Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lazy Sunday Blues

Gotta buy new shoes today...

Gotta buy new boots too...

At least the Lions won't lose...cause they don't play...

Gonna finish painting the hall this afternoo-oo-oo-oo-oon...

But I got those lazy Sunday blues...

Those lazy Sunday blues...

And I don't know what I'm a-gonna do...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What are We Becoming?

I thought that Black Friday was bad enough simply as a reflection of the consumerism which is gripping our land. Then yesterday's unfortunate incident in New York sinks our already poor culture to new depths.

A worker at a Wal-Mart gets trampled to death for the sake of cheap TV's? Shoppers refuse to leave the store when told of the death because, essentially, they had already waited so long? And in a further bizarre twist to yesterday's deal seeking frenzy, a woman trampled in another Wal-Mart files charges...after she finished her shopping?

An eyewitness reported, in the former incident, that people were acting like savages. Savages? Now that's in the spirit of Christmas. Acting like savages while in search of goodies to make people happy. Or make themselves happy; let's own up, folks, we all know that many of these bargain hunters are simply ponying up for their own new toys.

Who, BTW, is one of the agencies getting the most flak for the attack (for that's what it was, an attack) which cost a worker his life? Wal-Mart. For not providing enough security.

This is beyond sad. It is more than unfortunate. Events like these ought to infuriate every person out there who has an ounce of decency and charity in their body. It is an outrage that in the name of one of the greatest Christian holidays this sort of carnage, and the selfish attitudes which propagate it, should be tolerated at all, let alone promoted by the system which created the opportunity for it to happen. If we cannot look ourselves in the mirror after this tragedy and realize we need to take a breath, a deep one, and several steps back to set our bearings straight, then we are a hopeless race.

I never thought, never considered, that a human life is worth a $69 megapixel digital camera. What kind of animals have we become?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After.

What do you do on the day after Thanksgiving? I'll tell what I do not do: go shopping.

In the first place, that's just nuts. Does anybody really think, in this poor economy, that there won't be any great sales later in the season? Especially as so many ads with so many great prices also end with, 'extremely limited quantities', why bother? You'll get one great deal at best, and only if you're far enough towards the front of the line. That's nothing more than dumb luck, unless you want to be at a store at 1 AM. Skip that.

Then there's the crowds. No way Jose. Wait until later when the shopping ghouls aren't cramming the aisles.

And I never get enough mileage out of this reason: I am not obliged to prop up the American economy on the pretext of a co-opted holiday. Christmas is about Christmas, by golly, and not about buying things. I'm not averse to giving gifts; that should be encouraged. But do it year round, friends, not on someone else's schedule or say so. If you see something someone would like in May, buy it then and give it to them then. That's real charity. That's real concern for them in doing them a good turn and making their day.

I'll tell you what I will do today: put up the Christmas tree. That says more about getting into the spirit of the season: putting up Christmas decorations with your family. Even though I'm sure the lights will be knotted up and half won't work and they'll be frustration at and on several levels, at the end of the day we'll have something far more special than baubles and trinkets. We'll have the best Christmas tree ever.

For that, Sears can wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving.

It would be all too easy to write a blog on the things I should be thankful for today. Except everybody does that, and it would not be original.

I could write on the first Thanksgiving, reflecting on what it means in our history. Yet that's been amply covered as well.

I could post a Happy Thanksgiving shout out to the soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines who sacrifice their time and, too often, lives for us to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving. But that seems stale.

The hell it does. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in Iraq, Afghanistan, GITMO, Germany, Korea, Britain; Forts Bliss, Leavenworth, Benning, Lewis, Hood, Riley, Sam Houston, Bragg, Sill, Leonard Wood, on the high seas, and all our Allied forces, Canada, England and all others, who are aiding us in all the trouble spots in the world. Happy Thanksgiving to all in the places I've neglected to mention; you're in our hearts too.

That your turkey dinners are happening in places I can't imagine, thank you for the will to do what you're doing. I hope they taste better as part of a job well done.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another bailout?

No we're going to bail out the credit industry? When will the government learn that you simply cannot protect every individual from himself?

Never. Not so long as we tolerate corporate welfare. That's all that it is, truly; I'm no bleeding heart by any stretch of the imagination, but I do wonder how many needy people can't get help when multi-billion dollar corporations screw up and get easy public money.

We'll hear about, have heard about, how the little guy is the one who'll get screwed over when he loses his home or can't pay his credit card bill. And no doubt he'll be hit harder than a mortgage executive. Still, his folly is his folly.

The whole thing's simply a mess. We'll be Europe before we know it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On the Detroit Lions.

I am not a big Detroit Lions football fan; the team never really caught my imagination like the hometown Tigers and Red Wings have with their respective sports. It isn't that I don't want them to win. It's simply that they never do, in any significant sense.

One playoff win since 1957. Their last NFL Championship (they've never had the barest whiff of a Super Bowl) was in 1957. My parents were married in 1957; maybe we can blame them. But hey, they've at least led productive lives since then.

What have the Lions done? The one lone win in the playoffs, in 1991, has to be treated as an aberration. Generally, when they do make the playoffs (as they did with some consistency in the 90's) its only to get blown out in the one game they eek into. Or lose even more embarrasingly: they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 5-0 in a 1970 appearance. 5-nil; I think that's when I assumed they were a lost cause. At 10 years old I abandoned all hope of the Lions ever actually producing. How can a professional football team not win when they only give up 5 stinking points?

The thing is, I've always respected their kickers. Eddie Murray hung around a long time as a premier kicker; Jason Hanson has been here 17 years as a true pro. How can you find kicking talent and not talented players at other positions? And why do the Hansons stay with the team? Probably so their holiday plans don't get fouled up.

So the team is 0-11 going into their annual Thanksgiving turkey...classic! They play Tennessee, who only just lost their first game. What that means is they likely want to hammer on the Motor City Kitties for vengeance.

Don't bother, Titans. It would not impress, and you would only appear mean.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Holy Spirit and the Authority of Teaching.

I find myself frequenting more and more blogs, and participating in their discussions so much as I can. On one of the more recent chats, on a Protestant board, we were talking about how obvious the truths of the Bible are, and how therefore no one had the authority to call another wrong on a theological issue.

I don't know, my friends. If everything is so plain why are there so many denominations? It seems to me that much declaring of right and wrong has to be done by the learned, provided there is evidence that they are driven by the Holy Spirit. Because I do of course agree, as several good Christians at that site pointed out, that degrees and citations by themselves cannot make a point of view right. Still, if things were so plain and simple, why are churches even necessary? Why bother our pastors about issues and events in our lives or in the general society if scripture is so clear? Indeed why even discuss things religious with others at all?

While we may not be able to divine the will of the Spirit in all things at all times (we are human, of course, and subject to error) we can make useful judgments about whether the Spirit is speaking to so and so. For starters, if I say that in the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ and you say no, one of us is wrong even if we both claim that the Holy Spirit is guiding us. Unless, that is, the Holy Spirit lies, which is an unacceptable position. If you say divorce is okay yet I read in Scripture where Christ Himself says that he who divorces one to marry another commits adultery, I think I can harbor a reasonable doubt about whether the Spirit is speaking to you or not.

Further, if there is effectively no teaching authority within the fathers of a historical Church, nay even no teaching authority in the hands of the theologically learned, how can we resolve the issues which we must face in creating a closer relationship to God? How can we even lean on the teachings of the Apostles, who would then theoretically be no more than individuals judging the will of the Spirit themselves? Don't forget for a moment that even they could be cautious about what they preached: St. Peter, in an obvious expectation that the early Church was subject to his authority, points out that we must treat St. Paul's words with great respect. They could be difficult to understand, and the 'unstable and ignorant' might misinterpret them to their peril. The Apostles themselves, it seems, expected obedience from their flock. What other reason is there for writing pastoral letters?

I'm really not trying to lambaste my Protestant brethren; I simply believe we have to understand that there are those who have more right than we to call certain parts of theology and Scripture right or wrong.

In short, I don't mind hierarchy, so long as it passes the test of the Spirit. What we must be careful about is the tyranny of the individual. That is a particularly dangerous threat when our souls are at risk.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Saturday! It's chore day!

I used to like Saturdays a lot. Especially way back when (way, way back when) Saturday morning was the biggest cartoon time of the the week. The long lost ten year old in me looked forward to Saturday more than anything. He got out of bed at 6:30 more easily for sugar blasted cereal and poorly animated Hanna-Barbera cartoons than he could get up for school at that time Monday through Friday.

Adulthood and the development of the Cartoon Network have changed that. Oh, Saturday is still an okay day, but it's different. It's the day of getting stuff done that you can't so readily do the rest of the week. It's Chore Day, and it goes something like this:

Wake up at 9AM still a little blurry from Friday night.

Drive daughter to work.

Take the recycling to the recycling center. Sort recycling into proper bins.

Mail a letter.

Stop at party store hoping the Sam Adams holiday packs are in, hoping even more emphatically that they still have the Cranberry Lambic which is so outstanding that it rivals Guinness for the attention of my taste buds.

Write a blog article. Like this one. But hopefully better.

Ship a package, get a tire fixed, get an oil change on the van.

Take other car in for oil change.

Buy new windshield wipers and install them on car.

Look back on day and opine about how hopelessly boring responsibility can be.

But what needs doing gets done. And I can finish the day sipping on a double shot of Jameson's. Something that long lost ten year could never do.

That's when I realize that Saturdays still rule. I may even chase that Jameson's with a Guinness, or a Cranberry Lambic if I'm fortunate enough to find one.

It's a rough life.

Friday, November 21, 2008

On Capitalism

I am a free market enthusiast through and through, but I do believe that the capitalists (particularly the more libertarian ones) do need to keep one thing in mind: something is not moral merely because there is a market for it.

What brings this up is a link posted on a blog which I frequent. The link prompted folks to a site where you could buy Obama and/or McCain condoms. It was done for a joke, I'm sure, but as the condoms are actually out there it is equally certain they were produced in order to make money.

Nothing wrong with making money, of course. As a rule. Yet there are ways of making money which are morally abhorrent. The whole sex trade, to be sure, or products which are seriously and significantly offensive. No one ought to see Calvin urinating on a Ford symbol, for example. That people will buy this sort of thing is not the point; nor is the point that human freedom may call for grudging toleration of such things. The ultimate point must be that the act or product must be moral in and of itself in order to be moral in the free market.

I am not saying that the government should become involved in regulating what are admittedly often only juvenile paraphernalia (prostitution and the like are another matter). Still, it would nice if the markets would be a bit more self regulating and eschew such garbage.

To rephrase an old saw, I have come to the conclusion that capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the other economic systems. It is a sobering thought.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Put it in Overdrive

Hey Gm, hey Chrysler; I suppose even hey Ford, though they don't seem as concerned. Here's a thought when looking for bailouts using my money:

Fly to Washington coach and not on your private jets. Get to the auto shows rather than skip them like GM is in Los Angeles. Show everyone that you're serious about making a go of things. Bag your lunches, whatever, but how about a sign that you're taking this crisis seriously. Because if you want my money, I need to believe that you aren't going to simply use it on jet fuel.

You too, UAW; this isn't all on big business' shoulders. Big labor has been around driving up costs as well. How sympathetic can I be when the average auto maker makes more than average auto buyer? It's easy to think that what you may need is a comeuppance, a little back down to earth lesson in reality. Now you don't really want to see what's behind the woodshed, do you?

I wouldn't favor a bailout anyway, true, but come on, folks, when you ask for it act like you truly need it. Show up in off the rack suits or something. Because you won't actually be hurt yourself: the people you claim to have the best interests of at heart are the ones that will get hurt. The ones who can't hop on a jet to speak to Congress because they've been too busy lining your pockets working on the line.

As it is now, at the end of the day it just looks like the rich saving their assets through corporate welfare. That kind of fraud stinks far worse than public gifts to the layabouts who aren't doing anything to improve themselves. They're at least honest about wanting money for nothing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Credo in Unum Deum.

That's it, that my post today. If you don't know what it means, you aren't Catholic enough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Crankiness

I feel cranky today, and I don't care who knows it. That's one of the joys of crankiness: you're that way as though it is a right.

Some folks say that we shouldn't be cranky. Maybe so, maybe no; I find that it gets me out of stuff I don't want to do, which I think makes it very useful. "Let's go without Marty; he's cranky" sound so good when it gets you what you want.

People will leave you alone. They'll try to start an inane conversation, realize you're cranky, and shut up. It's great.

So don't leave crankiness to the old codgers. Try it on for size. You will not be disappointed. And if you are, well, then have a reason to be cranky.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What did He say?

So Barack Obama had a big interview on 60 Minutes last night. Did I watch it, you ask?

No. Emphatically.

Part of it may be sour grapes, I'll allow, as I've not always been the most gracious loser. Beyond that, he has nothing to say which I deem worth hearing. The only reason to listen to the man is to know thine enemy. But I expect that I'll have a lot of fodder for that naturally as this ugly, sugary inaugural plays out.

They'll be more bailouts, perhaps cuts to the military, perhaps a terrorist action of some sort that will test him. That's when it gets interesting, and truly worth note: when he has to act. Talking to a studio bound interviewer isn't likely to tell us much about the kind of president Mr. Obama will be. Yet when action is called for, well: will we truly get a leader who is inclusive in his decision making, or one as unilateral as the outgoing president is accused of being?

We'll see. The proof of the pudding, you know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Now it's just getting Sick.

Will the fawning over Barack Obama ever end? It seems that it's become international now: Europeans are demanding greater minority representation in their governments thanks to the Obama ascendancy.

Puh-leese. Can this become any more cloying and treacly? In the first place, the Illinois Senator is not the Second Coming among world leaders. There were minorities in politics top to bottom way before him: need I mention Colin Powell and Condolessa Rice, Secretaries of State, appointed by Republicans no less? Sure, it is historically more significant that Obama has been elected President. But that is not something we ought to be so impressed with in 2008.

As I've said in earlier blogs, in a colorblind society this isn't supposed to matter outside of trivia. Yet now we have folks the world over demanding more minorities in positions of power. Let me tell you something flat out: wanting someone in power solely because of their skin color or national origin is just as racist as NOT wanting them in power for those reasons. We should want people of integrity and ability running our nation regardless of skin tone. Show me someone worth voting for on the issues and I'll vote for him. Ask me to vote for him simply because he's black or white or green and you lose me. You should.

I understand pride in our fellows, and no doubt a lot of that is reflected in Mr. Obama's rise to out nation's top spot. That's okay: a lot of Polish were proud of John Paul II and Germans with Benedict XVI. Just keep it in perspective, friends. If President Obama becomes one of the greats, it can only be because of his leadership, or we are shallow citizens indeed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And Another Thing About those Stupid Do-it-Yourself Shows.

Continued from yesterday's rant...

They make it look so easy, don't they? Put a board here, a splash of paint there, and your house is now the freakin' Taj Mahal.

BZZZZZ! Wrong answer! They're experts, people! They've worked years to be able to work as quickly and smoothly as they do on their shows.

You're not an expert. If you only handle a saw twice a year you're gonna make bad cuts. Period.

Plus, they get outtakes, which we never see aired. Do you get an outtake? NO! You get your wife telling you how easy it was on TV to add a deck and a dormer it's so simple why can't you do it just like they did and what kind of idiot did I get stuck with Mom was right I should have married Roger. That's what you get.

It just ain't that simple, folks. Especially since your house is probably fine just like it is.

Am I right?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Becoming a Curmedgeon: Part Three in an Everlasting Series

I swear, if I see one more do-it-yourself show I am so gonna lose it!

DIY, HGTV, and all their sister stations, I hate them. hate them, hate them! It seems that every show I see on those networks all revolve around people redoing rooms and homes that DON'T NEED REDOING! A camera will pan slowly across a room in its 'before' state while an announcer bemoans the fact that SOMETHING simply MUST be done about those dreadful 90's COLORS!

What's wrong with 90's colors? Is the room still functional? I mean, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot people, it's a living room! If your friends care more about the appearance of the room than visiting with you, well, then, I say to Hell with them.

I mean, too, what kind of life do you have when you're embarrassed by a perfectly good living room solely because it hasn't been repainted since 2005? Can't you take a decent shower in a nicely tiled bathroom even if the tile dates to 1977? Come on, folks, get a life!

Decadence, that's what it is, pure and simple. What a crock.

I'll just sign off with mindless, incomprehensible grumbling now. Mumble grumble rackin' frakin' dipwads with too much time on their hands...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Making of History

Today is the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is also one step closer to the history making ascendancy of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States. What might be gleaned from these factors?

The first thing which comes to mind is that eventas have far reaching consequences. The opening up of Eastern Europe lead to the fall of Russian Communism and the freeing of millions, among other good things. On the whole, it brought good tidings.

Whither Obama? While becoming the first African American president is without argument historical, it can only be a trivial fact, an asterisk, if he does not do well. In short, the day is dawning, but is a storm brewing?

Sadly, we won't know for sure for about four years.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Buy my books!

Hey, c'mon, buy them! It's coming up on Christmas, you know. It'll catch up to you if you aren't careful. Buy early to save time and embarrassment.

For those of you who don't know, my books are: David Gideon (see www.gideonfor president.com), A Subtle Armageddon, Michael's Story, and Triumph of the Ignorant. Do your part to shore up the economy for Obama.

Well, okay, for my personal economy too, but that goes with the territory. But don't you see that this is the chance to be wholly bipartisan? Support a Democratic president and a Republican writer. What could be better?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Too Early to be Awake on a Saturday Blog

Ugh. I have to be at work at 7:45 and I woke up way too early. But I should say something here today, I suppose.

In regards to yesterday's blog in defending Canadian PM Stephen Harper, a friend of mine pointed out that 'disagreement doesn't equal hatred.' That puts it so well I wish I had thought of it when I was writing. She's not only right, but it shines a light on the right approach to disagreement: discuss without being disagreeable, even (or especially) on lightning rod issues. Thanks, Janet, for the insight.

Got a knock on the door at 12:30 this morning by a neighbor to tell me that a window was shattered on my van. Well, I know how I'm helping the poor economy after work.

Cold this morning after a lovely week of temps in the low 70s, which is highly unusual for November but very much welcome. Ah well; it wasn't going to last forever was it?

We are 4-1 after three weeks of curling. Yee-hah!

I'm leaving before I get too silly. Back tomorrow or Monday, Folks!

Friday, November 7, 2008

On the Nature of Morals.

'In morals, it is harmony with nature which is to be prized.'
-Confucius, The Analects

I find myself in the interesting position of defending a Canadian Prime Minister. It seems Stephen Harper is in a bit of a political row over gay marriage, preferring civil unions over actual marriages, as he personally finds active homosexuality immoral. A site which I frequent, westernstandard.ca, has had a bit of a debate on the issue, with one blogger calling Harper 'a evil, cruel, mean, homophobic ... Christian bigot'. On the PM's behalf, I resent that.

Why are people of certain beliefs evil for the sake of those beliefs? Especially with this question. Active homosexuality has been almost universally condemned by almost all societies in human history, and the practice has been frowned upon by virtually every major religion in the same time frame. While that fact in and of itself does not answer the question of whether homosexual behavior is wrong, it does lend a hand to the idea that it may be wrong. Further, calling anyone 'evil, etc.' for holding beliefs in line with historical morals, as well as accusing deep-seated religious teaching as being 'bigoted' strikes me as a rather shallow defense about their own selves and their morals. Isn't attacking the person, not the position, a logical fallacy? Who's really unsure of themselves here?

What we need to remember is that Confucius is right. Our morals must be in harmony with nature, and there is nothing natural about homosexual sex. Sex is clearly intended to be male-female in our species. Further, it is our harmony with nature which is reflected in what we stand for as a society. If we allow acts which are incongruent with nature to be respected as moral, we are saying as a society that we a believe in things not congruent with nature. That we believe in error. Indeed, that we believe in evil.

We are better than that, as a people and as individuals. Once we start refusing to defend rightness for rightness sake, what more can we allow which is even less in line with the intentions of nature? Once we establish that we stand for less than we should, we become mere animals.

We are not. So while I can't agree with Mr. Harper on civil unions, I say bravo for standing against gay marriages. You go, Steve! Don't let anyone tell you that your core values on this issue are wrong.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is it Palin Time?

There are pundits out there today asking, in light of the GOP defeat Tuesday, where does it leave Sarah Palin? Practically speaking, it leaves her as Governor of Alaska. Yet there's more than that. She may well be in the best position to lead the Republican Party from the ashes.

I know that many folks think her selection to the ticket was a mistake. I am not one of them. She's spunky, she has swagger, and she's conservative. Those are the great qualities of an inspiring leader. As such, I'm going to go out on a limb and point out comparisons between her and that great Republican, Ronald Reagan.

He was underrated too, at one point, and look what he achieved. He was seen as an unlearned hack, but he studied and learned, ending up the last century's greatest speaker for liberty and dignity. He was seen as being on the fringe right, only to make the rest of the nation see the truths of conservatism to the point of his election as President. His passion drove that. Her passion can do the same, if channeled properly.

Now's the time, Governor. Time to come from the northwest, the final American frontier, and show a little frontier justice. Give Americans a clear choice opposite the liberal Democrats. Go on the attack. Make it happen.

Why? Because you can. How else did you get this far?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It isn't bad at all.

So we've gone and done it, and Barack Obama is President-elect.

But it wasn't that decisive of an election. It looks like the Dems won't get the filibuster proof Senate they lathered after, and although they gained about 20 seats in the House we must remember there were 29 GOP retirements this election cycle. That made for a tougher fight over the lower house.

Look to 2010 now, folks, when more Democratic Senate seats are up and a few House seats traditionally Republican are back on the block. Until then, it's no mandate, Mr. Obama. You victory pales, in significance and historic fact, next to Reagan's in 1980 or Gingrich's in 1994. Young and photogenic does not translate into long term support, and you'll have to go past your platitudes now. Reagan did; can you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's the day!

After all the time, attack ads, debates, and hype, America votes today. With a huge turnout expected, long lines are expected in many areas. This bothers some folks, as it may cause people to leave rather than wait.

Let them leave. If that's all their voting right means, then they get what they deserve in the end. And while I'm ranting somewhat non-PC anyway, don't vote just to vote either. If it doesn't matter who you vote for then it doesn't matter if you vote. Besides, I'm not like all those other vote regardless types. If you aren't voting for who I want to win, then I don't want you to vote. Everyone feels that way in the hearts, I don't care what they say.

Okay, rant over. Come back tomorrow for my rant on the winner. Or loser. Or both, what they hey.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I hate change for change' sake.

The title says it all: I see no point in changing anything just to change. It borders on senseless, quite frankly, and arguably childish.

There's nothing wrong with it per se either, I'll concede. Still, that being the case, why do it at all is a fair question to ask.

Expand your horizons, perhaps? What if the horizon isn't all that clear? Besides, it becomes fair to ask in answer to that, what's wrong with I'm doing now? I realize that either question calls for a certain amount of extrapolation, as it's ultimately all in the details. But remember the question is why change simply to change?

When we took the kids out for ice cream I virtually always got black cherry. Why? I like it. Why try something new when you can get what you know you like.

Am I being obstinate? Perhaps; but aren't you being equally obstinate in trying to get me to change? I mean, what's it to you? It's not like I'm doing anything immoral (on the ice cream question, of course). Further, as I have the right in that sphere to order what I want, what argument can you possibly have against me?

It might be nice to change. Okay, but it might be nice to get what I want too. It's almost a moral wash; wait, no it isn't. It's my right to do what I want among legitimate moral choices. What you think I should do merits nothing for your position. It's only you being bossy.

Maybe I should have labeled this becoming a curmudgeon part three. But so be it. Leave me alone where I've the right be left alone; that's all I ask.