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Cory Doctorow

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

NOM, R-NC and ST

Three is the magic number for me when it comes to stories.  Here we go:

Our delightful new Miss California is insisting on continuing her affiliation with the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).  This will make me sound catty, but good luck sweetie getting one of my tribe to fix that hair, apply that makeup and pick attractive clothing for you from now on!

North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R) had some . . . well, the kindest way to put it is "ill informed" . . . words about the pending federal hate crimes bill (which passed the House today).  Read the explanation from Foxx herself and, if you must throw something, make it something soft and safely stow away your fine breakables first.

I just cannot fathom this -- a Representative who chooses to cite skewed news "reports" about the crimes committed against Matthew Shepard instead of just . . . reading . . the . . . freakin' . . COURT TRANSCRIPTS!!  She could have found any number of other reputable sources and may have even had a good argument against passing the bill.  I have no problem with a solid, well-sourced conservative/right-wing point of view -- it's such a shame that so often the arguments formed by right-wing mouthpieces are no better than a gaggle of hausfraus spinning gossip at the laundromat.

The new "Star Trek" movie had its premiere at Graumann's Chinese Theatre tonight.  I snapped a few pics before the festivities begun.  Hollywod Blvd was closed down all day today and the photo/interview section plus bleachers were set up right in the middle of the boulevard in front of the Theatre (it's part of the reasons the photos are as close up as they are).

Sadly, I had to make my way home and could not stay long enough to check out the stars.  Still, it is not often that a studio hires a DJ to spin vinyl prior to the arrivals.  I hope the movie is nearly as good as the hype!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

OK, so it's not "Common Sense" . . .

. . . the pamphlet, I mean.

But, I get regular form e-mails from Congressman Wexler's office regarding the on-going attempts to investigate, prosecute, etc., Bush, Cheney, etc., for war crimes, torture, etc.

In the latest e-mail, there was a copy of a letter he sent to Attorney General Eric Holder.  Here it is.  With footnotes.  Neat.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Because Specter becoming a Dem is not big news yet . .

. . .I snapped a picture on my lunch time walk of the front entrance to the Jim Henson studios.  So much fun exploring the Hollywood area during the work week!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Asked & answered!

Less than 10 minutes after I finished the post below, I stumbled onto this article/photo essay.

Whatever this school is doing to foster this sense of love, compassion and justice could stand to spread all over this country.

God is, indeed, so good!

Jaheem Herrera

Yes, it has happened again.

CNN reports on the death of Jaheem Herrera.  Once again, 11 years old.  Once again, bullied mercilessly over not just the perception he was gay, but the fact his family is from the Virgin Islands.

If you or someone you know is feeling like you may harm yourself, no matter the reason, please click on the banner above to get connected to the Trevor Project.  While they specialize in working with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer/questioning youth, they also help match resources to people in need if they are not equipped to help.

Blessedly, Jaheem's suffering is over.  If there is any sense of justice for those who taunted, teased and bullied this boy, their days of suffering are just beginning.

May they find forgiveness somewhere and somehow.  They won't find it here.

While I'm settling all of this in my head, here's the new Green Day song.  I've had it on the iPod for a while and it's grown on me with each play (lyrics here).  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

As our week begins, some interesting stories:

On most days during my work week, the last hour of the day has been quite slow, so I get time to surf the 'net and get caught up on stories others may miss.

All of these stores come courtesy of Yahoo! -- my employer's choice of safe sites to visit.

So, there really may be another planet like Earth in the Universe?  Seems the answer is yes.  Though, mathematically, the odds of another planet orbiting a star being close enough to sustain life and that planet being close enough in size and of similar composition to support some sort of life are quite good.  There are A LOT of stars in our galaxy, never mind the entire Universe!

This is sort of like crossing the Mojave by car from L.A and seeing Las Vegas in the last 10 miles of the journey -- it always feels like you can reach out and touch it and it never gets close enough to you fast enough.

Where's that warp drive technology when you need it?


A new book to read?  What may have turned out to be an exercise in cynicism turned into, according to the article, an interesting semester of a liberal finding common ground with Christian conservatives.  I've been trying to do this very same thing here and wherever I wander on-line -- maybe the author has a few pointers on how I could be more effective.


Finally, a fascinating story from the world of amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA, or Ultimate Fighting) about Kyle Maynard.  I'll link direct to the author's site for this story.  It all comes down to whether a mixed martial arts fighter has a fair opportunity to win matches in spite of issues with his arms and legs.

The interview below was posted a couple of days before his first match yesterday.  Though he lost his match, it was lost after fighting a full match - no TKO, no tap-out.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an after-match interview with Kyle.  By their and Kyle's account, he had already won by just fighting all of the way through the match and defying those who predicted he couldn't last through the entire match.

The only way in this life that anyone loses is by doing nothing.  Imagine if we stopped looking for planets outside our solar system, stopped trying to infiltrate groups who are not like us then finding common bonds and stopped training for the next fight.

Keep fighting, infiltrating and training.  WTG, Kyle !

Friday, April 24, 2009

Two of America's great pastimes in one post!

Undoubtedly, this post will rattle a few nerves.  Or, maybe it would rattle if the last 5 days weren't already so nerve-jangling in the first place.

I've been reading "Watching Baseball Smarter".  With only 40 pages left, only one thing had left me mystified about Major League Baseball.  Then, earlier today on my afternoon break, the question I had around page 30 was answered a little over 100 pages later.

My question:  If bunting is such a terrific batting technique for bringing in a run and throwing the fielding team into a tizzy, why isn't it done more often in the Majors ?

The answer: bunts quite frequently end in the bunting batter adding an "out" to the tally (search this article for Padres' 2nd baseman David Eckstein, who is leading the League in sacrifice bunts).  This then tends to affect their at-bat average negatively, which in turn may affect their salaries at the time of their next contract negotiation (after all, would a team want to pay a batter who has better than a .300 average or one with less than a .250 average).

So, the choice is -- bunt when it permits a run to be scored . . maybe even a game-winning run (and a 9 - 6 win/loss record to date - wtg Padres!)


bunt? really?!? that's hilarious!   now, I need to warm up for my next big out-of-the-park hit -- out of the way!

Interestingly, as I had this "aha!" moment this afternoon, the "to bunt or not to bunt" conundrum brings to mind the differences between our country's last Administration and our current one.

We had a "bunt? are you kidding me?!?" Executive branch these past eight years.  Seemingly, more and more decisions were made based on what could best benefit the decision makers, not the "team" (Americans as a whole).  And, talk about a major payday AND a heckuva four year contract renewal that 2004 Election gave to Bush!

Now, we have a "bunt when it permits the team to score" Administration.  And, for those of us who had stopped fighting the tide of 8 years of "it's all about me!", having to see what happens in our government when its Executive branch does and says (or does not say) some things toward changing our country's course is both encouraging and confounding.

For now, I'm squarely in the "our ultimate goal is for the team to win" camp.  We've seen a fair share of political "bunting" this past week.  Scoring the winning run cannot come soon enough for me!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hannity Offers To Be Waterboarded For Charity (By Charles Grodin!)

Here's my suggestion for the charity. There's a phone number at the link below or head to the main site to donate. I've already posted I'll send a check for $25 if Hannity actually goes through with it.

About Video
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Need a little more convincing?

<<<<<<   I'll have this tile ad up through Friday night; however, if you decide to sign the petition to which the tile ad links, you'll need to do so by Friday 4/24/09 at 12 noon Eastern / 9 am Pacific.

I've been listening to liberal radio chat show host Mike Malloy on the podcast I purchased (25 cents for nearly 2 hours of scream therapy? What a deal!) going back and forth to/from work.  I'm sure I'm providing some sort of entertainment to my fellow subway riders as my jaw drops and eyes roll while I listen to Mike read excerpts from last week's released and fairly well redacted memos 

Here's one last post I'll link to until the weekend about this ghoulish, ghastly and nauseating behavior by the previous Administration.  If you can make it through any of this sick, twisted awfulness unaffected, then you're off the hook for signing the petition.

If not, what are you waiting for?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Report: Bush Officials Tried to Shift Blame for Detainee Abuse to Low-Ranking Soldiers

I can't comment without using every swear word in the English language and by inventing a few of my own. So, I'll just put this out there: I read the above post and noticed my stomach knotting up, my head spinning and tears welling in my eyes. I cannot imagine having to compile this report and examine it to reach conclusions on the next step.

I don't think my physical symptoms will ever clear up entirely until this country is put back into order. Sen. Levin, thanks for keeping a strong constitution while having to sort through all of this -- you're a better man than I.
About Afghanistan
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

The (you pick it) big event!!!

As I like to do, I'll post three stories with quick takes and you get your pick of which one to read (or read 2 or 3 . . or go nuts and read all 3!  they've been in my head at some point in the day, why shouldn't you get the full taste of what rattles around inside my skull ?)

First, some photos!

Aah, the look of Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood first thing in the morning!  Today, actor Hugh Jackman was honored by having his hands and feet set in cement in front of the entrance to Graumann's Chinese Theatre (see the red sign in the background).

By the time of the ceremony (around 10:30 am today), the best anyone could get to a look at the festivities were across the street.  All could hear Jackman chatting nervously with the crowd in the stands before he "took the plunge".  I had time to snap this pic above before I had to scurry back to the phones.  Customers before celebrity !!

Later this afternoon, I got this shot when an employee was lifting the cover off the cement block:

Yep.  Just another day amongst the glitz and glamor . . .

Next, a very exciting discovery made a little over 20 light years away from Earth:  The discovery of a planet orbiting another star within a range which would permit a temperature range considered "hospitable" to life AND is not a gas giant planet like Jupiter or Saturn are in our solar system.  According to the article, scientists have discovered just 350 planets which orbit other stars.  This is a bit like finding an individual blue/green colored grain of sand in the midst of the Sahara.  Yeah, it's that exciting!  I cannot wait until we can get orbiting telescopes in place and tasked to search other stars for Earth-like planets.

Finally, it looks like the most interesting place in Washington D.C was in today's Presidential Press Briefing.  By just the tiniest of slivers, it appears as if the President is leaving an opening to investigate, question, study, etc., those who drafted the "how to . ." documents released last week on how "enhanced inter . . " (oh, for Heaven's sake, let's just call it Torture!!) was to be carried out.  I'll leave it to you to track them down . . I'm catching the jist from listening to excerpts from one of the liberal radio chat show hosts and it reads like a recipe book crafted by the Devil himself.

In times like these, I get so much more likely to want to just hang out at Graumann's and wait for the next celebrity movie premiere or star ceremony or hand/footprint ceremony . . .

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fun and frivolity

First up, just read the banner in the above photo. While I'll be in the neighborhood, my guess is I'll miss the ceremony due to having to work!  The nerve !!  Still, I'll see if I can get an "after" photo while the cement is still drying.


So what, you may be asking, is Metalhead39 reading on his way to/from work these days?  An autobiography of some senior staffer from the Senate?  The latest tell-all on the backstage antics of a popular heavy metal band?

Well, it's actually "Watching Baseball Smarter" by Zack Hample.  Before your imagination wonders, it is a primer for those who played baseball as kids and want to expand their knowledge of the Major League Baseball version of the game and all that happens between the pitching, hitting, running and catching.

So, what have I learned so far?  First, the catcher all but rules the park with only intermittent interference by the coaches.  A pitcher throws around 100 pitches in a given game.  There is a lot of signal giving, signal reading, attempted signal interception and interpretation and plenty of times when someone has to stop the signaling and tell all involved to start over (which, interestingly is yet another signal used).

I also can't put the book down.  The real test will be to watch a game after finishing the book and seeing how much of what I've learned was retained.  I definitely have a whole new appreciation for the game and the intelligence with which it is played!


Finally, I laughed myself to tears over this "ad" created by Stephen Colbert.  To add hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry on top to the hilarity, check out the response by the group whose actual ad was lampooned by Colbert.  That, apparently, you cannot make up!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Saturday, April 18, 2009

10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs (PHOTOS)

Some compare and contrast. Here's the link to my photos of last month's anti-war protest from Los Angeles. Maybe around 1,000 people showed and there definitely some provocative signs.

The difference? I'll let you decide.

About Tax Day Tea Parties
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Why do we keep doing all of this, and . .

My apologies for the overflow of stories in these posts.  Not much time during the week to compose, so everything in my head just comes rushing out on Saturdays.  I'm hoping to upgrade my computer and finally break down and get something I can carry with me for composing while I'm on the light rail commuting.

I just listened to a clip from former TV chat show host Montel Williams from earlier this week.  Mr. Williams started on Air America earlier this month and this past week had a chat with Congressman Ron Paul, primarily regarding the hypocracy inherent in the War on Drugs.  There is plenty to cringe over regarding Dr. Paul's political views, but I am right in line with what he shared during the interview.

Also, once again courtesy of tvnewslies.org, a link to a story on Brian Ross' Blotter, which is on the ABC news site, about a KBR employee whom AIG (yes, that ginormous insurance/mortgage hybrid with enough TARP money to fund several small countries for years) covered for health insurance issues.  The post includes a video interview with the employee regarding his experience with AIG.

If you thought the whole "toxic assets" bad mortgages mess was outrageous, AIG seems to have now plumbed the depths of the most despicable managed care companies in the U.S.

For all the vitriol against universal, single-payer nationwide health insurance, at least this man may have had a better chance at quality health care if he didn't have to handle health care decisions at the hands of a greedy corporation.  

If anyone reading this has a similar story about a Canadian or British citizen who was treated similarly even after going through their country's health care system, I'd like to hear about it.  Perhaps all of us in the "industrial nations" are facing the same sorts of struggles.

. . . what are we throwing away?

Earth day is this coming Wednesday.  Courtesy of tvnewslies.org, here's what looks like a sci-fi story regarding an orbiting solar farm which will "beam" electricity to California.  Far more hours per day of sunlight with an orbiting farm and, it appears, the start up company designing/building the array says the electricity coming from the array would be "too diffuse" to harm anything coming between the array and the ground station.

The U.S. Government has an official Earth Day site and I have already been seeing businesses getting involved (Fresh and Easy is also giving away canvas bags with a $10 purchase on Wednesday.  I'm there usually 2 or 3 times a week and I can pick up easy to fix, not frozen dinners for two at about $6 a person -- saves the day for me after the very long work days to which I am trying to adjust).

On the other end of the spectrum, I think I finally have enough space to write about this and not throw something across the room.  As you might have figured from the "tile ad" on the left, I support a full, official, "sunshine as disinfectant" investigation of the Bush Administration and their support of torture of detainees.  While the ICRC report itself is seemingly as hidden away as some detainees, the Washington Post wrote a good summary piece on the allegations mentioned in the ICRC report.

President Obama's response was what really set my blood to boil.  After having a few days to digest, I have managed to hold two opposing thoughts at the same time.  My head is thinking that perhaps Obama has a larger plan in the works to address this and his comments on prosecution are just the first step.  My gut, however, keeps howling at all of the inactivity.

Finally, I'm viewing the latest segment in Glenn Greenwalt's series "Rethink Afghanistan" regarding the costs of continuing whatever it is the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan.  Sadly, there's as much opinion (if not more) than facts presented, but even the facts are enough to get my head swinging left and right.  It seems we are, once again, missing opportunities to present the best of the U.S. to the rest of the world.  We have an opportunity to make new friends in that part of the world who would, as a result of the relationships formed, see it as being in their best interest to help us rid the world of terrorism.

That is the true waste here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

So much info in such a small space!

Hang on -- here we go!

I'd believe this site to have the most accurate count of participants from today's Tea Parties.  Afraid it doesn't really capture the spirit, though.

If they grab a bunch of all of our e-mails, texts, phone calls -- oopsie!  Accidently do so to someone in the Legislature? Noooooo!!!

Hmm . . a member of Congress going on the radio and talking about things that she either recalled incorrectly or purposely made up / shaded / contorted.  This isn't her first time in front of a mic and/or camera -- isn't there someone or some 21st century device she could carry so she always has the facts with her?

Feeling dizzy and not able to process any of this craziness?  I have two of these at home.  Their play makes way more sense to me, so I've gotten down on the floor and played along with them, especially on the more challenging days.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A funeral took place today

I've done a fair amount of procrastinating tonight prior to typing all of this out.  I have a guess as to why . . more about that shortly.

Today, 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover was laid to rest.  I cannot even bring myself to type out the reason for this sad, crushing and entirely preventable death.

Carl is hardly the first child to have died, in all likelihood, due to ceaseless bullying.  My rational side knows full well that Carl will not be the last, though everything else in me is screaming:


I'll keep the banner on top of this blog (or someplace in the blog) for as long as the organization exists (or until this blog is finally finished).  If you or someone you know is feeling despondent, withdrawn or is behaving in some unusual way and you suspect it is because they may be the subject of bullying based on perceived, actual or some other issue related to sexual orientation or gender identity, please reach out to them then connect with the Trevor Project.

They are open 24/7/365 and have a toll-free number.

Carl's mother is a breast cancer survivor, like my mother was and my sister-in-law is.  I was bullied, called names, etc. as a child and a teenager.  I found many ways of making it through each day -- sometimes just compartmentalizing my sexuality and other parts of my life, sometimes using the bully's words to push the bully back (to this day I have never thrown a punch, though it doesn't take me too long to remember what the urge to do that feels like).

Once in a while, I drank to numb myself and escape.  And, like far too many youths, thought in passing about killing myself.  I never had a plan -- somehow I always figured if I could hang in one more day that I was one day closer to no longer being conflicted, no matter what that meant.

As these sorts of things go, my personal experience was easier than most.  I'm not sure that if I was wrestling with feelings, etc., and the Trevor Project was in existence then that I would have availed myself of their services.

All the more reason to butt in and get involved by making the call / sending the e-mail yourself if you know a young person who may be struggling the same way I, Carl and countless others were.

Somali Pirates - how did all of this start?

No doubt anyone who tuned in to any of the news channels over the weekend caught the dramatic escape/rescue of a Maersk cargo ship captain who was being held hostage by pirates from Somalia.

A quick search engine investigation will, no doubt, bring up any number of other raids by Somali pirates in the last few years about many other cargo ships.

But, the best way to figure out how to stop a bad situation from getting worse is to take a quick breath and look at the origins of the problem.

Which is what this post from Crooks and Liars has done.  The liberals and politically curious amongst us will say "Well, there's a surprise . ." with appropriate levels of snark and cynicism in their voice.  I'll admit to not knowing the source of all this trouble before reading the post.

Now, I've got a bit better of an understanding of the underlying issues.  I'm hard pressed to suggest a solution -- my hope is the problem solvers have done their homework.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's not just about Zac Efron

Though, picking up the new issue of GQ, if the pages should happen to open up to that article, well, as a dedicated blogger looking for interesting stories, I'd have to read it.

What's grabbed my interest in a magazine I normally would not give a second thought (one look at my closet would convince you of this immediately) is an article by Michael Hastings written about the situation we're involved with in Afghanistan.

Favorite quote from this interview below: "We have a bunch of geniuses in American foreign policy who'd be better off working at McDonalds"

Can't wait to pick this magazine up and digest.  Oh yeah, and maybe pick up a fashion tip or two.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Just Back from Afghanistan

My hope for Rep. Polis is that he does not lose the optimism and "out of the box" thinking he is displaying in this post as he continues in the Congress. It could be quite a few years before he builds up the clout to eventually head up the committee of his choice. It's great, too, reading his posts on CNN. All the best to him!
About Afghanistan
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Type 2 Diabetes - a new insight

This article from BBC News got me to thinking -- ironic?

I'm only a few crashes away from Type 2 myself.  Being "pre-diabetic" is basically keeping the diabetic diet and a mild daily oral med. If what was discovered about the links between brain issues and Type 2 diabetes in old age is proven, it's well worth it to keep to the diet and exercise as best as possible.

Lifeclinic has a page devoted mostly to starting and maintaining an exercise routine (though I think using public transportation daily forces more than enough walking and stair climbing to satisfy the requirements) and some general diet tips.  It's as good a place to start as any (and if you find diabetes information without a corporate sponsor attached to it, even indirectly, I'd love to know about it).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Protesters Force Thailand To Cancel Asia Summit

I just did a little early morning math. To make the same sort of impact, we'd have to gather about 1/2 million people in the same place at the same time in a big city.

Hmm . . wait -- didn't we have that and a WHOLE lot more this past January in D.C? What sort of stateement did more than 3 times as many people showing up for the Inauguration make?

I'm guessing no one in power really heard the message that was sent. **sigh**
About Thailand
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, April 10, 2009

And still more silliness!!

To close out a dizzying week of big gay news, this big gay blogger will cede to this not-gay blogger to deliver a counter-point to the "we straight folks are a'feared of teh gays getting married!" video/advertisement released this week.

HRC does a very thorough job of dissecting the advertisement.  A shame the "behind the scenes audition" for that commercial is no longer available for viewing.  I will say that it does a good job showing not too terribly good "actors" mauling the lines (aren't they supposed to learn the script before coming in to audition?  Please correct me if my assumption is incorrect).

To be fair, I'd imagine actors are used for all sorts of political ads on all points of the political scale.  So, perhaps these "political PSAs" should also come with a "I'm MetalHead39 and I approve this message" tag at the end like we hear in ads for political candidates.  Or maybe a "the views expressed in this advertisement do not reflect the views of the people in this advertisment"?

Or have I gone well past the point of silly in all of this?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Great Gobs O' Gay News!

As I was reminded by a straight co-worker today, there is much to celebrate as of late in the world o' "teh gay"

HuffPo has a nice, concise post about court decisions, legislation vetoes, city council unanimity all moving toward giving more and more gay & lesbian couples the right to be legally married (or to have their marriages legally recognized).

And, now, New York wants in on some of the fun.

Meanwhile, while my home state awaits word from its' Supreme Court re: Proposition 8, one of our state's most popular church leaders seems to have gone "sour grapes" over gay marriage.  And just a few months back, his tone seemed so different!

And Rachel talked about teabagging tonight on MSNBC.  OK, so it's about a grassroots-style protest planned for 4/15/09.   I could not stop laughing (and neither could Rachel)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Men's Underwear Sales, Greenspan's Economic Metric, Reveal Crisis

Uh, the story? Yeah, something about percentages and NPR. Such a nice treat after a long day at the new job Perhaps HuffPo could just post something mens' underwear related on a regular basis?

Are all my fellow gays & straight women with me on this?
About Alan Greenspan
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, April 5, 2009


What does the Easter Egg Roll, the White House Christmas Tree and the U.S. House of Representatives all have in common ?

Government Sponsored Religion!

The hard-boiling and dyeing of eggs and the hiding and seeking of those eggs all have to do with Pagan celebrations of fertility.  "Easter" seems to have originated from the goddess Astarte.  So how much is the government spending on this annual Pagan festival?

No, really, I'd like to know how much.  I can tell you the tickets are handed out for free and that for this year's festivities the tickets were only available on-line.  My guess is that taxpayers are picking up the tab for the port-a-pottys, extra security, some extra groundswork on the South Lawn of the White House, etc.

Now, maybe the farm from which the White House Christmas Trees are delivered picks up some or all of the costs of shipping and set up.  But, consider the money spent on electricity, maintenance of the tree (don't want those needles drying up), decoration and un-decoration (staff to do this instead of, well, whatever that staff would be doing instead) and everything else I cannot think of associated with those trees.

Here, the link to this tradition and the Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice and the Yule tree gets a little fuzzy.  To be fair, perhaps the costs associated with this tradition should be split between the Pagans and Christians 50/50.

Congress?  As this ".gov" brochure says, their unity with religion starts from this country's very beginnings!   I would say we'd never even have a prayer of dividing these two institutions, but even I try to steer clear of that sort of cornball wordplay.

Oh . . . .

So, it's not really keeping religion and government separate that should concern us - - the fix is in on that already.  The concern is how to keep our country's laws from turning into some version of Sharia law.  Interestingly, a 2007 University of Maryland poll indicated:
. . more than 60 percent of the populations in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia responded that democracy was a good way to govern their respective countries, while at the same time, an average of 71 percent agreed with requiring 'strict application of (sharia) law in every Islamic country.'
Comparing this to what is happening here, I found an article from 2004 which talks about American's willingness to do something similar to our country's laws -- namely, establish Christianity as the official religion (and more of religious slant to new legislation would surely follow).  Though, having 32% of respondents in favor of this is not much about which to get worked up.

As long as "faith-based" organizations, our government and our citizens agree to help those in our country who are in need and we can come to some consensus on how that should be accomplished, I have a really tough time mustering any great concern.

However, we all need to be ready and willing to fence in this enmeshing of two of any social gathering's biggest taboos -- government and religion.  My hope is that we have the tools we need to make this happen before some type of Bible-based laws are enacted.  Though, I have to admit, it might be interesting to see how some would handle the laws described in Exodus 23:1-9 or, yikes!, all of Exodus 21.

What is really underneath it all ?

At the risk of sounding completely out of my mind, I'm developing an odd insight into how most everyone lives their lives every day.

There are the everyday choices each of us makes (blue socks or brown with this outfit?, sandwich or soup?  Letterman or Leno?) and there is the underlying set of emotions that cradles every decision we make (brown socks look better with this suit, soup as it is cold outside, Leno 'cause he's got that really cute actor on tonight).

I'm going to apply this over-simplified notion to all of the news about mass murder in the U.S.   I cannot begin to know what decisions each of the men (and it's overwhelmingly men who perpetrate this) made that led them to think that committing the acts of violence they did was the only way to fix whatever was going wrong in their lives, so my whole "everyday choices" thing only works subjectively.

So, it comes down to what these men were experiencing in their emotional lives that led them down the path toward this tragedies.

It was quite clear with the man responsible for the murder and mayhem at Virginia Tech years ago that he was losing the battle with mental illness.  As to what others in the past weeks were struggling with emotionally, it is anyone's guess.  Little is known about the most recent incident in Pennsylvania, but in time more will be revealed.  Whether what is reported sheds much insight into that man's psyche is anyone's guess.

Surfing the 'net, I stumbled onto an article which helps me understand the psychology behind these acts a little bit better. So, there may not be too much any one of us can do for some who find themselves in these situations.  The "sense of 'doom and gloom' that pervades the cultural atmosphere" cannot be all there is to understanding recent events.  The expert cited in the above article went on to say:
Usually there's a rigidity in that person (who kills) and an inability to really process stress.  They absorb it. They can't digest it.  They want structure, they want answers, and things are not that clear for them."
I have to admit, I'm at a loss for answers and there's a good deal of fuzziness about all the goings on in our country these days.

So, it's back to me to find the context in which to view these shootings and to ask myself why I haven't done what these men have done and why I cannot imagine me perpetrating this kind of violence while these men found themselves having arrived at the decision to do so.

Maybe the answer is really back at the start of this post.  Maybe admitting I'm a little out of my depth is exactly how I avoid all the sad decisions that lead to tragedies like we've seen on the news these past weeks.  I could site my faith as my strength; however, I find that same connected feeling when I go to the political grassroots meetings every month.  I get the same feeling of assuredness when I march amongst hundreds or tens of thousands in the past months and chant out my frustration, anger and sadness.

And, when I try to reach out and give permission to everyone I know to feel as they feel and let it out in health ways, maybe I'm becoming part of that same net I feel under my feet as I try to figure everything out.

Last week I reminded all who read this to laugh sometime during the week.  What I ask now  may be tougher to do: 

choose to admit you're out of your depth


be a part of the "net" in someone's life

(doing both is OK, too)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

If I seem a little distracted . . .

 . . . take a look at the lil' poster to the left.  I'm going to try writing a post about the separation of church and state.  Since these are two of my favorite things about which to write, I've got a real challenge and less than a week to do it.

So, unless something comes along that drops my jaw and gets my fingers twitching to type, the posts will be sparse for the next few days.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My favorite Metallica song of all time (up to now)

The big induction ceremony airs on the left coast at 9 pm 4/4/09.  I'm feeling like a kid at 5 am Christmas morning!

I'm not writing about the first time I heard this song because I know my best bud in High School introduced me to this band.  Sadly, that memory is lost to the ether.

I have a much better memory of this song, and it starts with four teenage boys in an old Volvo in the High School parking lot getting ready to go to some other concert (I remember it was not Metallica, but the name of the band which we were going to see is, again, lost in the ether).

It could be that one of the other two guys was hearing this song for the first time -- then again, maybe it was me hearing it for the first time.  High school was a long time ago, so I'm letting that detail go.

This was some kind of a "pre-concert listening party", but it was just "Whiplash" I remember being played.  I know I was in the rear passenger side seat, but who I was with . . well, you know.  The first guitar chord rings out and the sound of floor toms pounding begins.  At the moment the whole band joins in, amping up the pace and rhythm, the car begins to shake with the volume of the music and, much like one of the famous scenes in "Wayne's World", four shaggy headed teens start "thrashing all around".

Four minutes (or so) later, if we were older, we all would've collapsed in a heap from exhaustion.  Being teenage boys, though, we're even more wired and ready to go than before.

Some 20+ years later, my foot still twitches to the strum of the guitar chord and the banging of the floor tom and, by the time the band joins in, some part of me starts "thrashing all around".  What a wonderful, four-minute flash back to a less complicated time!

As far as the live version below, it is one of the rare times former bassist Jason Newsted takes the lead on the vocals.  I can't tell if he's excited by the opportunity, a little afraid of being front and center (he's sung with James on stage before, so it's not a case of "oh crap I cannot sing please don't make me") OR a bit ticked that James has stomped off stage in mid-concert looking for a beer.

Maybe it's a little bit of all of it.  From what I hear, Jason should be back with the band tomorrow night at the induction ceremony and, for putting in a good chunk of his life and energy into the band, it will be an honor well deserved for him, at least. 

All about what all of us here are trying to do

I'm so happy to have happened upon The Mudflats.  I've written about that blogger's recent troubles with anonymity, and AKM (who is to The Mudflats what Metalhead39 is to tinrustandsteel) does a great job of putting the role of political blogger in context.

Now I've got something over which to meditate this weekend.

Just in case you forgot . . .

. . . you forgot to laugh this week, I'm offering this clip of Stephen Colbert prescribing some . . interesting . . medication.   I couldn't stop giggling!  Enjoy !
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Cheating Death - Sperm Sale & Colonoscopies
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Metallica: Favorite song #2 "Dyer's Eve"

"Dear Mother, Dear Father"

Like "Unforgiven III", these are some of the best lyrics James has ever written.  If it's really about his childhood, it's some pretty angry, sour stuff.

I like the delivery, too -- it's as if the words are being spat out, not sung.  I've got a concert clip from a website outside of the U.S.  It's quite rare this song is performed live

It's feeling a lot like a couple of days from New Year's Eve 12 midnight - I cannot wait to watch Metallica's induction to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday night!!

So, now can we start growing our own?

Terrific news on the war on cancer.  I know . . no one in the White House has actually declared war on this.  However, I have lost far too many family members to cancer with my sister-in-law having fought the latest battle in our family and kicked cancer hard in the keister!

It looks like the "active ingredient" in marijuana may be a potent weapon in the treatment of brain cancer.  I'm sure more studies need to be done and the effectiveness of the synthetic version versus that which occurs naturally in marijuana will need to be evaluated, too.

I'm just happy to celebrate any victory I can find when it comes to beating cancer!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Metallica: Favorite song #3 "Battery"

Here's a great cover version of this song by the band who has been the opening act for Metallica recently, Machine Head.

It is amazing how much a simple key change makes an aggressive song sound so much more menacing !   

I really like the music in this version.  The vocals (lyrics here). . not quite as impressed.

Let the thrashing, head banging or whatever motion you like commence!

I wish this post was pure fiction!

Granted, it would straddle the line between horror and just plain sick trash fiction, but it's not fiction.  My post from yesterday is as close as I get to creative writing, and the "creative" parts were more to paint a more colorful picture and fill in a few blanks where minute details were lost to my long-term memory.

In Iraq, right now, amongst all the violence, rebuilding, troops, etc., are anywhere from one to 200 or more people in Iraqi prisons awaiting executions.  And, as best as anyone can figure, anywhere from one to who knows how many of those 200 or more are being executed for . .

 . . serial murders? . . . serial rape? . . . blowing something up?

Nope!  They're being executed for being gay.

Iraq isn't alone in having laws on the books that prescribe death for the crime of being gay.  According to the Human Rights Law Review write up posted at the Yogyakarta Principles' website, Iraq is just one of seven countries in the world where "consentual same sex practices" is punishable by death (the others are Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, U.A.E, Yemen and parts of Nigeria).

The report also chronicles incidents in other countries of gays/lesbians/transgendered people being killed being known activists. 

Having enveloped myself in most everything political for the last couple of years, it is all to easy to feel like you're drowning in the inability to affect change fast enough.  For now, echoing blog postings and news stories and adding my own humble opinion is about all I am able to do.

Good news in all of this?  There are endless opportunities to be present and lend support to any one or more of these issues.

So, read, write, be present, find your passion and take care of yourself.  My new boss did so today by treating to a cup o' frozen yogurt!

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