Monday, February 27, 2006
Tonight's parades were ho-hum. Proteus only throws their seahorses and Orpheus didn't have many medallion beads this year. I don't know why. I did get to see Josh Hartnett and Steven Seagal in the flesh, so I guess that could be considered a highlight. I am writing this from the clerk's office of the church because I am camped out on the neutral ground holding our place for Mardi Gras tomorrow.
Mardi Gras Madness
Throw me somethin' mister,
The crowds all scream
Hail to Bacchus
And all his krewe
The party don't stop
The whole night through
And New Orleans!
Friday, February 24, 2006
Oh my gosh, can't people realize that we are looking at the Bible through the filter of how many thousands of years and that some things are not literal??????? please?????
The different books of the Bible were not compiled into one whole work until the Council of Nice in 325 AD, and no one can truly know how many translations and interpretations they have suffered since they were written. An ignoratio elenchi comment that any error in the Scriptures is intolerable cannot riposte the problem of the corruption of meaning inherent in any translation. The various Christian sects, including Protestants, rarely have questioned the veracity of the inspiration behind the different parts of the Bible, certainly least the synoptic Gospels of the New Testament. The Catholic Church believes that the current selections were made under the influence of the Holy Ghost, while Protestants accept it as a true book all the while attacking the Catholic Church and accusing it of having lost the power of the priesthood and the right to receive divine inspiration. My problem with the assumed infallibility of the Scriptures depends not on dogma but on the problem of signifier / meaning. The obstacles in front of any translator cause him to constantly doubt his decisions; personal opinion and style are other traps that frustrate the translator. Unless we believe that each and every translator of the Scriptures was transfigured by the Holy Ghost while he or she worked—which seems implausible given the schisms in Christianity—then we simply must admit that there will be errors in them. Languages do not all describe and explain things with the same words and there is an ingenerate loss of meaning in any translation. Norman Thomas de Giovanni and Jorge Luis Borges famously would expend an entire day translating a single paragraph or a single line of Borges's own poetry to make sure that they had captured as many of the nuances of the original text as possible. Those are just the problems of translation, to say nothing of scripture interpretation.
Interpretation of the written page must decide to serve either the god of authorial intention or that of the actual text independent of authorial meddling. In the case of exegesis, the interpretation of divinely attributed or divinely inspired writings, this debate is especially fierce because understanding of the scriptures to the believer is crucial to their salvation/progress and to understanding the will of god. The libraries of the world contain countless tomes dedicated to trying to explain and clarify scripture via various methods: literal, hermeneutic, Midrash, grammatical-historical, folklore, and rational amongst others. Jesus chided the Pharisees for their interpretation of the Law of Moses and their strict adherence to the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law in Matthew 23:32, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin [sic], and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Luke (4:9-10) writes that the devil himself quoted scripture for his own purposes when Jesus was fasting in the desert in an attempt to convince him to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple (thus committing suicide). If the Christian adversary interprets scripture for evil purposes then countless other mortal interpretations will differ, blaspheme, and engage some. The heteroglossia of Judeo-Christian religious exegesis complicates the preoccupation with errors in the scriptures (which surely exist according to C.S. Lewis). This assertion, when faced with the polyglot of translations and interpretations of the scriptures, appears unfounded and misguided. A belief in the infallibility of the scriptures puts far too much faith in the ability of man to carry out god's wishes. The main problem with claiming to speak for god, is if you change your mind, does that mean that god does too?
See it used to be that swearing made others scorn you. Swearing is now so prevalent in our society that people swear in almost any situation. The other night I took my class to the Cafe du Monde and I heard 5 f-bombs in their normal conversation.
I used to swear heavily. I have toned it down some since I got married, and even more so now that I am a parent. I swore because I worked in the fast food industry for 10 years and everyone around me swore. I swore because I chose to. My parents never made me stand on a street corner, but I have embarassed myself because of swearing on numerous occasions. My grandma chewed-me-a-new-one about 10 years ago because I said I was "pissed" in her presence. Nothing worse than your grandma chewing you out and knowing that she is right.
Vulgarity is indeed a crutch for the inarticulate. Coarse language does have its place sometimes. When I was a single and oh-so-sexually-frustrated young man I found that a good f-bomb among Mormons was a great way to make your point.
Now those who know me well will think me a hypocrite for saying that swearing should be avoided. My friend Tim Boisvert, A Great American, rightly blames me for influencing him to swear when we were roommates. I still swear on occasion, but I know it's wrong and am willing to pay the consequences for swearing. I do not attempt to explain it away.
Shame and embarrasment are great teaching tools. This kid hopefully learned his lesson.
What's sad is when good parenting makes the news. It should be the norm.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I went up to a group of 4 police officers (3 white males, 1 black female) and asked them how early I could come put my ladder out on the neutral ground to save my spot for tomorrow's parades. They all told me that I shouldn't. Not one, but two of them, then told me, in sucession that, and I mothertrucking verbatim quote, "There are lots of construction workers around here that speak Spanish and they will steal your ladder." They all laughed heartily. I then said to them, "Yo hablo español y lo que dijeron es muy ofensivo." None of them understood what I said......one then ventured, "You're not from around here are you?"
Dumbfounded, I just mumbled, "Thank you" and walked away. I am going to write a letter to the mayor's office. Nothing will come of it, but damnit, if cops are prejudicial against hard-working people trying to make out city better, then to hell with them. I hope this city become 100% hispanic with hispanic officers and a hispanic mayor. This land used to belong to Spain, vale que se convierte en hogar para los hispanohablantes otra vez.
Jesus, in a fit of righteous indignation, drove the money changers from the inner courts of the temple at Jerusalem.
These are all scriptural examples with a clear divine mandate as to what course should be taken.....yet how were these mandates made known to the actors? Abraham heard the voice of the Lord, Saul and David had Samuel the prophet to tell them what to do. Nephi felt the Spirit confirm to him what he should do. Jesus was in perfect harmony with his Father's will, so it goes without saying that he always knew what should be done.
How about the patriots? If we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, how do we know when rebellion against the law is the correct course of action. Had we not risen up with violence against the English, the course of our country and our history would be very different. How do you know when the time has come to pick up a weapon and use it against an oppresor? Moses killed an Egyptian that was beating someone else. Are we to turn the other cheek ourselves and rail against that oppress the weak? Anger to the point of violence against a situation would likely stifle the heart's ability to perceive the still small voice of the Spirit. Christ taught us to turn the other cheek, but we also know that the Constitution and the Founding Fathers were inspired men, meaning that their war of Independence carries a tacit divine blessing. So what then....how bad does it have to get before rebellion is a viable moral option?
I'm glad that these problems are not relevant to my life right now. Sadly, they are relevant in countless places around the world today. I'm thinking about Iran, a total theocracy, where surely some people are contemplating rebellion. At what point are they justified from a moral point of view? Ugh!
Gewalt in German means both violence and legitimate authority.
Certainly this young man has every right to yell "Remember Chappaquiddick" at Ted Kennedy right before he was set to give a speech yesterday. He took offense at the introduction offered about how Kennedy "overcame adversity" in his life and decided to yell this at Senator Kennedy as a form of protest. While he is well within his rights to do so, it constitutes bad manners in my opinion. Just like the young man who asked Ann Coultier if she enjoyed being sodomized by her husband, this kind of yell-something-provocatory-on-the-way-out-the-door protest is weak and rude. If you want to engage Kennedy about his previous deeds there are other ways to do so. Senator Kennedy is a United States Senator, and as such, deserves respect because of the office he holds. He did not come to speak and absolve himself of the Chappaquiddick incident, but about something different. This attack leaves the Senator with two options....address the remark, which would take away from why he was there or ignore it. Either way it is not a fair forum to Senator Kennedy to defend himself.
Now while I believe that Senator Kennedy was intoxicated and culpable in the death of Ms. Kopechne, he has never been found guilty in a court of law and despite evidence of malfeasance, the voters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have repeatedly elected him to his office.
Basically, anyone invited to speak should be given the respect that invitation deserves. If you want to expose Senator Kennedy, call 60 Minutes and sick them on him. Since the justice system's flaws allowed Senator Kennedy to avoid punishment for the death of Ms. Kopechne (I do not think it was murder, but callous indifference and ass-covering), just like OJ, we have to respect his rights. If OJ were speaking and we attended the speech, we should all sit down and listen. Yelling out protests is infantile and self-aggrandizing.
If the school tries to discipline this lad, Senator Kennedy should defend him. That would be the noble thing to do and might teach the young man a thing or two about decorum.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Well, me. Perhaps he should have one of the English teachers edumacate him a little bit about what "outstanding" means. I would think that 10% is even a tad generous for "outstanding." If 1 in 10 teachers stands out among the others, and those 10% are the only ones getting their children to perform above average on standardized tests, then doesn't that mean that the other 90% are average or worse? Keep in mind that these standardized tests reward mediocrity. The base scores are barely better than fogging mirrors when it comes to what students must do. If you really want to improve test scores, lower property taxes based off of students scores. The better they score, the less taxes are the next year. If you want parental and community support, there's a way to do. Nevermind that my plan isn't feasible politically or fiscally.
Teachers have steadily worked to end rewards and recognition for superlative performances by children. Dodgeball has been disallowed. Everyone gets stickers. A teacher I know, bless her heart, used to give this poorly behaved student a stamp on his hand every day because he got spanked one day when he came home without one (because of bad behavior). I therefore find it unsurprising that a teacher representative would seek to equalize ADULT performance when his clients have ritualistically beaten the drum of non-competitiveness amongst their charges for the better part of four decades.
Unless parents get involved in their children's lives and tell them to always do their best, and take positive steps to ensure that they do do their best, teachers will seek out ways to continue to reward mediocrity. (See my previous post about Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron")
The sad thing is, as someone who teaches, I feel somewhat powerless to do anything about what's going on around me. The average teacher cannot change the system. My family, especially on my wife's side, is chock full of teachers, and they feel powerless to change this cultural phenomenon. Americans are ever-increasingly selfish to the point of detrimental consequences to themselves. Generations X&Y are solidly in their baby producing years and I weep for all the shit that elementary school teachers have to endure from these my-child-can-do-no-wrong types of my generation. I cringe even more at all the poor isolated children in homeschooling by Generation Xers. Instead of immersion in the waters of teacher-supported mediocrity, they bask in the warmth of invincibility that unbridled parental confidence without supporting societal proof brings; this will not prepare them for the rigors of interacting with the world=torremarfilismo. Given 2 or 3 generations of consecutive homeschooling and BYU attendance, I can see homeschooling descending into a sort of Mennonite/Amish type lifestyle, sans the fear of technology. At least missions let some see the world.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Monday, February 20, 2006
I am scheduled to give oral exams to my students today, and I usually cancel class for this since we are supposed to do them in class, but I find everyone does better when it's in my office, so I hold them there. Since I teach at 8AM, everyone was very agreeable to having the exams later in the morning. Since my parents were gung ho about leaving early this morning, and I didn't have to be at work until 11AM, I decided to seduce Mickelle. Only problem with said seduction is that little interloper named Marley. As discussed previously, she practices a divide and conquer, scorched-earth policy when it comes to preventive contraception. This morning was no exception....
So, Mickelle and I have her distracted with a new cartoon, breakfast, closed doors, and our salicious hopes and prayers. We are starting the mating ritual when we hear the pitter patter of approaching feet echoing off the sounding chamber of a hard floor that our house is.
Quick as a flash Mickelle arose to see what was the matter;
Marley needed to vacate her bladder.
More rapid than eagles he searched for fig leaves;
Yet, a pillow was all he could muster.
Marley insisted on using the "pink" "girls'" bathroom,
Our sex drive to fluster
We had thought we had the opportunity
We decided to take it
But that keen observer Marley
Asked, "Why is Papi naked?"
This is why parents' bedroom doors should lock.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
If a boy = John McLarty Williams IV, aka "Jack"
If a girl = Mattie Isabel Williams, aka "Mattie" or "Matilda"
Personally I don't care what it is as long as it's healthy. Since I am the only son, of the only son, of the only son, I feel a certain pressure to make sure the Williams line doesn't end with me. It's not like there aren't enough "Williams" in the world though. Girls are cute and cuddly, boys are kind of gross. We already have all the accoutrements for girls. Economically, it's in our best interests to have a girl.
I had a dream in November that we had a son. When Mickelle had the first ultrasound two months ago, it looked to me like it was a girl (3 bright white spots, corresponding to the two labia and the clitoris) instead of a boy (2 white spots, the testes).
Marley wants a little brother, but if it's a girl, she is insisting that we name it "Marley Xiomara Williams III"--which is what she thinks her name is right now.
Holy crap! I'm going to be a dad again. All you childless sexually-active people should remember that a child is only ever nine months away.
Saturday night there was a meeting at church for almost everyone, and many people had to bring their children since they were both expected at the meeting. Several parents volunteered to watch the children (myself included). I watched Marley crave the attention of this older snotty girl. Even as this girl teased Marley and wouldn't let her play with her toys, Marley was dying to win this girl's favor. I think back to my own childhood and youth and think about similar things I did. These older boys in my trailer park when we lived in Vero Beach, Florida when my dad was an apiculturist called me puny and pushed me around, and I would've done anything they asked me to, because I wanted friends. In middle school, I ruthlessly made fun of Rick Thanski, a genuinely nice guy, because Shawn Smith, Jason Davis, and Steve Blackwell all did it and I wanted to fit in with them. By my senior year I despised two of them and mildly tolerated the other. Rick was rightly and justifiably cold to me because even though I no longer made fun of him, I never had the moral courage to apologize then. My two best friends in high school Paul Dunn, a great American and Norman Sandridge are still two of my best friends today. We didn't base our friendship off of attitude and posturing, but off of mutual respect. Our friendship didn't come at the expense of anyone else, ourselves included.
When I watch my daughter clamor for the approval of other people....people that are and always will be vastly inferior to her--intellectually, spiritually, and personality-wise--I actually start to cry, because I remember how powerful that desire to be desired is from even the tender age of 3. When the girl was mean to her, I said, "Marley, you don't need to play with her if she is going to be mean to you." Marley was crying, saying, "But she's my best friend". Even while she ignored another girl, her same age, that wanted to play with her. Marley wasn't rude to her, it was like she wanted to involve her in her attempt to win the approval of the older snotty girl. Eventually I distracted Marley with some toys into playing with the other little girl, and then the older girl had to be a part of the play. Instead of controlling the situation, she now sought Marley's approval. To my elation, Marley didn't snub her overtures, she just assigned the girl a place in the play they were acting out and they all played well together. My daughter has a sliver of her great-grandfather's kind heart and peacemaking attitude.
Seeing my daughter go through emotions that I cannot prevent from happening kills me inside. By creating a child, I have created the one thing capable of bringing me more joy and sorrow than any other thing imagineable. God grant me the wisdom to mold her into the type of person she has the potential to become!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
She does all of these things because she loves me. Why? I'll never understand.
So, today, To honor those who are not comfortable in love, I'll let a little known song by the Argentina singer, Andres Calamaro, share how I feel. If you don't speak Spanish, maybe this or this will help.
This one's for you Tim!
yo tengo cuatro claveles
uno por cada motivo
el encuentro, tu mirada
mi secreto, nuestro olvido
estoy jugando con fuego
y en la yema de los dedos
tengo el tacto de los días
tengo el tacto de las noches
tengo el tacto de los dos
por haber querido tanto
debería estar prohibido
y no haber amado
tírame un bes
oque sigo preso
de nuestro encierro
jugar con fuego
si me quedé sin aliento
y no pude dar contigo
va a venir la noche negra
para quedarse conmigo
porque jugando con fuego
puede ser que te lastime
puede ser que te lastime
puede ser que sufra un poco
y nos queremos los dos
es inmoral sentirme mal
por haber querido tanto
debería ser prohibido
y no haber amado
tirame un hueso, mmmm
que sigo preso
de nuestro encierro
jugar con fuego
estás jugando con fuego
por un tanto así
y muy juntitos los dos
para vos, reina
* I also love her because she has big boobs.
Monday, February 13, 2006
I could tolerate the smell honestly. What bothered me was the disgusting graffiti written on the bathroom stall walls. Tulane had an outreach program teaching urban youths classes here in my building at night. They put gang tags all over the damned place. Frat boys wrote "so and so" is gay messages all over the walls. Poorly executed suggestive limericks, stupid jokes, references to misogyny, pedophilia, bestiality, fellatio, cunnilingus, group sex, rape, incest, and whatever else you want to throw in covered the walls. About once a month, someone would come in and paint the wall, displaying a fresh canvas on which to pen new filth. I hated that someone had written "I'm filming you right now" right above all the urinals. Even though it was a lie, that ever present fear of the gaze of the Other caused me to have bashful bladder syndrome on occasion. With the flood, the walls have been replaced with surfaces that no longer carry graffiti. The bathroom is clean and modern and free from concupiscence.
Do women's bathrooms have the same "For a good time call......" messages? There are always those "I will be here at 8PM on Monday nights for hot sex" messages. As a man, I often wondered why men would be advertising to other men....but then when I got older I realized that these weren't meant for women to see. Men's bathrooms bring out the worst in people.
I've seen graffiti in every country I've ever been in. Bathroom graffiti that is. In Costa Rica it was more of them singing the praises of their enormous members. In England it was jokes about sex. The one place that shocked me though was Alabama.
Since we have to drive between Atlanta and New Orleans for holidays and hurricanes, we always pass through Alabama. We also wind up stopping to use the bathroom at some point, and therefore we get to visit gas stations and rest stops all along the way. What shocks me about Alabama is this: Alabama is a very religious place. And while there is no decrease in the amount of graffiti covering the walls, in rural Alabama my experience has been that the bathroom graffiti consists not of sex jokes and innuendos, but of praises about and to Jesus Christ. Instead of thinking purient thoughts in the John, people are thinking about the Man who walked with John. Now I'm not commenting about lavatorial proselyting, but I think it's interesting to see a place where contact with one's own genitalia inspires thoughts of divinity.*
I guess the Song of Solomon was written in the bathroom.
*This doesn't happen to me. I'm a mere mortal.
If you'll notice what all of these animals and I have in common:
Fat insulates because its high water content slowly gives off heat as the fires of metabolism burn inside every single cell in my body. I will sweat in freezing cold weather. I get tired of telling people that I'm not cold. I'll wear pants for funerals, weddings, and God. Otherwise, it takes a blizzard to get me in pants. Shorts are infinitely more comfortable to a big person because it helps keep the air flowing to all those places where the sun don't shine that yall skinny folks don't ever consider because you don't have them. I can hide cans of coke in parts of my body, and I'm not talking orifices. Those who knew me in middle school may remember how adept I was at smuggling candy into E.T. Booth on special days (field trips, field days, sporting events). No one ever dared frisk under my belly. Shorts keep the air moving and thus me more comfortable. Sometimes my ears get cold, or the edges of my wrists, but mostly I'm warm. I could've never hidden from the Predator in that Scwarzenneggar movie because I glow blood red on infrared monitors. Mickelle says that my Indian-name wouldn't be something cool like Wind In His Hair or Smiles a Lot, but would be "Fire butt" because laying next to me in bed is like having an electric blanket turned on.
So when you see me in shorts and a guayabera when it's cold outside and you have on a scarf, a coat, mittens, and a smug look of superiority, know this: I am warm if not warmer than you are and I am comfortable.
As I write this I am sweating just sitting here. The fires of industry indeed. I lost 4 lbs. last week.
Friday, February 10, 2006
I mean come on, what editor approved this?
This headline could cause hundreds of risque comments. The just-started-puberty-13-year-old-boy in me would snicker at every one of them too. Hope he is careful and doesn't file his briefs.
I've already thought of about 20 one liners that I could've posted here, but I'll restrain myself for propriety's sake.
They were funny too.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
My favorite krewes:
I am especially happy to learn that they have donated $50,000 to the city to help defray the police overtime costs. With the increasing violent crime rates rising, the dregs of society are making their way back, and the more police we have out there the better. Not that it isn't safe, but I want to not have to worry at all.
Mardi Gras parades start next weekend. Time to get the ladder out, give it a fresh coat of paint, make Marley a costume and get ready for the fun. Those of you who know me and aren't coming to take advantage of a free place to stay during Mardi Gras, during our likely last Mardi Gras here are missing out.
Costa Rica has had three really really corrupt and shitty presidents in a row, from both parties. Rafael Angel Calderon and Miguel Angel Rodriduez [I call them angeles caidos] were both incarcerated (briefly) for their crimes are and both under house arrest awaiting trial; Jose Maria Figueres fled to Switzerland to avoid answering why Alcatel gave him close to a million dollars after he left office.
Last week the Ticos may have elected former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Oscar Arias, as their president (the election is in recount). Two years ago Arias led a movement to repeal part of the Constitution that barred people from serving as president for more than one term. Time will tell if Arias has let my beloved adopted countrymen salir de Guatemala a Guatepeor. I hope and pray that Costa becomes La suiza centroamericana que tanto quieren ser. Lo merecen.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary:
PREDESTINATION, n. The doctrine that all things occur according to programme. This doctrine should not be confused with that of foreordination, which means that all things are programmed, but does not affirm their occurrence, that being only an implication from other doctrines by which this is entailed. The difference is great enough to have deluged Christendom with ink, to say nothing of the gore. With the distinction of the two doctrines kept well in mind, and a reverent belief in both, one may hope to escape perdition, if spared.
Tongue-in-cheek of course. Thanks to Tara Avena for sending me this image. Also congrats to Tara and Juan Carlos on the pending birth of their third tricycle motor. I hope President Hinckley's colon doesn't give him any more crap.
The policy is unclear and provides for abuse, subjective enforcement, and personal vendetta against rude customers. This woman has sued Southwest over selective enforcement of their policy:
I take up about a seat and a little (1/8th) of the next. I always get an aisle seat. I always raise the aisle armrest. People bump into me and the stewards bang the drink cart into me, but that way I don't bother the person next to me. I do not want my size to make someone else uncomfortable. I do everything I can to avoid annoying anyone.
Petty people that bitch about sitting next to someone overweight should realize that everyone annoys people in some way. In my experience no one has ever had the guts to call me fat, fatty, or fatass to my face as an adult unless they were in a moving car or far enough away from me that they wouldn't have to hear my response. Sitting next to a drunk is far more odious than sitting next to a big person. Sitting next to a crying baby is hellish. Flying is never pleasant for anyone.
I refuse to fly Southwest because of this policy. If they wanted to charge more for a slightly wider seat and require fat people to pay for it, that would be one thing. No one takes up two full seats. I would also agree to be charged by my weight. I think that is just, but being asked in front of a plane full of people to pay for a second seat when the plane isn't even full is just plain uncouth.
Pathetic attack: Perhaps the parents of the boy they killed by running off the runway will charge them for taking up two runways.
That isn't the first time they've overshot the mark:
When pressed to explain his chocolate city statement, Nagin offered a more racially inclusive sounding explanation of his "chocolate city" metaphor, saying "How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk and it becomes a delicious drink. That's the chocolate I'm talking about." This may refer to chocolate milk or hot chocolate. In this metaphorical recipe, Nagin implies the African-American people are reprepresented by cocoa solids, and the milk represents caucasian people. Ironically, chocolate milk consists of less than 20% cocoa solids and cocoa liquor in a majority milk-based (white) beverage. Chocolate milk also contains carrageenan, sugar and vanilla; although vanilla is a common pejorative term for suburban caucasian culture, it is unclear what is demographically suggested by sugar and suspensors."
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
One Gaza Capitalist Profits from Rancor
If the flags had been made in Denmark that would've been such sweet irony--people buying products from a country they are boycotting so they can protest that country. Alas, all consumer goods are made in the Orient these days. It seems that this man makes a living off of hate. He stocks Israeli flags for burning. That's a low form of capitalism, it reminds me of that guy at Wild Man's Civil War Surplus store in old town Kennesaw, Geogia. If you ever want to see a true hatemonger face-to-face go in his shop. He always carries two pearl handled pistols on his belt too. He had so much KKK paraphernalia in that place that it creeped me out. He sells legitimate stuff too, but even that little percentage of hate taints the whole store. There is a market for that kind of thing, but it's filthy lucre--like preaching for money.
In other Denmark-catching-hell news, Iran has followed America's inane renaming of frenchfries as freedom fries by calling danishes "muhammed pastries":Click link
Here we see the Iranians reacting illogically by starting a contest to seek drawings that satirize the Holocaust. http://english.pravda.ru/world/asia/07-02-2006/75535-holocaust-0
So if I can construct a comparable situation, a Buddhist and a Zoroastrian are having a conversation when the Zoroastrian shows the Buddhist a caricature of the Buddha with oh let's say his belly covered in images of Hollywood starlets that claim to be buddhist. The Buddhist takes offense and sponsors a contest drawing caricatures of those bastards Shiva, Vishnu, and Ganesh. If those are hindu gods, what's the point? Same thing with Iran. Denmark is a mostly Christian nation, why bring Israel into the fray. Can you imagine the shitstorm is an Israeli paper had published these.......?
It's really too bad that Muslim moms don't hold as much power over their children as Southern moms do. If we were all Southern, our moms would've whopped us all and put us to bed without dinner for this spectacle.
Some ideas I've had.....
Has Copenhagen smokeless tobacco suffered a sales hit because of this controversy?
Same thing for Great Dane breeders...
Albert Brooks' Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World probably doesn't have a segment about satires or parodies.
Now is not the time to begin production on a film version of The Satanic Verses, my favorite book in English (no lie).
Some honest questions I have......
How would Islam react to a muslim made movie about Mohammed?
Is taking a Muslim's photo wrong because they are being reproduced?
What about mirrors? People are reflected in mirrors, reproduced even if only temporarily. Is the prohibition against graven images? Engraved images?
Photographs, mirrors, and copulation all reproduce man. Do children draw one further away from the divine?
Why are countless images a la cult-of-personality of the Ayatollah permitted if images are verbotten?
I AM NOT being sarcastic in the above questions.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Anyone who doesn't see the fact of evolution in the mixing of parents in their children, or the breeding of plants and animals is just clueless about how life works. Evolution and religion can go hand in hand. Agreeing with evolution isn't denying the Christ or the Story of the Creation.
Now for those that know me, it smacks of hypocrisy for me to talk about loving silence, because I love to talk. I will grudgingly admit that I like to be the center of most conversations and I want to tell my stories and adventures--embellished with just the right amount of Williams hyperbole--to anyone who will at least feign interest. This blog sort of scratches that itch when I don't have actual face-to-face conversations to hold. However, I do like quiet.
Mickelle and I have been married long about 8 years now and we can go large stretches without having to say anything to one another. We are comfortable just being around each other. Gone is the need to constantly impress each other. I used to love this band called 311, and while I'm no longer the angry young man who attended their concerts and chanted along with every song, there are some lyrics that I still appreciate. One is from the song "8:16 AM" that reads, "There's nothing like the comfort of a silence that's comfortable/not talkin' small/just skip the bull." Those are true words in my life. A comfortable silence with the one you love is just divine. I'm not saying that a relationship of silence is my goal, on the contrary, communication isn't always necessary when two people love each other, because the gap can be bridged through non-verbal communication, or the peace that comes from knowing that someone can love you enough to tolerate all your bullshit, Mac.
As a young missionary in Costa Rica I came to realize just how loud and obnoxious Americans can be. We talk loud, demand things, and expect that money can overcome our cultural insensitivities. When you live outside of our culture for awhile, you can spot members of your own culture before they ever open their mouths. Canadians though of similar stock and culture are just different enough that they don't stand out like the prototypical rude American. Also you can spot Canadians cause they all sew flags on their backpacks and wear black socks with shorts, but I digress. My countrymen are not the best behaved people when abroad, which makes me sad. I used to not be able to contemplate how anyone could hate the Land of the Free. It is far too easy now to not like Americans. And it's because we're so damned loud.
Everywhere you go people talk loud. For some reason cellphones cause people to SCREAM into the receivers so they can be heard. Speaking in a normal voice is sufficient to be heard on a cell phone, but nevertheless, people still yell into their phones. I have made it a habit to say hello back when someone in a restaurant starts talking on their phone in a loud voice. I just assume that they are talking to me and answer back, in that same loud voice, the questions that they ask the person in the phone. Mickelle hates it when I do that, but I try and make my point. This point is futile though because cell phones are hear to stay and America has lost its manners. Emily Post is rolling over in her grave.
In my classes at Tulane, ringing cell phones are an unwanted disruption. I am supposed to take off points for how many times someone's phone rings in class, but this is annoying and puts the burden of punishment on me. Instead I rely on that old pedagogical mainstay, public shame, to persuade my students not to let their phones ring in class. I cannot berate them personally, as I would be fired, and that wouldn't be the right thing to do, because we can all forget and make mistakes. What I do is my own approach. My students agree that if their cell phone rings in my class, I get to answer it. If they don't let me answer it, they have to leave class and count it as an absence. After the first couple of times of me answering phones calls from mom's or insurance adjusters or embarrased boyfriends, my students seem to always remember to turn them off. It's comic relief for the class, and I get to make my point.
I do love silence though. Our culture is geared towards noise. When I was an undergrad at BYU, I took a world history class and our professor had us read In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki about the differences between Western/Occidental culture and Japanese culture. It was written during the rise of Japanese nationalism before the Second World War and though at times it is flawed by the rhetoric it uses to note the differences, several of its arguments are still valid and interesting. Why do Westerners love light and white so much? Where is the mystery in shadow and glint in Western architecture? The Japanese (historically) extend the eaves of their houses to keep out the light. We like bright airy (and more expensive to heat and cool) homes. They prefer earthy settings for their toilets. We must have a gleaming white porcelain bowl in which to defecate. The author notes that Westerners try to cover up the natural processes of the body, while the Japanese embrace nature, both the beautiful side and the not-so-pleasant, arguing that the nature of pleasant is learned behavior and not a natural revulsion to "filth". I disagree in certain cases. My friend David Van Dam's house got four feet of water during the Katrina flood. He had enough food stored in his house to feed his family of 7 for a year. That food sat in flood waters for seven weeks, festering and rotting (it was a good time to be a mold spore!). There was a bucket of beans that was so repulsive that anyone who touched it immediately vomited in an involuntary reflex. I will never forget the arc of vomit that sprayed in a fountain out of Tim's mouth-like when you spin a garden hose around in a circle. I too vomited when I got near that bucket. To a lesser extent, there were diapers of Marley's that made me gag. And I mean GAG. While some repulsions are cultural and learned, others are instinctual. I do agree that cultural differences to bodily functions are learned (the varied cultural treatment of menstruating women and taboos being key examples).
Cultural reactions to noise are certainly learned. Ever notice how some families are just really loud? I remember my first week or two in Limon, Costa Rica, I was convinced that I was going to die. Everywhere I went there were these enormous gentlemen (from working in banana operations) speaking a broken English called make-I-tell-you-it in the streets. Their dialect uses the f-word as we might use "very" or "mess around". It is not a swear word. People use it with their children, in church, etc. Their personal space is much smaller than ours here in this country. The speak to each other about 6-10 inches apart and they speak in a MUCH louder voice than we do--to us it appears that they are screaming. So you've got streets filled with these massively strong men standing right in each others' faces, screaming and saying the f-word two to three times per sentence, every sentence. I thought I was going to die in a gunfight every day for about 2 weeks. Then I realized that I wasn't in my culture. They were all peaceful people, and at least in my part of Limon, I can't remember seeing any violence--ever. That was not the case in other parts of Limon though, as drugs and the turf wars over drugs prompted people into violence.
So, cultural differences control how loud we are....but in our own culture how do we respond to people who are being too loud? I wish more restaurants had no cell phone policies. Cell phones are a crucial part of people talking loud. Loud groups of people also annoy. There was a restaurant in Provo, Utah called Osaka that I loved to go into to study. It wasn't usually very busy after the lunch rush, and I could go in there and eat lunch and then study in relative quiet for hours. They painted the ceiling tiles black, the windows were blocked by blinds and shades in front of them. The interior lighting was all indirect and shaded by paper. The restaurant was full of glints and sufficient light to read by, but still cozy and inviting. Unlike the artificial coziness of italian restaurants like Romano's Macaroni Grill. I like that restaurant, but it's just too damned noisy in there. When you have to yell for your dinner guests to hear you, the noise is too loud. Osaka was great. The only sounds were the bubbling of the oxygenator on the fish tank and pleasing sloshing sound of the water; the shuffling of feet as the kimono-clad owner/waitress would refill my Coke over and over. It was my own private place. The BYU Harold B. Lee library has the army of suits that patrols the library and fines you for eating or drinking in there. It's noisy in its silence...the air makes noise, people rustle papers, people walk, cough, etc. It is crowded in spite of its immensity. I love it and hate it. I hated studying there. Osaka was my own private library. I had the afternoon to myself. The owner loved me. She looked for to my coming and was actually sad when I didn't come in a week or two sometimes.
My privacy was often invaded by NuSkin and Novell lunch bunches. I realize that I had to share the business with others, and most of the time other people understood that the restaurant was a tranquil place that demanded hushed tones and volumes. Not whispering, but a quiet reverence like people use in temples. There were times when most of the tables would be occupied, yet you could not overhear the conversations of others--even the table right next to you. I loved that. We could all share in the peace. And then someone would come in that violated the unwritten rules of the place. They got phone calls and talked in bombastic tones about business deals, sexual conquests, their wives and kids, what they did that weekend. It didn't matter the conversation topic, cada quien con su cosa, it was the volume and obliviousness to the peace they had shattered. Times like those I hated noise. I praise the quiet of those long lost afternoons when my only cares were Cherry Coke and Family Science 210.
As I write this I am listening to my song-shuffled Ipod and Hootie and the Blowfish are singing "Old Man & Me" in my ears so loud I can hear nothing but the music.
Friday, February 03, 2006
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy condemned the protests in a television interview.
"I am totally shocked and find it unacceptable that -- because there have been caricatures in the West -- extremists can burn flags or take fundamentalist or extremist positions which would prove the cartoonists right," he said.
Freedom of Speech = Freedom of/from Religion
Freedom of speech > Respect for Religion
Part of freedom of religion is the right to say that religion is stupid, god is dead, Muhammad was the illegitimate son of an unlicensed mother, Jesus Christ was a Communist Sado-Masachist Pederast, or Zarathustra sodomized bulls for fun. Those are all blasphemous to someone, but freedom of religion stops when it impinges on the rights of others. For example, human sacrifice is illegal because people don't need to die for religion. that's already been done. What sucks is that the Danish paper wrote the story to illustrate how people were scared to write or draw about Islam because of the bad reactions, and then look what happens
Official languages, multiculturalism, xenophobia, general pissiness, and why America will always speak English
People seem to get all bent out of shape over the government offering documents and exams in languages other than English. It is far too easy to dismiss them as hatemongers or xenophobes, though in some cases hatred of the Other is most likely the reason for trying to marginalize the already marginalized. Some claim that the expense of publishing official documents in multiple languages is a reason for making English the official language of the United States, but that seems hollow to me. The expense isn't that great because they don't pay Spanish teachers or translators that much. That's like saying that school teachers' salaries are expensive.
Interestingly, the United States does not have an official language. Several states (not yet a majority) have adopted an official language:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Of those states, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming were part of Mexico until 1848. Those people living in those states went from being Mexican citizens to US citizens (well all those non-Indian people, they wouldn't get full citizenship until Lincoln was president). Native born United States citizens were born into 5th generation United States citizen families in New Mexico as late as the 1960s. California used to belong to Mexico and Spain too. Florida was Spanish. Alaska was Russian. The Virgin Islands were Dutch. Philadelphia was Swedish. New York was Dutch.
Some states are bilingual: Louisiana = English and French (Bienvenue en Louisianne) even though Louisiana belonged to Spain for near 60 years.
New Mexico = English and Spanish
Hawaii = Hawaiian and English
Guam = Chamorro and English
Samoa = Samoan and English
Puerto Rico = Spanish and English.
In the cases of Samoa and Puerto Rico and Guam, those citizens speak another language as their native tongue. English is the alien tongue to them.
The Northern Mariana Islands are officially trilingual: English, Chamorro, and Carolinian.
Our country also contains more than 175 Native-American languages such as Navajo, Cherokee, and others that pre-date the European arrival to these shores. As Indian tribes are considered sovereign nations by the courts under a federal system, they can create their own official languages. The Navajo nation spans the Four Corners region of the West and Navajo is widely taught in schools.
Pennsylvania used to have so many German immigrants that German was the co-official language until the 1950s.
Hell, debate still goes on about whether AAVE (African American Vernacular English) or Ebonics, is another dialect or not or just "poorly spoken English".
If we look at the grand scheme of things all of this worry that English will be replaced is misguided and wasted energy. Our nation has experienced wave after wave of immigrants from around the world: English, German, Irish, Dutch, Italian, African, Chinese, Polish, Russian, and even Basque. While these waves of immigrants that were non-English speakers at first perturbed the native Americans--a point illustrated in the nationalist rhetoric of the butcher in Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York: Informal History of the Underworld--their children soon learned to cope in the margin between both cultures. The children of immigrants usually speak both languages fluently. The grandchildren of immigrants sometimes do. The great-grandchildren usually lose their original familial language. Look at the last names of Americans in any country in the Americas and you will find names that are foreign to the dominant culture. The last names of Chile and Argentina are names like Stuchlik, Bocca, Laechner, Moretti. The first president of Chile was named Bernardo O'Higgins. Immigrants are assimilated into the mainstream culture. At least that has always been the case in previous years.
With the rise of multi-culturalism a newfound respect for other cultures has been nurtured by freethinking members of society. While the celebration of diversity continues in all nooks and crannies of modern life, there is some resistance. Immigrant populations that formerly sought to become American as fast as possible have now been given reason to resist this. Many people from the mainstream culture feel that their culture isn't given as much respect as the minority culture and this leads to hard feelings. In my experience diversity is a good thing, but can be a hard thing to live. Cultures do things different ways. I am Southern and when I hear a kid call the bishop of my church by his first name, it makes me cringe. My nephew Mason talks to his mom in such as way that if he had done that in my parents' house as their child he would now be interred in the rich red clay of North Georgia. His culture isn't my culture. My new neighbors on the street behind me speak Spanish. I know this because I can hear them yelling at each other at night. They share their music with the entire neighborhood on the weekends and hold huge parties. My WASPy neighbors do not like this. It isn't their culture. Tolerance is easier to preach when it's NIMBY (not in my back yard). I have lived in another country and I find that diversity and cultural tolerance is a good thing. There is more than one way to do things, see the world. etc. What bothers me is when people expect me to respect their culture and then frown on mine. This isn't a common occurence, but if I were more petty than I already am, I could seek to work against diversity. Like the proEnglish movement that prompted this lawsuit in Alabama:
The judge in this case used a clever end-run around the wording of the law to allow for the drivers license test to be done in other languages. Maybe more common-sense application of the law like this will show people how dumb such resolutions are. English has more cultural imperialism than any other language in the world. It doesn't need PACs.
English has more words than any other written language because we are great at appropriating them from other cultures. We can do the same thing ethnically in this country. I am a Welsh-Scotch-Irish-English American, but I am an American plain and simple. If my great grandchildren speak Spanish as their native language and pronounce their last name as "Gweeleeahns", asi sea.
Now I'm a 32 year old man who does know it all. Or at least I've been described as a know-it-all.
....a little 3rd person narrative about why I tithed my life to the Lord at 19.
Elder John McLarty Williams III did not do well in his initial two months in the MTC. He loathed being trapped in the MTC surrounded by all these tall cocky Utahrded missionaries. He was a recent convert to the church and was full of fire and testimony. He felt alone among all of these lifelong members that knew so much more about the Gospel than he did. Luckily a kind soul named Elder Ryan Stout was there to council him about how to act. He didn't receive the message well at first, but about a year later he understood better. His time in Provo wasn't fun. He hated the cold and a record snowfall blizzard had happened the week before he got there. Over four feet of snow had fallen. He had never imagined such cold. He lived for the day that he would leave that Mormon Narnia for the tropcial climes of Costa Rica. He tarried there because he knew that it was transcendent and temporary; he stayed because he wanted to tell the world about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He stayed because he had been given a priesthood oath that if he served a mission before college that his mother would get baptized sometime in his mortal life. He stayed because he loved his mom and the Lord.
Laura Ellen Buckner Williams was baptized in June of 1993 while Elder Williams was serving in El Roble del Tejar de Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Te doy la bienvenida y te pongo en mi lista de links.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
It's stupid petty shit like this that makes reactionary people think that most Muslims are terrorists. It almost seems like Islam is going through the same thing that Christianity did about 1400 years after its creation: go batshit crazy, call everyone blasphemers, infidels, and heretics, kill people, terrorize other faiths, expel Jews, kill Jews, blame Jews for everything, carry out Holy Wars, be intolerant of anyone not of your faith and seek to vilify them at every turn. That pretty much describes Christianity in 1400 AD. Islam is about in its 1400th year. Maybe it's just a natural cycle. Christianity did have a Reformation around that time. Maybe Islam will get its act together. Peace be upon them if they'll بلغت
RELIGION ONLY WORKS IF YOU WORRY MORE ABOUT YOURSELF (MORALLY) THAN SOMEONE ELSE. I.E. THE BEAM IN YOUR OWN EYE VERSUS THE MOTE IN YOUR BROTHER'S. GET YOUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER BEFORE YOU STONE SOMEONE ELSE.
This is only going to get worse. Freedom of Speech is a God Given right. He gave us our agency to choose to blaspheme or not. I'll let him decide what angers him and let him punish whom he may. I am not offended if someone says "SWEAR WORD JESUS" because they're not insulting me. I don't like it. I would respectfully ask them not to do that, but I wouldn't go into a frenzy over some stupid drawings.
المسيحيّة و الإسلام هما إخوة
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
This can happen in real life:
"The offer was very naive and culturally insulting given the meaning of dogs in our culture," he said. "We understand where she was coming from, and we appreciate, but it is culturally unacceptable."
Being called a dog is one of the worst insults in Africa where people generally do not keep dogs as pets. The government says four million people are facing hunger in Kenya due to severe drought. Aid agencies say dozens of people and thousands of livestock have died in recent months. "
It can't be culturally insulting if the woman has no idea that dogs are so despised in Kenya. It's only an insult if that is her intention. A great man once said, "He who takes offense when none is intended is an idiot."
I don't know how I feel about this. On the one hand, everyone has their dignity and asking someone to eat pig slop in our culture would be repugnant. HOWEVER, if you're starving, if four million people are at least malnourished and the drought showing no signs of slacking, what then? I can fathom being hungry enough to eat anything. Hell, I could scarf down even processed tuna if I were hungry enough.* Cat food and tuna can't be that different. This lady makes dog biscuits, which I could fathom trying if I had better teeth. I feel this is government playing political games at the expense of their populace. If your culture despises dogs, then don't call it dog food. She was willing to do that. It's not like there is any difference. Hummingbird feed is also known as Kool-Aid. Cow feed is corn. Dog food is corn and protein. I believe that most pet food has to be fit for human consumption anyway. I've heard anecdotal stories of non-english speakers buying tuna with cat mascots on the labels until they understood that 9 Lives was cat food.
I do not understand the cultural taboo surrounding dogs in Africa. Dogs are revered in my culture. I know that I personally hate dogs, but I would be willing to eat "dog food" if I were starving. I'd eat anything if I were hungry enough. In Costa Rica there were times when I was starving. I ate anything...a true omnivore. I absolutely hated iguana eggs, but if I were hungry enough, you betcha....those sulfur bombs would become part of me.
The crappy part of all this is that this is the first story I've heard about a famine in Africa, and it wasn't even from a US news source. Maybe african famina fatigue has set in the way Katrina fatigue has.
*An interesting thought, me starving to death. A pound of fat= roughly 2,500 calories. A person of my size needs about 3,500 calories a day to maintain their body weight. If you tied me to a tree and fed me vitamins, minerals, and fluids I could live off (of) fat alone for 142 days before I got down to my ideal body weight. A gradual tapering off of weight loss would occur though, and my body would cannibalize muscle mass as well. But if you put me on a starvation diet of 1000 calories a day, I could go 200 days and still be in peak health. 500,000 calories stored in my body = 2,777 Coca-Colas that I shouldn't have drunk. I was freaking stupid in my 20s.
A queer, almost perverse sense of pride fills me as I look upon the dross of my moment of anger.