek that sits directly atop the Great Miami Aquifer, one of the biggest and cleanest aquifers east of the Mississippi.
Rainwater carried uranium into the creek, where it sank and contaminated 225 acres, or about 0.062 percent of the aquifer, according to figures on the Web site of the Fernald Citizens Advisory Board, which represented the center’s neighbors through the cleanup process.
When the Department of Energy ran out of room to bury waste at the 1,050-acre Fernald site, officials ordered it packed into 100,000 metal drums, which were left outside, exposed to the elements. Accidental releases covered 11 square miles of surrounding farmland in radioactive dust.
This is sounding better all the time, isn't it?
The Department of Energy spent $216 million on buildings just to clean the site. When the buildings were no longer needed, each one had to be demolished, decontaminated and placed in the landfill. The department also built a pumping system to suck contaminated water out of the aquifer and purify it. That process will continue until the entire aquifer is clean, in about 2023.
All this and 1.5 BILLION pounds of radioactive waste came from ONE facility. About 22% of the waste was moved to storage sites in Texas, Nevada and Arizona. The remaining waste will stay in a landfill in Fernald. And keep in mind, the waste is moved by rail through America's communities which is not without dangers.
Pre-waste nuclear power is absolutely attractive for many reasons as this article at Physorg.com states.
Before rushing to build new reactors it would behoove us to address the very un-green waste aspects.
Take a look at what the Center for Media and Democracy has to say on the matter:
One of the most audacious disinformation campaigns coming from the nuclear industry is its slow but steady attempt to corner the energy market as a "clean, green energy source." As global warming became a household term, and attention focused on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired plants as a major contributing factor to climate change, the nuclear industry recreated itself as the cure to global warming.
There are some hopeful alternatives being tested which involve transmutation, as explained in this article from May 2006 in The Economist. However, there is still not universal agreement among scientists concerning effectiveness or safety:
The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), based in Washington, DC, believes that if uranium is separated from spent fuel and then stored as low-level waste, it could pose a greater risk to the public than if it were placed in a repository deep underground. It also points out that some of the long-lived components of spent fuel cannot practicably be transmuted. For example, it would take more than a century to destroy half of the radioactive selenium present in spent fuel, because that element is very inefficient at capturing neutrons. The IEER describes evaluations in favour of transmutation as “seriously deficient” and made “mainly by those who would like to see a continuation of nuclear power”.
This issue is one in which we all need to pay closer attention and carefully evaluate.
crossposted at B3
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Meanwhile, some good news. Quaker Agitator will return. He had this comment on my religion post further down:
Put me back on your list.
I'll be back in a week or two.
Thanks to friends like you, and all your support, I realize that the good out here outweighs the bad.
I guess I just needed to hear that, too.
Meanwhile, enjoy this eerie clip which has some relevance in our current times. Mama Cass would have and should have been celebrating her 63rd birthday today.
Monday, September 18, 2006
"When the door was opened and the trooper began to speak to the driver, he smelled the strong odor of marijuana," the news release said. A search of the bus produced 1 1/2 pounds of marijuana and 0.2 pounds of narcotic mushrooms, according to state police.Willie might want to take some precautions during future trips to Louisiana. A third or subsequent offense increases the penalty to up to 20 years in prison, absurd as it seems.
Pot smokers are arrested in the US at a rate of one every 40 seconds. From the report:
Police arrested an estimated 786,545 persons for marijuana violations in 2005, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. The total is the highest ever recorded by the FBI, and comprised 42.6 percent of all drug arrests in the United States.
Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 88 percent some 696,074 Americans were charged with possession only.
The remaining were charged with "sale/manufacture." I have yet to understand how growing a natural plant constitutes manufacturing (as opposed to an unnatural plant.)
crossposted at B3
As usual, humor can be found in virtually any conflict. Now I know to tread carefully. If someone doesn't like what you have to say, you may disappear from blogrolls as punishment. And this is just between folks on the left side of the aisle.
Today I've learned that David is shutting down his blog. At least he's leaving us with a fine rant:
But there is one thing I can agree with my conservative friends on: the Left wing of the "blogosphere," the folks who call themselves tolerant and open-mnded and "progressive" - some of them - are amongst the most abusive, intolerant folks I have ever dealt with. Patronizing, sneering, dismissive, smirking, condescending, mean-spirited, insulting.
I'm tired of it.
And when does this happen? Whenever I mention God or my faith. Which is why I started this blog in the first place.
This country is a mess, friends. It is on the road to ruin. The time has come, and the opportunity is here, I believe, for a new progressive movement to re-establish progressive values as the basis for a better America. I think the Left has that much to offer. That includes people of faith on the Left, by the way. Or it could. Progressives have the brains, the energy, and the ideas. And this medium gives us all a useful tool to organize, to educate, to agitate. And what do we do with it? Well, some of us - too many of us - use it to insult and abuse those with whom they should be joining hands, locking arms, and getting down to work.
The timing of this is unfortunate as I made a decision this morning to begin compiling a list of blogs by people of faith who are working their butts off for us. I'm sorry that the list is now shorter by one within 2 hours after embarking on the project.
crossposted at B3
Here are two examples:
Skipping to the Piccolo
Straight, Not Narrow
Feel free to leave links to more in the comments.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
My town had a First United Methodist Church. It really wasn't large enough for two Methodist churches but my father started one anyway. Located on the outskirts of town, my church was smack-dab in the middle of what was then (and by some, even now) known as "colored town." At least that's what the really nice people called it. I won't bore you with some of the other names.
When I was very young it struck me as somewhat odd that so many black families lived around our church but none ever attended. After I was older it was easier to understand why. I vaguely recall one of my parents explaining the reason to me.
"They aren't like us. They don't worship like us."
(and we don't really want them among us.)
Before I chose to abandon any form of organized religion in favor of the piecemeal collage I assembled for myself, I did attend a few services offered by other denominations. There was never a perfect fit. I even flirted briefly with Hinduism, only to be totally put off by the superiority complex again which I found so prevalent in many Christian groups.
One thing my father used to believe was this: If you take 6 million people and quiz them on the Bible, you are likely to get 6 million different interpretations of it.
Religion is, and should remain, a personal issue -- even for those who proselytize and wear their religion on their sleeve, or their car bumper. Where things get a little sticky is when adherents feel their religion is true and all others are false. Sadly, that's a common opinion and an increasingly dangerous one to express.
Religion-bashing is a commonplace occurence in many blog threads. Because a few outspoken so-called Christian leaders have strayed as far as possible from the teachings of Christ, Christianity has very negative connotations for many -- particularly in the Blogosphere. Many of us lefties are as guilty as any when it comes to making blanket derogatory statements about people of faith, and particularly against those who call themselves Christians.
Pick any blog and wait for a post about religion. I'll even help you out by giving you this example. Read the comments, one of which I'll share with you here:
the more I study it, the more it occurs to me to believe that religion is a form of insanity.
We hear a lot about the need for tolerance -- particularly in the LGBT community. This need must be expanded to religious differences if we are to avoid inciting widespread global conflicts between religious groups. Indeed, many who call themselves Christians are abominable people, and the same can be said of any religion. When going on the attack, it would be ideal if we could all stick with specifics rather than broader generalizations to avoid alienating those who would otherwise glady be our allies.
The mind-blowing insensitivity of major public figures when dealing with other cultures and religions poses a threat that makes terrorism seem like a gang of grade-school bullies. As if the red-hot Bush rhetoric isn't fanning the flames hard enough, we now have the Pope insulting Muslims.
The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the pope "sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions."
It's now the fault of the Muslim faithful for failing to correctly interpret the Pope's intentions. Nice work.
While walking in unfamiliar pastures, it is best to keep one's eyes on the ground instead of gazing into the heavens. Aside from avoiding the occasional venomous reptile, one might also avoid stepping in shit.
crossposted at B3
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Txrad suggested I ask them about their spinach supply or consider ordering something different. When our waitress came to take our orders, I asked for the veggie enchilada, and to inject a little humor I added, "and could I get that without the E. coli?"
The waitress had no idea we were in the midst of an E. Coli outbreak linked to spinach. I suppose I take for granted all the news I know since I read at least two papers every morning and then sit here at my desk reading news for several hours each day. However, I was alarmed that a waitress in a restaurant would not have been exposed to this news either via the web, a newspaper, a televised newscast, or as a last resort, by restaurant management.
The more I thought about this, I wondered how many millions of people in the country were unaware of, or could care less about... other critical news.
If you wondered why Bush seems to be driving this one hard, check out the video on the C&L link. It's enough to give you watery diarrhea and bloody stools.
cross-posted at B3
Friday, September 15, 2006
Pressed on why he opposed the idea of sending a large contingent of special forces to Pakistan to hunt bin Laden, Bush said his strategy was to work with Pakistan's government.
"First of all, Pakistan is a sovereign nation," Bush said. "In order for us to send thousands of troops into a sovereign nation, we've got to be invited by the government of Pakistan.
Yeah, as with Iraq. Silly me. Friday haiku time:
Bush is fighting back
The Washington Urban Myth
We are on the hunt
From sovereign nations
We now need invitations
To hunt Bin Laden
Funny how things change
The boogey man IS coming
cross-posted at B3
I'm getting ready to put a spit shine on my balls.
Yesterday Shakespeare’s Sister invited me to join the impressive lineup of bloggers at the resurrected Big Brass Blog. The Dark Wraith did an amazing job of redesigning B3 and I am excited and honored to be a member in this group. I honestly feel they are among the very best bloggers out there.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
On the September 12 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Michael Savage asserted that "we should bring back Saddam, a Sunni, because he knows how to control the Shia." Savage added: "You can laugh all you want. He knew how to control them; he knew how to keep these maniacs under control. And he was also a counterbalance to Iran."
On the June 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly declared that if he were the president of Iraq, he would run the country "just like Saddam [Hussein] ran it," by establishing curfews and shooting violators "right between the eyes." On the June 27 edition of his radio program, O'Reilly suggested that "[i]f we wage the war the way Saddam handled Iraq, then we would have already won."
What a joy to sit here, in America, and watch other countries march ahead of us on such a basic civil rights issue. Shameful.
Ann Richards, the feminist groundbreaker with a whip-quick wit who promised a "new Texas" as the state's first female governor in 50 years, died Wednesday at her Austin home. Richards, 73, had battled esophageal cancer.
Someone please send a replacement.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
When Joe Scarborough starts writing things like this, red flags should be going up all over Congress:
Under Bill Clinton’s presidency, discretionary spending grew at a modest rate of 3.4 percent. Not too bad for a Marxist, even considering that his worst instincts were tempered by a Republican Congress. (Well, his worst fiscal instincts.)
But compare Clinton’s 3.4 percent growth rate to the spending orgy that has dominated Washington since Bush moved into town. With Republicans in charge of both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, spending growth has averaged 10.4 percent per year. And the GOP’s reckless record goes well beyond runaway defense costs.
The federal education bureaucracy has exploded by 101 percent since Republicans started running Congress. Spending in the Justice Department over the same period has shot up 131 percent, the Commerce Department 82 percent, the Department of Health and Human Services 81 percent, the State Department 80 percent, the Department of Transportation 65 percent, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development 59 percent. Incredibly, the four bureaucracies once targeted for elimination by the GOP Congress—Commerce, Energy, Education, and Housing and Urban Development—have enjoyed spending increases of an average of 85 percent.
It’s enough to make economic conservatives long for the day when Marxists were running the White House.
I would have a smile on my face right now even if it weren't the end of another workday.
"A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me," Bush said during a 1 1/2-hour Oval Office conversation on cultural changes and a battle with terrorists that he sees lasting decades.
When it comes to picking battles, this guy is a complete fool with total disregard for America. Instead of focusing on the hunt for actual terrorists, he is fanning the flames of a war based on religion that will, without a doubt, last decades and create far more terrorism than we initially faced.
That will be the Bush legacy. Hang that in his fucking presidential library.
hat tip - Shakes who lays it out there as well as anyone:
There are causes of terrorism which can be addressed, and just because terrorists are despicable people who use horrendous tactics is not a justification for ignoring what induces them. In reality, dismissing terrorists as blindly evil is to suggest that there’s no solution to the problem except total annihilation, which is simply not even possible. Once again, Bush illustrates that he is patently incapable of engaging this complex problem with the rigorous intricacy it requires.
Damn.. that is good!
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that most leaders in the Middle East believe the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath is "a real disaster" for the region. "They believe it has destabilized the region."
Annan said many leaders believed the United States should stay until Iraq improves [what are the chances of that?], while others, such as Iran said the United States should leave immediately. That means that the United States has found itself in the difficult position where "it cannot stay and it cannot leave."
What a fine mess....
Happy Birthday Fiona, and thanks for the hours and hours of blissful heaven.
Fiona Apple - Fast As Your Can (Live)
Minstrel Boy requested some Fiona on piano. Konagod is happy to oblige.
"Never is a Promise" 1998 on David Letterman
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Here we are. It's 9/12. Let's get back to business. A senior Marine intelligence officer in Iraq had this to say:
The political and security situation in western Iraq is grim and will continue to deteriorate unless the region receives a major infusion of aid and a division is sent to reinforce the American troops operating there, according to the senior Marine intelligence officer in Iraq.
Apparently we still don’t have things under control in Afghanistan, we need far greater numbers of troops on the ground in western Iraq to secure the region, and we're failing to even maintain control in Baghdad.
If we are to believe Bush when he said, "The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad," then don't count on safety for a very long time. Has he officially narrowed it down to Baghdad now rather than all of Iraq?
Ahhh, sweet simplicity.
The NY Times also had this article today about a conservative suburban Denver district where many voters are having second thoughts. However, some still cling to the propaganda machine:
Blaine Engdahl, an off-duty police officer who was waving the flag Saturday as he watched Arvada’s annual harvest festival parade from the back of a pickup, said: “I think he has made his mistakes, but he is trying. If we don’t fight them there, we are going to be fighting them over here.”
Gee, I wonder where he heard that.
Monday, September 11, 2006
The war against terror "is a struggle for civilization" that will require a determined effort by a unified country.
"We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations," Bush was to say in remarks prepared for a prime-time address from the Oval Office.
"Winning this war will require the determined efforts of a unified country," the president planned to say. "So we must put aside our differences and work together to meet the test that history has given us. ... We will defeat our enemies."
I can't believe the balls of this inept administration. It's a little late for unity after he and others in the administration have told countless lies and grotesque exaggerations to the American people since the 9/11 attacks.
After Herr Cheney's earlier comments suggesting yet again that opponents of the war are validating the strategy of the terrorists, one has to wonder if this essential unification of the American people will be voluntary.
The good news is election day is less than 2 months away. The bad news is.. it's NOT the 2008 election.
Pam has an entertaining post up about this:
The broadcast of Freepi terror porn a.k.a "Path to 9/11" continues tonight, with a special intermission after the first hour for our Dear Leader to beat himself off for 30 minutes with a 9/11 "unity" speech.
Yeahh! You go grrl!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
With a new documentary titled "The Great Warming" as their chief campaign tool, a coalition of religious leaders, environmentalists and businesses are spreading copies of the film into churches around the country. Voter guides and themed sermons are also part of the plan.But guess who is NOT climbing aboard:
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, adopted a resolution in June denouncing environmental activism and warning that it was "threatening to become a wedge issue to divide the evangelical community."
Focus on the Family leader James Dobson admonished evangelicals to remain focused on stopping abortion and gay marriage.
Here's a motto for them: Pollute the World for Christ.
They don't mind wedge issues as long as they are the ones driving the wedge deep into the heart of America, but when a wedge suddenly appears to be a threat to their solidarity, they are quick to denounce it. And of course it's not surprising to see Dobson and the Southern Baptist Convention stubbornly maintaining their ground on abortion and gay marriage -- at the expense of our environment.
Of course the evangelicals are putting their own little personal spin on their support of environment causes:
The movement by faith communities to become more active on environmental issues has been growing over the last several years with many undertaking energy-saving and energy-education projects that they describe as "creation care."
I don't care what they want to call it. The fact that they are getting involved is a positive step.
Related NY Times article from 2/8/06.
Here's something entertaining from One Big JackGoff regarding some Christians still going the other direction.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
We kept discussing it. I was facing the guy so it was quite easy for me to stare without obviously staring. The guy had the road wear & tear that only 4 decades of world tours could bring to a face and body. He was wearing a brown felt hat with a funky band around it with symbols -- skulls perhaps, and a western symbol -- I can't recall exactly. He wore sunglasses -- again rather unique -- and had rings on his hands. He was smoking. And I noticed a long white shark tooth earring in his left ear. His teeth were crooked. He was wearing a dull pink shade of sneakers. It would be plenty easy for someone to look like Keith. But this guy had that smile. Some things you can't fake.
He was with 3 other people, two men and a woman, all of whom had "Music Biz" written all over them.
Coincidental? If it wasn't him it was the best impersonation I have EVER seen.
Friday, September 08, 2006
By the time I was 9 or 10 I was moving on to other genres. I still remember the time I had a box of cereal with a Bobby Sherman record on the back of the box. All you had to do was cut it out and play it. Needless to say, I did not eat the cereal first. I was also discovering there were radio stations out there playing stuff besides what my father listened to, which I would later learn was referred to as "elevator music" by some.
The AM radio station in my hometown would play pop music in the afternoons from 3:00 until 5:00. I heard The Carpenters, Jackson 5, Tony Orlando & Dawn, & Jim Croce. It was fun but I never thought much about the music or listened to the lyrics -- I just enjoyed hearing something besides what my father preferred.
By the time I was 11 and 12, my tastes were getting a little more advanced. I began to actually feel songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Elton John, Derek and the Dominoes, and Don McLean. Whatever was playing that had a harder edge would catch my attention. Radio was becoming more important to me and I was alone after the pop show ended by 5:00 pm. (The station would go off the air at sunset.) I still wasn't buying any LPs but would occasionally pick up a 45 rpm single such as "Bang A Gong (Get It On) by T. Rex (OK, how sexual was that?)
My father, a radio buff himself, understood my newfound hobby and began teaching me more about it. From him I learned about clear channel stations (not to be confused with the Clear Channel behemoth we know today) and sky wave propagation.
We had such a station 100 miles up the road in Little Rock. KAAY 1090 could, at night, be heard over much of the North American continent, as could many others far away from my little Delta burg. I was completely fascinated by the phenomenon and, at the expense of homework, I would listen to radio for hours, tuning in stations and waiting for the station ID to be mentioned so I'd know where they were. My fascination with how far the stations were from my town overshadowed the fact that their programming and music were really not very interesting.
One night I was out in the yard in our camper with my radio and it was a bit after 11:00. I tuned into KAAY again and they were playing music I had NEVER heard before. Gone was the mushy pop music. The program was called "Beaker Street" and hosted by a dude who called himself Clyde Clifford. In between songs, there were weird esoteric background noises, echoing in a spooky psychedelic way. Clyde himself was far more laid back than any DJ I had ever heard. Prolonged periods of silence (except for the psychedelic stuff) were not uncommon. He'd finally throw another LP on the turntable and casually announce who I was about to hear.
I was also impressed that his audience was tuning in from all over North America. He'd read cards and letters on the air, and once had someone listening from Sweden.
Why is all this important? Because it would forever change my life and my musical interests and probably to a large degree, my entire philosophy. Without that early experience, I have no doubt I'd be a totally different person today -- probably more bland and generic rather than the radical opinionated person I am now.
I heard a song called "Electric Funeral" by a band named Black Sabbath. At the time I had no idea they had a hit with the song "Paranoid" from the album of the same name. That was nothing I'd ever heard on my local AM station! But I knew without a doubt I was moving on far beyond the pop music I had enjoyed hearing but never felt too compelled to buy.
It didn't take me long to figure out that my local "dime store" had a small rack of LP records and I started combing through there looking for Black Sabbath. I honestly don't remember if I found it there or on one of our out-of-town shopping excursions to the mall in Little Rock. But I bought the LP and never once looked back. The opening track - “War Pigs” - was enough to hook me on this band (and it's a song that remains quite relevant today).
Beaker Street on KAAY aired from 11:00 pm until 2:00 am, and sometimes later. Clyde seemed to have a flex schedule. For the next 4 or 5 years I don't think I would go to sleep until after 2:00 even on school nights. The exposure I received to bands I'd never heard of was invaluable to me. Soon I was buying up LPs by Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper, and more. My 8th grade math teacher nicknamed me "acid head" due to my musical inclinations.
Going out-of-town to malls with my parents suddenly became exciting because every mall seemed to have at least 2 record stores. At 13 I was old enough to go off on my own in the mall, away from my parents, with a preset meeting time back where we would agree to meet. Off I'd go in search of records with a $20 bill in hand if I was lucky.
My music was very personal to me. I didn't discuss it with my parents because I knew my father's taste in music was so different and he would have no interest in mine. Once when I picked up 2 or 3 albums on a trip and began to unwrap them in the backseat of the car, I was shocked to see that Alice Cooper's LP "School's Out" album cover not only opened like an old wooden school desk, but the LP inner sleeve itself was made to resemble a pair of girl's frilly panties. Now it was official -- this music infatuation was definitely MY secret.
This became very clear by the time I was 14 or so. After a shopping trip my father reached over to take a look at one of my new LP purchases. The band was called Bloodrock and the first song on the LP was titled "American Burn."
I've never seen the man so livid. His face got red and puffy and he began to question why I would buy such a thing. First, he incorrectly referred to the song title as "Burn America Burn" and then made a reference to "nigger music."
I was embarrassed at his outrage and knew at that point I had to operate in a stealth mode to procure my desirables. I was also shocked -- not that he called it "nigger music" but why he called it that. I don't think the band had any black people in it! It would be a long while before I'd understand that rock music came from the blues and the blues came from the delta where I grew up, and white people in the delta tend to be a tad bit racist. (Some of them wore white robes and hoods on occasion.... ok?)
So I began to be a little more discreet* with certain purchases, and made sure my parents were either out of the house when I played certain things or I'd use headphones.
(* oh, except for the one time my parents went to the mall and left me at home for the evening, and I asked my mother to go to the record store and buy me Alice Cooper's Muscle of Love LP. She did. And no red flags went up surprisingly!)
Lyrics never had a negative impact on me, and especially not in the early years. There were plenty that I just didn't understand at the time, subtle things that adults might catch if they were listening (click the link to Muscle of Love for an example), but I didn't. The vocals for me were just another instrument and if I got the lyrics, fine, if I didn't, fine too. Robert Plant comes to mind. You could make something up in your own mind that you thought he was saying. The sensuality and blues influences were totally lost on me when I was in my very early teens.
From Led Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song:"
Squeeze me baby, till the juice runs down my leg,
The way you squeeze my lemon, I..Im gonna fall right out of bed, yeah.
This is why I don't understand all the fuss about music lyrics and young people back then. On Wednesday night I made an off-topic comment in a thread at ShakesSis and apparently I provoked a post there on Thursday:
In politics, there are some stories that just won’t die. Bill Clinton tied up all of LAX for a haircut. Not true. Al Gore claimed he invented the internet. Not true. Tipper Gore was pro-censorship. Not true.I had no idea my comment would be such a touchy subject, not only with Shakes, but with many of the dozens of comments that followed.
A few times now, someone’s brought up the bit about Tipper, and her “crusade” against musical artists, most recently in comments last night, when Konagod asked, “Has Tipper Gore gotten past her inquisition phase regarding music lyrics?” And each time, it irritates the bejesus out of me that this story still won’t die, so let’s just get it cleared up right now.
I remember when all this was going on back in the 80s but I wasn't paying particularly close attention to it. However, I was annoyed at the whole series of events surrounding it. By that time, I'd gone through a heavy-metal phase, moved on to punk rock and new wave, and then gradually allowed heavy-metal back into my life after purging it due to some foolish idea that it was uncool if I were to enjoy a variety of music. I loved music. The accusations that it could cause people to be suicidal just seemed outrageously insane. I felt that music was under attack and being used as a scapegoat for people with emotional disturbances and dysfunctional families. Tipper Gore was front and center of that controversy.
I never said or suggested that she was "pro-censorship." However, I felt that parental warning labels for music would have a chilling effect and were a useless intrusion. Not surprisingly, Wal-Mart stopped selling CDs with warning labels, much the same way Blockbuster suppresses artistic freedom by refusing to stock films rated NC-17. Many newspapers still won't accept advertising for NC-17 films and a huge number of national theatre chains will not run the films, regardless of the artistic merits of the works.
While it's not government censorship, there were lots of smaller towns around America where the only outlet for music CDs would be the local Wal-Mart. By refusing to carry the music it became de facto censorship for the people, minors and adults alike, who might have wanted to purchase a recording with an PMRC warning label. They had to travel to get what they wanted or mail-order.
Several points were brought up in the thread at Shakes about the labels being helpful to parents who would otherwise waste hard-earned money on something that could not be returned once opened. The problem was the generic nature of the labels offered nothing specific regarding whether the music was sexually explicit or violent, or both. I have several CDs in my collection where the offending sticker is on the jewel box case rather than the outer plastic wrap, and it's a pain in the ass to remove it. Mine all read: "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content"
Well, I sure hope so! I demand nothing less.
Many parents have no problems with sexual lyrics but prefer not to have their children exposed to violent lyrics. I just thought it was odd that Tipper would buy her daughter a Prince recording and have no idea there might be content that she objected to. I was even more baffled after learning the age of her daughter at the time of the incident. She was 12.
Anyone who is old enough to not only masturbate but get pregnant can handle hearing the word "masturbating" in a song's lyrics. That's just my opinion. Maybe it would cause another child to masturbate himself or herself to death. I don't buy it.
Read this from Wikipedia:
The PMRC claimed that the change in rock music was attributable to the decay of the nuclear family in America. Families, according to Gore, are "haven[s] of moral stability" which protect children from outside influences. Gore said that without the family structure, rock music was "infecting the youth of the world with messages they cannot handle."Sorry. That is unacceptable bullshit. If I had a kid, I'd treat him or her like a real person rather than a prized award or ornament to be kept on a shelf untarnished. I am thankful I grew up on a world sans warning labels and that I was allowed to purchase and listen to what I liked, and yes, that my mother bought me a copy of "Muscle of Love" and didn't demand to listen to the album. An no harm was done. Unless you believe I'm now a menace to society as a result of my early exposure to the "devil's music."
Way to go PMRC. And by the way, fuck you.
It doesn't bother me, nor am I particularly turned on by it, even as a gay man. I don't have saliva running down my chin. I'm not the least bit concerned that an unscheduled erection in the mall is going to blow my cover. Not so for the American Decency Association.
One of several evidences of Abercrombie & Fitch returning to their old patterns of displaying risque pictures. Another picture inside the store displays a topless female with hands covering her breasts.
Oh, heaven forbid, another breast episode. It's a body. It's natural. Get over it. If it makes your heart begin to race and you fear going to hell in a handbasket, just get control over your emotions. Pretty simple really. But it's more fun to stir up a big media stink and get some publicity for your fledgling organization.
Needless to say, they are calling for a boycott. Here's a better idea: Buy your own mall, only rent to Christian businesses and shop there!
Want to know what indecency is? this and this and this one.
But you won't find any mention of those on the ADA website. And that's my definition of obscene.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Blogcritics.org has a review.
The documentary blends together in-depth explanations of anarchism from experts, stories from veteran native-born and immigrant American anarchist activists, political arguments from politicians within the United States Libertarian party, and the anarchist leanings of the everyday American worker to show the ways in which the ideas of anarchy have manifested themselves throughout the history of the nation and continue to in the present day.
It should be noted that Anarchism in America does more than tell the history of the philosophy. A strong case is also made for anarchism as the proper path for the United States. Though Anarchism is preachy at times, the viewer is still given room to come to his own opinions, and the comparisons and contrasts between American Libertarianism and Anarchism are particularly interesting.
In an era when votes no longer seem to count and elections can be easily rigged, this movement might be due for a resurgence.