the resurrection of the ten-layer debris sandwich

    Don’t look for any rhyme or reason to tonight’s post. I don’t have a lot of time (my batteries are rapidly dying), so I’m just going to blurt out a few things quickly, just to flush them out of my system before going to sleep.

    1) I think Linette trimmed my nose hair last night as I slept. I distinctly remember playing with a few long strands before drifting off to sleep last night, and, when I awoke, they were gone. (note to self: create some kind of nose hair guard)

    2) I was just looking for Christmas presents for my family on Amazon and came across something called the “Hide-a-gun Picture Frame.” I just wish I had the money to get them all photos of Clementine with Uzis inside.

    3) It looks as though a sixteen year old blogger in Alaska had her mother killed a few days ago. The last entry on her Live Journal site says simply, “Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered. I won’t have computer acess until the weekend or so because the police took my computer to go through the hard drive. I thank everyone for their thoughts and e-mails, I hope to talk to you when I get my computer back.” And, yes, it’s apparently true. So far, I’ve read the article in the local newspaper and the state police report, and it seems pretty clear that blogger Rachelle Ann Monica Waterman had a hand in her mom’s death. Her on-line friends, for the most part, don’t seem to be too troubled by what she did. The general consensus seems to be that the real people who deserve condemnation are the guys who kidnapped and killed her mom… and they deserve the blame not necessarily for killing her, but for doing it in such a way as to attract the attention of the police. (Instead of knocking her out, putting her behind the wheel of her car, and crashing it somewhere, so that it looked like a drunk driving accident, they decided to douse her with gasoline, lock her in a van, and burn her alive.) Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the site of one of Rachelle’s young friends, “She isn’t some murdering pschyopath. She’s a real person, with a enjoyment of buying underwear….” (Some folks are saying that this is the first instance of a blogger/murderer, but I seem to recall that my friend Steve knew a person who crossed that particular finish line almost a year ago.)

    4) Speaking of the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, I stumbled across the following quote in another site’s comments section a few nights ago: “All I got from my mother was laziness and breasts.”

    5) As you know, on occasion I like to sign up for fundamentalist newsletters. Well, last night I signed up to receive updates from Moral Law, Inc, a group in Alabama that seems to be somehow tied to Justice Roy Moore and his efforts to see the Ten Commandments introduced into American law. Well, within half an hour of signing up, I received my first piece of Christian spam, under the subject line, “Christian Loan Advice.” Here’s the text:

    Hey again. I am running late right now but I wanted to email you before I go and pick you up to go shopping. You are probably wondering how I can shop so early for presents? Well I found this site and wanted to let you know that I refinanced my home and got the extra cushion I needed for the holidays. You can search hundreds of lenders and it only takes 30 seconds. It’s the best Christian lender that I have found!

    I probably should have expected as much from a site that sells “ten commandments” lapel pins (10 for $99) and Christian calling cards.

    6) My upper left eyelid has been twitching since Thanksgiving and I’m worried that it might be the first signs of MS.

    7) Can someone verify this? Should I be buying all my gas from Shell? (Thanks to Mouse Musings for the tip.)

    8) I stopped by the gym this evening after work, and, before getting on the exercise bike, I picked up a sweaty copy of The Nation to read (I actually wanted to grab the copy of Redbook with Kelly Ripa on the cover, but I got embarrassed). In one of the articles, the author quotes a conservative contact as saying that, Bush was “hired” for the job of president because he promised to aggressively privatize and deregulate. I found that (the suggestion that corporations essentially hire our persident now) to be almost as frightening as the mention in a children’s book that I’ve been reading to Clementine of a primitive “DANGER” sign spelled out in dead monkeys.

    9) Reading the Daily Kos site, I stumbled across two discussions that I thought might interest you; one is on transportation policy initiatives, and the other is on energy policy. Oh, and there’s also a good list of ten things to consider going in to ’08.

    10) And, lastly, our friend Cory, picks up the Intelligent Design (or “creationism”) discussion where we dropped it yeterday, and runs with it.

    OK, I’m going to bed now. Goodnight my invisible friends.

    Posted in Mark's Life | 8 Comments

    american family association watch

    OK, I’ve just received a few more letters from Donald Wildmon, the man behind the oh so benign-sounding “American Family Association.” Here they are, in all their brilliant lunacy:

    Let me take a minute to tell you of a video that has really taken us by surprise. The video is entitled “It’s Not Gay.” In the last few weeks we have received thousands of orders for “It’s Not Gay.” We had no idea there would be such a demand for the video.

    It presents a story that few have heard. In the video, former homosexuals tell their own story in their own words. Along with the homosexuals, medical and mental health experts give a clear warning that the sanitized version of homosexuality being presented to students and in the media is not accurate.

    I guess one reason the video has enjoyed such surprising sales is that it is 28 minutes long, which makes it a great tool to use with a Sunday School class, evening service or study group.

    I hope you will order a copy and show it to your group. It should be shown in every church in America. The price is only $15, including shipping.

    To order, click here.

    Sincerely,

    Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
    American Family Association

    P.S. Please allow three weeks for delivery.

    What I found most interesting, aside from the depravity inherent in making money through the sale of hate tapes for kids, was what came after the sales pitch — an ad for The American Family Association’s web filtering products; AFO Online, their internet service provider (which even does you the favor of filtering out news that you may not like!), and Bsafe Online, a filter that you can strain your internet though (if you can’t get the pre-filtered AFO Online)… For just $50 a year, per computer, you can filter everything, from mentions of drinking (I kid you not) to un-supervised, non-Christian chatrooms.

    OK, here’s the second note from Donald:

    HELP MAKE THE DISPLAY OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS LEGAL IN ALL PUBLIC PLACES

    Dear Mark,

    As you know, the Supreme Court is currently studying the Ten Commandments issue. The Supreme Court is not immune to the will of the people. While we cannot directly influence the outcome of the decision by the Supreme Court, we can express our desires as citizens of the United States.

    I urge you to join with other Americans in expressing a desire that the Ten Commandments can be legally displayed in all public places. It is important that we have a moral basis for our laws. The Ten Commandments are in essence the foundation for our laws. Should the foundation be destroyed, the building will fall.

    Please join me in supporting the display of the Ten Commandments in all public places, including schools and courtrooms.

    From time to time the number of Americans who have expressed a desire to see the Ten Commandments legally displayed in public places will be released and forwarded to the Supreme Court. It will take millions of Americans participating for us to be successful.

    Thank you for participating in this effort. If we are to be successful, we need you to forward this letter to others today.

    Sincerely,

    Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
    American Family Association

    P.S. Don’t forget to forward this letter to others today. It is very important that they know about and participate in this effort.

    I need to run upstairs now, to help with the baby’s bath, so I can’t really comment except to say that these people are seriously fucked up and we need to do whatever we can to keep them from influencing policy. If you haven’t done so already, give something to the ACLU right this minute (before we find ourselves having to pray in public places).

    Ok, while we’re on the subject of the muscle-flexing American fundamentalists (I suppose the baby’s bath can wait while I post one more link), you should also read this article on the Pennsylvania school district that’s looking to build “Intelligent Design” (a codeword for creationism) into its curriculum, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that to teach creationism in a public school would violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

    OK, now I really do have to run up and help with the bath… If one of you gets a chance, write to Wildmon and see if he’ll send you a copy of the “It’s Not Gay” video for free. (Don’t pay for it.) I’d like to hear a review… As I sit here, thinking about it, I can easily imagine a video which aims to convey the fact that gay people in “real life” aren’t like they are on TV, but I don’t think that’s probably what Wildmon is going for. My video would just show boring, unfashionable gay and lesbian folks at their jobs, or doing something equally inane, like watching TV. (“See, kids, they aren’t really glamorous at all!”) I think, however, that Wildmon probably has something else in mind though. I’m envisioning a voiceover that says, “Kids, if you watch TV, you might think homosexuals are cool. Well, I’m going to introduce you to a few men now who don’t think homosexuals are so cool… They’re the victims of the gay cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer!!!” (It would be kind of a new version of Scared Straight.)

    OK, now I do have to go and give Clementine her bath.

    Posted in Church and State | 16 Comments

      like shooting stupid, insecure fish in a barrel (with missiles)

      The Washington Post today has a good piece today on the youth of America and their desire to own what they perceive as high-fashion, exclusive, up-scale items. This is one of those rare occasions where I’m not quite sure who I should be pissed at. On the one hand you’ve got the evil marketers who are honing in on this defenseless and impressionable demographic, and on the other you’ve got the stupid kids who embrace these bands out of desperation, hoping that doing so will somehow lead them to a better life, a life like Paris Hilton’s. Of course, then there are the parents, who, for one reason or another, haven’t been able to build a wall around their kids that’s strong enough to take the constant barrage of advertising (both embedded and overt). Regardless of who you blame, however, the whole thing stinks. Here’s a clip:

      Designer labels account for about 7 percent of U.S. clothing purchases. But among teen purchases, the figure doubles to 14 percent, said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst with the marketing research company NPD Fashionworld. Marketing experts said those numbers reflect the increasingly sophisticated tastes of American teenagers, who spent $191 billion last year: They don’t drink just coffee. They drink grande skim vanilla lattes with extra foam…..

      Gloria Baume, fashion market director for Teen Vogue, said girls often tell her, “I am going to put all my baby-sitting money away until I can afford the Louis Vuitton pouch.”

      Several high-end designers even have introduced lines for children and babies in recent years. By targeting youth, marketers hope to develop brand loyalty that will last through adulthood.

      And, equally disgusting (while we’re on the subject of corporate crimes against humanity), is this New York Times piece on Lockheed Martin. Here’s a taste:

      But in the post-9/11 world, Lockheed has become more than just the biggest corporate cog in what Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. It is increasingly putting its stamp on the nation’s military policies, too…

      To critics, however, Lockheed’s deep ties with the Pentagon raise some questions. “It’s impossible to tell where the government ends and Lockheed begins,” said Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit group in Washington that monitors government contracts. “The fox isn’t guarding the henhouse. He lives there.”

      No contractor is in a better position than Lockheed to do business in Washington. Nearly 80 percent of its revenue comes from the United States government. Most of the rest comes from foreign military sales, many financed with tax dollars. And former Lockheed executives, lobbyists and lawyers hold crucial posts at the White House and the Pentagon, picking weapons and setting policies.

      Obviously, war and crisis have been good for business. The Pentagon’s budget for buying new weapons rose by about a third over the last three years, to $81 billion in fiscal 2004, up from $60 billion in 2001. Lockheed’s sales also rose by about a third, to nearly $32 billion in the 2003 calendar year, from $24 billion in 2001. It was the No. 1 recipient of Pentagon primary contracts, with $21.9 billion in fiscal 2003. Boeing had $17.3 billion, Northrop Grumman had $11.1 billion and General Dynamics had $8.2 billion.

      Merry Christmas, America.

      Posted in Marketing | 4 Comments

      remind me never to run for elected office against someone who putin wants to win

      I know that George Bush “looked into Putin’s soul” and apparently liked what he saw, but when I look at these before and after photos of Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western Ukrainian who had the misfortune of going up against Putin’s man, Viktor Yanukovych, for the job of president, it makes me kind of wonder. I guess his physicians have yet to say definitively that he was poisoned (let alone suggest that the Russians were involved), but Jesus Christ! Just look at these “before” and “after” photos. That’s the same man, just months later. One minute he’s the Ukrainian JFK and the next he’s Anne Ramsey’s death mask.

      When I look at these photos, I have to wonder if perhaps this has something to do with Putin and his former position as a high-ranking KGB officer. (Surely he knows people with the access and know-how to do something like this.) Of course, Yushchenko’s rapid aging could have absolutely nothing to do with politics. It’s been suggested by those alligned against him that his recent health problems can be attributed to “bad sushi.”

      And, my friends, this is what politics has become… It makes me kind of nostalgic for the simpler days of plain old “assassination by lone nut.”

      … And I didn’t even get into the fact that the election was stolen from Yushchenko… In comparison, it looks like Kerry got off pretty easy. (I wonder if that thought crossed his mind as he was sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner.)

      Posted in Politics | 8 Comments

      the first rule of book club

      As I mentioned a week or so ago, a professor friend of mine is thinking of launching a local book club. His vision, as I understand it, is that this group, which would meet once a month or so, would discuss works of non-fiction directly applicable to the current situation that we American progressives now find ourselves in… The first book he’s planning to suggest/assign is George Lakoff’s much talked about, “Don’t Think of an Elephant.”

      Someone just told me that the folks at MyDD are launching a book club too, and, as with this one of ours, they’re starting with Lakoff. I haven’t discussed it with my friend yet, but I imagine there might be some benefit to following the MyDD reading list for a while, and using the content that develops on-line (at the MyDD site) to shape our real-world Ypsi/Arbor discussions. (I believe the second book on the MyDD reading list is Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America,” so it looks like they might be charting a pretty good course.)

      So, let’s assume we decide to take those two books first, my question for you is, “What should come next?” I have a few ideas of my own, but, as with most of my ideas, they tend to be kind of stupid… I mentioned to Jim, the professor-friend of mine who’s planning to get this group up and running, that I’d like to read something from the Left Behind series, and he looked at me like I’d just rolled up my sleeve and showed him a new Nascar tattoo. He then, quite politely, suggested that he and I might be better served by re-reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America“… My thought was that we’d be more likely to keep people engaged if we made it a point to jump between genres and agendas (I, for one, really would like to know what the fundamentalists are reading), but I can certainly see the value in staying focused and on-topic.

      OK, so here are some other ideas. Some of them might be pretty far outside the scope of this progressive book club, but I thought that I’d offer them up to facilitate discussion. So, look over the list I’ve started and let me know what should be dropped, what absolutely cannot be dropped, what needs to be added, etc. Any feedback would be appreciated. (I haven’t read most of these, so these aren’t endorsements. Some of these are things that I think I need to re-read in light of current events, but most are just things that have recently been suggested to me by friends and readers.)

      Robert Reich’s “Reason: Why Liberals Will Win the Battle for America

      Paul Wellstone’s “The Conscience of a Liberal

      The Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights

      Paul Roberts’ “The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World

      Philip Agre’s What Is Conservatism and What is Wrong With It?

      Dominique De Villepin’s “Toward a New World

      George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm

      Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451

      Norman MacAfee’s “The Gospel According to RFK

      Kurt Vonnegut’s “Player Piano

      William Martin’s “With God on Our Side – The Rise of the Religious Right in America

      Shelby Spong’s “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism

      Bruse Bawer ‘s Stealing Jesus

      Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States

      Noam Chomsky’s “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance

      Jeff Shaara’s “Rise to Rebellion

      Terry Pratchett’s “Going Postal

      Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America

      Gustavo Gutierrez’s “A Theology of Liberation

      Posted in Art and Culture | 38 Comments

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