Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Call to Boycott ABC Family

Here's an email I just sent to ABC Family. If you agree with me, please sign a comment declaring your participation in the boycott. I won't watch until they apologize and correct their commercials and programming to make it so I feel like I can trust the channel to not show something inappropriate to my kids.

Dear ABC Family,

So, I’m watching Cars with my son and daughter the other night on your network and along comes an ad for Victoria’s Secret. The women in the ad are very attractive and the lingerie carefully selected for them accentuates all their positives; the commercial’s producers are to be commended for their mastery of the attention-grabbing visuals of the erotic medium.

I didn’t like the question my daughter asked me though, “Dad, why are those women dressed like that?” That’s not the kind of question I’d like to answer, yet, to my six-year-old daughter. I was mildly miffed that the sexy outfits were on display on a “Family” channel during a “Christmas” movie (what Cars has to do with Christmas, other than toy sales for Disney, you’ll have to explain to me), but I was willing to let it go since it wasn’t over-the-top sexual.

What got me upset enough to write this letter was the commercial for Arby’s that aired shortly thereafter. During a family movie, on a family channel, during a family hour, you showed a man reclining on a bed surrounded by candles talking to his wife in the bathroom. Sexy music plays when she exits the bathroom in an Arby’s outfit, holding a tray of food, and the phallic Arby’s hat logo suddenly appears over his head, stiffens, and makes a boing noise as if his erection engorged so quickly as to be audible. What the ****, people!?

How dare you show this on a family channel!

It’s bad enough that you show Greek and that other show about an unwed teenage pregnant girl with “Viewer Discretion Advised” before each one on a damned family channel, but you have the gall to call it “A New Kind of Family.” Keep your “new kind of family” away from mine. Might I suggest you ask what audience you are after and change your channel’s name to fit that.

You are NOT a family channel. You are evil, because you call evil good.


Dr. Mac Williams



The commercial in question:


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twasn't all bad

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/12/23/cookie.factory.reopens/index.html

This makes me more prone to purchase Lance products over Keebler. The debit card gift was a classy thing to do.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

My votes:

Dale Murphy (YES):
I am completely biased because I consider Dale Murphy to be my all-time hero. His arm was one of the best in either league. Were it not for Mike Schmidt he could have been THE star of the National League at the time. As I said before, only he and Cal Ripken hit 20 or more homers every year from 1982-1990. He hit 40 homers once and 30 several times. He did make the 30-30 club back when it had few members (1983). He wound up with 398 homers. I'm not sure, but I think he is the all-time leader in home runs lost to rain-outs. That might be wrong, but I think I remember him passing Bobby Bonds for first place. He won back to back MVP's. He played in 740 consecutive games, the 12th longest streak ever. He was an All-Star in 1980, 82-87 and the top vote getter in 1985; he started five times. He
hit .302 in 1983 when that was good enough for 6th place in the league. We cannot judge him by today's offense benchmarks. Imagine if someone hit .302 now and was 6th in the league! He led the National League in HR 1984-85, in RBI 82-83, runs in 1985, and OPS in 1983. He won five straight gold gloves from 1982-86 and four straight silver slugger awards from 1982-86. His number (#3) has been retired by the Atlanta Braves.But he shouldn't be measured solely for his on-field accomplishments. Let's not forget the class and honor that he brought to the game. He was a tireless supporter of the Huntington Disease Foundation, the 65 Roses Club, MDA, Make-A-Wish, The March of Dimes and many many others. He won the Lou Gehrig Award in 1985 and the Roberto Clemente Award in 1988. He was never ejected from a baseball game. He thanked reporters for interviewing him. In Philadelphia once, a stadium security guard didn't recognize him and wouldn't let him into the stadium. He just laughed it off. I can only imagine what Barry Bonds might have done in that situation. Murphy didn't have an "All suites" clause in his contract, nor did he have his team guarantee him charter jet flights home to his ranch during the season like Kevin Brown. I mean, he even had kind words to say about people like John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, and even Ozzie Virgil. I think we should point out that when Murphy finished 4th in homers in 1986 that he only had 29 homers. In 1987 he hit 44, but Andre Dawson had 49, so Murphy's awesome power that year was overshadowed in the NL, and by McGwire’s 49 and Jorge Bell’s 47. Homers were much harder to come by in that day and age. No one hit 50 from 1977 (George Foster) until 1990 (Cecil Fielder). If Murphy had connected twice more in his career, I think that he might've gotten into the Hall.Murphy was universally respected by all players (to be redundant). Imagine this scene: It's 1991, Braves vs. Phillies. Otis Nixon gets beaned by the Phillies pitcher next time up after hitting a homer. The bottom half of the inning, Tom Glavine has to respond and hit the first Phillies batter. Only it's Dale Murphy. He can't do it; no way. So he does the meanest thing he can bring himself to do; he throws Murph four high and inside fastballs to brush him back and put him on. Murphy got the base, and Glavine got the boot by the ump. Glavine said the ump later told him, "I only let you throw four, because that was Murphy and because I knew you wouldn't." It was not merely because they had been teammates, but because Murphy was so respected that he was off limits (by the umpires) for stunts like that. Glavine is a class act too, he's in the Hall for sure, and Murphy will make it somehow, someday, someway.If anyone deserves to get in, without the numbers we're used to seeing, he does, for being the nicest, most polite gentleman to ever grace the field.Murph's stats: http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/murphda05.shtml

Rickey Henderson (YES):
I predict that Henderson will get the highest voting percentage ever. He is the all-time steals and run leader, and when he retired he held the record for walks. He was always good, and always a game breaker. No need for a long defense of this one. I just want to hear from the people who think he doesn’t belong, why they think he doesn’t deserve it.

[From wikipedia] On May 18, 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Oakland general manager Billy Beane was considering adding Henderson to the roster for one game in September, provided it did not "infringe on the integrity of the roster or of the season," so that Henderson could retire as an Oakland A's player. A month later, Henderson appeared to reject the overture, saying, "One day? I don't want one day. I want to play again, man. I don't want nobody's spot... I just want to see if I deserve to be out there. If I don't, just get rid of me, release me. And if I belong, you don't have to pay me but the minimum — and I'll donate every penny of that to some charity. So, how's that hurtin' anybody?... Don't say goodbye for me... When I want that one day they want to give me so bad, I'll let you know."

I miss Rickey.

Bert Blyleven (NO):
While many people clearly favor letting him in, and he was impressive on the Twins, I just don’t see it.

David Cone (NO):
Big game pitcher though he was, he never put it together enough for me to deserve Cooperstown. No awards, not even 200 wins; sure, he had lots of Championships, but those weren’t due to the “David Cone Show.”

Andre Dawson (YES):
I think Murphy, Dawson, and Rice were all part of an era that suffers from the effects of the homerun surge that followed. Dawson terrified pitchers, was one of the best fielders around, and could absolutely change the game with his bat. He has 400 homeruns and 300 stolen bases…there’s only two others who have ever done that: Bonds and Mays.

Mark Grace (NO):
Solid for a long time, but never came up big in the clutch (save the 2001 WS). 2,500 hits doesn’t quite make it. If he had gotten to 3,000, yes. But he didn’t, and 500 short is very short.

Tommy John (NO):
He pitched a long time….but his losses are really high. Sure he almost had 300 wins, and his WL totals are similar to Nolan Ryan’s, but Ryan had other stats that overwhelmed opponents, whereas John just pitched a really really long time.

Don Mattingly (YES):
If you compare Mattingly’s stats with HOFer Kirby Puckett, you’ll see there’s not much difference. And Mattingly had MVP clout.
Career Hitting
[7]
G AB H 2 B 3B HR R RBI SB BB SO AVG OBP SLG OPS
1,785 7,003 2,153 442 20 222 1,007 1,099 14 588 444 .307 .358 .471 .82
Vs. Puckett 1783 7244 2304 414 57 207 1071 1085 134 450 965 .318 .360 .477 124

Mark McGwire (Undecided):
I want to see what happens with the other guys like Sosa, Palmeiro, and Bonds, before I vote for or against McGwire.

Jack Morris (YES):
He started three times in the 1991 series, including the 10-inning masterpiece in Game 7. He went on to win again with the Jays. He was solid at the end of his career and was a big game pitcher. He deserves the Hall.

Tim Raines (NO):
As good as he was, he falls into my Strawberry, Gooden, Davis category. His off-the-field failures soured me on him….and he wasn’t feared.

Jim Rice (YES):
Even though he was not very nice when I met him, if I vote for Murphy, I have to vote for Rice. An article supporting him can be found here:
http://proxy.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=2268868

Lee Smith (NO):
Never a contender, crappy ERA for a “dominant” reliever, and most of his “saves” were one-inning deals. I never liked him and his lack of votes for awards show I wasn’t alone.

Alan Trammell (NO):
Middling consistency doesn’t a Hall of Famer make.

Dave Parker (NO, but I feel bad about it):
He’s got great stats, and had he used less coke, he might already be in….he was good, but I can’t elect him to the Hall of Fame on what-could’ve-beens.


People I don’t think even deserve to be on the ballot:

Harold Baines, good player but not HOF material
Jay Bell, yeah right
Ron Gant, I still think that motorcycle accident ruined him
Jesse Orosco, imposible, no lo merece
Dan Plesac, not even if he were a Brave
Greg Vaughn, I had such high hopes…I smell steroids on him
Mo Vaughn, good for awhile, but no.
Matt Williams, solid, consistent, never awe-inspiring.

From the mind of a six-year-old

"Dad, where did Santa Claus go to college?"

--"I don't know that he did."

"Well, he had to learn how to fly somewhere"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bullshit



Per my wife's request, the Playboy cover image has been hereby hotlinked.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/12/15/playboy.virgin.mary.transcript/index.html





Playboy claims the above image isn't meant to portray the Virgin Mary. Bullshit. "Te adoramos, Maria" means "We adore you Maria."


The model's name might be Maria, but this is clearly meant to sexualize the Virgin; it evokes countless images, paintings, icons, and such of the Holy Mother. The breast she is baring isn't to suckle the Savior, her robe is being opened just like the purchaser hopes to open her "lessened gates."


Shame on you, Playboy....but then again, you lost any sense of shame in the 1950's.

UPDATE:

I will concede to my critic that swearing to defend Jesus's Mom is wrong, but I'm a Christian precisely because I'M NOT PERFECT. Calling someone a "virgin" does not sexualize them, indeed, the virginal state would mean an absence of sex. In my mind the word "virgin" doesn't conjure up images of coitus with the unexperienced. This image is akin to Madonna's "Like a Virgin." The woman, virginlike (ergo, highly desirable to the male viewer) offers the parting of her robe for a sexual experience. She is clearly not a virgin, but takes on that appearance of one for the seductive game.

My outrage here isn't with the image so much as the denial by Playboy that it isn't suggestive of images of the Virgin Mary. Given the overwhelming numbers of women named "Mary, Marie, Maria" or some version thereof in the world, the cover seeks to strike a common chord with every man who's ever lain with a woman named Maria and irreverently joked, "Te adora, mi Maria."

People can insult Christianity all they want, but don't deny it when you get called to task for things done in poor taste. It's the lie that rubs, not so much the image.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Recommendation

If you're a journalist, you should always, always, always, read your headlines aloud to someone else for approval:

http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2008/12/13/news/local/21-meatpacking.txt

Monday, December 08, 2008

Update

So, apparently, you can lose weight too quickly. After losing 20 lbs inside of a month, I have some kind of gall bladder disease. I don't have stones that can be detected on an ultrasound, and my abdominal CT scan showed no tumors, abcesses, or liver flukes, but it still hurts like a mofo whenever I eat eggs or lie on my side.

DIETING SUCKS!

South Beach Diet is suspended until I get this problem fixed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Can't Dance, I Can't Walk

Congratulations!

So, if everything went as it should today, my cousin Robby got married in Paraguay today. If there were no last minute bribes needing to be paid, I welcome my first Hispanic relative into the family.


¡Felicidades primo!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Perspectiva

Llegamos a la casa humilde de una familia de la rama Guácimo a las cuatro de la tarde. El padre, quien trabajaba en el corte de banano desde el alba hasta la tarde, nos enseñó un verdadero tesoro, un estereo nuevo que acababa de comprar.

Era lindísimo, un estereo de moda para ese entonces, con lucitas brillantes en todas partes, dos parlantes enormes, cassette, AM/FM y CD. Él había sudado litros de sudor para poder comprar algo que a mí me cuesta dos días de trabajo y sólo sudo en el trabajo si las otras profesores tienen frío del aire acondicionado y lo apagan. No quiero llamarlo "orgullo" lo que ví aquel día en los ojos de mi hermano (en la fé), pero el sentido de confianza y satisfacción del hombre y de su mujer eran palpables. No tenían discos compactos, pero no les importaba, ahora tuvieron un tocadiscoscompactos; podrían comprarlos ya con más sudor y ahorros. El futuro les era lleno de pensamientos de los lujos que iban a alcanzar. Los vecinos se congregaban en la puertilla de la casita para escuchar.

Pasamos una hora allí mientras nos enseñaban todo lo que tenía que ver con el estereo: los botones, la calidad de los parlantes (incluso el volumen máximo, por supuesto), el casset y hasta nos enseñaron la caja de la máquina. En ese momento ví una calcomonía pegada a la caja y mi compañero de la misión la vió a la vez. Abrió la boca para decirles lo que quería decir la calcomonía, pero lo callé, en inglés, con un "Elder, don't you dare tell him." Como no hablaban inglés, ni la familia ni los vecinos, todo el mundo esperaba que yo les dijera lo que le había dicho a mi compa. El padre, sospechoso, me preguntó, "Elder Williams, qué quiere decir 'Refurbished' (Ray-fur-BEE-shed)." Pasó un microsegundo en que tuve que decidir si iba a decirle la verdad o mentirle. Escogí y le dije, "Hermano, es una palabra especial que quiere decir que es de tan alta calidad que lo inspeccionaron dos veces."

Espero que Dios me perdone el pecadillo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

South Beach Update Week Three

Weight on Monday October 27, 2008 = 425.3 lbs.
Weight on Wednesday November 19, 2008 = 405.3 lbs.

Total loss = 20 lbs.
WLPD= .86 ppd
WLPW= 6.66__
% of body weight = 4.7%

I had to switch to Phase II of the diet. I was getting massive muscle cramps every night from a lack of carbs, and I was getting really damned bored. I'm eating some carbs now and I feel much better, but I still don't feel any better than I did when I started the diet.

Dieting sucks. I hate it. I hate it more than the Dodgers, more than injustice, more than canned tuna; hell, I hate it more than dieting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life on Mars

Not that it's anything new, but ABC's retelling of the BBC series Life on Mars has me hooked. For those unfamiliar with either show, it concerns detective Sam Tyler, who after being struck by a car in 2008, wakes to find himself in 1973. He is the same person, retains all his knowledge of the future, is a detective using modern techniques and procedures in an "old-school" environment, and occasionally sees a little robot toy thing following him.

The show is filmed in a yellow washed-out style that makes it look like old photographs from the era, the music is just awesome, and it's a thinking-man's show. You don't know if he's dead, in hell, purgatory, insane, and so on.

I recommend it, and you can watch all the episodes you've missed online.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Grumpy Advice for Applicants for Foreign Language Tenure-Track Professor Jobs

When you apply for a job as a professor, and your field is in a foreign language, DO NOT have your letters of recommendation sent in languages other than the official language of instruction of the university. A letter in German, Italian, Arabic, Farsi, Rumanian, or Greek isn't going to help you, at all. I'm a professor of Spanish and all my letters were in English. If I were applying to a school in Spain, I'd ask people to write letters in Spanish, or provide certified translations. It seems pretentious, and not everyone on search committees might speak the language. Some colleges make it a regular practice to invite people from outside the Department to sit on search committees. If your recommender cannot write in another language, by all means, pay someone to do a certified confidential translation.

Also, if you've earned a degree from a foreign university, such as a Diplome de etudes profundises, provide a local equivalent. While I know that the degree means "Diploma of deep studies," I don't know how that translates into the American academic system. I could go and look it up, but when I have 80 applications times 20 pages to read, I don't want to have to take the time. Help your committee out.

If it's a teaching college, don't start your letter with, "In my dissertation..." I cannot stress enough the need to tailor your letter to each institution. Know your audience. Look and see what kinds of classes are being and have been offered recently in your field. K N O W your audience.

Be smart; keep it simple. ¡Buena suerte! (trans. "Good luck!")

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A "Sort of" Rastafarian Tribute to Judy Blume

I especially enjoy the part where he stops singing when he walks past authentic rastas. For further reading I recommend:

1. Mario Vargas Llosa, "My Son the Rastafarian"
2. Timothy White, Catch a Fire

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weight-loss update

Weight on Monday October 27, 2008 = 425.3 lbs.
Weight on Monday November 10, 2008 = 407.1 lbs.

Total loss = 18.2 lbs.
% of body weight = 4.3%
PPD= 1.3 lbs.

I don't feel any different other than I'm eating less naturally, i.e., I get full quicker than when not dieting. No improvement in quality of life.

Dieting sucks.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Two Classics



Oh, how I love Bubb Rubb, how he almost wrecks when he pulls away at the end. Sigh. WOOOO WOOOOOOOOO

Thursday, November 06, 2008

OBAMA IS NOT THE DAMNED ANTI-CHRIST

Alright, knee-jerk reactionary conservatives, Obama is not the damned Anti-Christ. If you actually read the Bible instead of just talking about how much you love Jesus, you would know this. I challenge anyone who calls Obama the Anti-Christ to give me a Biblical definition of what it means, including the original meaning in the Greek. Hell, I challenge any of you to tell me where in the Bible the word antichrist even appears.

According to Paul, and maybe Daniel depending on how you read him, the antichrist will try and rebuild the temple, so unless Obama plans to raze the Dome of the Rock, get out Solomon's blueprints, rebuild the thing, go sit on his ass in the Holy of Holies while demanding we all go sacrifice sheep and doves to him for our sins, he's not the farking antichrist. Mindless sheep.

The Second Coming isn't going to happen in the next four years, or eight if he's re-elected; too much Scripture isn't fulfilled, which again, you'd know if you read them. Enough already. The Anti-Christ is real enough; it's anyone who puts himself in place of the Savior and works against him. I don't think Obama or any other president is the Anti-Christ. Isn't it a little presumptive of you to assume that he/they'll be from America? Why not The Gambia, Bhutan, the Maldives, or even Pitcairn Island? Clinton was the antichrist in 1992, Kennedy in 1960, I assume many a Southern lips slandered Lincoln with that moniker. You could fill libraries with lists (in many languages) with the names of election winners that people have called the antichrist.

Ignorance is my enemy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Monsieur, does your dog bite?

This is me being silly


Enjoy!

Audacity is awesome and free.

Ok

Now that we've elected a president who can separate his personal beliefs from his politics, and I've spent far too much time delineating my firm belief in secular government, it's time for me to clarify a few things.

While I think the government should stay out of legislating and enforcing morality, I should mention that although I don't believe certain things should be illegal, I think many are sinful. For example, I don't think two unmarried people who want to have sex with each other should face civil punishment, but it is fornication and a sin, and I cannot "support" them in their selfish decision, for I view sex without a marriage covenant as wholly selfish, and no amount of sophistry or soothsaying will convince me otherwise; my loins burned like everyone else's in my youth, but *I* waited until marriage. Abortion is an abomination and horrific. I want nothing to do with someone who has one (unless they truly repent), because there is nothing so selfish as killing an innocent, but that belief comes from my religious creed, so I can't force said belief on others. If people want the right to die when they are terminally ill, so be it, but it's not for me. Get drunk, get high, waste your money and impede your ability to exercise your divinely-granted free will all you want, but I'll not join you in your partying; I want my faculties about me. Adulterers cannot be trusted, but shouldn't go to jail (though I think an adulterer forfits rights in a divorce by nature of breaking the covenant). I could go on and on. Just because I voted for Barack Obama does not mean that I abide or am tolerant of sin. (Notice I didn't say sinners)

Before you think I'm condemning others, those who know me well, know that I don't condemn other people, because I am not perfect. But you don't have to be perfect to judge; that is a fallacy, in spite of the common translation of John 8. I do judge actions, and I know which ones I won't do because of my faith, which is wholly separate from my politics. Damnit, we should want to be good and serve the Lord and keep His commandments because we love Him, and not because of the law or centuries-old cultural hegemony from Judeo-Christian enculturation of our nation. Do what is right; choose the right because you want to be a good person. If someone sins you can love them and still not approve of their actions. They won't care about your approval, and not-approving isn't the same thing as "tolerating." I love my friends, in spite of decisions they make that I find sinful. I don't huck rocks at them because they didn't resist, rather I try and have an influence on them, for good, by the best example I can muster in the face of my own innumerable imperfections. If they ask me what I think, I will tell them, and it can seem blunt, but my judgment isn't unrighteous, and I'm no better than they are, because all sins are the same to the Lord (save murder and adultery). Some have harsher consequences (telling a white lie vs heroin addiction), but my sins of pride and swearing are just as bad as any others. I'm just trying to get better. Calling out others' sins is the work of prophets and apostles; I am neither. I'm just a man who sees a world full of sin, full of people who care nothing for the wisdom of the commandments (Love the Lord thy God, Love thy neighbor as thyself), and I'm a man who sees himself struggling against life, his own sins, and willful ignorance. Sin is sin. You have to struggle against it, against the toils of life, and against ignorance in yourself and others.

Obama is not a savior, but he's the right man for the job, right now. For the record, the next person who tells me (in person) that Obama might be the Anti-Christ will not like my reaction.

WTF?

Stupified. Speechless. That was such bad acting, oh my goodness! They didn't even have name tags.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Relief

I don't know about yall, but I'm more glad that Cynthia McKinney didn't win than I am that Obama won.

I Think I'd Be Smarter

If National Geographic published weekly rather than monthly.

Monday, November 03, 2008

South Beach Update after One Week

My weight 7 days ago = 425.3 lbs.
My weight today = 413.8 lbs.

Total weight loss = 11.5 lbs.

I don't feel any better, not sleeping all that well with CPAP and getting bad leg cramps every night.

Dieting sucks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Year Gone and a Request

On October 30, 2007, John McLarty Williams, Jr., CEO of eFolder Inc., husband to Laura Buckner Williams, and Father to Mac and Susanna Williams, died of Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease at age 57. Dad's unexpected death left us missing his dynamic, caring, gregarious, and adventuresome presence.

My Dad was an adventurer; he loved to travel the world and took advantage of every opportunity that came his way. And yet, his love of globetrotting always took second-place to his lifelong endeavor to help others; and whether with his hands, or by “lending” someone money, he felt his greatest joy when he was in the service of his fellow men.

My Dad lived his life the best he could, and tried to help out other people along the way. He was a team builder; he loved to involve others in what he was doing. Granted, he did love being in charge, or helping out at the higher echelons of power, but, my Dad’s purpose in life was to serve other people. After Hurricane Katrina, he would work far beyond the capacity that his body could handle, and would pay for that sacrifice physically with painfully swollen feet and ankles. As an employer of people, he took his responsibility to other people’s families very seriously, oftentimes foregoing paying himself so that he could meet payroll. He hired people that others wouldn’t even have interviewed, and trained them in new careers, changing their lives along the way. He liked helping people help themselves. He was a fisher of men.

On this, the anniversary of his death, my family is pleased to announce that the administration of Coker College has accepted our proposal to create an endowed scholarship in my dad's honor for Foreign Language majors and minors at Coker College to study abroad; The John McLarty Williams Jr. Endowed Scholarship. In order to have a permanent endowed scholarship we need a corpus of $10,000. Those monies, once capitalized, will generate around 5% per annum to be used to help Coker's foreign language majors complete their required semester abroad studies. I don't have the resources to fund it myself, so I'm asking anyone whose life my dad made better to donate, please.

The scholarship is to be awarded to a full-time student who is a rising junior or rising sophomore with a major or minor in foreign language. The scholarship should be used for study abroad in the foreign language and is intended to help Coker students experience the world outside the friendly confines of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.. In honor of my dad's commitment to service, students are encouraged to include service learning as part of their foreign language study.

We recognize that right now is not the most fortuitous time in which to solicit charitable contributions, but we ask that you make the sacrifice that you can. Your donation will be tax-deductible, will fund a permanent endowment in Johnny Mac's name, and will help change the lives of students who might not be able to afford study abroad otherwise. If the economy prevents you from donating at the moment, please remember us when things get better for you and your family.

If you can afford to give, please do, generously.

Make checks payable to Coker College, and mail them to:

The John McLarty Williams Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund
c/o Frank Bush
Coker College
300 E. College Ave.
Hartsville, SC 29550

Monday, October 27, 2008

Even though I despise Moveon.org

This is funny. A friend sent this to me:

Be warned, it contains some harsh profanity, which even though it's bleeped out, is still fairly distinguishable, and is sure to offend some of the sensitive-Mormon set.




Alright, Paul

So, a few weeks ago my best friend Paul Dunn, a great American, kind of not-too-subtly rebuked me for the lack of updates about my dieting adventures. Truth is, I haven't been dieting. The last year has been hell, and as I'm a stress eater, dieting was an afterthought.

Well his stinging reminder has motivated me to go back on the South Beach Diet, effective 7AM this morning. Today's weight = 425.3 lbs.

Juan Carlos, our bet is on; you'd better get on board, or I'm gonna be the owner of Starcraft 2, if and when the vaporware materializes.

I'm also going to fire up the old Maybeexercisewillhelp blog, even though I am severely hobbled by a nagging achilles tendonitis that I got while climbing that big hill in Washington D.C. to get to Howard every day. That I got tendonitis from walking is probably due to my weight and not stretching, so all these feedback systems need to be addressed by lessening the burden on the bod.

Getting old sucks; it's inevitable. Being fat is partly controllable; I'll never be skinny, but if I weighed 325, life would be very different. My first goal is 399.8, or what I weighed last Christmas Day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I think I've decided

For years now I've been among the people who made jokes about criminals getting "what they deserved in prison," making clear inference that they would receive unwanted sexual advances by fellow inmates. I used to sing along to Sublime's song "Date Rape," and think it was funny that the date rapist had this happen to him:

One night in jail it was getting late/he was buttraped by a large inmate/and he screamed/but the guards paid no attention to his cries/

and

The moral of this date rape story/it does not pay to be drunk horny/but that's the way/it had to be/they locked him up and threw away the key/but I can't take pity on men of his kind/even though he now takes it in the behind.

I can't believe I ever thought that was just or funny. Anal rape is rape. Prison is punishment enough; how can we call ourselves a just and justice loving people if we think rape is funny or deserved, no matter how awful the crime? Shame on me.

What the hell was I thinking?

Friday, October 24, 2008

2 Samuel 1:26

Go read this:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/10/24/polygamy.investigation/index.html

When I first read this article, the first thing I thought of was Jorge Luis Borges's short story, "La intrusa," or translated, "The Interloper." The sexual dynamics of shared love have to trouble all relationships. I cannot imagine a lack of jealousy between people who choose to, or are forced by traditions, share their sexual partner with others. This system seems to work for them.

I've been thinking about the political repercussions of the sea change in legal recognition of same-sex marriage in our country. One challenge I've yet to hear from the right is that a redefinition of legal marriage opens the door to other non-traditional unions, including polygamy and polyandry, group marriages, incestual marriages, and so on.

It would seem to this non-legally-trained citizen that the recognition of same-sex marriages stems from respect for equal protection clauses in state constitutions and from the judicial precedent set by the Texas case that the state cannot regulate sexual morality between consenting adults.

Reynolds vs. The United States was the famous challenge of the Morrill Act and the Poland Law that made polygamy and bigamy illegal in the United States and its territories. Here is an excerpt from that decision from a neutral website commenting on the issue:

"Polygamy has always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe, and,until the establishment of the Mormon Church, was almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and of African people. At common law, the second marriage was always void, and from the earliest history of England polygamy has been treated as an offence against society . . . In the face of all this evidence, it is impossible to believe that the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom was intended to prohibit legislation in respect to this most important feature of social life. Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law."

I think that the growing acceptance of same-sex marriages will lead to new legal challenges to this court precedent, and it will be overturned, though I doubt greatly that my Church would ever embrace polygamy again. I know that sharing my love with someone else would be inconceivable. The inevitable outcome of all these loosening of the definition of "marriage" as a civil recognition of what used to be a sacred obligation is that marriage will lose its current meaning. I foresee group marriages between groups of people, marriages to animals, marriages between animals (especially as they start to become inheritors of property), polygamy, polyandry, and so on.

Funny that we arrest and charge people for openly saying they're married to more than one person, but if they never marry, the state does nothing.

For the record, I am not in favor of polygamy, and I think the practices of forced marriages and marriage of minors to adults are crimes. I feel that reassigning wives and claiming wives as spiritual spouses so you can have sex with them but not support them temporally are sins. I do not sympathize with any polygamist groups, sects, or doctrines. I just think that constitutionally, the First Amendment protects homosexuals, polygamists, polyandrists, and other ways of living foreign to my own. Whether the state should formally recognize those, or any, unions is for the courts to decide, but even though I don't care for the practices, I don't think the government can justify prohibiting them without a Federal Constitutional Amendment.

What do yall think? Am I wrong?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some Song by Kansas and Burial Rite #1

So, we had our Fall break here at Coker last week. With the one-year anniversary of my father's death approaching and with the iPod box containing his ashes staring at me from my bookshelf, I decided that it was time to go and scatter his ashes somewhere important to him......really I mean to say somewhere important to me.

Funerals and ceremonies are for the living. The dead care nothing for where their moldering remains are lain. When I considered all the places that my dad "would have liked" I realized that his favorite fishing hole would be a great place to scatter the little baggie of ashes and bone bits that my mom had given me in the Spring.

I could've just put them in my yard, but I felt this drive to put them somewhere more "meaningful" (whatever that means) in an effort to give me some catharsis from the trauma of having my father ripped away from my life. My dad and I had some great times fishing off



View Larger Map

Apalachicola, Florida,so I decided to go hold an ad hoc ceremony on a boat bouncing in the waves right in a place loaded with good memories: Bird Island, Apalachicola Bay, Florida. If you look in the above map. the island shown below (Bird Island) is barely visible to the west of the gap between St. Vincent Island and St. George Island. This is an old photo because last week the island was over a half-mile long.



View Larger Map

So, since we only have one car, and since Mickelle's parents and sister came into town for the weekend, I convinced my grandfather and my uncle to drive over from Atlanta, Georgia to pick me up. We then drove ten hours down I-95 and across I-10 to get there. My dad's good friend John Mitchell drove down from Atlanta separately. Friday morning we got up early and met our fishing guide, and my dad's good friend, Captain Jimmy Maxwell, at the Scipio Creek Marina and boarded the boat for a day of fishing and paying homage to my fallen father.

We started out well, Captain Jimmy got all the baitfish we'd need with the first cast of his net. From there we went out into the bay and began catching speckled trout and white trout. I was using a double-lure rig and four times I caught two fish at the same time. We caught lots of cats, ladyfish, croakers, a bluefish, a mackerel, a couple of ground mullets, and a whiting or two before the day was done. Papa (my dad's dad) landed a 27" redfish; all in all we bagged 60 fish.

At about 2PM we motored out to Bird Island found a quiet place on the bay side of the island and held the service. I started by talking about my dad, everyone said something nice, and I commented that his faults were no worse than anyone I knew and especially anyone on that boat, and that my memories of him are good, and that he was missed, and I wished he could've been there fishing with us. Papa and I then scattered his ashes in the water, and I said a prayer, asking Heavenly Father that that portion of my dad's remains might nourish the Earth and help replenish it. Captain Jimmy asked to say a prayer and Papa and I embraced as he asked that Heavenly Father bless all of my dad's family.

After that we fished for a little while longer and then headed back to shore, sunburnt and feeling relieved that the mourning process had been furthered a little.

I still miss my dad. I can't believe it's been a year. Damnit!

UPDATE: I can't write well today. Pardon my sophomoric language; I couldn't help myself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Man Secretly Names His Baby "Sarah McCain Palin." His Name Is "Mud"

http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=66550&catid=2

Geraldine Mondale Ferraro
Joseph Gore Lieberman
John Edwards Kerry
and
Lloyd Dukakis Benson can commiserate

Told You I Was Hardcore

I could survive for 1 minute, 13 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk Beds Pedia

The Fruits of Fearmongering

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/223708.php
watch the embedded video, or this post won't make sense.

What startles me the most is not that she thinks Obama's an Arab, but that McCain doesn't call her out for calling him an Arab, as if being Arab were a bad thing.

McCain says, "No, no, no ma'am, no ma'am. He's a, he's a decent family man citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on, on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not. Thank you."

That final emphatic "he's not" is directed straight at the general US fear (read, hatred) of Arabs, of the assumption that they're all terrorists.

He didn't have time to craft a nuanced rebuttal of her statement; he had to shut her down immediately. She is an elderly citizen who is obviously confused and gullible. But, this is the product and endgame of the machinations of politicians who employ fear to win elections. Mix a little nationalism together with a little fearmongering and a touch of brinkmanship and you get Gayle Quinnell, registered voter.

Why I Continue to Support the Death Penalty

http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/10/14/toofat.execution/index.html

from the above article:

Cooey and a then-17-year-old accomplice were convicted of the brutal murders of Wendy Offredo and Dawn McCreery, students at the University of Akron. The men had been tossing concrete slabs onto Interstate 77, and one of them struck Offredo's car.

Pretending to "rescue" the women, Cooey and Clinton Dickens took the victims to a remote field, according to prosecutors. There, the students were subjected to 3½ hours of rape, torture, stabbing and fatal bludgeoning. Cooey carved an "X" into the stomachs of both women, prosecutors said.

When you do such horrible acts, you forfeit your life. He tried to escape from prison in 2005. Locking this man away, warehousing the term of his mortal life isn't fair to those people who risk their lives as his jailors, and to the public should he escape. Imagine if he did, and your daughter had an x carved into her belly.

Some people deserve to die. Cooey reaped the bitter harvest of his actions today....finally.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pagan Baby

How did I ever make it 34 years without ever having heard "Pagan Baby" by CCR? They're one of my favorite bands too! I don't get how this happened. If you haven't heard it before, go listen to it now, but only on a good stereo.




Don't bother looking at the video, some idiot just made it full of images of pot. Listen to the music.

¡Ya, Basta!

I don't know about everyone else, but I'm sick of all the campaigning. I want the election to be here now. If I see another political commercial telling me how "evil" some candidate is, it's gonna be five million too many.

I like to watch Jeopardy. Lately, every single stinking commercial is for politicians. And, except in the case of Attorney General Roy Cooper (NC), they're mostly negative attack ads. Obama's an idiot, McCain's an idiot, "Libby" Dole's sending all our jobs to China, "And that's good for the Chinese, but bad for us." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Enough. Any more and I'm going to quit caring. The rhetoric is getting viscous now. It's like putting peanut butter on peanut-butter cookies, too much.

I know who I'm voting for. Ya, basta; no más.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nobel Literature Prize Predictions 2008

For the third year running, I'm stating who I think is most deserving to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some of these entries are rehashes of older posts. My list, in order is:

1. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses is my favorite book in English. It is a masterpiece of postmodern historiographic metafiction. I love that book so so much. I also understand why fundamentalist would want to kill him for writing it. In the book, an Indian voiceover actor becomes very ill after falling (thousands of feet) from a blown-up airliner to an English beach. He turns into a half-goat man, spikes a fever, and has a delusional dream wherein this kid in a cave keeps calling him "Gabriel" and asking him questions about God. Annoyed, he flippantly answers the kid, at first not believing that the kid buys the crap he's making up, all the while not realizing that he is dictating the Koran to Mohammed.

You can understand why this would piss Muslims off. People rip on Joseph Smith all the time. One South Park episode in particular tries to skewer the Mormon church (I found the episode hilarious and doctrinally and historically inaccurate by the way). Making fun of my religion in a farcical way, hidden in a work of fiction, does not bother me. My faith is my own, and no amount of attacks against it by others will influence my beliefs. I do not want to kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I respect their right to make fun of anything they want, and I even laugh when they mock my faith, because I am sure of what I believe. Rushdie should have that same right, without irhabists issuing fatwas against him.

Rushdie's Midnight's Children is one of my top ten books of all time, in any language. My wife thoroughly enjoyed Shalimar the Clown. Last April, I had the chance to go and hear Rushdie speak live. He read, at length, from Midnight's Children. His commentary and insights into this fiction convince me that he is one of the greatest living novelists, and despite some personality flaws that he himself recognizes, he is a master.

I don't think the Nobel Academy will have the political courage to ever give Rushdie the award he so very much deserves. Given the reaction to the Denmark cartoons three years ago, if anyone else in Scandinavia were to praise anything even remotely objectionable to Islam, the Middle East would erupt into rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. Also, Scandinavia exports vast quanitites of dairy products to the region. If the Academy were to give Rushdie the prize, well, think of the economic consequences to the Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian economies. Rushdie deserves the award more than anyone else I can think of. If he wins the prize, it would be an amazing declaration of free speech against the tyranny and oppression of religious intolerance. But, given the vindictiveness of most irhabists, would you, being on the Nobel Committee, vote to give him the prize? It takes a special mettle in your soul to make that kind of a stand.

The British had the courage to knight him; does the Academy?

2. Carlos Fuentes, he has labored for years trying to help Mexicans understand their roots. He is a tad prideful and perhaps offensive to certain types, but his work stands for itself. He is a contemporary of Octavio Paz, García Márquez, and Borges, and deserves the prize before it's too late. Second only to Rushdie in my opinion.

3. Antonio Muñoz Molina, he'll never win, but this Spanish author of detective fiction has created some of the few recent detective stories that you'll want to re-read. The solution to the crime isn't why you read them. They are noirish novels that deal with reconciling peoples' actions under Franco with their own moralities, ethics, etc. His novels such as Plenilunio, Sefarad, El invierno en Lisboa, and Beltenebros, are all classics and worth multiple readings. They have been made into movies, all badly, save Plenilunio. If they are ever translated into English, you should check them out. He is a modern master and a jazzman. He's on my list because I love his work, not necessarily because he's deserving.....yet.

4. Ricardo Piglia, another master, but one without the prestige and reknown to attract the Nobel committee's attention. The Absent City is amazing, and Respiración Artificial beggars description. I feel that Piglia will win some day, maybe not anytime soon.

5. Nicanor Parra, the anti-poet; his work was very influential on poets in Spanish and English. Deserving, and at 94, probably will never get it. He's an outside shot. He'd be the third Chilean poet to win.

6. Slavoj Zizek, the most enjoyable modern philosopher I can think of. He has his fingers on the pulse of current Western culture. He is a prolific writer and has a knack for explaining abstruse concepts in terms that everyone can understand. The estate of Jacques Lacan owes Zizek a huge hug for his tireless work in making Lacan relatively approachable to the masses. Zizek's works include The Sublime Object of Ideology, Tarrying with the Negative, Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Enjoy Your Sympton, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Hitchcock But Were Afraid to Ask Lacan.

7. Umberto Eco, a master in the classic form. The Name of the Rose, or "City of Robots" are very impressive and thought-provoking. If they can give the prize to Italian playwright Dario Fo they can surely give a nod to Eco (though Silviano Santiago would most definitely disagree with me).

I'm sure some people expect me to put Mario Vargas Llosa on my list, and he might well get the prize, but there's just something about his writing, his politics, and himself that makes me think he's not a strong candidate. However, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy his essay "My Son the Rastafarian" ("Mi hijo el etíope") and I teach it frequently.

I'm sure there are numerous others that need mentioning. Phillip Roth, Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, Bob Dylan, etc. Can you imagine the difficulty in finding someone to translate works from say Somalian in to Swedish? Malawi or Togolese? so the committee can read them.... It's no wonder that English speakers have won more than any other language.

Please feel free to comment on my selections or add your own. You'll hopefully understand why my choices are Hispanic top-heavy, though please remember that no native Spanish-speaking author has won since Octavio Paz way back in 1990. Also, nothing prevents the Academy from awarding the prize to multiple winners, as has been done in years past.

Breastfeeding Is Not Birth Control


No, Mickelle isn't pregnant again, Bulldog's throwing a shut-out and keeping the Dodgers in the playoffs (is it '88 again?)
Rumor has it that Jamie Lynn Spears is, again, however. She just had a child in mid-June, mind you. Nothing like Irish twins.


His Name Is My Name Too (Two)




Monday, October 06, 2008

FARK YOU, Seth Meyers

I don't know how many of you still watch SNL anymore, but Saturday night, I saw one of the worst examples ever of the mean-spiritedness that has reigned there ever since Tina Fey became head writer.

During Weekend Update, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers traded off making fat jokes about the former "World's Fattest Man," Manuel Uribe Garza,'s pending nuptials later this month.

The one that soured me on the show was, "Uribe and his wife will spend their honeymoon trying to find his penis."

Wtf? That's not low-hanging fruit, that's just f****** cruel, mean, and shows how callous SNL has become. It wasn't borderline mean like the joke about him getting married as a way to get cake. No, this was the "cool kids" on the playground mocking the fat kid, on national television. Uribe has lost over 500 lbs without surgery.

The first time I remember being angered by SNL had to do with a fat joke too. Shortly after 9-11, Welsh singer, Charlotte Churchm then only 15, said that NYC firefighters weren't all heroes, they were just doing their jobs. Tina Fey's Weekend Update line was "Well Charlotte, some day you'll be fat."

What the fark? That's not funny. You can claim she was attempting to "act" like a high schooler and call her fat, for the irony of her being a teenager. But, Fey's not that good, and Church didn't suffer through the hell that is American high school, so the joke's lost on her. Fey's delivery was mean. The joke was lost on the majority of people. They laughed because Charlotte Church was a little overweight. It was just mean.

I loathe Tina Fey. I'll never watch 30 Rock. And, Seth Meyers can die in a fire with all the other assholes who can't leave high school in the past. He's not funny! Witty, when he's at his best, but he reminds me of the frat-boy golden-child poonhounds I had in my classes at Tulane. Nothing but a showy facade.

Manuel Uribe Garza does not deserve our pity. He hasn't asked for it. He doesn't want help. He's been losing weight on his own. Leave the man alone.

Seth Meyers, if we ever meet, I'm going to sit on you.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Nocturnal Penile Tumescence and Jack

So, yesterday Mickelle took Calliope with her to Marley's early-morning soccer game while I stayed home and worked on putting together the patio furniture we got on clearance four weeks ago that has been sitting in our living room ever since. Jack was still asleep for much of the time.

When he awoke, I took him and laid him on our bed to change his diaper. When I took it off, he had definite nocturnal penile tumescence, or "morning wood," as most men call it.

Whenever I change his diaper, to ease the passage of the new diaper under his bottom, he puts his feet down and thrusts his pelvis up in the air. As he, like most boys, is naturally fascinated with his penis, when he did this yesterday, and saw his penis looking far larger than it normally is, or that he might have ever seen before, he grabbed it, looked at me with glee in his eyes, and yelled "MAC, LOOOOOOOOK!" He was very impressed with himself.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Perspective

Chaucer is still funny

The Wife of Bath's Prologue (1370-ish)

In wyfhod I wol use myn instrument
As frely as my Makere hath it sent.
If I be daungerous, God yeve me sorwe!
Myn housbonde shal it have bothe eve and morwe,
Whan that hym list come forth and paye his dette.
An housbonde I wol have -- I wol nat lette --
Which shal be bothe my dettour and my thral,
And have his tribulacion withal
Upon his flessh, whil that I am his wyf.
I have the power durynge al my lyf
Upon his propre body, and noght he.

...

and then later...

...

Thow seyst we wyves wol oure vices hide
Til we be fast, and thanne we wol hem shewe
Wel may that be a proverbe of a shrewe!

Thou seist that oxen, asses, hors, and houndes,
They been assayed at diverse stoundes;
Bacyns, lavours, er that men hem bye,
Spoones and stooles, and al swich housbondrye,
And so been pottes, clothes, and array;
But folk of wyves maken noon assay,
Til they be wedded -- olde dotard shrewe! --
And thanne, seistow, we wol oure vices shewe.

He's paraphrasing St. Jerome, but it's just awesome....and no, I'm not talking about Mickelle.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Vice-Presidential Debates

Okay, so the debate, a total letdown, is over. Both sides did well, I guess. Biden had to hold back, and Palin "ssssss"ed her way through her talking points, rolling her eyes and wrinkling her nose in those ways that only attractive people can do without receiving ire from others. I expected him to destroy her, but the opportunity was lost. I'm more convinced now, than ever, that she is unqualified. Not because of what she said, but because of what she didn't say.

Did you notice that when Biden was asked, "Can you think of a single issue where you were forced to change your longheld view in order to accomodate and change circumstances?" he gave a response that was thoughtful and answered the question. Whereas, Palin responded how she "didn't veto budgets" and that "there hasn't been something that I've had to compromise on, because we've always seemed to find a way to work together up there in Alaska."

Working together is compromise, and she totally avoided the question, mostly because she probably hasn't served long enough to have had a policy change....but it also speaks to her apparent intractability.

Her grousing about big government and taxes irks me too. I own stock in a petroleum royalty trust from the Prudhoe Bay fields.....wellhead taxes were raised twice on profits inside of 12 months, at her insistence...so anytime she claims to not favor tax increases, I beg to differ.
Her famously-balanced budgets were a direct result of tax hikes to fund their civic programs. Alaska is the biggest tax and spend state there is (per capita), and it's shady, at best, to rail against taxes and big government when she made her career on doing the opposite.

She reminds me of the son of Menelaus "Pappy" O'Daniel in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. He tells Gov. O'Daniel that the opponent is running a good campaign because he's the "Reform Candidate." The son says, "people like that reform. Maybe we should get us some." Pappy whips off his hat and slaps at his son with it and says, "I'll reform you, you soft-headed sonofabitch! How we gonna run reform when we're the damn incumbent!"

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wroth

In the midst of my anger over the murder that happened here on Monday, I come into work to find that someone has stolen ALL of my cold drinks from our departmental fridge. They even took a bottle of sparkling grape juice our department chair was saving for a special occasion.

If they has asked me for a drink, I would've given it to them. But, to take all of them.......

A pox upon them and their kith and kin.

Stuff Like This Angers Me to My Core

I live in a very small town, one that was shocked yesterday by the murder of a local business owner, beaten to death with an axe handle on the floor of his own store.

http://www.wpde.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=199987
and
http://www.scnow.com/scp/news/local/article/hartsville_store_owner_robbed_murdered/15699/

With the video footage of the suspect, it shouldn't be too hard to capture him. He's a big dude, and someone will recognize him. I've been to Gardner's and I knew the victim. When this suspect is caught, I hope he is given a very fair and impartial trial, that he is convicted of first-degree murder due to the overwhelming evidence, and that he is executed.

I lean left-of-center but I think the death penalty is warranted in cases like this. In my world, this is far more an act of terrorism (it happened less than a mile from my home) than any bomb going off. I don't "hope it hurts" or anything like that, I just think that the brutality of his crimes leaves him with no chance of ever changing, and that his execution would serve as a reminder to local thugs that murder brings death and that they are not immune from punishment. I knew the victim; he was a good and hardworking man. The murderer is not. He only robbed $30! Can you imagine being killed for $30? If I were a business owner, I'd think about keeping a shotgun for situations like this.

Hartsville will never grow unless we address the causes of crime (poverty, 15-year olds forevermore having babies, and wholescale ignorance of ethics), educate our youth, provide quality jobs to the lower class, legalize the use and sale of most drugs, and then severely punish those who commit violent crimes. As far as I'm concerned, if you use a weapon to rob someone, you're done for 30 years. Bye-bye. Make the punishment severe enough, and I believe crime will drop accordingly. But, rather than punishing, which is just treating the symptom, we must fight the disease, and that means education, jobs, and for society to stop hiding behind sub-cultural facades and starting recognizing the need for fundamental change in every segment of society, irrespective of race, creed, wealth, or the civil status of your parents.

Children need Fathers
Schools need more resources, distributed equitably
Fast-food jobs are not good jobs for adults
Drugs should be legalized
Criminal codes should be strengthened, and judges should be given more discretion on sentencing
Snitching is the right thing to do (farking idiots)
The wealthy need to help, and free capital to create jobs won't be enough
Philanthropy is a moral imperative
Giving your time to something can often have more of an impact that signing a check
Don't assume you know something about people because of how they look
Don't judge a group of people by the actions of a few

Saturday, September 27, 2008

♫ Caption Contest ♫

Ok, dear readers. An ephemeral prize to whomever posts the best caption to this photograph.


Here's mine: "♪ This menu is diviiiiiiiiiiiiiine ♫"


For clarification, they are at Barbecue Street in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Religion and Politics (Shouldn't Mix)

Far too often, religious people seek to impose their beliefs on the populace at large. If that's what society wants, so be it, but I don't like it. I don't want my goverment governed by a majority religion (even if it's my own). However, I can think of precious few instances in world history when an entire society saw eye-to-eye on religious matters. Whether's it's Hindus in India being scandalized by Richard Gere's cheek kiss of a woman, Baptists freaking out about DisneyWorld having a gay day, or Muslims saying you can't wear your hair in a spike style, religious hegemony by way of force or demand or mob rule, is contradictory to the tenets of their own religious teachings; yes, even the Koran says it's better to persuade people to do good than to obligate them. Jesus never said, "Obey my commandments or burn in hell," (though John kinda did). He did say, on the beach, to Peter, while enjoying some fish and honeycomb, "if you love me, keep my commandments."

If you love Him, keep His commandments. That's a good rule. One that most people can parrot back to you, but very few can live. A true person of faith, doesn't seek to impose their own faith on someone else via the long arm of the law. I can --not-- like the fact that pornography and vice pervade our culture. It makes me wish that people would choose better things for themselves and for their families. But if I try and compel them, isn't that limiting their agency on spiritual choices by secular means?

There are only two paths to achieving 100% obedience to the commandments. 1) you can obligate people to obey, taking away their rights and free will, and 2) you can show them by example, by love unfeigned, how much better life can be. The first plan belongs to Beelzebub; the second to God. He is the Father of everyone, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Christians, Jews, Agnostics. We are all brothers and sisters. Loving God, and choosing to do his will, is the only thing we can do to show our obedience. It has to come from within. Making someone get a certain haircut, trying to burn Harry Potter books, hell, especially telling someone that they're going to hell for believing a certain way, places one squarely in the gall of bitterness and pride.

Who told you what God wanted someone else to do? The Holy Ghost could certainly tell you something that YOU should do; Jesus specifically warns us to avoid the mote in our brothers eye whilst ignoring the beam in our own. I hold very strict and specific beliefs about what constitute right living. I hate that most people ignore the commandments. I wish they would obey them. But, I know they won't, and me complaining about it and trying to take away their free will by criminalizing certain actions, is wrong.

We could all learn a thing or two from Jesus; most people need to read up a little. Christians would do well to read the teachings of Jesus Christ for what they say, and not what others have told them they say. Jesus' message was one of love and patience and understanding. I hope to understand his message better before I meet him.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

MadTV vs SNL



vs.




MadTV wins in my book. Comparing the two shows now, it's no contest; MadTV is superior. I rarely laugh when watching SNL anymore, even with Tina Fey no longer on it. I laugh constantly watching MadTV, especially when Nicole Parker does her impersonations (with all respect to the master, Darrell Hammond).

Friday, September 19, 2008

On Why My Sister and I Have Kick-Ass Names

PLEASE NOTE: Apparently, I have failed miserably to write a post after the style of The Onion. My readers have not appreciated the humor in what I was saying, so I'm adding this header as a clarification....this post is meant as a self-depricating joke. My name is Mac; I like my name, but I am in no position to cast asperions on others' names. This was an attempt at humor; I figured the "kick ass" in the title would be clue enough. My apologies to all I offended.

As I sat in my daughter's classroom today for a parent-teacher conference and looked down the list of names on the sign-in sheet I was struck by how awful some people's names are. America has gone mad for alternate spellings, last names as first names, egregious use of apostrophes, and just plain making shit up.

I know, I know, some people will counter that my children have "odd" names. I riposte that they are all centuries old names, and that they all predate the founding of our country.

Marley = old form of Marlene (even though she is named after Robert Nesta)
Xiomara = from the Celtic, via Castillian Spanish "Guiomara >>>>> Xiomara"
John = Jesus' favorite
McLarty = my paternal great-grandmother's maiden name
Calliope = Greek muse of epic war poetry
Marisol = María de la Soledad

I've tried to get Mickelle to consider Danish names given her Fonnesbeck Danish heritage, like Travis and Erin did by using the Danish equivalent of "Ralph" for their son Brecken. But, she won't even discuss it.

So, having disarmed my critics, let me say that naming your kid something made-up like Nqueedah, Tielar, Spensyr, D'art'alan, Zavyionnne (yes, that's three n's), Leee, I could go on, is unnecessary. I am a Luddite of nymic invention. We have thousands of perfectly good names. Rather than naming your kid something they have no chance of ever finding on a premade keychain, why not name them after someone......something they can relate to, something that will inspire them. I admit, that being named John makes me happy wheneve I read that Jesus named him Boanerges, or "Son of Thunder." I share this legacy via my name.

But, we have several naming conventions in our larger American culture. The pattern for WASPs is to either give them some Anglo-Saxon last name as a first name: Carter, Dalton, Jackson. Still more common, and more boring, is a assembly-line consanant game with combination of vocal couplings.........take any sound like "ay" or -ly and then change the initial consonant:

Bailey
Cailey
Haylee
Jaylee
Kaylee
Mayli
Naylee
Raelee
Saylee
Taylee
Vaylee

You see the pattern here, even without consonant clusters, the possible names are endless, and endlessly boring. There was a time from about 1999-2005, when if we knew someone from Utah had had a baby, I'd ask, "did you name it Taylor or Tyler?"

So, my own name......John McLarty Williams III. My Dad was Jr. His dad is Sr. In the family, Papa is "Mac." My dad was Johnny Mac, and I'm, get this, "Little Mac." My cousins' kids still call me Little Mac. Anyway, I've never been called, nor gone by, John in my life, save the first day of school every year. Mac sets me apart. It is an old name. There are a million Matts, Bobs, Mikes, Scotts, Jasons, Kevins, and Joshs. We Macs are a precious few, and people remember my name. It provides me with character and panache. My parents could've named me Jason or Steve or Jedidiah, but I got Mac, it's a kick-ass name, and I love my name.

Now, the disinterested lector will try and lamely counter that I have contradicted myself. I have not, dear reader. My name is a real name, an ancient one. It's not spelled Maq or Maack or some other crazy way. There are three spellings: Mc, Mac, and Mack. Johnny Mac and Laura chose the middle one for me.

Even better than my own name (and I realize that most people love their own names) is that of my sister. Her name, Susanna Marie Williams, is classic. It's got that Southerness that can't be invented. Susanna is Biblical and belonged to my paternal grandmother's mother. It's both an old family name AND that of a Bible heroine. While my sister's name has always had my favor, as I looked at this picture of her today, I realized just how great a name it is. No one names their kid Susanna....Suzanne, sure, but not Susanna. Susanna Marie, just say it.....Susanna Marie. It rolls off the tongue. Look at this photograph and try and give her any other name. It won't do, no matter what it is.

With all of this said and done, it's totally asinine to make fun of other people's names; it's rude; it's juvenile; it's pedantic. And yet, I can't help myself, even as I think that all names are equal when they're yours (save maybe, these). I guess mine and Susanna's are more equal than others.

UPDATE 9-21-08: Some people have failed to see the comedy and point of this post. Please read the comments for clarification.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Got Tagged

Apparently my blogging daughter has tagged me.....so here goes.

Name and meaning: John McLarty Williams III, "Mac." John is Hebrew for "God is gracious." McLarty is Scottish for "Son of Larty." Williams means "Son of William," and I'm the third because my dad was Junior and my grandpa is Senior. So, my name is God is Gracious Son of Larty Son of William the Third. It sounds like Lord of the Rings names: Gimli son of Gloim.

Age: I am thirty-four at the time of writing.

Nicknames: Mac, Little Mac, Big Mac, Macaroni, Makakerel, Macoco, Maxipad, Mack Truck, Cookie, Macamillion, Macker Quacker, Mackster, Daddy Mac, Mac Daddy, the Daddy of the Mac Daddy, Mac Tonight, Willi (in Spanish), Crackhead, Raincheck, Relish Neck, Fire Butt (evidently I'm warm), and RebelScum.

Favorite Activities: Reading, Movies, Family, Scrounging, Watching Baseball, Blogging, Hanging out with friends, traveling.

Favorite Foods: Sushi, Korean, Southern-American, real Mexican, pizza, Creole, Cajun, Marabou chocolate, kimchi, bee bim bap, grasshopper brains, pretzel salad.

Least-favorite food: Canned or processed tuna, carrots--especially cooked carrots, liver, Necco wafers, chocolate ice cream, white or black jelly beans, butter pecan ice cream, Jello with fruit in it, mondongo.

Favorite Music: The Beatles, the Eagles, Bob Marley, Weezer, CCR, Maná, Collective Soul, Jack Johnson, Sublime, 311, the White Stripes, the Strokes, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac (when Peter Green was lead singer), the Killers, Fastball, Johnny Cash, the Refreshments, bluegrass, Eros Ramazotti, Trombone Shorty, New Orleans jazz, the Hives, Rage Against the Machine, and Smashing Pumpkins.

Favorite toys: Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Axis and Allies....man, toys, it's been so long.

Favorite book: The Satanic Verses (English), Don Quijote de la Mancha (Spanish)

Favorite item of clothing: I rock (yes, I said "rock) shorts and a guayabera every day; I'd wear it to church if the old folks wouldn't stare.

What makes me happy: Being with Mickelle, spending time with the kids, lolcats, reading, watching someone hit a homerun, The Soup, seeing a student's eyes fill with confidence when they say something right in Spanish, teaching, fuel efficiency, good customer service, a woman who smiles, clever lyrics, when meetings I don't want to go to get canceled, nooners, when friends come to visit, selling something for more money than I paid for it, getting a deal on something, planning study abroad trips, speaking Portuguese, really ugly neckties, being called "Doctor," when I get junkmail addressed to Mr. John J. Gingleheimerschmidt, good news.

What makes me sad: eBay management, intolerance, bigotry, Mormons who are prejudiced, death, suffering, stressing about money, social injustice, my powerlessness before the machine, the United Nations, canceled flights, hurricanes, anniversaries of bad days, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, gout attacks, when people speak in ignorance about my faith, fat jokes from the mouths of adults, low salaries, territorial pissing contests, poor scholarship, that I have only one life to give for my country, bad news.

Now I tag: Tim, Mickelle, Chattypatra, and Pablo Hecho (they all hate these kinds of things).

I Love This Commercial

Circa 1999



Since this commercial came out, one of Mickelle's pet names for me has been "Raincheck."

RIP Norman Whitfield (1943-2008)

It is with great sadness that I relate the death of another creative genius, Norman Whitfield, Motown songwriter. The Temptations version of his "Just My Imagination" will forever take me back to nights working at Pizza Hut on Canyon Road in Provo, Utah. When we closed in the Summer after doing EFY nights, the volume of dishes to wash, cash to count, and stuff to clean was a lot. The stress of processing all those order for EFY was great, and we often found that the normal rock and roll didn't make us feel better as we cleaned. This song and the soundtrack to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? were our favorites, gently calming us as we thought nice stress-free thoughts. The gentle melody, the romantic lyrics, the quality of the voices, it's all there. Great song, great band, great singers.

One of my favorite bands of all time, right up there with the Beatles, the Eagles, and Bob Marley & the Wailers is Creedence Clearwater Revival. And, my favorite song by CCR is "Heard It Through the Grapevine," which is another Whitfield tune (made famous by Marvin Gaye and then Gladys Knight & the Pips). CCR took it to its perfection in an eight-minute jam that I love to listen to while I write; it's right up there with "Fortunate Son."

If you're unfamiliar with this master's work, check out the bottom of his wikipedia page. He wrote at least ten songs that I can sing from memory. While he hasn't had a hit since I was a toddler, I bow to his songwriting prowess and the good memories his tunes bring to mind.

Missing My "Damned Pater Familias"


I've been listening to http://www.pandora.com/ for a couple of weeks now and thinking how awesome it is.

Just now, I thought, "You should email Dad and have him check it out; he'll love it," before I realized that he's dead and some of his ashes are in a lucite iPod box (inside a baggie) waiting for me to dump him in Apalachicola Bay, Florida next month.

Son of a bitch! I miss my dad. And he would've totally loved Pandora. His channel of choice you might ask? Jimi Hendrix, 365.25 days a year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pakistan Is No Ally

Go read this first:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122157191948543051.html

Now, let me just say that I am greatly simplifying things for the purposes of this post. This is no treatise on American-Pakistani relations; I don't have time to write that right now, but I wanted to express my frustration and dismay over the situation. Furthermore, let me add that I am a social & fiscal moderate and a conservative on most foreign-policy issues (save the Iraq mess). We have room for diplomacy when bullets aren't flying, but when someone is abetting your enemy, will not act on their own to expel the enemy, and threatens to attack you for prosecuting your campaign, eventually diplomacy is no longer viable, and action must be taken.

I understand that Pakistan is yet another of these lame Old World countries so riven by ethnic differences that it doesn't want to be Pakistan. And if you plan to counter that it's a symptom of colonialism, I maintain that the phenomenon is not limited just to former colonies (e.g. Belgium). The difficulty in maintaining central power over people who care nothing for Pakistan is that you are powerless to respond to your "allies'" security concerns without starting a civil war.

Pakistan's recent assertion that it will fire on American troops in its country surely seems justified in their eyes, but Osama bin Laden or at least the Taliban leadership IS in Waziristan. There's little doubt about that, and they are our true enemies. Pakistan is simply the current hiding place of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, much like Afghanistan was until we swatted them. The differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan, aside from the superficial, are important. One, Pakistan has fought several wars with India over the disputed Kashmir region and various other post-colonial pissing contest nonsense. This wouldn't be that big a deal, but India's strategic (as a front against Chinese expansion/aggresion in South Asia) and economic importance to the world means that we have to act thinking about how our actions impact India (which impacts us). Two, if we piss off Pakistan, they have nuclear weapons. If a crisis with India were to come to a head, who could know which of the two might use the nukes on the other? It's not worth the risk. A third somewhat unrelated issue with Pakistan is the potential wave of negativity that could erupt from a flawed sense of Nationalism (even though the radicals don't want to be part of Pakistan, unless it's a religious state), breeding even more people who hate the United States enough to attack it and its interests.

So, given that the Taliban and Al Qaeda can still cause havok from Pakistan without fear of counter-attack, what can we do? Pakistan says that they will shoot back. They don't really want a war with us. I say that if Pakistan is harboring Taliban (harboring, even by omission/inaction), and they want to risk it, let them shoot at us and see what happens. We cannot continue fighting a war in Afghanistan with one hand tied behind our backs. If Pakistan fires at us, strip them of all the federal aid that they receive and essentially spend to arm themselves against their own populace.

An ally doesn't give aid, abettal, succor, arms, and tacit approval to your enemy. Pakistan needs to choose sides, and suffer the consequences of whichever one they choose. They've been playing both for far too long. If they don't want to help us, fine, but if they shoot at us, I say stand back. We will never end this war unless we are decisive now. The enemy is the Taliban. The Taliban is in Pakistan, openly. If Pakistan's government doesn't help, they too are the enemy.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Straw Men



I really thought McCain was above this kind of attack. The "sex education" involved age-appropriate lessons so that little kids would know that adults touching them in certain places wasn't okay, it wasn't penis-goes-where? type stuff.



Obama strikes back, but again, it's dirty. If McCain votes "with Bush 90% of the time" the viewer is left to assume that Obama votes against Bush 90% of the time, when that clearly cannot be the case, otherwise they would make loud notice of it. I'd like to know what the actual Obama voting with Bush stats are, before I beleived the 90% as a hanging-offense.

If You'd Like to Go to Costa Rica Next May with Me As Your Tour Guide

Check out:

http://courses.coker.edu/jwilliams/cr

Anyone can go, whether a Coker student or not.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How a Devout Mormon Can Vote for a Pro-Choice Candidate

So, several hardline Mormon friends have been sometimes not-so-politely questioning how I can vote for Barack Obama given his stance as being Pro-Choice. I'll try and explain this in a language that everyone can understand, so that there is precious little room for doubt.

First, let me say that I think abortion is wrong, sinfully wrong. It is a selfish act that probably kills a fetus with feelings (I'm not sure when life begins, nor has my church clarified its position on when life begins). There are so many people out there who would like to adopt, and abortion slaughters the hopes of these countless couples. I would definitely actively try and encourage anyone I knew to not have an abortion, and to look at adoption alternatives. If I knew someone who had an abortion, I would never give any sort of approval (not that they would be looking for it necessarily), aid them financially in having one, or be okay with it. I hold it as greivous a sin as adultery. This (abortion or adultery) would probably end any friendship I had with them until they repented, probably (I know I used it twice).

Second, I think abortion in the case of rape or incest should be legal. I think that if the mother's life is in jeopardy, it should definitely be legal. If I have to choose between an unborn infant and my wife, the child dies--every time.

Third, I believe that our Nation was founded, firmly, upon a separation of Church and State. While the religious practices of the populous have changed over the course of 232 years, the government has remained secular. This is a good thing. No one religion should dominate, a lesson that Mormons should know well after their persecutions in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. We actually fled the United States for what was then Mexico when we settled Utah in 1847. When religious discrimination is allowed to affect the law, then it leads to civil rights violations.

Since I hold firmly that the government should not have an official religion, and that the 1st Amendment holds that we have freedom of religion, this means that people can believe or not believe whatever they want. Right now, a Christian, or at-least a Christian-enculturated majority has the cultural say in what constitutes acceptable behavior in society. Our laws protect us from the fear of religious prosecution in a legal setting. Criminal codes exist to protect people's rights. Even though many of us view certain sins as criminal, the law and its interpreters do not always agree, based on our Constitution. Therefore, for example, even though I think pre-marital sex is a sin, the law would view this as consensual, and therefore, not criminal. Even though I don't want people having pre-marital sex, using the legal system to punish people for a spiritual flaw is not what our Constitution is about. Obedience should be done of volition, not of fear of temporal consequences. You can't use the law to push a religious agenda, in spite of the consequences...that is unless you want your religion to dominate, because what would happen if suddenly through immigration or massive conversion, a religion that you did not agree with were to become the majority in this country? Would you then want that religion's beliefs dictating what you could and could not do? No, of course not. These protections of and from religion are one of the reasons that America is great.

Fourth, so with an understanding of my position on Church and State, I cannot force my religious beliefs on someone else. Stecher may counter that this transcends mere issues of religion, that it constitutes a humanitarian issue, that we are murdering people. I cannot buy that; his (and my) religion color our perspectives. People don't believe what I do. I find comparisons of abortion with slavery troubling. While both are heinous, slavery will forevermore be the worse of the two. I would venture that the death toll from abortions in the U.S. since its founding are less than one year's toll from the Middle Passage trade. And there are so many other issues. Why get so indignant over abortion and yet not mind going to war and the death penalty (I am in favor of the death penalty, for the record)? I just don't get that worked up over the issue to give myself tunnel vision that it's the only one that matters.

Fifth, while you can certainly argue that abortion is the most important issue in this election, it is not the only one. I will not base my election decision off this one stance. I don't feel it's important enough. Yes, I have children, and again, I state that I hate abortion and I wish people wouldn't do it, but it isn't the only thing informing (that's for you, Norman baby) my vote. Our nation needs leaders who consider all options of an issue, leaders who don't make snap-decisions based on gut reactions. The greater the issue, the more time should be spent in contemplation of the repercussions and consequences of an action. Having studied the positions of both sides, and finding things that I liked and disliked about both platforms, I feel that Obama more closely represents the ideas I think our country (notice I didn't say, "I") needs. To let McCain/Palin have power to continue certain programs and projects, and try and legislate certain things, including the Right's morality (which I share), is something that I cannot stomach.

Sixth, I think rather than fighting and name calling, both sides should work together to try and reduce the total number of abortions.

Seventh, whether or not abortions are illegal, people will still have them. People are selfish. Their lust leads them to create children that they don't want (Certainly many wives have children that they didn't want, but that their husbands unrighteously forced them to have). For people who don't want children because they don't "have time" and "don't want kids" or "can't stand the disruption," I have no sympathy; someone raised you. Given that abortions will always happen, I don't want people dying from back-alley medical procedures.

Eighth, from a religious perspective, would you rather have someone die having an illegal abortion, and die in their sins, or have them live, and possibly feel contrite and repent some day?

Ninth, I am opposed to abortion, but I don't think my opposition stems from something other than my religious beliefs, therefore, I cannot hold that it should be illegal. I don't want any religion, even my own, shaping the laws of all three-hundred million Americans.