Friday Random Ten

For the first time in a couple of years, we're going to meet our old friend Heather for a night of the ancient art of karaoke. Will I reprise my imitation of William Shatner's "Rocketman" or will I rock out to some Neil Young? If a Monty Python song is available, will I run with it? (I did "Sit On My Face" a couple of years ago.)

Tune in tomorrow and discover if there are pictures of the destruction. Here's the random ten--iTunes on party shuffle and let her rip.

1. Mosh--Eminem
2. Let Me Clear My Throat--DJ Kool featuring Doug E. Fresh & Biz Markie
3. Hush--Squirrel Nut Zippers
4. Another Clip--Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
5. Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois--Sufjan Stevens
6. In the Midnight Hour--Wilson Pickett
7. Chain of Fools--R. L. Burnside
8. Let Me Go--Cake
9. Margaret vs. Pauline--Neko Case
10. Shoe Box--Barenaked Ladies
A bit wordy this week. So, what's on your lists?

Monotheism is the problem

In terms of a viral meme, one that infects carriers and propagates at a quick rate, monotheism has to rank as perhaps the most active and, in my opinion, the most damaging belief system ever. It currently infects, in various forms, over a third of the world’s population, and perhaps more than half—I have trouble keeping up with the numbers of Christian, Muslims, Jews and other monotheists around the world.

The elegance of monotheism is its simplicity—if there is one Supreme God (or Goddess, or Spirit, or Life Force, etc.), then there is no need for competing viewpoints. It’s a simple dichotomy—there is God and there is the Other, and if you are a follower of God, then the Other is necessarily in opposition to you. Black/White. Yes/No. One/Zero. Off/On.

But the fact is that we live in a world that throws multiple perspectives at us every second of every day, and people who have been trained to look at the world from a monotheistic perspective are often ill-prepared to deal with the inevitable confrontations that arise from clashes between free individuals. After all, if there’s only one true, all-powerful God who wants His worshippers to worship in one particular way, then there’s never any reason to examine alternate points of view in any depth.

Given that, and given the fact that monotheistic thinking pervades such a large section of the population, I think it’s amazing that we’ve managed to do as well as we have over the last ten thousand years or so.

Early Christianity is interesting to study, because it’s a case of what happens when a polytheistic society becomes overrun by monotheism. Even the early Christian churches—and it’s important to remember that the period between the time Jesus walked the earth and the ascension of the Catholic Church to its place as the state religion of Rome was filled with schism and division—were, in some ways, polytheistic. There was God the Father of the Old Testament, Jesus the Son (with all manner of discussion about his divinity or lack thereof) who was a god in his own right, the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, plus all the minor spirit creatures of the Jewish tradition. The bloodiest fights in that period were over, as I understand it, the most effective way to merge Jesus into God the Father, and go from a polytheistic belief to a monotheistic. Lots of people were killed over that argument.

And the “Jesus is God” people have won that argument so completely that in evangelical churches today, God the Father is practically non-existent. It’s all Jesus, all the time. But it’s not the Jesus of the gospels—it’s the Old Testament, raging with fire and brimstone, go out and kill some heathens Jehovah with a new name (and according to Tim LaHaye, a penchant for white Hummers and automatic weapons).

They’ve also won in the political realm, as Kevin Phillips points out in American Theocracy. The similarities between the modern Republican party and the fundamentalist church are striking. Both look to a single head whose will cannot be questioned, because questioning is disloyal. Both set up a strict hierarchy and have little room for individuality. And most telling, to me anyway, both place a stronger emphasis on what they believe than on what is factually accurate.

I have more to say on this, but putting this together has already taken more time than I like to admit, so I’m posting this now and seeing if it gets any reaction.

The Random Ten

Here's the random ten--iTunes on Party Shuffle and let her rip.

1. Till the Morning Comes--Grateful Dead
2. It's Coming Down--Cake
3. Crooked Frame-Alejandro Escovedo
4. You're Driving Me Crazy
5. Thirst--The Amy Garland Band
6. Life, In a Nutshell--Barenaked Ladies
7. From a Pen--Paul Brill
8. Big Chief--The Subdudes
9. Down By the Seaside--Robert Plant and Tori Amos
10. Little by Little--Susna Tedeschi

Bonus Track: Put a Sex Mo-Sheen in the White House--Mojo Nixon

Based on the presidents who have been in charge since I attained adulthood in 1986, I'd say Mojo Nixon has a point. Thinking back through my history lessons, I believe both JFK and FDR were pretty randy as well, and they didn't do so badly either. About the only thing Dubya has in his favor currently is that he apparently hasn't cheated on Laura, unless you count the screwing he's given the country as adultery.

Thursday Night Poetry

Haven't done one of these in a while, but I got some good news in the mail this afternoon. I had two poems accepted by the Southern Review for publication in the Winter 2007 edition. This is by far the most prestigious acceptance I've ever gotten for publication--the Stegner is certainly bigger overall.

The other pleasing thing is the poems they accepted. These will be the first two of my Witness poems published anywhere outside my personal website, and I've been worried for a while now that the subject matter was just too, I don't know, evangelical for the world of poetic publishing. And maybe they are and this is a fluke--it's early, after all.

So today I'm posting my first poem accepted by The Southern Review.

Lament

It does not end the way you plan,
with dramatic flourish, firestorm
of curses as you denounce church,
deny belief in what was always central.
It is not poetic, your leaving
of church and family; instead
it is pathetic the way you slip away,
dodge former brothers at Wal-Mart,
duck into the game room at the mall,
avoid eyes. To new friends
you boast how you threw off
the chains of ignorance, the bonds
of certain, earthbound, eternal life,
how you left behind the blind,
ordered “truth” for chaos,
but the end is really like this:
Sunday morning door-knock,
two elders you haven’t seen
for three years say they’ve heard
you’re smoking again, ask
to talk about repentance,
and you just let them finish.

For your viewing pleasure

Amy saw this on VideoDog and I decided to link it here. Too funny.

Why do alligators make lousy Jehovah's Witnesses?

Because they can't quite reach the doorbell! (It's up and to the left!)


Well duh

Like nobody saw this coming.

NEW YORK -- In 2003, Anita Britten refinanced her two-story brick cottage in Lithonia, Ga. using a hybrid adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM. Her lender reassured her that she could refinance out of the riskier loan into a traditional one when her interest rate started to reset.

Three years later, Britten can't get a new mortgage and her monthly payment has jumped by a third in six months. She can't afford her payments and may face foreclosure if her financial situation doesn't change.

As more ARMs adjust upward and housing prices begin to dip, many Americans like Britten can't refinance and are finding themselves trapped in too-high monthly payments. For those who can't make their payments, foreclosure is the only way out.

I learned watching my ex's parents back in the 90's that an ARM was a sucker's bet, as if it weren't already clear. And now I get to watch it happen all over again. Our neighborhood is a perfect example of the overpriced, overheated market with condos bought by investors who were counting on flipping them before the ARM adjusted. I've already seen one foreclosure sign down the street, and I have no doubt I'll see more before the summer is over.

Here's another quote from the article I found especially telling:
Additionally, Gaines pointed out that these same real estate markets also boasted a higher percentage of ARM originations, because most buyers could only get into their homes using an unconventional loan.

In other words, brokers and agents convinced people they could afford houses they couldn't really. And why not? Agents get their money when the house sells, not when it's paid off--it doesn't matter to them whether the people they're selling to can handle the payment when the ARM readjusts and the payment ges up a third.

That's not to say that all agents are unscrupulous, or that buyers aren't responsible for knowing what they can handle--but there are some out there who are unscrupulous, and who will push buyers into houses they can't handle. And foreclosures are part of the result.

I know I'm not the first to observe this, but the house buying frenzy down here last year when we moved back reminded me of the top of the stock market about 6 years ago. Even though the more sober-minded looked at the market (either one) and said "man, this seems overvalued and rickety," there were a lot of people screaming "if you don't buy now, you'll never be able to." Fortunately for us, we were so priced out of the market that there was no possibility of buying, so we didn't have to fight the temptation to overpay for something crappy just to say we had it. Now, we're looking at a situation where if we see some inflation and wage-growth and housing prices either stagnate or fall, we might be able to look at buying.

In 2020. Maybe.

This one hurts

but I have to agree with Atrios.

I grew up in Louisiana, and even though I wasn't born there, consider myself more native to Louisiana than Texas. I can't say that the abortion ban surprises me very much, but it does disappoint, if only because there are more important things to be worried about (like hurricane season preparations, perhaps?). But much as I love it, I will now try to convince my daughter to exclude Louisiana schools from her college search, and whatever tiny thoughts I had of eventually moving back one day will be put aside until that law is repealed.

Beer News
Amy's birthday is coming up next month, so I was looking around for gift ideas and I went to the Anchor Brewing website seeing as we worked there before we came to Florida, and look what I discovered.

I was still working there when they did the original brew of Bock. I was on the bottling line on the one day we ran it, and I lugged around my share of kegs as well. When the beer was first made, it was a one-shot deal. Fritz did it in memory of a friend who had passed away that January, and we were told that there were no plans to continue the beer past this one brew and bottling. I took two bottles of it with me when I left San Francisco a few weeks later, and the empties still sit on a shelf in our living room (along with the last bottles of Liberty Ale and Anchor Steam that ran on my last days at work).

The beer itself is a smooth brown ale, and is very similar to the Christmas Ale but without the spices. When we did the initial bottling, it was available only in 22 oz bottles, but the website says that it's available in 12 oz. bottles now as well. Since the original run was so small, I don't believe it was available outside San Francisco, but since it's now apparently an addition to the lineup, I hope they'll be going nationwide with it. I'll be checking with the local distributor to see if they'll have it in Florida.

And if they don't, I'm calling Anchor and asking them to send a case with Julio the salesman next time he comes down here. :)

Ya gotta relax

on the weekends for certain.

NEW YORK - People who can't seem to relax and renew on weekends off from work may have a higher long-term risk of dying from heart disease, a study suggests.

Researchers in Finland found that among nearly 800 workers who were followed for 28 years, those who said they often failed to "recover" from their workweek over the weekend were more likely to eventually die of cardiovascular disease.

Men and women who said they "seldom" recovered from work fatigue and stress were about three times more likely to die of heart disease or stroke as workers who "almost always" recovered.

I plan to take their advice, and on that note, here's the random ten. iTunes on party shuffle, first ten to pop up. Here we go.
1. Little Bottles--Alejandro Escovedo
2. No Doubling Back--Jason Mraz
3. Van Lear Rose--Loretta Lynn
4. Nobody's Fault But My Own--Beck
5. Slop--Charles Mingus
6. Hard Time Killing Floor Blues--R. L. Burnside
7. Mood Indigo--Duke Ellington
8. D'yer Mak'er--Sheryl Crow (yes, it's as bad as you imagine)
9. And You and I--Yes
10. Break Your Heart--Barenaked Ladies

That's a range right there--from the sublime to the insipid (and I leave it to the reader to determine which). And if you don't know who the Zulikin Girls are, go to YouTube and do a search. It's perhaps the most bizarre way of teaching English I've ever seen.

Sitemeter, part deux

So I'm sitting there plotting: "mwa ha ha! how can I increase our google-referenced traffic...!" I mean, some of these hits we got were very gratifying. Someone searching for "why the fairness doctrine is a bad idea" hit Brian's post about why the fairness doctrine is NOT a bad idea!

So I figure if we can deflect some "why Ann Coulter is right!" traffic towards a post about why Ann Coulter is RIGHT NOW sucking a donkey's balls, all the better!

A quick google search for "most popular google searches" brought me to Google Trends -- brilliant! -- where you can compare terms and see which is more popular.

Setting some of my perceived "most popular uses for the internet" against one another, I discovered that between "porn" "kittens" "recipe" "doctor" "best price" and "star trek," Porn is indeed the most popular, by far -- and globally, is most popular in SOUTH AFRICA (the US came in 9th on this one).

The second-most-popular is "recipe," which some might find surprising, but just search for a recipe for cabbage pie and discover what worlds await you.

Doctor came in third.

Removing those top three draws, I tried just "kittens," "best price," and "star trek," to see who wins out between cuteness, consumerism, or future-fantasy. Star Trek, it turns out, is far more popular than kittens and "best price" overall (which are virtually neck-and-neck), but regionally, there are some major variations. New Zealanders are more interested in kittens than klingons, it turns out, and the relative popularity of "kittens" and "best price" goes back and forth wildly.

Last, I decided to make the ultimate test: "Amy Letter" vs. "Brian Spears."

The results?

Your terms - amy letter, brian spears - do not have enough search volume to show graphs.

Suggestions:

* Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
* Try different keywords.
* Try more general keywords.
* Try fewer keywords.
* Try viewing data for all years and all regions.

Sitemeter

I don't know why I didn't do this sooner. I put a sitemeter on the blog late last night in a fit of who-knows-what and I'm kicking myself for not doing it earlier. I get way more hits than I ever suspected--mostly from odd google searches. My favorite so far was the search from Uruguay for "penis-shaped buildings." I'm hooked on it now. Amy says she's tempted to start putting words like porn and boobies in the posts to drive more traffic here.

I just don't get it

It's a standing joke that football players aren't the smartest people--my experience with them in the classroom has been a mixed bag. They're certainly no worse than, say, Education or Public Relations majors. But here's a story that makes me wonder.



That's Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle, which he wrecked yesterday. Pittsburgh fans have spent the last day collectively crapping their pants over this, since he led them to a Superbowl win last year, and there's no word yet whether he'll be able to play this season. He broke his jaw, lost most of his teeth, had a 9-inch gash across the back of his head, and was treated for multiple facial fractures. He wasn't wearing a helmet.

Now you'd think that if there were a person in any sport who would recognize the value of wearing a helmet, it would be a football player. There's not a guy in the NFL who would willingly play a game helmetless today--they know the sorts of injuries that occur on the field even with all the protection they wear. (Some say the injuries are worse because of the protection, but that's another discussion.) So why would a quarterback, often referred to as a sitting duck in the pocket, who wears a helmet whenever he's on the field, think that it's somehow safe to ride an open, fast-moving vehicle without one?

My lifestyle is, apparently, very-very healthy.

First, I sleep a lot. Insomnia? Not me! In fact, I've always been a little more worried about developing narcolepsy: I'm like one of those baby-dolls who close their eyes as soon as you recline them: Zzzzzz, off I go.

As THIS ARTICLE explains, my snooziness is the only thing that's keeping me from ballooning to 300lb. (I can conclude this because I love to eat, drink a ton of beer and can't stand to -- ie: "don't" -- exercise.)

Ah, but all that beer must be hurting me in some other way, huh? Well, maybe not. I've long embraced the barhall wisdom that hops enhance the bust-line, but now I DISCOVER IN THIS ARTICLE that hops help prevent prostate cancer, too!

I am aware that I don't have a prostate, but I'm sure there's an analogous effect on one of my womanly organs. I'm just sure of it.

Yes, I'm a healthy half-comatose beer-swilling broad over here. But it gets better: "Coffee may counteract alcohol's poisonous effects on the liver and help prevent cirrhosis, researchers say." JACKPOT!

I'm starting to think I should never have quit cigarettes: next week they'll be discovered to reduce my chances of spinal fracture.

Low-fat foods are bad for you. Sweet-n-low will put you in the grave. The road to health is paved with cookies and lined with barbecues and beers.

The only thing that pisses me off is the discovery that WOODY ALLEN was RIGHT... because as much as I love that movie, I can't stand that guy.

Saturday Random Ten

Yesterday was hectic, so I didn't get to do this, but you don't get out of it that easily. And in other news, the fun begins, weather-wise. Here we go.

1. Carnival Time--Professor Longhair
2. Let It Be--The Beatles (fuck the RIAA)
3. Slip--Alejandro Escovedo
4. Crush--Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
5. Pay It Back--Elvis Costello
6. Caldonia--Louis Jordan
7. Recuerdo--Dave Brubeck
8. Evidence--Thelonius Monk
9. World Inside the World--Rhett Miller
10. Sail Away Ladies--Spider John Koerner

Bonus Track for today is "Missing Link" by Squirrel Nut Zippers, a bouncy instrumental piece that I finally took the time to find out the name of. Look it up.

An Inconvenient Truth

We saw it tonight, and of course we loved it. Gore is funny and earnest and sincere and most importantly, completely human throughout. But what I fear will happen is this--the people who will see this film will be people like we are, relatively well-informed about the facts of global warming and pretty up on what we need to do in order to reverse the current trends. But we're not the ones who need to see it.

The people who need to see it are the 40-50% of Americans who actually believe there's a controversy, who have been led astray by the short-sighed and dishonest energy companies, their paid shills, and the Limbaughs who abet them for whatever reason they've chosen to do so. The dishonest people don't matter--one quote Gore uses in the film is from Upton Sinclair:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on his not understanding it.
and that's the situation with shills in a nutshell. We're never going to convince them.

But all those people in the middle who are more interested in American Idol and Lost and who still believe that God created the world in 7 days because they don't understand evolution either can be reached with something like this, if only for this reason--it's impossible to deny the effects of global warming. No matter where you live on earth, you feel the effects of global warming, and the photos Gore uses only serve to drive the point home.

I'd like to say that this is a necessary film, but that word gets thrown around so casually in the world of art these days that it has become cheapened as a result, but there really is no other way to put it--this film is necessary in the sense that it has the potential to be an extraordinary teaching tool.

I like Gore, especially what he's become in the last 3 or 4 years, and I hope that he doesn't re-enter politics. I'd vote for him, no question, and probably even send him money in the primary season--but he's in the position where he can do so much more, now that he's freed from the need to pander to political constituencies. He's got the chance to be the bold liberal voice that Bill Clinton has never aspired to become. I hope he continues to make himself heard.

Whenever you go to the gyno, they give you the speech: you need to do a self-breast-exam! Regularly! One week after your period...! Etc. The most persuasive aspect of this speech is the fact that they're manhandling your breasts as they say it -- you have to nod, or, think of the damage they'll do!

But this morning, midway through her speech, she suddenly said, "have you ever felt THIS before?" She put my hand on it. It must've been the button to stop my heart. "No...!" I said. "What's that...!?" I said. "It's a lump," she said. Then she told me to stop touching it, and she finished the exam.

Just TRY relaxing for the speculum under these conditions!

So the next thing I know, my routine gyno exam has turned into an emergency visit to the ultrasound technician.

Now they'd assured me at the gyno's that this technician was THE BEST. "She's really good," they said. "She'll be able to tell you right away whether it's serious or not." And so this is how it happens; one second you're fine, just going through the busy day and getting it all checked off: gyno visit, lunch with mom... the next you're wondering what the hell you'll do with your life if you've got cancer.

So I go to the ultrasound -- obviously this is a last-minute appointment, squeezing me in, so I have to wait a bit. All the other patients are pregnant women coming in to get these (really impressive!) 3-D ultrasounds of their incubating babies. I get looks in the waiting room: who IS this non-preggo, they wonder, and why does she look so distressed?

Oh, I was distressed.

And to make matters worse, the whole time I was there, the Maury Povich show was "revealing" paternity tests and screaming, HE IS THE DADDY!

I keep my tears at bay with lots of glancing at the ceiling, until finally this tall woman comes for me and takes me into the ultrasound room. "I'm going to start your exam," she says. "Then she's going to finish it." I say "okay," but I would've said okay to anything then. I was distressed, bewildered, worried, lost. She explains to me that she's an ultrasound student, 3 months from graduation. By now I've got my boob out. It's too late.

Now, I'd never had an ultrasound before, so I didn't know what it was supposed to be like. But I've already discovered that what this woman did to my boob was barbaric behavior unbefitting a ultrasound technician. She soaked me in goo. She pressed the wand against my breast until it grated against my rib-bones. Finally, I told her, "what you're doing hurts..." she laid off a little but not much. Then, after ten minutes of roaming all over my tit and muttering about how "hard" breasts are, she spots the lump (which I'd shown her, but she wanted to do her roaming thing) -- "oh, there it is! Look at it -- it's enormous! That's got to be some kind of tumor, or, well, I shouldn't say..."

Now, these rooms are set up for expectant mothers, so there's this tv right over my head, and I'm looking at this big black spot that she's so excited about. She tries to get different views from different angles. She types in labels and makes photos. She prints them out. I'm in terror.

Finally, she says she's going to go get her "teacher," and leaves me gooey-boob to the breeze in the dark room with the last lump photo still on the tv over my head.

I spent what felt like an eternity lying there, looking at the sonograms of babies on the wall, and trying NOT to look at my boob-lump on the tv: my head began to rattle with this terrible nonce poem about how they've got babies and I've got a LUMP. The time stamp on the photo said 11:08. I finally wiped off the goo and got up off the table at 11:35. I called my mother. I called Brian. Then, finally, I went outside.

"Oh!" the receptionist said. "We figured you were taking a nap in there!"

Now, tell me who snags a cat-nap with a goo-covered boob out on a hard table under a photo of their schrodinger's LUMP? Who, while waiting to find out whether they can go home and play or stay and become a hard case yawns wide and kits out?

At any rate, the well-reputed expert-cum-educator eventually made her way in. She checked out the lump in about 60 seconds without gooing me up or hurting me. "It's fluid," she said. "Cancer is solid. This is fluid, very close to the skin. A cyst."

Maybe a pimple.

That was it; I was done. After an hour and a half (that felt like 5 hours) of maybe about to have cancer and maybe about to be fine, I got a bite to eat with my mom and we re-registered her at FAU. I still feel dragged out from the experience, and bitter for being a practice dummy for an insensitive child in a white lab coat loosed on me when I was at my most fragile.

But damn am I happy it worked out like it did. And I'll be damned if I don't do those breast exams just like she said, and hit the doc's a little more often than every three years.

After all, I spent what felt like forever picturing (alternately) Brian losing me, me losing my left breast, everything I've left undone or put off to tomorrow being lost to time...

I also spent what felt like forever numbering my blessings: if I go tomorrow, I've lived a good life. I've loved, been loved. I've taken chances. I've snuggled in my comfort. I've hitchhiked across a whole country, and driven across a whole continent... by any measure it's been "enough," but I've gratitude yet for more.

I mean, death doesn't scare me, but, I'm too happy in this world to want to go anytime soon.

And that's a lot to get from (what I think is) a boob zit. :-)

I am Armando

If you've ever spent any time at Daily Kos, you know who Armando is, and you know it ain't really me. For one thing, my user name there is the same as this blog, and my user id number is about half his. I've had my share of disagreements with him--slagfests a couple of times in fact--but it always ended amicably, and I respect the vigor with which Armando defends his positions.

Armando's going away now, because a right-wing site and a Daily Kos troll have decided to out him, and he's afraid of the way that will affect his outside life. He has reason to worry.

It is not possible to blog pseudonymously, not for long and be high-profile at least. Those who think otherwise are fooling themselves. Duncan Black got away with it for a long time over at Eschaton, but he came out eventually. South Knox Bubba left the blogging game completely after being outed--he's recently returned under his real name. Anyone who thinks they can hide who they really are while simultaneously building an internet presence--especially in the ugly world of political speech--is fooling him or herself. Pseudonyms only exist at the whim of those who respect them.

And if there's anything we've learned about the right-wing over the last five years, it's that when it comes to personal privacy, they respect nothing.

I hope Armando comes back and blogs some more. He's written some really brilliant stuff in the past and he's written some crap--the good more than outweighs the bad, by the way. But I wonder how much of the crap came out because he thought he was hidden? How many of the mean-spirited comments he made in the midst of a troll war came from the boldness of anonymity? I'd like to think that he'd post the same way regardless of who knew who he was, but I have to wonder.

Someone on Kos--wish I could find the post where I saw it--has a signature that reads "What happens on Kos, stays on google." Truer words never spoken. We don't often stop to consider that even if we go back and delete intemperate posts, that they survive in a cache somewhere, just waiting for someone to look us up. I've written some really harsh stuff here before, both on the blog and in the comments, and while I've regretted it, I've also had to own it. It's possible that it'll cost me one day. It already has, in one way.

See, a couple of years ago, I think, someone figured out my real name, and started posting the most horrific, left-wing caricature trash on right-wing websites. Stuff like this:

A hearty "good job" to those reporters. These cogs in the Bush war machine got what they deserved. I hope more are killed, sinking Bush's numbers. He thinks he is going to get a spike from the Reagan-bastards death.

I only found out about it because another right-winger emailed me and asked me why I wrote such terrible things. When I told him I didn't know what he was talking about, he sent me a link to a site where "I" had apparently written those atrocities and worse. I patiently explained to him that I have never posted to a website under my real name, that I always use the pseudonym. I don't know if he believed me--don't really care--but that incident drove home to me just how little names mean on the internet.

Online, we are all only electrons. We are less than pseudonyms. We are each other if we wish to be. Armando, come back when you can. For tonight, I am Armando.

How long before the boycott?

Someone at MLB has a sense of humor. It couldn't just be coincidence that the Angels and the Devil Rays are playing on 6/6/6, now could it?

Daddy Dobson, call out the hounds and have them descend on the den of Devil Selig!!!!

06/06/06 huh?

Well, if the world ends tomorrow, I won't have to grade those damn job packets sitting under the table right now.

And all the little Freeper heads went pop-pop-pop

Or rather, they had their greatest fears realized because MTV fans love teh gay.

Jake Gyllenhaal, who beat out Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon for best performance, teamed with "Brokeback Mountain" co-star Heath Ledger for best kiss.

"This is a real honor, not just for me and Heath but for all of you, that you picked this movie and this kiss over all the other ones," Gyllenhaal said.


(Note--I would have actually gone to Feeperland to find their reactions, but my computer refuses to do it anymore. It gets pissed.)

I'm sure that Freepers expected nothing less, and they'll use it as further proof that Hollywood is full of decadence and sodomy and offers nothing useful to the rst of the world. I imagine they refuse to believe that in the long run they're on the losing end of the battle over discrimination against gays, but they are, and pop-culture moments like this one are living proof of it.

I know--there are worries over the same-sex marriage amendments that are ever so popular at driving up the fundie vote in state races, but the trend is clear-the younger the age group, the more accepting they are of same-sex relationships, and more likely to support complete equality, including same-sex marriage. It's been a similar track for interracial dating and marriage. I'd like it to come quicker--I'd like same-sex marriage to be legal now, and think it should be--but if we don't have that, we at least have a trend to be pleased about.

The kitten died.

When I found him outside, he was weak, smaller than his littermates, and a bit lethargic. I could feel his ribs and hip bones through his fur. And he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. I tried to help him; now that he's gone I can only think of other things I might have done; might a different approach have saved his life? In the end, the vet had to inject him with fluids, feed him sugars, trying anything just to give him a chance to live. The little guy was probably comfortable. We brought him in away from the mosquitos that were eating him alive when I found him, and he rested indoors on soft cushions with blankets. He ate milk and butter and eventually kitten formula, but it didn't help. Before he died, he'd learned to use a litter-box. After the trip to the vet, he lay in a small cushiony den I made for him for about 3-4 hours. He seemed content. Every now and then he'd look at me, roll over, and go back to sleep. Finally, he stopped breathing. We buried him by the fence.

Why am I in tears over a kitten I knew for 2 days? Why did I so want the little guy to live? Why did I try so hard to stop the weeding-out that nature deemed necessary? He was too small and weak. He just couldn't survive. But I thought with human intervention, maybe...

And I was wrong. And I don't know what I'm supposed to forgive myself for, or when. And I don't want to live the rest of my life terrified of kittens.

Why was this even a law?

A Federal Judge struck down Florida's compulsory pledge statute on Thursday, which made me sit up and wonder the above question. Being raised a Jehovah's Witness taught me, if nothing else, that you can't be compelled to pledge allegiance to the US Flag. It's a solid Supreme Court precedent dating back to 1943, when JW kids were tossed out of schools for refusing to say the pledge. That the Supreme Court would issue that sort of a decision at the height of World War II shows how seriously they took it.

So why, in this day and age, is this even being passed in the first place? Wish I knew, but I'm glad it was challenged, and I'm glad even Jeb realizes the futility of appealing it, and even makes appropriate noises toward constitutional protections.

The governor said attorneys for the state are examining the ruling and an appeal still might be filed if they believe it could succeed.

"But, look, individuals do have the right to dissent or the right to not say the Pledge of Allegiance," Bush said. "I think that's constitutionally clear. I don't know why you wouldn't want to do it, but I don't think we need to spend a lot of time and energy on this."

Ryskamp ruled the law and a similar Palm Beach County School Board policy violated the First and Fourth amendments to the U.S. Constitution in a lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of a student who had been punished for refusing to stand for the pledge.

"Judge Ryskamp is a solid, solid jurist," Bush said.

I can think of any number of reasons why even a patriotic American wouldn't want to say the pledge, especially in this day and age. Hell, even if the only reason is to be contrary and think of it as an exercise of your freedom not to speak, that's enough for me.

We May Have a Third Cat and the Friday Random Ten

There are stray cats all through our neighborhood. Our neighbor has been feeding a mother cat and her newborns, and when we went out back to do laundry last night, we caught a glimpse of the new kittens. One wasn't thriving, so Amy has rescued it. We'll get pictures up of the new addition as soon as we know the sex and decide on a name. Eliot is pissed and Wally just seems confused (which is his natural state of being). Here's hoping it works out.

Here's the random ten--iTunes on party shuffle and no cheating.

1. 2:45 A.M.--Elliot Smith
2. Daria--Cake
3. John Saw That Number--Neko Case
4. Van Lear Rose--Loretta Lynn
5. Feeling Like I Do--Superdrag
6. Lord Send Me an Angel--Blind Willie McTell
7. We Live Again--Beck
8. Thunder Road--Bruce Springsteen
9. No Chance--Broken Home (New Download from emusic)
10. I'll Do Anything--Jason Mraz

What are you listening to?

Who needs Republicans with Democrats like these?

A couple of weeks ago, Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle (hereafter referred to as Douchebag) said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel,

"I'm supposed to subsidize some schlock sitting on the sofa and drinking a beer, who won't work more than 40 hours a week?" Naugle Douchebag told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel last week, voicing opposition to a city plan that would force developers to build some affordable units or pay extra fees. "I deny that there is a problem."

Columnist Mike Mayo took Naugle Douchebag to task in the column referenced above, and then took another shot today, allowing the local folk to express their displeasure in his column. Here's some highlights:
Among the 110 people who wrote and called, I heard from a Weston mom who's moving to North Georgia, a former Broward teacher who moved to California and a Miami-Dade prosecutor whose last day is Friday before moving to Brevard County.

The consensus: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle Douchebag is "callous," "clueless" and "delusional" if he really thinks there is no affordable housing crunch in South Florida and the answer is simply for residents to work longer and harder.

"Tell Mr. Naugle Douchebag `Bottoms up' from the proletariat," said Steve Nelson of Deerfield Beach, a mover who says he sometimes works 20 days straight "just to keep up with bills and rent."


Here's some more:
Or Brooke Ortman, who works for a global commercial real estate firm and has given up on South Florida after four years. Her family will leave Weston this fall, when a new house north of Atlanta is finished (5 bedrooms, 4 baths, $330,000).

"It's pretty apparent to me Naugle's Douchebag's message is, `We only want rich people here and if you're middle class, forget it, '" said Ortman. "He's slapping his firefighters, police and teachers in the face."

"You can't afford to live here on a state salary," said Schwendeman, who has a wife, a 1-year-old baby, a six-figure law school debt, and a one-bedroom condo for sale in Hallandale Beach. Until his condo sells, his family will live in his father's house in Cocoa Beach as he starts his law practice. "It's a little embarrassing at my age to have to move back in with my dad," he said.

There are more examples, like the family that moved to California because it was significantly cheaper. They went from working a combined 120 hours a week to living on one income--a teacher's income.

But not everyone hates Naugle Douchebag. Rush Limbaugh apparently spoke very highly of him on his radio program.

The Passing of the Comics

When I was in high school, I, like many other nerds, collected comics--X-Men, Alpha Flight, Daredevil, The Avengers, She-Hulk, Groo the Wanderer. I had varied tastes. I gave it up not long before I finished high school and got rid of them completely before I got married. I got back into it for one title about three years ago, when my late obsession for comics hit my then obsession for all things Kevin Smith.

Fast forward to today. Monkey has a similar obsession for anime and manga, two genres I never got interested in, but she popped up this afternoon and mentioned Green Arrow, one of my favorites. Something about archery has always fascinated me--couldn't tell you what it is. So I passed along the last comics I ever collected--the Kevin Smith authored Green Arrow miniseries, all twelve issues that have gone from Fayetteville to San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale, still in their mylar bags. Part of me wants to snatch them back, but it's better if I don't.

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