Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Reading (And Listening) is Fundamental

Thanks to Sugarfused, I recently added an automatic "What Am I Reading" section to my sidebar. Usually I have about three books going at once - one main book, one I'm getting through in my spare time, and an audiobook I listen to in the car.

Feel free to send me comments about one if it looks interesting, or if you've read it and you want to discuss it.

Click on the "ALL CONSUMING" link under the title list to see what other things I've read.

TV Tuesday

Oh, Get Real!

Reality TV is everywhere, love it or hate it. From Survivor to My Big Fat Obnoxious American Idol - Oh, sorry, there are too many to keep track of!!! So do tell- what's your take on the topic???

1. Do you consider yourself a "fan" of reality TV?

Nope. I watched Survivor II some to see Tina Wesson (from Knoxville) but that's it.

2. What's your "can't miss" reality TV show (or shows)?

Some kind of show simulating a group of people trying to handle an unknown - but not just survival - situation. Like you are one of a group of people who are stuck on a ship that the crew has disappeared. Can you get it to sail back to safety? Or maybe you're one of a group of people who going on some kind of intercontinental treasure hunt. That would be fun, but the only competition was how well you held up your part of the team, and your reward at the end was dependent on how well you participated and contributed.

3. What reality TV show do you suppose the devil plays on the TV in Hell as punishment?

"My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance". I almost lost my lunch when I saw this one advertised...

~Bonus~ If you were given a free ticket to be on any reality show, which one would you choose?

Probably "The Mole", since I think it was mostly just puzzle solving. I could handle pretty much any interpersonal "living together" type arrangement, though, so if the producers were looking for any dynamics for me, they'd get pretty bored.

Thanks for playing, evidently fear is not a factor for you!

UPDATE: I realize now from reading other folks' responses to this week's question that I misinterpreted #2 - When it said, "What's your "can't miss" reality TV show (or shows)?" I thought it was asking what would be a formula for a reality show that "couldn't miss" - or the ideal reality show. I think they meant what reality show can you not miss watching every week?

In which case, they answer would be, "None".

Thank you for your time and attention..

The Only Winning Move Is...

I was invited by Brian Keegan of the Centrist Coalition to take a look at his group and his blog. Although I don't necessarily agree with each of the specific principles they espouse their idea is refreshing:

"We believe strong leadership involves a bold mix of views drawn partly from the right and partly the left.

On the one hand, we embrace an economic agenda focused on growth and fiscal responsibility. We believe in free trade, fair competition, and limited government.

On the other hand, we embrace an inclusive social agenda that celebrates the rich diversity of American life, and seeks to avoid imposing one person's choices on another. We are pro-choice and pro-civil rights.

We endorse candidates with a bold mix of views consistent with this vision of a prosperous and inclusive America."
As I've been saying lately (and has been unfortunately demonstrated), only a willingness to create new rules will save our political process from partisan self-destruction.

Check out the site - I've added it to my "Best of the Rest" blogroll - and let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

My Reply

Since SKB decided to rebut my post below by writing a 5-part novel, I'll reply here instead of there in Comments.


Hey, Barry. If you'd bothered to read you would see that SKB

You always talk about yourself in 3rd person? Ok, one and only cheap shot out of the way first.

didn't spend the last week "drawing these". That was from over a year ago before the ill-advised invasion of Iraq.

I don't think I made a distinction about when they were drawn/made/compiled. Simply that they were made at all, and in this case brought back out.

You're starting to sound as shrill and irrational as Hobbs. Or maybe he's your new ideological hero. I don't know.

I don't consider wishing for a stop to the endless partisanship and name-calling "shrill or irrational". If anything, drawings and doormats and such like the ones I linked to only exacerbate the dislike the two sides have for each other. If you make fun of your adversary, it doesn't help come to any kind of understanding. And as for Bill, I criticized him just the same as you.

Because you sure don't act like much of an intelligent progressive Democrat any more.

As I've said before several times, I consider the anti-war left to be the ones who don't sound like intelligent, progressive Democrats anymore. And the most common reason I see is not a rational disagreement with policy, but a disagreement with the policy maker.

I realize you have a blind spot on Iraq and that you somehow feel safer now that they have been occupied. Whatever.

I don't necessarily feel safer in the short run, but the long run prospects for the area certainly have improved. I realize to you it's a blind spot that I don't subscribe to the notion of the Iraqi liberation being a bad idea. I think it was a good idea, and good things are happening - and will continue to happen for everyone involved - because of it.

But you might notice that I've said pretty much the same thing as you about these hearings. They are a sham. Just like Bush. Just like his "war on terror". Just like his invasion of Iraq.

But ask yourself - are they as sham because Bush is bad, or is Bush bad because they're a sham? It's the order you come to the opinion that determines the level of partisanship.

Some day YOU might grow up and be able to think and process information rationally and logically and be able to read between the lines fed to you by idiots in power.

What line is that, exactly? From sources I trust, I get the reports that things are overall going well in Iraq and the people for the most part are happy we're there. I'm sure the sources you trust say the opposite. But I have considered the opinions rationally, and you see the conclusions I've come up with. However, I don't see this from a cynical perspective, convinced that there's an ulterior motive behind everything that Washington does and says. I hated to see it suring the Clinton years, and I hate it now from the other side.

And there are plenty of idiots on both sides.

I will agree with you there.

What's sad is that you feel such an affinity to the current idiots who want to take away your rights, not to mention your money that they want to give to their rich pals.

See, there again it all comes back to what are the bad guys in power doing to screw us all? Just because I agree with his policy doesn't mean I have an affinity for Bush. I can separate the man from the mission, but it seems some people can't. The same with Clinton - I wasn't in tune with current affairs when he first took office 12 years ago, but I remember the bickering over the national health plan. Republicans opposed it primarily not because it was necessarily a bad plan, but because Clinton pushed for it. Now Democrats oppose Bush's War on Terror plans, not because they're necessarily bad, but because it's Bush. And the artwork reflects that.

Folks like you are the ones that hurt the most. I can understand an opportunistic scumbag like Zell Miller. But when progressives lose a good guy like you it hurts.

Actually, thank you for the sentiment - it's appreciated. I hope to help you and others see that I didn't get "lost" - I'm still in the same place, waiting for the rest of you to come back :)

Bill Clinton sold us out to the GOP, but he did it in the spirit of compromise and moving us forward (i.e. the definintion of progressive) and embodied the so-called "moderate" approach you espouse which resulted in the largest economic expansion in history and relative peace. But look what happened to him for his troubles. It's ideological war now. Brought to us by the GOP. They set the rules.

I understand exactly what you mean, and I agree to a point. Clinton did what he could to move the nation forward, and he was slammed mercilessly for eight years. (But it wasn't, at the heart, really over idealogy - it was over what team you were on. If you were on the Republicans, you hated those dang Democrats - and vice versa. And that's just the way things were.) Yes, they set the precedent on what was to happen to Bush in his term, and the 2000 election fiasco elevated the chance for partisan roadblocks even further. I remember thinking just after the election was finally decided that it was going to interesting and a little wickedly fun to see what the Democracts would dish out onto Bush in revenge for their treatment of Clinton. Maybe the GOP set the rules, but after 9/11 it was clear the entire gameboard had changed. The time for partisanship was over, and it was time to Get To Business. Remember Joshua, the computer from Wargames? After endless futile simulations of US/USSR war scenarios, he concluded that the only winning move was not to play. In this case, it means of you're heading for endless partisan conflict, one side has the take the initiative to break the stalemate and not play by the rules. But for the most part, it hasn't happened, and that's bad.

And their rules spread far beyond our borders, and have much more far reaching implications than protecting your children from obscenity or promiscuous sex (a job which you should be doing, by the way). Now we have to play by their rules. You seem to have trouble picking a side. Pick one. Or quit calling yourself a Democrat.

I am doing my best as a parent to keep the obscenities I see in the media from my children. But I owe it to myself and to others as a Christian, as - yes - a Democrat, and as a human to look after my fellow man as well. If I think rap music is obscene and harmful, then I have an obligation to speak out against it and use my words to try to convince others of what I believe. But that's another argument for another day.

Again, you seem to believe that we have to play by their rules. No, we don't. If you're afraid you're going to appear diminished in their eyes because you don't go tit for tat with them, that's not a big deal. Be above it. Don't stoop to the level of the opponent.

Sorry, force of habit from my natural tendencies - that goes for Republicans, too. Don't blindly play by the rules - create your own. Do what you know is right, not what someone else dictates as the way things should be done.

I'm not having trouble picking a side, necessarily. I'm having trouble remaining a Democrat and living with the stereotyping that now comes from the actions of the anti-Bush Left.

P.S. I guess the point of all that was, leave me out of your stupid irrational ideological jihad.

You really equate this with a jihad? I want people to talk to each other, to be rational and mature. I don't want people to bicker or call each other names, or create pictures and objects and bumper stickers whose seemingly raison d'etre is to "get" the other guys.

Find another poster boy for your juvenile arguments. You're getting to be just like Hobbs and Rich. You can't make your point without dissing some other regular guy,

I'm not dissing (and you guys are just high profile bloggers I read all the time). What I'm trying to do is put forth examples of a method of political discourse I consider distracting, argumentative, petty and ultimately unhelpful.

which is particularly disgusting when you do it to other RTB members. There are a lot of idiots in the RTB that I could spend all day shredding, including you. But I try to play nice among erstwhile associates, and either say nothing at all or confine it to their comments.

I don't see you pulling many punches when it comes to Bill Hobbs or Rich, as you do above. In fairness, Bill does it right back to you - only snootier.

Oh, wait. I just realized. You evoked the desired reaction. I played right into your hands. You are the master. I bow before you. Heh. Indeed.


Anyway, I truly and sincerely want people to listen to each other, and not make fun of each other. That's all - just be adult about things and fight for the right reasons. If you don't like Bush - fine, but don't disagree with his policies automatically because you think he and those policies are by default corrupt. This is the most important time in the life of the US since the 40's and we can't afford the distractions. Just think about it.

Does anyone out there feel the way I do? Or am I just lost in the tidal wave?

Friday, March 26, 2004

Quick Thoughts

  • My take on the whole Richard Clarke fiasco - Predictably, all Liberal bloggers think he's a saint and all Conservative bloggers think he's a sinner. I have yet to find one site that isn't aligned one way or another to break ranks. Nary a one seems eager to look at the information presented and come to their own reasonable conclusion on culpability or opportunism. If you hate Bush, you believe him and take everything he says at face value. If you love Bush, you condemn him and paint him to be the AntiChrist.

    Neither side, while offering amazingly detailed analysis, do very little real objective analyzing.

    Now the ones toward the middle tend to blow it off, or find the whole procedure mind-numbingly partisan and pointless - instead of placing blame, what are we doing to use this information to ensure another 9/11 doesn't happen?

    Oh, sorry, we don't have time. We're too busy making these, and drawing these, and putting this out in public, or posting things like these.

    Grow up, people - just grow up. You left the sandbox behind years ago in daycare.

    Yes, I know I'm going to get hammered from both sides now, but if you think I'm right I'd like to hear from you, too. We've spent a week almost on these hearings and haven't seen anything that makes me feel lessons are being learned that will help us in the future. Republicans, you spent 8 years ridiculing and condemning Clinton. Because of those attacks Democrats are retaliating with unrelenting attacks on Bush. Each side is blind and so consumed with hatred and the desire for revenge nothing else matters - oh, they pay lip service to current affairs, but really it's just us vs. them -- me vs. you -- an eye for an eye and screw anything else.

    Grow up.

  • Call a Tow! - Navy F-18 Crashes at Raleigh Airport

    "Andy Palahnuck told News14 Carolina, "We were watching the two F-18s take off. First one took off, and the second one behind it is the one that had the problem." Palahnuck said the plane had some sort of problem as it came down the runway and that he saw a pilot eject from the craft. He said the plane never got off the ground before crashing."
    Um, not to be picky - and I'm glad the pilot's ok - but since the plane never left the ground, isn't it more accurate to say it wrecked?

  • And You'd Rather...? - Iraqi cleric: 9/11 was a 'miracle from God'

    "An influential Shiite cleric in Iraq called Israel's assassination of the spiritual leader of Hamas a "dirty crime against Islam" and the September 11, 2001, terror attacks "a miracle from God."
    Yeah, you're welcome.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Say It Ain't So....!!!

September 1998...."The Phantom Menace"

August 2001...."Attack of the Clones"

March 2004..."The Creeping Fear"?????


Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Study: Daily Drink Eases Hypertensives' Heart Risk

"The protection against heart disease from moderate drinking extends to men with high blood pressure, suggesting current advice for such patients to avoid alcohol is wrong, researchers said on Monday. "
Reading headlines like this just makes my blood pressure go up.....grrr....

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

This Just In....

Muppets Bringing Peace to the Middle East

" Where countless politicians and diplomats have failed, Elmo, Cookie Monster and their "Sesame Street" buddies are on a mission to promote peace and tolerance in the Middle East.

A programing experiment using the Muppet characters was launched six months ago and was widely welcomed by parents, educators and the media. But the Muppets are not without their critics in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

'It's a highly charged environment, and the press is going to reflect some of that," (Sesame Workshop president Gary) Knell says. "Yes, some Israeli reports accused us of being lackeys of the Palestinians, while another article accused us of being lackeys of the Bush White House and charged that Elmo was carrying the will of the White House to the Middle East. A Jordanian Internet site accused us of being Zionist lap dogs.'"
Thousands have gathered worldwide to protest the muppets. Police had to break up demonstrators in Sydney, Australia burning Big Bird in effigy, and in Berlin garbage cans were dumped into the streets to symbolize the trash characters like Oscar the grouch were bringing to the unsuspecting people in the area.

Reaction from the muppets themselves was mixed - Muppet spokeswoman Prairie Dawn expressed her hope that the world would be able to come to view her people as "messengers of peace, love, and the alphabet" to all mankind. Grover and Baby Bear reportedly were attempting a world-wide e-mail campaign, Ernie and the two Aliens discussed ways to better get their search for self-understanding across to the people, while a despondent Elmo quietly sobbed in the arms of The Count. Cookie Monster was nowhere to be found, having run off earlier in the day.

Some muppets, however, did not take matters as well and reportedly have opened talks with opposition forces....

That's the news - good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

TV Tuesday

Calling Dr. Bombay... Calling Dr. Bombay... Emergency, come right away!

TV doctors from Kildare to Kovac have been healing our ills since way back when. (Remember Steve Martin on the original Saturday Night Live, as Theodoric, Barber of York?! A good blood-letting always cured what ailed ya!) Yep, from leeches to CAT scans, we love our TV Docs!

1. Which TV doctor would you choose to remove your appendix?

Easy one - Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce from M*A*S*H

2. Which TV doctor would you not let touch you with a 10- foot pole?

Also from M*A*S*H, Major Frank Burns

3. Which TV doctor/hospital would you choose for the best medical care?

Other thank Hawkeye, I guess Dr. Jeffrey Geiger (Mandy Patinkin) on Chicago Hope (because he'd sing), although I would never check into that hospital. Not when they drop transplant hearts on the floor...

~Bonus~ Everyone knows nurses run the hospital. Who was/is your favorite TV nurse?

Here's one I'll bet no-one puts down: Nurse Terri from Three's Company :)

Monday, March 22, 2004

Joining the Blogging Elite

Cool - Haloscan now has Trackback.

Someone link to this entry, and let me see if it works...


I took BrainyBoy (v8.1) to the dentist today. He needed a filling, and as we left he was understandably quite numb. And quite tired (see previous post for the weekend's activities).

I drove him to his grandparents' house for the day, since he's on spring break - BBv8.1 slept all the way. As I pulled into the driveway, I looked back at him, mentioning that we were here. He mumbled to me, "You know what I'm going to do first?"

"Take a nap?" I said.

He nodded. "Straight up."

Huh? What was that again?

"What do you mean...straight up?" I asked, casting my mind back to wonder when in the world he'd started speaking Urban slang..

He said, "Straight up - straight upstairs to the bedroom where we sleep over."

"Ohhhhh. Got it...."

Yo, yo. My frizzle was shizzled on that one...

What I Did Over the Weekend

Pretty uneventful, if you ask me. Let's see..
  • Watch BrainyBoy (v8.1) score the winning goal in the final seconds of his second soccer game ever. He's a hefty guy, and not too swift of foot, and he looked like Warren Sapp running for a touchdown out there but I've never been so proud :)

  • Stayed home with BBv8.1 and his buddy from the team as they plated at our house the rest of the afternoon in the warm sunshine

  • Helped him lose a tooth, put it under the pillow, forgot to exchange for a gold dollar, woke up the next morning with him sadly holding the little baggy w/tooth in it to me. I B.S.'ed for a couple of minutes, got him and GiggleGirl wresting on the bed, ran downstairs, quickly exchanged the tooth for a dollar and ran back to get in the shower. To him, I'd never left. I suggested subtly he check again, but he didn't...

    (Wait -- something about this seems familiar...)

  • Discovered my left contact lens had split down the middle so it looked like a Pac Man. Have to wear old crappy glasses with one earpiece held together with tape till I can get a replacement next week :(

  • BBv8.1 stayed with another friend at his house yesterday, had a great time.

  • Oh, yeah, saw a little flick yesterday afternoon...."Passion of the Christ". Wow.

  • Returned home with the kids, advised BBv8.1 to check and see if something had happened with his tooth now, he did and was all "wow's" and smiles to find the gold dollar.
Another weekend for the archives...

Friday, March 19, 2004

Take Heart

Peggy of A Moveable Beast - a blogger whom I read often, and respect, had this to say about the 1-year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war:


"Unfortunately, 575 Americans, hundreds of coalition troops and thousands of Iraqis will not be celebrating any more birthdays. God rest their souls...

The important thing, though, is the new and deep sense of security we feel here at home and that the Iraqi people, missionaries, and relief workers now feel, (the ones who aren't being blown to pieces or shot dead in cold blood, that is).

I know I feel safer now. Thank you so much, Mr. President, but you'll excuse me now, since I must go click here to urge Congress to censure you for misleading us (and the world) about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, in order to wage your pre-ordained war."
(Note: there are some reference links included in the original post, visit her site to access them)

I replied in her Comments, but I'd like to include my reply here:


Peggy, I'm sorry you don't feel safer, and I join your sympathy with those lives that were lost, but I'd like to offer with all humility, a couple of points to ponder:

1) Every year of Saddam's reign, thousands of Iraqi's were killed for resisting his or his regime's edicts and whims. In his 30+ years of power, over 300,000 Iraqis are believed to have been killed. While the resistance is regrettable, in this first year of freedom the # of Iraqis killed has dropped from 10,000 (avg) to about 1/4 of that. And assuming the Coalition military assistance remains consistent in the coming months, by this time next year hopefully that number will have dropped even more drastically.

If a program were introduced to reduce the # of US highway deaths by 75% in the first year of operation, it would be called a major success. And by another - who knows? - 75% in year 2, it would be called a phenomenal success.

Of course, that's small condolence to the families of those Iraqi's killed in the past 12 months, but take heart in the fact that the families of 3 or 4 times as many Iraqi's are now not having to go through that pain themselves.

And this was brought about by US and Coalition servicemen who were willing to give their own lives that others may live. Their sacrifeces were not vain, or empty ones.

Fear and despair were replaced with hope and freedom. The cost was great, but the rewards are greater.

2) Perhaps you don't feel safer 2-1/2 years after 9/11. The point to remember is - whether you believe it or not - you are safer. You are still alive, as are millions of your fellow Americans. If the US had not pursued the courses of action they did, I have no doubt in my mind that we would be mourning the losses of thousands, if not millions more dead today in the US. You may not feel safer, but the fact that it's worked through this point is empirical evidence that you were.

There's every reason to believe we may be hit tomorrow, and hit hard - I accept that. But that fact that we weren't hit last week or yesterday convinces me that nothing succeeds like success. Take heart :)

The Parliament of Dreams

Go and read this:

Could our Dreams be True?

"We were only dreaming, That's what we could do, and you must not share your dream with any one ,because you don't know... maybe they won't like your dream ,and you will be punished for your dream. Believe me-- that's was what happening here.

A lot of changes happened here. Good ones. We can dream freely now. It's a good thing, and beautiful that you can share your dream with any one. But just dreaming is not enough to move life. All of us wants his own dream be true-- and we wish all dreams to be true, if it is possible. I'm going to talk about the Iraqis' dreams. Many dreams came out after they had been kept for a long time, and these dreams show how they think and feel , The shared dream for all Iraqis was to be released from Sadaam's regime...


But what happened on the 9th of April made many Iraqis feel like they were reborn, and brought others to life after they had been dead. They began to think and respond to changes after they could not speak or think, (even with your self!) You can now think, and dream, and share your dream, and let any one know what you are thinking. This is one good step forward, and the rest will come.


All those who bet on civil war in Iraq , well, their dreams have crashed on the rock of the new free Iraq . All the killing stuff they are doing, to "create a situation between the Iraqis" will fail."
This is from an Iraqi blogger, whose blog will soon be added to my blogroll. If you can read his whole post, and still say that the reasons you disagree with in why we liberated Iraq outweigh the reasons why it was a good thing - you have no dreams.

(Link via One Hand Clapping)

Just Say No

This is your Brain.

This is your Brain on Drugs.

Any questions?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Backpedaling Begins

Rhea County Council Meeting On Gay Ban Issue

"The Rhea County Commission called a special meeting for tonight at 7 p.m. to reconsider a Tuesday vote seeking to ban gays from the county. The commission had voted 8-0, with one member absent, on the resolution.


Since there has been a nationwide focus on the vote, several commissioners said they wanted further clarification on the issue."
That's what you get for snoozing during meetings, guys.

Seriously, if you don't want sudden, fierce national media attention and public ridicule - don't pass spur-of-the-moment discriminatory resolutions, no matter how righteous you feel they are.

UPDATE: Our long, national nightmare is over

Except it isn't, of course. Apparently, according to news reports on another station, the motion they "rescinded" was not entirely verbatim as the motion they unanimously passed two nights before. Guess that was enough for them, because they were out of there as quick as they came, in a hail of reporter questions and crowd commentary.

And tomorrow folks in Rhea County will wake up - the bigots will still be bigots and the gays will still be gays. But maybe - just maybe - somebody somewhere learned something. I hope so.

More from Rhea County

Coverage from a local Television station:

NEWS CHANNEL 9 - Rhea Commissioners Vote to Ban Gays (Note: Link may expire - if it does, please let me know in Comments)

The info in the story itself is pretty much the same as the report below, but what's interesting to note are:

1) The poll - As of 3/18, 10:24 am:

I fully support the Rhea County Commission action to ban gay/lesbian lifestyles: 160 / 20%
I am opposed to gay/lesbian lifestyles, but I believe this action will never hold up in court: 135 / 17%
I support gay/lesbian lifestyles, but I believe this action will never hold up in court: 27 / 3%
I am outraged by the Rhea County Commission action to ban gay/lesbian lifestyles: 495 / 61%

817 total votes

Read the Current Results

Of course, all online polls are suspect and inscientific but I think this one might be fairly representational - seems to me people from both sides would be inclined to make their opinion known, one not more than the other.

2) The Comments:

Oh, yes - come for the story, stay for the Comments!

UPDATE: Here's more language from another story on the Chattanooga TV Station's site:

Rhea Commission Motion On Gays Creates Controversy

"The Rhea County, Tennessee commission unanimously approved a motion that says it would ban gay couples from living in Rhea County. It would take a state representative amending Tennessee's criminal code for that to happen. The Commission Chairman says the motion was confusing, change may soon be coming.
I just have one question: if by some wild chance this criminal code amendment ever passed, how could it be proven that two homosexuals were living together? How do you prove someone is or is not homosexual in a court of law?

I had male roommates all through college - a total of seven of them, actually. We all lived together in dorms or off-campus housing over the span of about three years - none of us were homosexual (that I know of) and several of us had girlfriends or dates at various times over those three years (one became my wife, as a matter of fact). Will same-sex roommates be banned in Rhea County, just in case?

I kiss my son goodnight, and probably will for a good number of years to come. Will that be outlawed, just in case?

There's obviously no biological test for homosexuality, so no medical examination would be anywhere near conclusive.

Sounds to me the only possible way to enforce this ban would be to base arrests on rumor and gossip - and finger-pointing by piouser-than-thou neighbors....

"Officer, I seen 'em....those two boys sharin' that apartment next door! They's goin' up to the commun'ty college but I seem 'em leave ever morning, and come home about the same time. Sometimes they's other fellers comin' in and leavin' at wierd hours - they's strange noises comin' from over there - hootin' and hollerin' and carryin' on, wearin' the same orange-colored clothes and bringin' in beer and who knows what all - seems to 'bout the same time the Vols is playin on the telebision but 'spect they's just using it to mask their evil, fornicatin' ways.. You know what they's doin' in their, officer, go do yer duty and keep decent people like me safe from the likes a' them Godless heathens! Oh, by t' way...that nice family down the hall, I saw the dad kissin' his little 12-year-old son on the cheek right before he went to work t'other day....better get him, too - best not to take any chances...."

And You Think Your Neighbors Are Crazy?


"Meet my parent's old neighbor, Crazy Tammy. She's been gone from the neighborhood for about nine months now, hopefully getting the treatment she so sorely needed. From what I understand, and from what others have told me, Crazy Tammy is a textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia. We would have never known about her terrible mental problem if she hadn't advertised her insane views on giant sheets of cloth hung from her fence."

(Link via Big Stupid Tommy)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Ashamed to Live in East Tennessee

Rhea County asks legislators for gay criminal bill (Registration Required)

"Rhea County commissioners unanimously voted to ask state lawmakers to introduce legislation amending Tennessee’s criminal code so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature.

"We need to keep them out of here," said Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who introduced the motion."
I saw this story earlier today here, and my jaw literally dropped. I had to laugh out loud at the sheer audacity of it.

SayUncle has a good quote.

This is worse than the "God Resolution", worse than Union County schools letting kids off for a revival, worse than almost any other local event I can think of lately that shows how the misuse of religion can blind community leaders to blatant bigotry.

Please, please - let people know about this unbelievable example of local politics run amok. Let it be ridiculed in the public arena as it should be. If anybody reading this lives in Dayton or Rhea County, let your Commission know they will be voted out of office next term - this is even a better reason for recall than anyone here that participated in KnoxRecall (a recent effort to remove former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe and several City Council Members) ever dreamed of having.

Hopefully we'll see another headline soon that reads, "Rhea County citizens remove commissioners from office for Crimes Against Humanity"

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

TV Tuesday

A New Tuesday Tradition

In honor of the TV Land Awards going on Wednesday evening, this week's questions will be about "Classic" TV shows! (Any show counts, as long as they are not still making new episodes.)

1. What is your favorite "Classic" TV show?

The Dick Van Dyke Show

2. What character from a "Classic" TV show would you like to be?

Rob Petrie - great job writing comedy for television in the Golden Age, beautiful wife, nice kid, good home, good neighbors - what more could you ask? A queen-size bed, I suppose.

3. On which "Classic" TV Show would you have loved to have a walk-on role?

Star Trek

~Bonus~ Can you remember a line you liked from a "Classic" TV show?

There are so many...how about, "My big toe is stuck in the faucet!!"

Thanks for playing, have a "Classic" week!

Hat Tip: Busy Mom

Gettin' a Whuppin!

Good for you Katie Allison Granju...

"Yesterday I had a really terrible experience at Target. I was shopping by myself and from several aisles away I could hear a little kid crying as her mother kept telling her to "shut up," and then following up by telling her that if she didn't stop crying, she was going to "whup" her. It was awful.

Feeling powerless, I started to leave that area of the store but in doing so, I happened to walk right by their aisle just as the woman proceeded to belt her kid in the head three times.

I literally gasped out loud. It was totally involuntary. I stopped dead and said very loudly, "What in the world do you think you're doing hitting her like that?!"
I hope that if ever I'm in the same situation and I witness such child abuse, I'll also have the courage to stand up against the parent.

Read the whole post for Katie's pursuit of help for the child, and the disgusting reactions by onlookers. Pathetic. And I'm raising my kids alongside yours, who are being taught that might makes right? Good grief.


Gigglegirl: Daddy?

Me: Yes?

GG: Where do babies come from?

Uh oh...

Me: Well, they come out of their mommy's tummy...

The standard party line. I waited, wondering what I would need to answer next.

GG: Oh. Daddy?

Me: Yes, dear?

GG: How do babies eat?

Good - no mechanical questions. On we go.

Me: Well, babies have no teeth so they have to eat soft stuff. Like mashed up food, and they drink milk from bottles and from their mommy's chest.

Ok, slipped breastfeeding in there - that's for you, Katie. What's next, how do they do their taxes?

GG: Oh. Daddy?

Me: Yes?

GG: How do babies sleep?

Not often enough, kid, not often enough...

Me: Um, they sleep pretty much like everyone else does. Except more. And at wierder times.

Anything else?

GG: Oh. Daddy, let's play the Goofy game!

Spacial anomoly averted, Captain - resuming course and speed.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Journalism School

Japanese school in search of more students (Registration Required)

That's great, but the point of this post is that headline is not what was actually printed in the paper on Sunday. It actually read:

Japanese school in search more students

Apparently some headline writers need to retake Sentence Structure 101.

Watch the Skies

The cicadas are returning to East Tennessee.

I showed the picture of them in the newspaper to four-year-old GiggleGirl, and she asked what they did. In addition to making a lot of noise, I told her sometimes the couch-sized bugs swoop down on eagle-sized wings, scoop up little kids and fly away with them.

I don't think she appreciated that very much.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Welcome to the Rocky Top Brigade

New Recruits:

Doc B, Gunner of No Quarters, and Ashby of Knock/Snooze.

Welcome everyone!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Boo, Betcha I Scared You, Ha Ha

Big Stupid Tommy auditions to take over the host duty on Scare Tactics.

Somehow I think Shannon Doherty has nothing to be afraid of...

But Where's Helen Hunt?

Today has been declared Blog it Forward Day! Actually, I believe it's Blog it Forward Day VI, so this is apparently one in a long line of sequels. Therefore I'm arbitrarily calling my version Blog it Forward Day VI: The Undiscovered Country.


From Buzzstuff:

" It's really simple. All you need to do is pick someone (or sometwo or somethree) off of your blogroll and post on your site just why you feel that they are linkworthy. Why the heck did you link them? Why are they given that place of prominence over there on your sidebar? Are they funny? Are they wise? Are they just too damn good-looking to pass by? Let us know about them."
Michael Williams of the fine blog "Master of None" was kind enough to include me in his selections, so I'm returning the favor by naming some of my featured blogroll residents:

1) Michael Totten - Michael has quickly become my favorite political blogger. He's an ex-sorta-Democrat who's found a comfortable niche in the middle, and enjoys popularizing his new home. I find his views frequently agree with mine, but he articulates them much better than I so it's a good source for political ideals.

2) Donald Sensing, "One Hand Clapping" - a Rocky Top Brigade member, Rev. Donald is a Methodist Minister from Franklin, TN and has frequent insights into life from a religious perspective. A definite daily read for me.

3) Mark Evanier, "News from Me" - Mark runs a pop culture/animation/comic books/movies/TV/entertainment biz blog and draws from his extensive experience working in the entertainment industry. A fun daily read for the kind of news that I love to read - and no gossip.

And a couple of quick hits:

4) Sofia Sideshow - the trials and travails of an associate film producer making movies in Sofia, Bulgaria. No, really. Where else can you read stories about going out for drinks with John Rhys-Davies?

5) Teresa, of "Hatamaran" - my co-worker and my buddy (even though she is a vegetarian and has an unhealthy fixation with South American pack animals...

Ok, I've fulfilled my duty to king and country so click on!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

For the Living

I'd always heard the old expression that funerals aren't for the deceased, they're for those left behind.

I'd never quite understood the gravity of that phrase until this afternoon. See, today I went to a funeral.

The deceased was the brother of a friend of mine - someone I haven't known for very long, nor are we particularly close. He's a recent participant in a morning Bible Study I've begun attending at a local restaurant. Let's call him Steve.

I never met Steve's brother, and as it turns out it's probably a good thing. You see, his brother did some Bad Things. Actually, some Very Bad Things. And it seems he also took the Easy Way Out, if you see my meaning.

The afternoon was cool, but clear and sunny. There were a number of family members and friends at the graveside service, as well as Steve, his father, his wife, and Steve's brother's wife. I and the other members of the Bible study group came together to support our new friend, and we met several folks there. We murmured our condolences, and stayed out of the way. On the other side of the cemetary, some children ran and played amongst the headstones. Every few minutes something that looked like an Air Force radar plane lumbered by, circling the airport area.

Then the graveside service started.

I've always wondered what people would say at my funeral. It's not something I like to dwell on, obviously, but I'd like to think the minister and whoever spoke would find some nice things to say about me. He was a good son, a good father, a good friend. He loved music, he loved theatre, he loved science fiction, he loved things that made people smile. That sort of thing. This service was different, there was none of those platitudes for the brother, because he had done a Very Bad Thing, and because of that he took that Easy Way Out.

The minister's words were words of comfort for his surviving family. While I took some meaning away from them, I wonder if the family were able to hear through their grief. I hope that something of his words will have some resonance with them in the days ahead, because they will need it.

The brother's name was mentioned about twice, both times in context of recalling playful times as a child enjoying his brother, Steve's company. But that was it. The noise of the plane at regular circling intervals provided almost chapter breaks for the me

The service lasted about a half an hour. Muffled sobs throughout the assembly, but for most a look of quiet bewilderment. What only 48 hours earlier had been trouble, but trouble that could be dealt with and atoned for - now is a new kind of trouble. And this will never fully heal.

We left.

Sometimes you think about the choices you make in life, and you feel proud of the paths you've chosen. Not "pride" proud, but happy - happy the paths you took led you to thouch people's lives that made you richer, and enrichened them. Experiences that you remember and build on, that pointed you to new, deeper experiences. People you met, people you've helped, people you've loved.

Others take the wrong path, and ahead lies nothing but chaos and tragedy and tears and mystery.

As we drove away, I realized the plane must have finally landed several minutes before. Some people choose to end their pain in the their own way, and for them it stops. For those left behind, the guilt and loss goes on and on.

Lord grant them comfort.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A Public Service Announcement

Slight Clarification

To waffle on an issue does not mean you take a stand one way 15 years ago, and take another stand today.

Nor does it mean you take a stand on an issue 5 years ago and take a different stand today.

Nor does it mean taking a stand on an issue 2 days ago and taking a different stand today.

Waffling on an issue is when you take a stand 2 days ago, take a different stand today, and then either go back to the old stand or adopt an entirely new one 2 days from now.

There, are we clear? Now, can we all use the term in its proper context and stop accusing candidates of "waffling" on the issues just because they thought a different way several years ago?

I know some folks don't have to much else to grasp at, but hey, use your heads...

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Blog.

Camel Humps

Hatamaran's Educational Day at the Zoo

Now here's something you don't see every day.....

Monday, March 08, 2004

Blogging in the News

Two articles in today's Knoxvile News Sentinel (slogan: We've Added Online Registration and Passed the Savings on to You!) about local blogging:

Web logs bringing new attention to East Tennessee (Registration Required)

"Mountains, guns, dogs, weather and politics are all longtime fundamental interests of most East Tennesseans. They're also subjects covered at the Rocky Top Brigade, a loosely knit collection of blogs from across the state that includes several East Tennessee sites."
RTB members mentioned include Instapundit, SayUncle, South Knox Bubba, Wandering Hillbilly and A Smoky Mountain Journal (links on blogroll to the right).


Weblogs generating ad bucks (Registration Required)

"At least three high-profile Tennessee bloggers are now running advertisements, with charges as low as $20 a week or as high as $375 a week....The move represents a growing trend of advertising on some weblogs, a trend most recently taken advantage of by candidates for political office."
In this article, those RTB bloggers mentioned are Instapundit (natch), Bill Hobbs and Rev. Sensing of One Hand Clapping (again, links in blogroll).

Skunked again. Guess I'm still not being controversial enough....

Friday, March 05, 2004

What a Pal....

Neil Simon Receives Kidney from Publicist Bill Evans in March 2 Operation

""We've been friends form [sic] 25 years," Simon, 76, told the Times. "It's wonderful of him to do this."
Well, since Mary Tyler Moore was suddenly unavailable, I guess somebody had to do it...

Volunteer Tailgate Party - Vol. XXII

Teresa of Hatamaran is hosting the latest Volunteer Tailgate Party, a bi-weekly compilation of the best and brightest blatherings of the Rocky Top Brigade.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Eisner's Last Stand?

Listen to the Live Webcast of the Disney Shareholder Meeting in Philadelphia. Maybe some sparks will fly, who knows?

UPDATE: Stanley Gold and Roy Disney are addressing the crowd, with Eisner and the Board in attendance. The Board will be able to rebut after Disney and Gold are finished.

UPDATE 2:Eisner seems to have been retained at 1.775 Billion shares voting to keep him, 771 Million abstaining (aka. voting to remove), which is about 30% removal - about what was expected.

Heh. Interesting - now that the meeting is over, the audio stream is playing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" and then "Following the Leader" from Peter Pan. Appropriate, I suppose :)

FINAL UPDATE: Sorry, I must have slipped a decimal point or something, because the actual percentage of no votes was closer to 43%, well above anyone's wildest expectations - I suspect the YES votes must've been 1.077 Billion instead of 1.775 Billion, which added to 771 Million would equal the 1.8 Billion shares the news sources are saying are outstanding.

All this to say, the Board late tonight voted to strip Michael Eisner of his Chairmanship of the Board. Former US Senator and Disney Board member George Mitchell will assume the Chairmanship.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Sad and Scary Quote of the Day

Kerry Cements Nomination; Edwards Out

"In state after state, Democrats said their top priority was a candidate who could defeat Bush, a wartime president with a $100 million-plus campaign treasury."
If that was the voters main objective for voting for Kerry, solely as a protest vote, then the electorate truly hasn't the foggiest notion what electing someone to office means. Absolutely none. And it has nothing to do with Bush, Kerry, Edwards or Pat Paulsen.

If you don't like Bush, that's fine - I don't like him very much. But you must always vote for the person you feel would be the best person for the job. And it's different, in some ways, when you're talking local races for dogcatcher or County Commission or School Board - sure, they're important, but not in a way that could endanger the lives of every person on Earth.

If the voters put Kerry in office solely as a means of getting rid of Bush without being fully cognizent and aware of what kind of person Kerry is, and he screws up - they have no one to blame but themselves.

Again, this isn't really about Kerry. I supported Edwards after Lieberman dropped out and I would be saying the same thing if he had swept through Super Tuesday. People who don't vote their true convictions for President bear the responsbility for whom they elect. And if Kerry beats Bush, and 6 months later we're clouds of free-floating radioactive vapor because he wants the UN to take over the War against Terror, well, I'm coming back to haunt the survivors....

Free Will

Ok, time to wade back into the fray...

Today's Super Tuesday, John Kerry winning, John Edwards fading, yada yada yada.

There's some rumblings going on around the web regarding Kerry's response to a NYTimes reporter's question about whether God was on our side...

"Elizabeth Bumiller of the NEW YORK TIMES asked Kerry: "President Bush has said that freedom and fear have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. He's made quite clear in his speeches that he feels God is on America's side.

"Is God on America's side?"

KERRY: Well, God will -- look, I think -- I believe in God, but I don't believe, the way President Bush does, in invoking it all the time in that way. I think it is -- we pray that God is on our side, and we pray hard. And God has been on our side through most of our existence.
There's a lot of opinions back and forth about what that answer means for Kerry, and its reflection on his campaign and presidential mindset (Michael Totten, Lileks). But one comment I read was telling, a quote from Abraham Lincoln (accuracy unverified but assumed):

BTW, during our own Civil War, some God-bothering type asked Lincoln the same question: did he think that God was on the Union's side?...Lincoln replied: "I am more concerned that we are on God's side."
There, from our 16th President, is the essential core to any question about who's side God is on.

God is on no one's "side". Period. Let me explain.

I have two kids, whom I love very much. Occasionally they squabble as children do - over toys, over the TV, over the phases of the moon, whatever - and sometimes I'm called in by the Tennessee Supreme Court to mediate. As dads do. Now, do I "favor" one kid over the other, as a matter of foreign policy? Am I on one kid or other's "side"? Of course, sometimes one is in the wrong and one is not, and I try to set things straight but there is no inherent favoritism.

Extrapolate up. W-A-Y-Y-Y up. We were created (as most Judeo-Christian beliefs hold) with a very special gift - the gift of free will. Humans have the built-in ability to ultimately decide their own actions. It is the most precious gift - and ultimately the most dangerous gift - we have ever or will ever receive.

God is good. That's something every Sunday School kid knows. But if we did not have the absolute ability to decide between right and wrong, good and evil, we would be automatons. Going about our programming without thought to morality or ethics.

But we're not - we have the ability to freely choose between one course of action or another. Between one thought or another, or between belief systems, or between philosophies, or religions, or lack of religions. Or milkshakes.

Every single day 1000's of people around the world murder, rob, steal, cheat, abuse, lie, commit adultery, speed, punch, curse out, badmouth, shoot up, cut off, flip off, oppress, starve, stab, shoot, poison, bludgeon, strangle, kick, attack, or blow up other people. Or, unfortunately, fly airplanes into tall buildings full of innocent workers. But each of them chose to do so, of their own free will.

You might say the Iraqi's under Saddam Hussein had no free will, or the citizens of the former Soviet Union, or Nazi Germany. I say, of course they did. They had tons of free will - their actions were heavily restricted, and the consequences of their actions could be grave but they could freely make up their own minds one way or another. No external force can make someone believe or not believe in anything.

So, is God on our side? Does He even now protect us from further terrorist attacks - none of which have happened since 9/11 on American soil (anthrax and ricin notwithstanding)? Or did He punish us for our Godlessness, as Jerry Falwell might believe, by manipulating the minds and free will of 19 Al Quaeda terrorists and causing them to attack our people?

As to the latter, no. As to the prior - hard to tell. I think it's possible God may be willing to actively cause certain events to happen that shape the future. I'd like to think we were under his deliberate protection, but it's difficult to say for sure.

But if Bush thinks God is "on our side" in the fight against totalitarianism, he's wrong. And if Kerry thinks "God has been on our side through most of our existence," he's also not quite right.

Like Lincoln said, we should be on God's side. That's the only way to ensure the integrity of our purpose.

But, you say, don't the Islamic terrorists believe they're on their own God's side, too? Yes, some of them, probably. Maybe even most of them. But from what I've heard of Islamic doctrine, especially fundamentalist Islamic doctrine, free will isn't a very prominent ingredient in their little Belief Salad (hold the anchovies).

Our side, their side - debatable. God's side - well, who am I to argue with Honest Abe?

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

No, not an Oscar post - although I wish I'd taped Billy Crystal's opening movie-clip romp and his song - but apparently while I was gone I won some kind of blogging accolade...

Watcher of Weasels (I didn't name it) holds a weekly "Watcher's Council" vote, and my entry "What to Write, What to Write" won for best non-council link. So, whoever nominated me, thank you!

PS - my links are bloggered, so just scroll down to Feb. 10.

Monday, March 01, 2004

I'm Back

Tanned, fit, rested and ready to take on the battle against the Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy.

So, any interesting movies open while I was gone?