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ImageA couple of things happened over the weekend that have gained some ground in restoring my faith in humanity. Unfortunately and predictably, others had completely the opposite reaction and are now writhing around on the grubby floors of social media and the halls of urine-colored ‘journalism’ as if possessed by really stupid demons of the going-to-hell-in-a-handbag-because-the shoes-don’t-match-it sort as if they don’t know the difference between rapture and rupture.

Let’s start with football. The American version, of which I am … or was, when I had any access to viewing … a fan.

In a sport that makes constant reference to ‘penetration in the end zone’, ‘tight ends’, ‘wide receivers’, ‘defensive ends’, ‘long snaps’, ‘ball carriers’, ‘pump fakes’, ‘ball control’, ‘man-on-man’, ‘man-in-motion’ and where the point is ‘going (for the) down’, you’d be forgiven for jumping to the conclusion that ‘man-on-man’ was okey-dokey with the National Football League in just about any context. You’d be wrong.

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Michael Sam gets the call …

Michael Sam just became the first OPENLY gay draft pick in the NFL. Just now. Yesterday. In May of 2014.

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player ever to enter the National Football League draft, was taken by the St. Louis Rams with the 249th pick of the draft Saturday, proving precisely nothing about the state of homophobia in professional football.

This is not to say there haven’t been loads of gay players, may of whom were at least party out of the locker. (More than 30 years ago, a dear friend moved to California with his boyfriend who had, coincidentally, been drafted by the Rams.)

Although there have been many positive public reactions to the news … and to the video of Sam being congratulated and cuddled by his partner as the call came … there are still far too many humans that have yet to recognize the simple fact that we’re not all the same.

Here’s what some fuckwad of an NFL ‘player personnel assistant’ had to say:

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

Sound familiar?

Back in 1946, the Rams signed Kenny Washington, the first African-American football player in the modern era of the NFL. Fisher was aware of the historical resonance Saturday.

Perhaps someday football fans will value gay players as much as they do Black players, as the league wouldn’t amount to shit without them.

Now … keeping with this Monday theme …

The winner of the Eurovision Song Contest

To be honest, I’d never heard of this extravaganza until I moved to England way back in the early ‘90s. To this day I don’t know if I was simply clueless or if the US just didn’t pay much attention and I went along with that. I was stunned by the enthusiasm, the parties planned for the occasion, the dressing up to watch it on the telly, and more than a bit confused about the process. Having the same experience a few years later a small, very crowded apartment in Zurich, I am now convinced that this is a VERY big deal.

Eurovision is about music; the song and the performers.

Historically, a country’s votes were decided by an internal jury, but in 1997 five countries (Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom) experimented with televoting, giving members of the public in those countries the opportunity to vote en masse for their favourite songs. The experiment was a success,and from 1998 onwards all countries were encouraged to use televoting wherever possible. Back-up juries are still used by each country, in the event of a televoting failure. Nowadays members of the public may also vote by SMS, in addition to televoting. Since 2009, national votes in semifinals are a 50/50 combination of both telephone votes and the votes of juries made up of music professionals.

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Conchita and her trophy …

Hundreds of thousands of people watch and vote, and this year the country-by-country talent contest that brought ABBA to the world made even more history than they have since their win 40 years ago …and the winner was humankind.

That not everyone is happy with this outcome is as obvious as peaches having fuzz. The Russians in all their icky homophobic skid … complete with marks … toward the Dark Ages are particularly peeved:

Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision win has been branded “the end of Europe” by Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky. After last night’s 2014 song contest in Copenhagen, Russian state television broadcast a debate on her victory, as politicians and celebrities launched a hate-filled attack. Outspoken ultranationalist MP Zhirinovsky called this year’s result “the end of Europe,” saying: “There is no limit to our outrage. “It has turned wild. There are no more men or women in Europe, just it .”

Hm. It … It seems that take ended up biting Russia on the furry butt:

Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws, restricting the spread of information on what was called ‘non traditional sexual relations’ did not go down well with last night’s audience. Russia’s entry, The Tolmachevy Sisters, were greeted by loud boos from those in the venue, with many of the onlookers waving rainbow flags. The tension then reached boiling point during the results announcements, which saw Russia receive further boos with every point received.

I must admit to having had a few less-than-pleasant encounters with drag queens in the past, having taken no little guff from some who find amusement in being unmercifully snarky to straight women who’d just like a top-up on their wine thankyouverymuchMarge, and have been slightly intimidated when standing in line between 6’7” blonds … big shoes … with hair the hight of the Tetons while waiting for a free cubical.

I have also, however, has some uproarious times laughing my head off, straightening stocking seams and dissing … yes, I can do snark, too … the polyester-clad clueless that seem to form herds wherever drag queens congregate.

It takes huge balls to be transgender true to yourself … even bigger than necessary to tell the NFL you’re gay. The world is full of ‘transphobic’ fuckwads

Researchers describe transphobia as emotional disgust, fear, anger or discomfort felt or expressed towards people who don’t conform to society’s gender expectations,[and say that although it is similar to homophobia, racism and sexism, those attitudes are becoming generally considered unacceptable in modern society, whereas some individuals still maintain transphobic views without fear of censure.

As adults, transgender people are frequently subjected to ridicule, stares, taunting and threats of violence, even when just walking down the street or walking into a store. A U.S. survey of 402 older, employed, high-income transgender people found that 60% reported violence or harassment because of their gender identity. 56% had been harassed or verbally abused, 30% had been assaulted, 17% had had objects thrown at them, 14% had been robbed and 8% had experienced what they characterized as an unjustified arrest.

All because of their look, their dress, they’re undeniable style? How stupid is THAT?

Conchita deserves admiration. She is brave beyond measure, beautiful and talented … and her attitude is fabulous!

“Hey, I’m just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard.”

She is also the WINNER! Watch her performance here.

Could it be that the world became a better place this weekend?

I think so.

Those deeply invested in enjoying their fundamentalist frantic frenzy of fucked-uppery … carry on. Sigh …

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Have fun storming the castle …

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Last night’s spectacular electric storm put paid to any thought I’d be alone in my bed as bursts and rattles and booms brought the kids to me fairly quickly. Hunkering down in a mass of cuddles through blinding flashes and rumbles of thunder that shook our livers, conversation naturally turned to nature before broadening out toward what may hover beyond the power of a local light show, it being, no matter the magnificence, merely a little blip in the weather over a mere slip of land in just one of Earth’s oceans; Earth itself being a small bit of stuff amongst billions.

Perspective of place and significance isn’t an easy concept for kids, it being a child’s mandate to consider him/herself the center around which all else revolves until the socialization process seeps in and a sense of the importance of contribution shifts the pivot point … hopefully.

Humans, however, are hardwired to see the species as unique to the point of some dedicated idea that, although individually important only to a degree, we are the very definition of intelligent life … a frightening concept with Fox news on the air and all.

The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe is a mind-bender for many, the subject of much science and no little religious opinion.

On the science front, recent discoveries are tending to indicate the possibility of life on other bits of stuff.

Experts examining results from the Kepler telescope have identified more than 1,200 planets in orbit around distant stars, 54 of which are a similar size to Earth and in habitable zones from their suns.

The research follows several recent discoveries which point to the possibility of life on other planets.

There appears to be a rather strong NO on the idea of extraterrestrial life from the Christian side.

The Bible’s ‘big picture’ seems to preclude intelligent life elsewhere in God’s universe. But what about bacteria on other planets for example? It’s possible that God made these, but exceedingly unlikely. What would be their purpose? The entire focus of creation is mankind on this Earth; the living forms on Earth’s beautifully balanced biosphere are part of our created life support system.

No matter the background, it seems takes on the possibility of life elsewhere assume it will look something like us, carbon-based, water-reliant and built of blocks of DNA even though we have already found exceptions to at least some of those long-assumed rules right here on terra firma:

“The idea of alternative biochemistries for life is common in science fiction,” said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Until now a life form using arsenic as a building block was only theoretical, but now we know such life exists in Mono Lake.”

Is it possible that if we can be so wrong about what constitutes ‘life’ on our planet we are equally mistaken in our ideas of intelligent beings elsewhere?

With neutrinos maybe breaking a bunch of rules that have long parsed understanding of the basic of basics, if it turns out we’ve been wrong about how fast light can move, what else have we missed?

Our grasp of energy is challenged again in today’s news with this report on happenings in the Crab Nebula …

Astronomers have spotted gamma ray emissions coming from the Crab Pulsar at far higher energies than expected.

This challenges notions of how these powerful electromagnetic rays – like light, but far more energetic – are formed, researchers suggest in Science.

They found emissions at more than 100 gigaelectronvolts – 100 billion times more energetic than visible light.

When we speak of the “spark of life” are we not suggesting, even in our limited understanding, that energy may have as much to do with being as being carbon based?

Even the idea of ‘universe’ needs challenging, as what we have long thought the be-all-end-all could in actuality be two a penny

Our universe might be really, really big — but finite. Or it might be infinitely big.

Both cases, says physicist Brian Greene, are possibilities, but if the latter is true, so is another posit: There are only so many ways matter can arrange itself within that infinite universe. Eventually, matter has to repeat itself and arrange itself in similar ways. So if the universe is infinitely large, it is also home to infinite parallel universes.

And if matter doesn’t matter?

Is it possible that we’re biased toward matter because that’s what we think we are, what we can see and can grasp?

And what about antimatter?

There is considerable speculation as to why the observable universe is apparently composed almost entirely of matter (as opposed to a mixture of matter and antimatter), whether there exist other places that are almost entirely composed of antimatter instead, and what sorts of technology might be possible if antimatter could be harnessed. At this time, the apparent asymmetry of matter and antimatter in the visible universe is one of the greatest unsolved problems in physics.

An unsolved problem, but as real as the nose on your face, as those neutrino chasers at CERN point out:

Antimatter – a mirror image of matter – is an idea so revolutionary that even its discoverer initially feared its consequences. It annihilates with ordinary matter, disappearing in a puff of energy – the ultimate scientific experiment.

This annihilation is a compelling scenario for science fiction. The first example was robots with brains having antimatter pathways.

Now antimatter is used every day in medicine for brain scans.

Transforming all its mass into pure energy, antimatter is the perfect fuel. Star Trek’s faster-than-light science-fiction spaceships use antimatter power, but research projects have also investigated the use of antimatter fuel for real.

What if it’s that “puff of energy” that is the foundation of ‘intelligent life’, rather than the box it comes in?

There was a time not so very long ago that people didn’t believe in bacteria because they couldn’t be seen until instruments came along allowing us to count and classify the buggers. What if we’re as surrounded by energy critters?

What if, in fact, we are energy critters merely shuffling about in temporary structures of cells and atoms?

So …

While watching the lightening and feeling the thunder, the energy firing between synapses in three carbon-based skulls shaped by DNA contemplated the nature of what makes us sentient beings … breathing in and out and reproducing facsimiles, or thought sparks that travel beyond the storm into the unknown … and wonder if shucking the shell, as we all will do someday, might just make the speed of light inconsequential to our travels between universes and time.

Big questions on stormy nights pass the hours quite nicely.

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Having mentioned in a recent post that I have friends in Norway so therefore could personalize the horror there should the news of mass murder not ring familiar enough, it’s fitting I follow thoughts prompted by one of those friends as my mind wanders plains dotted with roving herds of psychonutjobs.

It was a line in Bobby’s answer to my question, “How’s Norway?” that sent me in the direction today’s blog should take:

I am happy for the way Norway pulled together and is moving on, as Obama put it that Norway has shown the true way to overcome terror by uniting and not hating, though I contemplate on the fact if we would have the same peace, unity and love had the bomber been anything BUT white….

Hm.

Bobby is Norwegian, but not white. Born In Norway to parents of Indian and Pakistani origins, he has spent his life in a perfect environment in which to develop a perspective that takes in the wider picture.

I am ok, too, less surprised then many others or to be honest not surprised at all at the event. this is and has been a peaceful country for many many years but I have never been under the false pretense that we are “always safe in Norway” …

No illusions of guaranteed safety may sound merely sensible to many living in the world today, but it is understandable that many Norwegians could have been lulled into buying those. For long a racially homogeneous society of well-educated, industrious folks tempered by cold rather than heat with a small population (4.9 million, the second least populated country in Europe) and Christian since shortly before the year 1000, the country is known for keeping its head down having declared itself neutral in both world wars and opting out of the EU.

(And, yes, I do know about the Sami people, the occupation of Norway and the Free Norwegian Force, but don’t feel an entire history lesson appropriate right now.)

As the Wiki indicates, Norway is a very white place, and we’re not talking snow, although there is a lot of that, as Magnar has mentioned. There are immigrants, of course, but of the 12.2% of incoming residents less than half (5.8%) come from places where people tend to brown eyes over blue, dark hair over blond and complexions more colorful than alabaster, and one might assume that those folks have been paying attention to any Nazi-like grumbling.

While 4,081,698 Norwegians self-identify as some flavor of Christian, 98,953 say Islam is their persuasion of preference, a ratio some find intolerable in the usual intolerant ways.

Given the numbers, it would seem odd that hot on the heels of the bombing and massacre an easy assumption implied a Muslim have been on the business end of the weapons.

When the attack began last Friday afternoon with a huge car-bomb detonated outside the main government buildings, Norway’s Muslim community braced itself for the worst, assuming that what had happened was the work of Islamist militants.

It was an assumption made by many around the world.

There’s a knee jerk for you, and one obviously not just a white response. (And that is not an “off the hook” for Fox, by the way.) It’s no wonder Muslims react with dread and non-Muslims jump from headline to jihad … just one reason those who aspire to journalism (or pretend to) should keep their fucking mouths shut until there is is actually something to talk about.

Mehtab Afsar, secretary-general of the Islamic Council of Norway, was leading a delegation abroad when he started receiving phone calls from Oslo from frightened members of the Muslim community.

“We heard some Muslims had already been beaten up in Oslo,” he said, “and women who were scared phoned me asking for help.”

“I was just hoping it was not true.”

Egomaniacal ass hats do come in all colors, shapes and sizes (although the overwhelming majority dangle dicks), a lesson that should have been learned sixteen years ago in Oklahoma City.

Don’t know about you, but it’s very hard for me to imagine a non-blond, ethnic-looking dude strolling into a camp on a Nordic island and getting everyone to gather round, cop uniform or not. The fact that the fuck wad was the picture of Hitler’s dream boy made it easier in a world where the darker the worser.

But, to Bobby’s thought provoking comment …

Norway’s got the warm fuzzies going now, all solidarity and support, with the mayor of Oslo telling CNN when relating the eventual fate of the mass murderer: “We’re going to punish him with democracy and love.”

My not-so-white friend wondering over how this would be playing out had the monster not looked so much like everyone else, practiced a different religion and been an immigrant instead of a “thoroughbred Norwegian” deserves more than a little thought.

Would the following still be the prime minister’s claim?

Norway’s prime minister pledged that his country would remain “an open society” in the wake of Friday’s massacre in Oslo and a nearby youth camp but said the bloodshed has changed the nation.

Does the fact that the monster grew from within, not without, make it easier to close ranks and pull together? Is it harder to point fingers when no matter how many do it comes back inside the circle?

For that matter, does a relatively conservative Christian country have any impetus to crack down on conservative Christians? Is the world ready to deal with the reality of Christian terrorists?

Many Christians cringe when Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik is described as a “Christian terrorist.” But that is what he is.

Breivik, in his manifesto, writes of al Qaeda with admiration, as if he would love to create a Christian version of their religious cadre. Though he only occasionally quotes scripture, and admires the church in Norway largely as a cultural center for Christendom, he is captivated by Christian history. Breivik is fascinated with the Crusades and imagines himself to be a member of the Knights Templar, the crusader army of a thousand years ago. He would like to have a Christian army comparable to al Qaeda’s Muslim militia.

So if bin Laden was a Muslim terrorist, Breivik is a Christian terrorist.

And if Anders had been an Abdullah … even an acting-alone-singular-insane-egomaniacal-fanatic … would Norway look like it does today?

In addition to reading Bobby here, you can check out his blog where he talks about his varied interests … body building, fashion guru-ness and other interests, which occasionally include arguing with me. His last post addresses the issues we’re talking about here … )

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demon (ˈdēmən)
noun

1) an evil spirit or devil, a cruel, evil, or destructive person or thing

2) (in ancient Greek belief) a divinity or supernatural being of a nature between gods and humans.

ORIGIN Middle English : from medieval Latin, from Latin daemon, from Greek daimōn ‘deity, genius’ ; in sense 1 also from Latin daemonic ‘lesser or evil spirit,’ from Greek daemonic, diminutive of daimōn.

It’s been a weekend of the demonic in far too many senses of the word — diabolical, hellish, infernal — from the foulest fiends to pesky poltergeists, from public exhibitions of evil to lost battles with the personal genius loci. Death, destruction and crying over spillage are just some of the immediate results as ripples rise and begin to move beyond the scope of a Sunday in July.

I can personalize the situation in Norway by connecting with my friends there, but it’s more the familiarity with mass murders that hits upside the head like a sack full of shell casings.

Yes, another fucking armed-to-the-teeth whack job goes out of his way to make a point and a whole bunch of people are dead in dramatic fashion, the world is stunned as a poster boy for Nazis-R-Us chalks up views of his rants on YouTube and spews an oxymoron. (Conservative martyrs?)

Coming out of nowhere it may seem, but this fuckwad didn’t just materialize like a Pop-Tart … he’s been warming up a long time to pull off this obscenity and I’m guessing he has been surrounded by the like-minded. After all, gangs of folks who hate everyone are not uncommon, even in Scandinavia.

Though members of the Norwegian far-right movement have carried out attacks in the past, it has historically been a small community, according to neo-Nazi watchers.

The late Stieg Larsson, the Swedish crime writer famous for his Millennium trilogy, was one such expert.

In the mid-1990s, he founded the anti-racist, anti-extremist publication Expo following a sharp rise in violence carried out by neo-Nazis.

In an interview in connection with a documentary I was making at the time, he told me that Sweden was the world’s largest producer of so-called White Power Music and other racist propaganda, with an active, fast-growing and violent neo-Nazi movement.

Of course, it doesn’t take a movement to create mayhem. It can be just one guy with an ego attached to his weaponry, as proven by the poster boy for evil nutjobs:

“From the world of darkness I did loose demons and devils in the power of scorpions to torment.”
~ Charles Manson

It’s all so common now that another messy wipeout will hardly be noticed:

At least five people have been killed and three injured in a shooting at a roller-skating rink birthday party in Texas, police say.

As a small favor to the rest of us, at least that guy offed himself in the process therefore doing away with at least one demon.

Although it’s certainly not pretty and can be agonizing, ending the reign of an internal Lucifer in a way that doesn’t reduce the surrounding population by more than one may seem an appropriate, if not creative, coping style.

The one … or dozens … that apparently inhabited Amy Winehouse must not have responded to anything less than exorcism by booze and drugs, a process that so often includes killing the host.

Ringside seats to a brawl between demons for possession of a trophy may convey the right to encourage (one side or the other, depending) and chart a score based on effective tags, but no one can judge the pain and call the fight but the contender.

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
~ Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

And there’s an example of why Buddhism is not a cakewalk … a thousand battles fought and won may never be enough for victory over oneself.

Some malicious mischief on the part of some abstemious Mephistophelian type determined to separate those of us fond of the grape pulled … or pushed … off a cruel coup in Australia that rounds out the diabolical for the weekend, and hopefully puts paid to the shit that’s flowed like a global infestation of Vibrio cholera:

More than A$1m ($1.07m; £664,000) of wine has been destroyed in a forklift accident in Australia.

The 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove shiraz sells for A$185 a bottle ($199; £122), the AFP news agency said.

Winemaker Sparky Marquis told reporters he was “gut-wrenched” that 462 cases of wine had been smashed while being loaded for export to the United States.

“When they opened up the container they said it was like a murder scene,” he said. “But it smelled phenomenal.”

Fucking demons!

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Happy 4th of July!

Nowhere near as eloquent as my ancestor Mr. Lincoln, I spent the 4th of July on a few occasions while living in England in the mid-1990s hosting a celebration of the event passing around finger foods with the reminder to my guests … all Brits, of course … “We kicked your butts!”

Politics is apparently not my forte, no matter how good a slap-up of barbecued Americana might have tasted, since I can rarely manage even the vaguest vestige of political correctness. I’d say my English guests employed a well-honed sense of humor on those occasions, but that would be stretching it; there’s still nothing funny about a vanished empire to many and the audacity of America to go all independent on them continues to grate.

History being history and all, there’s no turning back either Big Ben or the clock on the Old North Church, and with another 4th of July about to pop it seems a good enough time to give some thought to my old stomping grounds.

It has been nice the past couple of years to once again feel free to proclaim my roots. For the eight years of G.W. I would often pass myself off as Canadian when strangers would hear my accent and approach. I simply had no answer to the deluge of questions that would invariably start off with something like: What the hell is going on over there?

What did I know? I left the US pre-OJ … a dividing line between the reasonable and the totally unexplainable … and had nothing in my repertoire to trot out when asked to give reasons for stolen presidential elections, coordinated lies, embarrassing gaffs and backward stumbling toward the bad old days.

Don’t misunderstand. I have always been proud to be an American, but the longer I’ve lived outside the borders … and the range of Fox News … the more trouble I’ve had figuring out just what that means.

As this 4th rolls around my confusion is compounded, as it is beyond my scope to calculate just how people in the US have grown so stupid. I mean REALLY, folks! Michele Bachmann? Talk about giving the Brits an opening for get-backs!

As this article in The Independent indicates, America is now in the position of having England “get it” when an apparently large portions of those in the US are missing so much.

… three questions pose themselves. Could she seize the White House? Can she even win the GOP nomination? And just how thick or crazy, or both, is Michele Bachmann? In tribute to the late Eric Morley, we will take them in reverse order. While accurately gauging her idiocy-derangement ratio is hard in the absence of a psychiatric report, Bachmann’s mouth is a reliable launch pad for astounding foolishness. To cheer us all up – if you can’t have a giggle at the thought of the codes falling into such hands, when can you? – here are some highlights.

Wittily replicating the Vidalian impertinence that reshaped her political allegiance, she mocked the Founding Fathers in January by lauding them for “working tirelessly until slavery was no more in the US”. Those would be the FFs who in 1776, a mere 89 years before abolition, agreed that an African-American legally constituted three fifths of a human being, and enshrined slavery in the Constitution?

According to Bachmann, meanwhile, the greatest threat the US faces is nothing so footling as the deficit or long-term mass unemployment (let alone the global warming she inevitably regards as “a hoax”), but gay marriage.

Passing over her defence of carbon dioxide, which she says cannot harm humans because it (like arsenic and uranium) occurs naturally, let’s end the resumé with this peach. “It was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another Democratic president,” she said in reference to her erstwhile idol Mr Carter. “I’m not blaming this on President Obama. I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

In the above lies her appeal to the frothing far right … bewildering lack of knowledge; blind terror of otherness; and – the latter’s kissing cousin – paranoid hatred of Barack Obama. Add to that her Palinic gift for viscerally resonating with her base and its prejudices, the facility to raise fortunes, undeniable can-do charm and good humour, and a talent for spouting drivel with sublime confidence then blaming the lamestream media for accurately reporting it … and this is one formidable candidate.

No, I don’t live in England anymore, but I am surrounded by Brits here and like many American expats the world over I find myself progressively more and more stumped by what truly are well-thought, and concerned, questions.

I can harken back to the words of Founding Fathers, pointing out that they were actually a pretty bright bunch with little in common with the present field of GOP hopefuls:

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

~ Thomas Paine

A far cry from:

”There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”

“I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I’m not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I’m not a scientist.”

~ Michele Bachmann

So although peeps are mostly okay with swallowing the formation of our great nation, much of what’s on offer now makes an unpleasant chewing experience and creates some fear of regurgitation.

Frankly, I don’t much like the taste of it myself, nor do I have any answers for those struggling to comprehend how an idiot like this Bachmann woman … or that fuckwad from Texas, whatever his name is … hasn’t been laughed off every platform she makes a dive for … from … whatever …

The Brits seem to be enjoying the show, though:

All we know for sure is that her name’s Michele Bachmann, that she’s running for president, and that watching her do so will be as much fun as anyone has a right to expect within the law.

No matter … we did kick their butts …

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. ~William Faulkner

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More than just crude matter ... ?

Although I’ve been gnawing on the Weiner thing for a few days, as the story keeps spurting I’m not quite lubricated enough to bring a post to whatever climax the tale deserves, so today I’m sliding away from it and onto something completely different.

What happens when you die?

There are numbers of reasons this question prays on my mind right now, involved as I am with the dead, the dying, survivors and inquiring minds, so I’ve been giving the guaranteed outcome of life a good deal of thought lately.

There are, of course, a hell of a lot of theories, and any number of them make a lot of sense when contemplated from one direction or another, and I tend to go through the list from time to time, not that I expect much of any answer until my time comes.

That, in fact, is one of the possibilities … that at the moment the bucket is kicked we become enlightened. In shuffling off this mortal coil (Hamlet – iii. i. 67) all the information kept from us during our lifetimes is once more available … it being either more than we can bear while busy drawing breath or outside the “need-to-know” limits that coil thing bars us from catching on to … and suddenly it all makes sense.

From what lessons we were supposed to learn to why we died a certain way, we see the patterns, the reasons, and judge for ourselves how well we did … and what classes we may have to repeat.

Another involves a “higher power” who does the judging for us, then sends us off toward either eternal damnation or an infinity of happy harp-strumming. Although very popular, this one doesn’t fly with me, as there seems to be something ungodly petty about condemnation after only one short course, and even those who manage to hang around for 100 years have still only managed an eye-blink of time in the big picture.

There is also the idea that when we die, we’re just dead. The staunch atheistic approach insisting we are biological beings, pure and simple; we’re born, we live, we die and that’s that.

It makes a lot of sense and science goes a long way to back this up. Every week there’s some new study out on some biochemical process that causes dishonesty or various personality traits or love or the inability to love (And I’m sorry, but I’m so not in the frame of mind to dig up links to this stuff right now, so if you’re looking for references try Google.)

This could very well be exactly the case, but it seems rather pointless.

Not only pointless to live a lifetime with worries of no more than doing your bit to ingest enough nutrients to reproduce … the prime biological mandate … but also to assume the position that this is all there is … ever.

It also seems a rather unimaginative stance.

I prefer something that could include parallel universes and essence of being that is made up of energy, rather than flesh and bone and brain. An existence that doesn’t begin and end with … and, okay, I admit I’m quoting Yoda here, but that little guy made a point I like … “this crude matter”.

If crude matter is the be all and end all, the point escapes me, and if there is no point … well, there is no point. If being dead amounts to no more than compost we’ll certainly not be aware of that state of having become, and I guess that’s okay, too. It does rather put the kibosh on any growth and learning and leaving a mark, though, if the only mark to be left could be called skid.

There is either a reason for being born, for living and for dying that goes beyond making more to be born, live and die, or there isn’t, and it seems a flagrant waste of energy if that’s the whole circle. Fleeting moments of joy, plunges into the depths of suffering, decades of acquiring knowledge, flashes of brilliance, art, music, literature, war, starvation, cruelty, benevolence … all the stuff we get up to that plants don’t … they seem to indicate we might expect something more.

On the science front, it’s pretty clear that although at any given moment in time the answers seem set in stone they aren’t and new discoveries come up. Is it possible one day it will be scientifically proven that we are, indeed, luminous beings encased, for a while, in this crude matter? That we are here as we are for reasons we aren’t supposed to know until the bell rings, the fat lady sings and we graduate from this class and pass along to another level?

I could say I hope this is the way it is, and I do, but if it’s not … if this is all there will ever be … well, I’ll be disappointed if there’s anything left of me to be disappointed with.

If, however, there is some “me” left … energy me, next-life me, other-universe me, hang-around-and-visit-loved-ones me … I will feel better about the whole dead thing.

As I put on Jaren’s funeral “program”:

Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.
_ David Searls

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I’m not much in the mood for blogging this week, but can’t let it be said I don’t rise to an occasion when a topic rears its ugly head. Not that I’m throbbing with any desire to stand at attention, nor to prostrate myself in order to take in the hard issues, but do feel it apt to take it in hand to act as an organ of communication, to attempt to erect some sort of rigid structure from which to dangle a thought or two since I’ve yet to go either soft or squishy when it comes to items in the news, no matter how resistant I may be to swallowing what’s rammed down my throat.

Yes, peeps, it’s Penis on Parade Week, an event designed to illustrate for once (or a whole bunch of times) and for all (within a certain age range) that the brain is actually a superfluous body part undamaged by redirection of blood flow.

I know by now it’s a case of flogging a deceased well-endowed equine, but REALLY! Could anyone have written a tale of a guy named Weiner taking his sausage social? If something like that had come across the desk of someone other than a teacher of twelve-year-olds it would have been tossed straightaway.

As fodder, of course, the story is quite the tempting mouthful, as Andy Borowitz reveals in his usual kinda-like-a-twelve-year-old fashion as he slides in his jabs:

Traffic snarled for miles around the Capitol building as the streets filled with the penis-photo recipients, whom police sources said ranged in age from 21 to 22.

While there was no official count of the marchers, Fox News estimated the size of the crowd at twenty million while MSNBC said the number was closer to fourteen.

But seriously, folks …

I am rubbing up against a hard issue today, too.

It’s this business over taking tips that has me grabbing for the tissues.

Those San Franciscans may not be the only ones voting on whether or not to make circumcision illegal for minors.

The New York Times reports “intactivists” are fighting for a similar ballot issue in Santa Monica, arguing that the procedure is “male genital mutilation.”

“This is the furthest we’ve gotten, and it is a huge step for us,” Matthew Hess, who wrote both bills, tells the newspaper, adding that folks in other cities have been calling for help, as well. “This is a conversation we are long overdue to have in this country. The end goal for us is making cutting boys’ foreskin a federal crime.”

Although I am all in favor of moving past the point where baby boys were all but automatically circumcised … and that was the case in America for many years … this palaver seems misguided, at best, perhaps racist and possibly a dangerous diversion.

Esthetically, it’s neither here nor there to me since flaccid form seems to have no influence over function, but I do know some men long for their lost foreskin … a few with the same passion they carry resentments for stolen toys. I suppose it does give a bit more to play with, and a bit more can make all the difference in the world to some guys and the idea that they should have had some say in the matter does have merit.

From a medical perspective, phimosis must be considered. Although this super-tight foreskin problem can sometimes be stretched away, very often the only solution is surgical.

Given the drastic reduction in rates of HIV transmission circumcision offers, there also seems to be a more general advantage.

Not particularly tolerant of religious dictates, especially those involving a blade, ritual circumcision seems an unnecessary harkening back to ancient times when bathing was unusual and cheesy foreskins invited infection, then passed those along.

Cutting your kid so he looks like you seems another silly reason, and any guy who spent time in the locker room checking out the extra bit at the end the quarterback’s dick and found it unattractive was doing too much peepee peeking and should make the decision on their own sons out of more solid objectives.

The main reason, however, I’m going at it on the topic is that diversion thing I mentioned. Making a big thing out of the business of mohels … and, by the way, I understand they aren’t paid; they only take tips … is a muddying of the waters that run between removal of penile foreskin and the horrors of what is euphemistically known as female circumcision.

No matter how often the “Intactivists” toss around the words “genital mutilation” what is done to boys is NOTHING like what happens to millions of girls around the world.

From WHO:

Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.

Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.

It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.

In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.

FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

If a bunch of people in Santa Monica want to go all high and mighty over the issue of circumcising boys, so be it, but I won’t respect them in the morning.

By the way, is Weiner with, or without?

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