Catching up with old haunts....

This morning I drove to Newark, then took the train to New York where I ate lunch and saw the El Greco exhibit at the Met.

I have a very strange personal experience with El Greco which I doubt most people would believe, but what the hell; it's late Sunday night and I might as well share it.

This may or may not be a ghost story.

My house was built in 1919 by a reclusive, eccentric authoress who wanted no visitors. There is but one bedroom, and most of the house consists of a huge, eerie hall with giant timber trusses supporting the roof. Long slit windows toward the roof (of the type used to shoot arrows at invaders) are the only windows facing the street.

Too eccentric to be formally listed in a normal sale, title to the property has simply drifted from one fated "admirer" to another. The previous owner warned me that the place was haunted and that all prior owners had confirmed this. For reasons unknown, the ghost appeared to focus its energy on an old El Greco print of a man with a Van Dyke beard which hangs seventeen feet up on the wall in the large main room. I thought the story was laughable and paid little attention at the time. But one morning I was reading the paper over coffee, and one outrage or other particularly annoyed me. I raised my right hand and swung it angrily through the air for emphasis, while screaming useless imprecations at the world.

My arm swept in the direction of that El Greco print, which was about twenty feet away. Just as my hand reached its point of midair impact, the print literally jumped right out of its frame and toward the center of the room, where it hit the floor. Even more bizarre than the timing was the way it appeared to leap away from the wall instead of following the laws of gravity and dropping straight down. (This was witnessed by my lover at the time, who couldn't believe what he had seen, and told his mother about it.)

Still skeptical, I got an extension ladder and went up with the print, assuming I could just position it back in what was obviously a defective frame. But that frame was securely nailed together, and the print could not be reinstalled without prying the whole frame apart. I did that, re-hung it, and it has behaved since. (Knock on wood.)

There has to be a rational explanation, but just the same, I leave that El Greco alone. It earned the right to be there, and I'll just pass the story along to whoever is fated to be next in line as caretaker.

Here's my old friend.

posted by Eric at 11:59 PM | Comments (3)




This music review really sucks....

(....almost as much as being a RINO -- which sucks almost as much as being a DINO!)

It's music review time!

Last night I went to the Tower Theater and saw Phil Lesh and his band. Had a wonderful evening, and a wonderful day.

Until, that is, I opened some hate-filled junk mail from a guy named Vernon Robinson, who's running for Congress. (That link is the closest approximation to the letter I received.)

It's really a downer to have to blog about this, but if not now, when? (What a stark and ugly contrast to go from the Lesh page to the Robinson page..... Just another among innumerable reasons -- logical and illogical -- that I so hate the Culture War.)

It is undeniable that there exists a heavily-funded movement to locate and promote anti-homosexual bigotry among black conservatives. I think it is important to defeat it even though I can't do much more than complain in my blog, and donate to opposing candidates.

A few months ago, a Gallup poll revealed a growing rift between blacks and homosexuals:

The most pronounced pattern is among blacks. In May, blacks and whites were essentially identical in the levels of support they expressed for legalized gay relations. In July, the percentage of blacks supporting legal gay relations dropped by 23 points, compared to a much more modest 9 point drop among whites.

Previous Gallup research has documented the fact that blacks are quite conservative on moral issues, even while adopting more liberal positions on social issues such as gun control, the death penalty, and welfare. This fact is often surprising to some observers, given the strong tendencies for blacks to identify with the more liberal Democratic Party in this country. The conservative moral positions adopted by blacks no doubt reflect the strong influence of religion in black culture in American society today.

Still, it is not immediately clear why support among blacks may have fallen so disproportionately in July. One can hypothesize that the Supreme Court decision had a greater effect on black's religiosity than others', but it is difficult to document this assertion based on available data.

The reasons for this are open to speculation, as is the accuracy of the Gallup poll itself. It strikes me as a bit odd that people could be that fickle.

In any event, I can think of few things more malevolent than Republicans attempting to drive a wedge between blacks and homosexuals.

Yet that is precisely what is going on. Take a look through Robinson's site. His campaign is well-funded, and very slick. A central focus of his campaign is directed against homosexuals and he says what few (if any) white Republicans would dare say if they were running for office.

Robinson's mailing list is generating huge sums of money. I would be willing to bet that most of it pours in from out-of-state homo haters who are delighted to fund a satrap who happens to be a black man -- because the bigotry is dispelled by race. As even the liberals say, in order to be a bigot, you have to be white! (But see this oddball piece about white sexual decadence and corruption of blacks.... Future Republican tactic, perhaps?)

This thinking is confirmed at Robinson's site:

As a black conservative, the liberals will not be able to smear me by calling me a racist the way they always did Senator Helms (not to mention Trent Lott last year and Rush Limbaugh just last month).
Pitting one minority against another garners the bigot vote without ever having to be called on it. It makes a lot of sense for certain elements in the Republican Party to be doing this, because the percentage of blacks voting for Bush was so dismally low, and animosity towards homosexuals is big money.

Republicans did pretty well with homosexuals, though, considering the enormous propaganda effort to portray Republicans as anti-homosexual bigots.

Robinson ought to make that propaganda effort a little easier.

When propaganda happens to be true, it somehow becomes more believable.

The most irritating aspect of this is that Republicans who simply oppose anti-homosexual bigotry will be called RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) for their efforts. The more such tactics are allowed to continue, the fewer RINOs there will be. The bigots will get their way, and the Democrats will be happy.

NOTE: By "anti-homosexual bigotry" I do not refer to opposition to same sex marriage. I mean the sodomy law people -- those like Robinson who believe homosexuals belong in prison. I am extremely tolerant of disagreement, even of the most vehement variety. My standards are low -- but I am not about to sit around and countenance those who threaten my freedom and my safety. To do otherwise would be to act like the Jews who supported the Nuremburg laws. Those who would imprison me are bigots. Rather hard to reconcile the competing philosophies of those who see homosexual love as love with those who see it as deserving imprisonment. Increasingly, I am of the opinion that the situation is hopeless. (And I dislike hopelessness, by the way.)

Here is what the Republican Party has to say about Robinson. I recognize that there is a Big Tent, but I don't know whether I want to be in it.

Not only is Robinson's anti-homosexual hatred being bankrolled by out-of-staters, his endorsers include some Republicans who ought to be held accountable:

North Carolina. Former Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson has launched a nationwide campaign to win the Republican nomination for outgoing GOP Rep. Richard Burr’s seat.

Robinson has raised money from supporters in Colorado, Florida and Wyoming.

Online donors, mostly from out of state, have contributed $80,000. And he has enlisted the backing of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and former Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.).

“If you can’t raise money outside the district in this race, you’re dead,” Robinson told The Hill. Robinson, a black conservative, calls President Reagan, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia and former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) his “political heroes” on his campaign website.

The Republican has garnered support at home, too. Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Burr, who is running for outgoing Sen. John Edwards’s (D) seat, are backing him.

Robinson campaign manager Chris Younce declined to say how much the candidate had raised in the third quarter of 2003, which ended Sept. 30. At the end of the last quarter, Robinson had more than $156,000 on hand. Younce estimated the primary campaign would cost $1.6 million.

Other Republicans in the House primary are former Wilkes County Commissioner Joe Byrd; state Sen. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elks, in northwest North Carolina; Winston-Salem businessman Jay Helvey; former state representative Ed Powell; Lexington attorney and former Senate candidate Jim Snyder; and Kernersville businessman Nathan Tabor.

The Democrats running for Burr’s seat include librarian David Crawford and lawyer Jeff Gray.

Count me as a RINO for now, because I oppose Robinson. If he gets the nomination, I suppose I'll have to face the music ... and go back to being a DINO.

Doesn't politics just suck?

At the very least, it makes it tough to write decent music reviews.....


IMPORTANT UPDATE: I just received an email from Newsmax.com which contained the same solicitation as the one I received from Robinson, and I am reproducing it here for my readers. If you feel as I do, I suggest contributing money to one of the other Republican candidates. If that fails to stop this guy, then the only thing left to do is to contribute to the Democratic opponent.

I am not terribly happy about receiving this the day after remembering all my friends lost to AIDS, either.... I should have written about them. Instead, I read AgendaBender's post -- "A Day Without Bill" -- which I recommend everyone read. I wish that Robinson and his ilk would remember that "sodomites" are human beings, and -- despite the "widows mite" reference in his letter below -- Vernon Robinson is no Jesus Christ.)

Anyway, here follows the actual text of the letter I "reviewed":









Logo


Dear NewsMax Reader:

Please find below an important sponsored message from Vernon Robinson, considered by many to be the next Jesse Helms. This may turn out to be one of the hottest political races next election year. Please take a moment to read Vernon's message to you.

Thank you.




 
border=1 height="2346">














Here's a photograph of me and Jesse
Helms taken last month at his birthday party. I was very humbled
when Jesse put his arm around me and said, "I'm proud of you,
Vernon."


Dear Fellow Conservative:

"Jesse Helms is back! And this time, he's black." That's
what The Winston-Salem Journal (the largest and most liberal newspaper
in the 5th Congressional District of North Carolina) had to say about
my campaign for Congress.


The radical homosexuals printed the same thing in their publication,
which they call "Queer Notes". They scornfully called
me, "Helms redux."


Of course, they meant the comparison to Helms to be taken as an insult,
but I wear it as a badge of honor.


For 30 years, Jesse Helms was the number one flag carrier for the conservative
movement in Washington, and with him gone, someone needs to step in and
fill that void.


I'm honored to be accused of picking up where Senator
Helms left off.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


Some of you may remember all those lonely years, particularly before
Ronald Reagan was elected President, when Jesse Helms would be the only
vote against some outrageous piece of liberal legislation, only because
nobody else in Congress had the courage to stand with him against the
Left.


Sometimes it was Teddy Kennedy and the welfare lobby coming after Jesse,
or the gun grabbers, or the Jesse Jackson crowd, or the environmental
extremists, or the lesbian feminists, or the union bosses, or the pro-abortion
zealots, or the tax and spend junkies.


And sometimes it was just good, old-fashioned communist sympathizers
who were mad because Jesse wanted to get us out of the United Nations.


But you knew ol' Jesse wasn't going to run from them. He didn't run
when the homosexual terrorists erected a giant, 40-foot, inflated, condom-shaped
balloon on the roof of his home.


And Jesse didn't run when National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg wished
death upon him and his grandkids
by telling millions of Americans,
"If there is retributive justice, Jesse Helms will get AIDS from
a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it . . .."

This from the woman who says it is Jesse who is intolerant.


No, Jesse was always willing to go toe-to-toe with these people, even
when he had to go it alone, and I'm ready to do the same as a United States
Congressman.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


Believe me, I know how lonely it can be to stand alone, because I've
had to do it repeatedly as a conservative Winston-Salem City Councilman
serving on a Council chock full of liberal Democrats and a few wimpy Republicans
afraid of their own shadow, who run from controversy like a Clinton
from a Grand Jury.


If you haven't heard of me yet, you know many conservatives who have.


At one time or another I have been endorsed by Jesse Helms, Jeb Bush,
Alan Keyes, Elizabeth Dole, Dick Armey, Gary Bauer, the NRA, Right-to-Life,
the Immigration Reform PAC, the Republican Liberty Caucus, Jack Kemp,
Bill Bennett, Pat Buchanan, Pete du Pont, Richard Petty, Dr. D. James
Kennedy, Gary Aldrich, Morton Blackwell, Tom Tancredo, and Bob Barr.


If my name sounds familiar, it may be because The Fox News Channel
recently called me "a rising star", "the next J.C. Watts",
and "the new face of the Republican Party."


The Wall Street Journal wrote, "He's the next black GOP
Congressman." and "When elected, Vernon Robinson will be the
first black GOP Congressman elected from a Confederate state since Reconstruction."


A local newspaper in the district (The Davie Enterprise-Record)
said, "He's like a Rush Limbaugh candidate."



President Bush honored me with an appointment in his administration
and hired me to work on his campaign. That should give you a pretty good
idea of where I stand.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


Currently I am the senior Republican member of the Winston-Salem City
Council, where I represent a heavily Democrat district. In my last election
I got an unheard-of 70% of the white vote and 20% of the black vote.


I am a proven vote-getter -- the only black Republican in North Carolina
to be re-elected to partisan public office and the first black candidate
to win the votes of more than one million white voters.


This success hasn't come by accident. I earned the confidence of the
voters and these national conservative leaders the same way Ronald Reagan
and Jesse Helms did
- by proving that I am willing to stand up for
my traditional American conservative principles - no matter what the political
cost, and no matter what the liberal media try to say about me.


I don't head for the high grass when the Left turns up the heat. That's
just not my style. I put my trust in God, not my finger to the wind, and
my record proves it.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


I jokingly tell my Democrat friends that their party is made up of "the
Old Left, the New Left, and the What's Left."
I'm proud to tell
you that my voting record has infuriated them all:



  • the pro-abortion fanatics and the radical feminists




  • the atheists who file lawsuits attacking the Pledge of Allegiance
    & the Ten Commandments




  • the gun grabbers, the illegal immigrants, and the trial lawyers




  • the environmentalist, tree-huggin' granolas and the animal rights
    extremists




  • the "one world" globalists who worship at the altar of the
    United Nations




  • the militant homosexuals and the burned-out, hippie peaceniks




  • the race-hustling poverty pimps like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton




  • the union bosses and the socialists posing as journalists & college
    professors




  • the government bureaucrats & the tax-and-spend junkies who create
    their jobs, and




  • the Hollywood elitists - air-headed actors and singers who think we
    care what they think.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


I am pro-Constitution, pro-national sovereignty, pro-business, pro-property
rights, pro-growth, pro-family, pro-farmer, pro-states' rights, pro-gun,
and pro-life.


I support the death penalty and am disgusted that there are people
who believe a convicted murderer like Charles Manson has a right to life,
but unborn children do not.


A nationally recognized expert on education reform, I authored North
Carolina's Charter Schools Act, and founded two non-profit corporations.
One promotes school choice and the other provides scholarships to private
schools for poor children from inner-city homes.


Today's public schools are caught between the massive government bureaucracy
and the vile teachers' unions.


Most of the public schools serving the inner city are nothing but
pre-prison, pre-welfare programs for the students sentenced to attend
them.
The answer is market-based reform, not "Midnight Basketball"
and more wasteful spending.


As a black Republican, I will be especially reviled by the Left.


That's because I will be able to say the kinds of things many conservatives
are afraid to say out of fear that the liberal media will brand them racist.


For instance, the greatest threat facing young blacks today has nothing
to do with white racism
or displaying the Confederate flag - it is
ILLEGITIMACY, which has reached a shameful 71% among American blacks.


A lack of morality and personal responsibility is at the root of the
problem. And we have a federal welfare system that encourages and rewards
such behavior! This must change and I'll be the Congressman who can make
it happen.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


Nor will I be bashful about insisting that the federal government
abolish all racial preferences, quotas, and set-asides.


I was so outraged by the Supreme Court's recent ruling in the Michigan
law school case (allowing race to determine who is admitted into public
colleges) that I am already working with legal scholars to devise a lawful
means for Congress to withhold federal funds from any institution (private
or public) that uses race in its admissions process.


My record on this issue is particularly strong. It was my lawsuit against
the University of North Carolina that put an end to its practice of electing
trustees according to strict racial and gender quotas and providing blacks-only
scholarships at taxpayer expense.


As you can see, I'm NOT a Jesse Jackson / Al Sharpton kind of black
guy
. The only thing I have in common with those two is a good tan!


In fact, while Al Sharpton was defaming New York law enforcement officers
by falsely claiming they had raped Tawana Brawley in an alley, I was working
hard on the Winston-Salem City Council to get raises for our policemen.


And while Jesse Jackson was chasing women and television cameras and
shaking down corporations for contributions so he could pay hush money
to his concubine for their love child, I was serving my country, earning
an honest living, and working hard at raising a God-fearing family.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


And Jackson and I have very different notions of what a family is.


For Jackson and many left-wing public figures, a family can be
everything from "Hillary Clinton's Village" or "Heather's
Two Mommies" or "Daddy's Roommate"
to a transvestite,
two lesbians, a pedophile, and a partridge in a pear tree.
In my opinion,
that does not a family make.


My concept of family is the same as the one God ordained in the Garden
of Eden thousands of years ago - one man, married to one woman, with so
many children as God should see fit to entrust to their care.


In my case, that means me, Helene (my wife of 20 years), and our three
children, the youngest two of whom we adopted when their mother died of
cancer at age 41.


That's the kind of family I grew up in, too. My father was a Tuskegee
Airman, and my mother was a nurse. But more importantly, they were devout
Christian people who taught me right from wrong.


Because of my strong Judeo-Christian upbringing, I can assure you I will
not bow to the forces of political correctness on social issues. I'm proud
of my beliefs, and I will vote accordingly.


I will vigorously oppose homosexual marriages and adoptions, as well
as "gay" Scoutmasters. I just don't see how it's a good idea
to put a homosexual in a pup tent with your thirteen year-old son.
And
yet the liberals call us bigoted for saying that. What is the world coming
to?


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


As an Eagle Scout myself, I was furious when the United Way threatened
to withhold funding from the Boy Scouts unless homosexuals were allowed
to serve as Scoutmasters.


While other Republicans ran scared from the issue, I organized a counter-threat
to boycott contributions to the United Way unless it backed off the Scouts
- and it quickly did just that.


Dr. James Dobson featured my efforts on his Focus on the Family
radio program, and called it "a victory for people of faith across
the nation". That's the same aggressive spirit I will bring to
Washington, if you'll help me.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


Of course, now that our Supreme Court has "discovered" a right
to commit homosexual sodomy, it is more important than ever that we send
to the Congress men and women whose sense of decency does not change with
the political winds. If we don't, then homosexual marriage and adoption
(and worse) won't be far behind.


I have a copy of the Constitution, and I've looked all through it,
and nowhere do I find any right to engage in homosexual sodomy, take the
life of an unborn child, or discriminate against white people.


I know I'm supposed to look in the "emanations" and the "penumbras",
but I couldn't find those in there either. Maybe I have to get myself
one of those "livin' constitutions" - you know, the kind that
changes from year to year depending on which liberal justices are sitting
on the Supreme Court at that particular time.


You see, my copy of the Constitution is the old-fashioned kind. It
still says what it said when they wrote it.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


And I do have a simple solution to Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's
Ten Commandments dilemma.
The Congress simply needs to do what Jesse
Helms and Henry Hyde recommended a quarter century ago - pass a federal
statute removing all jurisdiction from the federal court system to hear
cases involving the issue.


It's clean, it's efficient, it's absolutely binding on the court, and
it's as good as done if I get elected.


On the question of taxation, let me simply say that in all
my years in public office I have never voted for a tax increase of any
kind, PERIOD.


In Congress I will join those 42 courageous men and women (including
Majority Leader Tom DeLay) who support the "Fair Tax" legislation,
which would abolish the current code (and all individual audits, and the
I.R.S. itself!) and replace it with a simple, flat, national sales tax.


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


As a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy with a degree
in Middle Eastern Affairs and a former Missile Combat Crew Commander
,
I can assure you I am also a staunch supporter of veterans' interests,
and you will not find another member of Congress who places a higher priority
on national defense. And I have to tell you that in matters of national
defense and foreign policy there is much work to be done.


Yes, Ronald Reagan destroyed the Soviet Union, and yes, our military
is the best in the world -- but you are not as safe as you think. The
world is changing, and so are the threats we face. We have no shield against
intercontinental ballistic missiles, and it's getting easier and easier
for the bad guys to get them.


Communist North Korea (whose standing army is larger than our own) now
has the nuclear bomb, and has openly bragged that it intends to sell nuclear
weapons to terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden, if the United States
makes policy decisions that don't please it.


And remember, a ragtag band of Arab misfits used public transportation
and a handful of box-cutters to kill more Americans in the World Trade
Center attack than the Japanese killed at Pearl Harbor.
What do you
think an organized terrorist could do with a nuclear bomb?


CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!


The mastermind of that attack, Khalid Shaik Mohammed (whom we have captured),
recently told U.S. officials that Al Qaeda was planning to carry out future
attacks, including the firebombing of the Washington Metrorail, by smuggling
operatives and equipment over our unguarded Mexican border.


We have troops in 120 countries around the world, but we won't defend
our own borders with Mexico and Canada!
Our immigration policy is
nuts, and the INS is corrupt and incompetent. Remember the D.C. area sniper?
He was here only because of an INS foul-up!


Over 400,000 foreign students have overstayed their student visas,
and we simply have no idea where they are! Over thirty thousand
of these are from Muslim countries. Do I have to spell out for you
why that is a problem?



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



My alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy, recently
found it had 23 illegal aliens working for it
- more than the
number that carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks. But
these illegal aliens were actually working for a military service
academy!



Aliens routinely cross our borders for free medical care in American
hospitals, to pick up American welfare checks, to have their babies
born here (so they will be American citizens eligible for benefits),
to work in sweat shops, to smuggle drugs, and, yes, occasionally
to plot and carry out terrorist attacks on our citizens.



As a Congressman, I will work with Congressman Tom Tancredo (who
has endorsed me)
and the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus
of which he is the chairman to address these shocking failures in
federal immigration policy. Enough is enough.



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



Now is definitely not the time to relax. Now, more than ever, you
deserve a Congressman who will stand tall on the tough issues and
not waffle even when everyone else heads for the hills.



More than 20,000 conservatives (folks just like you) have
already responded to my promise to fight the loony Left on every
issue, no matter what the political cost, and I thank God for each
and every one of them. 14 Generals, 60 Colonels, and 30 church pastors
have become contributors. That's the good news.



The bad news is that my five millionaire opponents already loaned
themselves more than $1,000,000, and have promised to spend more
than SIX MILLION DOLLARS to defeat me.



Ouch! My family budget doesn't have that kind of money!



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



I've spent my entire adult life in public service, and I'm just
not a wealthy man.
I've never tried to make one dime off of
my status as a Winston-Salem City Councilman. I sure didn't get
rich in the Air Force either, or as a business professor for ten
years, and I didn't inherit any millions.



Remember, my dad was a serviceman and my mother was a nurse. My
wife is a librarian for goodness' sake!



We're just simple people trying to fight our way through all the
millionaires (who all seem to want to buy a seat in
Congress) with our simple, conservative message of limited government,
a strong national defense, and a Congress whose policies reflect
a Judeo-Christian ethic.



But don't go feeling sorry for me, because I'm not ashamed of being
middle class. My public service has made me rich in every way except
my pocketbook.



It's just that in 2004 the simple fact of the matter is that if
you don't spend at least TWO MILLION DOLLARS getting your message
out, the closest you'll get to Congress will be watching it on C-SPAN.



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



No, I have to depend on you and thousands like you who dig deep,
and give sacrificially because they know the election of an aggressive,
black conservative to the Congress would be a nightmare to liberals
like Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi.



I want to put a burr in Ted Kennedy's saddle. I want to put
a bee in Hillary Clinton's bonnet. I want to give Barney Frank a
Maalox Moment.
And with your help I can do it!



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



There is a great deal at stake. My principal opponent is a self-described
"feminist" obsessed with gender quotas who lobbied for Teddy
Kennedy's so-called "Equal Rights Amendment" (ERA). As a state
senator, she voted to fund blacks-only scholarships, and raised taxes
and fees more than 100 times.



She even voted to create special rights for homosexuals and has
supported the adoption of children by homosexuals. I am nauseated
at the prospect that this woman may get elected to the Congress!
Won't you help me keep that from happening?



Before you write her off as a kook with no chance to win, let
me remind you that she is a fat cat (one of five blow-dried millionaires
running against me) who has the financial ability to get her own
spin, her own twisted message, to the voters anytime she wants,
even if she never receives a single contribution.



That's why I want to ask you to become one of my 20,000 skinny
cats.



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



Of course, I have some large contributors, too - business owners
(large and small), real estate, construction, banking, and insurance
executives, doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, and wealthy
retirees -- but much of my money has come in smaller checks from
people of modest means for whom the contribution was truly a sacrifice.



I have been humbled by the overwhelming support I've received
from thousands of patriotic Americans who care about their country's
future.
Several people have actually sent a single dollar bill.
One dollar. These smaller contributions always come with a personal
note apologizing for the fact that they couldn't send more.



Unemployed people, retired people on fixed incomes, single mothers
with children to feed, a Marine Corps private, a grocery bagger,
a waitress, a truck driver, a laborer, a struggling farmer, a home-schooling
mom, a widow, a teacher, a school bus driver, a janitor, a nun -
these people send their money with a note apologizing to me that
they couldn't send more.



Folks, we've even received contributions from Christian missionaries
on the mission fields of China and Costa Rica. What a sense of responsibility
that lays on my heart.



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



The truth is that the small contributions barely make up for the
cost of mailing a letter, but so help me, I love to get them, because
they remind me of what Jesus said in the story of "the widow's mite":
"I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the
treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but
she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live
on."
(Mark 12: 43-44)



When the campaign road is hard and the hours are long and the
food is bad and my wife is mad that the grass isn't mowed, and my
three young children miss me because "Dad's at a meeting" ("meeting"
is a dirty word in my house), and I have 12 messages waiting on
the answering machine from constituents who want to know why their
garbage hasn't been picked up - when these moments come I think
of the faith all my widow's mite contributors have placed in me,
and I'm ready to go back into the fiery furnace.



Could you send your widow's mite (and maybe a little more) today?
Your contribution isn't just a good motivator for me; it is
absolutely necessary to enable us to get our message out.



Voters can't stand with me if they don't know where I stand.



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



Unlike my opposition (five millionaires!), I cannot loan my campaign
a million dollars.
Unlike my opponents, I won't receive thousands
of dollars from the Left's usual suspects - the greedy trial lawyers,
the radical feminists, the teachers' unions, the homosexual lobby,
the environmentalist extremists, and the limousine liberals.



The liberal special interest groups have already targeted me because
they know that if I'm elected, the national media will cover every
conservative pronouncement made by "the black Republican Congressman."
That's why I hope and pray you will lend me a hand.



Could you donate as much as $500 or $1,000? I realize that's
a lot of money, but such a large gift will pay for a television
commercial. CLICK
HERE TO CONTRIBUTE NOW!



Or if that's too much, could you send $250, $100, $50, or even
$35? Whatever amount you give, please send it in today. CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!



My mother always said, "Many hands make light work," and once
again her wisdom lifts my spirits. If every good conservative like
you gives what he or she can, together we will get our message
out, we will match the millionaires dollar for dollar, and
we will win this election.



I know that President George W. Bush and Majority Leader Tom DeLay
can sure use my help on Capitol Hill! Whatever amount you send,
please supplement it with prayers for my family and this campaign
- an even more valuable and precious gift! And may God bless you
as He has blessed America.



With warm best wishes,





Vernon Robinson



P.S.: As honored as I am to be compared to Jesse Helms, the truth
is that I may be even more effective than he was. As a black
conservative, the liberals will not be able to smear me by calling
me a racist
the way they always did Senator Helms (not to mention
Trent Lott last year and Rush Limbaugh just last month).



I was very humbled when Jesse Helms put his arm around me and
said, "I'm proud of you, Vernon."
Jesse had already said that
to the group assembled, but to receive that vote of confidence from
a man I have revered for so long brought a tear to my eye.



Won't you help put somebody like Jesse Helms back in Washington?
Your gift to my campaign will do just that.



CLICK HERE TO
CONTRIBUTE NOW!








ADDITIONAL NOTE: The above email letter is identical to what I received, except that the letter to me did not have the "CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE" links (which I rendered inoperable; if you wanna donate, go there yourself!). Also, the letter to me had the following additional language after the first P.S.:
Jackson and Sharpton and Kennedy and Senator Hillary Clinton (that still sounds absurd, doesn't it?) will just have to sit there and clench their teeth while I work to dismantle racial quotas, our punitive tax code, judicial tyranny, and the welfare state itself.

P.P.S.: I'm also sending you a photograph of me on one of the proudest days of my life -- the day Jesse Helms put his arm around me and said, "I'm proud of you." I hope you'll put it somewhere so it will remind you to pray for my family and this campaign regularly. And thank you in advance for your generous contribution.

posted by Eric at 04:54 PM | Comments (5)



Friday, November 28, 2003

If the lions get hungry, the smart lambs can shoot them!

Not long ago, I wrote a post about cultural tension between IQ and masculinity -- and the related issue of IQ and race.

I realize that I barely scratched the surface, which I think I first touched here:

Just as pit bull owners were once invariably shown as antisocial if not psychotic misfits, gun owners are painted as anything but hip. In some ways, this unfair stereotyping is made easier by the fact that owning a gun is now considered a right wing act. Never mind the fact that Rosie O'Donnell, Dianne Feinstein, Sean Penn and other big liberals carry guns; they don't admit it publicly. Instead, they think they are in a different league from everyone else and that their gun ownership is not real gun ownership. (This reminds me of religious mullahs who feel justified in executing homosexuals for admitting to something which they deny doing even as they do it.)

Gun ownership needs to be made at least as cool as owning a pit bull. There are many bloggers who do a great job of doing this in their own way -- Glenn Reynolds, Rachel Lucas, Jeff Soyer, Eugene Volokh, and Kim du Toit (even if he wants me to fuck off and die) are all outstanding examples. (What I would like to know, is how does one get Reynolds, Lucas, and actor James Woods on the board of the NRA? Believe me, I am deadly serious.)

I wasn't thinking about IQ when I wrote that, but I sure as hell am now.

What the hell does the term "hip" connote? Is it like "bright?" I do not refer to "hippies" -- now an anachronistic collection of mostly wannabe types. When I used the term I simply meant people who are smart enough to be cool, and definitely not dumb enough to be easily led. Intelligent non-conformists. You would think this would be a natural group of gun owners. Yet (and here is my thesis) the unstated cultural tension over IQ is what makes them avoid guns -- and avoid especially those they would disparage as "the NRA crowd."

Despite a diligent search, I could find no statistical studies involving a relationship between IQ and gun ownership.

Anyone who knows of such a study please, please contact me. (And I do not mean anything along the lines of "More Guns, More Stupidity!")

The closest thing I found was this fascinating analysis by David Kopel, which contained the following gem:

SCAPEGOAT OBJECTS AND COGNITIVE CONTROL

Given the gun's symbolic and practical role within a culture of individualism and popular sovereignty, gun control in its more extreme formulations may in some respects be out of step with many elements of American culture. In rejecting guns and in admiring the "civilized" foreign nations, some gun control advocates implicitly propose a less American, more European model for the relation of the individual and the state. Bruce-Briggs summarizes it best:

[U]nderlying the gun control struggle is a fundamental division in our nation. The intensity of passion on this issue suggests to me that we are experiencing a sort of low-grade war going on between two alternative views of what America is and ought to be. On the one side are those who take bourgeois Europe as a model of a civilized society: a society just, equitable, and democratic; but well ordered, with the lines of authority clearly drawn, and with decisions made rationally and correctly by intelligent men for the entire nation. To such people, hunting is atavistic, personal violence is shameful, and uncontrolled gun ownership is a blot upon civilization.

On the other side is a group of people who do not tend to be especially articulate or literate, and whose world view is rarely expressed in print. Their model is that of the independent frontiersman who takes care of himself and his family with no interference from the state. They are "conservative" in the sense that they cling to America's unique pre-modern tradition--a non-feudal society with a sort of medieval liberty at large for everyman. To these people, "sociological" is an epithet. Life is tough and competitive. Manhood means responsibility and caring for your own. (1976: 61).

Reading on, I was also fascinated by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark's remark that guns "make lions out of lambs," because he is a guy who wants us all to be lambs.

This is a classic conflict of high IQ people battling lower IQ people, and I suspect that the high IQ people are beginning to catch on that they have been had. They should accordingly join forces with their low IQ brothers -- and ASAP.

NOTE: I am not saying that gun owners all have lower IQs, mind you. Only that they are spun that way, and the insecure higher-IQ people buy right into it without understanding the mechanism.

Culturally, this will never be admitted, because IQ is politically incorrect. That fact alone makes it an ideal subterfuge, because everyone knows that there are differences in intelligence between people, and the eggheads who were beaten up in school (or who were no good at sports) all want to get even. So, of course, do many homosexuals.

Could this factor into the more irrational aspects of anti-Bush hatred? That seems somewhat off-subject.

Actually, maybe it isn't. (Is Bush hated by insecure, higher-IQ people for pandering to the lower IQ people? Is this the hate that dares not speak its name? Are the Democrats in turn hated by the lower-IQ Bushies for pandering to even lower IQ people, and for an inability to admit to their patronizing attitudes? What about the insecurity of higher-IQ people who think they're smarter than they really are -- who know they're not geniuses and secretly loathe themselves?)

But I'll stick with guns. I believe strongly that making guns hip is the best way to "permanize" gun ownership. The best way to do that is to remind the lambs that the Second Amendment is their "equalizer" loophole. Why disarm the lions when you can be their equal?

After all, you don't even have to lose your IQ!

(Unless, of course, it's written in granite somewhere that a gun purchase automatically lops 20 points off your IQ score.....)

UPDATE: Here's an interesting exploration of the idea that Republicans are dumber than Democrats:

The numbers are stunning -- with 60% of the least educated Americans supporting the President and only 40% of highly educated Americans backing his policies.
Somehow, I am reminded of the study contending that Fox News fans suffered from "misperceptions."

posted by Eric at 02:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBacks (1)



Love your weird and bitchy enemies!

Just because it's the day after Thanksgiving doesn't mean it's not still Friday -- and Friday is Online Testing Day at Classical Values so I dare not disappoint!

I'll start with a test from the esteemed Test Giver, Ghost of a flea, designed to determine my "WEIRDNESS QUOTIENT."


OUTRAGEOUS! Mine was 106 -- exactly the same as the Flea. Not only is this yet another amazing, too-impossible-to-believe, coincidence, but I am a bit disappointed that neither one of us received a higher score. 106 just sounds rather square to me. Never saw the bell curve for weirdness, though.




Still pondering the limitations of my weirdness, I just had to determine exactly what kind of evil bitch I am, and this test did not disappoint:


Sacred SheDevil
You are a witch! You use your magical gift to do
harm to those that get in your way. You may
even be married to a King Queen, which will come in
handy when you need some loyal helpers. Cast
away!


What Kind Of Evil Bitch Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I must take issue, though, with the notion of my marrying a king, so I took some slight liberties with the technical description above.

(Via a: frustrated: artist -- and you'll have to scroll down, because the archives are not working right now.)




Last but not least, a: frustrated: artist also supplied a test from an old acquaintance, Bishop (at least he used to be called that) Issac Bonewits, a highly respected pagan I met years ago. I had no idea he was in the online test business, and I'm delighted to see that he's well. First student to graduate from UC Berkeley with a degree in magic; his book, Real Magic is a classic.

Well, so much for a nice introduction. The test -- What kind of Druid are you? -- left me feeling rejected and insulted!

HASH(0x87afbc0)
You are the enemy, and most definently not a Druid!
What are you doing even taking this quiz, you
dirty roman scum?


What kind of Druid are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hey folks this is modern America! Druids and Romans ought to stick together and cut all this Romophobic crap! I mean, now that I have been called "The Enemy" what am I supposed to do in retaliation? Write a test to determine "What Kind Of A Romophobe Are You?"

Where does all this divisiveness end?

Even on Thanksgiving, no less, some Eurocentric turkeys tried to accuse me of not liking Kraftwerk! (I couldn't have gotten through the 70s without it.)

Don't they realize we share similar classical values?

posted by Eric at 09:05 AM | Comments (5)



Thursday, November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gone all day -- poor little orphan me, visiting some wonderful people who were nice enough to include me in their Thanksgiving festivities. Children all over the place, and I played Scrabble for the first time since I was a kid. And I won! In fairness I should say that they beat me at a game called "Taboo" -- which really hurts, because I have never met a taboo I didn't somehow attempt to break, thwart, or at least question!

I am amazed that so many people are blogging today. Wish I had posted earlier, but I just got home.

To anyone crazy enough to be visiting here today, thank you for coming! I am lucky to have every last one of you as readers, and I don't really mean to call you crazy, because I am crazier and lonelier than most people, and this blog is my attempt to make sense out of a troubling world -- in many ways a substitute for therapy. So I really am grateful for every single reader.

And yes, in keeping with the tradition of the season, and this blog, I did find a classical thanksgiving message:

Reckon the days in which you have not been angry. I used to be angry every day; now every other day; then every third and fourth day; and if you miss it so long as thirty days, offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. How the Semblances of Things are to be combated. -- Epictetus Chap. xviii.
Hmmmm........... That sounds like an anger management technique, if you ask me.... (Hope I have the right blog!)

Speaking of which, Don has a great post today about doing the hardest thing he ever had to do. He's thankful to be alive. All of us should be thankful to be alive.

When things are going well, it's too easy to forget.....

posted by Eric at 07:10 PM | Comments (2)



Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Interesting definitions....
"When I use a word, it means exactly what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less." -- Humptius Dumptius
A number of religious bloggers are upset about a post by Dean Esmay explaining why he renounced Christianity. As one of the few people I know who claims to be both a Pagan and a Christian, I think it is only fair that I pose a question: Is God a book?

If so, which book? Who wrote these books? It is one thing to believe in God, but it strikes me as the height of arrogance to demand adherence to words written by men claiming to be speaking for God (or acting as scriveners for God). It is in my opinion a cruel game to assert that God is a book, and if (for the sake of argument) it turns out that "God" happens to favor a particular book, that would make God even crueler than the men who wrote it.

God, being spiritual and infinite, must be felt. Not all men are able to feel God. (And feelings are not readily provable.)

Books consist of words written by men, and must submit to (and be judged by) the rules of logic. To assert that words of men are the words of God is to assert something without logical foundation. How many men might say they believe these words come from God is logically irrelevant.

A related issue is who decides what the words mean.

What, for example, is a conservative?

According to Jonah Goldberg, "conservative" and "gay" are mutually exclusive:

[Jonathan Rauch is] brilliant and well-respected, and he has some very conservative views. But he is also gay.
No but about it! (via InstaPundit.)

Interesting. I guess considering the source (the Corner being the last word on conservatism and sexual matters) it is now official. Political preference shall henceforth be determined by sexual preference! The left has been saying that for years, and now the right has finally agreed.

Does this mean the word "homocon" has been officially abolished?

Are homocons oxymoronic? Many liberals would agree with Mr. Goldberg that they are.

Maybe the homocons were all molested by liberal fathers! Clayton Cramer has cited a mess of a person, Michael Jackson, for the fascinating proposition that homosexuality arises from childhood sexual abuse.

Without getting into the post hoc ergo propter hoc issues, how about childhood abuse and heterosexuality? Bisexuality? Whose judgments are these? Whose words? I don't like the word "bisexual" any more than I like the words "heterosexual" or "homosexual", but because of the tyranny of sexual identity politics I have to deal with words laid down by others.

What makes it even tougher is when people allege words come from God. There is no real way to rebut such an assertion, because logic is not involved. If I say that an assertion -- that God said something (backed only by the words of men) -- is simply an unsupported assertion, that will not persuade people who want to believe that God said it. Nothing will persuade such people. And, like ideologues, the more they "know," the more hopeless any arguments become.

I have noticed an across-the-board pattern involving the tyranny of superior "knowledge." Whether liberal, conservative, atheist, fundamentalist, Communist, Arabist -- when people commit themselves himself to a particular ideology, the true believers often so immerse themselves in a study of it that they become steeped in the material. They believe that the more they "know," the more "right" they are -- and the more "wrong" their opponents.

An extreme example would be a Muslim who has memorized the entire Koran verbatim. Such a person is very likely to believe that his "superior knowledge" -- or "scholarship" (or whatever you want to call it), not only makes him right, but gives him a sort of duty to argue at length (and often in circles) with all who don't see it his way.

"I know more about the Koran than you do; therefore I am right and you are wrong!"

The logical error, of course, is that superior knowledge of that which is incorrect or illogical does not render it correct or logical.

I have all thirteen volumes of the Works of Stalin, which I consider a marvelous sleeping aid. Even if I commited them to memory, and I wrote a long Ph.D. thesis, no amount of scholarship could possibly make Stalin's thoughts correct. I say this because I get in long arguments with a friend working toward his Masters in International Relations. An accomplished Arabist scholar, he knows much more than I do, and can site every detail of every single Mideast war, treaty, battle, skirmish, election -- ad nauseam. He thinks this makes him right, and anyone who doesn't know the details "wrong."

You don't know what you're talking about and I do!
Years ago, an ophthalmologist in China was greeted by an angry mob who stormed into her clinic, and demanded to see her hands. Lo and behold, not a callus was found on them.

"You don't know wheat from rice!" they shrieked.

And off to the fields it was for that poor ophthalmologist. She learned about Maoism while she harvested rice on her hands and knees. The mob knew more than she did, after all.

I admire people who have the courage to dissent from conventional wisdom -- or what their particular "herds" might tell them to do -- and I therefore especially admire Justice Martha B. Sosman, of the Massachusetts Supreme Court -- even though she might be wrong. (Whether wrong in the legal sense or in the moral sense seems largely lost, though.)

This is from a Fox News story:

....[O]ne of the judges is a lesbian. She voted against gay marriage, saying the court didn't have the right to make such a law.
According to my research (and simple logic), the "lesbian" reference can only mean Justice Martha Sosman (assumed to be a yes vote), who filed a dissenting opinion in which she concluded:
As a matter of social history, today's opinion may represent a great turning point that many will hail as a tremendous step toward a more just society. As a matter of constitutional jurisprudence, however, the case stands as an aberration. To reach the result it does, the court has tortured the rational basis test beyond recognition. I fully appreciate the strength of the temptation to find this particular law unconstitutional--there is much to be said for the argument that excluding gay and lesbian couples from the benefits of civil marriage is cruelly unfair and hopelessly outdated; the inability to marry has a profound impact on the personal lives of committed gay and lesbian couples (and their children) to whom we are personally close (our friends, neighbors, family members, classmates, and co-workers); and our resolution of this issue takes place under the intense glare of national and international publicity. Speaking metaphorically, these factors have combined to turn the case before us into a "perfect storm" of a constitutional question. In my view, however, such factors make it all the more imperative that we adhere precisely and scrupulously to the established guideposts of our constitutional jurisprudence, a jurisprudence that makes the rational basis test an extremely deferential one that focuses on the rationality, not the persuasiveness, of the potential justifications for the classifications in the legislative scheme. I trust that, once this particular "storm" clears, we will return to the rational basis test as it has always been understood and applied. Applying that deferential test in the manner it is customarily applied, the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from the institution of civil marriage passes constitutional muster. I respectfully dissent.
Here's Justice Sosman's judicial profile.

I am sure she will face kneejerk condemnation by gay and lesbian activists for this and I wish more people thought for themselves.

It does not matter whether I agree with Justice Sosman, so I won't cheapen my praise of her courage by getting into that. Anyway, it's the business of Massacusetts, and I don't live there.

But I guess the result is of more interest than the legal reasoning -- or the meaning of the "rational basis test." When I took Con Law it seemed they spent a lot of time on that and left me more confused than ever about its definition.

Maybe that's why they call it "Con Law." In order to understand it, you have to be a Con Law scholar -- or a homocon. (All of which are oxymoronic.)

UPDATE (7-19-04): A reader emails that the quote from O'Reilly above is commentary and should not be called a "story." Fair enough, I guess (but the URL uses the word "story.") Either way, O'Reilly made the remark, and it speaks for itself.

posted by Eric at 10:36 AM | Comments (3)



Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Eat one, but don't be one!

Be sure to check out my blogfather's special Thanksgiving Media Gun Bias report this week! Definitely one of those pictures worth a thousand words....

Very clever of Jeff, as it shows us what we'll become if the gun grabbers get their way.

It's really hard to keep up to date with irritating anti-gun developments, and we should all be grateful to those like Jeff who wade through the muck and keep us posted.

In a recent atrocity, the anti-gun psychos in New Jersey have declared that this dinky .22 rifle is an "assault weapon!"(via Spoons.)

Hey! Wanna spy on these turkeys?

Visit this site!

As Frank J. would say, Know Thy Enemy!

posted by Eric at 12:38 PM | Comments (1)



SPAMMERS, the lions are hungry!

Hey, when I was still fairly new to blogging, I thought I was a bit over the top (if in line with the ancients) when I called for crucifixion of spammers.

Well, this guy's spam-fighting program makes me look like a total wuss:

Booher threatened to send a "package full of Anthrax spores" to the company, to "disable" an employee with a bullet and torture him with a power drill and ice pick; and to hunt down and castrate the employees unless they removed him from their e-mail list, prosecutors said.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, Booher acknowledged that he had behaved badly but said his computer had been rendered almost unusable for about two months by a barrage of pop-up advertising and e-mail.

(via Eugene Volokh.)

It's a very competitive world out there.

What must I do to keep up with the Joneses?

Maybe I should up the ante, Marcus Aurelius style:

[T]he flesh of the martyrs of Christ, by many scourgings and stripes, was lacerated and torn loose even to the inmost veins and deepest sinews, so that their entrails and the most secret parts could be seen moving; and that the torturers then strewed potsherds, sea-shells, and even caltrops on the ground, over which they rolled, dragged; and on which they pressed the Christians thus. tormented, with their naked bodies; and that at last, when they, on account of the previous torments, could scarcely live or draw breath any longer, they cast them before the wild beasts, to be devoured by them...
Obviously, the word "Spammer" should be substituted for "Christian."

Will Spammers become martyrs evocative of sympathy? I know the idea sounds silly, but believe it or not, someone has already written Haiku poetry about it:

Sad sow seeks meaning
Religion found, she gives all
Now proud SPAM martyr
--Gladta B. Spam
OK, I'll go with that.

Make 'em proud!

posted by Eric at 11:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)



The daring Dr. Dean?

If Howard Dean is the Democratic candidate for the presidency, will he cause his party to seemingly abandon the precious "Southern Strategy"?

I can't think of a more counter-intuitive idea, for it completely violates all conventional wisdom, the South being of course a political sacred cow, as well as a sort of political Maginot Line.

But Dean strikes me as already chafing at the bit, what with his "guns, God, and gays" remark and the (supposedly) "reckless" Confederate flag reference. I don't think he is a follower of the conventional wisdom. Frankly, I think the man can't wait to bash a few more sacred cows.

Howard Dean strikes me an astute politician who knows not only the importance of an appeal to the large, disgruntled, politically incorrect American middle, but who knows how to do it.

Right now, his national appeal is seen as hobbled by two, somewhat related things:

  • his "Southern" problem
  • his role as the most "gay-friendly" candidate
  • A "strategic retreat" (abandonment, really) of both the South and his gay base -- at the proper time -- would go a long way towards "cleaning him up" and it would not really cost him much in terms of support.

    By abandonment, I am not saying that he should attack the South or disavow a commitment to civil rights for homosexuals. I refer more to a carefully engineered, well-timed "Sister Souljah" type of event.

    Note: one blogger has already called the Confederate flag remarks Howard Dean's "Sister Souljah moment."

    Political price? Sure, such a move will always cost you with the activists or ideologues you attack (here is Sister Souljah's statement), but bear in mind that the ostensible targets are not the intended audience -- the real audience being the ordinary middle Americans who will remember the courage it took to stand up to the ideologues. The kind of people who might have otherwise stayed home but who voted for Schwarzenegger because of (and not in spite of) the attacks against him.

    The South is not going to be easily fooled by platitudes from Mr. Northern Big Super Liberal anyway, so if he acknowledges problems there (which he already has, really, with the "god, guns, gays" remark), they might not feel quite as condescended to. Then, if he deliberately creates distance between himself and the more radical fringes of the gay movement, he will be seen as an honest, fearless man who dares to be politically incorrect, and this will ultimately redound to his favor in the South.

    His advisors, if they have any sense (or Dean himself if they don't), probably have something like this in mind:

    1. "Dump" the South!

    2. "Dump" the Gays!

    3. Then, once liberated from the baggage of these warring sacred cows (the desecration of which could be spun by the Machiavellian Dean as "a call for peace"), be "your own man" and go after Bush.

    Bear in mind that this approach is tactical, and is not based on my personal considerations of right and wrong.

    I am not at all sure that right and wrong have much to do with politics.

    Hey, while he's at it, he could disavow Ted Rall. (Or at least make it a point to note that Rall criticized Dean for "supporting our troops!")


    Almost forgot something, which shouldn't matter at all to any rational person (which is why I nearly forgot it). That is Dean's lack of a Southern drawl. He has a clear, ringing, Northern, almost Rooseveltian accent. Americans dislike judging people by their accents, of course, so they would never, ever, admit even the possibility of being fatigued by something like a dozen years of listening to presidents with Southern drawls.

    Forget I brought it up.

    Dean should not say one word about his failure to have a Southern drawl!


    PLEASE NOTE: The above scenario is not the same thing as the abrupt right turn people are predicting! (Link via Say Uncle.) The South is seen as "right" and gays are seen as "left." Without debating the merits of such thinking, defying both would have a yin/yang, counterbalancing effect -- and would make Dean appear not an unprincipled schemer who switches sides at will, but a true "centrist" -- a statesman who knows that his time has come to represent "all the people."

    posted by Eric at 08:20 AM | Comments (2)



    Monday, November 24, 2003

    Fun with Dick and Jane -- in ancient Rome?

    Despite the title of this blog and my tendency to carry on about the ancients, I sure am glad I am not really an ancient Roman brought back to life in modern America. I mean, how the hell would I make sense out of the omens and portents I regularly encounter?

    I was running this morning, and part of my route is alongside a busy commute strip. All kinds of things fall from cars. (Maybe they're dropped; I don't know.) And when I am running, I don't like to stop and pick things up unless they're really "good." Or unless they cry out for intervention. (One time I found a wallet belonging to a physician, who was an inch away from cancelling all the credit cards and was spared that nuisance.)

    But what the hell would an ancient Roman make of these four items? (Ruler included to indicate dimensions.)

    Roadkill.jpg

    A little pink diving fin?

    Three brand new address books labeled "Seasons Greetings from Jane"?

    Were I a superstitious person, or a Roman, I might be very puzzled. Or maybe very troubled. Or possibly very happy. The little pink diving fin is something I just couldn't leave there. It just seemed to "belong" in my blog. What to do with it now, I don't know. Why only one? Is it a left fin or a right fin? It's really tiny, too. Some parent is really starting that child young. And it's pink. That means it must have belonged to a tiny girl, right?

    The address book/calendars, I don't know. Why three? Surely that number means something. And why Jane? Might that be the owner of the little pink diving fin? I don't think so. The fin is so tiny that I think it is highly questionable whether the girl is old enough even to be in school, much less organize her life with address books and calendars.

    Let's look at the larger, real world implications of this morning's find. Considering that the blogosphere is the only real world of anyone's legitimate concern, this must be a sign, an omen, a portent, directly from the gods, about my blog.

    That is not an arrogant assumption, is it?

    And this blog is, after all, called "Classical Values." Clearly, the gods are trying to tell me something.

    Might they be telling me that yes, while I am swimming in the blogosphere, I am still at a very childish level compared to what they expect of me?

    And I have many address books to fill, and many dates to enter in my calendar?

    Three years of daily blogging? Is that what the gods demand?

    If anyone has a better interpretation, I'd like to hear it.

    posted by Eric at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)



    Backlash works!

    I am beginning to see why Karl Rove was pulling for Howard Dean....

    I refer to Ted Rall's endorsement, of course.

    Rall strikes an eerily conciliatory tone right now, even appearing to countenance (gulp) centrism:

    Brilliant, aggressive and moneyed (that's Dean Witter to you, pal), Dr. Dean has a corner on the single most important issue to Americans: health care. His politics are surprisingly centrist, in both the refreshing sense (he's pro-Second Amendment and he came out for class-, rather than race-based affirmative action) and in the disappointing, Clintonian sense (he opposed invading Iraq, but not Afghanistan). He's got traditional Democratic constituents (he just stole the biggest AFL-CIO union's endorsement away from Gephardt) and fresh new ones (twentysomething bloggers have mailed him $25 million in crisp twenties).
    Conciliatory language is simply smart politics, but Rall knows it can't stop what he calls "Karl Rove's brutal war machine."

    Rall knows whereof he speaks, and Rove's dirty tricksters know no bounds! Already, they are circulating Rall's own cartoon ridiculing 9/11 widows. Brutal tactics indeed!

    For Rove, it must be like shooting fish in a barrel.

    posted by Eric at 04:44 AM



    The great, scolded majority

    I agree that this is the kind of remark Republican leaders should heed:

    As a single man that has not found the right girl even at this late date, I am one of those that has been pulverising all that is private and delicate blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blaaaaaaaaah.

    The problem with those that need to point out my failings is of course that they can't stop themselves. First it was gays, then single sinners and of course eventually, married people that are corrupt enough to venture beyond the missionary position.

    The republicans would do well to recognize that this way of thinking is what most of us think of as "fringe".

    Given a choice, I'll hang with the sodomites thank you.

    Backlash is powerful. In a previous post I asked whether religious conservatives might succeed in putting Hillary Clinton in the White House.

    It should be forgotten that a similar backlash saved Bill Clinton's ass from impeachment. The legal issue was perjury, but the wily Bill Clinton and his supporters spun the whole thing as sex -- because they knew moral conservatives were drooling over the prospect of indicting and convicting sexual immorality itself.

    And so it came to pass that the impeachment pageant was about sex. Forced to "choose" between sex and its fringe opponents, middle America chose to hang with Bill Clinton. Not because there was broad public support for unlimited fornication, but because, as the nameless reader above makes clear, if they must choose between an accused fornicator and those who would condemn him, Americans will go with the fornicator.

    It may sound "anti-Christian," but it's the American way.

    (By the way, those who call it anti-Christian may be making a theological error, but Christian theology just ain't my job!)


    UPDATE: David Horowitz (prominent conservative and ex-Marxist) understands this mechanism, and has been thinking along similar lines.

    posted by Eric at 04:43 AM



    Sunday, November 23, 2003

    Do the good rise to the top?

    Kim du Toit's pussification post has opened a can of worms much larger than manhood. One of the reasons it touched a raw nerve was because -- rightly or wrongly -- the man dared to speak about something not generally allowed to be addressed. Whether and to what extent controversial topics may be discussed is more important than the subject of manhood. And it is light years more important than the merits of du Toit's argument.

    My question: are there some ideas too controversial for the blogosphere?

    Let's stay with pussification for now (because I think it is less inflammatory than what's coming up).

    Readers may remember that even the controversial du Toit was very careful to stick to conventional, mainstream manhood, of the World War II, Gary Cooper type. By no means did he want his readers to think in terms of what passes for manhood in urban ghettos:

    ...[N]or am I suggesting we support that perversion of being a Real Man, gangsta rap artists (those fucking pussies -- they wouldn't last thirty seconds against a couple of genuine tough guys that I know).

    Speaking of rap music, do you want to know why more White boys buy that crap than Black boys do? You know why rape is such a problem on college campuses? Why binge drinking is a problem among college freshmen?

    It's a reaction: a reaction against being pussified. And I understand it, completely. Young males are aggressive, they do fight amongst themselves, they are destructive, and all this does happen for a purpose.

    Because only the strong men propagate.

    OK. Fair enough. Biology rules. The strong survive. I cannot argue with that.

    And because I cannot argue with it (and indeed, what a waste of time it is arguing with nature; you might as well argue against gravity!), I would like to consider some related material I stumbled upon recently. It certainly strikes me as relevant, but whether in a good or a bad way I just don't know; it might supplement du Toit's argument, it might work synergistically with it, or it might furnish a cultural warning sign pointing in a direction those who would lead us might not want to go. (Not being a "leader" and having no such aspirations, I get to pass the buck! To my bigoted and narrow-minded way of thinking, leaders suck almost as much as followers.....)

    This is from David Adesnik's (HT Lincoln Cat) hard-hitting review of The Code of the Street, by Elijah Anderson:

    I have been profoundly shocked by what I have read. What Anderson describes is nothing short of a culture that glorifies uncontrolled violence and conspicuous consumption while forcefully disparaging the virtues of responsibility, modesty, and compromise.

    Anderson says time and again that it is not wrong to fear a young black man walking towards you with a North Face jacket, Timberland boots and an unwelcoming expression. And it is not just white America that fears him. Decent black America fears him. Other young black men may fear him. And perhaps most disturbing of all, this is exactly the reaction that the young man in question wants to provoke.

    Frankly, if this book didn't have endorsements given by West, Edelman and Wilson, I would not believe a word it says. How, in the absence of first-hand knowledge, could I possibly conclude that so many black men (and women) subscribe to a set of principles that I (and most black Americans) believe to be nothing short of perverse? How, in the absence of first-hand knowledge, could I accept a version of reality that seems designed to validate an extreme political agenda?

    The most heartbreaking section of Prof. Anderson's book concerns inner-city attitudes toward parenting. For the young men Anderson describes, persuading the mother of your child to accept your total abdication of responsibility for its welfare is an achievement, a demonstration of masculine bravado. In contrast, supporting one's child -- either financially or through marriage -- is considered a weakness.

    I found this so heartbreaking because it seems to go against the most fundamental source of human compassion, the parental bond. I found it so heartbreaking because the victims of this insanity are innocent children.

    While disapproving of it, I understand why many young black women and women denigrate academic achievement, denigrate respect for the law, and denigrate respect for their elders. But to destroy one's own children is more than I can comprehend.

    I am still afraid that someone will respond to this post and point out a glaring flaw with Anderson's work that I have missed. A flaw I did not detect because of my own ideological blinders. A flaw exposing a willingness to believe the worst, a willingness that is analytically indistinguishable from racism. But for the moment I am persuaded that this is real.

    It is not my job here to dissect Professor Anderson's work, not only because I haven't read it and am not an expert in the field, but because I think his thesis of "manhood" should be treated as true for the sake of argument -- and juxtaposed with du Toit's.

    Who are the pussies, who are the real men, and who will win?

    Might it be a mistake to answer this question only by looking at such things as brawn, strength, defiance, and a capacity for violence and brutality? Neither skinny little Japanese soldiers, their scrawny counterparts in Vietnam, nor the much touted Gurkha regiments were noted for brawn or brute strength. But they got the job done. It took an enormous effort to defeat the Japanese in World War II, and while there is no substitute for brawn and strength, the Atom Bomb was the product a team of scientists who could very well have been seen as "pussies" -- not only in their own time, but even today. How many real men would have had to die to acheive the same result as was achieved by these pointy-headed intellectuals who couldn't park a bicycle straight?

    Is Bill Gates a real man? How much ass has he kicked?

    What the hell is going on?

    Is there such a thing as IQ? Am I allowed to ask questions about it, or will I run the risk of being demonized?

    Take the common bumpersticker (which I'm sure you've all seen): "MY KID CAN BEAT UP YOUR HONOR STUDENT!" While divisive (perhaps on the level of divide-and-conquer?) that bumpersticker is certainly reflective of popular outrage, perhaps common sense, and supplies a rough, man-in-the-street rhetorical equivalent of du Toit's point (although du Toit himself may well have been one of those honor students lucky enough to have been the exception which proves the rule).

    Is it smart or strong to encourage antagonism between the smart and the strong? Who benefits?

    And, if it is fair to talk about the beaten down real man (no longer allowed by society to boast that his kid can beat up the honor student) is it really fair to neglect the bright kids? Are we doing them a disservice by pretending that a) there is no such thing as IQ; and b) even if there is such a thing, we will not allow it to matter?

    Eric S. Raymond strikes me as one of the courageous few who has at least attempted to strike the same blow on behalf of the intellectual underdog which du Toit has for the masculine underdog.

    I know, I know, right there many readers will argue that neither are underdogs! That the smart as well as the strong are "advantaged" and, for that reason, must be put down and kept down. du Toit offers a wake-up call to the masculine; RISE UP, REAL MEN! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE EXCEPT YOUR APRON STRINGS!

    Raymond's argument is similar, but more subtle. He merely warns that it is a mistake to ignore reality. Quite courageously (which I guess makes him a real man) he does not sidestep the racial implications:

    [M]ale/female differences are insignificant compared to the real hot potato: differences in the mean IQ of racial and ethnic groups. These differences are real and they are large enough to have severe impact in the real world. In previous blog entries I've mentioned the one-standard-deviation advantage of Ashkenazic Jews over gentile whites; that's roughly fifteen points of IQ. Pacific-rim Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans etc.) are also brighter on average by a comparable margin. So, oddly enough, are ethnic Scots — though not their close kin the Irish. Go figure...

    And the part that, if you are a decent human being and not a racist bigot, you have been dreading: American blacks average a standard deviation lower in IQ than American whites at about 85. And it gets worse: the average IQ of African blacks is lower still, not far above what is considered the threshold of mental retardation in the U.S. And yes, it's genetic; g seems to be about 85% heritable, and recent studies of effects like regression towards the mean suggest strongly that most of the heritability is DNA rather than nurturance effects.

    For anyone who believe that racial equality is an important goal, this is absolutely horrible news. Which is why a lot of well-intentioned people refuse to look at these facts, and will attempt to shout down anyone who speaks them in public. There have been several occasions on which leading psychometricians have had their books canceled or withdrawn by publishers who found the actual scientific evidence about IQ so appalling that they refused to print it.

    Unfortunately, denial of the facts doesn't make them go away. Far from being meaningless, IQ may be the single most important statistic about human beings, in the precise sense that differences in g probably drive individual and social outcomes more than any other single measurable attribute of human beings.

    Bear in mind that I didn't say that.

    But take a look at this graph:

    murray-iq-place-graph.gif

    Again, is common sense being ignored? Put yourself in the position of a boss having to hire a new employee. Given a choice between two qualified applicants, one smarter than the other, who would YOU hire? (I don't think of myself as a bigot, but I have to confess that I would hire the smarter one.)

    Eric Raymond's point -- that ignoring reality does not make it go away -- stands in stark defiance against a consensus that things like IQ should be ignored, as should things like masculinity. And more troubling, that somehow both should be made to go away.

    A thing which, if possible at all, in my view could only be accomplished by means of the most grotesque methods of B.F. Skinner style social engineering imaginable. (Treatments once used to "cure" homosexuals could be dusted off and used again, you know.....)

    Query: IQ stands for "Intelligence Quotient"; should MQ henceforth be measured, and called "Masculinity Quotient"? Or should we just pretend these aren't real things? I am not suggesting that it should be a negative judgment that one guy might not be not as intelligent, or another guy might not be as masculine. But isn't it making just as much of a judgment to stigmatize something as it is to praise it? Hell, I think this calls for the quote of the day:

    Moderation, apparently, is inconceivable to some people.
    If the whole IQ topic upsets you, then by all means I suggest you browse through some of these links! If you feel about intelligence (one way or the other) the way some people feel about masculinity, why, I'd be willing to bet you'll wind up in a frothing, foam-flecked frenzy! (Links via Upstream, via Eric S. Raymond.)

    Why should the idea that there is such a thing as intelligence -- and it can be good -- be more inflammatory than similar ideas about masculinity? Why should either subject be inflammatory? Who gets to decide these things?

    Is it a good idea to neglect bright kids, put them down, and drug them into submission?

    Does sweeping things like IQ and masculinity under the carpet and pretending they don't exist heighten the possibility the bad (the more uncontrolled, dark sides) will rise to the top instead of the good?

    How the hell would I know? I would dread being at the top! Being a borderline anarchist, I tend to distrust leaders and the whole concept of leadership. I define "leaders" as people who would tell me and others what to do. I recognize that there are and always will be such people, but allowing them free "reign" is something I consider anathema to a free society. At the same time, I recognize the need for minimal government, and I think the founders of this country offered a compromise with anarchy. Unfortunately, even that compromise has been compromised.

    But "leaders" who would tell me how to be a man are about as ridiculous as those who would tell me how to be a homo -- or how to be intelligent. That kind of leadership I do not follow.

    Those who do follow are, in my view, nether masculine nor intelligent. Ironically, of course, intelligence and masculinity can no more be eradicated by lame attempts at leadership than they can be created by leadership. Intelligence is innate. Masculinity is innate. Tampering with either, though, may, by hindering individuals who possess the characteristics, make them into monsters. Intelligent monsters, masculine monsters, or both.

    I think the best approach might just be to acknowledge reality, and stop messing with people.

    How very naive of me!

    posted by Eric at 08:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)



    Saturday, November 22, 2003

    The Latest Wrong Thing.

    Bloggers are either: a) foolish amateurs who abandon their blogs, or b) professsional writers who con the former.

    So says John Dvorak (link), who, if I remember correctly, once praised blogging as "the next thing."

    I did remember correctly. (More or less....) Here's the link.

    Well that was then, and this is now:

    Writing is tiresome. Why anyone would do it voluntarily on a blog mystifies a lot of professional writers. This is compounded by a lack of feedback, positive or otherwise. Perseus thinks that most blogs have an audience of about 12 readers. Leaflets posted on the corkboard at Albertsons attract a larger readership than many blogs. Some people must feel the futility.

    The problem is further compounded by professional writers who promote blogging, with the thought that they are increasing their own readership. It's no coincidence that the most-read blogs are created by professional writers. They have essentially suckered thousands of newbies, mavens, and just plain folk into blogging, solely to get return links in the form of the blogrolls and citations. This is, in fact, a remarkably slick grassroots marketing scheme that is in many ways awesome, albeit insincere.

    Unfortunately, at some point, people will realize they've been used. This will happen sooner rather than later, since many mainstream publishers now see the opportunity for exploitation. Thus you find professionally written and edited faux blogs appearing on MSNBC's site, the Washington Post site, and elsewhere. This seems to be where blogging is headed—Big Media. So much for the independent thinking and reporting that are supposed to earmark blog journalism.

    OK, folks, which is it? Am I a "professional writer" or am I "being used"?

    That's a pretty tough question, but I'll do my best to answer it.

    I am a licensed attorney, but because I dislike litigation and live in a state where I am not licensed, I don't practice much law. I suppose that when I did practice law, because that included lots of writing and because I was paid, I was in that sense a "paid" writer. But I have never been published, and I have never been paid just for writing.

    I guess that means I am being used by a bunch of sneaky professional writers out there. I'll be ground up and thrown overboard any time now. Meanwhile, the covert professionals will sign deals with (gulp) "Big Media."

    To them, it's some sort of affirmation. In fact, it's a death sentence. The onerous Big Media incursion marks the beginning of the end for blogging. Can you spell co-opted?
    Maybe Dvorak means, can I smell it? Sure, I'd be afraid to smell co-opted. That's why I'd be scared to death if someone hired me. I'd be afraid of my fellow bloggers, because I'd like to think they'd call me on it if I "sold out." If they did, and if I were unable to overcome my stench, that would be the "death sentence" of my credibility. But I could still blog. As long as this remains a free country with an intact First Amendment, any asshole can say anything he wants. Including Dvorak, whose sentences are indeed deathening.

    Dvorak forgets something about this type of writing -- and that something is one of my favorite aspects of blogging. It's called linking.

    These analysts of the blogosphere think that linking is little more than mutual masturbation -- something along the lines of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours!" While there is a certain aspect of that, that is only part of linking.

    For me, linking is the most liberating form of writing I have ever discovered, because it is three dimensional writing. The old flat style -- books, essays, manuscripts -- simply would never allow me to express complex thoughts, thoughts reflecting each other, underlying assumptions, twists on words, historical backgrounds and definitions of concepts in such a precise and exciting manner. In the old days, I would have had to use parentheses, brackets, and footnotes. Today, a link serves all these purposes and more.

    Let me give an example. I might want to mention Nathan Bedford Forrest. The man was a brilliant general, slave dealer and breeder, founder of the Ku Klux Klan, and genuine political statesman of real courage. I can link to each one of those aspects of the man's personality and accomplishments -- good or bad -- by supplying links to the relevant words, and then leave it up to you readers to decide whether to bother reading about the details. (I could slant my writing accordingly, depending on what links I select.)

    I can link to whatever aspect of the text happens to strike my fancy, and depending on the knowledge levels or interest of my readers, they can click or not click. Most readers would know, for example, who Nathan Bedford Forrest was, but not as many know about the Ft. Pillow Massacre. Fewer still would know that there are a number of competing historical views of this man.

    In case any readers were upset by the Ramsey Clark portrayal, read this!

    Bear in mind that Nathan Bedford Forrest was just an example, plucked at random. (Well, almost at random.)

    Three dimensional writing is marvelous. There really isn't any other place I can do this. No books can do it, either.

    Dvorak (whose name has become a noun meaning cyber-bigotry) must live in two dimensions.

    Why does this remind me of conventional politics?

    posted by Eric at 03:38 PM | Comments (3)



    Make them "heal"!

    Let's start with a comment I just left at Don Watkins' blog:

    OK you flattered me, so now I get to tell the truth!

    (Long pause....)

    Hi, I'm Eric. I was disgusted with life and had abandoned the blog I had started a year before in a spontanous outburst of childish temper.

    After finding a blogfather -- Alphecca -- who persuaded me to lift myself out of my doldrums and really start blogging, next I encountered the indefatigable Don Watkins, who, through some strange paradoxical phenomenon not yet understood (and almost Zen-like), made me ashamed of my former slothfulness and decrepitude while at the same time ridiculing himself. After forcing me to learn about Objectivism, Don then disappeared on a ten-day drunken orgy. It was then I realized that I could never stop blogging.

    Such are the ways of the great masters -- and not for me to question...

    Thank you for the kind words Don! I don't know if I can live up to them.

    I would be selfish in the extreme if I did not take this opportunity to say something which has been on my mind.

    It concerns the subject of abandoned blogs. I am a little sensitive about losing friends, doubtless because I lost so many of them to AIDS. But here in the blogosphere, I have to say that despite my kvetching about ill will, incivility, and yes, even outright bigotry, the worst thing I have had to witness is the death of blogs I have enjoyed.

    Sketches of Strain is one example of a blog which touched my life, then died. I got that awful, sinking feeling I know so well, and....

    What has this to do with Don Watkins?

    Well, as I said in my comment, when I was at a critical point in blogging, he helped me decide to never quit. And not long ago, he was able to move the mighty Rachel Lucas -- to the point where she laughed for a full fifteen minutes and then pronounced him her favorite blogger.

    But now even Rachel Lucas has succumbed to that dread disease of blog doldrums. Day after day, I keep checking back and I read this:

    Just in case anyone is actually still coming by (at last check, I'm still getting about 1,300 hits a day for some bizarre reason even though this blog sucks now and we all know it)....
    Come on Don, I wanna see some magic! Some real, Lazarus-style laying on of hands! If you can lift up the mighty Rachel Lucas, you will be the greatest healer of the blogosphere. All the world will pay homage to you! Dvorak will have to eat his mean-spirited, petty words. You will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

    You can do it, Don!

    All I have to offer are blood, sweat, and tears.

    And.

    pictures....


    PuffBugged.JPGPuffSleep.JPGPuffFloor.JPG

    Now where do you suppose I got that idea?

    posted by Eric at 11:21 AM | Comments (1)



    Friday, November 21, 2003

    Music for the River Styx

    Here's some scary news from someone in a position to know:

    Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.

    ....

    In the magazine’s December edition, the former commander of the military’s Central Command warned that if terrorists succeeded in using a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) against the U.S. or one of our allies, it would likely have catastrophic consequences for our cherished republican form of government.

    .....

    Franks then offered “in a practical sense” what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.

    “It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”

    Franks didn’t speculate about how soon such an event might take place.

    Already, critics of the U.S. Patriot Act, rushed through Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, have argued that the law aims to curtail civil liberties and sets a dangerous precedent.

    But Franks’ scenario goes much further. He is the first high-ranking official to openly speculate that the Constitution could be scrapped in favor of a military form of government.

    The usually camera-shy Franks retired from U.S. Central Command, known in Pentagon lingo as CentCom, in August 2003, after serving nearly four decades in the Army.

    I don't like to be an alarmist, but.....

    It strikes me that we are very fortunate that this has not already happened. For many years, my worst fear was that a nuclear weapon would somehow be detonated in New York, and that this would mean not just the end of New York, but the end of American freedom. September 11 came close to realizing that fear.

    I live about five hundred yards away from a Wahhabist-style mosque and school, and while they were always good neighbors, the seeming tension between my natural libertarianism and seeing veiled women running around caused me to worry in an "irrational" manner.

    By that I mean on an emotional level. I don't like to be ruled by my emotions, but this was just a feeling sort of thing. I tried to put these thoughts out of my mind, and to get it all out of my system I went so far as to "compose" a sort of musical cutup, expressing my utter dread, my fear and loathing, in an attempt to express in psychic terms what words could not.

    It's a collage, and I guess General Franks' role in all this is as a sort of "psychic DJ" who inspired me to put it on my blog today. (Of course, reading about genuine blogger music may have also played a part.)

    It is creepy and grotesque, and deliberately so. If you don't like it, well, I'm sorry. I didn't intend for it to be liked.

    Title is "The Helmsman." I made it on July 21, 2001 -- the Summer Solstice -- and I have just now converted it to RealAudio format for ease in streaming.

    You can click here if you want to listen.....

    But don't say you weren't warned!

    posted by Eric at 02:36 PM | Comments (3)



    My money isn't mine!

    Jesse Jackson (among other people) thinks that Rush Limbaugh should face prison for money laundering.

    Atrios reports on the matter but as far as I know has not weighed in on it. (Here is the story he links. Does anyone know for a fact that Atrios is a "he"? I guess the masculine subsumes the feminine, but that's not the point....)

    A conviction on such charges in Florida would be a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Rush Limbaugh says that he wasn't engaged in "money laundering," but instead only paid money out.

    The issue is not whether Rush or anyone considers paying out large sums of money (regardless of the recipient) to be "money laundering." Certainly it is not what most people think of when they contemplate the "crime." What matters is the statute: it is illegal to fail to report a cash withdrawal of more than $10,000 -- or to structure withdrawals in such a way as to avoid such reporting.

    To me, this is an issue much larger than Rush Limbaugh. I don't care whether he wasted the money on overpriced drugs, bought a luxury yacht and used it for target practice, or piled up the cash and set fire to it. If it's your money, you should be free to do anything you want with it.

    The "money laundering" statutes are outrageous, and another example of how the War Against Drugs is a war against liberty. I have no idea what Rush Limbaugh has said about them, and I don't care. If it turns out he hypocritically supports the enforcement of these money laundering statutes (for people other than him) then I'm still against them.

    People who use Rush Limbaugh as an excuse to support such legislative tyranny are being shortsighted.

    posted by Eric at 01:00 PM



    You sweet thing you!

    Step right up!

    Today is Online Test Day at Classical Values, and this Friday you're getting two for one!

    That's TWO POSTS, of TWO each, for a total of FOUR tests. (I happen to know this because of my background in mathematics, where I learned a complicated mathematical formula now taught only to the nation's elite: 2 + 2 = 4 !)

    Ahem.

    I never knew how sweet I was, but thanks to Analog Mouse, I now know:

    Glucose
    You are glucose. People feed off of you. You are
    sweet, caring, and a source of energy for
    everyone around you. You can inspire others
    with your creativity and depth, and you can
    keep people alive when in times of famine.
    People love you...or at least the way you
    taste.


    Which Biological Molecule Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla




    Not only that, but thanks to the following test from Suburban Blight, I disovered that I am the world's perfect girlfriend! (Hey, it isn't my fault that these tests keep telling me I'm a girl! Not that I could ever fool anyone; if I got a sex change, well, beholding me would be a very scary experience for the world, and I'd then officially have to become the world's ugliest lesbian!)

    You're Perfect ^^
    -Perfect- You're the perfect girlfriend. Which
    means you're rare or that you cheated :P You're
    the kind of chick that can hang out with your
    boyfriend's friends and be silly. You don't
    care about presents or about going to fancy
    placed. Hell, just hang out. You're just happy
    being around your boyfriend.


    What Kind of Girlfriend Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    (Funny, because no one thought of me as a Tomboy when I was growing up.)

    posted by Eric at 08:37 AM



    Thursday, November 20, 2003

    Global Escher Bush

    The next test -- "Which famous artist most reflects your personality?" -- is really one of the best online tests I have found so far, not only because I like the pictures, but because the result seems to be quite accurate.

    M.C. Escher
    Congratulations!! You are M.C. ESCHER.
    Your drawings often depict images, which seem to be
    feasible, but logically cannot exist.
    You are happiest when you are exercising your mind.
    You live your life very sensibly. Your friends
    turn to you when they need advice from someone
    who knows how to remove emotional prejudice
    from a situation.


    Which famous artist most reflects your personality?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    My thanks to Lynn at Reflections in d minor for this gem of a test!




    Last but not least, a test from the reliably enigmatic Ghost of a flea -- "Which member of the Bush Administration are you?" I have never met the Flea and I cannot explain the pattern, but we keep getting the same test results -- and here the Flea and I BOTH tested out to be George W. Bush.

    You're the W!
    You are George Walker Bush! You are the most
    powerful man in the world, which leaves you
    little time to think for yourself. Fortunately,
    you have your friends to think for you!


    Which member of the Bush Administration are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    I guess the country can sleep at night knowing that the president has so many backups in reserve....

    posted by Eric at 11:29 PM | Comments (2)



    Making a stab at a "scoop"

    Condemning Glenn Reynolds for not reading him, my favorite satirist, Howard Veit, now claims he "scooped" a story about EU tariffs "targeting states that were marginal for Bush" on November 11.

    Without getting into the definition of the term, here is the supposed "scoop":

    Oh those clever Europeans: Note that the retaliatory tariffs are all aimed at products produced in states Bush MUST win in '04; Florida, Texas (citrus, not cotton yet), Kentucky, and North Carolina. One would think they were given the data by the DNC, but that's impossible. Nobody would be that low. But because the steel workers Union called Bush an unacceptable candidate, you can bet the U.S. will cancel our steel tariffs. The whole purpose was to buy votes and it didn't work.

    Not so!

    The story was reported by the BBC on November 10, the day before.

    The European Commission has drawn up a hit list of US imports worth about $2.2bn a year - including Harley Davidson motorcycles, citrus fruits and textiles - which will be targeted with retaliatory sanctions.

    'Re-balancing measures'

    The hit list is said to have been calculated to inflict maximum pain on states whose support will be crucial to President George W Bush's re-election campaign next year.

    If writing about this a day after the BBC wrote about it constitutes a "scoop," then I think I'll tell you what happened yesterday in the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

    No I guess I won't. Howard has already beaten me to it, arguing that it was "great for rug munchers and shit stabbers, but nobody else."

    Do the "rug munchers" know about this judicial jackpot? Last time I looked, the vast majority of them were heterosexual men!

    Wow, that is a scoop!

    I take everything back!

    (I'll leave the "scoop" about "shit stabbers" out of this, because I believe in maintaining at least a semblance of dignity in this blog.)

    posted by Eric at 04:52 PM | Comments (4)



    Carrying tolerance too far....

    Gay Guns.

    What is it about putting those words together which pushes so many hot buttons? Considering recent controversies, I see no better way to plumb the depths of tolerance in the blogosphere than to juxtapose these issues again.

    John Kusch writes very well, better than most bloggers, and certainly better than I do. Dean Esmay finds him annoying, but links to him anyway.

    I have to admit that I was a little annoyed by the fact that John Kusch was annoyed by Frank J. of all people, (Frank J. being my favorite humorist in the blogosphere), and I have been more than a little annoyed by John's failure to appreciate the value (especially to homosexuals) of the Second Amendment. But nothing John has said could possibly be more annoying than some of the downright bigoted things this guy (who I charitably call a "satirist") has said. (Here are a few examples.)

    Even though I find myself disagreeing with some of John's thinking on guns and on gays, that's OK, because there isn't anyone I agree with on everything anyway.

    First, guns. This was a note to Kim du Toit (who, despite John's contention, did print and comment on it)

    A Comment You Will Never Read

    This comment was posted -- but will likely never be displayed -- in response to the Kim du Toit article, "It's Ball-Kickin' Time in Wisconsin", in which he calls upon his Wisconsinite readers to rise up against Governor Doyle's recent veto of a bill that would have allowed citizens to register for and carry concealed firearms:

    I think you should do a long essay on all the social good concealed weapons have done in our nation's ghettoes. I'll be fascinated to review your results.

    You'll note that one of the groups in opposition to this legislation was law-enforcement officers. I work in a correctional environment with lots of sheriffs and police officers, and not one of them thinks this bill was a good idea. And they're all pretty manly-looking, at least compared to me.

    Who am I more likely to trust -- you, a foreign-born non-Wisconsinite with a single-note agenda, or law enforcement officers from my own state who have to actually live here? Do the math.

    I suggest you attend to your own balls before presuming to know what to do with ours.

    I am not terribly impressed by arguments to authority -- in this case law enforcement officers -- especially on matters of constitutional rights (especially when said rights place limitations on their authority!). I am as much a Second Amendment absolutist as I am a First Amendment absolutist. Guns have saved my life twice, and I support concealed carry. As to the "social good concealed weapons have done in our nation's ghettoes," hey, poor people living in ghettoes have just as much right to self defense -- concealed or otherwise -- as any American. To argue (which John seems to do implicitly) for a different standard for the poor, or for people living in ghettoes, is simply wrong. I would be willing to bet that a number of lives have been saved by concealed weapons in the hands of the poor. I believe that an armed society is a polite society, and that concealed weapons make people extra careful (for the simple reason that criminals don't know who is armed).

    In my view, the fatal flaw in John's argument is the failure to distinguish between criminals and law abiding citizens. Crimes committed with guns are by definition not committed by the law abiding, so it is illogical to compare concealed carry by criminals with concealed carry by law abiding citizens.

    Apples and oranges. So, while I have to disagree with John Kusch on guns, I should note that I have this same disagreement with some of my best friends.

    Kim du Toit is an absolutist on the Second Amendment, and I think that's a good thing. I have had disagreements with him too -- particularly on the tone of his pussification post. Unlike John Kusch, though, who disagrees with Kim du Toit on almost everything, I thought du Toit was absolutely right about a number of things -- notably the destruction of freedom in this country and the failure of people to stand up to it. I think men and women are both guilty, though, and I no more need du Toit telling me how to be a man than I need John Kusch telling me how to be a proper homosexual. But both of these guys strike me as sincere and honest. Both speak from the heart, and both write in a very compelling manner. Both, incidentally, are against drugging children with Ritalin!

    I realize that it would be too much to ask that they be civil to each other; the very idea strikes me as wildly naive. That does not mean that I can't engage in civility. John Kusch and Kim du Toit are a far cry from Ted Rall, Fred Phelps, or the rest of the raving moonbats who populate the fringes.

    While I am at it, I have to confess that I am a little frustrated by this post too -- because it seems to divide the world into homosexuals and heterosexuals.

    I recently had a discussion with a woman at work who asked me, "If there are gay men who can marry a woman and, I mean . . . they can function and have children and live a normal life, then why don't they just stick with that?"

    "Because it's torture," I answered. "Straight men in prison have sex with one another because they're in prison and they have no other options. A gay man who feels he must marry a woman and have children to enjoy a real and fulfilling family life is in a similar situation psychologically. I've known many gay men who were married, and what I keep hearing again and again from them, after the marriage has dissolved, is, 'I had no idea what it was like until I fell in love with a man.' Their marriages never last long after they realize what they've been denying themselves.

    "It isn't natural for a gay man to be with a woman. It's painful and degrading, and it's unfair to the woman. Would you want your daughter to marry a man who couldn't really love her?"

    The problem I have with the above is that it overlooks something which (at least to my way of thinking) stares me right in the face: the existence of a thing called bisexuality. I have blogged about this before, as it has annoyed me for many years that so many people have such an aversion to the idea of bisexuality that they refuse to admit it exists.

    I am sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but bisexuality (or whatever you wanna call it) exists now and has existed since ancient times. Homosexuality is an artificial modern creation: a new, manipulative word to describe a perfectly normal variation of human sexuality. It should not be stigmatized or judged in any way. Even the word "homosexual" is a judgment, implying that people have to be a something-sexual. I don't like hyphenated humans, and I don't like identity politics. It should not matter what someone does with his genitalia, yet it does. I worry that it matters not only to busybody "heterosexuals" but to some "homosexuals" as well.

    While there may be prisoners who are made miserable by having sex with other men, I would be willing to wager that most of them are gay men forced into being sex slaves. [UPDATE: Or, of course, all victims of prison rape.] Their partners are not particularly miserable. They are usually bisexual. I have known a lot of guys (NOT prisoners) who prefer women, but who have had sex with an occasional man just because they felt like it. And they were not "miserable."

    What would be miserable would be to force oneself to have sex with someone not sexually appealing. This is not restricted to unhappily married homosexuals married to members of the opposite sex. Many heterosexual men and women have unsatisfying sex lives. Some of them get into therapy, or counseling, and are able to change it. Others divorce, then later find someone more to their liking.

    I just can't understand the apparent insistence that one must find only one sex -- and not the other under any circumstances -- attractive.

    Notwithstanding such an outrageous statement, I am the first to recognize that most people find members of one sex more attractive than the other, and it would be tyrannical in the extreme to tell them they shouldn't. But this gets into the matter of tolerance. Heterosexuals are the vast majority, and not generally accustomed to being, er, "different." Therefore, they tend to assume that everyone is like them, and this can create an unconscious (sometimes fully conscious) intolerance of homosexuals and homosexuality. Homosexuals, being a fairly small minority, are accustomed to living with this intolerance.

    In my view, this ought to make them more tolerant of human differences, such as bisexuality, not less. Pretending a thing does not exist -- or angrily insisting it is "dishonest" -- is anything but tolerant.

    On the other hand, is there anything wrong with intolerance in the blogosphere? Certainly I would be the last person to condemn it outright, or argue for anything resembling restrictions. Hell, I even link to people I consider downright bigoted, and like Glenn Reynolds, I don't believe in delinking -- no matter what a link might say. More speech beats no speech. Civility and tolerance are not rules, and even bigoted extremists help define freedom.

    Intolerance is one thing gay gun nuts understand. I can think of no better way to experience it.

    And, much as I hate it, it's probably good for the soul.

    Did I just conclude that intolerance is good? What's wrong with me? Am I becoming a moonbat?

    UPDATE: What's the use? As Frank J. just made abundantly clear, it's kill or be killed time in the blogosphere!

    Kill 'em all! Let Blog sort 'em out!

    posted by Eric at 04:26 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBacks (1)



    Time to end the quagmire?

    Clearly, America is losing control of the "street" -- at least in Florida.

    Reading this article, I found myself asking: Is the US in a quagmire?

    Hundreds of police in riot gear braced for a crescendo of dawn-to-dark protest in Miami today in a heavily guarded city center that has taken on the surreal look of a community awaiting a siege.
    One of the more common battle cries of the street warriors is "US OUT OF NORTH AMERICA."

    Should the US withdraw?

    posted by Eric at 11:32 AM



    Wednesday, November 19, 2003

    Terrorism is bad for kids!

    Emperor Misha, who has been kind enough to add me to the Mark Steyn Fiskers Brigade, offers this post on an absolutely sickening situation: a child prison in Jamaica (named "Tranquility Bay"), where children are subjected to grotesque abuse -- paid for by rich American parents who shell out big bucks to the offshore torturers running the place.

    Abuse like this:

    When most children first arrive they find it difficult to believe that they have no alternative but to submit. In shock, frightened and angry, many simply refuse to obey. This is when they discover the alternative. Guards take them (if necessary by force) to a small bare room and make them (again by force if necessary) lie flat on their face, arms by their sides, on the tiled floor. Watched by a guard, they must remain lying face down, forbidden to speak or move a muscle except for 10 minutes every hour, when they may sit up and stretch before resuming the position. Modest meals are brought to them, and at night they sleep on the floor of the corridor outside under electric light and the gaze of a guard. At dawn they resume the position.

    This is known officially as being 'in OP' - Observation Placement - and more casually as 'lying on your face'. Any level student can be sent to OP, and it automatically demotes them to level 1 and zero points. Every 24 hours, students in OP are reviewed by staff, and only sincere and unconditional contrition will earn their release. If they are unrepentant? 'Well, they get another 24 hours.'

    One boy told me he'd spent six months in OP.

    I didn't think this could be true, but it transpired this was not even exceptional. 'Oh no,' says Kay. 'The record is actually held by a female.' On and off, she spent 18 months lying on her face.

    'The purpose of observation,' Kay offers, 'is to give the kids a chance to think....

    A chance to think, huh?

    About what? About getting even with the world?

    This reminds me of the grotesque abuse (documented by one of blogging's best and most fearless, AgendaBender) to which Unabomber Ted Kaczynski was subjected when he was a teenager -- "a brilliant but vulnerable boy of sixteen" -- at Harvard.

    I share Emperor Misha's outrage. Parents who have so failed at being parents that they send their children to be incarcerated and abused at places like Tranquility Bay should be sent there themselves -- and they should definitely lose their licenses to reproduce.

    Lest anyone think the torture centers are reserved for violent juvenile delinquents, read this:

    An estimated 20,000 teens go through these BM programs every year. What's scary is that it's not only teens with serious anti-social and dangerous behavior who go through BM. Getting defined as "out-of-control" can be as ridiculous as having different views from your parents. Some kids were sent to BM programs because they were confused about their sexuality or their religious parents thought they're weren't devout enough.

    David Van Blarigan didn't see it coming. He didn't use drugs and didn't have any problems in school or with violence. What he did have, it later turned out, was a disrespect for his Christian parents.

    Ye spiritually psychotic parents, prepare for some real disrespect!

    I think that at the very least, parents should not be allowed tax deductions for the money lavished on their children's torture.

    Where is the Children's Liberation Army when you need them?

    posted by Eric at 06:37 PM | Comments (1)



    Dreary, depressing, stormy, unbelievable -- but TRUE!

    Fierce winds and a heavy rainstorm have knocked out my power! For how long, I do not know.... I would blog by candlelight, but my old-tech laptop's battery doesn't last long.

    Meanwhile here I sit blogging at Starbucks' local WiFi hotspot. I decided to check my Yahoo email (which I never get except when I forget to check it!), and I found myself treated to a very worthwhile link. The multi-talented Jim Treacher referred me to several of his "blogtoons" about Ted Rall, which are so informative that they merit an entirely new post.

    Read about Rall and his:

  • self serving "explanations" of his refusal to retract his attacks on grieving 9-11 widows
  • hypocritical appearance on O'Reilly (famed blog lover who will apparently do anything for ratings)
  • ridicule of a widow whose husband's throat was slashed by terrorists
  • Also be sure to check out James Morrow's frame by frame account of Ted Rall's attack on New York firefighters.

    Again, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.


    Oh, don't forget, buy Ammo today! (Uncle Kim wants YOU!)

    posted by Eric at 05:27 PM | Comments (1)



    No more monkeyshines!

    This is not Friday, and therefore NOT the right day for Online Testing, but I am posting the results of the latest test anyway.

    This test -- "Which Animal Spirit Totem Are You?" -- gave me results which will guarantee me trouble with two of my favorite bloggers, Frank J. (who hates all monkeys) and Don W. (who believes it to be an affront to Frank J. to ever joke about monkeys).

    Despite the inner turmoil this causes me, and at the risk of offending these excellent bloggers, I decided that honesty is the best policy. Plus, this is no joke! I am very upset about this test, because I really don't wanna be a monkey!

    Usually, when I take tests I find through Ghost of a flea, I get the same results as the Flea, so I don't know what happened here. (The result was not intentional, I assure everyone.)

    I am not waiting till Friday to post the results, because, being a superstitious person, I wanted to get this out of my system now.

    monkey
    Your soul is bound to the Fifth Totem, Homid:
    The Monkey
    .

    Homid appears as a viridian monkey. He embodies
    intelligence, potential, understanding, and
    skill
    . He is associated with the color
    viridian, the season of spring, and the element
    of fire. His downfall is pretentiousness.

    You are most compatible with Owls and Tortoises.


    Which Animal Spirit Totem Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Forgive me, but I need to bare my soul -- especially now that I am told it is "Homid-bound."

    (Hey, at least I didn't engage in Homid enablement.)


    UPDATE: And for God's sake, please do not engage in ad homid attacks!

    posted by Eric at 12:57 PM | TrackBacks (1)



    Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    Sexual schisms are immoral!

    Sayeed Qutb stands for the noteworthy proposition that Muslims who do not conform to his view of Islam are not Muslims, but, rather "shirk." (If you read the link above, you will see that sex was a core issue for poor Mr. Qutb's religious mania.)

    Such a notion of ideological purity is worrisome to me, because it does not allow evolution of human thought. By definition it is backwards in nature, and you wouldn't think it would have any appeal at all to educated people who believe in democracy or freedom. So why worry about it at all?

    I worry because it appeals to two very different aspects of the human mind. One is the very natural tendency we all have of wanting easy, absolute answers. There is nothing easier or more absolute that something that can be defined once and for all, for all time. Those who look for easy answers often look for "leaders" -- authority figures who pander to this need. The second aspect is that side of the human mind which loves ideological purity. Those who want to lead other people have an easier time of it if they can cite a final, external authority as the source for what they say. This also makes it infinitely easier to escape criticism, and avoid any personal responsibility for one's opinions. If one's opinions are not one's own, then all disagreement and all opinions to the contrary are transformed into attacks on the external source of ideology. If said ideology is said to come from "God," then disagreement becomes an "attack" against "God."

    Mind you, I think this is an extreme abuse of logic, and extreme arrogance. But that's what Sayeed Qutb and his ilk have made a permanent wellspring of intellectual terrorism -- which has led to real world terrorism.

    While Qutb and his sequelae are an extreme case, this rhetorical mechanism -- defining people as apart from and separate from what they otherwise would have themselves be -- how different is that mechanically from labeling of non-conforming Christians as non-Christians, labeling of non-confirming Republicans as RINOs (usually for disagreements over "morality"), or non-comforming Democrats as DINOs (again, usually for disagreements over "morality")?

    I was fascinated to see earlier today that the fundamentalist Tammy Faye Messner (formerly Bakker) has been caught preaching to a "homosexual church" (not sure how that is defined either; by simply allowing homosexuals to belong?)

    Curious, I discovered that the church, called the Potter's House Fellowship Church in Tampa, Florida, has been "disavowed" by the AOG (Assembly of God). I am not quite sure what it means to be disavowed by the Assembly of God, but I figure some of my readers might be as curious as I was. Here's what the AOG's Head Dude down there said:

    Terry Rayburn is district superintendent of the Assemblies of God Council in Lakeland, Florida. He says what is happening at Potter's House is definitely not of the Holy Spirit. "We feel very strongly that the Holy Sprit would only live in a human vessel that was sanctified by salvation," Rayburn says, "and inasmuch as homosexuality is a sin, then we would not concur that that would be the Holy Spirit."

    Rayburn is also very clear that the Potter's House church is not an Assemblies of God church. "It's not a part of our fellowship here in the district, and we would not affiliate a church holding those social views," he says.

    OK, so no AOG affiliation. What does that mean? At their recent service, Tammy Faye, was quoted as saying that Jesus loved crazy people:
    "I think Jesus really loves crazy people. He really does. He made so many of us!"
    I am not a theologian, but her analysis seems consistent with Biblical accounts of a man criticized for the company he kept. Pastor Morgan (of Potter's House Fellowship) was educated by the AOG. Ordinarily, that would make him a Pentecostal minister. Not, however, according to the United Pentecostal Church International.

    It's getting tougher and tougher to keep track of these religious schisms. Among the various Baptists there are the Rainbow Baptists, which are affiliated with the Welcoming and Accepting Baptists, and both are in turn affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA.

    I remember when the Dolores Street Baptist Church in San Francisco was burned and then "disfellowshipped" and I had just assumed that there was no such thing as a gay Baptist, so all of this rather surprised me.

    The following (severely edited for my impatient readers!) chronology is interesting:

    Oct. 1995 * First Baptist Church of Berkeley, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland, New Community of Faith in San Jose, and San Leandro Community Church are disfellowshipped from the American Baptist Churches of the West. The rational for the dismissal was the membership of the churches in AWAB. Not having legal ground for the disfellowshipping, the ABCW changed it's Common Criteria for church association to prevent churches from the region from being a member of AWAB. The churches appealed change in Common Criteria to the General Board since such a change puts the ABCW criteria in conflict with that of the ABC/USA.

    Jun. 1999 * The four appeal of four California churches disfellowshipped by the American Baptist Churches of the West is denied by the General Board of the ABC, resulting in dismissal from the denomination. The action taken shortly before the June Biennial convention, brought AWAB, ABConcerned, the Coalition for Baptist Principles and many other American Baptists together to protest the un-Baptist action against local churches. This was the first time local churches had been dismissed from the denomination when they were in good standing.
    ....

    May 2000 * An attempt to change the bylaws in the American Baptist Churches of the Northwest to expel churches that are members of AWAB failed by eight votes at the Region's biennial meeting. It was the second attempt in three years to make change to force Seattle First Baptist Church and University Baptist Church in Seattle, out of the Region.

    Apr. 2001 * All of the disfellowshipped California churches and First Baptist Church of Granville, Ohio, have found a home in other ABC Regions.

    By any standard, this is every bit as much of a religious split as the one facing the Episcopalian Church. The difference is that in the Episcopalian Church, the split is the inverse of the Baptists; the majority (Episcopal Church in the USA) being pro-homosexual, and the minority (American Anglican Council) "anti" -- with the Archbishop of Canterbury, while expressing disagreement with the ordination of a homosexual bishop, seeming to duck the issue for now. (Bear in mind that the Anglican Church was a schism brought about by Henry VIII, and the Episcopal Church was an American splitoff from the Anglican Church.)

    But parenthetically, why is the Episcopal Church schism getting all the attention? I have not seen any of the Baptist stuff reported anywhere. To hear people talk, you'd think that only Episcopalians and Presbyterians had "problems" with the homos. Now, I don't belong to any churches at all, so this is primarily relevant to me as an aid in analyzing the matter of "exclusion from definition" (for lack of a better term).

    Unlike the followers of Sayeed Qutb, neither the majority Baptists nor the minority Anglicans will likely engage in terrorist tactics against their respective "heretics" who don't live up to their standards. But "inclusion" is a very tough business, especially when dissent is seen as threatening the essential nature of What Something Is.

    Whether in religion or politics, the only alternative to inclusion seems to be schism.

    Is schism a bad thing? Why shouldn't the Rainbow Baptists have just as much right to form their own denomination as the American Anglican Council? Suppose the RINOs were all kicked out of the Republican Party, and the DINOs out of the Democratic Party. They could all coalesce into the new small "l" libertarian party and call themselves "Arnie's Army" or something.

    How far the majority is willing to go, and what issue is worth the costly nature of a schism, are other matters.

    Why does sex have to be so damned important to religion and politics?

    I have a blind spot. I really wish I could understand these things better. I just don't care where my neighbor puts his dick as long as he isn't harming someone.

    Millions apparently care very much.


    UPDATE: I just discovered that according to a well known schismatic Christian, God hates enablers.

    UPDATE: Speaking of a new small "l" libertarian party (whether called "Arnie's Army" or not) here's a very informative post about such a movement -- a "popular insurrection" no less -- within the Libertarian Party itself.

    posted by Eric at 10:33 PM | Comments (2)



    Monday, November 17, 2003

    A "cozy" world -- of ad hominem attacks?

    I am more than a day late with this, and other bloggers have beaten me to it, but here I go anyway.

    Jennifer Howard asks whether the Blogosphere has gotten a little too cozy:

    What began as the ultimate outsider activity -- a way to break the newspaper and TV stranglehold on the gathering and dissemination of information -- is turning into the same insider's game played by the old establishment media the bloggerati love to critique. The more blogs you read and the more often you read them, the more obvious it is: They've fallen in love with themselves, each other and the beauty of what they're creating. The cult of media celebrity hasn't been broken by the Internet's democratic tendencies; it's just found new enabling technology.
    Not quite. If this is a cult of media celebrity, then where is my stretch limo? Where are all the people who follow me around? How will I be able to tell when I have I fallen in love with myself?

    I've been blogging for six months. Am I already "cozy"? When will I know? I didn't know that was my goal.

    A few days ago, I did a post which I found dreary and depressing. Much to my surprise, it got me an Instalanche. Now, I am very happy to see people reading my blog, as well as very grateful that Glenn Reynolds saw something worthwhile in it. But where is this falling in love with myself I am supposed to be doing? When do I get to fall in love with other bloggers -- not one of whom I have so much as met? Surely this cannot be the kind of love she means?

    As to the "beauty" of what I'm creating, it feels more on the level of an onerous daily obligation, if not quite a monster. Reminds me of a Burmese python I raised and finally sold when it became too large to handle; the more it grows, the more I have to feed it. "Beauty" may be in the eye of the beholder, but it is not a word I would use to describe this process.

    Nor is "coziness!" I have been blogging for six months, and in that time I have seen bloggers do all of the following (links have been mostly omitted in the interests of either laziness or coziness; you decide which!):

  • slander each other with numerous accusations of assorted atrocious and criminal behavior

  • threaten to sue each other

  • report each other to the authorities

  • forge numerous conflicting alliances, some liberal, some conservative, and some with a stated goal of waging war against other alliances

  • call each other communists, fascists, pussies, and every name imaginable

  • a favorite blogger recently gave up blogging, citing this ill will in the blogosphere as one of his reasons
  • Hardly a cozy arrangement! Definitely not "falling in love with each other!" I find it depressing myself sometimes, and as a former City of Berkeley Police Review Commissioner, I am pretty thick-skinned.

    Ms. Howard has more:

    If the ad hominem tactics made for a better read, I might not mind so much. Sure, it can be fun in a sick sort of way, like watching a bar fight while you nurse a beer in the corner. But more and more it gets in the way of what makes blogs useful to someone like me, and that's information. After making my daily e-rounds, I feel more plugged into what's going on -- and ever more burned out on cronyism and negativity. Even if you rely on blogs for idiosyncratic takes on the news, even if you enjoy seeing sacred cows slaughtered, even if you believe, as I do, that the world needs the kind of Zorro-like cultural commentary they're so good at, you start to wonder: Is this getting a little too personal?
    She has a point there, and despite the post about Ted Rall, I try my damnedest to avoid personal attacks and stick to logical (if sometimes provocative) analysis. The character of Ted Rall however, was a notable exception, because he put it at issue himself by maligning grieving families, urging on those killing U.S. soldiers, and suggesting imprisonment for his critics. These are not ideas in the normal sense, but rather, rhetorical poison arising out of a disordered, malignant character, and striking at the heart of democracy. And anyone who wants me in prison crosses a line which relieves me from any obligation to be "civil."

    But, wait a minute! I thought that the author's theme involved the overly "cozy" blogosphere. What's cozy about ill-will and ad hominem attacks? Why the about-face? Do you think Ms. Howard had a deadline and combined two pieces? The way I would have done this would have been to make two different posts at least a week apart and hope no one would call me on it. But this way she just invites paranoid nit-picking by hypersensitive bloggers like me who are quick to spot deliberate, big-media, anti blogging agitation.

    So while I am at it, why the hell does the piece avoid the right-wing / left-wing division which is becoming a major issue in the blogosphere -- to the point where TTLB has had to redesign things in the interests of fairness? Not a word about any of this.

    Instead, she goes after... book reviewers! (Who are you kidding, lady?)

    Is this a diversion, perhaps?

    What's up?

    Is George Soros planning to buy Technorati, and engineer a gigantic power grab of the Blogosphere by the League of Liberals?

    Just kidding, folks.... JUST KIDDING!

    An article like this could not end without a powerful and earthshaking conclusion:

    In the blogosphere, everybody gets to be a critic.

    Whoa! How awful! Why, that's even worse than talk radio!

    Once again, the Washington Post has failed utterly to win me over. In the big media, only certain people -- paid professional journalists like Jennifer Howard -- get to be the critics.

    (Of course, at the Post it's critical to be cozy.)

    posted by Eric at 03:19 PM | Comments (3)



    Sunday, November 16, 2003

    I am sorry! I "misunderestimated" everything!

    Hey, I may have been wrong.

    Really wrong. And when I am wrong, I believe in correcting my errors.

    So, let's just get a few things straight!

    Believe it or not, George W. Bush may be planning to suspend the 2004 elections! I just read Ted Rall's predictions.

    If he is right, most bloggers (myself included) are wasting their time.

    How silly we are, reading about the Howard Dean race, the president's rating in the polls, and speculating about whether Hillary Clinton will throw her hat in the ring -- when according to Ted Rall there may be no election at all.

    The reason the Democrats are so lackluster and spineless is that they are afraid of being imprisoned by America's new Fuhrer. Leftists with any sense are already planning to flee the country:

    People who have spoken out against Bush are talking exit strategy--not Alec Baldwin style, just to make a statement, but fleeing the U.S. in order to save their skins. "Do you or your spouse have a European-born parent?" is a query making the rounds. (If you do, you can obtain dual nationality and a European Union passport that would allow you to work in any EU member nation.) Those whose lineage is 100 percent American are hoping that nations like Canada and France will admit American political refugees in the event of a Bushite clampdown.

    To these people, whether or not the 2004 elections actually take place as scheduled is the ultimate test for American democracy. At Guantánamo Bay, the United States is converting a concentration camp into a death camp where inmates will be executed without due process or legal representation.

    Hey there! Wait just a minute! Was I wrong in my two posts about Rall? I mean, I was all worked up because I thought Rall wanted to imprison me. Now I see that he doesn't consider Guantanamo (the place he wants bloggers sent) to be a prison, but rather, a concentration camp!

    And not just any old concentration camp, but a "death camp!"

    Now I know the truth. Rall wants to send the right wing maniac bloggers to the death camps!

    There is, I admit, a certain poetic justice to Rall's demand. If Generalissimo El Busho has put in place operational death camps (as Rall believes), and if American leftists are to be sent there, well, I guess it is a natural enough "response" for him to want right wing bloggers sent there instead. At least it shows the guy genuinely believes in his own "logic."

    However, in fairness to Rall, if the election date rolls around and there are no elections after all, I sincerely promise to reevaluate the matter.

    For now, I guess I'll just have to be considered a "maniac" for refusing to take seriously such a sober, sane idea.

    (Honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, but there it is....)

    posted by Eric at 03:20 PM | Comments (4)



    Saturday, November 15, 2003

    Should these comments be illegal?

    Some of the comments to my Instalanched post display a misunderstanding of my remarks, and accuse me of slighting Ted Rall merely for not allowing comments. Example:

    Why snipe at Rall for not allowing comments on his blog while ignoring that Reynolds doesn't allow them either?

    Pick a position and stick to it.

    My position (and I'll stick to it!): threaten me with prison for comments, and I will snipe with everything I've got!

    But I couldn't care less whether Ted Rall -- or Glenn Reynolds, or any other blogger -- simply allows comments. Whether to allow comments to a blog is a personal decision, and I can see arguments pro and con. After six months as a steady blogger, I am still a fairly new to this, and I like having the comments feature because it lets me know what, if anything, people think. It is possible that if I do this long enough I might grow tired of comments, but I am nowhere near that stage. However, I try not to feel obligated to answer all comments, because I don't want them to turn into a nagging obligation like email or messages left on an answering machine. I could imagine that for some bloggers, comments -- whether favorable or unfavorable -- could be a major distraction from blogging. Having the writing of other people right there on your site might strike some as an invasion, and be very annoying. Anyone who feels that way would be better off not allowing them. So would people who want complete anonymity.

    Several of the really big bloggers allow comments, and I can see why they might not want to. It strikes me as a little ridiculous to see 546 comments to a single post, and there's no way in the world I would want to read through them. When I see that, I tend not to even open the comments. I don't know whether I would want such a burden. (I should be so lucky, though....) Then there is the issue of legal liability for comments -- the recent legal threat to Atrios by Donald Luskin being a perfect example. Considering all of these factors, I fully understand why bloggers would not want to be bothered.

    What gave me offense about Rall -- and what set me off -- was the venomous malice he showed towards commenters. Once again, here are Rall's words:

    When I was researching the whole blogging thing, a cartoonist pal strongly advised me against including a comment feature in my blog. After I spent a few months reading hundreds of political blogs, particularly among the minority of bloggers opposed to Bush's fascist takeover, I understood why. A comment feature, in an ideal world, would allow people to discuss issues in a civilized way. But we don't live in an ideal world, and what happens in reality is that a bunch of right-wing maniacs link to your blog and encourage their right-wing maniac friends, all of whom should be in Gitmo rather than running free, to post insults in the comments section.

    Yes, there are people for whom the highlight of their day is to post "Ted Rall is a commie asshole" on the Internet. Those people are welcome to post such illuminating messages on their own blogs.

    Rall does far more than explain his no-comment policy when he states that those who disagree with him are: a) mentally ill, and b) should be imprisoned. Imprisoning people for political disagreement -- even when such disagreement is coupled with insults -- is totalitarianism. Rall -- a man whose central thesis is that Bush is a fascist -- admits by his words that endorses the most odious and oppressive totalitarian state tactics. No surprise there; he advocates a Marxist revolution in the United States. If such a thing were to happen, people would surely be imprisoned for the crime of being "right wing maniacs" -- and for the wrong "comments." What I am writing in this blog -- right now -- would be a crime in the state Rall wants to establish.

    Bottom line: Rall wants me imprisoned.

    (So, of course, do Phelps, Falwell, Dobson, Sheldon, et al.)

    I hope that people like Rall never get power, just as I hope that people who advocate imprisonment of homosexuals never get power. They are all a direct threat to me, and what they say obligates me to speak out in self defense.

    That was my objection to Rall's comments policy. Other than the fact that the no-comment policy forces me to discuss my opinions here and not on his blog, whether he or anyone else allows comments is completely irrelevant. The crucial difference between Rall and the "right-wing maniacs" he'd imprison is that none of the "maniacs" would put him in prison for "comments."

    "Maniacs" whose comments upset Rall belong in prison?

    Hmmmmm........

    What is a "maniac," anyway?

    posted by Eric at 07:24 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBacks (3)



    Friday, November 14, 2003

    Help prevent blogicide

    I just found out that a favorite new blogger (new to me, anyway) is threatening to quit, a week after I started reading him! I hate stuff like this, and I wish there were some way to make him change his mind.

    Partially out of gratitude (I can't forget words like these), and partially out of what they call "tough love," I decided to butt in, so I left David the following comment:

    Hey now come on! I just discovered you and now you threaten to quit blogging? Your blog is a gem. (Really!)

    What will it take? I have money. Lots of money. There's more where this came from!

    http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/000521.html

    Seriously, I want you to know that I was tired, had a cold, and was feeling down when your recent comments about my writing inspired me to bust my butt harder than ever before. I don't know you and can't solve your life, but I am trying in my understated way to return the favor you did for me. If you can blog your way through whatever the hell it is that's troubling you, you will be a stronger and better blogger than ever! Now is not the time to quit! Be counterintuitive! Keep blogging.

    As William S. Burroughs used to say, "You can write your way out of anything."

    I meant every word of that, too. Writing can be life affirming, because it has a life of its own, and it lives after you die.

    Not if it dies on the vine, though.


    UPDATE: David has given some good reasons to give up blogging and focus more on his music. However, I don't think being upset about the du Toit post should be a factor in anyone's decision to stop blogging. (Quite the contrary.)

    posted by Eric at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)



    Last minute cramming!

    More online tests. Why? Because it's still Friday (Online Testing Day at Classical Values), that's why! In two more hours I will turn into a pumpkin, and then it will be too late.

    The first test comes from Ghost of a flea (a professor who actually gives tests as part of his job), and I wish someone would tell me how it is that I keep getting the same test results that he does, time after time! This time, the Flea and I both turned out to be Giles, of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer":

    You are

    Giles



    "You should never be cowed by authority. Except, of course, in this instance, where I am clearly right and you are clearly wrong."

    What "Buffy" Character Are You?


    By the way, the actor who plays Giles was once known as "the gentleman who falls in love with his beautiful neighbor over coffee in a series of 1990s Taster’s Choice TV commercials." I'll bet very few of my readers knew that -- and you'll never know when you might be asked!


    Stephen Green featured the next test, "Which Author's Fiction are You?"

    Anne Rice
    Anne Rice is writing your life. Go you goth girl,
    go.


    Which Author's Fiction are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    I can handle that -- I think. If someone is writing my fictional life, it might as well be Anne Rice.

    (But "go you goth girl?" Should I be worried?)

    posted by Eric at 10:06 PM | Comments (3)



    Finally! A compromise we can all live with!

    Warning: this isn't Southern -- and it ain't Communism neither!

    But since everyone hates compromisers, and since I have gotten so many hits from the very gracious Dean Esmay, I have decided to have fun satirizing compromise, while simultaneously compromising satire -- something never before attempted!

    Ahem....

    Confederate Rainbow!

    The Battle Rainbow?

    An idea whose time has come, or an inflammatory idea?

    Some people want to burn the Confederate Flag. Others want to burn the Rainbow Flag.

    Politically correct, or politically incorrect?

    CompfedGayFlag.jpg

    Now, I know that some of you will quote General MacArthur, and solemnly say, "We Cannot Compromise With Evil." The problem is, there are two sides -- each of which denounces the other as evil. Therefore, there are only three logical possibilities:

    1. one side is evil, the other side is not evil;

    2. neither side is evil;

    3. both sides are evil.

    If 1 is correct, then the flag is at least partially good. If 2 is correct, then the flag is completely good.

    If 3 is correct, the flag would not appear to be good. But if both sides are evil, is one evil made any worse by being juxtaposed with the other? Are two evils -- when one is opposed to the other -- worsened by being combined?

    Hell I don't know! This is a blog; not an attempt to resolve such ultimate questions. (Besides, any answer I give will be considered wrong by at least one third of my readers!)

    I'll close with a quote.

    "We shall live in accord with the truth, if we have felt deeply conflicts. A clear conscience is a devil's invention."

    -- Albert Schweitzer

    posted by Eric at 05:51 PM | Comments (4)



    Would you hold hands with John Adams?

    It's Friday and therefore......


    ONLINE TEST DAY AT CLASSICAL VALUES!

    First, I want to hold hands. (But that's not all!)

    holding hands
    hand holding - you like to be in constant physical
    contact with your special someone but you don't
    want to take things too quickly.

    What Sign of Affection Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Next I get to be John Adams!







    Which Founding Father Are You?


    BOTH tests via the revolutionary blogger Dave Tepper.

    posted by Eric at 09:30 AM | TrackBacks (1)



    Thursday, November 13, 2003

    Join the anti-anti-family family!

    Here's an experience I cannot share:

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN—In a turn of events the 30-year-old characterized as "horrifying," Kevin Widmar announced Tuesday that his mother Lillian has discovered his weblog.
    (I found this twice -- here and there -- and I honestly don't know which link I saw first.)

    The reason I can't share the above experience is because I am an orphan. No mother no father. No real inlaws either (unless you count "virtual" inlaws...). No one who can really tell me what to do in a way that might carry the sort of guilt which generally goes with "family." Does this make me "anti-family"? I sure hope not, because after all I did come from a family and it isn't my fault that it's almost gone.

    What does the word "anti-family" mean? Typically, if you put the word "anti" in front of something, that means being opposed to it. "Anti-war" means being against war. "Anti-Communist" means being against Communism, often vociferously.

    I know plenty of people who are anti-war, and they describe themselves thusly. Ditto for anti-Communists. (I have known self-described anti-Fascists, too.) But in all honesty, I do not know (and I don't think I have ever met) anyone who refers to himself as "anti-family." This means that the term cannot be said to describe a group of people with an avowed or stated goal of being "against" families.

    The term seems to be a political creation. It is used almost exclusively to refer to people who engage in or support activities deemed bad for families. Not so much bad for individual families, but rather, bad for "THE" family. THE family is an ill-described, I-know-it-when-I-see-it phenomenon. It's tough to analyze, but there seems to be agreement on several principal characteristics.

    There must be a heterosexual marriage -- and not merely between a man and a woman. Notwithstanding the legality of homosexual marriage (see this post if you are confused), I think that the proponents of the idea would further insist upon a HETEROSEXUAL man and a HETEROSEXUAL woman. Otherwise, immorality would result, and any immorality means that there either is no family, OR, the family in question becomes an "anti-family" family.

    Those who disagree are by definition anti-family, no matter what the nature of their families.

    Not only are all homosexuals "anti-family" but even speaking to homosexuals is anti-family. So are television and too much work. For a more exhaustive list of anti-family activities, see this.

    And while you're at it, be sure to visit the Homosexual Urban Legends Site! Fun for "the family!" (Link courtesy of this anti-anti-family activist, whose web site shows that Disneyland is against "the family.")

    I am not defending all of the activities described above. But whether something is good or bad, what makes it anti-family? Doesn't this depend on the definition of family? I am not trying to be sarcastic, but it's hard not to, given the complete failure of the proponents of these terms to define them. (The left-wing has a myriad of equally undefinable terms; try finding a definition of "social justice" -- a term which caused immense human suffering -- for example!)

    What, then, is the definition of "family"? Is it a religious one, i.e. one offered by proponents of a certain religion?

    How can we even be sure of that?

    Here's a Christian website maintaining that Jesus and the early Christians were "anti-family":

    Christianity as a religion has varied in its stance toward the family as defined as a kinship group constituted by marriage and procreation. For much of its history Christianity took a negative or at least highly ambivalent view of the union of men and women in marriage, of sexual relations, and of procreation. The ideal Christian was seen as being unmarried, celibate, and childless -- a profile that renders the Christian Right's effort to sanctify its concept of "the family" as normatively biblical quite simply untenable. There are several types of family in Hebrew scripture, none of which corresponds with the modern nuclear model. The New Testament, for its part, offers no single view of family. It is even, at times, frankly antifamily, though desires for alternative family structures and for the restoration of the patriarchal family are also expressed.

    The negative view of marriage promoted by earlier Christian tradition was reformulated in the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. At this time, celibacy was abolished as a higher Christian vocation and as a requirement for ordained ministry. Modern Christians think Christianity has always championed "the family," but this belief ignores three fourths of actual Christian history. It also fails to account for the conflicted views of sexuality and of women that continue to plague Protestant as well as Catholic forms of Christianity.

    I think that many of the same activists who use the term "anti-family" to label people who disagree with them would call this website -- and any Christians who disagreed with them -- "anti-Christian" as well. (Apparently they know God's constantly changing definitions better than anyone else.)

    This is all very confusing -- and leads to the conclusion that the word "anti-family" is being used by people who want to hijack the word "family" so that it no longer means what it means, but becomes just another political term. You must use the word "family" with great care these days.

    In the old days, of course, the word "family" meant those who occupied the family home -- including relatives, slaves, and people taken in and supported for whatever reason.

    Hell, when I was a kid, people used to describe household employees and pets as "members of the family" -- something in accord with the original definition of "family":

    derived from the Latin word familia (Roman Era 100-300 A.D.) to refer to all members of a household: relatives, non-relatives, servants, slaves, and other employees.

    Today much of that would be considered "anti-family."

    I have to confess, I am more confused than I was when I started, so I think I'd better get serious and say that I am not against families. Not my own, not those of my friends, nor of strangers. I am not against "THE" family, either.

    Hey, I didn't start this. But because these definitions suck, I just wanted to make it clear that I am NOT "anti-family."

    I am against the anti-family people! Anti all those who are anti the family. Anyone who tells me he's against the family, I am anti whomever it is!

    posted by Eric at 07:15 PM | Comments (3)



    Wednesday, November 12, 2003

    You call this the "highlight" of my day?

    Something intrigued me about all this cartoon business over at InstaPundit, so I decided to take a closer look.

    I dislike loathsome human beings, so I really wanted to find out more about Ted Rall's personality. Sure, I had seen his cartoons, but never liked them that much, as they just seemed rather strained. The guy thinks he is a lot more profound and more talented than he really is. Pomposity and I-know-better attitudes bore me, so I just never paid much attention to him. Now that I have read through his insult-laden, downright hateful blog, I think he's worth a comment. I guess that's because he doesn't allow comments. Here's why, in Rall's own words:

    When I was researching the whole blogging thing, a cartoonist pal strongly advised me against including a comment feature in my blog. After I spent a few months reading hundreds of political blogs, particularly among the minority of bloggers opposed to Bush's fascist takeover, I understood why. A comment feature, in an ideal world, would allow people to discuss issues in a civilized way. But we don't live in an ideal world, and what happens in reality is that a bunch of right-wing maniacs link to your blog and encourage their right-wing maniac friends, all of whom should be in Gitmo rather than running free, to post insults in the comments section.

    Yes, there are people for whom the highlight of their day is to post "Ted Rall is a commie asshole" on the Internet. Those people are welcome to post such illuminating messages on their own blogs.

    Point of personal privilege here!

    This is definitely NOT the "highlight of my day." Frankly, when I began this post I didn't know what I would think of the real Ted Rall, and right now I am finding him deadly dreary, even deadlier and drearier than the anti-gay bigots who would imprison me for sodomy. That's because the real Rall would throw me into Gitmo as a "right wing maniac" -- just for having opinions opposed to him. I wouldn't even get to enjoy the very icky stuff some bloggers love to describe in delicious detail. Psychologically, Rall is described by the Village Voice as someone looking for enemies. His personality seems to have been shaped by a showdown with a high school bully. While I have stood up to bullies -- and teachers -- in my time (I was the smallest kid in my class), I haven't let it preoccupy my life to the point of writing an entire book about it. Rall has. (But maybe I too can get pubished if I become a bigtime Marxist cartoonist!)

    Real brave guy, this Ted Rall, stander-upper-against-bullies. Not afraid to bravely support the fedayeen who are killing US soldiers.

    Nor is he afraid to take on the evil Generalissimo himself, George W. Bush (Rall on why "we" "hate" Bush).

    I don' t mean to piss on Rall's parade here, but I think he knows it really isn't all that brave to "stand up to Bush." No challenge at all. Unless, of course, you first build him up as "El Generalissimo," as Top Nazi Pig, a ruthless stealer of elections who crushes all freedom, and imprisons small cartoonists at whim.

    I have to admit, you would have to be brave to stand up to a guy like that. (Does that mean Rall believes in his own cartoons?)

    More brave deeds by Ted Rall. I got on google, and I found this story.
    and this one, about his attempt to crush a smaller cartoonist, one Danny Hellman, with litigation.

    Some cartoonists I do respect, including Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb, have rallied to Hellman's defense. So did the City of Minneapolis.

    Why would a Marxist like Rall go out of his way to squash a little guy like Hellman, anyway? Here's Rall's self-serving explanation:

    Rall makes a point of his political radicalism–he’s an avowed Marxist. (One wonders if that radicalism has cost him work in a media culture that’s got to be more offended by Bolshevism than it is by cartoonists’ scrota.) So I asked him if, as a putative Red, he was prepared to get hassled for appealing to authority as soon as someone gooses him. That’s a particularly salient question when you remember that the Voice article that Rall wrote to catalyze this mess was a deliberate provocation. If you’re going to gleefully kick someone, as Rall did, shouldn’t you accept it in good grace when someone wants to boot you back? That’s the business we’re in.

    "The fact is, we live in a capitalist society," Rall responds. "And until the revolution comes, I’ll be toiling within this capitalist society to do the best I can. When the revolution comes, I’ll toil within a communist society to do the best I can. That’s just the real world. And one has to be realistic and say, well, maybe the revolution is never going to come. Similarly, in this case, the legal system makes provisions for what Danny did. If we lived in a primitive society, I would just go kick the shit out of him. But that’s not legal."

    See what I mean about bravery? Sue a harmless little guy, then justify the lawsuit by bragging about how generous you are in not kicking the shit out of him! Brave! Meanwhile, toil away under the yoke of capitalism and wait for the revolution. Brave! But hell, you know it will never come. So meanwhile.... enjoy the fruits of your toil. And sue anyone who makes fun of you!

    I repeat, this is dreary, and not the highlight of my day! And I didn't need to devote yet another blog post to Rall. Better bloggers than I have already done a better job. Michele had fun with Rall's comment policy, while Michael Totten also fisked him.

    Obviously, there is more, and I wasn't blogging when a lot of it was written. So I am still catching up. But the best Rall fisking I found was administered by Michele here, on "Bitchslap Ted Rall Day." Read it. It's a real gem. There's a lot I missed before I started blogging.

    If I didn't know any better, I'd swear this Ted Rall guy was in some sort of a contest with Michael Moore.

    Enough "highlights" for one night..... Yecchhh!!

    I'd rather live in a civil world.


    UPDATE: Here's Andrew Sullivan on Rall:

    After 9/11, I was roundly criticized for daring to suggest that there were some people in America who wanted the terrorists to win. But if you read Ted Rall and others, there can be no mistake. There is a virulent strain of anti-Americanism in this country. Some, like Rall, are now urging the murder of American troops in defense of Islamist terrorists and the acolytes of one of the most brutal dictators in history. Ann Coulter couldn't invent something this depraved. That's where parts of the left have now come to reside. It's as sad as it is sickening.
    Again, it's dreary, deadly, depressing. Rall is planning a trip to Iraq, though....

    UPDATE: In recognition of another blogger's well-earned proprietary interest, I must point out that Michele outdoes her last fisking of Rall, and tears him a brand new one here. Little wonder; for as Michele remarked,

    "Ted Rall is my bitch!"
    (Whew! I'm sure glad he ain't mine!)

    UPDATE: I am honored to discover that this post has earned me another Instalanche. Thanks to all who are visiting my blog, especially newcomers. And thank you, Glenn Reynolds. (In retrospect, I am not so sure about the title of this post -- but I can't change it now!)

    posted by Eric at 05:54 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBacks (3)



    If God hates fags....

    ....then who else does God hate?

    I did a little research, and found out.

    Did you know that:

  • Jews made the Romans butcher 6 million Christians!
  • Homosexuals and Jews ran Nazi Germany!
  • Jews perpetrated a Holocaust in (of all places) Topeka, Kansas!
  • The only true Jews are Christians!
  • I didn't know any of these things until today. But Fred Phelps does.

    Read this to learn more fascinating facts.

    (Does anyone need more proof that Fred Phelps is an agent provocateur?)

    posted by Eric at 04:54 PM | Comments (5)



    You can't take it with you!
    Money.jpg

    Or can you?

    posted by Eric at 03:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)



    Tuesday, November 11, 2003

    Many more holes to fill....

    Here's something which has been on my mind.

    I had a long discussion about feminization (pussification, perhaps?) with a female friend the other day, and found myself troubled by a few things that do not quite fit the equation. I'll give just one local example.

    Not far from where I live, there used to be a beautiful swimming hole. Located in a low, flat area where this particular creek takes a bend, the water is naturally deep (around seven to ten feet) and forms a natural swimming hole. This is the kind of place where my dad learned to swim, and similar places were made legendary by countless American authors. (For all I know, this was one of them; it's a real classic. Much like this one.)

    But enter the modern age, the modern legal system, and modern insurance companies. You are not allowed to have "dangerous conditions" on open land, and you are not allowed to have what the law defines as "attractive nuisances." For if you do, and if someone drowns, you are liable. As far as I know, no one had ever drowned at the particular swimming hole in my area.

    And now, no one will swim there again. The insurance company made the owner fill the entire hole with hideous cinder blocks -- so that the water is now only a few inches deep.

    Try swinging on your favorite inner tube tied to a tree and leaping into that! You won't drown, but you'll be lucky if you don't break something. (And, well, sorry to inform you, but you can be held liable for the trees too -- even in Tennessee. Can Texas be far behind the "tire"less, treeless tort trend? Or will there be swimming hole tort reform?)

    As she is an outdoor type who enjoys hiking and camping, my friend was just as outraged as I was about the filling of the swimming hole. Yet she understands as well as any man that this is the way of modern America. Asked whether she thought feminism or feminization was responsible, she questioned the idea of blaming one sex over another -- noting that most of the people involved (lawyers, judges, insurance executives and underwriters, and the contractors who filled the hole) were in all probability men.

    Was the filling of that swimming hole part of the feminization of America? Is Tort Law "feminine"? If men create and enforce such a legal system, does it make sense to say that they have "feminized" things? Doesn't the latter term imply that men are imitating women, even though women might not have had the idea and are not to blame? Is it fair to blame one sex for decisions taken by society as a whole? Is all weakness (which this expansion of liability clearly is) to be considered feminine? Why?

    I am not denying the outrage here. As a libertarian, I believe in a doctrine called "assumption of the risk." I learned about it in law school, yet today it seems to have little or no meaning. The reason is that there are huge numbers of lawyers, all competing with each other for work, and all dedicated to the endless expansion of liability. Feminization may be the result, but the women didn't do it.

    And some of them have had their fill too.

    posted by Eric at 11:48 AM | Comments (7)



    Remembering veterans

    My blogfather makes a good point here about Veterans Day:

    This is not a day for joy. It is not a day for a "Sale." It is or should be a solemn day where we remember those who have or are at this very moment serving our country. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms we continue to enjoy.
    Jeff's right, of course, and he has selected some excellent pictures from the Arlington National Cemetery web site. Check out Alphecca today.

    InstaPundit links to Donald Sensing's Veterans Day post. Reflecting on the history of our country's wars in light of the September 11 attacks, Reverend Sensing reminds us of Heinlein's definition of veteran:

    Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein wrote the best definition of veterans that I have ever read. He was a medically-retired US Navy officer himself when he wrote his classic novel, Starship Troopers. In it he said that there is only one distinction between veterans and non-veterans. It isn’t intelligence or education or class. It is only the fact that veterans are those who have put their own mortal bodies between their loved ones’ homes and the war’s desolation, a fact that the full verses of the Star Spangled Banner first recognized. Veterans are those who love others enough to risk laying down their lives for them, especially people they do not even know. That’s all patriotism is, really: the willingness to risk yourself on behalf of people you do not actually know.

    So the firemen and police and rescue workers of New York and Arlington, Va., are veterans of a new kind for a new kind of war.

    Donald Sensing and Robert Heinlein are right. Honoring warriors of whatever variety is at once a modern tradition as well as an ancient one -- something our armed forces recognize.

    I think most Americans would agree. Please take a spare moment to honor the veterans. If you are looking for some way to do that, in addition to reading the above links, you might use that moment to visit this site.

    posted by Eric at 08:15 AM



    Monday, November 10, 2003

    Flushing, linking, and hitting

    Mondays suck, in blogging as well as in life. Today was even worse, as I had to drive on the World's Worst Road, Route 206 in New Jersey. But thanks to a fellow blogger, I gained some insight which compensated for the pain.

    To give a little background, I had to wait to use a stupid shopping center bathroom today; one of those men's rooms that could have had a bank of six urinals installed but instead had one urinal -- with half the room dedicated to one single stall big enough to accomodate the President of the United States, three Secret Service agents, two members of the press corps, and the guy who carries the "football." (And somehow, I don't think the President is "going" there anytime soon.)

    I deserve to be inconvenienced, of course, so I should be a man and suck it up. (?) After all, why shouldn't men have to be made to suffer the same way women have to suffer?

    Well, don't fret, because thanks to the power of the blogosphere, hope is on the way! Women who hate standing in line at the bathroom can now pee standing up! (Via (From Snooze Button Dreams via Anger Management.)

    And, in case the toilet conspiracy didn't wet your whistle, Don Watkins also shed light on something even more sinister than women's room tactics: the phenomenon of politically motivated linking by hack ideologues to each other. This Truth Laid Bear post (via Harvey) explains how it works:

    The League's tactics also, not surprisingly, seem to match their politics rather appropriately. It is not clear to me how the roundup-posts of links to League posters are created, but there seems to be only two possibilities: either they represent an unfiltered list of every League member who posted, or they are being selected by the League's leadership in some manner. (It is of course possible that there is some system of voting for posts hidden outside the view of non-members, but that seems unlikely).

    So take the possibilities in turn. If the roundup posts are unfiltered, then the deal seems simple: sign up for the League, and you get extra links, regardless of the merit of your work. Make a brilliant post, make a crummy one, it doesn't matter: you'll get the link that is rightfully yours. I don't think it is a stretch to call this the Blogosphere equivalent of welfare (minus the means testing --- the "rich" bloggers who already have lots of links get just as much as the "poor" ones who have none)

    Wow. Welfare for bloggers.

    I am not entirely sure that this is being done just so that poor liberal beginners can help each other get a leg up in the blogosphere. Remember that the blogosphere is growing, and there have been innumerable media complaints that bloggers are too "right wing." (Hint: that usually means "libertarian.")

    It gave me a real shudder to see Arthur Silber being slammed as a right winger by commenters at Atrios, when he's anything but. (Go read them if you don't believe me.)

    The paranoid right wing fix on all of this, I guess, might be to fume that if enough leftist professors and political activists start urging everyone to start their own blogs, and all of them start linking to each other regardless of merit, why, the whole system will change, the blogosphere will become a left wing domain, and the "right wing nuts" will then be told to shut up and go home.

    Just like talk radio?

    Um, I don't think so. First of all, the much-vaunted left wing "takeover" of talk radio has not yet happened, and there are some serious problems with the idea, because the liberal shows have a poor history of delivering on ratings.

    Blogging is a meritocracy, and a purer one than talk radio, for little or no money is involved. While it might be possible for like-minded blogs to "sex up" each other's blogs by mutual linking, if they are not interesting, no one will read them. Also, blogs not only have to be to be interesting, but they must constantly be maintained and fed, and these "welfare" type blogs, while they might get a head start by automatic links, will eventually wither and die on the vine if they don't keep posting interesting material -- and maintain their blogs on a more-or-less daily basis.

    I could easily see a situation where there might be thousands of blogs, all interlinked to each other -- with no one reading them. Sure, a biased analyst could write an article that the blogosphere is now officially "liberal" but what would that mean if no one is reading the liberal blogs? What is the value to anyone of another pronouncement about the blogosphere? This is not something that anyone can "take over" or control, for God's sake. Unless, of course, the liberal cabal, having first seized power by means of stealth super-linking, then hands over the Blogosphere to the UN! (Let us pledge now that we will fight them on the mouses! We will fight them on the keyboards! We Shall NEVER Surrrender!)

    Seriously, though, what difference does it make if Republican Party operatives flood the blogosphere with a cabal of conservative students to counter the "liberal" trend, or the DNC retaliates in like vein? If they aren't any good, they won't be any good. (Unless the UN takes over, of course..... Then blogging will be licensed and policed, and rated by UN officials.)

    What I think would be really cool would be a rating system that takes into account the frequency of posts, the number of links per post, the diversity and originality of content, and the length of time the blog has been around. There is wheat and there is chaff, and it is easy to tell the difference. Quantity is never a substitute for quality. Some bloggers have both, and they make me green with envy. The game becomes one of constant improvement, and those whose focus is on getting free links from ideological automatons will never have a clue.

    Speaking of constant improvement, I never give anyone advice, but I just learned something which once again reveals my utter ignorance, and it is my hope that by advertising it to the world that I may be able to save some hapless new blogger my fate.

    Well, in defense of my ignorance I should point out that I have only been blogging six months....

    But anyway, last week I was very fortunate to get an Instalanche -- from the biggest and the best. It was the second time this happened; the first was when I was still on Blogspot. But this time, I was surprised to see that my SiteMeter hits were nowhere near what they had been when I was on Blogspot, so I visited my ISP to compare. I was stunned to see that the daily "AWSTATS" hits were far greater (on one day TEN TIMES greater) than the hits "recorded" by my SiteMeter.

    I researched this, and I found another blogger saying exactly the same thing:

    SiteMeter says I've had roughly 2000 visits since I got my own domain, Awstats says I've had 6234. That's more than 200% more visits.
    Well, Dean Esmay came to to the rescue!

    Sitemeter is only going to show direct hits to your front page, period. Direct links to any of your articles or archives will never show up, so if people link to something you wrote directly, or find it in a search engine, you would never know.

    Only now you do. :-)

    That was Dean's comment to the post above. Intrigued, I found his earlier post on the subject, where I found this additional explanation by James Joyner:
    I used to only have SiteMeter on my front page (main index template) until I realized that Glenn Reynolds had it on his individual archives and then added it to that template.
    That's what I have now done, and I would advise everyone who wants an "honest" count from SiteMeter to do the same. The SiteMeter only works on those pages where you have it installed; if someone links to a specific post, and others visit that post, then that visit will not be counted as a "hit" unless you have the SiteMeter installed in the individual archive template. I just did that tonight, and I'm glad I'm not too anally obsessive about these things, or I would be tearing out my hair over the hits I "lost" last week.

    That the SiteMeter must be present on whatever page the visitors hit in order for the hit to be counted seems like common sense, now that I have had time to think about it. But until yesterday, I thought the SiteMeter was crazy, or retarded. Or something.

    (Please! Let no one breathe a word of this to the blogger cabals you hate, or they'll figure out a way to flood each other with hits, hand the blogosphere over to the UN, and send all nonconforming bloggers to special political reeducation camps.)

    posted by Eric at 07:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (2)



    Well grease my skids!

    Master satirist Howard Veit has been fisking those evil homos again! (Civility reigns, of course.)

    I have to say that while the fag remarks aren't all that original ("dyke clam lappers and fag shit stabbers" I would only rate as "fair") some of the terms in the Prince Charles post are genuinely rich, even delectable:

    Does Princypoo in Jolly old Britannia wear the old pearl necklace. get punked in the mouth, bob on the knob, play hide the sauce with the help, swallow the sword, blow the whistle, cop a doodle, deep throat the guys, get his fast food at the Crotch Hotel, get his facials at the Salami Salon, go down for the cream sauce, play hide the sauce with the help, really do some lip service, puff on some tubing, smoke the sausage? Does he?

    Does Princypoo do the back door boogie, is he a shit stabber, does he part his cheeks for the guys, bone the bums at the club, take a broom in his bat cave, ram the dam any time he can, chase the brown clown, play a little too much leap frong at school, do the chocolate cha cha with his butt buddies, cruise that old Hershey Highway, play drop the soap a few times a day, go up the chute with the help, get his back door greased, or worship at the brown altar?

    Any, um, Takers out there?


    (HT to Justin Case, the world's only blogger without a blog.)

    posted by Eric at 05:15 PM | Comments (2)



    Sunday, November 9, 2003

    URGENT! Arthur Silber needs help!

    Arthur Silber needs help desperately if he is going to keep blogging. At the rate things are going for him, he'll soon have his utilities shut off, and he faces eviction. Because of the Los Angeles transit strike, he is unable to get to his job, and the situation is very serious, with no end in site to the strike.

    I have spent a great deal of time in Los Angeles, and I can't imagine trying to get around without a car. So, even before the strike, it must have been murder for Arthur. Now, he really faces a crisis.

    Some of you are here for the first time because of the Instalanche I was lucky enough to get a few days ago. While I hope you like my blog, whether you love it or hate it, PLEASE take a moment to help Arthur. He is an asset to the blogosphere, and while I do disagree with him from time to time, his blog is indispensable, and a daily must-read.

    Here's a good description of Arthur Silber by another blogger who's trying to help him:

    Arthur Silber has written the equivalent of at least 5 or 6 books on philosophy, spirituality, aesthetics, individual rights (most definitely including, yes, the rights of homosexual men and women), and a host of other subjects in his blog. He fairly recently wrote a magnum opus analyzing our current foreign policy and its effects on our liberties here at home. He worked closely with Ayn Rand during the 1970's when she was writing "The Ayn Rand Letter", he agrees with the essentials of her philosophy, which he understands and articulates extremely well, and, today, he is a good friend of Chris Matthew Sciabarra, the greatest scholar on Ayn Rand I have ever read. I urge you to peruse Arthur's Light of Reason. If you like what you see, and I think you will, a bit of fuel to keep the light burning would be nice.
    So, whether you are new to my blog or a regular, please, if you do nothing else, help Arthur now.

    If bloggers can't help each other out, then what are we doing this for?


    UPDATE: I donated earlier, but after seeing some of the vitriolic comments left at Atrios, I went back and hit Arthur's tip jar at Paypal again.

    posted by Eric at 04:49 PM | Comments (3)



    At the blink of a moonbat

    Last night a friend called and told me to run outside because there was a partial lunar eclipse. I ran outside, and sure enough, there was. So I ran inside, grabbed my digital camera (which suffers from a lack of a high power zoom), and snapped this photo:

    eclipse.jpg

    It's a full moon, by the way (not that a half moon would appear in the horizontal position) and an hour later it appeared to be normal.

    Perhaps it was the eclipse, because it isn't every day that I am called

    "a living advertisement for birth control and why Michael Totten is disgusted by the dems."
    (Maybe I should use that on my marquee!)

    Well, obviously, the commenter did not understand my sarcastic reply to the following request from Stephen Green:

    What's the No War Crowd's answer to this story?

    Saddam Hussein's government is believed to have buried as many as 300,000 opponents in 263 mass graves that dot the Iraqi landscape, the top human rights official in the U.S.-led civilian administration said Saturday.
    Sandy Hodgkinson said the administration has been sending forensic teams to investigate those grave sites reported to U.S. officials. So far, the existence of about 40 graves has been confirmed.

    "We have found mass graves with women and children with bullet holes in their heads," she said.

    I offered this answer -- which I thought was obvious humor:
    We were right all along about the deadly U.S. sanctions, weren't we?
    Fortunately, one of blogging's greats spotted the satire and came to my defense.

    All anyone needed to do was read Stephen Green's question. I thought I had. James Lileks advised a return to "blink tags."

    I am more of an idiot than usual, and my ignorance is showing. How does one do that? Use blink tags? I looked it up, and saw that all you have to do is put the word "blink" (with the open/closed html <<>> carrots) on each side of whatever text you want to blink. And if it works (as I am about to find out),

    this is what you'll see!

    Did that work? (The tags are correct, and the text of the tags does not appear.)

    Apparently not -- at least, not in Movable Type.

    Hmmmm.......

    I think I might need a plugin or something.

    Maybe just use this:

    ;)

    posted by Eric at 12:57 PM | Comments (5)



    Is heaven being politicized?

    Here's another example of the kind of backlash which can occur when religion becomes part of politics:

    NEW ORLEANS - Gertrude M. Jones didn't want flowers or cards when she died. She wanted to get rid of President Bush.

    The 81-year-old woman's obituary asked that memorial donations be given "to any organization that seeks the removal of President Bush from office."

    And people around the country are following her wishes.

    In an online memorial book to Jones, dozens of people posted messages of support. Many wrote that they would contribute to the Democratic National Committee or one of the presidential contenders.

    "When I saw the obituary, I thought: 'That's pretty cool.' She's not here in this life anymore, but she's keeping going with something she feels deeply about," said Susan Crites, an online bookseller in Colorado who was moved by the obituary to add an extra $10 to the approximately $350 she had sent to former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

    Curious, I tracked down the funeral home, and found countless condolences posted from all over the country -- most of them pledging contributions to the DNC or one Democratic candidate or another.

    Here's just a sample:

    Mrs. Jones, you bore the name of Sparky's favorite Aunt Gertrude; you're both treasures of our nation. Your faith that the goodness of this country will triumph lives on in your Descendants who published your last wishes. Thank you for your legacy that is a beacon of hope for Democracy. Our monthly donation to the Democratic Party will be made in remembrance of you. Rest well, good and patriotic Servant!

    India & Sparky Brown (Fairfield Bay, AR )
    October 29, 2003


    Rest in peace, dear woman. I will work to fulfill your last request and a donation to accomplish this will be made in your honor.

    PJ Sherman (Fort Lauderdale, FL )
    October 29, 2003


    Mrs. Jones, even in your passing you are doing much to help your country. You are a true patriot! I will do everything in my power to help achieve your final wish.

    Garth Brown (Vancouver, WA )
    October 29, 2003


    I'm sorry I never got to met you, but I will follow your wishes and make a small donation to the DNC in your name.
    Peace
    djamila fitzgerald

    djamila fitzgerald (cambridgew, MA )
    October 29, 2003


    Your spirit will live on. You leave a legacy to your family, your country, as well as all humanity.

    Eduard Smit (Fontana, CA )
    October 29, 2003

    Have the Democrats found God? They are often characterized as godless, secular atheists, yet here they are, rallying behind a cry as spiritual as it is poignant. I think that when you tell people that God is on your side and against them, you invite this sort of thing.

    It is bound to get worse for the Republicans. (Or, I guess, better for the Democrats.) References to God abound in Gertrude Jones' guest book; here are the last three:

    What a lady! I never had the pleasure of knowing her, but I'm making a donation to the Democratic Party in her name today and putting her on my prayer list at Church. With Mrs. Jones lobbying the Powers That Be in heaven, she's sure to get her wish.

    Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin (Cullowhee, NC )
    October 27, 2003


    God love you, Gertrude Jones. My prayers and condolences to your family. What a wonderful, courageous woman you must have been. I will honor your request with the utmost gratitude.

    Gail Hiller (St. Louis, MO )
    October 27, 2003


    God Bless You Gertrude Jones! You've made my day, and I salute you in your quest!

    Peggy Roney (Avondale Estates, GA )
    October 25, 2003
    p5800714@yahoo.com
    Rather makes one wonder about the notion that "the Democrats" are "against God."

    By the way, according to Snopes Urban Legends Reference Pages, this phenomenon is no Urban Legend. Snopes cited a similar obituary wish where the family stated the decedent's reasons:

    "I think [Bush's] personality, just standing there with that smirk on his face, and acting like he's this holy Christian, that's what really got her."
    Once it gets started, this stuff takes on a life all its own.

    Even after death.

    Religion has a way of doing that, you know....


    UPDATE: As a tool of the left, religion may be more powerful than previously realized. According to my local newspaper (the Philadelphia Inquirer), George W. Bush is the "anti-Christ in Philadelphia." (Forget the Nazi references and get with the times, folks.)

    posted by Eric at 09:42 AM



    Saturday, November 8, 2003

    For once, let's get serious!

    And for once, I took a test and got a different result than that great Unearther of the Best Tests of All, Ghost of a flea.

    playful
    You are the playful pin-up! Do you know how to be
    serious?


    What Type Of Retro Gal Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Do I know how to be serious? Is that a serious question?

    I can't help but notice that my girl is blowing Bubbles....

    But who is-- oh never mind!

    It's an old and tired line, and I am trying to be serious!

    posted by Eric at 03:41 PM | TrackBacks (1)



    Political heresy as religious heresy

    Has Dick Morris suddenly become a non-person to Republicans?

    I noticed his absence at the usual places which once carried his column, so I'm just wondering....

    Then I happened to catch this. Morris recently advised the Republican Party to "terminate" the Christian right. What fascinated me the most was his contention that religious conservatives have what amounts to veto power:


    the Republican Party has paid the price for its coalition with the advocates of bedroom regulation. The Christian right has so alienated women that it has opened up a gender gap that often swells to more than 20 points, crippling Republican candidates.

    The upset victory of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California shows what the Republican Party could do if it broke with the pro-lifers and abandoned their intrusive efforts to regulate private behavior. Moving to the center on the social issues, demonstrating a libertarian commitment to privacy, the actor/governor held the gender gap to less than 10 points, winning 43 percent of the female vote. Schwarzenegger won the top job in the solid Democratic state of California by carrying the women’s vote, a feat that would have been impossible had he embraced the social agenda of his party.
    ....

    It is about time that the Republican Party realizes that the Christian right is doing to it exactly what the radical black Rainbow Coalition of Jesse Jackson did to the Democratic Party in the ’80s — making them unelectable. Their embrace is the kiss of death. It is not that the religious right is wrong. Right or wrong, it gets in the way of so much good that the Republican Party could achieve if it were not in the Christian right’s grasp.

    Will the Republican Party escape from the embrace of the pro-lifers so that it can nominate candidates like Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice? Likely not. Those who see each election as an opportunity to hold candidates to litmus tests on key social issues are not likely to relinquish their hold or relax their vigilance.

    Is this true? Does the conservative fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party have what amounts to veto power?

    The large-margin Schwarzenegger victory must have come as a serious shock to the Republican leadership -- whose party, it should be remembered, barely won the last presidential election, and whose majority in Congress is razor-thin. That Schwarzenegger did so well with women despite the "groping" charges must especially irk moral conservatives, because it was one of the few times they joined the chorus of "feminazis" and agreed upon something, yet the alliance failed.

    The McClintock forces (dominated as they were by radical Christian Reconstructionists) also formed an unholy alliance with the left by urging a "No" vote on the recall itself -- placing both McClintock and Bustamante in the odd position of running in an election they opposed "in principle." I think California voters demonstrated that they are capable of seeing past such shenanigans.

    As I noted previously, Lou Sheldon's outfit (the name of which tends to whitewash ancient history) went all out to stop Schwarzenegger:

    born-again Christian conservatives are mortified by the actor's liberal views on abortion and homosexuality and wary about allegations of drug use, infidelity and juvenile sexual antics. The Rev. Louis Sheldon, head of the ultra-right Traditional Values Coalition, warned in a statement last week of a "moral vacuum" in Sacramento. "It is hard to imagine a worse governor than Gray Davis," Sheldon said, "but Mr. Schwarzenegger would be it."

    Sheldon's group has launched an anti-Arnie project called Californians for Moral Government. James Lafferty, a consultant for the group, said its work is just the first rumbling of an earthquake to come.

    NOTE: Readers having difficulty getting the entire Salon article cited above can read the rest of the text here.

    Naturally, this made me love Arnold all the more, and I think it brought the guy a lot of voter sympathy.

    In other words, a voter backlash.

    Such a phenomenon is nothing new; the Democrats have tried to capitalize on it for years. What is truly remarkable is that here, the same voter backlash helped elect a Republican. It is equally remarkable that even a double digit McClintock vote failed to thwart the overall will of the voters -- something which must strike terror into the hearts of people whose arrogant assumption has long been along the lines of: "Republicans can't win with us, but we'll show them they can't win without us!"

    In the future, the Democrats cannot count on automatically getting the votes of ordinary voters who fear political dominance by religious theocrats. These voters are smart enough to spot a con game by either side.

    It also means that the Republicans need to be very careful.

    Morris asks,

    Will the Republican Party escape from the embrace of the pro-lifers so that it can nominate candidates like Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice? Likely not. Those who see each election as an opportunity to hold candidates to litmus tests on key social issues are not likely to relinquish their hold or relax their vigilance.
    Hillary Clinton is counting on Dick Morris being right.

    Of course, no one is suggesting that Republicans kick religious conservatives out of their tent or in any way disrespect them. But showing others respect does not mean obeying all their demands. Inclusion in a Big Tent does not mean being its gatekeepers. And as I keep saying, disagreement is not disrespect.

    Silencing speech is.

    And some of the religious conservatives have demanded that people who disagree with them be silenced -- and not spoken to at all. According to this view, dissenters on abortion or gay rights do not even belong in the Republican Party. And, if Republican leaders even meet with them, speak to them, or have them on their staffs, there'll be hell to pay. Not long before the Schwarzenegger victory, a dire threat was directed to to the White House after RNC Chairman Marc Racicot dared to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans:

    Social conservative leaders told Mr. Racicot they had been pleased generally with Mr. Bush's words and actions on social-policy issues but couldn't assure that their rank-and-file members would retain the same degree of enthusiasm for Mr. Bush if the president and his party appeased the homosexual lobby.

    "If the Republicans continue to drift in that direction, we will walk," the Rev. Donald Wildmon, president of AFA, told Mr. Racicot. Mr. Wildmon's AFA owns and operates about 200 radio stations across the country and provides programming to about 20 affiliated stations.

    Well, that was the threat. Were President Bush politically astute enough to call him on it, and if Wildmon really made good on it, the Schwarzenegger equation would likely mean a net Republican gain.

    According to this conservative analysis,

    [A] welcoming attitude toward gays can be a winning strategy since almost 9 out of 10 Americans agree that homosexuals should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities.

    Also, exit polls showed 4% of voters in 2000 self-identified as gay or lesbian (and nearly 75% voted for the Democratic Gore-Lieberman ticket). Exit polling in congressional elections have showed a gay electorate of more than 5%. That's a larger demographic than the Jewish vote. Even shaving just a small slice away from Democrats could prove pivotal to cementing the GOP's status as the majority party. Moreover, many independents are turned off by anti-gay rhetoric, negatively viewing it as a broader barometer of intolerance.

    Yet the FRC spent a week recently using its website to expose the Bush administration's ties to the "homosexual agenda." One online installment was "Homosexual Lobby: Follow the Money" -- which, apparently, leads to Republican coffers. What better example of how the religious right's paranoia mirrors the gay left's dementia?

    It remains to be seen if the White House can continue to reach out to gays, however tepidly, without making the religious right even angrier.

    NOTE: I left in the above link to illustrate another example of a pattern by anti-homosexual activists. They apparently don't want people like me to be able to read or cite their links -- a phenomenon noted by Mike Silverman earlier.

    Why would any organization be afraid of its own words?

    For the same reason that some Republicans are now afraid of Dick Morris's words, perhaps?


    NOTE: The above post (along with many others) can be read at Blogcritics.org. Please visit the site!

    posted by Eric at 02:27 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (1)



    Friday, November 7, 2003

    Pushing buttons inadvertently....

    Still recovering from an embarrassing moment just a couple of hours ago.

    I had a little "accident" with my cell phone. It was in the pocket of my blue jeans, which are tight, and somehow, my moving around caused it to automatically redial the last person I called -- not once but three times. I was with someone else, and fortunately I was not doing anything which might have been really embarrassing. But the idea of calling up someone and having that person just listen in to whatever the hell you're doing or saying without even your knowing about it -- well, that is more than a little embarrassing. It's downright creepy!

    Betrayal by cell phones is not a new topic, but I never thought about the fiendish possibilities until this happened earlier today. (Who else might I have called and broadcast my life to? And this was with my flip phone, the one shown here; such things are not supposed to happen!)

    It could have been worse, of course.

    Much worse:

    The call, received before anyone had found the brothers' bodies, came from a phone stolen from the Wyches during the murder, the police report says.

    Police believe that the defendants inadvertently pressed a button on the cell phone, which automatically dialed a relative of the victims. The relative wasn't home, so an answering machine began recording the ensuing conversation.

    "On this voice mail the individuals discuss how the victims were killed and their appearance," the report says, adding that the defendants also talked about their involvement in the shootings.

    Detectives wrote that witnesses quickly recognized the voices on the message; they have known the defendants for years. They also picked the men out of a photo lineup and identified them as Willie E. Mitchell and Shelly Wayne Martin of Randallstown.

    Here's another case where a cell phone automatically redialed the last number a rape victim had called, and left a live recording of the crime on the victim's friend's answering machine. Click here to listen in.

    Of course, it's a good thing if your cell phone inadvertently thwarts a crime, but I can see situations where accidental dialing might trigger a crime. Or at least ruin a reputation, perhaps a life....

    The Heiress is one of my film noir favorites; a true tragedy of errors. But another silver screen gem illustrates why heiresses have to be particular, if not downright careful.

    Lucky they didn't have to worry about cell phones back in the 1890s. Telephones had barely been invented. People had to go and actually knock on doors. No one does that by accident.

    Whoa! It's almost midnight, which means I'm almost a pumpkin.


    UPDATE: One Fine Jay adds that you don't want to be a Meredith Johnson (Crichton's Disclosure) in a situation like this. Anticipating a situation like that, you might preset your phone to "redial" your own machine whenever you give it a little squeeze, thereby broadcasting the entire transaction into your answering machine.

    Almost all people today have: a) a cell phone; and b) an answering machine. So....

    EVERY MAN A SPY?

    NOTE: I do not advocate doing anything illegal. Laws may vary. Please obtain advice of counsel before hitting "redial" -- unless of course you do so by accident. (And as a practical matter, I doubt crime victims would be charged under any of the applicable anti-wiretapping statutes. But could they be???)

    posted by Eric at 11:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)



    Southern Communism ain't libertarian!

    While I haven't seen any polls or curves or graphs to prove it, I have noticed that as the country grows more libertarian (that's the great silent majority, small "l" common-sense variety), the two major political parties grow less libertarian. I think this means that the activists who dominate the two parties are seriously out of touch with the mainstream. The question becomes, which party will do a better job of moving away from activist ideology, and towards political reality.

    Howard Dean gets it, but I am not sure the activists within his party will allow him to get away with appealing to common sense libertarianism. Hence, his wacky "Southern Communism" approach: Confederate flags, the "God, guns, gays," remark, etc.

    Besides, I want the world to know that Southern Communism was invented by me and a good friend many years ago. We hold the patent on the idea.

    (So far, no royalties from Dean.)


    UPDATE: When I mentioned Southern Communism a few days ago I gave only the most superficial definition of it in reply to Dean Esmay's comment. (My apologies for the delay, but I had to contact the expert!)

    Here's more, straight from the source:

    Southern Communism was a theory propounded by a little known ne'er-do-well cousin of Jefferson Davis, a Courtney Carrington Davis. As was the custom of the aristocracy, he spent much of his days drinking whiskey and reading European writers, and had happened upon Marx and Engels after the War. The idea of total egalitarianism repulsed him, but such was his rage against the domination of the North and the federal government that he imagined a class rebellion which would install a "dictatorship of the common man," which excluded "coloreds, white trash, papists, Jews, and others of heathen religions." Like many of his class, he was insulated from social realities, and saw the downfall of the South as the result of trying to imitate the democratic system of the North. But he also realized that there could be no rebellion if only the aristocracy were to benefit, hence the compromise with, and the transparent appeal to, the "common man." Deluded as he was, he believed that the aristocracy would control this new form of government (the specifics of which appear nowhere in his writings), and that it would "wither away, leaving every man in his proper station." It is evident that,
    in addition to being the black sheep of the family, he was also not very imaginative and his theory basically consisted of "cutting and pasting" his own delusions into the writings of Marx and Engels.
    I don't have a URL, as this was sent to me in an email from my friend who first used the term many years ago -- and startled me when he referred to me as a "Southern Communist."

    I will have my readers know that:

  • a) I am not from the South, but I might be called an occasional "fellow traveler" because I have traveled there extensively; and
  • b) I am not now, but have in the past been a Communist.
  • The more I think about this, the more I wonder whether "Southern Communism" might have been borrowed by Huey P. Long.

    posted by Eric at 09:35 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (2)



    Broccoli is not for pussies!

    My blogfather Jeff has done it again. This post ought to move any pet owner to tears, whether atheist or not.

    Many religions claim that our pets don't go to heaven. What horrible religions they must be. If I die and go to heaven and God or St. Peter says, "no, sorry, but your pets aren't here" then I will tell him to send me back to the plot of earth. If I can't have my dear cats with me in heaven, then I don't want to be there either. It wouldn't mean anything to me without my best friends.
    I couldn't agree more. Heaven is wherever my friends and my pets are! (The people who don't want me up there, well, they won't get me!)

    My dog, Puff, is now fourteen years old. I feel him lots of broccoli, which, fortunately for him, he eats.

    Don't laugh! Here's a story about a cat that lived to THIRTY FOUR -- a feat which the owner attributed to broccoli:

    [He] credits Granpa's longevity to his love of broccoli and other vegetables.
    Rainbow is just a youngster! And so is Puff!

    So, postpone heaven! Eat broccoli!

    posted by Eric at 08:41 AM | TrackBacks (1)



    Dissenting Romans, and fewer missing links

    This post by Donald Sensing eerily paralleled mine on a similar subject. As fate would have it, both were written at the same time, both were inspired by thinking about du Toit's pussification post, and as if fate needed no further cementing, both were Instalanched together!

    Coincidence, no doubt.

    As I said in a comment to Donald Sensing, Kim du Toit's essay annoyed the hell out of me, even though I agreed with many of his points. I particularly disagree with kneejerk linking of effeminacy to homosexuality, though, just as I recognize it as an American cultural tradition often based on reality, further fueled by gay activists themselves. I flunked the Metrosexual test just before I read du Toit's post, and I own guns, pit bulls instead of poodles, am not neat and tidy, and do not think I am what du Toit calls a "butt bandit." (But yes, alas, there is such a thing!) Yet I hate stereotypical masculinity. This makes me a real misfit, and politically homeless to boot.

    It gets worse.

    It turns out that Sensing and I are both Romans.

    No, I am not making this up. The results prove it:

    romansrev.gif
    You are Romans.


    Which book of the Bible are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Well, today is Friday, and as regular readers know, Friday is Online Test Day at Classical Values.

    Friday is a good day for Romans.


    Meanwhile, Sketches of Strain has flattered me to the point that I am blushing, and I don't deserve it, because in reality I'm lots more worthless than he says. But thanks David! I am also honored as hell by the links from Dean Esmay, free thinker par excellence, as well as the noted Communist Revolutionary, Dave Tepper.

    More links to catch up with; I just found this one, a very flattering comment from Say Uncle. Hey, what can I say? Thanks Brendan Loy. I am honored. And, special thanks to Say Uncle, whose work to help pit bulls earns him a special place in my heart.

    posted by Eric at 05:23 AM | Comments (3)



    Thursday, November 6, 2003

    Christian heresy or Paulinist heresy?

    While I am no theologian, I would like to pose a simple theological question.

    Is it possible to disagree with Saint Paul and be a Christian? At least one Anglican bishop thinks so:

    I see no law in St. Paul. I see laws in the Old Testament but most Christians do not pay much attention to them, believing as we do that Christ transcended the law. (The churches I see living by the law enslave people with their commandments: no pork, no coffee, no tea, no tobacco, no alcohol, no betel nut, no dancing, no work on Saturday, no celebration of the day of Resurrection; but St. Paul has nothing but contempt for such "faith".) I see specific condemnations of specific relationships in St. Paul but the specific relationships are very unlike anything I experience. And very many of St. Paul’s other specific condemnations (not always consistent anyway) have long since been re-worked by the church. In the end, St. Paul (especially the mature St. Paul) is more about the radical freedom that Christ gives than imposing "Christian law."
    OK. The guy is a bishop.

    Is the bishop a Christian?

    No trick question here; I would like to know.

    As to Saint Paul, he was the first great Christian missionary, but he never met Jesus personally. Did this give him more of a right to define Christianity than Jesus?

    Are Paul's thoughts binding on all followers of Jesus, for all time?

    The irony here is that notwithstanding his statements against homosexuality, Paul felt free to abrogate the old testament. At the Council of Jerusalem in 50 A.D., Jewish Law was basically thrown out for Christians, except as a compromise measure four things were prohibited:

  • pollution of idols
  • eating or drinking of blood
  • eating of strangled things
  • fornication
  • .

    Am I going to Hell for eating burritos with blood sausage? Hey, I didn't write these rules, but they must mean something, right?

    Whether the rule against fornication included homosexuality has been debated, but why would this early compromise become permanently binding as law for all time? Gentile Christians were told to abstain from them, but the penalties from Leviticus were not recited, so it would not make sense to call them a reenactment of Leviticus. And in any case, from where derives the notion of Paul as a law giver?

    Is disagreement with Paul (or with certain interpretations of the Council of Jerusalem) "heresy?" Who gets to say?

    Believe it or not, another Anglican bishop has suggested that Paul might have been himself homosexual:

    At first glance, the argument that St. Paul was homosexual seems absurd, as it may be. After all was not he the one who condemned gay people in Romans, and elsewhere? There is considerable debate over those anti-gay "proof -texts", but whatever the conclusions, there is much, as Anglican Bishop of Newark John Spong has pointed out, which leads one to suspect Paul might have been "queer" in some way. The fact he was never married, unusual for a Jew of his time, his companionship with a series of younger men, especially St. Timothy, his mention of an unnamed "thorn in the flesh", and, possibly, his disdain for some types of exploitative homosexual relationship in his period, all raise questions which cannot be answered it must be admitted, about his sexuality. It should also be added that despite Paul's modern reputation for placing women lower than men, he also penned revolutionary words about the absolute equality of all believers in Christ, a complete destruction of prevailing social codes and norms that has only intermittently played out in full in Church history.
    I don't have to take sides on this, but once again, I ask: Is this bishop a Christian? Are Christians allowed to pose such questions?

    Is it "anti-Christian bigotry" to quote Christian bishops with divergent views of Saint Paul?

    Who gets to accuse whom?

    posted by Eric at 05:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (3)



    Comment to the comments below....

    I don't want to be repeating myself over and over in the comments to my post below, but people are misconstruing what I said (one commenter has accused me and another blogger of being "bigots"). While I wish they would read what I said more carefully, I think a post is better than another comment.

    Let me start by backing up a bit. People can argue all they want about what Christianity should mean, whether it should be limited to the teachings of Jesus (as Jefferson suggested), or whether it should include Mosaic Law. I mean to stimulate debate, not silence it.

    Reflecting on what I see as the roots of the problem, I merely offered my opinion -- not so much on Christianity, but on the undesirability of the Culture War in modern America. I think the Culture War is a bad idea for everyone, and it goes well beyond mere opposition to homosexuality, becoming a war between religion and sex.

    I suggest that the ancients were not wrong or evil or unnatural. I argue that it would be better for the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian sides of our culture to live in peace instead of continuing to be at war. Blame lies with both sides, too. Regular readers of my blog will know that I have argued against gay marriage, against "hate crime" laws, and even against the artificial modern definition of homosexuality.

    If you read what I said once more, I think it will be clear that I did not say ALL Christians hate homosexuals, nor did I in any way suggest that those who do are speaking for all Christians. I object to what I see as an ominous trend of Christianity being cast in the role as a religion primarily opposing homosexuality. Many Christians, many homosexuals, and many atheists want to do this, and the media go along with it -- to the point that the word "Christian" is becoming synonymous with "bigot." I was raised in a time when Christians were not considered bigots, and I do not consider Christians bigots. Many do. To comment on that is not to call Christians bigots, nor is it bigotry. (I suppose there are people would say that I have no right to call myself a Christian -- although I have not said the same thing about them.)

    Anyone who thinks that there is not an ongoing attempt to pit "Christians" against "homosexuals" should turn on their television, or visit certain web sites. There is a large, well-moneyed lobby of activists dedicated almost exclusively to the proposition that fighting homosexuality should be a primary focus of all Christians.

    I disagree. That does not make me a bigot.

    Let me add that I am very tolerant of religious differences, as well as differences of opinion. I count as friends people who are passionately opposed to homosexuality, and I respect their opinions, even though I disagree. Disagreement is not bigotry. Intolerance is.

    As to my personal definition, I go even further than the dictionary. I tolerate even personal intolerance -- as long as they don't resort to physical violence, or attempt to silence or imprison me. (This is just my quirky personal standard, though; I don't expect it from others.)

    posted by Eric at 02:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (1)



    Thanks for visiting!

    Wow.

    Thanks to InstaPundit for the link -- and to all who have visited my blog, especially for the first time.

    It is not my goal to attack or ridicule anyone's religion here (or their opinions on sexuality); only to address what I see as a stubborn problem.

    I hope I have provided some food for thought.

    I was AWOL from this blog all night and most of this morning, but I noticed an unusually large number of comments, and then discovered the "Instalanche." I know that many do not agree with me, and although my blog tries to be provocative, I also endeavor to be fair -- and above all logical.

    Feel free to express your opinions, and I will do my best to respond.

    posted by Eric at 10:35 AM | TrackBacks (1)



    Wednesday, November 5, 2003

    Every plot should have finality!

    Are there Christians who hate Jesus but cannot dare admit it?

    I have long thought so. My theory is that if you took the teachings of Jesus and put them all in a book (much the way Thomas Jefferson did), many people would not like it. That is because there is a need out there for "muscular" religion, of the type found in the Koran, or parts of the Old Testament.

    Some of these folks might tend to think Jesus was a sort of wimp, and let's face it, a wimp religion is a tough sell for some people. That, in my view, is why the most compassionate, tolerant, and understanding religions (Bahai, Unitarianism, Buddhism) fail to garner the ferocious followers it takes to spread the religion around.

    And to be honest, when was the last time Buddhists, Unitarians, or Bahais won a war?

    Politics, of course, is war without bloodshed. Does that mean religious wars are political? Are the millions of Americans who think that religion is not politics all wrong? And, if religion is politics, then how do we vote on it? How do we decide which religion gets to "rule?"

    In modern America, the debate over where men ought to be placing their penises has become a colossal national trainwreck of religion and politics. Human sexuality -- particularly homosexuality -- is now considered so central to the Christian religion that few question the underlying assumption. Yet if the teachings of Jesus are studied, there are few references to sex or penises, a couple of odd references to eunuchs, and zero mentions of homosexuality. True, it is undeniable that homosexuality is condemned elsewhere in the Bible, but only along with innumerable other sins -- many of which are not considered sins at all by Christians.

    So, if we are logical about this, at best homosexuality is a peripheral issue to Christianity; something not mentioned by Jesus (or any of his disciples, as far as is known) but grafted onto early Christian theology by incorporation of Mosaic Law in a pick-and-choose manner. (Circumcision and dietary laws out; the rest left up to early Christian leaders who were also charged with running governments.)

    How, then, did a peripheral issue become such a central issue to certain Christians in modern America?

    I don't know, but I am still worried about poor Antinous. There is something just too, er, MTV about the guy. This male beauty thing, it won't go away. (And I didn't start it, so don't blame me. But I do I fear that in the Fall series, I might have stumbled upon a central issue in the Culture War, possibly its Third Rail....)

    Hey, there's thunder outside..... Thor, Tlaloc, Seth, Jupiter, Allah, just plain God? Who's in charge here?

    Why am I writing this after visiting my future grave? You think I'm kidding? I don't mean to be morbid, but....

    Here's a picture I took just this afternoon, showing a view from the top of my future headstone:

    grave8.jpg
    Looks rather homey, doesn't it? Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go. I still have around 40 years left if all goes well, but I like to visit the future occasionally.

    And hell, why should I worry about the damned Culture War?

    It has been argued recently that the right is no longer losing this war, but then, some bloggers have questioned whether there is universal agreement by conservatives on that point.

    But again, this depends on how Americans define the Culture War. I tend to define it as that phenomenon which began in 20th Century America when the sometimes dormant, sometimes erupting, roughly 1500 year old war between religion and sex blew up again in the modern American political sphere.

    I am haunted by many, many ghosts, including those of my family, my friends, and my lovers. The list grows.

    But let's stick to ghosts from the 1500 Year War.

    Are the ghosts of, say, Allan Bloom and Antinous at war?

    Think Antinous, and think young male beauty. Think MTV.

    Think Culture War Avatar Allan Bloom.

    Allan Bloom was in love, and, tragically, at war, with Antinous.

    This sort of thing -- personal pain, really -- is what makes the Culture War so difficult (and in my view, so evil). The profoundly political, profoundly historical, becomes profoundly, painfully, personal.

    And profoundly unnecessary.

    It would be too easy to call Bloom and others like him "hypocrites." I share this writer's discomfort with the term "hypocrisy," because it merely restates a deep and painful problem by recasting it as an insult. (link.) Such stuff never should have been ad hominem attack material in the first place -- and the use of an ad hominem attack to answer an ad hominem attack just seems, well, childish.

    Or might I have just launched another ad hominem attack on the ad hominem attackers by calling them childish?

    This stuff is political. Even talking about it is political. Even if one argues -- as I am trying to argue -- that it should NOT be political.

    This war -- a three-way war between sex, religion, and politics -- has been going on for too long. Fifteen hundred years is too long for a war, by any standard. I wish that all Americans could realize that the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and yes, even the founding of the United States of America, were periods when reason, art, and real culture prevailed, and the war died down, even appeared to be over. Reverting to that which is dark and dismal in the past when there is so much to choose from that is not dark and dismal makes no sense to me, and I wish it didn't make so much sense to others. In particular, I include ibn Taimiyah (hater of ancient Greek philosophers), his reviver Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (into stoning women, if you like that), Sayyid Kutb (considered the father of Al Qaeda), the Ayatollah Khomeini, and assorted American ayatollahs I am just sick and tired of listing.

    I'm afraid I'll not live to see the end of it.

    In fact, I know I won't; hence the above photo.

    (The Islamists would level the whole cemetery as "un-Islamic" of course. But will I allow the bastards to destroy my "plot?" Never!)

    posted by Eric at 02:51 PM | Comments (23) | TrackBacks (3)



    Let us prey!

    Wild cougars are making a comeback, and victims have no say.

    Feral cat activists are trying to protect domestic cats which have gone wild.

    A cat fugitive was recently arrested in San Francisco. (I suppose cats are also a feminist issue of some sort.)

    In the Middle Ages, cats were believed to be immoral and Satanic. People tortured them for religious reasons:

    In Burgundy, the crowd incorporated cat torture into its rough music. While mocking a cuckold or some other victim, the youths passed around a cat, tearing its fur to make it howl.Faire le chat, they called it. The Germans called charivaris Katzenmusik, a term that may have been derived from the howls of tortured cats.'s

    Cats also figured in the cycle of Saint lohn the Baptist, which took place on June 24, at the time of the summer solstice. Crowds made bonfires, jumped over them, danced around them, and threw into them objects with magical power, hoping to avoid disaster and obtain good fortune during the rest of the year. A favorite object was cats—cats tied up in bags, cats suspended from ropes, or cats burned at the stake. Parisians liked to incinerate cats by the sackful, while the Courimauds (cour à mioud or cat chasers) of Saint Chamond preferred to chase a flaming cat through the streets. In parts of Burgundy and Lorraine they danced around a kind of burning May pole with a cat tied to it. In the Metz region they burned a dozen cats at a time in a basket on top of a bonfire. The ceremony took place with great pomp in Metz itself, until it was abolished in 1765. The town dignitaries arrived in procession at the Place du Grand-Saulcy, lit the pyre, and a ring of riflemen from the garrison fired off volleys while the cats disappeared screaming in the flames. Although the practice varied from place to place, the ingredients were everywhere the same: afeu de joie (bonfire), cats, and an aura of hilarious witchhunting.

    Ditto, Saddam Hussein:

    Born into a humble Sunni family near the town of Tikrit, Saddam was raised by an abusive stepfather, Hassan Ibrahim, known locally as “Hassan the Liar.” The boy quickly earned a reputation as a brute who entertained himself by torturing cats and dogs with a hot poker. At 10, Saddam went to live with an uncle, Khayrallah Talfah, who was a former army officer.
    And while I cannot find an Internet URL on the subject, I assure my readers that the Ayatollah Khalkhali, one of Khomeini's key henchman, was a confirmed cat torturer. (He also personally gouged out the eyes of the Shah's horses -- which I think would be considered an act of incivility by any standard.)

    In ancient times, cats were revered. The Egyptians worshiped them, and the Romans considered them symbols of liberty, and kept them as pets.

    Deliberately introducing feral or predatory cats strikes me as going too far.

    How far is too far?

    Should we return to the good old days when men were men and cats were sport?

    My question (as always) is: Which good old days?

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I don't own cats. But my blogfather does. So don't ask me about pussies....or whether pussy power has gone too far....)

    UPDATE: I found a website which maintains that the keeping of cats as pets is un-Christian, and against the Bible. (Honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.)

    posted by Eric at 09:39 AM | Comments (5)



    Tuesday, November 4, 2003

    Real men fear pussification!

    I just read Kim du Toit's post on manhood, and I have to admit to being a tad annoyed.

    While du Toit makes some good points, the overall tone strikes me as one of bullying and attempted argument by intimidation, and I don't like being bullied.

    You know the definition of homosexual men we used in Chicago? "Men with small dogs who own very tidy apartments."
    ....

    I want our literature to become more male, less female. Men shouldn't buy "self-help" books unless the subject matter is car maintenance, golf swing improvement or how to disassemble a fucking Browning BAR. We don't improve ourselves, we improve our stuff, and how we play with it.
    ....

    And finally, I want men everywhere to going back to being Real Men. To open doors for women, to drive fast cars, to smoke cigars after a meal, to get drunk occasionally
    ....

    You don't have to become a fucking cartoon male, either: I'm not going back to stoning women for adultery like those Muslim assholes do..."

    Gee, thanks for telling me I don't have to be a cartoon!

    I don't like having homos defined for me or being told what to think or what to buy or read or what to drink -- or how to "be a man." I reject all forms of control, whether by women, leftists, rightists, the gay movement, self-styled "real men" -- or Kim du Toit. I am sick of being told that "homos" are not men and all the rest of it. Sick of listening to drivel about how I should conduct my life. I take care of my own business and I don't appreciate gratuitous advice on "manhood." Women have not pussified anybody (especially the "us" to which I don't belong and don't want to belong), and if some men have pussified themselves it's their own individual fucking business.

    There's too much use of the word "we" in this post, and it makes me very suspicious when people try to tell me what "we" have done wrong. I use the word occasionally and I shouldn't. But this is just plain heavyhanded. Reminds me of the gay, self-appointed Stalinist "leaders" who greeted me with boos, jeers and catcalls for owning guns. Of leftists who called me a "traitor" when I was on the Berkeley Police Review Commission for not going along with their version of "we."

    If du Toit does not consider me a man, what the hell am I supposed to do about that? Wallow in fear? Try to conform myself to his values?

    Sorry, but when I feel insulted and bullied I must protest.

    Nobody "makes a man" out of me! That stuff is for mindless sheep and wannabe nerds.

    You wanna know who I think is a real man? My blogfather, that's who. He's more of a man than all these people who run around blaming homos and women for their insecurities.

    This "real man" bullshit comes on top of an insulting test which tells me I am not enough of a Metrosexual!

    You're an average Joe. Almost wallpaper. You shop at the mall, furnish your home at the department store and spend your weekends watching sports. If you were any more plain, you'd be Al Gore.

    Our advice: Get a life, get a personality and get some style.
    Or get a love interest who can do it for you.


    From Andrew Ian Dodge, via Dean Esmay.

    If the world is so determined to grade me I must try harder to disappoint them.

    posted by Eric at 06:30 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBacks (3)



    Advice for bloggers, young and old

    Here's a gem via Right Wing News -- advice from Andrew Sullivan to bloggers on building an audience:

    John Hawkins: You're the biggest standalone political blogger out there so I'm sure you're qualified to give the rest of us some advice on how to build an audience as large as yours. How 'bout it?

    Andrew Sullivan: Just keep writing as provocatively and interestingly as possible; share a bit of yourself; acknowledge your own errors; change your mind sometimes; link promiscuously; and always read and listen to your readers. The point is to develop a form of writing that is deliberately provisional, that is conversational, that is half a dialogue rather than wholly a monologue. But we all have different styles and there are many ways to find and build an audience.

    (Via the Peace Loving IMAO, whose satire was not appreciated recently by another blogger not particularly fond of gay gun nuts.)

    And if Sullivan doesn't do it for you, more excellent advice to bloggers (which really cracked me up) can be found at Anger Management. Here's a sample:

    It’s difficult to believe, but no one gives a shit about what you think. No, not even if you’re Andrew Sullivan. The Internet is overcrowded with opinions and there is no demand for more. I know what you’re thinking: "But Don, isn’t your blog’s slogan, 'Because there aren’t enough opinions on the Internet!'?" Um, that was sarcastic, ass.

    The fact is, people don’t care what you have to say. Their only concern is how you say it. No matter what you choose to say, the real question is: are you interesting? This is true whether you’re writing about your trip to the mall or whether you’re addressing the moral status of nuking Iran.

    That said, it’s not enough to be interesting. If you want to be a blog superstar, you have to stand out from all the other interesting bloggers, and to do this, you must be uniquely interesting. This means, finding your niche.

    Ruthless yet true....

    Both Sullivan and Watkins are geniuses, and the fact that they are at vastly different points in their respective careers makes both of their perspectives "must-reads."

    (Just don't ask me to say who is better! You'd have to pay me, and I am already in debt to Don Watkins, placing me in a clear conflict of interest.)

    posted by Eric at 02:19 PM



    Tranquilizers make me kat-a-tonic!

    After that last post, maybe this should be titled "When the Cat's away the mice will play!" How I get snookered into taking these online tests I don't know. (Kuriosity killed the kat.) But how could I resist a test to determine what color cat I am?

    It does more than that, actually. This test has the audacity to masquerade as a cutesy thingie for kittycat lovers, only to end up questioning your mental health and suggesting you need to be medicated!

    tortoiseshell cat
    You are a tortoiseshell or calico cat. Man, are you
    nuts or what? You should try taking some
    tranquilizers. Calm down, you hyper thing!
    You've got a great personality though. You're
    so lively and you are known for getting into
    mischief.

    What color of cat are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    (Via her feline grace, Susie at Practical Penumbra.)

    posted by Eric at 01:38 PM | TrackBacks (1)



    On mice and men

    Hey, my supposed "research assistant" Justin Case made me put that little thing on the lower left about extending the life of a mouse.

    I already know how to extend the life of my mouse: you regularly take out the little rubber ball, and clean the rollers with an alcohol-soaked Q-tip!

    There, Justin! You think you're so smart, don't you? Telling me to post links to stuff that you didn't think I knew about?

    Justin Case does all kinds of things like that. Last year he made me buy ammo on National Ammo Day for guns I don't even have -- and at a gun store that had never heard of the idea! (I wasn't yet blogging, so I had to explain that there was someone named Kim Something-or-Other who thought up the idea, and the guy just stared at me cluelessly. This year I'll try a different store, and they'll get an informed lecture from me.)

    Justin Case made me start reading blogs (he had me reading InstaPundit before most of the blogs were born), eventually hounded me into blogging, even though he refuses to blog himself, despite the fact that he was told by one of my readers said he should start his own blog. Justin lives hundreds of miles away, and so I hardly ever see him. (What to do when your favorite people live hundreds of miles away is a tough question.)

    He's really mean, and he never posts anything anymore.

    Not even when the subject is the latest nonsense from Leon Kass.

    Justin and I had a mutual friend (a fiend to many), whose father once demanded to know, "What are you? A man or a mouse?!"

    (The answer was a defiant, "I'm a mouse!")

    I fear posing the same age-old mouse question again....

    posted by Eric at 01:37 PM



    Monday, November 3, 2003

    Sodomite Like Me?

    When I was a kid, I was quite moved by reading John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me -- a true story of a white man who had paid doctors to turn his skin black so he could write about his experiences as a black man in the Jim Crow South. Many questioned the author's sanity, saying things like "Imagine anyone putting himself in such a position!"

    I was reminded of Black Like Me by a post over at Right Wing News about a new reality show setting up men to compete for a date with a preoperative transsexual:

    Only at the end of the show did they learn the truth - that Miriam was a pre-operative transsexual. The men were said to be "horrified" by the discovery."

    It just boggles the mind that they created a real live "The Crying Game" and wanted to put it in front of their viewers. Not only was it dangerous for Miriam & the staff who were shooting the show (think back to the guy on the Jenny Jones show who shot a man for having a "gay crush" on him), it's an unbelievably twisted and vicious prank to play on the contestants.

    Had that show gone on the air, those men would have been humiliated & mocked by their friends & co-workers. It's not even remotely comparable to something like Joe Schmo where the person involved comes across as likable & walks away with $100,000 and "guest appearances on various TV talk shows".

    What neither the post nor the comments discussed in any detail was the (perhaps obvious) reason why the men "would have been humiliated and mocked by their friends & co-workers" in the first place: the clear imputation of homosexuality.

    While it is a twisted and vicious prank to play on them, I feel compelled to engage in a little perverse logic here.

    Is it worse for heterosexual men to be "humiliated and mocked" for suspicion of homosexuality than it is for homosexuals themselves? If so, why?

    I am not trying to be facetious here, but I think it is fair to denounce both forms of prejudice. This is not to advocate sleazy reality shows like this in any way, but I don't see why the anger should be limited solely to the producers of the show. Suppose a Christian man on a reality show were falsely portrayed as a Muslim, and this caused him to be humiliated and mocked by friends and co-workers. It might have been sleazy to make such a false claim, but wouldn't the bigotry be at least as sleazy? What crucial distinction am I missing here?

    Let's find something worse. Would I fear being labeled, say, as a lover of bestiality? As a child molester? I think that most people would agree that being accused of the latter is worse than being accused of homosexuality, and I read recently that one of the leading bloggers was falsely accused of precisely that. If people deceive others into thinking you are something you are not, and then they do not accept your denials, well, you should have a right to sue your accuser for damages, but it doesn't say much about your "friends."

    The problem with even that example is that child molesting is properly considered something which should be stigmatized, and severely punishable by law. Homosexuality (or whatever you might call falling in love with a preoperative transsexual) is not a crime, and many people argue that it should not be stigmatized.

    As to the tortious nature of the conduct, I am not at all sure of the current status of defamation law, and there are public policy considerations underlying what is legally actionable and what is not. If, for example, rumors are spread that a white man is black, he cannot prevail under a defamation theory, because legally, it ought not be defamation to say that someone is black. Or Muslim. Whether the imputation of homosexuality is defamatory these days is open to question, at least in some places.

    Should it be?

    If the imputation of homosexuality is defamation, then is that not itself an outright admission by the tort system that there is something so dreadful about homosexuality that we will allow you to sue others if they accuse you of it?

    Here's one analysis of the subject:

    The existence of homosexuality as a cause for defamation lawsuits acts as a sort of barometer of the public perception of gays. So long as it remains a basis for lawsuits, it will be clear that homosexuality is treated in a discriminatory way. When it ceases to be defamatory, as have the accusations of being black or of having been raped, then it will mark an important stage in society's acceptance of gays.

    The question of defamation can also serve as a personal barometer: if you were accused of being gay, how would you react? If you would be outraged, does that suggest that you harbor negative feelings about gays? Perhaps not - sodomy is still a crime in 13 states, and as with Tom Cruise, the accusation could imply adultery. Both are fair reasons to at least be uncomfortable with the claim.

    On the other hand, if you aren't gay and really don't care if you are accused of being gay, does that indicate genuine acceptance of homosexuality on your part? Perhaps - or perhaps it indicates ignorance of the social and legal ramifications.

    Deliberately subjecting people to bigotry and ridicule is a terrible thing to do to them.

    That does not excuse the bigotry, though.

    posted by Eric at 05:29 PM | Comments (6)



    What did Jesus do?

    Mystery on top of mystery! I missed Ghost of a Flea's post on recent discoveries in Nazareth, but thanks to the brilliant Reflections in d minor I found the important missing link.

    Reflections in d minor, by the way, called Classical Values "a better blog than mine" and I am really honored, even if I don't think it's true. (In fact, I would call Reflections in d minor a better blog than mine, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I am not productive enough. But thanks for the compliment, Lynn!)

    I had not known that a large, 2000 year old Roman baths (which served a garrison-sized military clientele), had been found in Nazareth, with vast implications for students of the historical Jesus. Nor did I know how little anyone seems to care. It is located underneath a struggling Arab merchant's shop, and the find appears to be authentic. According to the report,

    the discovery means that historians will have to rethink the place and significance of Nazareth in the Roman empire and consequently the formative experiences of Jesus. It has been assumed that the Nazareth of 2,000 years ago was a poor Jewish village on the periphery of the empire, where local families inhabited caves on the hillside that today contains the modern Israeli-Arab city. On this view, the young Jesus would have had little contact with the Romans until he left Nazareth as an adult; his father, Joseph, one of many craftsmen in the town, may have worked on a Roman palace at nearby Sephori.

    But the huge scale of Shama's bathhouse suggests that Nazareth, rather than Sephori, was the local hub of military control from Rome. The giant bath could only have been built for a Roman city or to service a significant garrison town. That would mean Joseph and Mary, and their son Jesus, would have been living in the very heart of the occupying power. This is likely to have huge significance for New Testament scholars in their understanding of Jesus's later teachings.

    What this means is that Jesus grew up among Roman soldiers near a Roman bathhouse.

    In the old days that last sentence might have been considered blasphemous.

    I have long believed that Jesus was not particularly anti-Roman, probably as understanding and tolerant of Roman Pagans as he was of Samaritans and others, and much more sophisticated in his thinking than some of his followers believe. His handling of the tribute penny showed an uncanny grasp of political reality, as well as an acceptance of Rome as the dominant culture which it would be foolhardy to oppose. If Jesus grew up in a Roman military center, he most likely spoke enough Latin (at least the Vulgate version in use by troops) to get by, and this could go far towards explaining Pontius Pilate's obvious sympathy for this street philosopher who was being bounced around like a political football. Jesus may have been fully versed in Roman customs and thus able to relate to Romans culturally as well as speak their language.

    No wonder they don't want to explore the bathhouse issue.

    There is much we don't know, and aren't supposed to know. Muslims do not want to acknowledge evidence of the Roman occupation of a Jewish land (amazingly ignorant because the evidence is also right there on the Roman coins), the Israelis are not happy about large-scale excavations in a troubled Arab city, and leading Christian sects are involved in bitter rivalry which a new site could worsen:

    Further excavation of the site, however, is not yet assured: Shama's discovery is mired in financial difficulties and the sectarian acrimony that has blighted the Middle East for centuries. Given the find's significance, it is surprising to learn that Shama, a Christian Arab, is receiving no outside support, even from the state. Since he and his wife sank the last of their life savings in excavating and developing the site, the shop is close to collapse - and with it perhaps the bathhouse project.

    The most powerful player in the Christian world, the Vatican, has so far refused to throw its weight behind the dig, possibly fearing that Shama's find threatens its own dominance where tourism in the city is concerned. Its Basilica of the Annunciation, the Middle East's largest church, is on the other side of town from Mary's Well. There has been a long-running dispute between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches about whose church is on the true site of the Annunciation.

    The Catholics claim the Basilica is built over a grotto that was Mary's home; the Orthodox, basing their tradition on an alternative Gospel that Mary was drawing water from Nazareth's well when she was visited by Gabriel, say their Mary's Well church, half a kilometre away, is located over the original spring. Shama's bathhouse, next to Mary's Well church, poses a double threat to them: it strengthens the claim of the Orthodox church to be the true site of the Annunciation, and it will make the Mary's Well area the main tourist attraction in Nazareth.

    As I keep saying, when both sides to a controversy want something kept quiet, it's usually a pretty good bet that it will be.

    So this news, while of enormous historical importance, does not suit the agenda of anyone in power anywhere, so I wouldn't expect to hear much more about it. (Considering that facts aren't even of interest in contemporary news accounts in the United States, to expect otherwise would be ludicrous.)

    Such instances of suppression of historical facts are a major reason deconstructionist thinking has gained such inroads in academia and elsewhere. But this thinking is preposterous.

    Suppression of truth -- however successful -- does not mean there is no truth!

    The question of who has power to declare a thing to be true is more problematic, however. Should there be such, er, power? Am I allowed to assert that Jesus grew up among Roman soldiers near a Roman bathhouse? Or must that "fact" first be certified by historians? Who gets to decide these things, and why? If there is no way keep ego, politics, money, and religion out of it, then how trustworthy is the "process?"

    UPDATE: It is not difficult to see how the Roman bathhouse discovery could change the meaning of certain Biblical passages. For starters, it casts new light on the story of the Roman Centurian who accosted Jesus on the street and asked him to heal his slave. The story becomes not quite as culturally startling when seen in the context of a man who grew up in the midst of Roman military personnel. Ditto for the understanding and respect Jesus showed (Pagan) Gentiles. People who like to portray Jesus as a bigot may not like any of this, but fortunately, in a free country their opinions are no more binding on anyone than are mine.

    posted by Eric at 03:19 PM | TrackBacks (1)



    War against enlightenment?

    Is the Bush administration schmoozing with the mullahs in Iran? I don't know, but this piece by Michael Ledeen makes me very suspicious. (Courtesy of Blog Iran.) While it is premature to accuse the Bush administration of betraying freedom in Iran, this needs to be watched carefully.

    This blog has long supported freedom in Iran. As I said before,

    Iran is Persia, for God's sake! Persia is proud! Persia will not be kept down by medieval mullahs spouting psychotic gibberish. Persia has a long history of culture, civilization and religious tolerance.
    I can think of no greater betrayal to the cause of freedom than a sweetheart deal with Iran's bloodthirsty mullahs to help insure "stability" in Iraq.

    And what about the "war on terrorism" anyway? Who have been the biggest historical sponsors of terrorism? Who are actively developing nukes? (Next thing you know, we'll be calling the Iranians and the Saudis our "allies.")

    This begs the question, of course, of which side "we" are on. Roger Simon expressed the nature of the conflict brilliantly, as one between secular freedom and religious tyranny:

    why does such a great percentage of their masses buy this self-destructive insanity… why is there so little internal resistance to their interchangeable religious and secular tyrants? It comes of course from their own shame and rage at the horrible condition of their society. But just as significantly, although our political leaders are loath to say so, this sad proclivity comes directly from the holy book of Islam itself which preaches both the primacy of religious law over secular law and the imperative that all others be converted to Islam, peacefully or by the sword (particularly in the latter part of the book). And it does so without benefit of a Reformation or similar religious liberalization that mollified the more bellicose aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

    Now some say this is subject to interpretation. Well, sure, so are a lot of things. But lately they are interpreting one way and one way only. And the Wahhabis are not doing this by themselves. They have plenty of allies from Al Jazeera to the Iranian Mullahs to the Palestinian shaheeds to the former Prime Minister of Malaysia. Not to mention in Europe, where, as we all know, the Moslem populations are growing at an extraordinary rate, considerably faster than the locals while resisting any of the traditional assimilation of immigrant groups and bringing their madrassas with them. They are clinging to the primacy of religious law in the very countries that gave us the Enlightenment.

    It is to be hoped that the United States, being an Enlightenment country, is still on the side of the Enlightenment.

    We are, aren't we?

    I like to think so, despite shrill anti-Enlightenment clamoring from minorities on one side or another of what passes for a political spectrum.

    posted by Eric at 08:19 AM



    Praise the Lord, and pass the insulation!

    80 degrees in November! I'll say one thing: Bush might not have delivered on anything else, but for the Global Warming alone he deserved my vote!

    Is America starved for religion? Apparently, CBS thinks so. Recently, New Jersey child protective authorities found three children who were clearly being starved, the "four sons, who range in age from 9 to 19 and weighed 136 pounds together, to the point that they ate insulation and gnawed on furniture." Here's the original story:

    ....[D]octors had run bone tests and determined that malnourishment was the central cause of the boys' condition.

    For the boys, all of them under 50 pounds when they arrived at the hospital, it was their first visit with a doctor in four or five years.

    Since then, each brother has gained about six pounds. "That's a pretty strong indication something wasn't right," said a person involved.

    Well forget that! It turns out that these people went to church, and the church approves of their child-raising methods. They are innocent! the glorious church declares, so now CBS has decided to produce their story.

    "Praise God!" someone called from the sobbing, keening crush of Jacksons being watched by dozens of church members.
    What a wonderful country this is! Starved children one week, the work of the Lord the next!

    Why, they even have a web site!

    I'll tell you, if there's one thing we don't need, it's facts.

    Why am I blogging about this stupid story? Because there is no such thing as the news anymore, and so I might as well resort to satire.

    Praise the Lord!

    (And please pass the insulation, Mommy!)

    posted by Eric at 07:07 AM



    Sunday, November 2, 2003

    The Night Goddess Screamed

    (Actually, this film is where I stole the title.)

    It's Sunday night and there is no time to blog, much less get caught up.

    But I thought I should report that I am a goddess:

    godd
    You are Form 1, Goddess: The Creator.

    "And The Goddess planted the acorn of life.
    She cried a single tear and shed a single drop
    of blood upon the earth where she buried it.
    From her blood and tear, the acorn grew into
    the world."

    Some examples of the Goddess Form are Gaia (Greek),
    Jehova (Christian), and Brahma (Indian).
    The Goddess is associated with the concept of
    creation, the number 1, and the element of
    earth.
    Her sign is the dawn sun.

    As a member of Form 1, you are a charismatic
    individual and people are drawn to you.
    Although sometimes you may seem emotionally
    distant, you are deeply in tune with other
    people's feelings and have tremendous empathy.
    Sometimes you have a tendency to neglect your
    own self. Goddesses are the best friends to
    have because they're always willing to help.


    Which Mythological Form Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    (Via this week's Birthday Boy, Ghost of a flea.)

    What's a goddess to do?

    posted by Eric at 08:56 PM



    Saturday, November 1, 2003

    Happiness is a lapsed Martini!

    I don't drink much these days -- just enough to remind me that I am not perfect -- and also to prevent me from getting into one of those "clean and sober for 1492 days" routines which invite "relapse." To me, relapse would be getting shitfaced drunk again, as I used to do every day until November 6, 1996. Shit! I even remember the day; had something to do with a severe Bill Clinton, almost-broke-the-TV, hangover.... Sorry to bore readers with personal details. But is blogging really about privacy?

    Anyway, I am proud to report that despite my neo-quasi-pseudo-dry-drunk sobriety, I am a Martini!

    Sophisticated and classy, you take shitty-tasting liquid and make it look beautiful and glamorous!!
    Congratulations!! You're a smart sophisticated and
    beautiful martini!!


    What Drink Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    (Via Publius & Co.)

    Naturally, this test leaves me shaken to the core, if not quite stirred to go out and drink.

    UPDATE: I guess I spoke too fast about Bill Clinton hangovers.... Last time I looked over at VodkaPundit, I was a Gin & Tonic. (I may need one.)

    posted by Eric at 07:30 AM | Comments (2)




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