Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Recently I posted about my discontent with rampant consumerism of Christmas. Well as luck would have your friend and mine, Mariah Mercer, wrote a similar themed article for a local newspaper. You can read it here. She’s a far better writer then I will ever be. So try not to get all spoiled reading her literary goodness. She was also kind enough to send me an E-mail with a link to a Website that extols the virtues of a “Buy Nothing Christmas”.

I admit I like the concept. But upon further reflection I feel the need to change one little thing. They should call it an “Ask for Nothing Christmas.” You see giving is a divine thing. Generosity is among the most wonderful attributes a person can possess. To give your time, resources and love is a beautiful thing. A forty year old with a Christmas list as long as their arm is just pathetic.

So maybe we should stop asking for presents and worrying about what we get but rather worry more about what we give.
Robin Lovitt was less than 24 hours from his scheduled execution by the state of Virginia. But the Governor Mark Warner granted clemency at the last moment. Gov. Warner thought that evidence was improperly destroyed and that caused enough doubt for Gov. Warner to grant Lovitt clemency. Had Lovitt been executed he would have been the 1000th person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed the death penalty in 1976.

If you’ve been reading my little blog long enough you know I’m pro-life right down the board. That means I oppose the death penalty. I am absolute in my opposition. We have no right to kill, not even in the name of justice. No murderer, rapist, child molester or even terrorist should be put to death. Killing criminals solves nothing. It doesn’t make us safer. There’s no evidence that shows capital punishment deters crime. The United States is the last of the Western first world nations to execute its criminals. We need to stop.

You see I know that all the capital punishment supporters would say if they read this, “He’s soft.” No I am not soft on crime or any of that. You see it’s the death penalty supporters that are the cowards here. They want you afraid of the big bad criminals and want you to believe only killing will protect you. They’re like the scared little animals that puff up to try and scare away predators. These people thrive on fear and only a coward would do that. Forgiveness always requires more strength than revenge.

Please don’t give me that lame ass hypothetical question that everyone poses to people who oppose the death penalty. You know it. It goes like this, “ What if some broke into your house and brutally killed someone you loved? Wouldn’t you want to see them die?” My answer is always the same and I shall share it with you. “Maybe in my grief induced delirium I might want to see that person suffer some horrible fate. But that would be anger not justice and we cannot govern on anger we must do on justice. Now let me ask you this. Let’s say someone broke into your neighbor’s house and brutally murdered them. What if that someone who committed that heinous crime was someone you loved? Would you want them dead? “ That usually shuts them right up.

You see we always externalize evil. We act like criminals are some alien species that Martians dropped off. They’re not. They are not that different from you and me. It’s all just a matter of degrees that separate us. We need to remember that. I think it would serve us well to remember the words of Eugene Debs, a Socialist Party candidate for President around the turn of the 20th century. “As long as there is a lower class. I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element. I am of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

Monday, November 28, 2005

I am by no means a luddite. I enjoy new technology. Feel free to notice I am using some right now to post my little thoughts on the Internet. I have CDs and DVDs and a really cool green laser pointer. That being said some of these new fangled gizmos that have come along recently make me scratch my head.

Let’s start with that most ubiquitous of devices, the cell phone. I don’t own a cell phone. Don’t want a cell phone. I understand for certain people they are a necessity. But these people are fairly rare. Most of you really don’t need a cell phone. Trust me you don’t need one. They might be a nice extravagance. You really don’t need a cell phone, however.

First of all you almost have got to offer up your first-born young to get one. You have to have a contract that locks you into some long-term service agreement. If you call too much during the day you get ripped off. They only work in about half of the places you go. Gee, sign me up.

Also most people aren’t making life or death calls on the things. I swear if I get behind one more person having some vapid conversation I’m going to hurt them. Most people only use their precious little cell phones to pester their children and ask their spouses whether they need milk or butter. You could get by waiting until you got home to make all those calls.

Cell phones also allow rude people to be even ruder. Churches and theaters have to remind people to turn the damn things off. Some restaurants have even banned the things. I have no idea why you would even take it with you into these places. Who wants to have a particularly good meal or concert interrupted by a call from Aunt Petunia?

People that drive and talk on their cell phones deserve a special place in Hell. Our brains are not evolved enough to handle a conversation and controlling 4000 pounds on metal going 60 mph. If you get a call just wait until you can stop the car and then chat. It’s that easy. I wonder how many people are going to have to die before we get serious about outlawing this?

Camera phones are Satan’s little helpers. Can anyone have a freaking private moment? Anytime you do anything dumb in public you’re now subjected to the stress of 9 gazillion people and their God awful gizmos trying to get a picture they can E-mail all their little friends.

Next on my little hit list are video game consoles. Why does anyone own one? With all the computing power available to the average Joe even with a mediocre home computer video game consoles are just redundant.

See people who buy these contraptions are being tricked. The programmers who make these games only release them to consoles or sometimes only certain ones. So the obedient little consumers all run out and get these consoles. It’s all a marketing ploy and it’s working rather well.

It helps to remember when video game consoles first appeared almost no one even knew what a computer was for, much less had one in their home. Now that computers are as common as stoves, video game consoles should be as dead as 8 tracks. But a couple of cool exclusive games and Pavlov’s little consumers come running.

I’m not exactly Amish but not all new technology is necessarily progress.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Happy Black Friday everybody! Then again, should you really be happy on something called Black Friday? Hell I didn’t even know until this week that Black Friday was coming. When did it start? Who started it? Why did they want an extra special day called Black Friday? That seems kind of like a day you might want to avoid.

It was explained to me that this whole Black Friday has to do with shopping. I looked for a definitive explanation and got very little. Employees of large stores who more than likely really don’t enjoy having 8 million people stampede their store on the day after Thanksgiving at 5 in the blessed A.M. probably named it. In fact some large retail executives call it Green Friday. Because the money grubbing pigs who sit in their corner offices counting hundred dollar bills are probably rather fond of this day. While I would guess that the grunts on the store floors getting chewed out for the fiftieth time that they’re out of some toy are not so fond of it.

I’m not anti-shopping or anti-Christmas. It’s just that I wish everyone would chill out about the whole gift thing. Yes I enjoy receiving a nice gift. Yes I enjoy giving a nice gift. But people relax! People spend like it makes up for being miserable assholes the rest of the year. Trust me it doesn’t.

A nice lady on the news called this the shopping season. Screw winter, Christmas season and the Holiday season. It’s the shopping season. Go out and buy you obedient consumers you. Because it’s all about how much you give and even more so how much you get.

Ever been in a gift exchange and there’s a MINIMUM on the amount you have to spend? Yes people have minimums to spend on Christmas. You see it’s not the thought that counts it’s the receipts. Gee, that well though out gift only cost $12.50? Well get your ass back to the store and spend another $7.50! There’s a $20.00 minimum!

Has no one ever read How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Or even watched the cartoon? Don’t you people learn? “Maybe Christmas meant just a little bit more.” Does that ring any bells for anyone?

I hate to sound so bitchy. Honestly I do. But it’s just that a holiday that’s supposed to be all about peace on Earth and good will towards men has become a crass capitalist event. Somehow I don’t think Jesus was born to benefit retailers.

Maybe I’m nuts but I’d like to try Christmas one year without the whole gifts thing. Everyone just chills out for a year and has a day where everyone just shares a little of the peace and good will thing. Or maybe they could just buy gifts for people that need things. You know charity and all that good stuff. As usual I fear I’m a lonely dreamer on this one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I submit for your approval the following essay written by me a few days ago at work. I was tired and in a mood. But alas gentle reader everything I say is true to how I feel.

Chickens are stupid. They get up way too early. Why any sane creature would crawl from the comfort of their warm cozy bed before late morning without threat is beyond me. But I’m nocturnal so I’m biased.

Getting out of bed at 6:30 in the blessed AM on a day that temperature outside is only 19 degrees Fahrenheit is, I believe, cruel and unusual punishment.

What’s great about the morning anyway? It’s dark and cold. Use just left a state of existence where you believed you believed you could fly and make sweet love to lots of really attractive people to enter another state where you just realized you have a pimple on your butt. Why must reality be so real?

Breakfast is horribly overrated. Now I just confess I do love the foods usually associated with breakfast. I just prefer to eat them for lunch and dinner. You see though my body and what’s necessary of mind to make my body function may be roused alongside the poultry, my stomach is more belligerent. My tummy refuses to conform to the man and his ways.

There’s nothing on TV in the morning. Unless you’re infatuated with Katie Couric, not that there’s anything wrong with that, morning TV is annoying. All morning TV is insipid at best. Regis, Kelly, Dr. Phil, Oprah, the entire cast of The View all can go very far away. I find it vaguely disturbing that these clowns are making millions and yet we argue about funding PBS. Of course I’m enough of a realist to realize that the bar for television is set somewhere in the vicinity of a snake’s ball bag. But still can we do no better than this mindless prattle? I know TV as a general rule sucks but morning TV is especially mind-numbingly bad.

Morning radio isn’t much better. Why radio programmers think wacky DJs are a good thing is one of life’s great-unsolved mysteries. I seldom if ever feel anything even remotely resembling wacky. Even when I’m at my closest to feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed I feel nary a twinge of wackiness. So I have very little use for silly shenanigans before I’m even coherent. Mercifully the good radio stations play music to ease my transition from comatose to incoherent. There is nothing like good music to change your outlook on life. A particularly energetic number can even make my morning mood, to paraphrase the great Canadian band Rush.

Speaking of the band Rush that makes me think of that blow hard Rush Limbaugh and that makes me think of talk radio and that’s another thing I avoid in the morning or for most of the day really. I will admit that occasionally listen to Randi Rhodes and Laura Flanders on Air America because they’re amusing and chicks with attitudes are kind of sexy. But as a rule I avoid talk radio. Most of the hosts are morons who spout the party line and are usually horribly rude. The people that call in to these shows are, I shall say this in the most polite manner I can muster, lunatics. “President Bush is the greatest president ever!” “President Bush is Satan incarnate.” “President Bush is really a Martian.” This is not what I need to hear in my morning haze.

I know loads of people who just love NPR. As much as I want to like NPR it’s just too damn laid back. I swear we could cure every kid with ADD by just having them listen to NPR. It’ll do more than calm them it’ll put them into a coma. I know that the pharmaceutical companies will never ever go for it. Sedation is not what I need in the morning.

You’d think being such a white-hot lump of apathy in the morning I’d be a caffeine addict. I’m really not. I do have a deep affection for iced tea, but I almost never drink it in the morning. I enjoy a soda from time to time but it would make me want to puke if I drank one before noon. Coffee is just flat out gross. The few times I have consumed it I had to mask its flavor with so much sugar and cream-like substance that it looked and tasted like really sweet wet sand. The odd thing is coffee smells really good but it tastes lousy. That’s just not right. It reminds of when I was a wee lad. The cocoa powder in the cabinet always smelled so good. So one day I took a spoonful of it. I don’t believe I will ever forget that day. The taste was the absolute opposite of the smell. The smell was sweet and rich. The taste was redolent of old dirty underwear. This is how I feel about coffee.

I knew I was going to have bring these people up and I really don’t want to. I find them to be despicable. Outside of rapists, murderers and corporate criminals I find them one of the few people I’d ever consider putting to death. I even hesitate to mention them aloud. Gentle readers please brace yourselves. I give you, God have mercy, perky morning people. Why these people even exist is beyond my tenuous grip on reality. What mutant chromosome these people have that makes someone perky at all much less before noon is confounding. Good Lord in Heaven, I find nothing for irritating then when I’m standing there in my morning lobotomy induced haze and some perky little ray of sunshine walks up and try to get me all perky to. God, I could just choke them until they are sixteen shades of purple. Now chickens I can forgive for being morning creatures. I mean they’re diurnal animals. It’s their nature to rise with the Sun. So they are forgiven. Plus they are just so tasty. I have a hard time hating anything delicious. Anyway, perky morning people are evil. They are sent here by Satan to cut my life short. I figure the stress these idiots have caused me has taken at least five years off of my life. So I seldom seek or welcome the company of strangers in the morning. Lest they be that most foul of demons, perky morning people.

I’m going back to bed.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It’s been a few days since I’ve left any of my very random thoughts on here. It’s not that I’m too busy or anything like that. Perish the thought. It seems I have very little that’s motivated me to write a whole lot.

You usually some public figure does something monumentally stupid and I get to mock them. Then all is right with the world. But alas gentle reader I don’t have a whole lot of anything to say. I have a few random thoughts, which I shall share soon enough, but it’s been a pretty benign time in the news. Of course that worries me a bit. It strikes me as the calm before the storm. I fear, hopefully irrationally, that soon some colossal error will be made that will deeply and eternally change us all. But I could be wrong.

Bush and Cheney are out defending their war in Iraq. I could mock them but I feel almost sympathetic for them. I mean here they are trying to sell a war that the people and government are increasingly for ending and there they are trying to sell icemakers to Eskimos, so to speak. That’s kind of sad. I mean Cheney even was in a tuxedo for one of his speeches. Dick was all dressed up and nowhere to go.

The CBC reported today that the Canadian government wants an investigation into the safety of using Tamiflu. Apparently two Japanese children took it and later committed suicide. If this is true then the irony is impressive. A drug, which was supposed to save us from the pandemic of bird flu, makes people commit suicide. Irony can be so ironic.

Whatever happened to epidemics? Why all of the sudden do we have pandemics? Why was the wording changed? Is a pandemic an epidemic with a bad attitude? Is a pandemic scarier than an epidemic? No wonder everyone is so confused they keep changing the words on us.

My little town of Fostoria was the residence for the two criminals mentioned in the lead stories of the local ABC affiliate’s six o’clock newscast. Hooray Fostoria! I’m kidding relax. The first criminal spent a half an hour smoking cigarettes and playing video games while his two infant children drown in the bathtub. I’ve said it before I’ll say it again, only stupid people are breeding. The second bilked almost 100 people out thousands of dollars for tickets to the Ohio State-Michigan game that he did not deliver. Today his wife filed a missing person’s report for him. I suppose South America is nice this time of year.

I’ve read Kurt Vonnegut’s new book, A Man Without a Country three times in the last week. Yes I do love it that much. If you don’t read it you’re a twerp. If you do read it you’ll get that last joke and you will have read a great book. Experiencing great art is what makes life tolerable. I suppose that’s why so many people are so intolerant. There’s no great art in their lives. It’s all corporate TV and music. There’s no art in business. So do yourself a favor and go to a library or a museum or a concert and lighten up. For as Kurt Vonnegut wants his epitaph to read, “The only proof he ever needed for the existence of God was music.”

For a guy without a lot to say I just wrote almost 600 words. I apologize. I’m gabby sometimes.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

In 1994 two fairly major astronomical events occurred. There was an annular eclipse of the Sun in May and later that summer Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter. They changed my life forever.

There I was a curious but unfocused lad of 23 years. I went out and saw both events. Neither overwhelmed me in all honesty, but they did spark my curiosity. So off I went to the local magazine shop and bought some magazines and started to learn. I looked around with some old 6x30 binoculars that were my father’s. I was lousy at first. I couldn’t find a whole lot of nothing. So I bought a telescope. I found a little more but not a whole lot. But in spite of my lack of skills my curiosity remained. So I tried and learned and made new friends and eventually became a pretty good stargazer. I’m no Stephen James O’Meara but I try and I really enjoy it.

Astronomy was the first hobby I took up that I actually accomplished something at. I, probably like most of you, have taken a good many hobbies in my day. Sure I sucked and failed at most of them and most of those skills are now long gone. But, for some reason I really stuck with astronomy and even though it has given me so much wonder and happiness. It has given even more back to me.

It has taught me patience. If you are not patient, please do yourself a favor and avoid stargazing. It requires a lot of patience and persistence to be successful like most everything worth doing. I was terribly impatient and unfocused until I discovered astronomy. I’m still not exactly focused like a ninja but I’m much better.

It made me see the Universe for the vast incomprehensible machine it is. When you see and begin to in some small way understand how big it all is. You start to feel very small and large at the same time. You feel small because let’s face I you are. You feel large because you glimpse at how big it all is and you feel very connected to it all. It’s wonderfully humbling and empowering.

It introduced me to great thinkers. Once I started read Carl Sagan, a personal hero of mine, it was like the veil was lifted. Through him my curious little mind started to study other great thinkers like Albert Einstein and Thomas Paine and Galileo and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Every time I read these wonderful minds’ thoughts I’m reminded of the Stephen Hawking quote, “I have only seen so far because I stood on the shoulders of giants.”

I started to understand how to reason out problems and think better. Once I was exposed to the tools of critical thinking and science I became much more logical and less biased. Thinking your way through problems is a beautiful thing. As an added bonus you end up in a lot less trouble.

Keep looking up.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I would really like to be one of those really laid back happy people. You know the type, the introspective Zen seeker. Instead my life is the downtime between wanting to smack people. Why is that? Is it my German-Irish heritage? Am I a pathetic hothead?

I try, really I do. But, it seems something always comes along to get my panties in a bunch. Maybe I just need to give up all hope for the human race and sit around and laugh at the absurdity of it all. That seems a bit harsh . Though it is under consideration.

What’s got me all worked up? Be ready to duck and cover children.

First off let me work over Pat Robertson. You may remember a while back Pat Robertson, supposedly a Christian, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Now I could be wrong, though I doubt it, Jesus wasn’t a big proponent of military backed coups and killings. Now old Pat is rambling on about how if anything bad happens to Dover, PA they shouldn’t ask God for help because they have forsaken him. What evil has the city of Dover, PA committed? Is it mass murder? Are their children being molested in the streets? Nope. What Dover, PA did was vote out eight school board members who supported teaching intelligent design in science class and replaced them with people who opposed it. To which I must say, go Dover!

Now I’ve made my feelings about intelligent design being taught in science class known repeatedly. So I will not burden you by beating that dead horse. Instead I shall attack Pat Robertson and his faux faith. As far as I’m concerned only twice has given us a set of rules to live by, the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ particularly the Beatitudes. Everything else is just stuff made up buy people that want to have their own religion. God has never said live in darkness and fear. God does not want us to squander the magnificent minds He gave us. I really believe that He loves it when we cure diseases and feed more people and come closer to understand that which almost incomprehensible. God loves all everyone. He really likes it we use what he has given us to make the world a better place. God would never turn his back on any of us for using our free will.

Pat Robertson is a douche bag. I don’t know if he’s senile or trying to stir up attention for his little 700 Club but he needs to stop. Jesus never was an advocate of violence and intolerance and for Robertson to claim to be teaching His word is just hypocrisy.

Now I shall spew venom in a new direction. Alabama Governor Bob Riley is calling for Alabamans to boycott of Aruba to show support for the family of Natalee Holloway. IF you don’t know who Natalee Holloway is, consider yourself lucky.

I would like to ask Gov. Riley, is his state in perfect order? According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Website eight children in Alabama having turned up missing in the last year. Who are you going to boycott? Are there no unsolved murders in Alabama? Is Alabama a utopia free of crime?

Now I know that Natalee’s family is under a terrible burden and I do have compassion for them on that level. But to boycott a country that is so dependant on tourism is pathetic. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we’re pompous. So Gov. Riley please lighten up and stop playing up to whatever is hot in the media at the moment and use the brains God gave you.

A brief not here, I know I said I few days ago that I was going to lighten up on the politics and such. I was wrong. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Part 2: The 2 Party System

I hate the two party system. If I had any guts I’d just type “the end” and go to bed. But I know you gentle reader would like to hear more from me so I shall do my best.

You see the two party system is a joke. There is in reality very little difference between our little friends the Democrats and the Republicans. Both would soon eat dirt before they would attack capitalism or the military. Both parties are pro-capitalism, pro-military, God fearing, flag waving proud Americans. Heaven forbid they be any different.

Now before I make a demand for the media and you gentle reader to look into and expose more candidates with more diverse ideas than the current system offers. I must confess something. I really hate the idea of political parties at all. If I could wish one thing away in our current political system it would be the political party. I’d really like to see some people just stand up there and tell me what they think. I’d love to see politicians speak and not have to worry about towing the party line.

I must also confess I’ve been registered as a Republican, Democrat and Independent. I was a Republican when I really wanted to get Bill Clinton out of office. I was a Democrat when I wanted George W. Bush out of office. I was an Independent when I was sane.

Now with that off of my chest I can move on to the rest of rant. Since I’m occasionally a realist I know the USA is married to the idea of political parties and I have about as much chance of getting rid of it as I do of having Kate Winslet give birth to my children. So I shall do my best to fix the mess we got.

If you really think that the current system with its paltry two parties can accurately represent the entire scope of American political thinking you’d be wrong. Now I can already hear you’re wheels grinding way. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “ But Eric everyone is represented by the current system. It’s only the wacko fringe parties that you’re talking about and almost no one in the agrees with them.” This would be somewhat true. But there’s a really bad reason it’s true. It’s true because they can’t get any exposure. Do you seriously think CNN wants to discuss the Socialist Party’s platform? There’s not a chance in Hell. The media loves it’s little neat bundle of two parties to cover. That makes things very easy on them.

I’d love to see some real diversity in our political system. I don’t mean just skin color either. Why do all the candidates have to from the Judeo-Christian tradition? Wouldn’t an atheist candidate be an interesting choice? Why not a Humanist? Why not some Buddhists? Wouldn’t a Muslim be an excellent choice for our government right now? Who better to explain the mindset of Muslims than a Muslim!

When the Presidential debates roll around all the candidates should be allowed in, not just the ones from the big two. I say let in the Socialist and Green Party and Libertarian and whoever can work up a candidate. Let’s shake the structure up!

Wouldn’t it be great to hear a much broader range of opinion? I would love nothing more than to watch candidates from the two major political parties have to debate a Communist. God that would make the debates worth watching! Let those coached up talking point spewing sock monkeys deal with some real diversity.

I have decided to end this rant of mine with a link to a fine web site that lists the political parties active the United States. So I ask that you if time allows look over that Website and see if they say anything you like. I know some are rather radical, oh like the American Nazi party, but there is a wonderful diversity of opinion on there. There is far more to the political spectrum than the donkeys and the elephants want you to believe.

American Political Parties

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Part 1: Separation of Church and Politics

Religion and politics should never be intertwined. Now this is not to say that the ethical teachings of your faith will never have an impact on your thinking. Because they will, I guarantee it. But there is an important point that should keep politics and religion very separated.

Religion is based on faith. You take a great many things in religion based on faith. You never ask for proof. You never ask for the priest or the minister to give you hard solid evidence to substantiate their claims. This is ok in religion as so long as some power mad jackass doesn’t abuse people’s faith. I’m not knocking faith it can be a beautiful thing in the right context. But faith has its limitations.

In politics you should never take anything on faith. You should demand facts and proof. You should never sit by and just because you like a politician or because they are a member of the same political party as you believe everything they spit out. You should always be willing to challenge them. That’s why we have the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. I sincerely trust that our Forefathers wanted the citizens to have available to them the information to be an active and vocal electorate.

As a whole the good old USA is neither active nor vocal. We tend to leave that up to the blowhards on the radio and, that most vile of Satan’s spawn, lobbyists. Don’t think this doesn’t make the politicians happy. You see gentle reader without the citizens to keep them in line politicians will do whatever they want without any real regard to the consequences. Oh sure there’s maybe 5 people in Congress with real ethics. They are unfortunately the exception to the rule. We have to, as a people never let the politicians forget who is the boss. We cannot sit idly by why the corporations and special interests run the country.

So get thyself to the library and read. Read newspapers and magazines and books. Go use Google and look for more information than that stupid TV will ever give you. You must educate yourself. It’s the only weapon you have against the lies and half-truths and spin doctoring that comes from the politicians.

Reason also has more weight to in an argument than faith. If you can prove something then you win. If you can substantiate your argument then you have an edge in the debate. If you offer nothing more than “I believe” then your argument has no weight.

Now there are people out there, a rather large number of them I fear, who don’t give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut about reason. I don’t care how much evidence you can bring up to them their minds are made up and they just don’t care. These people are problematic because their religion is politics. You know whom I’m talking about, the guy who’s been a Republican for 60 years and doesn’t give a crap if Ronald McDonald is in the White House. If he labels himself a Republican then he’s his man indeed. Of course he fails to notice that the Republicans of today are nothing like the Republicans of even 30 years ago, but I digress. People also really like dogma. There’s a cold comfort in surrender that some people really seem to like. I won’t pretend to know their motivations. I’m not sure if they’re being polite or naïve or obedient. I do know however that it’s not good for a democracy.

I know why people don’t like reason. It might prove you wrong. A large part of trying to make a strong argument is to analyze the other side’s argument. Also you must attack your own stance, because if you don’t someone will. In this time of examination and critical thinking you might have to alter your opinion maybe even radically. That’s wonderful. See if in the course of your studies you arrive at some new truth that’s amazing. Good for you! You went on a journey that took you to some unexpected place. Aren’t you lucky? I’ve changed my mind a great many times as I’ve studied and thought and it hasn’t killed me yet. So be not afraid of river of miserable uncertainty that can be the intellectual journey it just makes the destination that you arrive at much more satisfying.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

About three weeks ago I threatened you with a rather long series of rants. Originally it was to be about the gross oversimplification of American thinking. But as I got to thinking and planning it slowly morphed into something else. It’s still going to be rather lengthy. But, gentle reader, it shall be about the rather sad state of our precious democracy. To paraphrase Frank Zappa, democracy isn’t dead it just smells funny.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ohio politics we have four issues on the ballot that will make changes to our government. The issues concern things like campaign financing reform, who gets to draw up the congressional districts and other such political confusion. The supporters say it will make us better. The opponents say it will make us worse. I say they're both wrong. There is but one thing that can save our withering democracy, the citizens. It these issues and the people taking sides that really lit the flame that ignited this fire.

You see, I care not for what laws on are on the books. If the citizens don’t understand the laws and aren’t active politically then the form of government is irrelevant.

As I write these rants of mine I shall explore what I think is wrong with us.

Why is 60% turn out in an election considered a good turn out? Are we really that apathetic?

I shall also take aim at two related but fairly different creatures. One is the uninterested citizen. You know a person like this admit it. I remember meeting a schoolteacher who said she didn’t care for politics. She was a perfectly smart and nice woman. I like her a lot. But she said flat out that she wasn’t interested in politics. Why not I wondered. It’s your country you have the power. Why aren’t you using it?

The second and slightly more dangerous is the under informed citizen. These somewhat annoying creatures listen to Rush Limbaugh or Air America and somehow thinks that qualifies them as informed. They also just love it spit out clichés and talking points like that’s a good way to have a reasoned debate. Generally these people are so dogmatic that reason is worthless with them. I’m never sure whether to fear or pity them.

So there you have a very rough introduction for my series of rants. I’m sure I’ll even surprise myself with what I come up with. As always feel free to chime in and disagree or agree. I encourage all manner of debate. Really I do.

Friday, November 04, 2005

YAY! I got nothing but random observations so brace yourself Bridget!

I was watching MSNBC today when a story caught my attention. The local NBC affiliate in Cleveland was swamped with calls when during a Cleveland Cavaliers game; the team’s dancing girls or whatever they’re called performed a number in lingerie. See apparently this is not family friendly. The dancing girls in spandex bikers shorts and sports bras is fine for little Junior. Lingerie is not. Need I even state my displeasure with these people that called in these complaints? Some people need a clue. Please give generously.

The comedian Chris Rock has a routine about O.J. Simpson where the punch line is “I don’t condone it, but I understand”. You know with road rage, I don’t condone, but I do understand. I can be the most laid back cat on planet Earth anywhere but behind the wheel of a car. I have no idea why I turn into Genghis Eric looking to slay the many slow driving, cell phone chatting, all over the road, pass me by driving on the edge of the road masses. But, it does happen, a lot. I have yet to actually take a life. But if all my little flare-ups did result in the need for body bags I could have eliminated a city the size of Toledo by now. I’m not proud of this it’s just the way my faulty wiring works. So if you see me on the road pull over and hide, it’s only for your safety.

Seventy-five years ago Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. About fifty years later Pluto’s moon Charon was discovered. Now astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope may have discovered two more moons around Pluto. Our Solar System keeps getting more and more fascinating. There a three newly discovered large bodies outside of Pluto’s orbit that may change the way we define planets. But can the media be bothered to talk it for more than a sound bite? No, they cannot apparently. Yet a teenage girl turns up missing in Aruba and they won’t shut up. Please explain this to me. I’m a simple man and maybe I’m missing something, but I fear not.

That’s all folks! See you soon.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I have seen the future and it is a better world. It comes from another blogger and it is ingenious. Now I have never met the blogging genius that came up with this idea, Aminah. But her friend Saathiya has been nice enough to leave her comments on my blog and in reading her profile I found Aminah and well the rest is all good. You can read their fine blog that they both contribute to here. Saathiya’s fine blog is here. Aminah’s fine blog can be found here.

I now give the plan for a better world, Cookies and Condoms. We would solve two major world issues in one fell swoop. Over-population and hunger would be gone! How much better would that world be huh?

Think about it if everyone has cookies, everyone is happy! It’s awfully hard to be mad when you chock full of cookie goodness. Everyone would have a full belly and that would be a good thing.

If everyone were using their condoms there wouldn’t be, as many babies popping out so there would less strain on resources. Plus if everyone was wearing their rubbers well people would probably being doing it a bit more and laid people are happy people. What would you rather do, go shoot infidels or knock boots? HIV infections would also drop if the condoms were in use.

I know this would work because a small handful of worthless business criminals would get rich making all the cookies and condoms so a few of those greedy pigs would go for it. So financing and manufacturing won’t even be an issue.

I know you’re thinking this plan may be a bit over-simplistic. But seriously do you have a better plan? I’d love to hear it.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Hey kids!

In lieu of being creative I shall direct you towards two of my most favorite sites on the Internet. One’s a quote site I like very much. Yeah I know it’s on an atheism web site. So if you get easily offended when someone confronts you about your faith then feel free to skip along to the next site. But I really and truthfully love this site. There are lots of great quotes about freedom and critical thought. I also like reading things that challenge my ideas. It keeps you sharp you know.

Wants an example? Fine by me,

“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

“Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms: the one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.”-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

“Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”-- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man: Being An Answer To Mr. Burke's Attack On The French Revolution, Part the First, Conclusion

Speaking of Thomas Paine, whom I respect as much as any person I have ever read. He was a liberal so far ahead of his time I’m amazed he wasn’t killed rather then just hated and ostracized. Read more about one of the greatest thinkers ever here. His complete works are available here.

In a lovely coincidence I give you the Daily Indicator on the equally fine Tom Paine.com. It’s chock full of fine thought provoking facts and figures on there as well as links to the source material of where they got them from.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I know I have been writing about political and social issues a lot. I will also readily admit to being rather opinionated. It’s in my genes I swear. But alas gentle reader every so often I must turn off, tune out and fade away from the politics thing. It’ll burn you out in a hurry. I know there are several pressing issues with the new Supreme Court nominee; all the indictments and Ohio have a major election with five big state issues and my city voting on a charter form of government. Just so you know I’m voting against all five issues and for the charter government.

But I’m trying to cleanse my system a bit. I need top clear my head a bit. You see politics is ultimately frustrating because people won’t listen to reason a lot of the time. People take far too much in politics on faith or they are such hopeless partisans that they just sit around spewing the party line. It’s frustrating. No matter how much evidence you have that contradicts a person’s viewpoint they won’t budge an intellectual inch. Why? Is winning that much more important than the truth?

You see my learning is grounded in skepticism and science and philosophy. I’m not good at the truth bending that is politics and public relations. All that spinning just makes me dizzy.

Now I’m positive something will happen in the realm of politics that will sufficiently irritate me as to inspire my cranky keyboard. But I’d like to write away from politics for a little bit. I have other passions I actually hold more dearly than politics. I should probably explore those.

See you in the funny papers.