Saturday, September 23, 2006

Closure

Today is the first day of Autumn. Yesterday was my 43rd birthday.

About a year ago, I began dating a woman who was separated from her husband. It was really good for a while, what with falling in love and all, but it unravelled, and we broke up four months later.

I hadn't seen her or talked to her since then. I thought that if I ever saw her out with another guy, it would kill me. So I moped around for a while (just for a few months; nothing major :).

Today, I felt pretty good, so I decided to go to a store I hadn't been to in several months. There she was. With her ex. She told me they had decided to get couples therapy, and they've been doing that pretty much since she and I broke up. (He never knew about me. Obviously, they called off the separation.)

I thought, when I first saw her (before I learned that she wasn't alone), that it would be awkward, but having met the (former) ex, I don't feel so bad! Yikes!

And just like that, closure.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rumor has it...wrong

An acquaintance forwarded me another e-mail chain, this one about (1) how Lt. Col. Oliver North warned everyone 20 years ago about Osama bin Laden, and (2) how we freed Mohammed Atta.

The subject line was "Remember this?"

Here's my response:

Um, no, I don't remember this...because it never happened: http://www.snopes.com/rumors/north.asp and http://www.snopes.com/rumors/atta.asp.

You can break the chain now.

A good rule of thumb to use on these kinds of e-mails is "Never forward them because they are always wrong."

You can check on these rumors (or go digging for others to spread) here: http://www.snopes.com/.

And don't get me started on the EID stamp....


Remember: Friends don't let friends forward chain e-mails full of fearful/hateful/greedy drivel.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"God is a concept by which we measure our pain"

John Lennon's lyric seemed a fitting title.

You know how it is often said about criminals like hackers, "If they harnessed that talent for Good, just imagine what they could accomplish."

I feel that way about Religion.

To me, Religion is a monumentally huge waste of energy and lives.

If that bottomless reservoir of hypocritical, hate-filled, bigoted, self-important, racist, passive, aggressive, condescending, xenophobic, jingoistic, divisive, exclusionary, smug, fearful, genocidal, absolutist, lying, judgmental, selfish humanity were tapped for some constructive purposes, we'd find we had an awful lot of time, money, and talent on our hands.

How can we have so much, and yet remain so poor?

Stop looking up for answers. It can cause blindness and a stiff neck.

Get up off your knees and stop talking to yourself. No one is listening; no one will answer.

Nothing. Something. Nothing.

That's life.

Friday, September 15, 2006

"Islam" means "peace"

Pope Benedict XVI, the current face of the 2000-year-old institution known as the Catholic Church, was giving a speech the other day. He was relating a story from a book about a conversation between some Persian and some 14th century Byzantine emperor.

On the subject of holy war, the Pope quoted thus: "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached'."

There are no reports of the Pope quoting books about the Spanish Inquisition or anything, but he did make a point with members of the Muslim faith.

A Turkish political official compared the Pope to Hitler and Mussolini. An Indonesian cleric said that "such words hurt Muslims all over the world."

Oh, I am sorry. I suppose that when hurt so deeply about a conversation that took place 700 years ago, one turns to one's faith for comfort in a very personal, reflective manner.



Or not.

To some, the expression "choose your battles" is interpreted as "choose your battles: all of them."

But what's really going on here? Although "islam" does literally mean "to make peace", it derives from a root meaning "submission to The God (Allah)".

From this outsider's point of view, Islam appears to be a zero-tolerance, nothing-open-to-interpretation kind of religion, much as any fundamentalist religion. Christian fundamentalists are equally lacking in a sense of humor or any sort of self-doubt that can admit even a calm conversation about one's differences with another.

I was brought up in the Southern Baptist church, and in a fairly fundamentalist, rural version at that.

"Either you believe all of the Bible, or you believe none of it." -- fundamentalist Christian

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." -- George W. Bush

"If you're not with me, you're my enemy." -- Anakin Skywalker

"Only a Sith deals in absolutes." -- Obi-Wan Kenobi

* * *


In my opinion, the most dangerous and destructive weapon of all time is the certain knowledge that one is Right.

"Que s├žais-je?" ("What do I know?") -- Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Losing it

It has been five years since the US invaded Afghanistan to oust the snarky Taliban and set up a democratic government.

Today, the Taliban are as strong as ever, and the Afghan people are tired of Hamid Karzai.

Iran has been helping.

Meanwhile back in Iraq, the Sunni-Shiite clashes are going strong, and Americans keep getting dispatched by roadside bombs.

Iran has been helping.

Over in Lebanon, Hezbollah went off the reservation by doing some kidnapping, but they've basically been Iran's bitch.

And Iran doesn't even have The Bomb yet.

Their wacky leader has defied our wacky leader at every turn, and still took the time to write a nice letter.

But it's election season again, and bin Laden has popped up Whack-A-Mole-style, ready to lend a hand with Bush's re-election (*shudder*) or whatever. It's almost like their families were in business together or something....

What color is our Traffic Light of Doom these days, anyway? I guess it's never green, but I imagine the scarier colors will be deployed in time to scare the electorate.

Sorry, I digress. I'm losing focus.

Bush stole the Presidency so he could...um...what? Make us safer, that's it. No attacks on American soil since 9/11. What a good job he must be doing.

* * *


Lisa: "I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away."
Homer: "Hmm; how does it work?"
Lisa: "It doesn't work; it's just a stupid rock!"
Homer: "Uh-huh."
Lisa: "But I don't see any tigers around, do you?"
Homer: "Lisa, I want to buy your rock!"

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wallow

I knew it would happen.

I came to work and noticed that the flag was at half-mast. "Oh, yeah, the 9/11 thing."

A bit later, there was an announcement over the loudspeaker: "...remembrance...brave...dead...moment of silence..." or something like that.

OK. Fine. Let's just get this maudlin crap over with. Silence is not too bad. At least we didn't have to stand and bow our heads. Quasi-religious doings make me very uncomfortable. As if I should be doing something.
Then it happened: they played "Taps." Somehow they managed to get a CD player spliced into the system or something. Maybe it was the secretary playing it on her horn. I don't know. I don't care.

Public expressions of mourning are part of the national religion. I hate it. It's so selective. What about all the people who died in traffic accidents during the past year? Or in Darfur? Or on the toilet? Are their lives not mourn-worthy?

I didn't know anyone killed on 9/11. I wasn't in New York or DC. I'm sorry they died, but I'm not gonna cry about it or look solemn. The death of John Lennon a quarter-century ago affected me more, and still does, from time to time. (Sorry, Kurt, you were never in the same league. Plus you did it yourself, dumbass.)

Don't rebuild the towers. Don't put up some sky-scraping monu-strosity. Make it a damn park, a greenspace. Not a giant headstone.

Ask Maya Lin about the eloquence of quiet simplicity.

* * *

Shooter: "If I'd have killed you, would it have mattered?"
House: "Not to me."
Shooter: "You don't care whether you live or die?"
House: "I care because I live. I can't care if I'm dead."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hey, yeah! Whatever happened to that guy?

The President made one of his trademark "I know you know I'm reading this and I don't care" speeches, pausing between soundbites to let the echo die down between his ears. In the speech, Bush remembered the name of Osama bin Laden, and remarked upon what a bad guy he is. Maybe we should do something about him, he mused.

Hey, what color is our terror threat these days? Time to dust that thing off again and scare the electorate, to muster a quorum from the Red State hicks and pricks.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Intolerantly tolerant asshattery

Some person named John Alton wrote an article protesting the "new" USPS Eid stamp, which actually debuted on September 1, 2001.

Alton (who claims to be a liberal, and dares to quote JFK) writes "I am not against the religion of Islam...I do believe that it is wrong to stereotype everyone who believes in the Muslim faith...Therefore, I am supporting a boycott of the issuance of this USPS postage stamp...."

Alton, this stamp isn't for you anyway. Nobody's forcing you to use it. I guess you shouldn't use the Christian-themed stamps either, because Timothy McVeigh was Christian (I assume).

I think the stamps look nice. I bought a whole sheet of the 37-cent ones.

There's even a Nixon stamp to get your knickers in a twist.

Seven days until...

...insufferably maudlin eulogizing about 9/11.

I'm sure the Thief In Chief will try to make the most of the opportunity to look Presidential and lock up his legacy; I know I'd like to see him locked up.

I don't want made-for-TV movies; I want coherent, Constitutional action on the part of our "protectors" that preserve the Republic while preserving its people.

Blah blah liberty blah blah freedom blah blah torture blah blah blah.

Iron Eyes

One doesn't see so much trash on the side of the road as one used to.