Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Last week we lost our sixteen year old cat, Petey.
Petey (needless to say, not named by me) started off life as a kitten adopted by one of my roommates when I was in Graduate school. My roommate soon tired of the pet, and it became the job of the rest of us to take care of him. He began by being a third wheel for Agamemnon and Menlaus who were happy enough without this new young upstart who always bothered them. But they grudgingly accepted him, and I adopted him myself after his poking and prodding of Agamemnon kept him alive through a major near-death trial that he had years ago.
Of course that didn’t prevent Petey from pushing Agamemnon out of a third story window a few years later.
When Agamemnon and Menelaus died a few years ago, Petey was absolutely bereft. His pals were gone and he went into what can only be described as a cat depression, if there is such a thing. His health went south and it didn’t look good for him at all until we adopted the new kittens, Electra and Orestes. At first, Petey wasn’t amused, but the kittens quickly grew on him and Petey recovered his health and spirit for another two years.
He had been fighting cancer for a little over a month, doing pretty well all things considered, but early last week he quickly took a turn for the worse. The end came quickly, fortunately, and we buried him in the back yard next to Agamemnon and Menelaus. At least they got a few years reprieve.
He will be sorely missed.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Separated at birth: On the left, the actor Gregory Itzen playing corrupt President Charles Logan from the TV series 24; on the (far) right Arkansas Governor and presidential aspirant Michael Huckabee.
There's a lot I'd like to write on this guy, but Salon's done a favor by writing two excellent articles on the Dominionist Christians backing him for his presidential run. Truly frightening stuff. The winner is George Grant, a former executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries, who cowrote the book with Michael Huckabee, "Kids Who Kill: Confronting Our Culture of Violence," and who also wrote another book, "The Changing of the Guard: The Vital Role Christians Play in America's Cultural Drama," which includes this famous passage:
'...Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less...
Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ...'
What's been interesting over the past few months is watching the different aspects of contemporary American Christian theology play out in Governor Huckabee's campaign. On one had is the dominionist aspect, basically a Christian vision of the Taliban and Sharia law; on the other is recognition that Christian theology is more than just a collection of 'thou shall nots,' but also 'thou shalls.' So in addition to favoring rewriting the Constitution to be more in line with (his vision of) God's word, he also has a history of raising taxes in his home state to fund anti-poverty initiatives. Watching this battle in his campaign between the different factions of politically involved right wing Christians is more interesting to me than watching the similar battle going on in the Republican party itself, between Governor Romney (the money wing, and the one I predict will win), Senator McCain (the neo-con wing), and Governor Huckabee (the social conservative wing).
And to top it off there are recipes!:
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Via Open Left I read that the Republican House Minority Leader, John Boehner, has issues with food that he can’t pronounce:
'...The presidential race is not the only place where change is an issue. Members of Congress returning to the Capitol this week are being confronted by transformational happenings that have shaken the building to its foundations: Democrats have hired a new company to run cafeteria services. Naturally, this has caused an outbreak of partisan skirmishing. "I like real food," proclaimed Republican leader John Boehner when asked about the new menu by a producer for another cable news outfit. [It was CNN] "Food that I can pronounce the name of."...'
While I certainly don’t find it surprising that a high-ranking Republican politician has major issues with things he is unfamiliar with or he can’t understand, and wants to go as far as complaining about it on National television with the aim of shutting the whole thing down, what struck me about the brief article was the following comment that he made:
'...The company that Nancy Pelosi and her people have hired has a mandate to "Go Green," complete with a mission statement posted outside the cafeteria on an eco-friendly LCD screen and a requirement to buy carbon offsets. Boehner doesn't think much of that either. "It reminds me of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, when we had indulgences," says Boehner of the offsets...'
Mr. Boehner is a Catholic, but one who apparently doesn’t understand his own faith. He refers to indulgences in the Catholic Church in the past tense, when in fact they are alive and quite well. What he may be talking about is the famous tradition of tying indulgences to financial transactions, which was officially outlawed by Pope Pius V in 1567 - Martin Luther and his hammering complaints on a door had something to do with that. But indulgences remain to this day.
What’s fun about indulgences is that they do still remain an inherently financial transaction, despite the official removal of money from the equation. The currency of indulgences is merits: through acts of prayer and penance one builds up a store of merits which can remiss certain types of punishment for sin; excess merits one has can actually be transferred to someone in need. The Catholic Church is allowed to give indulgences as well, though it doesn’t ‘earn’ them in the same way; instead the Church has what is referred to as the ‘Treasure House of Merit.’ This is a collection of merits (rather large, considering the Church’s history of handing them out) that the Church ‘inherited’ upon the deaths of the early church saints, who apparently had quite an excess of them.
And like money, and the carbon offsets that Mr. Boehner lambastes, this is a currency that ultimately has as its aim the modification of social behavior. Sin, as it were, has a price, which must be paid. What would be real fun would be to take merits and indulgences to the next level, develop a trading market for them, and derivatives based on futures as well. Perhaps Mr. Boehner could work on setting that up since he frowns on the same process for carbon offsets.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Via Matthew Yglesias, I now see that there is a new way to play with kid's minds: Armor of God PJs.
'...Although we are a new company, our desire is to grow into a well-known Christian Organization whose main goal is to reach as many children as possible by providing the Word of God, offering top quality products and excellent customer service along with offering parents the means and support to help their children grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ...'
According to the website, the inspiration is Ephesians 6:10-18:
1112'...Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, In all circumstances take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God....'
And yet another biblical quote unwittingly used. Technically the PJs should help aid in the struggle against 'the authorities.' Of course, ask any kid who they think the authorities are, and their parents may be surprised by the answer.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
From the latest TV Week:
"...NBC’s revamp of the campy competition classic “American Gladiators” scored the highest new series premiere rating of the season...“Gladiators” earned a 5.9 preliminary rating among adults 18 to 49 and was seen by 12 million viewers. The demo rating gives "Gladiators" the best score for an NBC debut since “Heroes." ...The two-hour premiere came in second during the 9 p.m. hour behind an original episode of “Desperate Housewives” (7.2), but it handily won the 10 p.m. hour. What’s more, “Gladiators’” final half-hour was its highest-rated, with a 6.1, which bodes well for the true test of the show’s strength when the show airs tonight in its regular time period...'
Bill Hicks is laughing at all of us now.
Friday, January 11, 2008
And another New Year greets us. I've always appreciated the New Year for allowing the possibility of reflection and a clean slate to begin again. But before one ponders what is to come, it's always best to review where one has been.
And, so, 2007. As I posted a year ago, major events were foretold to happen by one of my favorite pompous gasbags, the Reverend Pat Robertson. His forecasts for 2007 (an annual tradition for him) included massive terrorist and nuclear attacks on multiple US cities with a corresponding death toll in the millions. Clearly that did not come to pass. Also not coming to pass - the return of Jesus Christ, which 1 out of every 4 Americans believed would happen in 2007, according to a poll taken back then. I have searched thus far in vain for a similar poll for 2008, as it would be interesting to see what people have learned from their poor prognosticating abilities.
Other things that Americans believed were to happen in 2007, based on a poll taken at the beginning of the year:
Gas Prices will go up: 93% believed it very likely
The US Congress will raise the minimum wage: 81%
Global Warming will get worse: 74%
The U.S. will be hit with a major natural disaster: 70%
Terrorists will attack somewhere in the world with biological or nuclear weapons: 64%
The U.S. will be hit with a terrorist attack: 61%
A U.S. state will legalize gay marriage: 57%
Bird Flu will arrive in the U.S.: 50%
The U.S. will go to war with Iran: 40%
A cure for cancer will be found: 35%
The military draft will be reintroduced: 35%
The U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq: 29%
The U.S. will go to war with North Korea: 26%
Jesus Christ will return to Earth: 25%
Scientists will find evidence of extraterrestrial life: 19%
So aside from being lousy at prediction, Americans are also horribly pessimistic. If I run into any prediction polls for 2008, I'll pass them along.
But what of 2008? Pat Robertson is not deterred, but has learned a lesson and is scaling back his thoughts. Or, rather, as I mentioned last year, God is, for Pat Robertson is merely the vessel to receive the prognostications of God, according to the Reverend. So if it didn't happen, it's not Reverend Robertson's fault, but God's. (Though what he doesn't mention is the chance that God didn't get anything wrong, it's just that Pat Robertson can't hear him so well and misunderstood what was said).
This year, oil will reach $150 a barrel, The stock market will crash (though maybe not this year, but by 2010), and "the Lord was saying there's going to be violence and chaos in the world." So God's not exactly going out on a limb here. Though perhaps God needs to take a break from his schizophrenic self:
Robertson said he received no divine information about the war in Iraq. In past years, he said, "the Lord told me it would be a disaster; well, it has been a disaster."
This doesn't bode well since our President apparently talks with God about Iraq. And God seems to be telling him different things than the Reverend Robertson.
A schizophrenic God could explain a lot of things.