Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sometimes These Things Write Themselves

Washington, D.C.: from the Associated Press
Headline: Bush Wants Newcomers to Learn English
"What the president has said all along is that he wants to make sure that people who become American citizens have a command of the English language," press secretary Tony Snow said. "It's as simple as that."
You would think it would be simple, wouldn't you? Of course, the President would never encourage people to do something that he couldn't do himself. Allow me to cite some examples of the president's command of the English language:
"We're honored that the Flying Tomato represented our country, and we want to thank all the dudes and dudesses of the snowboarders who are here. " -- With the 2006 U.S. Winter Olympic and Paralympic Teams, White House, May 17, 2006.
"The first choice, and a choice that I think will work with the Iranians is diplomacy. And I believe we can accomplish this through diplomacy." -- Sun City Center, Florida, May 9, 2006.
"There's what they call actionable intelligence, to which our military has responded on a quick basis is improving." -- Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2003.
"Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better."
"I believe we are called to do the hard work to make our communities and quality of life a better place."-- Collinsville, Illinois, Jan. 5, 2005.
"I think war is a dangerous place" -- Washington, D.C., May 7, 2003.
"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."-- Saginaw, Michigan, Sep. 29, 2000.
"I was raised in the West. The west of Texas. It's pretty close to California. In more ways than Washington, D.C. is close to California."-- Los Angeles, California, Apr. 8, 2000.
"You wanna be blunt about what has taken place, sometimes when you don't measure, you just shuffle kids through. Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling."-- It sure are, Washington, D.C., Jan. 23, 2004.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
Message to Newcomers: When the president says that he wants you to have a command of the English language, the proper response is: "You first, Mr. President."
Thanks to for the quotes.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Just When You Thought it Was Over

I was starting to think that this blog was getting a little too serious - you thought so too, right? In the nick of cyber-time, along comes an e-mail from Heaven with news that sent me whirring to the log-on page at the Blogger thingy. It was a notice from Ticketmaster, reminding me of an important concert event coming to the Wachovia Center in Philly in July ...


Whoever decided that Pop Tarts should sponsor the American Idols tour is a marketing genius. To you, sir or madam, I remove my figurative hat in tribute to your keen sense of irony. Pop Tarts indeed. I even wrote a little poem:
The perfect sponsor and
symbolic twist
for such a group of twits as these.
To you, my friends,
the tarts of pop,
I wave my private parts
and sneeze.
Thank you, worthless TV show, for making me funny again. I couldn't have done it without you.

Same to you, Simon. You pompous clown.

I feel much better now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Shoot the Messenger

Recently, we have been treated to news stories about the distinguished former senator from the great state of Tennessee, Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. The stories are centered around the issue of global warming, which has been a concern of Gore's for quite some time. In fact, according to an Associated Press story, Al is running to California, New York, Utah, Washington, France and points in between to promote "An Inconvenient Truth," a film chronicling his elaborate slide shows to educate people about global warming. According to Albert himself, he is not planning to run for president again, but is merely "...on a different kind of campaign now - to persuade people to take action to solve the climate crisis."
Somehow, this angers the conservative Republicans. Anger seems to be the emotion they express best, since they have been angry at least since 2000, and no amount of political power seems to soothe their savage breast. They control the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and various influential areas of the oil industry, big business in general and mostly, they control our lives through their actions and inactions. Yet, they remain angry. The only conclusion I can come to is that they enjoy it.
The re-surfacing of Al Gore has re-kindled the flames of anger that were lit when he ran for president in 2000. Now, though, the anger is focused more on his message of climate control rather than governmental control. Since the Republicans have exhausted their anger-venting on Howard Dean, and are still hitching up the Hillary Clinton Hate Train, they can now focus on their old adversary, complete with the same-old tired nonsense about the Internet and lock-boxes. Humor is not their strong suit, and they enjoy attacking Al for his lack of charisma. Maybe, for once, we could listen to what people say rather than evaluate how they say it. What a radical concept. Oops - there's that "R" word.
Wouldn't you think that as caretakers of our planet, we would want to make sure we were doing everything we could to ensure its continued prosperity? But that flies in the face of the build-spend-destroy-expand economics that typifies modern America. Maybe for once, we could tear down an old building and plant something that grows. Ask yourself, what happens when we run out of room to build and expand? Not in our lifetimes, but soon, in the Universal sense. But there's no sign of slowing down, and every day there is another housing development or shopping center built on land that once contained living things. Where will we continue to put it all? But I digress.
One would think that the Republicans would encourage the fight against global warming. After all, if the Earth's temperature continues to increase, we will use less oil and natural gas to heat our homes, thus decreasing the profits of companies like Halliburton and Exxon-Mobil. Think long-range, folks. The huge profits and no-bid contracts you have come to know and love will fall by the wayside if the need for oil decreases. Four-dollar a gallon gasoline is looming, as is another big drilling contract.
The ticker symbols are HAL and XOM, if you have any money left.

The Dude in Chief

WASHINGTON - President Bush welcomed "dudes and dudesses" from the U.S. Winter Olympic team on Wednesday in a White House ceremony that included a most unusual prop — a signed football jersey from Donovan McNabb. About 190 Olympians and Paralympians from the Turin Games gathered on the sunny South Lawn for the traditional post-Olympic visit, where the president offered praise for athletes representing sports both traditional and hip. "We want to thank all the dudes of dudesses of the snowboarders who are here," Bush said.
Normally, I would think that anyone who uses the word "dudesses" is joking around, but this guy is such a nitwit that I can't imagine that he was kidding.
Such is the manner of this National disgrace in the White House. It truly makes me sad that we have such an ill-mannered boob in the same chair once occupied by Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt and yes, even his father, whom I didn't always agree with, but at least had some dignity. Every day I ask myself how it happened that we elected this clown, and perhaps some day I will know. Until then, we are forced to suffer. Somehow, his 30% popularity rating seems high to me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Keep the Baby, Faith

CHICAGO (Reuters) - America's evangelical Christians who see "The Da Vinci Code" as Bible bashing at its worst are taking a cue from Hollywood to attack the story as well as capitalize on the hit novel's impending movie version.
WASHINGTON - “The Da Vinci Code” struck a chord as a runaway best-selling book, but the film, which denies that Jesus is divine and portrays the Catholic Church as evil, has many conservative Christians storming the ramparts. “This isn’t just a little misguided theology, but a dagger in the heart of the Christian faith,” says Robert Knight, the director of the Culture and Family Institute. “I don’t think Christians ought to put down money for something that blasphemes the Lord.” So, later this week Knight and others will urge a nationwide boycott.
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Across the United States on Saturday and Sunday, television viewers were to be offered "The Da Vinci Deception," an hour-long program produced by Dr. D. James Kennedy and his Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries. The video, also being offered for sale, exposes "how a best-selling book threatens to undermine the faith of millions," its promotional trailer states.
CBCPs Statement (in part) - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, representing the collective voice of the country’s Catholic leadership, on Monday issued a press statement on the issue. Brown has created the impression that his fiction is historical fact. Aware of Saint Paul’s admonition that some people "will stop listening to the truth and will wander off to fables" (2 Timothy 4:4), we, Pastors and Teachers of the faith, invite the faithful to carefully discern the truth of the Gospel.
From The Border Mail - Msgr William Fulton of St Patrick’s Church in Smollett St, Albury, said he had organized a viewing of "Discovering the Truth About The Da Vinci Code" at the church hall on Thursday night. "The novel undermines our belief in Jesus as God,” Msgr Fulton said. "If you were a Muslim you would not be able to do anything like that to Mohammed. "It’s fiction but it’s being advertised as the truth."
Those are only five of the seemingly countless examples of stories that have appeared recently in the already sick-and-tired of the publicity surrounding Friday's release of The Da Vinci Code, directed by noted evangelical Ron Howard and starring the Rev. Tom Hanks. The movie isn't even in theaters yet, and already it's on my nerves. And just as I was getting over the hype from the book!
As has been mentioned here before over other such issues, Americans are as easily duped and played for suckers as anyone on the Earth, and probably elsewhere in the Universe as well - although I cannot prove my "Universal Theory of Chumps", I can at least vouch for our Solar System.
Here's a message to all who may be offended or otherwise influenced by the book and/or movie:
Be secure in your faith. If your religion and its corresponding God are so fragile as to be influenced by a book and movie, how strong can the premise be? If others choose to reap profits over religion and seek to cause controversy over the ideals you hold dear, let them go. If you are confident in your faith, it doesn't matter to anyone but you whether or not the book and film represent religion or fiction. If they are indeed doomed to Hell, then that will be their lot.
A lot of time and energy are being devoted to reacting to the movie, but if you already knew that some people [the weak] will "wander off to fables", why get worked up? It has happened before and it will happen again. Such is the fragility of faith. If their beliefs are so unstable as to be shaken by this, then perhaps you should just let them go. They will come back. God beats Hollywood like rock crushes scissors and scissors cuts paper.
The more attention that is given to this, the more it will make people want to see it. Nothing entices people to do something more than telling them they cannot. It will not "undermine your faith" or "put a dagger in the heart" of your beliefs. As Christians, you are supposed to be stronger than that, and to suggest otherwise is insulting to you and your church.
Perhaps the reason the churches are so irritated by this is that they fear they will lose your business. I really hate to bring money into an essay on religion, but let's face it, if people begin to turn away from the church, they will suffer financially.
Besides, whatever happened to the concept of turning the other cheek? I guess that doesn't apply if it's the cheek with the wallet in it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

If You Believe in Things You Don't Understand...

Saturday, Phillies pitcher Jon Lieber carried a perfect game into the seventh inning. Although he would go on to win the game, he lost the perfect game on an Adam Dunn single in the seventh inning after retiring the first 20 Reds batters he faced. It was an impressive performance, and it exposed another of our strange quirks that irritates the sensible and forward-thinking among us.
While Lieber was in Cincinnati pitching a baseball game, those of us watching some 600 miles away were encouraged to keep quiet about the feat lest we jinx him. Ironically, a few hours ago, former major leaguer John Marzano was discussing that very thing on WIP, our sports talk station. For whatever reason, players, coaches, broadcasters, viewers, fans and even people watching on TV are not supposed to talk about pending no-hitters or perfect games because of the great possibility that mentioning the event will lead to its premature demise.
My particular mistake was in watching the game in public. There's something about big-screen plasma TVs and alcohol that makes it difficult for me to go home, but there I was, in front of a Panasonic plasma, watching Lieber crank up a gem in the state that's round at the end and high in the middle - much like me without the "round" part.
I mentioned it a few times as we worked into the fifth and sixth inning, "Wow, he's working on a perfect game" I said. My fellow bar patrons, working on their fifth something and tonic shussed me, worried that I would jinx the game by talking about it.
"I don't think he can hear me in Cincinnati," I said, figuring that I could not be proven wrong, yet somehow, in the back of my SoCo soaked mind, I wondered if I may be poking the drunken hornet's nest of superstition present in the something that goes with their tonic water. Still, I was asked to suspend my discussion of his work, and instead, ignore it, as though my ignorance would contribute to Jon's success - so very far away. I silenced my observations, fearing that a brawl would take place and it would be difficult to explain to the arresting officer that I was defending myself against superstition when I broke that bottle over his head.
At this point, I asked myself "What year is this?", that the mere mention of something would cause seemingly rational people to break into hysteria and actions where their index finger was placed in front of pursed lips, asking me to cease and desist. I then answered myself, "It's 2006", and we should have long ago stopped allowing such things to rule our lives, but there was Jon Lieber, sitting alone at one end of the dugout, while his teammates disowned him and the TV announcers resisted temptation.
If we had that sort of power over the actions of others, I would start buying lottery tickets or sending out resumes in hopes of winning the Power Ball jackpot or landing a job as Julia Roberts' personal masseur. Alas, I have no such control, and as I figure it, my mentioning Jon Lieber's almost-perfect game had nothing to do with his giving up a hit in the seventh inning. I think that was Jon's responsibility.
It seems so silly to me that in this era of cellular phones, the Internet and personal storage sheds that we are still so superstitious. If I thought I had that sort of influence over events outside of my life, Al Gore would be President, Dick Cheney would be incarcerated, cars would run on garbage, alcohol would prevent cancer, women would be drawn to me and my cat would live forever. But, I don't yet have those powers, and as much as I would like, it just doesn't work that way. It surprises me that, well into the 21st Century there are still people who think that their thoughts influence the actions of others. Face it folks, the world spins whether you talk about it or not.
Meanwhile, I'm waiting for Julia's people to get back to my people.