31 December 2006

dinner for one...

wellllll, almost one...

This is a classic. The Germans have a thing about viewing it on New Year's Eve as a tradition. There is something special about British humor. Often misunderstood by Americans, it can be quite wry. I grew up with my father's parents living with us until their deaths. They were from Belfast and Liverpool. Most of the time, I get what others miss when viewing or hearing something from the British lexicon. I'll roar and friends will look at me, well, like I'm being stranger than normal.

so in the tradition of Miss Sophie and James...

Same procedure as last year...?

29 December 2006

an explanation...

In previous posts I have cited a phrase that deals with athiesm that conflates it with deism. I found the original source and quote when reading a post from samharris.org. It is from an article he wrote appearing in the LA Times:
As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
Roberts' reasoning is really flawless. If you can recognize why you repudiate Allah, Shiva, Cthulhu, Zeus, Jupiter, The Great Spaghetti Monster, etc., you should be able to understand why an atheist rejects your god. It's the same rationale.

Harris' article is entitled 10 myths—and 10 Truths—About Atheism. It's a well presented argument.

The 10 myths:
1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.
2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.
3) Atheism is dogmatic.
4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.
5) Atheism has no connection to science.
6) Atheists are arrogant.
7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.
8) Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.
9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.
10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

For the 10 truths you have to read the article. Harris' truths are the rebuttals to each of the myths.

The truth that struck me the most was his countering to #10 -
If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

and so, I still believe in one fewer god than you do.

can you understand it better now?

just asking...

28 December 2006



• noun the view that the self is all that can be known to exist

George Will seems to be put-off that Time Magazine named us as person(s) of the year; us being those who contribute to the internet through blogging. He sees it as a form of narcissism.

Of course. The most capacious modern entitlement is not to Social Security but to self-esteem. So Time's cover features a mirror-like panel. The reader -- but why bother to read the magazine when merely gazing at its cover gives immediate and intense gratification? -- can gaze at the reflection of his or her favorite person. Narcissism is news? Evidently.

He may be missing something very big in his view, however. True, most weblogs tell of every day life in all of its banality and inanity, but what is the reason behind the popularity of blogging?

He does identify that,
To the person looking at his reflection, Time's cover announces, congratulations: "You control the Information Age." By "control" Time means only that everyone is created equal -- equally entitled to create content for the World Wide Web, which is controlled by neither law nor taste.

He misses that people being equally entitled to create content may be a sign of what bloggers might be reflecting for the entire world population: we are tired of the abject control that has plagued the world for the last 40-50 years and especially the last 6+.

Control has been in the hands of a relatively small number of people who have entirely too much money and power.

If King George W is adamant about the spreading of democracy, why has he persistently limited it in his own country?

and why is George Will so hung up on control?

doesn't a true Conservative, as George Will purports to be, believe in limited government?

or is he only pretending?

just asking...

25 December 2006

what's going on here (part XIII)...

Family Planning Is Family Values
The religious right is right in this: Birth control is the source of seismic change. Family planning has led to a transformation of our society so rapid we've only recently had the occasion to take stock. For example, the past century has actually witnessed a steep decline in extramarital affairs as a result, it would seem, of the very changes that drive the pro-lifers wild: The more lengthy and thoughtful trying-out of marriage partners in combination with greater candor about sexual desires within marriage. Studies conducted in 1948 and 1953, found that 26 percent of women and a whopping 50 percent of men had an extramarital sexual experience. But today, in our sex- and sin-saturated culture, the number of married people who have had an extramarital affair has plummeted to 6 percent of women and 10 percent of men, according to (conservative) Ben Wattenberg in his book The First Measured Century.

So birth control is responsible for bolstering family values because it makes people more responsible. Instead of people marrying and begetting children at an early age, usually because they have to due to unwanted pregnancies, they are waiting until they are at least 28. More maturity, more security, more certainty? The highest divorce rates in the country are reported to be in the fortress of the christianist movement: the South. Most people marry quite young, often in late teens. They have had no chance to experience life, so to speak. Isnt't it time they broke the cycle? just asking...

At Axis of Episcopal Split, an Anti-Gay Nigerian
Archbishop Akinola, a man whose international reputation has largely been built on his tough stance against homosexuality, has become the spiritual head of 21 conservative churches in the United States. They opted to leave the Episcopal Church over its decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop and allow churches to bless same-sex unions. Among the eight Virginia churches to announce they had joined the archbishop’s fold last week are The Falls Church and Truro Church, two large, historic and wealthy parishes.

More bigotry in the name of Christianity. This man is fixated on one thing and one thing only when the vast majority of AIDS cases are found in Africa and where the poverty level is the highest. He upholds the literal view of the bible and he panders to the lowest form of christianism in the US. More Love thy neighbor...? The real fight between the mainstream American Espiscopal church and the schismatics is going to be in the courts. There is a major question of church properties being the domain of the national church. It's going to be interesting to see what happens. Though both sides have agreed to a 30-day cooling off period before legal actions could start, the fact looms heavy. If the schismatics would win, could Archbishop Akinola then become an owner of property in the once slave rich South? Ironic?

Vista vulnerable to malware from 2004
Microsoft's Vista may be vulnerable to at least three pieces of widespread malware, two of which date back to 2004 , according to security vendor Sophos.

At least three well-known internet worms — labelled Stratio-Zip, Netsky-D and MyDoom-O by Sophos — are able to execute on the OS, according Sophos.

and now another company has found additonal security flaws connected with Vista and the new Explorer 7. [Flaws Are Detected in Microsoft’s Vista] This continues to be a disaster for MS. How can one of, if not the richest companies in the world continuously and seriously make these mistakes even before the product is released for general use? To paraphrase Henry II when speaking of Beckett: "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome software?" just asking*...

Pope Offers Christmas Prayers for Peace
Pope Benedict XVI urged a solution to conflicts across the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa, in a Christmas Day address that included an appeal for the poor, the exploited, and all those who suffer.

"With deep apprehension I think, on this festive day, of the Middle East, marked by so many grave crises and conflicts, and I express my hope that the way will be opened to a just and lasting peace," Benedict said Monday.

"...an appeal for the poor, the exploited, and all those who suffer...." my ass!

As he sits on his golden throne, wearing red Prada shoes, and riding around in limousines he needs to look at the lives of true humans in the world. If he wants to bring peace to the world, to improve the lives of everyone, and to spread acceptance and love, he has to stop his exclusion of parts of the world because of their differences. [Please read the next part of the post and its link] again I harp - more Love thy neighbor...?

The Peaceful Crusader
Islamic society and Christian society have been generally bad neighbors now for nearly 14 centuries, eager to misunderstand each other, often borrowing culturally and intellectually from each other without ever bestowing proper credit. But as Sir Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, has written, almost as if he was thinking of (Sultan) Kamil and (Saint) Francis, “Those who are confident of their faith are not threatened but enlarged by the different faiths of others. ... There are, surely, many ways of arriving at this generosity of spirit and each faith may need to find its own.” We stand in desperate need of contemporary figures like Kamil and Francis of Assisi to create an innovative dialogue. To build a future better than our past, we need, as Rabbi Sacks has put it, “the confidence to recognize the irreducible, glorious dignity of difference.”

May the Lord give you peace.

Spock: "The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."
Dr. Jones: "And in the way our differences combine to create meaning and beauty."

Sources: TomPaine.com, New York Times, ZDNet, Chicago Tribune, New York Times
*buy a Mac...

may your days be merry and bright...

happy christmas

24 December 2006

in a world of dreams...

...we are motes of dust in the eye of imagination.

I seldom watch movies with messages. I like escapist stories that take me away from the concept of reality. I've seen Clear and Present Danger only a couple of times less than The Bourne Supremacy. If I'm flipping channels and come across either one of these movies, I'm hooked again. Usually for the gazillionth time.

The The Dust Factory caught my eye early Sunday morning and, luckily, it was right at the opening credits. I found it to be absolutely charming. I think I also identified with it because I'm going through a grieving process since I decided to take an early retirement in March.

The trailer:

Many people may think that grief is experienced only when someone dies [I hate the term "passes"]. I think life is a series of not only joys but also of griefs. They are a movement forward and away from something, a line of little deaths that we go through daily. Most of them are minor and usually go unnoticed while others are major - retiring, moving to a new home, marriage, divorce, leaving a job....

ce n’est pas la fin du monde...

it's not the end of the world...

Eric Fassin : "Je crois que l’ouverture du mariage aux couples du même sexe, ce n’est pas la fin du monde, c’est seulement la fin d’un monde."*

*"I believe that same-sex marriage is not the end of the world. It's only the end of a world."

M. Fassin is a French sociologist who is reacting to a new book put out in France by a politician (Senateur Jacques Baudot) before the upcoming elections in France: Oui chez le notaire; Non chez le maire. In today's e-llico.com: actualité gay [sorry, it's in French], Jean-françois Laforgerie, the author of the post, points out that it merely is all politics since there are elections coming up in France soon. It's pandering to the rightist in France.

Well, we seem to be doing a lot of this in the U.S. right now also. John McCain and Mitt Romney are the prime examples. They have seen the light and changed their ways to appeal to the christianists and homophopes here. What's incredible is that both men, especially Romney, previously spoke out favorably for at least some semblance of marriage for same-sex couples, even if it were civil unions.

Now they are saved. They have bit the bullet and seen the error of their ways. They have decided that their hypocrisy is in the past. They have bowed to the Dobsons...

Wait, their duplicity speaks volumes to their real intentions and designs, doesn't it? Would you vote for men who change their minds in the pursuit of self-aggrandizement?

just asking...

Note: While I've clearly stated that I am basically opposed to same-sex marriage since I think that marriage itself is becoming passé and because there are many people strongly committed without magical words, I still strongly uphold the right of anyone to enter into it if they want to do so. It is a sign of equality when all members of a society have the same opportunity to the rights and benefits of everyone else. No one group should be denied of what other, more acceptable, groups freely take advantage.

23 December 2006

this makes me very sad...

A 17 year-old high school student, Kiri Davis, found a study done by Dr. Kenneth Clark used in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case ending school segregation legally. The original study was shocking. Ms. Davis decided to see how things had progress over the years and produced a video entitled A Girl Like Me. Her video is more disturbing.

It makes me very sad. I can only imagine how it would make an African-American feel.

I work predominantly with African-American children. After all of these years I have come to love and cherish them. I see them as no different than any other children with whom I have ever worked. They have all of the same hopes, fears, dreams and cares as everyone else. The one thing that they don't have is the proverbial break that other children have because of the color of their skin.

I was lucky growing up in that I never heard my parents ever use a derogatory name or word. While other members of my family would from time to time display racist behaviour and remarks, my parents, to the best of my memory, never did.

I remember my father saying something to me when I was quite young. He said that his parents and my mother's parents chose to come to this country as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty and class that was found in the old country. The Black people, he said, weren't given a choice. They were stolen from their homes and brought over here against their will. They were put to work and not paid.

That has stayed with me my entire life. I know it made a big difference in the way I think. I have literally been part of the Black culture through working in the community for the last 14 years.

One day I was at my desk and a little girl came in looking for the social worker who sometimes used a little room I have in my office. She couldn't find her and asked me where the lady was who was in my little room. I wasn't sure about whom she was talking and asked the girl who she meant. Her response was very simple and innocent and made all of the people at work smile. She said, "She's light-skinned like you." I felt very proud of the fact that I was somehow just a "person" with whom the girl shared her life in some small way.

The video at the start of this post makes me sad because I have been connect to the Black culture through my work. The culture is vibrant, colorful, historical, alive, caring, family-oriented, and generous. To watch the little kids choose the white doll over the black one is disheartening. The most shocking to me was the little girl who picked the black doll as being bad.

Bad and evil have no color. They are actions that people take who are small-minded and bigoted. That the children have been so ingrained for centuries with the propaganda of groups like the KKK and others who have kept them and their culture in a backwash of hate and prejudice is a shame, not to mention a crime.

more of Love thy neighbor?

just asking...

21 December 2006

if Mr. Bush is so worried...

...about his legacy and how history will review his presidency, he needs to take a bold step and follow the lead of Richard Nixon.

As derided and disliked Mr. Nixon was, he opened a dialogue with Communist China. That is Nixon's real legacy. The U.S. has gone from shunning and fighting China (read Korea & Viet Nam) to owing it billions of dollars for the money that Mr. Bush has borrowed from China to run his war.

The editorial in Le Monde today said it best: Bushe reste Bush - "Bush Remains Bush."

Instead of listening to the American people, his generals, his diplomats, and the Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq, he chooses to send more American service members into a situation that even the ground troops are comparing to the Viet Nam fiasco.

Can Mr. Bush be so blind to the obvious?

He could have a resounding effect if he sat down, or even had Condi Rice sit down, with Iran, Syria, Muqtada al-Sadr, Hezbollah, Hamas... and said, "Look, y'all. If we put our minds and resources to it, we could put the Middle East in a space that would economically, politically and socially put it on a par with the rest of the world. You can have your religious differences; you can puff your chests and fluff your plumes; and you can disagree all you want on who succeeded the Prophet. Don't y'all think it's time to start doing something for your people. And, while were at it, let's bring in the French, the Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Russians together with us and see what we all can do together to help ya'll."

If he is that concerned about his legacy, he could make the biggest change in the world ever.

I want to pose: is it too much to ask? or could anything be more simple? or why can't he see the obvious?

but I think already I know the answers.

so, why should i even bother to ask?

just asking...

20 December 2006

american christianism at its best (worst)...

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-4605

December 7, 2006

Dear Xxxxxxx:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
70 East Court Street
Suite 215
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

There is no comment necessary to this letter from the right honorable Mr. Goode. He is an example of what is best about democracy as practiced in the United States. He is allowed to say and write the things that he wants. The Constitution guarantees him the right of free speech. It also insures that he has the freedom to practice the religion of his choice. The emphasis should be on the word practice because he doesn't know how to live his religion with remarks like his.

more Love they neighbor...?

just asking...

Note: The swearing-in ceremony uses NO book - Bible, Koran, Communist Manifesto.... The Representatives only raise their right hands in the chamber standing at their desks. It's not prescribed in the congressional procedures. There a mock swearing-in afterwards for photo-op purposes when members choose to hold something with their wives, families, partners standing behind them if they so desire. It's all for show.

17 December 2006

what's going on here (part XII)...

Mary Cheney’s Bundle of Joy

The axis of family jihadis — Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association — is feeling the heat; its positions get more extreme by the day. A Concerned Women for America mouthpiece called Mary Cheney’s pregnancy “unconscionable,” condemning her for having “injured her child” and “acted in a way that denies everything that the Bush administration has worked for.” (That last statement, thankfully, is true.) This overkill reeks of desperation. So does these zealots’ recent assault on the supposedly feminizing “medical” properties of soy baby formula (which deserves the “blame for today’s rise in homosexuality,” according to the chairman of Megashift Ministries), and penguins.

Christianism at its most hateful. "Injured her child?" How? Is it time to call in Family Services for child abuse? More likely it's time to call them in for religious abuse. How can people be so single-tracked in their thinking? Is everything based on black and white? What happens to Love thy neigbor as thyself with these people? just asking...

Gay Marriage Advocate Beaten At Mass. Rally
At a lectern Larry Cirignano, leader of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship group had just finished leading the Pledge of Allegiance when he spotted Loy near the front of the crowd with other supporters of gay marriage staging a counter protest.

Loy was carrying a sign reading “No discrimination in the Constitution”. Other members of her group were yelling “You lost, go home, get over it,” at the crowd.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that Cirignano rushed from behind the lectern and tackled Loy to the ground. “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now,” he allegedly told her as her head was pushed into the concrete sidewalk.

Ahhhh, more advocates of Love thy neighbor... show their acceptance, temperance, and tolerance. Wouldn't the pope be proud of them? just asking...

Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment
The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

An Iraqi insurgent? No! A 29 year-old Navy veteran, Donald Vance, acting as an FBI informant who reported possible weapons trading while working as an assistant in an Iraqi security firm. He is an American who volunteered to assist in quelling the insurgency and from an oversight he gets detained. The detention is not the real story. His treatment at the hands of fellow Americans is the story. More, sadly, of Love thy neighbor... at work? just asking...

Sources: New York Times, 12.17.06, 365gay.com, New York Times, 12.18.06

mission impossible music assignment...

CrooksandLiars.com posts music videos each day. Ones that he calls "Late Night Music Club." They are always great. His latest is Bare Naked Ladies' "Call and Answer." Check out his site for the link here: crooksandliars.com.

He gave everyone an assignment last night:

So your mission tonight–if you choose to accept it–is to post music with lyrics that really resonate with you. Please don't post lyrics to whole songs, but just the little snippets that grab you.

I had to think a bit because music is always in my head. I wake up with a song in my head every day. I've never looked at the meaning of this, either in the fact or with what it might mean about my dreams or in how the day is going to be.

I started this post at 9:24 am this morning. I thought it would be an easy task. It's not.

I have a strangest favorite song - MacArthur Park - but there are no lyrics from the song that actually resonate for me. It's more of a existential thing.

I thought and thought and searched all day [in between making some Italian Christmas cookies] and the more I pondered the more remote it all seemed.

There are moments in my life when songs take on very meaningful perspectives. Donna Summer's There will always be a you instantly reminds me of Ronald; Gloria Gayor's I will survive got me through a bad break-up; Celine Dion's Vole helped with my sister's funeral; and Sandy Denny's Who knows where the time goes sung by Judy Collins will always tell me if I'm depressed the minute I play it.

When I remembered Judy Collins, I instantly recognized that there was one song that resonates with my life.

I first became familiar with Judy Collins in the early 60's. She has gotten me through thick and thin, highs and lows, happy and sad. I've seen her in concert many, many times. I've read her books. I mourned her son's death along with her. With it all, there is the beauty of life. So, I had no doubt that her version of the Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now instantly resonated for me.

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
Its life's illusions I recall
I really dont know life at all

and in that lies the mystery...

what resonates for you?

just asking...

beauty in the ear of the beholder...

Much going around in the world of opera about Roberto Alagna walking off the stage at La Scala after being booed by the audience in a performance of Verdi's Aida. La Scala audiences are notorious for being hyper-critical. They even booed Pavarotti when he cracked and may have been the deciding factor in his finally retiring.

I found a video of the final notes he sang in that performance.

In comparison, here is Alagna singing the aria E lucevan le stella from Puccini's Tosca.

big difference...

what do you think?

just asking...

15 December 2006

let me get this straight...

The debate in the last couple of months has been whether or not Iraq is actually a civil war, right?

A civil war is a war between citizens of the same country; a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country; the warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy.

Wikipedia also states that at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total....

As far as the last part it's way over 1,000 Iraqi's dead.

As for the major change in policy, the Sunni's want Iraq to be Sunni and the Shia want Iraq to be Shi'ite. The Kurds seem to want their little piece of the north but also some of the oil that is in the rest of the country.

Now, Sunni, Shia and Kurd are religous factions/sects of Islam and the three of them have a long (1000 year+) history of conflict over which of them is the true inheritor of the Prophet's word. So maybe this is a religious war.

By definition a religious war is a war justified by religious differences. It can be the legitimate forces of one state that has an established religion against those of another state with either a quite different religion or a different sect within the same religion, or, at the level below a state, it can be a faction motivated by religion attempting to spread its faith by violence either within the state or elsewhere.

I don't understand the real issue between Sunni & Shi'ite. It comes across as quite complex. They seem all to believe the same thing; it's just that they are fighting over the Prophet's, what, estate, legacy, history?

Maybe what's going on is really a religious civil war?

or... has the entire business really come down to one thing? oil?

just asking...

14 December 2006

the greatest "pop" in the world...


The night they invented Champagne,
It's plain as it can be,
They thought of you and me.
The night they invented Champagne,
They absolutely knew,
That all we'd want to do
Is fly to the sky on Champagne,
And shout to everyone in sight:
That since the world began,
No woman or man
Has ever been as happy as we are tonight!

Gigi, Lerner & Lowe

The French drink an average of 3 bottles per year per person. An article in today's LeMonde states it succintly: Les Français aiment le champagne. "The French love champagne."

and so do I...

With New Years around the corner, this is the time of year that champagne sales go through the roof. Champagne is the #1 necessity for any and all celebrations. No one should need a celebration to drink champagne. Just think, it is actually very holy and sanctioned by the church. Dom Perignon was a Benedictine monk who is credited with inventing champagne. If it is good enough for a monk, it's good enough for me.

who needs a better reason?

just asking...

[My favorite champagne is Pieper-Heidseck Extra Dry. Most people prefer a brut. Extra Dry is a little fruitier than brut. If I can't find one, then my second choice would be Krug. The one problem is that Pieper-Heidseck is around $30/bottle. Krug runs $110-$200/bottle! For the best methode-champenoise from the U.S., try Iron Horse. The Wedding Cuvee is outta sight!]

I can't wait for New Years...

10 December 2006

what's going on here (part XI)...

Scientist Fights Church Effort to Hide Museum's Pre-Human Fossils

Famed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey is giving no quarter to powerful evangelical church leaders who are pressing Kenya's national museum to relegate to a back room its world-famous collection of hominid fossils showing the evolution of humans' early ancestors

Faith, in one definition, is having a strong belief in god or religion based on spiritual apprehension. Apprehension is anxiety or fear. To apprehend means to understand or perceive. What is it that evangelical/fundamentalists fear understanding? just asking...

Iran Reacts Favorably to the Baker-Hamilton Plan
Responding to the Baker-Hamilton report's proposal that Washington move quickly to engage Iran on talks over stabilizing Iraq, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dangled an offer of cooperation in a statement published by an Iranian news agency. "Iran will support any policies returning security, stability and territorial integrity to Iraq," he said, "and considers withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and leaving security to the Iraqi government as the most suitable option." In an interview on Al Jazeera, Mottaki added that if the U.S. needs an "honorable way out of Iraq," and Iran "is in a position to help."

At face value this reads as "Of course Iran would, they want to say the opposite of what W. says." You have to take a second look. At the moment, the radical President Ahmadinejad is facing some internal questions. There are two elections coming up and the outcomes may not be in his favor. The Supreme Council makes all election decisions and it is signalling a spiral back to some moderation. They have disallowed quite a number of Ahmadinejad's choices. Of course, they did the same to moderate candidates as well, but you have to look at the fact that they reinfranchised quite a number of voters. Ahmadinejad's support comes from the uneducated base outside of the cities. Consequently, if the vote is kept low, he would succeed. The Supreme Council's decisions will allow more citizen's to vote. What do you think they have up their collective sleeve? just asking...

Drag goes mainstream
"We're not adult use," said Jim Flint, owner of the Baton Show Lounge, where drag queens have performed for nearly 38 years. "We have no profanity, no lewdness. We have 80-year-olds who come with their families. I don't want to be lumped in with strip bars and places that offer lap dancing."
Felicia [oops, I knew Mr. Flint in a previous life] thinks drag should be considered respectable. I agree. I have never done drag and have no desire to at this point in my life, but I have known some of the performers [Chili Pepper told me I was a bitch once. She was right.] and can attest to the fact that they make real women jealous because they look so good. I can also verify that they are just as normal and boring in everyday life as everyone else; some are even more than boring. I've seen some of the 80-year old ladies at the performances and they, like the impersonators, know how to have a good time. I say, if no one is getting hurt by it, why make a big deal out of it? just asking...

Sources: LiveScience.com, TIME.com, Chicago Tribune

09 December 2006

the season of peace...

Warning: the following video contains photos that may cause more sensitive readers to cry.

what part of the message that Jesus, Ghandi, King and others brought to the world is still not understood?

what part of Love thy neighbor... is not clear?

what part of suffer the little children...?

what part of Peace of Earth...?

just asking...

Source: thanks to Nicole at Crooks and Liars for bringing this video back into my life.

missing picture from Mr. Gore's book...

Global Warming

when it's cold out, you can always put on more clothes, use a thicker blanket, start a fire, snuggle with someone...

when it's hot out, you can take off all of your clothes and you'll still be hot...

need more proof?

just asking...

08 December 2006

It may be criminal...

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) rose in the Senate to make what some are calling a remarkable speech regarding the circumstances in Iraq. He laid things out on the table that usually are relegated to talk-show punditry rather than on either floor of Congress and, especially, not by a senator from the President's own party.

In his speech [You can see it on the Senate television site: src.senate.gov], Sen. Smith left no one with any doubts about his remarks:

I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore. I believe we need to figure out how to fight the war on terror and to do it right. So either we clear and hold and build, or let's go home.

This is the part that is being given the most play, and appropriately so, but there is a quote early in his speech that is insightful:

I was greatly disturbed recently to read a comment by a man I admire in history, one Winston Churchill, who after the British mandate extended to the peoples of Iraq for 5 years, wrote to David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England:

"At present we are paying 8 millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano."

When I read that, I thought, not much has changed. We have to learn the lessons of history and sometimes they are painful because we have made mistakes.

Brings to mind something we've all heard:

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it - George Santayana

plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, n'est-ce pas?

just asking...

07 December 2006

and the number one seller on amazon.com is...

nooooo... it's not

The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach

it's [hold your breath]...

You: On A Diet: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management*

we must keep our priorities straight, mustn't we?

just asking...

* I have never seen two colons (:) in the same statement before now. I'm not sure it's legal. Oh wait, there probably is a signing statement on it. Never mind.

04 December 2006

not your mother's Julia Child...

warning: gratuitous video

cooking lesson: les pates

Now that's some pasta. I think I like the first one with chevre better. The mint in the second recipe doesn't do anything for me.

as far as your mother's Julia Child, would she approve?

just asking...

Iraq strategy...


what happens when you follow blindly?

just asking...

03 December 2006

if you ever find yourself with extra time on your hands...

create something like this guy did in five days...

fantastic video, great song and appropriate images for each lyric...

wonder what he wants to be when he grows up?

just asking...

what's going on here (part X)...

This could kill New Orleans

St. Paul Travelers Cos. Inc., Louisiana's largest commercial insurance provider, plans to cancel all its commercial property policies in the New Orleans area next year, sparking fears that other insurers will follow and slow the region's economic recovery.
I wonder how much of this has the right wing-nuts behind it? modern-day sodom and gomorrah? just asking...

Rumsfeld Memo on Iraq Proposed ‘Major’ Change

Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.
So was he fired because he was doing a lousy job or because he was starting to not kowtow into King George W's agenda? just asking...

Has He Started Talking to the Walls?

As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is.
Civil war? Sectarian violence? A phase? This much is certain: The dead in Iraq don’t give a damn what we call it. Mr. Rich is just asking...

Shhh! He's wearing make-up!*

According to Georgina Caldwell, the assistant editor of European Cosmetic Markets magazine, the male grooming market is worth £667 million. And more and more professional men - Tony Blair, as was recently revealed, included - are discovering the benefits of a bit of foundation.
The male in the vast majority of species is the better looking, prettier eye-catcher, ie the peacock. The female doesn't have any color at all. It has to do with survival of the species. The better looking, the better the chance the male is healthy and can produce... offspring that is. Besides, if you look better, don't you feel better? just asking... Oh, my. We have a conundrum here. Gay men are in the forefront of wearing foundation. They don't produce. Wait, isn't there Queer Eye for the Straight Guy? Whew. They're helping to keep the species going. Aren't they? just asking...

Mars Attacked

The founder of the conservative megachurch [Mars Hill], the largest Christian assembly in Seattle, often shares his opinion that women shouldn't be leaders of homes, congregations, or nations.... Driscoll's latest controversial remarks appeared on his blog, in a response to the gay-prostitute and meth scandal that brought down fundamentalist Ted Haggard. Driscoll wrote that he had seen many pastors' wives who "really let themselves go," implying to many readers that Driscoll blamed Mrs. Haggard for neglecting her wifely duties and abandoning her husband to his sexual vices.

Shame on you Mr. Driscoll. [and shame on you for thinking this was an Orson Welles/H.G. Wells posting. Helllloooo...., Tom Cruise!] I can't imagine that Mrs. Haggard had anything to do with her husband's indiscretions. [Well, some believe that the elder Mrs. Haggard, Ted's mommy, may have.] If the Christianists believe that sex is for procreation, then Mrs. Haggard [the younger] fulfilled her duty by having children and wasn't bound to continue having sex with her husband. At least that's one way of thinking about it. Right? Another way would be, "Have you looked at Haggard? I wonder what she saw in him anyway. And the hustler? just asking...

Sources: first draft, New York Times, New York Times Opinion, Telegraph.uk.co, the stranger.com, wikipedia.org

* The answer to your question is, "Yes, I do." Have for years. No one, even my closest friends, has ever said a word. I've always wondered what my response would be should anyone ask. I could say, "My skin medication is tinted." or "No." or "So, what?" I hope that my answer, since the question might come up rather quickly and when least expected, will just be, "Yes." and I'll quickly move on. I hope...

02 December 2006

i hate all of you...

WFMT, the classical music station in Chicago, has been playing excerpts from an interview with Sir Georg Solti for the past couple of days. It has been very interesting.

There was one excerpt that caught my attention and has kept roiling in the front of my head since hearing it. I'm going to be paraphrasing it from memory.

In the interview Sir Georg refers to hearing a story of Maestro Arturo Toscanini, one of the greatest conductors of all time. He said,
"There is a story about Maestro Toscanini, and if it is not true, I wish that it were. At a rehearsal the Maestro stopped and said to the orchestra, 'I hate all of you. You ruin all of the music I hear in my head!' It is true. I hear the music in my head in a certain way. It never comes out just the way I hear it."

It never can come out the way we hear it in our heads. Not just the music, but anything we hear in our heads.

I watch what goes on around me and realize that I have a certain belief, understanding, outlook that does not match what I see. I set myself up for failure, for disappointment, for anger and for hurt because of what I hear inside my head.

The Maestro realized that it was impossibe for him to get 100+ musicians to play each instrument and each note precisely as he heard it in his head. He was powerless.

This is true of everything. Not only music. Iraq? Religion? Politics? Career? Right to choose? Sexual orientation? Marriage? Art? Film?

I see each of these things in a very specific way. You don't see them in the same way. You see them in your own way. It leads to chaos.

The problem starts when you insist on my seeing things in your way only. It can never happen. I will only see things my way no matter what you say or do. You can pass laws. You can institute amendments. You can yell, scream, kick and hit me. You can make war on me. It will never make a difference. I will only see things in my way.

Over time, you may be able to persuade me to see things your way, but I still will never precisely see things your way. I have in my head all of the times before I was persuaded that put a different slant on what I see. There will be some nuanced difference in what I perceive. no matter what...

I accept this. There is no other way. We are a lonely species. We are disconnected from one another at the basic core. I accept, also, that you have the right to see things as you want to see them. I have no problem with that. I have a problem when you tell me that I don't have the right to see things the way that I see them. Conflict ensues.

the solution?

Miranda & Spock again...
Miranda: The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.
Spock: And the ways our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.

too simple?

juat asking...

01 December 2006

no questions about it...

play safe...

know everything you can...

take caution in anything you do that could be risky...

December 1, 2006: World AIDS Day...

after 16 years, i still miss Ronald. twenty years ago we were working under ignorance of HIV. we've learned alot in all these years. use that information. no one can claim ignorance of HIV/AIDS anymore...

celebrate life...

Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.

World Aids Campaign