Monday, April 30, 2007

Michigan Trip Day 1

Sunday, April 29

6:15 a.m.

I'm flying to Michigan for a funeral (which seems a bit redundant... Michigan is essentially one continuous funeral). Under normal circumstances, I am fairly adroit w/r/t the whole airport security routine. This particular morning, however, I am contending with some brutal, bachelor party-related digestive issues as well as a paucity of sleep. As such, I am not on the top of my game.

The Gateway Gestapo, however, is remarkably alert, ordering me to empty pockets, remove belt, shoes, and errata (thank you, Islam). I was half-convinced that I was going to be probed, which brings a half-smile to my face as I imagine some unsuspecting (albeit gloved) TSA associate unleashing, as though from an unholy spigot of the damned, a torrent of tan hell upon their person. That would teach 'em.

7:20 a.m.

Remember when the foldout trays had a little divot for your drink? Apparently, NWA has dispensed with this particular frivolity. My Diet Pepsi is sliding about like a jug of sasparilla on a boat in a B&W Warner Bros. cartoon. I'm half epxecting Felix the Cat to emerge from the luggage compartment to contend with the situation. Of course, he would go ahead and do some ridiculous little whiste & dance number afterward.

9:00 a.m. (EST)

Specifically, I am flying to Grand Rapids (MI, not MN). I have to admit that I am not entirely sure where Grand Rapids is, even though I was born about 45 minutes away from it. A brief survey of the aerial view reveals a golf course and copious cemeteries, the latter of which gives me a new slogan idea:

"Michigan: Die WITH your dreams."

I suppose that's a little too accurate, you know, considering.

9:02 a.m.

Random headline from "Skymall" sales catalog: "Walk on Water With Nuclear Globe" Um.... What?

Product also boasts: "Amazing Six Feet Tall!"

Willikers.

9:04 a.m.

Narrowly averted a Diet-Pepsi-meets-lap scenario...

9:07 a.m.

We have been ordered to stow all electronic devices at this time. Can we just dispense with the fantasy that my laptop, which is barely capable of producing a spreadsheet, can actually crash an entire airplane? Wait, that was an awfully abrupt... Aren't we flying awfully close to????? ARRRRRGGGGHHHH, SPRAAAACK, DEEEEAAAATH!!!!

9:25 a.m.

Contrary to any reasonable assumption, Grand Rapids boasts the nicest airport i have ever seen. I'd visit this town more often, were it not located at the portal to dystopia.

More later. Internet signals are tough to come by in a land where one can be instantaneously pronounced mayor simply for possessing a cell phone. I'm like a rain God to these people.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wanna get high?

Hey, lemur. Do you heat up? Do you like to fry the pony? You wanna get high?



Whoa... Looks like your already there man. My bad, dawg, my bad. I thought it would be nice to maybe get high with you. Maybe drink some rubbing alcohol, down four boxes of Raisin Bran, and go jump in a pile of clothespins...

But man, lemur, your are glidin'. I salute you, your HIGHness.

Peter, will you get high with me instead?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Crow vs. Rove

The blogosphere is abuzz with word that Sheryl Crow and Karl Rove are duking it out over global warming. See, Crow and Laurie David (who produced Al Gore's enviro-movie) stopped by the White House to conclude their "we're rich and worth listening to re: environmental issues" nationwide tour. David approached Rove, asking him to take a new look at Global Warming. Rove restated the White House's position (what the hell else is he supposed to do?), and then apparently got snooty.

So, a stranger comes up to Rove, offers a platitude and, instead of capitulating to the stranger's position, Rove has the audacity to balk at this act of affrontery. David was later quoted as saying she expected him to change his mind.

So, naturally, these two brave women blogged about it. They note that Rove made angry, illogical arguments (I have learned that liberals tend to attribute anger and bluster to any disagreement with their viewpoint). Among the arguments was that China, with its fast growing economy, will soon take over as the largest polluter.

This is a salient point, though certainly deleterious to Crow's cause. To make substantial economic concessions in the name of reducing carbon emissions, while allowing China to produce goods more cheaply and sell them internationally would not only be disastrous, but would also render null any effort to reduce emissions.

To which the queen of jejeune pop responds "since when do we follow China's lead?"

This begs a question. If Crow is incapable of contending with what amounts to a relatively obvious impediment to her quest to save the earth, then why should we follow someone whose credentials amount to crafting exceedingly dull music and bedding a Tour de France champion.

Further, on what grounds can such a woman be upset when her viewpoint is summarily dismissed? This is a woman who hilariously proposed a law limiting toilet paper usage to on square per sitting. You first, Sheryl.

I've said it before, but to the extent that real environmentalists are unable to break from the sel-righteous set on this issue, they will be utterly ineffective. The environment needs solid, common sense solutions from the reasoned and knowledgable, not rah-rah fodder for left-wing blogs from rich chicks who had the good fortune to marry up, and want to feel good about themselves.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday Musings

No more laziness. Musings Monday only. Stoplights of happiness abound. Sushi hijack!

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Minnesotans take it for granted that weather is a viable conversation topic. If you have nothing else to say, or are engaged with one of those people who expects you to singlehandedly keep conversation going, you can always exclaim that the weather is good or bad. In California, nobody ever remarks on the weather, which is curious given that certainly many people move to California for the very purpose of find employ under California's radiant sun.

Perhaps then, we Minnesotans are not discussing the weather, but rather whether there is weather. In general, we probably prefer not to have to think about it.

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Boris Yeltsin died at some point recently (for real this time). His career trajectory proves instructive. He was instrumental in agitating for Democracy in Russia, and seemed a natural fit for president once democracy was secured. Once president, he was largely regarded as a failure. Odd that someone who works so diligently on behalf of democracy would be so lousy at executing it. The difference between ideologues and leaders, I suppose. The world needs both, but they aren't particularly the same. Interesting thought in light of the political success of, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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So, if your wondering why the twin cities has these idiot mayors, and what it is these fellows are so good at that they deserve any job at all, look no further than the ten-figure trolly plans that are being thrown around. Rybak helped facilitate federal funding to pay for the billion dollar light-rail that currently extends from the Mall of America to Dreamgirls, and now Chris Coleman's angling for another cool billion to extend the line to St. Paul.

Great. Free trains (well, sorta). Don't suppose we could do anything about the killing, could we? You know, that tendency of certain people who should be in prison, but are instead shooting at us? You know, the people blocking the damn trains! No plan for that, I suppose. They specialize in trollies. No wonder the Star Tribune dubbed them the Brokeback mayors.

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If you are looking for an inexpensive Italian joint, but possess a modicum of taste, I suggest you forego the usual culinary vacuums, and make your way to Bascali's in St. Paul (or Falcon Heights or whatever is over there). It's no Ristorante Luci, but it's nice to go to a restaurant that understands that marinara should have more notes than sour and oily.

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The sad thing about Sanjaya being voted off American Idol is all the despondent 10 year old girls with scars on their forearms.

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Have you caught playoff action on the NBA? Do you have the fever? FIRST ROUND UPSETSSSSSSS!

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Partial Victory?

This week, the Supreme Court made the mind-numbingly obvious decision to allow Congress to ban partial birth abortions. The decision brings some overdue restraint to the abject madness re: courts and abortion, wherein Planned Parenthood et al... have been able to finesse the judicial system to override public dissent to any and all abortion-related practices.

Over at the Sojo blog, Jim Wallis has a response that I think is typical of the intellectual dishonesty surrounding the pro-choice movement. You can read the whole thing here, but I'll respond to selected points.

After a quick summary of the state of partial birth abortion legislation, Wallis offers this passage:

"The procedure involves very few abortions - about 2,200 out of 1.31 million in 2000, the last year for which numbers are available. And simply banning one procedure means that there are alternative procedures that will now be used."

From which he concludes this:

"After ten years of heated debate, the Court's decision does nothing to reduce the number of abortions."

Setting aside the question of whether 2,200 lives per year merits use of the qualifier "very few" (partial birth abortions happen far more frequently than troop deaths in Iraq, for example), one wonders why, if the procedure were not at all necessary for those seeking abortion, partial-birth abortion were ever utilized to begin with. Did doctors take a perverse joy in smashing the brains of living infants, or were they so indifferent to the possibility of human suffering that they saw no ethical imperative to avoid this grotesque act? Or is Wallis just full of it?

Wallis is persistent in his use of the term "criminalizing" to describe efforts to ban abortion. Obviously, this is a term that focus-groups well. Who wants to criminalize people? Further, he cites an unnamed poll that suggests that 68 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal "at least in the first three months of pregnancy."

I have no question that such a poll exists. However, a Gallup poll suggests that only 40% of America believes that abortion should be available in most instances. One can read whatever they wish into the attitudes of Americans w/r/t abortion, depending on what poll data they choose to accept. Such is the state of cognitive dissonance when an important moral issue has been wrested from the conscience of the American populace.

He goes on to say that his organization supports a "consistent life ethic" which seeks to eliminate abortion without "criminalizing" it. Consistent with what, exactly? This position treats the life of unborn children with utter indifference, while protecting born children with the full protection of the law. If abortion is indeed tragic, then this position is not only incosistent, but utterly illogical. Perhaps, Wallis truly believes (as does his cohort Anne Lamott) that fetuses are no more consequential than seahorses. Hmmmm....

Wallis sings the praises of Democratic initiatives to expand governmental entitlement programs, offering that they constitute "a better approach than the symbolic legal battle would be to gather new energy for a commitment to advancing real solutions."

Of course this ignores the question of why abortion has become a "symbolic" legal battle in the first place. It was part of an effective strategy by pro-abortion advocates to do an end-run around the will of the people. Wallis seems to be saying that, because the pro-choice crowd will not cede their battle to control the courts, the effort to thwart them must be symbolic (which, here, is code for ineffective).

One of the more disingenuous tacts of abortion proponents is to throw their hands in the air and say "can't we just let the issue die?". They cite the contentious nature of the issue, and appeal to precedent in support of the notion that legal abortion is inevitable. Of course, if the tables were turned, they would have no interest whatsoever in precedent. The pro-choice crowd does not want peace, they want acquiescence.

Wallis plays this game, concluding with a call for "pro-life and pro-choice supporters come together and support (the Democratic) measures, and actually do something serious and substantial in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies..." Of course, the measures he supports merely provide more aid to single mothers, and bolster sex-ed programs. For those who believe that these factors actually contribute to the rate of unwanted pregnancy by offering conflicted principles and creating perverse incentives, there seems to be no option.

"Who could be against that?" Wallis asks. Well, I am. Further, I am against a religious organization that cannot even bring itself to deal with this issue honestly. I am against any man who, in the name of Christ, supports the continued legality of a murder, and lacks even the basic integrity to confess his biases, for fear of losing his "non-partisan" cache.

The partial birth abortion ban (and Supreme Court's refusal to intervene therein) represents a step away from this rhetorical gibberish, and toward a real national discussion. This discussion will demand accountability from those who opt to take a stand. If Americans want legal abortion, they must make that case and vote their conscience. Our Christian leaders, deprived of the opportunity to blame "the process", must then make a real choice about where they stand on abortion and why.

Correction

My previous post stated (albeit indirectly) that Mary Tyler Moore had died. I would like to offer a correction. Mary Tyler Moore is not dead. I have come to the conclusion that I should initiate some level of research before drawing this sort of conclusion, as my underlying assumptions are often proven false.

I am sorry for any confusion this may have caused for my readership, and to Mary Tyler Moore and her family. I am confident that your unique brand of charm and humor will inspire many generations to come.

On a sadder note, R.I.P Dan Aykroyd (1952-2007)


Mr. Aykroyd. Reporting for duty in heaven.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mary Tyler Moore

You turned the world on with your smile. Minnesota's pride. Forever in our hearts. We will miss you.

R.I.P. MTM 1936-2007



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday Musings

More Minnesotan drivel...

The lead headline on CNN reads "Gunman Suicidal", in reference to the Virginia Tech killer. Not a particularly astounding observation, in my view.

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In other news, the Supreme Court upheld the ban on partial birth abortion. To quote Dailykos, "welcome to George Bush's Court". Damn right.

Incidentally, why do papers always describe this as a ban on "so-called" partial birth abortion, or note that "critics" call the procedure partial birth abortion. What do proponents of the procedure call it, "happy brain crush fun time"?

I suppose a proponent would respond by saying "I call it a woman's right", which is rhetorically obvious and utterly dishonest at the same time.

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In a striking show of solidarity, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has sent a dozen city inspectors to Virginia Tech, to ensure that the school fixes windows, removes weeds, and removes any and all chipping paint. Said Rybak "if students know that the University will not tolerate a broken window, they won't open fire on a classroom."

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For those who follow NBA basketball (ladies, click here), it was refreshing to see a referee get suspended for a BS call, wasn't it? That referees have an undue influence over the outcome of basketball games has been an unspoken assumption for decades. Maybe finally the NBA will acknowledge this fact in some real, tangible way.

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So, I am at the Trader Joes the other day, trying to squeeze my little Ford Focus between two behemoth Land Rovers. I look back at the parking lot, and realize that virtually every single automobile in this tiny, tiny parking lot is an SUV.

Now, this is a store catering to liberal sensibilities. It nestles in a community of affluent leftists. The women all wear those ubiquitous blank, pancho type deals to contrast their specter-like visage. And their kids have obviously never had a spanking in their obnoxious little lives.

But when it comes grocery time, the hell with Al Gore.

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Who here isn't wearing pants? Okay, now go to the corner and shame yourself.

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I think anyone who is outside of their home, shouting at someone else, at midnight, on a Monday, should be arrested. Such people are unlikely to otherwise contributing worthwhile to society anyway, yah?

I'm glad the weather is warm so that my neighbor's screaming nonsense needn't be confined to her basement.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Job Offer

I received an intriguing (albeit entirely unsolicited) job offer today in my e-mail box. I just wanted to know what you all thought before I proceed. Text below with commentaries.

Good day,

"It is our honor to write you this proposal out of the fact that you have a good and reputable personality and profile."

I knew my personality would pay off for me some day. See, people? You were all wrong about me.



"Due to the fact within our reach and your status which has shown a commendable one, we wish to inform you of this Job Offer which is based on contract terms."

Well, I'm glad that a fact was within their reach, and I am please to learn that I have achieved commendable status. I had previously consider myself to be largely mediocre, on account of my being a little bit overweight.

"Our company is investing in so many areas of business profits of future prospects."

See, this is what I'm talking about. Investing in business profits and future prospects. You would think other companies would catch on. Instead they just buy companies and other crap that is unrelated to profits and the future.

"we have in possession an oil strip that can produce at minimum 20,000 barrels of crude oil per day."

It sounds as though they are holding it for questioning.

"In this development, the necessary products and materials for the commencement of drilling process has been set in place."

Well, I should hope so.

"Acquiring the oil strip has been achieved"

This was implied by the previous statement re: possession.

"and legal documents are available for review."

Fantastic. And here I am working at a place with no legal documents whatsoever.

"SPDC Onshore OML 28, the route of which is shown verged in red in the company's plan no. p0511850001.dgn dated June 2006."

I'm no businessman, but this sounds extremely legitimate. Better yet, it sound profitable!

"we not in the position to receive the funds at the moment because as the C.E.O, I'm supervising the oil field as required by the laws."

The damn laws, requiring oversight of a valuable natural resource. This is the fault of the liberals. I totally understand why he wouldn't be able to receive funds. I am more than happy to help.

"Due to this, we have been on loss for not operating and making sales"

Of course, oil is a notoriously difficult product to seel, due to lack of demand.

"and we will appreciate if you can assist us to receive the funds on the company's behalf from our investors so as to start operation fully."

Fantastic. I get you the money so you can start producing oil, which you are producing already, because, as CEO, you are to oversee production, which is preventing you from getting the money. Makes sense.

"As to compensate for your effort to the establishment and production of the crude oil marketing, Our company is offering an 8% share of all returns made"

Sounds great. How are the benefits?

"To let you know, crude oil is sold at $60.60 per barrel"

Wow, they even have insider information. Did you know that oil cost this much? No wonder it costs so much to fill the tank.

"you will benefit $96,960 per day for you helping us secure the future."

Wow, all that money and I get to help secure the future? Eat that Spiderman.

"Also, you are entitled to a 7% from each funds you receive from the Investor before production and marketing commences in full."

I have no idea what this is trying to communicate, but it sounds like pure profit!

"If this offer is of interest to you, kindly contact us as soon as possible"

I want in. What do I need to do? Help me help you.

"Human Resources Httpgroups(Worldwide)"
Perfect name for an oil company, httpgroups. Oh, and they are worldwide, though that is obviously of lesser importance given the parentheses.


"Contact us if you are interested and fill the following

details and send to us.
1. Full names......................."

How many full names would they expect me to have?

"2. Your full contact addresses................"

Ditto.

"5. Occupation/Age........................"

Seems a bit odd to combine these two, yes?

"8 Email Address...................."

One would think they might have this information already.

Anyway, should I take the position? $100k per day would represent a slight uptick in salary, and I would get to secure the world, and further my commendable status. I'll pray about it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Don Ho's Legacy

I think everyone will remember where they were when they found out Don Ho died.




Upon his death, and in accordance with a heretofore unacknowledged provision in my homeowners agreement, I am now the official "King of Hawaii".

I am completely overwhelmed. Firstly, I was unaware that Don Ho was the King of Hawaii, so I called the tourist bureau, where a representative explained to me that the moniker is largely symbolic.

Nonetheless, I feel the weight of tremendous responsibility as I endeavor to fill Ho's shoes. I must say, my first public appearance as "King of Hawaii" was a spectacular failure. Before the Minnesota league of Hawaii Nativists (MLHN), I noted that we should, and I quote, "be joyful that Ho is headed to his nappy, eternal that is..."

As you might expect, the silence was palpable.

There are some upsides to this gig, however. I get to travel to Hawaii, free of charge, four times per year. I have inherited the mechanical rights to all of Ho's music (apparently, he was a musician of some repute). I also got a lovely plaque from the Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce.

Plus, I have sold the rights to my story to Columbia Pictures. They are on the phone with David Spade as we speak. So, when you have the opportunity, stop by and say "Aloha!" to Kevin, the new "King of Hawaii".

Did you know that "aloha" means both "hello" and "goodbye" in Hawaiianese? That just blew my mind. What a crazy country.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

An interview with Tubby Smith



Every now and then, my blog affords me the opportunity to interview the biggest newsmakers. This week, I'd like to welcome Tubby Smith, who recently accepted the position as Gopher men's basketball coach. Tubby, welcome to TPWK.

Tubby Smith: Thanks for having me. I am just so pleased to be here.

TPWK: Well, you're time at Kentucky certainly featured no end of tumult.

TS: Yeah, well on behalf of my family, I just want to say that Kentucky blows.

TPWK: Really? That much animosity?

TS: I was just sick of all the complaing. Waaaaaaahhhh! We got an 8 seed!!! Waaaaaahhh! Randolph Morris is underperforming!!! Waaaaaahhhh! I got third degree burns at a post-homecoming bonfire!!!!

TPWK: It hardly seems fair that you got blamed for the last one.

TS: I've got one word for Kentucky. Inbred. Hey, Kentucky, would it kill you to keep your hands off your cousins once in awhile? At least until they turn 18?

TPWK: I think you are engaging in some hyperbole.

TS: Plus, all my players were gay.

TPWK: That hardly seems likely.

TS: Every one. They all had pictures of attractive athletes in their lockers.

TPWK: Right. Well, moving forward...

TS: I installed a urinal in my bathroom, and carved a urinal cake into the shape of Kentucky.

TPWK: That's not normal.

TS: Every time I use the bathroom, it's like the entire state of Kentucky gets to drink my filthy piss.

TPWK: Indeed. Now thinking about your latest challenge.

TS: I don't even use the bathroom at work. I'll hold it for days. More for Kentucky. The more I can corrode that hellhole with my urine, the better.

TPWK: Good idea, now what do you hope to bring to your newest coaching endeavor.

TS: Well, I want to build upon recent success.

TPWK: Sure, sure.

TS: It was a disappointing tournament run, but we have to take positives from these last couple of seasons. I think we are in a great position with recruiting.

TPWK: Excuse me, tournament run?

TS: Yes, losing in the second round may not be considered much of a run, but that was a tough UNLV team. But there are positives. The first #1 ranking in school history, for example.

TPWK: Ummm... Minnesota didn't make the tournament.

TS: Well no, naturally, that program is a disaster. More of a punchline than a basketball program. But I'm here to talk about Wisconsin Gopher basketball.

TPWK: Um... You mean Minnesota Gopher basketball?

TS: No, Wisconsin. Oh, did I pronounce it wrong? Sorry GAH-fers. Gotta get used to the Wisconsin accent.

TPWK: Um... The Wisconsin team is known as the Badgers. You have, in fact been hired to coach the Minnesota Gophers.

TS: Oh no, I would never. They're terrible...

TPWK: It's right here on the front of the Sports section.

TS: Wait... Oh... Oh, God.

TPWK: So, do you have anything you want to say to Gopher fans.

TS: So, who coaches Wisconsin?

TPWK: Bo Ryan.

TS: And they're happy with him?

TPWK: Um, very much so, yes, for the reasons you mentioned.

TS: Hooooooooo... You think I burned my bridges in Kentucky?

TPWK: Yeah, I'm pretty sure they've moved on, and the urinal cake comments probably didn't win you any friends either.

TS: No... That's cool... That's cool.

TPWK: Yeah... Do you want some water.

TS: No... I should just, maybe. I'm going to go for a walk (leaves).

TPWK: Okay...

TPWK: ....

TPWK: Denise, could you get me some coffee?

TPWK: ....

TPWK: Was that a gunshot?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wanna get high?

Hey, first snow of the spring, do you freak out? You like to be wicked? You wanna get high?



No. I understand. As a geological phenomenon, and an unpopular one at that, I can certainly process what you must be going through, with respect to making such an important decision as whether or not to get positively scorched.

But, I mean, you wanna?

We can go over to draught's place, freebase some jack, play ping pong. Maybe hunt down mother nature, smack her with a hammer, grind her up and inject her with a little bit of blue sunshine? You know, nothing weird.



Hey, wow. Don't get all weird. I'm just asking if you want to get high. It's an "up to you thing". I just figures since you decided to ruin our April, maybe you'd want to get reasonably high in the process.

Your not the first I've asked to get high. I like getting high. I do it with lots of people. Just ask veteran actor David Morse. He doesn't get all weird. Snowface. Yeah, you heard me. Get up off me inapprorpiate spring snow. I'll cut you!

I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I just like getting jazzed. Sure you don't want to set some nyquil on fire and trap ourselves in a closet with it? No? That's cool.

Uh oh... Uh, oh... Look at this guy. He might gitcha.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tuesday Musings

Lazy blogging at its finest...

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Remember the early 90s, when everyone freaked out at the slightest hint of racial provocation? Remember when it was cool to be politically correct? I remember those times, and thinking that we had outgrown them, that we had the nerve to stand up to the shrill, hypersensitive types who hegemonized our social conscience. I thought, like many, that Al Sharpton had been relegated to the dustbin of cultural curiosities, that he had jumped the shark, to the extent that such a large man could successfully jump at all.

Of course I also thought Don Imus was dead.

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Funny story. Went to the Snow Patrol concert on Friday. One of their songs requires the services of a female backup singer. During their live show, they apparently make a habit of calling a lady from the audience to do the gig. Before selecting the lucky lady, they wanted to be ABSOLUTELY sure they knew the words. This was a stated prerequisite.

So who volunteers but two, blogworthily stupid, bimbo sisters. They immediately began fawning over the lead singer (whose name I can assure you they do not know) before picking up the mic and asking someone to take a picture for their Myspace, which prompted a chorus of boos from the audience. Long story short, they didn't know the words, and the singer kicked them off the stage.

What is depressing is that these two gals will assuredly have no problem living with themselves.

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Wow, I'm being sued by Don Imus for defamation. I haven't even plublished this Blog yet.

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I caught "Pursuit of Happyness" (Will Smith's successfully Oscar-preening motion picture endeavor) this weekend on DVD. What a dreary, unlikeable film. It played like a muted, dramatic interpretation of a Daffy Duck animated short, as Will Smith repeatedly runs through moving traffic trying to catch busses, recover stolen goods, make appointments, etc... Most of the movie is shot in while the actors are engaging some manner of mass transit. It's like Seinfeld on valium.

It did have some nice Republican themes, though. Hippies steal stuff. San Francisco's notoriously obsessive parking regulations disproportionately affect the poor. Dean Witter is good. Fathers are good. Day care is bad. All that.

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What is it with women and throw pillows?

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Barack Obama made a curious statement. When asked by David Letterman about the dynamic of the Democratic primary race, Obama replied that they were all on the same team and that "Really, what we're doing is we're trying out for quarterback."

I say curious because, isn't the idea that America is one team? Aren't all nominees from either party (and third parties) hypothetically, running for quarterback? And isn't it "we the people's" team, rather than the "Democratic" team that should be hiking the ball? Of course, that isn't the political reality, but I am continually fascinated by Obama's ability to appear magnanimous while simultaneously being coldly cynical.

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Did anyone, I mean anyone, think that Anna Nicole Smith would STILL be in the news? I did pick up this tidbit. Playboy magazine plans to run a 12 page spread commemorating her... um... life... Rumor has it the last picture is of a nude Ketih Richard huffing her ashes.

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I'm out...

Monday, April 09, 2007

McLaren's Holy War

Over on the Sojo blog, Brian McLaren has a fairly innocuous post that is emblematic of my qualms with the Christian left. Entitled "Which Holy War?" It is, ostensibly, a call for reconciliation between "conservative" and "liberal" Christians (true to form, he never really defines his terms). McLaren believes that we are engaged in a holy war with each other. This is somewhat disingenuous, coming from a man who forged a movement that exists as an inherent critique of conservative Christianity (both theologically and politically). It seems he is calling for a cease-fire in a war of his own creation, but no matter...

McLaren points us to a "fascinating editorial" from CNN contributor Roland Martin. The editorial begins thus:

"Ask the nonreligious what being a Christian today means, and based on what we see and read, it's a good bet they will say that followers of Jesus Christ are preoccupied with those two points."

It continues in the same vein, and ends with a call to "worship one God, one Jesus, let's see them rally their members behind one agenda."

In the process, he cites an (unnamed, natch) African-American pastor who was told by some "mostly" white (again, unnamed) clergy that crackhouses were really his problem.

What McLaren finds fascinating about this oft-repeated canard - beyond his rather obvious tendency to find fascinating that which coalesces with his worldview - is beyond me. Further, it casts a pall on his discussion of any sort of Christian holy war. McLaren's notion of war is predicated on the idea that a gulf exists between "liberal" and "conservative" Christians.

Further, according to McLaren, this conflict finds resonance among Muslims. In his words, "both faiths are in "crucial periods," experiencing an "internal battle" or "silent war" among opposing factions, a struggle to retain what is true and good and generous, to reject what is inconsistent with each faith's highest ideals and dreams, and to do so in ways that won't blow us all to smithereens."

Now, I reject the idea that Islam is being torn apart by sectarian differences (which I see as symptomatic of perpetuating a phony religion). I am further curious as to whether his use of such a loaded analogy ultimately undermines his thesis that we are engaged in an internal war that mirrors Islamic culture, rather than a war WITH militant Islam. But I digress...

McLaren seems to want Christians to lay down their swords and come to the table to discuss the major issues of our day. Unfortunately, the Martin article insinuates that conservative Christians need to come to the table where the dialogue is already happening.

And here is where we have a problem. The conceit of the Christian left is that they are already engaged in a broad array of issues, whereas conservative Christians are not. While the criticism that Christians are overly concerned with issues of sexuality and abortion has some merit, the manner in which this criticism has been exploited reeks of a movement that is largely unaware of its own biases.

Most liberal Christians are, of course, pro-choice and support gay marriage (and rather fervent on this point, I might add). Further, their political bias is such that they see government as a conduit for their compassion, which is certainly their prerogative. However, to pretend that those who seek a governmental solution to poverty are the only ones who are concerned for the impoverished is, well, simply to pretend.

Virtually every politically aware Christian I know has an opinion about tax policy, the war in Iraq etc... Even those who are not politically aware are able to articulate their view on a number of issues that go beyond abortion and gay marriage. My wife voted for John Kerry (yes I did just shudder) because of her opposition to the war in which her cousin participates.

You cannot have unity without compromise, and you cannot have compromise without mutual concession. Yet, I see nothing in McLaren's call for reconciliation that implies that he is willing to concede anything. Rather, he seems to believe that his viewpoint is, in fact, the Godly solution. Such is McLaren's hubris that he apparently believes he has gone to the table, reckoned what must be done to discern what is "good and generous" about God, and is asking conservatives to simply drop their intellectual baggage and assent to his wisdom.

How magnanimous.

The Christian right is, in fact, in the process of re-evaluating many of its stances. The largest body of conservative Evangelicals, the NAE, has made statements regarding a host of issues. McLaren, Wallis, Campolo and et al... have continued to stand firm, hiding behind their "two issues" bludgeon in order to evade any intellectually honest discourse about what they believe. For the life of me, I don't understand why this is so.

If McLaren wishes to end our internal holy war, he should cease to conduct it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Poor Steve

Well, by know you have probably heard about Steve. Here are some of the details.

Apparently, Steve was a little worse off than he thought. Inspired by Keith Richards, he huffed the ashes of his grandmother, his uncle, and three cats in their entirety. Then, he drank half a cup of Benjamin Moore, "Periwinkle Delight" paint, tethered himself to a recreational flotation device, broke into the YMCA, where he floated in an Olympic-size swimming pool for an hour.

Apparently, the flotation device slowy deflated on account of the pressure from the bungee cords, and Steve was unable to extricate himself. He drowned at 4:30 am.

Apparently he left a note for his family, which is as follows

"The happiness is now darkness. The apple pie a bland banana cream. My breath right now is redolent of my sterility. Should I not survive my latest adventure, I bequeath my Star Wars figurines to Jojo and Katz."

This prompted a weird call from the authorites, who wanted to know whether I was, in fact, Jojo and/or Katz. I responded in the negative, and then informed me of the bad news.

They found his Ford Escort in the parking lot. Apparently, he had seven spare tires in the trunk.

The weird thing is, I didn't even know Steve was into Star Wars. He was pretty critical of geeks in general.

Just trying to cope with my emotions right now.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dude, what's up with Steve?

Dude, what's up with Steve? He's just been different lately. Like, I asked him if he wanted to go out for nachos, and he went into this weird tirade about immigration, and how nachos were a symbol of the destruction of our culture. I really couldn't get on board with that idea, you know?

Then, the other day, we were making a birdhouse together, and I guess he was off on the feed-holder. He just whipped the whole birdhouse against the wall. That was kind of intense. Now his whole birdhouse is smashed.

You don't think, like, his dad dies or anything like that, do you? I mean, that might explain it. Last weekend, I was hanging out at Brock's, and he drove up to the driveway with a bottle of beer in his hand. We were like "dude, couldn't wait 'til you got out of the car, huh?" And he was like "I do what I do."

His statement, while empirically true, really didn't scratch the surface in terms of the social trespass involved.

I remember last summer, we were at a party, playing some Tetris on Nintendo, and Steve said like "I feel like the blocks of my life are falling down, but they never fit together and make neat little rows." That was totally cryptic. It was weird for like thirty seconds after that, but I never gave it much thought.

Remember that month where Steve only wore pajamas? I'm surprised he didn't get fired. But yeah, somethings up with him. He's bugging out. Have you talked to him lately???

Really? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. You can go blind doing that. What is he thinking?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Gays outing gays

Dennis Prager (no I don't listen to his radio show) had an interesting editorial on the practice of hard-line homosexual activists "outing" gay Republicans, which you can read here.

To summarize, Prager finds fault with the practice, on the grounds that the alleged hypocrisy being revealed is not hypocrisy at all, since none of the Republicans in question wish to ban the practice of homosexuality outright. Rather, Prager suggests, the outing is simply a bludgeon to attack another group that they perceive to be inherently evil.

He seems clearly to be right. Unless one is actively trying to marry another member of the same gender, there is no dissonance between espousing contemporary, conservative social values and practicing homosexuality. This would be akin to revealing that a Senator who opposes affirmative action is, in fact, 1/8th Native American. Any whiff of hypocrisy evaporates under any measure of scrutiny.

Of course, revelations of racial heritage do very little to change public opinion. Revelations of homosexual orientation carry more weight. Thus, the "outing" of a political figure carries strong negative connotations for that particular figure. Gay-rights leaders are surely aware of this, and exploit it to their own political advantage.

We have, then, a situation wherein advocacy groups are fomenting the very prejudice they purport to oppose. They are attacking their political opponents for precisely the same behavior they engage in. Aside from being hypocritical, this is fundamentally dishonest. If the ends justify the means in this scenario, than these groups to are not advancing "rights", but rather acting as cheerleaders for (or, perhaps more appropriately, drunken fans of) a political ideology.

If that is what these groups wish to become, that is certainly their prerogative. However, I see no particular reason to accord respect to a movement whose leadership willingly sacrifice its own objectives to the cause of partisan politics.

And that's my cultural minute.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Confessions of a Female College Student

It is soooooo cloudy today. Like, last weekend I was out in my shorts and a t-shirt, but now it's like, whatever, it's cold. I need a blanket. Just kidding.

Oh, so I heart new Coke Zero. It tastes just like Coke and you can put a lot of rum in it. I came up with a new drink name. It's O-SNAP! You just mix rum and Coke Zero and you get an O-SNAP! So like me and Cindy were at a party going up to everyone and being like "O-SNAP!" and everyones like "what?" and we're like "that's our new drink. Don't you like it?" And everyone was like whatever but Cindy and I are just crazy like that.

I am so against the war right now. OMG, Barack Obama is so cute... I am voting so voting for him when I turn 21. He's the best Republican out there.

So, weird guy is outside at his car, talking to his friends about a movie. He's like "I thought the movie had it's moments". Who says that? He is so weird. Brick and Pickle picked me up for church last night, and weird guy was carrying his guitar, and Pickle was like "what do you have in there? Guns." And weird guy was like "Nah, it's a guitar. I'm a lover not a fighter." So Brick was like "yeah, well you're a dumbass." That is so awesome. Brick is so funny.

So hot guy works at the Caribou downtown now. SADNESS. That's okay cause I'm dating this bartender at Sally's. He only works three nights a week, and he's really passionate for the Lord, and he gives me free drinks all the time. His name is Chris, but everyone calls him C-bomb... Cause he's da' Bomb! Just kidding. He's cool though.

I'm going to teach him how to make an O-SNAP! After he makes it, he should have to click his fingers and shout "O-SNAP!"

TTFN!!!!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Have you considered buying something?

Hi, my name is Rick. Would you like to buy something? You know, just exchange money for a particular good and or service?

I see, I understand that, sir or madam. I completely respect you decision. However, I would strongly urge you to reconsider. You see, what I am offering is tangible and real. Further, that which I offer can be had in exchange for money...

Believe me, your concerns are duly noted. You know what they say about a fool and his money. Fool me once shame on you, but fool me twice, and you're not going to do that anymore. That was a little George Bush humor. A little poke at the idiot-in-chief...

Okay. Let me be the first to say, sir or madam, that I respect your politics, and in no way intended my comments to offend you. However, if we could sort of two-step back to the central point, I again ask you to consider purchasing a good or service...

Now, you say you aren't interested, but I am going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. Are you interested in happiness? My good or services can provide that for you. I have a hard time believing that you are opposed to happiness. You see, then, why my good or service is necessary...

Fair enough. Let me ask you this. Do you love you children?

No, right. No, I didn't mean to suggest in any manner that you would.... No, I have no intention of hurting your children. That wasn't a threat...

I just think that anyone who loves their children should buy my good service....

You know, it sounds to me like you're maybe not interested. Is that fair to say? Maybe leaning against? Yeah, I gathered that. I'm a pretty intuitive guy. Let me tell you this though. If you do not make this particular purchase, I can guarantee you that you will not receive this good or service. Then you will not have it. I'll just let that thought simmer for a bit...

Right. Well, I don't think you can make the judgment about me. You don't know me...

Yeah, well it sounds like you're all set.... Yes... Well, I don't see what my sexuality has to do with...

Right, no, I agree, you should get some sleep. It is 3 a.m.

I'll call back tomorrow.