Tuesday, December 26, 2006
"U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9/11 Count"
Monday, December 25, 2006
Via Steve Gilliard I see that some conservative evangelicals have decided to deal with all the closeted homosexuality in their clergy by starting a homo-rehab program:
Recent gay-sex scandals involving evangelical pastors have prompted much soul-searching among conservative Christian leaders.
No one has proposed rethinking the theology that homosexuality is a sin. Instead, there's a growing consensus that the church must do a better job of helping pastors resist all immoral desires, such as a lust for pornography, an addiction to drugs or a lifelong same-sex attraction.
Seminary professors, Christian counselors and veteran clergy say the best way to help pastors fight temptation is to get them talking -- even about their most shameful secrets. They don't want a sordid tell-all from the pulpit each Sunday. But they would like pastors to bare their weaknesses and admit their lapses before a small group of "accountability partners" -- friends committed to listen with empathy, then rebuke or advise as needed.
J. Edgar Hoover liked to keep tabs on all the gays too. And then he owned them.
The thing I don't get about this is that these people are absolutely sure that homosexuality is a choice. But evangelical pastors are obviously not "choosing" to have a hidden gay life. They believe it's sinful and they hate themselves for it. They, of all people, would not "choose" such a thing. It must be such a strong, fundamental question of identity that they are unable to resist it. (Either that or they're just fast-talking religion hustlers who are completely full of shit. There are probably some of both.)
But there is actually some good news in this, I think. Under these peoples' belief system, being gay is one of the worst sins around. Yet they are carving out a moral exception for gay preachers -- the men who are supposed to set the standards and lead the people. Would they allow murderers to keep preaching? Thieves?
It seems to me that they are slowly but surely coming to realize that homosexuality knows no bounds, even among evangelical preachers, Catholic priests and other religious leaders who can't practice what they preach. If so, it's a good step in the right direction, no matter how small. Maybe if some of these people actually have to hear the stories of torment among their own small, elite group they'll get some empathy --- something Jesus Christ thought very highly of, if I'm not mistaken.
I don't know. Evangelicals think God made everyone in His own, heterosexual image. With everyone being straight from the get-go (conception?), one would have to "choose" to live life as a homosexual or to engage in homosexual acts, and it's the Devil that makes people choose it. I don't see that the hard-line evangelicals would ever find homosexuality acceptable unless Christ Himself were to return to Earth and tell them to leave the homos alone (and, before He left Earth, Christ Himself never uttered a word about homosexuality that was actually recorded in the Bible--I guess Christ didn't consider it a problem). But these "Christians" don't look to the teachings of Christ in their relentless crusade against homosexuals.
They'll cut their wayward pastors some slack by putting the blame on the prevailing permissive American culture, which, they insist, has so woefully deviated from that of our Founding Fathers (who, they will always deny, explicitly separated religion from the governance of the country).
If these people believe dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago (vs. 200 million), I doubt you could convince them there's anything like a gay gene. Science doesn't matter to these geeks. The Bible is all they need. You'll never convince them they need anything more, or that God gave people minds with which to think. To think is to doubt the Biblical word of God. Ignorance is bliss.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.
You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of coke and it will be gone in two days.
To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl. Let sit for one hour, then flush clean.
To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.
To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of coke into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle.
The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. It's pH is 2.8. It will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.
The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years!
(Answers here. See below.)
Friday, December 22, 2006
Rumors fly here on the Internet, often involving the food we eat and the products we use. "Don't believe everything you read," I tell people. And if something sounds fantastic or too terrible to be true, most likely it is. You can always check out rumors at Snopes.
Tonight I came across the following while reading "Cliff's Corner" on Americablog:
Hopefully I have brought a bit of laughter and passion to some of you, while to others, I'm sure this column elicits a similar bodily reaction to that of un-referigerated [sic] Taco Bell meat.Aside from being poorly written and puerile (which is why I normally don't read the column), the passage also (not surprisingly) perpetuates a hoax about Taco Bell meat. You can find out more about it here.
We have plenty to worry about with George Bush wreaking havoc at home and abroad. Why sweat the false stuff.
Just before the 2004 American elections, Kilcullen was doing intelligence work for the Australian government, sifting through Osama bin Laden’s public statements, including transcripts of a video that offered a list of grievances against America: Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, global warming. The last item brought Kilcullen up short. “I thought, Hang on! What kind of jihadist are you?” he recalled. The odd inclusion of environmentalist rhetoric, he said, made clear that “this wasn’t a list of genuine grievances. This was an Al Qaeda information strategy.” Ron Suskind, in his book “The One Percent Doctrine,” claims that analysts at the C.I.A. watched a similar video, released in 2004, and concluded that “bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reëlection.” Bin Laden shrewdly created an implicit association between Al Qaeda and the Democratic Party, for he had come to feel that Bush’s strategy in the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance.Al Qaeda thrives on George; George thrives on Al Qaeda. Two sides of the same coin. No wonder George never nailed Osama when he had the opportunity.
Meanwhile almost 3000 American soldiers have died in Iraq, which had nothing to do with Al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Since September 11th, the government’s traditional approach to national security has proved inadequate in one area after another. The intelligence agencies habitually rely on satellites and spies, when most of the information that matters now, as Kilcullen pointed out, is “open source”—available to anyone with an Internet connection. Traditional diplomacy, with its emphasis on treaties and geopolitical debates, is less relevant than the ability to understand and influence foreign populations—not in their councils of state but in their villages and slums. And future enemies are unlikely to confront the world’s overwhelming military power with conventional warfare; technology-assisted insurgency is proving far more effective. At the highest levels of Western governments, the failure of traditional approaches to counter the jihadist threat has had a paralyzing effect. “I sense we’ve lost the ability to think strategically,” Field Marshal Sir Peter Inge, the former chief of the British armed forces, has said of his government. He could have been describing the White House and the Pentagon.
Kilcullen’s strategic mind, by contrast, seems remarkably febrile. I could call him at the office or at home at any hour of the night and he’d be jotting down ideas in one of his little black notebooks, ready to think out loud. Kilcullen, Crumpton, and their colleagues are desperately trying to develop a lasting new strategy that, in Kilcullen’s words, would be neither Republican nor Democratic. Bruce Hoffman said, “We’re talking about a profound shift in mind-set and attitude”—not to mention a drastic change in budgetary and bureaucratic priorities. “And that may not be achievable until there’s a change in Administration.” Kilcullen is now in charge of writing a new counterinsurgency manual for the civilian government, and early this month he briefed Condoleezza Rice on his findings in Afghanistan. But his ideas have yet to penetrate the fortress that is the Bush White House. Hoffman said, “Isn’t it ironic that an Australian is spearheading this shift, together with a former covert operator? It shows that it’s almost too revolutionary for the places where it should be discussed—the Pentagon, the National Security Council.” At a moment when the Bush Administration has run out of ideas and lost control, it could turn away from its “war on terror” and follow a different path—one that is right under its nose.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Tonight while I was napping, I got a call from an old friend. We'd met years ago at Sugars when it was located on Biscayne Blvd. (U.S. 1) just north of 135th Street. After Hurricane Andrew, the bar relocated to W. Dixie Highway a few blocks north of 163rd Street. (Its previous spot on Biscayne is now occupied by the parking lot of a new BankUnited. My, how this neighborhood has changed.) A little over a year ago, the bar on W. Dixie closed and has remained empty ever since.
I'd been a regular Sugars customer for years, as had my friend, though he moved to Atlanta about 10 years ago. Still he would pop in at Sugars on his trips down. Now there's no place to go around here -- no gay bar, at least. So I don't go anywhere now. This has taken some getting used to, and I still can't say I'm used to it. I miss my old Happy Hour compadres. (Fortunately some of them made it to the party, along with the former manager, who's now retired.)
Tonight it would have been nice to meet my old friend at Sugars for a drink, but by the time I called him back, he was already on South Beach, alas.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I think this administration has given democracy a black eye. You don't try to impose democracy on other countries. Rather, you set a good example and others will follow. Lately, we've set a very bad example. And with the way this administration has curtailed our own freedoms and resorted to torture, what really is there to emulate? We've become less of a democracy than we were before. Now we've become the devil.
From Poputonian at Hullaballoo (speech made to the UN Security Council by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin before the invasion of Iraq), with Poputonian's comments:
Therefore, I would like solemnly to address a question to this body, and it's the very same question being asked by people all over the world. Why should we now engage in war with Iraq? And I would also like to ask, why smash the instruments that have just proven their effectiveness? Why choose division when our unity and our resolve are leading Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction? Why should we wish to proceed by force at any price when we can succeed peacefully?De Villepin then detailed the positive results coming in from the inspection reports and talked of the success of other pressures being brought to bear on Iraq. He continued:
War is always an acknowledgment of failure. Let us not resign ourselves to the irreparable. Before making our choice, let us weigh the consequences. Let us measure the effects of our decision. And it's clear to all in Iraq, we are resolutely moving toward completely eliminating programs of weapons of mass destruction. The method that we have chosen worked.
We all know that when it comes to foreign policy George Bush is dumber than a box of hammers, so where did the ideological idea come from that led to this war, and who is the architect of the public relations fraud that sold it to the American sheeple? The answer is that it came from the Republican party, and the PR architect was none other than Karl Rove. Less than one year ago, he was gloating about the the success of the grandiose scheme . . . .
What conclusions can we draw? That Iraq, according to the very terms used by the inspectors, represents less of a danger to the world than it did in 1991, that we can achieve our objective of effectively disarming that country. Let us keep the pressure on Baghdad.
The adoption of Resolution 1441, the assumption of converging positions by the vast majority of the world's nations, diplomatic action by the Organization of African Unity, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the non-aligned movement, all of these common efforts are bearing fruit.
Let us be clear-sighted. We are defining a method to resolve crisis. We are choosing how to define the world we want our children to live in.
These crises have many roots. They are political, religious, economic. Their origins lie deep in the turmoil of history.
There may be some who believe that these problems can be resolved by force, thereby creating a new order. But this is not what [we] believe. On the contrary, we believe that the use of force can arouse resentment and hatred, fuel a clash of identities and of cultures, something that our generation has a prime responsibility to avoid.
To those who believe that war would be the quickest way of disarming Iraq, I can reply that it will drive wedges and create wounds that will be long in healing. And how many victims will it cause? How many families will grieve?
We do not subscribe to what may be the other objectives of a war. Is it a matter of regime change in Baghdad? No one underestimates the cruelty of this dictatorship or the need to do everything possible to promote human rights. But this is not the objective of Resolution 1441. And force is certainly not the best way of bringing about democracy. Here and elsewhere it would encourage dangerous instability.
Is it a matter of fighting terrorism? War would only increase it and we would then be faced with a new wave of violence.
Is it finally a matter of recasting the political landscape of the Middle East? In that case, we run the risk of exacerbating tensions in a region already marked by great instability. Not to mention that in Iraq itself, the large number of communities and religions already represents a danger of a potential break-up.
We all have the same demands. We want more security and more democracy. But there is another logic other than the logic of force. There is another path. There are other solutions. We understand the profound sense of insecurity with which the American people have been living since the tragedy of September 11, 2001. The entire world shared the sorrow of New York and of America struck in the heart. And I say this in the name of our friendship for the American people, in the name of our common values: freedom; justice; tolerance.
But there is nothing today to indicate a link between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. And will the world be a safer place after a military intervention in Iraq? I want to tell you what my country's conviction is: It will not.
* People who start wars are bad. That's "morally clear" to me.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
People came early and stayed late. I didn't start really relaxing till they left, which was between 2 and 3. (They started arriving at 8.) I thought it amazing that no one in the building complained about the noise, and there was a lot of it. I guess the walls and floors in this old building are thick.
I had a few perishable things to wrap up and put in the refrigerator and ran the dishwasher. B. did some tidying up. Not that much more to do vis-a-vis clean-up.
My only regret is that the pre-party cleaning contingent (God bless them, but it wasn't me) left two bottles of Febreze standing against one wall in the living room and I hadn't caught it. I'd been too busy. "My bad."
Party was very successful, according to the feedback from the attendees (attenders, really).
I over-bought almost everything but better that than under-buying and people going without, or them having to run to the store for booze or ice or whatever, or just leaving.
Wow, it's almost daytime. Gotta think about going to bed. Been hitting the Absolut Peppar for a few Bloody Marys, which I normally don't drink unless there's vodka in the house. Well, we'll be in liquor and beer for days, not to mention lasagne (delicious, which a guest volunteered to bring) and turkey breast. Almost all of the wild Florida shrimp was consumed. Got a lot of compliments on that. B. doesn't eat seafood except for canned tuna -- I'd bought the shrimp for the guests. I also made a mean crab spread which I got compliments on. (Consisting of really good canned crabmeat, capers, mayonnaise and cayenne pepper.)
Enough already. It's getting way bright out the window.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Ticking off items on to-do list for B's party tomorrow night is proceeding according to schedule. Tonite after an extended, reinvigorating nap (which I figured would be more valuable than going to the gym), I did some more shopping, finished painting in the guest bathroom, and boiled the shrimp. Shrimp taste great (I ate only one). They're huge, wild, from Florida and taste sweet as lobster. They really don't need any sauce at all, though I'll be making a cocktail sauce and a mayonnaise sauce with dill relish.
The only things left to do are, basically, roast the turkey breast and buy the beer and ice and the remaining fresh groceries. Thankfully B. is off tomorrow and will be a great help. Plus we have to do some tidying up and decorating and stage everything.
Whenever I paint in this apartment, I see how poor the previous paint jobs have been. It always pisses me off. I end up having to sand like crazy or strip the old paint. Fortunately I bought an electric sander and am pretty adept at stripping (although maybe I've seen better says, but WHO CARES?). :-)