Thank merciful God for the Global War On Terror, or the fuzz would have never caught up with this dangerous criminal.
(Did you even have to guess where I stumbled across this link? No, I didn't think so.)
If you don't mind being angry for the rest of the day, read this transcript of some gutless scumbag Tennessee cops literally torturing a non-violent drug offender to get him to sign a consent form to search his property. Better yet, listen to the audio.
I'm guessing I'm not the only person out there who gets all manner of unsolocited e-mail from friends who assume that since I'm a Christian, I must want to receive copies of every hard-right e-mail diatribe ever distributed.
Recently, a friend forwarded a message that included one of the standard conservative sound-bites about gay marriage: that it "opens the door to government sanction of polygamy and pedophilia."
First of all, let me say that I'm not "for" gay marriage. In fact, I think that government should not endorse or certify marriage of any kind. It shouldn't be in the "marriage business," so to speak.
Next, I think the pedophilia argument is ridiculous. Certifying gay marriage is no more a "slippery slope" toward pedophilia than gun rights are a slippery slope toward vigilantism and murder. Or the right to free association is a slippery slope toward kidnapping. Whether or not sodomy is a "perversion" has no bearing on the fact that one scenario involves only consenting adults, and the other involves non-consenting minors.
Okay, all of that out of the way? On to my main point: I know I may be going out on a limb here (big surprise), but I've got to say that legalized polygamy doesn't worry me in the least. In fact, if I DID think that marriage was the government's business, polygamy would concern me less than same-sex marriage. For one thing, polygamy enjoys an enormous historical precedent that same-sex marriage does not. Many cultures, including the ancient Hebrews, practiced it routinely. Solomon, who is widely credited as being the "wisest man who ever lived" had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
Now, having a single wife, I have to say that I'm pretty sure I couldn't cope with two of them, much less 700. In my book, I've got to question the "wisdom" of having that many wives. Nonetheless, you don't really hear people referring to Solomon as "that old pervert."
Second, for all of its downsides, polygamy does preserve the cultural requirement of human reproduction, as well as the child-rearing benefit of having parents of both sexes. One could argue (I won't, but one could) that a child of polygamous parents in a society that condoned such practice would be better off than a child of a single parent.
So there you have it. Consider today's crazy rant complete.
Christmas is finally over. I'm a bit of a Grinch/Scrooge, so I can't say I'm sad to see it go. It is my least favorite holiday, chiefly because of the endless barrage of obligations: cards, presents, visitations, "special" events, etc. All succesfully taking the focus off of the Incarnation. Not intentionally, mind you, more as a side-effect. And the current "War on Christmas" silliness only makes it worse. Everybody just SHUT UP about it already. And I'm especially talking to YOU, Bill O'Reilly.
On the upside, my girls love Christmas, and so I get a lot of "joy by proxy" from them. The last three days have been a near-constant shower of little-girl gifts. My daughters' presents fell into three categories: American Girl stuff, My Little Pony stuff, and Polly Pocket stuff. The vast majority were the former, in large part due to the fact that Mrs. Monkey spent two solid months on eBay ("online porn for women!") tracking down every cute "retired" accessory she could find.
I do find it charming. Innocent and feminine. No "Bratz" dolls for my girls. I actually think the girls find Bratz to be as skanky and horrifying as I do, which is a source of parental pride, to be sure. We're in no hurry to see them grow up, and at the moment, neither are they.
So there it is. Joy in the midst of chaos. Not bad at all. And, as long as they're still airing "A Charlie Brown Christmas" every year, we'll always have Linus to remind us what it's all about.
(title stolen from Aaron Sorkin)
We now interrupt this MonkeyFight for a moment of sweetness and light:
Eek, my 8-year old, just got through expressing her delight that Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, because it would be just perfect for us to get to go to church on the day that we celebrate Jesus's birthday.
Sweet kid. If she didn't look so much like me, I'd wonder who her real father is.
I find it, quite frankly, sickening that Republican mouthpieces have reacted to the latest round of news (specifically: CIA prisons, NSA wiretaps, PATRIOT Act filibuster) by stepping up their defense of this indefensible President and his cadre of thugs, rather than coming to their senses and recognizing that this guy is every bit as awful as his critics have been saying.
COME ON PEOPLE! If you had heard that Bill Clinton was authorizing warrantless wiretaps and allowing the CIA to run secret torture prisons in far away countries, you would have gone ballistic, demanded congressional hearings, called for his impeachment, and generally eaten the bastard for breakfast. And you would have been right to do so.
Not only that, if four years ago someone had predicted that these things would come to pass as an overreaction to the events of 9/11/2001, you would have laughed in their face and called them paranoid. The stuff that is going on right now is ripped straight from 1984. It is (and I do not use this term in the fluffy, Ann Coulter catch-all way) treason to the Constitution, and an affront to every man who has ever given his life in the true defense of our liberty.
Instead? I hear people like Tony Blankley calling for the prosecution and imprisonment of those CIA and NSA staff who leaked this information to the New York Times and other news sources. I read so-called conservative writers excoriating John McCain and others who have dared to limit the government's right to TORTURE prisoners. And I see Republicans across the board guzzling the excrement that this administration churns out and asking for seconds.
Things have gotten so bad that, I'm embarassed to say, I actually wish the Democrats controlled the Senate. If they did, perhaps we'd actually get a hearing on this unforgivable behavior, rather than sycophantic defenses of activities that are worse than anything Nixon wound up resigning over.
John Sununu, Senator for the "Live Free Or Die" State, puts his money where his mouth is and joins four other Republicans in giving the Patriot Act the finger, at least for now.
A special message from me to one of my Senators, Jon Kyl: You can suck my unconstitutional wiretap.
I don't see why anyone would be concerned about this. Nope. Nosirree.
Okay, I've found the Pink Floyd album that wins the bottom position in their all-time releases.
Anyone care to take a guess on this one? Never mind - too easy. It's the studio disk of "Ummagumma" - a full 50% crap. The noise from Richard Wright and Nick Mason is completely pointless. Gilmour's pieces aren't bad, but also aren't compelling at all. The same goes for Waters's "Grantchester Meadows", and "Several Species..." is just a novelty piece. Very disappointing.
As I was reading Brad's post, below, and the Thomas Sowell article to which it links, it got me to mulling over something that has frustrated me about the Iraq War debate overall. I think Sowell has a point, of sorts, but his analysis is based on presuppositions that he doesn't share with many of those he is criticizing.
The chief presuppositional difference? Whether or not this is a just war. A significant part of the problem is that neither the media nor most of the vocal critics of the Bush administration will acknowledge that, deep down, they DON'T believe this is a just war. Instead, they "accept the premise" and criticize the EXECUTION of the war, rather than its justification. When they're not criticizing the execution, they're harping on two of the less-important justification issues:
The WMD issue. Bush lied! People died! Yes, it's true that we were either lied to about the WMD issue, or deceived by a perfect storm of incompetence and wishful thinking. But the WMD issue was never enough to justify invasion.
The Iraq-al Qaeda link. Everyone's full of crap on this one, with the conservatives playing both sides ("We never said there was a link!" - "See! Al Zarqawi PROVES there was a link! Just like we said!") and the liberals just acting like whiners ("You tricked us! We thought you said..."), but none of it makes any difference. What we did in Afghanistan was a proportional response to 9-11, and the alignment between the Taliban and al Quaeda was much more focused than ANY theory proffered about the Hussein government.
But with few exceptions, none of the "heavy hitters" for the opposition are really criticizing the fundamental "rightness" of this action. I believe there are at least two significant reasons for this:
1. The parties are more concerned with the politics of the debate than the principles involved. They figure a "soundbite nation" can't wrap it's head around anything as deep as Just War Theory, so they resort to cheap rhetorical manipulation to persuade people without helping them to actually understand. They also don't want to engage in the dicussion in a way that might risk a loss of power for their political party.
2. There's an ingrained post-Vietnam fear of looking like they "don't support the troops" when criticizing the war in this way. Well, duh. Of COURSE you don't support the troops if you oppose the war. Sure, you appreciate their willingness to sacrifice for their country, blah, blah, blah, but that doesn't change the fact that if you believe the war is unjust, then their actions are implicitly unjust, as well. Just grow a spine, admit the connection, and then make your case. At the very least, stand up and declare a discussion of our "feelings about the troops" to be a red herring.
So that's it. Presuppositions: at least admit them, at best defend them. Keep your eye on the ball, and for those of you who think "the ball" is getting your party elected, grow a friggin' soul.
Okay, so I'm on a Smiths kick. I blame John Ashcroft AND Monkey Brad.
Finally, after years of avoiding it, I broke down and bought "The World Won't Listen" on CD. I had avoided it because I only knew for sure that there was one song ("Money Changes Everything") that I didn't already have on some other release. I also have long been frustrated that the CD version doesn't include "The Draize Train", which is another track I need to acquire on CD so I don't have to put on my 12" of "Panic" when I want to listen to it.
Anyway, thanks to some kind seller on half.com, I'm now in possession of TWWL, and I'm delighted that I made the purchase. The song sequence is much more coherent than "Louder Than Bombs," its American counterpart release. And, much to my surprise, there are several tracks that I didn't already have:
1. Money Changes Everything - This instrumental is the only truly "new" track.
2. The Boy With The Thorn In His Side - A noticeably different mix from the version on "The Queen Is Dead"
3. Stretch Out And Wait - The vocal track is different (including different lyrics) from the version on "Louder Than Bombs"
4. That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore - This is a "single edit", almost a minute shorter than the version on "Meat Is Murder." Basically, when the MiM version fades out, this one never fades back in.
5. You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby - This is also different from the version on "Louder Than Bombs", although I haven't listened closely enough to figure out if it's a different mix or a completely different recording.
How amazingly ballsy was it for The Smiths to lead off their first L.P. with "Reel Around the Fountain"? Serously, that took guts. Hats off to Morrissey and Marr.
Joe Carter has decided to push my "list" button on a weekly basis. This week, he weighed in early with a list of overrated/underrated films, and invited others to contribute. So here we go:
Steven Soderbergh film: Sex, Lies, and Videotape | Kafka
Pixar movie: Toy Story | A Bug's Life
Jonathan Demme film: Philadelphia | Storefront Hitchcock
Postmodern pseudo-Christian allegory: The Matrix | The Game
Concert film: The Song Remains the Same | The Cure in Orange
Coen Brothers film: Blood Simple | The Man Who Wasn't There
"Hamlet" adaptation: Laurence Olivier version | Strange Brew
Brian DePalma film: Scarface | Blow Out
Quentin Tarantino scripted film: Pulp Fiction | True Romance
Early Brad Pitt supporting role: Thelma & Louise | True Romance
"Alien" film: Aliens | Alien 3
Mike Nichols film: Closer | [there are no underrated Mike Nichols films]
That's all for now...
Reports of torture and secret prisons, and all the right wing talk shows can talk about is whether or not the "leak" of this information should be investigated? Holy crap, people, have you no shame at all? Give the people that leaked it a friggin' medal and immunity, and investigate the REAL problem: the prisons, the torturers, and an Executive branch that considers these activities both essential and essentially secret.
Okay, so President Bush insists that, "We do not torture."
Why, then, does he oppose congressional legislation banning torture, and why is he seeking an exemption for the CIA? (same article)
Or, perhaps not.
Maybe it's just because I'm married to a Swede, but when I read a headline that says, "Allegations of Vikings sexual misconduct aboard boats," I'm assuming it's a re-print from 1100 years ago.
Ahhhh, the original. Don't tell Jimmy Page or his lawyers.
Hmmm. Perhaps this offers some sort of elliptical explanation of the Meirs nomination.
(i.e. the guy's nuttier than Oral Roberts)
So, my new boss checks in with me via instant messenger this morning, and I respond in Pirate, with a parenthetical note that it's TLaPD. Immediately, he switches in to full-bore pirate speak, and changes his IM status to, "If ye need to parley, do so like a pirate fer it be Talk Like a Pirate Day!"
He stuck with it all day, too - better than I did.
I love my new job.
Me daughters beat me to the "Talk Like A Pirate Day" punch. The scurvy dogs did surprise me in my office with a wee Lego pirate on his raft, with a request to join them in the afternoon fer some celebratin'. I be ashamed.
As you're considering which charitable organization(s) will put your donations to best use in the Katrina relief efforts, may I offer my humble endorsement of Food for the Hungry (Katrina-specific page here.)
Food for the Hungry's North American headquarters is here in Phoenix, and I know several people who work for the organization. They are widely recognized as one of the most efficient charitable organizations in the country.
The organization was one of the NGOs most heavily involved in the Tsunami relief efforts earlier in the year. In these early days of the crisis, their current focus in the Katrina effort is sending personal hygiene care kits, and partnering with other organizations on the ground to distribute food and medical supplies. They also have teams assessing what other assistance they are equipped to provide.
Michael Scheuer observes that our Republican leaders continue to treat their supporters like idiots.
Keep an eye on me, if you don't mind...
| You scored as Suicide. Your death will be suicide. What more can I say? Fact: Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If you want to know hwo you will commit suicide, take a look at your second highest percentage on the bar graphs.|
Goes something like this:
Step step, skip skip skip
[make Plymouth & Vya martini]
[make another martini]
Today is the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. War makes ordinarily good and decent people do horrible things. Unthinkable things. The murders of over 100,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are good examples. This article from The Guardian reflects on the Allies' policies of bombing civilians in both Germany and Japan, and also notes how difficult the decision to be noble can be when you've got skin in the game.
On this dark anniversary, I hope I am never faced with that kind of decision.
James Taranto just made me laugh out loud and spit out my food. That kind of timing has got to be recognized in a public forum.
I'm up late doing my expense reports, watching an SNL re-run on the TiVo from earlier this year. Cameron Diaz was the host, and Green Day the guests.
Notes on Green Day's performance:
1. Crappy derivative punk bands become REALLY AWFUL when they get into their thirties.
2. People in their thirties (and up) should stop dressing like 18-year-olds. No more red hair dye and gelled-up mohawks.
3. Take a tip from The Clash and break up, with each member going on to play music that's less adolescent.
Yes, I'm a cranky old fart.
On the other hand, the "Dramatic Weekend Update Play" was loads of fun.
Okay, time for some folks to admit that Lawrence O'Donnell was right about the Karl Rove thing.
Not that it matters, or anything. Just amusing.
I've been working in Anaheim a couple of days per week for the last month or so. Hopefully, this will be my last week here. I say "hopefully" because it would mean the project was completed without significant trouble, not because I don't enjoy spending July in Orange County rather than Phoenix, the land of blazing mid-summer heat.
Current Song: "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" by Wang Chung
Current Drink: J. T. Schmid's India Pale Ale
I'm having dinner and beers at a grill & brewpub called "J. T. Schmid's" on Katella & CA-57, right across from the Arrowhead Pond, where the Mighty Ducks play hockey, and just a stone's throw away from Edison Field. I don't like American League baseball, by and large, but I do like the Angels. If all goes well tomorrow at work, I'm going to reward myself with a trip to the ballpark tomorrow night.
As you can see above, the music is awful here, but everything else is good. They brew their own beer here, and the IPA is hoppy & bitter, just as it should be. It also packs a punch - 6.9% alcohol content. Fortunately, my hotel is literally right across the street (Schmid's actually provides room service there) so I can enjoy that extra beer or two.
I ordered the "Chop House Burger," which I've had before. It's a 12 ounce burger, thick and juicy. It rivals the burgers at Houston's, which IMO are the best chain-restaurant hamburgers in existence. Instead of fries, I ordered asparagus, which they also do a good job with. On previous visits, I've also enjoyed their Fish & Chips. The only dish I have had that was sub-par is their Jambalaya, which was, for lack of a better word, way too "California" for my tastes. I mean, they put fresh chopped tomato on top. I can't imagine being served Jambalaya in some hole-in-the-wall outside of Baton Rouge with fresh tomatoes. More than likely, the sauce would have been simmering for about a week prior to my visit.
Current Song: Some contemporary R&B crap
The restaurant/bar is really nice here. There's a large patio outside where they frequently have live music. Inside, televisions encircle the dining area and bar. The large projection screen is showing the Dodgers-Rockies game live, and a couple of the smaller screens are showing a re-run of today's Angels-Twins game and some other sporting events. There are lots of booths, so I'm able to sit comfortably even though I'm by myself.
Dinner just got here - back in a minute...
I'm just going to stop reporting the songs, because they're all crap, and I don't know what most of them are, anyway.
Question: How much does it suck to be Todd Helton? He just hit his 22nd double of the season, and he's stuck playing for the NL West's equivalent of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He's gotta be counting the days until he's a free agent like some prisoner in the movies, scratching them onto the wall of his locker.
The burger was excellent. I scarfed it down like I hadn't eaten in days. And the asparagus was cooked perfectly - tender, but not stringy. I'm still sipping my first beer, if that's any indication as to how good the meal was. Now I have to decide if I'm going to stick around, let my meal settle, and have one of their desserts.
A couple of weeks ago, I had dinner with the guy who (Lord willing and the creek don't rise) will be my boss in a few weeks' time. I'm not saying the name of the company I'll be joining, but their color scheme is the same as this weblog.
Timeout: Jessica Simpson is doing a HORRIBLE cover of an already wretched song, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". I guess this is from the "Dukes of Hazzard" movie soundtrack. Make it stop! Make it stop!
Okay, anyway, I'm having dinner here a couple of weeks ago, and my future boss orders this warm brownie & ice cream dessert that I was dying to try, but didn't. Tonight, I may give in. It looked fantastic. So the decision is: Beer #2, or Brownie.
I'm leaning toward the latter, because I've got some good booze back in my hotel room. My plane landed at SNA at 4:30pm today. Hint for travelers who are coming to the Los Angeles metropolitan area: Don't take a flight that will put you on the road at rush hour, if you can possibly avoid it. But, making lemonade, I decided to stop at the Santa Ana Wine Club and pick up some goodies. I got three bottles of wine (I'll list them when I get back to the hotel) and a bottle of Victory "Golden Monkey" ale. I couldn't resist, of course. It's a Belgian-style triple-fermented ale bottled under pressure with a champagne cork. And it has "monkey" in the name.
Dodgers just pulled off a nice double play in the bottom of the 8th. They're leading 9-3. This has been a really weird season for the NL West. I don't think anyone imagined at the end of last season that the San Diego Padres would be leading the division, or that the Giants would be in fourth place. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers have been trading off in the number two spot, with the D'Backs currently holding that position down. Pretty encouraging for a team that set a major league record for earliest numerical playoff elimination just last year.
Last night's Diamondbacks-Cardinals game was a good example of why I love the baseball, and particularly the "real" baseball that only the National League plays. Even in a game where you know before it starts who's probably going to win (the Cardinals have the best record in baseball this year, and have been positively dominant), you can still look forward to watching some truly exciting moments. Last night, it was pitcher Sean Estes hitting a solid triple when he came up to bat in the third inning, and getting knocked in on a sacrifice fly by Craig Counsell.
Okay, it's settled. Brownie with ice cream and coffee for me. Then back on Atkins tomorrow morning. :-)
That brings me back to the heat of Phoenix, and how to avoid it. We enjoyed a very mild spring this year, which means it didn't hit 100 until the middle of May. Unfortunately, it hit 110 about a week later. Things settle down for a June with highs in the mid 100's, which is very mild, believe it or not. But the last couple of weeks have been right around 110 every day. Fortunately, I've benefitted from the Providential confluence of good work and good in-laws. My wife's parents have a cabin in Pinetop, way up in the mountains around 7000 feet. So she and the girls headed up there about two weeks ago for some good weather. I was going to Orange County during the week, then I joined them for a couple of long weekends. So I got to miss out on the miserable weather, too.
Later this month, we'll be spending 10 days at Stormy Lake, just outside of Conover, Wisconsin, just about 15 minutes south of Land O' Lakes, Michigan. It's uninhabitable during the winter, but has some of the most beautiful summer weather you could ever imagine. 5-6 years ago, I was sitting in a fishing boat at dusk, and saw a bald eagle fly over the treeline, dip down to the lake, and fly away with a fish. I've lived in Arizona all of my life, so this was truly one of the most sublime moments I've ever experienced.
The Dodgers finished off the Rockies, and Houston beat the Padres, so the Dodgers will gain a full game in the NL West. I suppose it's too much to ask that the Diamondbacks would beat the Cardinals.
This brownie is gigantic. Round, over two inches thick, and about six inches in diameter. Served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. The only thing I'd change would be to replace the syrup with thick fudge, like they use on a similar dessert at Black Angus. The coffee's not great, but it's not bad, either. Goes well with the dessert.
Current song: I don't know the title, but it's that "Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend that looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year..." song. Brad would know. He knows what all the hip kids are listening to these days. I'm clueless.
Brad's been very helpful keeping me in touch with the new music. A couple of weeks ago, he came over and we watched and listened to a bunch of new stuff. We watched the video for "Evil" by Interpol, which was really cool. I wound up getting both of their albums from eMusic. I also got the new Brian Eno album, which is great. eMusic rocks.
Time for the check. More navel-gazing back in the room...
As I said, it would be too much to ask for the D-Backs to actually win tonight. They lost, 2-1, to the Cardinals. Boo.
One more baseball comment: Cheers to Curt Schilling, who has volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen for the Red Sox. Classy move.
Alright, that's enough babbling from me. 'Night all.
Matt Welch at Reason writes this post summarizing high-profile leftyblog reaction to the Kelo case. This quote from The Daily Kos left me speechless:
"Thank God we [RobbL - who's we, anyway?] stopped the property-rights extremists in their tracks."
We've been tagged by Miller's Book Meme (MBM, for short). My answers are below, with this caveat: This is all off the top of my head without access to my library, because I'm not at home. I'm sure I'd have several different answers if my books were in front of me.
1. What is the last book you read, the book you are currently reading and the next book you plan to read:
• Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification - Alister E. McGrath (I'm not 100% sure this was the last book I read, it's just the last book I remember finishing.)
• The Abolition of Man (re-reading) - C. S. Lewis
• The New Science of Politics - Eric Voegelin (I've actually already started this, but I'm taking a break for "Abolition")
2. In no particular order, what are your five favorite works of fiction:
(RobbL note: I don't particularly care for fiction, and I read very little of it.)
• That Hideous Strength - C. S. Lewis
• Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkein
• Ummm....ahhh....hold on, I'm sure I'll think of something. Oh yeah:
• Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein
• Eaters of the Dead - Michael Crichton (guilty pleasure, those Crichton books)
• Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams
3. In no particular order, what are your five favorite non-fiction books:
• God in the Dock - C. S. Lewis (collection of essays)
• Le Ton Beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language - Douglas R. Hofstadter (it was close between this and The Minds I)
• An Empire Wilderness - Robert D. Kaplan (hard to choose which of his books is my favorite)
• The Shape of Sola Scriptura - Keith A. Mathison
• Objections Sustained: Subversive Essays on Evolution, Law & Culture - Phillip E. Johnson
4. Who are your five favorite fiction writers:
• C. S. Lewis
• J. R. R. Tolkein
• Robert Heinlein
• Michael Crichton
• Douglas Adams
5. Who are your five favorite non-fiction writers:
• Robert D. Kaplan
• Douglas R. Hofstadter
• Phillip E. Johnson
• C. S. Lewis
• R. C. Sproul
6. What book[s] (other than Scripture) have you read more than once:
(RobbL note: I rarely read a book all-the-way-through more than once. This list would have been totally different if it asked which books I go back to and re-read lengthy portions of with some frequency.)
• That Hideous Strength
• God in the Dock
• Starship Troopers
• The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented
• The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
7. What autographed books do you own, and who signed them:
• Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem (signed by the author)
• Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope - Keith A. Mathison (signed by the author)
• Before Jerusalem Fell - Kenneth L. Gentry (signed by the author)
• Chosen By God - R. C. Sproul (signed by the author)
That's all I can recall at this point. Who's next?