Saturday, April 18, 2009

This Is Lisa; This Is Lisa Commuting With Her Husband

All for real, Lisa and her husband. Far too much fun not to post. For all fans of the blogger formerly known as DCup, this is just a treat.

Leave Wal-Mart out of it. More vaginas, though, definitely.

My Current Obsession

I have always been fascinated by ghosts. This is a kind of generalized thing in our family, too. Now, I have had some interesting stuff happen to me, including a very scary event in my parents' house when I was in high school (never repeated, though), and some interesting stuff at my oldest sister's house. So, when I discovered a show called Ghost Hunters was actually in its fourth season, well, I was all over it.

Now, I don't want you to think I've lost my mind. I am truly agnostic about what occurs on this show. The whole thing, while posing as a "reality show" could, in fact, be staged. My own favorite moments tend to be the discovery of what are known as EVPs, a phenomenon in which sounds like voices are recorded, sounds not heard at the time. While as many as fifty percent of the described "EVPs" on the show might also be nothing more than aural illusions, the brains connecting unconnected sounds to create a patterns (much the way we see constellations in the stars, or faces in photographs that aren't really there). On the other hand, there have been more than few things that have happened that, while not giving me the creeps necessarily, are most definitely interesting.

In the season finale last year, the TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society, based in Warwick, RI) was investigating a closed-down sanitarium in Clovis, CA. In this clip, the two leaders, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson (plumbers by trade) are trying to chase down the source of some sounds they have heard but cannot pinpoint. What happens toward the end of this clip, well, I'll just post it:

Some other highlights are the investigation of the lighthouse in St. Augustine, FL; an abandoned sanitorium, Waverly Hills, outside Lexington, KY; the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, and of Leap Castle in Ireland. There is a spin-off, Ghost Hunters International that has been a whole lot of fun, too.

Dana Milbank Hackfully Dismisses Complaints He's A Hack

I shouldn't have, but Dana Milbank's column in the Post really is an exercise in cluelessness.
On Tuesday, I learned that I am a right-wing hack. I am not a journalist. I am typical of the right wing. I am why newspapers are going broke. I write garbage. I am angry with Barack Obama. I misquote Obama. I am bitter. I am a certified idiot. I am lame. I am a Republican flack.

On Thursday, I realized that I am a media pimp with my lips on Obama's butt. I am a bleeding-heart liberal who wants nothing more than for the right to fall on its face. I am part of the ObamaMedia. I am pimping for the left. I am carrying water for Obama. Lord, am I an idiot.

Since both these positions contain ideological elements that cannot coexist, is it necessary to conclude they are both false?

Actually he doesn't do that. What he does, however, is even less intelligent and artful.
The comments are naturally an unscientific indicator, but the impression I got is consistent with what I've heard from colleagues: The vitriol of last year's presidential campaign has outlasted the election. For the right, this isn't terribly surprising; their guys lost the White House in 2008 and control of both chambers of Congress in 2006, so lashing out in frustration is to be expected. The left, however, is more difficult to explain. It made sense for them to be angry when George W. Bush was in the White House. But now, even under Obama, the anger on the left is, if anything, more personal and vitriolic than on the right.

Rather than deal with the substantive issues - the very idea that Dana Milbank is a clueless reciter of conventional wisdom is impossible for Dana Milbank to contemplate - he asks a question that redirects the entire issue to those who have left comments in his online columns. He isn't a clueless hack, "the left" is angry!

First of all, to dismiss "the right"'s anger as understandable - and the substance of which we really need not concern ourselves with - shows that Milbank really hasn't been paying attention recently. While media clowns from Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh certainly are entertaining in a sick kind of way, the expression of racist and mindless political complaints verge on the scary; how many times do we have to hear these people use the word "revolution" before we realize that, some of them, are quite serious? Milbank certainly doesn't; the expression of popular political outrage just isn't his purview, apparently.

Second, the real Left in the United States is almost non-existent. There are liberals, to be sure, of various shades; there are the self-labeled Progressives, who exist further to the left than conventional liberals. Real, hard-core left-wingers - socialists and communists shading in to one another - are certainly out there, but have no impact on our political life. Furthermore, it shouldn't surprise anyone with a modicum of political sense that "the Left" in the United States, such as it may be, would be dismayed with the Obama Administration. Hewing a pretty conventional line, it exists completely within acceptable limits of political discourse and practice, although a portion of it that has been sidelined and even ridiculed for decades.

So much for part of Milbank's phony bit of wonderment. Second, the "anger" Milbank deals with is almost wholly anger directed at himself and his colleagues in the punditry. So, of course, it's all about him. Sigh.
So why is the left so angry? I don't know (I'm an idiot), so I put the question to the readers in my weekly online chat on Friday.

A reader from Rockville described it as a "sore winner" phenomenon. "People get used to being angry and when things change, they don't. So they find stuff to be mad about." Another said that some on the left "feel obligated to stay in the fight" because of the harsh treatment of Obama by the right.

But many focused on a frustration on the left caused by Obama's centrism -- his opposition to prosecuting those involved with torture, for example. "I am angry because the whole Republican party has not been rounded up and thrown into a black site," one wrote. A reader in Evanston, Ill., took a similar view, that true believers on the left don't want "b.s. rhetoric about looking forward." Okay, but why wouldn't this be directed at Obama? Readers explained that some of it is. But, "if we yell obscenities at Obama," replied a reader in Dunnellon, Fla., "we get a visit from the Secret Service. Yelling them at you is worry-free."

So the angry left should thank me: I'm taking one for the team.

The "left" isn't institutionally angry. On the contrary; we tend to push a far more positive view both of the potential of this country and its people as well as have a far more hopeful approach to broader participation in public affairs. The anger that Milbank has directed at him lies precisely at his cluelessness in the face of this anger. Rather than deal substantively with it - perhaps calling Obama's speech on mortgage refinancing a commercial for on-line lending, he might deal with the substantive policy aspects of mortgage refinancing in a time of financial and economic meltdown - he dismisses these complaints of his powerful intellect and humorous insight as, well, anger for anger's sake.

Finally, in regards the last comment Milbank cites, I would say that I have seen more than enough criticism of Obama and his Administration online to dismiss the idea that the entire phenomenon is some kind of massive example of misdirection. On the contrary, it is directed quite honestly at the kind of hack-filled dismissal and condescension apparent in this very column.

Saturday Rock Show

This is Black Sabbath, posing as Heaven and Hell for legal and other reasons, doing their Dio-era song, "I", which has quite the nice little punch. I like any song that wrestles with the confusions of identity we all experience.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Atrios is right. We are laughing at you. The hilarity is almost nonstop. There is nothing serious here. There is no movement. As the video here shows, these people have no idea about history, what they are protesting, and some are so ignorant they are almost inarticulate. This isn't made-up stuff. This is who is left holding the teabag - ignoramuses mad as heck because the evil liberals won an election and are actually doing the stuff they said they would do.

I also agree with atrios that they should do this as often as possible. Let the teabagging continue, from sea to shining sea. Let the sun never set on the teabaggers. The entire thing is a wonderful exercise in how years of really stupid public discourse has created a situation where people dumb as a bag of bricks assume that, just because we are writing about them, we must be . . . afraid . . . of them. While I do not like to repeat myself, once again may I just say - We think you are so damn funny, we want more not less of you. While you go off ranting about tyranny, getting Gov. Rick Perry of Texas talking about secession, the President and Congress and the vast majority of the American people who support both the Democratic Party and its policy agenda can go about the business of saving the country from what eight years under people like you have done. So, please, gather together and teabag to your heart's content.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rush Loves Pirates

Next thing you know, he'll be arguing that we should have held hands and sung "Kum Ba Yah".
RUSH: You know what we have learned about the Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers that were wiped out at the order of Barack Obama, you know what we learned about them? They were teenagers. The Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers who took a US merchant captain hostage for five days were inexperienced youths, the defense secretary, Roberts Gates, said yesterday, adding that the hijackers were between 17 and 19 years old. Now, just imagine the hue and cry had a Republican president ordered the shooting of black teenagers on the high seas. Greetings and welcome back, Rush Limbaugh, the Excellence in Broadcasting Network and the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies.

They were kids. The story is out, I don't know if it's true or not, but apparently the hijackers, these kids, the merchant marine organizers, Muslim kids, were upset, they wanted to just give the captain back and head home because they were running out of food, they were running out of fuel, they were surrounded by all these US Navy ships, big ships, and they just wanted out of there. That's the story, but then when one of them put a gun to the back of the captain, Mr. Phillips, then bam, bam, bam. There you have it, and three teenagers shot on the high seas at the order of President Obama.

A Teabagging We Will Go (UPDATED with video)

It seems that the right is truly clueless. A couple months ago, they decided to set up nationwide anti-tax protests and attempt to cover them in a blanket of patriotic respectability, linking them to the anti-tea tax "Tea Party" in Boston of colonial days. Unfortunately, they chose as their nom de protest a phrase that conjures up images of a gayer sort, and have been the butt of ridicule ever since. No amount of huffing and harrumphing from them changes the fact that a bunch of anti-gay bigots decided to use a term for testicle stimulation for their movement.

Tax day is always a fun one. For some reason, people in the news business decide that it is necessary to interview, or cover, "anti-tax protests". Many years ago, on C-SPAN, I saw a speech by some guy who went out of his way while giving a speech to declare the income tax unconstitutional. No one pointed out the following:

Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Now, my wife and I paid our taxes all through the Bush years, when our money went to fund everything from the Iraq war to hush money to the guy Cheney shot in the face. We did so even though it continues to be a burden, not only because it's the law, but because it feels like one of those days where we do some serious participation in national affairs. No one likes to pay taxes, but you know what? It reminds me, at least, that I am an American.

Anyway, the teabaggers picked April 15th to stage their "nationwide protests" and the results are mostly funny, with occasional hilarity and a smattering of scary. They have turned from being anti-tax to a kind of generalized anti-Obama rallies (tea shirts with the words "Chairman Maobama" proliferate alongside signs declaring him a fascist; cleverness isn't a strong suit among the right). Coming on the heels of the leak yesterday of a DHS report on right-wing domestic terrorism, it seems the FBI has their job of monitoring these people made much easier.

The teabaggers aren't a threat. They aren't the beginnings of some nascent anti-Obama movement that will sweep Republicans back in to office next year, and the White House in 2012. On the contrary, they are a bunch of ridiculous sheep being led around by very rich patrons. One hilarious aspect is highlighted by Josh Marshall:
DON'T BE DUPED! The term "teabagging" has strong sexual connotations. Be wary of anyone with a camera asking you if you are a "teabagger" or if you enjoy "teabagging" or similar leading questions - they are trying to make a fool of you.(emphasis added)

Trust me. That wouldn't be hard.

Like all the right-wing attempts at restoring their broken brand - Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, Rush the Party Chief, Newt Gingrich's rehabilitation tour - it is more a source of laughter than anything else. A hint would be this - since you're not laughing, it might be a clue that we are laughing at you.

UPDATE: I know that Bob Somerby thinks this is reprehensible. I think it is necessary to just laugh at how funny and stupid they are. This is like an entendre-fest:

This is LOL of Epic Fail proportions.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Columbine High School Ten Years After

Everyone who was even semi-conscious a decade ago remembers what happened. Unfortunately, according to a report in USAToday, most of what we claim we know, from the social status of Harris and Klebold, to specific accounts from the killing floor of the high school, is wrong.
They weren't goths or loners.

The two teenagers who killed 13 people and themselves at suburban Denver's Columbine High School 10 years ago next week weren't in the "Trenchcoat Mafia," disaffected videogamers who wore cowboy dusters. The killings ignited a national debate over bullying, but the record now shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn't been bullied — in fact, they had bragged in diaries about picking on freshmen and "fags."


A decade after Harris and Klebold made Columbine a synonym for rage, new information — including several books that analyze the tragedy through diaries, e-mails, appointment books, videotape, police affidavits and interviews with witnesses, friends and survivors — indicate that much of what the public has been told about the shootings is wrong.


What's left, after peeling away a decade of myths, is perhaps more comforting than the "good kids harassed into retaliation" narrative — or perhaps not.

It's a portrait of Harris and Klebold as a sort of In Cold Blood criminal duo — a deeply disturbed, suicidal pair who over more than a year psyched each other up for an Oklahoma City-style terrorist bombing, an apolitical, over-the-top revenge fantasy against years of snubs, slights and cruelties, real and imagined.

Along the way, they saved money from after-school jobs, took Advanced Placement classes, assembled a small arsenal and fooled everyone — friends, parents, teachers, psychologists, cops and judges.

"These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation," psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. "These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems."


At the time, Columbine became a kind of giant national Rorschach test. Observers saw its genesis in just about everything: lax parenting, lax gun laws, progressive schooling, repressive school culture, violent video games, antidepressant drugs and rock 'n' roll, for starters.

Many of the Columbine myths emerged before the shooting stopped, as rumors, misunderstandings and wishful thinking swirled in an echo chamber among witnesses, survivors, officials and the news media.

Police contributed to the mess by talking to reporters before they knew facts — a hastily called news conference by the Jefferson County sheriff that afternoon produced the first headline: "Twenty-five dead in Colorado."

A few inaccuracies took hours to clear up, but others took weeks or months — sometimes years — as authorities reluctantly set the record straight.

In the wake of Columbine, some people who were prominent at the time - Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay in particular - went on record blaming "liberalism" and the theory of evolution, respectively, for the events. While it might seem far better to pass over nonsense like this in silent derision, we should note that Gingrich, at least, is still appearing on television, still mouthing off. It might not be a bad idea on this tenth anniversary of these horrible events to ask him about his views in light of the information now available. While I doubt contrition would occur, it might be at least possible that he would admit the facts are far different from what we were given at the time.

What's most surprising about this detailed report is how unsurprising it all is. That one of the pair was a full-fledged psychopath, the other a clinically depressed youth, easily manipulated perhaps by his more flamboyant and intelligent partner makes far more sense than the whole "bullied-goths-and-gamers-getting-revenge" scenario. This latter fiction, created as much by a lack of facts and treating high school rumor and confession as having any merit at all, served only to confuse matters. The author of this summary is to be commended for putting in the public realm a wonderful summary of the reality behind the many myths of that very horrible day.

Matt Yglesias On Ideas In Political Discourse

Surprise! I would read a post about the role of political philosophy, link to it, quote it, and discuss it. Unfortunately, the link to the article that prompted the post - on alleged "anti-intellectualism" (God, I hate that term) - does not work, so we are kind of reading St. Paul's letters here, i.e., replying to things without any specific references, trying to reconstruct them as best we can.
I think that the questions that political philosophers have taken to debating professionally in recent decades have a limited relevance to contemporary politics. But I think a number of fairly abstract misguided ideas in ethics, political philosophy, and economics have come to have extraordinary cultural and political power in the United States and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the English speaking world, all to incredibly pernicious effect. What’s more, though most of these ideas are propounded, originally, by people whose degrees are in economics most of them are really ideas of a philosophical character.

Which ideas?

Well I’d say one important set of ideas is the perverse notion that it’s wrong or inappropriate to subject people to moral criticism for making selfish decisions as long as the decisions don’t involve breaking the law. I’ve been writing a bit about this lately with respect to greedy financiers, but it’s a more general thing. If a person announced to his friends and family “I’m going to steal $17 billion from aspiring college students and give the money to banks” we would expect a degree of shock and ostracism to follow. Indeed, if a person said “I’m going to pick a student’s pocket at rob him of $17″ we would expect some shock and ostracism.


Another example is that, as Brad DeLong pointed out yesterday, economists’ protestations that they’re doing value-free social science actually embeds an implicit idea that “that shifts in distribution are of no account–which can be true only if the social welfare function gives everybody a weight inversely proportional to their marginal utility of wealth.” In other words, under guise of eschewing values, economics has adopted a philosophical value system which says that the well-being of rich people is more important than the well-being of poor people. Nobody ever says “social welfare function” when engaging in practical political debate, but the idea that not caring about distribution constitutes some kind of neutral middle ground is an important underlying premise of much practical political debate, and it’s viability stems from the fact that everyone remembers being taught that this is true in their Economics 101 courses.

As a third example, as a society we’ve become accustomed to the idea that when empirical evidence seems to contradict basic economic theory—as when the United States experienced rapid economic growth under conditions of widespread unionization and a high minimum wage—that we ought to accept the theory as true. This, again, is usually a claim you hear being made by economists, but its social prestige ultimately is a kind of idea in epistemology or the philosophy of science. And all this, of course, is to say nothing of the specific influence of particular empirical claims in economics which hold that high levels of taxation and government spending are everywhere and always economically destructive.

A big part of changing America is much more practical interventions into specific elections, congressional debates, media controversies, etc. But ultimately I do think that these big ideas matter as well. They’re enormously important in terms of setting the terms of political debate, in terms of influence what’s considered “possible” and what kinds of people have standing to have their views taken seriously. Building a better world ultimately requires getting people to understand that both the empirical and philosophical underpinnings of America’s free market society are much weaker than is generally understood.

What is important to note here is that Yglesias is taking some pretty abstruse philosophical positions and plugging in names and (corporate) faces and making them real. Philosophy, properly understood, isn't at all about "first principles" (what ever they might be). It's about taking a moment to figure out what's going on in the world.

As long as one is explicit about one's preferences, the joints and marrow of one's own web of beliefs and desires, and is willing to risk a clash over these, then we have the makings of serious public fun. For the most part, liberals have shied away from taking on conservatives on this very point - conceding the very ground, for example, on matters of political economy rather than challenging them - because liberals begin by conceding the mundane reality that conservative and liberal sets of beliefs are equally valid for those who share them, rather than insisting that just for that very reason it is important to take on the notion that the conservative set is vulnerable to the criticism that it has no prior claim upon us.

I also think Yglesias' point about the priority of a theory that aligns with empirical studies is important, but is also subject to the same criticism. After all, people can find fault with just about any empirical study and set of data (we have been having this discussion far too long not to recognize how muddied the waters have become on this very point). He and I and others may valorize these kinds of things, but that doesn't make them Gospel. They are just our preferences.

In any case, his more basic point - ideas matter - is demonstrably true, and needs to be remembered as we move along.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Right Is Wrong - And They Doubt The American Military

The resolution of the standoff with the Somali pirates - using the Navy SEALS and snipers to remove the immediate threat and then rescuing the freighter captain - shows, once again, how cool Obama is. He didn't make a "crisis" or "test" out of this. It was a situation to be dealt with. My guess is it took a few days to get all the pieces in place before the operation could take place; more than likely that was why the FBI hostage negotiation team was brought in - buy time. With this operation, my guess is it is far less likely American-flagged freighters will have troubles with the pirates.

What's most hilarious about this is the way the folks on the right, and Fox News blabbers managed a wrongness that should be remembered forever after. From Daily Kos, here's a nice summary, with reality entering at the end to put an end to the fantasy-mongering:

Music For Your Monday

A few weeks ago, I featured some amazing guitar work. Today, I would like to enter realms undreamed. The whole thing began because a friend of mine emailed me a link to the first video here - the John Butler Trio doing "Ocean". First of all, I dig the hair. I want that hair. Second, please note that he actually plays an 11-string; he has removed the high G-string, which is practical as it is usually the first to go.

This is Dominic Frasca. This is a 10-string classical guitar. This is a sample of some seriously awesome playing. And, yes, that is a c-clamp holding down one string at one point.

Finally, a pair from an artist whose last name is Hettory. Here he demonstrates a double-tapping technique on a Chapman-stick-like guitar. This is "Dedication".

Here is Hettory with his trio in El Paso, TX. I post this because at one point he plays two guitars simultaneously. This is "Inner Funk" - and it does, indeed, appeal to the inner funk in me . . .

Sunday, April 12, 2009


My cousin has inspired a bit of nostalgia in me. This is off the usual, beaten path of this blog, but so what?

If there is any year in my childhood and youth that stands out for me, it is 1977. 1981 comes in a close second, but after sitting down and listing all that happened in just the first eight months of that year, I realized nothing compared to it.

In January, my oldest sister got married. I remember most two things. First, it was snowing like crazy. All day. Drive up. All day during. I think it actually got worse on the way home. At the beginning of the reception, my new brother-in-law was popping a bottle of champagne, and the cork ricocheted off the low drop-ceiling and hit my mother in the chest. I remember thinking, "That's no way to start out an in-law relationship." Also, I remember, on the drive home, hearing some song by the rock band Heart on the radio; it made such an impression on me that, forever after, whenever I hear them, I think of that day.

Later that spring, in May, this same sister graduated from college, SUNY Brockport. I remember hanging out in the little apartment they lived in - I wish I could remember the tiny town! - and reading a book about the Lizzy Borden murders. That, and the ceremony itself seemed to take for-freaking-ever. Oh, and we had dinner at this restaurant and I ordered Lake Ontario-caught lake trout, and they brought me "fish-on-a-plate", the whole thing, head and all. I ate it, but it was the first time I ever ate an animal that was looking at me doing so.

A month later, late June, and it was my brother's turn to graduate. Usually, the ceremony was outside in the HS football stadium, but storm clouds threatened, and for the first time in years, the ceremony was held inside in the high school auditorium. Afterward, the sky was a beautiful lightshow, but it was raining harder than I had ever seen before.

That summer was the most eventful of my young life. First, the pool at the high school was open every day, from one pm until 3:00; for a quarter, my friend Kenny and I would enjoy almost daily fun (the next year, we would ride our bikes to the Sayre high school pool, which was open until 5:00 and charged the same as the Waverly pool). Nights were spent at my friend Mike's house, playing "Jail Break", a kind of group hide and seek. We managed to get neighbors up and down the street to give us permission to ramble through their yards after dark, and the games seemed, in memory at least, to never end. Indeed, they usually just petered out into weird, surreal events barely remembered.

On the way to the high school, daily, some folks would blast out the Fleetwood Mac album Rumors. I can't here any of the songs of that LP without thinking of those summer days.

My first nephew was born in July. July 5th actually (his sister was born on December 26th; my sister's clock was off just slightly). I went to my first camping experience in the middle of the month, and was surprised to be picked up by my brother and my brother-in-law; I came home to meet my new nephew, two weeks old and all red and newborn. He was the most beautiful baby I would ever see until my daughters were born.

In August, my older sister graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. We made the trip from our home in two days - a glorious trip that included a stay at some motel in Tennessee, and a stop for directions in Jackson, MS that made my mother burst out laughing at the depth of the accent on the young man who gave us directions. The night we arrived in Hattiesburg, I went with my father to the local McDonalds to pick up eats for us all, and my father got talking to a man who, I think I recall, was the night manager there. It was the first of many times this weird connection would occur; the man knew, through business contacts, a man who quite literally lived down the street from us. We had traveled 1500 miles, entering a totally different world, and yet . . . we weren't very far from home at all.

To my mind, the highlight of the trip wasn't the graduation (a long night in the domed coliseum), but the next day's trip to New Orleans. First, that was the day that Groucho Marx died (we received the news of Elvis' death on the road). Second, the French Quarter was, to this then-eleven-year-old, an exotic place, full of strange and wonderful shops. I went in to a voodoo shop, where an old woman, blind and obese (probably from diabetes) sat and smiled and chatted about what a "sweet spirit" I had. I explored the little gardens in the squares within a couple of the blocks; entrance was gained through old gates, some of them rusty. I sat on the banks of the Mississippi near Jackson Square Park (I wouldn't cross it until I was an adult). We ate a picnic on Pontchartrain, and my brother was attacked by fire ants (I still laugh at that), and on the way back to the city, we went through a zoo and my sister insisted she wanted to see an emu. Sure enough, around the next bend there was . . . an emu.

The night life along Bourbon St. was a revelation for me. Jazz and strip clubs, complete freedom without any bad vibes. I had my first-ever vision of the nude female form, and it formed a life-long impression on me (I hope, for the good).

Back home, and a couple weeks later, I went with my father to take my brother to college - Clarkson College (as it was then) in Potsdam, NY, which is almost as far north as you can go before you start speaking French Canadian.

Anyone like to share their most memorable events/times/years?

"Bo" Is Arabic For "Kill American White Men"

I was going to avoid politics today, but part of me couldn't resist.

I was also discouraged because Tbogg beat me to the punch, in a way.
JammieWearingFool seems unhappy because the Obama's named their dog Bo. Better safe than sorry. Had the first family named their dog something like Allahu Akbark, it might have been enough to send someone on a cop-killing spree.

See, the Obamas have chosen a puppy for their girls, as he promised on election night. Now, I read the other day that the breeder who provided a German Shepherd to the Bidens has been so inundated by stupid, hateful correspondence of various kinds, she regrets ever doing this (most of it came from animal-rights people who insisted that the Bidens "should have" taken a puppy from a shelter, say; that they might actually want a German Shepherd apparently makes no difference, because like all radicals, these people are really quite stupid). I wonder if the previous owner of the puppy bought by the President and First Lady for their daughters will receive the same treatment.

Now, the title here refers to this wonderful little tidbit from the "mind" of Frank Gaffney. I honestly don't know what to say about what follows other than, perhaps, the medication ran out right before the show began.
GAFFNEY: I think what he is using is code — … When he uses the word “respect,” in the context of a waist-bow to the king of Saudi Arabia, for example, and talks about respectful language, which is code for those who adhere to Sharia that we will submit to Sharia. We will submit to the kind of program –

SHUSTER: We have to know the code? We all have to know the code to understand how we’re making ourselves more vulnerable? … David Corn was asking you for a specific example, and you’re referring to code. You’re referring to code!

GAFFNEY: I’m telling you the code as they receive it in the Taliban headquarters and in al Qaeda’s cave and in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They perceive this as submission.

See what I mean?

Personally, I'm still laughing over "Allahu Akbark".

Early In The Morning Our Songs Shall Rise To Thee

Mourning Into Dancing

This is the day when we Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Trying to understand this is a bit like trying to understand four-dimensional mathematics. While it is certainly possible to talk about such a creature, even write the equations out, it is actually impossible to create a physical representation of such equations. The so-called four-dimensional cube - the teseract - exists only as a theoretical construct for the very practical reason that there is no fourth physical dimension for the next set of angles to project 90 degress out from. Does a teseract exist? The equations certainly say so.

The analogy, like all such, is imperfect. The risen Christ is a reality for us; but, like the teseract, of what that reality consists is something we cannot grasp. Part of the problem in dealing with the question of the resurrection of Jesus is the simple fact that this is not something for which we have any categories for understanding. This is not a resuscitation, a "coming back to life" in the way medical science does for us. It isn't anything anyone has experienced, before or since. That it is, we declare without fear. What it is, well, how do you talk about something for which there not ony is no precedent, but no understanding?

Jesus tried with the Sadducees, who tried to trip up Jesus with questions about the law and its applicability after the resurrection. Paul tried in his letter to the Corinthians when he wrote about "spiritual bodies", although one gets the sense from reading the passage in the fifteenth chapter that Paul is straining to make sense without conceding the completely "new" involved. When presenting various bits of resurrection accounts, there are hints of this wholly new reality in the confession that various people who knew Jesus did not recognize him. How could they? They were confronted not with the Jesus with whom they were familiar, but Jesus raised from the dead. Not "brought back to life" like Lazarus, say, or the boy raised by Elijah in the Old Testament, or the girl raised by Jesus. This is something wholly new, wholly different - a taste of what is to come.

We stand in the light of this new day, this day when we remember that everything has, indeed, changed, and rather than sit around and try to figure out "the physics of resurrection", say, or "the biology of the New Creation" - we need to declare the reality of the resurrection for us. We need to live as if this new reality were completely around us - and have eyes to see where it peeks at us through the shadows.

We need to have the faith that stands in the graveyard and does a little dance. The grave upon which we dance is our own. Not just the little plot of land in which our dead bodies will be placed (or, in my case, where a little marker will be placed because my ashes will be scattered somewhere); but this whole world whose first unspoken assumption is that this little plot of land is the final answer. We see it in our politics. We see it in our culture. We see it in our medical science where death, not dehumanization through the imposition of technology, is "the enemy". We see it in our art. We try to shield our children from the reality of death, claiming "they won't understand", when I have come to remember and see in my childrens' eyes and words that there isn't much to understand, and they get it just fine. Just as I did.

How hard is it to understand? It is part of our set of reality, after all.

Resurrection, though . . . Just dance, man. Find the beat and go.

Virtual Tin Cup

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