31 March 2006


Identity Matters

Amartya Sen, at Slate, in an essay based on his new book, on identity:

The insistence, if only implicitly, on a choiceless singularity of human identity not only diminishes us all, it also makes the world much more flammable. The alternative to the divisiveness of one pre-eminent categorization is not any unreal claim that we are all much the same. Rather, the main hope of harmony in our troubled world lies in the plurality of our identities, which cut across each other and work against sharp divisions around one single hardened line of vehement division that allegedly cannot be resisted. Our shared humanity gets savagely challenged when our differences are narrowed into one devised system of uniquely powerful categorization.

Perhaps the worst impairment comes from the neglect—and denial—of the roles of reasoning and choice, which follow from the recognition of our plural identities. The illusion of unique identity is much more divisive than the universe of plural and diverse classifications that characterize the world in which we actually live. The descriptive weakness of choiceless singularity has the effect of momentously impoverishing the power and reach of our social and political reasoning. The illusion of destiny exacts a remarkably heavy price.

He's talking about identity in the context of religious identity -- about seeing Muslims through one and only one set of lenses (something this one is likely guilty of at times) -- but his thoughts apply to more than just religion. Race, gender, sexual orientation, and the like, can all be used, by others or by ourselves, to construct something that is less real than the messy complicated reality of our conflicted, deflicted, rejected, dejected, messy, lovely short lives.

30 March 2006


Hooray! "Great Outdoor Fight" Over!!

The Achewood series on "The Great Outdoor Fight", which began sometime in, what?, 1977 or something, right? (first GOF strip here), finally concluded today (last GOF strip here). Way to go, Chris Onstad!

Sorry, but Cartilage Head remains my favorite longer Achewood sequence. And The Bloatee remains my favorite single strip.

It would be entirely appropriate, but altogether too much trouble, to post an image of an Achewood character here. My apologies to the Copyright Thought Police.

29 March 2006


Don't Blink...

... because if you do, you might miss the current active phase over at PaperFrog. It's there: From an angry Dali Lama to Zen-student Steve Jobs to the sproing of Spring.

28 March 2006


Just Busy...

... not dead or in trouble or anything.

21 March 2006


Welcome Spring!

Hi, there. Your humble corespondent reporting from beautiful Salisbury, Maryland. Three of us from work were on the return leg of our trip to visit your-tax-dollars-at-work Federal Aviation Administration Technical Center in beautiful Atlantic City, Maryland New Jersey, when the leader of our expedition wisely decided we should turn around and set down here. There was about 1/4" of ice on the leading edges of our wings and stabilizers.

Dig the pretty ice on the prop cone. Sorry, for the phone-cam quality, but I took the picture with my phone cam.

18 March 2006


Dear Comedy Central...

You oughta be ashamed of your corporate selves. You gave in to the Scientologists. Wimps! Wussies!! What a completely inappropriate response. Will you similarly cave into the Muslims, Catholics, Baptists, and everyone else you offend in the process of making humor and life commentary?

C'mon. Grow a pair. Tell Cruise, Hayes, Travlota, et al. to take a hike. They need you more than you need them.

Good luck when things really get tough (i.e., when the looney Muslims fatwa you for saying something funny). See how many supporters you have then.


Face of the Lamb Cow, Part II


15 March 2006


International Free Speech and Secularism Petition

As was to be expected, Islamacist bullies have issued a death-order for those who dared publish a manifesto against Islamacist bullies. Some, not much, info here, at Andrew Sullivan's blog.

From the manifesto:
[W]e must assure universal rights to oppressed people. For that reason, we reject “cultural relativism,” which consists of accepting that Muslim men and women should be deprived of their right to equality and freedom in the name their cultural traditions.

We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of “Islamophobia,” an unfortunate concept that confuses criticism of Islamic practices with the stigmatization of Muslims themselves.

We plead for the universality of free expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on every continent, against every abuse and dogma.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

The petition is here. Read it; sign it. If they fatwa all of us, so be it.

13 March 2006


Memo to Self: Move to Texas; Sign Kinky's Petition

From the AP via Yahoo via the SS Huffinblog, an article that indicates that a good chunk of what's wrong with the USA is, in fact, stupid journalists:
DALLAS - An independent candidate for Texas governor rode in a St. Patrick's Day parade car Saturday with his trademark black hat and burning cigar — plus a beer in his hand, an apparent violation of the state's open container law.

Kinky Friedman's spokeswoman acknowledged that he drank from a can of Guinness handed to him. Photographs taken by The Dallas Morning News showed Friedman, who wasn't driving, holding the beer and appearing to take a drink.

State law prohibits opened alcoholic beverages in the passenger area of a motor vehicle. The Class C misdemeanor carries a maximum fine of $500.

Dallas police didn't cite Friedman, and Lt. Rick Watson said Friedman can't be ticketed after the fact because it wasn't witnessed by an officer.

"Guinness is the drink that kept the Irish from taking over the world. It would be unthinkable not to have a Guinness during a St. Patrick's Day parade. In fact, it would be spiritually wrong," Friedman said in a statement issued by spokeswoman Laura Stromberg.

Friedman was serving as grand marshal in the parade while volunteer supporters helped gather signatures to get him on the November ballot. He needs 45,540 signatures by May 11 from registered voters who skipped the primaries.

One has to wonder whether it was the Democratic Party operative or the Republican Party operative who made sure that their contact at the Dallas Morning News got the Earth-shattering story. Probably both.

Feh. Expect this one to show up again, next time with the revised headline, "Jew boy insults Irish."

12 March 2006


Fancy Ford

I recently posted Mike Houllihan's moustachioed Harold Ford, Jr., image. It's funny in its own right, regardless of politics (in this one's opinion, anyway). But this Republican Senatorial Campaign committee's Fancy Ford website is just wrong.

I knew that the late-60s/early-70s GOP/Nixon southern strategy was thinly veiled racism, that Bush 41 and Bush 43 et al. are shameless when it comes to playing the race and pseudo-morality cards, and that Frist ain't nuttin' but a hack, but Liddy Dole (she's the chair for this year's campaigns), too? Ugh.

Congressman Ford responds here, over at TPM Cafe.


Area Man Dodges Tornado Bullet

Mike Silverman's hometown in Kansas was one of those hit by tornadoes this weekend. Pics and more, here, at his blog.


Annie Proulx's Sour Grapes

"For those who call this little piece a Sour Grapes Rant, play it as it lays."


Care Before You Eat

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 1999 and dig up that article by John Carroll at the San Francisco Chronicle about dinner with Mr. Fripp. Mr. Carroll writes:

There was a time in my life, a very rich and lovely time, when I almost lived in New York City, staying down on Gansevoort Street long before it became chic and walking to work at the Village Voice every day. And yet, I paid no rent and got to go back to California a lot. Oh, golden year!

One of my acquaintances then was the guitarist Robert Fripp, who was a friend of a friend. He was extremely soft-spoken and kindhearted, an accidental rock star who had no particular interest in the role.

So one time a group of us, mostly journalists and musicians, maybe 10 people in all, went to dinner at some downtown spot, cheap and loud and amusing. And we were talking profanely, as was our wont, and gossiping and flirting in that wide-array set-phaser-on-stun sort of way that portends nothing at all unless it does.

And then the first course arrived, and Fripp tinked his glass and said, ``I'd like to offer a blessing.''

Mr. Fripp's blessing, from or inspired by or somehow connected to J. G. Bennett, can be found at his sister's web site (Mr. Fripp's, not J. G. Bennett's):

All life is one and everything that lives is holy.

Plants, animals and people all must eat to live and nourish one another.

We bless the life that has died to give us food.

Let us eat consciously, resolving by our labors to pay the debt of our existence.

The impact on Mr. Carroll:

Every meal is an act of denial, a common agreement that ``food'' exists in a category different from ``pet'' or ``animal'' or ``soulful entity.''

It was easy for me to dismiss the idea that a carrot had a soul, although clearly Fripp in some form believed that. But a big brown-eyed cow, now, or a little lambie, or even a chicken -- who are we to say that a chicken does not have a soul? Who made us experts?

I have seen salmon swimming upstream in the endless twilight of an Alaskan summer, leaping over waterfalls, displaying characteristics that look very much like courage and tenacity and fidelity -- how do I decide that I have the holy spark and that salmon does not?

It's possible that none of us has it, that it does not exist at all. But surely that equality argues for greater respect. We're all in this together, folks, every cow and carrot among us.

This awareness of that potential for connectedness to other living things is part of what makes us human. As Jim Rosenberg is quoted on James S. Huggins's refrigerator quotations page (good stuff!):
One difference between man and beast is that in the jungle there is no group called Predators for the Ethical Treatment of Prey.
The choice of what to eat is an individual one. Some of us believe there is an edict from existence or from divinity or from wisdom not to eat other animals; others among us -- myself included -- don't buy into that. Regardless, it's good every now and then, as Carroll writes, "to see the face of the lamb." And, as Mr. Fripp's prayer says, "to pay the debt of our existence."

Here we are, whether we were asked or not. Just like Howard the Duck ("Trapped in a world he never made!"). But responsible for that world and for what comes next.

10 March 2006


Drudge Runs 'Cheney Retire' Picture on Web Site

08 March 2006


Best Bike Week Headline (So Far)

I bet you don't see headlines, or stories, like this (link, likely perishable, from the Daytona Beach News-Journal) -- with some regularity -- where you live. It's almost the kind of headline Agenda Bender lives for.

Stunt rider hurt at cole slaw wresting contest

SAMSULA - A stunt motorcycle rider in a show that featured 30-foot jumps over a cole slaw-wrestling pit was seriously injured today.

James Verschuuren, 21, ran his motorcycle off the side of a ramp and landed on his head while attempting a jump just after noon at Sopotnick's Cabbage Patch, witnesses said.

The freestyle motocross show was a preliminary to the venue's annual Bike Week cole slaw wrestling event.

"This is my rookie guy and this is want he wants to do, and this is what happens to him," said Kenny Yoho, 29, leader of the group from East Coast Xtrem of Tampa.

The injured rider was airlifted to Halifax Medical Center. His condition was not known, but witnesses said he was moving his arms and legs.

Verschuuren broke his leg in a stunt show last year, Yoho said. Because of the danger of their stunts, the crew is unable to buy insurance, he said.

A tip bucket was being passed among those awaiting the start of the women's wresting event to try and help with Verschuuren's medical bills.

That's right: The image says "Cole Slaw Wrestling Capital of the World."


I R Baboon

Uh, in this post, below, I didn't mean for "proportional representation" to mean European-style proportional representation, complete with multiple seats per district, assignment of seats to parties in proportion to overall vote tallies. I meant something more towards one-person one-vote, an equal distribution of voting power among all individuals in the USA. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

I'm envisioning a House with about a thousand members -- i.e., smaller congressional districts by a factor of two or so -- and a Senate with about ten or fifteen members, two or three from equal-population large regions of the country, elected in staggered terms. The Senator from New England; the Senator from Northern California; etc.

07 March 2006


Uniformed Military at Political Rallies

Josh Marshall (Talking Points Memo) has been keeping an eye on Republican use of uniformed military at campaign rallies, something that is explicitly prohibited by military rules and regulations. See here and here and here and here.

The existence of this ban and the enforcement of it are hugely important both to good order and discipline within the military and to preserving our democratic republic. The military can't be made into an arm of one or the other political party. Nor can the executive be allowed to enlist members of the armed forces, either individually or en masse, willingly or not, as soldiers in his domestic political battles.

This is about preserving a professional military and preserving our system of government. It's a big deal. We need to find out a few more specifics about what happened at the Musgrave event. Perhaps the newspaper account is deeply misleading about what actually happened. But if this thing that looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is a duck, then it needs to be nipped in the bud.

How can clowns who pretend to worry so much about the effect of homos in the military on unit cohesion and discipline be so rudely ignorant of how even-handed applications of rules creates a functioning military force. Oh, right? (1) These are the same people who think it's okay for officers to proselytize enlisted at the US Air Force Academy, and (2) the same people who thought it was okay to let Saddam's military run away, not impose substative order in Iraq, and then expect the populace to be grateful and no insurgency to exist; i.e., jokers who haven't seriously thought about what makes military operations work (in the small or in the large).

Thanks to Mustang Bobby for the reminder.


Amending the Constitution

Mustang Bobby asks, here, "How would you amend the US Constitution?" I was more than happy to supply the list below to his comments.
* One six-year term for President. (Goodbye, Clinton. Goodbye, Bush.)

* Proportional representation in the Senate. (Goodbye, cheap Wyoming media.)

* Proportional representation in the Electoral College. If nothing else, move winner-take-all down to the congressional district level with two bonus votes for who carries the state. (Hello, House of Representatives.)

* Removal of chartering of corporations from the states at putting it at the Federal level. (Goodbye, Citibank SD.)

* Congressional (and Senate!) redistricting by nonpartisan commission. (Goodbye Tom Delay et al.)

* Human-rights amendment: No right shall be abridged because of race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation. (Goodbye "Defense of Marriage Acts".)

* Medical non-intrusion amendment: Abortion, euthanasia, etc. are decisions between individuals and care providers; the community in the guise of the state should butt out. (Goodbye Row v. Wade, etc.)

* Recreational non-intrusion amendment: If you're not hurting others.... (Goodbye "War on Drugs".)
Just my $.02.

06 March 2006


Things You Find When You're Not Looking for Anything


I didn't even know there was a Minutemen movie. Or another Minutemen movie. Or this web site. With this video of this song.
list monitors arrive with petition iron-fisted philosophy is your life worth a painting? is this girl vs. boy with different symbols? being born is power scout leader nazi tagged as big sin your risk chains me hostage me, i'm fighting with my head, am not ambiguous i must look like a dork me, naked with textbook poems spout fountain against the nazis with weird kinds of sex symbols in speeches that are big dance thumps if we heard mortar shells we'd cuss more in our songs and cut down the guitar solos (guitar solo) so dig this big crux organizing the boy scouts for murder is wrong ten years beyond the big sweat point man, it was still there, ever without you coming back around, look! coming together, for just a second, a peek, a guess at the wholeness that's way too big
My Minutemen pics that need rescanning and fixing up here.


For the Tennesseans Among You

Your next senator, with Harry Reems's mustache. Used without permission from Mike Hollihan (Half-Bakered).


"What else do you want me to do?"

The Huffington Post is something I usually scan once a day or so. It's not as completely devoid of meaning for me as the ranting "Bush bad, us good" lunacy at The Daily Kos, but there's something about it I just don't care for.

Every so often, however, something good pops up. Like the following, excerpted from this by Cenk Uygur:
A priest is on a boat that starts to sink. Everyone gets on a lifeboat and they invite the priest on the boat. He declines, "God will save me, I don't need a lifeboat." As the ship sinks further, another shipping vessel comes by and offers to rescue the priest. The priest again turns down the offer, "God will save me, I don't need your ship." Finally, as the situation becomes precarious, a helicopter is sent in to take the priest to safety. But again he refuses saying, "God will save me ..."

As the water is about to overtake him, the priest shouts out to God in anger, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" God replies, "I sent you a boat, a ship and a helicopter. What else did you want me to do?"

In a not complete disconnect, I heard this song by Dolly Parton and Brad Paisley the other day. They were going on about "getting to where you're going" when they could start to love without holding back, doing what's right, etc.

Why wait 'til you're dead for something that may or may happen according to beliefs handed down from those no longer with us? Or even if you believe that, why wait? Do it now! (And if you read the article on Mr. Paisley and Ms. Parton, it sounds like the true subject of the song didn't wait: Why should any of us?)


Academy Awards Summary

I admit that this made me laugh out loud (or LOL as the kids say), even if it did come from one of the Buckleyites at The Corner:

With all the competing Liberal Message Movies this year, the headline in the paper today should have been, "Racism's Surprise Upset Over Homophobia."

04 March 2006


Please Don't Fatwa Me!!!

As you may have figured out, Timatollah = Tim + Ayatollah. It's a name that was given to me by one Mr. John Owens, with whom I lost touch a long time ago, when I worked at the Nuclear Pharmacy Incorporated in Nashville, Tennessee, in the early 1980s. (Why? Because I acted like an if-I-was-king know-it-all a lot of the time back then, that's why.)

(What was I doing at the Nuclear Pharmacy Incorporated? Why, delivering radioactive pharmaceuticals, of course.)

I guess the Iranians have decided to check my credentials for the job. From my referrer log:

But why were they searching on "mom son sex pic"? Ugh. I hope what they found was informative, but, please, no fatwa.


If You're in Memphis...

... or if you care about things Memphis, you might be interested in the WEVL 30th-anniversary party, happening tonight at the Hi-Tone Cafe, near Joe's Liquors, in Memphis. Story here from the Memphis Commercial Appeal ("more commercial than appealing").

WEVL is a public but independent (non-NPR) radio station in Memphis that plays a broad mix of music. It's survived without a lot of overhead and without losing sight of its purpose.

It was always good for an interesting listen when we lived in Memphis. Congrats to 'em.

p.s. WEVL, as in WE VoLunteer.

01 March 2006


Green Roof

While in DC, I took the opportunity to stroll around Dupont Circle, the local gay neighborhood. There, I found the Human Rights Campaign's national headquarters (not that it was open on Saturday or anything). I didn't happen across any National Gay and Lesbian Task Force offices, which I imagine occupying a store-front, manned by those from another generation (dig the Abzug picture), surrounded by less-impressive neighbors.

What I hadn't known previously about the HRC headquarters was the environmental conciousness about its design: It has a green roof. From a Washington Business Journal article on the same:

Green roofs are more about function than aesthetics. Experts say those roofs last longer than traditional roofs that may need to be replaced every 10 years. They also alleviate "urban heat island effect," where hot air collects on city rooftops, driving up temperatures. Roofs with vegetation provide thicker levels of insulation, which helps keep buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In addition, Green roofs provide habitats for birds and insects. And they soak up as much as 75 percent of rain water that would otherwise flow into the city's over-taxed sewer system. The roofs are planted with rugged species that are native to the region and can survive there year-round. That helps keep maintenance costs down.

That's sweet.


Your TSA at Work

So, I'm at Washington National Airport yesterday, catching a flight back to Orlando from D.C. where I had been on work-related business. I'd already checked in outside with the skycap. I had been seated at Legal Sea Foods (yum!) for just a moment, and the server was just getting ready to take my drink and oysters order, when... "Would Mr. Timothy Wilson please return to the US Airways ticket counter."

I'd never been paged in an airport, maybe anywhere, before.

So they send me over to the TSA location with the humongous baggage screening machine, and the very nice lady there tells me that my bag is locked, and that they need the combination. I hadn't locked it. I've done this enough to know that if the TSA goes through my luggage, they'll leave a little card and put a gold star on the stickee with the bar codes on it; sometimes, they'll lock the combination lock.

I give the very nice lady the combination. As I'm walking off, I hear another TSA employee say to her, "Ma'am, I had checked that one already."

Then, not long before I got back to Legal Sea Foods for another round of trying to get a dozen good oysters, some New England style clam chowder, and grilled salmon, I hear someone else being paged to return to the US Airways ticket counter. And I can imagine him hearing the same TSA employee telling the very nice lady, "Ma'am, I had checked that one already, too."

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