Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Cape of Good Hope

Pesharim – The Cape of Good Hope

This began as the worst Holiday Season that I have ever personally experienced, but by this moment has changed dramatically into one of the best Holiday Seasons I have ever enjoyed.

It began some months ago when my marriage to my wife started to deteriorate. Dramatically. This past year we purchased the old family estate, house, and lands, and were later given some additional lands by my parents.

We rented out our old home to some people who we later discovered were horrible tenants and we were eventually forced to evict them for non-payment of rent. As a result we were making two home mortgage payments, including land payments and other expenses without any income by way of rent owed, for months, and had to eat court costs and proceedings, which dragged on for nearly a year, just to evict the bad tenants.

I was working about 10 to 16 hours a day, every day, except Sundays on which I worked about six hours a day not counting work I did for the church. So in all I was working seven days a week, we were under tremendous financial pressure (and are still recovering from that disaster), I was getting very little sleep, almost no exercise, and I was still attempting to maintain most, if not all of my prior activities. I was writing, doing consulting projects, doing work for various companies, going on patrol when I could, investigating a few Cold Cases, trying to maintain my studies, doing volunteer work for the church, I was appointed Missions House director and assistant treasurer, teaching on occasion, and without sleep, proper exercise, rest, relaxation, or recreation, I was becoming a real asshole and tyrant. It didn’t take much to make me angry, I would get in a blow-up, take it out on my wife, who had problems of her own, and was yelling at my children over seemingly innocuous and petty matters. I began to fall victim to recurring injuries (when I did bother to train) and illnesses, due to exhaustion and overwork no doubt, and began having occasional chest pains. I took Disaster Relief, communications, and new CERT training (when I was in the CAP my main training was in Civil Defense and SAR, so it was a good overlap), and helped on a few missions and rescue efforts. I spent little time in prayer, contemplation, or mediation, spent even less with God in any honest way. The world, and the pressures and events and work in it, seemed to be consuming me entirely. I was scattered about in a thousand different directions and spread thin as a sheet of cheap dime store paper.

To continue the decline one of my prized dogs was killed by either a nest of copperheads or cottonmouths (not all that long after his mother was killed by a hunter), we never found out exactly which, and I had to personally help put him to sleep and then bury him with my own hands. My last grandmother died, and she was more like a second mother to me than just a modern distant, never-see, nuclear-family type grandmother. She helped raise me and I even lived with her for a while during college and after my grandfather died. I buried several good friends, and quite a few of the World War II generation in our church who I had come to respect, and even some I had come to be personally close with. I worked a couple of really violent and disturbing cases, which also left me drained. One of my daughters was badly sick for a while, and improvement was slow. I became extremely tired, and yet, at the encouragement of my friends I began blogging, for which I am now glad but for a couple of months there it was extremely exhausting work and I wasn’t enjoying it much, I just saw it as another writing chore and time consumer, without even the benefit of pay.

My wife, who was working heavy hours at her own work during the holidays was I imagine feeling equal pressure, as well as catching hell from me, and she was also trying to do far too much outside of work, like teaching Sunday School classes, being Woman’s Missions Director for our church, going on volunteer missions trips to rebuild parts of Mississippi, doing other volunteer work, and so forth. We were both exhausted and pushed way too hard, but we did very little together except argue, yell at each other, or the children.

Eventually we became resentful of, and with each other, sometimes over petty and certainly unimportant matters, and sometimes over reasonable and logical matters, but matters which at some other point in time, or under other circumstances we could have easily accommodated and repaired.

Our sex life plummeted and to tell the truth I was reaching the point of thinking her cold, distant, and unattractive no matter what I did or said, and God only knows what she was thinking, but I’m sure it was along similar veins. I was praying heavily for some relief in our marriage, and she later told me she was as well, but we certainly weren’t praying or acting together, but at odds with each other. In any case no matter what I tried, and I’m sure she felt the same, nothing worked and our condition deteriorated even worse. She was the product of a divorced family and was raised by a single mom, and I got the feeling that she felt that wouldn’t be such a bad escape. To tell you the truth recently I was feeling the same way.

On the other hand I had my marriage vows, my sense of personal honor, my duty to her, God, and my children, and a desire not to fail at marriage. I don’t like to fail at anything and those who know me also know I will go to almost any lengths not to fail at something I consider worth fighting for. Also I had remembrance of a time when our marriage was very good and thriving. Yet none of these things were providing me much motivation to drive me forward to succeed and correct our course, and my wife’s motivations were practically dead as well. As were her feelings for which I have to claim at least partial credit and fault, because I’ve always told her that I wasn’t really concerned with her feelings when it came to problem solving. That it was more important to solve problems than wallow in emotions. I’ve never been a man who was controlled by my emotions; I consider emotions excellent sources of motivation, but poor guides for conduct or behavior. And being at the beck and call, certainly under the influence or whims of your emotions is no way for any man to behave in my opinion. My wife however is in a certain sense a very emotional person, as women tend to be generally, and so I certainly wasn’t helping the matter from her point of view by telling her to be less emotional and more logical and disciplined. She just doesn’t seem to work that way.

Anywho by Christmas Eve we were lying in bed discussing separation and possible divorce. We had already had three or four such conversations since Thanksgiving. I told her flatly that I would do everything possible from my end to save the marriage but that I had not intention in remaining in a failed marriage as a pretense. That to me a marriage, like anything else in Life, should prosper, thrive, and be constantly improving, becoming better. Otherwise it was stagnant and dead. And I couldn’t have a dead marriage anymore than I could have dead work, or dead children. It was either all the way, the right way, or nothing at all. Lies and pretense have never much impressed me.

She cried and disgorged upon me all of her feelings and complaints about me, which did not bother me at all, actually this made me feel much, much more confident because this finally showed me that she at least still wanted to try. Which to me was the real point, that she would be willing to fight instead of just give up and in. We began praying together, humbly I might add, towards mutual goals and we both agreed to make changes in both the way we approach our marriage and our work. We also agreed to make changes to our personal activities, to relax more, to spend more time together, to recreate more, to argue less about petty matters. I’ll detail some of these matters later in my End of the Year Confession, and my New Year’s Resolutions. We went on to have a fantastically good if somewhat subdued and somber Christmas, because we were both still kinda feeling our way through things. Nevertheless it was pleasant, relaxing, and even quite sexually gratifying. A couple of times.

As of today, the 30th, our marriage has improved perceptibly every day since Christmas. This past week has been sort of a Renaissance, or Rebirth of our Marriage. It’s still gonna be a lot of work, changes are gonna have to be made, and were both gonna have to relax, have more faith in God and each other, but it seems to me that we have successfully weathered the worst and roughest part of our marriage ever, and that from here on we can sail forward in improved conditions towards ever better ports and safer harbors. If I had to describe this past year it was like being caught at sea in a typhoon, and the result was a partially wrecked ship, a desperate and dying crew, being adrift without proper supplies, with no canvass for repairs, with a broken rudder, and with spoiled maps and a broken compass. But we made it, we made it to dock and finally have repairs underway. We are resupplying, have new maps and provisions, a fresh compass, and a healthy crew. There will be other storms to weather and other reefs to navigate in the future no doubt but I feel confident now that having made it through this one without capsizing or sinking, we can run any other danger without coming apart either. Point is when you’ve sailed through the storm and come through alive, everything else, no matter how rough the seas is a Cape of Good Hope. So that’s where we are, the Cape of Good Hope. Refitting and making ready to make way again for the New Year, for which I am thankful, and at peace.

It was a good Christmas after all. A very good Christmas.
And a man can’t ask for much more than that as a gift worth keeping.

I hope your Christmas was equally salutary.
Godspeed wherever you sail.


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5 Misconceptions Concerning Stem Cell Research

In early December, Jack posted an article on stem cell research that I disagreed with slightly, and we had a valient back-and-forth in the comments that ended in the anticlimactic conclusion of each of us agreeing to disagree (how typical).

In the spirit of stealing the last word, I wanted to post a snippet of an article I wrote after our debate entitled "5 Common Misconceptions Concerning Stem Cell Research." Enjoy!

Misconception 1. Adult stem cell research has yielded working treatments whereas embryonic stem cell research has not; due to this fact, embryonic stem cell research should be replaced by adult stem cell research.

The first claim in this argument is absolutely true; adult stem cell research has resulted in working treatments for diseases whereas embryonic stem cell research has not. What proponents of this argument fail to mention, however, is the fact that adult stem cell research began as far back as 1964, while human embryonic stem cell research began as recently as 1998. This means that adult stem cell research has had a 34-year head start on embryonic stem cell research. It seems reasonable to believe that, given the enormous head start, adult stem cell research should produce therapies ahead of its younger counterpart.

The logical fallacy inherent in this argument is the creation of a false dichotomy. The implied line of reasoning goes as follows: adult stem cell research has produced useable therapies, embryonic stem cell research has not; therefore, adult stem cell research should replace embryonic stem cell research. The truth of the matter, however, is that embryonic and adult stem cell research should be viewed as complementary to each other, not mutually exclusive. There are certain diseases that would best be treated using the patient’s own stem cells, while there are other diseases that require embryonic as opposed to adult stem cells. The idea that there is a winner-take-all contest between adult stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research is simply wrong.

Misconception 2. There are deep scientific flaws concerning embryonic stem cell research; due to this fact, it should be halted.

There are many problems embryonic stem cell researchers are currently attempting to overcome; not the least of these being the development of tumors and donor rejection. Nobody is denying the existence of problems; after-all, if there were not any problems with embryonic stem cell therapies, there would not be a need for research in the first place!

This argument is fueled solely by people’s feelings of “moral obligation” to stop embryonic stem cell research. There is no empirical evidence to support completely abandoning a line of research simply because of donor rejection or tumor development. Take organ donation, for example: researchers were able to derive treatments to reduce the likelihood of the recipient rejecting the organ. The same could most likely be accomplished with embryonic stem cell treatments given further research.

If medical researchers abandoned promising therapies every time they encountered problems, our medical prowess would be a mere skeleton of what it is today.


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Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam is Dead

Pesharim - Saddam is Dead

News flash: Execution a success.

Saddam is now dead. Long will he stay that way.


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A Couple

Pesharim - A Couple

Got this from Laughing Wolf at Blackfive.

Milblogger Down

Walter Reed

It deserves to be checked out.
Thanks to everyone who assisted with Valour-IT.

Also, there's this bit of bad news.

Submarine Crew killed in Accident


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Hanging Hussein

The Glair - Hanging Hussein

I don’t know if any of you have ever seen a man (or woman or child for that matter) hang, or seen the results of a hanging. I have.

I don’t mean the kind of modern hanging, which at one time, not so long ago, was a semi-regular method of execution, where weights or other devices were used to quickly snap the neck of the person being hanged.

I mean a real “Hanging.” The kind where a fella twists and turns and convulses and chokes and ropes and ligatures slowly strangle him and crush his throat and esophagus as gravity pulls him down, down, down, and in terror and panic, fighting for breath he assures his own doom through slow torment by way of twitching and thrashing about, which only tightens the grip. You don’t see that much anymore, and modern men and women, especially in the insulated West, where most do all they can to even avoid the thought of killing and death like a bad commute or a trip to Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve, flee the impulse like sheep scattered by a lightning bolt in a summer storm.

I mean a real “Hanging.” The word is far more than just a metaphorical impulse and it describes far more than the mere technical notification of being suspended in air by the neck until dead, dead…dead.

Hanging, for those familiar with the practice or for those who have seen the result gives a glimpse of something that those who die by particular and violent means come to understand, and if unlucky enough to see it through to the end, fully comprehend in the execution.

To Hang is to hang in the air, t'is true, but it is also to “Hang between Worlds,” suspended in a state which can best be described as “neither, here, nor there.” To hang in the air, by a slender cord or rope of ultimate destruction, but temporal disposition, fighting desperately to preserve one’s own place in this world while awaiting, by slow strangulation and tortuous twist of your own personal Gordian Knot, your entry into another.

I’d like to describe all of the horrors I’ve both seen and imagined by way of this particular form of dispatch, but some things are best the preserve of the few, and reserved for the few. In addition some things can never be understood unless first empirically received or transmitted by direct, personal experience, and therefore expositions upon a kind remain mere descriptions of the imagination of the receptive party. Those who already know need no description, they have experienced or seen it, those who will never know will never know and imagination, though a beautifully deceptive method of intellectual apprehension conveys no more real truth in the practice than does a film or video game about life convey any of the truer nuances of Real Life to those who have actually already dared to live. Data is not Experience, information is not Truth. In the modern world even such a thought seems heretical and to the wisest of those who pretend wisdom in this age that is no doubt as close to Truth as they are capable of making discovery, but to the truly Wise the apprehension of truth is found in experience, not knowledge. You know, you truly know, because you have done, because you have seen, because you have experienced, because you were, or are, there.

Such is the truth, the one inescapable and real Truth, Saddam is about to enjoy. He will hang between worlds, and for a few brief moments of human condemnation and furious, internal self-doubt he will anticipate his doom, hang suspended between worlds, one of which is anxious to view his departure, and thereby spit him out, and the other which may just be equally anxious in patient reception, so as to eat him when he arrives. He will hang, and time will seem to stop for him, and he will die, and be torn from a body that has seen its certain and fair share of doubt, desperation, final torment, and God only knows, plentiful corruption.

Do I personally wish him eternal doom and destruction, that he go wailing and screaming like an old, tortured, chemically gassed woman who has lived just long enough to see her children and grandchildren annihilated by the whims of a tyrannical and evil dictator? Not really, because that is not my business to either judge or conduct. What Saddam’s final, and perhaps even ultimate disposition may be, that is a matter, as the saying goes, far above my pay-grade. I have personal theories of what may await him, but in the end that is not my affair, nor do I think my opinion would add much wisdom or justice in deciding the case one way or another. I am after all only a man, not God, and the entire universe can be awfully glad of that. To tell you the truth so am I, I don’t even want the job anymore than I deserve the job of deciding more permanent matters regarding the soul of Hussein, assuming he either possesses one, or that it has not already been consumed by a sort of internal contagion of psychological and pathological self-rot.

But I am a man, and as a man, in this world, I can see real Justice and Truth, in and for this world, in letting Saddam swing. Who knows I may one day be shocked to discover that I run across Saddam in Heaven and he may laugh at my surprised and shocked declaration of… “How in hell did you make it here man!?” To which I guess he can justifiably reply, “You don’t make those decisions pal, and God is wiser than you.” And God knows He certainly is, no argument there. But I won’t be surprised if after this world I never run across mention of the fella again, and in any case, I won’t exactly be holding my breath. Least ways not nearly as long as Saddam will soon be attempting the same trick. Good luck then old man…you’re gonna need it. You don’t strike me as much of a magician. Or escape artist.

The point of the whole matter is that what is to come in the next few hours or days is out of my hands, and so I leave those affairs to others, in this world and elsewhere. But as for this world, this moment in time, as for what passes as Justice and Truth in this world, there is a certain and undeniably poetic irony that Saddam is to swing, to haul, to twist in the wind, to choke, struggle, suffocate, to strangle, to have his breath and voice crushed, to “hang between worlds.”

Will Saddam be allowed to hang, slowly, painfully, tortuously, philosophically, or will the Iraqi execution authorities weight his body so that his neck snaps cleanly and he dies quickly before he splatters his pants with his very last shit and before his prison pantaloons are soiled with his piss of the last of this world? Will his body, mind, and ghost hang for long moments of inescapable reflection upon his past life and his current fate as he twists on the tangles of the noose at his neck? Or will his spirit be suddenly and violently torn from his corpse to shriek off like some damned and lonely banshee, wailing about the injustice of the injustice of it all? Who can say? Not me, I imagine. I’m not going to bother to imagine it anyway; the point is I know it is coming. I’ll let Death work out all the details. He’s got a lot more experience than I do in these matters, and I trust him to do the thing right. So I can expend my imagination in better pursuits, like imaging that the people who need to get the message of this hanging will do just that. But they won’t. Least ways, not until it is too late for them as well.

And I have no illusions that as soon as Saddam is dispatched and sent packing from this corner of the kosmos that the world will re-begin again, or that the New Year will suddenly sprout reformation in Iraqi insurgents or spawn genius and wisdom in Islamic terrorists the world over, anymore than a good hanging often reforms would be criminals when they see one of their own pitched up high. Everyone deludes himself or herself, until their moment is near, that they are special, that they alone will escape. None ever do in the end, but most people don’t think much about the end, they are too consumed with the brilliance of what they believe about themselves in the now. And I have no illusions that by the execution of this tired, weak, stripped, pathetic little man that the rest of the world will have gotten a good instruction in the fate of relying upon fate as a shield of personal invulnerability and individual invincibility. That tyrants the globe over will change, that they will go about the rest of their lives having learned a good moral lesson and so this event will never again have to be repeated. There will be new tyrants, new dictators, new terrorists, new criminals, and new evils for new ages. New Evils even for this current, and just to be honest, rather juvenile Age. C’est la Vie.

But at this moment, at this time, for this world, in this way, in a sort of collective, metaphysical fashion, they will all hang together. And they should hang together, because sooner or later, if they remain as they are, they will all surely hang separately.

Just give it a little time.
You’ll see what I mean.

© JWG, Jr. 2006

Article on Execution


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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Bit of Catch Up

Peharim - A Bit of Catch-Up

I've undergone some interesting and even disturbing personal and professional changes this past holiday season, especially around Christmas, which have set me back somewhat in my Blog Writings and Postings.

More on that later. I'll catch up as quickly as I can.


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Wednesday Religious Assessment 12/27/06

Wednesday Religious Assessment

What came After Jesus

Rocky and the Rock

St. John's Day

St. Jerome and the Manger

Christians and Divorce


The Good Shepherd

American Faith Hero

Warren's Five


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Tuesday Science and Technology Abstract 12/26/06

Tuesday Science and Technology Abstract

The Media Blogostrophy

Scaffolding Stem Cells


Buried Sound

Planet Seeker

Rubbers Never Go Out of Fashion

Taiwan Commdown

Interesting Patent

Console Shortfall

Underwater Luxury

Best Q&A


Gyre in Space


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Monday Political and Business Appraisal 12/26/06

Monday Political and Business Appraisal

James Brown Dead

Schwarzenegger's Ski Trip

Nuke Reactor Hits

Nigerian Explosion

Frankincense Down


Solar Energy

German EADS


Search Engine Shopping

Nifong Defanged

AP Digs Up New Numbers in Attempt to Bury Iraq

The African Campaign


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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eve of the Morn

Karpas - Eve of the Morn

Eve of the Morn

T'was the Night before Christmas
And all on the Net
It was quiet as a church mouse
When the moon has just set,

Children and adults
All sit by the fire
Wondering if the morn
Might fulfill their desires,

With visions of sugarplums
And a high calorie snack
For a quick bedtime meal
With gifts to unpack,

A Playstation Game
Maybe even a new system
The possibilities so grand
They exceed even mention,

Robots and toys
And the best electronics,
Some of this stuff
Even gives me mnemonics

Of a day and a time
Now far lost to past
When I was a child
And Christmas a blast

But by searching my thoughts
For those long ago nights
I now realize
Why my Christ Mass was bright

On the Eve of the Morn
On the Day of the Dawn
All my family would gather
By our blood were we drawn

To gather and mingle
To just congregate
To mix with a jingle,
To never be late

Every man to his mission
Every gal to her meal
Every child to his present
Everyone did appeal

And despite all the problems
Which plagued us at times
That one simple morning
Gave hope most sublime

It gentled our worries
It conquered our cares
It made men of peace
When the world did despair

It comforted the lonely
Gave hope to the weak
Made happy the distraught
No one could misspeak

And the days of the Days
Of the coming New Year
Would be that much brighter
When lit by such cheer,

And now I'm a man
Of a much older cast
And I relish with relish
That I realize at last,

Christmas is New Birth
A Babe and a Song
It is all those we now have
All those parted so long

The Ghosts of the Past
And the Children of Now
The Hope of the Future
The Faith we Avow,

The gifts but a symbol
Of the Peace and the Grace
Knowing Tomorrow
In our present Embrace

I cannot but wonder
At the Wonder of All
When God rises in us
Whatever befall

And to Christ in the Manger
Who reminds me this Eve
That all will be well
For the good you conceived

My nightfall is happy
My heart is at rest,
My Christmas is coming
May you too be blessed...

Merry Christmas to Everyone

Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men


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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christ the Commander

Karpas - Christ the Commander

To tell you the truth I've always had a similar view of Christ as a grown man to that expressed in this article by Doug Giles.

As a man I've always thought of Christ as being like an excellent military Commander, a true Crusading Commander. Not the kind of Crusader who desires to conquer and kill but the kind of Commander who is willing to risk the dangerous thing, to lead where other men will not, to do the impossible, who fears nothing and who any man could be proud to serve with, and follow.

The kind of Crusading Commander who says, "We're not taking this shit anymore, we're taking name and kicking ass gentlemen, and you boys are gonna work harder than at any time in your life, and when you're sure you're finished then you're gonna work even harder."

I can admire such a leader, and can easily see myself following such a man, because I do. I can easily see myself aligned with such a Savior in order to struggle for the Kingdom of God, both within myself and on the Earth. I've never much cared for the effeminate idea of Christ, because I see so little evidence that the man was effeminate. He certainly possessed abilities and traits many would consider effeminate; Forgiveness, Mercy, Grace, Patience, Peace, and these traits were immensely important but those same traits were also balanced by Justice, Strength, Toughness, Fearlessness in Struggle and inexhaustible Courage.

In short I see Him as a Model Man, a Gifted Savior, shrewd, cunning, strong, patient, an impeccable leader, Son of his Father.

When I personally think of Christ I think of enormous strength, and just to be honest the kind of man I'd like to be.

So I thought some of you might enjoy this article on the Eve before Christmas Eve.

From Townhall:

When Jesus Christ got injected into the human mix two thousand plus years ago, from the cradle to the cross, He was a lightning rod of controversy. His incarnation heated up the culture war more than O’Reilly could ever dream of doing.

Immanuel’s arrival upon the scene caused demon inspired, political idiots to try to kill Him while He was still cooing and pooing in His pampers. The dragon no likey his party getting ruined, and ruin it the Prince of Peace did.

The initial message the Wonderful Counselor preached, according to Dr. Luke’s take, ticked off the crowd He was addressing so thoroughly that they attempted to throw Him off a cliff. He nailed that haughty mob for the crud they were practicing—and He did so publicly. In public. Ouch. Snap! That’s not very “Christian” of Christ.

In reality (on this planet), Jesus received minimal accolades. No lucrative gigs with the Premier Speakers Bureau; no “isn’t He so nice let’s put Him on Oprah” invite; no fat, Creflo Dollar like honorariums; no limousine chariot services. He got nada, nothing, zilch, zero, zippo—and for those who haven’t seen The Passion of the Christ yet, it sorta got even rougher.

Today in our radically wussified, politically correct state of bland, we won’t embrace this Christ because He’d so get under our skin. And we like our skin. The truth of the matter is that what Jesus said and did caused more discomfort to man’s me-monkey human spirit than cheap Tequila and three bags of pork rinds drenched in hot sauce would to Martha Stewart’s colon (insert deep belch and loud fart noise here).

It’s funny that a bunch of churchgoers who worship Jesus probably wouldn’t hire Him to be their pastor today because He was too much of a hellrazer. His solid/ acidic, anti-bovine scatology posture towards politicians, priests, pet sins, oppressors and others who were playing games with God and man equates a resume that most pastoral search committees wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pew.

Y’know, most of us forget the above when we see sweet baby Jesus lying in a manger. Because of our rank illiteracy regarding the scripture, our prejudiced and politically correct approach to the Bible that’s custom tailored a Jesus of our own imaginations, we have developed a deep distaste for anything but a bespoke and neutered little “g” god.

My prayer for you and yours, our churches and our nation is that we flush the feckless, Lysol-disinfected, feminine hygiene Jesus we’ve created to mollycoddle our madness and go back to the rowdy Christ that would, lovingly of course, shake us into shape.

So, as we’re clicking our mouse and melting our plastic this holiday season in homage to the birth of heaven’s Beowulf, why don’t we go the second mile and follow His example by being more rowdy for righteous stuff in ’07. Yeah, that’s it. Make 2007 one where the clash aspects of Christ’s nature are emphasized. Possibly, by so doing, we will see personal sin, aggressive secularism and militant Islam get staved off like never before.

Have a merry contrarian Christmas and a happy, hellrazing New Year.

* Logon to www.ClashRadio.com and watch Giles’ new video blurb, “It’s Going To Get Rough, So Put On a Cup.” Also, check out Doug’s interview Dr. Elizabeth Kantor, author of the book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature. Giles gets the skinny from Kantor on what PC English professors don’t want you to learn from, Beowulf, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Jane Austen,T. S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor and others.

Doug Giles is the creator and host of The Clash radio shows, winners of seven Silver Microphone Awards and two Communicator Awards in the last three years, and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.


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Friday, December 22, 2006

I Got Farked

Peharim - I got Farked (this morning)

By the way guys and dolls I wanted to let you know that I got Farked this morning. That is to say, the Geek Manifesto apparently went to TotalFark.

I can only say that this has been a humbling experience, and that I find the whole affair both amusing and somehow justifiable.

Thank you, and that is all.


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How to Write Good

Pesharim - How to Write Good

I got this from Plain Language.Gov.
Now don't you wish you're Gubbermint really worked this way?

1 Always avoid alliteration.
2 Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3 Avoid cliches like the plague—they're old hat.
4 Employ the vernacular.
5 Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6 Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7 Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
8 It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
9 Contractions aren't necessary.
10 Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.
11 One should never generalize.
12 Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
13 Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
14 Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
15 It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
16 Avoid archaeic spellings too.
17 Understatement is always best.
18 Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
19 One-word sentences? Eliminate. Always!
20 Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
21 The passive voice should not be used.
22 Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
23 Don't repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
24 Who needs rhetorical questions?
25 Don't use commas, that, are not, necessary.
26 Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.
27 Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice
28 Subject and verb always has to agree.
29 Be more or less specific.
30 Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
31 Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.
32 Don't repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
33 Don't be redundant.
34 Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
35 Don't never use no double negatives.
36 Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
37 Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
38 Eschew obfuscation.
39 No sentence fragments.
40 Don't indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
41 A writer must not shift your point of view.
42 Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
43 Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
44 Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
45 If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
46 Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
47 Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
48 Always pick on the correct idiom.
49 The adverb always follows the verb.
50 Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
51 If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
52 And always be sure to finish what


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Making Marriage Sound Queer, and the Good Child

The Glair - Making Marriage Sound Queer, and the Good Child

I don't care much for Orson Scott Card's fictional writings, but lately I've read quite a few articles by him and I've got to say, the man is often one helluvah essayist.

Take this article on Gay Marriage.

Now anyone who has ever been married knows that although the sport is a joyful exercise on occasion, and just downright fun and inspiring sometimes, that it is indeed a noble and good pursuit - it is also a tremendously gritty exercise in human suffering, patience, understanding, resentment, miscalculation, reversal, redemption, love, and can even often be terrifically hard work. One thing it rarely devolves into is gayness, in either the original or modern sense of the term.

Yet the way modern people use words nowadays you would think that the very best way to redefine anything, and then act on those newly invented redefinitions, is not through some historically fixed set of rules for human communications, but by the use of some misprogammed and viral-laden version of Babblefish.

At some point a person comes to understand that most problems on the face of this planet don't really stem from competing interests, but simply from the fact that people have decided that by redefining their interests in anyway they see momentarily fit, and then cloaking those misshapen and mutated malformations in the brightly colored fashions of public interest, and understanding, and tolerance, that they can reshape reality. Into what is another question, but why bother with questions when the sport is the thing.

A word by any other word would still smell as funny and still sound as queer, if not for the fact that in modern usage no one can hear you scream in cyberspace. After all, in the modern world, data is completely interchangeable with Truth, and if you don't believe that, then you've got a queer way of looking at things. Try refreshing your screen till it all becomes clear again.

Now for something completely different, Men coming home to be greeted by their neighbor's children. I've often wondered, since reading the parable of the Good Samaritan, what exactly composes the Good Neighbor. Is it in the head, or in the heart where fancy's bred? Is courage born of sacrifice, or does sacrifice breed courage in the passing man? Does it really matter nowadays?

When children decide that part of maturing is to wish their fellow countryman death and destruction when their fellow countryman is engaged in a pursuit designed to prevent death and destruction then I have to wonder who shepherds the shepherds, and when did the sheep gain control of the madhouse?

The thing about sheep is that they are not very smart, but try and tell the sheep that.

I am reminded of Animal Farm and for one brief moment my mind drifts back to a day when allusions, analogies, and symbols didn't have to be explained. To a time of youth when people, even the young, got the idea that a thing represented more than itself and that ideas had meanings even if some people drifted through life as if they did not.

Now what passes simply passes.

There is a sort of poetic irony to it all.

We've redefined things so many times that no one remembers the last definition long enough to care that we don't.


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Geek Manifesto!

Marxed - The Geek Manifesto

The Geek Manifesto!

A spectre is haunting the Internet -- the spectre of Digital Re-education. All the powers of the old Tech have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Microsoft, Public Education, Labor Unions, The Major Telecoms, Dial-Up…

The history of all hitherto existing Social Networks is the history of lowbrow genius and vis-à-vis GUI sub-systems. But this morning marks a new day in the reshaping of yesterday for the good of the New Man, the Man of Tomorrow, the beacon of future generations. For this is the Manifesto of the Man of Discovery, the Wikipedia Man, the man who knows because he has read it on the Internet, the Critical Man, the Man of Deep Web, the Man of Computational and Data-based Netology, the Hope of Us All.

Therefore, we the Geeple, in order to form a more perfect union of concentrically aligned, interface-able communications and impersonal interpersonal Social Networks do ordain a New Order of the Information Age which shall consist of the following Universal Statements of Individuality:

1. I believe a person’s greatest, most important, and long lasting personal relationships will either blossom on-line or in a Massively Multiplayer Environment.

2. If it’s on the Internet it must be true.

3. My relative values were forged as hard and true as a polysilicate nanochip in the seething cauldron of the World of Role Playing games.

4. I believe in the underlying Chaos of all things. Therefore I see no reason to brush my teeth.

5. I don’t really know much at all about history, culture, politics, religion, warfare, society, sports, athletics, economics, the law, government, fashion, or females, but just ask me about data encryption techniques. Go ahead, just ask me. I dare you.

6. My interpersonal social networks consist of Digg, Slashdot, Reddit, Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, and of course, the World of Warcraft. This is because I understand that true human interaction works best as an algorithm.

7. Global Warming is real. I accidentally walked outside one day last summer and it was really, really hot. Since then I stay inside, near my computer screens where the radiation cannot harm me.

8. My multipurpose wireless device contains all of my most important personal and life-data, like my encrypted passwords.

9. I am not nearly as naïve and lonely as I am confident that I must be.

10. People are not nearly as interesting in person as they are when they are converted into game stats.

11. Multitasking is the very best way to achieve what is truly most important in life – a 65th level purple Elven Swordmaster with a set of green, high-top anti-gravity boots.

12. I am absolutely confident that before I die and am obliterated forever I will have finally successfully evolved into a creature capable of living by myself, in my own apartment.

13. Don’t ask me to do it; I just describe it to others in incomprehensible jargon that I learned on the Internet and scraped off of office bathroom urinal stalls.

14. I tink therefore I spam.

15. I do not believe in God, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or other useless and imaginary cultural constructs, like sex with a woman. I do believe I am terrifically well liked and quite ingenious if enough people Digg Me.

16. Petty matters like appearance do not concern me. Hence the way I look and smell.

17. My concrete and erudite grasp of theoretical mathematics and complex programming languages makes me inwardly smug, intellectually superior, and socially retarded.

18. My haircut will always reflect a unique temporal time warp which terminates somewhere near the year 1977.

19. I will never reproduce, but if by accident or freak of nature I ever do, I will immediately repudiate the thought and try to talk her into aborting and donating the stem cells to an underground cloning project. That would be totally wicked cool!!!

20. I expect my chronological age at death to be 120 years, but my Real Age to still be 16.7. And the odds are stacked heavily in my favor.

21. I’ve learned everything I need to know about life by the time I’m 15. The rest of my life will be spent on the Internet discovering trivia and learning awesome new ways to entertain myself.

22. My life is entirely my own to enjoy. Because the girls are always with somebody else.

23. My bedroom is so cool that I intend to marry it one day when Congress finally gets off its ass and approves equal marriage protections for inanimate objects. After that I’ll never leave it again.

24. If you ever need to talk to me for some reason just make sure your security settings are low enough to allow my emails to get through.

25. I know far more about far less than most anyone else knows about that kind of thing.

26. People who Twitter aren't called Twits. They're Twitterites. Learn the jargon you Cro-Magnonese. Jargon is the most important part of any good communication. Sheesh.

27. MySpace is full of MyLies. Naturally I've got one.

28. Why use your real photograph on Facebook when there is so much good stock photography on the internet freely available?

29. I had a Second Life once and it was really exciting and adventurous. Exotic locations, fascinating people, danger, excitement, romance, profit. Important things happening. Then some Russian gave me a virus and I lot most of my data. It just wasn't worth it to reconstruct the whole virtual thing when that technology is already over three years old.

30. Social networking sites will change the future of getting laid. It is possibly the most important thing to happen in the history of the world. Next to the Playstation 3.

31. One day the internet will have evolved to the point that every detail of my life can be shared with everyone else at all times. I'm sure everyone else is as anxious for this day to arrive as I am.

32. I spend a lot of time on the internet consuming a huge amount of energy. I admit that. Which may not be all that good for Global Warming, but I think I off-set that with all of the carbon credits I generate by never breathing fresh air.

33. Nobody is quite so naive as he who gets all of his information just from television. That's why I get all of my information from G4 and the internet.

34. I made a total of $2.97 in my Paypal account off of my personal blog last year. I told everybody this was the future of commerce.

35. As a Geek I've learned a lot about economics off of the internet. That's also why I voted for Barack Obama. See how these things just seem to magically work out?

36. I know that Geekdom is the true path to personal fulfillment and a small, used, subcompact, electric car filled with toxic battery acid . My will be done.

© JWG, Jr. 2006


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Signal, Sygnet, and Sigil - PGS and PAD

The more I ponder this matter the more impressive the possible strategic implications of this undertaking.

To me the most interesting idea is not the technical details concerning the particular weapon's systems employed, but the fact that strategic thinkers are now realizing that the US needs a sort of "guerrilla/rogue regime" version of MAD/SAD which is tactical and surgical in nature rather than strategic and mass/reflexive in nature.

Much will depend on good Intel regarding targets, how easily we can track those responsible for attacking the US and US allies and interests, and on our ability to coordinate manhunting capabilities with technological delivery systems. Which means an even bigger shift of emphasis back towards a complex Global Network of effective HUMINT officers, operatives, and agents that can supply constant and real time data on the movements of those who might ponder providing weapons or logistical support to those who would attack the US.

What is really being hinted at, though not outright expressed, is the ability to assassinate enemies and leaders who undertake attacks on the US and US interests via a Strategic Doctrine which is nonetheless tactically technological, rather than by the use of Sniper Teams or Special Forces, or inserted manned units. And of course it theoretically bypasses the employment of traditional forces and large-scale military invasions.

This is the opposite of Shock and Awe.This is Track and Eliminate. Or, it might be described using another term, PAD, Personally Assured Destruction.

The intent is to let leaders around the world know that we are developing a Strategy, an Intel system, a Tracking Capability and now an effective Tactical Weapon's System which will eliminate them personally rather than having to fight a war to topple them.

This is the Offensive and Counteractive Arm of the Missile Shield Defense. With a Missile Defense America can shield itself and allies from missile and air and possibly space based first strikes while PAD assures that rogue leaders can be eliminated without the need for an invasion or a large scale war. Even with a cell delivered Unconventional, Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical attack, or series of mixed attacks the perps involved, even at the end of the logistical and support chain must now concern themselves with a rapid missile response which might possibly be tactically effective. Or at least threatens true effectiveness.

If it works, even as nothing more than a combined Arms system threat, it will be an incredibly effective new Strategic Deterrent to many of our enemies. Not all of course, but many.

Pentagon Plan: Hit Anywhere on Earth, in an Hour

From Defense Tech:

I've had sources ask to meet me in some pretty odd places. But there was one meeting last year that had to be just about the strangest request yet. It wasn't just that this very-recently retired Defense Department strategist wanted to meet at the Pentagon City Mall -- that's a pretty common place to grab an off-the-record cup o' joe. It was where in the mall he had in mind: at the Nordstrom's coffee shop, tucked all the way in the far reaches of the store, just past the little kid's clothes section.

So I walk past the rows of toddlers' jumpers, past the blue-haired ladies ordering around their grandkids. I sit down with my source. And he begins to tell me about a Pentagon plan that's even odder that the place where we're meeting.

Here's the goal, as another source -- U.S. Strategic Command's deputy commander, Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler -- later told me on-the-record: "strike virtually anywhere on the face of the Earth within 60 minutes."

Sounds... ummm, ambitious, right? So how do you pull off that kind of mission, now known as "Prompt Global Strike?" Well, that's the subject of my cover story in this month's Popular Mechanics.

Now, of course, the American military has weapons that can destroy just about anything on the planet in a matter of minutes: nuclear missiles. Which might have been the right answer for containing our Soviet adversaries. But as the Cold War receded into memory, U.S. strategists began to worry that our nuclear threat was no longer credible. That we were too muscle-bound for our own good. Were we really prepared to wipe out Tehran in retribution for a single terrorist attack? Kill millions of Chinese for invading Taiwan? Of course not. The weaker our enemies grew, the less ominous our arsenal became. Military theorists called it "self-deterrence." "In today's environment, we've got zeros and ones. You can decide to engage with nuclear weapons, or not," Navy Capt. Terry Benedict told me. "The nation's leadership needs an intermediate step – to take the action required, without crossing to the one."

Benedict's option -- one of two I explore in the article -- is Trident ballistic missiles, armed with conventional warheads instead of nukes. For lots of good reasons (like the better-than-average chance the missiles could start World War III) Congress has negged the idea. But, in the military establishment, there's still a great deal of interest in using ballistic missiles for the hour-or-less mission. How exactly the nuclear holocaust issue is supposed to be resolved is, at this point, unclear.

Which brings us to option #2. It's a long-term play. And a long-shot, too. The military's research divisions are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into exotic, high-speed weapons like the X-51 hypersonic cruise missile, illustrated on the cover. If it works out as planned, the X-51 will go Mach 5 (roughly 3600 mph) -- much, much faster than any equivalent in the U.S. arsenal. Some Pentagon planners see the X-51 as part of a suite of futuristic weapons that can almost-instantly threaten American adversaries everywhere, without threatening the entire planet in the process. But it's way off in the distance; the X-51's first test flight isn't until 2008. I'm expecting several more trips to Nordstrom's Cafe before then.

UPDATE 11:40 AM: If you want to learn how the Prompt Global Strike concept got started -- and how it's being put into early development, today -- I strongly recommend this chronology, from the Federation of American Scientists' Hans Kristensen.
December 21, 2006 03:56 AM Missiles, Nukes, Strategery


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Thursday MCW Briefing 12/21/06

Thursday MCW Briefing


Jackal in the Shearing Field

I Know The Feeling

Airman BU

The Mystery Ship

The Cloud and the Drought

From the Sanctuary

Towed Arrays

Iraq Deal

New Worm Alert

Prompt Global Strike


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hair of the Follicle that Stemmed You

The Glair - Hair of the Follicle that Stemmed You

Hair Follicle Stem Cell Research


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Wednesday Religious Assessment 12/20/06

Wednesday Religious Assessment

The Wonderlost

The New Jew?

Newton, Einstein, and Maxwell -
All three were devout men who believed God had ordered the world and universe in a fascinating and ultimately understandable way.
These two articles lay out Maxwell's Science, which was profound, and His Faith, which was equally profound

State Group Proposes Cloning Ban

Divine Architecture

Intellectuals for the Latin Mass

Christmas Sermons

New National Security Threat?


VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2006 (VIS) - Christmas was the central theme of the Pope's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall.

"In these final days of Advent," said the Holy Father, "the liturgy invites us to approach ... the stable in Bethlehem where the extraordinary event that changed the course of history took place: the birth of the Redeemer. On Christmas Eve, we will stand once again before the manger, and contemplate in wonder the 'Word made Flesh.' ... The chosen people awaited the Messiah but imagined him to be a powerful and victorious leader who would free his people from foreign oppression. Yet the Savior was born in silence and in absolute poverty."

"Does mankind in our own time still await the Savior?" the Pope asked. "It appears that many people consider God as foreign to their interests. They have no apparent need of Him, and live as if He did not exist or, worse still, as if He were an 'obstacle' to be removed in order to achieve self-fulfillment. Even among believers ... are those who let themselves be attracted by alluring mirages and distracted by misleading doctrines that propose illusory shortcuts to happiness.

"And yet," he added, "with all their contradictions, their anguish and their dramas - or perhaps precisely because of them - men and women today seek a road of renewal, of salvation, they seek a Savior and await, sometimes without knowing it, ... the coming of Christ, man's only true Redeemer."

"Of course, false prophets continue to propose 'low cost' salvation, which always ends up delivering resounding disillusionment. Indeed, the history of the last 50 years provides an example of this search for a 'low cost' Savior and highlights all the consequent disillusionment."

For this reason, the Pope concluded, Christians must, "with the testimony of their lives, propagate the truth of Christmas, which Christ brings to all men and women of good will. Born into poverty in the manger, Jesus came to offer everyone the joy and peace which alone can satisfy the needs of the human soul."

In his Italian-language greetings at the end of the audience, Benedict XVI said: "In a few days it will be Christmas, and I imagine that, in your homes, you are putting the final touches to your nativity scenes, which are such an evocative depiction of Christmas. I hope that this important element, not only of our spirituality but also of our culture and art, may endure as a simple and eloquent way to remember the One Who came 'to dwell among us'."

After the audience, the Pope was awarded the "Prize for Charity" by the "Banca Alimentare," an Italian foundation that organizes, among other initiatives, the National Day of Food Collection. The reason for granting the prize, says a communique released by the foundation, is that since the start of his pontificate, the Holy Father "has sought to present charity - the sincere giving of oneself to others - as a natural dimension of Christian life."

Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., speaking during a meeting between the Vatican Publishing House and other international publishers, highlighted the fact that the award coincides with Benedict XVI's decision to donate part of his copyright earnings to a study center founded by his former theology students.
AG/CHRISTMAS/... VIS 061220 (570)


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday Science and Technology Abstract 12/19/06

Tuesday Science and Technology Abstract


Tomb Raider TV and Film

The Human Dog - I find this particularly fascinating, but as to implications regarding my theory of Parallel Intelligence and to the ideas of developing human tracking capabilities and mechanical/machine trackers in order to ferret out things like corpses at crimes scenes, etc.

Eye of the Leopard - Fascinating, if true

Whittingham Hospital

The Death of Blogging

The Space Marines

52 New Species

COROT Launch

Alcohol in the Head


Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Political Appraisal 12/18/06

Monday Political Appraisal

Circumcised Heterosexual Males less likely to Contract HIV

Ipswich Ripper in Atlantic City?

Report From Iraq

AFIG in Africa

Watada in the Northwest

China, Trade, the Dems, and Isolationism

Culture Warfare

New North Korea Talks

Carter the Peacemaker?
- I've always severely doubted Carter as a leader, from the days of his Presidency. But as a Peacemaker it has become apparent to me in the past five years or so that the very term is a misnomer when applied to the man. Peace doesn't seem to be his end, but rather his means.

Johnson Faring Well - Good. Politics ends where a man's life is at stake as far as I'm concerned. We'll live through a Democratic Senate, I hope he does as well.

Gingrich Should Run - Gingrich should run regardless of who has what, when, and where. The man should run regardless of any circumstance in either the Republican or Democratic parties. I'm not sure he could win but he is exactly the kind of man we should have as President.

Constitutional Showdown - Good. I'm looking forward to such a showdown.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Reddit loses Email Addresses and Personal Information of Users: A Series of Very Unfortunate Events

Pesharim - Reddit loses Email Addresses and Personal Information of Users: A Series of Very Unfortunate Events

By Jabbi Wallihd Goostacka for Missive News
Last Updated: 1:05 PM 12/15/06


Calling it a Streak of Bad Luck Reddit admits that they had stolen from them database information on users, including usernames, passwords, and possibly email addresses.

How the information and media was stolen, by whom, or for what exact reasons the management of Reddit has apparently declined to comment thus far.

But they have released the following statement.

On a separate note, we want to make you aware that media of ours that contained
a backup of a portion of the reddit database was stolen recently. Although the
media did not contain any personally identifiable information about our users
and we have no reason to believe that reddit data was the target of the theft,
we wanted to alert you to the possibility that your username, password, and --
in some cases -- e-mail address may have been compromised. If you use the user
name and/or password for other purposes, we suggest that you change them in
those other uses as soon as possible -- just in case.
We take your privacy
very seriously, and deeply regret any inconvenience this unfortunate incident
may cause. We do feel confident, however, that because we do not collect any
personal information from our users, the ability to do harm with the data that
was taken is greatly reduced. Nonetheless, we decided to inform you right away
so that any necessary precautionary measures can be taken.

As a result of this series of unfortunate events Reddit.com has decided to undertake a series of security reforms. These reforms, both strenuous and functional in nature include the following: keeping a better personal hand grip on business media when walking to the nearby gas station toilet, not yelling out loud phrases such as, “Hey Bob, throw me that PDA will ya, no, not that one, the one with all the passwords and email addresses on it…” not playing Dufus and Dingbat on the same computer on which personal data is stored, not shipping important business documents by “Ho Chi Minute Express,” no longer failing to understand that the Geeks who constitute the majority of their userbase have never had a date and therefore know far more about computer security than they do, not spray painting graffiti symbols of user emails and real names on city sidewalks to see if anyone can “match them up,” and of course, refusing in the future to believe in the Bad Luck Fairy. Reddit.com has decided instead to place their faith firmly in the stick figure drawing.

We wish Reddit.com all the best in their new efforts because Geeks and Nerds and other such magical creatures can be a very accepting herd on a whole range of personally untidy issues, such as: losing wars, late term abortion, Richard Dawkins, cloning, Nancy Pelosi, and of course, Global Warming, but please, please, please, puh-leeeese… do not compromise their on-line security.

A person has to know where to draw the line sometime.

© JWG, Jr. 2006

Fame and Faith

The Exchange - Fame and Faith


What is it about the various human spheres of activity, Fame and Faith, which makes the achievement of one so detrimental to the progress of the other? What is it about the obtainment and grasping of money, wealth, power, and notoriety that makes it so difficult for those who have achieved some measure of each to maintain some ensuing sense of decorum, dignity, and respect?

I would like to make pronouncement of some simplistic, and usually misquoted platitude to explain this phenomenon, such as; “money is the root of all evil,” or “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” But that would not be a true explanation, assuming there is a single true explanation, because such statements are not universal.

Yes, a large number of people who are inclined towards fame, wealth, and power do achieve at least a modicum of self-annihilation to accompany their more tangible mundane accomplishments. Yet there are plenty of other individuals, who despite achieving great wealth, fame, power, glory, or all of these things, never succumb to a habit to indulge in self-destruction, or the destruction of others. The phenomenon to implode as a result of fame, quickly or slowly, is therefore not a universal problem though it may very well be a kind of ultimate problem for those so afflicted. Britney Spears is but one modern example, not a shining nor an even particularly outstanding example, but a good and publicly demonstrable example of this problem.

So what is it that puts the achievement of fame so disastrously on a collision course of malignant opposition with faith? Now when I say faith I do not merely intend to imply religious faith and the values instilled in individuals in their upbringing. Indeed a person may have no upbringing in any faith or system of values one might even loosely ascribe as sharing any principles of “faith,” modern or ancient. One might be a person who was raised (or by lack of being raised with practically any standards of parenting) as an absolute relativistic secularist, in the modern sense by which the term secular has become corrupted, and so completely lack any standard by which a faith of any kind might even be constructed.

Or one might be raised with lax or at the very least loose standards of faith and later develop a very solid and outstanding personal system of faith such as occurred in the life of Stephen Baldwin. But once again I do not mean to restrict faith merely to one’s religious, or even moral standards and associations. By faith I mean to encompass that whole host of religious, moral, psychological, social, cultural, and even secular (in the true and original sense of the term) pursuits which might comprise the life of any individual. In this respect I mean all of those forces and factors which prevent an individual from going completely buck wild and in a sense, suicidal and self-destructive towards both their overall life and the very career and work which propelled them to fame. What is it that would compel a seemingly sane and accomplished person to strive so hard and so long for fame, glory, wealth, and power only to collapse at the height of their acquisition of these things into a wrecked heap of a self-inflicted human catastrophe?

For this phenomenon, although it seems simple upon the face of it, is actually a complex set of interrelated phenomenon and factors. It is not merely a matter of fame, and social and public success, it is also in the true sense of the term a deeply psychological, and moral, or amoral as the case may be, matter. It is also usually, not always, but usually also a cultural, social, religious, and secular matter.

My father once told me, and I did not at the time understand the full import of his words, “Son I have no respect at all, or interest in, any man who cannot handle the fruits of fame.” Personally I have never had any real interest in fame for myself, that is I have never desired to walk down the street and be recognized by strangers (I would rather go unnoticed and invisible, so as to better observe others), to have people seek my autograph (that would be repugnant to me), to see my name up in lights for a public display, or to make a spectacle of myself in any form or fashion. So what my father said about fame seemed to me at the time a simple statement about the bad effects of fame. But my father wasn’t really saying that about fame, or at the least he wasn’t saying just that. What he was saying was something so deep and complex, as many simple statements are, that it is actually a kind of metaphor to describe those obsessed by fame.

Now I do have an interest in money, power, wealth, leadership on occasion (if I feel I am best qualified to lead in a given circumstance) and perhaps even some measure of secular notoriety for my accomplishments (after all I’m placing this article in the public sphere, aren’t I). And at some point or another in my life I have had good, and not so good, success with each category of interest and pursuit. But my desire for fame never seemed to equal my faith, that is I never thought that what might by obtained by fame would equal what might be consistently and positively achieved by faith. So fame was always to me inferior in kind to faith, and faith always superior in nature to fame.

This is not to say that everyone who achieves fame loses their faith, or even that their faith is damaged or in danger by getting fame. Some individuals might develop a far greater strength and faith through achieving fame than they might have had they never achieved fame. The problem of the potential corruption wrought by fame is as I said above, not a universal one, but then again it is hardly a unique outcome either. What I guess I am saying is twofold; if your desire is for fame without faith; that is if fame is your only lodestone, then the natural gravity of your compass will drag you to the lowest point of your surrounding environment. And secondly, if you see fame as in opposition to, rather than complimentary to your faith, then eventually, you will likely be left with neither as cold comfort on an isolated frontier. If you think that to achieve fame you must relinquish, or abandon, or sacrifice your faith, then you will do so to achieve a very temporal and temporary form of secular fame at the expense of your more universal and long term secular, religious, and moral faith. You will have lost true fame to assume the mantle of outcast exile, to become a man without a country, a ruin of moral compromise, and a warning to the wise.

When men and women think of fame and fortune as separate and viable objectives in and of themselves, or as life itself, rather than one of many possible accomplishments which might enhance their wider life and faith, then they have lost all ability to even understand the what true fame might achieve. They chase a ghost of a shadow during an eclipse of their soul. Even worse they have buried their faith in a cold grave to marry themselves to a dead lover who cares nothing for their affections, desires, or ceaseless pathological desperations.

Faith without fame is a common human condition, almost everyone knows and experiences it at some point in their life, but fame without faith is that rare preserve of those individuals to whom life is a kind of dreamless sleep and a walking death. And no matter how far they walk they will never be able to walk far enough away from themselves to finally wake up again.

© JWG, Jr. 2006

New Jersey Approves Gay Marriage

The Glair - New Jersey Approves Gay Marriage (by any other name)

We’ve lost this in the more liberal areas of the country. This is one fight we will not win nationally, and as far as this aspect of the culture war is concerned, we can just admit the very evident fact that some states, primarily liberal and northern states, will adopt gay marriage as a de facto, if not outright legal, social condition.

Adoption of children by homosexual couples will increase dramatically in such states once the legal aspects become normalized there, and the populations, and especially the bureaucracies in those states become acclimated to the idea.

This will not be turned back in such states, rights, once granted, are almost never thereafter repealed.

Homosexual marriages and civil unions, or whatever terminology is adopted, will not become legal, or even commonplace in all states within the United States but I can confidently predict that some states will adopt this pattern as the norm.

Then comes the inevitable fight, in the Supreme Court, of whether the issue of homosexual marriage, or civil unions, is a State’s Rights issue, or a national and federal equal protection issue.

That will be the real fight.
That and the political fight.

N.J. legislature approves civil unions
Updated 12/14/2006 7:55 PM ET

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Ordered by New Jersey's highest court to offer marriage or its equivalent to gay couples, the Legislature voted Thursday to make New Jersey the third state to allow civil unions.
Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine said he would sign the measure, which would extend to same-sex couples all the rights and privileges available under state law to married people. The bill passed the Assembly 56-19 and the Senate 23-12.
"Love counts," Democratic Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a chief sponsor of the bill, said as the debate opened. "The gender of whom one loves should not matter to the state."
But Republican Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer said: "It's my personal belief, faith and religious practice that marriage has been defined in the Bible. And this is one time that I cannot compromise my personal beliefs and faiths."
Massachusetts is the only state to allow gay marriage. Vermont and Connecticut have civil unions, and California has domestic partnerships that work similarly. Since 2004 New Jersey has had a more limited version of domestic partnerships.
Among the benefits gay couples would get under New Jersey's civil unions bill are adoption rights, hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights. Officials could begin granting civil unions 60 days after the governor signs the legislation; Corzine did not say when he would do so.
The bill was drafted in response to a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in October that required the state to extend the rights and benefits of marriage to gay couples within 180 days. The court, in its 4-3 ruling, left it up to the Legislature to decide whether to call such unions "marriages" or something else.

READ THE RULING: N.J. Supreme Court decision

Gay rights groups have argued that not calling such unions "marriage" creates a different, and inferior, institution. But they welcomed Thursday's legislation as a step toward gaining the right to marry.
Some lawmakers also considered Thursday's action to be an interim step on the way to full marriage rights.
"This should be called what it is — marriage." said Democratic Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a sponsor of the bill. She said the title should be changed after there has been some time to study how the civil unions bill works.
Steven Goldstein, director of the gay rights advocacy organization Garden State Equality, said he expects gay couples to be able to get married in New Jersey within two years.

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Posted 12/14/2006 5:46 PM ET