Tuesday, February 27, 2007

No Place for Hate

Disappointment. Frustration. Astonishment. Or any other number of descriptions about one's reaction to a particular person's behavior...but not Hate.

Hate denies a person calm, deliberative, rational thought.

The enormity of the Administration's culpability is almost beyond calculation, but hatred will prevent that calculation from occurring. If the calculation cannot occur, it cannot be part of a solution.

Don't hate.


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Monday, February 26, 2007

Is there a reason why...

...the United States is still following its policies of eradication realtive to hard drugs emanating from places like Colombia and Afghanistan?

Over the weekend, for instance, a news item mentioned that the record tonnage of poppies in Afghanistan are worth 3 billion dollars in illegal funds.

Wouldn't it be cost effective if we were to spend 3 billions to pay Afghani farmers not to grow poppies? Don't we spend that much paying farmers in our own farming areas, particularly the South, not to grow certain crops?

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tempest in a Teapot? Or Sac?

If you want to have insight into one of America's social problems, just jump over to "With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar" over at the New York Times.

Elementary school librarians all over the country are clucking about scrotum. Yep. Scrotum. Not images of chainsaw carrying murderers in newspaper ads, not screaming nymphs and decapitated Lotharios in television ads, Scrotum!--that most dangerous word to the peace and security of the nation.

It happens there's a new children's book, The Higher Power of Lucky, which has an early sentence which tells of an unlucky dog who'd been bitten on the scrotum by a rattlesnake.

According to the Times' Julie Bosman, this word has caused a virtual censorship of the book, even though it has won the Newberry Medal, a prestigious honor for children's literature.

It seems librarians and elementary school teachers don't want to have to explain the word to the children in their charge.

One librarian from Colorado gave Ms Bosman this quote, "“I don’t want to start an issue about censorship, but you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature. At least not for children.”

And why not? Mightn't some of our psycho-sexual social problems be mitigated with an early education about words which more formally identify various parts of the "genitalia?" Wouldn't it be better for children if they knew scrotum rather than nuts or balls? Vagina rather than pussy or (pardon me) the c-word?

In this time of "culture war" (a term used by the disingenuous right), isn't it better to have everyone know, and be able to use, acceptable language for all parts of the human body?

Over 40 years ago, a toddler nephew decided to "streak" the family at a Sunday dinner. His older brother, then about 5, shreiked with laughter, "I saw his penis!" I was momentarily stunned--"penis?!?" Then I thought my nephews were certainly on an easier path than the one set by my parents when I was told to be sure to "Wash your monk."

Elementary school librarians, in these times of heightened awareness are not to be faulted in this brouhaha. It's the responsibility of parents to help their children navigate the many paths to adulthood. A more judicious use of the language in speaking to children about the body would be a good place to focus attention. It would also help librarians to do their jobs.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"I'm entitled!" "Oh, yeah?"

One of the more interesting effects of the recent growth in monetary entitlements and of ego-boosting self-esteem is the sense of being entitled to be taken seriously.

Over in one of my favorite blogs, Gay Conservative Liberal, a couple of people who engage with GCL, and who are not very liberal, constantly ask questions about proving this or that assertion made by another commentor (actually, commentor doesn't appear in my dictionary, but commentator seems a bit too formal for somebody offering a comment in the "comment" section of a blog; any suggestions?).

It seems a clash of the entitlements is inevitable.

You want me to respond to your question? I choose not to respond.

You insist? Feel free.

Prove your entitlement--your own self-esteem and personal rage don't count. My own entitlement trumps your entitlement.

That's my answer.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Incessant Tap Dancing Around Religion

This week in Newsweek Fareed Zakaria wrote a piece in which he delineated the role is Islam in the Sunni-Shi'a struggle in Iraq. Essentially he pointed out that until Islam goes through the equivalent of the Protestant Reformation vis a vis Christianity there will be no lasting peace in the "western world."

Religions, like all institutions, are not cast in concrete from the instigation. As people change in their understanding of behavior and nature, religions change. Some changes are subtle, some are revolutionary. Change, though, is inevitable.

Islam is going to change and eventually the verses which allow for murderous interpretations will be relegated to virtual unimportance, just as violent verses of Judaism and Christianity have become interesting artifacts of a long passed society.

Unfortunately, some pundits of the right took a single phrase from Zakaria's work and work themselves into a slather of dispute.

Christopher Hitchens in Slate.com partakes in the discussion. It seems the war supporting pundits are fixated on the facts of the blundering treatment of the Middle East by the Europeans and Americans of the 20th century, not to mention the centuries long rivalry between various Islamic sects. A sense of history is fine, but that was not Zakaria's point.

Zakaria is telling us to do whatever we can to encourage the quick reformation of Islam.

It would be nice if the right and the left would take Zakaria's suggestion to heart and devise a strategy which would assist moderate Muslims in this very important development of their religion.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

When Losing Is Almost Better

In today's New York Times, one can read about a particular marvel of advertising which can give you a glow.

The story, by Lee Jenkins (thank you, Lee), details what happens to the Super Bowl winners' paraphenalia which was manufactured before the Super Bowl is played. It's shipped to a remote village in an undeveloped area. 288 caps and T-shirts emblazoned with the losing team's name and identity as the winning team, are off on a journey to someplace. “Where these items go, the people don’t have electricity or running water.”

Check out the heartwarming story. By the time you get to the last sentence, There, and only there, the losers get to be winners, you'll have gained a new respect for the N.F.L.

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