Saturday, August 27, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Sunday, August 14, 2005
A message to Cindy Sheehan
"I realize how tragic your loss is and I know how much pain there is crushing your heart and I know the darkness that suddenly came to wrap your life and wipe away your dreams and I do feel the heat of your tears that won't dry until you find the answers to your question; why you lost your loved one?
Furthermore, I have added links to the Lebanese Political Journal and Done With Mirrors blogs in my Cool Blogs area. The former is a very reasoned look at the political situation within Lebanon and offers a perspective you may not have seen here in the United States. The latter seems more along the lines of viewing current events in the United States with a more balanced historical perspective, though the blogger in that case does quite a bit more than that.
This gives rise to the question of why I would add the two Cool Links at the same time (13:27 Central Daylight Time) and two more Cool Blogs at the same time (14:28 Central Daylight Time), and the simple fact is that I don't like adding just one link at a time. If I have that area of the editor open, I'm going to do more than just add one thing. Otherwise, it would seem like a waste of effort. Call it "obsessive-compulsive" or "neurotic" if you want. I'd probably agree with you on some level. I hope you visit all of the sites mentioned above. Enjoy.
Friday, August 12, 2005
There are other, slightly less obvious, dangers to listening only to those with whom you agree. Without listening and truly debating, it becomes easier to demonize those who disagree with you. By debate, I don't mean this "Crossfire" crap. I mean an honest discussion of issues, cordially but firmly expressing your disagreement, and explaining why you hold a particular stance. I would go so far as to say that listening only to opinions with which you agree is nothing short of intellectual incest, and as with the royals in medieval Europe, incest is a very detrimental thing. As a result, whenever I see this occurring, I challenge it, and I'm not always nice about it. Though I regret the fact that I sometimes channel my inner jackass, I do not and will not apologize for the end result. If I have caused someone to think and challenge their own ideas, I consider it a good thing. So I encourage everyone to find blogs with which they disagree, engage the hosts thereof in friendly debate, and further hone your own views, and allow yourself to be swayed. Think for yourself, but keep an open mind. Remember that no one is perfect, and no one is correct all of the time. I certainly know that I'm not. But when looking for opposing opinions, expect the same standards of quality you should demand of any other source of opinions. It's hard to hone your opinions by only challenging weak opinions, in much the same way that people don't become physically stronger unless they push themselves beyond their current physical limits.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
But anyway, on with the show. As the above (probably bloated) paragraph states, we Americans are a nation driven by extremes. A generation or so ago, Twiggy was the ideal, an anorexic, skeletal figure who, frankly, had a figure that makes me want to vomit. As a result of her, Jack LaLane, and a variety of other reasons, we had kids and adults who eventually took physical fitness to the extreme. What came after that? Due to increases in technology and other complex causes, a boom in childhood and adult obesity to the extent that both are true epidemics, as are the attendant diseases. I'm sure we can all remember a time when Type II diabetes was still called "adult-onset diabetes," as that was the time of onset in all but a minuscule proportion of sufferers; yet it's becoming common in increasingly younger children.
On a rant with which you may or may not be familiar, as I don't know how many visitors I had at the time, we once had a society where teachers were expected to have the authority in the classrooms, and if a child behaved poorly, we punished them, sent them to bed without dinner or spanked them. Though there were unconscionable abuses, such were rare and brought about generations of responsible, well-adjusted children. If a kid fucked up, they knew it PDQ, and corrective action was taken. But now, much like the Salem Witch Trials, it appears that the children are running the show when they are the least capable of doing so. In essence, our society has become one where the inmates run the asylum.
In my nearly 30 years, we've gone from The Big Three networks plus CNN, to a veritable hodgepodge of media sources, both professional and wildly unprofessional, each with varying levels and types of bias. When I was young, at least we knew what standards our society had, and it was the rebellion against those standards that gave the previous generations an identity uniquely its own. No one can mistake the culture of the 1980s with that of the '70s, '60s, or '50s. This trend carried over into the first half of the 1990s, with the music and culture of our society being significantly different from what came before. But look at us today. PettyRage has ranted about this recently, and I feel the need to add my tuppence. Turn on the radio if you dare. Country stations sound like early rock only without the vitality. Rap is now covering the same ground it did 10 years ago, with only the faces and names changing. And rock, my deer, sweet, beloved, dead, rock. Were I more of a dramatic bent, I would wear sackcloth and ashes and wail about the loss of my beloved Absalom... No, wait, that's the Old Testament. Anyway, I would be very upset. Turn on the radio, or the Fuse network, or one of the MTV or VH1 channels, or any of a host of other music television stations, and you'll find the "best" sounds like it should've come out in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, and the worst is some complete sellout Madonna wannabe with a tendency towards Japanese affectations. Gwen Stefani, this means YOU. Hot Hot Heat sounds like the Beatles before their rebellion and, frankly, without the talent. My Chemical Romance and a variety of other interchangeable, disposable groups all sound alike to the degree that they even reference each other in their songs. Even Coheed and Cambria, who I like simply for the fact that they're a different voice in that mind-destroying void that is modern pop music, sound like melodic rock from the early 80s.
Where are the true heirs to The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Talking Heads, and The Beatles? Where are the new voices bravely blazing new trails for others to follow? Or is this merely a taste of what is to come, breathing though hardly living proof that, when there's nothing against which to rebel, rebellion becomes utterly pointless and impossible? It seems to me that modern culture is merely the two-headed children borne of years of creative and intellectual incest, and we should all be ashamed for not being better and not demanding better of our society and those whose words and guitar riffs we allow into our homes.
While these are all disparate problems, I believe they are united by a common source: a lack of balance. Chaos needs order to define and balance it. Freedom needs responsibility to define and balance it. Either without the other is meaningless at best, and unlivable at worst. So I advocate this balance, freely and wholeheartedly. I advocate more activities, more unifying figures who, regardless of your stance on such people's views, at least unify our nation by their very presence, by giving us all at least some common ground. In short, we are in unimaginably desperate need of another Walter Cronkite, and sadly, he's too old and feeble to reprise his role as the voice of a nation. That is tragic, because he has no more heirs to his mantle, and we as a nation are far poorer for the lack. And that's the way it is, as I see it, August 11, 2005.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Fucking amateurs: Thieves go to the trouble of robbing the Munch Museum, and instead of grabbing genuine artwork by Munch, they get worthless copies. I'm no expert, but wouldn't the lack of brush-strokes be a clue?
Australia: Like America, only with dumber bureaucrats: Apparently, when one of their top architects, a Holocaust survivor who had immigrated from Austria, had had his Australian citizenship revoked without notification 19 years ago when Austria, without his authorization, reinstated his Austrian citizenship. This brings to mind several questions to their beleaguered Citizenship Ministry, first and foremost that of why it took them NINETEEN YEARS to notice that one of their top citizens was, in the eyes of their law, no longer a citizen and subject to deportation, and why, in all that time, they couldn't be bothered to pick up a phone and inform him. His Australian citizenship has been reinstated, as was right, but this raises serious legal and security questions for the Australian government.
Truck driver is naughty, files charges against strippers: A 31 year old truck driver, at a birthday party held in his honor at a strip club, was handcuffed and spanked on stage, with his head being restrained by a stripper's legs. He has filed 3rd degree assault charges. So if I'm understanding this correctly, he's being spanked by a scantily-clad and possibly partly skyclad woman, while having his head restrained somewhere near the crotch of another, and he's pressed felony charges against them? I'm sure many people, in his same situation, would've considered the 5 days he had trouble sitting down a reminder of one HELL of a party.
Can you have a "white wedding" in a graveyard? A young couple in love is looking for a peaceful place to have their wedding. As such, they have petitioned their local City Works board for a permit to have their wedding at a cemetary. I guess there'll be no one in the back rows to say, "I object," that is, unless Hell becomes full and it all turns into a giant George Romero movie...
Apparently, "Live Nude Nude Nudes" wasn't a nasty enough name: Howard White has long owned a strip club near LAX with a sign saying "Live Nude Nude Nudes," but apparently felt the need for a change. So, being the classy individual he is, what did he rename it? "Vaginas 'R Us". In a case that can only happen in California, the City of Los Angeles is powerless to change the name directly, but called in the big guns: A kids' toy store. Which toy store? Toys 'R Us. Why not bring a giraffe into a story that already includes naked women and a pervy man?
Skip the ski mask, remember the clothes: A 50-something year old man entered a restaurant wearing only a ski mask. He's now in a hospital for an undisclosed illness. Talk about things that make you go UCCCCCCCHH!
To qualify for the "Mile High Club", both partners must be awake and consenting, you perv: A 55-year-old businessman has been sentenced to 7 years for sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman who was asleep on the flight, returning from a vacation. This guy also gets serious mention as a dumb-fuck because there just so happened to be FOUR Secret Service agents on board, and he tried to escape.
And finally, This cop's career is so OVER: A policeman and his friend have been charged with indecent exposure after posing nude in a hotel window. The policeman was actually flexing his muscles and posing to get the attention of onlookers. If he wanted to engage in that stupidity, there are plenty of naturalist beaches and resorts. Dumbass.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
By that same token, I want to make it absolutely clear that I do NOT support extremist groups for whom animals are merely their prop, particularly those with ties to those who have, in the past, had direct dealings, including but not limited to membership therein and/or in their "support groups", with ecoterrorist organizations such as the Animal Liberation Front, et al. PETA, that means you and your ilk. There is never a justification for terrorism, and the only thing that separates the ALF, ELF, etc., from other terrorist groups is the type of bullshit in which they believe. Though this link has more to do with the Humane Societies of the United States than PETA, the points are still salient. I'm sure we all remember with disgust bordering on rage their "Holocaust On Your Plate" ad campaign, though the reasons for its cessation would be humorous if it weren't true. PETA even gained mention for its alleged support of the ALF on the website of an anti-terrorism consulting firm based in DC. They certainly have provided monetary aid to the Earth Liberation Front, and have an uncanny knowledge of some ALF activities extremely shortly after they take place, so any potential ties to the ALF would, to this humble observer, seem believable and consistent with past patterns of behavior by PETA. For more information on these and other questionable and downright stupid actions by PETA, please visit AnimalRights.net. Also, there are more interesting though more generic articles at the Foundation for Animal Use Education.
Those, however, are sites owned by opposing groups. It may be more interesting to see what they have to say in their own words. Read this article they've written about Animal Testing. Despite their contention that animal research is of limited usefulness in treating and curing human diseases, the truth is quite the opposite. A partial listing of the benefits to both humans and animals derived from animal testing is available here. Also, I'm sure everyone is familiar with the use of insulin to control diabetes, a treatment that has saved numerous lives and would not have been possible without animal testing and insulin derived from animal sources. PETA may try to talk a good game, but their actions and their own words betray them.
And now that I'm done writing on this topic, I'm want a huge glass of milk, which I'll drink while deciding whether I want a 2-lb. steak lightly charred on the outside and dripping blood with a nice fat stack of garlic bread with butter oozing from it, and maybe as a midnight snack, battered sticks of cheese fried in lard, with some horse-derived gelatin for dessert. And after that, I'll be thankful for the coronary bypass procedures perfected on animals many years ago and the pacemaker which was similarly tested so that, if I were of a mind to do so, I could do it all again.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Now on with the show.
Some on other blogs, most notably Various Miseries, have posited that the Republican Party will have significant internal problems to overcome to remain a potent political force in 2008. Whether or not that is true is, while interesting and even relevant, far from a description of everything that's going on in the Big Two. Two years ago, were someone to ask any random person the nature of the two largest problems with the Democratic Party, they may have mentioned Hillary Clinton, or Senator Kennedy, a lack of a coherent voice, or, if the person were more astute and actually paid attention to national politics, possibly Senator Byrd. Nowadays, I think there's a strong argument for those two problems are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National committee Chairman Howard Dean.
Nancy Pelosi: She has attacked the current Republican Congress as being marked by missed opportunities, even going so far as to say that it is out of touch with the American people. American people, above most Supreme Court decisions in the last generation, were deeply concerned by the Kelo vs. Weare, CT, decision, and were and remain afraid that this may give the government carte blanche to raze people's homes for strip malls to be built. What was Congresswoman Pelosi's stance on this issue? She said, "This is almost as if God has spoken." She went further to say, “It’s an elementary discussion now; they’ve made the decision.” She even convinced 32 of her fellow House Democrats to vote against the resolution to condemn the decision, and convinced 15 of her fellow House Democrats to vote "present." Though the resolution passed 365-33, the very fact that opposition to this and the companion bill to strip federal funding from any municipality that acts on this decision originated with the top leadership of the Congressional Democrats, and that the major impetus to put a check on this ruling was spearheaded by Congressional Republicans, and was thereby echoed in various Governors' Mansions and state legislatures around the nation, with one of the first of those states being my own. This could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections coming up next year, and, if the world were just, should spell trouble in Pelosi's district, though I doubt it will actually happen.
Howard Dean: Where do I begin with him? I'll ignore my bias against addressing people with non-medical doctorates as "Dr." as this is not an annoyance limited to him. For someone whose job is to bring people to his Party, he's done an excellent job of alienating people. He would be far more effective if he didn't so enjoy the taste of his own shoe leather. From his "NASCAR-dads" comment, to his "Confederate flag-waving comment", to... The list goes on and on, to the point that every time he gets in front of a camera, I'd wager his handlers scream a collective, "Oh shit!" For the rest, I go to the most widely circulated newspaper in my region of Alabama, the Mobile Register. Looking online, I saw an editorial about Howard Dean that clarifies the difficulties he will have in gaining the respect of "red state" voters. Fact-check it if you want. While I may not fully agree with the opinions expressed therein, the facts used to support those arguments are indisputable.
Dishonorable mention: Durbin for his comments comparing American soldiers to Nazis, Gulag guards, and associates of Pol Pot will certainly hurt. Also, election fraud and voter intimidation, as outlined in the American Center for Voting Rights' recent report on the 2004 Presidential election, with the number 1 hot spot being identified as Philadelphia.
In summary, though there are significant problems the Republican Party will be facing in the coming months and years, I wouldn't be popping the champagne corks yet if I were a member or supporter of the Democratic Party.
Now on to some weird shit:
Smelly fungus sparks search for corpse: The fungus was a giant stinkhorn, scientific name Phallus impudicus, and grew to a size of 20 cm (roughly 8 inches), far larger than such fungi usually grow.
No wonder Belgium is the worst curse word in some Douglas Adams books: A Belgian electric company has announced plans to reimburse customers for ruined appliances in the wake of a strong power surge that affected a number of homes and businesses. The voltage was raised to 380 volts from its normal 220 volts around the town of Turnhout.
They've gotta be kidding: Leftist politicians from Berlin are asking for the government to re-erect a giant statue of Lenin. In my book, that's as offensive as asking to raise a re-raise a giant monument to Hitler. They should be ashamed of themselves, but they apparently lack the wit.
World Cup may be boon to German sex industry: A new 60-room brothel is setting up shop a walk away from Berlin's Olympic Stadium in time for the 2006 World Cup. I guess the theory is watching men try to score on the field, then go "score" after the game.
Oh no, not another one: Pilgrims are flocking to see an image of Jesus in a section of a cut tree branch in Bijeljina, Bosnia. I thought that went out of style with pet rocks.
Man, this man's wife picked a winner: In the same courtroom where, only minutes before, he had pled guilty to the gang-related stabbing death, Joshua Martin Miracle was married. He faces either the death penalty or life without parole. What a winner. If I were a woman, he'd be my first choice. *rolls eyes*
And that's all for now.