Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Alienation and Frustration

Holy crap.

"John C. Green, a senior fellow at the Pew Forum, said he was surprised to see that teaching both evolution and creationism was favored not only by conservative Christians, but also by majorities of secular respondents, liberal Democrats and those who accept the theory of natural selection. Mr. Green called it a reflection of "American pragmatism."
"It's like they're saying, 'Some people see it this way, some see it that way, so just teach it all and let the kids figure it out.' " NY Times
Read the article here.

To be fair, I s'pose, if creationism is placed in a context, like "ok, here's what Christians believe," along with "here's what Muslims believe" and "here's what Buddhists believe," etc., in the name of pluralism, in some sort of course on "World Religions," I'll bite. But I'm guessing that's not what those that are pushing this movement have in mind.

What's fascinating, in a way, if one manages to distance oneself from this, is that this issue, which has basically been settled since the Scopes Monkey Trial, is back on the block 80 years later. What's going ON in this place????

One more thing. Those that proclaim America a "Christian nation" are correct only in that the majority of people in this country are Christian. But one of the roles of government is to protect the minority from the whims of a "tyrannous majority." Seems like it might be falling down on the job. Moreover (ok, another thing)- to say this country was founded on Christian principles is correct in that the men who founded it were Christian- and of course they were influenced by the mores of a religion subscribed to almost universally in the western world- but they were also guided by Enlightenment and purely capitalist principles, neither of which can be accurately labeled Christian (although I'm sick of idiots proclaiming that capitalism is the Christian way to be- do you really think Jesus was a capitalist, you morons? Render unto Caesar, remember that?)- finally (ok, one more thing), there is in the Constitution itself and in the first ten amendments a fundamentally pluralist vein, stemming from the fact that the first white people here came to escape religious oppression. And if you don't buy that, the 14th Amendment erased any chance of establishing a state religion. And yet, some 150 years later, we're having this inane debate.

I'm alienated and frustrated because I feel like I might have to leave the country I love because it's no longer the country I love.

Later in the day... oh dear LORD (spaghetti lord, that is) in heaven, this is funny. Thanks to Derek for the link.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Undoing the Folded Lie

Ms Dynamite, It Takes More:
"Now who gives a damn/ About the ice on your hand/ If it's not too complex/ Tell me how many Africans died/ For the bagettes on your Rolex..."

Ms Dynamite is a funky British rapper w/social conscience in the vein of Talib Kweli. Good times.

PS- IMF (International Music Feed) is my new favorite channel. WATCH IT, damnit.

PPS- "S*** disturber." My new favorite expression. I love it. I love you too, Dickeybird. Someday you, Wifey, husband and I will have to grab a drink in some swanky Torontoian bar.

Friday, August 26, 2005

If only I'd taken copyright in law school...

Thought I'd swell the ranks of those who are clamoring for Stephanie's head and defending the Two Sisters. Stephanie's overwrought style coupled with her obvious lack of humor or grasp of irony is enough to make even the most stalwart of us cringe.

I'm thinking in my lawyerly way that maybe it's Stephanie's publisher who made the complaint. After all, when you've made your fortune publishing such literary giants as Jenna Jameson and Trent Lott, you have your reputation to think about.

I left a comment on Stephanie's blog asking her to shed light on what is obviously a big misunderstanding and a stain on her innocence, but of course she blocked it. Why am I not surprised?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kanye, I knew you had it in you. Also more thoughts on diamonds.

I just read an article in the New Yorker which assuaged somewhat my disappointment in the "Diamonds" single:
"Apparently disturbed by reports of violence and exploitation in the African diamond trade, he made a video for the track that asked viewers not to buy “conflict diamonds.” Then, in June, West remixed the song, replacing the lyrics with verses that address the issue directly: “Over here, it's the drug trade. We die from drugs. / Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs. . . . I thought my Jesus piece was so harmless, / till I seen a picture of a shorty armless, and here's the conflict. / It's in the black person's soul, to rock that gold. / Spend your whole life tryin' to get that ice. / On a polo rugby you look so nice. / How could something so wrong make me feel so right?”
...West doesn't go into much detail about the gem business, but he is the only diamond-wearing rapper to acknowledge the cognitive dissonance of bling."

Interesting idea- applies to all of us, really. De Beers has made the diamond such the must-have on any girl's finger, such the sine qua non of all things wealthy and wedding and wanted, that even otherwise liberally-minded and socially conscious people blanche at the idea of refusing a diamond because its origins might be MUCH less than savory.

But people, people, PEOPLE- and this is all I'll say- if you know anything at all about conflict diamonds ("blood diamonds" is the more appropriate moniker because if you bought your diamond before about 2001, some Sierra Leonian or Liberian or Angolan or Congolese probably paid for it in blood), insist that any future diamond that adorns your finger be "conflict-free"- or just refuse to wear diamonds. This Amnesty International montage thing is a little outdated but it sums up the issue. Also read this. Now you know. Be a good consumer. Find out where your diamond comes from. Or don't buy them at all. Seriously.

Kanye is tackling this, I guess, albeit in a somewhat inscrutable way. I'll watch the video and see what's up with that.

Friday, August 19, 2005

A few thoughts...

1. Midwest, I praise both your blog and Legs Akimbo, proverbial diamonds in the rough.

2. I mean that as a true compliment even though I have a diamond thing- it's one of my causes and involves severed limbs, rebel money laundering, mine shaft unpleasantness and (depending on whom you believe) Osama bin Laden. These days one can obtain "conflict-free" diamonds (and should) but I don't want to support any facet (wow! I'm talking about diamonds and I used the word "facet"! Hot damn I can write) of the opaque (not bad either- I'm on a roll) diamond cartel so my engagement and wedding rings are sapphires.

3. With reference to the diamond thing mentioned in thought #2, let's talk Kanye West's new single. What's up with that? So much potential squandered!!! I was giddy when I heard the title - I love Kanye, and this seemed like a perfect mountain for him to climb- but then the lyrics are all about how he didn't win anything at the American Music Awards or something. And how other rappers talk trash about him. Or something. Kanye- am I not bright enough to follow your point, or are you honestly comparing your plight to that of the victims of the Sierra Leone civil war? Answer me, damnit!

4. The man did get "Jesus Walks" on the radio. I'm just sayin.

5. I'm off to Clevetown this weekend to attend a Sunday night wedding. Sigh. The burg of my youth really only makes me depressed and uncomfortable. Does anyone else feel this when they return home? Cleveburg. Land of Cleves. You bring me down.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

To the girl on whose blog I was commenting

Not that I'll be able to convince you of this, but you seem intelligent and I think you need to hear a contrary voice.
I think Stephanie has impressive, if very uneven, talent. I also know about 20 people who write better than she does; some are commercially successful, some are not. To some extent it's a matter of taste, but it's also empirical. Stephanie uses phrases like "full of miss" and puts a period after every word- very trendy but not particularly original and creative. She addresses her failed relationships. Yaay. Salinger and Steinbeck wrote about the tragedies and inequities of the human condition- they condensed them into stories of everyday life, but what makes them great is their ability to transcend the ordinary. Stephanie does not do this. She addresses the ordinary in a clever way, but doesn't move beyond it. Maybe she will someday- but she doesn't now, not on her blog.
This is why she will have an NBC sitcom and a chick-lit book.
Please tell me that you see the difference.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Gilded restraint

I found what seems to be a cute, clever blog read:

I like the single lefty girl/single righty guy spiked banter. We'll see if it's as cute as a quick perusal makes it seem.

Husband and I are considering donning the golden handcuffs. I'm nervous.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sidonie Gabrielle Claudine Colette Gauthier-Villars de Jouvanel Goudeket.

I think I'd like to name my daughter Sidonie, after Colette (I can hear my husband moaning "nooooooo"...). I also want a French bulldog named Toby-Chien, such is my semi-slavish devotion to my almost-favorite author. I love Colette for her contradictions. I can never confine my admiration to printed lines- I'm a little girl, I like to think of my authors sitting down to write. Colette began her career locked in a closet, writing for the glory of her philandering husband. She managed to wrench herself free of him, only to marry again, poorly, and a third time, successfully.

Here's where Colette is a stumper. She's lauded by feminists, but repulsed their advances throughout her life; ditto the gay and lesbian community (such as it was) even though she was an avowed bisexual. Her last and only happy marriage was to a Jew; yet she was an anti-Dreyfusard and a Vichy collaborator. She used her Nazi connections to keep her husband out of the gas chamber but continued to write in pro-Nazi journals. I guess preservation of private life was the only thing that mattered to Colette- in her books and out of them.

Are you sufficiently bored? Does anyone care about Colette?

There was a forest fire two canyons over from ours last night. We heard the helicopters and saw the smoke but didn't smell it. What the hell kind of place is this to live?

PS- we have a cat named Toby. So Toby-Chat, I guess.

PPS- I like LA. I really do.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Committed Commander-In-Chief (or, should the Commander-In-Chief be committed?)

Did anyone catch this?

In an interview at the White House on Monday with a group of Texas newspaper reporters, Mr. Bush appeared to endorse the push by many of his conservative Christian supporters to give intelligent design equal treatment with the theory of evolution.
Recalling his days as Texas governor, Mr. Bush said in the interview, according to a transcript, "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." Asked again by a reporter whether he believed that both sides in the debate between evolution and intelligent design should be taught in the schools, Mr. Bush replied that he did, "so people can understand what the debate is about."
(NY Times)

Good lord. Pun intended. There is no "debate" here. One "theory" is the result of over a century of scientific inquiry. The other is blind faith. These are two different universes. And last time I checked, blind faith was relegated to parochial schools.

Of course, Bush is just nodding to his Christian sycophants. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, considering we've all been witness to such jaw-dropping events as the President's midnight run to "save" Terry Schiavo and destroy separation of powers. But, again, last time I checked (and that was last week, as it was a fundamental part of the bar exam), the 1st Amendment is still alive and kicking. And these most recent remarks put Bush right in the middle of a great big government tangle.

Perhaps the inmates really are running the asylum.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I'm waiting for the inevitable assignment to come down the pipe and killing time. What's new with you?

Quick thoughts:

What I love about Seymour Hersh's writing is that he doesn't aggrandize or put a moral sheen on his reporting- usually, the facts he delivers are damning enough on their own. Case in point- article in the most recent New Yorker detailing the administration's attempts- and partial success- in "influencing" the January Iraqi elections. Just a little tidbit:

"A former senior intelligence official told me, “The election clock was running down, and people were panicking. The polls showed that the Shiites were going to run off with the store. The Administration had to do something. How?”

By then [late last year], the men in charge of the C.I.A. were “dying to help out, and make sure the election went the right way,” the recently retired C.I.A. official recalled. It was known inside the intelligence community, he added, that the Iranians and others were providing under-the-table assistance to various factions. The concern, he said, was that “the bad guys would win. ...

...In my reporting for this story, one theme that emerged was the Bush Administration’s increasing tendency to turn to off-the-books covert actions to accomplish its goals. This allowed the Administration to avoid the kind of stumbling blocks it encountered in the debate about how to handle the elections: bureaucratic infighting, congressional second-guessing, complaints from outsiders.
The methods and the scope of the covert effort have been hard to discern. The current and former military and intelligence officials who spoke to me about the election operation were unable, or unwilling, to give precise details about who did what and where on Election Day. These sources said they heard reports of voter intimidation, ballot stuffing, bribery, and the falsification of returns, but the circumstances, and the extent of direct American involvement, could not be confirmed. ”

I'll let Hersh speak for himself. The whole article is here.

Otherwise: John Roberts- could be worse. Best case scenario- he's another Souter or Kennedy. Worst, he's a Rehnquist. He doesn't seem to have the insane edge of a Scalia, or the contemplative obsequiousness of a Thomas. At any rate, when Republicans pick a nominee like this, they tend to regret it. Let's hope that trend continues.

Bolton's new job- Bush does have the absolute right to do this. Still, it was a total dick move. I'd like to think it'll haunt him later (2006)- but nothing comes back to bite this president. The man's an untouchable, in every sense of the word.