April 29, 2005

God's Special Gift to Darwinists and other Non-Fundies

from - smijer

This is a special extra for Animal Friday. Professional biologists and those who have followed the on-line anti-evolution "debate", feel free to skip this post. It's subject-matter is doubtless already very familiar to you. Everyone else hang around to enjoy one of my favorite treats... the Parthenogenic Whiptail Lizard...

(Image borrowed from here)

I have been having a lengthy discussion (in comments) this week with anti-gay blogger, Jeff Blogworthy. He brought up the old "unnatural" argument for treating gays as second-class citizens, and backed it up with an "objective" analysis of the functions of various bodily organs:

1.) Homosexuality is unnatural. [...]

It is remarkable how you can find a constitutional right to sodomy in the 14th Amendment, but cannot understand the functional or biological differences between a vagina and an anus or how procreation works.

Now, I know the correlation between anti-evolutionists and anti-gay activists isn't one-to-one, but from what I've read elsewhere on his blog, this particular commentator is among those who are both anti-evolution and anti-gay. However that works out, it is always fascinating to see someone who is dedicated to not understanding nature, making pronouncements about what is or is not "natural", and asking us to respect these pronouncements as "objective". And it is always delightful to take this opportunity to put the parthenogenic Whiptails on display, as God seems to have created this organism specifically to be a thumb in the eye of folks like this.

What is so wonderful about these creatures is that not only are they homosexual by behavior, but that homosexual behavior actually enhances their reproductive capacity, and not only that, but that it is fairly well inescapable that they evolved to be this way. The fact that they routinely reproduce through virgin birth, I suppose, is the icing on the cake.

Read about their fascinating reproductive systems at one of these fine links: here, here, or here.

If you let this sink in for a moment, you will realize what it means. It means that, in order to avoid the conclusion that God looked down on the 6th Literal Day, watching these little carpet-munchers do their thing, and said, "It is Good", these folks will have to admit that such intricate and unusual behavior and reproductive systems evolved... Only those with the thickest blinders will be able to assign this to their favorite un-bounded and un-defined category: the non-scientific definition of "microevolution". These little buggers evolved so that, while one of the pair is secreting male hormones and playing the "male" part, the other one, somehow "knows" that it needs to be secreting female hormones and playing the "female" part. And then, they both "know" to switch sides & hit for the other team.

So, next time somebody tells you that you don't know how procreation works because you won't agree with them that homosexuality is "unnatural", tell them about the Whiptail & let them know that if these gals used his logic about procreation to figure out what was "unnatural", they'd probably be extinct by now.

Since it's Friday, I'll see if the Modulator can find room for it in the Ark, too.

Posted by smijer at 10:58 AM | Comments (4)

Friday Lily Blogging

from - smijer

My friend-in-law has a new baby in the family. She and her husband have provided us our Friday Animal this week. World, meet Lily:


She's Eager...


And now, she invites us to go look at something else... quickly...


More at the Ark.

Posted by smijer at 07:34 AM | Comments (2)

I couldn't do it

from - Buck

I know I should have but I just could not bring myself to watch the Ruler of the World address his 6 billion servants tonight.

I did watch some of it albeit with the sound muted so I did not have to suffer through his profoundly annoying delivery. His Texas strut down the red carpet toward the podium was good for a couple of laughs and by the looks of things it seemed to be a warm, cozy, scripted affair. Everyone seemed to laugh when it was appropriate to laugh and look stern and concerned when the time called for it. I hope to find time at some point today to read the transcripts. But now, with the economy blazing along, the world safe from terrorism and Iraq a shining beacon of freedom I figured what the hell, I’ll just watch a rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond”

Laughing keeps me from crying.

Posted by Buck at 01:28 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005

Monogamy for the Masses

from - smijer

Over at Red State, they are playing down the worthiness of encouraging condom use in the third world as an effective control on the spread of AIDS. Now, I disagree with this angle, having seen statistics that show condom programs really do decrease HIV transmission. But I heartily agree with the larger point that they are making: that committed monogamous relationships are the best answer.

It occurs to me that, in the United States, the population that has the highest (but falling, due to education and awareness programs!) rates of AIDS do not have access to the single most widespread and respected institution meant to encourage committed monogamous relationships: marriage. I asked myself, if the conservatives at Red State are serious about encouraging monogamy to stop the spread of AIDS - if they are serious about seeing the rate of AIDS decrease... how could they be unwilling to open the doors of this institution to create a cultural environment that embraces monogamy for all? I even left a comment to that effect... but I haven't heard back from anyone yet... I'll let you know when the seed I planted turns into a pro-marriage movement in the land of partisan Republicans.

Posted by smijer at 07:53 AM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2005

Links With Your Eye Boogers - Wednesday

from - smijer

Ok, maybe not in the league with Links With Your Coffee, where it is pointed out that "Anecdotal thinking comes naturally; science requires training," and that David Horowitz is a putz. Nonetheless Wednesday Eye Booger Links:

First up, an action alert on the new Mandatory sentencing guidelines being debated in Congress. If you think that our criminal justice system doesn't have a problem, you haven't been paying attention.

Unitarians at Oak Ridge UU are speaking out (registration req.) about the impending demise of TennCare.

The path from faith to none makes the news. Maybe the fella could use a little UUism to soften him up, but he don't seem to be doin' so bad.... Related, I missed the deadline, but Freespace posted the COTG Sunday. Go fill up on Godless Goodness.

New images from an old bird. Let's keep her flyin'....

Happy Hump Day, one & all.

Posted by smijer at 07:57 AM | Comments (1)

April 26, 2005

Get Your Fork Ready

from - smijer

Red State may be calling it a little too early, but it just may be that the Cat-Killer from Tennessee has his days numbered. The only thing I would like better than seeing Bill Frist end his political career as a failed Senate Majority leader would be seeing him lose a Presidential bid, pre- or post-primary. The James Dobson wing of the Republican party will get its come-uppance when Frist and DeLay get theirs.

Posted by smijer at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

Home Again

from - Buck

I just returned from an unplanned trip up into ya’lls neck of the woods. I spent 4 days at the Roane Medical Center in Harriman, Tennessee. My father-in-law had some problems with his heart and my wife and I stayed with him while he was tested and tested and tested and tested. We went up on Friday and he was released Monday afternoon. We finally got back home at about midnight last night.

I had not checked the weather reports before leaving (I rarely take weather reports seriously anyway) and made the mistake of taking clothes for warm, springtime weather. Man, it was cold in Harriman this weekend. I was the only guy in town wearing short pants and a short sleeve shirt. People looked at me like maybe I should have checked in to the psychiatric ward.

The folks at that hospital were the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with in a health care setting. That includes everybody on staff from the highest paid doctor to the unpaid volunteers and everybody in between. We were treated like guests at a 5 star hotel. I am sure the cost was more than Benny Hinn pays for his lodging but at least the service was excellent.

I was out of the loop for most of the last four days but I did see a brief interview on FOX news. The topic was “what happened to the anti-war voices in America”. Well, fair and balanced FOX reports that there is no longer an anti-war voice out there because things are going so well in Iraq that all of the anti-America, anti-war loonies have crawled back under the rock that they originally came out from under.

I would rather deal with bed pans and catheters than watch FOX news.

While it is good to be back home, there just is not that much difference in North Georgia and East Tennessee. The people are just damn fine corn bread and collard eatin' folks that talk like I do. It was a joy being around them.

Posted by Buck at 09:53 AM | Comments (2)

Nuclear Option? Constitutional Option? What's a Girl to Think?

from - smijer

constitution.jpgOn my way to work yesterday, I heard the announcer on NPR discussing how the Democrats refererred to the elimination of the judicial filibuster as the "nuclear option". The times we live in are truly Orwellian. Just a few words from high in the ruling party's chain of command and suddenly the media will begin ubiquitously reporting an outright falsehood. That is just scary.

Thankfully, this web site is not in the employ of the ruling party, and is free to report the true facts. And, one true fact is that the preferred term that the GOP uses to refer to eliminating the judicial filibuster, the "Constitutional Option", is a misnomer.

The Constitution is, in fact, silent on the matter of judicial filibuster. The only applicable language in the Constitution is Article I, Section 5:

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

And Article II, Section 2:
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Currently, the Senate rules which were Constitutionally made, require votes of cloture before moving a matter before the full senate. These moves require a sixty vote majority. Personally, I think this rule is a wise and sound one. There will always be times when a simple majority holds power in the Senate and shares power with the House and the executive branch. In those times, without such wise rules as those that require cloture on important votes, extremist elements within the majority party will have too little resistance, and dangerous and radical shifts in governance will be possible before the American public has a chance to even know what is going on.

My view isn't written in stone, and I won't bore anyone with it any longer. The important thing is to get the message out to all of the people who are going to hear the press repeating the administration's talking points about this, that there is nothing in the Constitution requiring a simple majority vote on judicial appointments. The elimination of the filibuster is cannot rightly be called the "Constitutional Option".

Posted by smijer at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005


from - smijer

Here's a deal I think we should make... We'll confirm a loudmouth bully to be ambassador to the U.N. if you'll fire a torture-monger from Attorney General. Deal?

Posted by smijer at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

Justice Sundays

from - smijer

Yesterday we saw "Justice" Sunday. We also saw Social Justice Sunday.

I link, you decide.

Posted by smijer at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

Monday Clematis Blogging

from - smijer



Happy Monday, if that's possible...

Posted by smijer at 07:51 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2005

Attention Catholics - Habemus Domum Acceptum

from - smijer

Ok, I may need Reed to check my grammar and spelling there... but the point is this: Catholics who are women, gay, progressive, or members of any other group who might not be thrilled with Joseph Ratzinger's election to the papacy, we have a welcoming home for you in the Unitarian Universalist church. If you were just holding on in hopes that the new pope would be more forward thinking than the old, now is the time to visit the greener pastures of a welcoming congregation near you. Use the UU congregation locator to locate the nearest one. Come and see us. We would love to have you.

Posted by smijer at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

It's Earth Day!

from - smijer

Go read the GreenPeace blog!

And the blog from the Sierra Club!

Posted by smijer at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

Lily And Child

from - smijer

Thanks to my friend and co-worker, who is pleased to share these shots of dog Lily, and her beautiful son for this Friday:



More in the the ark.

Posted by smijer at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2005

Separate, but only Almost Equal

from - smijer

Republican Governor Joni Rell of Connecticut has signed a bill into law, providing civil unions for gay couples.

Gov. Rell contends that she supports "equal rights" for all people living in her state, and that she does not support same-sex marriage:

"...reiterated her position that she has always opposed discrimination in any form, and that she believes in equal rights for all couples, no matter the gender," Rell spokesman Dennis Schain said. "The governor believes this bill addressed those issues while protecting traditional marriage
between a man and a woman."

Schain added that the governor does not support same-sex marriage and had asked the House to include the amendment emphasizing this position.

Of course, opposition to same-sex marriage and support for equal rights and non-discrimination are mutually exclusive positions. I'm sure that she is aware of this, and is just doing the politician thing. I do applaud the fact that she has improved the legal footing of gay unions in her state. But I'm not a politician and it's ok for me to tell the truth... and I want to remind anyone who is reading and who needs the reminder what the differences are between a civil union and civil marriage.

First, is the semantic difference. Normally, semantics are unimportant, but in a case where they are specifically chosen for the sole reason of creating a distinction between the status of two groups, they express the intent to discriminate. The fact that the governor and legislature feels it is important to make clear that gay couples "aren't really married" shows us that they see gay couples as deserving of less rights - not equal rights. To make an analogy to the Civil Rights movement, it is as though the bus-driver walked through the bus after boarding and put a label on each minority-occupied seat that said "back row". In other words, pretty stupid.

Second is the substantive difference. Article 4, Section 1 of the United States constitution:

"Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."

In practice, this means that marriages done in one state are recognized by other states, just as if they had been performed there. On the other hand, since civil unions do not exist in other states, a civil union done in CT is not automatically recognized in other states. Mrs. smijer & I can move away from Tennessee and expect to have our marriage legally recognized wherever we go. Gay couples in Connecticut cannot do the same.

Still, I can look at a glass and say it's half-full, and I can still congratulate the people of Connecticut for acting somewhat more like grown-ups than the people of my own state.

Posted by smijer at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

War as a tool

from - Buck

Before she was killed Marla Ruzicka wrote an interesting piece explaining why knowing how many Iraqi’s have been killed during the war is important.

The military should also want to release this information for the purposes of comparison with reports such as the Lancet study published late last year. It suggested that since the U.S.-led invasion there had been 100,000 deaths in Iraq.

It seems to me that this makes the most sense. If the military would abandon its position of “not doing body counts” then at least we could have their numbers to compare against the numbers suggested by other reports. It is frustrating to get into discussions about whether 10,000 or 100,000 have been killed. Arguments like that turn all of those deaths into statistics rather than the tragedies that they are.

Ones position on the war seems to be heavily influenced by their chosen political affiliation.80% of Republicans think the war is worth it while 82% of Democrats think it is not worth it. It is shameful to me that an opinion of war as a tool to remake the world in your own image is based upon which party occupies the White House.

Posted by Buck at 09:45 AM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2005

Or, We Could Dwell Mainly on Sleeping Arrangements

from - smijer

April's edition of UU World Magazine arrived yesterday. Of special interest to me were the articles on Energy and Ethics, and the prison pen-pal ministry, sponsored by the Church of the Larger Fellowship.

The Energy article serves as a mini-jeremiad on western wastefulness...

This is more than a sign of mere piggishness—and here is where the parallel to Jefferson becomes clear. By burning fossil fuels to generate our energy, affluent nations produce far more carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas implicated in global warming, than poorer nations. Yet if temperatures rise across the globe in coming decades, as a broad consensus of leading climatologists predicts, the most profound consequences will not likely befall people in the U.S. or Denmark or the rest of the developed world. Although costs to our own economies may be high, the most seriously afflicted will be people in some of the world's most impoverished nations—consequences ranging from prolonged drought and desertification of agriculturally productive areas to widespread coastal flooding, increases in such insect-vectored diseases as malaria, and increased frequency and intensity of devastating monster hurricanes.

After reading about the prison pen-pal ministry, I hurried to this page to ask for more information about how to sign up.

I'll take Bill Sinkford over Joseph Ratzinger any day of the week - especially Sunday.

Posted by smijer at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

Wanker of the Day

from - smijer

Neal Boortz:

You may not know it, but whites are fast becoming a minority in California. As of 2003 whites were 47% of the California population. Hispanics now account for over one-third of the California population, with Asians and other minorities making up the rest.

The more aware among you might be wondering if whites would be in the majority if all Hispanics who were in California illegally were to be sent back from whence they came. One suspects the situation would change and the California budget would suddenly be in the black.


Every day that you get up and your feet hit the floor, there is a Muslim somewhere halfway around the world that wants to murder you, just because you are an American.

Posted by smijer at 07:50 AM | Comments (1)

April 19, 2005

Look! I'm Just Like Jesus!

from - smijer

If you do good you are going to be persecuted for it. The Lord gives me incredible strength and energy, and I rely on Him. It’s in Psalms – trust in the Lord and do good and that’s what we’re doing.
- Tom DeLay
They hate Ronald Reagan conservatives like DeLay and they hate that he is an effective leader who succeeds in passing the Republican agenda.
Tom's staff

He's good like Jesus, but he's clean-shaven like the Gipper.

Posted by smijer at 05:05 PM | Comments (1)

Just Us Sunday - Frist the Demagogue

from - smijer

The Family Research Council is running a campaign to garner public support for the "nuclear option" on judicial filibusters. Tennessee Republican and Senate Majority leader Bill Frist plans to join forces with them. The theme of this power-grab is "Filibuster against Faith", or "against people of faith".

Last I checked, overtime rules, federal civil rights laws, and sexual harassment or discrimination laws were not religious issues. Sure, the judges being filibustered also have religiously motivated conservative viewpoints: anti-abortion and anti-gay, for instance, but those are not the sole reasons for their rejections by a Democrats en-masse. And even then, it is their viewpoints, not the underlying religious motivation for them, that is objectionable to many senate Democrats.

As one prominent "person of faith" put it,

The news that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist plans to join a telecast whose organizing theme is that those who oppose some of President Bush's judicial nominees are engaged in an assault on "people of faith" is more than troubling; it is disingenuous, dangerous, and demagogic. We call on him to reconsider his decision to appear on the telecast and to forcefully disassociate himself from this outrageous claim.
Senator Frist must not give legitimacy to those who claim they hold a monopoly on faith. They do not. They assert, in the words of Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, that there is a vast conspiracy by the courts "to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms." There is no such conspiracy. They have been unable to ram through the most extreme of the President's nominees, and now they are spinning new claims out of thin air.

Alas, this is not an isolated incident. This past week, the Christian Coalition convened a conference in Washington entitled, "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith." Their special guest speaker was the House Majority Leader, Rep. Tom Delay. When leaders of the Republican Party lend their imprimatur to such outrageous claims, including, at the conference, calls for mass impeachment of Federal Judges, it should be of deep concern to all who care about religion. It should also be of concern to President Bush whose silence, in the wake of the claims made both at the conference in Washington and in the upcoming telecast, is alarming.

The telecast is scheduled to take place on the second night of the Passover holiday, when Jews around the world gather together to celebrate our religious freedom. It was in part for exactly such freedom that we fled Egypt. It was in part for exactly such freedom that so many of us came to this great land. And it is in very large part because of exactly such freedom that we and our neighbors here have built a nation uniquely welcoming to people of faith - of all faiths. We believe Senator Frist knows these things as well. His association with the scheduled telecast is, in a word, shameful. We call upon to him to disassociate himself from the claim that the Senate is participating in a filibuster against faith, and to withdraw his participation from the April 24th event.

- Rabbi Saperstein

Or, as another "person of faith" puts it, more humorously,

Question: How do you convince Americans that theocracy is better than democracy?
Answer: Tell evangelical Christians that they are being persecuted.

Question: How do you get enough votes to repeal the First Amendment?
Answer: You can't. There aren't enough evangelical Christians.

Question: How can you establish theocracy without changing the constitution?
Answer: Get judges to interpret the First Amendment as establishing a theocracy.

Question: How can you get judges to interpret the First Amendment theocratically?
Answer: Elect them, bully them, and elect people who will appoint theocrats.

Question: How do you get the votes needed to elect theocrats?
Answer: Tell evangelical Christians that they are being persecuted.

Question: How do you change the judiciary when filibusters screen out theocrats?
Answer: Put an end to filibusters.

Question: How do you get Americans to support ending filibusters?
Answer: Tell evangelical Christians that they are being persecuted.

Dr. Bruce Prescott, via Hippy Dave

Posted by smijer at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

Reasons to Mourn

from - Buck

Today there will be countless reminders that today is the 10th anniversary of this event.
You will not hear much about today being the 12th anniversary of this one.
Violence begets violence, not only in Iraq but in America too.

Violence arises not out of superfluity of power but out of powerlessness.

Rollo May

Posted by Buck at 08:39 AM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2005


from - smijer

The first I ever heard of her was the news of her death. (Alternate link)

``She was fun-loving, but she blended her moral commitment with her intense sociability,'' Shellenberger said.

``She had total moral clarity about doing right for people who had been wronged,'' he said. ``In contrast to a lot of folks who are passionate about their politics, Marla never came across as sanctimonious, never judgmental or ideological.''

We could use a few more like her.

Posted by smijer at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2005


from - smijer

Just for the record, I'm very disappointed by this. No matter what he meant by the statement, Dean is wrong to think that he has a right to follow in the footsteps of Randall Terry, Jeb Bush, Sean Hannity, and Tom DeLay. It is a sad shame to see his lack of respect for the privacy of Terri and her family. Two wrongs do not make a right. I hope to see him apologize, at least, and step down at best. When you stare long enough into the abyss...

P.S. I would like to join John Cole in a bipartisan middle finger extension for Tom DeLay, Sean Hannity, and all those others who got on television to shamelessly slander Michael Schiavo.

Posted by smijer at 12:48 PM | Comments (5)

April 15, 2005

Chicken of Sleepy Hollow

from - smijer

And then, there's this

Mike the Headless Chicken survived a beheading in 1945 in Fruita, Colo. Afterward, Mike could go through the motions of pecking for food, and when he tried to crow, a gurgle came out. His owner put feed and water directly into Mike's gullet with an eyedropper.

Scientists examined the chicken and theorized Mike had enough of a brain stem left to live headless. He was a popular attraction until he choked to death on a corn kernel.

Posted by smijer at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

Mixed Messages

from - Buck

General Electric Profit Jumps 25 Percent!

Citigroup Profit Up on Retail Banking!

Wachovia Posts Record 1Q Profit of $1.62B!

Stocks Fall on Disappointing Economic Data!

This is exactly the way the headlines were lined up on the Yahoo Business Page this morning. But the fact remains that the DJIA remains lower now than it was when Bush took office 5 years ago.

This in spite of the fact that we are currently witnessing the best economy in 20 years!

I'll never understand money.

Posted by Buck at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Friday Turtle Blogging

from - smijer

We have lots of turtles in the pond at work. I kidnapped one of their babies to show off to my family and the blogosphere. I returned him home to nature the next day. Last year, I was priviledged to watch the adult turtles nesting. I'm assuming this is one of last years' offspring:




As always, don't miss the Friday Ark.

Posted by smijer at 07:59 AM | Comments (8)

April 14, 2005

While There is a Soul in Prison, I am Not Free

from - smijer

Bad news for gays and lesbians in Oregon, where a judge has invalidated the marriages of 3,000 gay couples, and the people have voted to add a hate amendment to their constitution, designed specifically to exclude gays and lesbians from the rights enjoyed by others.

I think it is time to start thinking outside the box on this. Obviously, it is hatred that motivates people to begin crusades against marriage rights for all. Obviously, those who carry the banner against homesexuals are full of hatred. But their followers... I cannot believe that majorities in states like Oregon and Michigan are following the banner of exclusion simply out of hatred. I believe that they are moved by fear. They were too easily convinced by trusted preachers that equal rights will endanger or weaken the "institution" of marriage. So, I think we need to be looking for solutions that will negate not only the campaign of hatred, but also the campaign of paranoid fear-mongering. I don't have many good ideas, but I have the germ of an idea, and I want to run it up the flag-pole and see who salutes it...

My germ of an idea is this: civil disobedience, in the form of mass divorce. What this would amount to is a show of solidarity, and a means by which to raise awareness of how anti-gay bigotry affects real people. If enough people were willing to do it, what they would have to do is hire a lawyer and file for an uncontested divorce. After divorcing, protesters would continue to live together and raise their children as a family, but they would let it be known at every opportunity that they were unmarried despite being in a life-long monogamous relationship. At every opportunity, protesters can share the various ways in which they are living as second class citizens, and explain why they are choosing to live that way. At work, they may ask if they will be granted bereavement leave or family medical leave for their now-divorced partner. Military spouses can complain to others living on base about their inability to buy from the PX - they can even ask others living on base to help them with their shopping if there isn't a civilian alternative available. They can explain to their accountant why they cannot file jointly or "married, filing separately". They can worry aloud about the possibility that they will not have access to their partner in a medical emergency, and will have no say over their care. They can do all of this and more (pdf), but the biggest hit will be when they get a divorce decree from the judge. If there is a sudden, double digit, surge in the divorce rate, this will get some attention. People are going to want to know why.

And when people want to know why, that's when we will be ready with an answer: because this is the only way the anti-gay activists will allow equal treatment between ourselves and our gay brothers and sisters.

It's a real sacrifice. But then, when is real civil disobedience not a real sacrifice? People get hungry on hunger strikes. Divorcees will really give up the benefits of marriage to make people aware of what the anti-gay activists are really doing to the families they attack.

I'm pretty sure that I'll have to answer to Mrs. smijer for even suggesting this course of action. It may be that there is a less painful or more effective approach to raising awareness of the issues. So, if you don't think my idea will catch on, what other options can you think of?

Posted by smijer at 03:20 PM | Comments (3)

In Friendly Territory, Behind Enemy Lines

from - smijer

I promised a report on how my trip went. I guess I came back from the trip with more to think about and discuss than one post will hold, so I'll just hit a couple of high points here, and try to dig in deeper in the days between now and the next COTG.

I'll go ahead and report that I didn't experience a religious ecstasy, nor witness anything that seemed miraculous to me. My philosophical and moral objections to Christianity remain intact. Having that out of the way, I have so much else to add, and I can think of no better place to begin than at the very end.

After my wife picked me up from the church, and we were on the way home, I expressed to her how well I enjoyed myself and how much I liked the people with whom she attends church. I also expressed to her that, evenif she does not ever convert to Unitarianism, at least she can serve to help be a moderating and educational influence on her fellow Church-of-God members, especially concerning their outlook on social issues. And it is true - she takes a larger view of most social issues than her church-mates, and she speaks their language, and that makes her much more effective at helping them to broaden their perspective than a secular Democrat could hope to be.

Mrs. smijer caught me off guard, however, with her rejoinder. She asked me in what ways I could reciprocate. I thought it over, and realized that there are simply not very many important issues about which I would want to and could hope to have a moderating impact on my fellow secularists, Unitarians, or political lefties. So, I muttered to myself for a moment before hitting on an area where I could earnestly help to bridge the gap. It's a simple fact that many of us - myself sometimes included - see the foot-soldiers of the Republican Army as hopelessly reactionary, and incapable of understanding or caring about the problems and needs of others outside their tiny sphere. But the truth isn't so simple. Of course, there are plenty of conservative Christians who are nothing but tools. But, on the other hand, there are plenty who qualify as the "salt of the earth," as well. This I can attest to from personal experience. Of course, I knew this already, from experience with my own friends and family, but I experienced it on a larger scale of magnitude at my weekend encounter. There, I had the opportunity to observe and interact with approximately seventy conservative Christian men.

Here are the positives that really stuck with me. I may spend more time on the negatives (in future posts) than I am doing on the positives now, but let me get right out front and stress that I was much more impressed with the positives of the weekend, by a far cry. So, the positives:

  • Good Intentions: I know, the road to hell is paved with them... but nevertheless, they do get credit for having their heart in the right place. A large part of their ministry is aimed at helping people who have reached a point of desperation begin to turn their lives around. I haven't seen any long-term studies about how much success they have with this effort. I expect that their reliance on case-selective anecdotal evidence may allow them to exaggerate the degree of success they are experiencing. It's possible that they may never become aware of the instances where their ministry's results were the opposite of the intended ones. No matter how productive or counter-productive their ministry, there can be no doubt of their good intentions. That applies to the vast majority of them.
  • Genuine affection and acceptance: Here I was, known by one and all to be a liberal atheist who opposes many or most of the teachings that are dear to the hearts of this group. Yet, I received a genuine outpouring of care, love, and affection from these individuals. Everywhere I turned, there was a smiling face, a touch, and in times that were appropriate, declarations of brotherly love. On the one hand, I was skeptical of these declarations: it is easy to say that you have love, but what does that mean? In this situation, however, there can be no doubt. When my person represents a challenge to their dearest beliefs, and yet they choose to embrace me by expressing love, rather than rejecting or harrying me until I reform my thinking to suit them - that is an act of love. Sure, they hoped to "win" me, and sure religious sentimentality was part of what motivated them, but at the end of the day, when it was completely clear that I was not going to be "won", nothing changed. I continued to receive genuine smiles and invitations to return, come to church, or just call them if I needed anything. Sure, there were degrees of warmth. Sure, some of the guys (I could tell) couldn't care less about me except as a sort of a challenge, and an object of prestige should they manage to win me - but they were a tiny minority.
  • Race: This is not your father's conservative, white, church. Ethnic minorities were underrepresented at the Encounter, but they were present, and no less welcome on account of their race than I was on account of my irreligiosity. The East Ridge Church of God has, for some time now, been making a conscious effort to reach out to a racially diverse group, and members of minority communities are responding. This can only be a step forward in Chattanooga's race relations.
  • Joy: Perhaps one of the most unique attributes of the Church of God experience is the fact that inhibitions have no place there. Men of all ages clapped their hands, sang, and danced. There's no other way to put it than that they were having fun. At times, the seventy men could have been the first ten rows at any rock concert, jumping up and down in unison, to the beat of the music, hands in the air. Young or old, slim or pot-bellied, it didn't matter. No one was paying attention to how they looked to the fellow standing next to him (chances are, the fellow next to him looked just as silly). They just had fun. Good for them. We'd all be better off if we could shake our inhibitions and our silly pride, and just have fun every now and again.
There is a lot more to tell, and a lot of it will be less sunny than the reporting in this post - but I want to get out front and impress upon you that these people, regardless of how mixed up they may be on important social issues, no matter how restricted the dogma of the church leaves their thinking, have their hearts in the right place. They deserve love and respect, even when we disagree witht them. More later...

Posted by smijer at 07:56 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2005

Us and Them

from - Buck

The headline says “THE MULLAHS AND THEIR NUKES” while the photo shows two mutha’s discussing their nukes.

Meanwhile Neal just gets less and less coherent.

We invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein because he had the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

Really? I thought we invaded them because it was a slam-dunk that they did have them. In his next breath Neal agrees with me.

The fact is we know for a drop-dead certain fact that Saddam did have WMDs, and the best intelligence we were able to generate said that Saddam had all of the supplies and materials on hand to make some more, and to make them quickly once the threat of an American invasion was past.

It does not matter that the best intelligence that we were able to generate was dead wrong. The only WMD program Iraq had turned out to be bits and pieces buried in some guys rose garden. But according to Neal all they would have needed to do was knock the dirt off and go into full production. A few sentences later Neal says

We didn't invade Iraq because we knew Saddam had the weapons. We ousted him, among other reasons, because he might have them; and if he had them they would eventually be used against us.

Glad to finally get that cleared up.

Israel has said they won't allow Iran to have a nuclear warhead, and have made rumblings that they'll bomb the reactors, just like they did to Iraq some 20 years ago. Perhaps we should just take care of it now, before it's too late.

What is all of this “we” and “they” stuff? If “they” won’t allow Iran to have a nuclear warhead and “they” will bomb the reactors just like “they” did to Iraq 20 years ago then why don’t “we” just stay the hell out of it? You can bet that if Israel thought there was a valid threat they would not run to Uncle Sam for permission to act. If Israel did such a grand job in the 80’s of taking care of the ominous Iraqi threat then why did we have to starve them to death in the 90’s and invade and occupy them in 2003?

And now for the definition of hubris

Time to take the stealth bombers out for a spin and make a little glass in the desert.

The world according to Neal. Just what the doctor ordered to sell Bennies Shoes and car care in and around Atlanta.

Posted by Buck at 09:39 AM | Comments (1)

The Cutlass of Quiet Reflection

from - smijer

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: The Cutlass of Quiet Reflection.

Get yours.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.
Posted by smijer at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

Sound Familiar?

from - Buck

Reportedly, this gem will be seen in some markets in Tennessee.

"The major technical problems that have kept terrorists from exploding improvised nuclear devices within American cities are solved once a terrorist regime like the Islamic Republic of Iran has the capability to manufacture a nuclear weapon and deliver it in containers to a major U.S. port," he said.

"The device can be picked up by sleeper terrorist cells, assembled and driven into the heart of the city, where it can be detonated at the height of an ordinary business day."

The resulting destruction from a successful atomic 9-11 attack on a major U.S. city like New York would be enormous.

You've gotta love these guys.

But it is just a piece in a much larger puzzle.

Posted by Buck at 02:34 AM | Comments (2)

Everything's Relative

from - Buck

Maybe this means that the atom bomb will not work anymore!


Posted by Buck at 01:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

A Top Ten List

from - smijer

By way of answer to this question, top ten reasons 'Tennessee can come up with a crop of good blogs, and up there in the great progressive yankee state of Minnesota the only regional groupings are the heinous "Northern Alliance" and "Minnesota Organization of Blogs", which consists of the same boring arch-conservative wankers, like PowerLine and Captain's Quarters and other such wingnut crap...'

10. "Yah, you betcha" gets old much faster than "Okay then".
9. The "Gopher" Brigade?
8. Laptops not standard equipped with de-icer.
7. In Norwegian, "blog" means "boring, arch-conservative, wanker".
6. Canada has tougher blogging regulations than Tennessee.
5. Three words: Old No. 7.
4. Ice fishing blogs considered too eclectic for mainstream.
3. All the smart Minnesotans moved south of the Arctic Circle after high school.
2. Too many MN bloggers on strike to show solidarity with NHL players.

And, the number one reason that arch-conservative wankers dominate Minnesota's regional blog alliances while Tennessee has a thriving blogosphere:

1. PZ Myers hasn't started his own MN blog alliance yet!

Posted by smijer at 07:05 PM | Comments (3)

Rocky Top Brigade... rapidly on its way to becoming a whole division

from - smijer

SKB has welcomed a whole passle of new blogs to the Rocky Top Brigade, bringing Chattanoogans up to at least platoon strength in the brigade.. Here's the list:

Bear Tribe Net... I have no clue what any of this means. Apparently, she is a former Tennessean, blogging from New Mexico.

Born Again Democrat... Democrat. Chattanoogan... What's not to love?

State Representative Stacey Campfield. This should be worth following.

Ghosts & Spirits of Tennessee.

Growing Up on PZ Ridge... Memoirs and story-telling. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Irresponsible Journalism... Chattanoogan and all around nice guy by reports from a mutual friend.

Left of the Dial... if it's on the airwaves, you'll find it blogged here.

Matt Hall's Blog... Matt gets a few things off his chest.

Sharon Cobb... Bubba says "excellent", and that's good enough for me.

Smokey Mountain Breakdown... blogs the Tennessee mountains.

spinetingler's Audio Archives... for phonophiles, I guess.

Swap Blog... blogs conservative religion and politics, and a variety of other interests.

The Search for a Good Story... You won't know if it is found, unless you keep an eye out for it.

Renewing their active membership are:
Drawing Dead... mmmm... poker....

Tennessee Liberal Chattanoogan, liberal... what's not to love?

That's three new Chattanoogans. Woo hoo!

Posted by smijer at 03:26 PM | Comments (3)

Mea Culpa & All That

from - smijer

I'm sorry I haven't had a moment to put together a post... about anything... since I came back from my trip. As a matter of fact, I have had to truncate even my morning reading. In short, I'm behind. I have a list longer than your arm of things that need done. I will certainly try to come back and say a word or two about my trip, or the filibuster, or crony capitalism, or whatever. First chance I get. In the meantime, I have to get ready, leave early, and go vote.

Posted by smijer at 07:13 AM | Comments (1)

April 11, 2005

Living in different worlds

from - Buck

While I spent a glorious weekend enjoying Alison Krauss at the Fox Theater on Saturday night and also watching what was probably the greatest Masters tournament ever played on Sunday, the Iraqi’s were showing their deep appreciation for all we have done to liberate their country.

Their gratitude is awe-inspiring.

Posted by Buck at 10:40 AM | Comments (6)

April 09, 2005

April 08, 2005

Blog Hug... Not

from - smijer

Jane Galt:

Regardless of what your feelings were about the Schiavo case, I think we can all agree that this sort of thing is desperately wrong (provided the facts are correct). How about a nice big bipartisan blog hug on this one?

Tom Delay has the bodies of a thousand murdered prostitutes buried in the White House lawn. I think we can all agree that this is desperately wrong, provided the facts are correct.

Jerry Falwell routinely drowns babies in bathtubs of communion grape juice. I think we can all agree that this is desperately wrong, provided the facts are correct.

If the facts in this "case" are correct, and the case isn't resolved in favor of those who want feeding reinstated without ever having to get out of state court, I'll eat my shorts.

If you want a blog hug, here's the one I'll join, from 'trilobite', in the comments of the same post:

No-brainer, if the facts are right. But I have a hard time believing this one. It's just too pat, the letter from the nephew is too laden with pro-life buzzwords, and the few websites telling the story (this one excepted) all trigger my "nutjob" alerts -- they are surrounding the Magouirk story with self-congratulatory conspiracy-nut boilerplate about how the Culture Of Death Wanted Terri Dead and We Are The Only Ones Who See The Truth. So . . . no, I'm not getting sucked into this, it reads "internet hoax" to me. There may very well be a Mae Magouirk, there may even be a real nephew & a real court battle over hospice care, but I'm not gonna call the local AG and complain based on one party's unsupported & unsworn word. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

This all goes back to World Net Daily, the newsletter that had its readers believing that Terri Schiavo was "alert, aware, and responsive" fifteen years into a persistant vegetative state, that informed its readers that Michael was unaccountably blocking her therapy and/or an MRI for her, without telling them that he spent four years pursuing aggressive therapy, and without letting them know that the MRI was unnecessary and contraindicated due to the metal in her skull.

All we need is for World Net Daily to train yet another generation of amateur sleuths and pretend doctors to start yet another circus in the supposedly private lives of yet another suffering family.

Posted by smijer at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

In Her Cups, Friday Link Roundup, and Goodbye for the Weekend

from - smijer

Please excuse the digest format of this post. I have to get posted and get out of here. First, Ms. Piddy takes her turn mingling with the glassware:


(photos courtesy of mrs. smijer)

More fuzzies, scalies, cuties of various integumentary covering in the Friday Ark.

Moving on, Jeanne expresses her outrage over the treatment of American prison guards in Iraq:

[...] a U.S. military commission, citing the Geneva Conventions and customary international law, convicted him of compelling prisoners of war to practice saluting and other military exercises for as long as 30 minutes when they were tired. His sentence: 12 years of hard labor.

Not really. Just a glance at the Good Old American double standard.

From the Chattanoogan, plans for a new Outdoor Center

Apparently, blogging one's own death is catching on:
Former Congregationalist minister in the late stages of cancer blogs about the experience of dying. There's a very poignant poem he posts by a friend. I cannot imagine.

In a very dissimilar situation, Meet Vernon is blogged through a third party who corresponds with death row inmate Vernon Evans. Vernon is nearly done with the appeals process. (Hat Tip: Big L)

You all reflect, and/or discuss. I'm going off as soon as I leave work today.

Posted by smijer at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

An Encounter (maybe)

from - smijer

Although I am now a freethinking Unitarian, I was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition. Baptists believe in miracles, but they don't ever really expect to see them. I remember being a child and hearing the preacher, during a dry spell, tell us that if you come to church to pray for rain, then you'd better bring an umbrella with you. That earned him a lot of "Amens", but I got the distinct impression that the people who even went so far as to bring an umbrella to church would not be entirely surprised if they wound up not having to use it on the way home. My impression was that went for the preacher as much as for anybody - but you ever know. Anyway, the Baptist will tell you that God answers prayer, but sometimes His answer is "no." Or "wait." You kind of get the idea.

I also remember that same Baptist preacher preaching up a storm (not a rainstorm - ha ha) against "charismatics"*. I was young enough at the time to have to ask my parents what exactly a "charismatic" was, and I didn't quite understand the answer they gave. It is only recently that I realized that charismatics are fairly numerous in this part of the country. And, it was only about a year or two ago that I discovered that I was married to one.

Specifically, I discovered that I was married to a member of the Church of God (Cleveland). Now, Church of God folks take their miracles seriously. So much so, that they have special weekend retreats for changing lives through a miraculous Encounter With God. I am pledged to go there this weekend, with an open mind. I go willingly. Mrs. smijer was very patient with my (admittedly fruitless) efforts to prosyletize her with reason and rationality, so this is her turn to try to prosyletize me with Christianity. She hopes that, by witnessing the work of the Holy Spirit up close, I might be granted a Saul-like conversion experience from God.

For those who aren't familiar with the Charismatic faith, you should know that they flatter themselves that the goings on that take place in their ministries are the same kinds of works that the Holy Ghost miraculously performed through the ministries of the apostles, as recounted in Acts and the Epistles. So this weekend, I can expect to hear people "speak in tongues", and when hands are laid upon them, even see them become "slain" in the spirit. The former I've witnessed first-hand; the latter is a form of religious ecstasy that I've never personally witnessed. If I picked a good weekend to go, I might even see a leg lengthened, or chronic pain relieved. Mrs. smijer knows quite well that I have too many rational and moral objections to most varieties of Christianity** to hope that witnessing these relatively mundane 'miracles' will persuade me to toss aside those weighty objections. What I believe she is hoping for is that, in an environment where lots of folks are praying, and the Holy Spirit is already busy, and where I am as receptive as possible to the possibility of the divine, that God will reveal Himself to me the same way Jesus revealed himself to Saul on the road to Damascus. In my post for the next Carnival of the Godless, I'll let you know how it turns out. From what I've read, I would be surprised if I experienced a religious ecstasy myself, without being a little more receptive to the religious evocations going on around me (and without the help of a psychotropic drug). I have long been curious about such experiences though. So, if I experience one, I will report it with relish and as much precision as possible. If I experience a religious ecstasy and it manages to remove my doubts about the reality and morality of some variety of the Christian religion, I'll certainly report that, too. And, in order to avoid skewing any possible results, I'll refrain from posting my bets ahead of time. I am entitled, however, to a 5% rake from any gambling pools that may be conducted on my account.

*My current understanding is that my folks don't share that particular preacher's views on the charismatic movement, though I'm not certain exactly where they do stand on charsimatic spiritual practices.

**There exist varieties of Christianity that manage to avoid most or all of these problems. By interpreting the meaning of the Bible in a way that departs radically from the interpretation of any conservative Christianity, most moral objections to Christianity can be avoided. The rational objections are more difficult, and are really only avoided by taking an agnostic or atheistic view, and taking only moral lessons from Christianity.

Posted by smijer at 06:13 PM | Comments (1)

Unintentional Humor

from - smijer

Don't They Though.

I can think of a few others who should be advertizing this way.

P.S. I only use IE from work... For those geeks who are looking down their noses at me for the browser window in the screenshot.

Posted by smijer at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

Educating Neal Boortz - Social Security and IOUs

from - smijer

There are a whole lot of Americans - and I'm included in that group in many ways - who need a Civics Lesson or ten. I don't know how many of them read this blog. Probably not many. But, right now, America is embroiled in a shooting war, an escalating culture war, a war over judiciary checks and balances, and any number of other contentious issues, so I think now is the time to start sharing what we know, in an effort to educate one another.

And, though Neal Boortz will likely never read this, he is one of those who most sorely needs a Civics Lesson. So I will start with a very simple one, for him. Yesterday, he showed his ignorance of how the U.S. Treasury Bond works. He even quoted the President to make his point. I guess a mini-lesson about civics is that the President is free to mislead or misdirect in ways that further his political goals. Bush said, "there is no 'trust fund,' just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay -- will pay for either in higher taxes, or reduced benefits, or cuts to other critical government programs." The intended effect of this technically true statement was to direct the thinking of the average joe, who doesn't understand what a Treasury Bond is, and get him to believe that the Social Security Trust Fund is somehow not trustworthy. It worked on Neal Boortz, as evidenced by his statement:

To illustrate this, he looked inside the filing cabinet that contains the Social Security "trust fund." Do you know what is in there? Is it piles of cash, enough to sustain benefits for decades, as the AARP and Democrats would have you believe? Nope....what's there is $1.7 Trillion in IOU's....treasury bonds indicating that the money has been raided and spent by politicians.

To repeat the facts here: there is no trust fund, there is no promise to pay benefits by the government...the lockbox is empty. You would think that people would be jumping up and down demanding private Social Security accounts, because those accounts would not be managed by the government and could never be taken away.

Would you depend on an incompetent and fiscally unsound government to put food on your table at retirement? Apparently most people do.

Boortz has been convinced by the President's rhetoric that "the lockbox is empty."

Well, the fact is that the Social Security trust fund is not quite empty. Instead, it is full of U.S. Treasury Bonds.

For the politically savvy, Atrios has already addressed this (time and again), but he directly addressed the President's remarks twice yesterday: here and, in parody form, here.

The simple point is that U.S. Treasury Bonds, even under a U.S. Government that is racked with war debt, are as secure an investment as any you could hope for, besides, maybe, gold. So Neal's panic really isn't justified. And Neal's suggestion for a remedy really should make him more nervous than he already is, if he had some basic understanding of how things worked. Stocks and commodity futures are great investments for many people, but they are less secure than treasury bonds. Let me repeat Boortz' primary misunderstanding:

You would think that people would be jumping up and down demanding private Social Security accounts, because those accounts would not be managed by the government and could never be taken away.

To an extent, many of us are demanding, and getting, private retirement accounts. We call them 401K's. But for Social Security, a private account won't do the trick. There is no guarantee that the money will be there when you retire. If the economy tanks, then your private account may become worthless - unless you happened to have it all invested in U.S. Treasury Bonds.

What the President is arguing for is to increase the return on most SS accounts by allowing individuals to choose to invest them privately. What he doesn't answer is what will become of the elderly who happen to have their SS invested in a group of stocks that has lost all of its value. At that point, we will have to choose between leaving those elderly to starve and die, or to raise taxes and replace their SS account so that we can pay them a benefit in place of what they lost in the stock market.

Some people, especially those who work on Wall Street, but even some of those who have to sweep the street, may understand all of the facts, and prefer Bush's plan. And that's fine. There are those who don't see the value in social insurance, and prefer more of an individualistic sink-or-swim approach. I'm not one of them, but that's an honest viewpoint.

But we should be about understanding what the "IOUs" that the President and Neal Boortz are talking about really consist of, and how much more secure those IOUs are than the ones issued by private companies in the form of stocks. And that's Neal Boortz' civic lesson for today.

Next week, maybe we can look at some controversial Senate rules.

Posted by smijer at 07:44 AM | Comments (2)

What Passes For News in Montana

from - smijer

Found this on Google News. Made me laugh.

Posted by smijer at 06:27 AM | Comments (1)

April 06, 2005

Giddy up

from - Buck

Reckon this guy ever rode a triceratops?

Posted by Buck at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

Military Base Shell Game

from - Buck

Well, I guess it is okay to close them here as long as we open up new ones there.

Posted by Buck at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

All Politics is Local (unless you're out of town) - Wednesday Links edition.

from - smijer

I checked out the price for getting my cranium retrofitted to accept a de-fogger, but it was way too steep. So here are three links, one for Chattanoogans, one for Tennesseans, and one for everybody:

  • Saturday, the Hamilton County Democrats are reorganizing, elecgting new officers & such-like. For reasons that blog-readers will discover tomorrow or Friday, smijer won't be able to make an appearance. He'll be out of town.
  • I agree with Joe - it's time for Democrats to get on board with the lobbyist sunshine bill. After all, you can't follow the money if the trail disappears at the Capitol steps.
  • Heh - Indeed.

Posted by smijer at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

Problem? What problem?

from - Buck

So when you pull up to the pump this week and see that you're paying almost $2.50 for a gallon of gas, don't blame George Bush....don't blame the oil companies....and don't blame the gas station. Blame your friendly neighborhood environmental leftist who won't allow any new refineries to be built and opposes oil exploration in this country at every turn.

You've just got to love Neal Boortz. His infatuation with our current oil-soaked Republican administration is complete. Unless and until prices rise to their highest historically recorded levels then things are fine. It is fun to watch him and those like him have to resort to hearkening back to the days when things were at their absolute worst in order to make their King Bush look competent. If it were not for term limits perhaps the next Bush slogan could be

Bush/Cheney: Not as bad as Hoover/Curtis......yet.

Boortz almost starts sounding like an eco-nut himself when he says

Perhaps if people hadn't been tripping all over themselves to buy gas-guzzling cars these past couple years, they wouldn't be feeling the pinch. Maybe if they lived a bit closer to work things might be better. It might not be a bad idea to tell the rug rats to walk every once in a while also.

Why don't we just ban the internal combustion engine Neal?

Yeah, Bush gets elected and suddenly China needs oil. I think if we knew the content of these meetings we would find that everything is progressing pretty much as planned.

Posted by Buck at 10:28 AM | Comments (7)


from - smijer

If my brain came with a defogger, I could get up on a Tuesday Morning and write a good blog post for you. But it still wouldn't be as useful as some of these links:

The Big L uses the R word about addressing poverty. If you read nothing else today, let this be it.

John Cole on Zimbabwe. He ends with "something has to be done," but damned if I know what. There's no oil, and the NeoCon dreams of imperial democracy don't extend to Africa... not that I would endorse aggressive war as a solution in the first place. I would say that some diplomatic leadership on Africa is overdue, but I don't know where to look for it. It's doubtful that our state department will shoulder the burden.

For those of you living in a cave, Senator Cornyn of Texas has gone off the deep end.

All seriousness aside, DarkSyd has some unkind words about abiotic oil "theory". Link is "R-rated". For you, Buck.

Cognitive therapy better than anti-depressants? I visited a therapist for a few weeks, not too long ago, and he recommended Feeling Good, the new mood therapy, by David Burns - which is, among other things, a self-help guide to Cognitive therapy. I do plan to buy and read it when I have the money and time. If you have anxiety or depression, maybe you should, too.

From Philocrites' reading list, this NYT piece about Megachurches. Lots of good info in there about what draws people to megachurches (answer: being pandered to), about the new social trend, and a revelation that these folks are not much more tolerant and accepting (of gays, anyway) than their more traditional fundie cousins. My quibble with the NYT piece: I would have headlined it "Subverting The Soul of the New Exurb".

Posted by smijer at 07:59 AM | Comments (3)

April 04, 2005

Funny Sign

from - smijer

I live in the south, so funny church signs are an everyday event for me. But since our UU's don't have a marquis, it's a rare treat to get to see a funny UU church sign. From Jim on Politics:


Accompanying remarks:

I do use the search engine almost every day, but it never occurred to me to worship it.

You'll have noticed that this is a Unitarian church. I suspect that those who worship Google would be welcome there, though I am not so sure about those who voted for George W. Bush.

My only quibbles:

  • Those who voted for GWB would be quite welcome, though they may feel just as out of place as those who voted for Nader might feel in a Southern Baptist congregation.
  • Come on, have some cojones and finish the apt parallel... Isn't it really those who worship GWB who you think might not feel welcome? And really, how many GWB voters do you know of that don't secretly worship him?
  • If a Google worshiper attends a Unitarian Church, he or she is correctly identified as a gUUglist.

Posted by smijer at 07:39 PM | Comments (1)

Yeah, But...

from - smijer

Citizen activists are apparently volunteering to help the border patrol keep Mexicans in Mexico... I guess it's a service.

But honestly, "Minutemen"?

I guess they'll move on next to watching the boys room for teenage smoking and they can call themselves "NY Fire & Rescue".

Posted by smijer at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2005

Feelin' Old

from - smijer

Church functions were not like this when I was growing up. Bear with me, while I tell the long version of the story.

Last night, I picked the Younger up from the school dance, and he mentioned to me that one of his friends was playing at Club Fathom. Now, this left me with two fairly disparate chunks of info. On the one hand, I know the Younger's friend who would be playing. He is, in terms of demeanor and style, what kids these days are calling "Goth". He seems like a nice kid, but he isn't being considered for any citizenship awards at school, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, my friend J.H. belongs to a charsimatic church that was instrumental in founding Club Fathom, as a Christian outreach to Chattanooga's youth. (J.H. also volunteers there, working the sound board). Knowing the sort of music and lifestyle that the Younger's friend was "into", I could hardly square these two notions of what Club Fathom would be like. But the Younger was interested to go see his friend perform, so I had every excuse to go find out how the twain did meet. This is where it gets interesting, and I start feeling old.

We parked on Market Street near Jack's Alley, and walked to the club. The nice young lady at the door used her hand-held metal scanner to make sure I wasn't packing (except for my car-keys, which she did discover), and directed us to the counter to pay our $5/person cover. The Younger and I then started to wind our way toward the stage area. Along the way, we passed a few young couples with their bodies pressed tightly against the wall in a convenient shadow, doing what young couples do. At the end of the hall, we turned a corner and started to move back toward the front of the building, climbing a long group of steps as we went. At the top of the steps was found what I presume is a juice bar, with a pair of young adults standing behind the counter and a fair number of teens randomly spaced in front. On this upper level, we passed some interesting art. The art in the on-line gallery is a fair representation of what was on the walls (especially this one), but I have to mention the rough painting of a young lady, scantily clad, perched atop a reclining young, barechested man. The nature of her ministrations to him are mysterious, but even so, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of envy. Another piece, keeping to the "Goth", theme was a wide-eyed young man holding a sword in his left hand, and a bloody severed head in his right. And, so as to remind the connoisseur that this was a Christian place, there was a wood sculpture of Jesus' face nearby, too.

Somehow in all of this, I left out the manner of dress and personal decoration of the kids who came to fellowship at this Christian club. Many of the young men were simply attired in tee-shirts and baggy jeans, but more than a few were also adorned in all black or proudly displaying innumberable piercings. Black hair-dye was the order of the day for several members of both sexes. One or two of the fellows wore mascara and lipstick to accentuate their Goth creds. I say all of this uncritically, but nevertheless feeling every one of my decades of age with every word. Two of the three young men standing on stage when we reached the stage area (after passing the pool tables, and the innumerable sofas where young couples were lounging together or making out as the mood and lighting suited) were adorned and attired in this same style. The Younger's friend, by comparison, could have been a member of the young Republicans. And I, by comparison, could have been a member of the Bingo Club at Shady Grove home for Ancient.

On the wall behind the stage were hung maybe fifty crosses. If my eyes weren't playing tricks on me, they were designed to serve also as candle-holders. The stage was lit in red, yellow, and blue, leaving plenty of shadow near the edges. The stacks produced a very respectable output. The music was thrash metal (is that what they call it now?) meets... well I suppose that if we could understand the lyrics, we would know that "Satan's Army" ("don't everybody cheer at once," the Younger's Friend deadpanned) and "Raping the Shadows" (which may not be physically possible, but we are to be assured that they Younger's friend can do it), are Christian Rock. I lack the vocabulary to express enthusiasm over that style of music. I suppose that you could say, in a complimentary way, that it was "sick". Halfway through the set, a fourth young man appeared at the doorway, wearing a fishnet top, torn in front and pinned back with safety pins, and repeatedly demanded to know, from across the room, "WHAT THE FUCK?!" The young men on the stage lost no time in letting him know that it was he that had ditched them, and that they didn't want to hear about it. At this point, he joined them on stage and took a microphone. We never got to hear his part, though. A couple of songs later, the lead announced that they were doing their last song, and the latecomer angrily replaced the microphone and left.

The younger and I congratulated his friend on his performance and then got ready to go. I noticed that the closed circuit television monitor was advertizing "Mosaic, church that doesn't suck." I don't know if Mosaic is affiliated with River of Life, but that is the church home of my friend, sometimes chess partner, and club fathom volunteer.

The Younger informed me on the way home that Club Fathom was way cooler than the high school dance. Somewhere deep inside, my inner teenager could be heard proclaiming his agreement, but this only served to make the rest of me feel even older.

Posted by smijer at 11:25 AM | Comments (3)

April 01, 2005

Friday Animal Fun

from - smijer

Doggies have fun chasing bubbles:



See for yourself in the short, grainy video with all the usual disclaimers for AOL users: Watch .wmv movie

Rats, on the other hand, enjoy being tickled, a fact of which Publius should be made aware, even if he is blogging Guineaus instead of rats...

Now, go and see the other goodies in the Modulator's Friday Ark!

Posted by smijer at 01:17 PM | Comments (1)

Help me with my unbelief

from - Buck

Alright class may I have your attention.

I need for you all to sit quietly in the Lotus position, close your eyes, breathe deeply and repeat after me

Saddam Hussein was a threat to the United States and his neighbor. He possessed weapons of mass destruction, used them and had the capability to restart his program at any time. He also possessed nuclear technology and the capability to produce a nuclear weapon that he could then sell to terrorists.

After a while you too will become a true believer regardless of any and all evidence to the contrary.

Since the war began an average of 64 Americans per month have been assigned to take the celestial dirt nap as Boortz is so fond of calling it.

But the lives of your sons and daughters have been and will continue to be a small price to pay. At least Iraqi’s can now vote, if they don’t starve first.

Posted by Buck at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

Friday Animal Blogging

from - smijer

Sorry, for anybody looking for the animal blogging: it's postponed. The server was being moved when I had access to the animal stuff I was planning to use... I'll try to get them posted during my lunch break today.

Posted by smijer at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

Pope already dead!

from - smijer

If this is true, this is really going to rumple some feathers around the world. Apparently, a pretender to the throne of the Pope is claiming he has been dead for over a week, according to USA Today, including when he was up on the balcony waving at the assembly below... which would mean that someone was manipulating a dead body to make him appear alive... which is kinda' gruesome. This one will be interesting to follow!

Posted by smijer at 09:50 AM | Comments (5)