Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Butcher Hacks at the Baby Jesus

OK, since I've been nothing but an iconoclast, bitching and moaning about the church and clasting icons in general, I thought I would stand up and say what I do believe. I believe in Jesus. But I don't believe he was born of a virgin. I believe Mary was pregnant and unmarried, and the "virgin birth" became a very convenient miracle. I think it is far more fitting that Jesus was literally the bastard son in a society that was, at the time, subjugated by one of the most powerful empires in history. The only more fitting message would have come from a leper. Wisdom rises from society's lowest places. I believe in Jesus. But I don't believe he is "the only way to God." I believe that notion was spawned by clever monks who were ensuring their seat of power. The true basis of wisdom that Jesus taught can also be found in the teachings of Krishna and Mohammed, and in large part, Guatama Buddha. I believe in Jesus. But I don't believe he rose from the dead. That's a hollywood ending to a story that can only be a tragedy. When faced with true wisdom, the world rejects it. End of story. We as individuals, however, have the option to accept or reject it. I believe in Jesus. But I don't believe he is coming again. I think he did everything he needed to do quite well the first time, thank you. The "2nd Coming" thing is man's attempt to put an ass-kicking military solution to Christ's message, which is what they wanted in the first place, and what they want now. This "kill 'em all" Hollywood ending flies in the face of pretty much ALL of Christ's actions while he walked on earth. But it plays in Indiana. I believe in Jesus. But I don't believe in Christians. They have become just too difficult to deal with. Their insistance to choose faith over reason makes them seem like prey. This may be why the Romans threw them to the lions. It may seem obvious now, but I also don't believe that The Bible is an inerrant, god-inspired book. I believe parts of it are inspired, but parts of it were folderol added later. Some Christians may ask me "then how do you know which parts to believe and which parts not to believe?" That's where critical reasoning comes in. If it matches up with the peaceful-loving-accepting-tolerant-healing-nurturing-merciful Jesus, then the message is one that I believe in. If the message lines up with the ass-kicking, yer-going-to-hell, kill-em-all Jesus, then the message is something I eschew. My "leap of faith" is that the Jesus I believe in is the former, and not the latter. Some Christians may say that what I don't believe has left me with nothing but tinsel and ribbon, but I say I've taken the tinsel and ribbon out and what I'm left with is the real gift and the meat of the matter: his message.

Monday, November 29, 2004

National I.Q. Test, Part Two

Today the Supreme Court will listen to arguments, then consider whether the federal law that bans marijuana possession can be enforced in the nine states that allow people to use marijuana if their doctors agree. More here. In another attempt to make enemies, offend my friends, and interrupt the statis of middle America, I'd like to offer up another prime cut from the Meat of the Matter: drug legalization. All drugs should be legal, regulated by the FDA, and available to everyone except minors. Go ahead. Debate me on it, I dare ya. (I might learn something, after all.) I hope the Supreme Court has the judicial good sense to allow medicinal use of marijuana in those states that have allowed it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Missing Link

Well, that title is probably a misnomer. But, after seeing a positively divine post from David about Steve, I found myself clicking through his gallery of photographs and, one after the other, changing my mind several times about which one to make my new computer background. This is a place of honor, and a testament to Steve's talent. Then I perused through other parts of the site and realized -- wait a minute -- this is the same Steve who harasses Chuck! David and Chuck might not know it, but they are my two blogfathers. Well, I should say that on the day I was goofing off at work and toying with the idea of creating a blog, I was searching for some examples of blogs I would like to emulate. I found Chuck's first (when searching for "best blogs" I found the entry about the phone booth.) Chuck linked me to Treppenwitz, and there you have it. Anyway, Steve is an amazing photographer, and his link now sits proudly among the rest.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Religion, Part V: The Problem with Pants

I would posit that Christians in America are Christians because they were born in the U.S. If they had been born in Pakistan, with wise and loving parents, they would very likely be moderate Muslims. For as zealous as I was as a lad, I might have been one of those suicide car-bombing types. It's amazing how many "seekers" of the truth happen to find it in their local religion. How many Americans seek for truth and find it in Islam? How many Arab youths seek for truth and find it in Christianity? If I were to throw a dart, I would say it is fewer than 1/100th of a percent in both cases. Which one is true? Is one group better at seeking out the truth? Is one group horribly deceived? Is one group "chosen by God"? I believe that we pick our religions like we pick our clothes. I wear Levis because they are convenient and everyone else around me is wearing them, and it solves my problem of needing pants. In Egypt they wear those big poofy pantaloons (okay, let's say they do for sake of argument) because those are common in their region. But the difference between religion and pants is that people don't kill each other over whether Levis are better than pantaloons. From the "plain folk" perspective, both Levis and pantaloons do the job. Same with religion. Both Christianity and Islam give its "plain folk" followers acceptable answers to life's tough questions. They both also help with establishing social order. They give us a "framework" around which to build life's milestones: birth, marriage, and death. Plus, I would also posit that there are many wise and true principles that you can find in Christianity. I'll get into those later. But alas, there are some fundamentally wise principles in Islam as well. Aye, there's the rub. If you look close, you will see vast differences between Islam and Christianity. Unless truth is relative, they can't both be true! Because truth isn't relative, people sometimes cling tightly to their religion and say that one is true and the other one is not, is where all the trouble starts. My old Christian friends think I'm arrogant to spout such things. To them I must point out that people who assume that their religion is correct, and that the rest of the world is wrong, are really the arrogant ones. I was raised to believe that all Mormons, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Zoroastrians were going to Hell. God "loved" them, but was going to send them to eternal fiery torment because they did not accept blah blah blah blah ... I can only laugh now. OK. Deep breath. These last three posts have probably seemed like a rant. Sorry, but my friend Bert really got me in a tailspin. It's his fault. Yeah, that's it.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Religion Part IV: The Evolution of Ideas

I'm not an expert in evolution, but I have read a few books on it. Learning about evolution was an eye-opening experience to say the least. When combining what I was learning about evolution, with my exodus from Christianity, I had a startling realization: organizations evolve just like organisms. Fundamentally, the concept is exactly the same as evolution. In an environment where there are several different varieties of organisms/organizations (like the variety of Christian sects in the early Christian era), and where these organisms/organizations are competing for the same resources (recognition, converts, power), those organizations which use and apply certain beliefs and traits will survive longer than others. All of the main precepts of Christianity rose to the forefront in much the same way as a dominant species rises within its environment. There were thousands of Christian-era sects, which had a wide variety of beliefs and traits. Those sects which used ideas that caused the sect to succeed, did. The concept of "there is no hell, and God loves everyone even if they don't believe in him" is NOT a trait that would make a religion successful! Where is the urgency? Where is the desperate need to gain membership, etc? How would you develop a sense of loyalty? If you ask me, the perfect religion would have no converts. When I was thinking about all this, I had a great moment of Treppenwitz (thanks David). I thought, ah ha! I have developed an entirely new branch of thought and study! Then I discovered that someone else already had: a fellow named Richard Dawkins (who I admire a great deal) and his theory is called "memetics". Oh well. That saved me a lot of work. So back to the point at hand. The characteristics that make today's Christian church successful (as well as almost all the world's major religions) are those that make us rely, look up to, protect, and obey ... the church. Here are some of the concepts that do this: 1. You will go to Hell unless you relinquish your will to the Lord's (make Jesus Lord of your life.) 2. You cannot even think about having sex unless you do so under the church's blessing (marriage). After that, you can't have sex with anyone else. Oh yeah, and boys, masturbation is off limits too. If you do, see #1. 3. You must give 10% of your money to the church. I would call those the "big three." The church would have survived with either 1 and 3 or 2 and 3, but with all 3, they became super-uber-mega-powerful. None of those crucial points were true in Hebrew history prior to the New Testament, however. So what changed? Did God change? No, in some organizations, the application of dogma got more sophisticated, and these are the sects that survived. Here was the story during the Old Testament: 1. There was no hell in the early old testament. When the Hebrews died, they believed they simply went into "the pit," a.k.a. the grave. Our current vision of hell was cobbled together based on the mythology of those nations that occupied Israel: Babylon, Phoenicia, Rome, Egypt, etc. 2. Like today, Old Testament folks were horny as hell. There was marriage, but it was actually to keep the WOMEN monogamous, not the men. Men figured out that they determined the identity of these babies that magically sprung from women. Once they figured that out, the needed to make sure that the women didn't have sex with any other men, so that their belongings would pass down to their sons. Men, on the other hand, were allowed multiple women as long as they only had sex with him. Consider the wives of David and Solomon. 3. The early New Testament church used the tithe as a form of Social Security ... for widows and orphans. This was good. Today, however, the government takes care of these, and the church still asks for 10%. What they do with that 10% is just silly. They buy real estate. But, as we learned in the last election, the impact of a "meme" does not happen based on its truth or validity. The impact is determined by how survivable it is. If I start a meme that my car is silver (true fact,) it won't pass to even two people, unless I told them both. Basically because no one gives a hoot. However, if I start a meme that Richard Gere went to the hospital to take a gerbil out of his behind (preposterous fabrication) it will spread like crazy. In the same way, if I start a church that says God created us all and is going to take us all to heaven when we die, my church won't survive. If I start a church that implies that God created us all, but might send some of us to eternal burning torture, I might get noticed!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Religion Part 3: My Story

Here's the part where I answer the question: "What's Jim's beef with religion, anyway?" I used to be a devout, born again, Pentecostal, evangelical, tongue-talking, street-corner-witnessing, Christian. I went to seminary. I memorized scripture. I led worship at a very large church. I was really devout. I was at church just about every day of the week. I left that life rather suddenly in 1995, at the same time as my divorce. The trauma of breaking with my faith was so emotionally violent that it affected me for several years. I won't get into how wrenching it was for me. Just try to imagine having your entire culture ripped out from under you. But, I had to do it, as the cognitive dissonance was too overwhelming. I have a scant few friends left over from that era of my life. Bert was one of them. The more time I put between myself and my Christian self, the more shocked I am at what I used to believe, and how I used to behave. The Apostle Paul said, "I used to see through a glass darkly." He used it to describe how his eyes were opened by becoming a Christian. Well, the opposite has been profoundly true of me. My eyes are open now that I'm a non-Christian. But all of this may make it seem as if I'm congratulating myself. In fact, the emotion I feel the most is a deep sense of loss. Before my de-conversion, I had 100 "good" friends, and dozens of "close" friends. While religion can be horribly abrasive, it can also serve as a wonderful social lubricant. When I left my faith, I'm fairly certain I became a white-hot topic of conversation/prayer/gossip among those 100 people. While I was probably quickly forgotten by most of them, the few dozen close friends are probably still "concerned" about me. At any given time, any one of them could Google me and find this blog. So this post is for them. They are people that I once loved, and still love. Some of them I miss, and I think of many of them often. The sense of loss that I feel is that my decision has put an impassible gap between us. Things can never be "the same." While I do not regret the decisions I made about my faith, I am always reminded of the loss of those friends. On the few occasions that I've bumped into some of them, the look of pain they feel over the "condition of my soul" is obvious to me. These old friends often confront me about my "world view." I think this is rude, but I understand that they cross this line because they think my eternal soul is at stake. So in a warped way, they are rude because they care. Well, I also care, but since I don't believe in hell I do not confront them about their world view. I just smile, deflect the confrontation, and try to move on. I swear there are times when I want to rip into these people, but I haven’t yet. I’m just not mean enough, I guess. But here on my blog, I will say without reservation that fundamentalist, born again, Pentecostal Christians are—-in my opinion—-the most deceived people I've ever met. Most of them are intelligent, but choose to abandon their critical reasoning skills in order to embrace something that is 10% true and 90% bullshit. But ... I care about these people, and I know how tough it is to come to grips with one's own deception, so I don't try to convince them of this. But if any of them were to come to me and be honest, and say that they are full of doubts and wanted out, I would drop everything to help them. Unless that happens, the impassible gap remains, and that makes me sad.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Musical Dream

In my sleep last night, I heard Johnny Cash singing a song that I've never heard before. He was singing about being at the hospital and watching the doctors help a woman that he loved. It was extremely slow, deep, and dramatic, rising one note in modulation during the two-line phrase where the woman passes away. I can't remember the song, or any of the words. All I remember was that the last line was "Then I Drove home to get no sleep." I can only assume that this was me, making up a song that Johnny might have written about June Carter's death.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Religion, Part 2: The Math of Religion

Here is the part where I answer the question, “Has the whole country gone insane?” And I do it by mixing two of your favorite subjects: math and religion. Now, before you make a mad mouse-dash for a link to somewhere ... ANYWHERE else ... relax. I was an English major, so none or my mathematical theorems get any more complex than 5th grade math. Mathematical statement #1: A negative times a positive is always a negative. My first reaction to this is "Well that's just completely pessimistic." But in a recent conversation about Bert, my friend and I carried this mathematical principle forward into the philosophical world. That is ... when an unreasonable person attempts to debate with a reasonable person, the unreasonable person always wins (or, they at least think they do). I know many fine, intelligent people who devoutly follow a particular faith. These people have a more challenging task than non-religious people at justifying their world view without resorting to "because God says so" arguments. This is due to the very nature of faith. Faith means that you believe in something that you can't prove. This can result in some mental gymnastics to create a world view that still makes sense in the real world that can be proven. These fine, intelligent people, however, are not the problem. The problem liess with those who have abandoned their critical reasoning skills (because they failed to satisfy), and embraced an irrational world view that is based fundamentally on abstract, unprovable principles. Those people are the source of the problem. Those are the Christians who have told me many times that my "intellect" gets in the way of my faith. To this I can only chuckle. And weep. More and more of the people I talk to in the United States are sliding down the slope of irrationality. People are not listening to facts any more. They are reacting out of fear and reaching for an abstraction out of sheer desperation. So I ask myself ... how is it that so many people can have so thoroughly abandoned their reason? What is making them so desperate? Mathematical Statement #2: f-w=D f = Fear w = Wisdom D = Desperation To which you may respond, WTF? How far will Jim sink to expose his pseudo-intellectuality? You may be right, but STFU. I'm talking here. Anyway, the F (in the formula) is easy enough to understand. We all got F’d on 9/11. Fear was visited upon even the wisest among us because you can’t argue with irrationality. (See Mathematical Statement #1.) But by “Wisdom”, which I’m applying in a completely secular way, I mean a few things: 1. Honesty 2. Restraint 3. Dedication to humanistic principles 4. The desire to understand 5. etc. Wisdom is what keeps us from becoming desperate. We all have a modicum of wisdom, but when the amount of fear we suffer from eclipses our thimble full of wisdom, it causes people to run in circles like their hair is on fire. When people become desperate, the cry out “What do we want? Answers! “When do we want them? Now!” And in the answer vacuum that our complicated world has become, people turn to an irrational answer: religion. Note: I am not saying that everyone who has turned to religion has done so out of desperation. I am also not saying that all desperate people turn to religion for answers. There are other irrational responses. Some of them get drunk. Some put their head in the sand. Some climb the clock tower with a sniper rifle. So this has been a long post which can be summarized this way: Americans did not have the wisdom to deal with the fears that beset them. Many are responding irrationally. As Charles MacKay said in “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” in 1841: (pardon my paraphrasing) “Men go crazy in groups, but regain their sanity one at a time.”

Monday, November 15, 2004

Religion, Part 1

The Meat of the Matter will now change from politics to that other taboo topic: religion. Until I was 33, I was a fundamentalist, born-again, Pentecostal Christian. Now I’m not. Still, some of my more progressive Christian friends have remained my friends, and I occasionally hang out with them and have a beer. I got an e-mail from one of these friends, which was a light-hearted bash against Kerry. I think it linked to a wave file of various snippets of Kerry saying completely opposite things. OK, fine. I wondered if perhaps the sender may have thought that I was a Bush supporter like all of his other friends. So, I replied to all with this: Yep, that was funny. Almost as funny as G. W. Bush's response to Kerry after Kerry chided him for the hundreds of tons of "lost" munitions in Iraq: "A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your commander in chief." Amen, my forgetful Commander-In-Chief, Amen! Jumped Conclusion #1: Iraq has WMDs. Jumped Conclusion #2: Iraq has ties to Al Quaeda. Therefore, based on Bush's own advice, none of us should vote for him. (hehheh ... all in good fun. Hi everyone!) -Jim Well, one of the people who was CC’d on the e-mail (I will call him “Bert”) is an old friend of mine. At one time we were very close, but I’d seen him just a few months ago when he invited me to his new home for a get-together. I was the only non-Christian there, but it was all good, nice conversations, etc. Here is the reply I got from Bert: I guess that means the entire senate intelligence committee won't be getting any votes either. Kerry is even on record stating Iraq had wmd's, along with Bill Clinton, and a host of others. Jim you you seem to lap up those kind of poorly reasoned arguments for some reason? Ok, so … what should I have done here? I’m being told I’ve used poor reasoning by someone who is using *severely* poor reasoning, as well as being insulting. OK, so here is my response: Well Bert, since you decided to condescend to me by saying I "lapped up a poorly reasoned argument," let me correct you in a few ways. First, I didn't "lap up" the argument. I came up with it myself. If you've read my criticism elsewhere, it's because other clear-thinking individuals found it equally hilarious for GWB to say such a thing. Neither is it poorly reasoned. You claim that since many other people believed WMDs were in Iraq, it must therefore okay that Bush was wrong. That is a fallacy called "Argumentum ad populum" which actually IS poor reasoning. Of all the people who were WRONG about WMDs being in Iraq, George Bush is the ONLY one who decided to criticize someone else for "jumping to conclusions before knowing the facts." Whether or not everyone else was mislead by bad intelligence or not, GWB DID jump to conclusions before knowing the facts. Bert’s reply: (not edited to correct spelling) I am glad you made something up youself, but the actual argument I was refering to is the argument that Bush jumped to a hastey conclusion. Ummm, okay. Even though there were three misspelled words, I’m not above a typo or two so I let those go. I feel a little bad about smacking him down, so I attempted to lighten it up a little bit. Let's see ... faulty premise ... 14,000 people dead. I'd call that hasty. But GWB is standing by his guns. In contrast, when JFK made the same mistake (jumping to a wrong conclusion at the Bay of Pigs based on faulty intelligence), he went before the nation and held himself accountable, and called it what it was: a mistake. If GWB had done the same, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I didn't come up with the JFK comparison ... John Kerry did. Heheh.) Bert’s reply: (Spell-check was used by Bert this time. I left the aberrations intact.) The fact that people die in war, or that people have died in this war, or a specific amount of people have died in this war, relate to the decision to go to war as being hasty in what way? If JFK would have been as successful in the Bay of Pigs, there would have been no apology made, weather appropriate or not. I know you know better than to compare these incidents,(bay of pigs, war in Iraq) for myriad reasons. Are you sure you should remain a member of "Clear thinkers for Kerry" in your present condition? So here we have a “good old friend” who is bent on attacking and insulting me, and using completely non-linear-in-fact-pretzel-shaped logic to do so. I realize at this point that dialog with this person is futile. Plus, I’m just pissed off. Bert either didn’t know what happened at the Bay of Pigs, or didn't care. My reply: I'm not interested in continuing this conversation with you. If your goal was to influence me, you did not succeed. If your goal was to offend me, you did succeed. If your goal was to impress me, you failed miserably. I'm sure you'll count this as some sort of victory. You go right ahead. So Bert simply replied with "Boo hoo!" That was all the e-mail said. I sat back and realized I had just lost a friend. Granted, a narrow-minded, possibly insane, wacko, pseudo-intellectual friend, but still a friend! To quote a great line I read from "Granta" in the early 90’s: "Any idiot can throw a bomb, but it takes a genius to diffuse one." I had not been a genius with Bert. I had been an idiot. But the vast chasm between how I think and how a large number of Americans think is becoming apparent. Stay tuned for Part II.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

(Can you name the movie the title appears in?) Well, Sedona was about as close to a Bacchanalia as you can get without actually having a room full of naked people. It did have, however, the following: 1. Lots of dancing 2. Lots of alcohol 3. Hiking through ancient cliff dwellings 4. Gambling 5. Other unmentionable stuff I will make a quick note: while on our way to see "Montezuma's Castle," an ancient cliff dwelling outside of Sedona, we discovered there--nestled like a perfect blue egg in the nest of the desert--a Native American gambling establishment known as a *casino*. My radar went up. Gayle was kind enough to put an unscheduled stop in our schedule. I went in, and lo and behold they had Texas Hold 'em going on! I sat down, and in 90 minutes made $80 at a $3/$6 table. Not bad. For those of you in-the-know, I got pocket aces THREE TIMES in the space of 90 minutes. And every single time I was raised before the flop. Each time I re-raised, and poured it on, winning each time. Ah, life is good. And Sedona is now on my "favorite places" list.

Friday, November 12, 2004

No Meat For a Bit

We're heading to Sedona, Arizona for a weekend of debauchery. (If that's possible in Sedona.) Back next week. Have fun everyone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Funny Post of the Day

This post skewers America in a very clever manner. Hey ... if we can't laugh at ourselves, we're doomed. We might be doomed anyway, so might as well go down chuckling.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I Shaved My Head

No more "bad hair" days.  Posted by Hello

Epiphany in Overtime

It's hard to tell this story without getting a little personal, but here it goes. About 9.5 years ago, Todd and I were minding our own business, playing trivia in a bar called "OverTime" in Colorado Springs, CO. We were new friends, already bonding in a way, when the topic migrated to women. Todd opened up a bit, and let me know that he had been acquiring a certain level of "biblical knowledge" of a mutual female friend of ours. That's funny, says I. I had been quite recently acquiring the same said biblical knowledge of the exact same mutual female friend of ours. I insisted that Todd hop into my car, and we drove over to the female's home, and a pretty interesting scene ensued (no it was not a threesome). As paradoxical as it may seem, Todd and I have been close friends ever since. Years later, Todd himself declared me to be his "blog-father," which is a title I have clung to, out of a desperate need to feel important, ever since. Well bust my buttons, but that blog-fruit of my loins, The Ronkainen Project, particularly this post will be mentioned in Popular Science letters to the editor quite soon. They actually surfed the web and found his post and asked him to publish it! I could get all congratulatory here, and I've already given Todd my high-five in private. But what I'm really hoping for is some spill-over clickage from Todd's site, because really ... it's all about me.

Yeah, What He Said ...

I just read the greatest thing in the world. It perfectly summarizes my feelings, and added a few feelings that I didn't know I was feeling, but agreed with. The only exception is this: I do not, and will not, equate any future terrorist action with bad foreign policy on our country's part. That's a topic for another day, but for now I'll just say that's the one thing in that link that I don't agree with. Otherwise ... read it like there's no tomorrow.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Everything Counts in Large Amounts, Pt. 2

This just in from the brilliant bastion of conservatism known as Orange County, California: Recluse Voted to School Board It would be funny as hell if it wasn't so damn depressing. Here it is in a nutshell. Steve Rocco is a recluse who lives with his aging parents. The home (according to the NPR report this morning) emits a horrible smell. Rocco is a kook who rides a bike, wears a Sherlock Holmes cap, and wore camoflage to the only public appearance he has made. He did not submit a candidate's statement, but ran against a member of the PTA who put "Park Ranger" under his name on the ballot. Steve Rocco put "Educator" under his name on the ballot. Guess who won? You got it! Nutball Steve is now fiscally responsible for the 230 million dollar school board budget. Here's a lesson for Orange County voters: if you don't know a goddam thing about your candidate, why do you vote? Do you just assume that our political process will weed out the wackos? Do you live in a caccoon? How far into Orange County do you need to live in order to have your head so firmly planted in your anus? You get the government you deserve ...

As Promised ...

The Meat of the Matter is now turning down the volume, and I swear I'm going to try to be a little less political. I'm hoping that in 4 years the right won't be so far right, and the left won't be so far left, and our choice won't be so harrowing. In that light, I've removed a few links, but added a few that I think will be really great. (Sidebar: I read every link every day.) 1. Karbonkountymoos. Karen is from Montana in a very rural world, and from what I can tell, is as charming as can be. 2. Scott from The Other Side of My Mountain hails from Minnisota, writes like a pro, and lives an examined life. If I can mis-quote Socrates ... "the examined life is worth blogging." 3. The Australian crew at Catallaxy is quite clear-thinking, and may be left-leaning, which may be redundant. ;) So there you have it. And to prove my sense of humor, I will later post a picture of myself with a newly shaven head.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Having a serious case of Blogger's Block, I am resorting to posting one of my old poems. Here you go ...

The Garden Party

He will be by your side, of course. You with your ivories, Him with his tree-jumping. And I, with my notebook, have caused my children To bring me here as well. To this yawning lawn, Where, should I choose to yell through bony teeth You would interrupt your teacup talk with those nearby, And from your plush confine, beneath that Box Elder, You would see me, Perhaps offer me a sip of whatever we will drink there, And remember that we once drank together, When we spoke that strange language. But he will hear your whispers And gently pluck the leaf from your hair, He will be lying close enough to see your eternal smile, Should your face be turned toward him. Still ... so long as there is choosing, I will chose this place -- a mere large stone's throw away. Since I am of no use to anyone but the stone carver And black-suited salesmen. For as you know I have my reasons why I've let this life build a mountain range between us. That crooked line that divides our heart from our duties holds an unflinching cruelty. But there are some choices whose sleeves the grubby hands of duty cannot tug. For if I can't be next to you, my love, In this yawning lawn, Then I would like to be nearby. This choice is mine. And I will wear my finest suit. And watch forever you, in your finest dress, In hopes that the pounding feet of millenia Might fold this earth And touch fingerbone to armbone. Ankle to knee.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Everything Counts in Large Amounts

While recovering from the election, I've been looking around the blogo-sphere, and seen a common message from Republicans to Democrats. Want to hear it? Here it goes. It goes a little something like this: "You woke up this morning, and your coffee was still brewing, the world was not on fire. The cat was purring. The dog delivered your slippers. Your wife still makes love to you. Etc. Etc. … the world is fine. Stop worrying.” I even heard this message on my own blog … twice! Now it’s not uncommon for me to argue with Todd, but now I actually have to argue with Pero. I’ve *never* disagreed with Pero! Sorry Pero, but here it comes … I have to seriously disagree with this sentiment. Of course the coffee is still brewing, etc. No, the election did not create a vortex and suck us all in. But I have to ask this: how small is your perspective? A spiritual person will tell you to live in the moment, and in your own space. For those of us wise enough to do that, we have a lot of very nice moments. But you know what? I’m starting to think that in some regards, spiritual people are full of large amounts of shit. Living in the moment and in your own space implies that we are helpless to change things outside of our moment and outside of our own space. It implies that we shouldn't care. Being a Capricorn, I tend to look at things from an astronomical perspective. I think about how this election will be seen 1,000 years from now. I think about how the people in Bora Bora will be effected by the election’s outcome. Do you think that if Roman Citizens had been given the opportunity to elect Caesar Caligula or Caesar Splurfibat, that history would not have take huge sweeping turns in a different direction? Do you really think that it wouldn’t have mattered either way? Well let me tell you something. Caesar Splurfibat would have been a lot better. He was a cool guy. Some things wouldn’t have been different. The Romans still would have drunk water from lead jugs, and died off. But Splurfibat would not have done a lot of the brutal things that Caligula did. This would have made a big difference in world history and global events. Splurfibat also wouldn’t have had orgies, though, which is kind of too bad because I think orgies are cool in a way. But we’ve never heard of Splurfibat, have we? Nope. Because Rome didn’t have elections. But America does. And guess what? There will be huge, sweeping differences in the world 10 years from now that are a direct result of Bush being in the White House instead of Kerry. If you want, we can discuss what I think those are. But I’m trying to get TMOTM back on track and off the political partisanship bandwagon. So here’s my non-partisan statement: It does matter. Everything depends on everything. I know it’s a pain to have to worry about so much—-I wish it didn’t matter. But it does.

A Modest Proposal For Canada

Disclaimer: This is a joke. It is only a joke. Had it been a real treasonous act, all Democrats would have been notified which bomb shelter to proceed to.  Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Early Exit Poll Results: Kerry Victory?

It's too soon to tell, but this page has the first exit poll information I can find. It's VERY hard to get to the page, so here is the text: _____________________________________________________________ Early Exit A squeaker! By Jack Shafer Updated Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004, at 12:51 PM PT The first wave of exit-poll data reaching my desk comes from a variety of sources. In some states the sources disagree about the specific margin by which a candidate leads, but never about which candidate is out in front. Some of the confusion may stem from the mixing of morning exit-poll numbers with early afternoon numbers. With those provisos and the understanding that the early numbers are predictive of nothing without their accompanying computer model, here's what I've heard: Florida Kerry 50 Bush 49 Ohio Kerry 50 Bush 49 Pennsylvania Kerry 54 Bush 45 Wisconsin Kerry 51 Bush 46 Michigan Kerry 51 Bush 47 Minnesota Kerry 58 Bush 40 Nevada Kerry 48 Bush 50 New Mexico Kerry 50 Bush 48 North Carolina Kerry 49 Bush 51 Colorado Kerry 46 Bush 53 Other exit-poll results have arrived in more vague form, with Kerry leading Bush in New Hampshire but trailing him in Arizona and Louisiana. ___________________________________________________ Go Kerry!!!

Sixteen Reasons Why I Voted for Kerry

1. Because I love the United States of America. 2. Because I want a leader who stands resolute in the face of criticsm, but also has the wisdom and intelligence to listen to criticism just in case it is right. 3. Because I'm pro-choice. 4. Because I'm pro gay-marriage, and even though Kerry waffles on the subject, Bush is clearly against it. 5. Because I care how the rest of the world feels about the United States. The oceans aren't large enough, anymore, to allow us not to care. 6. Because a $500 tax break won't buy my vote. 7. Because the world is running out of crude oil, and crude oil will determine the destiny of the world over the next 10 years. That destiny lies somewhere in between brutal thuggery or conservation and a wisely handled transition. I see no evidence of anything but brutal thuggery from this administration. 8. Because history will prove that George W. Bush, while appropriately resolute and firm after 9/11, has been inappropriately resolute and firm ever since. 9. Because it's pronounced "Nu-Klee-ur." 10. Because I don't want my children saddled with any greater financial burden than Bush has already placed on them. 11. Because the U.S. needs a President who will hold himself accountable for his decisions, rather than point fingers. 12. Because it's "internet" (singular) not "internets" (plural). 13. Because no, I don't need any wood. 14. Because I want a president who will not only eradicate terrorist maggots, but who won't--in the meantime--heap higher piles of rancid trash where the maggots breed. 15. Because we can't find 380 tons of explosives in Iraq. 16. Because people will die today in Fallujah, and I still can't figure out why. And here is NOT a reason I voted for Kerry: 1. Because I hate Bush. If I had allowed my hatred for Bush to sway my vote, then I would have voted FOR him, so that he would be forced to face up to the mess he has created. But no ... I couldn't do that. Refer to reason #1.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Random Election Thoughts

I am just filled with anticipation. 1. Preparing myself for either horrible news or fantastic news is a rather unusual state of mind for me. I would equate it to having a 50% chance for a horrible diagnosis as the result of a medical test. Luckily, this has never happened to me or one of my family. The closest thing I can equate it to is my youthful romances, when I would be utterly head-over-heels in love with a girl. I would decide to tell the girl, and her reaction would give me either utter delight or horrible depression. 2. If the trauma of the past four years has done anything for us, it has brought the nation to a place of such desperation that we will finally have a decent turnout of voters. 3. This election is so close, that some groups are facilitating "vote swapping," where someone in a battleground who is voting for a 3rd party candidate state can swap votes with someone in a solid red or solid blue state. I would create a link to that site if I thought this was a wise practice. I do not. 4. KOS has said something that is important. Even if your state is solid red, go vote for Kerry anyway, because if he wins the electoral college without a plurality of votes, it will make him vulnerable to criticism, just as Bush was. So every Californian should go vote (for Kerry). 5. I have a gloomy feeling that the post-election debacle will cast a dubious pall over the Whitehouse AGAIN. Look for info here on TMOTM on election reform. 6. Brace yourself, it's going to be a long day tomorrow.

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