Saturday, December 31, 2005

Back in New Years Orleans

So, as I start to write this live from New Orleans, the clock has just struck midnight. I know this because my new neighbors on the street behind me just lit off a ton of fireworks. Where before explosions prompted a call to the police, now I know that they are just the harmless firecrackers of FEMA workers from Mexico letting off a little steam. I know that they are from Mexico because of their accents and their choice of banda music to play all day today. I am writing in my blog because my dear sweet daughter gave out at 10:30 and my loving pregnant wife drifted off at 11:30. I took a shower and then sat down with a Diet Cherry Coke and a cookie to write.

I've been thinking about my blog. This is entry #296. My blog is a sort of self-serving soapbox that soothes my vainglory and allows me to foment and organize some thoughts that I have, and opinions that I want to elaborate on. But, I've been thinking that just bitching about stuff gets old. Life's too short to just be pissed off all the time. Those of you who know me know that that's not my nature either. My blog will no longer be a lamentation or jeremiad. I will instead chronicle the rebuilding effort and life here in New Orleans, post Katrina...and divers miscellany that interests me.

My house is fine. My gas, electricity, cable, internet all work. Our landlord got a new fridge for us. Our only loss in the disaster was our chest freezer, its contents, and a good bit of groceries in the cupboards that either spoiled or became rodent food. The water line is still visible outside my home...only 2 inches from entering and sowing destruction as it did everywhere else. I even found my trashcan lid today.

After having faced the possibility of losing all of our stuff, Mickelle and I have become detached from many of the things that we formerly kept. The apron of grass between the street and the sidewalk in front of our house is now completely full of boxes, old lamps, crap we don't need anymore. All of the local charities are so swamped with donations that they won't take anything other than furniture. So, we are simply throwing away things that we should've gotten rid of long ago. It is kind of liberating.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Santa Claus came today

Marley got everything she hoped for and about 3 dozen things that she didn't even know she wanted. She got the cutest Christmas dress of all time, Dora's backyard, etc. Santa brought me a totally unexpected iPod Nano in my stocking. I didn't get any gifts that I don't want (a rarity in my family).

Christmas was good. I'll write more later

Saturday, December 24, 2005

NORAD is awesome

For those who were unaware, NORAD (North American Aeorspace Defense Command) [I'm not sure about where the O in the acronym comes from either], has been tracking Santa Claus every year since 1955. Their website tracks Santa and provides videos of him, Rudolph, and all the other reindeer's progress around the world. Marley loves it. It is so much fun to see the excitement in her eyes about Christmas. I do not care one iota that all the excitement is created by fibbing about Santa Claus.


Currently, he is over Germany

Good News!

I am happy to announce that my second cousin, Christopher Carter of Morganton, North Carolina, has made it home safely from his tour of duty in Iraq. Lucky for him that his little brother shot him in the toe once, thus seriously decreasing his odds of ever being shot again. His father Sonny was so happy he called us at 8:30 AM this morning to spread the good cheer. These are my few cousins on my Mom's side of the family and are all good Western Carolina salt-of-the-Earth people. Sonny was a vet too, losing both his thumbs in Vietnam, so I'm sure that he is doubly grateful that his oldest boy is home without even a scar. I imagine that his Mom is ecstatic.

His time is up in April and he's been told that he won't be sent back into combat. I hope that is true. The only thing that bothers me about saying that is that someone else will be sent to fill his place. I am not opposed to war, when it's necessary, but I am opposed to war as an evil practice. I wish that all men could live in peace. I don't know if we'll ever be capable of doing it, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try. I think that Lennon was right, it's easy to imagine if you try. Doing is a whole different creature. What do you do if you want to live in peace but someone else doesn't?

If we think about the current conflicts in relation to the war-to-compare-all-other-American-wars-against, WWII, then if the "Japs" bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, we can draw a parallel of the Twin Towers being attacked in September of 2001. The Second World War was over by August of 1945. Nothing is over by August of 2005. This is a different type of war, but I worry that we are getting ourselves into a quagmire. All the wars that we have won have been won in less than 4 years. The only one that took longer was Vietnam, which was a tie. And for those who think that Vietnam was a mistake....the greater mistake happened by our leaving, not in Vietnam, but in the surrounding countries. Cambodia and the Killing Fields could not have occured with a million US troops just over the border. The genocide that the Khmer Rouge wrought on their countrymen happened after we left. Now, did colonialism and the Khmer backlash happen because of cause and effect? I don't know. I do believe that leaving Iraq now without a clear plan for helping people will lead to something similar.

I don't think anyone knows the right thing to do.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Sesame Seed Allergy Confirmed!!!

So, I've suspected for some time that I had an allergy to sesame seeds. I base this off of anecdotal scatological evidence. Oddly though, I can consume hummus which is made with tahini which is a smooth paste of sesame seeds. Sushi frequently contains sesame seeds, which do not seem to bother me either.

Thinking that perhaps it was something else in fast food other than the sesame seeds on the crowns of buns that made me ill before, I proceeded to eat a bag of sesame seed-coated honey-roasted cashews that my little sister brought from San Francisco with her for my birthday. I ate them two days ago. Since then I've gone the bathroom more times that any of you have in the last month. There is no doubt, no stubborn holdout, no unrelenting homeowner blocking the development, no Dodgers' fan, no Elvis conspiracy theorist inkling of a doubt that I am indeed intestinally allergic to sesame seeds. I feel like I'm back in Costa Rica on my mission. I've had stomach cramps and "baddy fanny" as Marley calls it for two days straight.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Youth In Asia

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about what may or may not have happened at Memorial Medical Center (8 blocks from my house) during the aftermath of Katrina. Religiously, I believe that suicide is wrong and that killing someone else out of compassion is wrong. Personally, I hope to never come face to face with that decision. Legally, I think we should leave the doctors and nurses who put their lives on the line to stay with these people alone. They are dead. All hell was breaking loose around them. If they euthanized these people, let's hope it was to ease suffering and just move on.

This is an extreme circumstance that called for extreme measures. I'm not saying it was right. I'm just saying I don't think it was criminal.

The sun sure went down early today

If I didn't know better I'd say that today is about the shortest day of the year. The sun went down here before 5:45PM.

Solstice = sun stands. Interestingly, we are closer to the sun now than we are in Summer. Perihelion it's called. I never get tired of reading wikipedia...which my sister told me today is pronounced "WICK-A-PEE-DEE-AH" and not "WHY-KEE-PEE-DEE-AH." I like my pronunciation better.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It Takes All Kinds

Sometimes you get ahold of a really choice individual on eBay. Check out the dialogue I've been having with this particular child of God.

This is the item he bought: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8364558932&ru=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebay.com%3A80%2Fsearch%2Fsearch.dll%3Ffrom%3DR40%26satitle%3D8364558932%2B%2B%26fvi%3D1

This is the first email I received from him today, two days after the auction closed:

"Hello Thanks for the great deal on the shirt. I am currently out of town though and I only have $27 in my paypal account. I like to deal with everything through paypal so I was wondering if you would mind me holding off the payment until I come back in town after the holidays. If not I can pay you what I have left in my paypal account and then the rest later. Anyways thanks in advance for your cooperation and I'm sorry about the inconvience. Happy Holidays D. Tyler Smith III"

So Mr. D. Tyler Smith III wants to delay payment because he likes to pay via Paypal. Here is my response to him:
This is the kind of question that should be asked BEFORE you purchase something. I find it completely lacking in manners to pose your request after the fact. I am moving back to New Orleans after Christmas and the less I have to take back with me the better. Just because you only have a certain amount in your Paypal account does not mean that I have to wait to be paid for my item. Now, I'll leave it to you to decide what to do, but if I were you, I would show a little more respect for the system and someone else than asking someone to delay payment by a fortnight for convenience sake. Mac Williams

He then responds back to me twice:
Thank you for being so kind and the shirt I'll take will be an XL. What a great seller you are. Grow up, you'll have your money tommorow whinner. D. Tyler Smith III

and then later, once he let the dark side take hold:
I also find it insulting when I offer a nice gesture because I didn't have to pay with paypal. That is an OPTION. I thought I could do that for you because most sellers like to go that route and then right a check for the rest or something. I could have just sent you a money order which would take longer. I being the nice person that I am thought I would offer that. You show nothing but cruelty and a cold heart. You're probably alone over the holidays or you're just a petty person. I've never once dealt with a dealer as classless as you. Also I don't care that you are from New Orleans. I only feel bad for the people of New Orleans having to put up with individuals like yourself. You may want to get the whole picture of something before you rudely insult them. O well for southern hospitality from Mr. New Orleans. I'm also sure that one shirt will really put a damper on your load. Happy Holidays

I especially like the "I, being the nice person that I am" in the midst of his suppositions about my spending the holiday alone. I am classless. Most of my fellow New Orleanians seek to stone me daily in the plaza. The attack on Souther Hospitality is unjust as New Orleans clearly isn't part of the South culturally. Happy Holidays as sarcasm.

Instead of responding back with equal venom, I decided to take the equally smarmy high road. Here's my response:
Ahhh hate email. Drink plenty of fluids. Are you from Utah? D. Tyler Smith III?

D. Tyler Smith III sounds like a Mormon name. Who else signs their name that way? W. Paul Dunn? Norman B. Sandridge? Timothy D. Boisvert? I never sign John M. Williams III if it's just a normal letter. I break out the peerage title for when it's something big.

I will especially relish this exchange if he is Mormon. Nothing like catching one of your own throwing contention around cyberspace.

Should I still sell him the shirt? I could just leave him a negative (which he would surely reciprocate). I could wait for him to pay and then refund him a penny every day for a year. I could be Christlike and stop antagonizing the obviously sexually frustrated young man.

Your thoughts? Was I too rude? An auction is a legal contract. Let me know. Should I show him this webpage and allow him to respond to the court of public opinion?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Shi Qul' Lah Google, KIRK

Evidently you can set Google to appear in any number of languages. Just go to google.com click preferences and then us the pull down bar to select from Klingon, Elmer Fudd, Bork Bork Bork, or Pig Latin.

Weird

Two Conversations about Gift Wrapping with a Three-Year-Old

Two conversations that happened last night.....

Me: Marley, we're gonna wrap Mommy's present, but you have to promise not to tell her.
Her: I promise.
Me: Look me in the eyes, repeat after me "I promise"
Her: I promise
Me: Not to tell Mommy
Her: It's chocolate
Me: No, say "I promise not to tell"
Her: It's chocolate
Me: No, "I promise"
Her: I promise
Me: NOT
Her: To tell Mommy it's chocolate.
Me: No Marley, you have to say the whole thing. Say "I promise"
Her: I promise
Me: Not to tell
Her: Not to tell Mommy
Me: It's chocolate
Her: It's chocolate

So, after that we wrapped up the bars of Marabou and Daim brand chocolate I ordered from Sweden. Marabou is the best chocolate I have ever had in my entire life. Nothing tops it that I've ever had. If you ever see it in a store, buy it. OH MY GOODNESS, it's amazing.

Mickelle already knew that she was getting chocolate...just not how much. This morning she tells me that this was a conversation she had with Marley last night when she came to bed after helping me.

Mommy: Did you help Papi wrap presents?
Marley: It's chocolate...........(3 seconds).....I mean I really like chocolate.

Cute little thing remembered her promise and tried to think of something quick to throw Mommy off the scent. I love her so.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Mormon for President?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-1934123,00.html

I will vote for him, but not because he's Mormon, but because he's a fiscal conservative. I doubt it would happen though. Liberals would scream that he is too conservative and conservatives would scream that he isn't Christian--which is a crock.

Mormonism is not a cult, no matter how many times you call it that.

Jesus Christ is the Savior. What more do we need to do?

There is no way I would ever vote for Orrin Hatch. I'd vote for Jesse Jackson or Ted Kennedy before I voted for Hatch. Being Mormon does not equal automatically getting the Mormon vote, which really isn't a big enough force to worry about anyway. America may be ready for a Mormon president in theory. I just don't think they're ready to elect Mitt Romney.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

It's only money, or why eBay is good to me

I sell clothing on eBay, which allows me not to have to deliver pizza anymore while finishing my education. In October, I got a great deal on Tommy Bahama clothing at 80% off. I bought $3,500 in one day. Had I paid full retail, that would've been close to $28,000. Full retail on clothing is for the uneducated. eBay is the great fashion equalizer.

This shirt retails for $110. It is embroidered and made from 100% silk with coconut buttons. It is gawdy and I would never wear it. I bought 5 of them for $27.80 each. Check out how much I got for each of them:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8361965590&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESO%3AIT&rd=1
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8357774819&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESO%3AIT&rd=1
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8348815499&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESO%3AIT&rd=1
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8341667560

You'll notice that in those last two cases, I was able to get higher than the retail price for the item. When things like that happen, eBay is very very good to me.

Enjoy the photos.







No Coke Kale Soup

So, since it's cold outside, I decided to make a "ginormous" pot of soup yesterday.

In a 3 gallon pot I mixed:

1 1/2 gallons of water
4 large purple onions
3 crowns of broccolli
2 lbs. of Kale
1 lb of corn
2 cans of Great Northern Beans
1 bottle of granulated garlic
1 "that's about right" of onion powder
20 shakes of Tabasco
1/2 a bottle of Paprika
1/4 cup black pepper
3 lbs of flank steak, lightly browned
4 sticks of butter
2 tblspoons cayenne pepper
1 bigole dash of kosher salt
15 beef bullion cubes
4 cans of chicken broth
3 large cans of chopped skinless tomatoes
1 bottle of parsley
1 bigole dash of sugar
1/4 cup cumin

I let it cook all night, overnight and all morning until noon. It rendered out a rich thick soup that was kinda spicy and would make my Creole friends proud. A curious effect though. While the soup was not hot and did not burn going down, nor cause acid reflux, if you drank a (diet)coke after eating a bite, the coke reacted with something in the soup and made my throat BURN like damned fire poured down my gullet. Like physically stop me in my tracks pain. I drank some milk--no problem. Orange juice--nope. Coke--HOLY CRAP. I poured a few drops of Coke in the soup and it FIZZED like mad. I'm a Coke expert and I've never seen anything make coke fizz like that except getting punted down the stairs. Not sure what I did, but I created something that does not mix well with Coca-Cola....so...I'm calling this recipe "No Coke Kale Soup."

Otherwise it's delicious. You might want to try it. I will use half the amount of butter next time too. The secret is, it has to cook a LONG time. Otherwise it's kinda bland if you can believe that. Enjoy!

In Defense of Hating Winter

My dear friend Norman Sandridge, PhD, has accused me of misejuxtestationsim, a word I just coined to signify someone who hates seasons. While I am not a miseprimaverist, a miseveranist, or miseautmnalist, I am undoubtedly a miseinvernoist (also all coined words--I imagine).

I do not hate Fall or Spring. The month of May sways my heart as no other month can do. The dogwoods have peaked, azaleas have dazzled and now the earth erupts into floral fire on every patch of unpaved ground. Useless weeds put forth blossoms that delight. Overeager bloggers wax poetic. May wins my heart.

October begins with the last gasp of Summer heat and ends with a pleasant chill. Since we have endured the blistering heat of August, its first cold snaps feel like Winter's wrath. Yet we quickly acclimate to the early morning chill. We find it refreshing. October is peaceful.

July is a dandy. It knows that you know it's hot and makes no excuses. We all know that August, that grumpy old Uncle, tries to ruin every bit of fun you attempt outside. While July will give a reprieve from deathly hot. July has a high holiday. In Utah it has two. July means that any outdoor activity is a go and no matter if it rains, you can still be outside. No worries.

December means Christmas and my Birthday. December means cold that you feel in your bones. January is death and stillness. February tacitly promotes suicide. But then March comes and suddenly the idea enters your head that Winter isn't forever.

I lived in Utah for five years. Utah has three seasons: July, August, and Winter. I hate Winter as much as I hate the Dodgers. I lived in Costa Rica. I never even thought about Winter for two years. I never got tired of heat. Costa Rica has two seasons: wet and wetter. I love hot and wet weather. It means life and living. Even in literature, Winter means death.

In Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" which is the most recognizable and beloved Season? La Primavera, Spring. No one prefers Winter. Winter is to be endured. There needn't be an opposition in all things.....I've gone years without feeling Winter. I do not relish my snot freezing in my nostrils as I take the lonely walk across campus in Provo. I do not like worrying if my tears will freeze on my eyes while walking outside in Logan, Cache Valley, Utah in January when the sign at the bank was flashing -8F during broad daylight. I do not like the "Feels Like" terminology that the weatherman uses to describe how cold the windchill and humidity will feel in Georgia. I do not like how we all get sick more often because we are in closer contact with one another when it's cold outside.

It is a source of comfort to mark events in my life by the seasons. I cannot listen to The Strokes first album without thinking that it is cold outside, because Mike Wilson and I wore that CD out in the Student Instructors lounge in the basement of the JKHB at BYU in the Fall it came out. I cannot imagine peppermint ice cream in July, but I do remember Roberd's "Christmas in July" sale every year.

Good things about Winter:
#1 I can eat soup without sweating my balls off.
#2 I can put a kettle on for hot chocolate and not sweat said genitalia off
#3 I can wear denim shorts instead of cotton or linen shorts
#4 Yeah that's about it.

I love the snow....provided it's a Saturday and I've nowhere to go. Snow in the city = boring. Snow in the woods (my parents house) = breathtaking. Norman, I've seen an ice storm in Georgia before and it was stellar, a good memory. I'd much rather see a palm tree and roses in bloom on my birthday.

Project Runway

So, Bravo's new season of Project Runway has started. Mickelle and I enjoyed watching it last season, and this one looks to be interesting too. I admit that I enjoy looking at Heidi Klum's face (her face is beautiful--flawless in that Christie Brinkley non-sexy type way), but that's not why I watch it. I enjoy seeing a reality show where the people are based off of how well the perform and use their talents. No one is voting them off because they don't like them, the judges critque their work. I know nothing of fashion, but I find the show very interesting.

This guy was the first person voted off last season. He came back for more. If David Duchovny had a dorky younger brother, this guy would be him.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And you thought you had health problems



This Haitian girl is going to be operated on in an attempt to keep her from going blind. Luckily, "Jesus" is her doctor, so she expects nothing less than perfection. Doctors say that she should have a normal lifespan after surgery, but since she's from Haiti, I'm not really sure what that means. All I can say is that I hope that the surgery is a success and that she gets a reprieve from what has to be a horrifying and terrifying experience for anyone to go through...especially a child.

No, it's not a joke!

http://www.masslive.com/sports/republican/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/113461800583570.xml&coll=1

I cannot believe that someone is considering this. I still laugh when I see little kids riding bikes with those big helmets on....and yes I'll probably get one for Marley some day, but only because it's probably the law or something. If you need helmets in soccer, then you need helmets in basketball too. And then tennis players. Maybe even golfers.


I'm overreacting. Let me have this one. Nail me next time I get pissy over something stupid.

Not good

It's 31.8 degrees outside and it's raining. The trees are all glistening in the night. An ice storm is deadly when you live in the forest. I imagine that if this keeps up that we'll lose power. Ironic that we get power back at my house in New Orleans and then run the risk of losing it here. Gotta love thunder and lightning in a freezing rain storm in December.

I HATE WINTER!

My mind's eye

Some things are better left to the imagination. What looks good may not feel good. Pine trees smell great, but pine sap taste like merde. With the Chronicles of Narnia out now and getting lots of attention for being a loose allegory of Jesus Christ's life, and with Brokeback Mountain getting lots of press, I decided to let everyone know my opinion about certain things.

First, I believe it was South Park that foretold a movie about "gay cowboys who eat pudding" in 1997. Golf clap gentlemen. Your prediction has come true. I did see that there is some controversy about this movie being given an R rating vs. an NC-17 rating. Evidently the sex scene is vague, but people are upset about the content. In Norway, it was given an 11, meaning children 11 and up can see it. 11 year olds have no business seeing any kind of sex. I don't think I'll see this movie. I can just read some Shakespeare and know how it's gonna end.

Second, movies about Jesus can be good and bad. Ben Hur = Great, The Greatest Story Ever Told = terrible. I made it a point not to go and see the Passion of the Christ. While I do realize that Jesus did indeed bleed from every pore and did suffer the agony of all the world so that he can truly empathize with everyone, I don't think I need to see it, in all its gory details. My mind's eye let's me imagine what he must've looked like. Besides, let's focus on his resurrection more than his death. I don't wear a cross, because I figure when Jesus comes back, the last thing he'll want to see is a cross. I wouldn't go up to Ted Kennedy wearing a rifle necklance and say, "Just thinking of John and Robert."

Third, I really hope the next Narnia movie has a different director and different actors! Man oh man, they were as stiff old people in Winter. Seeing this movie makes me realize just how bad the Lord of the Rings movies could've been screwed up.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchor

Those are the traditional names of the Magi Kings credited with bringing the gifts to baby Jesus of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We give Christmas gifts in similitude of these Zoroastrian priests' gifts. When we get all caught up in gift giving and holiday pressure, think for a moment on this. Herod ordered all children slaughtered. Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt to escape the slaughter. They were poor. Those gifts most likely allowed them to flee and to live. The gifts given to Jesus saved his life.

Weight Loss coming up on one year

Weight Jan 17, 2005= 440 lbs
Weight Dec 12, 2005= 387 lbs
Lowest weight since starting diet=372 lbs End of July.
Highest weight since starting diet=397 Nov 30, 2005.

Weight gain after July= That damned Katrina and all the ice cream comfort food.

Jan. 17, 2006=Back in own house, restarting South Beach diet. If I can lose 50 lbs this next year, that will be awesome. I'd weigh what I did before I got married. I saw some photos of myself tonight that my Mom took a year ago vs. some photos that she shot over at Martin Isaksen's parents' house tonight, and I can really see how much healthier I look. I'm still very fat, but I can see the difference, and I can certainly tell the difference. The South Beach Diet works when you're not stressed.

Biggest calorie factor in my weight loss= switching to diet Cokes. That alone cut out 800-1,200 calories a day from my diet. Sheesh I was stupid. Working at Pizza Hut for six years didn't help either.

I blame no one for my weight but myself. I'm also happy to report that my friend Tim Boisvert, A Great American, has also been get healthy. He's not been dieting, but has been working out, and training. You can see the difference in his shoulders mostly. He's a big man (big, not fat) and now his shoulders look like a man's shoulders. Check his progress at http://www.gracefullymelting.com if he can ever take time from working out to update the damned site. Sheesh Tim, since July? No excuse!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas in my own house

It will be so much better, whenever that happens.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie

In Woodstock, Georgia upper middle class people (and those that desperately want to appear part of that class) have just about taken over what used to be a town of lower middle class and rednecks. I miss the old town. Where Regions Bank now sits, across from a massive shopping complex complete with a Target and Old Navy, there used to be this house where someone made HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of birdhouses out of gourds. They hung in rows suspended from wires over their huge yard. I now park in the yard when I go to Big Lots or the bank. The river bottoms that used to (and will again) flood are now covered with too many businesses to count. Wal-Mart has moved twice from where it used to be. Food Lion's building is now something else (Brian Rusch was born in the parking lot of that building). First Baptist Woodstock has grown from a modest red brick church on Main Street to a behemoth that I refer to as Jesus Dome.


As these two photos show, it is as big as a mall. They have trams to carry people from their cars to the chapel, much like Six Flags does. They have been extremely successful at adapting to the growth in Woodstock--which has been insanely fast.

Most roads and empty lots have been developed. One road that was always developed with modest homes and trailer parks was Dupree Road. This little road cuts between downtown Woodstock and Bascomb Carmel Road. It is not the kind of place where you would expect developers to build fancy communities. It is very close to the Dixie Landfill and the Dixie Speedway, a very noisy weekend neighbor. The other day, we went down this road, and what I saw astounded me. RIGHT DAMN NEXT DOOR TO A TRAILER PARK (and not a nice one like Shadowood mind you) they have built the biggest piece of bourgeois pride imagineable. Nothing like ostentatious displays of wealth! Let's build an enormous stone wall, not finish cleaning the mortar, and then put a wooden fence around the rest. See we're not concerned about security with the wall, we just want it to look cool; like we have lots of money to waste on a stone wall in some sort of developer/real estate broker potlatch ceremony. I believe that you don't build a stone wall on part of your property unless you can afford to build one all the way around your property. I'll let the photos explain the rest of how I feel for me:



In Woodstock these days, almost all menial labor is done by Hispanics, typically from Mexico. I do hope that they don't make some poor man dress up in a yeoman beefeater outfit to man the gates all day.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Kriskringelophobia

Let's get Fiscal, Fiscal, I wanna get Fiscal

Well, it seems like the federal government has actually championed the taxpayer at the expense of an energy company. I am very pleased by this decision:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051210/pl_nm/hurricanes_energy_dc

"The Bush administration has denied requests from Entergy Corp. for $350 million in federal aid to help rebuild the company's electric generating facilities in storm-ravaged New Orleans, according to documents obtained by Reuters on Friday.

"We believe that transferring federal tax dollars to the bondholders and shareholders of a private firm is inappropriate," said Allan Hubbard, President George W. Bush' s top economic adviser who also chairs a White House council on rebuilding the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.

"In September, the company, a large U.S. utility operating in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, approached the White House seeking $500 million in aid to help the company rebuild power plants and power lines destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, according to the administration official. Hebert delivered a revised request for aid, this time for $350 million, at a November 15, meeting with Hubbard and Don Powell, who oversees federal efforts to rebuild the Gulf Coast. In rejecting that request, Hubbard noted Entergy Corp.'s 2004 revenues of $10 billion and $29 billion in assets. Saying the Bush administration respects "the right of your board to decide how to allocate financial resources, such as last year's $909 million in earnings," Hubbard added that it was "inappropriate to transfer taxpayer resources to those investors after the fact for a risk they chose to take."

AMEN AND AMEN

Just because one branch of the Entergy parent company is in dire straits, you don't go to the government for a handout. The Entergy parent company can certainly afford to absorb this loss. What sucks is that they are going to pass along this cost to their customers rather than their shareholders.

Happy Christmahannukwanzikaa (In Defense of Happy Holidays)

I'm ticked off (so what's new?)! I'm Dogbert little lines above his erect ears ticked off! People need to stop messing with Christmas!

Happy Holidays = Happy Holy Days
Merry Christmas = Merry Christ Mass
Season's Greetings = Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you've got to do is call Carole King
Happy Christmas = John Lennon
Festivus = Stupid shit that needs to go away already like the boring show that spawned it

I have always made it a point to say Merry Christmas in the month of December. When I worked at McDonald's in the early 1990s, I always made it a point to say "Merry Christmas" to each customer that came through the drive-thru. No one ever got mad. I'm sure I said it to people who weren't Christians. No big deal. Were I to be told Happy Hannukah (forgive my spelling) by someone, I would reciprocate. I too think it was a miracle that the oil lasted eight nights. Where's the harm? I'm not sure if it's a tradition, but if someone said Happy Ramadan! to me, I would say "thank you" and "when's sundown?" Where's the harm in saying Merry Christmas? There is none, except people are too damned sensitive. I grew up in Georgia, and people say Merry Christmas here. That's my culture. I like my culture. If you move into my culture, you should expect that people will tell you Merry Christmas in the same way that they will say "Sir" or "Ma'am" to be polite. Nothing wrong with Happy Holidays either. Most monotheistic religions celebrate some holy days during the early Winter days. Happy Holidays is appropriate. Season's Greetings! No problem there either. Happy Christmas? He was a Brit trying to invent new ways to express the same idea. No problem still.

Lots of conservatives are all up in arms over the death of Christmas in store displays. What did we expect? Christmas stopped being a religious holiday in the secular business world during the Victorian era. Why does this shock us now? Christmas is the ultimate consumer binge. Focusing on the poor child and the few possessions he had and his message of leaving things behind for salvation's sake might actual reduce sales. Don't emphasize Jesus. Just create new symbols for consumerism. Sheer commercial and marketing brilliance.

I don't care if businesses use Christmas anymore or not. I know why I'm there. I don't think that a big sign saying Merry Christmas on the wall at Macy's is gonna make me feel more Christmasy anyway. I will continue to say Merry Christmas to people because that's my culture. If I know someone is Jewish, I'll break out the Hannukah Greeting. If they're Muslim, well I won't offer them a snack while the sun's up in November. No big deal. Happy Holidays works the same as any other saying.

The President of the United States is President of all citizens. His office supercedes his Texas culture in this case. I feel it's appropriate for the President to send out Happy Holidays cards to people instead of Merry Christmas. He can write Merry Christmas to friends if he wants, but it's better to have Holidays in there, because it's more inclusive. Not PC. It just means more to the individual being included.

What I don't like is that now when I say Merry Christmas I start to wonder whether the person thinks I'm being sincere or being a petty conservative saying it to make a point. The conservatives have trapped themselves here in an insincerity loop.

Besides, Christ was born on April 6th.

Oh, as I believe our distinguished Greek professor can back up, the Greeks used X (greek chi) as a symbol for Christ, so saying X-mas is actually showing reverence for his name, not taking the "Christ" out of Christmas as our talking heads are wont to proclaim.

I Like Ike

Last year for Christmas I gave my Dad a book called Crusade in Europe by Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is his memoir as the Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War. My Dad read it, and it's been in the magazine rack in the bathroom since Katrina hit, so I've been reading a page or two here and there. Today I read a quote by Ike that I really like.

Speaking about the education of his troops as to why they were fighting, he said: "It seemed to me that constant stressing of the individual rights and privileges of American citizenship had overshadowed the equally important truth that such individualism can be sustained only so long as the citizen accepts his full responsibility for the welfare of the nation that protects him in the exercise of these rights." (60).

It would seem that General Eisenhower's concern remains unchecked to this day. I have no problem with dissenters, but as long as that dissent is respectful of the right to show dissent. I especially do not like it when non-citizens of this country openly vilify it (not just its leadership) while they are in this country. I have had occasion to hear complaints among the people that I work with about government policies and actions, which I think is both normal and their right. However, I feel that it is only the right of a citizen to physically protest against the government. I'm not a big fan of China. I would not go to China, partake of its benefits to its citizens and then go throw rocks at the Ministry of Finance to protest China's entry to the WTO.

I have seen some of my students who truly believed that their protests were the right thing to do. One student in particular was arrested during a protest in Washington, D.C. She honestly felt that what the government was doing was wrong. She didn't brag to her friends that she had been arrested. She didn't get angry that she was arrested and rail against the evils of the system. She kept on organizing more non-violent protests that really tried to increase awareness without being confrontational. She has my respect, though I believe her politics and worldview are a tad skewed. Abolishing our military is unthinkable, impractical, and nowadays just plain deadly to our citizenry.

Other students of mine wear their arrests for protesting like Red Badges of Courage. They disgust me. Protesting is the cool new thing to do. Let's go protest some shit we barely understand just because my friend's roommate read some Noam Chomsky in Philosophy class and suddenly understands how things "really are." If you can't argue both sides of an issue, you have no business protesting it. Know your enemy!

But then again, if we are all Americans, we shouldn't treat each other as enemies. We shouldn't view dissenters from our side as the enemy. Or as stupid (Mac pay attention here). Or as evil. Well in some cases I do believe that evil influences people and political groups: Pornographers, NAMBLA, AARP. If we start being less divisive and more inclusive then maybe we can get out of this rut we've been in since the first Clinton campaign.

At least Ike had a clear view of who his enemy was. Nazism was a definite enemy and evil. The past seems so simple to those of us that never lived it. Ah, Postmodernism! We long to return to a time we never inhabited.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Very good news for me professionally

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

The Board of Administrators has approved a substantial restructuring plan for the renewal of Tulane University in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I have reviewed the plan at renewal.tulane.edu and offer the following highlights:

-- Spanish is only one of two programs (together with Philosophy) in the humanities that will retain its Ph.D. program. This is a tremendous relief, of course, but also a testament to our successes and achievements. The university administration recognized our status as a leading graduate program producing first-rate scholars and teachers who have found excellent jobs around the country. I am hoping that this will also mean that we will be able to grow as a faculty in the coming years. I'm not sure what this means for Portuguese, but I assume that we will continue to offer 600-level courses for graduate students in our program and in Latin American Studies.

-- Latin American Studies is one of only four programs in Social Sciences to retain its Ph.D. program. For more information on graduate programs, consult: http://renewal.tulane.edu/students_graduate_programs.html

-- Newcomb and College will be collapsed into one Undergraduate College
-- The Faculty of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering will be reorganized into two schools: the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Science and Engineering. Several of the programs within engineering will be terminated.
-- and most important, women's volleyball is one of six programs to retain its Division 1-A status!

Please review this document on-line for more details. This is a difficult period of transition, but our program has emerged largely unscathed and poised to take a leading position in graduate and undergraduate studies at Tulane.

Best wishes from Christopher Dunn

The biggest benefit of monogamy

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/11/prweb314115.htm

Sex with a condom = why bother? That's like pouring wax on your tongue before going to a 5 Star restaurant. You don't wear street clothes to bed on satin sheets. You don't watch movies with welder's glasses on. Why have sex with someone if you can't enjoy it to the fullest? Monogamy is good to me.

I'm the M A C to the T O P, to the highest degree, it's all about ME

An pernicious piece of garbage was published in Salon.com today:
http://www.salon.com/mwt/col/tenn/2005/12/08/separate_residence/ (You will have to watch a small ad in order to view the article)

The world revolves around me. I am in charge of everything. I am a princess. I am a pimp. I am in control. I should indulge in luxuries I can't afford because they make me happy. These are the things that the world is telling me. Media reinforce this indulgent world view. This article takes the cake though. To suggest that someone could be happily married, yet live apart from their spouse is just plain evil. This woman is a newlywed. Why did she marry the man if she didn't want to spend her life with him?

Forgive my hyperbole, but articles such as this one erode our society. The very notion that you could be married to someone but then choose to live apart because of your own selfish reasons is just downright absurd. I can see having to live apart because of work. Military families, work that requires travel, etc. cause families to be apart, but it's not by choice. I know some older couples that claim that they would be happier living apart, but the comfort that comes from having someone nearby would surely change their minds were it absent.

Otherwise, why bother getting married? Where is the sacrifice that comes with loving someone else as much as yourself? Isn't cohabitation the reason for marriage? I can only imagine the kind of psychological effect her asking her husband for her own place will have on him and on their marriage. I believe that a marriage should be give and take. Telling this woman to follow her heart will break someone else's unnecessarily. It is just another symptom of the self-involved emptiness that follows the waning of heteronomous morality. None are capable of truly autonomous morality. And even under Kant's definition of marriage, she still seems cold.*


*Marriage is the contract between two adults of the opposite sex about the mutual [exclusive] use of each other's sexual organs.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Nick Carter has sunk so low he came out in China

There are 120 boys born for every 100 girls in China, a gender imbalance that foretells a day when 50 million males won't be able to find a wife and must find new ways to amuse themselves.

Click here for a video of how they will fill the void of single life......You simply MUST click this link!
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6739710473912337648

I haven't laughed this hard in a long time, and I'm not making fun of them. I think they are really good.

Never EVER urinate in the Amazon

http://www.internext.com.br/urologia/Casosclinicos.htm

The site is in portugues. Babelfish can help. http://babelfish.altavista.com

This guy peed in the Amazon and this fish swam up his penis, as in up the pee hole of his penis. Oh my goodness that makes mine hurt just looking at the spikes on that fish's mouth.

Pobrezinho con o seu penis apezinåo. Eu nao quero saber quanto lhe dolia.

If this video is real, the perpetrators deserve the death penalty

Supposed security trophy video of security firm shooting Iraqi civilians at random from a moving vehicle

The video doesn't show any blood, but you can infer by what happens the vehicles that people die. This is depraved and inhuman.

私睡眠巨人醒決心私達恐

That's the best translation I can get of Yamamoto's famous line in Tora! Tora! Tora! that "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve." I would expect that today would be a day of rejoicing in Europe, for like the Lusitania sinking a decade previous to WWII, today brought the USA into open conflict and hastened the end of the war. Problem is that most people in Europe weren't alive when that happened. That was 64 years ago. Those who were alive were very young. I know that many towns in France and Belgium no longer celebrate the anniversaries of their liberation from the Nazis. Funny how Japan today is perhaps our staunchest ally after the United Kingdom.

I think that we should continue to commemorate the attack as long as there are people alive who remember it and need the solemnity to help them deal with their decades old grief. Having been to the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, I can tell you that it is a somber feeling. You can look down and see the ship that was sunk, and to this very day, a steady stream of oil droplets rise to the surface from the sunken ship. Pearl Harbor Day may not mean as much to each new generation, but it is still worthy of veneration. Heck, the Brittish still celebrate Guy Fawkes' Night and that's 400 years old this year.

Just in time for Valentine's Day

The Season One DVD set of Nell Carter's Gimme A Break will be released 2-14-2006. Now we can all watch a pre-Blossom Joey Lawrence say "Whoa" before his balls dropped. I haven't seen Gimme a Break on syndication ever I think. Not even like the high high high UHF channels showed it. I remember liking it when I was a kid. It's weird though, going to imdb.com and looking at the cast, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081869/ the kids, and Rosie O'Donnell, are the only ones still alive. Almost every other adult on the show is dead.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas = Christ Mass?

Not if you're protestant, member of a mega big church, and Christmas falls on Sunday apparently.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/12/06/churches.closed.christmas.ap/index.html

First Baptist Atlanta evidently is not holding services on Christmas Day.
http://www.fba.org/worship/sunday.html Their average attendance is 6,155 people per Sunday....where is their outrage?

I can see holding only a sacrament meeting without Sunday School, so that people could be together with their families, but not holding anything really speaks volumes about the people who insist that "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season."

I bet if I tell my 93 year old grandfather about this, he'll have his sixth heart attack. He was a deacon at an Atlanta Baptist church and also a deacon a Biltmore Baptist in Ashville, NC.

At least this can't make Jesus roll over in his grave.......

DUI = bad idea...DUI when you're famous = REALLY BAD IDEA

Quoted from The Smoking Gun:

Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros, stars of the ABC megahit "Lost," were arrested by Honolulu cops in December 2005 and charged with drunk driving. Rodriguez, 27, and Watros, 37, were nabbed minutes apart as their respective cars weaved along a highway linking Kailua and Honolulu. The actresses, both of whom failed field sobriety tests, were each charged with driving under the influence and released after posting $500 bail. Rodriguez, pictured directly below in a Honolulu Police Department mug shot, plays "Ana Lucia" on the TV series. Watros, who looks pretty toasted in her booking photo, plays "Libby" on the top-rated series.


"Oh I Just Love Four Different Seasons"

Continuing my cute habit of using sweeping indictments, people who say "I like having four seasons" are just plain stupid.

Having lived in New Orleans for the past three Winters, and now being back in Georgia, I can tell you that Winter sucks, and there is nothing "cool" about it. It rarely snows in Georgia, and it rains a lot, so it's always gloomy overcast and the humidity makes the windchill factor work like nothing else. I hate the cold. If it's hot, you can drink a Coke, take off some clothes, go swimming, sweat. If it's cold you must dress warmly, seek shelter, and burn something to keep warm. Our bodies are far better adapted to heat than to cold. If you like Winter, I don't get it. What am I missing? All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray. I stopped into a church, I passed along the way.....c c c c cold.

Seriously, give me August humidity and sweat vs the damp chill any day

Christmas Trees


I am not sure what it is, but Johnny Mac, Laura, and Mac Williams cannot put up a Christmas tree without someone getting pissed off at the other one. It must be something in the stars, because try as I might yesterday, my parents were bugging the-ever-loving-snot out of me over the tree. A Christmas tree is supposed to remind us of God, how the top points up to heaven, and the star represents the new star that guided the magi (or an angel which represents the hosts that appeared to the First Noel shepherds). To me it means a struggle to get it to balance, where to put it. I think putting it up with my parents is charged with too many ghosts of Christmas pasts that make us all assume that it's gonna be a fight, and then in self-fulfilling prophecy, it does.

Mickelle and I put the lights on it without incident. Interesting, I actually enjoyed doing it with her. I wanted to put a tree up. Not being in my own home for Christmas, yet, at 32 is starting to annoy me. I want my own traditions, like not having to get dressed up for Christmas dinner (Fonnesbecks) or being able to open one gift on Christmas Eve (Williams). Christmas is about celebrating the birth of the Savior and reflecting on the joy that His birth brought to the world. It's also appropriate to gather with the family, exchange gifts, and have a good time. The world has turned it into this orgy of capitalism and keeping-up-with-the-Joneses that makes some people feel bad. The loss of a loved one is particularly hard at Christmas, because for most people, memories of Christmas are a cherished part of their childhood. Me, I like to eat lots of food, read a few verses from St. Luke, then the Night Before Christmas, sip some eggnog, sit in front of the fireplace, turn off all the lights and just watch the Christmas tree lights blink and bubble. Then I enjoy setting up all the stuff that Santa is bringing to Marley. Christmas Eve night when all are asleep is my favorite part of Christmas. The actual day is over so quickly. I am a total pleasure delayer. The buildup is far more fun than the actual event.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Crowning achievement

Well the crown that I thought I had chipped a little has now since shattered in my mouth leaving the buildup and the filling. I called my dentist to see if they can get me in for an appointment soon. My teeth suck!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hilari Tea

Come, come ye Saints fans, no toil nor labor fear....far away, in the West

http://www.nola.com/newslogs/tpupdates/index.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tpupdates/archives/2005_12_04.html#097736

December 4, 1973

I was born 32 years ago today in Birmingham, Alabama. I could live in Birmingham nowadays. It seems like a wonderful and beautiful place.

It was an enjoyable birthday. I went to church. My Mom made a great dinner of Southern cooking: creamed corn, sweet potatoes, roast beef, green beans. Mickelle made brownies and rice krispies treats (one of which cracked a crown on the infamous root canal tooth, but I think it's salvageable). Genetics haven't been kind to my teeth. My sister and I have some of the worst teeth on the planet. Our enamel is super-thin. If I brushed like I'm supposed to it might help too.

I got a pocketwatch for my birthday from Mickelle and Marley. I don't like wearing watches, but one that I can attach to a beltloop is perfect for me. My parents gave me a Calphalon anodized frying pan which is an awesome piece of cookware. I never realized the differences between pans until I used one of those. Things cook faster and more evenly in good pans...who knew? Mickelle and I went and stayed in Doubletree Galleria Friday night, formerly the "French Quarter" hotel. For those from the Atlanta area it used to be that huge pink building on 41 just north of the perimeter by Cumberland Mall. It has since been painted, according to an employee "Inline with Doubletree corporate standards" --as in a nice earth tone coral. It was a nice room, with a two person jacuzzi and unlike my stay in St. George, I had good cause to shave my beard for the occasion ;)

Fast and Testimony Meeting

Okay, for all yall non-Mormons out there, this post may not make sense to you, but I want to rant a little bit about Mormon complacency.

Once a month we fast two meals and give the money that we would've used on food to the church to aid the poor. This day is typically observed on the first Sunday of the month. The Sacrament meeting on that Sunday is reserved for the bearing of testimonies of the faithful. People are invited, as prompted by the Spirit, to come to the pulpit and bear the members their testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

(cf. W. Mack Lawrence, “Sunday Worship Service,” Ensign, May 1991, 30)
"when you speak to the congregation, include scriptural references, your testimony, and the Savior in your talk. I have heard of instances when the Savior is not even mentioned in a sacrament meeting. I hope this is never the case. He is the focus of our sacrament meeting, and all that is said there should bring us closer to him.

"The scriptures are our basic commentary on the Savior and his doctrines. Use them regularly in your talks. We discover new treasures in them, and they are crucial to our gospel enlightenment.
And don’t be afraid to include your personal feelings about the Savior, his gospel, and instances when you’ve felt the Spirit. Our testimonies grow when we hear testimonies of others. Some people have stronger testimonies than others, and that’s all right. Each of us is growing in the gospel. We should not feel pressured to say things that do not truthfully express our experiences. We should not be ashamed of what we do know, whatever stage our testimony may be in. Share it with others."

Testimonies are not times when we get up there in front of everyone to express thanks for or love of something or someone. Elder M. Russell Ballard said the following:

"My experience throughout the Church leads me to worry that too many of our members’ testimonies linger on “I am thankful” and “I love,” and too few are able to say with humble but sincere clarity, “I know.” As a result, our meetings sometimes lack the testimony-rich, spiritual underpinnings that stir the soul and have meaningful, positive impact on the lives of all those who hear them.

"Our testimony meetings need to be more centered on the Savior, the doctrines of the gospel, the blessings of the Restoration, and the teachings of the scriptures. We need to replace stories, travelogues, and lectures with pure testimonies. Those who are entrusted to speak and teach in our meetings need to do so with doctrinal power that will be both heard and felt, lifting the spirits and edifying our people. You will remember at the heart of King Benjamin’s powerful sermon to his people was his personal witness of the Savior, who at that time had yet to be born into mortality. At one point in the king’s sermon, when he had just borne witness to the people, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy … because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come” (Mosiah 4:3). [...]

"Again, please keep in mind that we are talking about sharing real testimony, not just speaking generally about the things we are thankful for. While it is always good to express love and gratitude, such expressions do not constitute the kind of testimony that will ignite a fire of belief in the lives of others. To bear testimony is “to bear witness by the power of the Holy Ghost; to make a solemn declaration of truth based on personal knowledge or belief” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Testify,” 241). Clear declaration of truth makes a difference in people’s lives. That is what changes hearts. That is what the Holy Ghost can confirm in the hearts of God’s children." (cf. M. Russell Ballard, “Pure Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 40)

Today in church, it was just ridiculous. A grown man ended his testimony with "I am thankful that the Georgia Bulldogs won the SEC Championship." He then reiterated that "really, I am." Another person said that she sometimes felt like Lemuel or some of "the other characters" in the Book of Mormon, as if it were a work of fiction. A young woman said that she had just started school again after being homeschooled for seven years, and that she wouldn't "know what she would do" if the Gospel didn't "Hold me down." That was just a youngster's poor choice of words. But, thanking God that the Bulldogs won is completely inappropriate. Now, I must admit that I did get down on my knees at the McDonald's playland after closing the night the Braves were in the 1992 NLCS--shortly before Francisco Cabrera drove in ole Sid Bream. And I did feel like the Lord had heard my prayer (please remember that I was 17 at the time), I have since realized that God could care less who wins a sporting competition (he only cares that we all do our best and that we are loving one to another). People need to get up and bear testimony of Jesus Christ and his Gospel.

And another thing. I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I know that He is my Savior. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His church restored to the Earth. I do not however feel the need to cry or sob every time that I mention his name. I HATE it when people cry during their talks, especially serial testimony bearers (those people who just have to get up every month and tell us how hard the last month has been for them). Crying should be for those moments when the Spirit uplifts you with joy. A sob means anguish, and barring a theophany, I don't make it a habit to cry over Jesus.

Notice how you never see the Bretheren cry during their talks......like maybe one person per conference? There's your example. Stop crying to be seen of men.

Also, if you have to whisper the words into a child's ear, it really isn't a testimony, is it? Little children should be able to bear their own testimony, if they can say it themselves. I would caution parents to limit their children. Saying, "I'd like to bear my testimony, I know this church is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" isn't really helping them foster a real testimony. They are doing it because their friends are doing it. Let them do that once, and then explain to them that their testimony should be what they feel about the Gospel. They should not just get up every Sunday to do it because that's what everyone else does. That's inappropriate and boring. Don't sit there and beam with pride at your kids 30th verbatim iteration of the same testimony.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I have read the Book of Mormon and after praying about it, I know it to be a true book of Scripture because I have felt the Spirit. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Gordon B. Hinckley is the Lord's prophet on the Earth today because I have felt the Spirit when he speaks and the fruits of the Spirit: peace, joy, love--confirm this knowledge to me. I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Great American

My sister-in-law's husband, (what is the name for that in Engish?) Dallas, told me that I am copying Shawn Hannity when I call people like Tim and Paul, Great Americans. I must point out that I cannot stand Shawn Hannity and I do not watch TV News. I use the "A Great American" title as a homage to Lewis Grizzard and his childhood heroe, Wayman C. Wannamaker, A Great American.

My usage, by virtue of Grizzard's usage, predates Hannity's jingoistic use of the term.

Crackers Marginalizing Coloreds

The very words I used in the title carry with them too much weight. They are charged. Because I said "Colored" you automatically assume a racist perspective. Cracker causes me to think the same thing. They are just words, but they connote hatred and difference. I want to talk a bit about racism, both passive and active.

First, I can truly say that I am not a racist. I do not despise anyone because of the color of their skin, nor because of inherent things about them that they cannot change. Sex, age, race, national origin, etc. I do definitely disapprove of people's behavior. Behavior has nothing to do with race. Culture can influence it, but parents can correct behavior if they want to do so. And just because something is part of your culture, doesn't mean that it's a good thing: female circumcision, prime nocte, getting drunk in honkytonks, elevating criminals to stardom, whatever.

Passive Racism:
http://www.sltrib.com/ci_3271357#2005
This is the kind where cynics say, "well it's what everyone is thinking and hoping for." Doesn't make it right. This is the kind of crap that makes minorities believe that the majority really is racist. I think most racism is a matter of perception and supposition.

Active:
http://www.stpetetimes.com/2005/12/02/Tampabay/Racial_profiling_fear.shtml
This is the kind of blatant racism that makes my friend Tim Boisvert, a great American, say that Jim Crow isn't dead. While he is wrong about that, things like this make it seem so. There are truly racist people in the South, but I'd argue that there are more in the North. People that don't live around other races frequently accuse those who do of racism when they don't along as well as they should. The major race riots have all happened outside of the South. And Florida isn't the South either, at least not below Ocala.

Moral relativism

This kind of logic drives me insane:

"It is a scandal that the death penalty still exists in a civilized country like the United States of America," said Petra Herrmann, chairwoman of the German group Alive e.V.

"How can a citizen realize that murder is wrong if the state is allowed to murder its own citizens?" she said.

Because clearly this is murder, not the consequence of his action. I am sure that people all over say, "You know what? I'm going to kill my wife because the government can kill me. That'll teach 'em."

I used to be opposed to the death penalty. Then I had kids, and now the thought of someone harming another human being, especially little children, makes me think that some people deserve death. I do not think we can ever measure how many murders have been avoided in Texas because of the speed with which they carry out justice. The state should carry out every DNA test possible in an after to ultimately prove that someone did the deed. Any "REASONABLE" doubt should mean a life sentence. But in cases where the guy has admitted it, or the evidence is OVERWHELMING, then let us be done with them. Moral relativism, that is comparing two things as equals when they are clearly not, is pernicious. The UN is the unmitigated king of all moral relativisms. If you kill someone and are put to death, the state didn't murder you. You killed yourself.