Tuesday, January 31, 2006

But He Has A Great Personality

Hey mom, your blind date is here!

It's weird to think of this, but as a parent I wonder if this guy was ever a cute little kid whose parents looked upon his sleeping face and wondered how they could be so lucky. Did they ever put their lips to his his forehead to see if he was feverish? Did they ever marvel at how big his feet were getting, did they even notice? Did they read to him? I tell myself probably not, but who can say?

Lez Zeppelin

There seems to be an all girl band covering Led Zeppelin tunes - Lez Zeppelin. How cleverly provocative. Apparently there are others, The Ramonas, Cheap Chick and AC/DSHE. Maybe there can be an all boy band with a vaguely homosexual name too, something like Queen or Boys II Men. Or better yet, an all boy band that covers lame 80's songs called the Dingles or something like that.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Lebowsky Fest 2006

What exactly is Lebowski Fest?
Lebowski Fest is a bowling event celebrating all things relating to the Coen Brothers 1998 film, The Big Lebowski. It can be likened to a Star Trek convention in a very loose sense. The event takes place at a bowling alley and includes unlimited bowling, costume , trivia, farthest traveled, and bowling contests, prizes, and what-have-you. The friend of the Coen Brothers who inspired the main character played by Jeff Bridges, Jeff "The Dude" Dowd has been known to make an appearance and drink some White Russians. The 1st annual occurred in Fall of 2002 in Louisville, Kentucky and the 2nd annual took place in July 2003. We then headed way out west to Las Vegas for Lebowski Fest West in Feb., 2004. The 3rd Annual Lebowski Fest in June of 2004 brought over 4000 Achievers and included an outdoor concert with My Morning Jacket. Lebowski Fest New York was held in Aug. 2004. Lebowski Fest hit a milestone in LA when Jeff Bridges came out!


Who's up for it?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Naomi Wolf Discovers Jesus

Before Dexter accuses me of laziness, let me admit right up front I happened upon this story at A&L Daily, it's not like I go searching for fresh piles to step into.
With that said let me explain why I feel this story is note worthy. I never doubted the existence of God, nor have I ever doubted a word of the Nicean Creed. I have doubted my ability to walk the talk, but that's a whole other story. So why would I care if uber feminist Naomi Wolf jumps on the Christian bus? I don't really, God bless and keep her, but it's kind of disconcerting in this way. Imagine your a middle aged Rabbi who has studied the Torah with your whole heart and soul ever since you could read. Then one day at Temple, there's this big commotion. It seems that Ashton and Demi have taken up Kabbalah and there they are with their entourage and solid hydrogen gravitas crowding up the temple of the Lord of Hosts. Kind of makes you feel stupid doesn't it?
Maybe that's not fair. If this is a Saul - Saint Paul conversion, I owe someone an apology. But I think it's more of a "Bob Dylan, I've tried everything else why don't I give this Christ thing a try" conversion. I hope not. Let me share with you, Naomi, the one thing I have learned. Which I think is particularly important for you to learn as well. It's not about you.

Happy Birthday Anton Chekov

Anton Chekov (1860-1904) was born in Taganrog, Crimea, Russia on January 29, 1860.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Missing Link Found!

Nikolay Valuev the Ukrainian boxer, 7 feet tall 323 pounds. The term "manscaping" springs to mind.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Flipper's Calls For Filibuster

John Kerry has called for filibuster in opposition to the appointment of Samual Alito for SCOTUS. It's worth noting that Flipper had voted for Alito in the past, so I guess he has to vote against him now or the universe would fall into chaos if Flipper held a constant position for more than three years in a row. Please, please put this man in front of every camera in the free world as the face of the democratic party. I can only hope the Dem's nominate this statesman again in 2008, preferably against a McCain/Rice republican ticket.


Coffee is one of those things, like fly fishing, that I love everything about. The taste, the ceremony, the effects and most of all the aroma. The smell of coffee is one of the best smells I can remember.
At home we use a French press, which I think is about the easiest and best way to make coffee. We haven't roasted our own beans yet but I plan to, expect to hear about it happens.
I am somewhat of a coffee snob in that I prefer dark, full bodied coffees and consider instant coffee a privation of war. With that said I will drink pretty much any coffee except Dunkin Donuts coffee, which I think tastes like boiled Styrofoam. In West Hartford center there are several places to get coffee: 59ers, Xando, a couple of bagel shops, several fine restaurants and of course the ubiquitous Starbucks. People toss all sorts of pointy things at Starbucks' coconut, some justified, some not. You can hang out there read, drink and look at fauxbos and ladies from Avon struggle with their overcomplicated drink orders, which is always amusing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Are You A Heretic?

Take the quiz. No guarantees of actual orthodoxy implied.

Here are my results:
You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Nice Guy Eddie Sleeps With The Fishes

Actor Chris Penn has died, he was 40.

Barry Bonds

How many Barry Bonds does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but the earth has to revolve around him.


The Sphinx Moth

This moth was flying around Trout Lake Washington, everyone thought it was a hummingbird at first. I'm pretty sure this a Great Ash Sphinx, but how the heck would I know?


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Roe Vs. Wade 33 Years Later

I oppose abortion in all but the most extreme cases. My opposition is not based on religious conviction, although I do believe we will all be held accountable for our actions, but rather I view life as the original human right from which all others flow.
The question is rather elemental, on one hand you have an adult woman who has every right to do what she pleases with her body, on the other you have a voiceless person who ostensibly would desire not be torn apart at the covalent level by saline solution. Two people, two ends, to whom should we listen? Sadly the voiceless unborn person is just that, voiceless. The humanity of the unborn is denied, their pain minimized while the rest of humanity both pro and con has their say. There have been roughly 48 million people aborted in the U.S. since Roe Vs. Wade 33 years ago. That's the combined population of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. If the unborn had these state's congressional delegations they would have eight senators and 75 congressmen. What percentage of these representatives would be pro life? (I could have been a weasel and given the unborn 20 senators, so don't get too picky with my math.)
Those who support abortion must either deny the humanity of the child or minimize it. Both tactics have been used before, most notably by those who would preserve slavery in the 1860s. It was intellectually dishonest then and it's morally specious now. Some of these same people oppose the death penalty, claiming that one should judge a society by how it treats it's least desirable citizen. True. True for the condemned murderer and true his or her unborn child. Why is that so hard to see?
I don't expect my opinion here to change anyone else's opinion and my aim is not to poke at the splinter in your eye while blinded by the log in mine. But I would ask you to consider what value any of us have if the unborn have none and women are put in a position that abortion could ever seem like a solution? Who does abortion serve, women, children? No, it serves the interest of men who would rather not face responsibility for their actions. I would argue that ten years after the abortion, while the woman looks at her six year old daughter playing, she still thinks about what could have been. The guy ten years later probably never gives it a second thought.

"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1873

Friday, January 20, 2006

Teen In Trouble From Internet Tea

A Florida teenager may need a pacemaker after drinking a tea he made from leaves or flowers of an Angel's Trumpet plant. The crazy part is that he found the recipe for the tea on the internet. The internet! If you can't trust the internet for hallucinogenic recipes who can you trust? As a parent I am horrified by this story and feel for the parents of this kid. I hope that he recovers fully so that they can beat him to within an inch of his life for being such a dumb ass and then ground him until he's thirty. How can you prevent your kids from brewing the local flora or licking the local fauna? His parents may have even been encouraged to see him take an interest in something as genteel as an Angel's Trumpet flower thinking that no kid who liked flowers could go far wrong.

Global Warming Bad For Blacks

One would think that with all the problems the black community faces, one needn't get creative to find new ones. Well think again. Apparently global warming could spell disaster for blacks, at least according to Bruce Britt. That's right GWB's pet project, global warming, is the newest threat to a community besieged by lack of opportunity, employment, education, health care, safe affordable housing etc.
There is no doubt that the mean temperature of the earths atmosphere is increasing, why this is so is far from certain. It seems to me that singling out a given group as being particularly at risk can only be a political rather than scientific exercise and therefore helpful to no one. I would argue further that in the black community a 10% increase in high school graduation, a 10% reduction in unemployment, a 10% increase in two parent homes, 10% decrease in smoking and high blood pressure and a 10% reduction in violent crime are all at once attainable and infinitely more beneficial to blacks than any reduction of global warming.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stop The Presses Theo's Back

Theo Epstein is coming back to the Sox. Great news, let's build a World Series champion team, pitchers and catchers report in 28 days.

New Blog - Anathemata

My friend Tim has a new blog http://theanathemata.blogspot.com/, check it out.

Osama Speaks

"We do not mind offering you a long-term truce with fair conditions that we adhere to," he said. "We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America."

Interesting. I wonder if France could negotiate some favorable terms for us, they seem to be the world leader in this sort of thing?
A better plan would to destroy utterly this enemy and sow their fields with salt.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

American Idol

I just watched American Idol for the first time. Does it mean that I'm a bad person when I enjoy the crappiest acts the most? My God, there are some delusional people in the world.

Got KI?

I hope that Niall Ferguson is wrong, but I fear that he may be onto something. There is a showdown coming with Iran and since the U.S. and Israel are the only countries that seem to give a fig about it, the danger is that our enemies will view us weakened and spread thin and take this opportunity to reshuffle the world order.

The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.

Niall Ferguson


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

George Orwell's Shooting An Elephant

This has always been one of my favorite essays. I've always had a great affection for elephants and the death of this creature is nothing short of tragic.

I had halted on the road. As soon as I saw the elephant I knew with perfect certainty that I ought not to shoot him. It is a serious matter to shoot a working elephant--it is comparable to destroying a huge and costly piece of machinery--and obviously one ought not to do it if it can possibly be avoided. And at that distance, peacefully eating, the elephant looked no more dangerous than a cow. I thought then and I think now that his attack of "must" was already passing off; in which case he would merely wander harmlessly about until the mahout came back and caught him. Moreover, I did not in the least want to shoot him. I decided that I would watch him for a little while to make sure that he did not turn savage again, and then go home.

Ray Nagin Open Mouth - Insert Foot

What a dumbass. It's bad enough that he's an irresponsible, finger pointing jerk weed and a piss poor mayor, but now he speculates that The Big Sleazy was destroyed due to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. If only that was the only goofy thing he believes:

On Monday, Nagin said God wanted New Orleans to be predominantly black and said he didn't care what the predominantly white Uptown section of the city had to say about it.
"I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day," he said. "This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be."
After the statement, he insisted he wasn't being divisive.


God wants New Orleans to predominantly African American? I must have been sick that day in Sunday School, the day when one learned that God looked at the color of your skin as opposed to the content of your character. (See the previous post.) Here is a newsflash Nagin: Blanche Dubois isn't the only one who depends on the kindness of strangers. Last I checked there was some debate whether or not to rebuild New Orleans at all, and this sort of intemperate talk does not help your cause.

Monday, January 16, 2006

MLK Letter From A Birmingham Jail

I had a rhetoric book in college that cited portions of MLK's letter from a Birmingham jail as an example of effective rhetoric, which indeed it is. Read it and you will see that the letter's real power comes from it's truth rather than it's rhetorical brilliance - in any argument it helps to be right.
Some on the left have tried to canonize Martin Luther King, Jr. while watering down his message, others on the right have tried to marginalize his legacy by pointing out his moral lapses . The truth, as I see it, is that he was a good but imperfect man who was killed far too soon. He was correct in most things he said and I often wonder where our country would be today in terms of race relations had MLK lived.
If the promise of America is equal protection under the law, the dream of MLK was to be judged by the content of ones character, if only we were to perfectly realize those two ideals. By any rational assessment we have improved greatly but there is still much to be done.

April 16, 1963
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here.
But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I. compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place In Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city's white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.
Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham's economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants --- for example, to remove the stores humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.
As in so many past experiences, our hopes bad been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves : "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" "Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?" We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic with with-drawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.
Then it occurred to us that Birmingham's mayoralty election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run-oat we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run-off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct-action program could be delayed no longer.
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.
One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant 'Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may won ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there fire two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the Brat to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distort the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I-it" relationship for an "I-thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression 'of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.
Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state's segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?
Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.
I hope you are able to ace the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws.
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.
I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "An Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this 'hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to 6e solid rock of human dignity.
You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At fist I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self-respect and a sense of "somebodiness" that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best-known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro's frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible "devil."
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the "do-nothingism" of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.
If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as "rabble-rousers" and "outside agitators" those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.
Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides-and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.
But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that an men are created equal ..." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we viii be. We we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime---the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jeans Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some-such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle---have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as "dirty nigger lovers." Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful "action" antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.
Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a non segregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.
But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who 'has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of Rio shall lengthen.
When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era; an too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.
In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.
I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: "Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother." In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Walleye gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?"
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators"' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Par from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it vi lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom, They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jai with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.
I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham, ham and all over the nation, because the goal of America k freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.
Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping "order" and "preventing violence." I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if .you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.
It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handing the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather "nonviolently" in pubic. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason."
I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face Jeering, and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: "My fleets is tired, but my soul is at rest." They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience' sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Never before have I written so long a letter. I'm afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he k alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?
If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Top Three Commercials Of All Time

1. Got Milk commercial with the Aaron Burr buff who has a mouth full of peanut butter and fails to win the radio contest.

2. The Minute Maid Orange Juice ad with Robert Loggia.
Sorry Can't find it, but Robert Loggia and orange juice, forget it.

3. The John West Salmon, crazy fisherman fights a bear for a salmon.

You Bet Your Sweet Aspercreme

When I first heard this commercial I wondered how long it would air before somebody got their shorts in a knot over it. Well apparently somebody did because now they say "You bet IF IT'S Aspercreme".
Normally being an uptight republican type, I might applaud the removal of a somewhat impolite ad, but I kinda thought this one was funny. Plus it's completely deniable, as in "Whatever do you mean by 'you bet your sweet ass, we said nothing of the kind.'" With all the condom, penis pill and feminine hygiene adds why draw the line here?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Aunt Jemima Banned From Council Meetings

So far no comment from Mrs. Butterworth or Uncle Ben. A spokesman for Mr. Salty had this to say in a tersely worded press release "It's a sad day in America when a beloved breakfast icon can't speak her mind in a public forum." Mr. Peanut reached at his home in Plains GA, would not weigh in on the expulsion other than to say he was "deeply concerned and very saddened", or it could have been "very concerned and deeply saddened", either way you get the gist.

Holy Bit Shat!

I love bats partly because they're the only member of our class to fly unassisted by technology. (Please don't send in comments about flying frickin' squirrels, they fly slightly better than I do.) Among bats the Flying Fox is the coolest. A fruit eater with good eyesight, these are large bats with wing spans over 70 inches. They live in the daylight in tall trees in communities that can number in the hundreds of thousands. With their wings folded up you'd swear they were a fox, due to their pretty little faces like a fox and reddish brown fur. If I were a tiny little man about the size of the original G.I. Joe, I think it would be a blast to train one of these things, make a little bat saddle and fly around on it's back. No? Well I'm sure you've had a bizarre thought now and then too.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Speaking of Judges and Politics

A Vermont judge has stepped in it for a sentencing a convicted pedophile to only 60 days in prison. The slowest moving bandwagon in town is the "I hate crimes against children more than thou, therefore every pederast should be immediately stoned with pointy rocks express". Tempting, but I'm not gonna jump on it just yet. I think until all the facts are known, by all who would judge, that we should assume that this heretofore sensible and tough judge had his reasons for the light sentence. I'll go on record right now and say that I could be completely wrong, maybe the judge has gone soft or worse.
I think what this story demonstrates more than anything else is the politicians and pundits will often take the slowest moving band wagon. Other than ruining an honest civil servants career what's the downside of calling for the firing of this judge if you are wrong? You came out strong against pedophilia, a principled stand. It's polling through the roof. No one will remember the details next November.
With that said I'd like to hear the case for leniency, since there is a natural "shithammer perverts" constituency the judges explanation had better be dammed good.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Those Screechy Democrats

If Ted Kennedy, Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden interrogated the herpes virus one might root for herpes. What a bunch of preening, self important, pointy headed, pus filled windbags!
I'd love it if just once the SCOTUS nominee would ask Fat Teddy about his lapses in judgement, i.e. "Eso es una pregunta interesante sobre mi tiempo en Princeton senador Asno Gordo, ¿Por qué usted salió de Harvard?" But of course Kennedy has no idea what was just asked of him because he was tossed out of Harvard for cheating on a Spanish exam.
Barring a dead woman or live boy type of scandal I think the Alito appointment is a done deal. As it should be. No matter what you think of who appointed him or how Alito might decide on any given issue, the man is eminently qualified and has in my estimation a good judicial temperament. For those of you who think that the world is ending, console yourself that Hillary will appoint lots of lefty judges - if she gets elected.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Not From The Onion

My Senator and Me: A Dog's-Eye View of Washington, D.C. tells the story of Senator Kennedy and his dog, Champion Amigo's Seventh Wave (nicknamed "Splash" by his original owner) and a day in their life in the Senate. A Portuguese Water Dog, Splash is always at Senator Kennedy's side - in his office, at press conferences, in meetings at the Capitol and even right outside the Senate chamber. Told from Splash's point of view, this charming picture book not only takes readers through a full day in the Senator's life, but also explains how a bill becomes a law. My Senator and Me also includes biographies of Senator Kennedy and Splash.


You have got to be kidding me! Ted Kennedy with a Portuguese Water Dog named "Splash". What's next O.J. Simpson writes a book about his Sicilian Stabbing Hound named "Hack"?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bomb at Starbucks

Lame, lame, lame. Some trust fund terrorist decided to stick it to the man by putting a bomb in a San Francisco Starbucks bathroom. What a clueless poseur. The person most likely to be seriously impacted by this stunt is some poor schmo who had to whiz, or God forbid some parent changing a kid's diaper in the usually clean "corporate" rest room. Here's a tip Che Vaguera; if you want to change the world, teach an adult to read, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, bury the dead, visit the imprisoned or the sick, bear wrongs patiently, comfort the afflicted, forgive willingly and get a frickin clue. I'd bet both of my thumbs that whoever placed the bomb opposed both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. Bombs against corporate coffee but not against repressive regimes. Nice value system.

The Clash London Calling

Mice like cheese, cats like to chase mice and cold beer is nice on a hot day. This may be another controversial opinion but London Calling is very, very good album maybe one of the top five albums of all time. If you don't have it, go buy it. If you do have it, listen to it again and keep in mind that this album came out in 1979. If only everything aged so well. The Clash have been called a Punk band. I recognize the attitude but I never heard it. The Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks is punk to me, London Calling is so much more. The lyrics to "Death or Glory", optimistic weltschmerz:

Every cheap hood strikes a bargain with the world
And ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl
Love ’n’ hate tattooed across the knuckles of his hands
The hands that slap his kids around ’cause they don’t understand
How death or glory becomes just another story
How death or glory becomes just another story
’n’ every gimmick hungry yob digging gold from rock ’n’ roll
Grabs the mike to tell us he’ll die before he’s sold

How was I to know that I'd become a mortgage banker? In 1984 I thought I would move to LA to become a repo man and hang out with bunch of guys named after domestic beers, drive around in hooked cars and get in adventures. The Clash presciently warned me of my imminent domesticity. At least my sofa is comfortable.

Stethem Family Letter To President Bush

Date: January 8, 2006 4:15:57 PM PST
Mr. President, I would like to provide you with an explanation as to why Muhammed Ali Hammadi's recent release by Germany, and your Administration's lack of any attempt to prevent it, is so upsetting to our family and to Americans everywhere. I am not writing you out of grief or anger but out of a hope that his example will inspire you to follow act on your own words and the dictates of your conscious in this War on Terror.
Robert Dean Stethem was singled out, beaten beyond recognition and tortured in order to make him scream into a transmitter (so that the tower would send a fuel truck). Not a cry was heard to come from him, despite the brutal beating he endured. Instead he chose to remain silent and endure the beatings because he knew that the only way a rescue attempt could be conducted by U.S. forces was if the aircraft remained on the ground.
After Robert was beaten and tortured and bleeding from puncture wounds all over his body, he was placed next to a 16-year old Australian girl. As bad as Robert was beaten, he had the courage and strength to comfort and console her. He told her that, "She would be okay and that she would get out of here alive." When she tried to return the comfort, he said, "No, I don't think so. I am the only one in my group that is not married and some of the guys have children, too." Some time later, Robert was again taken up to the cockpit and tortured in order to get the fuel. But it didn't work, he would not give in to them.
One of the hijackers, Muhammed Ali Hammadi, was so enraged that he dragged Robert to the door, pulled a trigger and shot Robert in the head. Then he dumped Robert's body onto the tarmac. While Robert was being dragged to the door, he knew that all he had to do in order to live was to cry into that transmitter, but he wouldn't do it. He would not give in to the demands of the terrorists. He would not allow the honor and dignity of America to be intimidated by the fear and pain that Hammadi and terrorists everywhere represent. Robert sacrificed his life in order to protect our liberty and defend our way of life.
You have rightly said, "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." You have truly said that "We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them." Robert lived by them. Robert also died by them. The motto of the USS SSTETHEM (DDG-63), named in Robert's honor, is "Steadfast and Courageous." I hope that his example, and the example of other heroes like him can inspire you to understand why allowing Germany to release Hammadi was a wrong. Justice was not done, Robert was not honored and Americans are not safer by allowing Hammadi to return to Lebanon and Hezbollah. You know this, we know this and the American people know this.
The Stethem family

As I wrote previously Hammadi should be brought to justice whichever way is most beneficial to our cause, my own preference would be death by SEAL team.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ariel Sharon

I had no idea how important and distinguished this guy was until he had a stroke and our home grown, self appointed asshat Pat Robertson suggested that it was God's will. His policy of disengagement and separation from the Arab Palestinians seems to be working, at least from the Israeli perspective. The Arabs are screwed no matter how things shake out. If they switched places with the Swiss they'd find a reason to call for the destruction of Monaco.
As an American I don't have dog in that fight but it would be a tad hypocritical of me to condemn the Israelis for displacing the Arabs since I'm not a Native American. With that said, I know who danced in the streets on September 11th and I tend to hold a grudge.


VDH Letter To The Europeans

Even in this debased era of multiculturalism that misleads our youth into thinking no culture can be worse than the West, we all know in our hearts the truth that we live by and the lie that we profess — that the critic of the West would rather have his heart repaired in Berlin than in Guatemala or be a Muslim in Paris rather than a Christian in Riyadh, or a woman or homosexual in Amsterdam than in Iran, or run a newspaper in Stockholm rather than in Havana, or drink the water in Luxembourg rather than in Uganda, or object to his government in Italy rather than in China or North Korea. Radical Muslims damn Europe and praise Allah — but whenever possible from Europe rather than inside Libya, Syria, or Iran.
Victor Davis Hanson

Read the whole thing, this guy is always excellent:

Happy First Birthday Jack Errol Thompson

Frank Black's bouncing baby boy Jack Errol Thompson as he really was last year above, and what he's probably like this year, right. (blogger's interpretation, not actual Jack picture)

Moral Equivalence

Let's say a group of people hostile to you and your nation murder several of your citizens in cold blood. These citizens are not soldiers, politicians, industrialist or the like. Let's say they are athletes who traveled to another nation to compete peacefully and foster greater understanding among peoples and nations. Now let's say for whatever reason you are sick and tired of having your citizens murdered and you endeavor to find out who did it, when you find them what do you do with them? You kill them. Does that make you like them? No it does not. If you murdered their innocent athletes it would, but killing murderers is not murder, it's justice.
There was a time when Steven Spielberg understood this. In Saving Private Ryan when despite their better judgement the Rangers suffered the German soldier Steamboat Willie to live, later he is seen killing the same Rangers who spared him. Cpl. Upham who was unable to fight before now kills the surrendering Steamboat Willie in cold blood. Moral of the story, war is not a game. Leave your school yard notions of fair play in the school yard or Hollywood. Hand rubbing, the wearing of colored ribbons and pseudo moral posturing may make you feel good or get you laid in Amherst or Berkeley but it's irresponsible in a world where war is not a game.

Robert Kaplan's Book Warrior Politics is a worthy read if you are interested in the subject.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Manny Says He's Staying In Boston

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand Manny is one of the most dangerous right handed hitters in MLB, on the other he is Manny Ramirez whose mental lapses and bizarre behavior make his lifetime batting average of .314 and lifetime slugging of .599 seem like a mixed blessing. Overall I guess I'm glad he's back. I'd still like to see Miguel Tejada at short. Maybe Baltimore will take Trot Nixon for him.

John Cazale

You may know him as Fredo, Sal, Stan or Stan but in real life John Cazale's too short career consisted of five feature films, everyone of which was nominated for best picture.
The Godfather 1972
The Conversation 1974
The Godfather Part II 1974
Dog Day Afternoon 1975
The Deer Hunter 1978
The astute reader might point out that an Academy Award doesn't mean a damn thing, i.e. Gladiator, Titanic, Rain Man, Platoon, American Beauty, Marisa Tomei etc., but by any standard Cazale's five feature films are classics.
In his final film The Deer Hunter Cazale was dying of bone cancer and Michael Cimino had to shoot around him, when the studio found out they wanted John replaced. Meryl Streep was engaged to John Cazale and she and her fellow actors told the studio they would leave the film if Cazale was removed. The suits did the right thing, probably for the wrong reason.

Kope Luwak

Is an Indonesian term which translation loosely into English means "you people will buy anything". Kope Luwak is actually a type of rare coffee that has been fermented in the digestive track of the Palm Civet. It seems the Palm Civet eats only the most ripe and flavorful beans and poops them out whole and mostly unmolested except for the specific funk of the civet digestive track. Then industrious Indonesians too clever to actually climb trees collect them off the forest floor to sell for $340 a pound primarily to Japanese consumers. Only about 5oo pounds of this coffee is sold a year.
I would try this coffee, after all could it be that much worse than Dunkin Donuts coffee? One thing prevents me from doing so. How do I know this coffee that I just spent $340 a pound for came out of a civet and not some other animal? I can tell Shiraz from Cabernet but could I tell a civet bean from a squirrel bean? Who can say? At $340 a pound the potential for fraud is astronomical. I have a cat at home if I were to force feed her Starbucks coffee at $9 a pound and follow her around with a baggie the "net" profit so speak would be $331 a pound. What are my chances of getting caught? Any victim of such a scam would probably be too embarrassed to press charges.

Lessons I Have Learned

If your ever in a foreign country out very late after the after hours clubs have closed and you're drunk and a might bit peckish and there's this guy on the board walk selling sushi out of a cart Stop. Do not eat a thing. Go home or wherever it is you hope to sleep and go to bed. In the morning you may be sober, hungover and still hungry but the only damage to your liver will be from the cheap hooch you were swilling the night before.

Happy Birthday Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco was born on January 5, 1932 in a small city east of Turin and 60 miles south of Milan in the northwestern province of Piedmont. The town – Alessandria – was largely centered around a company that manufactured Borsalino hats, and being a Piedmontese town meant that the residents were born into a unique culture among those found in the rest of Italy. A mountainous area, the Piedmontese are used to a certain sense of independence, and in many ways they are marked by the phlegmatic nature of the nearby French rather than the fiery passions of the southern Italians. Eco often cites his upbringing among this culture as a source of the unique temperament in his writing: “Certain elements remain as the basis for my world vision: a skepticism and an aversion to rhetoric. Never to exaggerate, never to make bombastic assertions.”His father, Giulio Eco, an accountant and a veteran of three wars, came from a family of thirteen children. Eco’s grandfather claims to be a foundling, and that he was given the name Eco by “an inventive civil servant.” Supposedly the name is an acronym for ex caelis oblatus, or “offered by the heavens.” Giulio married Giovanna Bisio, and as they went about raising a family, it was more or less decided that in order to maintain their wits they would swear off politics. Umberto remembers his grandmother fondly, and like both Borges and García Márquez, he claims that he developed his delight in the absurd from her peculiar sense of humor.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Where's John 'Bluto' Blutarsky When You Need Him?

I gave my love a cherry that had no stone
I gave my love a chicken that had no bone
I told my love a story that had no end...

Pay Attention There's A Quiz At The End

An artist who chained his legs together to draw a picture of the image hopped 12 hours through the desert after realizing he lost the key and couldn't unlock the restraints, authorities said Wednesday.
Trevor Corneliusien, 26, tightly wrapped and locked a long, thick chain around his bare ankles Tuesday while camping in an abandoned mine shaft about five miles north of Baker, San Bernardino County sheriff's Deputy Ryan Ford said.
"It took him over 12 hours because he had to hop through boulders and sand," Ford said. "He did put on his shoes before hopping."
The artist, who is from the area, often sketched images inside mines in the Southwest. He had finished his drawing Tuesday when he realized he didn't have the key.

Here's the quiz:
How would you describe the actions of Trevor Corneliusien?
a. Yet another example of an artist suffering for his art.
b. An unfortunate event that could have befallen anyone who happens to chain himself up in the wilderness.
c. I don't know how but I'm sure it's the fault of George Bush for not funding the arts in typical crypto-fascist fashion in an attempt to make the dessert that much hotter by having a poor artist jump around making global warming worse - Kyoto somehow good, Haliburton everyone knows is bad, I can't believe you actually believe that, no Nancy Pelosi doesn't always look surprised that's a sexist comment I bet you eat veal and are anti choice, what's that baseball bat for?
d. A testament to the high quality of American chain making.
e. Jebus, what a jackass!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy Birthday J.R.R. Tolkien

Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa on January 3, 1892.
All you need to know and more: