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Delusions of Grandeur Now An Official Olympic Sport

[My column in the Sunday magazine.]

Will Rogers famously said, "We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud as they go by." But Will Rogers is dead, and no one remembers him, because he never had his own TV show or won "Survivor" or "Project Runway" or -- let me double-check before I go to press with this -- "Dancing With the Stars."

The new rule is: Everyone can be a hero, and if you're just sitting on the curb, clapping, you might as well be a paramecium. An intestinal parasite. A virus buried in a bacterium. If you have a shred of self-respect, you must be a star, a beacon of glory, a supernova shining from the cosmic firmament, particularly during the November and May sweeps.

America has become a land where modesty is considered slightly pathological, and potentially curable with medication. We're a society in which delusions of grandeur are actively encouraged by parents and teachers who fear that a child's self-esteem cannot endure the torment of being merely somewhat above average. (How do I know? Because I'm one of America's leading arbiters of truth. On my business card it says, "Arbiter of Truth, Raconteur, Sensualist.") The most popular show in the country, and the best indication that we are a nation gone insane, is "American Idol," which is full of people who believe they have singing talent even as they sound like cats trying to hawk up hairballs.

Almost all the contestants seem to think the program is seeking the loudest singer in America. They routinely combine wall-paint-peeling volume with warbles, trills, moans and various other pneumatic calisthenics. The judges inform them that not only are they detestable losers, but their singing also violates the torture provisions of the Geneva Conventions. The contestant receives the official stamp of putridity. Go away now, the judges say: Return to your sad, hopeless, anonymous life. The viewer feels like a rubber-necker passing a car crash. The program leaves bodies strewn everywhere in the talent-show equivalent of a snuff film.

Rosie O'Donnell, the noted defender of good taste, argues that "AI" exploits "mentally unstable" people. But if we stopped delusional people and dimwits and freakazoids from making spectacles of themselves in public, we'd have no presidential campaign -- the original reality TV show.

Hubris has become as essential to our culture as fossil fuel. We do everything bigger, louder, faster. Zeal has replaced equanimity. The passionate outburst is the new behavioral baseline. Shame is as old-fashioned as marmalade.

What's strange is that the tendency for excess to backfire does not seem to have the same inhibitory quality that it once did. People fail upward.

Bode Miller somehow remains our most famous Olympic-class skier despite getting skunked at the Olympics. Lindsay Lohan can commute to rehab all she wants without any evaporation of her celebrity. Barry Bonds may be up to his thyroid in rumors about performance-enhancing drugs, but he still briefly got his own reality show on ESPN. O.J. Simpson's "confession" book finally pushed shamelessness too far even for our indulgent society. But just before that, he managed to produce a pay-per-view TV show, "Juiced," in which he played pranks on people, like trying to sell a white Bronco at a used car lot. I can't wait for Charles Manson to have a talk show.

Celebrity culture has led to a collapse of the healthy neurosis known as the "impostor complex." It used to be that people suspected that their successes were undeserved; now they're more likely to think it's their lack of fame that's bizarre. Many people apparently think they can be president of the United States, even when they might barely qualify to be commissioner of baseball.

Am I saying that people should never aspire to greatness? No. It just means we should accept that greatness is not an entitlement, nor a requirement for being an excellent person. Exceptionalism, if it became too common, would cease to have any meaning.

Once in a while, dare not to dream. The common and the ordinary are not so bad. There's another great quote from Will Rogers: "Heroing is one of the shortest-lived professions there is."

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 10, 2007; 8:36 AM ET
 
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Next: Clinton and Obama

Comments

Okay, I held back because knowing you could be first! first! first! is as good as being first.

But I waited several minutes, nobody else has posted, so . . . I'm claiming my 1.5 seconds of fame with the other boodlers.
First!

Posted by: dbG | February 10, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

First!
Manson's talk show would be something, wouldn't it?

Posted by: byoolin | February 10, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Dagnabbit!

Posted by: byoolin | February 10, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

A quick note: "pneumatic calisthenics", not bad, "Once in a while, dare not to dream.", oh, that's *good*.

bc

Posted by: bc | February 10, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I think the nut of the thing is "People fail upward."

There's some kind of threshhold where that becomes true - somewhere between my boss seeing me outside a mall on a day when I'd called in sick and the $200-nillion severance packages for McKinnell at Pfizer or Nardelli at Lowe's.

I just need to find that sweet spot, get on Manson's show, nail Paris and let fame warm me like a gentle hug from an old friend.

Posted by: byoolin | February 10, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I somehow left out the sentence that pointed out this Grandeur thing applies to business people too - not just 'celebrities'.

Posted by: byoolin | February 10, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

And how much better we might all be if W had heard God tell him to become commissioner of baseball rather than President of the United States.

Posted by: dbG | February 10, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

"I coulda been a contenda!"

(sorry... I'll just go sit in the corner and grout)

Posted by: martooni | February 10, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

YouTube has certainly allowed people another mainline to fame. Was it the NYT or WaPo that had an article recently on how good YT can actually be?

Case in point, Ysabellabrave. She shows up, never previously having sung in public. Directs a number of low-tech videos in which she does sing, gains a following, and there's something charming about the way she does it. Here she is, talking about an upcoming YouTube gathering in SF, where she'd like to meet some of her fans, finishing with a song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vARptKnrcMU

If you're still with me, here's one where Condi raps.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0f2dHJ6A18

Posted by: dbG | February 10, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Well, Martooni, grouting is one of the banes of DIY's. "Rinse with a sponge until the water is clear"...arrrrgh! Impossible.
As you can see, the accreditation process has left me intact. Had the process gone south we would have heard about it by now.
The kit makes me think of Ringo's song: "...my mother told me I was great...". I think that the lyrics were Lennon's, but I might be wrong. The tune is on Ringo's first solo effort; one of those flash in the pan things.

Posted by: jack | February 10, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Frostbitten wrote: "The father-in-law, retired cattle rancher from Paso Robles, hob nobs with the vineyard owners."

Hi Frosty! One of my four brothers lives in San Luis and now, semi-retired, my dad. I try to buy wines from this region, thinking on them. Only the chi-chi expensive ones seem to make it out my way. I like Tobin-James for a number of reasons, but a bit high for me.

As for wine-in-bags, I like a newer packaging that is picnic-worthy and poolside legal:
http://www.frenchrabbit.com/value-convenience.html

I don't mean to advertize!! Take a look at the planet-friendly pitch which can link up with previous kits about the energy connection to climate change.

But Mudge's comment about add more garlic works fine for any cheepish vino.

Mudge are you mudding, today? That would be my home-improvement pun for the day.

Martooni, you may come out of the corner in fifteen minutes. Your next time out, however, will be longer and involves you mudding and tiling a corner at my house.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 10, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

This may almost be on-topic, although it was inspired by a comment in the previous kit about a celebrity billionaire and global warming.

It's just. . . is it just me, or

. . .is Richard Branson really Zaphod Beeblebrox?

Posted by: sevenswans | February 10, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Dancing with the Stars update, post-show activities:

In the last round of the show, Dallas Cowboys running back and Texan Emmitt Smith took home the trophy for his fancy footwork. Many thought the disco ball trophy honors should have gone to muy caliente hoofer and southern Californian Mario Lopez--even Washington Post televison critic Lisa de Moraes judged Lopez as the better dancer.

Mario Lopez, as I have Boodled, will be in San Antonio in April (he already having made a publicity swing through Alamo City shortly after the show's dance competition ended with his dance partner Karina Smirnoff) to be the grand marshal of one of our annual Fiesta parades.

Meanwhile, Emmitt Smith can be seen here in Texas in television spots dancing his way through (and impressing customers, particularly the ladies) the produce section, meat department, and aisles of our statewide grocery chain, HEB (named after Howard E. Butt).

http://www.heb.com/aboutHEB/history.jsp


On a completely different note, will anyone be watching or following the media coverage of Barak Obama announcing his presidental bid this weekend from Springfield, Ill., taking his campaign cue and perhaps his event staging from Abe Lincoln?

Posted by: Loomis | February 10, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/02/AR2007020200358.html

The Rules for YouTube article.

Posted by: dbG | February 10, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

This got me to thinking that a corollary of this may be to be a know-it-all. A few years back in a new job I decided I just couldn't pull off the attempt to be a know-it-all, so I just started explaining that I didn't know it all, and would ask for help. This succeeded wonderfully because people want to help, and liked my candor.

I also formulated a view that my attempts when younger to appear knowledgeable about every new thing was in fact a sign of my then immaturity.

This may be going out the window now. Given a new assignment, I mentioned to the client (while multitasking on three of his different tasks, a bit more than I was usually called upon to do), that I was freshly assigned and not totally up to speed. Although I knew I was GETTING up to speed faster than any of my colleagues or competitors could.

Big mistake. My boss later called me in and told me I should always give the impression of knowing everything. He may be right. It sure feels wrong though.

I saw this in the news about Carville's predictions.
http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/news/politics/16668239.htm
Interesting.

Posted by: Jumper | February 10, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Vaticinate: to predict events; to speak as a prophet.

Posted by: Jumper | February 10, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Bob S. writes "girls and colored folks", meaning?


Good morning, Mudge, hope the work goes well.


Our society only appreciates bold, gusty, folks. Those willing to do the unthinkable under the guise of being brave, courageous, and out in front. Leadership is perceived as being without conscience, without humanity, without fear to do the unthinkable. In other, words one has to be able to strip bare, take off all your clothes. Not so much to show what is underneath as to show that you got the balls to do it. Doesn't matter if there is a good heart there or just a meaness of spirit. We've gotten so far from what this country is about until it is almost unrecognizable. We've allowed such awful stuff to take place in this country and in the international theatre until even we don't know what to say. We called ourselves a beacon of light to the world, but that flame is gone. We used to be about substance, now it's just the shell.

And will someone tell me where those children are that they could not find parents for after Katrina. Did they evaporate or are they in hiding?

Soledad O'Brien and Spike Lee gave camera to the children in New Orleans to picture their life in the recovery. A real good idea, I think. Of course, that's just me.


I am always amazed when people profess there is no God, their argument always seems to be more to convince themselves than anyone else. I mean, just suppose one lives a long "logical" and happy existence without the thought of God or pray tell, a belief in God and Christ, and then die as we all will at some point, only to find out that everything that was told and written concerning God and Christ is true?

I believe people that embrace such thoughts know deep down inside that man did not do all that is. They know this just like they know breathing, eating, sleeping, and all those other arts of human behavior, yet it is a stubborness, a hardening of the heart, an unwillingness to submit to their Creator. So to justify this situation, and to make themselves feel better, they beat up the folks that believe. And we all know that the art of elevating self or even your point of veiw is to make others look like refuse.

And the idea that the world would be a better place if only those of logical persuasions were allowed to breath and exist has been exercised by a number of people. Their calling card usually leaves a bloody path right to their door.

I don't know anything, not even a lot about God and Christ, but I believe, and I read the Scriptures to know Him whom I love. True Christianity does not harm. It helps. It does not war, it is peace. It does not hate, it is love. It is called the "free gift" in Scripture, there is no cost. And the benefit of this free gift, eternal life in our Saviour.


God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

I know, I'm long-winded this morning, forgive the long post. Just felt like talking this morning. Probably said too much, I always do. Overlook the grammar and the spelling or make me aware of it. Even this should be a learning experience. You think?

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 10, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

That is a very good post Cassandra.

And a good point in the fact that we view ourselves as leaders of the world.A model for the rest of the world.But we are so screwed up in so many ways.We have lost our path and our identity.

But as with any journey,they are many different paths to take,we (as a country) just need to find the right one.

Also another good point is all you have to do is BELIEVE in yourself,as a person,as a community,as a nation.

To whatever higher power you believe in and whatever creed or code you follow.It is the belief that makes the difference.But also it should be a shared belief,a peaceful belief.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 10, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I was poking fun of the idea that Harvard's new female president is an earth-shattering change in the world. Obviously, females and African-Americans (and all other kinds of folks) are (and have been for a while) doing all kinds of things, including being front-runners for the office of President of the United States.

So, yay, Harvard! But, what's the big deal?

Posted by: Bob S. | February 10, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

cassandra, i'd like to defend the non-religious a bit, even though like you i consider myself a christian. people believe or don't believe in god for a variety of reasons, so i don't think it's fair to put everyone in the same mold.

on the other hand, not believing, or at least the assertion of god not existing, does take a faith in scientific materialism and a belief that no other realm exists. everyone believes ("has faith") in something, whatever their worldview is. no side can conclusively prove their views.

while everyone should be responsible for their own views and moral choices, i don't think that people can always control what they believe. maybe they can, but they often don't feel like they can, and family upbringing, education and life experiences are usually determining factors.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 10, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I clearly took that Bob S. was being ironic. Sarcasm is sometimes to subtle to fit through the intertubes.

This ysabellabrave girl is pretty cute and not a terrible singer. I suspect some post processing on the music since the typical web camera mic is nowhere that good. Since lonelygirl15, a healthy dose of skepticism is mandatory.

I blame blogs and self-esteem training for the rash of AI style delusion. People start reading or writing blogs or watching YouTube videos and then think other people care what they think or that people want to see what they can do. Unfortunately they are right.

I've got YouTube videos with several hundred views and I am far from talented. I have at least a dozen people that read my blog because they want to and not just because I appeared at the top of a Google search. I feel an obligation to be interesting, but all I can be is me.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 10, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

My earlier prediction that there would be a white martooni by lunch has come true. My Italian relatives wouldn't recognize me right now if I bit them.

If I ever volunteer to do a drywall job again and forget to specify that someone else will have to do the finishing work, please shoot me.

I swear that joint compound dust is sentient and is very much into "exploring" and I don't mean that in a good sense. Actually, I think "invading" is the more appropriate term. Word to the wise: those cheap dust masks they sell at Home Depot are fine for keeping large stuff out of your nose (like sawdust, flies, impatient mothers-in-law), but they are useless when it comes to this stuff.

I think I'm going to make me a bowl of tomato soup, grill up a cheese sandwich and try to wash the dust out of my system with several beers.

Regarding the topic (this being Joel's blog and all): Fame. David Bowie. Enjoy the tune cootie. Please don't hit me.

Posted by: martooni | February 10, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Bob S, the reason a woman president of Harvard is a big deal is because she is the first, and Harvard is a big, fat, prestigious university (rightly or wrongly). I liked this quote from the WaPo article:
"And it has only taken them 371 years," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. "Larry Summers, we couldn't have done it without you."

I don't believe Harvard admitted women undergraduates until the 1970's (not so long ago) - and I think there is still a library that is for men only - maybe that's been changed by now. So, yeah, it's a big deal. Don't we have some Harvard alum here?

I heard a bit of Obama's speech on the radio - he sounded good. I'll catch it on C-SPAN at some point. (Funny, I catch myself wondering which is his first or last name when I refer to him - ha!)

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 10, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Fame (not sure if I actually want to thank you for the tune cootie, martooni, but it did make me pull up a pic of Bowie, and that was nice) is a frightening possibility nowadays, what with YouTube and the intrawebs an' all. I lurked long and quietly, and was heartened by the courage (and discretion) of the many different flavors of boodler.

I didn't add to the six degrees of separation thread because there are far too few layers separating me from celebrities due to a former job and several romantic liasons (I. Am. Not. A. Groupie. Musicians date musicians, and they were just more famous than me) and I dread the day when old TV news clips with my face and words start appearing on YouTube. Maybe in another ten years it'll be a source of pride, but people that don't enjoy the spotlight and like their privacy need avatars, body doubles, masks and pseudonyms nowadays, or it's all hangin' out there the first time someone decides to stream it in.

(now that I've scared myself, I'm going to go hide gibbering under the staircase until lured out by Asimov quotes or old Star Trek references)

Posted by: sevenswans | February 10, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Obama:

Read an opinion piece over at Huffington Post this morning by an African American writer who is still severely umbraged by Biden's comment that Obama is "articulate" and this guy is finding even more umbrage in nearly every compliment about Obama that comes from anyone with light skin.

News flash, umbrage man... I and (I hope) most liberals could give a flying duck what color a candidate is -- we're just thrilled to death to have found an "articulate" and "clean" *politician* with a positive attitude and little baggage. Skin color has nothing to do with it.

So far, I like Obama. I'm impressed with his ability to "articulate" things in ways I can only dream of. I'm not crazy about Hillary, but would vote for her. I also like Edwards (a lot), but I'm not sure he can pull off a win. I would really like to see Gore jump in and kick some butt, but I'm not holding my breath.

All I know is that the Dems have a chance with the field of candidates out there now. All we need to do is make sure the best one gets out front and that we don't allow the selection of the best to turn into a "circular firing squad".

Back to the grout. Or a nap. What the heck... it's Saturday. Nap wins.

Posted by: martooni | February 10, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

mostlylurking - Siiiigh... Yes, I get that it's a big deal in the rather small world of Harvard and a few other hidebound institutions. My original comment acknowledged that fact. Yellojkt & myself attended an institution that didn't admit women until the early 50's, and felt the need to wait another ten years to face the admission of black students.

So much the worse for hidebound institutions! The world is passing them by. Prime Ministers Thatcher, Gandhi, Bhutto; Presidents Barrios de Chamorro, Robinson, Aquino, Finnbogadóttir (Haha! You didn't think I'd come up with that one, did you?); and others far too numerous to mention have all found that they were able to get along just fine in the world without giving much care to Harvard's leadership structure.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 10, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Certainly something to consider, yello.

I've been watching her progress on YouTube with curiosity, she has improved as a singer over the past few months (GoldenEye excepted). She'd mentioned at one point that she didn't have video editing equipment, so everything was 1 take, but who knows?

Posted by: dbG | February 10, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

LaLurker and Cassandra,

The faith and non faith journeys are very complex and perhaps should be looked at as developmental.

Who among us is the same throughout life?

I find that having faith rather consistently throughout my nearly 50 years, continually surprises and even quietly delights.

Many others who I know at varying levels of intimacy would report paths that take them through terrain that mirrors the geological diversity of the planet; hills, valleys, deserts, lush forests, open seas....you get the drift.

Faith and non faith; both stances often wax and wane in life, by exposure to viscitudes, education, stress, inner psycholgical mood, suffering, joy, relatives, community....many shaping influences.

I do read Richard Dawkins. But I like to read scientists and others for the fascinting emerging evidence about biological or neurological inclinations toward "godness" or experience on a supernatural or spiritual plane. We may have brain structures hardwired for supernatural experience. Claims that these findings explain away faith are overstated.

Dawkin's stance takes as least as much fervor (energy?) to argue and maintain as the most ferverent adherent to a religious code.

Biologist Steven Rose says, "Richard's view about belief is too simplistic, and so hostile that as a committed secularist myself I am uneasy about it. We need to recognise that our own science also depends on certain assumptions about the way the world is - assumptions that he and I of course share.

Rose's civility refreshes. Civility as a part of scientific thinking -- all thinking -- is sorely needed (connected to KIT, of yesterday.)

I wonder what C.S. Lewis, the great and humble Christian apologist, would say in a PBS-style conversation with R. Dawkins mediated by, say, Bill Moyers.

I would like to say that in higher education circles -- this is only my small anecdote as SciTim reports another kind of experience -- the intellectual culture across campus can be hostile to belief. We are "allowed" to participate culturally, especially if your tradition is ancient and perhaps showy with rituals, vestments, special language, incense.....

One of my Buddhist friends with a mainline Protestant rearing says that being a Buddhist is academically "correct" and finds this very funny. "Should I reveal my Calvinistic childhood?" he twinkles.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 10, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

A friend married a woman from the Philippines, and she and her friends still do karaoke when they get together, as much of the world still does. It was only a relatively brief fad here in the States except for its re-creation as American Idol (I can't say 'AI" because I think "artificial intelligence" which it is not). My friend's wife is a very good singer actually. She and her friends would find it silly to contemplate going on that show. I find their attitude refreshingly normal.

Posted by: Jumper | February 10, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I read the Post's piece about Obama's speech, and I must say, I like his thinking. It is certainly time for a change. We've been doing stuff so divided for so long. It is refreshing to hear someone speak of something different. I think part of the appeal for Obama is youth and vitality(sp), that's always good. But that isn't all, I think he honestly believes what he's talking about, and thinks we can do this, and I like that. Of course, he's just started, got a long way to go, yet like anything else, it all starts at the beginning.

About my earlier post about religion and faith, I am responsible for my faith and belief. When I meet my Creator, I don't believe I will be consulted or questioned about someone else's belief or even held accountable. Every man stands on his own two feet. At least that's the interpretation I get from reading the Scriptures. And I don't believe anyone is going to be able to say, "whoops, I did not know that". Scripture states that God's word goes out, and that it does not come back to Him empty. I talk about God through Christ because it is my testimony concerning my life, in hopes that it will help someone else. Not to critique or to lay low, but to help. Does my testimony annoy, does it take away anything from you, are you wounded by it, does it harm you in any way, does it impact your life in any way, good or bad? Do you feel sorry for me, does it set you to thinking about your own belief system, does it make you laugh? What?

I think the 2008 political games are going to be quite interesting. So many choices.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 10, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Jumper's 2nd equation states:

You have exactly two-and-a-half minutes of fame for each degree of separation.

Posted by: Jumper | February 10, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Just as everyone is beautiful to someone, everyone is a hero to someone, just not on a grand scale or a public stage. To those of you who have been my hero at one time or another, thank you.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 10, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

agree with your 1:38, martooni. there are so many interesting choices. I hope it doesn't become a nightmare. there's a woman in the mix, Hillary Clinton, and there's Obama, John Edwards. Is Biden still in the running? It certainly is history making time.

lurker and college, not trying to be mean about the faith issue, just trying to remain true, and hopefully not at the expense of being rude.

where is everyone today?

I can't get my body to go outside, just don't want to face the cold. I've been out for a little while, but don't want to go back, but need to. Oh well, just move.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 10, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

There's a 7th grade boy in our neighborhood who's a good candidate for inclusion in this kit: he called my daughter yesterday afternoon and identified himself as the "short, handsome kid" to help her figure out who he was. He then told her she was the prettiest girl in the school. She stammered "thank you," and there was a pause. Then he said "so, do you think I'm the prettiest boy in the school?" She coughed and choked just a little, but it was enough for him to take it as a "yes."

He's called approximately 87 times since then. We may never be able to answer our phone again. What an ego!

Posted by: Wheezy | February 10, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

It makes me happy to read your testimony, Cassandra.

Posted by: Kim | February 10, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

cassandra, my main point, which i hope i made tactfully, was to be careful about judging the reason for others' lack of religious faith.

cp, i thought your 1:49 was really interesting. wish i had more time to read more. maybe when the diss is done.

on the political front, a few thoughts from recent wapo coverage (sorry, too lazy to look up links). obama and edwards may divide the grass-roots, activist, anti-war left, moneywise and votewise, and that may help clinton. the trial lawyers invited biden instead of edwards to their annual shindig. if they threw their support behind him, that would further divide a major democratic party financial source.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 10, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, I agree that the principles of Christianity are good rules to be followed. There is no harm in living a Christian life. The problem I have, however, are the people who profess to be Christians, but don't follow the rules. (You are NOT included in this group.)

They are folks who say they are Christian, but exclude others because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

They say that life begins at conception, but seem to think it ends at birth and ignore the medical, emotional and educational needs (among others) of children--and grownups.

They say that life is sacred, but are content to live with capital punishment or happy to send our young people off to war.

These people are not Christians. They may believe in God or that Christ is the Son of God, but they are not Christians.

I think it's that hypocrisy that's so rampant in this country and among the political Christian Right that offends people, not the true Christian belief in loving one's neighbor, etc.

Posted by: TBG | February 10, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Well said, TBG

Posted by: dmd | February 10, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Yes. Even other christians can be quite offended by their "My brand of Christianity or else" attitude. It's found in all sects, though. The difference is in the level of exposure.

I think sects that promote rebirth in Christ and are at basis more emotional religions a la the Great Awakening in the 19th century, rather than a balanced theology are particularly at risk for attracting new converts who tend to be overzealous but not fully informed about Christianity. Some of them WILL outgrow it.
Others were probably A** before they found Christ, and will remain so for life, but at least they're TRYING. We hope.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I remember Will Rogers, or his writings. Hopefully, his fame was quieter and more meaningful, in his time. I read a lot of his stuff as a child. I also remember Ernie Kovacs. It's not good, apparently, to be a humorist. I've never watched any of the shows you mention, by way of contrast.

"MoDo" has a column about Chick Lit, so maybe the Weekend Theme is the destruction of American culture. The cover of Newsweek with the Wild Girls, as well. You guys in the 'Cultural Elite' get together and plot this? I want to see an episode of "Cops:" at Cape Canaveral, also. It sounds pretty neat.

I suppose the people who say the rest of the world wants to be, or should be, like us, should look a little harder at 'us'. Will Rogers pointedly understood the limitations of our democracy. That really was his humor, or a lot of it.

Posted by: Geeb | February 10, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The way I handle the identity of celebrities is the same as the way I handled classified code words while long ago in the military. I consciously forget them as soon as possible so they do not pose a problem in my future clear thinking.

Posted by: On the plantation | February 10, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I regret this already, but my two cents on spirituality and science:

The cosmic questions of origin, place in the universe, and purpose don't worry me as a non-believer. Perhaps an Almighty put me here, but I don't have the capacity to behold and understand that Creator. So I just do my best to lead a good life, loosely defined.

The big questions of our day concern resource allocation. RD Padouk posed the question (yesterday?) about population control for example. Suppose we decided on a limit of people on earth. No need to kill anyone to reach the limit since people die on their own given enough time, but with a limit, who gets to have children and how many?

Or consider global warming. I think the world could cut down on greenhouse gas production immensely, but that requires changing allocation of resources from exploiting plentiful energy to preserving scarce energy. The mere act of creating energy scarcity reallocates resources.

Or consider the situation in Iraq. How should Iraq now allocate wealth and power among its people?

Or consider health care. Should we allocate more of our GNP to providing health care so there's more to go around? Should we instead allocate the existing health care differently? Should we compensate those providing health care less?

Or consider nuclear weapon proliferation. What countries should possess that terrible power? How is that decided? Again, this is a question of resource allocation (power, essentially).

While we can and do apply critical thinking to these resource questions, science alone doesn't tell us how to divide the pie.

Posted by: Fifty | February 10, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with what TGB said.

Dmd, I have some information for you. "S" and I agree that we don't know much about Upton, it being pretty small and quiet. But we came up with two restaurants in Worcester, which isn't too far away, the Sole Proprietor and 111 Chop House. Obviously the first leans towards fish, I've been there a couple times but not for about 4 years. The other restaurant is more a steak house, I've never been there but I've heard that it is good. Both are not cheap. Too bad it's winter or we'd send you to Ronnies in Auburn for the fried clams, really, really,. really good. I don't know of any B&B's by reputation but I was looking around online and saw one in Westborough, which abuts Upton. It's called the Sleigh Maker Inn and it looks very nice from the pictures. We don't know of any hotels in the area other than the usual chains and there are a lot of those in Worcester and in Milford.

Wish I could be more helpful, if you ever visit the Cape, I'd be an encyclopedia.
Been doing chores and errands, now I'm off to finish prepping the walls in the last bedroom to be redone.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 10, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Bad Sneakers most helpful, not sure how much free time we will have as we are going for a specific purpose but it helps a lot to have recommendations.

Posted by: dmd | February 10, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"No need to kill anyone to reach the limit since people die on their own given enough time, but with a limit, who gets to have children and how many?"

Fifty, if some people had their way, only the last people still standing on the Mommy blog would get to reproduce.

(Pat, you're in luck there.)

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Hi Wil/bro/dog,

How far north in Minnesota are you? We are finally chilly here. Snow coming perhaps Mon. or Tues. How is the school process coming?

If you are near Bemidji, you can visit a giant sized Babe the Blue Ox and faithful sidekick Paul Bunyon.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 10, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Dang it, this post is going to get me into trouble.

TBG: I agree with you, to a certain extent. Hypocrisy is evident is many "Christians'" actions--I am thinking whatisname, Haggard? Haggart? the dude from Colorado. However, if I may...
A strict interpretation of the Bible leads one to say that practicing homosexuality is a sin. What it does not clearly say is if homosexual behavior is a greater sin than others; ergo, the fascination/repulsion with it from Fundamentalist Christians is misplaced. Thus, as a foundational belief of Christianity is that we are all sinners, homosexuals should not be forbidden from church, outcast, etc. However, to celebrate something that is a sin, to say that "it is my right" to act a certain way is where I must disagree with the gay agenda (from a religious standpoint only. I'm not talking political/civil unions, etc.) How is refusing to celebrate something that I view to be a sin hypocritical? Accepting homosexuals into communion is no different (in my mind) to accepting heterosexuals who have not been married and are living together; both of whom are welcome in my home church. But would I want a heterosexual who is living in an adulterous relationship leading my chuch? No. How is that hypocrisy?
I want to say more, but I think I'll stop; I have to go. But, please don't judge conservative (or moderate) Christians by Jerry Falwell. I am guilty of hypocrisy in many areas of my life; saying one thing and doing another. I am a sinful person. But, that does not negate by faith, or my committment, thank God. I don't have all the answers, and, like you (i think), I'm sick of people, religious or not, who think that they do.

Posted by: Tangent | February 10, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

CP, I've seen those statues before. Gotta love that blue ox, don't you?

I'm sure StorytellerTim has a story all made up about Paul Bunyan and Babe doing karoake in lacy whalers' corsets in order to get into Odin's bar to meet Thor to help fix Bunyan's motorcycle.

I'm close to Frostbitten, which is pretty dang north.

The school process has hit a snag, thanks to somebody who shouldn't be handling mail somewhere, but should be straightened out by next week.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

It has now been so cold for so long that the septic system at the community center/fire department is frozen. This would not concern me except that as mayor I get to operate the mop and bucket when the floor drains back up during "Open Scrap Booking." Found myself wondering how the various presidential candidates would handle that.

Caught just a glimpse of Sen. Obama kissing a baby last night on TV. The most cliche of campaign cliches, but the way he held the child and gave a sniff of the head before planting the kiss was such a natural loving dad kind of thing to do. Impressed me and I've been thinking a pox on all their houses for starting the campaign so drearily early.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 10, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

It's only adulterous if at least one of us is married.

Posted by: LostInThought | February 10, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Ducking for cover here, but on the few occasions I've lurked on the "mommy blog," it's struck me that the mommies aren't the only meanies. Could we change our term of approbation to "the unbalanced blog," to cover everyone?

Posted by: dbG | February 10, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Fifty wrote: "The big questions of our day concern resource allocation."

If you really are fifty or more, go back to Buckminster Fuller for a more optimistic assessment of resources and efficiency in using them.

Posted by: On the plantation | February 10, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

As a Harvard alum, I'm less interested in gender and more interested in the fact that Faust will be leading Harvard.

Finally, they admit it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 10, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Tangent, those are good points.

You can see homosexuals as fellow believers and STILL believe that an openly gay man in an involved relationship should not be a leader or a role model in the Episcopalian church, for instance.

The simple point is moral authority: If he is committed to live openly by values that directly conflict with the values of Christianity and his own church, his moral authority is weakened.

It's the same argument you'd make for a person who is adulterous, prone to jealousy, greed, or serious anger management issues, so indeed homosexuality is nothing special in that way.

Personally, I think for me the difference is how the person lives his life.

The one thing that DOES disturb me about baptists or other christians that propend vile propaganda about the Catholic church, is that they seem to operate from the assumption that nobody is capable of celibacy under any kind of temptation.

And that is actually a very insulting assumption. How can you be faithful for even one day if you cannot consciously practice sexual abstainance under temptation? Anybody who tell me such ideas, I ask them if they think fidelity for life is possible. And what the difference between that and celibacy is, really?

I haven't yet gotten a real good answer on that. The fact is, it's always a choice you make everytime whenever you're tempted.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Everyone here remembers Will Rogers.

I love the celebrity-ridden Kit -- well said.

A question from Ivansdad: Are there any female cartoon characters (human or anthropomorphic) used to advertise breakfast cereal? His on-line buddies couldn't think of any, so he said, "Ask the Boodle." Take it as a challenge. Make me proud.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 10, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Aren't Fruity Pebbles named for Pebbles Flintstone?

Posted by: Frostbitten | February 10, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Further research seems to indicate Pebbles cereals are named after the same small stones Pebbles the girl baby are named for. Fred and Barney, and sometimes Dino, appear on the boxes. No females, anthropomorphic or otherwise to be be found.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 10, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Dora the Explorer has been on the cover of Kix (as well as every other product out there, from cookies and crackers to shampoo and bubble bath).

Posted by: LostInThought | February 10, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

the girl baby is name for
sheesh

Posted by: forstbitten | February 10, 2007 6:06 PM | Report abuse

named

I give up

Posted by: frostbitten | February 10, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I remember seeing the box of cereal with the Super Friends on it and Wonder Woman was a Super Friends.

Then Miss Piggy had her own cereal for a little while,but she was a muppet,not really a cartoon character

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 10, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

This is my comment on one aspect of faith-based living that often troubles or inflames social and political discourse: sanctity of life

Caveat: Many people do not live carefully and lovingly or consistently about a breadth of issues, but I speak here about myself and many whose creed and practice I know through intimacy and by observation.

I believe in the seamless garment approach, first articulated by the anti nuclear movement based in the Catholic Worker movement of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, Pax Christi, and social reformers like the Berrigan Brothers. This stance claims that all human life, from conception to grave, deserves the preferential option: let live.

Thus, Ted Bundy should live, albeit isolated and secure. And human embryos as they develop into infants deserve -- and need -- protection.

In between these two points, I would say Sadaam should have lived his days out in secure isolation. I abhor capital punishment, remaining deeply embarassed and ashamed that this country continue this practice.

For war, you will see a range of reaction with Christianity. Neither Iraq I or Iraq II meet just war criteria. Iraq I at least concerned a cross-border aggression into Kuwait.

I admit to not being intellectually brave or as deeply loving as M. Gandhi who lived his pacifist stance with such integrity even as India descended into a bloody partition.

Yet, my code places me closer to the Pax Christi movement "beat swords into ploughshares and pruning hooks" this, despite living in a family with active duty first-order relatives. I love and respect them. To a person (8 in a quick count as I am one of 7 children and 63 first cousins) they serve partly so I can say whatever I want. This priceless gift of free expression, these war fighters want for Iraqis.

(Going very badly as these warriers know all too well).

People I break bread with tend to work either directly in social work to ease the lives of poor children and families, or contribute mightily of time and talent because life is sacred. Jesus did say, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."

In a pluralistic society, many people of good will disagree about the moment when human life in a vulnerable stage deserves protection, accomodation, or even rights. I believe that the uniqueness of human life embodied in a fertilized egg deserves respect and consideraton.

So, I try to find ways to keep a dialog open about the preciousness of that life -- all human life. Practically, I would like to see reasonable limits on abortion.

I would like to see stem cell advances and therapies push hard on those options that do not require embryo destruction.

I am not an absolutist. I have a voice in the polity through voting. I try to live my values. I understand that others do not share my assumptions.

The POINT here? Not all people of faith are small minded and intolerant. Some of our stances derive from scripture. As a Catholic, I do not expect a literal interpretation of scripture. I am dismayed, however, of a conservative movement within this Christian community that does not emphasize the social justice teachings I grew up with. So I stay, waiting it out.

Connecting to KIT of yesterday:
Scientific thinking requires we work tirelessly to empty out the stereotyping that humans are hard-wired to do.

We should try, in each encounter, to achieve what the Jewish mystic Martin Buber called, "Encounter of thous.": That I would greet -- and be greeted -- first by my humanity.

South Asians know this as the Namaste greeting.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 10, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

The only women who get on cereal boxes would be perky Olympians, as in gymnasts or skaters.

Ivansmom: I am wracking my brain to confirm but I believe I walked PAST boxes of Barbie-endorsed cereal....circa 1989 or so.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 10, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I think the Charlie Manson show would have to be on CNN Headline News after Nancy Grace. He could provide a fair and balanced approach of showing the other side of the equation, you know, mass murder and mayhem from the standpoint of the perp. Let's face it, terrorizing a community ain't no picnic, folks.

Imagine the possibilities. Live feed to the Supermax to chat with Kaczinski. Debate with the BTK killer about when to taunt the police (humor abounds when Manson refers to him as the BLT killer).

Each show could have a nostalgic look back to fond memories of yesteryear, Son of Sam, Boston Strangler and, of course, the man who started it all in urban places, Jack the Ripper.

This would be the highest rated show in America.

Posted by: bill everything | February 10, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Curse you Ivansmom, yours is just the kind of question that has me careening about the world of google in search of useless information when I should be accomplishing something.

Rainbow Brite, a true cartoon character, had her own cereal circa 1985, as did Strawberry Shortcake a few years before.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 10, 2007 6:41 PM | Report abuse

College Parkian, I've read the biographies of Gandhi and learned a lot. He wasn't an absolutionist either. When he came back to India from South Africa, he chose to work with small issues, help some untouchables while lots of people were chafing for him to lead the movement against the British.

He said in effect, "I have to know the people first before I can do anything."

And I think this is always a very good rule to live by whenever you want, for moral, philosophical, or religious reasons, to wreak social change in a community that is not YOURS, yours as in being as intimate as the back of your hand.

It sounds like the people you know well, in fact do exactly that. It's a shame that so many people would press for policy changes and the promotion of their moral agendas without first getting to really understand whom the agenda would "help".

The No Child Left Behind Act is just perhaps the biggest example of such. ;).

It would have helped to be more familiar with Iraq; unfortunately Hussein and our sanctions prevented us from getting a very good picture of the situation there. I mean-- "they will greet us as liberators."

Really. And thus ends the Gandhi Lesson For Today.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I have an empty box of "Barbie" cereal. It was a companion to "Hot Wheels" cereal. I have that too. I collected the boxes from sugary cereal for about 20 years.

But I'm all better now.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 10, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod,

Your 5:56 post leaves me confused about your meaning.

For some of us, sexual fidelity is not a big challenge, but obviously it is for many others. Perhaps it gets determined prenatal.

As to your reference to Baptists, or any other institution with moral authority over their sheep, what is the true point?

Delusional grandeur, even that of a pea brain, is such a joke. The meek are not stupid; they will prevail.


Posted by: On the plantation | February 10, 2007 6:55 PM | Report abuse

TBG,I agree with your comment concerning religion and faith. Scripture teaches that all fall short, even those that seem to be doing everything right.

As to the homosexual question, Scripture does say this is not the correct lifestyle, yet in many churches there are gay people, and they hide or don't come out with this information. The church knows this yet does not address this situation, and in my opinion forcing gays to lie and pretend. I don't know the answer, but Scripture states that Christ called us to love one another, as He loved us, and I'm going to try to do that, and leave the judgement up to Christ.

Tangent, you make several good points.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 10, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Ah, catching up here, I see frostbitten beat me to Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake breakfast cereals, and I also remember the Dora Kix.

I think there is/was a Disney Princess Flakes (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, etc.)of some sort, and I think Ruth Buzzi had some sort of animated cereal character way back in the day.

Er, did Powerpuff Girls have a cereal? How about Josie and the Pussycats?

Hmmm.

bc

Posted by: bc | February 10, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

bc-not only did Powerpuff girls have a cereal, they had Poptarts. Don't know about Josie.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 10, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, that a tough question. Everything I see in the grocery store has "Spongebob's picture" on it. Or the woman that does the thirty minutes cooking show, Rachel Ray. I don't believe the women get to gloss the cereals, and it just isn't right. We should protest, big time.(smile)

Of course, there was some question a few months back about the sexuality of "Spongebob" and his sidekick, Patrick. I don't know how that turned out. You know I put my hands over the g-girl's ears when that conversation was taking place. And my grandsons too. Hey, we love Spongebob! And Jimmy Neutron, and the list just goes on, and on, on, .............

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 10, 2007 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Re: On the plantation's 5:46 reference to Buckminster Fuller, I realize what I wrote has a "zero sum game" feel to it.

Yes, innovation can produce more of something (food, gigabytes, Green Acres spinoffs) and we have no trouble allocating an unconstrained resource. If we have enough food to go around for 6.5 billion people, will we have enough for 65 billion?

And Eva Gabor has acted in her last TV series.

Posted by: Fifty | February 10, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

American Idol, by the way, is the only TV show I watch. Although it does expose some unusual and unrealistic people, I don't think that the evening news is any different in that respect. In fact, the worst thing about AI is the plug for the top sicko of the day if you are willing to stay up until 11:00.

One thing AI has done for me is inspired me to sing. When I hear recordings of my voice, I think to myself, "That's a pleasant voice", is that mine???. I know that I can't sing like a professional, but I know music well enough to realize that with practice, people might actully enjoy me singing a song to them. However, if I put out my best effort and hit a sour note, I'm afraid of the impending ridicule that will follow, which discourages me from trying again. And so I keep the practice sessions in the shower, backyard and playground

When I hear others whistle or hum a tune, I know that they are happy, and I also have a tendency to participate in their happiness for the moment.

CP, I went back in time and will get you a copy of that math fact tutorial I programmed for my son. My mother uses it to teach her students. She specializes in special education and says the program has been able to teach the most difficult students. (you know, the kids that have experienced nothing but failure for their entire lives.) Give me some time to cripple it, so some unscrupuless opportunist doesn't steal the program, copyright it, and put me in jail for possessing an illegal copy.

An hour ago, I kissed my 4 year old boy, juiced on morphine, before my wife took him to Fairfax Hospital. I have to say, he was in a pretty good mood. "Daddy, I Fell!!!" He had a little accident over at a neighbor's yard where he fell off a playhouse and busted his forehead open. My wife rushed him to Access where he received preliminary treatment, but the gash is deep enough where the medical professionals decided to send him to Fairfax Hospital to get plastic surgery. Another day, another crisis.

So you ask me why I'm attached to my Catholic faith? well, for one thing, I haven't come across any other institution of learning that has elegantly presented to me the purpose of suffering. I do have a fear that I will wake up someday and not have the strength to endure another one, to think my life is without purpose, and just plain give up. But my faith keeps me going, at least for today.

And 1 last thought. I think it's a natural tendency when one discovers something good, such as a way of thinking, or a way to eliminate suffering, that they share it with others. Thank God for that!

Posted by: Pat | February 10, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the "imposter complex." I fear I know it well. There is not a day that goes by when I don't expect to be called up before the committee as a big faker. Of course, this is nothing compared to how I feel as a parent. I have this horrible fear that one day my offspring will figure out that I am just making it all up as I go along.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 10, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

pat, i meant earlier to express my condolences about your brother-in-law.
and hope your son will be back to normal soon.

has anyone else watched obama's announcement?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2007/02/10/VI2007021000657.html
i think it's really good.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 10, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Back to the previous boodle, obviously Mudge is right. If you can taste the plastic, you are just not sipping enough.

However, the last few plastic inserts have been a clear plastic.

Hope none of my fellow boodlers are buried in the deep and serious snowfall up in New York State. 2.5 metres in a day. If you are, you can console yourself that as your house becomes piled up deep in the snow, it seals off heat loss. Keep your roofs, and venting clear, and for heavens sake, turn on your faxes. This is goona be a big one Scotty. Faxing shovels, snowblowers, warm winter gear, and lots and lots of showshoes.

Posted by: dr | February 10, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Pat, I sure hope your son is OK.
I'll be thinking about him.

I, too, understand the Imposter Complex.

RD, I don't remember how old your kids are, but my oldest is 15, and already suspects that I've never raised a teenager before. And she's right.

The younger ones watch, taking it all in.

bc

Posted by: bc | February 10, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually bc, my son turned 16 today, and has long known the truth. Which I fear he has enthusiastically shared with his 12 year old sister.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 10, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

On the plantation, I'm sometimes confused about my meaning, too.

I've heard the arguments against having homosexuals in church leadership positions and I don't think it is unique to the issue of homosexuality, as Tangent points out. There are valid moral arguments for that.

However, I don't think it's right to focus on the potentiality of others' sexual sins as a discrimination measure.

Stick with facts, not prejudices. Homosexuality doesn't necessarily mean you're a male prositute (or doing crystal meth with one while being married.)

I don't know about you, but I get the strong vibe that the demonization of homosexuality lies in an unhealthy perspective about temptation.

Temptation affects most those who are weak because they are lonely, feeling unloved, dissatisfied, and lost without a moral compass or support system.

Strength of character isn't built up by removing all temptation from the environment lest the person fall.

It's built by learning to ignore temptation for other goals, indeed by becoming blind to temptation, so the idea to succumb doesn't even occur.

The message of Christianity is the love of God. Opening up our wounds, our sins, and knowing that they are forgiven and that we can begin to love ourselves and share His love with others more freely.

That love somehow fortified Cassandra to quit alcohol instantly and permanently.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Joel writes in his last graf in this weekend's Kit:
Once in a while, dare not to dream. The common and the ordinary are not so bad. There's another great quote from Will Rogers: "Heroing is one of the shortest-lived professions there is."

Loomispouse and I went to a movie this afternoon, where we saw the preview for a movie that has as its motto: "If we don't have our dreams, we have nothing." The upcoming movie, "The Astronaut Farmer," stars Billy Bob Thornton.

The movie trailer, that we saw this afternoon, can be seen through this official Warner Brothers link:

http://theastronautfarmermovie.warnerbros.com/

Thornton plays the farmer. The name of the farmer's loan officer, as can be seen in the trailer, is Arnold Millard. Millard, what an interesting name! Rather similar to Millard Fillmore. *laughing*

On another cultural note, with Maureen Dowd mentioning Joseph Conrad's book "Nostromo" in the opening graf in her op-ed today--it's a great one about thte vacuousness of present-day chick lit--do you think there will be a run on this title at bookstores across the country?

A summary of "Nostromo" at Wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostromo

Posted by: Loomis | February 10, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod said, "Homosexuality doesn't necessarily mean you're a male prositute" (though I'm sure she meant prostitute).

I would also add that is doesn't mean that you are a predatory pedophile trying to *recruit.* This is the worst of the scare-propaganda (pronounced "slurs") perpetrated by the political rabid-right. And they know it is not true, but keep hitting that key.

Full disclosure: I am a proud straight woman, and a proud member of Egale Canada (among whose triumphs is the successful lobbying for legalization of same-sex marriage in Canada). And one cannot hang out with the various academic/artistic/fashion-communities I have done all my adult life without becoming fast friends with many many gay and lesbian members of that community. At least I am transparent about my prejudices.

Posted by: Yoki | February 10, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Good job, Cassandra. No waffling. The greatest minds see mystery, not relativism. I read of Lincoln seeing slavery as wrong after years of agnosticism. Don't know if he was a true believer. But I am.

Posted by: Jesus Freak | February 10, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Joel, babe, you obviously had dreams, and obviously you achieved them since you are a fantastic Washington Post columnist. So why do you want the rest of us to give up our dreams?

Posted by: Wannabe | February 10, 2007 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Hold on there. Joel didn't say to give up our dreams. He said "Just once in a while, dare not to..." It's all in the text.

Posted by: Yoki | February 10, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

The boy is back, all stitched up like a stuffed animal, about 20 right on his forehead. The morphine and local wore off and as we all nkow from natural science is that what goes up, must come down, and so as the boy.

So I got to enjoy one of the graces of parenting, helplessly holding a child as they cry from pain.

4 year old quote of the day: "Doctors are the worst!"

Posted by: Pat | February 10, 2007 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, to add to your 8:59, I don't understood the fear of gay people.

I'm simmering your ratatouille recipe now. Thanks again!

Posted by: Fifty | February 10, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Pat, please give that child a big hug and a kiss from me. Hope he feels better soon.

Posted by: dmd | February 10, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, that sounds like a movie I might like to see... and I don't really like Billy Bob Thornton that much.

A "Millard" as a surname or first name means "mill-ward: caretaker of a mill."

Also nowadays a millard means a thousand million-- an american billion.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milliard

The Europeans consider a million million to be a billion.

I wonder if a billion-dollar banknote issued by the USA would have a picture of Millard Fillmore? That then raises the question of what he looks like.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millard_Fillmore


Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Pat, my condolences to your family on your BIL's death... and the screaming kid. Age 4 and already a plastic surgery candidate? That's not news to gladden a parent's heart.

I bear a scar I got when I was 4 falling out of a tree. A forehead is luckier than most, although all head wounds do tend to be gushers.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 10, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, the boy already has a lightening bolt scar like Harry Potter from running between my wife and me and hitting the corner of the wall. He's also had an eyelid glued back on from another incident, now this.

I'm beginning to think that his gardien angel isn't detail oriented, but so far all the big things have been taken care of, and I'm thankful for that.

Posted by: Pat | February 10, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Now I lay me down to sleep...

ZZZZZZZzzzz

Posted by: Pat | February 10, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Pat - "his guardian angel isn't detail oriented" - ha ha! My condolences to you, and hope the kiddo feels better soon.

I read an article in the local paper about grumpy employees being the most creative - because they *are* detail oriented. As a grump myself, I found it very funny and affirming (sent it to my group at work, including my boss):
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/302397_grumpyworkers05.html
(originally in the Houston Chronicle)

So if your guardian angel is grumpy, you're in good hands (not that I believe in such things - but that's another discussion!).

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 10, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Pat, how very much I understand! Poor tear-stained, sweaty little four-year-old (and poor Wife-of-Pat!). And how sweet to hold and comfort the wee guy in your arms.

I know one thing for sure though; the less physically-cautious the youngsters are, the more inclined they will be all their lives to take all kinds of challenges (emotional risks too), and that seems to me to incline them to become strong and admirable human beings.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 12:35 AM | Report abuse

for anyone following obama, here's his church:
http://www.tucc.org/home.htm

very oriented towards social justice and liberation theology. i'd love to see his run turn the interaction of religion and politics in america on its head.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 11, 2007 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Does it count that Capt. Crunch likes to wear women's underwear under his slicker?

OK, I didn't think so either. Sorry, Ivansmom. Just trying to be helpful.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 11, 2007 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Where can I find the Mommy Blog and is it any good?

Posted by: Aloha | February 11, 2007 2:51 AM | Report abuse

Google is your friend. http://www.themommyblog.net/

Posted by: Fifty | February 11, 2007 3:16 AM | Report abuse

Another mommy blog!

The one that gets referenced here, though, is actually called "On Balance":

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/onbalance/

Posted by: Tom fan | February 11, 2007 4:04 AM | Report abuse

I've had my delusion of grandeur moment!

Posted by: Fifty | February 11, 2007 4:09 AM | Report abuse

Do they allow men on the Mommy blog?

It actually looked pretty scarey,I think I will stay here,where I fit in with all the oddballs.

Good morning all.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 11, 2007 4:24 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. Pat, I do hope you and the little one are feeling better this morning. That sounds like a nasty accident. Take care.

Wilbrod, I thank Jesus everyday for my life. He pulled me out of a hole, and set me on that rock that is called Him(Jesus). I love Him for that, and for all He still does.

I'm up studying for the Sunday school lesson. We will try to get out of here on time. Don't know if it will work. My neighbor passed away Friday, and I just found out in the paper this morning. She had been in and out of the hospital lately.

Have a good Sunday, my friends. Mudge, I love the comment about Captain Krunch. That was funny.

As to parenting, we grow and learn right along with the children we're taking care of, much of it done by instinct, and guided by love. As a parent, looking back now, I made so many mistakes because I was clueless on much of it, and had the job alone. I think my kids understood to a certain degree that I was a big kid doing a grown-up job. It's hard work, but good work. Let us all give parents a hand, they deserve it, and much more.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 11, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, and teach those kids well, Cassandra. We've had a long discussion about some heavy topics. I can't saw I'm qualified to comment about most of it since as a C&E Catholic, my theologocal training is rather shallow. I've got a firm grasp on The Golden Rule and can parse a few of the Beatitudes.

The parts where I have to be mean and viscious to people with unplanned pregnancies and differing sexual attractions is harder for me to follow the logic. Jesus didn't give a lot of rules. They all came later when Paul hijacked the message. My fundamendalist friends get upset when I call it Paulinity.

My college roommate was gay and belonged to an Episcopalian religious gay outreach group. We used to have very long college student style discussions about what the bible really said. There is a lot of silly frivilous stuff in there. I hope all the homophobes out there aren't sitting on the chairs of menstruating women.

On the other side topic, my favorite cereal was Sugar Pops, which are now just called Pops, sugar being so politically and nutritionally incorrect. My other fave was Boo-Berry that was never as popular as Count Chocula or Frankenberry.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 11, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Sky report: in the dying tree that is leaving my yard in a series of tree-trimming events subject to weather, today, are five woodpecker-type birds.

I can't keep straight the differences between

woodpecker, proper, and
flicker.

They are not, I repeat not, the gloriously huge -- and extinct? -- woodpeckers sought after in Louisiana and Arkansas. Nor are they the amazing pileated type.

Just hard-heads, tapping for their breakfast.

Hershey's has a new kiss variety: truffle inside, which is quite good. I sprung for several bags -- one bag o' plain carmels without a hint of peanut product, too. Candy in the college classroom works wonders! Usually I distribute the goods AFTER the holiday, but I felt wreckless and loving, after the blogs meditations on how to keep the day of Valentine.

Valentine was either a real person and saint, or perhaps a bit of legend demoted in the same take-down of the saints formerly known as Christopher and (dramatic pause here) Philomena. I can't remember Valentine's fate. Philomena's losss of status truly plagued a line of excellent women in my family because "Philomena" is (was) a name often used.

Italians spelled this as Filomena.

Love to you all. Really.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse


LALURKER pointed to B. Obama's church home page. This is posted on the "About us" link. (Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago). One of the underlying themes in national politics concerns religious affiliations and our tension about faith and politics. Should be interesting.

---
About Us

We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community.

Trinity United Church of Christ adopted the Black Value System written by the Manford Byrd Recognition Committee chaired by Vallmer Jordan in 1981. We believe in the following 12 precepts and covenantal statements. These Black Ethics must be taught and exemplified in homes, churches, nurseries and schools, wherever Blacks are gathered. They must reflect on the following concepts:

1. Commitment to God
2. Commitment to the Black Community
3. Commitment to the Black Family
4. Dedication to the Pursuit of Education
5. Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence
6. Adherence to the Black Work Ethic
7. Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect
8. Disavowal of the Pursuit of "Middleclassness"
9. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community
10. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions
11. Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System
12. Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System.

The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision:

1. A congregation committed to ADORATION.
2. A congregation preaching SALVATION.
3. A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION.
4. A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA.
5. A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION.
6. A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION.
7. A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA.
8. A congregation committed to LIBERATION.
9. A congregation committed to RESTORATION.
10. A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

That is so cool CP,because on my way home from work this morning,I saw a Red Tailed Hawk flying upriver,with some small poor animal in it's talons.I had to get home to make sure what it was.

http://www.desertusa.com/aug96/du_hawk.html

I thought most of the hawks have moved to where there is more prey(south),but their it was in all of it's majesty.

I will miss slendid sites like this when I am gone from this place.

Now off for some much needed sleep.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 11, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Ah, CP, the reason you don't remember what happened to St. Valentine is: nobody knows. They don't even know exactly who he is/was. He's one of three possible guys named Valentine. He was cited as a martyr by a pope several hundred years after all three of them were dead, so nobody really knows which one the pope was referring to, or what happened. One possibly apocrypha story is this (according to the infamous Wikipedia):

"The Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, compiled about 1260 and one of the most-read books of the High Middle Ages, gives sufficient details of the saints and for each day of the liturgical year to inspire a homily on each occasion. The very brief vita of St Valentine has him refusing to deny Christ before the "Emperor Claudius"[9] in the year 280. Before his head was cut off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer. Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of "Valentine", "as containing valour".

"The Legenda Aurea does not contain anything about hearts and last notes signed "from your Valentine", as is sometimes suggested in modern works of sentimental piety [1]. Many of the current legends surrounding them appear in the late Middle Ages in France and England, when the feast day of February 14 became associated with romantic love."

Of course, this legend was written pretty much from whole cloth a thousand years after the fact.

The guy who really turned Valentine into an occasion for Hallmark cards and boxes of candy turns out to have been our old pal Chaucer, writing nonsense about him in the 14th century. (I TOLD Geoff he was playing with fire and starting a dangerous precedent with that fairy tale. Geoff, I said, husbands and boyfriends are going to rue this day for a thousand years. You mark my words. But would he listen to a lowly scribe like me? Noooooooooooo...)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 11, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I suppose, then, according to the legend, Valentine was one of the first guys to lose his head over a piece of jail bait. (Although I seem to recollect that something pretty similar happened to Samson, the guy who invented luggage, over a dish named Delilah.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 11, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

A Letter from San Antonio

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dear Clint Eastwood,

Yesterday was sunny and chilly so my husband and I decided to head out in the early afternoon and see the only picture that has been nominated for this year's Academy Awards that we hadn't see yet--yours, "Letters from Iwo Jima."

We are sorry that it has taken us so long before we saw your movie "Letters," the followup to your quite recent and earlier "Flags of our Fathers." It's just that we live in a "flyover" city" and many of the Oscar hopefuls or nominees haven't made it to Alamo City until just a couple of weeks ago--your latest included on that list here in San Antonio.

I just wanted to say that you can't fool a southern California native. As the movie unfolded, I remarked to my husband that expect for the beach scenes the other backdrops in your black and white movie looked remarkably like the area west of Death Valley. So I laughed at the end, when the last of the screen credits rolled, to see that you had thanked the Bureau of Land Management in Barstow, Calif.

I want to share with you, Clint, that "Letters" is one of the most powerful war movies I have ever seen--and one of the most moving.

We were undeterred by the fact that the language in the movie is Japanese, with English subtitles. As you may know I taught English as a second language to Japanese Johoku high school boys during the summer of '78 in Hawaii, so the Japanese are dear to me.

I almost thought that your screenwriter Paul Haggis had secretly collaborated with Princeton journalism professor and Loomis Chaffee grad Chris Hedges, who wrote "War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning," given how the plot unfolds and the moving scenes. I think this film of yours also proves one of the points of Joel Achenbach's Rough Draft this weekend, "Heroing is one of the shortest lived professions there is."

Clint, given that I know that you descend from early settlers of the upper Connecticut River Valley, what really grabbed my attention was the Colt .45 pistol that General Kuribayashi (played by well-known actor Ken Watanabe) carries in a holster on his waist and that figures in many other later scenes in the film.

As you may or may not know, Samuel Colt is a Loomis descendant. Once, long ago, I asked on the Achenblog at washingtonpost.com why the front of the Colt Armory--much of the factory being refurbished to open as a tourist attraction, with Sen. Joe Lieberman's backing I might add--has a blue onion dome on the top. Eurotrash, from Europe, who no longer writes on the Achenblog, even provided a link to photographs of other onion domes in Europe. I never provided an answer to Eurotrash, which I would like to do now, as I also hope to educate you at the same time, Clint, about Samuel Colt.

Perhaps one of the most comprehensive biographies about Colt is the 1996 coffee-table-sized volume by William Hosley titled, "Colt: The Making of an American Legend." Hosley's book's greatest drawback is tht it has no index. Hosley's wife was employed by the Windsor, Conn., Historical Society when I was there in May 2004 doing research.

As Hosley writes on page 63:
"During the 10 years beginning with Colt's move to the Porter Manufacturing Company building, he developed three increasingly ambitious manufacturing facilites: Commerce Street (1849-1855), the London armory (1852-56), and finally, occupied in the summer of 1855, the fabled Colt's Armory (1855-1994), with its Russian style "onion dome."

On page 27, Hoseley explains:
In 1849, Sam Colt made the first of several sales junkets to Europe and the Middle East. There, more than the United States, the reputation and market for his invention grew rapidly. In 1851, Sam Colt exhibited his firearms a the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London; he was lionized by the press. ...

Lionized by British technologists and eager to plant his flag on British soil, Colt built an arms factory in London, which began manufacturing in the spring of 1853. ... Colt's London "pistol factory" failed in 1856, and although thousands of guns were made and sold there, it never equaled the Hartford facilities in profitability.

Clint, it wasn't for Colt's lack of trying and his self-promotion.

As Hoseley writes on page 85:
Colt's factories became another of his succesful instruments of publicity. It was in London that Colt discovered the appeal of a behind-the scenes look. Tours of his armory became so popular that he issued tickets of admission. Mounted on top of Colt's London factory adjacent to Parliament, was a fourteen-foot-long sign reading "Col. Colt's Pistol Factory." Brash and outrageous, Colt was eventually ordered to remove the sign, but not before it stirred controversy and heightened his fame.

On page 106, Hosley mentions the origin of the blue onion dome atop Colt's Hartford Armory:

...it is inconceivable that Colt did not personally dictate most of the physical and artistic dimensions of the armory building, widely recognized, then and now, as one of the most distinctive factory buildings erected in nineteenth century America. ...During the winter of 1855, Colt hired [British-trained] Hartford architect Octavius Jordan to work up plans....Jordan worked up plans for Colt's concept of the armory's most spectacular feature, its Russian-style onion dome surmounted by a bronze rampart colt dancing on the world. As much a technical tour de force as a work of art, credit for its fabrication unfortunately cannot be established.

Having been presented at the Court of Czar Nicholas I in 1854, Colt flaunted his Russian connections by choosing a Russian theme for the armory's design. [On their honeymoon in the summer of 1856, Sam and Elizabeth Jarvis Colt spent six weeks in Russia and achieved national fame as guests at the coronation of Czar Alexander II. p. 31]

How tragic that at the end of your gripping two-and-a-half-hour movie, "Letters from Iwo Jima," General Kuribayashi is killed with his own Colt .45

Having seen your Oscar-worthy film, Clint, I shall now have to deliberate long and hard about which film I think should get the Oscar statuette, as well as who should win best director honors. Would you be willing to let Scorsese win it so that he would no longer be an Oscar bridesmaid in waiting?

Again, my thanks, Clint, for an entertaining, as well as a thought-provoking, afternoon in Alamo City.

Sincerely,

Linda Loomis
San Antonio, Texas
(as you may know, Texas plays a big role in the Colt story)

Posted by: Linda Loomis | February 11, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

SCC: expect...except

What did you expect for this early in the morning in flyover city?

Posted by: Loomis | February 11, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Pat-hope the son ends up with a certain rakish charm, and aforementioned risk taking nature that erases the childhood hurts. When I first heard the story behind this scar or that I was amazed the husband ever survived childhood, but in all honesty each incident was harder on the parents. I am sorry for the loss of your brother-in-law. Though the typing is belated, the wishes that you did not have to bear it are not.

All this discussion of the biblical basis for beliefs regarding the sinfulness of homosexual practices reminds me of why I'm a heathen. I find the current resurgence of social justice themes and the rise of Christian environmentalism refreshing though. It would be a shame if opportunities for progress in these areas were lost because either the people of faith or the heathens had trouble working with individuals, or organizations, that did not agree with them in all areas. Does it really matter if the person pounding nails next to you on a Habitat for Humanity home is pro-choice?

Posted by: frostbitten | February 11, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Someday I shall have to tackle the unanswered material about Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Horace Porter and George Pullman--and Nicaragua, too, with Mr. Curmudgeon.

We started it here, we might as well finish it here.

Posted by: Loomis | February 11, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

CP, greenwithenvy... if you're into birds, my neck of the woods (Northeast Ohio) has a pretty diverse mix of the usual and unusual. Even smack dab in the middle of urban sprawl, we get Blue Herons, Canadian Geese, ducks and loons of several varieties (I suppose I'm of the latter group), woodpeckers (complete with red tops), plus all the usual suspects and the unusual ones I don't know the names of.

And speaking of bird sightings... I just spotted my first robins of the season two days ago, so the groundhog just might be right this year. That, or these were two very off-course birds.

I think this was covered here on the Boodle not long ago, but Deborah Howell has a piece today on all the hooplah over William Arkin's rather stupid description of our troops as "mercenaries" on his blog. I don't normally read her (or Arkin, for that matter), but this comment had me laughing (and wishing I had a personal editor):

"Readers usually take things literally. And an editor should have told him to take out the word. That's what editors are for: They keep opinion writers from making fools of themselves."

The rest is at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/09/AR2007020901961.html

What's got me is that I thought opinion writers are *supposed* to make fools of themselves. I mean, look at George Will.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Mudge... considering that an unmarried girl was considered an old maid at 18 (or even 16) back in those days, I'm almost afraid to think what they would have considered "jail bait".

And they say kids grow up too fast today.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone. Thank you for the cartoon character information - that is more than enough for Ivansdad. I knew you'd collectively come through (and I should have remembered RD's cereal boxes). Does that make you all heroes?

Now we can get to Harvard's Faustian bargain.

Pat, I hope your son feels better this morning. You all had a rough week, just tell yourself this one will be better.

My aunt came home from the hospital yesterday to much rejoicing. Her surgery became an occasion for a protracted family gathering, with lots of talk & laughter. Much wine was consumed. Remember, get that abdominal aneurysm screening if you can.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 11, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

SCC: considering, considered (x2) in two sentences of a three sentence post.

This is why I need a personal editor. Or a thesaurus taped to my forehead.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Bird reports are good. Wilbrod and Pat can provide bird reports in their respective modes....common ground.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather know how Arkin really feels than have someone save him from himself. However, bigger than his error in the use of a single word was his implication that a majority of troops bristle at the public's anti-war sentiments. (Does this mean I don't mind accurate jerks? hmmm) Sen. Webb had it right after the SOTU, "The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military."

Posted by: frostbitten | February 11, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

(To Yoki) I'll start by stating that I'm an avowed "live and let live" kinda guy when it comes to most private behavior by (or between) consenting people, sexual behavior included. I think that many people (including many homosexuals) find homosexual activity much more fascinating than it actually is. By and large, it's the same interesting-mostly-only-to-the-people-involved stuff that's true of most of the things in most of our lives.

But it's also patently untrue that homosexuals don't "actively recruit", just as it would be untrue to say that "heterosexuals don't actively recruit". As a younger man, I was hit on several times by gay guys, who sometimes kept it up even after I made it explicitly clear that not only was I uninterested in them specifically, but that I found that whole area of intimacy to be unappealing to me. I'm sure that these guys would have been persistent jerks to young women (as many men are!) if they had been heterosexual, but that doesn't change the fact that they were "actively recruiting". I've also watched individuals and small groups of lesbian women do exactly the same thing to younger women. Generally, there are plenty of obnoxious folks of any sexual proclivity who won't give up the unsuccessful effort to "recruit" until they're embarrassed by (or threatened with) measures which exceed politeness.

Again, I certainly don't think that this unpleasant behavior is uniquely (or especially) prevalent among homosexuals, but it's probably ignorant or dishonest to pretend that it doesn't happen, and fairly often. Just make sure that you don't hang your hat on a hook that involves denying the existence of something which is surely real!

[Cassandra has some thoughts on THAT issue! Be careful where you hang your hat.]

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Just to prove that Ysabellabrave isn't the only YouTube singing sensation out there, I have recorded one of my favorite tunes.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=npIvWNheSeo

Bonus points to whoever can identify which line I muffed.

Enjoy.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 11, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten... I'm with you on your 9:59. I'd rather have the "unfiltered" than the "filtered", but at the same time I agree with Howell's point regarding the value of an editor. The analogy I'm thinking of is Spandex(tm) stretched over a large bottom. The wearer thinks it looks good, but...

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

yellojkt... I want to thank you for expressing your views on Paulinity so well. Exactly what I was trying to come up with but fell short--so I didn't try at all.

The line about sitting on the chairs of menstruating women was perfect. There are many examples like that of "rules" set by the men who wrote the bible that are happily ignored today; you can't just pick and choose the ones you want to keep.

Posted by: TBG | February 11, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Some day we should turn from the Scientist vs God discussion to the Historian vs the Bible discussion.

Posted by: TBG | February 11, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Yello - Bravo, bravo!! I'll make the (loving) observation that "Rambling Wreck" might be a slightly more appropriate moniker for that effort.

Who IS that "Bo" that needs to get away from "you know who"?

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Ooops, maybe I missed the connection between Foreigner and the Pauline foundation of the early Church.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Hey yello... We want to know: do you do more than dance?

Posted by: TBG | February 11, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Mello Yello on YouTube.

If you son's friends catch view of this, oh the joshing that will ensue.

I sing in the car, to the annoyance of Son of CP and the secret delight of his friends:

Yodeling is utter cowboy-nerdness and so too the high notes on Danny Boy....

Men of La Mancha's "My Way" works fine too.

Yello: you win.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Man of La Mancha - "Impossible Dream", maybe?

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Help, Bob S.

Do I have my songs mixed up?

"My Way" is NOT Quixotian?

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

CP - (chuckling) - No, I think probably not.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Here's the result of a quick search:

http://www.stlyrics.com/m/manoflamanchadonquixote.htm

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I think Robert Goulet has been messing with CP.

Martooni-editing is great if it saves one from saying what is not meant. If Arkin really meant mercenary, better to not have the editor. I cannot believe he didn't know using the word would raise a ruckus.

To expand on your analogy, if a spandex wearers honestly likes the 5 pounds of potatoes in a 2 pound sack look he/she should go with it. If the wearer finds it slimming, a referral to "What Not to Wear" is in order.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 11, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

But trust me, "Impossible Dream" would definitely accomplish the same acute embarassment of offspring, and attendant amusement of their friends.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

frostbitten - Methinks you're completely correct that Arkin intended exactly that note of bitter condescension toward the military forces. While he might have been willing to accede to an editor's demand that he word it more gently, it was definitely the message that he intended to convey.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Having said that, it's kind of silly to allow the word "mercenary" to have so much emotional power, just like it's silly to allow a number of other words (I'll refrain from giving examples, because... well, it's probably obvious why I'll refrain!) to have so much emotional power that they immediately overwhelm the rest of the conversation.

If one were to take as his point that wars wouldn't happen (or at least wouldn't be so large) if people weren't willing to make a living at fighting them, then there's some truth there. I'm not sure that his actual intended point was so obvious, or kind, but I'll choose to think that (if he'd thought about it longer, and with the advice of kinder advisors) that would have been his point, eventually.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

TBG - I'd rather read a God vs Scientist argument. There's never been one. It would finally be settled and we could all go home.
If God says the scientists are wrong I won't say a peep.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 11, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Cassandra, Mudge, TBG, Bob S, Loomis, etc.

Gadzooks, yello.

I think you blew the second to last line, should be "girl, you're making me sing", as it rhymes better with "for that sweet sweet thing".

bc

Posted by: bc | February 11, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Grading papers here -- grade two, rejoice by commenting....repeat.

Knitting up a yarn from a few kits ago, yesterday I heard G Keillor on Praire Home use the diapered Astronaut situation as a joke-line. So, PHC was live this week.

The Lake Wo-be-gone saga-let included a funny, false-terrorism response to the gentle madness of a frozen Minnesota- gal to fly one-way to LA for warmth and the sway of palm trees. The shampoo bottle in her luggage acted as a smoking gun. Relatives have not heard from her since.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Boko -- Aaahh, but (as we all know), God speaks in mysterious ways. It's hard to tell when the argument has started, and harder to tell when it ends.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, actually, it may well be easy to tell when it ends. It's probably not easy to predict when it will end, though.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

bc wins the flubbed line contest. I had the lyrics printed out. You can see me keep looking over at them. That line was on the second page and I messed it up. Not only is my singing bad, I'm pretty notorious for "enhancing" the words.

The sweatshirt is a Georgia Tech hoodie, so "ramblin'wreck' is more than a fair assessment. Maybe I'll do the Tech song for my next number. I already have twelve views just this morning. Fame is going to my head.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 11, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Bu the way, looking over the list of songs from "Man of La Mancha", I note a song ("Little Bird, Little Bird") which brings to mind something from another musical... I've always thought that the "Chava" ballet sequence and associated lyrics ("Little bird, little Chavala ...") was one of the more hauntingly beautiful parts of "Fiddler on the Roof".

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

What if God speaks through science? I know I've said this before, but I don't see it as a fundamentally antagonistsic relationship. Both sides have their militant faction, but I'm all about this quote:

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -Galileo.

It's a "both/and", not an "either/or", in my opinion anyway.

Posted by: Tangent | February 11, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

SCC: antagonistic. too early still, on Eastern Standard College time.

Posted by: Tangent | February 11, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Tangent - You and Galileo have plenty of fellow-travelers in this forum, I think!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I think we should be tackling Abe Lincoln and Springfield, Ill.--historically--some day soon on the Achenblog. Throw in Barak Obama for good measure.

Monday looks pretty busy for me, though.

Posted by: Loomis | February 11, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Yup, ol' Abe is always a rewarding study, for good, bad, or just plain humor! Unlike many others who have been in prominent positions, he was actually an interesting person.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Either the universe was created by a conciousness or it was not. All the rest of the babble is theology.

Posted by: Boko999 | February 11, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Boko -

Either the infinite number of even integers is smaller than the infinite number of all integers, or it's not. All the rest of mathematics is babble.

Yup, you're right. Until we figure out the answer to that bedrock, there's no point in trying to figure anything else out!

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

OK, OK, I was taking a cheap and illofical shot.

But you are, to some extent, throwing up a straw man, just so you can beat it down. I think that many serious theologians would argue your contention that the ultimate origin of the universe is the only thing that lies outside theology (which is what you actually stated), or that it is the only significant issue within theology (which is, I suspect, something like what you might have meant to say).

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Well, I was gonna correct "illofical", but the more I see it, the more I like it!

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

for roman catholicism, eastern orthodoxy, and most of protestantism, the traditional view of new testament versus old testament is that jewish laws of cleanliness and diet do not carry over into christianity, whereas all of the basic moral laws concerning sexuality do. so on that level, the traditional christian view is not that complicated.

what does make biblical interpretation so much more complicated now is modern (in the sense of enlightenment period on) biblical criticism, which is willing to challenge the authority and interpretation of the bible, with many of those challenges and revised interpretations being accepted by liberal protestantism, less so by roman catholicism (although their appeal to the authority of tradition makes them less dogmatic about the interpretation of the bible), even less so by eastern orthodoxy, and not at all by fundamentalists of all stripes. on top of historical interpretive issues, you now have all of the science and religion issues and a huge variety in how they are dealt with.

mazol tov and happy sunday.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 11, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The universe just is. And a good thing, too.

Posted by: LTL-CA | February 11, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I have always liked this song,I heard it 3 days ago and can't get it out of my brain.

It also kinda fits this thread.

If God had a name, what would it be
And would you call it to his face
If you were faced with him in all his glory
What would you ask if you had just one question

And yeah yeah God is great yeah yeah God is good
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home

If God had a face what would it look like
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in jesus and the saints and all the prophets

And yeah yeah god is great yeah yeah god is good
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
He's trying to make his way home
Back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in rome

And yeah yeah God is great yeah yeah God is good
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

What if god was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Just trying to make his way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to heaven all alone
Just trying to make his way home
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in rome

It was by Joan Osbourne
No relation of Ozzy

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 11, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

A little late, but my own picture of last week's Boodle Field Trip:

http://tbgboodler.blogspot.com/

Posted by: TBG | February 11, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

greenwithenvy - Now, have you done the proper research here? How certain are you that Joan and Ozzy are not both (along with Johnny ("Father of the Dancehall" Osbourne) related to John Osborne (see "Look Back in Anger"), and back to the 16th-century English physician John Osbourne, mentioned in "Physicians and Irregular Medical Practitioners in London, 1550-1640"?

Maybe you just haven't tried hard enough to find the connections!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I know that I left a hanging parenthesis there. I'll do better next time, I promise!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps this already has been addressed in some of the posts that I haven't yet read, but at 11:19, TBG said: "The line about sitting on the chairs of menstruating women was perfect. There are many examples like that of "rules" set by the men who wrote the bible that are happily ignored today; you can't just pick and choose the ones you want to keep."

Well, actually, you can pick and choose. Or rather, you need to divine (as it were) your best understanding of the philosophical point being made, and interpret the message as a metaphor that must be applied within the practical confines of the world today. It is generally understood within Judaism (who are, after all, the people originated this stuff) that the commandments are from God (by way of the oral traditions of the Chosen People, held to have been inherited from Moses himself), but the understanding and writing of the commandments was by mortal men.

Leviticus details how to select an animal for sacrifice, how to do it, what to do with the animal, etc. We do not today practice animal sacrifice and it is generally understood, today, that there would be no resumption of animal sacrifice even if the Temple in Jerusalem were rebuilt and reconsecrated. Leviticus can be read literally, commanding us to sacrifice animals; or, it can be read metaphorically as an instruction to give up something that is of great personal value and to do choose the sacrifice with great care and without chintziness. Sacrifice furnished food and goods for the priestly class, the Kohanim. The support of a priestly class fulfilled a duty of the community before God. Since there is no inherited priestly lineage anymore and prayer and service are now the province of ordinary persons, sacrifice is for the benefit of the community. There is much to be said about all this, which is how Torah remains the active and vibrant center of Jewish life after thousands of years. But I have said enough, from my groupie status.

Posted by: Tim | February 11, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your reply Bob S. I think we have a semantic argument, more than anything else. You interpret "recruit" as "proposition" and I as "organized attempt to change the sexual orientation of."

Obviously (and in part, you've strengthened my argument by acknowledging that it has nothing whatever to do with sexual orientation) there are obnoxiously pervy individuals of any orientation who don't take a polite no for an answer.

What I meant to say (and when I read my post I believe I did say) is that no matter what the propaganda says, homosexuals are no more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals, and there is no umbrella organization of gay pedophiles trying to turn children into gays.

There are rings of pedophiles trying to *get at* young children, but that is not recruiting into a chosen lifestyle in the way I (and the literature) mean it.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

TBG, that's a great picture of the gang. Everyone looks so happy.

Tangent, I like your take on the science and God question.

Where is Slyness?

And can anyone answer my question about the children that were missing parents after Katrina? For awhile the public was made aware of how that search was going, but then, it just dropped off. Perhaps someone could tell me how to find out that information?

I listen to some of those kids with Spike Lee and Soledad O'Brian, and I got the distinct impression that many of those kids are still suffering. With the situations like it is in New Orleans, that is not surprising, but what bothers me about all of that,I wonder if anyone is addressing those concerns and stresses in the young people lives. Are the kids going the way of the rebuilding? I sincerely hope not.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 11, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

My neighbor's Flying Spaghetti Monster will be expected to provide as edifying a post-death existence as is expected of the Christian God--or, at least, so states my neighbor. His younger son is sort of into the 72 virgins concept, and at least one observer (another neighbor) has commented on the possibility of schism over the issue. Wars of the future may have their seeds right here in River City.

We in the Church of What's Happen' Now have yet to settle on our beliefs toward the afterlife, and, in fact, we have yet to define a deity (maybe "deities"); our founder was not terribly interested in theological foundations, and neither climbed mountains to receive the Word nor translated golden plates. We also have no argument with science (we aren't into confrontations either). To remain a successful religion we obviously need some sort of follow-on leadership. Is there a Saul out there that would like to become our Paul? The successful applicant will have access to a wide variety of drugs and/or possess an estate in the Carribean for use by Church members during winter months (tax deductible retreats, y'know).

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | February 11, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

So is Joel taller than I thought, or is he standing on a box behind the podium? Or are bc, Scottynuke and Tim shorter than I pictured, or are they slouching to make Joel look taller? Or is it all a matter of perspective? (Not that any of this matters - for the record, I am really short, so everyone looks tall to me.)

I'm overtired today - way too much broke at work yesterday - so that's as deep as my questions go.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 11, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Thou-to-Thou reverence in human encounters is even more paramount in relationships with sexual expression.

Martin Buber, Jewish scholar and mystic, thought the human existence is in essence one of encounter.

Approaches to the other (all others) should reflect the dignity and worth of the other person. We should see and treat others as subject-in-and-of-themseves, and not objects for our use, gratification, spoils, depletion, etc.

Sexual advances that do not proceed from acknowledgement of the essential specialness of the other risk being casual, to perhaps instrumental (using another)to indifference to cruelty and ultimately, predation.

Kant's notion that we should treat others AS THEY WISH TO BE treated beats the Golden Rule hands down.

Treating others as YOU WISH TO BE TREATED? Focus on the other. AKA It is not about YOU.

Modern corrollary: ask what the other wants; don't presume to know.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

mostlylurking! If you have the other listed qualifications, your application just might be the one!

Posted by: MedallionOfFerret | February 11, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Pat, my sympathy to you and your family on the loss of your BIL. And I loved your comment on the guardian angel not being detail-oriented.

CP, we saw a new bird at our feeder this morning. Looked like a goldfinch, except they aren't gold this time of year. The bird book points to it being a Wood Warbler.

Martooni, Raysdad was ROTFL at the drywalling description. As a veteran of finishing our basement, he's sworn off mudding forever.

Still catching up...have spent another blissful (not!) two hours on income tax prep. The theological and other discussions merit my attention when I'm not nearly so brain-dead. Am now ready for something totally mindless, such as Daytona 500 qualifying.

Posted by: Raysmom | February 11, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - Yes, my point was entirely semantic. I made it only because being careful about the little things is important when one is trying to make broad points.

Actually, I'm quite willing to believe that the minister who spends a little time on the side doing drugs with a (just ONE, mind you!) prostitute is quite sincere in his beliefs, but it is a distraction from his broader message.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Mostlylurking - One of my thoughts when I looked at that photo was:

"I know that I'm not very tall, but they may all be taller than I remember!"

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - I don't think that there's much need to get into a longer discussion of [You interpret "recruit" as "proposition" and I as "organized attempt to change the sexual orientation of."] in this particular forum, since my point really was purely semantic. But the line between the two things is not one that I'd be willing to draw casually.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

College Parkian - As I began to get a good bit of sexual attention from girls/women (and the aforementioned pesky men!) in my teens and twenties, it usually left me puzzled, because I was very definitely not actively seeking that particular form of attention. Please understand, I wasn't against the idea, but I wasn't (and amn't) a "let's see if I can pick up a chick" kinda guy.

One of the first times I began to understand it was when I was in my early twenties, when a woman in her early thirties (with whom I'd been fixed up in a situation too long and boring to explain here) said something to the effect that, "without even trying, you make it clear that you like being with women that you like, that you don't have much patience for women that you don't really like, and that it doesn't have much to do with their being women at all."

I don't think that I really understood what she was saying at the time, but I pretty much get it now. But, of course, it's just the way I deal with people, period. It just seems to be less common than it ought to be as a way of dealing with the "others", in whatever form they come.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I've recently given these two bits of advice (distilled from years of both good and less-than-satisfactory experience) to some younger folks (of both genders) of my acquaintance:

Sex is one more way to enjoy a conversation that you're already enjoying. If it's not already a good conversation, then sex won't make it any better.

You probably shouldn't yet have sex with someone until you can fairly easily imagine laughing naked together in bed over something silly and at least a little embarassing.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Pat, I'm glad you're thinking about singing where people can hear you. Don't worry about making a mistake or messing up the words (nice video, yellojkt!). After years of singing I find people are very forgiving of that kind of mistake. Remember, you're only as good as the note you just sang, but there's always another note after that one. If you are enjoying singing, and they enjoy listening to you, that's all they'll remember. Unless, of course, you forget the words to the National Anthem.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 11, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Before I have to deal with parents frightened about what I might be telling their experimentative children -
The "younger folks of my acquaintance" are (in this case) all at least twenty-one, already actively engaged in exploring this territory, and actually asked my advice. Crazy of them, I know!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - Since it's often presented (in many American clubs/bars) as a mini-"American Idol", karaoke's roots as a goofball entertainment among friends is often forgotten. But that's definitely the origin, and almost certainly the most enjoyable way to do it.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Um, I am slouching a bit in TBG's pic, but I wouldn't say any of us Boodlers are particularly tall.

I posted a new blog item today, something about how when Somebody tries to tell you something, maybe you should listen:

http://www.10thcircle.com/10/?p=168

bc

Posted by: bc | February 11, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

bc - I promise, I won't actually forward that around the world as my own story. But trust me here, that's my own story (over and over and over)!

Once again, I've laughed out loud (quite loudly, actually) in an empty room.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

MedallionOfFerret - Your heart-felt plea for the appearance of an Earthly prophet has not gone unnoticed. I am (as we speak) searching for such a worthy, or someone who can do a credible imitation thereof.

(I'm not entirely above helping to write the lines, if the Prophet should find her/himself tongue-tied on occasion, and, I suppose, I might be willing to do a bit of stand-in myself, until she/he is ready to make an appearance. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here.)

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks bc. That was really funny. You know, my car needs washing too, and since you already have the technique down. . .

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 11, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Good advice, Bob S.

Mostlylurking, I think they're all on stilts. Joel just has the tallest ones.

But then to me, everybody looks like they're wearing stilts nowadays. They even sell pants designed for stilts.

You can't tell me that normal human beings have legs over 3 feet long and STILL not bump their heads on doorways.


Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

bc-That was a great story,I was thinking of doing the same to my car,but when I saw the 3 foot icesicle where My hose is supposed to be...I decided against it.

That really made me laugh...thanks

Perhaps this week you should just take a snow day,instead of working....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 11, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute, "Sweet, sweet thing?"

I watched Yello's video and all I got was...

"hey hey hey..beer.. that's why.... so jealous.... of sweaty tim's fa* Hey Bob S! I'm singing.... hey hey thanks hai-ey hey..."

Truly, I believe Pat reads lips way better than I do.

Pat, go ahead and sing, don't forget to work the gestures, even if the only ones you remember is the movements to "eensy-meensy spider." It'll add to the effect.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

>MedallionOfFerret - Your heart-felt plea for the appearance of an Earthly prophet has not gone unnoticed.

If you can't find a proper one, please be advised I have an Honorary Doctor of Divinity, and am both Right Reverend and Very Esteemed Universal Philosopher of Absolute Reality, as well as an ordained Minister in the Church of The SubGenius. (Praise Bob!)

And I'm expecting to have some free time this summer. And I had a band named Prophet in high school. Kind of makes ya all tingly, huh?

Posted by: Error Flynn | February 11, 2007 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh the indignities of slow dialup. I can't load Yello's video. But tommorrow morning first thing, I am there.

I will console myself by reading bc's story again. And again.

Posted by: dr | February 11, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

College Parkian, I dug up the software, so if you or anybody else wants to check out a very effective program to teach kids the fundamental addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts as quickly as possible, and have fun doing it (fun even for adults), I'm posting the link. It works on my Windows 95 machine as well as XP.

http://mysite.verizon.net/vze35fvj/MathFlash.htm

Posted by: Pat | February 11, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Pat, glad the kiddo's OK!

Sorry to have been away, but I've been overhauling the fax in preparation for faxing a couple of those big-batch snow melters and a Santa Ana or two for good measure.

Then again, if we're REALLY lucky here in DC, we'll have some real snow of out own come Tuesday.

:-)

And yes, Joel's got the height thing goin'.

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 11, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

SCC: faxin' the snow stuff to upstate NY, of course

Double SCC: real snow of OUR own...

No SCC on JA's height.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 11, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra-- check out PatMath. Just the ticket. A few fun sound effects but not too much.

GeniusPat
ProgrammerPat
NiceGuyPat

BelovedPat to his children and passel of relatives. Sorry bout the boy. Each day a little more mended.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 11, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Pat-I cannot begin to tell you how elegant your math software is, though something tells me you already know. Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 11, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I lived with a gay college student for three years and never got hit on once. Not by him, not by his friends, not by other gay roommates. I really feel insulted that they don't think I'm worth recruiting for their team. If you saw the video that I posted earlier today, you may think that is understandable, but I have seen gay guys much uglier than me and they get action.

That made me think of this story allegedly from The Onion. Warning: It is HIGHLY offensive. I cannot even directly link to the article because the url is obscene. You have to go to this site and then select the top article.

http://www.robcamlive.com/humour/

You have been warned. Have I made myself clear?

But it is funny.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 11, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little ticked right now. I just discovered that the new upgrade of my voice software hasn't been speaking the links that people have been imbedding in the boodle. Why does the newest upgrade always have to suck?

Wilbrod, eensie weensie spider? I've always sang it as itchy bichy spider. It makes more sense that way. I mean always crawling up and getting washed out would make me grumpy too.

Posted by: Pat | February 11, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Itsy bitsy! It's "itsy bitsy", fer cryin' out loud. We're going to heck in a handbasket, I tell ya.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 11, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Pat... unless your program can be compiled to run on Linux boxen, the Martooni family is out of luck (no Windows(tm) in this house). But then we've been thinking of giving Little Bean a "classical" education anyway, so all she really needs is an abacus, parchment, quill and inkwell. Heck, if it was good enough for Newton...

Regarding the Old vs. New Testament subthread... I've always been under the impression that the New Testament was intended to free believers in Christ from all the "Old" rules, providing they follow two simple new ones:

1) Love everyone
2) All actions should come from "love".

In other words, if everything you do is based in "love" and you love everyone equally, it's really hard to do anything evil (at least intentionally). If you are able to handle the "third rule" (accepting Christ as your Saviour) you get the added bonus of a golden ticket and guided tour of Heavenland and also get to rub elbows with the Big Guy.

Of course, that's the one I have trouble with as an agnostic. But if He's (or She's) as omni-excellent and fair as many say, that shouldn't be a showstopper.

I figure I'll never know for sure which path is the "right" path until the inevitable "End", so I try to stick to those first two core rules (which also seem to be common/core themes for all major belief systems). It would be nice to be able to lay all my burdens at the feet of a Saviour and soak up a bunch of real (or imagined) energy and comfort and divine lovin', but then I've always been a boot-strapping do-it-yourself-the-hardest-way-possible kind of guy.

In the meantime, I look forward to heart-felt unsolicited blessings (you know who you are) as much as I do polite and civil discourse on this (or any matter, for that matter).

Peace out, my friends. Time for a little "tea", if ya know what I mean. *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Yello, I gave you 5 stars. If everyone here did that, you might end up in the highly rated video category, which could really embarrass your kids!

CP, //Kant's notion that we should treat others AS THEY WISH TO BE treated beats the Golden Rule hands down.//

Not necessarily. Some people wish to be treated in a highly dysfunctional manner, or a way in which you don't wish to participate. Helping/knowing others is an undeniably great thing, but not if it's always at your expense. If it's not about *you* sometimes, you're not taking care of yourself.

Posted by: dbG | February 11, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, you're recruitable enough. Maybe you just actually were oblivious to being hit on, or it's in your voice or something, or you simply chose not to hang out with jerks.

None of my bisexual or lesbian friends ever hit on me. Non-friend lesbians, yes.

On the other hand, I knew a guy who was sexually harrassed by both sexes in one semester. I wouldn't have called him a stud, either, he was just socially naive and completely did not realize the subtext of a "friendship" until it was too late.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Pat thank you so much for posting the Math game, it will be a great help for my girls.

Here's a link to an online site we have used before, (Ninja math maybe good for young boys.

http://www.iknowthat.com/com/L3?Area=Dojo

Posted by: dmd | February 11, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I actually think my secret was to be in a long term committed relationship. That also works in other social situations. I clearly mention my wife as soon as possible when meeting new people.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 11, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

yello - Yeah, that's the ticket! I remember reading that particular slice of the Onion some time back. I'm sure that (just like all the other objects of unwanted attention) I was just taunting them with my... hmmm... I guess I was being tantalizing beyond their capability to resist.

As Phil Hartman's character would have said: "Saucy!"

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

If it's any consolation, the only people who ever hit on me had an invisible-only-to-me tattoo on their foreheads that said "bat-guano crazy" (except for Mrs. Martooni, of course -- hers said "i'm with stupid").

I was once chatted up and actively pursued by a male hairdresser (his real name really was "Victor", I kid you not). Someone earlier mentioned (was it Yoki?) that when you hang out with an artsy-fartsy crowd, it's pretty much guaranteed that a certain percentage of them will be of the "alternative" persuasion and you generally don't even think about it. Comes with the territory. In any case, I was flattered (if a bit flummoxed) by Victor's advances, but we got over it. It took a bit of convincing on my part that just because I was in a "gay" bar, I could still be very exclusively heterosexual. (His opening line, spoken in a deep Harvey Fierstien voice, btw, was "Y'know... I've been waiting for you to show up in a place like this.")

As for the "sinfulness" of being gay, I just don't buy it. There's nothing sinful about love (casual or committed) between consenting adults. In the case of the mega-church preacher (Haggard?), sinful might apply since he openly professed being a committed husband and father while carrying on his "alternative" relationship on the side (and even paying cash for it). "Hypocritical" may be the more accurate and appropriate term, but when in Rome...

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

By the way, just on the off-chance that I haven't already made this sufficiently (and sufficiently distastefully) clear: It wasn't just dirty old men. It was dirty old women, dirty younger women, and (on at least one particularly unnerving occasion) my father-in-law's "bully". [And I'm pretty sure that the goat was giving me a lustful eye until "Bully" called "dibs"!]

I hate it, dammit! It's the reason that I decided to become an internet phantom. The real world is just too hard for us hotties!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Mrs. Martooni's forehead tattoo initially said "I'm looking for Stupid, found his car keys". It was after she handed them to me that it changed to "I'm with Stupid".

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Cassandra! Hi everybody!

I've been out of town. To NoVa, as a matter of fact, after going to MoCo (Rockville, actually) to pick up the older kid's belongings and bring them home. Drove up Friday and packed the trailer, went to NoVa and spent the weekend with the in-laws.

There is nothing in the world - absolutely NOTHING - like watching a bunch of seven year old boys play basketball. They are so hilariously serious about it all, tripping over their feet while trying to dribble. My brother-in-law coaches the team, and his younger son plays on it. They were down 18 to 9 at halftime and came back to win 23-20! It was their very first win of the season. Best of all was watching the gentle African-American ref try to get all the clueless little white boys to go to the right places for foul shots. He was wonderful.

We also watched three quarters of the 14 year old niece's game, during which her team was losing. Not until after we left to go to the third basketball game did they rally and win, and she made the winning basket. No fair, there, to miss the best part. But we also watched the last three quarters of the 12 year old nephew's game, in which his team lost a nine-point advantage and were decisively beaten. At least part of that loss was due to this nephew colliding with another player and having to come out of the game for about 5 minutes with a bloody nose.

So that is the story of my weekend. Traffic was light on I-81 both ways; my husband and I were surprised. We were also glad to see that snow didn't fall on the roads, although there was plenty around, especially between Strasburg and Roanoke. The temperature didn't get above freezing till around Christiansburg. I'm still catching up on the boodle.

bc, loved the story and sent it to my husband, who washed the truck and the trailer when we got home. Fortunately, it's been in the forties here.

Posted by: Slyness | February 11, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

martooni - to be (only ever so slightly) more serious - I understood pretty early in my life that if I hung around uninhibited people and/or unstructured situations, then I could expect whackiness to ensue, and it's not a thing which bothers me a bit.

I fear that the pushiness of certain butt-faces (whatever they're pushing!) is a recurring theme in life, no matter where (or with whom) you hang out!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Tangent that the relationship between God and science need not be antagonistic. Indeed -- what if God speaks through science? However, I don't think God speaks through *religion* [a very different thing from God], and I think the relationship between God and *religion* is almost necessarily antagonistic. I'm thinking of the Copernicus fiasco, and the ongoing fiasco re. evolution/intelligent design/creationism.

As for the Bible, remember these lines from George Gershwin:

It ain't necessarily so
It ain't necessarily so
The things that you're liable
To read in the Bibel
It ain't necessarily so

*****

And here's something to ponder: Given that life in this Universe started from nothing, eventually giving rise to consciousness, what if, rather than God creating us, *we* are creating *God*?

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 6:56 PM | Report abuse

SCC:
Bible

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 7:00 PM | Report abuse

[I think my mind just blew, man.]

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I didn't know Gershwin was in the bible-debunking business, Dreamer. Mind-blowing, man.

Hmm, a self-assembling God, created out of his measly subjects? Well, if so, I hope there's a filtering process to remove the nastier parts of human consciousness out there ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps there *is* such a filtering process, Wilbrod, but it just takes a long, long time to work. I like to think we've made some progress -- after all, those dinosaurs were a heck of a lot nastier than we are, right?

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer - How unintentionally cool and/or cruel of you! I just spent most of the past week ridding myself of that particular (rather delicious!) tune-cootie!

Early last week, I had to "learn" a young'un about some Gershwin ("I Got Rhythm" was the piece in question, which she believed [ahh, the wild recklessness of youth!] was from anything that the Gershwins, singly or in tandem, has ever done except for "Girl Crazy". I think that she'd been led astray (much like College Parkian earlier) by Robert Goulet. She wasn't much more willing to believe that "Funny Face" was by the Gershwins at all. At some point, that conversation led to the realization that we both had a fondness for "Porgy and Bess", and specifically to the off-key rendition of a couple of verses of "It Ain't Necessarily So".

It took until about Thursday afternoon to get it out of my head. So thanks a lot!!

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

*Sorry* Bob S.!!!!

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer... I've actually considered what you brought up at the end of your 6:56 well before you posted it, but I'm glad you did because I needed a reminder to think on it some more: "what if, rather than God creating us, *we* are creating *God*".

I'll admit that I was experiencing none of the ill effects of glaucoma back when I thought of this (and it was probably good that there were no K-9 units in the neighborhood), but it was one of those thoughts that didn't require writing down or recording for future and further consideration. Some thoughts are like that. Of course, other thoughts got in the way since then, so thanks again for the reminder.

I'm trying to remember the guy's name (Dwyer?) who proposed that we shape our reality by imagining/pre-conceiving it first. I'm sure you're familiar with the concept... if you latch onto something thought-wise in a significant way, it will manifest itself in the "real" world.

I really hope there is a God because I really want someone to punch in the nose for all the insanity and bullsh:t in the world-at-large and my personal life, but I also want someone to hug and be hugged by for all the good things that managed to be/happen in those very same spheres of reality. As I've mentioned before, I think it would be fun to take Him out on a pub crawl (for various reasons, not just the free drinks).

But seriously...

I know that we only use a very small portion of our brains on a regular basis. I know that positive/negative thinking does seem to have an effect on our bodies (healthwise). How far can that "brain power" reach? No clue. Does it or can it extend beyond our bodies and immediate surroundings? Again, no clue. Can it make my desk levitate? Maybe, but why would I want a floating desk? Can my and your (and humanity's) thoughts manifest themselves in the form of a God? I wouldn't be surprised.

In any case, I revert to my agnostic stance: No knowing for sure until it's too late to tell anyone.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, Dreamer, I don't think so...Kber will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think C.S. Lewis covers this topic in Mere Christianity. The point is, humans create gods all the time, but they turn out to be false gods and create all sorts of havoc. I don't think we have it in us to create God. And, after the human experience of the 20th century, I don't think we are better than dinosaurs. Religious problems are human problems, not divine ones.

Posted by: Slyness | February 11, 2007 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Taking a quick look at the Boodle from Taipei airport. Great city. Why don't I see any American tourists?

It was fun to see a few plants commonly cultivated in south Florida and the Caribbean on their native island. On the other hand, there's lots of impressive royal palms, native to Cuba and Florida.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | February 11, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the nice comments on the blog item, folks. And the bruises are healing.

Dreamer, thou art God?

I'd say that the jury is still out as to whether we're nastier than the saurans.

I think you have to be a bunch of clever, nasty, hungry SOBs to get to the top of the food chain on this planet. If it weren't for a wayward chunk of interplanetary flotsam, their decendants might be the ones who developed nuclear weapons and the Internet (not sure Paris Hilton would be any different, though).

It was pretty cool to see the Police open the Grammys.

bc

Posted by: bc | February 11, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "saurians".

Grrr.

bc

Posted by: bc | February 11, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Dreamer: I would argue that God supercedes religion, but not that they are opposing forces, for God in fact supercedes all of his/her created order. Religion is incomplete as it is subject to fallen, sinful, human nature. Science also is incomplete, even as reason is incomplete/unable to account for every phenomena in the universe. In a nutshell, I believe that such things as science and religion are things that point us towards God. Neither is a perfect or complete revelation (again, b/c of human nature), but both are helpful.
This doesn't get into theories of soteriology, which I don't even want to touch, as it is not my right or responsability (thank God.)

Posted by: Tangent | February 11, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

If they can tolerate each other, the Police may be at it as long as the Stones! (And that's saying something, since I fully expect the Stones era to be longer than that of the saurians!)

Tangent - well, I think that the definition of God is something along the lines of, "That which supercedes all created order." So, there you go!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 11, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Slyness... I've read the same C.S. Lewis, but came away with a little something different logic-wise that actually flies in the face of my last post: "If humanity defines the Creator, or if the Creator is some manifestation of the collective mental/spiritual/gastronomic output of humanity as a whole, what happens if humanity ceases to exist?"

If all of us agree there is no God, does He die?

If all of us agree that He (or She, sorry) has a Noodly Appendage, does that make it so?

If all of us focus our thoughts on an M&S cheeseburger that is both tasty, fat-free and cholesterol-free, and that the purchase of said burger will reduce global warming and encourage world peace, does that make it so?

I dunno... I need more "tea". And maybe a *hooker or two.

---
*hooker: slang for a prostitute; also slang for a shot of cheap whiskey commonly used among railroaders.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

We have deer hanging around all winter, eating the shoots and summer's growth off the shrubs, decimating my little junipers, scraping agaisnt the lodgepole pine we are trying to grow, and generally making themselves a nusiance. In years with deep snow like this year, they stick to the bush. It's easier walking there, and the bush is filled with easy eats from all the hazelnut brush, and poplar. You seldom see them unless you are in the kitchen at just the right moment and their movement in the twilight catches your eye as they silently go past.

They meandered by tonight, doe's and some yearlings and one following up behind all the others who seemed to be the grand dame of the herd. She stood and watched till all the others had crossed the path, on guard, ears up, head looking at the house. It feels like they see through you when they look at you like that. The grand dame thought about raising the alarm as we moved to get a better view, but then decided just to bound through the deep snow herself to get over to the other side where again she took up her watchful stance. It never gets stale, seeing these majestic creatures sharing the forest. There are 9 in our little herd this year, far more than normal.

It is grand and wonderful and I am blessed.

Posted by: dr | February 11, 2007 8:32 PM | Report abuse

D'oh! Sorry, Tangent, I meant the relationship between SCIENCE and religion is antagonistic, not between God and religion. Big SCC for me -- that part of my post made no sense as a result. (I need to work on my logic skills.) What I was trying to say was, God and science could be compatible, whereas *religion* and science, probably not so much.

*****

Slyness writes, "Religious problems are human problems, not divine ones."
Exactly.
(BTW, when I say "create God," I don't mean create a *notion* of God, or create a false idol, a golden calf, or whatever. I mean actually *create* *God*. And it's just a thought -- I'm not saying I have the answer.)

martooni, I think you get it -- great post. "Why would I want a floating desk?" Ha! (Maybe it is only when we reach that place where we don't want a floating desk that we actually have the ability to make a desk float.)

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, see Tangent's post.

Tangent, you are wise beyond your years.

Posted by: Slyness | February 11, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

As they used to say on SNL, I hate when this happens . . .

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/02/10/snorkeler.shot.ap/index.html

Posted by: bill everything | February 11, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, we have it in us to create God. What is now believed was once only imagined in all cases. But--any concept for which serious questions are answered with discussions of mysterious ways, not just once but for several thousand years, is likely a concept not worth further pursuit.

Those of you who believe that life begins at fertilization--are you pressing your congressman for financial support of research to eliminate spontaneous abortions? I've seen estimates that between 40 and 60% of pregnancies are spontaneously aborted, often with the woman never realizing that conception had occurred. I've never understood why abortion opponents never seem to worry about these souls.

http://health.allrefer.com/health/abortion-spontaneous-info.html: "It is estimated that up to 50% of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among known pregnancies, the rate of spontaneous abortion is approximately 10% and usually occurs between the 7th and 12th weeks of pregnancy."

Genesis clearly states that God gave Adam life through breathing it in through his nostrils (the 2nd version of creation--probably in Chapter 2). Obviously, it's sometime long after fertilization before there are nostrils. Can anybody point to Biblical text that makes it clear that life begins at fertilization?

Posted by: Observer | February 11, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

dr, the deer sound wonderful (hope they don't eat all your plants). When we lived in VA near the Blue Ridge, we occasionally saw deer in the backyard - but 9! And I saw one loping along the shoulder of the freeway during rush hour here not too long ago - scared the heck out of me - hope it got to its destination.

We had several hummingbirds today - my mahonia is blooming and they like it. The Christmas rose (hellebore) has 3 flowers - a bit late, but I didn't think it would bloom at all this year. Snowdrops are just about ready to open. The big Flower and Garden Show starts Wednesday - I'm ready (although I haven't quite decided which day to go).

I'm glad the guy who got shot is going to be ok - what a crazy story.

Posted by: mostlylurking | February 11, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Observer - Maybe life begins as soon as it can post its observations on the internet?

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., I think you must be one of those (lucky, unfortunate) people who just waft pheromones. When visiting gay bars with my gay friends, I have been approached by all kinds of orientations ("is she or isn't she... something?"), and when living my daily life I have had sufficient approaches that I've never felt belittled, but I've never been bedeviled by hormone-crazed bodies of every description flinging themselves at me. Have you ever asked yourself, is it hot in here, or is it just me?

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

The small snatch (sprig? patch?) of Spanish moss which I brought back from Savannah a few of weeks ago (and hung on the tree in my back yard) still looks about the same. I can't imagine that it's very happy about the exposure to near-constant sub-freezing temperature ever since I brought it here, but it's kinda hard to tell with Spanish moss. It was gray & stringy when I took it off of the tree in Savannah, and it's gray & stringy now!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 9:29 PM | Report abuse

dr, we had a lot of deer at the old house. They are so much fun to watch, but two years ago we had deep snow and they nearly destroyed my evergreens. There are no deer around here, different environment, coastal wetlands. Now we have coyotes. Think I'd rather have the deer, not so scary.

We still haven't had any snow this year, maybe an inch here and there, but they are forecasting a storm for Tuesday night and Wednesday. We never bothered to buy a snowblower but we have a short driveway so we may not be in too much trouble if it accumulates. There's a broken water main up the street somewhere and our water pressure is minimal, I hope it is fixed by morning, otherwise showering will be interesting.

Saw Obama on 60 Minutes tonight. He is so refreshing. People talk about his lack of experience in Washington as a problem. I think it is a plus, he doesn't answer questions with the usual BS we get from the rest of them. Maybe I'm just impressed to hear someone who can speak coherently after 6 years of the Shrub.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | February 11, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, Tangent, Dreamer...

I thank you all for some very interesting things to think about tonight as I... umm... relax (that would be "pass out" in layman's terms).

I think that if God is really God and is everything He/She/It is cracked up to Be, we have nothing and everything to worry about and there's really nothing we can do about it -- our minds are just not capable of completely wrapping themselves around this kind of thing. The alternatives are "nothing" and "uh-oh".

We have our wishful thinking. We have our logical constructs. We have these slimy gray balls of matter in our heads that squirt out (or direct other parts to squirt out) hormones and are basically an electro-chemical tempest trapped in a bony bucket.

We know abso-freaking-lutely nothing.

We *trust* certain things, (like 1+1=2), but do we really know for sure for sure for sure? What if one thing plus one thing somehow drags a very small particle of dark matter into the equation? Or what if one plus one is really three and a half, but we can't see it because God or the FSM or Whatever is playing a trick on us?

Just curious... if there was such a thing as an Epistemology Club here on the Boodle, would there be a buffet lunch and free valet parking? I'm only asking because I've got a serious case of the munchies and we're fresh out of Doritos.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Observer, I am a Christian but not a fundamentalist, and I do not believe that there is a conflict between faith and science. Biblical interpretation is not such an easy thing. Since it did not fall out of the sky complete, we must know something about the circumstances and people for whom each book was written before we can make statements about what the Bible says and means. There are two creation stories in Genesis. Which one does a literalist believe?

You make a good point about miscarriages.

I can make no claim to be a morally superior person or great Christian, because I'm not. I am not smart, or well-educated, or mystical enough to be able to explain faith. I can only say that I knew my need for God, and God came and gave me peace, and hope, and love beyond what I have seen in other human beings or experienced in life.

I do not know why some people have the need and find God and others, many others, neither feel the need nor wish to know God. But there it is.

Religion, all religions, are human institutions, subject to human failures. But, somehow, God breaks through, if only to those who have the eyes to see. Yes, it is a mystery.

Posted by: Slyness | February 11, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - Yup, I'm sure that's it! Ol' "Smelly Bob". That's my nickname on several continents and number of U.S. states!

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Bob S. smiles a lot, Yoki. That always ups the pheromone levels.

dr, hate to be grumpy, but I just nearly had 3 family members nearly killed in an accident with the deer. The SUV was totalled, but all are okay. (The deer even bounded away, presumably to kill people another day.)

Forget that Canduckstani labrador retriever advance force; all they need to do is parachute in a few extra million whitetails to roam our highways, and we'll be reduced to a population equalivent to or less than Canada and thus easy to take over.

Yes, deer are lovely when they're in the woods.

PSA: Whitetail deer are large wild animals that take more lives every year than wolves or mountain lions or bears combined-- by jumping out in front of cars.

Don't feed them or otherwise encourage them to live near people and their roads. Thanks.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 9:40 PM | Report abuse

A door closes and a window opens...

No Doritos, but Mrs. Martooni brought home some of those "soft bake/batch" chocolate chip cookies which I just happened to find in the bread box hidden behind the... ummm... bread (imagine that).

Mmmmmm....

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

What I call, "fundamental things I don't know, and I'm satisfied to remain ignorant until more can be discovered", others call "God" and then imagine they "know" something about it. Whatever floats your boat. I still don't understand why one needs to have a story at hand about where existence came from, rather than just accepting it while studying it scientifically for more clues.

Posted by: LTL-CA | February 11, 2007 9:47 PM | Report abuse

SCC: ...ignorant about until...

Posted by: LTL-CA | February 11, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

LTL-CA, some would say why even study it for further clues... just dig the mystery and the sheer grandeur of creation.

Mind-blowing, man.

The answer to your question might lie in religion. A story has to be written to the religion's advantage (cynical POV). I was watching a cable documentary a while ago on the engineering marvels used in Greek temples to evoke the temple as the home of gods. This dead brilliant engineer, Heron, used lodestones to do magnetic leviation with metal statues, created doors that were triggered when the sacrifical fires were lit, and so on. Those engineering bits were strictly found only in temples... an effort to up the mystique of the mystery religions. He even invented the first vending machine, for Zeussakes.

It's a reminder that magic trickery and religion used to be one and the same.

http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Heron.html

(You can also Wiki Hero of Alexandria)

Another answer to the need to tell stories as THE truthe might be in the plight of harrassed parents trying to answer a million "whys" a day from little kids.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I live in a community that doesn't allow hunting and many of the people feed the deer year round.But they still find time to eat my trees,flowers and gardens whenever they get the chance.

I am the environmental chairman for my community and I try and encourage people to stop feeding them.I have sceen herds of thirty or so running around.

In the county over the mountain several deer have come down with CWD(Chronic Wasting Disease)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_wasting_disease

Usually a tough winter like this one will take care of a few of the younger weaker deer.But we are in fear of CWD coming over the mountain into our county.

Deer are beautiful lovely creatures,but they have very few predators left on the east coast.And the population is soaring.

So far i have not found a solution to the overpopulation.

I choose not to hunt,but a managed hunt may be the answer.


Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 11, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

1st line of the speech by the new President of Harvard: My name is DREW...How do you DO? Now you're gonna die!!!

Re: Religion

Long story short, I go the church regularly. I try to do the best I can to live in such a way that I have a good afterlife. I think that God is the ultimate scientist. all that had to be created was the subatomic particles that compose protons, neutrons and electrons and gravity. Time is relative. After that, the big bang, evolution and all the rest are consequences of time and the laws of probability. We're here to try and figure out the whys of all of this stuff using the scientific method. Religion is a means of coming to peace with that which we can't explain using science.

Posted by: jack | February 11, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I found a better website for Hero(n)-- includes pictures and diagrams of many of his gadgets too.

http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/HeronAlexandria.htm

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - While your point is well taken, let's be fair here. Deer do what deer do, and drivers do what drivers do.

If drivers were willing to buckle up, buy bigger, faster cars, and keep a constant stream of traffic going down the roads, then eventually there wouldn't be a problem, because all of the deer who had an inclination to tread upon roads (and all of their offspring) would be gone.

Alternately, if drivers were willing to slow down quite a lot at nighttime (to a little above walking pace maybe) and a good bit during the daytime (to maybe three times walking pace) in areas known to be inhabited by a lot of deer, there would be a few more deer, many fewer collisions, and almost no fatalities among either species due to collisions.

But that is exceedingly unlikely, and not especially desireable for most people. Or most deer, for that matter.

Get as unhappy about it as you wish, but here's how it's gonna work:

More & more deer are gonna get whacked by cars (and more & more people are gonna die in those whacking events) until the deer habitats, or the people-driving-cars habitats, are pruned back sufficiently that deer only live in large numbers far away from people with cars.

I don't think that there's another magic answer, until the tree-hugging green-heads let us genetically re-engineer the deer to have an aversion to asphalt.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Slyness... some of us do feel the need and have the desire to make it so, but it just doesn't happen (or if it does, we write it off as a curious coincidence).

Of course, I can only speak of myself when referring to "we", but I don't think I'm alone.

All I can say is that being an agnostic sucks (at least from my perspective). It's like believers (whether they be Jewish, Christian, Muslim, FSMian or Whatever) get to have all the candy and hugs while people like me go without because we're unable or unwilling to trust (and in many cases, for good reason).

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., have you ever nearly hit a deer? I have, a few times.

Here's my tip: The deer you see is NOT the one that will collide with your vehicle. Deer rarely travel across highways singly, you see.

Always watch out for the second deer.

You should not slow down if you can come to a dead stop safely and be certain all is clear once the "lookout" deer has dashed across.

You see, that second deer, the strike force, will JUMP ON YOUR CAR even if you're going ever so slowly. It doesnt take much for them to slip and go through your windshield.

On a highway stopping can be problematic.

A Canadian friend told me she basically saw two dots in the night once, and braked immediately--- from 90 mph; she was swerving all over the road, she was braking that hard. She came to a dead stop inches in front of the frozen deer.

Some people suggest wildlife tunnels, which I do think is a reasonable idea.

However, tunnels and bridges are both prone to a lot of infrasound, especially with cars passing over.

It's uncertain that deer or other wildlife would be happier to go through a dark, scary tunnel than we would be.

My answer? More wolves. More deer hunters. Less people feeding cute whitetail deer that carry Lyme disease.

And oh yeah, maybe asphalt that permanently smells like coyote urine.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 10:15 PM | Report abuse

SCC: she probably meant 90 KPH which would be roughly, what, 50, 60 mph? My bad.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I understand your dilemma, Martooni, I just wish I had what it takes to show you how to trust. Hard one, that. I was fortunate to grow up among good role models, so that wasn't an issue for me.

Posted by: Slyness | February 11, 2007 10:21 PM | Report abuse

CP, I don't think I'd call Buber a mystic. His study of Hasidism was a minor part of his larger work, and I don't consider his study of it as any kind of endorsement, simply because he failed to criticize it to others' satisfaction. (Namely Chaim Potok's, whom I otherwise hold in high esteem. I think Potok is being a bit too literal-minded. I think it's a bit ironic that Potok has a big ax to grind against Hasidism, and his complaint against Buber is that Buber doesn't have enough ax. It's also kind of ironic that (at least I suspect) Buber's "failure" to condemn the Hasidim is that he likes them, as people, and his affection is a pure manifestation of his "I-Though" philosophy. In short, he's practising what he preaches, so to speak. Potok, on the other hand, is bitter...and he wants everyone else to be bitter, too.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 11, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Well, Himself hit a deer one night in interior-BC; the deer died and the (company-issued) Jeep was totaled. I was sad that the deer died, but glad that Himself did not. The first thing he said to me over the phone, when he'd recovered his composure and we'd established that he was uninjured, was that, "After all, I was impinging on deer-territory."

Wilbrod, I'm interested that you specified "SUV" as the vehicle in question. Probably your friends' (relatives') lives were saved because they were in a very large heavy conveyance, but probably it was also worse for the deer. And I have enough experience of the outdoors to know that the deer might have escaped the road, but might still have died from internal injuries shortly afterward. So why the grudge against wildlife? The deer presumably did not know it was *your* relatives who were assaulted.

One of the great learning-times of my life was living in the mountain/river-scape of BC. We had black bears, wolves, coyotes, ducks, herons, geese, deer, elk, moose, woodland caribou and other assorted wild animals wandering through our "yard" according to the season and their migratory patterns. I wished each of them well, and took care to guard them from harm by us and us from dangerous liaisons.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Jeez. For "I-Though" read "I-Thou." Fingers need to go to bed.

'Night, boodle.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 11, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

martooni - That's it, ain't it? I know too many great, smart, kind, funny people of strong faith to EVER be willing (or able) to hold their faith in contempt. But I haven't found it in myself to really share it. I have a view of life and the universe that makes sense to me and keeps me sane, and I haven't ever been able to find a way to rationally fit the (heavenly, supernatural, mystical, Godness?) into it. I often envy those who can, because I think that they have answers for some of my questions, and they often seem not to need the answers to some of my other questions.

I haven't stopped (and will probably never stop) trying to figure it all out. But it is what it is, and I am what I am.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Probably guaranteed to offend someone, but this is a true anecdote; my older brother dated (for a short time) a Hassid girl; she took him to Schul with her. He phoned me to say, "This is a fantastic religion! They dance, for Christ's sake!" Hahahaha.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Martooni and Bob, blessings upon you and your search.

Posted by: Slyness | February 11, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - I'm chuckling as I say, "Oh, yeah! Deer and I have gotten very personal, on more than one occasion, with varying degrees of harm to each of us!"

I stand by my prediction. Just out of curiosity, do you think that there's another possible outcome?

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I would reiterate Bob S.'s caution to me.

Slyness said "I was fortunate to grow up among good role models.."

You imply, to the careful textual scholar, that a certain danghippie didn't. And you don't know that, really.

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

No grudge against wildlife, Yoki.

It's more the people here who feed the deer to ever-increasing populations, right on the doorstep... and I mean literally, every night less than 10 yards from the front door. (Wilbrodog likes seeing deer run!)

I know the state wildlife service here disapproves of people feeding deer; there is already an overpopulation of whitetail. That is an important point to remember.

Whitetail deer can top 350 pounds and they are much more aggressive than cows, goats, etc. They need to remain what they are-- wild animals, and they need not to be habituated to the presence of cars or humans.

For instance, my neighbors feed the deer right next to the asphalt and parked cars. Do you think that is going to teach them to stay away from cars or asphalt?

Alas, despite my relatives' wishful thinking (he didn't want to think the deer was fatally hurt), I do think the deer likely died soon after.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Yoki - I'm flattered that you remembered, and earnestly hope that you enjoyed the spirit in which I wrote it!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 11, 2007 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Green... culling/controlling a deer population is relatively easy from a logistics standpoint. Bullets are very effective. Arrows don't work as quickly and require a bit more skill, but they do work (slowly). In any case, the meat from just a few deer can feed quite a few people.

I haven't hunted for probably 20 years. I like being in the woods, just don't like to kill things. Nothing wrong with killing things to eat -- almost every recipe I've seen float across the Boodle involves the meat of an animal.

Where I live we've had an on-again off-again problem with deer. Since they have no natural predators other than humans (wolves and coyotes are virtually extinct here), they reproduce like rabbits, devour the limited vegetation in "designated" wildlife areas (as if they can read signs to tell the difference), then venture out into suburbia to find food only to be run down by cars or be reported as a "nuisance" for trampling flower beds.

Since the wildlife area is so close to homes, the powers that be decided a few years back that an archery hunt was the best solution. As I mentioned above, arrows don't kill as quickly as bullets. Instead of getting complaints about deer snacking on "cultivated" plants and ruining flower beds, the authorities had calls from people complaining about half-dead deer with arrows sticking out of their chests stumbling around their lawns and dragging down their property values.

If the deer in your area are somewhat concentrated away from residential areas, I would highly recommend pushing for a controlled "gun" hunt. It's quicker, more humane (in my opinion), and will result in fewer complaints from those who want the deer gone but don't have the stomach to watch them bleed to death.

All I can say is "good luck". No matter what happens, somebody will find umbrage, but if the deer are left to run rampant in a typically limited area (geographically speaking), they will die of starvation.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Yikes! Wilbrod, you need to have a public education program started by F&WL. In BC, we and the school-kids had to attend "Bear Aware" classes, and additionally the kids had bear drills.

In a fire-drill, kids learn how to orderly exit a building. In a bear-drill, they learned how to orderly exit the playground and re-enter the school and and lock the doors behind them.

"Bear Aware" is a program that teaches people to proof their property against black bears; no fruit trees or berry-canes on the lot, never ever feed wild animals, never leave pet-food outdoors. Basically, we sterilized the property of anything attractive to large pigs. Unfortunately, they forgot to tell us that we couldn't have a compost-bin. Four mornings running we found the bin knocked over with *huge* claw-marked on the side, and a fairly disgusting berry-laden bit of spoor beside it. We soon learned!

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Bob S., I not only enjoyed the spirit in which you wrote it, I *entered into* that spirit. And I also noticed that you appreciated my wee joke later, and were not offended.

You're my kind of people, though I worry that I am not sufficiently omni-attractive (as I do not in the least feel like making a pass at you) to be a friend. LOL!

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, you've got me LOL'ing here.
"to the careful textual scholar"! Tee hee.

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I do agree that people should drive slower, but accidents can happen anyway, during daylight not just the twilight hours (although those are the peak hours for deer activity). It's just easier to avoid deer in daylight. But not always.

http://www.car-accidents.com/pages/accident_story/10-14-02.html

I don't think deer will evolve to be more road-wary.

The problem with that scenario is that a deer who misjudges it rarely gets a second chance to learn from mistakes. Likewise, deer may well NOT learn from other deers' deaths.

Assume that all deer in a given population tend to travel across roads. What single strategy WILL ensure survival against cars of all sizes traveling at various speeds?

Right now, the deer have two winning strategies (from their perspective)--

The first one is to cross as fast as possible.

Some deer instead freeze in the headlights, and that can either lead to their death or being saved because the person is able to see them and stop.

Some do saunter across at medium speeds, likely on roads that do not normally get high-speed traffic.

If a strategy only has a 1% chance of failure every time, that adds up over the years. We can actually conclude that given the general overpopulation and the lifespan of deer, that their strategies actually are pretty successful, just not perfect.

Another evolutionary pressure could be in fact to favor changes in body size, height, or other physical factors that ensures better survival if clipped by a car in slow impacts. Such adaptations might not work so well in avoiding high-speed impacts, though.

Those factors may in fact make deer more lethal to humans and their vehicles when actually hit. 350 pound deer? In some areas, 120 lb whitetails are more the norm.

Yes, folks, I'm predicting one day there'll be a moose-sized whitetail that will charge slow-moving cars from the side to make way for his harem. Or deer that learn to mimic cars honking.


Okaydokey, let's go to the "expensive" department of ideas for increasing HUMAN survival. Big heavy cars, been there and done that. Problem is the cars get totaled anyway.

1) Widen country highways so there are vast shoulders that are unused, allowing room for drivers to swerve around deer. Deer are most dangerous when they bound out from woods or up from ditches, so clearing the visibility around roads would be a start.

Secondly, study a way to make the buffer zone undesireable to travel onto, preferably by non-electronic means. Geez, where's Heron when we need him? ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

*waving at Dreamer*

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, there is a simpler way. Just stop running highways through animal habitat. Ya, likes that's going to happen.

Just up the road from my house there is a highway that goes through a nature preserve in a National Park, and crosses an elk-path, and the powers that be have constructed both tunnels and bridges for elk. There are fewer collisions now (though the grizzlies and black bears apparently have a harder time learning about *over* and *under*).

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

You are correct, Yoki.

I do think roads need to be designed to be safer to cross generally, but that's money too.

I'm glad the wildlife tunnels do work... elk-sized sounds good to me ;).

Good night y'all.

Posted by: Wilbrod | February 11, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

My experience is that it's easier to spot/miss deer at night... I learned to drive on country roads and one of the first things you pick up on (after figuring out how to work the clutch and gearshift) is to spot "deer eyes" on the side of the road.

Deer eyes reflect a significant amount of light and are easily spotted on the roadside even if they're still in the trees or a cornfield or whatever. See a sparkling on the side of the road? Slow down.

The other thing I learned early on is that deer never travel alone. The deer you just saw crossing the road was probably a doe and will be followed by more doe. If you don't see antlers, stop. Trust me. The bucks are the last to cross. Back when I had a motorcycle, I had a close call with some deer running from one cornfield to another. As I slowed from 65 to 45, three doe crossed. No antlers. Slowed from 45 to 25 and guess what? The buck literally jumped over my front wheel and I could have counted the hairs on his butt.

Personally, I think we should put all the deer in counseling. They're suicidal, I tell you -- Kamikazes without a cause. They make opossums seem absolutely joyous.

Posted by: martooni | February 11, 2007 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh dear. I wonder how a depressed opossum would manifest symptoms?

Posted by: Yoki | February 11, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Was he thinkin' about my country
or the colour of my skin?
Was He thnkin' about my religion
and the way I worshipped Him?
Did He create just me in His image
or every living thing?
When God made me

Was He planning only for believers
or those who just had faith?
Did He envision all the wars
that were fought in His name?
Did He think there was only one way to be close to Him?
When God made me

Did He give the gift of love
to say who we could choose?
When God made me

Did He give the gift of voice
so some could silence me?
Did He give the gift of vision
not knowin' what I might see?
Did He give me the gift of compassion
to help my fellow man?
When God made me
When God made me


Neil Young


Value all of that of the world and be careful not to hit the deer, moose or what have you...and let the bears be.

Pat: I pass along my condolences on the occasion of losing your BIL, and wish you and your son the best as the latter convaleseces. Peace be with you.

Nighttime sky report: It is clear, with cold from the north. Saturn is quite visible, especially just after sunset in the western sky. The rings are visible with the assistance of a telescope. Saturn is the brightest it will appear to be for the next month or so. It will not be this bright again until 2015. Tomorrow morning I will be driving east, directly into the sunrise. It will show as a grand red sphere, just over the horizon. I expect that the sky will be streaked with cirrus clouds, predicting precipitation in the next 48 hours. Thank goodness I'm not at my alma mater in Potsdam, nor anywhere near Oswego. I've paid my winter dues, and am thankful that my window faces the south...and though I'm so far from that Suwanee, I'm never frownin' or down in the mouth, my window faces the south...

Posted by: jack | February 11, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

My positing that perhaps we are creating God, rather than the other way around, has perhaps been influenced by careful perusal of the texts of the following scholars, to name a few:


"The original meaning of the word 'evolution' was 'unfolding' or 'unrolling' -- as in, the unrolling of an ancient scroll to get to the end of the story. Though neither biological nor cultural evolution is scripted, inexorable in the way that a written narrative is inexorable, both have direction -- even, I've argued, a direction suggestive of purpose, of telos. The unfolding of life on this planet may be a story with a point."

-- Robert Wright, in the concluding chapter of his book "Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny"


"The scientifically savvy philosopher Daniel Dennett pointed out that evolution counters one of the oldest ideas we have: 'the idea that it takes a big fancy smart thing to make a lesser thing. I call that the trickle-down theory of creation. You'll never see a horse shoe making a blacksmith. You'll never see a pot making a potter.' Darwin's discovery of a workable process that does that very counterintuitive thing is what makes his conribution to human thought so revolutionary, and so loaded with the power to raise consciousness."

-- Richard Dawkins, in "The God Delusion


"It is my belief that our purpose in being here is to learn how to be effective creators."

-- William Tiller, in the film "What the Bleep Do We Know!?"

Posted by: Dreamer | February 11, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

The husband rides his bike to work from our very urban neighborhood in Tampa. The other day he was accosted by several opposums, or thought he was. Perhaps they were just suicidal and attempted to throw themselves under his bicycle tire with the mistaken notion that it would do the job.

Posted by: frostbitten | February 11, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Here are a couple of interesting comments or things that have happened to me since I moved to West(by God).

When I changed my insurance to wv,instead of giving me a calendar or a note pad.They gave me a deer whistle to put on my truck.

Last year driving in the early evening during rutting season,a doe crossed in front of my car followed by a good sized buck,I had already slowed down to less then 5mph when I hit the buck.He fell harmoulsy to the ground and got up an rammed his antlers into my car and then started chasing after the doe again.

We have had an influx of coyotes again and this past spring and summer,I heard them probably taking down a fawn or doe on several occasions.

More to follow

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 11, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

bc, ouch! hope your noggin's ok.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 11, 2007 11:59 PM | Report abuse

First things first - Drat you, drat you, Dreamer! Now I've gone into the archives and have listened to FOUR versions of "It Ain't Necessarily So"! (Jack McDuff, Oscar Peterson, Louis Armstrong, & Normie Rowe, just in case you were wondering!) Until tonight, I hadn't even heard the stupid song in years, I'd just discussed it a bit, and sung a little of it. Do you have any idea how long it's gonna take me to offload it this time!?!?

Posted by: Bob S. | February 12, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Lurker - One of the more impressive displays of vehicle damage that I've seen in a no-human-fatality deer-automobile collision occurred when the deer ran into the vehicle after the vehicle was at essentially a dead stop. Much blood, very dead deer, many bent and broken vehicle parts.

Kinetic energy is a powerful thing!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 12, 2007 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Just a few more furry comments then back to work for me.

During the 2003 blizzard,I knew i was going to be snowed in so no shoveling was needed,except to the BBQ grill on my back deck.After the first night I noticed a lot of deer fur on the deck,so I ended up doing the whole deck and up to 6or 7 would come and sleep on my clean deck


One day while fishing and swimming at the river,a deer camerunning from the other side of the river,jumped in and swam quickly across and got out and kept running...it was pretty cool

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 12, 2007 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Dreamer - I'm guessing that by now you kinda have my view of "What the Bleep" figured out (I don't try to hide it), but I'll thumbnail it:

I have a hard time putting mysticism into a proper place in my world, so I kinda shove it off into the corner. It certainly exists (hard to swing a dead pussywillow without whacking a mystic upside the head!), but I'm usually not able to see what mysticism offers that isn't available cheaper and more predictably somewhere else.

I am certainly someone who tends to the view that God is a construct of the People, by the People, and for the People. My fallback position is basically that (in the words of Hunter S. Thompson) we should, "Call on God, but row away from the rocks."

Posted by: Bob S. | February 12, 2007 12:40 AM | Report abuse

martooni, regarding old versus new testament -
there is a nt reference where christ reduces "all the law and prophets"
of the old testament to two things:
1) love god with all your heart, mind and strength (hebrew shema prayer)
2) love your neighbor as yourself

the sermon on the mount (matthew chs. 5-7) most accurately describes the view of the law taken by christianity. it doesn't replace ot law, but looks at "issues of the heart" and in many respects is stricter than ot law.

if anyone is interested in reading it, here it is:
http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/RsvMatt.html

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 12, 2007 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Interesting story in another pillar of MSM:

Believing Scripture but Playing by Science's Rules

By CORNELIA DEAN
Published: February 12, 2007
KINGSTON, R.I. -- There is nothing much unusual about the 197-page dissertation Marcus R. Ross submitted in December to complete his doctoral degree in geosciences here at the University of Rhode Island.

His subject was the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that, as he wrote, vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago. The work is "impeccable," said David E. Fastovsky, a paleontologist and professor of geosciences at the university who was Dr. Ross's dissertation adviser. "He was working within a strictly scientific framework, a conventional scientific framework."

But Dr. Ross is hardly a conventional paleontologist. He is a "young earth creationist" -- he believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/science/12geologist.html?hp&ex=1171342800&en=d6803b73375ee4bc&ei=5094&partner=homepage


Posted by: LTL-CA | February 12, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Dreamer: I most certainly agree with you that we are creating God, just maybe not to the same extent. Case in point: how many times have you seen Jesus portrayed as a Caucasion, w/ blond hair, blue eyes, etc.? The historical Jesus probably looked more like Saddam than Beckham. It is the highest form of idolatry to create God in our own image. This differs slightly from your point as I understand it, that God is simply a social/psychological construct. And, unfortunately, it doesn't address martooni's question of epistemology (sp?)--how do we know which gods we create from the God? It seems to me to be a chicken-egg problem. Do we create God, or did God instill in us an innate desire to know him/her? [I would argue the 2nd option.]

My dad and I hit a deer a couple years ago. Not a ton of damage, we had to replace the hood and the front right light, and the bumper. But its tail got stuck in our hood! Right in front, a sizable tuft of deer tail pinned so that it was sticking out, but firmly implanted. Needless to say, our dog was very interested in that car for quite a while.

Posted by: Tangent | February 12, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

greenwith... I loved the remark earlier about strategies of dealing with deer, which suggested that one should consider them to be tall, high-jumping pigs.

That will do fine, with no insult to either race, I think!

Posted by: Bob S. | February 12, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

LTL-CA: Well, I read it, and thought it was mildly interesting, but don't see any large lessons to be drawn. If Ross says, "Yes, University of Rhode Island, I believe the Earth revolves around the Sun!", and demonstrates full mastery of the aspects of the orbit, and then produces a dissertation which provides original scholarship on the subject of some aspects of the orbit and defends his thesis, then I say he gets the awarded doctorate, even if he walks away muttering under his breath, "But still it doesn't move!"

And if he can come back a few years from now and provide an equally well-researched and well-defended dissertation which proves that it actually DOESN'T move, then he should be awarded another PhD.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 12, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Thinking back to heroism, postwar Taiwan somehow transmorgified from a poor Japanese colony to an economic tiger despite a brutal dictatorship (tens of thousands killed or disappeared) and, eventually, being denied the status of a self-governing country. That achievement is due to an incredible amount of hard work and ordinary business dealings. No hidden princes coming out of hiding to banish the baddies.

Sayonara from Narita. SF next!

Posted by: Dave of the coonties | February 12, 2007 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Morning. Coffee's a perking (dripping).... Pre dawn sky report: The degree of pewter in the sky confirms the slow approach of signficant snow.

Woke to full-bore larygnitis, the teacher's bane and student's joy. Feel fine but oh the froggies in the throat.

Mudge: Buber looked awfully active for a mystic, I agree. Clearly he was theist-existentialist, but he did borrow from the Hassidic stance (or arrive separately) at the grounding of existence with the Godhead. Do you say "Non mystic" because he did not adopt Hassidism? Of course, I met Buber in a field of readings including Tillich, Kirkegaard, Bonhoeffer, Arendt, Barth, William James, .......I am clearly mixing them all up into a primordial soup of ideas about being and existence, and a fabric in the universe that might be personal, compassionate, and indeed loving like a mother for her children.

I like the nature reports. As for deer, more deer cluster in the thickets along the Potomac-Anacostia watershed than you can shake a stick at! Love looking at them, truly, yet I have seen such thin, moth-eaten stragglers especially in February and March before the grass pokes up in earnest. These white tail rumps are not what I am used to out west. Yoki, do you see both mule and white tail? I believe the mulies are shyer.

We were more concerned about rattlesnakes and cougar, growing up. Out back hung a metal temperature sign courtesy of the Hamms' brewing company "From the land of sky blue wa-ah-ters." Above a certain temp marked by tape, we were not allowed to play down on the railroad spurs near Black Eagle Falls on the Missouri: Rattlesnakes in the scree and boulder piles.

Our cougar strategies included 1) slowly acting big by raising the arms; 2) lowering head in submission; 3) sustained eye contact. And, DO NOT RUN, as you look like a crippled deer in the motion pattern perceived by the cat-predator. As is the case for bear, running feels right but is not a good strategyL curl up and protect your tummy.....and pray.

We wore cowboy boots to protect ankles and shins from small-rattler bites. The big rattlers could leap into the tummy on little people. This happened to a boy near Belt, MT in about 1968.....stuff of legend in those parts. Apparently, after being bit, he continued fishing -- the cold water felt good as he waded in deep. His parents found him in bed the next morning feverish and delirious. I guess he went home, forgetting to tell about the bite. He survived after a harrowing time in intensive care.....We started our day at St. Gerard's with prayers for his recovery, my Franco nuns from Regina. Sask. Canada whispering in their lovely French accents.

Raysmom -- miss the goldfinches in winter. Each fall, a mess of them tear at the skeletons of black-eyed susans and coneflowers....they fly in such dear little swooping patterns......

Posted by: College Parkian | February 12, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, boodle. 'Morning, CP, sorry to hear about the laryngitis.

I suppose I had pretty much the same class in college: Buber, Tillich, Reinhold Neibuhr, John A.T. Robinson, Bonhoeffer, Teilhard de Chardin, Bultmann, et al. I also remember Barth and Arendt, but I think they were in a different class from the others--either a philosophy or poli. sci. class, I forget. (It's hard to figure what kind of class would put Buber and Arendt in the same syllabus.) I read William James on my own, but I think he was covered in an intro. philosophy class I had freshman year (that particular year is a bit beer-stained in my memory. For all I know, James himself might have visited the class and given a few guest lectures; I had a bit of trouble with "consciousness and narcoleptic issues," being somewhat hung over most mornings. I think I had a class called "Intro. to Berdyaev and Rolling Rock," but that may just have been a phenomonological hallucination. Sophomore year was much clearer. My thesis (one of the few A's I ever got) was on Albert Camus and why he was NOT an existentialist, using the definitions of existentialism given by Kierkegaard. I was well-read in Camus, but wading through Kierkegaard to get to what I needed was pretty tough. I also had to wade through Sartre and his "Being and Nothingness," and then Heidegger, who was pretty much unpentrable. Jeez, what a slog. At the end decided the pair of them just weren't worth it.

The thing is (I've said this before), once you've studied Buber, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, Kierkegaard, et alia, you can't help but look upon people like Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, Tim LaHaye and the Rapturists, etc. as a bunch of hicks, charlatans, crackpots and theological buffoons, not to be taken seriously. How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree? Throw in some Erich Fromm and Rollo May (anybody here ever read May's "Love and Will"?) and it's game over, man.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 12, 2007 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, did we go to school together? But hey, you were at Tubingen or some other medieval academy, right?

Rollo May's _Love and Will, changed my life, as did anything by T. de Chardin, and Mircea Eliade, and we can throw in Simone Weil and even a few writings by Edith Stein....

I consider my undergraduate education such a pure gift. Nowadays, the career and achievement focus truly can obscure the ideas-thing. Edumacation ain't what it used to be..... and the darlings and their parents are bold!

For example, I require that my tech writing students read Henry Petrovski, the civil engineering professor at Duke. I spec what ever is remaindered so that cost is about 8 bucks. (less if they search online). OH THE MACHINATIONS of resentment about reading a book about their field. One parent wrote to my overlord, complaining that according to the course description my class is WRITING not literary......

To DBG: You are right about the psychological truth that some people WANT bad stuff and expect YOU to provide this. So, which rule trumpts? Perhaps that there are now rules, only princip

However, think on the billions of misunderstandings where Party-A ASSUMES Party-A wants......lots of ways to mess up, in all our encounters, right?

Posted by: College Parkian | February 12, 2007 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Sorry: sloppy and cold fingers. I'll dip them in coffee...

So, which rule TRUMPS? Perhaps that there are no rules, only principles...

However, think on the billions of misunderstandings where Party-A ASSUMES Party-B wants......I've been in those as both a perp and a victim, and also as a bystander....

Posted by: College Parkian to DBG | February 12, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Morning Cassandra, everyone!! *waving*

Wilbrod, glad your relatives are OK! :-)

Slyness, you were HERE dagnabit!! Right under my feet, as it were!!! You coulda had a Five Guys burger, free! Oh well, I'll offer you a rain check. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2007 7:41 AM | Report abuse

'mudge - I've definitely run across the folks who prefer their minds empty of such distracting things as books! When I suggested to an evangelical co-worker thaty he might enjoy C.S. Lewis, he informed me that all he needed to know about religion was in the Bible.

Sigh.

Posted by: Bob S. | February 12, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Snuke, I will definitely take a rain check on the Five Guys burger. It's hard to get away from family when we don't see them often.

Yeah, Bob, it's people like your coworker who give religion a bad reputation, isn't it? Haggard and his ilk make me cringe.

A week ago yesterday, my church voted to remove our congregation from the state convention. In November, that august body voted, by a large majority, to exclude churches that accept homosexuals and set up a process to do so. Our chairman of deacons, a woman in her sixties who personifies a Southern lady, took the initiative to write the statement which we approved unanimously. She said that we had never excluded anyone from membership who wanted it and didn't plan to start now, especially because of an edict from a state body. Yesss!!

Another congregation in our city is taking a different tack; they are inviting the state convention in to observe them. That will be interesting to watch.

I hope the pendulum is swinging away from fundamentalism. It has done so much harm.

Posted by: Slyness | February 12, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Feeding the deer is strictly against the rules up here. It is a chargable offense under the wildlife act, as is putting out salt blocks, or creating a semi-natural salt lick. Even keeping the hurt ones or fawns where the mother has been killed is verbotten. You want to help animals, you call wildlife officers.

If you lived up here Wilbrod, in the city or out, allowing Wilbroddog to chase the deer is just as wrong as feeding.

I am on the deer's side. Its the humans that are out of control.

Posted by: dr | February 12, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

A book recommendation, concerning the weekend's science/religion theme:

http://www.amazon.com/Paradigms-Pilgrimage-Creationism-Paleontology-Interpretation/dp/1894667328

Posted by: Dooley | February 12, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Indeed, Tangent -- we have created the *construct* of God, but maybe that's not all.

What if our creation goes even further than that? I've heard it said that our own sense of ourselves as individuals is merely an illusion -- a way in which the Universe experiences itself, which it wouldn't be able to do as a whole. What if, once the Universe -- through us, its apparently individual components -- experiences more, evolves more, and becomes more conscious, it reaches a state of greater wisdom, greater awareness -- or, God? That's what I mean when I say that maybe we are literally creating God, rather than having been created by God. (And by "we" I don't mean just humans, but all conscious beings.)

I'm sure many people would regard this idea as too blasphemous to even bear thinking about -- scientists and religious folk alike. But, what if . . .?

Posted by: Dreamer | February 12, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Good morning,friends. We're late this morning, and late for what I don't know. I always feel like I should be going somewhere, just haven't figured out where this morning.

Cold weekend, did not warm up that much, although slightly warmer yesterday.

Slyness, I agree with your earlier explaination for faith.

Tangent, here where I live one is able to walk into a number of homes and see pictures of Jesus with blue eyes and long slick hair, even now. I am always bothered by that because it is so untrue. The Bible does not give a description of Jesus, I don't think. And I would love to know who started that mess.

People all over the world are always trying to bring God and Christ down to their standards, one rarely hears anyone trying to reach upward. Dust we are folks, and dust we return to.

Have a good day, folks. The g-girl is suppose to go back to mommy today, we'll see.

Good morning, Slyness, Mudge, and Nani, if you're out there, Scotty, everyone *waving*

Have tutoring today, and some other errands to run. A friend of mine, (closer than friend, old boyfriend, really) was operated on about a month ago for back problems. They opened him up, and sewed him back up. Cancer has run through his body. Doctors give him a month to live.

It just seems like everyone I've known is leaving this world, and I know we do not come here to stay, but it hurts when friends leave.

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ. And I, for one, thank Him much. Peace.

For Dreamer-

For so long I did not know Jesus, and I did not believe either. And I must tell you I've said and done some awful things because I did not believe. When Christ came into my life, I was so sorry for those ugly sayings and the ugly deeds. I am so glad that even in that, Christ still loved me, and after making Himself known to me, and calling me His Beloved, I tell the world how great is that love. Just wanted to share that with you, and the rest. Not meant to insult or offend, just share.

Posted by: Cassandra S | February 12, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, I have just now viewed your debut song.

Somewhere out there your voice is echoing across time and space, and one day some being is going to come across the waves drifting through the eons, and is gonna say, 'huh...'

He will then fully realize humanity's potential and will become friends with us. You just saved the universe.

Posted by: dr | February 12, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

After Mudge's 7:03, it occurs to me that leaders, religious or political, who like to keep their people ill-educated and unsophisticated in matters of theology, don't mind their ignorance spilling over into matters of science, government, human rights...

Posted by: frostbitten | February 12, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Duh, that should be our corner of the universe.

Posted by: dr | February 12, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Yes, CP, I did have a pretty varied education. My curriculum witae (sic):

--S.S. degree (Squire of Scribetology), Lincolnshire School of Scribes, Jesters and Tinkers, 1356 (Go, Mighty Fighting Ink-Stained Wretches!)
--Two semesters, Alchemy and Introduction to Lead-Based Transmutation of Metals, Sept., 1410--May, 1411. Flunked out for failure to memorize the periodic table of elements (earth, wind, fire and water; I kept forgetting wind). Also flunked Elements of Hermeticism and Introduction to Rosicruscianism. University of Gottingen, Lower Saxony. (Go, Mighty Fighting Lower Saxons!)
--B.S., Dick Cheney Fellow of Interrogation and Advanced Torture, Torquemada College, Palencia, Castile-Leon, Spain, 1480. Majored in Rack. Asked to leave master's program for suggesting "Iron Maiden" would make a good name for the school choir. (Go, Mighty Fighting Hammers of God!)
--A.A., Abacus Repair, DeVry University (correspondence program). Florence, Italy, 1621.
--B.A. Swashbuckling, Dread Pirate Roberts School of Buccaneering, College of the Spanish Main, Trinidad Campus, 1702. (Junior Year Abroad Program, Barbary Coast Community College, Tunisia.) (Go, Ye Mighty Fighting Heathen Swabbies!)
B.S. Journalism, Temple University, 1969 (Go, Owls!)

And yes, the Rollo May had a profound influence on me, too. Funny how that book had a couple of years of prominence, then seemed to die out. Anybody still read him, that you know of? Or Fromm? Fromm was very big in the 1960s, too. My old paperback copy of "The Art of Loving" (no, guys, not what you think--no pictures, no "101 positions," no butterfly flicking, or any of that [not that there's anything wrong with that], that was just a different book) is dog-eared, underlined and yello-highlighted like crazy. Also very influenced by his "Man for Himself," "May Man Prevail?" and "Escape From Freedom." He was a big supporter of Eugene McCarthy in 1968.

Ever since college, though, I've tried not to read too many books with big words. I'm like George Bush that way. Of course, he never read them before or during college, either, which is how he and I are different.

Yes, I like Henry Petroski, too. First read "The Pencil," and thought, whoa, this guy's really good. I also like Witold Rybczynski (whose name I can never remotely spell correctly; this is a Google cut-and-paste version), a Scottish-born Pole who is a Canuckistani architect who lives in my ol' home town of Fuldullfya (go figure). A good writer in the Petroski mold ("Paper Heroes: Appropriate Technology: Panacea or Pipe Dream?", "Taming the Tiger: The Struggle to Control Technology," "Home: A History of An Idea," (excellent; first of his I read) and "The Most Beautiful House in the World), plus "A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and North America in the Nineteenth Century," a book I needed for some of my own researches.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 12, 2007 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I might use your c.w. [sic] in my Monster resume. (The Abacus course in Firenze will be verrrrrrry helpful.)

WRT to your 7.03, I can't help but remember that "Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table."

Posted by: byoolin | February 12, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Immanual Kant
was a real p*** ant
who could DRINK you under the table.

Byoolin -- are we channeling the same silly MP song?

Thanks Mudge for the ref. You may like this alt.bible of architecture called
_A Pattern Language_ by a cabal of architects ranging from UC Berkeley to Japan. Alexander is an author._

The book is amazing and mindblowing...really.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 12, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, there's NO way you could have forgotten wind, c'mon now...

Kant was very rarely stable, IIRC...

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | February 12, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

CP, we are, but Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable.

http://www.adelaide.edu.au/library/guide/hum/philosophy/philos_song.html

Posted by: byoolin | February 12, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

CP, we are channeling the same tune, but Kant was "very rarely stable."

http://www.adelaide.edu.au/library/guide/hum/philosophy/philos_song.html

Posted by: byoolin | February 12, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

And René Descartes was a drunken fart.
'I drink, therefore I post the same thing twice.'

Posted by: byoolin | February 12, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Re-reading Joel's kit I am reminded of our earlier discussion on gemstones. We talked about how it was acceptable for "natural" rubies to be flawed and imperfect because they were unique, and how the more mathematically perfect "artificial" stones were denigrated because they were so terribly common.

Well, that's the kind of thinking that has infected our society. There is a notion that one can be rude, tacky and cruel so long as one has a claim to being exceptional in some way. Uniqueness has become a virtue in itself.

I don't like the idea in gemstones, and I certainly don't like it in people.

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 12, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Just say NO to narcissim in gemstones and in people.

Rise up, oh ye of many imperfections, smite out the perfection whereever ye find it....

---
Sorry RDP: Your post is serious. I have in my posession a diamond that was likely cut sometime in the 1880s (small thing but came my way through the family as might China or packets of love letters). I often wonder about the social conditions about that diamond. I think it came from Africa, to Belgium or Holland, to NY City, and then carried out by Gr.f to a little place in South Dakota, circa 1920 or so.

We all participate in evil, banal or horrific, as we consume and purchase.

Posted by: College Parkian | February 12, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of heroes (off-topic but on-Kit) I just heard Aaron Copeland's "Lincoln Portrait". There's a hero for you - Lincoln, that is, though I'd argue that Copeland is at least a shining example in 20th-century American music as well. [I almost wrote "contemporary" American music. Alas, I'm getting old.]

I too read Heidegger in college. In my opinion, it was like wading through marshmallows. Deep, sticky marshmallows.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 12, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - nice set-up, for my whole point is that there is more virtue in a common ordinary person who is good than in a uniquely gifted individual who abandons kindness, courtesy, and generosity.

Perhaps that's why Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" always makes me get all teary-eyed.

Posted by: RD Paoduk | February 12, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Scoitty, the reason I kept forgetting "wind" was a sort of Freudian block. That semester I was imbibing a fair amount of absinthe, and we were doing a science project in my transmutation of metals class. We had to stand around this giant blacksmith's forge, operating bellows to keep the forge red-hot; that in turn (so we were instructed) would help us "grow" gold from some base metal. Being hungover and somewhat delirious, I had trouble keeping my bellow operating as well as some of the other students (couldn't get the wind up, so to speak). Consequently, I was unable to "grow" gold, and so flunked transmutation. I'll never forget the stinging rebuke my teacher wrote on my report parchment: "Young sire, do not forget that absinthe makes the hearth growth founder." I was, of course, crushed.

On an unrelated matter, a friend of mine who works deep in the bowels of the EPA just sent me this nice little downer from AP, just in time for Valentines Day:

Valentine Roses Get Dipped in Chemicals

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 9:08 a.m. ET

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- It's probably the last thing most people think about when buying roses. But by the time the velvety, vibrant-colored flowers reach a Valentine's Day buyer, they will have been sprayed, rinsed and dipped in a battery of potentially lethal chemicals.

Most of the toxic assault takes place in the waterlogged savannah surrounding the capital of Colombia, which has the world's second-largest cut-flower industry after the Netherlands, producing 62 percent of all flowers sold in the United States.

With 110,000 employees -- many of them single mothers -- and annual exports of $1 billion, the industry provides an important alternative to growing coca, source crop of the Andean nation's better known illegal
export: cocaine.

But these economic gains come at a cost to workers' health and Colombia's environment, according to consumer advocates who complain of an over-reliance on chemical pesticides.

Colombia's flower exporters association responded by launching Florverde, which has certified 86 of its 200 members for taking steps to improve worker safety and welfare. Florverde says its members have reduced pesticide use by 38 percent since 1998, to an average of 97 kilograms (213 pounds) of active ingredient per hectare (2.4 acres) per year.

''Every day we're making more progress,'' said Florverde director Juan Carlos Isaza. ''The value of Florverde is that these best practices have now been standardized and are being adopted by the industry.''

Nevertheless, 36 percent of the toxic chemicals applied by Florverde farms in 2005 were listed as ''extremely'' or ''highly'' toxic by the World Health Organization, Isaza acknowledged.

And unlike in the United States, Colombia has no government regulations about pesticide use inside greenhouses, where toxicity levels tend to rise.

Even with more stringent guidelines, accidents happen.

On Nov. 25, 2003, some 200 workers at Flores Aposentos were hospitalized after fainting and developing sores inside their mouths. Authorities determined this mass poisoning could have been caused by any number of pesticide-handling violations, but fined the company just $5,770.

Government oversight is relatively strict in the United States -- in California, each flower farm's pesticide use is available for review on the Internet. But there are no reliable statistics about chemicals used by Colombia's 600-plus flower farms, in part because only a third belong to Asocolflores, the exporters' association, which does keep good records.

The U.S. requires imported flowers to be bug-free, although not necessarily void of chemical residues, as required for edible fruits and vegetables. But the reliable highland tropical climate that drew U.S.
flower growers to Colombia and Ecuador is a haven for pests.

This encourages growers to apply a wide range of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, some of which have been linked to elevated rates of cancer and neurological disorders and other problems.

Causal links between these chemicals and individual illnesses are hard to prove because chronic pesticide exposure has not been studied in enough detail.

But researchers have found some disturbing data: The Harvard School of Public Health examined 72 children ages 7-8 in a flower-growing region of Ecuador whose mothers were exposed to pesticides during pregnancy and found they had developmental delays of up to four years on aptitude tests.

''Every time we look, we're finding out these pesticides are more dangerous than we ever thought before and more toxic at lower levels,''
said Philippe Grandjean, who led the Harvard study published last year.

Carmen Orjuela began suffering dizzy spells and repeated falls in 1997, while working at a flower farm outside Bogota. During the peak season before Valentine's Day, she said her employer forced workers to enter greenhouses only a half-hour after they had been fumigated.

''Those who refused were told they could leave -- that 20 people were outside waiting to take their job,'' said Orjuela, who quit in 2004.

Orjuela's employer, Flores de la Sabana, denied ever disregarding manufacturer-recommended re-entry times, but a toxicology study from Colombia's National University obtained by The Associated Press confirmed that Orjuela's illness was ''directly related to an important exposure to potentially toxic chemical substances.'' A government arbiter finally ordered the company to pay her a pension equal to the $200 monthly minimum wage earned by most workers.

Such problems apparently aren't isolated: a survey of 84 farms between 2000 and 2002, partly financed by Asocolflores, found only 16.7 percent respected Florverde's recommendation that workers wait 24 hours before re-entering greenhouses sprayed with the most toxic of pesticides.

Producers say they would love to go organic, especially given the high costs of pesticides. But their risks include infestations and stiff competition from emerging flower growers in Africa and China.

''The biggest hurdle to going organic is that once you're there you have to be prepared to lose your crop,'' said John Amaya, president of the Miami-based flower unit of Dole Food Co., Colombia's largest flower grower.

Still, U.S. consumers bought $16 million in organic flowers in 2005, and demand is growing by 50 percent a year, according to the Organic Trade Association.

That growth has been helped by ''VeriFlora,'' a certification and labeling program launched by U.S. consumers, growers and retailers including Whole Foods Market Inc. Some 32 farms in Colombia and Ecuador have earned the VeriFlora label, which requires a transition to organic production and, unlike the industry-backed Florverde, bans more than 100 chemicals outright.

''Unfortunately, existing programs have deficiencies that would not fly in the American marketplace,'' said Linda Brown, vice president of Scientific Certification Systems, which runs the VeriFlora program.

Gerald Prolman, CEO of San Francisco-based Organic Bouquet.com, counts on VeriFlora-certified growers for much of his supply.

''If producers want to distinguish their flowers from the glut of cheap, chemically produced ones in the world right now they need to ensure that their farms have fully incorporated socially and environmentally responsible practices that consumers demand and are willing to pay more for,'' he said.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | February 12, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

NEW KIT!!!

Posted by: RD Padouk | February 12, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

First, I hereby remove my name from the waiting list for a WaPo parking spot. Too many security problems - I see that roving gangs of Fox News producers are accosting the parkers:

"Bill O'Reilly, who had a Fox News producer ambush Arkin in a parking lot, called his remarks "disgraceful" and said that The Post and NBC News, where Arkin works as an analyst, will be "forever tainted" by the incident."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/linkset/2005/04/11/LI2005041100587.html

Second, LA Lurker: I'm not exactly the right person for a decent Bible study discussion, but here's one quotation on the New/Old Testament issue: Galatians 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Third, deer and traffic. CP, we have both mulies and whitetail in Alberta. I've heard that the deer population is now estimated as probably at historic highs. I've never hit one, but had one close call. I always thought my lightning fast reflexes would save the day, until my nightime incident in which this deer darted out just in front of my car. I didn't even see anything but a blur until it was already past.

Fourth, going back to the health care discussion, I saw that Obama says you'll have universal health care by the end of his first term.

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 12, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

sofc, that is true, but read to the end of the chapter. basically there is a pauline opposition between the flesh and the spirit, and all the works of the flesh are basically the things that are prohibited by the law. the basic shift is similiar to the sermon on the mount in that the motivation for doing the right thing (and you still have to do the right thing) is love, from the heart.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | February 12, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

My reading is that the end is basically "look, there's more important things than [in this case] circumcision". Do you read that or other New Testament books as saying the Mosaic law must be followed?

How's the dissertation coming?

Posted by: SonofCarl | February 12, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I have students who tell me that they don't need to learn Science, or math, or any of the other "important" subjects, as they are going to be professional basketball players. I have heard this line from MANY students. So far, I am not aware of any of them having had a career in pro sports yet. At the same time, students fail high-stakes tests and can't graduate from high school in Texas. Vocational programs are dwindling into obscurity and nonexistence, as they teach skills that are "not on the test." The jobs that used to be filled by skilled laborers from the US are now being done by illegal immigrants for lower pay, because we are busily trying to get ALL children into college, thereby cheapening the Bachelor's degree into something akin to a high school diploma (if everybody's got one, what's the value of having it?). We need to encourage everyone to succeed in their own way, which is not necessarily college for all. I support benchmark testing, but the high-stakes stuff is wrong, wrong, wrong. And not evryone can be a pro baller, either. Some of us excel in school, some of us don't, and nary the twain shall meet. Imagine if they let a skillless baller like my self into the pros. Now imagine a person who can't cut the mustard getting a college degree. It happens all the time, because we can't let little Billy fail...

Posted by: Gomer | February 12, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

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