Thursday, August 31, 2006


The word of the day is:


In the dictionary, image is defined as both a noun and a verb, with no less than 23 variations of meaning.

There is image in its most basic meaning of a picture or a likeness. We say that a boy is the spitting image of his father, and to take a photograph is to "capture" a person's image.

Image also refers to perception and reputation. A person's image is akin to the cover of a book; a thin veneer that does not necessarily accurately correspond who that person really is. It's a thumbnail sketch, a shortcut that doesn't always lead down the expected path.

There is an overemphasis on image in today's society, which, to me, is putting the cart before the horse; putting form ahead of function. This is like buying a car for the spiffy paint job and not looking under the hood.

I've seen job applicants given more advice on what to wear to a job interview, than on their actual hard qualifications and aptitudes to do a job. It is so that Albert Einstein would likely be passed up for many jobs because of his wild hair and ratty sweaters.

There is even a vocational category known as image consulting. Image consultants help people with their personal "window dressing", in order to help them convey a particular impression to a prospective employer, which may or may not bear any relation to their actual selves, aptitudes, or qualifications. Image consultants are then, in a sense, experts in the arts of deception.

It's unfortunate, but people today often care more about how things look than how they actually function. I've seen employers concentrate on matters of window dressing, while ignoring nuts and bolts basic concerns, as the business goes to hell in a handbasket.

One even encounters undue concern with image in religion. Some denominations have long lists of thou shalt nots: drink, dance, see movies, play cards, and so on, ad nauseum. Most of these same sects have strict appearance requirements for women than run opposite to the equally shallow appearance expectations in the secular business world: no makeup, no pants, dowdy dresses, long, plain hair. Oddly enough, such denominations do not often require the men to also adopt a visual stigma that immediately identifies them as being part of a particular religious group. Such religious groups care more about what's on the outside, about others might think, than what's on the inside; a person's actual faith or lack thereof.

To give excessive emphasis to image is misleading, often leading to mistaken impressions. The old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover" should be kept uppermost in one's mind when it comes to matters of image.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jazz Great Maynard Ferguson Dies

While browsing the net on Saturday, I came upon the obituary of jazz trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. He died this past Wednesday from kidney and liver failure at the age of 78.

Having played with some of the great big-band leaders of the 1940s including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Barnett, Jimmy Dorsey and Stan Kenton, Ferguson later struck out on his own, his career extending to just before his brief final illness. He was, perhaps, most well known to the general public for his version of "Gonna Fly Now" from the first Rocky film. This earned him a gold album and a Grammy nomination in 1978 and it became a top 10 hit.

As a high school trumpet player in the mid-70s, Ferguson was my musical idol. His phenomenal range and uncanny ability to clearly play the highest notes of the instrument were, in large part, the inspiration for me choosing to major in music in college.

I had the pleasure of meeting Maynard Ferguson in 1975, when I attended a concert he gave at a local high school. His encouraging words to our group of high school musicians after the concert further spurred my determination to further my musical education.

One fan, after hearing of Ferguson's death said that Gabriel will now have to play second trumpet in heaven.

That pretty well sums it up for me.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Libertines in the Bible

I made an interesting discovery the other day. The word "libertine" actually occurs in the Bible:

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
Acts 6:9, KJV

Interesting as this may be, the use of the word libertine in this verse does not refer to the sexual sense of the word, but rather to "freed slave" I know that the Bible uses very different words to express the concept of a sexual libertine, as the word was not used in that sense until the Renaissance.

Easton's Bible Dictionary, under the entry for "libertine" states:

found only Acts 6:9, one who once had been a slave, but who had been set at liberty, or the child of such a person. In this case the name probably denotes those descendants of Jews who had been carried captives to Rome as prisoners of war by Pompey and other Roman generals in the Syrian wars, and had afterwards been liberated. In A.D. 19 these manumitted Jews were banished from Rome. Many of them found their way to Jerusalem, and there established a synagogue.

Nevertheless, the root word for both meanings of libertine is the same and I very much like to think of myself as having been freed from the bonds of our society's repressed sexual rules and regulations.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I've been feeling restless and antsy for the last week or so, complete with recurrent insomnia. My concentration levels have been down; today I couldn't really think of much to write about.

Fortunately, I know what it is and how to cure it. I've been in near "hibernation mode" all summer; staying inside as much as possible and sticking to seeing regular lovers. When the weather is hot and humid, I feel less adventuresome and tend to fall into familiar routines. If it were possible, I'd not even go to work during the summer.

My restlessness was a sign that it was time for a new lover, a one night stand; someone new. Now that fall is around the corner, I'm ready to shake off the hibernation rut and be on the prowl once again.

I took care of some of that restlessness this afternoon when I made a successful conquest of one the clerks at the bookstore in town. I'd seen her several times before, even engaging in coversation with her a few times. Today, I closed the deal and now I feel a bit better and more relaxed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pope Warns Against Overwork

I find myself in the unique position of agreeing with Pope Benedict.

Yesterday, in his weekly address, Pope Benedict cautioned people not to work too hard, regardless of their occupation. He quoted from the writings of the 12th century St. Bernard, who said, "
Watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever ... the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the 'hardening of the heart,' as well as 'suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence."

I would add that excessive work leads to a life out of balance, and to tunnel vision. Work is best viewed as something we do to live, rather than taking the view that we live to work.

Work is an integral part of life, but only a part. Time for rest and time for leisure should be no less important parts of everyone's life. Time is a precious resource and we should guard against giving up too much of it for the purposes of making a living.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Polygyny Advocates Hold Rally In Utah

About 250 young adults and children gathered Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah to advocate a change in state marriage laws to allow for polygyny, which is currently a felony under Utah law. Various people spoke out for the right to live as they choose without harassment.

Several speakers described their lives, hoping to debunk reports of abuse, neglect, and forced marriages of underage girls. The event was sponsored by the pro-polygyny organization, Principle Voices of Polygamy.

I refer to their lifestyle as polygyny, rather than by the misnomer polygamy, because they believe that only men should have multiple spouses. Polygamy properly refers to either men or women having multiple spouses.

While I welcome the extension of equal rights to consensual nonmonogamous relationships and families of all kinds, I still remain skeptical of fundamentalist polygyny. First of all is because they believe that only men may have more than one spouse while women must remain monogamous, which is inherently unfair. Secondly, I highly doubt that these people would be supportive of other, more egalitarian, forms of nonmonogamous relationships.

So, while I support their right to live as they want without government interference, just as long as it's between consenting adults, I don't think I'll be going out to Utah to march in one of their rallies any time soon.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Memories From a Photograph

When I was growing up, I remember looking in my father's high school yearbook and finding several candid shots of him. He looked amazingly like I did at that age, except with shorter hair.

Tonight, when I stopped at a red light in town, I was reminded of him and his yearbook. This was because one of the candid shots showed him and a couple of friends standing on the corner of that very intersection, and the houses in the background showed plainly in the picture.

The same houses are still there and were recently renovated to look the same as they did when my father's picture was taken there in 1940. Indeed, very little about that part of town looks appreciably different from when my father was in high school. Along some sections of that street, the only clue that it is 2006 and not 1940 was the age of the cars driving down the street.

As I sat at the intersection waiting for the light to change, I looked intently at the spot where my sixteen year old father stood sixty-six years ago waiting for the school bus to take him home. As I remembered the photo in the yearbook, I could almost visualize him and his friends standing on that very spot.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Freedom And Privacy

Two of the things I value most in my life are freedom and privacy. My personal and political opinions are based, in large part, on these two core principles. In my view, freedom and privacy are closely related, overlapping ideas. Following are some rambling thoughts on these concepts.

I believe that people should be free to live their lives as they please, just as long as they do not infringe on the right of others to do the same. All people should be free to march to the beat of their own individual drummers, which involves the liberty to be "different", even if, to some people, "different" is a synonym for "wrong". Again, the only limits should be that which either harms or prevents others from doing differently.

Related to this is the ideal of personal privacy; that anything one does that does not physically harm or interfere with others' freedom is no one's business but those directly involved and, as such, should not be monitored or regulated.

With these two values in mind, I believe that, in most cases, government should essentially be a neutral entity, with only as many laws as necessary to protect people's freedom, privacy, rights, and safety from being infringed upon by others, to ensure national security, and to ensure basic needs that allow for the full exercise of freedom, such as health care, education, and a basic survival safety net for the weaker members of society.

To use an example that is personally relevant to me, I am against marriage being a legally regulated institution in our society, as I think legal marriage infringes both on the ideas of freedom and privacy. I do not think it's the government's business to promote or regulate any particular form of personal relationships between consenting adults, nor should it be the government's function to define what a legitimate personal relationship is and is not.

At present, the government tells us who may get married, (heterosexuals), what form that marriage will take for everyone (monogamous), and outlines what the benefits and responsibilities will be for every marriage. The government also regulates and limits how marriages are to be ended with divorce laws.

Personal relationships should be a private matter solely between those involved, and people should have the freedom to decide what form such relationships will take, and to decide what benefits and responsibilities, if any, their relationships will entail on a contractual, case by case basis.

Though many people are satisfied with marriage structured the way it is, I could never legally surrender my personal autonomy and freedom. My body, my mind, and my emotions are my own and, though I may chose to share them on my own terms, my freedom to use these things however and whenever I see fit is not to be limited or abridged in any way, nor would I expect that of anyone who freely enters into a relationship with me. Likewise, my freedom to end any relationship is not to be regulated.

Privatizing marriage is also related to the larger idea of sexual freedom; the freedom for consenting adults to privately engage in any type of sexual behavior with or without an ongoing committment of any kind without stigma. Similarly, women should be allowed the freedom and privacy to make the decision of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term. Those against abortion should always be free to offer information why they believe as they do and to provide alternatives, but the decision in the end, should remain with the woman.

Well, enough about the sexual arena for now. Though that is a large part of who I am, I am much more than just my animal nature.

Some other essential cornerstones of freedom for me are the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and the freedom OF and FROM religion. People should be free to believe or not believe whatever they want, say what they want, read, write, and view what they want without censorship.

The purpose of education should be to teach people HOW to think, not WHAT to think -- to give them the tools necessary to examine the ideas and things for themselves, and to draw their own conclusions. With this in mind, I believe that sex education should be comprehensive and morally neutral, to provide complete information to allow young people the tools to make informed decisions about this private matter. The school should provide the full technical information; it's up to the parents to present whatever their moral beliefs are on the matter.

The separation of church and state should be strictly maintained, as both freely operate better when the other doesn't meddle into its affairs. The government should not prohibit, limit, or promote any particular religious beliefs or philosophies. People should be free to pray or have religious clubs at school, but such prayers and clubs should never be led or administered by school officials, nor should they be part of the official curriculum. Religious education, if any, should occur either privately or at whatever house of worship each person attends.

I believe that all victimless crimes should be legalized, as they interfere with people's freedom and privacy to live as they see fit. Prostitution should be legal; everyone should have the legal right to sell what's theirs. Drugs should be legalized; alcohol Prohibition didn't work in the 1920s; it only allowed organized crime to solidify its position in this country and the "War on Drugs" has an equally dismal record. As long as the practice of such victimless crimes involves no one without their consent and doesn't harm other people, it should be a private matter of personal preference.

Privacy and freedom are issues in the work world as well. I believe that, primarily, employers are paying for our TIME before they are paying for our actual work. That is, we exchange intervals of private time for money, for the employer to use as they see fit. As such, their legimate interest in our activities should be limited to just those hours in which we are on the employer's clock. Our private lives off the clock, away from the workplace are none of an employer's legitimate concern. As such, drug tests should only be used to determine whether an employee is sober while on the job -- it's not their business if an employee has a joint or gets drunk on the weekends. Nor should personal habits or attributes that have nothing directly to do with ther performance of one's job be an employer's business -- such as smoking, hairstyles, tattoos, being overweight, etc. The employer's only legimate concern is whether the employee consistently does the expected work satisfactorily. To that end, an employer may require that people don't smoke or be high during working hours, to limit their smoking to off duty hours, to wear hairnets or to bind one's hair at work, and so on, but their control over such things should end at quitting time.

I could go on about this, but it's already turning into a book here.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Right Wing Pundits and The Big Lie

While listening to conservative talk show host Jay Severin yesterday, he made an assertion that is nearly ubiquitous among right wing pundits, such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, ad nauseum.

The assertion? All liberals "hate America". That, along with the claim that all liberals hate Christianity, are persecuting Christians, and similar variations on that theme are repeated over and over, ad naueum, on conservative talk shows, in conservative books; wherever their opinions reach the general public. Now, I realize that some liberals are guilty of such distorted blanket statements as well, but such grossly exaggerated and inaccurate statements are much more common on the far right wing.

Such tactics remind me of the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels who perfected the art of the Big Lie. The big lie, also known as argumentum ad nauseum, is the tactic of repeating an untruth, no matter how outrageous or absurd, so often that people eventually begin to believe it.

An OSS report about Goebbels and his propaganda methods said, in part:

His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it. - OSS report page 51

The penchant for using the Big Lie technique, along with a fondness for ad hominem attacks, makes these comments just as true about right wing pundits now as they were about Joseph Goebbels more than sixty years ago. Indeed, in the same broadcast, Severin referred to all liberal bloggers as "poopy pajama wearing losers with stubble, and that's just the women".

But of course, Severin says more about himself with such comments than those he derides. Surely, if liberals, bloggers and otherwise, are so fundamentally wrong about everything, it would seem as if there would be much more relevant comments to make about their ideas than the state of their clothing.

And now to address the two Big Lies so ubiquitous among right wing pundits: All Liberals Hate America, and All Liberals Hate Religion.

Surely, Severin, who is witty and seemingly intelligent, could not possibly believe that ALL members of any group monolithically believe any one thing, without exception. That kind of global thinking is lazy, sloppy, and just plain inaccurate. An extreme statement such as this one is only made to stir people up, to appeal to the emotions. Patriotism is a sacred cow in our society, a core value, and to tar a group with the brush of "hating America", is akin to waving a red flag at a bull.

People who vote and take an interest in politics and government, whatever their political opinions, are motivated by the desire to improve our country, even if there are fundamental differences of opinion on how to go about it. To accuse those who have different ideas on what's right for America of "hating America" is extreme and absurd. One can disagree with a person's ideas without demonizing them.

And despite the fact that the Christian Right has been growing in power and influence since the time of the Reagan presidency, and especially since Bush II took office, another big lie is the notion that Christians are being persecuted and that all liberals hate religion, Christianity in particular.

While it is true that atheism and agnosticism is more prevalent among progressives, to be NON Christian isn't synonymous with being ANTI Christian. As well in believing in freedom FROM religion, liberals also believe in freedom OF religion. Indeed, in addition to religious liberals from various non Christian faiths, there is most definitely a Christian Left as well as a Christian Right. Though not as vocal and strident as the Christian Right in recent years, the Christian Left has been traditionally involved in progressive politics all during our nation's history; in the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, labor, civil rights, and feminist movements.

I would say the biggest Big Lie being perpetrated in the last thirty years, however, was the campaign that made "Liberal" itself a dirty word, something vaguely shameful.

What does "liberal" mean, anyway. Though there are many branches and variations of liberalism, to put it simply, according to Wikipedia, liberalism is:

an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value.

Hmm, I seem to remember from my history classes that liberty is one of the cores values that America was founded on. So, the view that liberals "hate America" also betrays an appalling ignorance of history.

It's been a long time since politicians, such as Harry Truman, matter of factly referred to themselves as liberals and the general public viewed that as a positive thing. I think it's time for progressives of all stripes to start once again, referring to themselves proudly as liberals and to turn this and other Big Lies on their heads.


Saturday, August 12, 2006


Maturity is a nebulous thing. We're not quite sure just what defines maturity or just when we arrive there (if we ever do; I personally think it's an ongoing process);but we all tend to recognize immaturity quickly enough.

For me, I recognized the beginnings of maturity when I finally realized that my father wasn't so stupid, after all, and that he actually knew what he was talking about on many subjects.

Similarly, I saw glimmers of nascent maturity in myself when I acknowledged that I didn't know everything, and that I would never know everything. Like most young adults, you couldn't tell me anything at eighteen; I thought I had it all figured out. A few years later, with a broken marriage behind me, a child to care for singlehandedly, and still no college degree, I'd lost that mistaken notion forever.

Another sign that one has started down the maturity highway is when a person is no longer impressed and amused by tales about being falling down drunk. Similarly, when long discussions about the merits of various types of alcoholic beverage brands bore the crap out of you, you'll know you're on the right road.

When I was on the police force, we would frequently deal with some young adults repeatedly committing minor, and sometimes not-so-minor crimes. Such crimes typically included DUI, public drunkenness, drug crimes,paint huffing and sometimes more serious charges, such as burglary and forgery.

The usual pattern for most repeat youthful offenders would be for them to be in and out of jail periodically from their late teens for about the next ten years or so. Fortunately, most of them would straighten themselves out at around 30 or so, and we'd not see them any more in a professional capacity. Most would return to school, perhaps get married and start a family, find work, and finally become responsible citizens.

Unfortunately, the ones who hadn't straightened themselves out by age thirty tended to never do so and would spend the rest of their lives involved with the criminal justice system. Of course, there were and are exceptions, but thirty was the typical "moment of truth" for most people.

This is by no means a complete consideration of the idea of maturity, but this is what immediately came to mind for me in the middle of the night. I'd be curious to hear your take on the subject.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

When Sex Goes to School: Review

When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex--And Sex Education--Since the Sixties

Kristin Luker

Date: 29 May, 2006 — $16.35 — Book

product page


Review of When Sex Goes to School: Warring Views on Sex--And Sex Education--Since the Sixties

This book, while it covers the history of sex education in the schools since the early 20th century, is more about the players on both sides of the issue, about how and why they believe as they do. Luker frames the debate as one between conservatives and liberals, though, in my view, I'd say it's more of a debate between libertarians and authoritarians, as this topic doesn't always fall neatly along a liberal/conservative continnuum. But for the purposes of this review, I'll use Luker's categories of liberals and conservative.

Liberals advocate comprehensive sex education; that is, providing matter of fact information about the "plumbing", contraception and abortion, and alternative sexual lifestyles. Conservatives, on the other hand, are for "abstinence only" sex education; that is, providing basic information about the "plumbing", with no information about contraception, abortion, or alternative lifestyles, stressing that one must be abstinent until they are legally married.

In general, sexual liberals:

  • Believe that sex is "natural"
  • Are pluralists; that marriage is one of several valid sexual options, along with alternative sexual expressions of various kinds
  • Believe that moral sex is consensual and careful (safer sex)
  • Believe in contraception and legal abortion
  • Believe that sexual pleasure is worthy in its own right
  • Believe that more information is better; knowledge is power
  • Believe that morality is relative, adaptive, based on context
  • Believe that a moral person takes responsibility for their actions
  • Believe in egalitarian relationships between men and women
In general, sexual conservatives:

  • Believe that sex is "sacred"
  • Are exclusivists and believe the only proper place for sex is within a legal, heterosexual, monogamous marriage. They believe homosexuality in particular is a threat to the idea of "sacred sex within marriage"
  • Believe that moral sex is only within marriage
  • Are against abortion; and contraception for unmarried people
  • Believe that sex should be reserved solely for expressing love within marriage and that its primary purpose is reproduction
  • Believe that too much information too early confuses children and teens
  • Believe that morality is absolute and unchanging, without exception
  • Believes that a moral person obeys the rules
  • Believes in heirarchal, "traditional" relationships between men and women
This book is valuable not only for information about sex education in the schools, but is even more so for giving us a detailed look in how liberals and conservatives, sexual and otherwise, think. Luker conducted interviews with many people on both sides of the issue to properly present both sides of the story.

If you want a better understanding of how the other side "ticks", this is the book to read. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006


Here's another rambling collection of incomplete thoughts based on one word. Today's word is:


Family. A loaded word that generates a wide variety of conflicting responses in many people. The notion of family is a cornerstone of society, a sacred cow, that many of us have a love/hate relationship with.

Family is supposed to be the place "where they have to let you in", but simultaneously, "you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives". Family is ideally a "haven from a heartless world" but, for some, the reality is quite different.

We are expected to love our family members simply because they are family, and many times this works out well. But sharing common DNA with certain people is no guarantee that we'll get along and/or have compatible personalities. I've heard many people admit, vaguely ashamed, that they "love" a particular family member (mainly because it's expected), but they don't like that person. I don't have that problem. I don't love anyone simply because we have common ancestors -- I see no shame in admitting that I have relatives I'm incompatible with.

Right wing religious conservatives are big on "family values", "family friendly" entertainment, and even have an organization, "Focus on the Family". But the word "family" used in this sense is a code word for "censorship" and for a repressive anti-sex worldview. (Violence is apparently "family friendly", as fundamentalist Christians took their children in droves to see Mel Gibson's gory Passion of the Christ).

But the idea of a sexless "family friendly" world begs the question: where do these people think families come from in the first place? That's right, SEX!

The conservative idea to whitewash and airbrush real life; to pretend that sex does not exist until the day one gets married does children no good. It's far better to present sex as a normal, natural part of life, giving out information incrementally in age appropriate doses.

And, make no mistake, "Focus on the Family" means just what it says, Focus on THE Family. To these people there is only one kind of legitimate family; a legally married, monogamous, heterosexual couple with children living as a male-headed nuclear family. No other kind of family need apply.

I'm not for THE family; I'm for families in whatever diverse forms they take -- gay/lesbian families, nonmonogamous families, extended families, egalitarian families, unmarried families, childless families, friends as family, in addition to the "traditional" family. Variety is the spice of life and I'll be damned if the government or religion will tell me who and what my family is or who I "should" be close to.

I could go on and write more about this, but that would make a book, so I'll leave it at that.


Monday, August 7, 2006

Some Little Things That Were Different When I Was Growing Up

I grew up in the 1960s and early 1970s, entering young adulthood in 1976. Most people can easily point to major changes in our society since that time, both technologically and culturally. Some of the most obvious technical changes are personal computers, cable TV, CDs/DVDs, cell phones, and the like.

But while riding around today, I got to thinking of the smaller, more culturally oriented changes; changes that I don't necessarily see as improvements.

While in the market today, the clerk attempted to hand me my change by piling the coins on top of the bills, which was on top of the receipt. More often than not, I drop part of the change as the precariously balanced coins shift at the moment the money changes hands. It only takes two seconds more to hand the change first, then the bills, but few clerks take the time to do it these days.

When I first entered the work world back in the 70s, it was standard procedure to hand the coins and bills separately. It's only been in the last couple of years that I've had to deal with precariously balanced coins-and-bills piles being pushed at me. Why the change, I wonder?

For the last twenty years or so, clerks have routinely handed you your receipt after you've paid. But when I was a kid, the practice was to staple the receipt to the bag. I can understand why they want to hand it to you, but I still don't want to hold it, so I tell them to put it in the bag.

The paper or plastic decision didn't come along until the very late 70s; when I was a kid, it was a paper bag or nothing.

In the late 70s, when I first was gainfully employed, it was standard procedure for an employer to call back all applicants when a hiring decision had been made. In other words, they called you when you didn't get the job as a matter of professional courtesy, so the applicant could move on to something else and not wait any longer by the phone in hopes of being hired. Nowadays, you have to figure it out for yourself that you didn't get the job.

Most school systems were more flexible about attendance when I was going to school, with the emphasis on whether the student could get the work done, rather than face time, per se. That is, if a student could meet the work requirements to pass their grade, then it was allowed, even if they'd missed more than the usual allotted number of days.

I always started the school year the week after Labor Day -- now, many schools start earlier and earlier in August. Indeed, the local schools are already in session as I write this entry. I can't understand the point of starting during the hottest part of the year, when neither students nor teachers want to be there, even if they do get out a bit earlier the next spring.

When I was a toddler, I remember riding in the car sitting on top of a tall couch cushion. I never had a car seat or a booster seat of any kind, nor did the law require them. Similarly, the cars in the 1960s had seat belt, but it was the lap belt only; cars back then had no shoulder harnesses. I don't remember seeing lap and shoulder belt combinations until the mid or late 70s or so.

What are some small-level differences in everyday life can you remember since your childhood?

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Quote Time

It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it is true.
--Bertrand Russell

This perfectly describes the nonsense of teaching "creationism" or "intelligent design" in the schools in place or along side of evolution.

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
--Rene Descartes

Question a sacred cow today!

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.
--Benjamin Franklin

Hell yeah! I pursue my happiness every chance I get!

The two most abundant things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

--Harlan Ellison

And hydrogen runs a distant second.

The man who follows the crowd will get no farther than the crowd. A man who walks alone is likely to get places no one has ever been before
Alan Ashley-Pitt
To thine own self be true.

American youth attributes much more importance to arriving at driver's license age than at voting age.
--Marshall McLuhan

Apathy is what allows the George Bushes of this world to get ahead.

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
--Hans Hoffman

Cut the crap!

Christ died for our sins. Dare we make his martyrdom meaningless by not committing them?
--Jules Feiffer

I strive to make Christ's sacrifice meaningful every day!

Thursday, August 3, 2006


The word of the day is:


Average. A word to denote being in the middle, the center, what is typical, what is bland, what is common, or to indicate what is "normal". If your grades are average in school, you get a "C", which is merely adequate. You won't fail, but you've not excelled, either. You've done your job, but you've not gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Socially, many people aim for being average. They want to be "normal", to be one of the crowd. They don't want to stand out in any way, either positively or negatively. Afraid of being unique or in the slightest degree different, their goal is simply to blend into the crowd and go with the flow, to be part of the amorphous "everybody else".

Not me. As a kid, I was quite disappointed if I ever got an average grade, and now, I'd consider it an insult to be considered an average person. To be true to myself, I've always believed that one must march to the beat of one's own drummer, even if it's not the most common beat. To do something simply because "everyone else does" is not a reason to me, but an excuse.


Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Small Town Radio

The station I listen to for talk radio, is a local station, with homemade, local commercials that are decidedly unprofessional. To give a few examples:

There's an ad for the sports talk show, which plays a conversation with a local coach, who talks about "a goop of kids" using the weight room. Goop? Was it so hot in there that the group turned into goop?

Another commercial for a plant nursery has the announcer telling people they ought to be "sprucin gup" -- yes, that's her diction! -- their homes.

In an ad for a local attorney, the lawyer himself refers to the Social Security Adminiskration". Yes, with a K!

One day, when the announcer was talking about local news, he referred to a local football coach who had tenure. But instead of saying "TEN yoor", he say "ten OOR", rhyming with "manure"!

An ad for a local church, urges people to "jown" (join).

There's an ad that runs often advertising the specials for a local grocery. The diction and pronunciation are acceptable on this ad, but the structure is not! To give examples, the announcer says:

"Hunt's Ketchup, the 64 ounce bottle", instead of "64 ounce Hunt's Ketchup". I mean, would anyone think it came in a carton, if he didn't mention the bottle?

Similarly he'll say, "Coca Cola, the 2 liter bottles", instead of simply "2 liter Coke". I guess he needed to distinguish it from 2 liter CANS!

But, by far, the worst thing about this station is on Sundays. On that day, there are periodic occurrences of dead air, usually coming at the worst times, as in "MY opinion of this matter is--STATIC". The dead air lasts for about a minute, and reoccurs every five minutes or so. I'm guessing there's no one minding the store on Sundays and it's all on automatic then. But surely, someone has to have complained to the station about it. It seems as if they just don't give a shit.

I'm going to be hunting the dial for a new talk radio station, I'm guessing.