Sunday, September 28, 2008

Enter Tom, Stage Left

The New York Times has, of late, done some strange things, i.e., hired Bill Kristol.  It does, however, maintain the likes of Frank Rich and Tom Friedman, much to its credit.  (Mo Dowd is wonderful to read, but when she gets her Irish up, she borders in irrelevant.)

Today's Friedman column, "Green the Bailout," contains this line, "The American Dream is an aspiration, not an entitlement."

That line is one which should be emblazoned on every baby crib mobile all over the world.

And it should become part of morning prayers/meditation, along with "Capitalism good; greed bad."

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Here's the Pig, Where's the Lipstick?

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Ahh, Dear Gentle Reader(s), language is so much fun.  With all the brouhaha going on about the financial negotiations in Washington, it's amusing to take a brief digression into what what some observers, and it turns out some observers have a vested interest, are saying, with some attention given to the diction they are using.

Take, for instance, this little ditty found in a web site identified as IBD Editorials, an organ of Investor's Business Daily:

Hubris and hypocrisy aside, it's important to recognize the legislation for what it is — a rescue, not a bailout, of the financial system.

What's the difference between a rescue and a bailout?  Each implies a tough situation from which one is extracted by another. 

Perhaps the difference lies in connotations associated with the words.  Is it that rescue has a more "elite" connotation than bailout?  A more honorable effort?  Would one rather be rescued or bailed out?

Who was it making hurling derision at elites lately? 

Rescue v Bailout.

Are we using Avon products or Maybelline for this particular pig?

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Opus' opus

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Of course, Dear Gentle Reader(s), no one knows what the future holds, but one can certainly hope the current "arc" over in Opus is not going to end with the demise of this wonderful comic strip.

A toast to "Bloom County," "Opus," and Berkeley Breathed!

Thank you.


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Anthropological Arrogance

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Far more years ago than I care to say, Dear Gentle Reader(s), an anthropological professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, discussed a certain arrogance which he observed as one society commented on the perceived weaknesses of other societies.  The professor's point was that if a society thrives, it works.  When societies don't thrive, they disappear. 

Here in California a Proposition 8 has been placed on the November 4 ballot.  It "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry."

In today's Los Angeles Times, readers are treated to an essay which argues that the proposition ought to be passed in order to protect children.

Here are some quotes from David Blankenhorn's piece for your musings:

1.  [Marriage] is primarily a license to have children.

2.  Family structure clearly matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. (Statement from a 2002 study)

Now, DGR(s), #1 above is an unusual declaration.  Given the throw-away kids littering the streets of our major cities, one would hope there would be a "license" needed in order to procreate human beings.  Alas, it doesn't seem to be the case.

Very few people would even attempt to argue against #2 above.  Of course that would be optimum.  The question is how realistic is the optimum? 

Blankenhorn admits (reluctantly? but necessarily as a self-proclaimed "liberal Democrat"--we do have a tendency to bare our souls to all of our faults) "Legalized same-sex marriage almost certainly benefits those same-sex couples who choose to marry, as well as the children being raised in those homes."  So, the children in same-sex marriage families will "benefit?"  What's the problem, then?

The problem is with the language, with the word "marriage," which Blankenhorn feels will be re-defined, and the re-definition will undermine "the birthright" of each child to know his/her biological "maker."

That doesn't seem like a logical problem, given our society.  Perhaps the arrogance of the late 20th century's moralists needs to come under scrutiny.  Blankenhorn's is not necessarily better than what's being offered by the opponents of Proposition 8. 

And besides, Blankenhorn doesn't even live in California.  (OK, that's a little petty.) (Another Democratic conscience driven admission)

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Baa Baa

This subject matter, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is nothing new, but perhaps it ought to be revived on a rather regular basis.

The old metaphor of a shepherd and a flock of sheep used in religious settings is a true puzzlement.  After all, for what purpose does the shepherd protect the sheep from the ravenous wolf? 

What happens to a sheep which is not eaten by a wolf? 

Anyone see many sheep dying of old age, surrounded by teary ovine eyes?

Sheep are shorn.

Sheep are butchered.

Cute, frisky, little lambs are butchered--ever had a lamb chop?

Thanks a lot, shepherd, buddy.

And the dog you walked in with.

Yet, we have: "The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not want."


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Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Question(s) for Contemplation

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A.  Just how efficacious, Dear Gentle Reader(s), are our religious institutions, not to mention the basic family unit, at teaching morality?

In all the brouhaha about, say, abstinence-only-before marriage v sex-education in the educational system, isn't there an underlying rationale that the teaching of morality and responsibility done at home or at religious educational facilities isn't working?  If church and home were doing such a good job, why do we need laws restricting behavior?

B.  What, really and truly, is the difference between a fundamentalist Christian, an orthodox Jew, and a fundamentalist Moslem?  They all, literally, pray to the very same Deity.  Yet they gleefully strive to kill off those who do not pray in the same manner as they.  Do we really trust the rationale of anyone whose mantra is "God's will?"

Do we want a fundamentalist to be given the power of the button?  "It's God's will that I push this button and destroy a middle eastern city so that the End of Days might commence."

Just askin'.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

...and Agnew's son!

Dear Gentle Reader(s), not to put too fine a point on it, there're some knockout people in the Palin camp.

Waaaaaay back when RMN was running for his 1968 term, there was a claque of gay guys in Houston who were taken with Spiro Agnew's son...and who remembers his name?

At a brunch the guys had a hand painted sign at the front door which read:


Well, McCain's not the one, but oh, that Palin son (and incipient son-in-law)!!!!!

Excellent genes, Sarah and Todd.  Excellent genes!

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Does "No, but..." equal "No, Butt."?

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What, Dear Gentle Reader(s), does a tendency to preface responses with "No, but" do to a conversation?

Doesn't it raise one's hackles (whatever they are)?  After making a clear, succinct, and virtually unassailable point, what is a person to do if a respondent's first word is "No"?

Shut down?  Curl up like an armadillo, and present a shield to the world?  Hide one's head in the sand?  Turn, like a porcupine, and unleash dozens of stinging quills upon the miscreant?

Rather than engaging in cowardice or mayhem, perhaps it is possible to convince the perpetrators of this negativity that too many noes is bad for conversation, and bad for the no, too.  Spread anything too thin and it loses its value.

Let us begin a campaign, then, DGR(s), to retire the ubiquitous No and to proselytize for the use of "Yes, and, too..." or "May I offer a slightly different view?"

That way your conversing partner is at once applauded for perspicacity and invited to participate in a new intellectual adventure.


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