June 30, 2012

Lifting the veil on Anthony Shadid's death

Anthony Shadid.
There's an interesting story at counterpunch this weekend. It's about the circumstances of journalist Anthony Shadid's death. It seems the NYT version of events may not have been accurate.

Here's an excerpt:
At this point, Dr. Shadid said, Anthony called his wife and “gave his last haunting directive: ‘If anything happens to me, I want the world to know the New York Times killed me.’”
If this is true, Anthony Shadid's last wish was that you read this story. I've read it and sadly, it seems plausible.

(I'm not sure how to credit the photo. I found it at frontlinedefenders.org.)


You know when you hear a noise in the next room, and you can't account for it? Like I just heard a major crackling noise coming from the kitchen or hall area. It went on for a bit and freaked me out. So I went there and stood, still and vigilant. But I heard nothing and there didn't seem to be a logical source for the crackles. It was as if they came out of nowhere.

I think it was dog. I think dog was trying to contact me. He must have a message for the world, something he wants me to reveal on my blog. I think it's something important.

But I don't know what to do. The problem is that I don't know how to contact dog, but I'll try. Okay, I'm taking deep breaths now and I'm calling dog. I'm telling him to use me to deliver his message to the world.

Okay, I think I feel something. I'm going to let dog take control of my fingers now so he can type his message for the world, using me as his sacred receptacle. The next words you read will be dog's.
Relax. Enjoy yourselves. But also accomplish something now and then. And don't eat too much. You heard me.
Gasp! I just saw those words. I swear to you that I didn't type them! I'll take a lie detector test, if you want. But right now I'm overwhelmed and I have to go lie down. Dog!

June 29, 2012

Awwww. Doris Singleton died.

Doris Singleton.
Remember Doris Singleton? She was Lucy's perennial neighbor and women's club member. I used to love her character. There was just something special about her voice. It seemed to encapsulate the 1950s.

To this day, I find myself hearing (in her voice) the word, "Honestly!" Remember how people used this word, way back when? In today's terms, it would translate as "You've got to be kidding!" I still say "Honestly!" just like she did and every time I do it, I think of her. She lives in me. Truly.

Doris Singleton added something to this world. To my mind, that's what we should hope people say about us after we're gone. We were a plus, and the world is lessened by our departure.

A painful task

I just removed all the copyrighted Xmas carol lyrics from Xmas Carol, my horror novel, and replaced them with lyrics from public domain Xmas carols. After I tossed the religious public-domain carols aside, all that was left was:

Jingle Bells
Deck the Halls
The Twelve Days of Xmas
We Wish You a Merry Xmas.

Slim pickins -- truly slim. At least The Twelve Days of Xmas is irritating. I was able to use that to good effect.

Originally (i.e., before I realized the public domain issue was going to clunk me on the head) I chose the carols with care, making sure each lyric went perfectly with a scene. It was difficult to toss all that out the window and be forced to use these four tunes.

It's a sad day in Xmas Carol land. Truly. But it needed to be done and I've done it. Sob.

June 28, 2012

GOP plans to establish theocracy in US

Taliban & GOP: no difference.
They really, really want a theocracy. It's shocking, it's stupid and it's so un-American that you can't believe it, but the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform literally states:
We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.
They want a king to run our country, and not just any king, but a prince of the church. In other words, they want a mullah to run the country. Sure, it'll be a Christian Taliban version of a mullah, but it's still the same. They want the iron hand of Jesus Christ to run our country. No more sluts, no more fags, no more brown people. It's really that bad, folks.

And while I'm at it, what's all this about Egypt having an "Islamic democracy"? This term is an oxymoron. Religion is authoritarian; democracy is the opposite. This concept implodes on inspection.

But that's just what the Texas GOP wants. Funny, eh? And you know how you're always reading about the Taliban poisoning school children? There won't be none of that learnin' stuff over there in Afghanistan. No, uh-uh. All they're allowed to read is the Bible Koran. Well, check out another part of the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform:
(W)e support reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.
They are the Taliban in every way but one: X-out Allah; insert Jeebus. Done. Welcome to the new US of A.

Upon consideration . . .

I think the Beatles should retract "Obladi Oblada" from their releases. They should cease it and desist it. It doesn't live up to Beatles' standards.

And I call upon Nancy Sinatra to rescind "These Boots are Made for Walking" and remove it from the minds of anyone who ever heard it. It must be like it never appeared on this Earth.

A little tuckered today. Light posting.

June 27, 2012

Here's Keller again

So I was apparently the only atheist in the world who found Bill Keller's column about Catholicism to be sane and sensible. (Leads to his original column, along with my short post.) I stick by my opinion and, frankly, I wonder what's wrong with the faculties of all those bloggers who trashed it. Keller is chastising the church for being idiotic -- just like we do.

Confirming my good opinion, Keller expanded on his column today in a blog post. Look, I'm as shocked as anyone. Bill Keller is usually a monster. But he's got this one pegged. If he's trashing anyone, it's the popey guy. I don't get it. Why don't lefty bloggers see this?

A Youk or a boo?

I wrote about this on the blog long ago: you can't tell fans screaming "Boo!" from fans screaming "Youk!" (the Red Sox cheer for Kevin Youkilis). Both are stretched-out yells -- Yoooooouuuuuuuk and Booooooooooooo -- so you mostly hear the middle, which is identical. Who can tell if it began with a B or a Y or ended with a K? I sure can't.

And now this anomaly has come to haunt Obama. The president was not booed. Here's an excerpt from the linked article (after all the inaccurate ones earlier in the day about Red Sox fans "booing" Obama):
"Anyone who knows Boston, and anyone who was in that room last night knows that the preponderance of people shouting in response to what the president said about Kevin Youkilis were saying 'Yoooouk' and not 'Booo,' for God's sake," Carney said.
And that's the story, folks. It was a Youk, not a boo. Mark that on your scorecards. The crowd was lamenting the loss of one of their favorite players in the only way they knew how: like a herd of lost moose.  "Yooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuk!"

By the way, there was a catchy headline about Youkilis being traded to the White Sox yesterday (at ESPN, as I recall): "Youkilis changes Sox". I liked that.

June 26, 2012

Breaking News from the Vatican!

I imagine we'll be seeing "breaking news" headlines from the Vatican now that they've got an official Fox News spokesperson.
In his new job as the Vatican’s senior communications adviser, Burke, 52, will be counseling Pope Benedict XVI and his closest staff on how to better project the Catholic Church’s image to the rest of the world.
I can just see it now. The popey guy appears on-screen. Below his image, big red letters blink with the word: "ALERT ALERT ALERT". And then the popey guy says, breathlessly, "A miracle has occurred in Transylvania! The Blessed Virgin Mary has appeared to thousands!"

Oy. It fits right in, doesn't it? Heck, he can use direct Fox News feeds and call them his own. After all, they say the same sorts of things the popey guy says: anti-gay, anti-Obama, anti-sanity stuff. It's a miracle! And I heard on Fox News that this whole set-up was preordained in the Bible!

VIQ (Very Important Question)

A baseball player's "batter introductory music", in the clunky language of baseball, is his theme song. Each baseball player picks a song as his own, and it's played every time he comes up to bat.

Some of the song choices but great and some are weird -- like Chase Utley's song, Kashmir. I find it strange every time I hear that song as he walks to the batter's box. It's so self-important -- or at least, that's how it strikes me. (Then again, maybe sounding self-important is what it's all about.)

So here's the question: If you were a major league baseball player, what would your theme song be?

(Just to refresh your memory, here's Utley's song, Kashmir. Is it a bit weird? Or is that just me?)

June 25, 2012

Whatever happened to three thumbs down?

I used to love one facet of my old directv system: you could rate what you watched. With the old remote, you had the ability to press the thumbs-up or thumbs-down buttons to let shows know exactly how you felt about them. I was very happy with this set-up.

I used to give every show three thumbs down, with extremely rare exceptions. It was so satisfying to stab that thumbs-down button for shows about Jeebus or fat people or "reality stars". It felt wonderful -- and productive.

But on the new directv remotes, the rating buttons have disappeared. I wonder if it's because of people like me. I actually used this feedback mechanism to tell the TV powers-that-be that I hated just about everything they offered. TV is a wasteland -- and it doesn't have to be. That's the sad thing.

Maybe we thumbs-downers collapsed the system. After all, companies were interested in seeing how their shows were faring with viewers. Maybe they didn't like the information this rating system sent their way. I suspect I wasn't alone in my mission to alert them to the horrid quality of their shows. So what did they do in response to all those thumbs-down? They didn't fix the shows. That would have been too sensible. No, they just canceled the ability to rate the shows. Problem gone, sorta.

Way to go, TV producers. And the cascade of TV poop marches on. This is quite a country we've got here.

June 24, 2012

Black and white memories

Horn & Hardart Automat.
There's a cool exhibition at the New York Public Library right now. It's called "Lunch Hour NYC". It brought up all sorts of good memories for me, but I especially loved being reminded about Horn & Hardart Automats.

The only real Horn & Hardart Automat was the one on 42nd Street, across from Grand Central. I used to adore that place. In my dissident teens, I'd go there at 1 or 2 in the morning, just to see the people. It was terrific. Among the customers were hustlers, queens, travelers, beatniks transforming into hippies, night-shift workers, cops -- just all sorts of people. I couldn't get enough of it.

And in those sophisticated days, you could smoke at your table. I'd fetch a black coffee for 15 cents (three nickels; you had to have nickels at the automat) and smoke myself into a coma. Pall Malls, unfiltered. The Automat was exciting to me when I was 16. I wasn't just a dumb teenager, either. I was reading underground novels at a furious pace, so I understood exactly who these people were. It was so cool to be there with them!

Anyone else have memories of those days, or old-time eateries? The article mentions the 2nd Avenue Deli, too. I worked a block from this deli in the 60s, and bought a sandwich there every workday. It's fun to waltz through old memories. Unless you're an oldster like me, you don't realize how completely that old world has vanished. It's like it was literally replaced by a new reality.

Old memories, anyone?

June 23, 2012

About that Mars landing

I wrote about this just the other day. We've got an amazing Mars landing coming up this August. Here's a video that explains the ridiculously complicated landing procedure for the rover (which is named Curiosity). If this works, it will be a towering testament to the dedication and intelligence of NASA's engineers. (Hat tip to Jerry Coyne. I found the video on his blog this morning.)

You just don't know what to say

The Vatican has brought in the Fox News correspondent in Rome to help improve its communications strategy as it tries to cope with one of its most serious scandals in decades, The Associated Press learned Saturday.
Is that perfect, or what? The AP article ends with something that seems to be a slap in the Vatican's face:
The Vatican has been bedeviled by communications blunders ever since Pope Benedict XVI's 2005 election, and is currently dealing with a scandal over leaked documents. 
They have to be making fun of him, right? This comes right after a Vatican spokesman said all their problems were the work of the devil. Gotta be a jibe. Gotta.

Song update

Correction related to post below this one.

Hmmm. It seems there are public domain Xmas carols, after all. Quite religious, most of them, making them useless to me, but there are a few hopefuls in the list. There's light at the end of the tunnel, after all. The following info comes from easysonglicensing.com. I'm greatly relieved that I can use a few songs in the book.

Angels from the Realms of Glory
Angels We Have Heard on High
Auld Lang Syne
Away In a Manger
Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella
Deck the Halls
The First Noel
Gesu Bambino
God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen
Go Tell It on the Mountain
Good King Wenceslaus
Hark, the Herald Angels Sing\\
Here We Come A-Caroling
The Holly and the Ivy
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
I Saw Three Ships
In the Bleak Midwinter
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Jingle Bells
Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Joy to the World
O Christmas Tree
O Come All Ye Faithful
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night
The Twelve Days of Christmas
We Three Kings
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
What Child is This?
While Shepherds Watched

Lotsa jeebus in there. But at least I've got something to work with. Phew.

Xmas bummer

The other day, it occurred to me to wonder whether I could legally include lyrics from Xmas carols in my horror novel, Xmas Carol. They're all over the place in the book right now because I considered them to be in the public domain.

Well, I'm glad I looked into this before publishing the book. It seems you can't include song lyrics in a novel unless you pay exorbitant rates to the copyright holders. If you include lyrics in your novel without paying the title holders, lawyers will swoop down on you and sue you for a zillion dollars. Apparently, you can mention a song's title but not one word of the actual lyrics. Oy.

This strikes me as weird and unproductive. Yes, I know people wrote those songs and they deserve something for their work -- but you're not copying the song and playing it on your TV show; you're just giving the tune some free advertising. And you're certainly not competing with the songwriter in any way. You're not re-selling his song, in other words. (Though I could see how someone might think differently about this.)

But at the core is something deeper: we're talking about Xmas carols here. They're as American as apple pie and "The Star-Spangled Banner". We were weaned on these songs. They are us and we are them. For this reason, it seems ridiculous to say you can't quote the lyrics of an Xmas carol in a book.

Anyway, it's a major bummer. I used the lyrics well in the book. They added something essential by connecting readers' Xmas memories to the story. I hate to lose that. Sigh. Now I have a huge hole to fill. Song titles ain't gonna do it. Bummer.

June 22, 2012

Very important question

What upsets you more?

1. The return of madras; or

2. Baseball players who tie their shoelaces while standing up, without bending their knees.

If you know of something even more upsetting, feel free to suggest it in the comments.

Big science summer coming

Mars Science Laboratory
It looks like we're about to receive major news from the particle physics community. They've been looking for the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider for some time (and at other colliders) and the rumor mill says they've found it.

It's pretty cool. The basic idea is that all things have mass only because of their reaction with the Higgs field. Higgs bosons are literally everywhere, at every point in space. Some things pass right through the field, as if nothing's there. Like neutrinos. For this reason, they have no mass. Zillions of neutrinos shoot through the Earth all the time, as if it isn't there. But some stuff gets caught by the Higgs field, as if it's passing through glue. It slows those particles down, and we see this as mass. The more interaction you have with the Higgs field, the greater the mass.

For quite some time, physicists have assumed that this particle exists. It's literally built into the Standard Model, the physics set-up as we know it. So if it wasn't there, we'd be in for some turbulent times in the physics community. They'd have to find another answer to the question, "Why does anything have mass?" That's one of the reasons why this upcoming announcement is very exciting.

Add to this the late summer landing of the Mars Science Laboratory, the coolest rover we've ever sent to a planet, and you've got one huge science summer. According to Wikipedia, the MSL:
is scheduled to land in Gale Crater at about 05:31 UTC on August 6, 2012. The rover's objectives include searching for past or present life, studying the Martian climate, studying Martian geology, and collecting data for a future manned mission to Mars.
Mark that date on your calendar. I am really looking forward to this landing. It'll be dicey, relying on a complicated technique we've never tried before. I'm going to be a nervous wreck by the time it's safely on the surface of Mars. (Let us hope.)

Exciting science is on the way. Woot!

June 21, 2012

Bishops' confused morals take center stage

Y'all know about the Fortnight for Freedom, right? It's the sleight-of-hand introduced by the Catholic bishops group led by Cardinal Timmy Dolan. It has that freedom-ish name, and it's described as taking place "during liturgical feasts for martyred defenders of the faith". Oooh, it's freedom-ish and somehow connected to "martyred defenders". It sure must be important.

Of course, it's merely a Bright, Shiny Thing campaign designed by Dolan and the Vatican to take the wind out of Obama's sails -- because the Roman Catholic Church is the GOP. It is also NOM, the despicable organization whose only purpose is to harass gays.

Timmy tries hard to make the campaign sound plausible. Instead of revealing what it is -- a campaign against the president, against women and against gays -- Dolan describes it this way:
"In only the past few years, we've experienced rampant disregard for religious beliefs in this country," wrote New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in an e-book released for the "Fortnight" effort. Among the examples he cites are approval for embryonic stem cell research, legal justification for torturing prisoners and support for same-sex marriage
Timmy figures if he throws torture in there, no one will notice what he's really doing. This faux campaign is about denying contraception to women, about denying the rights of non-Catholic employees of the church, about deflecting attention from the priest child-abuse scandal and Timmy's own contribution to that scandal: paying off the priests who raped children, and it's about the church's intense, pathological hatred of gay people.

Fortnight for Freedom indeed. Note the GOP newspeak name for the campaign. I wonder why that is. Duh. The church is the GOP. Here's another excerpt:
"We can see that there is a loss here of a sense of truth and objective moral norms -- rules of conduct that apply always, to everyone, everywhere -- an infringement of religious liberty and an 'eclipse of the sense of God and of man,'" wrote Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
We've lost our moral norms, eh, Timmy? Ahem. Priest rapists. Have you forgotten about that, Timmy? The man does not own a mirror. But he doesn't go unchallenged in the article:
Opponents are unconvinced. "This bishops' project isn't about religious freedom — it's about privilege," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "They are asking for preferential treatment from the government, and if they are successful, it would undercut the rights of millions of Americans."
That's quite a church they've got there. I can't imagine why anyone remains Catholic.

June 20, 2012

A funny thing

I watched half of a movie the other day. It was called "Menno's Mind" and it was about a creepy big-brother future for our country. It's not a good movie but one thing in it made me laugh. There's this incredibly negative character who's running for president, and his campaign slogan is, "Until the Good Times Return".

I love it -- a slogan that lets you know the candidate has no intention of fixing anything. He's just going to preside over the bad times. The whole thing screamed "Romney" at me. He'd love a slogan like that.

We are definitely entering big brother times. All hail the drones!

How to pray on a baseball field

He couldn't do this in private?
Here are a few tips for new major league baseball players who may not understand the basics of praying on TV. It's an art, fella!

1. Be ostentatious! Sure, you could just stand there and pray silently -- but what good would that do? No one would know you're praying, and that would make your prayer worthless.

2. Use as many techniques as possible to drill your point home: kneel, make the sign of the cross, point at the sky. Do it all!

3. Never pray next to a praying, opposing player because this would make heads explode. This is strictly forbidden on TV. One violation of this bedrock rule and you'll be sent down to the minors for the entire season.

Now, go forth and pray, young baseball Christian soldiers. Your stupidity will ensure that your soul shoots shoots into heaven when you die. And that's what the game of baseball is all about.

And now for something completely different

The other day I wrote approvingly about Bill Keller's column on Catholics, nuns and the popey guy. Armando at Kos has a very different reaction. He sees Keller's column as a diss directed at progressive Catholics.

What's your take on this?

June 19, 2012

Off to the dentist

I'm not looking forward to a major dental procedure today. But on the other hand, I'm glad I can afford it.

How did dentistry get so expensive, and what idiot ensured that it wouldn't be covered by insurance? People have dental problems, just like they have heart problems. Why is one uninsured while the other isn't? I really don't get it.

(I often wonder how people survived before there was such a thing as dentists. I assume this is a big reason why people didn't used to live as long, way back when. Dental issues aren't minor.)

And what about people who can't afford to visit a dentist? Why has our "advanced country" ignored this entire area of human concern? It doesn't sound very "advanced" to me.

And now, off I go to meet the drill.

June 18, 2012

More fun stuff from the Vatican

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's number 2 accused the media on Monday of trying "to imitate Dan Brown" in their coverage of the VatiLeaks scandal and said the Roman Catholic Church's latest travails were part of the Devil's attempt to destabilize it
I love the Vatican. It's an endless source of mirth. And of course this brand of talk can come from only one source, the completely deranged "Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who ranks second only to Pope Benedict in the Vatican's hierarchy". Indeed. This guy is a major rightwing control freak, spewing ugly rhetoric wherever he goes -- and always with that Satan-lurking-in-the-shadows language. This guy lives in an alternate reality where the church never does anything wrong. It's Satan, don't you see?
"They (the journalists) continue to invent fairytales and repeat legends," he said.

Bertone branded as false the image of the Vatican as a place of intrigue and power struggles, saying: "The truth is that there is an attempt to sow division that comes from the Devil".
Even as he mouthed these complaints, a pesky secular reporter noted an inconvenient truth: the devil had nothing to do with it:
[A]n Italian reporter contested Bertone's portrayal of the media, telling him that the leaks scandal started with a letter in which an archbishop complained to the pope about corruption in the Vatican.
That's quite a church they've got there.

Of all things

I was surprised to see a good op-ed by Bill Keller at the NYT this morning. It's about the Roman Catholic church, Bill Donohue and American nuns. If this topic interests you, give it a read.

June 17, 2012

Popey guy can't say "celibacy"

The popey guy is spreading cheer in Ireland this weekend.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has told Irish Catholics it's a mystery why clergy abused children entrusted in their care and undermined believers' faith in an appalling way. 

Benedict said Irish joy over their long history of faith was "shaken in an appalling way" by revelations of clergy abuse. He said the abuse damaged the credibility of the church's message. He added it "remains" a mystery why priests abused this trust. 
I can't imagine why it happened, can you? You don't think it could have anything to do with the vow of celibacy, do you?! No, I thought not.

I'll bet the popey guy has a regular nightmare about celibacy. In the dream, he lets priests marry -- and 90% marry men.

More Roman Catholic hypocrisy

Nuns can tell right from wrong,
unlike the bishops.
This morning, I came across a story in HuffPo's religious section about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It vividly illustrates how anti-Obama and pro-GOP the USCCB is. Though the article focuses mostly on the bishops' poor compliance with new sex abuse procedures (i.e., they're doing absolutely nothing and continuing to protect the pedophile priests), it veers off at the end to talk about other matters.

Apparently there is a possibility that they'll issue a church proclamation about the economy -- something along the lines of "greed is not good". Unfortunately, such a statement would be seen as anti-GOP (because it is). And though the bishops are happy to knock Obama and his policies daily during this pre-election period -- they're terrified of doing anything that could be seen as opposing the Republicans. That would be "political". Sweet, huh?
A number of bishops -- reflecting the increasingly conservative slant of the USCCB -- raised concerns that such a document could be seen as implicitly criticizing Republican budget policies and could be seen as too political.
In the end, the bishops voted 171-26 to draft a message, tentatively titled "Catholic Reflections on Work, Poverty and a Broken Economy," and scheduled for debate and release a week after the November elections.
Anything that hurts Obama in the pre-election period is fine. But tread on the GOP? No way! These bishops are the most hypocritical creatures imaginable. To the church's final arbiters of morality, the words "truth" and "ethics" are without meaning. What craven creatures the lot of them are.

June 16, 2012

Johnny Cash video

This was apparently made just before he died. I'd never seen it before. Was Cash a Christian? I ask because of the imagery in the video. I'm afraid I don't know much about him. In any case, give this a listen. It's intense and affecting.

The ins and outs of writing

When you write a novel, there are a lot of new things to learn. You bump into problems you never thought about before and in the end, you have to learn new tricks. One of them concerns dialogue.

I think I write dialogue fairly well. It's easy for me to become someone else, so I find it simple to speak in a character's voice. My problem concerned the "he said" and "she replied" end of things. It took ages to get a handle on this. I would come to an understanding and I'd go through the whole book and change everything to suit my latest light-bulb moment. But then I'd have a different take on it and have to go through and change everything again. This happened many times until I ironed it out.

Along with this comes the "said Keith" and "Jimmy said" issue. If you say a character's name too often the text sounds clunky. There doesn't seem to be a hard and fast rule about this. It's just a matter of sound and feel. I think I've learned how to handle it but I'm also sure I'll produce better dialogue three years from now. What you're looking for as a writer, of course, is a way to present dialogue so the reader doesn't even notice she's reading. It has to flow without interruption. Those "said Keith" moments will cut into the flow if you don't keep an eye on them. Trust me on this: it's not the easiest thing to pull off. Try it some time.

Hey, I've got ten chapters done and they sound great. Only two more chapters to review and then it's time to publish Xmas Carol. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get to this point. Maybe one more week and it'll be done. Phew.

Prostitution is a very good thing

Auntie Christ
A guest post by Auntie Christ

There's nothing wrong with prostitution as long as no one is being coerced. Sex is good. Sex is positive. Sex is fun. And if you can make money from it, more power to you. Girls, take those pearls! You're pretty and you deserve it. (That goes for you too, boys!)

How is prostitution any different from people using their good looks to get ahead at the office? And what about politicians who are handsome but don't have even one brain cell in their head? They get elected anyway. Why is that? Prostitution, that's why. People want to give you things if you're attractive. It's the way life works.

Not everyone finds it repulsive to be handed a hundred-dollar bill in exchange for having sex. To prostitutes, it's a fair deal -- and johns agree. So please tell me why anyone who isn't directly involved in this transaction should have a say about it. They shouldn't. This is America, a place where you're supposed to be free to do what you want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

Prostitution is a deal, just like any any other deal we arrange in life. It's based on an agreement: services for pay. It's just like being a gardener or an accountant. You accept the deal and in this way, you find employment. And bully for you!

So why do some people come down so hard on prostitutes? I'll tell you why. They're jealous because no one will have sex with them for free, never mind pay them for it. It's sour grapes and nothing more.

In closing, let me give a shout-out to marriage, the traditional, long-standing prostitution agreement that is protected by law, society and the priests. I'll give you sex for life if you pay for me and the kids. It's a deal, just like any other.

I say "Go, my children. Have sex and prosper. And always remember that what you're doing is completely natural -- and Auntie Christ is on your side!"

June 15, 2012

Memories that stay with you

You know how some memories are burned into your mind, seemingly for no particular reason? I find this so odd. For instance, I remember a snowy day when I was about 16. I think of that day often, though there's nothing unusual about the memory. Still, it's always with me -- how the day felt, the wetness of the snowfall, and how things sounded. It's exciting, this memory, though I don't know why. It's imbued with significance -- seemingly for no reason.

This also applies to things people say. For some reason, I remember remarks that people made decades ago. And it's not that what they said was so striking or perceptive; some are downright boring remarks. But they stayed with me and I think of them often. There seems to be no rhyme or reason governing what remains in our minds, and what passes through, virtually unnoticed.

(Don't get me wrong. Some of the memories that stay with us forever are important. But it seems our brains store all sorts of things, including stuff that is meaningless.) 

Of course, I'm going to bring this around to writing. The odd thing is that these memories -- both significant and insignificant -- are finding a home in the novels I write. I'm not aware that I'm doing this as I write a scene. But later when I read it, I'll realize that I've recreated one of these fortified memories in the book. The look of a room, the feeling caused by an offhand remark, an odd phrasing someone once used -- all these memories that stuck with me throughout my life are being released, one by one, into my novels. It's quite nice, actually. They finally found a good home.

Do you have strong memories of an event or a day that didn't seem to matter much when it happened, but nonetheless stayed with you all these years? It's such a quirky thing.

June 14, 2012

Editing a novel

In the early days of this blog, I wrote a lot about the process of writing fiction. How do you write a novel? How do you create a character? How do you write dialogue? What makes a scene work? If you click on the tag "writing process" below, you'll see those posts. The truth is that I've been learning how to write a novel as I wrote one. I find the same is true of editing.

At first, I edited the entire book from start to finish. This is a necessary process and it helps you to become familiar with the scope of your book. You get to see it in one fell swoop, in other words. But while this is definitely helpful, I found that no matter how many times I went through the book, I was still changing things. This gets to you after the 40th pass through the book. It really does.

Right now, I'm completing the final stage of editing my horror novel, Xmas Carol. (Yes, I'm still editing the book; what can I say? It needs it.) I'm doing the editing differently now. What I do is edit a chapter -- and immediately edit it again, and then again, and again. I do this until I'm completely satisfied with the chapter. Then I mark that chapter done and move on to the next. This seems to be working in a way that whole-book editing never did. I'm now happy with the first nine chapters of the book. It's only got 12 chapters, so I'm almost there.

I'm not sure how other fiction writers handle the editing process but this seems to be the way I do it. I'd love to hear from other writers. How did you edit your book?

As for regular readers who are dying to get their hands on Xmas Carol, I promise the book will be out by July. I swear. I'm almost there. Woot!

June 13, 2012

And if there was any question about it...

The title of this AP article is literally: "Pope's Rep Applauds Bishops' Fight with Government". How much clearer can it get? The popey guy and the bishops are Republicans.
ATLANTA (AP) — The pope's U.S. ambassador praised American bishops Wednesday for confronting the government over religious liberty issues, including resisting the mandate from President Barack Obama's administration that health insurance cover birth control. 
But critics have said that the lawsuits appear politically partisan, especially during a presidential election.
"Most bishops don't want to be the Republican party at prayer, but their alarmist rhetoric and consistent antagonism toward the Obama administration often covey that impression," said John Gehring, of the liberal advocacy group Faith in Public Life. 
The bishops have dismissed the suggestion of any partisan intent.
Well, that takes care of it. Nothing to see here. Move along. 

Funny stuff from the rightwing Catholic church

I roared with laughter as I read this story in the LA Times this morning. Let's dive right in.
Led by the indomitable Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the bishops are arriving in Atlanta for their annual spring meeting this week determined to throw the spotlight on what they perceive as an assault by the Obama administration on religious liberty.
Surely that statement is not political in any sense of the term. Heaven forfend. Going against one of the presidential candidates in an election year has absolutely nothing to do with politics.
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore insisted to the National Catholic Reporter last week that there was nothing partisan about the church's campaign. "We're not trying to throw an election," he said. "We're simply trying to defend fundamental freedoms."

In doing so, however, the bishops have used unusually strong language. Dolan said the White House was "strangling" the church. The bishop of Peoria, Ill., compared what Obama had done to the treatment of churches by Hitler and Stalin.
Nah, not political at all. What could make anyone say that?
In addition to the Fortnight observance, the bishops also are using their pulpits to let the Catholic faithful know that they believe the administration has crossed a line. Dolan has even written a brief e-book, scheduled for publication later this month, in which he lays out an intellectual argument for "the Gospel of life."
We'll sure want to read that, huh?
McGuire [of the Catholic Association] defends the bishops from charges of partisanship, saying: "I don't think the bishops are trying to influence the campaign.... I mean, the bishops are not going to get behind one political candidate or another. They never have and never will." 
Surely not. And let's remember this is all (allegedly) about contraception. And as we learned yesterday:
Less than a quarter of U.S. Catholics attend Mass every week. Most reject church teaching on artificial contraception and a majority support same-sex relationships. About one-third of Americans who were raised Catholic have left the church, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
That's quite a church they've got there. It is hypocrisy writ large (and wearing big, silly hats).

June 12, 2012

News sources dry up. Scary stuff.

Without news, what would Jon make fun of?
I read an article recently (no link, sorry) about how local TV news has become homogenous. In the old days, the news shows would try to outdo one another by coming up with the hot stories. They actually investigated things. Not anymore.

The article said there is a central source that feeds the stories to a city's news shows. They -- the central source -- determine what stories will air, how they'll be told, and what visuals they'll include. Then the stations take this home, insert their own reporters into the feed, and regurgitate the exact same stories on every news station.

This didn't come as a surprise to me. I've long noted that NYC's three main news stations presented identical stories, in the same order, and often using the same video footage. In my mind, the newsrooms were all in one building, on one floor. They met in the morning, where they were handed the stories, and then presented them on their own stations as "unique". The subsidiary stations (in NYC, 5, 9 and 11, as opposed to the "main" stations, 2, 4 and 7) are really offshoots of the main stations. You'll see a different "anchor" and the same stories -- but on these stations, the stories are often a day old. (I assume this is a sort of contractual hobbling of the secondary stations.)

This is not healthy for our democracy. And the fact that most papers are about to fold, probably within five years, max, is another ominous sign for our country. Already, we have AP providing a unified news source from which the papers and electronic media feed. Take away the papers and there will be less profit for AP (Reuters doesn't count; let's face it), which will mean less resources within AP.

No matter how you look at it, we will soon be fed through one news source. And whoever controls that source, controls us. These are interesting times.

Catholics pay no attention to bishops or popey guy

Less than a quarter of U.S. Catholics attend Mass every week. Most reject church teaching on artificial contraception and a majority support same-sex relationships. About one-third of Americans who were raised Catholic have left the church, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 
That's for openers in this NYT story. The church is going down.

June 11, 2012

So he does have a brain in his head

Clemens leaned forward at the podium and declared to the judge in a deep voice with a Texas twang: "Yes sir, I am not testifying.
Lordy, can you imagine if he did?

The cognitive dissonance of the Vatican

So the popey guy is trying to rein in the troops after the "sanctity" of his trust in his personal assistant took a shot to the chin. I swear, this pope has no clue how his words sound to the world.
Benedict gave a pep talk of sorts to a group of prelates preparing to serve the Holy See abroad in diplomatic posts, telling them that their work "should make you grow in closeness to the pope, a closeness marked by interior trust." 
Hmmm, "interior trust". Would that be what those Catholic kids had just before they were raped by priests? It's amazing how differently the Vatican treats violations of trust, according to who was violated. The popey guy tells us he feels terribly hurt by the violation of trust that occurred when his papers were stolen. How does he think those kids feel? Seriously, do you think the Vatican held even one meeting to discuss the terrible violation these kids suffered, and how they might help them heal? I guarantee this never happened. If it had, we'd see changes -- and we don't.

But the popey guy is taking the violation of his sanctity very seriously:
A three-cardinal commission is investigating the leaks alongside Vatican police. 
One wonders if a similar panel was set up to look into what happened to the children raped by priests. I suspect not. That was only about the violation of the kids' trust. This time it's about the popey guy being violated. Big difference, to them. Another excerpt:
The leaks scandal has convulsed the Vatican for months, exposing episodes of political infighting, intrigue and accusations of corruption and homosexual liaisons going on under the watch of the 85-year-old Benedict.
Jeez. Just think: gay sex in the palace of the popey guy who attacks gays all over the world. I say it all the time: that's some church they've got there. Jeez.

June 10, 2012

Religion and illusions

We often hear that believers rely on god for "strength" when they find themselves in adverse situations. Jesus, according to these followers, helps them through difficult times. I'd like to suggest a natural reason for this.

First, an example from real life. Most bodybuilders know that if you're bench-pressing a lot of weight, and you imagine that someone is grabbing the bar to help you lift it -- it gets easier! It's literally like someone is helping you out. You gain strength!

This is a result of the placebo effect. Humans who believe they're taking a pill that will help their condition, actually do feel better. It's as if they give the fake drug a power that it doesn't really have. People are complete rubes when it comes to the placebo effect. We fall for it all the time.

It's the same with religion. If you believe Jesus is giving you strength, you'll probably feel stronger. But it's all in your mind. It's a human capability, this odd way of obtaining help from nowhere. But it's not real.

God does not exist. And any "help" we receive from "Him" is fake.

June 9, 2012

Why was this necessary?

I'm wildly irritated by something the police in Putnam County did. When a local family was killed in a fire, the son survived. His mother, father and two sisters died in the blaze. Turns out the fire was accidental.

So why did the police feel the need to hold a press conference to say that ashes from the surviving 20-year-old son's cigarette set the house on fire and killed his family? Why? The kid is already devastated. When they revealed this information to the public, they added significantly to the burden this young man has to carry for the rest of his life. I have no problem with the police telling him the truth in private, which they did. But why did the public need to know this? Now everyone thinks the fire was his "fault". It was an accident. From the story:
“He’ll count on the support of his family,” she said. “He’ll count on his faith. He’ll count on the support of the community.”
Well, he certainly can't count on society, which let him down big-time. Holding this press conference was a heinous, unreasonable action. There was no need to say anything beyond, "the fire was accidental; there was no criminality involved."

Our society has become so vicious and vindictive that I don't recognize it anymore. America used to mean something.

No more Winters? Hardly.

Just when you thought it was safe to toss your snow-blower in the trash, scientists say not so fast:
"A lot of times people say, 'Wait a second, which is it going to be -- more snow or more warming?' Well, it depends on a lot of factors, and I guess this was a really good winter demonstrating that," Greene said. "What we can expect, however, is the Arctic wildcard stacking the deck in favor of more severe winter outbreaks in the future."
Good. Well, not if it produces snows that bury entire houses. They're talking about Snowmageddon when they say "severe winter outbreaks". But I'd appreciate a snowfall or two with my Winter, thank you. This gives me hope.

June 8, 2012

Creationist lunacy

Both PZ and Jerry Coyne focused on one particular intelligent-design fool's remarks today. I want to excerpt something the creationist idiot said. Here's the quote:
Is the process of eating and cellular respiration the result of a mere fluke of evolution? Alternatively, could it be that a common Designer made certain that the process of eating and cellular respiration would function in such a precise and perfect manner? Which answer appears to be the most probable to you?
Yes, indeed. Jeebus sure did make everything convenient for us, didn't he? I mean, if you think about it, he's the one who's responsible for ensuring that children who are buried under an earthquake -- but still alive -- have the awareness to know that rats are eating them as they die. And come to think of it, it must be this Jeebus fellow who made pain so painful. Wow, he was really watching out for us with that one, huh? Thankfully, because of Jeebus' "precise and perfect" ministrations, many people live in intense, unbearable and constant pain throughout their lives. Jeebus must be one swell guy. 

I swear, these creationists haven't got a single brain cell in their heads. They can't think clearly about anything.

June 7, 2012

Such an unlikely story

I watch the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. It seems the most realistic of the network news shows, not that any are good. Anyway, they have a regular Americana segment called "On the Road with Steve Hartman". Schmaltz galore. 

But the segment this week was amazing. Do watch it if you have the time. (It's about four or five minutes.) What happened to this woman is the most unlikely epiphany you've ever heard or thought about. My mouth hung open as the story unfolded on the show last night. If you watch the segment, I guarantee you'll shake your head and say, "This can't be true." But it is.

And of course, being schmaltz, it's heartwarming. Go watch.

Timmy Dolan is rip-roaring mad

Guess who?
You already know about Cardinal Dolan paying off the rapist priests, and the brouhaha this caused when it was reported in the NY Times. Yesterday the NY Post printed Dolan's rebuttal, such as it is. Timmy waved his hands in the air and tried to confuse the issue by focusing not on what the church should or shouldn't have done, but on whether the payments (some as high as $20,000) were "charity" or "payoffs".

In discussing Dolan's response, Ed Brayton says it plain and clear:
The real question here is not whether those payments were payoffs or charity; the real question is why the church chose this route rather than turning any information they had over to the police. We know why they didn’t — because the current pope, when he was a cardinal, explicitly ordered them not to do so. And that’s the real problem.
It all comes back to the popey guy. No wonder they don't want to talk about it. If they spoke honestly about the scandal, it would bring the popey guy down in flames. That's quite a church they've got there, where the main culprit is their supreme leader. It speaks volumes about the Roman Catholic church.

Krugman this morning

Paul Krugman is my hero. He says stunning things in such a simple way. No one else is as clear. I liked a phrase in his blog post this morning:
"[T]hese are times of madness, dressed in good suits."
He's got at least one zinger every day. It's a treat to read him. Now, if only the world was listening. 

A nice description of religion

Last night as I was watching baseball, a sentence popped into my mind:
Religion is a magic fence around nothing.
Short and sweet. I like it!

June 6, 2012

This moment in America

I admire rational bloggers who write on a daily basis about the times we're living through. I can only do that occasionally. There is so little sense in American life right now. My question is always, "How can I pick one thing to rail against?" I can't because everything is so stupid in our country.

I write regularly about the Roman Catholic church not because it's so evil -- which it is -- but because it has chosen to attack me and every other gay person in the world. It's like when your country is bombed: you have to fight back. But other than this one defense measure, I can't write about society very often. It's just too damned stupid.

Here's a task for you: think of a person who is fighting for world peace. Go ahead, I'll give you a moment... Can't come up with one, can you? That's because no one is doing this. How weird is that? Nor is any candidate running for office on a platform of truth. We don't do truth in this country anymore. Instead, we've opted to accept anything that is flung at us, as long as we can keep on eating all the donuts we want.

Just look at the nonsense that surrounds us. There are people fighting for (and passing) laws against Sharia -- which doesn't exist in this country except in the hearts of the Christian American Taliban who are the very people pushing for these amendments. Or listen to the fools who say you can't have gay marriage because it -- duh -- somehow magically affects the "sanctity" of straight marriage. When there is no logic in an argument, there is no way to refute it. These people can't think.

Americans don't have real choices anymore. Shall we choose the empty suit for our next president so he can give all our money away to his friends? Or should we stick with the Nobel Prize-winning torturer/murderer/drone killer president that we have? These are the sorts of wooden choices available to Americans-- and none leads to the exit. We're stuck here.

These are scary, awful times. People can't tell right from wrong and half of all Americans believe a sky god created humans within the last 10,000 years. Without evolution! How can you work with a populace like that?

That's why I can't see blogging on a daily basis about serious issues. To me, it would be like beating my head against a brick wall, daily. Instead, I spend my time writing subversive fiction. I want to affect this stupid world of ours and I think writing is my way to do this. Without the ability to write novels, I'd give up.

We all have to do something to fight the coming Dark Ages. Because make no mistake about it, that's what we're heading into. So what are you doing to make this a more sensible world?

June 5, 2012

Report from the pond

Click for larger.
Three mated pairs of geese from our local pond produced chicks this Spring. Milo, the leader of the flock, is one of the lucky fathers.

This year the brood totals were high. One couple had five chicks, another six, and the third had 11! These are larger broods than they typically produce. I suspect this is because they didn't have to migrate this year, what with winter never arriving. Without that grueling, life-or-death flight, they had a ton of energy left over for making babies.

The sad thing is that the clutch of 11 chicks is down to eight now, and the group of six is down to four. There's been a lot of predation out there this year. With foxes, coyotes, hawks and crows on the prowl, it's difficult to raise a family in the wild, especially when nature doesn't give you weapons to fight with. Let's face it: geese are not scary.

The adults bring the chicks over to me to let them know that I'm a good guy. I love hanging out with them. The babies that survived appear very strong. I think there will be no more disappearing of chicks this year. This has been your report from the pond. Treasure it.

June 4, 2012

Translation widget

I added a translation widget to the blog. That's it at top left. So far I've only been able to add it to the web version of the blog, which is weird since Blogger said it could only be added to the mobile version. It did just the opposite. Anyway, if you're on the web version of this blog, now you can read it in many different languages. I played around with it and it was fun to see my posts in Bulgarian, French and Russian. They look so odd!

If you speak a language other than English as your primary language, give it a try. And let me know how it goes. I'm particularly intrigued by the idea that it will have to translate "popey guy" into other languages. I can just imagine what it'll do with that. Fun!

Speaking of the popey guy, this blog is way too focused on Roman Catholic nonsense lately. I'm going to try to ignore the evil church for a while, and write posts about other things. Sounds refreshing.

Like I told you

No religion, too.
An excerpt from the popey guy's tour promoting "families" appears in a story headlined, Pope looks forward to families meeting in Philly:
Chaput, who heads the five-county archdiocese that has about 1.5 million Catholics, also said the visit would highlight the importance of the family, which he said "is founded on a deep and loving union between one man and one woman for mutual support and the nurturing of children" and is "the basic evangelizing unit of the Church." 
It ain't got nuthin' to do with families. The families who flock to these events are pawns in the pope's campaign to destroy the lives of gay men, lesbians and transgendered people everywhere in the world.

There is no rational reason for the church to oppose gays. None at all. Whenever you see a priest, ask him why the church attacks gays. Everyone should do this, all day long, every day. They can offer no answer, only mumbles and senseless words. This is a campaign of hatred. Call it what it is, and do so to their faces. They should not be allowed to get away with this.

Note that the NY Times story about the pope's "family tour" ends with this:
The announcement of the papal visit comes as jurors are deliberating in the landmark trial of a former Roman Catholic church official charged with conspiring to hide priest-abuse complaints and endangering children by keeping predators in ministry. 

Monsignor William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy, is the first U.S. church official charged for his handling of child sex-abuse complaints. He said he tried to get the Philadelphia archdiocese to address the problem, only to be rebuffed by his archbishop, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. Prosecutors maintain that Lynn could have quit or called police.
They can't hide what they are anymore. Those days are a distant memory.

June 3, 2012

Best atheist song

Someone finally remastered "Dear God" by XTC. It's still not great but the original was very poor quality. This is much better. It's one of my favorite songs.

Nuns don't sit still for Vatican trashing

Sister Christine Schenk.
I'm sure readers of this blog are aware that the Vatican attacked American nuns with unusual, public viciousness a few weeks ago. "Radical feminist agenda" indeed. American Catholics aren't pleased about this development -- and the nuns aren't taking it lying down. Two days ago, they responded.

Let's take this from the top. The boys club that is the Roman Catholic church is upset that American nuns won't echo the Vatican's hateful teachings about gay people and women. You must engage in the Vatican's hate campaigns in order to be an official Catholic these days. That is the Vatican's message.

But it's basically a man vs. woman thing. This male-only church hates women. And the very idea that American nuns question this antipathy drives them wild. So what is the Vatican going to do? Put a man on the case, of course.
Archbishop Sartain was assigned by the Vatican to spend five years revising the statutes of the sisters’ organization, vetting their speakers and publications, and making sure their events featured the eucharist, which can be administered only by a priest.
I love that. With this bit of prestidigitation, the nuns must include a bigoted male priest in all their activities. I roared laughing when I read about this. As Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of futurechurch, put it:
“Here you see women, very competent, highly educated, doctorates in theology, masters in ministry, C.E.O.’s of hospitals, heads of school systems, being treated as if they were children,” she said. “That in itself goes to the issue of where are the women in the decision-making structures in Rome.”
Indeed. This won't fly in America. Won't fly at all. The popey guy really stepped in it this time.
In Cleveland on Wednesday night, about 650 people, including laypeople, about 100 nuns and a handful of priests in their Roman collars, gathered for a prayer service inside a Catholic church to honor the nuns. When the nuns were asked to stand for a blessing, the congregation responded with a spontaneous standing ovation that lasted nearly five minutes, said several people who attended. 
And that's the way it's going to go in this country. Popey guy: no; nuns: yes!
PS: Even I like nuns.

June 2, 2012

Must-read post

Digby's got a great post about the church. You really have to read this one.

Wow. Just wow.

As the church goes down the toilet...

The popey guy.
Pope Benedict XVI praised the performance of Beethoven's Ninth symphony on Friday evening at Milan's La Scala theater as "a moment of elevation of the soul."
This is one holy guy, let me tell you. Here's a tidbit directly from his holy mouth:
Pope Benedict XVI praised the performance of Beethoven's Ninth symphony on Friday evening at Milan's La Scala theater as "a moment of elevation of the soul."
And he would know. C'mon, admit it -- you feel uplifted. He's such a spiritual popey guy. Meanwhile, behind the scenes:
Benedict's three-day trip to Milan for events focusing on the institution of the family is a welcome pastoral respite from an embarrassing and damaging leaks scandal at the Vatican that has engulfed the pontiff's personal butler.
The code words in bold tell us that he's on his usual hateful mission. When the church mentions the "institution of family", they're not talking about supporting anyone's family. What they mean is "let's make sure we deny gays the right to form families." This is just another message of anti-gay hatred by the popey guy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the pope is a closet case. He lashes out at gays because he hates himself. It's a good thing there is no god because this popey guy would be smote and sent to hell for all eternity.

June 1, 2012

Timmy Dolan pays huge bonus to abusive priests

It's a wonderful story. Dolan pays off pedophile priests, lies about it and then won't talk about it. He's quite the Cardinal, isn't he? Makes you wonder about those rumors that he'll be the popey guy one day. It must be true. He's showing all the right colors.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee. .
Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”
But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.
That's the paying and the lying. Here's the hiding:
Cardinal Dolan, who is president of the national bishops’ conference and fast becoming the nation’s most high-profile Roman Catholic cleric, did not respond to several requests for comment. 
He's always ready to show us the true nature of Catholic morality. He attacks gays, attacks women, attacks nuns -- and then turns around and pays a bonus to priests who rape kids. Thanks, Cardinal Timmy! Now we really know how to get to heaven!

Mayor Mikey Jackboots

So mayor Mikey Bloomberg wants super-sized sodas off the menu. Because he cares about people so much. Uh-huh. And then he sends his troops out nightly to scour the city for young people of color to harass and intimidate.

I swear this frisking of young people, based totally on race, drives me wild. And he doesn't even see anything wrong with it. When questioned about it, he says, "It's working." The man doesn't get it. He is blind to the existence of other people. To Mikey, there's only him and his rich friends living on this Earth.

Perhaps this will wake him up a bit. This practice has to end immediately.

That incredible time

Booman posted a great excerpt from Hunter Thompson today. It's about the 1960s and what it was like to be young back then. You have to read it.