Friday, December 24, 2004

Every year sometime around the winter solstice, a jolly old elf loads up his new ride with gifts for all the worlds people. Nope, not just the kids, but everyone on the planet. Now there are all kinds of myths about what goes on that night, and many of the worlds adults gang up on the world's children and try to get them to believe, with all their hearts, in something that just ain't so! That's why I'm going to break the code of silence and tell you about what really happens...Sanity Claus comes to all those who have been good this year.

Somewhere in a place far from the evil corrupting influences of Faux News, Sanity Claus studies the state of the world, makes his list, and readies his craft (Sanity don't do the reindeer thing, silly!) for the yearly whirlwind trip across the globe, spreading peace and love and...yes, sanity!

Of course this is a problem for all those parents who've been lying to their kids all these years but Sanity Claus don't care. Sanity Claus spreads the loving message to one and all to tell the truth, take a deep breath, and go on from there.

Now this year, Sanity has these things to tell us, so listen my children because...well, just because all these things are touched by Sanity:

First of all, Christmas itself is a big fib. It's OK though, because originally it was the Winter Solstice festival of a pagan goddess so everyone could know the cold weather would end eventually and you might as well spend some quality time drinking and singing and giving some of your good stuff away, in one form or another. This part still works for Sanity Claus. Have some fun, why don'cha? Call it whatever you like, and don't sweat the small stuff...Sanity don't!

If you give money to a charity that spends the money in Walmart, they will spend the money in Walmart...This is partly good because it keeps the little children in China working in factories instead of brothels near Beijing, but can't we do better than this?

There is only one present that a human can give to everyone else on the planet...Do something nice for the environment. All the other charities are short term solutions, but you can pick one and do something, anyway. It will make you feel good in the short term but you may run out of air...really!

Critical thinking must be taught in school because it will never be taught in church. This is the only real reason for separation of church and state. Sanity thinks it should be enough.

Evolution is a fact. How it happened is the theory. Sanity got nothing nice to say about creation...Ism or Ists. Anybody who is afraid to find out they are wrong, ain't got a place in Sanity's alternative fueled ride.

There is more truth in a bucket of topsoil in the forest, than in all the books man claims were inspired by a divinity, thank god.

It is impossible for a Conservative to even conceptualize peace on earth, good will toward men, or a balanced federal budget. Ask one and see for yourself how wise Sanity is about things like this.

My business is my business until it messes with your business, whereupon it becomes our business, and then we will negotiate. Until that point, Sanity says to stay out of my business. This is the rough concept behind the Freedom of Choice movement. Conservatives think you have no business having your own business, since it is all supposed to be their business, which is the rough concept behind the Pro-life movement...this, of course, is the same concept that lets Conservatives kill people who disagree with them, without having pangs of conscience after they pray for god to have mercy on the poor victim's soul.

It is not OK to torture people. Sanity doesn't know why this is such a hard concept. There are no degrees of torture, by the are either causing pain or you're not. Sanity doesn't think having someone else do it for you gets you off the hook, either.

Your American Flag decal, still won't get you into heaven. Even if it is next to that ribbon thingie on your bumper that is supposed to say you support the troops who are torturing people for America. If you really want to support them, get on your congressman's ass to bring them home. They really aren't accomplishing much over there, now are they?

Only girl reindeer have antlers this time of year. That other guy's sleigh is pulled by women. This isn't necessarily a Sanity thing until you look at it metaphorically and realize that everybody's sleigh is pulled by women. Sanity thinks about this everytime he fires up his ride, 'cause Sanity knows its True, Dat.

So now you know a little bit more about what's fact and what ain't. If that's so, then old Sanity Claus done been part way to your house, but remember that Sanity is a work in progress and there's a bunch of work to be done, yet. Sanity could use some help, so he asks you to light a candle in the dark of someone's mind this season. You can do it by just remembering that:

Nobody's perfect. Love the good in folks, but put your arm around them and tell them they are full of it when they are full of it. Sanity requires it in the long run.

And one other thing:

If you're gonna leave something for old Sanity on Xmas night, a nice single malt Scotch is much better than a glass of milk and a stupid cookie. La Phroig will do nicely and goes well with a rich dark bit of Swiss chocolate although German works too, in Sanity's opinion. Don't trouble yourself with pouring anything into a snifter, or anything, just leave the bottle where it will be noticed, for Sanity's sake.

Peace, and may Sanity come to your house this year!


Here is the best piece on Conservatism I've run across in a long long time.

The short version:

Q: What is conservatism?

A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?

A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

Now go and read the long version. I suggest you print it out and read it in short sittings.

All about Conservativism

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I'll work on posting photos but for now, you have to follow the link.

This fine young corn (and big mac) fed beauty from Kentucky is the latest heroine for free speech. She is suing her high school for refusing to let her in to the school prom because of her dress, and yes, she does look a little like Jenna Bush, if a little heavy on the binge and light on the purge. What do you think?

red dress baby

I'm conflicted on this one. Sure it's a Confederate flag, but speech is free and frankly the flag doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. It is a stupid symbol of a stupid time in America, to some, and a historical symbol of the southern states to others. Too bad it got adopted by racists. Same thing for a wonderful song of my childhood. From memory, here are the words to Dixie:

Well I wish I were in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land.

In Dixie Land where I was born in,
early on one frosty mornin'
Look away....

Well I wish I were in Dixie, Hooray, Hooray,
In Dixie Land I'll take my stand,
To live and die in Dixie.
Away, away, away down South in Dixie...

Well scratch that ground and hoe that gravel,
To Dixie Land I'm bound to travel,
Look away...

There's buckwheat cakes and Injun batter,
Makes you fat, a little fatter,
Look away, Look away, Look away,
Dixie Land.


Now I know that these are not the original words to Dixie! There's no way a black minstrel band in a New Orleans Brothel knew about perfect and pluperfect tense, So some editing had occurred before the song got published in my grade school music book.

Even so, I ask you if there is anything in these words that offends anyone? Now let's look at the other song in the great conflict, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was also published in my gradeschool music book. Just a few excerpts for brevity's sake. I believe I can make my point:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

That, of course was the first verse. We can skip the grammaticly atrocious second verse and take solace in the grace of a loving and forgiving god in the third:

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish`d rows of steel,
"As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;"
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
Since God is marching on.

And in the last verse, the punch line:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

So there you have it, an early neo-conservative hit piece set to music. This is why we are in Iraq:

We are good, they are bad, god want's us to kill them!

Oddly, the author, Julia Ward Howe was definitely not a conservative, merely a Yankee.

Here's the deal: I have searched the words attributed to Christ and not one place can I find where he wanted us to kill people for god, no matter what they did. But Julia Ward Howe says very plainly that soldiers for the North were going to be rewarded by god for killing Southerners. She depicts a very pissed off god. A killing god. This illustrates the biggest lie told by conservatives as they hold the banner of Jesus high above their heads as they quote from the old testament. Much of Jesus's teachings contradicted the Old testament. I don't think he liked Mosaic Law, because danged ner everything was a killin' offense. You could get stoned to death for improperly cooking a baby goat, for god's sake. When confronted with an obvious case of a capital offense, Jesus resorted to complcated legal maneuvering to get the perpetrator off with a mere scolding.

Julia, on the other hand says god wants them dead! Kill and be blessed! Good song, eh? Old Testament virtue in action against slavery, but wait just a gol danged minute! Julia sings about dying for god's truth and killing people that are against god's truth, and that war was about killing people who thought it was ok to keep slaves, and guess what:

The Old Testament says it's perfectly fine to keep slaves as long as they are from other countries and not your own.

It wasn't until we got to the new testament that killing and slavery both got called into question, but I diverge from the real point of today's rant:

Somehow in America, it has become bad to sing a song about the South that says nothing bad about any body, says absolutely nothing about hurting anybody, talks only about earning a living by working the ground and enjoying the fruits of one's labor with a good breakfast.

Somehow in America it has become good to sing a song that says Jesus wants us to kill people and maybe die in the process.

Well scratch that groun' an' hoe dat grabble... I don't think so!

I will bet you a buckwheat pancake that the person most likely to sing the Battle Hymn, right now today, is a bigot conservative southern baptist who hasn't the slightest idea that Julia Ward Howe was a Unitarian, which is like being an atheist to a Southern Baptist, and a feminist, which is much worse to a Southern Baptist. How she came to write the Battle Hymn is beyond me, but she did. Her other noteworthy contributions involve earning women the right to vote and pushing for Mother's day to be a national holiday.

So while my head spins at all these contradictions, I come around to a couple of thoughts that coalesce out of the fog caused by eating too much pound cake last night.

If Jaqueline Duty wants to wear her dress at the school prom because she's a bigot, or just a proud southern dumplin, it's OK with me, as long as she's polite and behaves herself.

Speech gotta be free, even stoopid speech. The dress ain't bad, actually, and is rather tastefully done, as racist statements go.

Conservatives ought to be required to write an essay about transposing biblical laws from one testament context to another and exactly which judaic laws Jesus ruled inadmissable, before they can say anything about the Battle Hymn being barred from school because it is a christian hymn and the constitution should be changed to allow it.

If we can listen to the Battle Hymn of the Republic in public, with no outrage, then we should be able to play and sing Dixie. The Battle Hymn has a schmaltzy tune and no banjo part, anyway, and have you ever tried dancing to it? As an anthem for millions of Americans to slay and dismember each other we could have done better.

If both sides had stopped killing each other for a few minutes and joned in singing a few rounds of Dixie instead, Maybe they would have thought about being back home and stopped that whole stupid war. A fantasy of course, but it's a good thought.



Huh? Did I miss this exchange in President Bush's Press conference? I must have dozed off:

QUESTION: I’d like to go back to Secretary Rumsfeld. You talked about the big-picture elements of the secretary’s job, but did you find it offensive that he didn’t take the time to personally sign condolence letters to the families of troops killed in Iraq? And if so, why is that an offense that you’re willing to overlook?

BUSH: Listen, I know how– I know Secretary Rumsfeld’s heart. I know how much he cares for the troops. And I also know this. No one knows what it’s like to be to the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes. No one knows what it’s like to be hated, to be fated to telling only lies. But Secretary Rumsfeld’s dreams– they aren’t as empty as his conscience seems to be. I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm’s way. And he’s a good, decent man. He’s a caring fellow.

QUESTION: Exactly how caring can he be, if he’s not even signing condolence letters and he’s never admitted making a single mistake with regard to this fraudulent and obviously worse-than-counterproductive war?

BUSH: Listen– let me finish! and get that wire out of my back, goddammit!– no one knows what it’s like to feel these feelings like Secretary Rumsfeld does. No one bites back as hard on their anger– none of his pain and woe can show through. But, as I said before, the Secretary’s dreams are not as empty as his conscience seems to be. He has hours, only lonely. His love is vengeance that’s never free. And no, I don’t really know what that last sentence means, and as I said before, I’m not going to negotiate with myself about it. Or with you– it wouldn’t be right, it’s not the holiday spirit. Thank you very much.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Boy, my head has been buzzing this morning!

We are in the middle of indoor soccer season and just getting the High School team started up for the season. It's funny how the goals of sports teams can get so screwed up if you aren't careful. Coach's want a winning record, some parents won't be happy until the team is champion of the world, and their kid plays all the time, and then some of us want unrealistic things like:

Our kids playing in a team sport environment, wearing their school colors, working together, getting fit, winning some, losing some, and having fun.

How stoopid is that?

What were we thinking when we signed up to be the booster club folks, eh? Actually, most everybody is a lot of fun and buys in to the mission. There are always challenges.

Last night we were on our way to a soccer game and my son got a call on his cell phone:

"A girl has been shot at the basketball game" was the first report...A freshman girl...Then it was a boy and a girl....then we had names...and then we had the word that they were both shot in the leg and were ok except for, well, being shot in the leg.

Some of you will know the people involved and learn the gory details... turns out the boy had a gun and had it out in the car and it went off, somehow...We all have theories. Having a weapon in a school parking lot is a Federal offense, and this boy is in trouble. I will leave that story line for the future and turn to the one that concerns me.

Yesterday, our youngest son turned sixteen, and was supposed to get his driver's license, but we messed up and did not get his birth certificate out of the safe deposit box in time. He was sooooo mad at us, and rightly so. He has done everything right to deserve the privilege. Our bad!

The plan was for him to get his license and then be allowed to drive himself to the basketball game which was in the next town, only a mile or two from where we would be at the soccer game with his older brother. We messed up and he stayed home by himself to watch tv...on his birthday. We have to make it up, somehow, but think about this:

If everything had gone as planned, he would have gone out on his first night by himself, to that basketball game. Then we would have gotten a call saying a kid had been the game out child was supposed to be at...sure we trust him but???

There would have been one of those moments when a parent's heart stops for just a cosmic instant... Please, not _____!

We can not explain these moments to our children. They don't understand. We didn't. Not until we had our own children did we come to grips with the moments of agony that we must have sent our moms and dads reeling through. Sorry, Mom. I understand now. Even though you've been gone for more than ten years now, I apologize to you in my heart, for those moments I paralyzed yours.

Yesterday one of your grandchildren turned 16. You and he were born on the same date, and I remember calling you on the phone in the delivery room, 16 years ago, to wish you happy birthday and tell you that you had a new grandchild, being unable to speak...and after an awkward moment of silence, holding the phone down to the red face of my newborn son and handing over the duty...letting him squall the most primeval of all birthday songs, the announcement to the world that the next generation of Scarboroughs is here to cause moments of great joy and moments of wrenching agony in their parents hearts.

Happy Birthday, Mom. Things are fine and going right along as things will. Miss you...

Peace.... and love,



Yesterday's entry brought several replies, both in the mail and posted on the blog. If you have thoughts you want to share, why don't you go to the blog site and comment? This group has thoughts worthy of sharing.

Pat writes:
Evolution is a fact. How evolution happens is the theory.
I want the bumper sticker! Preferably with a 'reality' fish eating the so-called 'truth' fish eating the 'Darwin' fish!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

OK, I admit it. I don't understand Creationists. Why do they even care, in the first place? Is their version of religion so tenuous that it requires them to prevent others from asking questions and seeking answers? Apparently so! Creationists have gained control of the Cobb County Board of Education and have decided to place a sticker on science books.

This is what the sticker says:

"Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

The second sentence on the sticker is good advice, and, when applied to the first sentence, oddly enough, or perhaps predictably so, proves it to be a lie! I have never heard anyone, who accepts creationism, accurately define the theory of evolution. So it is in Cobb County, Georgia.

Here's the deal: Evolution is a fact. How evolution happens is the theory.

Darwin's book was called, "On the origin of species" and said absolutely nothing about the origin of living things. When asked about the actual origin of "living things" Darwin said something to the effect of,

"Dammed if I know!" Admitting that the question of how life began was unknown, he proposed to answer the question of how so many different species came to exist. Understanding this exposes the fundamental stupidity of creationists.

What Darwin's book did say was this:

Earth's fossil record appears to be deposited in temporal order, once geological upheaval is accounted for. When trash is thrown on the ground, and then more trash is thrown on the ground, the trash that was thrown on the ground underneath the trash that was thrown on the ground second. In other words, if we pay attention, the fossil record can be viewed as a time line of the history of life on this planet.

As we look at the fossil time line, we can see that the oldest creatures were simple and that there were far fewer types (species) of them than in more recent periods of the record, so:

Speciation tends to increase with time in the fossil record except:

There are times when a large percentage of the complex forms of life in the fossil record stop appearing, like after asteroids hit the earth or great climate change occurs, yet, in following records life once again becomes increasingly complicated and diverse as the fossil record passes through time.

There are natural changes or mutations that occur naturally in most living and observable organisms, whether complex or simple, all produce offspring that differ from the parents in slight ways. (thank goodness!)

Natural selection appears to act as a filter which selects certain organisms for survival over others based on the slight mutational changes that give advantages under certain conditions that arise in the physical world.

Over time, a series of selections for a series of slight changes will result in a significant change from a generationally distant predecessor and the current organism will have become a species that is very distinct when compared to its ancestor.

There you go! Darwin's life work in a nutshell. Seems pretty obvious to me. But some folks don't want this to be true, which is counter to good sense, since it cannot be changed why not learn from it? We might be able to save the world, if we figure it out. We can figure out why the species that have disappeared from the ranks of the living, disappeared from the ranks of the living, and maybe use the info to keep our own particular species from, well, disappearing from the ranks of the living!

Creationists argue that there is little evidence for evolution...this is quite overwhelmingly false, but even considering the possibility that this statement might be true, we can see that the evidence for Creationism is nonexistent.

"Whoa!" I can hear them say, "What about the bible?...God's word?"

This is essentially the claim that God wrote the bible and that there is only one way to look at it. This requires aquiecscence to a particular belief system in order to accept. Well anybody who drives through any town in America will have to accept that essentially, no two sane people anywhere in this country agree on what is said in the bible! If that were even remotely so, there would be only one church...There is more than one church. Here in Roane County, Tennessee, we have nearly 100 different "Baptist" churches alone. They don't agree on much of anything except god bless our troops and that everybody else besides them is wrong and probably hellbound!

Science has no right or wrong except as it applies to methods for determining fact, as opposed to fiction, as opposed to what we can not determine one way or the other. Science is useful in this regard and as such is considered to be an enemy by certain religions. Why? Because some religions claim things that can not be true. Creationism does this, using the bible as evidence that the earth is only somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. But...the bible is not in any way evidence, in the scientific sense. The fact of a book is that it exists, not that the words and sentences within it are true or false. The fact that a book exists implies only existence not truth...but the book wil definitely exist and have order. Its atoms will follow the laws of physics with mathematical precision and predictability. The books existance is scientifically valid. Fact! Now here is another fact: The earth exists. The existance of the earth is fact, and like the bible, the earth has been interpreted in many languages, but unlike the bible the earth has actually been interpreted in every language ever spoken by mankind. Some of these interpretations we know to be false...The earth is neither flat, nor is it held upon the back of a giant turtle, as some fairly recent interpretations have held it to be. Nope, science lets us see that these interpretations were false, and science lets all who wish to read it, see that the fossil record proves the earth is far older than 10 thousand years.

The Earth exists. It's pieces obey the mathematically precise and predictable laws of physics. The fossil record within its layers obey the laws...and the fossil record has something to tell us. Some species die out and some don't. The cockroach has been around for a long has the turtle. Primates are pretty young, as far as the fossil record is concerned and may not have much of a long term future. As of this moment, the highest primate on earth seems to be suicidal as a species. Several of its religions claim that the highest primate has only been around for 6000 years and we are all going to die... any second now... get ready! This is what fundamentalist Christianity has become...a death cult. "None of this matters, we're all going to die...any second now!"

Well, here comes science to the rescue...We are very unlikely to die off in any of the next seconds. Science has let us see that it will probably be a slow boil that does us in, doesn't have to happen. We can live as long as the cockroach if we work things right, but we have to get past certain suicidal tendencies of our species. We have to question everything, including what some people claim is inside some books...and unlike the Cobb County Board of Education, I think a sticker that has their second sentence on it would be wisely affixed to all books, not just the science ones.

After all, a book is a method of storing some sort of communication. If you took all the books in the world and could somehow sum up all the information contained in them, it would be less information that that stored in a handful of dirt from the forest floor behind my house. There is a bigger difference than just the amount of information stored in books and a handful of dirt: A handful of dirt from anywhere on earth will contain only facts. Dirt can not lie! A book can. Some of them are honest about their lies, and label themselves "Fiction". They will often contain some truth, too painful to be presented as such.

At any rate, when it comes down to what to believe...I will always believe Dirt.

Dirt is always completely, and brutally, honest. Unlike the Cobb County Board of Education.

http://more Cobb county here



Jesus appears in many religious stories that are separate from what we think of as Christiality. Here is one from the Sufi mystics:

Jesus was asked by a group of his followers to teach them the power of resurrecting the dead. He told them that this was a very powerful and dangerous thing to be able to do. Great wisdom was required to do such a thing and use its power for good. The men begged and begged and said they would be wise and that much good could come of their being able to bring people back from the dead. Jesus looked at the men making this request. "It is for all things to die," he said.

"Yes, but some great tragedies could be undone with this power," said they.

And Jesus taught them the power of undoing death.

The men walked with great joy at their newly received power. Traveling far they passed through a forest and came upon bones lying on the forest floor. Eager to use their new power, the men cried out in sadness for this death, so far into the woods, so lonely! Then they agreed to reverse this death and used their new power to restore the bones to life. In an instant the bones were restored to life and there before the men, stood a tiger... strong, renewed, and hungry! Freshly brought back to among the living, the tiger killed and ate all the men and lay down to sleep after his fine meal.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Allright, this will be "Lightweight Monday" because I'm kinda fighting off a cold and the brain isn't hitting on all seven cylinders today. It was a good weekend with the party season kicking in. The hard part is deciding which event to attend. I have a scale I've invented to help me with the decision called the "Drive Home Factor". I like to get all the way home from these things. Since we live way out, if I get too tired from all the fun at a party, I will have forgotten how much fun it was by the time I've driven beyond a certain distance to get back to my own sanctuarious abode.

To help with this, I have learned that plain old water does just fine as a wine glass filler. This is a tactic from the old days when I was a raft guide. We were way too poor to have enough beer to drink so we would save up and buy kegs for a party. Kegs can go on forever, if you aren't careful. There's no sense in trying to win a staying contest with one. The keg will see the sunrise and you won't, losing at least one day of your precious time to the evil headache gremlins.

There's some kind of social thing involved with having a beverage in your hand as you cruise about being sociable, though, and that can be deleterious to one's evening plans, whatever they may be. The plans of my earlier partying days involved much more adventure than they do now, and getting home and having a good night's sleep has become the mission not impossible of the middle ages. The water in the beer mug has become a tactic of necessity, though the mug has transformed into a wine glass. My hostess of last evening made some kind of social statement to me as she pointed out that the goblet she was offering me was of the "unbreakable" kind. What exactly was she implying? I was home before ten last night, clear headed and smiling but today is still a slow Steve day.

Perhaps the band fruit citrus can save me. Not many things beat curling up next to a wood stove with a navel orange of good flavor and a little paring knife. The first taste of orange juice comes from eating the conical mound of pulp off the small plug I cut out as I performed the navel-ectomy on the orange, leaving a hole through which I will vacuum the liquid contents of my prize. After I have slurped all the juice I can extract that way, I can tear open the skin of the orange and eat the pulp without getting juice all over my face... well almost, anyway. Wiping up is part of the fun, you know!

If you guys didn't buy any band fruit, I'm sorry. There are a few things I won't readily share. Get your own! One should not share one's medicine!

Here's a really fun piece that has popped up in the Republican headlong rush to ban Gay Marriage. Some party pooper has tried to tack on an ammendment that would ban adultery in the same piece of legislation. The great moral leaders that are the Republicans in Congress are suddenly disappearing from their offices as "Seventh Commandment" advocates try to drum up public support for a constitutional ban on Adultery.

Imagine the fun!

I can just see the action going down as Republicans fall all over each other in their press to sign on to this bill. Each one declaring his or her purity in their marriage commitment...or maybe not, as it turns out:

Amendment follies

Sometimes I am surprised by the person chosen by the Nobel committee for its Peace Prize. Of all the titles our world society can bestow upon a citizen, I consider this one to be the most honored. I am also sometimes disappointed by the designee, but not this time. They have chosen an African woman who wishes to point out to the world that mistreating the planet itself is tantamount to killing ourselves slowly. Here is an excerpt but I strongly encourage you to read the entire lecture:

"...Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.
In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other."

Wangari Maathai – Nobel Lecture
Nobel Lecture, Oslo, December 10, 2004

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Lyric of the day:

"No hell below us
Above us only sky"

This composer died 24 years ago this week.

H. L. Mencken has a bunch of quotes that shall endure forever. I have a favorite:

"Christians must be fascinating people... I hope to meet one some day."

I don't pass this on in order to piss off the people who think they are Christians, but I guess it's going to happen. In actuality, most people of Protestant denomination hold a combination of beliefs, hybridized between old testament Judaism and the reform religion that Jesus tried to get going. My reading tells me that we have a way to go.

An example that keeps getting pushed in our faces is this ten commandment thing. I watched a one ton truck go by that had the very rock an Alabama judge wanted to force people to view if they had business with his court. Judge Roy Moore claimed the so called ten commandments were the foundation of American Law, and had a version chiseled in a granite graven image and installed in his court. I suspect Judge Moore is a closet anti semite (most fundamentalists are! Talk to one sometime...) but here he goes and puts an adulterated version of Jewish Law in a supposedly christian court. First of all. there are a whole bunch of commandments in the old testament and the ten that are usually refered to, aren't actually in there as Judge Roy out them on his rock.

If you are the least bit skeptical, Exodus makes a great read. If you are a fundie, it will drive you nuts! How do you come to grips with the tenth commandment? Do you even know what it is? You probably think the tenth commandment is something like, "Thy shalt not covet" or something like that involving your neighbor's wives and farm implements. Nope! Moses took a couple of blank rocks up to God and God wrote,

"Don't boil young goats in milk!"

Goat chowder, it turns out, is an abomination in the eyes of God. When my time comes, I suspect I will get to go to sleep for a very long forever. But if I am wrong, I will be able to look god right in the eye and say that I am pretty sure I never stole anything and I'm damned positive I never improperly cooked a goat. I mean I like goat meat, but dang, people, every boy who grew up near Johnson County, Georgia knows danged well that goat is supposed to be barbecued!

I realize that most christians actually never read the christian part of the bible, particularly here in East Tennessee, so I would like to present a short bible lesson from the christian section. It is labelled Mathew, although though Mat the disciple, probably didn't write any of it, but that's another discussion.

So this rich kid comes along and asks Jesus:

"Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?"

Jesus said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. If you want to have eternal life, you must obey his commandments."

"Which ones?" the man asked.

"Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others.

Respect your father and mother. And love others as much as you love yourself."

The young man said, "I have obeyed all of these. What else must I do?"

Jesus replied, "If you want to be perfect, go sell everything you own! Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and be my follower."

Mathew 19:18

Isn't that just like a rich brat? The ten commandments turn out to be pretty confining for a well to do boy about town so he goes and tries to get his homework load reduced by asking "Uh, Jeez, my man! This commandment thing is a bit confusing, seeing as there are around thirty of the things and they sort of contradict each other, and my gosh, I'm gonna get stoned to death for eating the wrong goat recipe?... I mean, come on, can you give me a break here and cut this back a bit?

"Which ones?" he asked the son of god.

"Which ones of these commandments do I have to obey to go to heaven?" he asks, trying to weasel out of getting stoned for wanting as nice an ass as his buddy gets to ride when he tools about the village looking for barbecued goat... "Coveting" you know. Asses are specifically mentioned in the biblical rules up to this point! Although, if you are looking for an out, you lawyers out there can make the point that coveting asses as a bad thing is not actually listed in the first set of ten rules, but was in one of the revisions Moses rounded up after he broke the first set. Very confusing, ambiguous and overly broad, I can hear them arguing.

"Unconstitutional!" they state in perfect harmonious irony!

Much like Roy's rock!

So anyway Jesus gives the guy a new list! See here what this means? Judge Roy and all those other fundies are trying to hornswoggle us on this biblical law thing, and not tell us that Jesus rewrote the things after appellate review.

I don't think the rich kid liked the new version much either:

"If you want to be perfect in God's judgement, sell everything you own and give the money away.

The Bush administration, saying that religion "has played a defining role'' in the nation's history, urged the U.S. Supreme Court to permit Ten Commandments displays in courthouses.

So there you have it! Let's now turn our attention to our President, such a godly man, as he demonstrates his Christianity... By following the commandments of Jesus.

Which ones?

We'll see.



Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"Got a wife in Chino..and one in Tennessee..
First one says she got my child, but it don't look like me.."

The future is bright, especially if you are young physicist, Gerard Liger-Belair! This guy is getting paid to study bubbles in Champagne by French maker Moer & Chandon. It's all about the physics of the fizz. In a related story Physiologists are being paid by the makers of Ibuprofen to NOT find a prevention for hangovers. It's all about the cash flow.

Research grants are pretty amazing. It is wonderful what gets funded...Studies are underway at the University of Chicago and Harvard (well, duh!) involving the evolutionary adaptations of sperm cells' swimming ability when having to cope with a cheating woman. I could work with material like this...but, hey, this is a family blog, right? Well, people, this is where families come from and it turns out all of us in the same family aren't necessarily related to our Dad!

Can you imagine planning out this research project? Can't use people...for obvious reasons. Let's just say that human nature plays havoc with the scientific process of gathering data. I can just see the researcher trying to look couples in the eye and ask them who they been with lately? At least the common vernacular is catching up with reality on the human interaction front...We now have the term,

"Man - Ho!"

to go along with

"That lyin' Bitch!"

Fair is fair, by golly, and equality of the sexes is a never ending quest.

Researchers had to look outside the human species to find a test subject that was faithful, such as it was. They were only able to find one primate that was even close, a lowland gorilla and even that one was only faithful for a particular fertile period. Turns out every primate known has a wandering eye, shall we say, with the lowland gorilla being the most chaste and the Bonobo, our closest living relative, being the most promiscuous. We all know where people fall in the range between those two. So we need a research project to figure this stuff out?

Research team member, Sarah Kingan, calls the discoveries of the project, "Fascinating!" As part of the results of the study, she determined that for between 5 and 10 percent of all offspring, the woman's apparent partner is not the father.

Potential titles for the published study included, "Differences between a Promiscuous and a Monogamous species in primate semen-viscosity genes" and the other popular choice,

"Who's Your Daddy?"

Ooooo, K!


And now we have the new style, the modern consciencious objector...Men and women who are willing to serve their country but not in violation of the constitution. I envision a new bumper sticker:

"W" Didn't go to Viet Nam OR Alabama,

Why do I have to go to Iraq?

..."I was walking to the chow hall with my unit and we were yelling, 'Train to kill, kill we will,' over and over again," recalls Hinzman.

"I kind of snuck a peek around me and saw all my colleagues getting red in the face and hoarse yelling, and at that point, a light went off in my head and I said, 'You know, I made the wrong career decision.'"

...Whether a country lives under freedom or tyranny or whatever else, that's the collective responsibility of the people of that country," says Hinzman.

He later adds that his contract with the military was "to defend the Constitution of the United States, not take part in offensive, preemptive wars."

From CBS of course:

Hero or deserter?

In Afghanistan...bullets flying in an undisciplined hail, screaming death through the air... And with his last breath he shouted, trying to save the lives of his comrades. He lifts his head, realizing the tragedy unfolding, unnecessary, wrong, evil...They were killing each other. Stupid in their fear driven rage.

The basic training chant rising to fever in their brains...

"Trained to kill! Kill we will!"....and kill they did...his brothers...

The last words that came out of Pat Tillman's mouth were,

"Cease Fire! Friendlies!"

Screaming, trying to save his brothers...they shot him dead, his brothers did.




Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Howdy, my fine friends!

Having just recovered from a near death by turkey experience, I find myself plunged headlong, body and stomach, into another period of holiday excesses of food and spirit. In addition to the culinary trials of this season, all of my known children are male and have birthdays in December. I am hit with the double whammy of one young man turning 18 and the other, 16. Let this be fair warning to all who venture out on the highways of East Tennessee! In the next few days, my youngest will become legally able to attack the highways and low-ways of Greater Glen Alice, Tennessee, in a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds and with enough horsepower to attain greater than legal speed. I have warned him of the severe consequences of misbehavior, but we'll have to see what happens.

We do our homework and take our chances, eh? Watch out for him, please?

This time of year has religion everywhere. Too bad! We could just celebrate the cycles of our planet and the seasonal blessings we share. WE have such great capacity for enjoyment, but we rarely use it to the fullest. I have thought that, Of all the directions we could have evolved, all of them require the capacity to enjoy our very existance. Every creature, plant, and lowly fungus must receive reward on some level for surviving to the next instant of time. Otherwise it wouldn't survive for very long, unless, like my Irish grandmother for example, we become able to enjoy ourselves only in misery? Why some folks enjoy a good cry escapes me.

Over the millenia, humans have created mythologies and religions to explain why things suck sometimes. There should be a happier way, but with religion, things get to be blamed on this or that diety and we are off the hook. By the way, just as a point of discussion, consider that a belief system is called a religion if it corresponds to your own, and a mythology if it doesn't.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could set aside our predjudices each year at this time and have honest discussions about religion? Instead, we get all the pomp and circumstance, and watch as religious designees ceremoniously wave around the symbol of an execution by the state. Personally, I think Brother Paul royally screwed up a fairly nice religion when his surrogates supplanted the fish symbol with that of the cross. We went from a symbol of sharing and giving and life... to a symbol of vengence and death. I reject this. I prefer the fish and actually detest the very idea represented by the cross as it is presented in today's fundie churches.

Sorry for those who are offended. If you are offended, incidentally, ask yourself exactly why? By the way, Did you know that "Jesus Christ" is a title and not a name? I don't know what his name was but a literal translation of "jesus" is something like "one who has olive oil in his hair". He was quite the dashing figure in those times and had a pretty good message, too! Too bad the so called religious right has squandered that message. Too bad the rest of us let them gain control of our Nation. We had our chance to lead the whole wide world into a peaceful time like Jesus wanted and we didn't. Perhaps we still can...I hope so, and that is I why I write.

Today, on a point by point basis, our nation"s leadership bears a near total resemblance to the Pharisees of biblical times. Jesus was a victim of torture and execution not an advocate of such vile things as is our President. Even so, there is hope. The followers of the one who had olive oil in his hair were definite underdogs and they came through.

Right now today in America, there are, at a minimum, 57,288,974 people in our country who do not want it going in the direction it is headed. A mere 2.8% more than that voted for Bush. That means that we only have to change the minds of less than 1.5% of the voters to win next time. (Jeff, you pay attention this time) That is a very close election...The closets ever for a war time President. In the mean time we must become the loyal opposition in a big way. America does not exist to serve the President...It is the other way around, and boy does this administration have it backwards.

Fifty Seven million people feeling the same way you do is a lot! The other side does not have that many hungry lions. So folks, This is not the time to give up, but just the opposite.

America, how will you respond?

Peace on Earth, Good will toward mankind?



Thursday, December 02, 2004

It's been fun to read your responses to the lyric and poetry. Most folks who replied got the Stones lyrics with Jagger and Richardson getting the credit for those two, Street Fighting Man" and "Shot away".

I don't think but one person actually got the Steppenwolf song, "Monster". Kelly H, you win the prize, a big warm fuzzy. (You didn't think there was anything of actual value involved , did you? I'm way too cheep for that. ;>)Yeah, several sent in the right answer but I think they had to research it. I had heard it recently on radio 105.3, my new favorite in the Knoxville/East Tennesee area. There is such good music being made...We just have to make them play it for us. Corporate Radio or no corporations, they'll give us what we want or we'll turn them off.

I saw John Kay and Steppenwolf play live, a million years ago at least...OK, late sixties or maybe even early seventies, it all runs together for some reason..Oh, wow, man...the colors!

Well, Not... actually. For some unknown reason I was the designated driver in the sixties. My first experience with acid was watching a bunch of stoned college students try to deal with a friend who was having the trip from hell and as a result it all looked really unattractive to a kid who was trying to hang on to reality in an unreal world to start with. I'll just drive the van for all of us, thank you.

We are going round the same bend today. I worry about my kids trying to make sense of this world. Any thinking person knows that those in power are lying and doing really bad things in the name of America. That is why the song I quoted you yesterday is so relevant even though it is nearly forty years old. Here is the last half of the song by John Kay and Jerry Edmonton. Read it and see if it doesn't hold up a mirror that shows us today in yesterday:

... The spirit was freedom and justice
And its keepers seemed generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won't pay it no mind
Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
Now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it's all just an echo of what they've been told

Yeah, there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watching

The cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is strangling the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can't understand
We don't know how to mind our own business
'Cause the whole world's got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who's the winner we can't pay the cost

'Cause there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watching

America, where are you now
Don't you care about your sons and daughters
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster

Here's a link to the whole song. It is an anthem for now!

It is a call to action!


The poetry seems to have woken some of you up. I appreciate your sending me your personal recommendations. Denise reminded me of Richard Brautigan with these bits:

War Horse

He stands alone in a pasture
but nobody can see him.

He has been made invisible
by his own wounds.

I know how he feels.



I was dive-bombing the lower
emotions on a typical yesterday
I had sworn never to do it again.
I guess never's too long a time to stay
out of the cockpit
with the wind screaming down the wings
and the target almost praying itself into your

Brautigan was an example of the emotional wreck I spoke of. Ultimately taking his own life, he left us with such jewels as "On Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork" , "In Watermelon Sugar", and, if you only read one book by him, "Confederate General from Big Sur", in which you will learn that the battle cry "Campbell Soup!" silences the frogs.

You folks know I am a Howard Dean fan. Dean is still very active and intent on reforming the Democaratic Party, labelling it "Rotten with the culture of losing!" Here's a report on Howard's recent speech. I strongly recommend you read it. Randy and Tommy, I mean you two especially!

With republicans wearing god as a lapel pin, even Howard Dean had to speak out:

... Jesus, he declared, was about including the downtrodden, and the Republicans, with their insistence on public displays of religion, resemble nothing more than the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

And now our bible verse for today's study session:

"As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great and waxen rich... they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? (Jeremiah 5:27-29)."

And the first verse of monster in the words of the prophet Steppenwolf saith again,

Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of kingdom and pope
Like good Christians, some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

Here is the rest of the lesson, It's not what you think:



I read a lot.

What I do for a living is fairly technical and I spend a fair amount of time looking at numbers and drawing fine lines on a computer screen. Work comes in intensive spurts with times of nothing and then everything. It's probably a good type of work for a slightly compulsive slightly obsessive personality like me, but it fosters a kind of tunnel vision that only other obsessives will understand.

A tunnel is a difficult place to create from within and I have, over the years, developed resources to break my thinking patterns out of the hole I wind up in so often when I work on a project. I think about something else for a while and then go back to the project with fresh eyes and mind. Since there is rarely enough time to let things flow naturally, I have learned to force them.

I am an outdoor type of guy, my clothes very often smell like a campfire, but not often enough. I am a good shot with a rifle. I hike in difficult places. So what do I do to free my mind? I do what a man who tries to consider himself a strong, rugged, individualist must poetry.

I have learned to make Google, the Internet search engine, walk and talk for me. I have a talent for Boolean algebra, the language of Google, and can say "I want you to find me something about 'this' not 'that' in such a way as to find poetry about what ever subject is on my mind at the moment. The best poets are emotional wrecks and, no matter how rough I am feeling, I can read certain writers and think, "Boy, things is tough, right now but they are dang sure better than what this guy was going through." It is the literate equivalent of "The Young and Restless", but the morality play is often more relevant in poetry than soap opera, wringing more emotion per word out of the reader than should be allowed at times. A favorite of mine is Robert Frost. By some accounts he was a difficult person to spend much time around in person, and I have to limit my time around him now to short bursts of intent reading or he will overwhelm my defenses and I will get angry or hurt or something and not just engage in thoughtful reflection of his words. Such is the power of great poets.

Oddly, even those quasi poets, more prone to doggerel than epic, hit the right note from time to time, as I think you will see if you've made it this far.

An excerpt from Frost:

“OH, let’s go up the hill and scare ourselves,
“If it scares you, what will it do to us?”

“Scare you. But if you shrink from being scared,
What would you say to war if it should come?
That’s what for reasons I should like to know—
If you can comfort me by any answer.”

“Oh, but war’s not for children—it’s for men.”

My dears, my dears, you thought that—we all thought it.
So your mistake was ours. Haven’t you heard, though,
About the ships where war has found them out
At sea, about the towns where war has come
Through opening clouds at night with droning speed
Further o’erhead than all but stars and angels,—
And children in the ships and in the towns?
Haven’t you heard what we have lived to learn?
Nothing so new—something we had forgotten:

War is for everyone, for children too.
I wasn’t going to tell you and I mustn’t.

Out here in the woods we like to gather friends for a bonfire in the field. Our last one on Thanksgiving night had the added benefit of a near full moon. We were safe in the field having had rain recently and a fire ring surrounded by large rocks. Robert Frost speaks of a metaphorical fire that is meant to scare, but it gets away and bridges the gap from imagined to actual physical threat. I have run across no better metaphor for our country's situation today. here is the entire poem:

robert frost

And now the writers of doggerel:


Ev'rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy

Hey! Think the time is right for a palace revolution
'Cauce where I live the game to play is compromise solution

Hey! Said my name is called disturbance
I'll shout and scream, I'll kill the king, I'll rail at all his servants

Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
There's no place for a street fighting man

and then...

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin'
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away


The floods is threat'ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away

All right, without using a search engine yourselves, tell me who wrote those two pieces of great literature? The first few will be recognized herein, a great honor!..but then this is actually too easy, eh?


I believe that the highest degree of personal growth comes when things are bad. This is a precept of Darwinian theory...

Bad times are a knot hole that only certain entities can pass through.

This is called a "filter" in the textbooks that we don't have too many of here in Tennessee. Anyway, my country is going to be crammed through one of those knotholes, here in a bit. We'll see what makes it through to the other side between now and 2008.

A phenomenon of the recent election is a web site that apologizes to the whole world for the situation in America. We did not do our job and the rest of the world will suffer for a little while until the power of our country is diminished to the point where world events will not hinge on which political party has control over our Military.

It was a close election but it seems to have fallen over the precipice that will give us four more years of anti-environmentalism and war as the tool of first choice in international relations. For this, it is felt by many that we owe the world our apologies and here is the site that has been created. It is a fascinating display of street art as it has become in these times.


And, while we wonder where the real Christians are in America, we are given proof that the ideal of forgiveness still exists in the rest of the world by virtue of this web site:

Some of these are clunky and rough, but some are beautiful and peace giving:


So we are squirming our way through the knothole and what will we get to on the other side? I hope it is a little breathing room...If we don't learn our lesson soon, it will just be another knot hole...only smaller!