Monday, January 31, 2005

Outdoors Human Waste Management

Ogged at unfogged had a post a while back stating that he was attracted to women who were outdoorsy, but his main problem was that the outdoors thing did not work for him, specifically the whole carry your . . . "human waste" with you. This sparked a lively discussion about camping etiquette.

I have to say that question remains a perenial problem of mine. Outdoors and all that can be fun, but geez, you know. Anyway, a commenter on a more recent post on the subject gives the definitive word on the subject. Colorful language but extrememly interesting and informative:

read the definitive guide to human waste management in the great outdoors.

Chef Ming Tsai beat Iron Chef Bobby Flay in last nite's cookout. Good stuff. The secret ingredient was Duck. The show was on at the same time as Pompeii so there was a fair amount of back and forth.

A few thoughts on Pompeii. First, I am simply amazed at the courage of the camera crews who hung in there to get stunning live footage. I'm equally amazed that the film lasted this long in the ruins. Simply amazing. Also, I was surprised to find that the Pompeiians spoke English, with a British accent no less. Call me ignorant, but I thought they'd speak Greek of Latin. Boy was that a dumb assumption.

I liked it. It brought home what happened on that fatefull day. Quite sad actually. The first hour and half was good then they inexplicably shift to a modern day format with some geologist chic and it all went down hill from there.

As for the Iron Chef cook off. For those unaware and uninitiated, there are three/four iron chefs and each week a challenger comes and one of the chefs is picked to face off with him. A secret ingredient is revealed which must be used in all five dishes that they must prepare in one hour.

There is a "stadium" kitchen set up for both teams and I think each chef has about two or three chefs working with him. At the end they must have five offerings. They are then judged by a panel who judge them on taste, plating, creativity. At the end the winner is declared. Last nite's winner was Chef Tsai.

Between Bobby Flay and Chef Tsai, the duck possibilities were unbelievable. The drool could not be stopped and we could only dream of what that stuff tasted like. It appears that Chef Ming Tsai has a website and actually has his own show on Food network. I really liked his East meets West style and I'm going to be giving his recipes a shot.

Here's my first shot:


If you’ve ever tried a summer roll, you know they usually contain a protein like shrimp, rice or mung beans, lettuce, basil, and lime juice, all wrapped in rice paper. This deconstructed version is all filling, made with grilled chicken breast, spinach, rice noodles, and, of course, the Thai Lime Dipping Sauce. I love this salad because it contrasts warm chicken with cool ingredients, but you can make the chicken in advance, if you like, and serve it cool, too.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil, if needed

8 ounces rice noodles

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup Thai Lime Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 pound baby spinach leaves

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Prepare an outdoor grill and heat to hot. Spray the grid well with nonstick cooking spray. Alternatively, heat a grill pan or large heavy sauté pan over high heat. Add the grapeseed oil and swirl to coat the pan.

2. Combine the noodles with hot tap water to cover and allow to soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain well.

3. Meanwhile, lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill or sauté the chicken on both sides until colored and the juices run clear when the breasts are pierced with the tip of a knife, 8 to 10 minutes total. Allow the breasts to cool until warm.

4. Slice the breasts 12 inch thick. In a bowl large enough to hold it, combine the chicken with 14 cup of the Thai Lime Dipping Sauce and marinate for 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, place the remaining 14 cup of sauce in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the canola oil. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the noodles, spinach, and tomatoes and toss. Add the chicken, including the marinade, and toss well. Serve immediately in large chilled bowls.

Tim Roemer for DNC Chair

I am supporting Mr Roemer for DNC chair. I watched him quite a bit on the 9-11 commission and liked him. He understands the process of elections, how they work, how to win (in a Red state). He understands the importance of allowing the party to retain its platform of choice, but not chasing away pro-lifers who feel more at home with the Democratic Party, similar to John Kerry's approach. He's good on national security. He will uphold the Party's platform on Bush's "privatization" scheme. He's from the midwest and would be a good spokesperson for the Party.

Dean would be a nightmare. Frost would be okay. Rosebberg would be good. Fowler, I'm no longer in favor. His dad was once DNC chair and it appears his dad tried unsuccesfully to muscle an endorsement through this morning.

Steven Clemmons is tracking the next Saddam Hussein, you know, the U. S. Government provides millions of dollars and military support to a horrible tyrannical dictator and then fifteen years from now, "He's got weapons of mass destruction!!!"


If one wanted to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt about his sermon-ish and idealistic inaugural address, then one of the first fronts of reform in U.S. foreign policy must be our relations with Uzbekistan and Islam Karimov, one of the true monstrous cretins at the helm of a government today.

America gave Uzbekistan $500 million to secure basing rights in this country -- and much of that money is allegedly being siponed into the private accounts of Karimov's thuggish allies. We have evidence that Karimov killed several, if not many more, of his political adversaries by boiling them alive in water. (Here is some evidence -- but do not look at these if disturbed by graphic images; these are pretty disturbing.) He is a dictator of gross proportions -- but he is still an ally of the United States in the war against terror.

According to this report, Karimov is now applying extra-territorial penalties on human rights and aid groups for 'his perception' of their activities in Georgia and Ukraine.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

"Uncharitable" Racist Ideas Watch

So I am strolling along minding my own business and I come across this at the orthodox and faithful (GOP) Heart Minds and Strength blog:

Some heartening statistics about lives saved from AIDS here:

Yet we have conservative Catholics and Christians stubbornly clinging to the Duesberg Hypothesis that says HIV doesn't cause AIDS, it's a "lifestyle" syndrome, not a disease spread by a virus. Never mind that every single bit of evidence accumulated since Duesberg went public refuts him. Lately E. Michael Jones has been getting some favorable Catholic press by claiming that there is no such thing as AIDS in Africa. It's all a hoax to facilitate "social engineering" by teaching Africans how to be gay and keeping their numbers down through codom use.

On the other hand, a frightening number of black Americans think HIV was created and spread by the CDC to kill them.

Invincible ignorance runs rampant.

Where the heck is that coming from? A frightening number of Black Americans are invincibly ignorant?

Okay here's this from the Guardian:

Almost half of all African-Americans believe that HIV, the virus that causes Aids, is man-made, more than a quarter believe it was produced in a government laboratory and one in eight think it was created and spread by the CIA, according to a study released by Rand Corporation and the University of Oregon.

So 1/2 of the Black population thinks HIV is man made. I actually suspect so myself.

25% of Blacks believe it was created in a government lab. I'm lost here. What precisely is so ridiculous about believing HIV was made in a government lab? There's biological weapons crap that would make AIDS look like child play in military and government sponsored labs nationwide.

13% of Black folks think it was spread by the CIA. So what! That's 13% and by the way, need I remind us of the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments that went on for 40 years as the government lied to Blacks and watched and observed the disease spread just to test a hypothesis that never panned or should have been considered in the first place.

By the end of the experiment, 28 of the men had died directly of syphilis, 100 were dead of related complications, 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 of their children had been born with congenital syphilis. How had these men been induced to endure a fatal disease in the name of science? To persuade the community to support the experiment, one of the original doctors admitted it “was necessary to carry on this study under the guise of a demonstration and provide treatment.” At first, the men were prescribed the syphilis remedies of the day—bismuth, neoarsphenamine, and mercury—but in such small amounts that only 3 percent showed any improvement. These token doses of medicine were good public relations and did not interfere with the true aims of the study. Eventually, all syphilis treatment was replaced with “pink medicine”—aspirin. To ensure that the men would show up for a painful and potentially dangerous spinal tap, the PHS doctors misled them with a letter full of promotional hype: “Last Chance for Special Free Treatment.” The fact that autopsies would eventually be required was also concealed. As a doctor explained, “If the colored population becomes aware that accepting free hospital care means a post-mortem, every darky will leave Macon County…” Even the Surgeon General of the United States participated in enticing the men to remain in the experiment, sending them certificates of appreciation after 25 years in the study.

And Mrs Miesel thinks that Blacks who saw their government that enslave them, permit lynchings, dehumanize them, experiment on them and still fights against their progress today, are invincibly ignorant because 13% of Blacks are suspicious of the government vis a vis the HIV virus?

Bad Jesuit Joke of the Day

What's the only thind that doesn't change in a Jesuit liturgy?

. . .

The bread and the wine.

Ouch! just kidding, I love the Jesuits, I swear, it's just a joke.

K. Lively posts on a sting operation by the Science Fiction Writers of America on PublishAmerica, publisher of my sci fi novel, Table of the Lord.

Damn the truth!

PublishAmerica claims to be a "traditional publisher" that accepts only quality works etc, etc. However, many have long suspected they are vanity publishers who make money off authors by publishing their works and charging for services. So these SWFA guys published a group novel, giving each writer a chapter to write, but no writer knew the plot or what chapter they were even writing. The finished product was sent to PublishAmerica which accepted it and etc. Basically, proving that they'd accept crap.

My experience with them? I didn't pay anything to them for my book like you would with regular Publish on Demand or Vanity publishers. But it's not like I went in with my eyes wide shut. They don't market, they basically only publish and their editing is a little better than a third grade hack job. For editing, I had my wife who has done some pro-type editing and my another relative who has done editing look my manuscript over. As expected, the PA editor was so so. I didn't expect much from them. Even when my manuscript was accepted, I figured that all they did was make sure it was in English and that the basic sentence structure was in place.

I've been through the novel a few times and have seen mistakes but I don't go nuts about them. I've worked as an editorial assistant at a major academic press and one given is that mistakes will be made. In fact Clinton's book is chock full of mistakes including a like that talks of the "failure of his life."

Truth was I was simply happy to have someone willing to publish my book. I loved the cover art work, they were easy to work with. I also have an advantage in that I own a Catholic bookstore. BTW, owning a Catholic bookstore does not necessarily increase sales of your book. People just say "Is that you?" "Wow!" "okay, see you later."

Getting in with a traditional publisher is a nightmare. The barriers for entry are horrendous and then you are at their mercy in terms of marketing. Once they feel your book is done, they stop marketing and if they own the copyright, there's not much you can do. With PA, the deal is for only 7 years and I can republish with someone else. Fair enough.

I still think for starters, a place like PA is fine. Unless you want to devote the next five years of your life seeking to get published as a first time or a no name author. The usual caveats apply. Their editing is crap. Their acceptance of the book is no a measure of quality.

For mine, as far as quality goes, I'm well aware that I am not the reincarnation of Asimov, but for a first effort, it wasn't too shabby, if I may say so myself. I liked the story. A few friends I trusted read it and gave very good feedback. A couple mentioned how they read it cover to cover basically in one sitting, so I was happy with that. I have had it reviewed in the Maryland Independent, our local paper in Southern Maryland and the reviewer liked and so did the reviewer at Roundtable Reviews. The reviewer on SF site wasn't impressed, but I suspect it was because he was grossly offended by the spiritual and Catholic content as an atheist and called it propaganda. To me it was a case of denying God and screaming, "stop preaching at me!!" "Hey, I didn't say nothing!"

I've mentioned that I am currently working on another sci fi novel. It was 96% done a month ago until I began fiddling with it again. I would say it is now 78% done. I'm in no hurry to publish it, so maybe this time, I'll try a traditional publisher. The problem is always content. Sci fi types are not always kosher with religion, especially anything that is friendly to catholicism. Now, I've had my share of scrapes with the Church, but I don't Church bash. A conservative Catholic reading stuff I write would decry its lack of orthodoxy, but that's it. However, anti-Catholic types would consider what I write "Church propaganda" simply because I am writing within a Christian mindset. So finding a friendly sci fi publisher who would accept a Christian themed sci fi novel could be tricky.

I think sci fi is definitely impoverished for avoiding the Christian angle. Christianity has been around for 2,000 years and is not going to evaporate in the next millennium. Any realistic view of the future is going to have to contend with the Christian presence. The other thing is that sci fi-ist go on the assumption that Christianity is not "true." Fair enough. But what if it is "true" and Christ is the Son of God? What implications does that have for a future world, for aliens, etc? Did Christ die for Aliens, can they be permitted to partake of sacraments?

All the Right wing nut stuff going around certainly doesn't help the image of Christian sci fi writers. With Christian and Catholic Right folks arguing that evolution is "only a theory" and that Intelligent Design should be taught in science classes, and that God created the world in 144 hours and then aged it to look a 10 billion years old, it certainly does not help the cause of the Christian sci fi person.

Oh! Pompeii is on Discovery channel tonite and at the same time as Iron Chef America. I have to watch the Pompeii thing, though. It appears that they have actual footage of Vesuvius eruption, how cool is that?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

My 5 All Time Favorite Movies Revised and the Village

1. Ben Hur
1a. Jesus Christ Superstar
2. Small Soldiers
3. The Apostle
3a. Glory
4. Saving Private Ryan
4a. Dave
4b. Princess Bride
5 Shawshank Redemption
5b. Spy Game

BTW, I count just fine, you have the problem.

"If I'm not me, then who the heck am I?" Ahnold in Total Recall.

Sixth Sense is to Signs as

Unbreakable is to . . . Village

The Village was a total waste of time. I do not share the opiions of others but I was very, very dissappointed. Again, I note that many have really liked it. This movie was simply not well written IMHO. But last I checked, there are no movies to my credit, I suppose until I have one I need to zip it. No review, no spoilers. If you've seen M. Knight's Unbreakable then you get the idea. He was trying to hard to replicate the success of sixth sense and signs. M. Knight is a victim of his success. He now feels pressure to throw everyone for a loop. Let's just say this movie was loopy.

BTW, Glory is one of those movies that when you watch it, your life seems just a touch irrelevant. Loved it. Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman.

Shawshank Redemption? "Hope is a dangerous thing my friend." Written by the same man who brought you the Mangler, Stephen King. Did you know Stephen King also wrote the Green Mile? Good stuff.

"Why are you smiling?" "I know something you don't"

I had mentioned my top five favorite movies of all time and Talmidel (note the Theophoric appropriation of the name) says:

I'm a bit disappointed that your top 5 does not include The Princess Bride.

Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles.

What more could you ask for?


I had forgotten about that one. So I revise. Here's my top 5 favorite movies of all time.

1. Ben Hur
1a. Jesus Christ Superstar
2. Small Soldiers
3. The Apostle
4. Saving Private Ryan
4a. Dave
4b. Princess Bride
5 Spy Game

Quick notes on the movies:

Ben Hur is only sullied by the fact that he has become a shill for the NRA, otherwise, how could it not be the most powerful movie of all time.

Jesus Christ Superstar, I rest my case.

Small Soldiers. I do need to do a post on this movie. It is a funny movie, but the philosophical aspect is what really does it for me. It is a metaphor for existence. We are so sure that we are the focus of all existence, when in fact our worlds our bounded by our experiences and we are in no position to make grand statements about the whole of existence as we frequently do, especially in the Catholic Church.

The Apostle-get the movie. Robert Duvall is a genius. I don;t know why I am in love with the movie, but it really touches home. At least rent the darn thing before you make any judgments.

Saving Private Ryan. Powerful stuff. One movie, I don't quite get tired of watching.

Dave. Goes down very well. One of the best feel good movies out there. Very clever and funny. My favorite line, "Thank you for doing this, Ellen."

Princess Bride. I have to say I was forced to watch this movie. You would not catch me watching something like this in a million years. I am embarassed to say that I was ROTFLMAO. "Why are smiling?" "Because I know something you don't"

Spy Game. This movie is a thrown back style spy movie. Excellent. It stars Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. I remember when it came out in the theaters, I could have cared less. As far as I was concerned, it was Mr young and sexy teams up with Mr distinguished and sexy, young ladies feast your eyes. Of course, I'm not a lady and I was not interested. I think I rented the movie out of boredom and I was blown away. There was none of that Ocean 11, we're-all-so-sexy eat your heart out, smugness. It was a solid acting performance, plain and simple. What are you still doing here, go get the movie!!

Honorable mention, Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope".

For my weekend viewing pleasure, I have rented the much discussed Village and for my mindless, blow it up, no plot entertainment, I got Papparazzi (I know, I have no standards). I do want to check this Papparazzi movie to see if it would qualify as a suitable movie for Bad Movie nite.

Bad Movie nite is a great idea when you have a few friends over. Rent a bad movie that's entertaining and have fun: laugh at the dialog, plot turns, stupid jokes, of course pizza and beer help things run smoothly. It is impotant to rent a movie in which the people actually take themselves seriously, that's what makes it funny.

Bad movie nite recommendations.

1. Deep Blue Sea. This is the ultimate bad movie nite. You will laugh your butt off at and yet be entertained. It is about a ocean-based research facility in which they studied sharks. But somehow the sharks became smart and . . . music . . . the hunters became the hunted. Stars LL Cool J and Samuel L Jackson. A++ bad movie nite.

2. Mission to Mars with Gary Sinese, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, etc. It is about a rescue mission to mars which goes awry. You gotta see this to believe it. A bad movie nite potential.

3. The Mangler. Yes, that's right, there is a movie called the Mangler. It is a Stephen King psychological horror type, but it is so ridiculous that is funny. B+/A- bad movie nite potential.

4 Guess what movie, "if I'm not me, then who the heck am I?" Case closed.

Tax-Exempt Hospitals' Practices Challenged

Tax-Exempt Hospitals' Practices Challenged
46 Lawsuits Allege That Uninsured Pay the Most
By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2005; Page A01

TUPELO, Miss. -- When Tim Gardner was born at the hospital here 53 years ago, it was just "one little building on the hill" in a town best known as Elvis Presley's birthplace.

From those humble beginnings, North Mississippi Medical Center has grown into the largest non-metropolitan hospital in the country, a booming enterprise with a complex of glass and marble buildings and 40 satellite clinics stretching into Alabama and Tennessee. The company, incorporated in Delaware, has nearly $300 million in the bank and "exceptional profitability," according to one Wall Street rating agency.

And it pays no taxes. As one of 4,800 nonprofit U.S. hospitals, North Mississippi Medical Center is exempt from federal, state and local taxes in return for providing care to "charity patients."

But when Gardner, who is uninsured and suffers from heart trouble, asked for more time to pay off a $4,500 bill, the response came in the form of a summons. The hospital sued him for the balance plus $1,100 in legal fees.

Now Gardner and hundreds like him are at the center of a nationwide battle over whether nonprofit hospitals -- often flush with cash, opulent buildings and high-paid executives -- are fulfilling their mission as charitable institutions. Since last spring, a phalanx of trial lawyers who made millions suing asbestos makers and tobacco companies have been targeting tax-exempt hospitals, accusing them of gouging the poor.

"I was paying the best I could," said Gardner, who on his $18,000-a-year cook's salary had managed to pay $1,000. "I'm not trying to run. At the end of that week I was going to pay them some more."

Forty-six suits have been filed in 22 states, including one against Virginia's Inova Health System, alleging the hospitals violate their tax-exempt status by charging uninsured patients the highest rates and employing abusive tactics to collect.

"Their goal is to discourage these uninsured patients from returning," said Richard F. Scruggs, the lead attorney. "If they paid taxes, I couldn't complain. But these hospitals are given freedom from taxation for doing something."

Mississippi, Mississippi, Mississippi, . . . They sure have their priorities straight. Solve society's problems, first things first, "STOP THOSE GAYS FROM GETTING MARRIED!!!" "Oh by the way, we have a really screwey hospital system here, darn, I only wish them politicians would talk about the issues."

Note how it is those evil trial lawyers that are here to the rescue of the poor, but wait a minute! President has NO healthcare proposal. But he wants to curb trial lawyers who help the poor, that's a presidential priority, very pro-lifey too.

As someone who shall remain nameless observed to us the day after the the election, "How can half the country be so stupid?"

Nazi Costume Prompt VMI Investigation

Nazi Costumes Prompt VMI Investigation
Africans, Gays Also Parodied
By Carol Morello
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2005; Page B01

Virginia Military Institute has asked a student governing body to investigate and recommend discipline against cadets who attended a Halloween party wearing costumes that parodied Nazis, Africans and homosexuals.

In a statement posted yesterday on VMI's Web site, school officials said they were "disappointed" in the behavior and judgment of the cadets.

"Civility and respect for others is something VMI is trying to inculcate in the cadets," said Stewart MacInnis, a spokesman for the state-supported school, which has about 1,300 students enrolled this year. "When I look at the pictures, I don't see anything mean-spirited. What I see are college kids who are trying to use humor, and they missed. They really missed. It wasn't the right thing to do."

In one photo posted on a public Web site, three young men wearing black shirts pose as Nazis with their right arms extended in a stiff-armed salute. One appears to have a straight, stiff mustache resembling Adolf Hitler's.

Another picture shows a man painted black from head to toe, his white skin visible at the edges of a loincloth.

Two photos mock homosexuals. In one, two men are dressed as fairies, complete with tiaras, wands, wings, pink briefs and T-shirts with the words "I [love] a man in uniform." In another, a youth dressed in a sailor's uniform is bent over to display a target taped to his buttocks, while a shirtless cadet sidles up behind him.

Hoping to turn the incident into a lesson for the student body, the school has asked the General Committee to investigate and recommend action. The committee is composed of three cadet officers, one each from the sophomore, junior and senior classes. They are generally charged with enforcing standards of conduct among the cadet corps.

Fact-finding will be conducted by another group of cadets, called the Officer of the Guard Association. Members will report to the General Committee, which will send its recommendations to the administration.

"We want to take advantage of an opportunity to provide a teaching point here -- that offensiveness shouldn't be tolerated," said MacInnis, predicting that the report would take at least two weeks to complete.

It is unclear whether the students broke any rules. Cadets can be disciplined for "conduct unbecoming" that brings disrespect to the institution. The school had allowed use of the barracks for the Halloween party under the condition that all costumes be appropriate.

The photographs were taken by a student at the party, which was held on campus and attended by 300 to 400 cadets, MacInnis said. The party was supervised by adult staff and at least two student officers, he said. It is not clear how many people who attended saw the partygoers wearing the costumes.

The photos were among 26 from the party that initially were posted on a Web site featuring snapshots taken by amateur photographers -- primarily sunsets, wildlife and travel pictures. They gained a wider audience when an independent media Web site,, posted the pictures Wednesday and noted: "These are, after all, the men who are supposed to one day graduate to their own posts at Gitmos and Abu Ghraibs around the world."

At least some of the eight cadets who posed for the photos have been identified and questioned about their costumes, MacInnis said. The school is not releasing the names of the students.

Robert O'Neil, a University of Virginia law professor and director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression, said courts have ruled that civilian colleges can do little to sanction student expressions of free speech, however offensive. As a public school, VMI probably would be held to the same standard, despite its military character and mission.

One possible exception, he noted, might be related to the inappropriate display of military uniforms in the photograph of the two men dressed in Navy whites with bull's-eyes on the pant seats.

Word of the incident was beginning to spread on the campus of VMI yesterday, said Paul Bryan, a senior, first classman, from Lexington, Va. Bryan attended the party but said he did not see the costumes.

"VMI strives very hard to present the best image of young men and women," he said. "The fact that some of it can be taken away by the actions of a few is disappointing."

Andy Hollinger, a spokesman for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, noted that VMI quickly denounced the cadets' behavior. He said he hoped the cadets learn something about the genocide of the Nazis.

"Hopefully this will be taken as an opportunity by the participants and others to educate themselves about the Holocaust and gain a deeper understanding of why so many people, particularly survivors and their families, find this offensive and are still deeply hurt by the swastika and what it represents," he said.

The rant continues.

I have observed how in Catholics circles and Christian circles, racism is not a disqualifying factor regarding one's "holiness," "faithfulness" and "orthodoxy." Racism is often simply a "flaw" or minor blemmish. This is simply an extension of the sort of racism we see in the wider soceity.

This is not rocket science. Why did these young men feel like they could do this and that it would be considered funny and fun and that they could get away with this? That's what we are fighting these days. Somehow, it never registered with these young men and their friends that this was evil. This is the racism we're fighting.

But it gets worse, note the response of the spokesman:

"When I look at the pictures, I don't see anything mean-spirited. What I see are college kids who are trying to use humor, and they missed. They really missed. It wasn't the right thing to do."

For him, it is a simple misguided prank!!!! I always warn young Black men that they have to realize that society sees them as criminals and dangerous people. When young White men do things like this, it is simply a prank, nothing more. But when young Black men do similar things, it is threat and dangerous and not to be dismissed lightly. This is the what we're fighting against a built-in racist perception in society.

How is it that year after year, we get the same halloween/party costume stories? Come on, people!

P.S. I focus here on the meta aspect, the fact that these young men thought it okay to do it and that it is dismissed as a prack. I did not focus on the fact that they emulated Nazis, parodied Africans and gays. That deserves coverage, but my focus is more in continuation with my previous posts on the issue of racism, that it is very much alive and well and flourishing.

Friday, January 28, 2005

No to Gonzales and Stuff

It is quite comical how Republicans hate to bring up race and ethnicity until they have a couple of Black and Latinos to trot out, then you never hear the end of "Black", "African America" and "Latino". Race and ethnicity all of a sudden become badges of honor.

Well it wouldn't matter what ethinicity or race Al Gonzales is, nothing short of a "no" vote is in order for this man. Yesterday, I ranted about racism and the gradual erosion of dignity until we get an unspeakable attrocity. But the thing is that even in this case where we are aghast at the torture policies of this pro-life administration, Gonzales still will not give up on torture! And this man wants to be Attorney General?

On another note, there is a slight stir in liberal blogspher because Stu Rothenberg made the following comment:

Blogging is getting more attention in the mainstream media and from the political parties. As vehicles for fundraising, blogs can't be ignored. And some bloggers have interesting things to say. But when it comes to campaign savvy or understanding how the campaign committees operate, two of the most high-profile liberal bloggers have an exaggerated sense of their own importance and insights.

He calls them "clueless" primarily because Dkos, Chris Bowers and Jerome Armstrong have been calling to challenge every open congressional seat in play, even if it is an established incumbent Republican.

I'm a registered part of Dkos's website. Though not a big fan, and I do think Dkos and MyDD have grossly exaggerated their importance and influence. But I am extremely irritated by Rothenberg's attitude. Two good examples of challenging every seat at Musgrave, the Colorado congresswomen of hate gays ammendment fame and Tom "corruption is my middle name" Delay were as safe as you'd find in Republican land, at leat until no-name challengers, supported by liberal blogsphere kicked into high gear. Both Musgrave and Delay won, but Delay got his lowest vote percentage ever, 55% and Musgrave was not much better. Better yet, we tied them up so that they were unable to use their money elsewhere, in fact the Republican establishment had to pump money into Colorado to save Musgrave.

I agree with this approach. We have to challenge every seat and put the Republicans on notice. With the exposure that blogs can give obscure candidates, we can mount quite a fight everywhere. Granted the DCCC structure may not have been able to do this in the past, but now with netroots, it is very possible. Much money can be raised and volunteers easily mobilized. And of course, bloggers will pay to do oppo research.

This may affect who I support for the DNC. I have been leaning towards Frost or Roemer, because Dean is a disaster IMHO and we need a good spokesperson who does not reek of leftie. I am strongly leaning towards Rosenberg who seems to appreciate that the online community can exponentially increase the power of existing structures. If somehow Frost or Roemer can show that they are willing to go nuclear and challenge ever seat and use existing and new technologies, then I'll go with them.

Angels and Some Certainty and Certitude

Here's another angel scripture I love that fits in with my notion of angels as independent minded agents entrusted with God's plan and carry it out. Again, Stephen in Acts 7:53 says:

Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

This next scripture is from Joshua 5:13-15. Interesting because the angel makes it clear that he is neither on Joshua's side nor his advesary's side. Rather he is there carrying out God's plan.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

The angel made Joshua remove his shoes because he was on holy ground. Now many insist that this "captain of the Lord's host" is Christ. After all, no way would Joshua treat the ground around an angel as holy ground. Let's recall Moses' experience:

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

This also resonates with Gabriel in Lk 1 in his experience with Zechariah. He is well aware of awesomeness of his presence and the fact that his mere presence is imbued with God's credibility.

Here are another couple of verses from Revelation;

Rev. 22:8,9
And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Love it.

I had few thought on the issue of certitude a la this discussion and post by Joe. John Henry Newman makes a distinction between certainty and certitude. Certainty is the surety attained in science and logic that is indubitable and irrefutable. For instance, given the right conditions, 2+2=4. But that sort of certainty is not achievable in human life, but according to Newman, it shouldn't even be sought because doesn't belong in our human lives.

Certitude is the subjective correlate. Certitude is what we have when we are subjectively certain. Our certitude will never pass a logical test, but Newman notes that certainty, as that attainable in logic, is artificial. To arrive a logical certainty, you have to manufacter the context and conditions. Certitude, however, is what operates for us as human and counts for a solid foundation.

My point is that we can know things, not just think we know. I'll post more on this because it is something that interests me beaucoup. Joe's post is interesting because it brings up issues of hermenuetics, one's method, and one's foundational guiding principle, i.e, ultimate, what is the philosophy or viewpoint behind your mode of intepreting your spiritual experience, life and truth.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Something about Mary

In a comment to a post below, Talmida says:

About Mary? Maybe she is God in a way. (I'm in deep trouble for saying that, no doubt). I believe that prayer sanctifies - that if people pray somewhere long enough, that the place itself acquires a kind of holiness (shrines, churches, holy wells, etc. -- is this my inner celt coming out?), God chooses to dwell there in a special way. Maybe since zillions of people have turned to Mary over the centuries she has evolved into the female face of God. Not that she ever was that, but that she's become that.

I wouldn't go quite as far as to say that she may be God in a way. However, I do believe that the essence of idea or root of the person of Mary is part of the heart of the Trinity. Now the way this works is sort of like with Christ. The man Jesus was created and started to exist at a certain point in human history, but the second person of the Trinity is and was and ever shall be. At the conception of Christ, is when the Second Trinitarian person gets incarnated and is forever fully God and fully man AND we can now say the man Jesus created the world or that God died on the cross.

With Mary it works similarly. Not in the sense that there is a pre-existing Marian person, but that there is a pre-existing essence in the divine Godhead that is manifested in the person of Mary. Why am I so convinced of this? There are theological reasons which I may or may not get into. But the key point is that everything that exists, and I mean everything, including the Godhead, revolves around Christ. In my post on angels yesterday, my point was that angels were originally made for Christ as his companions. If you press this idea that everything revolves around the Son of God, it then gives the Trinity a different dynamic than has been explored in Catholic theology and opens up space for this Marian pre-essence I speak of. For me, Mary is not God, but she is God's eternal gift and symbol or approval to and for his Son. (At this point, I feel Torquemada tying up my feet and set alight the pyre, "recant!" he says.)

Last point is that theology is simply an articulation of what is believed. I think we all get a sense of Mary that is hard to put into words and we know there is something divine about her, but it's hard to make that point without intruding into the untouchable Godhead. This is why the there have been ferocious fights about Mary and the Immaculate Conception and also with the Co-Redemptrix. But here's the test, can you push the Mary thing as far as is theologically possible and not obscure Christ? The answer is yes. Again, this is an ultra Christocentric view of existence. I think the Catholic tradition revolves more around a theistic view of creation, more specifically, a philosophical theistic view, i.e, the "divine nature" is what everything revolves around. As a result, the emphasis leads to its unique theological context and a limiting theological context constricts the space for certain ideas.

Blah, Blah, Blah, Racism, Blah,etc

I remember the day after I watched Saving Private Ryan, which is in fact one of my all time favorite movies (1. Ben Hur, 2. Small Soldiers 3. The Apostle 4. Spy Game 5. Saving Private Ryan), I remember having a discussion with a bunch of people about the movie. I ended up making a comment that I have often reflected on. I said the move was far too "anti-German." What on earth did I mean and why did I say that? In retrospect, I think the question is, what was I reacting to?

I see the Holocaust as one of the most horrible tragedies in the modern history, so the idea was not that such movies shouldn't be shown to remind us. I think what bothered me was the self righteousness as we sit down and condemn "those Germans" in that "only the German mind can come up with such attrocities" attitude. But the fact is that the horrors of the Holocaust were visited and multiplied on people here in the United States everyday for centuries and all that's been swept under the rug. No one wants to talk about a day in the life of the slave, or old Black women left out in the forest to die because they had outlived their usefulness. This happened to Frederick Douglass' grandmother, who had raised all the slave children on that plantation and had even raise her master from the time he was a baby ON HER MILK. When she was too old, the took her out to the woods and left her there to die. We can multiply these stories.

My point is that there is a reason that such horrors could have taken place on this soil and yet the memory of centuries of this has vanished or has been heavily sanitized. Very few movies on slavery make it to the general public relative to its place in US history. And then I think of Amistad (I will say that Speilberg has stepped up to the plate), but there again, it was the Portuguese who were the bad guys.

The Jews have learned a lesson of the centuries and that is that if humans were capable of doing stuff like that in the past, it can and probably will happen again. They've endured centuries of this stuff has have many other groups. And the way attrocities happen is that the regular sweet apple pie person becomes complacent as the gradual erosion of the humanity of a group occurs and then before we know it we are not appalled at things that should outrage us. An example is the torture issue going on right now. How we've descended to this point where the POTUS advocates torture and half the country is arguing for it with him is unbelievable.

This is why we have to keep sounding the alarm on hate. It is not pleasant subject, but it is fatal when ignored especially because it is ALWAYS lurking beneath the surface. (And what makes the Holocaust particularly chilling was that it happened among "enlightened" Westerners.)

The other important thing is that race hate issues are not issues for "dialogue." Balance and "exchange of idea" and all that crap are deadly. A newsman once said, that the average between the truth and lie is a lie. I say this because you have people who feel that they're immune from the race charge because they are "balanced." These were the regular, balanced well meaning folks who took the via media between "the negroes are human" and "the negroes are beasts of burden," and sought middle ground.

Just before Frederick Douglass died he was asked what we all should keep doing. He replied, "agitate!"

Again, this particular discussion and context is narrow because there are other voices like the Natives, Latinos and Asians that have important warnings for us all. I let them speak with their voices.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

More Angels, God's Throne and Mary Worship

A couple things in 2 Samuel 14 influenced my view and "infatuation" with angels. I read these verses as a fundamentalist when they struck me and I read them still in the same vein.

2 Samuel 14:20
20: To fetch about this form of speech hath thy servant Joab done this thing: and my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of an angel of God, to know all things that are in the earth.

It's hard to comment on this because I haven't explicitly thought about this in a long time. However, I view angels as Elohim, part of the divine court and divine counsel. I gladly ascribe to the notion that they are gods. I love the fact that Jesus promises that in the Resurrection would be like angels (isangelos):

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Mt. 22:30

I know many view the above in terms of marriage, but I think signifies something much deeper. I think it points to the fullness of a glorified nature, like Christ's.

It always fascinated me that Jesus said that if we denied him in the presence of our fellow humans that he would deny before his angels.

26: For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Lk 9:26

I don't have a Greek translation with me and even if I did I'm not sure what I'd do with it, but that "of the holy angels" is significant. Jesus is speaking of coming in his own glory, plus the glory of the Father, and or plus the glory of angels. Now, I've always been convinced that there is something Trinitarian going on here and there is deeper connection we should be making with the third divine person and the angels. But I love the love Jesus gives the angels.

"And I tell you, every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God;but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. Lk 12:8,9

Here again, it works like this. We deny Christ in the presence of our friends and companions and Christ will deny us in the presence of his friends and companions, the angels.

And then there's this verse, one of my favorites Heb 1:7-9

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Hebrew's author is making the point about Christ's superiority to angels, but what is not lost on me is that fact that the prophecy does speak of Christ's "fellows" or "comrades" and these are angels I think.

I think what has irked me for years is that Christians are locked into this idea that angels are there for us. Well there's, a bunch of scriptures that support that, for example Heb 1:14 "Are they not ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Or where Christ speaks of little children and that "their angels" are in the presence of God. Fair enough.

But without descending into a point argument, I am one of those who believes that angels were made for Christ as his "companions" from the "beginning." And that they are his friends. Now this idea is in the tradition, in fact it used to be quite a debate. If I recall correctly, St Anselm had the same view point that angels were it and then some fell and then we were created to replace the angels in the community of Heaven. In fact, St Augustine may have a similar position in City of God, I have to check that out.

I feel it gives angels more integrity if we understand them for who they are, i.e, as Christ's companions, etc. Anyway, speaking of Heb 1:8 which says "Thy throne O God is forever . . ." which is quoting Ps 45:6 struck me back in the day. But also I note, going back to 2 Samuel 14:9
And the woman of Tekoah said unto the king, My lord, O king, the iniquity be on me, and on my father's house: and the king and his throne be guiltless.

What struck me back in the day was the distinction between God and his throne in the Hebrew Scriptures. It was clear that same breath of worship and deference given to God was given to both God and his throne and that to denigrate the throne was to denigrate God because it was an ultimate symbol of him without being him. Voila, that's when the Mary thing began to click. All of a sudden it was no longer offensive to direct worship at something "ancillary" to God if that thing's sole reason of being was to symbolize God. This is why I chuckle when I see Catholics in knots explaining that we do not worship Mary.

We do worship Mary and it is nothing to shy away from. Forget that whole hyperdulia disctinction, worshipping Mary is not anti-thetical to worship of God, it is worship of God. (I hear ouches). I know the hierarchy shies away from such characterizations. It is funny though, in Lumen Gentium, document on the Church in Vatican II, chapter 7, I think, is dedicated to Mary. In a translation I used to use, someone used the word "worship" for Mary. I loved it and loved seeing other's squirm when it was pointed out. Anyway, as always, IMO.

Earlier, I posted a link to the Council of Conservative Citizens, an elite well-dressed version of the KKK and I dredged a quote from their website FAQ about racism. Here's what they said:

The word racism was concocted by a communist ideologue in the 1920's. The purpose of racism was to instill guilt and shame in the minds of white people and to inflame racial hostility among blacks.

And then I see this today on D Bettinelli's site (He is a Right Wing Republican hack in Catholic clothing):

You know what I think about the concept of “hate crimes;” I think it’s stupid liberalism seeking to prosecute based on what someone thinks rather than what they do.

Bettinelli thinks "hate crimes" is an empty concept, just "liberalism" [sub CCC's "communists"] seeking to "impose" [sub CCC's "instill"] their ideas. That congruity of thought process is fascinating.

What I find interesting and this has been the case for years in Catholic blogsphere, which I find to be racist, is that statements like this and worse pass by uncommented, unchallenged and even unnoticed. If and when someone spews something chillingly racist, at most you see someone say something like, "that characterization is uncharitable." "Uncharitable!"

The presence of progressive Catholic blogging has made a difference and provide a different Catholic face on the web, so that's good. It's just that when you hear stuff like this, you want to check out the rest of the iceberg and boy, does sodium pentathol sound interesting then.

I'm not asking these people to like Black folks, I'm just asking them to be honest about how they feel, so we all know were everyone stands.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Annatopia has been nominated for a Koufax award for a blog series on her abortion experience. There are 3 parts. Here's parts 2 and 3. I couldn't find part 1.

i remember only a few things from that period - the visit to planned parenthood, where they confirmed the pregnancy and counselled me. they tried to steer me towards adoption until i told them about my drug history, at which point they relented and referred me to local abortion providers (of which there were THREE serving a city of several million people). i remember going to the grocery store and buying foods i was craving, as well as aspirin for the migraines. i think the monkey made the phone call and set up the appointment. my twenty-fifth birthday passing. the night before we went to the clinic, standing in front of my mirror with my clothes off, pressing my palms against my uterus and trying to communicate with that little embryo... telling it that i loved it and i was sorry that i couldn't be a good mother right now. that i was sorry my timing sucked, and that maybe in some other time i'd have been healthy and happy and ready to welcome life into the world. i was just trying to communicate love to that potential life. i didn't know if it understood, but i hoped that maybe it felt something, because although i was only a few weeks pregnant, i'd become deeply attached.... i just stood there and thought about it as hard as i could, and then i laid down and cried myself to sleep.

Sidebar scripture change alert.

I removed the Isaiah 14 scripture and replaced it with Jeremiah 45. When I used to believe that God spoke to me through Scripture, He did through those verses.

The previous Isaiah scripture, I was watching Trinity Broadcasting Network, (I know, I have no shame) and this dude was preaching and he quoted that Scripture and that was the Lord speaking to me. Powerful stuff. I have a terrible weakness. I miss beyond imagination, my good ol days of Protestant Pentecostal preaching and so I frequently visit TBN for my weekly fix. I don't have favorites. My wife and I really like that Joel Osteen guy. The man is annointed. I like some of T.D. Jakes stuff. But generally, I check them out during the nightly Praise the Lord show and see who's on and there's some good stuff that comes on. I used to like Rod Parsely until he began to use his preaching to further right wing hate stuff, he was pushing the gay bashing anti-gay marriage ammendment and I signed off and will not watch him again. His loss.

Besides Parsely and a few others, I do not watch anyone from Okalahoma, with the exception of Carlton Pearson, who bucked the Pentecostal trend and welcomed gays into his congregation and has taken hell for it. There is something particularly disturbing about the conservatism in Oklahoma and the Christians there are at the thick of it. The other day, I was watching Praise the Lord and this guy was talking about his Church back home in Oklahoma City. Click, nuff said.

Another guy, I like. I feel guilty saying this, but is a Louisiana Cajun guy by the name of Jesse Duplantis. I knew of him in my Pentecostal days. He is funny. I can listen to him for hours. He does make fun of Catholics, but even Catholics make fun of Catholics. Anyway, like Stu Scott on ESPN says, "And the Lord, you gotta rise up!"

Ebonics Lesson of the Day

Via Ebonics.htm


Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever.


Yo, Big Daddy upstairs
You be chillin
So be yo hood
You be sayin' it, I be doin' it
In this here hood and yo's
Gimme some eats
And cut me some slack, Blood
Sos I be doin' it to dem dat diss me
don't be pushing me into no jive
and keep dem Crips away
'Cause you always be da Man

On Fresh Prince of Bel Air I remember this one:


To be or not to be
That is the question


To be in effect or not to be in effect
Slammin' men, on the questioning tip

Quite good, actually.

Mindless 24 Blather

I have a problem. I like to complain about shows, but I still end up watching them. One of those shows is 24 on Fox which has descended into utter madness.

Now, we are we? Okay, the Secretary of Defense was kidnapped and a silly Islamic terrorist trial was being held and broadcast on the internet. Jack Bauer, our indestructible hero, breaks into the California warehouse solo and saves the SoD and his daughter, with whom Jack has a thing going.

In the mean time SoD's son is being held at the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and is suspected of withholding info. He has been tortured non invasively so far by the use of sensory disorientation. Yes, this story thread is nothing short of idiotic. But wait! It gets better. Daddy finds out his son is being held and has been tortured for 2 hours and promises that heads will roll. Daddy then goes to talk to sonny boy and says, "sonny do you have any information about the people who kidnapped me and sister today?" Son says it is private business if he had anything. Daddy then gives CTU further permission to continue the torture.

Then there is the upper middle class succesful sleeper cell Turkish family, which again proves, if it is from the Mideast, you can't trust it. Give those people an inch of success and they blow up the world. God save us from thos Turks, Arabs and Mideasterners. Well, the Araz family has killed son's white cluleless idiotic ditsy blonde girlfriend (SOP for 24) because she followed son when he delivered package to warehouse where SoD was being held. Now, Daddy Turk has decided, like all Turks, that son is expendable because he is "no longer our son," "we lost him," "he doesn't believe in our ideals anymore." Daddy Turk sends son with friend to dispose of body but son finds out that friend is supposed to kill son and somehow escapes.

Don't ask me why I watch this garbage, it actually used to be a good show. I'd recommend the last three seasons any day. I suggest strongly renting them from Blockbuster and seeing just how far the mighty have fallen.

Via Unfogged

Conservative Group to Meet with State [Mississippi] Lawmakers

By Emily Wagster Pettus
The Associated Press

Some Mississippi lawmakers are scheduled to speak Thursday to the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls "a patently white supremacist group."

Bill Hinson of Pearl, president of the Great Southern chapter of CCC, announced on the group's Web site that "several House and Senate members" are to speak.

He wouldn't tell The Associated Press the names of lawmakers or where the event is taking place, although AP learned it will be at a south Jackson fish house.

Hinson said he wouldn't release details of the meeting because, "we've had so much negative publicity."

He said the CCC does not make an issue of race.

"Our chapter is more focused on taxation, Southern heritage," Hinson said. "I guess you could call us the Christian right, something like that."

Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project for the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, said it is a "patent falsehood" to say the CCC — also known as the C of CC — is not driven by racial issues.

"I think five minutes on the C of CC Web site will convince anyone that the C of CC is a patently white supremacist group," Potok said.

The CCC's national Web site has a question-and-answer section about race that says: "The C of CC opposes government sponsored race preference programs (e.g. affirmative action, quotas, forced integration) that are bestowed on nonwhites and other preferred minorities at taxpayer expense. The C of CC also stands against the tide of nonwhite, Third World immigrants swamping this country."

Its site also says "the C of CC has been singularly effective in thwarting many schemes by leftwing militants to rob white Americans of their rights and heritage," including an attempt in 2001 to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi flag.

Potok said the CCC's Web site "is a vile, Klan-like site."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, issued a report last fall that said at least 38 current federal, state and local office holders in several states had attended CCC meetings since 2000, with most giving speeches to local chapters. It said 23 are from Mississippi.

State Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, said he's scheduled to speak at the CCC gathering Thursday. He said he'll talk about issues to be considered during the current legislative session.

Moore said he didn't know anything about the group's position on race.

"If I find out for certain they are a racist organization, I am going to confront them," he said.

"You hear that the NAACP is racist, but that wouldn't keep me from talking to them," Moore said.

He said he had never looked at the CCC's Web site, but he sat with an AP reporter and scrolled through it. After looking at the question-and-answer section on race, Moore said: "I didn't get any indication from this that they were racist."

Rep. Rufus Straughter, D-Belzoni, past chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said it's "disingenuous" for any politician to say they don't know about the CCC's positions on race.

"If we are concerned about racial healing in the state of Mississippi, individuals who would attend a meeting like that, I'd say they are not concerned about racial healing," Straughter said.

Fontana labs at unfogged links to the CCC mainsite. Where s/he discovers the following on the FAQ page.

Does the C of CC oppose racism?

The word racism was concocted by a communist ideologue in the 1920's. The purpose of racism was to instill guilt and shame in the minds of white people and to inflame racial hostility among blacks. This word play succeeded beyond all expectations. Of course, the word racism has no meaning unless whites react to it. Because racism defines nothing, but instead generates dubious connotations, the C of CC refuses to be held hostage by what the word implies at any given moment. It is normal for white people to be proud of their race and heritage. Is that racist?

Well, actually let see whatelse they have to say on FAQ:

Is the C of CC a racist hate group?

Various leftwing outfits like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), have branded the C of CC as a racist hate group. Not true. The C of CC advocates and promotes the legitimate causes of European-Americans. Often, support for these causes bring the Council into conflict with the aforementioned groups.

However, the real reason powerful Leftwing operations attack us is because the Council has been politically effective on the local, state, and national levels.

Despite sometimes powerful opposition, the C of CC has been singularly effective in thwarting many schemes by leftwing militants to rob white Americans of their rights and heritage. The C of CC is recognized as the most effective group fighting to keep the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capital and to keep the Mississippi state flag intact. The C of CC has always been at the forefront of the battle to protect Southern heritage

FYI, the Catholic vote in Mississippi was 80/20 in favor of ______. Like Steve Gillard says, there is something about this Bush administration that has emboldened people like this, I wonder what it is? Could it be that wonderful brand of compassionate conservatism that has been much heralded?

So while we on our side with MLK are encouraging Blacks and Whites and Latinos and Natives and everyone to stand side by side in MLK's dream, we don't even want to know who the RNC and Bush want standing side by side.

Monday, January 24, 2005

"You are the man!" 2 Samuel 12:7 or as the King James puts it, "Thou art the man."

The Ebonics translation of course is, "You da man!"

You see, it's all scriptural.

My Old Testament professor translated that to Hebrew for us (O Lord and Talmida, forgive the misplaced accents and everything else wrong with this transcription):

"Atah ha ish!"

Amy Welborn has a post called Old and Tired in which she says:

Haunting various posts and news stories on abortion is the accusation or even blunt assertion that pro-life objections against abortion are one thing, but what positive things are these people doing? Don't they understand that women and girls have reasons for seeking abortions? Why don't they address the reasons? Don't they understand that women and girls who have their babies have needs? Why don't they try to meet the needs?

It's time to flip. Really. We need to address the question forcefully, without accepting the assumption underlying it, which is that pro-lifers could even, for a second, be legitimately accused of these things. And we need to throw the burden of proof back on the questioner.

So before we start making our lists, simply ask: "What's your evidence, bub? Give me specific evidence that supports your contention that pro-lifers - and I mean specific groups and many, representative examples of individual prolifers - aren't aware of women's reasons, don't try to meet needs or address the broader cultural context."

And settle for nothing less. Which would mean that your questioner would have to take himself down to the local Crisis Pregnancy Center, filled with real, live pro-lifers, and evaluate the activity there. He would have to evaluate the activities of the largest pro-life organization in the world - the Roman Catholic Church - and report back with an evaluation of that organization's attitudes and treatment of the poor, the sick and neglected children. She would have to go down to a vigil at an abortion facility, talk to the protesters and pray-ers there and ask them the questions she thinks she already has answered: "Hey, you hate women and children, right?"

As a person who has actually been involved in the movement and knows actual pro-life activists - as do many posters on this blog - here's what I can tell you to save you the trouble:

. . .

First off all, we all need to state the truth, the Pro-Life movement is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. It is a vote generator, a broken slot machine that generates votes with utmost ease as the movement has checked its brains and Christianity at the door. And BTW, this straw(wo)men bit about "hey you hate women" is nonsense. But I will not unilaterally swear off straw(wo)men, because they are quite useful-Welborn makes her point with them, I make mine with them.

Whether or not the pro-lifers want to flip assumptions or not is not the issue, we all know, which party fights for a more equitable and just society, ie., a culture of life, and what party fights for a LESS equitable and just society. Welborn's question is like the erudite discussions among misguided 19th century US Catholic who wanted to explore if the Negro had a soul. It sounds reasonable only to people who share the same bias, while others incredulously ask, "are you serious?"

Many of us who criticize the pro-life movement know what we are doing. We didn't just show up and decide to mouth off. I joined the pro-life movement in 1983 when I was 13. I had no idea that Catholic Church had anything whatsoever to do with pro-life issues, I had just left Catholicism and got involved with the fundamentalists and that's were I discovered the movemenent. At the time people like Keith Green, the deceased musician and his wife Melody Green were prominent leaders. One of my all time favorite music albums was Andre Crouch's "Waiting for the Son" released in 1981, in which he has a song called "I'll be good to you baby" about abortion, and at the time this was not uncommon to find many pentecostal CCM recordings on abortion. I've been part of life groups, in my undergrad I represented the pro-life side of an argument in a debate. I have hosted march for life out-of-towners and all that stuff. I KNOW the movement, I KNOW the people. And its not just me, there are hundreds and thousands who have signed off on the Republican Pro-life movement, who have decades of personal experience with the pro-life movement, and i think some are represented in Catholic blogsphere, although, most are not.

When we charge whatever it is we charge about the Republican Pro Life movement, it is out of experience. I can speak for myself, I KNOW that on the whole, you cannot get the same people who will willing die for the pro-life cause, excited about poverty, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, racial reconciliation, healthcare, education, etc. The pro-life movement is now a classic case of where the ethics or morality has shifted from action to identification. What I mean is this. If I say, "I do not want any babies to die from abortions," that statement should direct our consciousness to actions that underlie that commitment. The statement itself is inconsequential, it is the actions and commitments that it represents that's what's relevant. The Republican Pro-life movement has changed the context so that it is no longer about the commitment or the actions, but rather about the statement itself, the empty words. So that orthodoxy in pro-life matters is no longer about what one does or what one is committed to, but what statements one can agree to.

If I said, "I do not want my children to starve," (which is the sort of thing one ends up saying when the faithful and orthodox Deal Hudson and thousands of his faithful and orthodox Pro-life friends desire one's children to starve), that is not simply a creed to agree to, but it depicts a commitment on my part to take actions and create a context in which I can provide for my kids. Now what if I simply hung out at a street corner and begged for food, I could still claim to adhere to that statement about my children not starving, but my commitment can be challenged by my actions.

Yes, we can call into question the actions of pro-lifers so called. There is a reason why George Bush came up with the "compassionate conservative" lie, it is because political/religious conservatism and compassion are mutually exclusive, if not mutually exclusive, then pretty darn close. The pro-life movement is a conservative movement and its commitment is not to life but to a creedal identifier.

Now, about these crises pregnancy centers. I recently posted pictures on this blog from the BBC of US soldiers in Iraq firing on a car, then the next shot shows the car door open with a dead person falling out and then a four year old is shown crying with the blood of her parents and siblings all over her and then the next shot is the US soldiers administering first aid to another sibling. The conservative fixation on crisis pregnancy centers would be similar to George Bush bragging that our troops provide better first aid to injured Iraqis than they would otherwise receive. No crap!

Pro-lifers are not trying to solve the problem of abortion in society, this is simply a cause they have identified their faith and conservatism with and press on in the we're-persecuted mode with fervor. All they want to do is make abortion illegal and throw women and doctors in prison. If they argue that that is not the case, then how on earth, does making abortion illegal solve the problem of abortion? It doesn't. Crisis pregnancy centers do not solve the abortion problem, it is simply a band aid solution for a 95% major burn victim.

Pro-lifers have aligned themselves with the Republican Party and George Bush, there is no getting away from it. If they want to be taken seriously then they'd have to actually begin to care about life. Democrats and those of a similar sentiment, care about life. If there isn't the party-platform passion for the unborn yet, it is only a matter of time, because care for the unborn is simply a logical extension of current and existing Democratic values. For the Republican pro-life movement, concern for humans after birth doesn't appear to be a logic extension of their values. There is a difference between saying that one is prolife and being pro-life. The burden of proof is not on the questioners of the pro-life movement, it remains on the pro-life movement. Show us you have a heart and we'll take you all seriously.

Via Peggy from the Catholics for Kerry group, here is another quiz: how fascist are you?

The F scale - this is a replica of a survey performed in the US in 1946 by critical theorist Theodor Adorno (co-founder of the Frankfurter School of
Critical Theory together with Horkheimer) - answer 30 questions and you get a
score on the 'F Scale' which was supposed to "measure fascist receptivity at a
personality level".

Take The F scale Test

Phew! I'm not a fascist. My score was 3.67 "You are disciplined but tolerant; a true American."

My favorite question: "People can be divided into two distinct classes: the weak and the strong."

Scores of 3 and below are liberal "airhead," 4.5 and above, "You need to use your left hand more."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Musings of the random sort

For the record, I am picking New England to win the Super Bowl. For the record, I (hate to say this) but I want New England to win the Super Bowl. Why? They are in the Bills division and pretty much use the Bills to mop the floor. But I just don't hate them. Also I have come to accept that there is something special about Tom Brady and I hate the fact that he is getting no love. Some pundits are comparing him to Joe Montana and ready to place him in the higher echelons of QBs as am I, but many others say that he is not so deserving. The man has won two superbowls in three years, what does he have to do to gain respect. He certainly was not incidental to that team, he is the reason they have won. Also, Bellichik (sp) is clearly deserving of the highest honors. Period. But his is an easier case. Parcells is seen as one of the great all time coaches and he only won two Super Bowls, the same number as Bellichik.

I do want McNabb to win a Super Bowl. The man has worked hard against stereotypes and I so hate to go against him, but my heart is with New England. I don't know why. I'd really love to see another Black quarterback win a Super Bowl, but maybe in 2007, after the Bills win a couple.

It makes absolutely no sense for people to be eating ice cream on a bone chilling day like today. It makes me so mad. I'm shaking so badly, I can hardly keep my spoon straight as I dig into a medium banana split dairy queen blizzard with Oreo cookie chunks.

I watched the last two episodes of West Wing on Saturday and there was the thing about gay marraige and the bible and taking the Bible literally. This literal thing is something I need to engage more. No one actually takes the Bible literally, it is always selective. However, what you do take literally affects one's outlook. The other thing about taking the Bible literally is the issue of the "subject." At what point does the reader become the subject who becomes the "I" in speech? Another way to put this is, when is a story a story and when is a story a fact? For instance in Acts 7:51-53. Stephen who was a Jewish Christian said the following to the Jewish spiritual leaders at his trial:

51: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
52: Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
53: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Now many of us would maintain a distance from that sentiment, understanding that is what is going on within the story. However, to those disposed to anti-Semitism, they gladly remove the distance and enter into the story, taking on the person of Stephen. Of course, they shouldn't do that but they do and voila. Anyway, it is a somehwat subtle point that I am making and one that deserves more space.

Verse 53 of the above quote though, has long been a favorite of mine, i.e, that the Old Testament (apologies to Jewish readers) was set up by the angels. I've always been a huge fan of angels and in my Protestant days, they never got the respect they deserved. As a Catholic, they get some love, but not enough. Angels played a huge role in my doctrinal path. For instance, Job 33:14-26

14: For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.
15: In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
16: Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,
17: That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.
18: He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.
19: He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:
20: So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat.
21: His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out.
22: Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.
23: If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:
24: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.
25: His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:
26: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.

V. 23 was the lynch pin for me. That "messenger" was an angel. If I'm correct it is the same Hebrew word and could have been translated "angel." It was this that tuned me into the fact that angel can intercede for you. This coupled with the fact that angels show independence and initiative as seen in Zechariah 3 or in Acts 7:53 or of course, the Annuciation. Then there is the popular Ps 8 which says "What is man that you care for him? . . . you have made him a little lower than Elohim." Nonetheless, people seem to have an aversion to admitting that that should be translated as "angels," so it is often rendered "God." Fine, but the problem is that Hebrews quotes that Psalm and translates it as "angelos." As far as I know, Greek does not have the "Elohim" catch-all meaning problem.

Perhaps the most important factor in my angel fascination is a book called "Angels on Assingment." Excellent book about a Pastor, Roland Buck who had angels visit him and he wrote down his experiences. It is an exciting book and highly recommended. In a visit, an angel takes him to the throne of God and he speaks with God. God told him of a bunch of things that would take place that year. One of them was that a man named Karol Wojtila would be the new Pope. Now, this was in my anti-Catholic days and it puzzled me to no end that the God passes over this fact non-chalantly and does not rave about how the pope is the antiChrist.

Blah, blah, blah. BTW, the above quotes are all from the KJV. I'll be honest, I do not trust my spiritual bible reading to any other translation. If it was good enough for Paul, it is good enough for me.

I did not watch the Inauguration. Truth was that I forgot it was happening even though I am not that far from the center of gravity. Of course it was interesting to note the reactions to the speech.

At this lady's blog, this was as close to Acts 12's "It is the voice of God!" Emperor worship I've seen in a long time:

W's got a whole other style - one that hearkens back to George Washington waving off being called, "Your Exellency." "But, what shall we call you sir?" he was asked. "Call me, Mr. President." W's speech was one of the best I've ever heard. Huge ideals. Huge. Eloquent without being flowery. Delivered without one little stumble, in a voice of authority - "and not like the scribes/Senate..."

Would that all Americans would reflect on this speech and the ideals to which it challenges us. I have been wont to think that we are the last days of the republic - but maybe not...


Of course there was Peggy Noonan's reaction, touched on in this Financial Times article (via Liberal Street Fighter) which gaves an overview of conservative reaction to the speech:

The president's inaugural address sought to unite Americans in their common faith in liberty, but has quickly exposed divisions within his own party between the transformational idealists and the old-school realists.

As the inaugural festivities ended on Friday, dissection began on President George W. Bush's commitment to bury tyranny. Peggy Noonan, the former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and a self-proclaimed Bush supporter, voiced the misgivings of many Republicans in Friday's Wall Street Journal. “It left me with a bad feeling and reluctant dislike,” she wrote in an editorial column. The White House authors of a “heaven-ish”, “God-drenched speech” needed to be reminded that “this is not heaven, it's earth”, she said.

The speech was “over the top”, she complained, saying the Bush White House was suffering a case of “mission inebriation”.

Republicans in the realist camp echoed concerns that Mr Bush's second inaugural address had handed US foreign policy over to the neoconservative moralists.

“It was a strong sermon that resonated with calls for freedom throughout the world and an end to tyranny, but completely deficient of any guidelines about what this call for freedom means in practice,” said Geoffrey Kemp, a former official in the Reagan White House and now at the Nixon Center. Mr Bush's commitment to the end of oppressive regimes and “the expansion of freedom in all the world”, Mr Kemp said, amounted to a challenge not only to America's chosen enemies, but to some strategic partners, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and even Uzbekistan.

The remarks also raise questions about Washington's future dealings with Russia and China, which apparently puts in doubt “the campaign for nuclear non-proliferation and. . . the very solvency of the US economy”, he said.

Robert Novak, the conservative columnist, reported on Friday: “The Bush speech did not even please all members of his own political base. . . To some orthodox conservatives, Bush's message sounded too much like Woodrow Wilson or neoconservative diehards.”

Pat Buchanan, the former presidential candidate and the most outspoken representative of the Republicans' shrinking isolationist wing, was appalled.

“It is utterly utopian. He is giving out IOUs that this country and its military cannot honour,” he said Friday. “Rhetorically, it commits America to do more than America has the resources or power to do. . . it commits America not to permanent peace but to permanent war, and wars are the deaths of republics.”

Mr Buchanan warned it would lead to charges of hypocrisy and cowardice, as the US badgered Burma but skirted the democracy issue in dealing with Beijing. “In the short run, you attempt to force democracy on the Saudis, and you are not going to get. . . Vermont. If actively pursued it will end in disaster and tragedy,” he said. But Mr Buchanan drew some comfort from the fact that “in the end it is all verbiage”.

The supporters of a global agenda of transformation the neoconservative doctrine that argues for applying American power to spread democracy for moral, national security and market economy reasons hailed Mr Bush's speech.

“The speech laid out an extraordinarily sweeping and ambitious foreign policy for the nation,” wrote Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, the parish newsletter for neoconservatives. “In doing so, Bush broke down the barrier between the foreign policy idealists, of which he and President Reagan are the most notable, and the realists, who include his father and his father's two chief advisers on foreign affairs, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker.” This would be just an intellectual breakthrough if Mr Bush was a political science professor, Mr Barnes said, but from the leader of the world's superpower, “it's a major step in the right direction”.

What I don't understand is that everyone knows that President Bush is incapable of putting two coherent sentences together. We all know further, that he is an inveterate liar. Why on earth would anyone listen to anything he has to say when we know, first, that he is not reading what he composed (note I didn't say write), or secondly, that he is not telling the truth. Right after his speech about ending tyranny and spreading Democracy crap, it was duly pointed out that many of our dear friends such as Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, etc are not exactly about Democracy and even freedom, especially our beloved Saudi Arabia. Well, would you know, then the White House comes out and bactracks, "Oh, he didn't really mean what he said." No kidding!

Again, the Bush people, are using their Orwellian skills again. The interchange between "freedom" and "Democracy" is meant to deceptively blur distinctions. Freedom and Democracy are not synonymous, as Chuck Todd says on MSNBC's hardball. People in Jordan are free, but it is not a Democracy. Here in the United States, we had a Democracy for hundreds of years, even though Blacks and women were not free. But Bush is not smart enough to realize that, but his handlers, the Orwellian puppet masters know exactly what they are doing. It is enough that Bush has the desire to lie and deceive, it gives them latitude to feed him an appropriate script.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I swear to God, I'm not prejudiced!!!!

Via dkos

Implicit Association Test on Race (Black White): Something of a Prejudic Meter: How Prejudiced are you?

Here are my results:

"Your data suggest a strong automatic preference for African American relative to European American . . . Depending on the magnitude of your result, your automatic preference may be described as 'slight', 'moderate', 'strong', or 'little to no preference'."

It should be noted that people are interpreting this wrongly. Strong prefence for is not anti-other. Just a quick note as I read through the dkossack comments and wrap my mind around my score. BTW, it is an effective test. If you take it, you'll see what I mean. As for results, mixed bag or maybe just mirror-time. I would have thought "slight automatic preference" but I guess not.

From lowkell @ dkos:

First of all, almost ALL of us are prejudiced to one degree or the other...

88 percent of white people had a pro-white or anti-black implicit bias (in other words, only 12% of whites show no anti-black bias -- yikes!!!)

83 percent of heterosexuals showed implicit biases for straight people over gays and lesbians (apparently, straight people are still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to gays, despite "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Richard Hatch, etc.)

More than two-thirds of non-Arab, non-Muslim volunteers displayed implicit biases against Arab Muslims (this is actually lower than I expected, post-9/11)

Large majorities showed biases for Christians over Jews (anti-Semitism is apparently not dead in America)

Large majorities showed biases for the rich over the poor ( this support for Thomas Frank's argument in "What's the Matter with Kansas?")

Large majorities showed biases for men's careers over women's careers (Rush says: "yeah, keep 'em barefoot and pregnant!")
As if those results weren't bad enough, it gets even worse in some ways when you look at minorities' attitudes about themselves. Turns out that a lot of them INTERNALIZE the negative biases of the majority culture:

48 percent of blacks showed a pro-white or anti-black bias

36 percent of Arab Muslims showed an anti-Muslim bias

38 percent of gays and lesbians showed a bias for straight people over homosexuals
Now, here are the juicy political findings:

Conservatives, on average, show higher levels of bias against gays, blacks and Arabs than liberals.

"Very conservative" people were STRONGLY biased against gays, compared to "very liberal" people showing almost NO anti-gay bias.

"Very conservative" people hold between "moderate" and "strong" anti-black bias. Just plain "conservatives" score about the same, while "slightly conservative" people fall right on the "moderate" line for anti-black bias.

In contrast, liberals show only SLIGHT anti-black bias, with "very liberal" people showing essentially NONE.

"Very conservative" folks show the most anti-Arab bias, but surprisingly only between "slight" and "moderate." Liberals show between "none" and "slight."
Interestingly, according to the Post, "Most of the people approached for this article declined to participate. Several prominent politicians, Republican and Democrat, declined to take the tests for this article. The aide to one senator bristled, "You think he is a racist!"

According to researchers, "There is likely a biological reason people so quickly make assumptions -- good or bad -- about others...The implicit system is likely a part of the "primitive" brain, designed to be reactive rather than reasoned. It specializes in quick generalizations, not subtle distinctions.

Following up on my marital arts post below. My brother and I serendipitously found a video at Blockbuster called, Fighting Black Kings, about a martial arts tournament in Japan. It attracted the best in the world including, four Americans.

The video follows all four through their training and then the competition. Great stuff, in fact, I found myself plopping down $13.00 for my own personal copy just this morning. Here's the deal, if I still pine for this video after so many years, almost a decade, then chances are I'll still be interested in it years from now.

It was from watching this video that I learned two things. First, was that tournament fighting is not about finesse. It is still strength and speed and agressiveness. The fancy finesse guys did not quite cut it. Although, there was this Black American dude, who was cat quick, light and finnese based, but he was very good. The second thing was more a fighting tactic. The Japanese karate guys were very aggressive. During a fight with the Chinese Kung fu guy, the japanese guy kept jab-style kicking his opponent on the calf muscle. It did not seem to make any sense, until two minutes into the fight, the Chinese guy collapsed because his leg couldn't support him any longer. clever. I never got a chance to use that because we were never allowed to hit below the belt and I never did any competitions post-video.

A quick final point. Even with Bruce Lee, who is the ultimate in finesse, he was very aggressive albeit in his very controlled way. Bruce Lee said, when hitting, aim for a point six inches after contact, punch through the person. That was all mind. My Master was similar in that he emphasized accuracy. His thing was that if you could target and hit the solar plexis in the first punch, you wouldn't have to throw another. Anyway, in conclusion, what would Jesus do? Would he favor a round house to the head, or would he be more of straight up type?