Sunday, October 31, 2004

More Dissent in the Ranks

Guess what. It's not just liberals who are complaining about President Bush and his administration. I have seen more and more rank and file republicans -- conservative republicans, mind you -- voicing their disappointment. Just this weekend, I received the following information in an email from COME BACK TO THE MAINSTREAM, a nationwide association of Republicans (leaders, former officials, and other individuals) concerned about the direction of the G.O.P. -------------------------------- Four leading conservatives have released statements voicing concerns about the direction of the Bush Administration and leadership of the Republican party,“Conversations with Conservatives.” These short video commentaries offer in depth analysis of the Republican Party, our values, and our choice for the future course of our nation. Speakers:
  • Clyde Prestowitz (counsel to the Secretary of Commerce in the first Reagan Administration),
  • Peter G. Peterson (Commerce Secretary under Richard Nixon, chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and, until recently, chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank),
  • Russell Train (director of the EPA under Presidents Nixon and Ford), and
  • John Dean (White House Counsel for Richard Nixon).
Click here to view the videos: http://www.backtothemainstream.com/conservative Each man offers a potent critique rooted in principles that should resonate with Americans across the political spectrum. Quotes from the Films:
“The administration's use of the term ‘conservative' to describe itself is Orwellian because it's exactly the opposite of what ‘conservative' means . The administration is not conservative. It's radical . . . .” (Prestowitz) Bush engineered “a radical rollback of environmental policy” compared to previous Republican administrations. “ The administration has declared war on the environment .” (Train) “I always thought of the Republicans as the party of fiscal responsibility, but my party has lost its moorings .” (Peterson) Bush's tax cuts exhibit “fiscal recklessness” which is “almost criminal.” “ What are we leaving to our children? We're slipping them a huge check for our free lunch ." (Peterson) The administration's “obsessive” secrecy makes it “worse than Watergate,” having “stonewalled” the 9/11 commission, “pulled back from the press,” and blocked the release of presidential records and unfavorable reports. (Dean)

Friday, October 29, 2004

Visiting Professor

Well, it's the Friday before Halloween. Our office manager was hoping the folks here would show a little spirit and wear costumes at work. I think she was a tad disappointed: Of the almost 30 people who are employed at this office, only three wore costumes. Of course I wore a costume. I decided the easiest costume for me to throw together -- and be comfortable wearing all day-- would be an "anonymous professor from the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry." I didn't want to aim for any one particular character (too much work!). And if I just shot for that "hey, I'm an extra" kind of thing, it was just a bit more original than just being a wizard. (Yeah ... easy. I should post the whole story about me trying to find a wizard's cap this morning on the way to work!) I suppose you want photographic evidence of said costume? Well, all right, I am only too happy to oblige my audience. Please, keep in mind, these are nothing like the images I post on my photoblog, [sub]urban [text]ure. In this first picture, I am probably saying something like: "You want my wallet?? Dude! Just where do you think I keep a wallet in this get-up?!?"
In the second picture, you can easily tell that I am saying something along the lines of, "Yeah, man, I be one stylin' wizard .... so what if it looks like I just jammed my wand into my right ear. As long as I look good doin' it, right?"
and I do look good, do I not? :)
And, YES, it's true ... we really do have orange walls in our office. Bright ... Orange ... Walls. At least it works out in our favor every Halloween. Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend! Celebrate your All Hallow's Eve (or Samhain) safely.

Friday Pet Blogging: Simon - A Memorial

Be certain to check today's entry at Modulator for more Friday Pet Blogging goodness.
At PROPHET or MADMAN today, I present a small photo collage in honor of Simon, marking the one year anniversary of his untimely death.
Thank you, Simon, for 7+ wonderful years: 4/28/96 - 10/29/03 We love you and miss you.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Last Night's Show (The Eclipse)

Did you see the total lunar eclipse last night? Did you catch the pre-show: that fabulous sunset? I left my office just after 6pm EST. The sun had just started its journey below the horizon, and all I could do was stare at the sky. Well, for a few moments anyway. I quickly recovered and snapped a few pics with my digital camera. Even on the drive home, going north on Route 309, I tried to snap a few shots of the fading sky. As far as the eclipse is concerned, I was able to snap a few pre-eclipse shots. I'm afraid they're not very sharp -- I did not have my tripod handy, so I just braced myself against my car as best as I could to minimize camera motion. I hope they are not too fuzzy because they are all I have. After I arrived at my house, I prepared my film camera and tripods so I could take some shots during the actual eclipse. But cloud cover in my neighborhood kept increasing, so that as the eclipse really got underway, the clouds completely obscured the lunar show. ::: sigh ::: If any of my sunset or pre-eclipse photos turn out to be worthwhile, I'll post them on my photoblog, [sub]urban [text]ure, later today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

BBC Does Halloween

The Wild Hunt Blog points out that -- with October being a special month for pagans -- the BBC has posted a number of appropriately themed articles:

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Election Resource: Compare | Decide | Vote

Another election resource. This one is an interactive, side-by-side comparison of the candidate's views to help you make a decision as to which one best reflects your own views. Covers 20 issues important to the 18 to 30-year-old crowd. Try It! Compare | Decide | Vote

What is the Impact of a Political Endorsement?

That was the question on Talk of the Nation (October 25, 2004). Or, rather, that was the topic and questions were along the lines of "What does a movie star's endorsement of a candidate matter?" At some point in the program, they mentioned some kind of survey that was looking to uncover the celebrities whose endorsement would influence you (the nebulous "you" taking the survey, not necessarily "you" as in the person reading this post right now) as a voter. The results were surprising. In order of most influential to least, the top four celebrities were:
  1. Oprah Winfrey
  2. [I don't remember this celebrity's name]
  3. Jon Stewart (of The Daily Show)
  4. Charles Barkley
OK. I can understand Oprah hitting this list, and I am not too surpised about her nailing the top position. She's got a lot of pull, and many, many fans. She's well respected in several circles.

[I wish I remembered the number two slot so I could comment on it ... but I don't! Grrrrr.]

I can also understand Jon Stewart making this list and coming in fairly high. Let's face it, his nightly faux news program is often far more insightful than the so-called "real" news shows.

But Charles Barkley? Charles freakin' Barkley?!? Are you kidding me?

[There is no connection between the blog I just linked, this story, or even Charles Barkley. I just wanted to link it because I found it on Monday and thought this would be a fun way to share it with my readers. Enjoy.]

Audio link to the Talk of the Nation story is here.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Japander.com (and Ultraman)

From quality web content to ... well, this. Madman LokiSpeak sent me the link to Japander.com via IM. Apparently, a Japander is "a western star who uses his or her fame to make large sums of money in a short time by advertising products in Japan that they would probably never use." And there are many, many stars selling out like this. Just check out Ah-nold's clips. He has some strange, kinetic, Ultraman thing going on -- using a bottle of that beverage to become ... something else ... in much the same way that Hayata uses the Beta Capsule to become Ultraman. It's ... disturbing ... yet entertaining. --------------------------- NOTE: It looks like this post is just as much about Ultraman as it is Japander.com and their Ah-nold collection. But that is fitting because Ultraman is a Japanese icon. So ... if you did not have the opportunity to enjoy the televised adventures of Ultraman when you were a kid (I never missed them!), here are a few resources to clue you in:

I think I have go to find an Ultraman DVD now ... I feel a fit of nostalgia coming on ...

Stop the Senseless Death of Quality Web Content

Filed under "Help Wanted..." on my homepage. It is almost -- but not quite -- too late to help save a quality webcomic with your subscription.
Are you excited about the Norm?
Yeah, I know this wouldn't get a high rating on the crisis-o-meter -- if there even were such a thing -- but I like this cartoon. I think Michael Jantze draws a great strip and crafts funny yet insightful stories. And shouldn't someone be compensated for doing a job well? I mean, George W. Bush has been compenstated quite handsomely for doing a very poor job (baseball team, oil companies, POTUS ... whoops, going off-topic again ... sorry). OK, I know, I know ... life isn't fair. But I don't want to lose one of my favorite comics! Help if you care about quality content enough to support it.

"100 Facts and 1 Opinion"

I first saw this posted at Riba Rambles: The Musings of a Mental Magpie. The Nation has come out with a little thing called 100 Facts and 1 Opinion: The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration. You can access either the HMTL file or a nicely formated PDF file ("great for handouts!").

Friday, October 22, 2004

Political Quizzes

These would be a perfect compliment to the Election Resources I posted on October 18. But that was several days ago, so I wanted to highlight these quizzes with their own post.

Have fun this weekend. Let's be careful out there!

Zinc Panic

OK. Can anyone tell me how to reliably navigate through Zinc Panic?? I mean, I understand some basic things, and I think it's cool that it covers such gems from my childhood as Ultraman and Shogun Warriors. But would it kill them to shift their focus a little from the toys over to the actual programs? Just a little? Maybe I'm just confused because I don't share their depth of love for the toys ... every ... single ... variation and manufacturer. Whoa.

Report: The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters

The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) recently reported [PDF document] the results of a series of polls they conducted with the help of Knowledge Networks. I found it to be a very interesting read. From the report's introduction:

Since shortly after the Iraq war PIPA has regularly asked Americans about their perceptions as to whether before the war Iraq had WMD and whether it provided substantial support to al Qaeda. To a striking extent, majorities have believed that Iraq did have WMD or at least a major program for developing them, and that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. With the reports of David Kay, the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and most recently Charles Duelfer all refuting these beliefs, they have only modestly diminished, and are still held by approximately half of the public.

PIPA has also asked American about their perceptions of world public opinion. Despite indications of widespread international criticism of the US war against Iraq, also reflected in various international polls, many Americans appear to be unaware of this opposition. Few Americans show awareness of the extent of criticism of President Bush and his foreign policy as reflected in international polls.

The report presents key findings (and analysis) regarding Bush and Kerry supporters in the following five areas:
  1. Iraq, WMD, and al Qaeda
  2. What the Bush Administration is Saying About Pre-War Iraq
  3. The Decision to Go to War
  4. World Public Opinion on the Iraq War and George Bush’s Reelection
  5. Candidates’ Foreign Policy Positions
Read the report for yourself here: http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Pres_Election_04/Report10_21_04.pdf You could be very surprised. [Props to fellow madman LokiSpeak for sending me the link via IM.]

Friday Pet Blogging

Time for another round of Friday Pet Blogging. What a great excuse to post pics of our boyz! Be certain to check The Modulator for a compilation of pet posts from other bloggers. This week at Prophet or Madman, we find Otis (left) practicing his "unknown kitty" routine. Not to be outdone, Milo (right) snagged a dishtowel and pretended he was at the beach. Yeah ... I often mistake my kitchen for a ... beach. Oh well, ya just gotta love these guys.
(Click image for larger version)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Knowledge@Wharton: Polls, Votes, and All That…

Intro quoted from the monthly Knowledge@Wharton Newsletter:
A Special Report from Knowledge@Wharton: "As the U.S. presidential election approaches in early November, speculation runs high on whether President George W. Bush will win again or lose to John Kerry. In addition to that big question, though, the election presents several other issues, which we examine in this special report. First, Knowledge@Wharton looks at the credibility and methodology of polls - a subject that could have implications for politics, but also for business forecasting, according to Wharton faculty. Next, we examine the controversy surrounding Proposition 71, a proposal on California's ballot to create a $3 billion state fund to assist embryonic and other stem cell research. Finally, Knowledge@Wharton looks at the impact of the Hispanic vote on the presidential race."

Read articles in the special report: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/weblink/85.cfm

Visit the Knowledge@Wharton Newsletter: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Muskrat Love?

[Author's Note: This is merely a record of a conversation that took a very weird turn -- a turn that was my fault. But please note that in no way do I advocate the use of muskrat guts for home remedies.] I went to my chiropractor today. As I entered the treatment room, one of the docs was engaged in a conversation with two clients. I had missed most of the conversation, obviously, but I did catch this as I walked by them:
Client 1: [author didn't catch what was said] Doc Wife: ...they have all sorts of ointments. Client 2: And I'm sure someone will have a home remedy version of it.
At this point, I decided to interject something humorous into the mix. This is always a dangerous prospect, I know, and I am guilty of doing it far more often than I should. But these are folks I am familiar with (I'm just not sharing their names with all of you -- for their privacy's sake), and they actually enjoy my little tangents. So, with "ointments" and "home remedy" buzzing in my brain, I went with the first thing that crossed my fevered brain:

ME: Oh yes, there is a home remedy. It's made from muskrat guts.

Doc Wife: What?! [Author's note: she tends to be a bit gullible ... or simply trusting.]

Client 2: I figured it would be something disgusting like that. [Author's note: This person is very good at thinking on her feet and coming up with a rejoinder that works perfectly well. In other words, she can really play along.]

ME: Yeah. And you can only use rural muskrats.

Client 2: (Laughing) Urban ones are no good?

ME: No, no. You see, urban -- and suburban -- muskrats eat of out garbage dumpsters and such. So they have too many preservatives in their bodies. Most of them are on a sugar rush -- too many Twinkies.

Client 2: Oh, so is that why they run in front of traffic?

ME: Of course! They're screaming, "Where is the Tastykake truck?! Where is the Hostess truck?!? Gimme a Twinkie!!"

(At this point, Doc Wife and Clients 1 & 2 are just laughing ... the conversation is pretty much over.)

Two Quick Jabs

First, we have the "official" webpage whose stated purpose is "Interpreting [John Kerry's] actions to expose the horrible "truths" about his political platform." It is here we learn that John Kerry supports desecrating the memory of C.H.I.P.s. Second, we have John Stewart (of the Daily Show) getting serious on CNN's CROSSFIRE [here is the transcript]. Stewart is making the obligatory round of interviews in support of his new book, America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction [amazon link]. During this conversation with James Carville, Paul Begala, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson, Stewart not only rips Crossfire, but he also insults Tucker Carlson (by refering to him as, well, as a part of the male anatomy).

[Props to fellow madman LokiSpeak for sending me links to the interpretive website and the CROSSFIRE transcript.]

The "Other" David Horowitz

This post is not about the pre-1989 history of political pundit Dave Horowitz, even though I just entered a post about him and the fact that he has moved ideologically from his previous leftish view to the neoconservative camp. No, just for a little contrast (and maybe to add a bit more confusion on this blog), I thought I should let you know that there is another David Horowitz: a seasoned journalist and consumer advocate [see bio]. This David Horowitz is best known for his Emmy-winning "Fight Back!" television series, documentaries and news programs. Check his website for more info. Oh, and I have no idea whom this David Horowitz endorses in the upcoming election.

Front Page Magazine

During my morning commute, as I skipped about the morning radio programs from WHYY (90.9FM) to The Big Talker (1210AM), I learned about another source for the conservative viewpoint. And, as I am a big proponent of getting all sides of a story in order to filter out the garbage and get to the truth, I thought I would share this one. That, and I suppose I feel the need to balance the content here a bit. So here goes...
Front Page Magazine
David Horowitz is the president and founder of the Center for the Study of the Popular Culture, and is an editor and columnist for its online magazine: Front Page Magazine. FrontPage features daily bulletins, columns by David Horowitz and other leading pundits, and constant updates on the ongoing crises of our day, from multiculturalism to the war on terror. Coverage of Horowitz is just as divided as the upcoming election. Media Transparency refers to Horowitz as "one of the right's favorite kinds of people: lapsed leftists." And they have an interesting slant on his bio on their site. That might just be sour grapes on their part since Horowitz made a severe ideological shift in the late 1980s. The bio on his own site has, understandably, a more favorable approach to his career summary. At this time, after only hearing the radio interview and checking some sites, I have no opinion. He certainly sounds passionate in his convictions, but I cannot yet convict or laud him for his passions.
So, uh, what about that radio interview?
Right. Almost forgot. The other reason I wanted to enter a post about Horowitz and Frontpage is a little something that caught my ear this morning. Actually, I am not certain if I heard this on the radio, or just read about it on his site, which I visited after hearing about it on the radio. It could have been both, or something else entirely, so i'll just continue as if I had not completely confused you. Horowitz was on a radio program to talk about his new book: Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left. A spirited book if that title is any indication. Now, I cannot point to a specific quote in the interview, but in a blog entry, Horowitz claims that his book is under attack at Amazon.com. He says:
"[T]he left has set out to destroy this book. Since my appearance on C-Span a series of attacks on the book by people who obviously haven't read it have been posted at Amazon to warn potential readers from buying copies and learning about the left for themselves. Generally conservatives are too decent and too tolerant to participate in such tactics."
Final Comments
So here's the thing. Obviously, Horowitz cannot know with any kind of certaintly that the people attacking has book have not even read it. For all I know, there are only two possibilites: (1) They read the book and they have come to hold opposite conclusions. (2) They could just be following someone else's directions in a concentrated effort to slam the book into obscurity. If the first case holds true, it is perfectly fine and reasonable for these folks to voice their opposition -- and provide facts to back it. If the second case holds true ... well, I sincerely hope the latter is not the case. As I have written previously, that behavior is simply a terrible lapse in judgement and it has no place in an informed, self-governing society. Further, for Horowitz to say, "Generally conservatives are too decent and too tolerant to participate in such tactics," is a serious stretch. This statement simply has no grounding in reality. Both sides of the great division are guilty of crapping on the other side. So please, Mr. Horowitz, do not muddy your case with a holier than thou attitude. It is a false pedestal, and too great a height from which to fall.

Monday, October 18, 2004

"Dear Limey A-holes"

(Please read my DISCLAIMER/COMMENTARY before you get upset at any of content in the suggested link.) The Guardian Unlimited -- which is published in the UK and claims to be the "Best daily newspaper on the world wide web" -- recently undertook a project in which they tried to influence swing voters in the upcoming US Election. It was less an article and more a collection of the responses they received from those who had been contaced. I quote from the article:
"Last week G2 launched Operation Clark County to help readers have a say in the American election by writing to undecided voters in the crucial state of Ohio. In the first three days, more than 11,000 people requested addresses. Here is some of the reaction to the project that we received from the US."
------------------------------------------------- DISCLAIMER/COMMENTARY: Neither the project nor the responses it generated reflect the thoughts or opinions of this blogger. Some of the responses were polite, others ... not so much. If you click the link to go read the responses, you will be taken to a completely different site that beyond my -- and Blogger's -- control. And while there, you may encounter language that, well, it might be language that you would rather not encounter. I guess some folks in Clark County are angrier -- and franker -- than others. I believe these harsher responses are yet another example of a dark side effect that can influence people when they feel the sense of anonymity that email and chat seem to provide. [Of course, there is no true Internet anonymity, but that is a subject for another time.] I would like to think that the authors of the harsher emails would not actually lash out at strangers face-to-face with the same intense venom as they did in their letters. However, I have no evidence either way. If the crude letters actually do reflect the speaking habits of their writers, then I truly feel sorry for them, as well as their friends, family, and co-workers. Yes, there are harsh words exchanged. And this is illustrative of in and of itself: It's another example of just how bitterly entrenched folks are in their political polarity.

Star Spangled Dashboard (and Election 2004 Resources)

I had my digital camera handy on a Saturday morning drive. I wanted to be ready to snap some fall foliage. Well, I didn't really capture much in the way of trees and leaves, but I did get some nifty pics of the flag hanging from my rear view mirror (click either image for larger version):
I just thought it looked so cool as it danced and turned in the Autumn breeze that rushed through my open windows. I had to capture and share it. [NOTE: I originally wrote, "...as it flapped, flipped, and turned...," but I didn't want to open the door that leads to uninformed candidate bashing].
There's a national holiday coming up ... it's called Election Day. In two weeks and a day. There's still time for you to do what you can to educate yourself about the issues, determine your position on them -- each and every one that you can -- and then, and only then, think about selecting your candidates.
If you don't take your vote seriously, how can you expect the candidates to do so?
You know the saying, "If you didn't vote, you have no right to complain," right? Well, guess what: If you cast an uninformed vote, you still have no right to complain.
-----------------------------
Here are some RESOURCES [updated 10/18/2004 4:48pm]:

This is in no way an exhaustive list, of course. Nor do I necessarily present the absolute best sites. I just can't do that because I just don't know what "the best" sites are in this regard. I can only pass along what I have found so far. Oh, and I do hope I didn't list too many sites run by partisan groups. Believe me: I really was aiming for broad views here ... instead of trying to burden you with yet another opinion from someone you don't know. There is a lot of material on the sites listed here. I have not (yet) read it all. So I urge you to exercise vigilance and carefully evaluate everything you read (or listen to). If you get lazy and/or careless, then you will be sucked into someone's hype and you will close off your mind. And that, my friends, contributes to the decline and demise of not only our political process, but our country as well.

(Whoops! I snuck a little commentary in here after all!).

Friday, October 15, 2004

Friday Pet Blogging: Part II

Since I missed last week's pet summary -- and because my wife took many, many pictures recently -- here is another shot of our boys.
Otis (left) and Milo do their very best "bookends" impression.

Friday Pet Blogging: Part I

This is my shameless attempt to get listed at The Modulator. :::big cheezy grin:::
Actually, I just thought the idea of Friday Pet Blogging was so cool, I had to jump into the mix. So ... it is with great pride that I present to the blogosphere OUR BOYZ, Milo & Otis!

Milo & Otis w/ Feed Bag  click for larger image Milo (on chair) and Otis (on table) just LOVE a new bag'o'food!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Blame it on HER Youth

Reflecting on my previous post ... Jamie does a pleasant enough cover of "Blame It on My Youth," but if you want to really hear that song done properly, I think you owe it to yourself to check out Holly Cole. Holly Cole is hard to define. She started out, more or less, as a jazz vocalist singing standards and such in a minimalist style with her band, the Holly Cole Trio. But with her 1995 release, Temptation, which is a collection of Tom Waits covers, she began to broaden her spectrum a bit. I would call her more of a vocal interpreter, now, particularly in light of her 1997 disc, Dark Dear Heart. Anyway, back to the tune, "Blame It on My Youth." This song appears on her 1991 album of the same name (left), as well as her 1993 release, Don't Smoke in Bed (on the right):
You really cannot go wrong by adding a few of her discs to your collection.

Jamie Cullum: Twentysomething

I am currently listening to Jamie Cullum's latest disc, Twentysomething. It was on sale this week at Circuit City for $6.99.
album cover  click for larger image
Jamie is a two-fisted, jazz-pop artist; a "twenty-something" phenom whose latest CD is already double platinum in the UK. I first caught him on TV -- VH1 I am guessing, I really cannot recall -- and I was impressed with the live gig they were showing. He had energy, verve, and kind of a punk-pop attitude to the jazz/swing/lounge standards he was playing. I'm not catching that same vibe from the CD. It is much mellower, but I don't regret the 7 bucks I paid. I do, however, wish I could get my hands on some live recordings. I'm going to check out the tracks he did on Jimmy Kimmel Live. They are an "exclusive" to CONNECT.

Beam Him a Pink Slip, Scotty

SETI Logo
A computer programmer was fired from his position after he admitted that he was using a state-owned server to process SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) data. Hilarious quote from the department's director:

"I understand his desire to search for intelligent life in outer space, because obviously he doesn't find it in the mirror in the morning. I think that people can be comfortable that security has beamed this man out of our building."

Ouch!

So I am wondering ... when ET phones home, will this guy be able to get a professional reference from him?

N U C L E U S !

N U C L E U S has got to be the coolest comic store/gallery that has ever existed. Why, oh why, does it have to be on the opposite coast from me? :::: s i g h :::::
N U C L E U S  Showroom
I found out about this place via a news post on Scott Kurtz's webcomic, PVP: Player Vs. Player. He missed the big gala opening, too. Big Deal! I curse you, Scott, for although you have opened this comic lover's eyes to the beauty and mystery that is NUCLEUS, you have also heaped torment upon him, tantalizing him with a possibility that can never be because of his geographic disposition.
Or something like that.

Presidential Debate III: Post-Debate Polls

Over at PoliticalStrategy, Tom Ball has collected links to Post-Debate Polls from several news sources. His collection includes some specific city/state polls, such as KYW Philadelphia (look for "CBS 3 POLL"). Yeah, I live outside of Philly, so this one was of interest to me. Tom Ball is one of the big guns at PoliticalStrategy (well, he has his name under the "Contact Us" header). And I should point out that he is definitely pro-Kerry. In fact, I think most of the PoliticalStrategists have a distinct lean toward the Kerry-Edwards ticket. But that doesn't have to influence your vote in the polls. Or your vote come election day. (But would it really be so bad if this did have an influence on your vote?) Post-Debate Polls: http://www.politicalstrategy.org/archives/000544.php

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Pagan Case for Re-Electing President Bush

To be honest, I have found more pagan voices raised against President Bush than in support for him. The most common statement is that President Bush's deeds and words place him squarely in opposition to the Pagan community -- due in part to such things as the "Faith Based Initiative" and his use of religious language. But in answer to the question I raised in my previous post, I was actually able to find one pagan individual (Jeff) making a pagan case for re-electing President Bush. Not only that, it was posted recently (October 9) and it's a fairly well-written case. I wish I could say as much for some of the comments he has received thus far. (Hey, come on ... I had to post this story just to be "fair and balanced" ... right?)

Yahoo Group: Pagans for Kerry

There is a Yahoo group -- KerryPagan -- that was started to organize the NeoPagan community for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. I find this interesting, particularly in light of the Evangelical movement in support of President Bush. Quoting the individual who posted this information at the Kerry-Edwards blog:
The NeoPagan community (which includes Pagan, Wicca, Druid, and Asatru) is the fastest growing religious group in the United States with an estimated 1 to 5 million members. It is the 5th largest nationally behind Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.
I have to wonder, are there any pagan groups that openly advocate the Bush-Cheney ticket?

The Lone Star Iconoclast Endorses Senator Kerry

In a recent editorial, the Iconoclast -- whose publishers endorsed the Bush ticket four years ago -- lays out some solid reasons for not only voting against Bush, but also for supporting the Kerry ticket in the 2004 election. The Iconoclast editorial is no mere rehash of an ideology conflict. The publishers have set out an intelligent case against Bush that is based on his faltering record. For example, if you voted for Bush in 2000 because of his campaign promises, I doubt you gave him the go-ahead to (all quoted from the editorial):
  • Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
  • Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
  • Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
  • Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
  • Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
  • Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
  • Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.
I agree with the Iconoclast publishers that there are four troubling items concerning Bush and his record (as quoted from the editorial): "his initiatives to disable the Social Security system, the deteriorating state of the American economy, a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers, and his continuous mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq." Left unchecked for four more years, these and other decisions could move from troubling to catastrophic. Iconoclast publishers do more than grade Bush's performance; they also lay out how Senator Kerry is different and has a proven track record. They go so far as to say that Kerry (again, from the editorial) "has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen." I pray they are right, because Kerry is the only alternative we have. And, you know, I am feeling better about that as Election Day approaches. Postscript 1:
Keep up with the issues and follow election coverage at NPR. And follow the facts -- not the hype -- with the help of the Annenberg Political Fact Check (FactCheck.org)
Postscript 2:
The aftermath of the editorial endorsement is also an interesting read. I am hearing more and more cases of rapid Bush/Cheney supporters in personal misdeeds: verbally harrassing Kerry/Edwards supporters, stealing Kerry/Edwards signs from private property, and threatening physical violence. So I am not surprised at their actions toward the Iconoclast. Now, to be fair, I am sure there are some overly aggressive Kerry/Edwards supporters. But their numbers (and activities) seem to be dwarfed in comparison to the vast numbers and cases involving Bush/Cheney supporters. Is this really any way to behave in a democratic republic? It would seem to me that the so-called "party of family values" needs to learn some manners.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

BBC NEWS: Evidence of 'jungle yeti' found

Fresh evidence has been found in the jungles of Sumatra supporting claims that a mythical 'jungle yeti' may exist, claim two UK explorers. Jungle Yeti? Jungle Yeti?! What the $@#%!? You have got to be kidding me. (Oh sure ... can't find WMDs in Iraq, or Osama bin Ladin, but a couple of guys in the Jungle of Sumatra can track down evidence of a goldarned YETI.)

The Death of a Hero

Christopher Reeve

9/25/1952 - 10/10/2004

I know that this isn't news to anyone by now, but I couldn't post when I first heard that Christopher Reeve had passed away on Sunday (October 10, 2004). His passing has really touched me. I was only 10 years old when Reeve appeared in the first Superman movie. I was completely caught up in the magic of those films (at least the first two), and I probably did believe a man could fly. Reeve's legacy is every bit as heroic and inspiring as the comic hero he portrayed.

I doubt I am alone when I say that, for me, Reeve will always be associated with Superman, if only for his involvement with the movies. But Reeve went beyond the portrayal of a hero; he became a true hero and role model to many as he refused to give up in the face of sever odds, and he fought for continued research and treatment. And fans like me wanted to believe that the man who wore the big red S and flew into our childhood would someday walk again. Whatever side of the stem cell debate you are on, even if you prefer private funding for the research, you had to admire the man for his courage and conviction.

There are some nice bits and tributes posted on the KryptonSite news page. And the Superman Homepage features some great cartoon tributes like this one.

Yes, Christopher Reeve will be missed.

[UPDATE 10.13.2004]

You can make a donation to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation at its website.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Twisted Scriptures?

[See my Author's Note for background information about this post.]

Believe what you want about the use of scripture. Here is a fact: Just as many serial killers list the Bible as their source for inspiration (or instructions) as do folks with a more heroic tendency. It's all in the reading and personal interpretation, is it not? Or, perhaps, the mindset in which the readings are received.

But back to the point of the post in question, which asserts the following:

He [Kerry] is for abortion which the Christian church is against. He [Kerry] is for Gay unions which God is against.

First, let me examine the statement that "[Kerry] is for abortion which the Christian church is against." I will submit that the Christian Church is against abortion -- both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are quite vocal in their opposition. And I suppose there is some support for the argument that God is against it. But there are Christians who support abortion, or who at least do not voice an opposition. For more information, I would direct readers to the following sites:

And there is quite a debate raging between so-called "Choice" and "Life" Christians. I myself do not voice an opposition to the practice as I believe that both the "pro-choice" and "pro-life" (misnomers if ever I heard one) camps are only dealing with a symptom rather than the actual cause or, if you will, dis-ease. But that is a subject much too long for this comment.

Second, I will examine the statement that God is against Gay Unions. Here, I think the poster generalizes a bit too much. It is true that most churches are against the concept, but the Bible, and therefore God, is somewhat silent on it. Oh, I know you can trudge out the Old Testament bits about Sodom and Gomorrah (sic?), but those stories were dealing with LUST, not love. Throughout the scriptures, God blesses love, but condemns lust -- even heterosexual lust. As long as we are on the subject, here are a few resources dealing with homosexuality and God ...

Think about it ... if Christ were walking the streets today, with whom would he break bread? A rabid homophobe ... or the gay couple who lives down the street? I wonder...

Third, I will bring this back to what I think the main point is. The post in question not only points out what he believes God opposes, but also states that Kerry goes quite the opposite way and supports Abortion and Gay Unions. I would propose that John Kerry is not so much FOR abortion and gay unions as he is AGAINST legislation that would ban either of them.

Now, I could be wrong about all of this. But we are both entitled to read and interpret scriptures for ourselves, are we not? I would fight for your right to do so. :)

And please note that I do not offer any of the above sites as some kind of ultimate authority on the issues in quesiton. Nor am I making an effort to change anyone's mind. I just thought you might like to see some opposing -- and well thought out -- views.

Thank you for your time.

----------------------- AUTHOR'S NOTE:

The above commentary is my small attempt to summarize a response I posted at PoliticalStrategy.org. My intent in re-posting it is two-fold: First, I want to clean it up and render it in one complete post. Second, I want to have a copy on my own blog.

Some more background: On September 27, 2004, an individual had posted about being "struck by the parallels between George W. Bush and the rich man [in Luke 16: 19-31]." Those parallels being President Bush's "unwilling to listen, unwilling to show compassion, entirelyfocused on his own misguided path." Now, I thought this was an interesting insight -- maybe not the most profound statement levied against GWB, but interesting nonetheless. Another reader, however, felt differently:

I can't believe that you would use a scripture in that way. John Kerry has so much more money then George W. has and he stands for many things that the Born-again Christian community are against...

And I felt differently than he did ... and now you know why.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Get off the Internet and Vote!

http://www.getofftheinternetandvote.com/ I really can't say anything more about this. I just have to applaud Natalie and Drew. Well, that, and I hope I win something! (Not that elections are about prizes ... well, OK, American elections sort of are about prizes, but ... oh, nevermind).

Iraq and the Bible

I received an interesting email today, that apparently has been making the Internet rounds for some time now. The text is quoted below, and my commentary follows:

The Email Text:
IRAQ - VERY INTERESTING - DID YOU KNOW?
  1. The garden of Eden was in Iraq.
  2. Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of civilization!
  3. Noah built the ark in Iraq.
  4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.
  5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!
  6. Isaac's wife Rebekah is from Nahor, which is in Iraq.
  7. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.
  8. Jonah preached in Nineveh - which is in Iraq.
  9. Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the ten tribes of Israel.
  10. Amos cried out in Iraq!
  11. Babylon, which is in Iraq, destroyed Jerusalem.
  12. Daniel was in the lion's den in Iraq!
  13. The three Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq (Jesus had been in Iraq also as the fourth person in the fiery furnace!)
  14. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the "writing on the wall" in Iraq.
  15. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews captive into Iraq.
  16. Ezekiel preached in Iraq.
  17. The wise men were from Iraq.
  18. Peter preached in Iraq.
  19. The "Empire of Man" described in Revelation is called Babylon,which was a city in Iraq!

And you have probably seen this one. Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq! However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible. The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia. The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers, more exactly between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The name Iraq, means country with deep roots. Indeed Iraq is a country with deep roots and is a very significant country in the Bible. No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated it than Iraq. And also... This is something to think about! Since America is typically represented by an eagle. Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages... The following verse is from the Koran, (the Islamic Bible) Koran (9:11):

"For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace."

(Note the verse number!) Hmmmmmmm?! God Bless you all Amen !


--> My comments on the email start here. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ REGARDING Iraq and the Bible: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I agree in principle that all or most of the areas mentioned in that list refer to physical locations that can now be found within the boundaries of Iraq. However, I also have to qualify that by saying "Iraq" is never actually mentioned in the Bible. Iraq ... Iran ... Saudi Arabia ... etc. did not exist as nations when the biblical narratives were written. They are all the result of Western countries cutting up the Ottoman Empire after the first World War. But, if we simply consider the Iraq/Babylon connection, most of those statements are accurate. Speaking of interesting facts about Iraq ... It is said that Saddam Hussein considered himself a modern Nebuchadnezzar. He may have believed himself a descendant of the ancient king and that he wanted to reconstruct Babylon, hence all that palace construction and such. He definitely fancied himself as a leader who could rally the Arab nations. Refer to http://kenraggio.com/KRPN-Saddam-Babylon.htm , http://www.biblemysteries.com/library/saddam.htm , and http://www.gwu.edu/~bygeorge/030403/clineedit.html Here is a good summary of events between the Middle East and the West from 1098 to 2004: http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/the_west/ And this link will take you to "A Seven-Part Series Traces the Israeli-Palestinian Dispute" (has audio and transcript links) http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/history/ Some comments on specific items in the forwarded list of Iraq facts (my comments are indicated by asterisks)... "1. The garden of Eden was in Iraq." ***** Maybe maybe not. There are arguements on both sides of that statement. Some arguements against it use some pretty hokey reasoning based on the "Great Flood." But since so much Biblical/Koranic history occurs in that region, it is probably safe to say that the Garden was there too. (There, or in Africa). ***** "4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq." ***** Babylon means gate of God. The Biblical or Hebrew word for Babylon was Babel. Nifty, eh? ***** "5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!" ****** Maybe, maybe not. Most sources agree that Ur was Abram's hometown (he was still called Abram when he left Ur), but this one disagrees: http://www.bibleandscience.com/bible/books/genesis/ur.htm . ***** [At this point, I have to tell you about a book I am currently reading: Abraham: Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths by Bruce Feiler (http://www.brucefeiler.com/). Fascinating, stuff ... the story of Abraham has been modified and reinterpreted so many times ... I had no idea. I'll post a complete review when I finish it.] ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ REGARDING the Koran reference [Koran (9:11)]: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Does a Quranic verse speak of the "wrath of the Eagle cleansing the lands of Allah"? Nope. That's false. In fact, "eagle" never appears in the Koran. And the section corresponding to chapter 9, verse 11 actually reads something like this:
"But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith; and We make the communications clear for a people who know."
Source: http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/quran.asp and http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/k/koran-war.htm I welcome your comments...

Joke: 10 Commandments on Display?

A little joke that has been making the rounds on the Internet:
The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a Courthouse is because you cannot post "Thou Shalt Not Steal," "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery," and "Thou Shall Not Lie" in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians ... it creates a hostile work environment. [Author Unknown]
I may not know who wrote it, but I do (of course) understand that the above statement was probably intended as a cute little slap against public officials and lawyers, and the ever-so-current brouhaha over displaying of the 10 Commandments. Or is it? How sad and interesting that the very people who are responsible for "legislating morality" in the United States are themselves possibly guilty of breaking the most basic of social codes. Of course, I should point out that politicians are typically only accused of impropriety -- rare is the case that is successfully made, convicting a member of Congress.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Reading Suggestion: The War of the Senses (Rick Bass)

Part of my efforts here include bringing interesting essays and articles to your attention. This is one such essay which can be found on the Orion Online site (publishers of Orion Magazine). I would be very interested to hear comments about this piece.
The War of the Senses: The Battle for the Heart of America by Rick Bass

"In the weeks following the presidential election of 2000, I began to keep a chart, a table of hours spent defending the homeland against the assault of the new administration...

" ...All I had really wanted to do, in escaping from my work in the oil industry to this outback of Montana so long ago, was to leave behind the world of politics and policy and disappear into the senses: to the sound of the Yaak River gurgling and the honking of geese. Is it not this way for all of us in some measure, or are we truly a nation divided, beset by a war of values? Do the boys at Halliburton know what I am talking about when I speak of such things? In addressing them, to what might I compare such a sensation, such a desire? To the bliss of a noncompetitive government contract? To the physical heft of two bags of gold, one held in each hand?"

[Read the Full Article]

Continental Drift

Public Policy and Management Continental Drift: Why are the Ties that Bind Europe to the U.S. Unraveling?
The geopolitical map of the world is changing and, according to Jeremy Rifkin's latest book, The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream, the most dramatic developments may well occur in Europe. Like continents driven apart by shifting tectonic plates, the European Union and the United States are drifting away from each other, straining the NATO alliance and a cultural heritage dating back to the Age of Enlightenment. The "American Dream," says Rifkin, "is losing its cachet ... casting the American people adrift."
http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/1055.cfm

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

So, Now What

OK. So now I have the blog ... what do I do with it? All last week, there were all sorts of things I wanted to publish on a blog -- things that I deemed unfit for my theater blog, Confessions of a Serial Theater Lackey. And now, I cannot remember any of them. Hmmmm. Oh well, maybe I will move some of the "posts" I have left at my site, brainwise.org. That might suffice until I can remember what the heck I wanted to share with the blogosphere. You know ... this would not have happened if I had been able to get the blog address I actually wanted last week. (And, no, I am not going to tell you what it is because I don't want to send them any traffic. And, yes! As a matter of fact, I am pouting).

Hello World

This is just a quick post to initiate the blog ... and see what it looks like. I don't know what else to say at the moment. Maybe the title of my blog tells you all you need to know about what to expect here. Maybe it doesn't tell you a damn thing. I'll try to clear up the confusion as we move along. Or ... Maybe I'll just increase the confusion.