Sunday, January 13, 2013

My resignation

... the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more. - Ernest Hemingway, In Another Country, The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (Scribner Classics) (Kindle Location 4604). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.


I don’t remember many of the lectures from college but I recall a rather stuffy English professor, who I did not like very much, saying that Ernest Hemingway resigned from politics the way Frederic Henry resigned from the war (World War I) in A Farewell to Arms.


Today, I feel like resigning from all organized and socially accepted forms of human endeavor – wars, which are always about money; corporations, which institutionalize greed and aggression; politics, which promotes illusory solutions to unsolvable human problems; sports, which are marketed to sell beer and automobiles; churches, which are more important than religion.

And here from John D. MacDonald is a list of “dislikes” that since Peggy and I read this back in the mid-1970s probably did as much as anything else to build what I might laughingly call my philosophy of life: “... plastic credit cards, payroll deductions, insurance programs, retirement benefits, savings accounts, Green Stamps, time clocks, newspapers, mortgages, sermons, miracle fabrics, deodorants, check lists, time payments, political parties, lending libraries, television, actresses, junior chambers of commerce, pageants, progress, and manifest destiny.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why I Don't Celebrate Christmas

"Christmas" is not the December shopping season in advance of Christmas Day ... During most of December, Christians observe Advent, a four-week season of reflection, preparation and waiting that precedes the yearly celebration of Jesus' birth ... If you wander into a local Lutheran, Episcopal or Roman Catholic parish ... There are no poinsettias, no Christmas pageants, no trees or holly, and no red and green altar linens ... There are no twinkling lights or over-the-top Christmas displays. Just four candles in a simple wreath, two partially burned, two yet to be lit. The mood is somber ... It is Advent. During these weeks, churches are not merry ... The ministers preach from stark biblical texts about the poor and oppressed being lifted up while the rich and powerful are cast down, about society being leveled and oppression ceasing ... -- from Fox News' War on Advent by Diana Butler Bass. Author, "Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening"

Reading this article about Advent, I realize how my Vedanta, Lutheran and Quaker religious education leaves me appalled at the way the 2012 edition of “Christmas” is being celebrated as basically a product marketing holiday.

The conspicuous consumption starts on the oddly named Black Friday, one day after the American Bacchanalia euphemistically known as Thanksgiving. Rampant consumerism continues through Dec. 24 with people frantically buying everything from Mortal Combat video games to Mercedes Benz motor cars as “Christmas gifts” to celebrate the birth of "The Prince of Peace."

So I think from now on instead of saying I’m being a Scrooge or Grinch about Christmas, I’ll just say I’m making a conscious choice not to participate in the December marketing holiday and I don’t care if they call it Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Saturnalia.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My 100% Score on Pew Religious Knowledge Survey

You answered 15 out of 15 questions correctly
for a score of 100%.

QuestionYour ResponseCorrect Answer% of survey respondents answering correctly
1. Which Bible figure is most closely associated with leading the exodus from Egypt?correct Answer Moses Moses72%
2. What was Mother Teresa's religion?correct Answer CatholicCatholic82
3. Which of the following is NOT one of the Ten Commandments?correct Answer Do unto others as you would have them do unto you Do unto others as you would have them do unto you55
4. When does the Jewish Sabbath begin?correct Answer FridayFriday45
5. Is Ramadan…?correct AnswerThe Islamic holy month The Islamic holy month52
6. Which of the following best describes the Catholic teaching about the bread and wine used for Communion?correct Answer The bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.The bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.40
7. In which religion are Vishnu and Shiva central figures?correct Answer Hinduism Hinduism38
8. Which Bible figure is most closely associated with remaining obedient to God despite suffering?correct Answer JobJob39
9. What was Joseph Smith's religion?correct Answer Mormon Mormon51
10. According to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a public school teacher permitted to lead a class in prayer, or not? correct Answer No, not permitted No, not permitted89
11. According to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a public school teacher permitted to read from the Bible as an example of literature, or not?correct Answer Yes, permittedYes, permitted23
12. What religion do most people in Pakistan consider themselves?correct Answer Muslim Muslim68
13. What was the name of the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation?correct Answer Martin LutherMartin Luther46
14. Which of these religions aims at nirvana, the state of being free from suffering?correct Answer Buddhism Buddhism36
15. Which one of these preachers participated in the period of religious activity known as the First Great Awakening?correct Answer Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards11
This online quiz includes 15 of the 32 religious knowledge questions that made up the telephone survey. The order and context of the questions are not exactly the same in the online quiz and telephone survey. To ease the administration of the online quiz, the wording of some questions is slightly different from the wording used in the telephone survey. For the questions used in the telephone survey, see the survey questionnaire.
Your responses on the quiz do NOT affect the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey's results.
Here's how you did on these 15 questions (excerpted from the larger U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey) compared with a nationally representative sample of 3,412 adults. Read the Full Report
Your responses on the quiz do NOT affect the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey's results.

Religious groups
For an analysis of the link between religious affiliation and religious knowledge, see the full report.
The graph above shows how you did on these 15 questions (excerpted from the larger U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey) compared with a nationally representative sample of 3,412 adults.
Your responses on the quiz do NOT affect the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey's results.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Trample Thy Neighbor

This is a Black Friday Sale not to be missed! -- ad on Twitter

Yes, pilgrims, it's time to line up outside your favorite Big Box store while still burping your Thanksgiving turkey.

When the doors open, stampede over your co-religionists. If a few of thy neighbors get crushed to death so what?

Trample on!

No one gets in your way as you madly rush into your own Happy Holidays.

The important thing is to get a sale price for that special person in your life, so they can play a video game featuring mass murder as they celebrate the birth of The Prince of Peace.

Missing Texas

A few years ago, while conducting research for a novel I was writing about Lone Star politics, I discovered a short clause in the state's 1845 annexation agreement that's well known to any serious state historian, though far less well known to the average Texan. Buried beneath some highly boring details about how the republic's resources were to be transferred to the federal government in Washington is language stipulating that "[n]ew States, of convenient size, not exceeding four in number, in addition to said State of Texas, and having sufficient population, may hereafter, by the consent of said State, be formed out of the territory thereof, which shall be entitled to admission under the provisions of the federal constitution."

Put plainly, Texas agreed to join the union in 1845 on the condition that it be allowed to split itself into as many as five separate states whenever it wanted to, and contingent only on the approval of its own state legislature. For more than 150 years, this right to divide—unilaterally, which is to say without the approval of the U.S. Congress—has been packed away in the state's legislative attic, like a forgotten family heirloom that only gets dusted off every now and then by some politician who has mistaken it for a beautiful beacon of hope.

Naturally, it took the Machiavellian political mind of Texan Tom DeLay—the former House majority leader, currently out on bail while appealing a 2011 money-laundering conviction—to put the pieces of a tenable scheme together ... DeLay intimated that the threat of sending eight newly minted, and almost certainly Republican, senators to Washington might be the key to getting this whole secession ball rolling. Referring directly to the language of the joint resolution, he said, "If we invoke it, the United States Senate would kick us out ... because they're not going to allow 10 (sic) new Texas senators into the Senate. That's how you secede."

-- from -- How Texas Could Mess With Us: Lone Star secessionists could (theoretically) get their wish.
By Jeff Turrentine

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rain Coming in the Life of Muldoon

Rain coming and going. Hours and seconds passing. Sun rising and setting. Muldoon sees all these things and records them meticulously using his computational machine. But the gadget relies on electricity, so when current fails thus goes Muldoon's avocation. His acolytes, if acolytes there be, miss out on one opus after another. Never will they know of Muldoon's epics: My Incomplete Haircut, Memorializing My Middle School Experience, Names of People I No Longer Remember,  How I Lost My Parents at Disneyland and Why I Never Went Back to Look for Them, Is This the Best I Can Do with Cleaning Products? Bereft of computation, Muldoon scrawls these titles in pink chalk on the sidewalk in front of the orphanage where his original parents left the one-month old in a cardboard liquor box lined with shredded copies of The National Review. Affixed to the stolen Holiday Inn towel, in which the baby boy was wrapped, was a handwritten note: "Muldoon must now fend for himself." And so he does.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Great White Hope Goes Down

"There's nothing worse than when you think you're going to win, and you don't," said another adviser. "It was like a sucker punch." quote in CBS news item

The Black Professor beat up the White Bishop in last night's club fight.

The Bishop represented the patrons who yearn to decriminalize rape, which parishioners celebrate as a deus ex machina for procreation.

This is a popular concept among the true believers who populate the King James Version of the late Confederate States of America.

Unfortunately for the Bishop, the club fight was held in the current United States of America where the godless socialists reside. Taking a break from smoking dope and engaging in unauthorized sex, the unwashed masses cheered on the permissive Black Professor.

The Great White Hope, as the Bishop was unofficially known, wore his trademark pressed white trunks.

He won an early round on points.

In the later rounds, however, the Bishop suffered a series of body blows as the Black Professor, a middle weight in blue trunks, landed devastating left hooks.

As the fight wore on, the Bishop kept his chin up, making a tempting target of his glass jaw.

When the Professor smashed it, the moral uplifter went down for the count.

The aged referee, his white shirt flecked with the Bishop's blood, finished counting.

Straightening his black bow tie, the ref walked over to the Professor's corner.

"I hate these Great White Hope pugs," the referee told the Professor's manager. "Their people always over match them."

"He wasn't much of a fighter," the manager replied. "He was fighting out of his weight class."

The referee considered this for a moment. "These Great White Hopes," he finally said, "They never got no class."