Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Confession (and a Blush)

I was (am still) feeling a bit sick, so I rested on the couch while my kids played whatever imaginary game they'd created (I could hear them in another room, and it had something with a "fierce lion"--Mark--pursuing an "enchanted princess"--Natalie.

They were having a blast, and I lamented lacking the energy to participate.

What I did next I must confess with a grin. I turned on the television and found a show that revived my spirits. So, a few hours ago, alone, I, a thirty year old man, watched Spongebob Squarepants. It was awesome. I love that show!

Monday, March 26, 2007

I Rant More (so excuse me)

When I lived in the Seattle area, I thought that it was an especially unique region; not just possessing traits unheard of in other metropolitan areas, but a truly "special" place in and of itself. However, since living in Metro-Detroit, I have learned that every place likes to think of itself as special. It's how the masses try to make themselves important. In short, it's regional propaganda.

In truth, there's nothing special about the Seattle and Detroit areas. Sure, the greater Seattle area has Weyerhaeuser, Microsoft, Nintendo, trade with Asia, and some remnants of Boeing. Of course the greater Detroit area has the somewhat-Big Three. In the end, however, both regions are just people trying to make a decent living.

Let me tell you about Detroit's problems. Detroit is the victim of labor-union mentality: the idea that a non or semi-skilled laborer is extremely valuable to an industry.

Of course laborers are necessary for any industry. However, to place non or semi-skilled (i.e. factory workers) on some kind of pedestal is downright ridiculous.

If your contribution to an industry is something that can accurately be mimicked by any low-brow sort in India or China, then you are not valuable. You are only valuable to a company if your labor is irreplaceable. If a company can incur fewer expenses by moving operations oversees, then that's what that company should do.

Too few people in the greater Detroit area understand this. The operate under the assumption that if they put in their nine hours they somehow deserve outstanding healthcare and wages. The fact that others in other countries will do the exact same work for less proves the ridiculousness of such an assertion.

Why blame GM for moving plants to Mexico if the same work can be done at a cheaper cost? Contrary to what Michael Moore might think, such is absolutely the right move.

Moreover, it positions the United States as a country of wealth able to provide the services (too often neglected in the GDP figures) that make industries work. If you want to know what industries without the creative geniuses behind them look like, then read Ayn Rand's fictional (but all too true) novel Atlas Shrugged.

The bottom line is that Seattle is losing Boeing because they've made Boeing's business cost-prohibitive. Detroit is losing the Big Three because labor unions have done the same. You can only suck on a teet so long until you have to grow up.

I Am on a Ranting Roll

I think that George W. Bush is a bad president. His tyrannical modus operandi is akin to the likes of Franklin Roosevelt (who cursed the US with socialism--AKA his "New Deal") and Abraham Lincoln (the empire-builder who would have rather seen the deaths of 3/4 of a million people than cede the implementation of high tariffs, a centralized national bank, and a powerful national government). It pains me greatly to admit that Bill Clinton's record as President (BJ's in the Oval Office and lying to grand juries and all) was better.

However, if anyone of my readers thinks for a moment that Al Gore would have been a better alternative in 2000, then I must disagree. I believe that George W. Bush really thinks that he is doing the right thing (through the advisers who have hoodwinked him into their quasi-fascist agenda). George W. Bush is not the idiot that SNL portrays, but he isn't up to the task. He follows blindly the advice of too many whom he inexplicably respects.

Al Gore, on the other hand, knows full well that he is nothing more than a demagogue, one willing to sacrifice the common good for his personal good. How else can you explain how he consumes in one month--at only one of his estates--the energy that the average American consumes in a year? He's a liar and a thief (seriously, look at his agenda and you'll see). He drives in green-cars provided not by his means but by sponsors, and occasionally uses "green" energy via equipment paid by a UK company (check it out). He has never once bared the cost-burden of his so-called beliefs. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing, and everyone knows that such an animal is meant to beware.

Hillary Clinton is no better. That she is no worse only tells you how bad the both of them are. She is a Marxist of the Orwellian breed, wanting of no more than her limitless ego will demand.

The Republicans offer Rudi Giuliani and John McCain. One is but a mayor whose greatest distinction is presiding over the locale of the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor (12-07-1941). The other is a flip-flopping, "What's the wind's direction?" moderate who, when the argument turns against him, reminds everyone that he was a POW in 'Nam.

Essentially, the two major parties in American politics are defunct. They are run by machines that care little for the "common good" of which the Constitution speaks. It's time to give the fascists and the socialists the boot. It's time to vote for freedom, that any man or woman can do as he or she pleases provided that it does not deprive others of life, liberty, or their pursuit of happiness.

A Blessing Wrapped in a Curse

Natalie is a hero.

Of course every parent brags about his or her children. However, I am quite firm in my assertion that Natalie stands up to scrutiny as the most perfect child, second only, perhaps, to Jesus, who apparently didn't even cry.

On Saturday, we threw a party for my sister-in-law's 30th birthday, even though she doesn't look a day over 29 and a half. Natalie, aged six, spent most of the day fretting over which dress to wear. She wanted to look best for Autie Kimmy's big day.

On top of this, she reads independently. I taught her to read at a very young age. We read novels together. Thus far we've read countless children's stories (Dr. Seuss, etc.), but it's the fact that she and I have already read novels that makes me proud. To date, we've read Old Yeller; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Holes; Because of Winn Dixie; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Last month, she saw with her grandmother Bridge to Tarabithia (while I took Mark to see Ghost Rider).

Natalie loved the movie, and my wife told her that the book was really good. She's only six, and I'm not kidding you that she said, "If you buy the book, then I'll read it." Holy crap if she hasn't read through chapter five already--all on her own. She circles words that she doesn't know and cannot learn from context, and she brings them to me for definitions.

She's also starting on multiplication. She understands the scientific method, and she enjoys writing stories and drawing. I'm not kidding. She's everything that a parent dreams.

On Sunday, I was wrestling with Mark. He's really tough, and he likes to get down and dirty. When we were done, he said that he wanted to watch a movie in Natalie's room (there's an extra TV in there on weekends). He left, and about five minutes later Natalie came out to get him and her a glass of water. She returned to her room, but ran back quickly saying, "Mark doesn't look good. His face is pale, and he looks bad."

I rose and walked to Natalie's room. Sure as she'd said, Mark was in bad shape. He looked half asleep. When I touched him, I could feel sweat, but he wasn't hot. I talked to him, but he was unresponsive.

I quickly picked him up and brought him into the family room. There I told my wife that something was wrong with Mark. I gave him to her, and I could see that she too was concerned. Gone was the brilliant fire in his eyes. Erased was his personality. He was essentially dead, sweaty weight.

"We have to take him to the hospital," I said.

"Do we take him to the hospital, or do we take him to the clinic?" she replied.

"No," I said, "we need real doctors."

About then, Mark closed his eyes, and Jennie tried furiously to rouse him. He barely stirred.

"F-it," I said. I'm calling 911. She did not argue, and that's what I did.

My thinking was this. The hospital is at least ten minutes away. The paramedics are about two minutes away.

I grabbed the phone and made the call. The fire truck arrived in about two minutes, followed by an ambulance about a minute later.

Natalie was terrified. Jennie was surprisingly calm, trying to keep Mark awake as he slipped in and out of consciousness.

I wanted to scream. I prayed silently to God, begging Him not to put me in this position, that I wasn't strong enough to suffer so. At the same time, I made the inevitable bargain that if Mark recovered, that I'd be a better person.

The paramedics and firemen came in together and took no time to assess that something was wrong. Mark was, to say the least, lethargic. He hadn't even the energy to cry in fear as they prodded his abdomen and inserted an IV.

They told us that he needed to go to the hospital, so I told my wife to go with Mark while I would drive with Natalie to the hospital.

On the way to the hospital, I nearly lost control. I was on the verge of sobbing. Natalie's presence was the only thing that kept me strong. I told her that she was a hero, that if she hadn't alerted us to Mark's condition, that we wouldn't have called for help.

In one of those moments of sheer hope and gratitude, I offered her anything that she wanted as a reward.

At the hospital, I found my wife and Mark in the trauma room. He was hooked up to machines to monitor his heart, and an IV. I gulped.

The doctor came and told us that he'd ordered a CT to check for head trauma. I said that I'd go with him, as my wife--29 weeks pregnant--could not. Mark was terrified. He'd recovered some of his color, but he was clearly in a state of near terror. I kept talking to him about the things that he loves, and that kept the two of us sane.

The CT went through without a hitch, and we went to a treatment room to await the doctor once again.

The CT came back normal, and no adequate explanation for his condition came. I'd wondered about diabetic shock, but his glucose levels were perfect. Everything was, in fact, perfect. As time went by, Mark himself came back to normal. He complained about the IV and said that the doctors who put it in were "in very big trouble."

We left the hospital that night without a real answer. There was no head or abdominal trauma, nor was there a blood-sugar problem. The best that the ER doc could say was, "Watch him tonight, and make an appointment with his pediatrician."

As we left the ER to pick up Natalie at my brother-in-law's house (he lives about two minutes from the hospital), I asked Natalie what she wanted as her reward for being such a good big sister. She said, "Either ice cream or that bowling game for you Xbox."

I was amazed. I expected her to ask for a Nintendo DS, for she'd gotten one for Christmas, but it had been stolen (we suspect) by my crystal-meth addicted sister and her crystal-meth dealing boyfriend. However, instead of asking for the $130 reward, she'd asked for either a $2 or a $15 dollar one. All she cared about, I observed, was that Mark was going to be all right.

Needless to say, we bought her ice cream on the way home, and today I bought her a Nintendo DS. Sure, I could have spent that money on things for me, but I took more joy from giving her the DS and looking at her face whilst I did so than if I'd bought myself a 50" HDTV. I told her that she's a real hero, and she looked at me with big, wonderful eyes that made me second guess my beliefs about human nature.

Today, my wife found a bump on Mark's head. This is consistent with what the ER doc opined. The pediatrician looked at it. Given that the CT showed no real trauma, she hypothesized that Mark had incurred a great deal of pain, and that the sweat and fainting were typical symptoms of pain-related stress. So Mark is just fine right now.

In the end, Natalie didn't save his life, but I don't regret spending $130 to reward her for her insightful observation. At age six, most kids don't even know the meanings of the words "Pale" and "Ashen," but those were the words that she used. I would take credit for them, seeing as how I've read so much to and with her, but I really cannot. She's beyond me, even in her meager six years.

If God reads this blog (and he ought to, since at least Golf Guy does), then he should know this: I get it. Those hours I spend on the Xbox, those mornings and afternoons that I spend hunting, those days that I spend at work so that we can have the things that we want don't really mean shit. That's right. I said shit. What matters is love. I love my son. I love my daughter. I love my wife, and I love everything else that has undeservedly been given to me. Thank you, Lord, for not making me Job. Thank you for placing things in perspective. Now, if you could only deal with Tom Cruise and the so-called Church of Scientology...

To Mike

I just got in touch with a very old friend from high school. I've been wondering about him for years, and to find him has been such a joy. The power of nostalgia explains so much. Consider the revival of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Transformers, and Star Wars. Multiply that by ten to the tenth power, and you can quantify how happy I am to have heard from Mike.

Mike helped get me my first job under Russ and Don, and he never hesitated to tell me that I was being an asshole when I was being one. There's really nothing like an old friend to erase the hard times of the past and, in doing so, wipe a clean slate for the future. Mike's getting married, and I hope for him the best that marriage can bring.

Look at me being all sappy, and I'm not even mildly (or extremely) intoxicated. I'm just downright happy.

It reminds me of a lesson that I once taught to some young people. I'd asked them, "What song defines you personality and hopes." Many answered with nonsense, like the White Stripes's "We Are Gonna Be Friends" (a fine song, but not a good one for my question):

Fall is here, hear the yell
back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
climb the fence, book and pens
I can tell that we are gonna be friends

Walk with me, suzy lee
through the park, by the tree
We will rest upon the ground
and look at all the bugs we've found
then safely walk to school
without a sound

Well here we are, no one else
we walked to school all by ourselves
there's dirt on our uniforms
from chasing all the ants and worms
we clean up and now it's time to learn

Numbers, letters, learn to spell
nouns, and books, and show and tell
at playtime we will throw the ball
back to class, through the hall
teacher marks our height against the wall

And we don't notice any time pass
we don't notice anything
we sit side by side in every class
teacher thinks that i sound funny
but she likes the way you sing

Tonight I'll dream while i'm in bed
when sill thoughts go through my head
about the bugs and alphabet
and when I wake tomorrow I'll bet
that you and I will walk together again
cause I can tell that we
are going to be friends

Others were a bit more on target with things like John Lennon's "Imagine."

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

So I told them that when they were older, a song by Simon and Garfunkel would be more apropos. The song, "Old Friends/Bookends" goes as follows. Those of you more than thirty years of age will know what I'm talking about.

Old friends,
Old friends
Sat on their park bench
Like bookends.
A newspaper blown though the grass
Falls on the round toes
Of the high shoes
Of the old friends.

Old friends,
Winter companions,
The old men
Lost in their overcoats,
Waiting for the sunset.
The sounds of the city,
Sifting through trees,
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends.

Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears

Time it was,
And what a time it was
It was
A time of innocence.
A time of confidences.
Long ago, it must be.
I have a photograph.
Preserve your memories;
They're all that's left you.

Thanks, Mike, for getting back in touch. If we can share a park bench when we are seventy, I will be more than delighted.

With youth comes vigor. With age comes wisdom. With politicians, registered Republicans, and registered Democrats comes neither. Remember that in November. There, I've said it. Vote Libertarian or vote not at all. Don't worry. Your freedom and the achievements of the ages are all that are at stake.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Global Warming is Junk Science

Pseudo-scientists and eco-nazis push the global warming argument because it is their best chance at getting attention and getting power. Sure, they are concerned about the environment. However, their particular kind of concern is not influenced by the truth. Whenever the truth stands in their way, they either ignore it or fabricate a story that the average Joe Blow idiot will buy because he paid attention to Jack Squat in even the most basic science classes.

The media plays right into these people's hands. First of all, the media is dominated by leftists who advocate state control of the means of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Second, it's a damn good story. The unspoken motto of the mass media is "If it bleeds, it leads." People tune in for shock and awe. What is more shocking and awe inspiring than armageddon? Therefore, the media shows only the side of the story that shocks and awes.

Not all scientists agree that human beings have caused global warming. Those who do receive fat pay checks from governments who wish for further research to help avoid the apocalypse. The fact that politicians like Al Gore are really the loudest of the bunch should be a clue that it is not a legitimate scientific matter.

What all scientists do agree on, however, is that over ten thousand years ago, the Earth's climate began to warm (which is why we are no longer in the Ice Age). This warming took place with no help from factories, coal plants, or SUV's. The long term trend is actually one of warming, not of stability.

Let's consider how pathetic really is the "Global Warming/Sky is Falling" argument. It really centers on circumstantial evidence: that temperatures in the past century were, on average, a little warmer than in the century before. Seriously, we're not talking about climate change really, we're talking about a change in a few degrees. Note also that the past century was not even the warmest of the last thousand years. This doesn't get mentioned because the truth doesn't matter to these people. At the very best, we have a weak correlation between rising CO2's and climate. It's very weak because, quite obviously, when the Ice Age ended, the Earth was warming just fine on its own with negligible human activity.

The real cornerstone of their argument is not science. It is fear. If you don't stop CO2 emissions, then the world will die! This form of persuasion fits into the same category as the following.

1.) If we abolish slavery, then black men will run rampant and rape white women (this was a very serious worry in the North and the South. It is also the reason why cocaine and other such drugs were abolished: fear that African American men would get high and rape white women).

2.) The Jews are parasites who are sucking the culture out of Germany especially and Western Civilization in general. They are behind Capitalism, for it allows them--as the capitalists--to seize power. They are behind Marxism, for it allows them--as the party elite--to seize power. Etc. If we don't take care of the Jews, then they'll take care of us!

3.) If we don't fight in Vietnam, then the communists will take over all of Asia and then the rest of the world, including us!

4.) If we don't invade Iraq, then Saddam will either deploy his massive arsenal of WMD's against Israel, Europe, and the United States, or he'll provide those WMD's to Al Quaida for the same purpose!

5.) If we don't stop all of these Irish immigrants from coming to the United States, they'll acquire citizenship, elect the Pope to the presidency, and establish a Roman Catholic state in place of our protestant (but secular) Republic!

That's right. I'm saying it. The global warming folks are of the same kin as the worst kind of tyrants that this world has ever seen. The most dangerous thing facing this society today is not global warming. It's the men and women who push the global warming agenda. They are my sworn enemies, and I spit upon them for taking me as a fool who will be led like a lamb to the slaughter.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Prodigal Child

We all love the story of the prodigal son. That a loved one can fall far but recover and return is the hope of everyone with a black sheep in the family.

Of course the father, recognizing the sincere repentance of his son, accepts him back into the fold and celebrates the return. However, I think that many people hold out too long for and offer too much to prodigal sons.

"What would Jesus do?" is a fine question to ask when faced with any situation. However, let's not misconstrue Jesus when answering the question ourselves.

In the parable, the father does not keep giving to the prodigal son, hoping against hope that the son will get his life together. The son has to hit rock bottom and suffer for a long time before he comes to his senses, repents, and begs forgiveness.

Recall that in the parable, the son says, "I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men." He has to repent truly for his transgressions and demonstrate a clear willingness to forsake the sins of the past and live as the insignificant man whom he has made himself.

Jesus forgives in the face of repentance. He forgave the thief who knew that he was a sinner and defended the innocent Jesus. Jesus told that thief that he (the thief) would soon be with him (Jesus) in Paradise. He said nothing of the other thief who did not repent.

Another 24 Theory.

I've been expecting Jack Bauer to die unexpectedly ever since the Golf Guy mentioned it to me at work about three (or was it four?) years ago. He said that it would be completely unexpected--not even saved for the season finale.

Well, since then, I've pretty much had a theory that Jack will die each season since (and been dead wrong each time). For a long time I thought that they were grooming Curtis to take his place, but it doesn't look like that will be happening. Also, Curtis was a different kind of agent than is Jack, so I should have known better.

However, I'm ready to take gamble and state my current prediction. Watchers of 24 might remember last week that medics wanted to watch Jack for signs of possible internal bleeding. He declined and is back in the thick of things. Perhaps he's going to die soon from those injuries that he received at the hands of the Russians. It's a great angle to take, for it should catch most people completely by surprise. A friend and co-worker of mine took exception to this theory, noting that Sutherland has another year on his contract, but that got me thinking: how much more of a surprise would it then be? It's perfect. It's perfect in being anti-climactic (and thus, in its own surprising way climactic), and it will be absolutely unexpected.

Only two things make me think that I am wrong. First, I doubt that they would pay Southerland for a season just to keep his death a secret. Second, I don't think that the writers, when they do decide to kill Jack, will do so in such a normal, unheroic way. Still, there's part of me that makes me believe that such a death would be so perfect. He's gotten out of so much unbelievable crap in so many unbelievable ways, to have him die so undramatically would be ironically poetic.

Surely Golf Guy, and maybe even the long absent Science Guy have something to comment on this.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A 24 Theory.

In real time!

Watch Morris. It doesn't add up, but it's the kind of twist that the writers will pull.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Best Pictures Part I

Thus far, the wife and I have seen two of the Academy Award's Best Picture nominees.

If you haven't yet seen it, don't bother to rent Babel. In spite of good acting, the plot is poorly constructed, at times forced, and overall boring. It reminded me a lot of the previous year's winner, Crash, which came across as artificially construed. To the ladies, Brad Pitt is not hot in this movie. I can attest to this for, if my wife could leave me for any man, it would be Brad Pitt. Although it is of no importance, I must brag that I have family--though not bloodline-and friendly ties to a branch of Pitt's family. They are close enough in relation that their name is "Pitt," and they refer to the famous one as "Cousin Brad." Still, don't waste your time on this movie. If you like Brad Pitt, then see something else (other than his other mistake, Kalifornia).

The other nominated film that we saw was Martin Scorsese's The Departed. My recommendation is that you watch it. It's quite good. What makes this recommendation even more sincere is the fact that have long-been a Leonardo DiCaprio hater. I've always thought that his talent was overrated. He was not great in Titanic, and Titanic was NOT a great movie (in spite of its box office draw and its excessive awards. However, in more recent years I've seen him mature as an actor. I thought that he was rather good in Catch Me If You Can and as Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

Don't think that I am admitting a wrongful assessment of DiCaprio's acting. He was rather poor in all movies preceding Catch Me If You Can. He might have been great in Titanic, had not the director been poor and the script (written by that very same poor director) been sub-literate. I am not admitting that I was wrong. To the contrary, I am acknowledging that DiCaprio has risen to my standards. If only Keanu Reeves could do the same. He's the one, you'll remember, who nearly ruined the otherwise brilliant The Matrix. Thank God that the movie was saved because the charactor "Neo" (Reeves) was supposed to be an idiot. Consequently, the sequels sucked because once "Neo" wasn't an idiot, Keanu Reeves could not adequately portray him.

Stay tuned, as I plan to watch the other "Best Picture" nominees, as well as The King of Scotland, which at least one trusted friend has argued should have been nominated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

On and On: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Today I spoke to some youths, most of whom were about 13 years old, and we discussed how open modern society is to change.

To wit, I held up my iPod and noted that 17 years ago (when I was 13), we never imagined fitting over 1,000 songs on a such a tiny devise. We were still using tapes and had only just begun to discover compact discs.

I also held up my cell phone. The idea that you could contact or be contacted by anyone virtually anywhere was something that seemed closer to Star Trek than the near future.

Just prior to this very moment, I went upstairs to watch a TV show with my wife. She said, "Give me ten minutes," and I thought nothing of it. We now have DVR and can watch the show whenever we feel like it.

These are just a few of the changes in the past decade. I wonder what lies in store for the next. Good things, I suspect, provided that people are not hoodwinked by Al Gore.

I told them that most changes come with a bit of pain (think of all the telegraphers who were put out of business by the telephone), but overall changes point toward a trend of progress.

Of course, by progress I mean real progress. Not the same old BS from so-called "progressives" (i.e. "liberal democrats" in the USA). I'm talking about the progress that makes lives better and easier. The redistribution of wealth and extension of the state's powers are contrary to progress. Still, many will support the closet Marxists because they'd rather let someone else work for them. It's a very short-term gain (and only again if you can look beyond the greed and subsequent theft behind it), but that's about as far as the socialists can look.

More Alas.

Humans beings are born free and born to be free, and yet so few can imagine and celebrate freedom. Now that's an irony so tragic that not even SNL can poke fun at it.

Five Poems By Stephen Crane

Most people do not know that Stephen Crane was more than the author of the first psychologically real war novel, The Red Badge of Courage. He was also a poet, though of a different ilk.

Below are a few selections of Crane's poetry. Many will say that they are hardly poetry, for they are free verse of the freest kind. Perhaps they are not very poetic, but they are very deep, if not also very dark.

A man feared that he might find an assassin;

Another that he might find a victiom.
One was more wise than the other.
--Stephen Crane

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
"It is futile," I said,
"You can never--"
"You lie," he cried,
And ran on.
--Stephen Crane

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them,
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom--
A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
--Stephen Crane

"Have you ever made a just man?"
"Oh, I have made three," answered God,
"But two of them are dead,
And the third--
Listen! Listen!
And you will hear the thud of his defeat."
--Stephen Crane

And my personal favorite...

A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
--Stephen Crane

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I Dig Deeper

There was a time when God looked upon it and called it "Good."

That was the word. If you are a believer, then consider. How different must it have been? What word would God use today? What word would he use for you/me?


Jesus a Comedian?

Jesus Christ cries, he rages, he loves, he shows the basis for every response except for one. In no account does Jesus of Nazareth laugh.

This is possible for a few reasons. Maybe Jesus had no sense of humor.

Still, it may simply be that those who wrote about Jesus thought that the message of his crucifixtion and our subsequent salvation from the pits of Hell was more important, so they did not include the time that Simon Peter farted and a bit of poo came out.

On the other hand, it could be an indication of something a bit more deeper.

Laughter occurs only in conjunction with imperfection. We laugh when something turns out as it should not have turned out or in a way contrary to how we expected it to turn out. With Jesus being God, he was perfect. Hence, he would see no humor in imperfection. This is why there's usually someone offended at any given joke. It means that someone is made an ass.

Personally, I think it had more to do with the scarcity of papyrus. Jesus was God, but he was also man. That means that if Peter had sharted, Jesus would have probably clutched his side, fallen to his knees, and dribbled a bit in his jockey shorts (I doubt that he wore boxers--he was a pacifist after all).

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Philosophical Pondering

If death is not an end but merely a new beginning, then there's always a chance that Sonny and Cher might reunite.

Does this make the glass half full or half empty?

Friday, March 02, 2007

SNL, Down's Syndrome, and Irony

I'm disappointed but not surprised that many people have been upset by a sketch on last week's Saturday Night Live. The whole din shows not how insensitive some people are, but how oversensitive are some.

The sketch is set in a bar. It involves four friends who have gathered for a drink and a memory (to echo Billy Joel's sentiment in "Piano Man"). One of them, the actor who portrays Dwight on The Office, goes to the jukebox and programs a few songs. He returns to his friends' table to reminisce.

Soon the song becomes audible. It is Loggins and Messina's romantic classic "Danny's Song."

It doesn't take long for one of the friends to notice the song and recollect a "fond" memory. He tells his comrades that the song will always remind him of the time when, as a young boy, he went to the petting zoo and was bitten on the you know what.

At this moment, I chuckled, just because it was unexpected. However, the follow up floored me. It was something like, "And they couldn't even find the guy who did it." To make my laughter even more acute, there was a subsequent comment about how they finally did locate his uncle.

Just as my breathing returned to normal, the next reminiscence began. Another friend noted that the song had a sentimental meaning for him too, in that it reminded him of the time when he was throwing a football in the backyard with his dad. "It was the first time," he said, "that I realized that I had a dad and not just a dad with Down's Syndrome."

Holy crap, I almost wet myself at that one. Not because Down's Syndrome is funny but because it was totally unexpected. However, many have complained in the past week that the joke was in poor taste.

First of all, the joke did not suggest that Down's Syndrome is a funny matter. Instead, it utilized irony. Such a song as Messina's (see the lyrics below) is designed to express and evoke fond, youthful, and idealistic hopes and memories. So when the song begins and someone says, "This song reminds me of..." we expect something warm and cuddly. That the SNL writers gave use the opposite is what made it so funny.

What I find interesting is that I've read reviews that criticize the use of Down's Syndrome as a subject matter, but none have taken to issue the themes of the other memories. Remember that the first memory involved an uncle biting his nephew's woo-hoo. The third memory involved a teacher recalling how he set fire to his classroom (and that finger paint is really flammable), and the last memory was of something of a homosexual fetish. These are apparently fine for jokes.

The sketch ended on a Tarantino-esque note, with the four men drawing guns apparently to rob the place (as in the opening and closing scene of Pulp Fiction). Again, it's irony that makes things funny. It's not robbery that's being joked about, it's that a bunch of friends gathering for a beer and reminiscing to Loggins and Messina aren't the kind of guys who rob a joint.

But whatever you do, remember, campers. Pedophilia, arson, and homosexuality are funny. Down's Syndrome is not. Let's get some thicker skin, people. How else can we enjoy the wickedly clever humor of South Park?

Below are the lyrics to the song that was played in the background. Look up irony in the dictionary, read the following lyrics, and consider the sketch in its appropriately funny way.

Danny's Song, by Loggins and Messina.
People smile and tell me I'm the lucky one
And we've just begun, think I'm gonna have a son
He will be like she and me, as free as a dove
Conceived in love, sun is gonna shine above

And even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with ya, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the mornin' when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me, everything is gonna be alright

Seems as though a month ago I was Beta-Chi
Never got high, oh, I was a sorry guy
And now I smile and face the girl that shares my name
Now I'm through with the game, this boy will never be the same

And even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with ya, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the mornin' when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me, everything is gonna be alright

Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign
Strong and kind, and the little boy is mine
Now I see a family where there once was none
Now we've just begun, yeah we're gonna fly to the sun

And even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with ya, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the mornin' when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me, everything is gonna be alright
Love the girl who holds the world in a paper cup
Drink it up, love her and she'll bring you luck
And if you find she helps your mind, better take her home
Don't you live alone, try to earn what lovers own

And even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with ya, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the mornin' when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me, everything is gonna be alright

Bill of Rights