Thursday, March 31, 2005

Any Belief Unquestioned...

No Other [Faith] But This One

[snip] Organized [faiths] might be more socially supportable if their creed included a provision accepting the organized [faiths] of others. Unfortunately, modern religions do not practice tolerance...

Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence explained why he knew he would win his battle against Muslims in Somalia. "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."... [oh, puhleez.]

[Faith] as a Lethal Force

The central problem with organized, assertive religion, of course, is that it endows [faith] with a moral and messianic fervor. God-directed [faith] can be a lethal force. Indeed, one might argue that this type of force is behind much of the violence around the world. The conflicts in Palestine (Jews v. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians v. Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants v. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims v. Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims v. Timorese Christians) and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians v. Chechen Muslims) constitute only a few of the places where religion has been the explicit cause of millions of deaths in the last ten years. [snip]

Author David Morris makes a persuasive argument that faith is another's superstition. Neither can be proven by scientific or rational means. They are just believed. Read the rest of the
article at Alternet.

On a personal note: I have an intimate interest in views like Mr. Morris'. I was raised in a conservative protestant faith (later, evangelical) and until I was in my mid-30s, believed fervently. Part of that fervency was that my beliefs couldn't be challenged. Based on faith, they had no need of provability. And if I did seriously question, I lived with the threat of being "doubly damned" as someone who had "known the Lord" and rejected him. My eventual transition was wrenching. What I finally left was guilt, unquestioning certainty, belief control and utter sameness. I had depth of feeling in my religion, but no depth of thought. "We" were right and "they" were wrong. Superiority without foundation. How I wonder at those days...I am now officially "doubly damned". Fortunately, I have a family who loves me anyway -- and prays for me constantly. I love them too.

A Short History of Height

Canadians are now taller than Americans, who have suddenly plateaued -- but all trail the towering Dutch. So what's their secret?

Richard Steckel has a reality check for parents who see their teenagers sprouting skyward before their very eyes. It's really happening. Young Canadians today enjoy such stunning nutritional advantage over their predecessors that it is now possible for most to reach their full genetic potential, their optimum height. But what baffles experts like Steckel is that America's young adults, who share much the same diet, have suddenly plateaued. And while Canadians continue to inch upward, overtaking our richer neighbours, both countries lag behing the now towering Dutch. What is behind such differences? Junk food diets pushing more people outward than upward? Social disparities? Height, it seems, is about more than what's in our genes.

Read on to find out what heights averaged in Europe and North America over the last 1,000 years. Fascinating...

The Irony is There, Somewhere...

The War Prayer

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle --be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

~Mark Twain
'nough said.

Rabbits Demand Retraction!

Fur flies over bunny theory

IT'S official -- the Easter bunny story is not true. The fable about the magical rabbit who brings eggs on Easter Sunday is a fabrication.

Academics have scoured medieval history and found the story is based on a lie.

They blame a meddling medieval monk for mucking up pagan history.

The mischievous monk literally made up a Saxon goddess who many today erroneously believe is the basis of the Easter bunny story. [more]


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Surviving the Giant Hairball...


1. Before (or during) your next meeting, seminar, or conference call, prepare yourself by drawing a square. I find that 5"x 5" is a good size. Divide the card into columns, five across and five down. That will give you 25 one inch blocks.

2. Write one of the following words/phrases in each block:

* synergy
* strategic fit
* core competencies
* best practice
* bottom line
* revisit
* take that off-line
* 24/7
* out of the loop
* benchmark
* value-added
* pro-active
* win-win
* think outside the box
* fast track
* result-driven
* empower (or empowerment)
* knowledge base
* at the end of the day
* touch base
* mind-set
* client focus(ed)
* paradigm
* game plan
* leverage, and last but not least,

3. Check off the appropriate block when you hear one of those words/phrases.

4. When you get five blocks horizontally,vertically, or diagonally, stand up and shout, BULLSH*T".

Testimonials from satisfied "BullSh*t Bingo" players:

"I had been in the meeting for only five minutes when I won." Paul D., Caloundra

"My attention span at meetings has improved dramatically." - David D., Rockhampton

"The atmosphere was tense in the last process meeting as 14 of us waited for the fifth box." Ben G., Sydney

"The speaker was stunned as eight of us screamed 'BULLSH*T!' for the third time in two hours." K.F.W.
Don't know who came up with this, but I'm searching for attribution. I love it!

Monday, March 28, 2005

I Think I'm Going to Puke...

This post was lifted in its entirety from Whiskey it and weep.

Christian Soldier

The legal battle over the life of Terri Schiavo may have ended, but a thick, fervent crowd remains in the makeshift encampment outside the Woodside Hospice House here . . .

No, we're not going to go home," said Bill Tierney, a young daughter at his side. "Terri is not dead until she's dead" . . .

Mr. Tierney, a former military intelligence officer in Iraq who works as a translator and investigator for private companies, cried as he talked about watching the Schiavo spectacle on television and feeling the utter need to be at the hospice.

New York Times,
Protesters With Hearts on Sleeves and Anger on Signs, March 28, 2005

Same Soldier, Different Day

Bill Tierney . . . had just returned from eight months working as an interrogator for US forces in Baghdad, and had come to talk, on the record, about torture.

''The Brits came up with an expression – wog,'' Tierney said. ''That stands for Wily Oriental Gentleman. There's a lot of wiliness in that part of the world.''. . .

After explaining his various psychological tactics to the audience, interrogator Bill Tierney (a private contractor working with the Army) said, ''I tried to be nuanced and culturally aware. But the suspects didn't break.''

Suddenly Tierney's temper rose. ''They did not break!'' he shouted. ''I'm here to win. I'm here so our civilization beats theirs! Now what are you willing to do to win?'' he asked, pointing to a woman in the front row. ''You are the interrogators, you are the ones who have to get the information from the Iraqis. What do you do? That word 'torture'. You immediately think, 'That's not me.' But are we litigating this war or fighting it?'' . . .

Asked about Abu Ghraib, Tierney said that for an interrogator, ''sadism is always right over the hill. You have to admit it. Don't fool yourself – there is a part of you that will say, 'This is fun.' ''

Boston Globe, Spy world, February 13, 2005

Posted by billmon at Wiskey Bar, March 28, 2005 04:16 PM

dancing naked... Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 27, 2005

My Lone Ranger Look Posted by Hello

Behavioral Observations Newsletter

This is a monthly newsletter I receive. I thought I'd share it with you because it is truly insightful and worth the read. Here's the opening paragraph of this month's email. It sprouted some ruminations I share below. And here's how you sign up...

Everyone is familiar with the concept of role models for children, but what do we adults use? Certainly what we learned as children still affects us although this is generally modified by later experiences. Do we as adults still have role models? I think we do, although less clearly. Over the past few years I have been frequently dismayed by the entertainment presented on TV, movies, and related passive entertainment modes. In this observation I will use my author's privilege to philosophize more than usual about the effects of our entertainments. Before going further I suggest the reader write down several TV shows, movies, novels or electronic games you particularly like. Now jot down the major actions that excite you. What is there about the main character(s) that attracts you? What leads to success and winning in the entertainment? What is there about the show or game that keeps you involved?

Here are the thoughts that proceeded from that paragraph. Considering my childhood in the late 1950's and early 1960s, my role models were comprised of: Doris Day, The Lone Ranger, Miss Rafferty (1st grade teacher) and Mrs. Merritt (5th grade). My Lone Ranger look is posted above. Thankfully, I have no Doris Day renditions to share. ;-)

Unfortunately in my younger life, there was a terrible shortage of familial role models. I had an alcoholic father and a submissive mother. As is the case with many families in the US today, the rest were spread across the states, so my intimacy with them was non-existent. In my teenage years, my role models were my peers. Not great role models. We were all trying so hard to find ourselves and knew no path.

And so, I took the long way to adulthood.

More than ever, I think caring adults in teenagers' lives are vital. I also think that during their teenage years, those role models cannot be their parents, nor should they be persons far removed from them (like sports figures or TV stars). We need flesh and blood at that time--up close and personal. This is where we have erred in moving away from tribal communities.

Interestingly, as an adult I haven't consciously considered role models. I haven't owned a TV in a long time, so that's out (probably a good thing). But here are the persons I came up with: Jane Austen for her wit; Buddha for his philosophy of peace; Lao Tsu for his philosophy of the natural order of things; C.G. Jung for his depth psychology and the Sumerian mythological Inanna and Erishkigal (I'll tell the story sometime in one of my posts) for their courageous blending of opposites.

My life happens to be in a period of change. I need some role models that can help point the way for me. As a protege of the Long Ranger, picture me sitting atop Silver on the crest of a hill with a determined look in my eye seeking just the right person for the next part of my path.

Here's wishing you great role models, too. Just one more part of This Wild Ride...

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Pentagon Announces "No Action" On Sexual Assault Problem at Air Force Academy

Tail Hook revisited...I thought we were done with this kind of stuff. Here's the report from Rep. Louse Slaughter on website.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts.

--Marcus Aurelius

The wonders of the internet...

I love history. Anything to just after Reconstruction, so I dabble constantly. Some of my current meanderings are through Grant's Memoirs, A History of the Presidents, Pagan Europe and Medieval Britain.

Another of my current interests is Roman history. A broad topic. Cruising the internet, I found a fascinating treatise on its army's strategy, training and structure. De Re Militari, written by Vegitius in 390 CE. Still quite contemporary in its application and highly readable. He has a lot to say on what an army needs to 'get the job done.'

"Victory in war does not depend entirely upon numbers or mere courage; only skill and discipline
will insure it. We find that the Romans owed the conquest of the world to no other cause than continual military training, exact observance of discipline in their camps and unwearied cultivation of the other arts of war...

"But to all these advantages the Romans opposed unusual care in the choice of their levies and in their military training. They thoroughly understood the importance of hardening them by continual
practice, and of training them to every maneuver that might happen in the line and in action. Nor were they less strict in punishing idleness and sloth. The courage of a soldier is heightened by his knowledge of his profession, and he only wants an opportunity to execute what he is convinced
he has been perfectly taught."

Personally, I want our troops back from Iraq now. I am not interested in blood for oil or a new age of imperialism, setting up puppet democracies, etc. But this read is timely and, interestingly, the wisdom is apparently ageless--only 1,600 years old.

And lastly,

"... No great dependence is to be placed on the eagerness of young soldiers for action, for fighting has something agreeable in the idea to those who are strangers to it. ..."


The Revised Standard Crucifixion

I do not believe that Jesus was the vigin born son fo God. I do believe that he was an historical figure who was crucified. So...

For enquiring minds who want to's an article from MSNBC on the archeology of crucifixion. Some new thoughts on an old and painful way to die. Grusomely fascinating.

The only comment on Schiavo...

The Meaning Of Life

Make sure your candidate is for helping all of America and not helping themselves to America.

A bigger question may be answered from all of this and that is the difference between life sustaining and life support. A definition that needs to be made clearly and precisely so this never happens again.

from a wonderful blog: The Right Left Story

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Left-Right Coalition Rises to Oppose USA Patriot Act Provisions


Citizen Rights or the Coming Wrongs?

I love finding great blogs. Here's a scary synopsis of our rights -- or lack, thereof -- as American citizens under George W. and his Republican handlers. Posted by Alex of the Detached Observer.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Over the past four years, the Bush administration has advanced the following claims:

i. It can
arrest an American citizen, on American soil, claim there exists evidence showing this man is a terrorist, and keep him in jail indefinitely without trial, without showing this
evidence to anyone.

ii. It can fly him overseas and ask friendly governments to
torture him, again without showing a shred of evidence to anyone.

iii. The power of the president to do the above
can not be taken away by any of the other branches of government. The man who passed this recommendation along to the President is now Attorney General. [the italics/bold and the sheer astonishment are mine]

Almost surreal.

Thanks, Alex, for being out there. I sat and read through all of your March posts...

Two Parties, No Choice

This op-ed piece from Maureen Dowd of the NY Times has enough juice for two posts so watch for Part 2...

DeLay, Deny and Demagogue
March 24, 2005

Are the Republicans so obsessed with maintaining control over all branches of government, and are the Democrats so emasculated about not having any power, that they are willing to turn the nation into a wholly owned subsidiary of the church?...

Even some Republicans seemed appalled at this latest illustration of Nietzsche's observation that "morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose."...

The president, who couldn't be dragged outdoors to talk about the more than a hundred thousand people who died in the horrific tsunami, was willing to be dragged out of bed to sign a bill about one woman his base had fixated on...

Republicans easily abandon their cherished principles of individual privacy and states rights when their personal ambitions come into play...

The president and his ideological partners don't believe in separation of powers. They just believe in their own power.
Thank you, Maureen.

In my never to be humble opinion, the Republicans just screwed themselves. Unfortunately, the Democrats have already been there since Clinton "never had sex outside of marriage"...

The final question is: What's this country's electorate supposed to do with these two "buried-in-their-own-unique-sh*t" parties?

PS This op-ed piece at the NY Times is by registration only (althought it's free). If you don't want to register, use this: Username: wildrider, Password: letsride. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mt. Mormon & Bright Dot Lake from a glider's perspective. Posted by Hello

Have We Been Here Before?

A fascinating take on how our history brought us to a (necessary and healthy) division of church and state...

Our modern history begins in the middle ages -- in Europe. By 'we', I mean those of us who live in liberal republics. It was the 'Power vs Ideology' struggle of the middle ages that laid the groundwork for our modern political theories. In Europe, there were two power centers -- the state, which controlled political power; and the church, which controlled ideology. In Asia, (including Byzantium), these things (power and ideology) were...consolidated in the state thus resulting in totalitarian regimes. Now, I'm not trying to say that the medieval kingdoms weren't autocratic, but the intellectual groundwork was in place for challenging the authority of the existing states when the time came. This is why the European Middle Ages are important if you want to understand where we came from. where we might be heading if we continue in the direction the Republicans and religious right are fighting taking us (i.e., back to power wedded to ideology). Where's the much-touted progress in heading backward to eight hundred year-old governing forms?)...

from a comment on Historium written by Realm of Sovereigns...excellent.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ordering Pizza in the Age of Surveillance

The ACLU is gearing up for a Summer Surveillance Campaign. Watch their new entertaining--and eerie--video.

I know a lot of people out there will be only to happy to 'pooh-pooh' this as science fiction's Big Brother--but once upon a time, no one thought humans could fly either. It pays not to be too naive. And I'm beginning to think it could, indeed, happen just as the video portends.

[snip] The government and corporations are aggressively collecting information about your personal life and your habits. They want to track your purchases, your medical records, and even your relationships. The Bush Administration's policies, coupled with invasive new technologies, could eliminate your right to privacy completely. Please help us protect our privacy rights and prevent the Total Surveillance Society. [snip]

So next time you're ordering pizza...

Thanks to Ken Leebow for posting this to his really fine blog.

Hate your Job? Check Out These!

From Britain's Channel 4:

[snip] In this website, we take you on a journey through 2,000 years of British history and the worst jobs of each era. Tony Robinson, presenter of the Channel 4 series, has devised a quiz to see how suited you would be to certain jobs in the past. The skills agency learndirect has provided information on current offbeat careers, and finally, we show you how to take your interest further. [snip]

Orignially posted at

A Gentle Wish...

Seeing young nuns on their begging rounds
First steps on the
Long path to truth:
Please do not dream
Your lives away,
Walk on to the end.

Good morning, everyone.

This was in my mailbox and it was too good to resist.

Word of the Day for Tuesday March 22, 2005

stygian (also Stygian) \STIJ-ee-uhn\, adjective:
1. Of or pertaining to the river Styx, the principal river of the underworld in Greek mythology; hence, hellish; infernal. 2. Dark and dismal.

Stygian is from Latin Stygius, from Greek Stygios, from Styx, Styg-, "Styx."

E.g., These current events that have taken us by the throat recently are stygian by nature: Schiavo, Iraq war, Social Security 'reform', etc.

Stygian, stygian, stygian. Good word for the day.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Check Out this Long Shot for 2008

From the Chicago Tribune comes a story that perked me right up.

[snip] The race for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination is already being handicapped and, according to one offshore gaming Web site, the front-runners are former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards at 3-2 and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton at 5-2. But if I were a betting man, I'd consider putting some dough on a 16-1 shot, Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold.

[Feingold] unabashedly stands for progressive Democratic Party values...This is no wimpy liberal who trims his message to fit supposedly conservative times.

In Wisconsin, while John Kerry barely eked out a win in one of the most hotly contested battleground states, voters were giving Feingold a near-landslide victory, electing him to a third term with 55 percent of the vote. Unlike Kerry, who tried to play it safe from start to finish, Feingold won big after voting against the Iraq war and Bush's tax cuts, and having cast the lone vote in the Senate against the Patriot Act. [snip]

This guy has cajones.

Originally run in the Chicago Tribune, "Edwards? Clinton? Nah, 2008 Could be Russ Feingold's Year", March 20, 2005, by Sanford D. Horwitt.

Hells-on-Earth Just for Haliburton...

[snip]Congress and the President should protect Americans at home, give generously in foreign aid, and promote democracy abroad by amply funding and cooperating with the United Nations and human rights organizations like Amnesty International. Give people ideas and something to fight for- don’t turn nations into hells-on-earth just so companies like Haliburton can get contracts. [snip]

Holy Smokes! posted by Swan at A Quiet Evening.

Yes, indeedy.

Just When the NRA Thought It was Safe...

According to a recent post by Ricky Zee of Bottle of Blog, the NRA needs a refund on its Republican campaign contributions.

Bush Administration Advocates Repealing 2nd Amendment

When you really don't believe in anything you say, ultimately, everything you say is a hilarious contradiction.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday expressed the hope that Hezbollah -- which the U.S. State Department has long regarded as a terrorist group -- could enter the political mainstream in Lebanon...

"First things first," the senior Bush administration official said. "Syria must get out, and Lebanon must have unfettered elections, then Hezbollah must disarm. ... There is no place for an armed militia in a democratic society." [italics/bold mine]

Not exactly what his administration
told the NRA, was it?

Infectious Dis-ease

Infectious Disease

brilliantly compiled by Bill Mon at Whiskey Bar

How We Define Our Political Selves

These are our "three little piggies" of mainstream political life. They come straight from Merriam-Webster's Online Thesaurus. And just to be upfront, you'll choose one when you're finished reading...

conservative (adjective)
tending to resist or oppose change; Synonyms: die-hard, fogyish, old-line, orthodox, reactionary, right, tory, traditionalistic, controlled, discreet, moderate, reasonable, restrained, temperate, unexcessive, unextreme; Related Words: cautious, chary, wary, circumspect, politic, proper, prudent; Antonym: advanced.

liberal (adjective)
marked by generosity and openhandedness; Synonyms: bountiful, free, freehanded, generous, handsome, munificent, openhanded, unsparing, plentiful, abundant, ample, copious, not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms, advanced, broad, broad-minded, progressive, radical, tolerant, wide; Related Words: exuberant, lavish, prodigal, profuse; benevolent, charitable, eleemosynary, philanthropic, forbearing, indulgent, lenient; Antonym: authoritarian.

moderate (adjective)
Synonyms: sober, temperate, unimpassioned, not excessive in degree, amount, or intensity, modest, reasonable, medium, average, fair, fairish, indifferent, intermediate, mean, mediocre, middling, so-so, avoiding extreme political or social measures, middle-of-the-road, middle-road, soft-shell; Related Words: bland, gentle, mild, soft, inconsequential, inconsiderable, slight, small, paltry, piddling, trifling, trivial, constant, equable, even, steady; Antonym: immoderate.

Personally, it's a Hobson's choice. If I wanted one of these on my tombstone, "liberal" is the one I'd choose. Where does your legacy tend?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

When Torture will Begin to Matter...

[snip]The article that interests me most...discuss[es]anxiety in American corporations lest the rise of anti-Americanism begin to affect the market for American products abroad. The bottom line, according to the article, is that anti-Americanism has thus far shown little effect on the American bottom line. But some observers think that there may be a delayed effect.

Maybe if torture turns out to be bad for business it will finally be perceived as contrary to American values.[snip]

this snip originally posted on Left2Right by J. David Velleman


I get up every morning determined to both change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes, this makes planning the day difficult. ~ E.B. White
This probably best describes my credo. Since this is my first post, I figure you would like to know what to expect. Here's the way I see this blog...
  • Lots of quotes and commentary.
  • Opinions of the left-leaning variety. I consider myself a citizen of the world first.
  • Quotes from current articles on other blogs and/or websites I find absolute 'must reads' (with links and/or attributions).
  • Pictures of the wild and awesome earth taken by a glider pilot of twenty-odd years named Dale in Pearblossom, California. Thanks, Dale.
  • Word histories. They tell us who we've been.
  • Archeology stories I find intriguing. They tell us where we've been.

I welcome your feedback and comments. Thanks for taking This Wild Ride with me.