31 May 2005

nothing better to do...? part X

What would happen if the Dali Lama, the Mexican National Action Party of Vicente Fox, or the British Anglican communion had sent representatives to the US in order to influence the presidential election in 2004?

First, it would have been illegal as identified by congressional law, and, second, the outcry would have been so loud that the conservative right would have been leading the charge for a declaration of war. Yet the "missionaries" are bent on exporting their beliefs and foisting their "agenda" on the rest of the world - Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and now Canada!

In a report entitled Anti-Gay US Groups Try To Seize Control Of Canadian Political Party from 365gay.com and gaynewsblog.com, Focus on the Family and other right-wing religious groups in the US are exporting their particular brand of bigotry.

Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado has reportedly sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to its Canadian affiliate to wage an anti-gay campaign and the Roman Catholic Knights Of Columbus in the US recently spent nearly $100,000 to print two million postcards to be distributed in Catholic churches across Canada for people to send to Members of Parliament opposing gay marriage.

Not only that but there is a direct link to the GOP: Harper and the Conservatives have been receiving help from the Republican Party. GOP advisers and consultants have been working with the party for more than a year.

It's going to be interesting to see who else is going to be covering this and what the response is going to be from Canadians. I'm going to Canada for two weeks in July. I'll have to keep my ears open and gingerly inquire when it seems judicious. I wonder if Canadians think that these people have...

nothing better to do...?

le "non" de France... partie deux

Roger Cohen in International Herald Tribune backs up my last post on the immigration issue being a big part of the "non" vote on the EU Constitution in France.

The rhetoric of this revolutionary left, articulated most menacingly by the baby-faced Trotskyist and Neuilly postman, Olivier Besancenot, is suffused with idealism. But its real face is more prosaic and reflected in the polls that show that more than 65 percent of those who voted no think there are too many foreigners in France. It seems that the Socialist Left joined the xenopohic right in the "non" vote.

Add to this the reluctance to give up strict socialist guarantees with a move to free markets and the vote was bound to be "non."

A recent example was the overwhelming outcry of the French having to give up the day after Pentacostal Sunday as a national holiday. This is a religious holiday, and as I mentioned in the previous post, the French are secular even in their religion. They refuse to give up a "free day" even if it was in exchange for helping out the elderly as its replacement.

Frenchbenj put it best in his post today: Of course, this is also caused by French people's propension to NOT answer the question they're asked. They were asked "do you want a stronger Europe?", they answered "we hate Chirac and we want more welfare state".

A backdoor answer to the real questions?

encore, plus ca change...

30 May 2005

le "non" de France...

I have a suspicion that the French didn't vote down the EU constitution because they necessarily think that it is a bad thing. I think it probably is more of a reaction to the "inaction" of Chirac's government to the "immigration problem."

The French are too polite and hesitant to publicly air dirty laundry about the non-French (read Muslim) population in the country, but they are a proud people devoted to their heritage or at least their sense of the heritage. Since the more-or-less open door policy to Algerians, Morrocans, and other Islamic nationals the French are feeling a tremendous pressure on their secular form of government and religion. Add to that the influx of Easter Europeans as cheap labor since the old Eastern Bloc entered the EU and there is even more of an attack on tradition.

Though technically a Catholic country, very few of the French, especially in Paris, attend even Sunday mass. This is not a new thing. They have always been this way - at least since the French Revolution. They inherently mistrust anyone who wants to tell them what to do. Hence, Chirac's response that the people had "spoken" in their vote.

I travel to France, almost always Paris, once or twice each year. I don't play the typical tourist. I usually go for opera and to loose myself in a place where I feel comfortable. I have always found the French extremely polite and friendly, unlike what most US citizens believe, but I learned long ago the trick to getting along in Paris: remember that they are polite to the nth degree, live on tradition that borders on protocol and try to speak the language. The last is very important since most all French people under the age of 50 speak/understand English because it is a required course in school. I speak French and what usually happens is that when they hear my accent they want to practice their English and ask lots of questions about what is happening in the US.

I, on the other hand, want to spend my time immersed in the long-time love affair I've been having with Paris.

I've been visiting France for 30 years and on each successive visit I notice the incursion of "foreign" influence and the hesitancy of the French to confront it. I don't particularly like it as a francophile, so I can just imagine what the French think about it. They must believe that their way of life is under attack and the government will do nothing substantive to combat it. The vote may have been their way of saying, "Enough!"

I only hope that the French, as well as the rest of the world, can finally see their way out of a very perplexing conundrum. I don't think that the EU is a bad idea. I have seen the very positive effects it has had over the years. I only hope that the centuries' old nationalism that was a mainstay in Europe can find a way to live along-side the changes occurring because I don't think they are going to go away.

plus ca change...

29 May 2005

when you just can't hold it...

Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

Sorry, I have to post this in the original from Autoblog, but you have to go to the website to watch the video. It's one of those that you'll say, "Now, I've seen everything!"

It’s OK to pee in the car…

And not use an empty beer bottle or canning jar (BTDT). Now Indipod introduces an inflatable bubble that fits in the back of your SUV or minivan for those emergencies or camping trips. There’s something odd about taking care of business in the back of mom’s Sienna, but according to the website it’s a “sanitary sanctuary.” If the “Vapooizer” isn’t involved, we really don’t want to know where it goes. For $362 you too can turn your GMC Jimmy into a Johnny. Their website has an online video demonstration, but we haven’t got the guts to watch it.

You can see the video here: indipod

gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go...

26 May 2005

big brother tells you which religion to be...

A judge in Indiana has now told a couple who have amicably divorced, and have joint custody of their son, that they may not raise him Wiccan. You can read the entire article here Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs.

The parents want to raise him Wiccan but the judge said no because The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights. Jones' son attends a local Catholic school. The bureau's logic is that Wiccan is not a mainstream religion.

Seems the boy's father went to a catholic private school but wasn't catholic and had no problems. Actually, a lot of kids go to private religious schools, even though they aren't a member of the religion, because the parents believe it to be a superior education. The main objection is that they want to raise him Wiccan.

Before people go off on the Wiccan beliefs as being devil worship, nude rituals, and witchcraft, read the article. It goes into great detail about the parents' beliefs. It also makes a point that even the US military trains its chaplains on Wicca.

I have not been able to find any information about the judge's background, if he is elected or appointed, if he is liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, etc., but I would like to hear his explanation behind this. I have one more question...

what would be his decision if they want to raise him athiest...?

a brief break...

I had to take a brief break in blogging. Well, actually, my body insisted on the break. I've had this unreal cold that took forever to get rid of and one morning I woke up with a little twinge in the upper part of my left gluteus maximus and by the end of the day I could barely walk.

At first, since I had started a new medication a couple of days before, the doctor thought I had an adverse interaction with another medication. It is a rare side effect but causes permanent muscle damage. Luckily, that was ruled out with muscle enzyme tests.

Then, they took x-rays to see if there was any damage to my left hip. Besides a little arthritis, the x-rays were clear.

So, they've diagnosed bursitis: definitely a sign of old age. It seems that it's much more than that. The bursa is what cushions the tendon and thereby helps prevent friction between the tendon and the bone. Unfortunately, constant rubbing of the tendon over the bone with high amounts of repetitive arm, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle motion can lead to enough friction of the bursa itself to cause the inflammation and irritation of the bursa called bursitis.

According to New York-Presbyterian Hospital A bursa is a closed, fluid-filled sac that functions as a cushion and gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body. The major bursae are located adjacent to the tendons near the large joints, such as in the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. When the bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is known as bursitis.

So, now you know about bursitis, at least a little. All I can say is that the most painful illness I ever have had has been kidney stones, and there is no pain like it. The first time I was hospitalized with kidney stones the nurse I had was 8 1/2 months pregnant with her fourth child. She told me she would gladly have four more as long as she never had to have another kidney stone attack. She swore kidney stones were more painful than childbirth! Not being of childbearing capacity, I can't agree or disagree with her. All I can agree with is that I hope I never have another kidney stone attack - two has been enough.

Any way, the pain of bursitis comes close because it is continuous and throbbing; hurts more if you laugh, sneeze or cough; makes it impossible to sleep, climb stairs or sit; and causes walking to be a difficulty so that the entire leg hurts.

and as my grandmother used to say...

the man who said life begins at forty should have been shot!...

15 May 2005

the coming constitutional apocalypse...?

Frank Rich in an op-ed piece in today's New York Times, Just How Gay Is the Right?, traces the battle that the religious right began against gays 30 years ago and connects it to Allen Drury's Advise and Consent, later made into a great movie by Otto Preminger, for its seeming prescience.

He implies that the "anti-gay war" is actually a cover for what is the real war, and the "nuclear option" that may make it happen this week could be the precursor of things to come:

Their campaign menaces the country on a grander scale than Drury and Preminger ever could have imagined: it uses gay people as cannon fodder on the way to its greater goal of taking down a branch of government that is crucial to the constitutional checks and balances that "Advise and Consent" so powerfully extols.

The result could be more devastating than anyone can imagine.

i'm afraid. i'm very, very afraid...

14 May 2005

i am far from a paulist, but...

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. (II Timothy 4:2,3)

bush? falwell? robertson? hutcherson? jpII? rove? frist? delay? benedict? dobson?

just wondering...

Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft, Kraft...

The religious right has taken Ghandi's non-violent protest into heretical territory while Martin Luther King used boycotting as a method of non-violent protest based on Ghandi's premise of satyagraha. Behind the establishment of non-violence were years, decades, centuries of injustices that needed to be erased. At one time or another these injustices had the explicit backing of the christian churches.

In hindsight the churches apologized for their misunderstanding, misinterpretation of scripture, and lack of understanding and compassion for things such as slavery, the Inquisition, Galileo, colonialism, and complicity by Jews in Christ's death, for example.

Boycotts work in the face of injustice sometimes. The threat is usually more powerful than the actual boycott since they seldom get beyond threats. The almighty dollar is the driving force behind politics in this country. The groups that shout the loudest or withhold their money usually get what they want - at other's cost.

The christian right has been making themselves into the victims for the last several years - actually centuries since the Magna Carta - and using bigotry of their beliefs as the reason for their victimization. However, they use the same tactics against other groups in the name of Christ.

The boycott of Proctor & Gamble and the new threatened boycotts of Kraft and Microsoft because of their support for simple rights of LGBT's smack of hypocrisy and heresy of christian values of love, peace, forgiveness, acceptance, etc. They pretend to be protecting the lives of innocents.

The latest is a new threat from a group led by Ken Hutcherson and backed by the American Family Association and Focus on the Family against Microsoft's "change of heart" on the LGBT legislation in Washingto state. Randy Sharp, the AFA's director of special projects, told The Sunday Telegraph: "What a company does in its work place is its own business. But if they start supporting a radical homosexual agenda beyond their doors, that is a different matter."

What is "radical" about the alleged homosexual "agenda?" First of all, I have never seen the "agenda." I have seen, time after time, the religious rights "agenda." It is filled with venomous epithets, some couched some outright, against the rights that ALL Americans are guaranteed by the Constitution. They want to change the Constitution to reflect their theism when the writers of the Constitution specifically declared that the separation of church and state was one of the most important things behind its construction because of the inhibitions forced on them by the British monarchy. They wanted no part of further discrimination based on any reason.

And what exactly is Microsoft supporting "beyond their doors?" Are they saying that only people who support LGBT rights can buy Windows, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Entourage, etc.? Are they telling christian employees that they have to sleep with members of the same sex in order to work for them? Is Microsoft saying that it will NOT do business with other companies that do not support LGBT rights?

Now they are starting a boycott against Kraft because it is supporting the Gay Games to be held in Chicago in 2006. Do they want the entire country to go through "Cheez Whiz" withdrawal? Not a pretty picture! They argue that by supporting the Gay Games, Kraft is supporting the homosexual agenda and foisting upon unsuspecting families and youth that being gay is one of Kraft's primary goals. I can assure them that there is nothing gay about macaroni and cheese...

it cannot make anyone gay any more than it can make them regular in their bm's...

soldiers for Jesus...?

Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

This photo is either misleading or frightening. The Antiwarblog.com website makes it sound like a right-wing paramilitary organization hell-bent on using military to expand religious dominance in the military.

The A Tiny Revolution website makes a connection to it in regards to ...if there were a comparable group of middle eastern men with a comparable website with a comparable picture reading "Purpose: Impart faith in Mohammed," it would get a great deal of attention here. I wonder if this has gotten a great deal of attention in the middle east.

Eschaton (the original link where I found it) remarks This is getting scarier and scarier.

If you go to the website itself, Force Ministries, they are a group of ex-navy SEALS who purport to provide support to military chaplains who deal with military and their families with overseas deployment. Their mission is to provide "Christ-centered duty." One of the ways they "advertize" themselves is through a precision skydiving team.

The one thing that is scary is the name they gave to the photo "Christ is Love." They cite as their "defining passage:" From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. [Matthew 11:12]

force, love, force, love...?

11 May 2005

what a hoot...

Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

Friendship goes a long way and takes great pains to make life happen.

Crossing the line? Lake Geneva student who wore dress to prom is suspended, fined $249 an article in the Milwaukee Jounal Sentinel reports a story about a high school student in Lake Geneva who agreed to be the prom date for a good friend who is gay and had no one to go with.

The twist? Kerry Lofy, the student who is a "jock" in the usual high school categorization, decided to wear a dress, as seen above. "Things got a little crazy," Lofy said Tuesday from home, where the 18-year-old senior is serving the suspension after Saturday night's antics. along with a $249 disorderly conduct fine.

The best quote from Kerry: "I looked like Marilyn Monroe...." I wouldn't go that far, but they do make a cute couple and I bet they were the life of the prom. Oh, this wasn't the first time Kerry has pulled stunts like this. Last year he wore a suit made out of duct tape to the prom!

we are all alike in our differences...

logic will get you from a to b. imagination will get you everywhere... Albert Einstein

'nuff said...

10 May 2005

buy what you eat...

Mouffetard I
Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

In most of Europe, actually in ALL of Europe, they don't buy groceries as we do - one trip and stock up for the entire week.

Instead, they prefer fresh and fresher. They actually buy only what they need for a day or two. There are larger grocery stores like FrancePrix and MonoPrix, but they are no where near the size we have in the US.

The way that most people buy food is at markets like the one above - Mouffetard. It is a long narrow rue with many, many stores each a specialty with the freshest ingredients. You pick your favorite(s) and become a "regular." You can even buy your entire dinner completely cooked so that it is warm or you just have to warm it when you get home.

There are other markets, some open daily, and others on certain days of the week. Rue Cler is the market made famous by Rick Steves in his shows on public television stations.

Everyone should have the experience of visiting a foriegn country and not just on a tour. It should be on your own to discover what other cultures are like. Though it points out many differences, it shows that...

we are all alike in our differences...

flickers of 1930's germany...

Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

This is one of the ways it all started...

Oklahoma lawmakers nix gay books

The American Library Association (ALA) leads the fight against book burning in the US. They keep a record and fight for First Amendment rights at every turn. The turns as of late, however, have taken a definite anti-gay bent, but there is no guarantee that it will stop there.

Other states, schools, & school districts are either considering banning books or at their board meetings each month have parents, during the community participation segment required by law, voicing objections to materials/books used in school libraries and classrooms that do not hold their narrow points of view.

Kristallnacht will have its 67th annivarsary on November 9-10 this year. It is not something to celebrate. It is something to fear. Religious fascism is dangerous - may more dangerous than ordinary run-of-the-mill fascism.

will the Quran be next...?
will the synagogues have to be watchful...?
will the courts be put under political watch...?

so many questions...

just asking...

nothing better to do... Part IX

Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

When does the separation of church and state come back? When does the religious right finally get the idea that the basic premise of our form of democracy is majority rule, minority right not minority dominate, majority keep your mouth shut?

When is the majority finally going to open their mouths and say ENOUGH! I am as patriotic and as American as you. I don't have to believe what you believe. I don't have to be questioned by bigots who want things one way - theirs!.

When is the right of dissent going to be de riguer again? When is the "people" going to be back as the backbone of democracy?

Am I pissed? You bet I am. I'm tired of being told I don't have the rights that others have because I'm an athiest, agnostic, Jewish, black, lesbian, gay, immigrant, etc., etc., etc...

these people have nothing better to do...

federalism: the lost constitutional premise...

For the last several years both Democrats and Republicans have been eliminating Federalism from the way our Constitution works and making James Madison roll over in his grave. Specifically, the US Constitution in the Bill of Rights states:

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

An article by Bruce Fein in the Washington Times, May 10, 2005, What's federalism among friends?, goes into specific examples of Congress over-stepping its bounds over the last several years and the Supreme Court's overturning many of these laws. Damn those "activist" judges. They tied the hands of religious groups concerning property and gun free school zone laws. These were judgments supported by the most activist justice of all - Antonin Scalia!

The Congress has their fingers in marriage, partial-birth abortion, child interstate abortion, medical malpractice, energy intervention, ad nauseum. All traditionally handled by state law. Not one of these areas has any direct connection to the US Constitution and therefore fall under the power Tenth Amendment and consequently the states.

Fein ends his article using a quote by Justice Louis Brandeis in a landmark case dealing in state's rights:

The Republican Party should return to the political enlightenment of Justice Louis D. Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann (1932): "It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

The people have been successful in determining what is best for themselves...

no matter what...

08 May 2005

if only it were true...

Gates/Tiger Cartoon
Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

Actually, it could be. Every personification of Windows has been a previous incarnation of a Mac OS in one way or another.

I installed Tiger on the day it came out. It is worth every penny for one application - Spotlight. It finds everything on your computer: instantly! Even some you didn't even remember were there. It catalogues not only every document and folder title, but ALSO everything in a document!

Thanks to JoyofTech for the cartoon.

puts new meaning in "put a tiger in your tank..."

02 May 2005

a hoax...?

Even if the story about Laura Bush and Pastor DeLong is a hoax, I'm sure lots of the right probably think that way. So the gist of the thought may be on target...

no matter what...

p.s. i still like the picture.

nothing better to do... Part VIII

Bush and Saudi Prince... Oh, My!
Originally uploaded by jmichaeli.

"As a believer, President Bush is no doubt familiar with the passage from Ephesians that says 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord,'" says Mr. DeLong. "That means that just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of the wife...." Pastor Roy DeLong chairperson of the Coalition for Traditional Values. The Swift Report

Now the saga of Laura Bush's "stand-up routine" at the White House Correspondent's Association Dinner is coming into play with the religious (offendable) right. Pastor Roy Delong warns that the First Lady's performance comes at a time when the Mr. Bush's "manliness is already under attack." You can see his entire statement here: President Bush Should 'Stand Up' to First Lady's Stand-Up Routine.

Mrs. Bush [and Mr. for that matter] have, as of late, shown more humanity than in the last four+ years. The "stand-up" she did at the dinner was first rate and worthy of SNL. [She'd do a better job than most of SNL's guest hosts.] She showed what has been missing from this administration for a long time - making fun of itself. They have been too serious for too long. If you can't laugh at yourself, you've got a problem and how can anyone take you seriously?

That may be the religious right's major problem. They take themselves too serious and with too much self-importance. They are no more important than anyone else in the world, and I'm sure their god would agree with that.

I say "Bravo" to Mrs. Bush. It was a breath of fresh air and I'm positive Mr. Bush was in on it. Hell, he was holding hands with the Saudi prince last week. To Mr. DeLong, have you...

...nothing better to do?

01 May 2005

and yet everything stays the same...

Nothing changes; except change itself.

I used to lean towards Chaos Theory as an eplanation for everything that happens, but I've since found a fatal flaw in it. Chaos theory holds that one cannot predict what is going to happen because there are too many variables that could change the outcome. This is the same problem as Descartes' "I think, therefore I am." There is a presumption that I think when there is no proof that I do. "I am" predisposes that there is nothing else besides existence, but I have no proof of that because "I think," and I can't prove that I think.

Because there are variables, rather than chaos, there are just possible outcomes - too many. However, each variable has a predictable outcome. Therefore, the outcome can be determined based on the elimination of the variables that have a lesser chance of occurring. Prioritizing the variables left, I can make a determination of the most probable outcomes. From the probable outcomes, I can test to discern the best chance scenario. So, anything is possible, but some things are more possible than others.

or are they..?

trickle down effect...

The fast moving actions around the world must have an effect on everyone who hears things, either directly from the news or just overhearing what people are talking about. I wonder what affect this has on children? I have been noticing an unsettling attitude of children acting out aggressively toward each other - starting fights, shouting matches, feeling personal space threatened, and quick to react to anything they think is against them.

Children, too often, are considered just children with no responsibility in dealing with the occurrences they view or the bits and pieces of news they hear. All of it has to have an effect on them. They sense if adults around them are anxious about something, feel threatened, are confused, or have strong opinions about ideas. How many adults have taken the time to explain to children what's going on? I would bet very few. If this is true, children are behaving out of reaction instead of from understanding.

I wonder how many adults react the same way...?