Category Archives: Politics

Wrong Direction’s ‘Disclosure’ – Full Frontal Freedom.

Yummmmmmy.

 

 

Holy crap – the lead lip-syncher is damn near perfect. And he’s a little short stud too!

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Zero Zero Zero

Well, here’s more about Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church, aka our very own Mullah in his Madrasa.

What bothers me about him is his mixing his own religion and politics, with an accent on violence. He ‘hates‘ Barack Obama, which is fine, but this hatred, plus his doctrine of eternal security (by which anyone who is ‘saved’ is saved forever, no matter what, even if they kill unrepentant), is a toxic, dangerous mix. He proudly says that he hates Barack Obama, prays that the president should get brain cancer and die. (He wouldn’t condemn somebody who killed the president but wants Obama to die of natural causes so he doesn’t become a martyr.)

Christopher Broughton, just after listening to the “Why I Hate Barack Obama” sermon brought an AR-57 rifle and a handgun to an Arizona Obama rally. And wouldn’t directly answer if he was advocating violence against the President. Just like Anderson preaches that ‘we’ shouldn’t go out and kill in God’s name ourselves but if somebody does, well, that’s fine by him.

He delights in the idea of Michelle Obama being a widow and his children being orphans.

He finds it not murder to kill abortion doctors.

And he wants my execution. All legal, he believes in due process, and all. Which only means that he’d like to write his beliefs into law. Know why? Because he knows, he knows for certain, that I molest children, that all gays molest children. Don’t believe me? Watch:

This chilling “Pastor Anderson holds no college degree but has well over 100 chapters of the Bible committed to memory.” Parrots have all sorts of things committed to memory. But they just don’t understand them. He’s adding a spiritual and biblical veneer of respectability to the crazy radical fighting talk coming out of the fringe right wing.

But it’s too easy to see his nuttiness as bigger and more important than it is.

This “pastor” spends his time preaching the holy hatred that he finds in Jesus, and misusing the term “Baptist” to do it. Luckily he preaches it to only about two dozen parishioners.

I feel very sorry for the Baptists because many people will lump then in with this loon. I feel even more sorry for the loving and affirming and peaceful and just of Christ’s followers (including many Baptists) that this person identifies himself with them. One of the evils of this person is how he takes the attention from the good Christians, including the ones who’ve surprised me and challenged me to rethink as I was researching this blog entry. The ones who reject rejection.

I have to confess to having had a very simplistic view of Christianity formed out of ignorance and bitterness, and seeing too many Steven Andersons and Jan and Paul Crouches and Benny Hinns, who either radiated hate or greed and self-satisfaction. It seemed to me that the Christian family was made up mostly of self-promoters on their golden thrones, rigid and cold rejectors, people who peddle uplift and relish downfall, the self-satisfied who sit in their nice clothes on Sunday passing judgement on everyone else.

I was rewatching “Save Me” last night, and one line struck me – Judith Light’s character regrets not having loved her gay son “as Jesus would have loved him.” I always felt the obligation that religion imposed, never the reward or joy of it.

I’m quite glad to admit that I was wrong, that that sort of person while dangerous or irritating or mean, isn’t the only, possibly isn’t the most interesting, and definitely isn’t the most beautiful face of the religion I walked out on so many years ago.

I wonder what I will do next? I certainly hope my thinking becomes less judgmental and prejudicial and blinded.

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A Bona Fide Zero

A companion piece to yesterday’s entry about a great and good man, here’s a bit about an unpleasant little man who really is a zero. Or less.

He’s called for the death of President Obama. And very likely instigated one of his parishioners to show up at a “town hall” where the president was going to speak, brandishing a gun. Yes, parishioners. Because this little ball of ignorance is a “minister” of a “church,” the “Faithful Word Baptist Church – Independent” which finds its home in a storefront in a shopping center in the otherwise decent city of Tempe, Arizona.

If you didn’t know Steven L. Anderson, you’d probably suspect he was a butch gay man – with his short cropped hair, wide open face, fine body – the kind of guy who drives a jeep, wears lots of plaid shirts, and generally tries to appear very lumber-jacky. I mean, on the surface he’s a real all-American cutie. Inside it’s a whole other silly and sad story.

Now before I go on, I have to say the following:

HARDLY ANY CHRISTIANS ARE LIKE THIS PERSON

I don’t want people accusing me of saying that there are legions of lunatics like Steven L. Anderson in the body of Christianity. There aren’t. The religion would have been laughed out of existence before Paul’s letters ever reached Cappadocia.

Now that we’ve got that settled, Steven L. Anderson goes from being silly, like preaching that every man in Germany pees sitting down (a lie) whereas he, as a real man, pees the way God intended, standing up, and that if the country isn’t careful, peeing standing up will be made illegal. He also figures that Barack Obama pees sitting down, anybody who translated the Bible since the King James edition pees sitting down, all other preachers pee sitting down. He declares, with great firmness, that when he goes back to Germany he’s gonna piss standing up to show them he’s a man. I swear, I couldn’t make stuff like this up:

But what gets me worried more than this preacher’s evident obsession with water sports, is that he has called for the President and for me to be killed.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the quote:

“You’re gonna tell me that I’m supposed to pray for the socialist devil,” asked Anderson, rhetorically, referring to Obama, “[this] murderer, infanticide, who wants to see young children, and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial birth — and all these other things — you’re gonna tell me I’m supposed to pray for god to give him a good lunch tomorrow, while he’s in Phoenix, Arizona. Nope. I’m not going to pray for his good. I’m going to pray that he dies and goes to hell. When I go to bed tonight, that’s how I’m going to pray.”

Still think I’m making this up? Take a listen to his hour long ramble.

He also believes that gays should be given the death penalty, as well as children who curse their parents and adulterers. Just like in old Afghanistan.

Part II on this little irritant is coming up next, in which we will further delve into why his rantings are more than just a fart in the wind.

Hint: As this shows, it’s certainly not for his power of poetry…

Our kids used to know “Amazing Grace”

Now they know “Will and Grace”

They used to know “In the sweet by and by”

Now they know “Queer eye for the Straight Guy”

They used to know “How great thou art”

Now they know “Homer Simpson and Bart”

They used to know “To God be the Glory”

Now they know “A Shark Tale” and “Toy Story”

They used to know “Blessed Assurance”

Now they know “Bel Air Fresh Prince”

They used to know “Close to thee”

Now they know “VH1” and “MTV”

They used to know “My Faith Has found a Resting Place

Now they know “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space”

They used to know “Wounded for Me”

Now they know “CSI Miami”

They used to know “Send the Light”

Now they know “Entertainment Tonight”

They used to know “Revive Us Again”

Now they know “Seinfeld” and “Friends”

They used to know “On the Solid Rock I Stand”

Now they know “Sponge Bob” and “Spiderman”

They used to know “At the Cross” and “He lives”

Now they know “Everybody hates Chris”

They used to know “Shall We Gather”

Now they know “Ted Kopple” and “Dan Rather”

They used to know “Whiter than Snow”

Now they know “The Late Late Show”

They used to know “Sweet Hour of Prayer”

Now they know “A Current Affair”

They used to know “When We See Christ”

Now they know “Desperate Housewives”

They used to know “Keep Nothing Between”

Now they know “Billy Graham” and “Joel Osteen”

They used to know “On Zion’s Hill”

Now they know “Oprah” and “Dr. Phil”

They used to know “When we all Get to Heaven”

Now they know “Frasier” and “7th Heaven”

They used to know “Oh Say But I’m Glad”

Now they know “My Two Dads”

They used to know “He hideth My Soul”

Now they know “American Idol”

They used to know “There is a Fountain”

NOW THEY GO TO THE MOVIES AND WATCH “BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN!”


Oh, the humanity. Oh, the inanity.

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A Bona Fide Hero

First off I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve blogged. No, that doesn’t mean that I’ve not had my normal quantity of deep, interesting and fascinating thoughts, but I’ve been so busy (facebook you cruel master) that I’ve not had the opportunity to blog.

Just to catch you up, it was C’s birthday this past weekend; we went to a great restaurant in Kennett Square, PA called the Half Moon Restaurant and Saloon where we dined on kangaroo loins. They were great and the experience was well worth the drive in Bob up there. We also had a lovely dinner with my mum and dad, complete with birthday cake and candles for him.

The Hero

Okay, so on to the title of this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about heros – not the sandwiches…well, sometimes the sandwiches – because I find them very strange. I find any kind of deification of an actual person to be off putting and limiting and vaguely dangerous; witness the slavish devotion to Kim Jong-Ill or Kim Ill-Sung or L. Ron Hubbard. It’s never good when the Great One can never be contradicted, when his every thought is to be regarded as a pearl of great wisdom, when the answers to all questions that have been asked or could ever be asked can be found in the Great One’s perfect thoughts and guidance.

So I was caught quite by surprise when I found out just the other day about Witold Pilecki, and the more I learned about him the more I realized he was a hero. No, I’m sure he still put his pants on one leg at a time but still. Snarkiness and cynicism fail me. He really was different from most.

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He volunteered to enter Auschwitz. He volunteered to enter that ghastly place and live there, trying to organize the inmates and spy on the Germans, to report to the world what was going on and to get it stopped.

But there’s more. His family had been dumped in far-off Karelia by the Russian Empire after taking part in the January Uprising, and he was born there in 1901. At 17 he joined the Polish self-defense scouts and fought against the Bolshevik invasion of Polish lands during World War I, even from behind the enemy’s lines. He joined the Polish Army and fought in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920, fighting in the crucial battle of Warsaw and was twice awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valor) for gallantry.

Between the wars he worked to restore his family estate which had been ruined, attended university, and married and had two children. He was what we would call a ‘community organizer’ and known for his activism, and his enjoyment of painting.

In World War II he fought the Germans’ Blitzkrieg as it invaded Poland and founded with his commander the Secret Polish Army. (Later incorporated into the Union for Armed Struggle and renamed the Home Army – Armi Krajowa or AK.)

In 1940 he presented a plan to enter Auschwitz concentration camp. (He didn’t just volunteer, it was his idea.) He deliberately got himself arrested during a roundup in Warsaw and suffered two days of torture before being put on the cattle train to the camp.

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There he survived pneumonia, witnessed the murder of hundreds of innocents, the degradation of the Polish and Jewish people, the death through overwork, neglect and lack of basic necessities. But he didn’t just witness it; he was beaten, he was starved, he did see friends hanged or shot for standing out of line, he was forced to stand in howling winds for hours on the Appelplatz in thin clothes while the dead were dragged from the barracks to make up the count (love those German beaurocrats). He did have lice on him so badly that he couldn’t see his skin underneath them, he saw the crematoria being built, the thousands of people turned into wisps of smoke, the doctor who delighted in injecting prisoners with phenol because they died nice and quickly.

He organized the Union of Military Organizations (Związek Organizacji Wojskowej, ZOW) whose purpose was to improve morale, provide and disseminate news, distribute food and clothing as best it could, and to train detachments to take over the camp in the event of a relief attack or airborne landing.

Are you counting? That’s two military organizations founded, and three wars so far.

His intelligence reports were being forwarded by Polish resistance to the Polish Government in Exile and to the British government in London, who refused to believe most of it (Anthony Eden specifically considering the claims that the Germans were gassing people as little more than Jewish and Polish hysteria) and who, with the Americans weren’t interested in doing anything to stop the killing. Bombing the train lines would have been a start, and it’s even been argued that the inmates in the camps were so close to death from infection, disease, starvation or overwork, or all of them, that bombing the camp itself would have been an act of mercy. Mercy was not forthcoming from the West.

After two years in the camp, he decided to break out hoping to personally convince AK that a mission to rescue the prisoners was a valid option. He stole many documents from the Germans and after making contact with AK, wrote the Raport Witolda, Witold’s Report, detailing what was happening in Auschwitz. It’s here and I strongly recommend you read it. Here’s an excerpt:

“Just next to us, two rollers were “working”. Supposedly, the aim was to level the ground. Yet they were working to do away the people, who were pulling them. Priests with addition of several other Polish prisoners up to the number 20-25, were yoked to it. In the second, larger one about 50 Jews were yoked. Krankenmann and another capo stood on the shafts and, by their body weight, increased the burden of the shaft, to press it down into the shoulders and necks of prisoners who were pulling the rolls. From time to time, the capo or Krankenmann with philosophical tranquillity let down his stick on somebody’s head, struck one prisoner or another, who was used as a beast of draught, with such strength that sometimes killed him at once or pushed him fainted under the roll, while beating the rest of prisoners to prevent them from stopping. From that small factory of dead bodies, many people were dragged off by their legs and laid in a row – to be counted during the roll-call.


“At nightfall Krankenmann, walking about the square, his hands behind his back, contemplated, with smile of satisfaction, those former prisoners lying already in peace.”

Still the British Army refused the AK air support for an operation to help the inmates escape considering it too risky. Also, the idea that millions of people were being killed for no particuar reason other than their race or belief or nationality was deemed an obvious exaggeration. People didn’t do that sort of thing.

So he retired, right? Nope.

He joined a secret anti-communist organization – NIE or (“NO” – Niepodleglosc – Independence) with the goal of resisting a possible Soviet occupation. He fought in the 1944 Warsaw uprising when the Poles of Warsaw struggled to liberate their city before the Soviets arrived, demonstrate Polish sovereignty, and then allow the Soviets to enter the city without facing German fire. Here we add an Eastern betrayal to the Western one – the Soviets stopped short of the city, remaining in the eastern suburbs, 100 meters from Polish positions, and let the two mismatched sides fight it out.

Please keep this uprising separate in your mind from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In this uprising, while the Soviets stood by, 16,000 Polish fighters were killed and approximately 175,000 Warsaw citizens. By the time the Soviets finally entered Warsaw it was 85% destroyed.

Our hero was taken POW by the Germans, but on liberation he joined the Polish Army (loyal to the Government-in-Exile) in Italy. There he received orders to assume another false identity and gather intelligence for the G-i-E. The hopes for a democratic and independent Poland were crushed by 1946 and Pilecki was told his cover was blown and ordered to leave; he refused to begin collecting evidence on Soviet atrocities and on the persecution of any Pole who was involved with the AK, their killings or banishment to the gulag.

In 1947, he was arrested by the communist security service, tortured (again) but revealed no sensitive information.

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Photo of Captain Pilecki taken by the communist secret police, 1947

After a show trial he was executed by the communists and his body dumped into an unmarked grave near a municipal tip, and all records or discussion of his exploits were censored by the communists. His son afterwards said:

“For years our family lived feeling profoundly wronged and ostracized, because not only was our father taken away from us, but also his good name and his memory were veiled in a poisonous shroud of accusations of treason. It burdened our hearts for a long time.

“It was very difficult to dilute this [poisoned] atmosphere, because the resistance from the communist institutions and number of individuals supporting them was very significant. Even during the III Republic [of Poland], the old regime did not allow overturn the ‘court sanctioned murder’ (pol. ‘Zbrodnia Sadowa’) committed against Cavalry Captain Pilecki and his comrades, perpetrated against them during the years of Bierut’s reign. Only the anticommunist members of the democratic opposition cultivated the truth about Cavalry Captain Pilecki, and his heroism”

Since the fall of that regime, he has finally been rehabilitated and awarded Poland’s highest honors. I think that he can safely be considered a hero, don’t you?

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Monday Monday

Just a quick little blurt today. We took my mum out to dinner at ‘The Blue Dolphin’ in Crofton. It was fine but I’m not in a hurry to get back.

Okay so everyone’s going bananas about this health care reform. I have also heard about how one big thing is that our obesity epidemic needs to be tackled by ‘individual responsibility’ or addressed by a ‘fat tax.’

So let’s look at that.

First off at first blush it would appear that the problem is very simple. One becomes overweight when one creates a caloric surplus – when one takes in more calories than one expends. Therefore, and it’s no secret, that to lose weight, one should create a caloric deficit – one should expend more calories that one takes in. Simple, right?

Except. We know it’s not. Obesity and the behaviors which lead to it are understood as mostly involving something other than a lack of will power. (If it were merely a lack of will power then surely obese people have only themselves to blame and it would be a simple matter of encouraging them to find the will power or dealing with their irrational choices. Pretty cut and dried. But it never seems to work that way.

Rightly or wrongly the medical establishment, and countless speakers and writers on the subject, have analyzed the behaviors which seem to create obesity as a disease. Certainly it’s an irrational self-harming behavior as much as alcoholism or gambling addiction, or drug addiction. But what cures does modern medicine offer? It’s an important question because the only rational basis for assigning blame and responsibility for this condition would be if there were a cure available. You can’t blame somebody for refusing a cure which doesn’t exist, can you?

The most efficacious cure is bariatric surgery. Interestingly this is not automatically covered by insurance, nor have its long-term effects been studied, nor is it without risk (any surgery to an obese person is risky), nor is it a firm cure; a dedicated overeater can defeat it over time. So there’s the best cure.

Okay so we don’t want to rely on that and insurance mostly doesn’t cover it and when it does you have to (get this) demonstrate that all else has failed. Because of course any invasive procedure should be the last resort.

But the first resort, recommending that the person exercise more and eat less is not what you’d call universally effective. Most people who try it (or who say they’re trying it) fail. Not everyone fails. But what most people get – exhortations, dire warnings, little brochures, etc. – doesn’t seem to be enough.

But we may say, well, if overeating is an addiction (which chemically it seems to be) why not treat it like other addictions, like alcoholism or gambling addiction or drug addiction. Here’s the rub though: None of the treatment programs for alcoholism involve the sufferer having three drinks a day. Nobody suggests that the compulsive gambler place bets but only morning, noon, and evening. And I’m not an expert but I doubt people get over heroin by having only three fixes a day. But the overeater still has to eat. The drunkard can stop drinking. The bettor can never wager again. The drug addict can abstain totally. Only the overeater has to revisit his or her compulsion three (or more if you follow fitness experts’ advice) times a day, day in and day out.

It seems to me that the overeater is told the following:

  1. You have a disease, one which is manifest in chemical reactions in your brain (release of seratonin).
  2. We don’t know how to treat it conclusively. We may or may not be able to cure it.
  3. But if you don’t get better, you’re lazy. it’s all your fault and you should pay in higher premiums or a fat tax.

Fair? I guess it’s in the eye of the beholder.

More to come on this topic in my next post.

How about that Phil?

Yes, how about our edible entrepreneur? I’ve found some more pictures of his hotness for your delight:
First he’s with his fiancee, the lovely and accomplished Ilona (a top flight attorney for lesbian civil rights):

Next, discussing what looks like either the internet, or technology, or business or the intersection of them all (where he really shines):
And finally, cutest of all, half asleep but totally cuddly:
(That brainy head needs a massage, don’t you think?)

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Something Wrong…But Not With My Loyal Readers

It’s been a short strange trip since I last blogged but the time has really flown by and it’s just because of that that I’ve not been blogging more. My bad.

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So wuzzup?

I started physical therapy on doctor’s orders on Friday. I was really nervous because it’s a stranger in very close proximity and I don’t normally like that. It’s also extra leave time to use. 😦 Anyway, the therapist Matt is very solemn seeming but also very cute (the picture doesn’t really do him justice).

When I started I didn’t think I really needed it as it wasn’t feeling so bad, and I told him so but he seemed to take it seriously. He did mention that it possibly was the great big painful stretch in the doctor’s office that did the trick. Apparently my tendon was very tight and even though it hurt like hell, the wrenching stretch may have really helped. Nice to know it wasn’t for nothing.

First Matt used ultrasound on me, which was pretty unremarkable; at first the probe seemed really hot but I soon got used to it. Then he switched to massaging my heel which you’d think would be nice but really wasn’t; it wasn’t objectionable, but rather ‘no big deal.’ Then he put a strap around my foot and had me pull it back flexing it as hard as possible; that wasn’t so easy towards the end as I had to pull and hold this strap harder and harder. Next he gave me a rubber band thing to use to flex my foot against to strengthen the heel and tendon. Then he had me do two stretches standing with instructions to do them at home as well (which I didn’t follow too well). Finally he put a big ice wrap on my feet and left me for ten minutes to chill down.

The weekend was lazy and we didn’t do too much. Ah well. Nice dinner with a friend on Friday, nice lunch on Saturday at a great Italian restaurant, and C cooked delicious bratwurst and fresh corn on the cob. Sunday we had ham steak for breakfast and went to my mum and dad’s house for dinner. We avoided most talk about politics.

Which have been very interesting of late. The rabble have their pitchforks out about the health care plan, whipped to a frenzy by the very people who hold them deepest in contempt and who don’t give two flying damns about them. My brother and I discussed how there seems to be something wrong with a lot of aspects of our culture. We agreed that there is something wrong with militias (whose membership is seemingly increasing), gun nuts, hero worship, false patriotism (by which I mean loyalty to the country rather than loyalty to its people), survivalists, hero worship, all things which seem to delight in force and violence and smugness/triumphantilism. It seems to me at least to be a lack not so much of compassion, but of humility. Some people seem to be their own Gods. A healthy, humble individualism is one thing, but one which requires not building oneself up but knocking others down is not helpful.

Now about that eye candy….

I’ll blog more this week but for now, let’s go back to our sexy lad, Bruno Schuind. Here he is enjoying some lovely chocolate ice cream (I think) and wrapped in some sort of strange material. Any idea what it is?

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Bruno Schuind 08_02   Bruno Schuind 08_03 Bruno Schuind 08_04  Bruno Schuind 08_05

Bruno Schuind 08_06 Bruno Schuind 08_07 Bruno Schuind 08_08 Bruno Schuind 08_09

Bruno Schuind 03_03
(Maybe he should take the pants off for closer inspection – what do you think?)

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Iced Tea and Internet

Are pretty essential when I’m taking a break in summer between work and an appointment. C & I are in Merrifield, VA, waiting to go over to see my counsellor, drinking cooling bevvies and surfing.

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

But sometimes we don’t think so, do we? In fact I wonder how often American really thing we’re number one. See, that <subject redacted> focus group was concerned with an initiative of President Obama’s, to reform a national “system.” What struck me was that nobody seemed to feel that even though we’re number one, have quite a bit of money, and a rather large amount of smart people, it would be beyond this country to do what all of our peer nations have done. (By peer nations I mean the OECD countries, or the G8 countries plus Australia, Korea, New Zealand – the developed west, of which we love to think of ourselves as leader.)
And what is that incredibly difficult task, so beyond us? It’s providing a basic “thing” to everyone in the country regardless of their ability to fork over the cash. Almost everyone agreed it would be a “Good Thing” (except one person who insisted that ‘lots’ of people don’t bother with insurance because they’re young and healthy and stupid). But nearly everyone didn’t think we could do it while shrinking the overall cost of this thing. Never mind that that peer group spends quite a bit less of their GDP on this thing than we do.

Oh, we’ll not be able to control costs! (Why not? Because…because…because we’re powerless against big companies and big associations and big unions. (So much for being a sovereign nation.)

Oh, we’ll wind up with one-size-fits-all government thing. (But nobody’s proposing anything like the British National “Thing” Service.)

Oh, our deficit will balloon and it’ll be a disaster. (And flying balls of brimstone will descend on us. This is a variant of the ‘we are held hostage by powerful economic interests’ argument.)

Basically the naysayers don’t believe that we’re as capable (if not more capable) of creating a rational, efficient system than, oh, say, the French.

See, the French, and nearly all of that peer group, have longer life expectancies than we do. They live longer than we do. (Which gives the lie to the AARP’s arguments that reform means putting our wrinklies on ice floes while playing Taps and watching them drift away.)

I know, we spend a pile on defense. But that argument implies that we value bombs and guns and spies more than the lives of our old people. Or our children. I guess that’s a legitimate way of looking at the world. But surely we can get a bit better, while maybe not replacing all our forces with big white flags?

I dunno. A country which could put a man on the moon, construct the interstate highway system, and supply West Berlin by air for over a year, could do something better than the shambolic, inefficient, and expensive ‘system’ we have now.

True that…now about the eye candy…

Well you’ll have to wait; I can’t stand fiddling about with it from my laptop. Here’s a handsome heads up, though, thanks to gracious permission we will soon be drooling over a man hot enough to warrant an interruption in Bruno Schuind’s run.

And you can guess who! Clues would be….this paragon of sexiness is actually a successful entrepreneur, an accomplished drummer (heavy metal preferred), a local (to me) lad made very good, and goes by a three-letter nickname which I, out of deference to his dishiness, never apply to him. Oh, and he’s recently moved to the upscale Noe Valley area of San Francisco and is most famous for a now-closed web site which dealt with the casualties of the dot-com bust.

Write your answer to this cute conundrum on the side of a brand new Maserati Quattroporte, preferably in champagne metallic, register it in my name and ship it to my house, preferably with a half-uniformed chauffeur (please ensure to pay his wages).

Or e-mail. Winner gets the incomparable acclaim of being mentioned on this very blog!

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Please Help

(Still looking at blogging software – trying to find one that works with both this blog and a mobile me blog.)

Please help with some causes. We have an opportunity to pass the “Uniting American Families Act” (UAFA) which would allow me to sponsor my husband for immigration the same as any other American can sponsor his or her spouse. We also have an opportunity to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) and allow our military to take advantage of the thousands of dedicated Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who are drummed out of the service because of their sexual orientation. And finally we can lift the ban on travellers with HIV from coming into the country.

Please click on the following links to go to the HRC action site and encourage your Congresspersons to do the right thing with these issues:

Pass UAFA

Repeal DADT

Repeal HIV ban

Thank you.

Oh, what the heck. Here’s some eye candy for you to brighten your morning! Here’s Gilmar Rodrigues unable to leave his tool alone.

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The little images aren’t thumbnails, sorry. You have to do them manually. One strike to this software. Also, I can’t get the images to center. Possibly another strike. I’ll have to look in the forums later.

(Well off to do a bit of working out to get that kind of chest one day – ha! ha!)

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We Got Rocks

Yes, today C and I went to various garden centers and got rocks – that is some big boulders to accent our front garden. It’s part of C’s wonderful plan to get rid of most of our front lawn and replace it with ‘proper’ landscaping and gardening. No, Bob couldn’t take our rocks; they’re being delivered, and then C and I will crowbar and shove and coax them into place. Lucky me, but I guess it’s all good. Other than that we really haven’t done much today, but it’s okay. We didn’t do much yesterday either. Which is a shame because the house is a mess and seems to be staying that way, and such. But the power to change our routines is inside me (apparently) and he (also apparently).

Yesterday I did a bit more – I went to the gym. I had a good time – I’m building back up to 60 minutes slowly; I did 55. There wasn’t much eye candy, but that’s okay. I walked listening to Click and Clack and their show Car Talk. Their cartoon was pretty sucky, but their radio show is cool and I get it on podcast. Afterwards, we didn’t do much – I actually took a marathon nap – and got a pizza (too lazy to cook). I’m very proud of myself – I ate only half of my pizza where I normally would eat the whole damned thing. 🙂 I managed not to gorge myself because I was reading My Stroke of Insight (a book by a brain scientist who survived a stroke and examined that experience from the inside out with a scientific precision). I really recommend it and I recommend doing what I did – being very unwilling to get pizza grease all over it! It helped!

This work week seemed to go by so fast in hindsight although it was quite draggy at the time. I am now involved in a project to consolidate our training support brigades from nine to six or seven, and from nine installations to three. It’s my role to help determine our proposed organizational structures based on DA norms and the commanders’ and trainers’ assessment of how many, what grade, and what skills they need, within our total allocated resources. It sounds more exciting than it is. 🙂 But it beats being bored.

Eatingwise I didn’t do so well, so tomorrow is looking a bit uncertain and I’m not sure what it will be like this last weigh in.

My routine will be all off next week as I’m in a class in DC the first two days learning all(!) about “Position Management” at the USDA Graduate School. I’ll probably take Metro down as I live very near Greenbelt Station and the training center is near L’Enfant Plaza Station.

What Else, AngloAm?

Well there was a very interesting article in the Economist about how drastically consumers are pulling back from spending and wondering whether this will be a long-term shift in behaviour. I would imagine that at the very least the longer the recession drags on and the deeper it bites, it may very well. People have gotten so far in hock and if they can’t pay their bills they are in such shock that I think there will indeed be some big changes in how people spend and save. I don’t think that keeping up with the Jones’s stuff will be as important as keeping up with the Jones’s stability.

There was an article in the NY Times that made me angry though. Apparently for well-heeled New Yorkers, who were used to buying houses with little regard for the local schools because they were always going to send their pampered progeny to private, are now either rushing to good local schools, selling their multi-million dollar apartments at losses to move to good school zones, or cheating to get the little kiddies places in the few seats each school opens to non-zone pupils.

All very well and good, except (a) where were these ‘concerned parents’ when the schools were being gutted in the last ten years or so? Probably sending little Johnny to private school while voting for vouchers and cuts to the public ones. After all, it’s not like they had to worry about what the neighbourhood scum would have to death with, right? (b) Cheating to get your kid a good education? This is what one of the parents said:

  • “I will certainly consider some alternative way to game the system by gaining a different address,” said the man, who asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. “This is my child, who is a really smart kid, and he’s not going to my crummy zoned school. That’s just not going to happen.”

Charming isn’t it? It’s good enough for the rest of the little monsters but not his ‘really smart kid’ (to listen to them, most parents think that their offspring are above average in intelligence which may say more about the paucity of statistics numeracy than anything else). And I guess ‘gaming’ means ‘cheating’ or ‘lying.’ What’s the chances that this person traded in derivatives on Wall Street?

(c) It’s fascinating how these nouveau pauvre parents take their underlings’ work for granted. One woman said, of moving into an established area:

  • “I think there would be more established parent-teacher and community groups, and if the city has budget problems and there are cutbacks among teachers, the more established schools with strong networks among parent and alumni groups will be able to weather the storm better.”

What’d she do to build up these parent and alumni groups? Oh, I may be writing class warfare but I have to imagine until very recently she was being driven by a car service to Fifth Avenue without noticing the groups picketing or demonstrating or marching for the schools.

(d) You have to wonder how concerned about the public infrastructure they will be once they get back on Wall Street and can afford to take their heirs out of the hoi polloi and back to where their skills can be ‘nurtured’ and they can learn to be investment bankers. After all, only rich kids are ‘really smart,’ right?

I think this is happening all over – people (like me I admit) who didn’t give a flying f*ck about the libraries now can’t afford trips to Borders and are encountering the fall-out of their previous love of low taxes. They cared not a whit about local rec centers while the country club and the exclusive gym were so much better, now they have to sweat in the very facilities whose inadequacy they helped cause. So much of what’s available to the great unwashed is, well, unwashed. It certainly lacks maple paneling, soft towels, cappuccino and juice bars and the like. I just hope, rather than expect, that this readjustment will engender a rethink of our community amenities and the funding of them. D’you think it will? Or will the return of good times see the (re)moneyed class leave in a rush from the peasants’ amusements and learning shacks?

A Movie You Should Watch, A Cause You Should Supportpib

You really should watch Paris is Burning. It’s about ball culture in New York, but it’s more about the downtrodden and the kicked out and the left on the street creating a beautiful and involving and meaningful world for themselves. The specifics in this movie are drag queens and their ‘families’ being fabulous and fierce (and sometimes shade), but every marginalized people makes safe spaces, safe languages, safe ways. The really amazing thing is that the ‘mothers’ of these drag houses often have to be young gay kids’ parents, because the kids have been chucked out on the streets. You may think this is really peculiar but I am so glad that there are these things in existence. And I’m glad that C and I contribute to a cause you should support, the Point Foundation, which supports, mentors, and gives hope to young LGBT scholars, and I’m so proud of C that he was the one who sought this foundation out.

(Don’t worry, I’m not going to become a drag queen but they are part of our culture. They remind me of  perennial pansies, the hardiest of blooms.)

All these articles and cultural musings. I feel as pensive as Roman Šebrle here:

rspensive

Perhaps he was thinking back to this encounter (since we’re talking about drag queens, etc.)…

rswithanoddstatue

(Even straight guys would have to admit Roman’s the sexier one in this picture!)

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An Interesting Theory

Lunch with my old friend RK was really good. I’m so glad he’s back from Iraq safe and sound and not all mentally changed. We went to an Indian buffet near Fort Belvoir which was good (too damned good), but I still had a huge snack for “dinner” (empty calories) and blew my points. 😦

He was stationed in the International Zone (formerly the Green Zone) in Baghdad and his job was to help analyse the ability of US forces to pull out based on trends in violence. Apparently whenever there’s a violent incident, data on it are recorded (who we think did it [male suicide bomber, Shiite, Sunni, female suicide bomber] and obviously where and when it happened). He took that data and made sense of it by creating a program that plotted violence on a map over time, so you could start at say the beginning of the occupation and move through the days and years, watching the start when it wasn’t so bad, seeing the spike about a year later, and then a decline recently, either for all attacks by all attackers or by some subset thereof.

His work proved for example that although everyone thinks that things worsen during Ramadan, for a while now they don’t. That’s useful because if there is an incident during Ramadan, before his analysis, it would be interpreted wrongly as the start of something bad, troops would go into high alert, checkpoints would be more aggressive and such.

So what’s his odd theory? It’s that after 9/11, when we thought we would be fighting in Afghanistan, we were unhappy with it. In Afghanistan, we’d be fighting mainly with special forces in caves and sort of out of sight of the ‘Arab street.’ But casting an eye over the atlas, we found Iraq — it might have had WMD, it certainly had been and continued to be a problem for the international community, it is stuffed full of oil, and is is in the heart of the Arab/Muslim world; in many ways the heard of that world. Well, if we went there, destroyed the state apparatus, immiserated the population, and generally made things awful for a while, we’d send the message that “if you attack us, or allow anyone to attack us, this is what we can do” on television screens and quietly to leaders in the region. WMD and his cruelty merely served to camouflage the real reason – to frighten the entire region and to gain a base from which to frighten Syria, Iran and Russia specifically.

Seen in that light, it makes sense that we allowed chaos at first – we reduced the Iraqi population to gangs of theives and robbers, and then we ruined their prospects for a generation or more. No electricity, no water, no education, no real life…we said we wanted to improve their lives but (without any real animosity towards them) Iraqis’ suffering was a useful lesson for everyone else. We didn’t want to improve their lives, not at first at any rate, but we wanted to reduce them to a country of murderers and looters and to utterly destroy their dignity (dignity is very important in their culture), and we wanted it to be arbitrary (in that it was as they say at a time and place of their chosing) and of some duration (so that the message would sink in, deeply).

Of course it backfired. We won’t have a lovely Airstrip Iraq, but it did show that not only could we simply destroy a regime, but that we would then let the inhabitants of the country suffer and badly. That we knew Iraq wasn’t Germany after the second world war and that if you punch us we will kill you and your family and your neighours, just to make sure that their neighbours do not even think of punching us. Collective punishment a la Israel on the West Bank, only writ a thousand times as large.

Quite a bit to get your head around isn’t it? I’m sure Matus Valent would be shocked, but he’s too busy admiring his handsome face:

matusvalent95

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