Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh Holy God

How do I feel about the Holidays, now I have peeled back many layers of religious indoctrination and desire to live life and interpret it through rational means?

In some ways I am as familiar and comfortable with "Christmas" and a kind of "American T.V. Hanukkah" as I ever was.

What do I believe? I believe that this is a time of human celebration that existed long before, or as long as, any other tradition later grafted into it. The dogma's and doctrines I find detract from the "human family" spirit of the season. Christmas was co-opted from an ancient Pagan "festival of the lights" which seems to have a Jewish cousin. I think the explanation for the holidays is simple.

In times long before artificial light when a fire may have been the only man-made night lighting, many earth-peoples noted the lengthening nightly darkness and the arrival of the dominance of the "lights" or stars over the daily cycle.

A lot of our ancient traditions come from cultures that are largely in the northern hemisphere. Something similar happens down south, just 6 months out of sync. So, everywhere you are, there is a time of year where the sun's day shortens and darkness seems to continually conquer the cycle of day and night. We know, of course, that this doesn't so much happen at the equator.

Also, the earth is always 50% light and 50% shadow at any given moment. It just so happens that during certain times of year and because of our 23.5 degree tilt, your house may only spin through a section of the light side and a lot more of the dark side. This may help if you don't already "get it":

Clickest Thou Unto This Place

Day and Night, and the seasonal difference in length of the "light vs. the dark" hours seem to be ready symbols for the struggle between light and dark or good and evil. I think humans have such a strong sense of these ideas because the planet spins.

December 25th also marks the first visible hint that the Sun's long day will return as the position of sun-rise begins to move back along the horizon. (Really, the angled Earth's motion around the sun is the actual event being observed).

Now THAT is cause for celebration involving light! The Sun, our life giving and sustaining star, will surely return to maintain life and eventually rule the longer days. The Sun starts winning the contest of day/night length around Easter, "coincidentally".

I like shiny, sparkly, red, green and fun things so I like Christmas. Nothing says "long nights of many stars" more than a Christmas tree. Nothing says how glorious it will be when the Sun returns (in spring) than a Star above a tree, or 7 to 9 burning candles. Since I think that Christians co-opted the holiday to promote their mythos, I do get a deep internal groan when I hear "The Real/True meaning of Christmas" speeches. To me, Christ means "anointed one" in Greek and that might as well be us to each other. Anointing one another with gifts to celebrate our human concern for one another, our glorious life in this wondrous Universe.

Rather than being mundane, I feel my view of the Holiday sees the wonder of life in its true stature as being what it is. Though I will not tell you mine is the "True Meaning" because I still think people have a right to be into and believe what works for them, so long as they don't try to impose their dream world on me with laws or force.

I guess I am kind of Japanese about Christmas now. Quaintness, electronic gadgets (haha), wonder, gifts, joy and pleasure of being alive are what I celebrate. Yet unknown wonders still exist and I allow myself to hope for great things at this time of year.

Have happy holidays, a Merry Christmas (or whatever adjective you prefer) or whatever you wish to celebrate! Like it or not, we all share the human condition and that is cause to rejoice, even if your nearest Angel is a Heavenly Hostess.

=sw

Monday, December 03, 2007

Visited Utah

Over the thanksgiving weekend I went to Salt Lake City.

I stayed with my friend Jeffrey on the living room floor with one of those real high-tech Swiss Gear mattresses. I figured...I am of Swiss heritage, so Swiss Guy, Swiss watch, Swiss gear. His parents graciously invited me to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. They have a nice formal European dining experience with traditional American holiday food, apart from the excellent German riesling! Mr. Gold is an American and the Mrs. is German so it works out to be a best of both worlds kind of social event. There are always engaging conversations and anecdotes about Utah culture from the former mormon perspective. I call the decor Berlin Art Decco and you take your shoes off at the door. Such a good time.

I met Christy, "the degenerate elite" herself (link at right under "Great Minds"). Unlucky me, she's in a relationship, though our friendly lunch and coffee was like meeting a long time friend. I really like her and I wish I lived nearer to her to be able to enjoy her company more often. She is cool and connected to a good group of people who probably share my perspectives.

While in Utah, I saw my good friend from high school, Shannon. She and her husband are allowing each other to have the occasional night off with friends, which is cool. I am deemed imminently trustworthy, which really makes me feel un-manly, though I stand by my standards. Hey I am not a saint, I only refuse to make the same mistakes over and over again...referring to a few dates I have had with women who were divorced and then turned out only to be "separated". So it goes, sometimes.

I deserve a clean-slate, free-of-all-ties woman. I am not saying she can't have a past or even children, though to me it is simpler not to try to become a step-dad. In a biological way, why should I raise another man's offspring? In a personal way...why can't she just sort things out with their father? Ok, I know it's not always easy or simple. At my tender age it seems a lot of my opportunities (where women find me interesting) are in the "complicated" category.

I love my friend Shannon very much and we always have an incredibly great time when we get a chance to spend some time talking or sharing a meal. It is my sincere hope that she sorts things out with her husband. I have always approved of the guy, he is cool, witty and a nice looking person. They should just get their shit together before a REAL home-wrecker comes along.

I saw my long time crush Melanie who brought a boy to our only romantic date opportunity in years. Oh well. I am a fool for dreaming. I am also a single guy who has about 8 or 9 love interests, so until one gets serious I am a bit girl crazy. I don't understand Melanie. She holds something back from me...maybe many things. She is so retarded for thinking I couldn't handle really knowing who she is. I have known her for 10 years, I am always going to care about her no matter what. I flirt with her because I find her very attractive but I never made "her loving me back" a contingency for caring about her. Silly women, can't they trust? Can't they be truthful, real? I always over-tip her at her night job as a cocktail waitress at a swanky little hip club with great music. I do that because it's the only thing I have enough of to share that she has a hard time rejecting...still she tries to stuff my paper back into my shirt pocket, but my rational arguments usually win: "I know I can't buy your love, and you are due a good tip from time to time".

I had dinner with my friend Jan. She is Bi. Which I think means she wants to marry a man and leave him alone every night while she goes out with chicks! Heheh. I also love her deeply and we always hold hands a lot while we are together. I cannot presume what she could want from me, though I have made a rational decision we are not a good match. I hate to be petty, I just want a heterosexual girlfriend. It is not unreasonable. Maybe I just don't understand anything. I do know I fully enjoy her companionship and it is always great to see her. She is also way way cool, way way smart and way way hot.

So what have I done? Above I mentioned a "date with girl who has a boyfriend", "date with married girl", "date with girl who brought her new boyfriend", "date with girl who likes girls more than me". It's like I am not really trying!

I know why. I am heartbroken from years of strong relationship bonds with about 4 different women (successively) where those ties and bonds eventually broke and left me some of the worst pain I have experienced in life. I am spent! I am just now recovering from my shadows of disillusionment and heartache enough to risk something.

So what did I risk? If I am really going to count a date as an emotional risk it has to be with a woman who is single and available! Why not ask someone out who is known for being a single icon in the dating scene and even makes a living from it!?

I met Sarah Nielson for a drink. I have been in love with women like her all my life. She is smart, cute, funny, witty friendly and seemingly forthright. I really liked her. I was a little nervous when she brought out her writer's pen to note something I had said, though she did not completely blast me in her column "The Dating Years". She insisted on bringing a friend, so I brought a friend along too. It made the situation go from a romantic encounter to a social encounter, though it was still enjoyable and no one was murdered by an evil stranger they just met, which would have been really inconvenient to say the least. Her friend, Maddie, was fun and funny and helped make it a good time.

Sarah was like a bloody mary drink. Warm and delicious yet with a sense that "hey this is made from good ingredients, maybe it's good for me!" At the same time she is just a little salty, though not bitter.

Who am I to think I could be the one man among many who would bring an end to the dating years and win her heart!? Though I did think about it and I still do.

=sw

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Sudan

If it's not a three way civil war or a government tolerated (if not sponsored) murderous horseman militia, then it has to be reactionary extremists longing to murder anyone even perceived as threatening their deep deep religious insecurities. I know some more traditional groups from the Sudan were quoted as saying "This was an innocent mistake" and other younger Sudanese groups stated "this is ridiculous and she should be released immediately".

Still, there is that "stuck in the dark ages of ignorance" class of society who want the very life of a British woman who allowed her 7 year old students to name a stuffed bear Mohammed. The name finally gets its "Teddy Roosevelt" moment and this is perceived as anything other than adoring familiarity!? There are many regular old good and bad men who share this name, because it is promoted with murderous rage throughout the society. A little research can help one determine for one's self whether "murderous rage" is an appropriate description of the activites of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, Sudan.

One great mark of the success of this rhetoric should be that a group of children in this Islamic society want to associate something adorable with a prophet whose name they adore!

When some choose to make death threats against a school teacher over this, It is the depth and height of ignorance. What should be punishable by lashing and death is to threaten an innocent school teacher and honorable woman with death and lashing over such a non-incident.

Instead, sprained and broken reasoning is used by fanatical adherents whose devotion and hypersensitivity has rotted their common sense.

It is a wholly inappropriate and intolerant response to an innocent choice which actually exhibits deference to the very leader whose name and teachings are said, incredibly, to be insulted. It is truly difficult to decide who exhibited the most childish behavior in this situation.

[edited because I concluded that I was mocking others beliefs in this section, which really negated my criticisms]

=sw

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So Much Weird

Tagged: I am to post 7 weird things about myself.

The rules are:

A). Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
B). Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
C). Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
D). Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


1) I usually have about 150,000 completely inappropriate and not apt things to say at exactly the wrong time.

2) I get lyrics wrong. With a fervor that is un-ending. I mis-heard what was really "Push it, make the beat go farther." My version was much more apt considering Ms. Manson's hotness, use your imagination.



Seriously, she's making my beat go farther right now.

3) I get names wrong all the time.

4) My dry risk-taking humor is hilarious. (right?) I am always willing to risk anything for a laugh, despite my amazing charm and rugged good looks.

5) I can't rollerblade or ice-skate backwards. Forwards I am great.

6) I never drank anything until I was 28.

7) Haven't you heard enough? I am not sure this is so weird, but sometimes, to concentrate, I have to keep my ears busy. I always listen to music at work while coding. It's like it distracts part of me that needs constant novelty, so I can get some stuffy logic done.

ok I am going to tag the following blogs:

1) http://www.logicallycritical.net because I enjoy the programs and maybe just typing something won't take too much time
2) Skepticality...because there are at least 2 of them so maybe they have 14 weird things...
3) Dooce...because someone should! And I used to live in Utah so, Semper Fi Lehi. That just rhymes, I am from Sandy.
4) Belaja! (or Open Vein) I like British stuff and there really needs to be more posting there.
5) Sister Mary Lisa: world traveller
6) Sarah Bellum... there can't be anything weird about her!?
7) Anyone else I missed, yes that means you, so get postin'.

=sw

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NBC on Apple







I was pleased to find the NBC Nightly News back on the iTunes music store.

I really like NBC News. I primarily watch the Nightly News, though sometimes I watch the Today Show and occasionally Date Line and Meet the Press. I also enjoy the many NBC Universal television shows found on NBC and other networks as well.

I have renewed my Nightly News subscription on iTunes. I watch every minute of every broadcast, including all the promotional information. I understand NBC and Microsoft have had a long standing relationship.

I am an Apple Mac OS X (Leopard) user. It doesn't matter to me that I like NBC News and that there is a partnership with Microsoft. I use Microsoft software on my Apple computer, like Word, Excel and MSN Messenger. Sometimes I need PowerPoint, Entourage (the Microsoft Exchange and internet email client for Mac OS X), especially at work. I rely on Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection software on my Mac OS X workstation at the office.

Apple's Safari browser, Quicktime media software and iTunes music jukebox/ store client software run on both Windows and Mac OS X.

Most people know all this. I say it to point out that I do not see that being an exclusive Mac user puts me in a camp of necessarily hating Microsoft. There are actual useful harmonies and conveniences to using the Microsoft software, especially in a world where so many people use Windows.

I will never use Windows. It's not political, it's just rational. The Apple Mac OS X ownership exeprience is just so much better in its entirety. Having used everything ever, I know what works best and causes the least stress and annoyance.

This means that any media outlet that is Windows only will never get my money. Here I am!

As a Mac user who likes NBC media, I want to be able to buy Heroes, Chuck, Las Vegas, Late Night with Conan O'brien, Madden Sunday Night Football, Bionic Woman, Scrubs, The Office, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, JourneyMan, My Name is Earl and all the other great NBC content on the iTunes music store.

I want to be able to sync my favorite shows to my iPod or iPhone or Apple TV (HD Digital Video device).

To me, my Apple digital lifestyle and the highly desired NBC content are a perfect match. I know I have blogged about this before, but I just have to make the point on behalf of many others who may feel the same way.

If NBC keeps the Apple channel open it would just be a little extra. This channel is not the same as the DVD sales channel. People who watch live will still watch live. People who DVR the shows will still do it. I would bet the almost anyone who buys the DVD's will still do so. Many times the serious fans will buy iTunes seasons AND the DVD collections later. DVD releases will probably have higher quality media than the music store (especially as Blue Ray becomes more popular...or HD DVD..which sounds like a disease to me for some reason). People will also buy the DVD collections for the exclusive content they hold.

I am ready and waiting to buy at least the shows I have bought last season, and maybe more, if NBC will just concede that the pricing is in the right zone and the revenue stream, however small, is additional to their other channels of distribution.

Be creative, NBC! Offer something more and negotiate a higher price for it with Apple, like true 720p downloads could be a place to go when negotiating for a little higher price, even if it's for an introductory period.

I hope they can work it out.

=sw

Friday, November 16, 2007

Snopesies

Don't get me wrong. I like snopes.com. It seems its purpose in life is in harmony with my values, like debunking myth and rumor by shining the cold light of reason on ALMOST everything.

I have noticed a strange phenomenon. It is that some of the most credulous people around are the first to jump to snopes and wield that racket to deflect any notion anyone has of believing something without proper reasoning, research and evidence.

It is always the most pious, religious, believing person in the office or peer group, often a female, who snaps up the snopes and hands them about like a super rational truth machine.

To use a handy biblical reference...they are so quick to reach to pluck the mote (sliver) from another's eye without seeing the beam (timber!!!) in their own eye.

There should be things on snopes.com for these people like:

-There is no evidence Jesus existed
-The Earth is ACTUALLY far older than 6000 years!
-Humans do share more DNA with Chimps than rats do with mice!!!
-Christian symbolism may very well have been derived from ancient astrology and astronomically observable phenomena...I'm just saying.

What good is Snopes if it does not cause the most duped most credulous among us to be nudged? They, in fact, curiously love this site. Probably because it does not ask them to use the same standards of evidence and level of scrutiny with their own irrational beliefs as it does with others.

Yes, if you read me you know I read the works of scientist/ authors like Sagan and Einstein etc. Sagan talks about how believers cling to the gaps in scientific knowledge as a place to wedge in the role of God. It is true, Science is a way of thinking and arriving at understanding through a rigorous method that has a high standard of evidence and requires experimentation. Science is not a complete explanation of all that ever was...though I think it strives for this.

So there are gaps in the scientific knowledge. Religion has a tendency to place God in the Gaps. "The God of the Gaps" as Carl Sagan says. When science bridges these gaps and fills in this knowledge, the need for that god (now lower-case) disappears.

Every Christian agrees that Zeus and other gods were quaint ancient metaphors for celestial bodies, or astronomical events that were used to explain all that was not yet understood like tides and seasons and fate and events.

The trouble is, no one dares to see the myths of our own time. That Jesus is a character that came from myths that have symbolism for the Sun, solstice, seasons and ages. Jesus may only ever have been a character in fables of Sun worshipers and astrologers.

There IS evidence to prove that our fables our also fables, just like the ancient Greek and Egyptian mythologies. For some reason many just don't want to know it or consider it.

Maybe ignorance IS bliss.

=sw

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ye Olde Printing

What is DPI? Dots per inch...in printing. Which is akin to pixels per inch on a screen.



So why do we need paper for documents? Of all the reasons paper isn't better than up to date live information, there are two advantages paper still has.

1) It keeps information in a fairly stable way, long term, without continual or even the apparent subsequent need for energy.

2) The resolution of printed information is higher than our screens can display.

So let's discuss these things. Keeping paper dry and stable for a long time does require energy. Reading a printed page requires energy from lighting and printing the page required energy in the first place. This information is already in our computers which require energy to retrieve it and view it anyway.

Also, printed pages impact the environment by using up trees and the process of manufacturing paper. Which, again, is in addition to that required to manufacture the computer.

The printed page is not up to date. A friend of mine told me about an executive that rushed to his office to tell him a report was not up to date, slamming a stack of pages on his desk. My friend re-ran the report on his computer and sure enough it was up to date. "Your paper is 2 days old", he informed his boss.

So now we are printing many more than just one version of things. That multiplies the energy needed.

Now to the other issue. The sharpness or resolution on printers is better than our screens have been. Screens typically have had 72 or so dots per inch of screen space. While printed pages have 150 to 300 dots per inch or even much higher.

A 150 DPI page is good enough for a high school term paper. 300 DPI is good enough for black and white fonts in a professional environment. 600 DPI might be what you want for full color imagery or even photo prints.

Consider this:


The iPod Nano has an awesome 200 pixel per inch screen. What if they made a tablet that has this kind of resolution expanded to 8 1/2" x 11" ? That would be a device that could begin to replace paper. Vector based media would scale to use as many dots as are there and a full page could be displayed as legibly as a print out but on a screen. Adobe's Portable Document Format renders this way. That should reduce the need for paper. Soon even 300 DPI and 600 DPI screens will be available further removing the need for the many office uses where paper offers no advantage.

Someday screens will replace printouts. Like on Star Trek the next generation, we will all carry around tablets. Hopefully we can do it with some style, especially if Apple makes it.

=sw

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Calling Me Godless

It is not so strange to find ignorance among those who blindly believe. Those can go hand in hand. Although, I have often found wise, thoughtful and learned believers in my experiences.

I read a lot of Carl Sagan. I have read "The Varities of Scientific Experience - A Personal View of the Search for God". This is a book made from transcriptions of his visit to The Gifford Lectures. He tells his audience that when people speak about God, the first thing you have to sort out is what exactly they mean by God. Here is a quote that is related to what I read in the book:

When people ask me after one of my lectures, “Do you believe in God?” I frequently reply by asking what the questioner means by “God.” The term means a lot of different things in a lot of different religions. For some, it’s an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow. To others — for example, Baruch, Spinoza, and Albert Einstein — God is essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I can’t imagine anyone denying the existence of the laws of nature, but I don’t know of any compelling evidence for the old man in the sky.

In the cosmic context, the very scale of the universe — more than one hundred billion galaxies, each containing more than one hundred billion stars — speaks to us of the inconsequentiality of human events. We see a universe simultaneously very beautiful and very violent. We see a universe that does not exclude a traditional Western or Eastern god, but that does not require either.


If there really is a not a God, then when a "riled up" religious person calls anyone "Godless", they are also speaking about themselves. If there truly is a God, then calling someone else Godless is a lie and a denial of one's own belief. For if a God exists, being Godless is impossible, whether you like it or not.

I see so many people justify bad behavior because of their faith. Yet I have seen other people who acheive heights of character when inspired to behave like the royal heritage they feel their faith reveals to them.

If you are going to start ignoring the beatitudes, then by all means, cling to your faith. That still won't entitle anyone to repress anyone else for their religion.

Sometimes goodness becomes corrupted. When you begin to demand kindness and try to enforce courtesy the point has been missed.

Sometimes I am sure religious people feel I have been placed here to test their faith. I have such insight into their perspectives as I struggled to believe for many years. It is so difficult to even come to common terms. Neither of us, the believers nor the non-believers, was placed here by anything. We are the outgrowth of complex and amazing processes that should be elevated in their significance for what they truly are.

I would be pleased to acknowledge God. The root word of "acknowledge" is "Knowledge" or in Latin "Scientia". I must have the science, the research, the evidence. The irony is that if there is a God, Science is nothing less than the ordered study of creation. If there is not a God, Science is the study of all that is.

Just the word "Creation" burns the ears. The constant preaching and repetition of things that are not known. So it is written. Many things are written. It is simply nothing less than ignorance to put over presumptions, hopes, dreams and interpretations of ancient unlearned men's dreams as knowledge. It is a deep tragedy that many who purport to desire great familiarity with the divine can allow themselves to know so little about the Universe they live in and are a part of.

Like I always concede, scientists can be religious, and internally they may feel they can sort and balance their knowledge with their faith. It is just barley bearable misery to see the other kind of religious people, the blowhards, latch so readily upon ignorance and offer it up as if it were the flawless truth. What a dangerous thing rampant credulity can be.

Maybe my old religious sensibility now just promotes the virtues of the Mac. At least my claims can be tested and the purported results can be obtained and evaluated independently.

I was watching House this week, which might as well be "Non-believer-revival" (or say Heathen Fireside). There was a character who was an African American mormon intern, given away to House by his BYU class ring. They needed to conduct a liver test without generating a lab record as a favor to a woman who wanted to get into the Airforce. The team decided they could use tequila to run the test. They needed a "control" group to observe Heavy, Occassional and Non-drinker responses compared to the patient response to consuming a shot every few minutes. House asked the mormon character to drink as the "Non-drinker" control for the experiment. He refused, citing his religious beliefs were more important than the woman's career choices. House argued that the test could also save her life as well as her career. The intern doctor agreed to participate. House asked him later why he allowed his belief to be supercede by House's will. "You made a rational argument", said the religious character. House said, (and I paraphrase) if rational arguments always worked on religious people there wouldn't be any anymore.

I know I make a post relating to this subject every few weeks, though I continue to have this conversation with the world and within.
=sw

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Iraq War

With all the news about the "private army" contractors in the Iraq War I decided to look up some videos on YewChube.
Here is a still from one of the videos I watched.



This Iraqi man, probably younger than me, was weeping.

Why is weeping? Because his goal was probably to blast some American invaders out of his holy city (Najaf), like a good and faithful local boy should.

I may not agree with the teachings of extremists and insurgents. I may not agree with religious people's beliefs at all, but this moment made me realize that there are those who do what they have been taught is right and are not evil people just because they are fighting us. Maybe this kid isn't that guy...maybe he is one of the bastards who beheads people or pays teenagers to commit suicide or maybe he is just a local Muslim kid who feels like fighting the invaders and their ruthless mercenary companions (like contractors) is his moral and patriotic duty, from his perspective. To me this gives me a lot of heartache and misgivings about war.

I wish there were no war. I wish there were no reason to fight. I want our billions to be spent on national healthcare and energy research. Why can't we use our dollars and smarts here at home to solve our problems?
I may not know all the reasons for war, though I may not like them all if I knew them.

In any case, a private unregulated army not commanded by elected leaders, is not a good idea.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Zeitgeist

This is a german word pronounced to rhyme with say ..."Kite Diced...Zite Giced".
Anyway, as most people happen to know it means something like "the current state of things" or the "status quo" or the "prevailing spirit of the moment". See, it's so much simpler to just say Zeitgeist.

Browsing yewchube, which is my duty as a human being, I found segments of this movie until I saw some hot girl post the whole link.

http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

And for your amusement the hot girl:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuKg5XV6b3g&mode=related&search=

I am pretty sure she is Canadian.
I hope you find the movie as thought provoking and interesting as I did.

It is somewhat sensationalist for entertainment value, though it contains good questions and compelling arguments for your consideration.

=sw

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena

These are my thoughts on what I understand about what is happening in Jena, LA.

It is my understanding that there is a shade tree on the property of a highschool. I have heard that the tree was planted by 2 young women, one black and one white, many years ago as a symbol of racial harmony.

I know what highschool can be like. Kids can be cruel and irrational as they test the limits of their power in social situations. In an atmosphere like that, some students had it in their heads that the shade tree was somehow to be for whites only, echoing long outlawed segregation.

When an African-American student raised concern about the issue in an assembly, the school officials stated that they could, of course, sit whereever they please. Thereafter, some white students hung nooses from the tree.

The weight of history hangs over this kind of behavior, especially a symbol like a noose which was used to carry out arbitrary and summary executions of many black Americans over many years. It was not so long ago that such things took place.

I have a coworker who grew up in central Virginia. He still remembers many stories he heard as a kid and some first hand incidents he witnessed where the father of an African American friend or neighbor was dragged from his home into the street and beaten.

Free American men women and children have been falsely accused, bombed during church, torn from their families and insulted, abused and murdered. A 14 year old black boy in the south was once drowned in a river for merely whistling at a white woman.

Racially motivated hangings (also sometimes referred to as lynchings) carried out by violent mobs have taken place in the past. These occurences where not so long ago in history and frequent enough to be common knowledge.

The use of such a symbol of repression as a noose, and the history behind such symbol is a cruel and violent, abhorrent act all its own. It is more than a prank. Legally it ought to be considered at least harassment if not a death threat. It is something terribly serious in our culture to communicate in such a way to a people who have had a history of injustice and harm done to them. Not to mention years of slavery preceeding the segregation times.

The kids who admitted to placing the nooses have yet to be charged.

Teenagers get in fights. These things will happen. Especially when injustices are carried out against them in these Highschool social battles. Apparently some fights took place surrounding these events. These involved bloodied bruised faces and even allegations of attempted murder. There were apparently many fights with many subjected to harm on both sides of the racial divide.

It seems that only African American youths were actually charged in the assault cases. One of these young men was being held in jail and now that his conviction has been overturned by a judge is still in jail.

That seems highly irregular.

This is a civil society. I don't think it's wrong to prosecute assault. Yet, in light of the egregious nature of the extenuating circumstances that led to the violent backlash, it should be understood that these 6 young men, who actually were charged, had a justified outrage.

All parties to the fighting should be cited. Also, those who have now admitted to hanging the nooses should be charged with something befitting the utter disregard for decency and the social contract in which they have engaged. Couldn't there be a "disturbing the peace", "inciting riots" or other applicable charge filed against those kids?

It looks awfully skewed that not one of the arrested parties happens to be caucasian.

I believe it is clear that use of a violent symbol that threatens death, invoking real and horrifying actual events from the not too distant past is far more serious an offense than some teenage fist fighting, even if the fights were started by these morally wronged young men.

=sw

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hey Diddle Diddle with the Kitty in the Middle

I saw Aerosmith with a band called "The Blackhearts" over the weekend.

I had thought I was going to see "Joan Jett and the Blackhearts" open the show...though it turned out to be an early 80's punk/clash like band fronted by a woman with a hot voice whose name was "Joan Jett" who, for your information, is simply the lead singer of a band called "The Blackhearts" from New York. If you don't get it right soon we are going to have to hit you in the face with awesome rock and roll! "Yah, Oh yeah".

Yes they finally played everything we know well like that "I don't give a damn on my bad reputation" song. That "I love rock and roll so put another dime in the juke box baby!!!" song. It's ok that the money amount sounds wrong, it was always just a euphemism anyway. Also "Crimson and Clover" over and over...I mean just once.

Joan Jett had 2 side stage bleachers of American armed forces V.I.P.s. She was able to honor their spirit of service while criticizing the government in a song for their opaque nature during the Bush administration...she even played some sound clips of the Whitehouse spokesman being deliberately confusing...and of George Bush failing to use the "fool me once shame on you...fool me twice shame on me" phrase correctly.

On to Aerosmith. First, this band is still really great. They play well, put on a great show with a lot of charisma. Much of the rock and roll charisma comes from Steven Tyler who is not afraid to be funny. They proudly employ his mouth as a band member all its own. There are a lots of shots where the stage cameras are zoomed in to his mouth which gets projected on 3 huge screens. It's funny and great and very "rock and roll" all at once.

Their show started with a retro style video showing their international destinations with a clip of a B29 flying from place to place and an old news-reel like voice talking about the major cities and destinations around the globe. That ended with...and now...the band arrives at the "rockinest" town of them all "Bristow!!!" (Bristow Virginia being the small town where the Nissan Pavillion concert venue is located outside Washington, D.C. It was so damn funny.

During "Pink", one of the big famous Aerosmith tracks...he actually wears a pink feather boa...(something you'd usually expect to see at an Erasure concert). Right at the beginning Tyler shouted to an audience member "get off the phone"...classic.

While they played a good solid 2 hours or so, they didn't seem to play end to end hits. It was more like...rock and roll moments interspersed with big familiar hits. This is noodle rock and they noodled around more than an Italian pasta maker. I guess the die hard fans know what they want to hear.

I did enjoy the big famous songs. My expectation for the show was that I would hear "Love in an Elevator" and then I'd go home happy. It was their first song...so the show went well for me and a Heineken Keg-can and a small group of friends.

=sw

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Killer App for the Opera browser

I use Pandora for music at work. I think Pandora is so handy and brilliant. It's like a satellite radio on your desktop. Here is a screenshot, I recommend clicking on it to see the full resolution view.



I use the Opera web browser to play pandora. I can cinch up the page to just be around my Pandora player view and Opera remembers where I was (at Pandora's site playing music), how I sized the window and where I put it on the screen (Mac OS X). This means I can quit Opera and reopen it and it positions my Pandora window and begins playing music again, Just like an app. This is Opera 9.21.



It's also helpful if I have to use my browser, say Firefox, in a proxy for work. I often need to quit Firefox or re-point its proxy for work uses. All of this would interrupt my Pandora player, so having it in another browser is very handy. Especially one with the behavior of Opera.

Pandora introduces me to music I might like I might never have heard and Opera makes it work almost like a music application. It is an excellent experience for sure.

=sw

Monday, September 10, 2007

My September 11th Tribute to New York City 6 years on...


Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.
Music loud and women warm.
I've been kicked around since I was born.
And now it's all right, it's O.K.
And you may look the other way.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man.
Whether you're a brother
Or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin'
And ev'rybody shakin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Well now, I get low and I get high
And if I can't get either I really try.
Got the wings of heaven on my shoes
I'm a dancin' man and I just can't lose.
You know it's all right, it's O.K.
I'll live to see another day.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man.
Whether you're a brother
Or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin'
And ev'rybody shakin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Life goin' nowhere.
Somebody help me.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Life goin' nowhere.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Stayin' alive
Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.
Music loud and women warm.
I've been kicked around since I was born.
And now it's all right, it's O.K.
And you may look the other way.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man.
Whether you're a brother
Or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin'
And ev'rybody shakin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Life goin' nowhere.
Somebody help me.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Life goin' nowhere.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Stayin' alive
Life goin' nowhere.
Somebody help me.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Life goin' nowhere.
Somebody help me, yeah.
Stayin' alive


-Bee Gees

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mexicans Without Borders

In my area there is group that bears the name "Mexicans Without Borders". This appears to be borrowed from the venerable "Doctors Without Borders" group whose humanitarian spirit is captured in the name.

A name like "Mexicans Without Borders" seems to suggest nothing noble or humanitarian at all. It seems to suggest that Mexicans are allowed to freely migrate all over North America or perhaps where ever they please, with a complete disregard for the rule of law and social contracts. Never mind that the narrowly nationalist name disregards the existence and concerns of anyone not from Mexico.

I always like to overemphasize this: I like Mexicans. I like Central and South Americans among whose people I have some friends. I do not like anyone who disregards the law and carries out antisocial behavior against others. So I don't like the kidnappers, drug dealers, rebel militants or gangs from these areas or from anywhere. I don't approve of the illegal behavior of illegal immigrants to my country and I don't approve of people who support and encourage illegal activity.

I know that produce may cost more when only legal workers harvest it. I think that the market will adjust. The U.S. may need to allow more workers in legally if they are needed and if they respect the terms and conditions of their visa or eventual citizenship.

There should not be illegal immigration. There should be orderly, legal immigration.

Mexico has borders. Many of them established by the Mexican-American war. We have already decided this war, there is no need to have it again.

For the first time this week I understood something better. While watching Peter Navarro discuss some of his books on a public TV station, I came to understand the role China plays in Mexican illegal immigration and in other world problems.

China does not play on the same field as Europe and the United States. It seems that China seeks to aggressively acquire and control resources and assets around the world through deal making. This takes those resources off the free market and as Mr. Navarro says, is a highly confrontational way of working in the world.

It may be that the manufacturing economy of China hits Mexican workers and economies even harder and earlier than it impacts Americas labor markets. This intense pressure contributes to migration to seek work and livelihood.

We are one world after all. Yet, people coming to the U.S. should have respect for our laws, not boldly flout them...or even disregard or disobey them. If the new rule is that anyone can go anywhere, I may just settle on some beach front property in Mexico and see how that works. I have a feeling Mexico would enforce their immigration laws. I think we should do nothing less.

=sw

Friday, August 31, 2007

NBC Universal

I bought Heroes last season from the iTunes music store...All the episodes. I want to buy it again this season. It was about $2.00 an epidode. Since it is data, I would think there is some cost savings on the product development side compared to DVD. The price for the season should be comparable or less than a DVD. While you get a replayable version shortly after it airs, you don't get the whole season up front and you can do that same thing with a DVR anyway.

NBC still broadcasts this show to millions, still sells DVDs to millions. Why they would block the revenue stream of the itunes users I have no idea. It seems nonsensical.

Unless...this is just another petty Microsoft bid to channel shows to their XBox live system from Apple's iTunes. Why they presume they could not "add" to their online viewers by using multiple channels for distribution is something I don't understand. I just want Heroes on my iPhone.

I know I could get what I want with or without the cooperation of the out-of-touch stooges in the board room, but for Sagan's Sake (so says Starbuck in the original...) let me PAY for Battlestar Galactica and Heroes by keeping them on iTunes!!!

PLEASE let me buy shows on iTunes!! I beg you, LET ME GIVE YOU MONEY...you friggin nut-cases!!!

I can play Heroes season 1 on my iPod, iPhone or AppleTV! Of course I am not going to pay double what I would pay for DVDs, duh, but let me pay the $2.00 per episode! I'd even go for some ads in the data stream.

Is it really cheaper to sue people? Why do Xbox live and iTunes have to be mutually exclusive? We know it's computer data, it isn't THAT painful to distribute it...Hell, the people who use the torrent networks seem to get it done rather efficiently!

There seems to be a hint that high budget shows will go the way of the great Pyramids, something that is only possible when a very few control a lot of wealth. Ok, I am not a slave to TV, though it must be compelling enough to make ads worth what people pay.

I dream of a well made show that is so widely purchased that it can be funded by the viewers directly, though that would mean artistic development, not profiteers, would need to get most of the money. That is counterproductive to the rich getting richer.

Besides, if the shiny talking box doesn't tell me what to buy, how on Earth will I ever know?

=sw

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Great Drink

There is a delicious drink called a Kobai. I don't know that my musician friend Jefferson Montoya invented it, though it is a fine beverage. I like to chill the ingredients, though it is good with room temp liquor as well.

Just mix KahlĂșa, Southern Comfort and Orange Juice in equal amounts.



Some people increase the Orange Juice a little, though it will just take longer to get trashed and share too much personal info.

It is a delicious drink with a good kick and some great flavor combinations. No part of it seems to overpower, it just adds complexity. I have enjoyed quite a few Kobai moments with my friends in Vegas. Cheers! Thanks to Jefferson, now go buy his album, it rocks. You could get a free ipod according to his site.

=sw

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Glorious Resilience

As I go from day to day and meet the challenges of modern human life I have to stop sometimes to appreciate how truly adaptable I am. I have been enjoying "Year Zero" the latest NIN album and while I measure best in cm, I have to say I have survivalism too!

I must give myself credit. I never knew what self control really was. I generally spent most of my life apart from a few subtle aberrations under a strong titanium clamp of self control. Surely it is self control that keeps me from driving into the gully when I am on a highway or from committing crime or even misdemeanors. Self control helps me make healthy food choices much though not all the time.

I realized a whole new arena of self control where I need a lot of work. As I finally get into investing some extra money in stocks and bonds and other markets, I see I have been a powerfully active and avid investor for years. I emotionally invest to the nth degree.

Those familiar with therapy will tell me that I am "co-dependent" sometimes. I depend too much on outward approval for inner self esteem. Emotionally investing in what others feel is not bad for those who have to make an effort to do it, though for me I need to practice this new aspect of self control. I need to not feel awful so much. When the hot bar tender chick smiles at me and asks me how my day was or the flat out gorgeous woman who cuts my hair makes light conversation I tend to over invest in feelings like "oh a beautiful woman is talking to me". Though I know the reality is that this is business like cordial behavior related to the transaction we are making, my emotions up and run away with the idea that lovely women are responding in an apparently positive manner to me.

Though I am outwardly cordial, give a good tip and say a friendly "have a good weekend" to these service providers, inwardly I feel devastated and very powerfully sad and bitter. Mainly because I allowed my emotions to fool me. I allowed my heart to hope such things when I should have practiced self control.

When self esteem is a constant project for me like so much piled up laundry and ironing, it can feel strange to actually need to try to exercize self control about feeling a need for human intimacy. It's not that these people are tortured talking to me, it might be much less pleasant for them to talk to someone not as positive and friendly as I am, it's just that for me, in my internal life...when I am driving away...I need to have practiced some investment discretion...some emotional self control over how much self worth I am pouring into the outcome of these encounters. They aren't a good source for that.

The same goes for workplace success. It can be good and sweet, though it is not even a major portion of my core self worth.
Managing emotional investment can be like trying to keep an inflating balloon mashed into its original size while taking on more and more pressure. So I have to control the "valve". I need mental self control over the need for human intimacy and acceptance, while still acknowledging this as a legitimate part of a full life. It is tough to be me! It takes real effort.

Desire can be like a shuttle launch in my mind. It's hard to hide the effects of the unfulfilled "want" from the public. Though I have to be a soldier, be a man, and "need" less...be able to be ok with no validation, no love and no intimate relationships. Am I right? Then the true air of love will be like a calm cool breeze I will notice better with out the hurricane of disillusionment that normally roars.

It sucks to know beauty, to see the spring and pretend I have no thirst.

All I really need is inner peace.

(though you should see these women, they are so beautiful...you'd at least have to praise my good eye for hotness)

Still, I must respect myself and my nature and needs as valid and real. I just don't want them to rule my happiness, I want the self control over my emotional inflation. Hence the title, "My Glorious Resilience" rather then my old negative thought habits like "How middle-aged-ugly-sons-of-bitches-with-no-game cope with sexual frustration"....I still see the humor in that title though. Beware of the "hyphen"!!!

If only I had enough self control not to blog so honestly about the struggle.
=sw

Monday, August 20, 2007

Key Bank Tower Implosion in Salt Lake City

This was a structurally sound great and spacious building that just didn't fit in with the "taleban" mall plans. Your tithing money at work. And don't try to tell me they aren't using tithing money. It's like saying "We paid with bread, not with wheat"!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'm a Virgin


Oh God Yes is it ever true. I am, of course, a "born again virgin" and what better place to hang out than the "Virgin Music Festival". What a great time!!!
My (lack of belief in) GOD! 2 days of concerts!!! 24 hours of music total!!!

And it was like...non-stop parade of hotties!!!
I chatted up a few girls, one was so friendly and nice and engaged damnit...She showed me her WCP though, what a sport....what is WCP you ask? I'll give you a hint...the first 2 letters are for White and Cotton.

You know, the sound quality was so excellent...they say the best in the industry for concerts. No feedback noise EVER!!
Everything was so beautifully mixed that I just selected a stage distance that was in keeping with my comfort and it was always just great. I could always see the musicians on stage or see the big huge video screens with award winning camera work.

So it was excellent all around.

I met the chick that runs a commune in the woods that owns the copyright to the "Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution" T-shirts. I bought her a beer. She looked like she needed one and was very grateful.

I saw Richard Branson in the crowd, so cool he actually showed up, what a hip bloke.

I sat pretty close for the piano playing chick, Regina Amos Spektor...I mean...Regina Spektor...what did I say? She is witty and lovely and funny...I bought a CD of hers from the Virgin Mega Store tent and waited in line for 20 minutes to get her to sign it. She was incredibly sweet and sincere and nice...I fell for her madly. I guess I am starstricken.

I saw the Smashing Pumpkins...reunited, brilliant, in good form and on their game. They played new stuff like "Death From Above"...the new goth anthem...and old stuff too "Inspite of my rage I am still just a rat in a cage...". The "1979" song sounded amazing even without the sampler. Billy Corgan is all business, focused and intense...he is one Smashing Pumpkin. He is really focussed and concentrates when performing and the band comes off sounding tight...like so many 18 year olds breasts. They go from mosh music to reflective emotional music...such a range.

Interpol were just amazing. They are like Joy Division if they made it big...reliable melancholly drone of pure direct injectable joy. They showed up in suits and ties with a big red Epiphone hollow body electric in the guitarists hands. They looked brilliant. And there is no "I" in "Threesome" I checked.

The show had 2 huge stages...plus a big temporary structure/ tent thing with DJ's and techno....it had surround sound...so pumpin hot with huge screens and lights...Diesel Boy and no less than Crystal Method who just made the place a huge dance.

"All these little pills that give us such a thrill until they kill a million brain cells"

Crystal method have the best gig ever. One guy runs the buttons..and spins the "scratch" disk and the other dances with hot chicks at the front of the stage. Then they switch. "Get Hypnotized"! The one guy stands up on top of things and whips the crowd into a frenzy...the sound was so right on...not earsplitting but clear and thumpin good. I am completely drunk right now.



Even the food was wild too. Ever seen people at a concert sit down with 3 or 4 fresh boild crabs and start cracking them open with a little wood mallet? It was way different from regular show food. All the plastic was made from corn and compostable.

The show was repleat with a lot of activists...fire breathers and stuff...OxFam America was there ...they are my favorite place to put my "tithing" money anymore.

I will have to do a whole other posting on Baltimore itsself. So many quirky experiences available there. I stayed at the Marriot Water Front hotel, which is really nice and just drove or Metro'd to the show .

Since it was 2 days long I have to tell you about a few more bands. I saw "Bad Brains" who are like...reggae then speed metal then reggae. I caught the WuTang Clan...nice to see some hip hop rap stuff represent. I had a special moment after Bad Brains when a shoe-gazer band called "Explosions in the Sky" was checking sound. I was standing by a Baltimore 98 Rock tent where they were playing Joy Division "Dead Souls" on their stereo and the sound check guy was like "Oh you've got green eyes oh you've got blue eyes, you've got grey eyes" and I felt the zen of melancholly New Orderness that made life good.

The there was....drum roll please.....

The POLICE! Yes with Sting....

He was so classy..."That's Stuart Copeland and Andy Summers...." never once saying who he was because we all know, of course. He was in excellent form...playing the bass and singing like a siren. He even did some 4ft jumps in the air like a rockstar. It was so great to see them. They just played the hits in excellent form. Once he said "This is not at all autobiographical.." before "Don't stand so close to me". Funny. I loved the show, they rocked the place...lots of "Message in a bottle" crowd singing along with some "eeeeooooo...eeeeyooooo.....eeeeeyoooo...". Roxanne is still a damn hooker...after all these years...I'm impressed, frankly.

I almost "hooked up" with some hottie who was clearly to flipped out on something to make good choices so I dropped that like a hat from a bridge.

This is not someone I met...this is a picture of the stage...and NOTHING ELSE!!!



My pics are just my lil iPhone, so they aren't much to see...trust me...it was a great show.

=sw

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bond Movie Music

I grew up with the Bond films.

We used to go watch Bond movies as groups of friends in the back of someone's parent's SUV with Quiet Riot blaring...what a cool parent we had in our group.

I was thinking about my favorite Bond theme songs. Of course there is the unforgettable Monty Norman theme with the "Dum di-di dum dum". Here are my top 5 Bond themes of all time:

5 "Live and Let Die" Sir Paul McCartney (iTunes) (yewchube)

No, Guns and Roses didn't write it, though they did a solid cover of it.

4 "A View to a Kill" Duran Duran (iTunes)(yewchube)

Once the epitome of hip and mod, now a little cheesy...still a great Bond song. The video is amusing if not for the originally intended reasons.

3 "Nobody Does it Better" Carly Simon (iTunes)(yewchube)

Many have sung this one, and I still think nobody does it better.

2 "For Your Eyes Only" Sheena Easton (yewchube)

Where is the official iTunes version Sheena? I love this song.

1 "The World is Not Enough" Garbage (iTunes)(yewchube)

What an achievement, they wrote a new rock song with the classic bond feel and all the Garbage trademarks. Brilliant. The music video is amazing.

Have a happy monday!

=sw

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's a Jungle

I am into my second year in a new city. I am slowly making good friends, which are hard to come by really. I feel I need a good social circle as a step on the way to having a relationship again. Since my last 2 year relationship ended in January of 2005, I have been a complete mess.

I know why I don't jump right in to another relationship, doing that led to how I feel now: miserable, detached, guts torn out etc. I don't feel that way every second, though the recurrence of such feelings seems to go away very slowly after a relationship.

Didn't I try to fire off a few quick and easy bangs the way she did to get over things? In my way, I did. It takes me more time to get the big easy. It took me about a year and a half to get to where the ex was in 3 weeks. What can I say?

Now I am in a long drawn our depressed funk...like the drought in the Western U.S. Not every day is awful, people survive...though there are big long term questions. Will this ever end? Will we survive? And rolling right out of my analogy...will I love again?

I am not getting hotter really...the struggle to look sexy is getting slightly more challenging actually. I exercise, walk around, ride my mountain bike and try to stay fit, though in my heart there's a Joy Division concert blaring loudly. If you don't know what that means, it's a reference to a post-punk band known for deep melancholly whose lead singer met a sad self-inflicted end. Not exactly uplifting...sometimes comforting in misery. My bio-feed-back graph looks something like this about now:



I am comforted that I can complain about life on my blog and not have it read by very many people, hahah.

I like to make music so I am working on preserving all I have created into a collection. I am not trying to modernize or update the sound of some of these songs, just keep them for what they were. If I don't go to the trouble to record and mix them properly they will not be accessible even to me. I used a lot of old dying 80's computer gear to make some of my electronic sound and I never recorded the songs properly even once. I just made some tape demos. I will be singing them a-new and maybe taking some mixing liberties. I also will have the full freedom and flexibility to remix them and update them if I choose.

I keep myself busy, try not to think of the ex too much...(so pathetic as I am sure she has done too many drugs and dudes to even remember much about me). I continue to guard my heart. It loves deeply and fully and if it doesn't work out, It's a slow and painful extraction process. For all my loneliness I am not eager to jump right into this kind of result again.

My sister always says you should give yourself a good solid 15 minutes of misery, self-pity and woe then let it go, stand up and go live victoriously. So here I go...If I can just get out of the chair...

=sw

Monday, July 09, 2007

Country Justice

I went on a river float trip with a group that rented part of a private camp ground. We were 50 or more in number and single, married, older, younger, men and women. A good balance of people who had planned ahead and prepared to reserve a large area far in advance of the trip. It was as close as you can get to a church-like group, like I experienced growing up, without religion playing any defining role in the grouping at all. Most enjoyed some drinking, some didn't and so forth.

This was out in the Virginia country side along the Shenandoah river. I think that "Country Roads" song by John Denver is really about Virginia, just "West Virginia" fit a little better in the meter. West Virginia is not far off in any case and I think a part of the river flows through the upper arm of that state.

There were some fireworks, some whoops and hollers could be heard across the river valley. I daren't say "redneck" but by the end of the float, even one of our friends who is originally from India had a sun burn, so you definitely get a little sun on the summer river float.

A few times I heard, from outside our area of camp, the "Dukes of Hazard" style Dixie car horn "Oh..I wished I lived in the land of cotton..." Seriously, someone had that horn. It sounds kind of bigoted to me, though I suspect the highly represented vacationers of Mexican origin probably thought it sounded a little more like Mariachi music with sloppy timing.

For some reason, some people beseech me for my judgment on things. It's like I have that..."tell me your story and I'll absolve you of all your sins" like "approachable" demeanor. As I have blogged before, sometimes it's a woman at a dance club confessing her 3 secret boyfriends...affectionately named Monday, Wednesday and Friday. "what are doing Saturday" would be my response.

This time, it was two fairly young men. I was standing under a shade tree in the hot day about 50 feet away from the restrooms (which haven't been updated since the 60's). I was waiting for a couple of the ladies before we headed back to our camp to have dinner. These guys had some river float gear and asked me politely if I planned to be there a little while and could I watch their belongings while they took a quick restroom break.

I said sure and asked their names.

They were about 17 or 18, both way taller and bigger as in buffer than I am. They were polite and respectful and I shook their hands as I got their names. One kid kind of pulled back a bit and said "woah" from the handshake. He showed me scars all up and down his arm where they couldn't be seen from the top with the reach of a handshake.

He was torn up big time with scabs and scars maybe a few days to a week old. I said "oh, yah, that's pretty serious". He proceeded to tell me how it happened.

Apparently this guy had been at a big high school "schools out" party and witnessed a guy he knew hit a girl in the face and break her front teeth out. The girl is his good friend and so he went out after the guy (we'll call him the perp...like perpetrator of the punch to the girl) who had run out of the house. The perp jumped into a car which was being driven by another girl. My new acquaintance with the scabbed arms, call him Johnny, slapped the passenger side 1/4 size triangular window a couple of times, yelled at the perp to get out. He eventually pounded on the window then grabbed a stick to bolster his punch and punched in the window, grabbed the perp and pulled his face into the smashed 1/4 window glass repeatedly.

Then the cops showed up.

I said, "and you both got assault charges right?" and so it was. He asked me what I thought of that. I told him "assault is assault" and even though hitting girls is socially egregious and against the law, under the law what he (Johnny) did was also assault and not regarded as justified by another assault. Morally perhaps country justice was in order, I am not sure, though I agree any assault should be what it is. It is not up to Johnny to charge, convict and mete out punishments. I also felt the overwhelming sense of offense at the perp hitting a girl. She was, in this case, essentially defenseless against the attack and I don't beleive such a thing could ever be justified by anything she might do.

Yet, I also have a strong moral sense that right and wrong should not be emotionally applied nor distributed via 'roid rage. No victim is worth more than another. Perhaps it can be shown, circumstantially, that ones suffering is especially great under ones unique circumstances. Still...

Country Justice troubles me. It is an affront to Equal Justice Under Law so highly prized by our nation. I am stingingly disgusted that a man would hit his girlfriend. It is very offensive and horrible. Yet, my personal emotional reaction is subjective and does not comport with an equitable legal system.

I guess I am not too worried about these kids. They talk of violence with wonder and fascination, but I think getting glass in your arm might tend to teach you you are not indestructible. Too bad he had to go the hard way. On the other hand, what a friend when you need one.

Oh, the float trip was relaxing and fun, only a few sunburns.
=sw

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wimbledon on Streaming Radio

If ever there was a bad idea it is the live streaming radio feed of Wimbledon tennis.

I happen to tune into the BBC streaming radio from time to time throughout the day. Today they were streaming live audio from the Women's tennis matches at Tennis' big event.

I cannot listen to Wimbledon on streaming radio. It is two women grunting and screaming with all their might in desperate exertions...then applause.

At least there is that spongy "thock" of the ball on the grass courts to give some idea of a context to the other sounds.

The best part is...desperate grunting female exertions...then...the whoaaa....of the shocked and disappointed crowd.

It is so laughably amusing to hear. If only the lady players would yell at the judges more.

=sw

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kama Sutra II

I am sure you all read my political postings with rapt attention and just agree so much that no comment is necessary.

Really though...

I know everyone just wants more Kama Sutra!!... in their lives and on my blog, so here we go! This time I will try KSHk...Kama Sutra Haiku. The Haiku trend was brought on by the Degenerate Elite. You know who you are.

Of course I must tell you I simply found these photos online earlier this year. They are apparently photos from an ad campaign from Turkey. If you found these on your own, at least I know you have never seen them with Haiku's yet!

This should prove quite fun
Haiku for Kama Sutra
Poses in clothing!



That's how she likes it
We connect in a structure
Geometric love.





When you give your best
And keep your head in the game
You never lose face




If I concentrate
And really focus on things
I can see your junk




Did you know this babe?
I am one for fine dining
Why partake alone?




Just like all people
When I see these lovely shots
I want a love life




And why shouldn't I?
Fulfill this good desire
I am a cool guy!



I sincerely hope you enjoy them. Until next time!
=sw

Titular Testation

I added a new title bar, Red faced, high in the clouds, Stone faced, getting revelation and standing a-skance from the light.

I like the new templates, very nice. Huzzah blogger, ol chaps.

So the FBI is trying to issue guidelines about University Employees to help people spot "enemies of state". Per slashdot.org


"FBI is offering to brief faculty, students and staff on what it calls 'espionage indicators' aimed at identifying foreign agents. Unexplained affluence, failing to report overseas travel, showing unusual interest in information outside the job scope, keeping unusual work hours, unreported contacts with foreign nationals, unreported contact with foreign government, military, or intelligence officials, attempting to gain new accesses without the need to know, and unexplained absences are all considered potential espionage indicators."


The trouble is, these guidelines need to be combined with some other common sense. I will take each of the identifiers they have used and comment on them:

Unexplained affluence
Just because someone in your employ at a school has some money, doesn't mean an explanation is even owed to anyone. Suppose he or she simply has a wealthy relative...even a wealthy foreign relative...and it just isn't anyone's business?

Failing to report overseas travel
I am not sure employees have to account to their workplace for where they go when they are not at work. Certainly one must possess the necessary documents to travel and this need not be dealt with at all by one's employer, it's an abuse of power and a violation of privacy I would think.

Showing unusual interest in information outside the job scope
Curiousity? Simple desire to learn new things? Are we all suddenly communist drones stuck in a fixed career for life? This is really a repressive notion.

Keeping unusual work hours
I work in IT and I know unusual hours can be common. If the hours comport with the job description this should not place anyone under suspicion, though as a management issue, some people need not be on site after hours.

Unreported contacts with foreign nationals
The implication that any social contact ought to be reported to an employer or school is really not sounding like my America. That is really disturbing. It is possible speak to foreign nationals regularly in this great land without it involving threatening national security or being anyone's business.

Unreported contact with foreign government, military, or intelligence officials
Again the word "unreported". As if I should file a memo to my boss all about who I met at lunch. What is the imagined hypothetical situation here? An employer spots his copy clerk at wine bar on the weekend sitting with a uniformed general and confronts the employee for not "reporting" the meeting? I find this kind of suspicion frenzy dangerous to civil, free society.

Attempting to gain new accesses without the need to know
"Hey...can I have the password to the server with the grades on it"...I suppose it's common sense that some employees or students do not need access to sensitive private information. Though this could lead to a knee jerk reaction to interest in perfectly legitimate public information.

Unexplained Absences
This can happen to anyone. Really, you have a personal emergency and miss a school day. How many people skip their own classes for no good reason at all? I don't think this one alone really seals the deal for determining a spy.

I care about my country, I love it enough not to want it to spiral into the salem witch trials because most every key identifier for espionage is something that could be a simple matter of liberty and privacy and not necessarily indicate anything.

Besides, how clumsy and stupid do they think someone would be if they were really a spy? The safety of the nation is important, though so is the character of the life we are preserving. If most people fit into some of these identifiers at some time we may be just inciting panic for no good reason, causing a majority of false positives and unnecessary suspicion and mistrust.

Our society is free because of trust. If the FBI allows the threats from abroad to erode trust they may be doing far more damage to our own country than an enemy could inflict on us.

=sw

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kyoto Politics

It is starting to become clearer that carbon dioxide emissions are becoming a global problem. The top 20 emitters are listed by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The top one is the United States, though China is a close second, especially considering the growth rate of emissions from that country.

If the problem is urgent, if American scientists and, increasingly, politicians know the risks, why has the U.S. refused to ratify the Kyoto protocols?

It may be, that under the current agreement Large emitters such as China and India, which could potentially grow much larger, are not required to reduce their emissions under the protocol. Though the U.S. emissions are dramatically higher, this is effectively a call to negate America's historical competitive advantages.

The theory behind Kyoto is that if America reduces its emissions then that leaves room for growth or sustained levels of emissions from other countries. In reality, all nations need to reduce emissions and rationalizing that some nations should not have to do so amounts to a desire to transfer economic activity from the U.S. to other nations.

Because this is an important global issue about which something must be done, it would seem that the U.S. would prefer to rely on its technical and innovative prowess to deal with the carbon dioxide issue rather than effectively hand its sovereign power over to other nations.

Should there be an accord that recognizes that every nation must work to reduce CO2 emissions and change its energy usage patterns, then that is an accord America could sign. The U.S. would also have an extra large responsibility to reduce emissions, under such an agreement.

What Kyoto represents is simply the transfer of economic and industrial activity from the United States to other countries like India and China. This is an obvious political and competitive coup through which American politicians can see directly.

If CO2 is a real problem, everyone must target downward, instead of trying to transfer American industrial and technological lead time to other nations in a kind of carbon welfare system.

The United States will, no doubt, need to seek solutions to the CO2 emission issue and the effects of global warming will impact every nation. Though, it is clear as day why the U.S. and nations like Australia do not ratify the Kyoto protocols. Both nations have signed the protocols, demonstrating the importance of the issue at hand. However, the solution must involve all nations seeking reductions, not some nations simply seeking a larger slice of American historical advantage, insisting on a school-yard catch-up game instead of seeking actual reductions of their own CO2 emissions.

The U.S. should keep its sovereignty and insist on accords that target reductions by all, and do not offer a kind of carbon amnesty for coming late to the industrialized technology game.

=sw

Friday, June 08, 2007

War Theory

Why is there war? Why are we at war?

I think, among some communities generally described as Arabs, like the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon or extremist insurgents in Iraq, religion is a ready shield. It is so plain for me to see that a religion of peace has nothing to do with terrorism and gangster-like activity these groups of people undertake. I almost feel the sense of hopelessness even some military members feel. The voice that says "these people are insane fanatics that will never come to their senses" or "we should write them off and bomb them all".

I may not have much in common with these people though I have humanity in common. Why am I not motivated to exploit the religious sentiments of people to whip them up into a warring, irrational, hateful frenzy as some videos seem to show groups like these do. What would make me feel as hopeless, frustrated and desperately angry as these fellow human beings do?

I suspect there is a war on with Iran already. Maybe it's even with parts of Pakistan and maybe North Korea is even involved, certainly in the area of disseminating information about nuclear weapons research.

The war with Iran is being fought in political stand-offs, kidnappings, brash statements and crass conferences like the one hosted by iran denying the Holocaust. The 80's war in Afghanistan was a proxy war between the U.S.S.R. (now mainly Russia) and the U.S.A. and the Vietnam war was fought against Chinese backing, as was the Korean War. The wars in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan (of today) are looking like Proxy wars.

On the surface, the difference in the predominant religion of the parties may serve as a motivator in oversimplified anger building exercizes. As an American, I know I am not at war with Mohammed, Islam or any religion.

I believe these wars are about economics.

Now the G8 conference is on, remember that about 65% of the worlds economy is represented by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. This looks exactly like a post-world-war II bargaining table.

Excluded? Predominantly muslim countries. Not only them, but China, India, Australia, All of Africa and All of South America are, on the surface of it, excluded. I know other countries also hold meetings during the conferences, but really...

War is about wealth.

How do some more extremist muslim people feel? Slighted? Universally disadvantaged? Like other people, who do not share their religion, hold the billions to such a degree that they can win wars, assign territory and enforce it all?

I understand the deep seated need for a feeling of faith in justice. I can see why many people hope that Sharia Law (an example a system of laws that is consistent with muslim values) will afford some leverage, advantage or opportunity to over a billion muslims.

I have no sympathy for those who choose the path of terror, violence, war lordism, gang-like criminal behavior. And I, ofcourse, find the idea of religious law to be a contemptable concept that is not how I prefer to live, though I am trying to see what is the cause of war, of the warlike spirit.

I heard, last week, that the billionaires in Aspen, CO are trying to keep the pesky millionaires out. This trend is so unsettling. While the free market system is not without its benefits and advantages, and while I desire to be wealthy like many American Dreamers, I will always reject, out of hand, the notion that money elevates anyone to a higher worth as a human being. All the illusion, the trappings, exclusivity and ownership should never nudge a human being's inherent worth one 1000th of a nanometer abover another's.

I feel a duty to country to point out the risk of misdirection from important things speaking about Paris Hilton can cause. Don't let her distract you from important events like the "retirement" of General Pace, erstwhile chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. armed forces for 2 years now. Though Paris illustrates my point.

Paris Hilton's wealth and status may have led to the offer of special treatment for the "socialite" (oh geez, is this a career?) by the criminal justice system. This leaves other jailed women wondering if they couldn't just have a medical issue and be sent home as well. This manufactured class difference may be what leads to the anger that leads to the resolve to fight that leads to war. At least it seems to work that way for some apparently disadvantaged people in parts of the world.

Poor, angry with no prospects...many will fall victim to recruiting to these various factions. I believe that fighting poverty fights the ability of those wishing to exploit this anxious resource of idle stressed populations to prosecute a war.

So what is wealth really? I'll think about that one for a while and post later.

=sw

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Parthenogenesis

I heard about the hammer head shark in captivity with other females who delivered a baby shark "Immaculate Conception" style in a process known as parthenogenesis. Probably named for ancient Greek myths. Can you imagine the construction workers from the Parthenon: "Listen, Telemakos, the Parthenon didn't build itsself!" Sadly, knowing the ancient Greeks, they were probably using slave labor. Democracy was not for everyone back then.

I prefer "Emaculate Conception". Candles, egyptian cotton, mood setting music, massage oil, no condom (It's conception after all).

It seems there are a lot of examples of Parthenogenesis in the animal world. Indeed every vertabrate that is not a mammal has exhibited this capability at some point observable to modern science. Also many non-vertabrates can "get her done", so to speak, "all by herself" as it were. Annie Lennox is a prophetess.

This is an amazing ability and except for the lack of a mammalian incident (much less a human one) on record, this would seem to lend credence to the concept of a "virgin birth" like the one in the beliefs held by Christians.

Mary was said to have been a virgin who was suddenly pregnant without even mention of a mans name....wait a tick...there was that bloke Gabriel. Probably, Mary hooked up with her cousin's boyfriend, a non-practicing jew who'd been living in Samaria and was sent as a "messenger" to visit the family and ended up standing over her at some point. Gabe said things to Mary that I have at least thought of saying to any hottie who has favored me with her charms like "Hail [name here] full of grace"... and as her robe falls to the stone floor of the summer home on Galilee..."blessed art thou among women"...and later that evening another utterance echoes through the atrium..."Mother of God". Warning: that was sacreligous. I should have warned you before it happened. I'm sorry, baby, Now you'll have some 'splainin' to do to Joseph!

Yes, Occam's razor, if used for nothing else in this postulation, tells me that the simplest answer is Mary did things in the usual way. You know, things happen and you lie to yourself about them and spin them to those whose reactions you fear most. Women are equipped for this sort of thing by evolution.

That's why Jesus looked so much taller than the rest of the O'Nazareths in the family portraits which we of course have in museums proving the whole story happened. Right? ...What? There's no evidence just copies of manuscripts about a story? Huh?

Parthenogenesis is a natural occurrence in some creatures, and if it happened in a woman once, it being a natural (if rare) phenomenon, that would seem to take the need for a miracle off the table.

I will let you all know as soon as I "genesis" an ancient Greek temple in my sleep. You can all party with me. Bring a silk pillow and some wine, wear a grape vine around your forehead and dress in a comfortable, loose-fitting robe. Women only. Hey it's my "Parthenon", genesis your own.

=sw

Friday, May 18, 2007

Great Book I am Reading

If you read me ever, and you are few and highly valued....you know I love to read Carl Sagan's writings and lectures. I am reading "The Varieties of Scientific Experience" by Carl Sagan...edited by Ann Druyan (Annnn Droooooyan!).

Thinking about the wars around the world...the Palestinians fighting eachother...the Sunni's and Shi'ites fighting eachother and other such conflicts, some of Sagan's words ring true. Here he paraphrases a way of thinking to demonstrate how dangerous it can be. This may seem familiar to anyone who has transitioned from faith in a belief system to self-determined free thinking.

"Our history is in part a battle to the death of inadequate myths. If I can't convince you, I must kill you... ...You are a threat to my version of the truth, especially the truth about who I am and what my nature is. The thought I may have dedicated my life to a lie, that I might have accepted a conventional wisdom that no longer, if it ever did, corresponds to external reality, that is a very painful realization. I will tend to resist it to the last. I will go to almost any lengths to prevent myself from seeing that the worldview that I have dedicated my life to is inadequate." -Carl Sagan

This book is a great read and seems as relevant as can be to today.

=sw

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Damn Stars

I stare at the stars. They are so close yet so far away. I admire the stars and they know nothing of me. I long to be warmed by their rays and nearer to them. They are a danger to me. Like Ikarus to the sun or like a moth to the fire. I wish the stars were not so far...there are millions of them, many of them in pairs...many explode many have children orbiting around them. Like our star.

The stars have no use for me. They deny me access with distance. They tell me "No"...they tease me and run from me...red shifting...red shifting my face to shame.

Stars will be the death of me. I want to be around them...be in them...be a part of them. I feel I am made from them. I know they are a part of me and I long to commune with them. I have seen their auroras...watched their morning glow...gazed upon their sunsets and risen when they say and gone to bed as they ask. I have burned myself upon their intense heat and run to the cold distance of their systems to hide from the them. I am a million miles away and a million lifetimes hopelessly isolated and marooned from the stars. They are my peace, my bane...my hope and my shame.

There is nothing I can do to be at peace about them. No fix for my banishment. No amount of patience to meet the stinging urgency and no stopping the expansion of my universe...leading to endless distance and a cold, dark, ashen, silent isolation.

=sw

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Golf

I have trespassed on some of the finest country clubs in the land ...on walks.

Apart from an innate ability to strike at things with a club, I am completely useless at golf.

I mean...the concept of grabbing a shaft close to my waist with both fists comes naturally to me, as well as the general concepts of "Flailing" and "Whacking". I love to be out in nature. Why shouldn't I like Golf?

I guess I just don't like keeping score. I wonder if drinking some scotch would actually help my game? I wouldn’t want to get ticketed for “driving” under the influence...or “putting” under the influence.

Golf was probably invented to keep firebrand scotts from flogging their mates.

In any case, until they make glowing balls that emit beeps, Golf will always be a big challenge for me.

=sw