The first step, I think, has got to be mandatory liability insurance on guns. (Including police guns, and boy they would have the highest rates given the amount of strange things that happen with guns in their hands. Maybe police already are insured, I don't know. Or do cities just have to pay the usual damages out of their regular budgets?)
Home gun owners certainly need liability insurance. There are accidental shootings all the time, from children and other family members getting their hands on the things and playing around with them, guns going off by accident or "I thought it wasn't loaded" situations, people shooting themselves while cleaning their guns, etc., etc. It would be a bonanza for insurance companies if ever there was one. The gun is an item for which the need for obligatory insurance is more than obvious. And people who get accidentally or even deliberately shot need some kind of compensation.
Obviously, the type of gun, the way it's stored, the quality of its manufacture, and the owner's history with gun usage and accidents - all the kinds of things that statisticians love to staticize about - would go into determining the rates. But I think requiring realistic liability insurance would immediately put a crimp in the wild abandon with which some people buy guns by the dozen and/or leave them carelessly lying around. They need to be made to take some responsibility, instead of getting away with the same stupid excuses we hear after every accident.
It would also incidentally get rid of Congress's cute little ban on even researching statistics about guns, gun accidents, gun violence, etc. As time went on, more information and understanding about liablities and actual problems areas with guns would be come increasingly well documented, because insurance companies don't fool around. They want to know the odds. This would help take the whole subject out of the "screamingly emotional" category and nudge it towards the "conceivably rational discussion someday" direction. I think this is a necessary early step.
Oh and -- a child getting hold of a gun without authorization in somebody's house, whether its own home or another's, should cause an immediate charge of criminal negligence on the part of the gun owner. Period. Whether the kid kills, harms, or with great luck causes no damage at all, the negligence in not securing the gun is the same. So often young kids shoot themselves or others, and the parents don't get held to any degree of responsibility whatever for the gun they left lying around (or had "hidden" in a drawer or purse).
Republican voters: Indistinguishable from the proverbial horse that runs back into the burning stable.
I don't understand it, but then, I expect them to have greater than horse-level reasoning abilities. I should know better. In a state of chronic terror, there isn't much difference between the reasoning ability of many people and at least some horses. Some horses might be smart enough not to run back into the safety of that familiar building (that happens to be on fire).
True enough, they don't, all by themselves. (Except occasionally when they go off unexpectedly, as I hear about from time to time, but we'll set that matter aside for the sake of argument.)
However, in the current American scene, saying "Guns don't kill people, people do" is about the same as saying "Mines in a minefield that people have no choice but to walk through don't kill people; stupid destructive feet landing on mines in a minefield do."
Also, I don't know if gunfans ("If they want to murder they'll do it, with or without guns") have noticed, but it's a lot harder to kill 15 people in 3 minutes with a spork than it is with a semiautomatic weapon. You might take one or two down before the Spork Patrol gets you, but not likely 15.
It's a jaw-dropping testament to the imperviousness of a large swath of Americans to blatant facts, that they go on and on believing that guns are perfectly safe magical objects and that all the Americans currently being killed by guns has nothing to do with guns. An Uzi can be given to an 8-year-old girl to play with on a firing range without any problem (except for her accidentally killing her trainer) or a loaded handgun can be kept on top of the fridge or in a dresser drawer or in a purse or bra (all actual cases I've heard of, among many many others). The fact that hundreds of children as well as adults get killed or seriously injured every week in such situations is "just the price we have to pay for freedom." The freedom to lose your child to an easily avoidable accident apparently far outweighs the freedom not to be accidentally shot (or, like last week, deliberately shot by some freedom-lover who didn't appreciate you, the waitress, telling him not to smoke in a restaurant).
Because to these people a gun is a beloved loyal friend, like a big dog, and like a big dog can unleash its teeth in your defense when needed. It's also a magic talisman that makes you invulnerable and a massively powerful superhero. They really seem to believe that. They also seem to believe that while they themselves are the essence of innocence, they are surrounded by a world full of slavering, ravenous enemies. Having weapons means that the evil Government can never take you out, as it is constantly longing to do, though forced for the moment to crouch snarling in the dark, held at bay only by your vastly superior weaponry.
And in any situation where "a bad guy with a gun" is present, like a dark movie theater or a public school, the "good guy with a gun" will always be able to shoot faster, and will always, in a scene full of running, screaming people, react instantly and logically, know exactly who to shoot, and will never hit the wrong person. The fact that actual experiments have proven this to be the meaningless fantasy it obviously is, is completely irrelevant. Those are just facts, man.
Because for some time now in America, life has become a comic book, or a blockbuster movie, or a videogame. Bit by bit, huddled in our various bubbles, steeped in nonstop propaganda, we've lost all contact with reality. The magical gun fetish is only one example. We believe in magical demonic enemies in the Middle East who will gleefully destroy us for no reason at all -- certainly nothing to do with anything we've ever done to them. Or we believe that we can magically go on acidifying the oceans and poisoning the land indefinitely without consequences, even as the consequences are piling up in mounting heaps around us (the current Syrian refugee crisis being a fortuitous combination of both). The concept of doublethink may have been invented by a Brit, but it could not be more quintessentially American. We are the biggest, toughest, roughest, by far the most heavily armed nation in world history, and simultaneously timorous, innocent little rodents who need to spend many more billions on armaments to feel a teeny tiny bit safe.
But of course, we never will feel safe, no matter how many guns we have, because we are timorous little rodents, and nothing's going to persuade us to come out of our hole to talk, face to face, with any of those voracious, magical, demonic cats out there.
After watching the first part of Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander" (the long version), then watching the father dying in the second part, I realize how much I love that man, how entirely he bound me to him with the story he told of the chair; that moment of genuine magic that transformed him and affected even me, a sad jaded adult.
Seeing him die, I mourned as if he were a member of my own family. In fact, he is.
And then I thought -- "and you think telling stories isn't important?"
Yes, I used to know better, but even then I didn't understand how urgently in need of magic we are. Because at that time it still existed for me.
Now I am surrounded by such infinite tracts of soulless filth, this current culture without a trace of humanity, love, beauty, or decency... Perhaps even now it exists for those who are not yet jaded. For ultimately it can only come from within oneself.
But it does make it easier, now and then, to see a little of it in the real world.
It's hysterically funny watching the right wing in this country freak out because the Vatican finally, out of desperation I suppose, hired a Pope who appears to be an actual Christian. It's even funnier hearing Jesusy-type statements being called Marxist. Um, Jesus said that stuff long before Marx.
It's been that long since the punditry bothered to pay even hypocritical lip service to what used to be "traditional Christian values" (charity, humility, kindness to the poor? Nope, obviously doesn't ring a bell). They no longer see a need even to pretend that they give a shit about anything or anybody but the rich.
Hubris, guys. Surely you know what happens soon after hubris sets in? I recommend some quick and dirty hypocritical sentimentality now. (Read Dickens if you can't remember how. He knows you much better than you know yourself.)
And after that, for your own good, keep your gloating off the front page. It tends to rile the peasantry.
Funny. When the rabble of right wing/Christianist crazies fear that the Supreme Court might rule in favour of gay marriage -- something which doesn't affect those who are not gay and does not harm them in any way whatsoever, but merely offends their opinion of what other people should be doing -- they threaten to "disregard" the court's ruling and refuse to follow it. And they would, too. And their screams and tantrums would be heard at Arcturus. (Next day update, after Prop 8 & DOMA rulings: It's begun! :D)
Today the court arbitrarily destroyed one of the most fundamental laws maintaining what there is of democracy in this country (without even being overtly asked to, although who knows what's been going on behind the scenes?) the Voting Rights Act, which as recently as 2006 had 100% bipartisan support and was signed into renewal by George W. Bush, most unelected President of them all -- a law which affects millions of people in this country, and whose being overturned opens up a free-for-all of repressive laws and practices all intended to guarantee a Republican majority forever and allow the erasure, by the rich who own Washington, of the few sane policies still remaining from the 20th century. Thus pretty much wrapping up the process the Supreme Court began in 2000 by setting aside the voters in favour of anointing their own candidate as President. Will we hear cries from any opposition groups to "disregard" this current ruling? No. Everyone will bow their heads and watch the country slide into the ocean (or it slide over us thanks to global warming). The radical right can do whatever it wants, with impunity. If they are defeated by a huge effort (as happened with the extremely repressive abortion law in Texas tonight), they do not accept popular opinion or political defeat. They simply sneak the law through attached to something else or vote it in at a secret or unannounced special session or some such underhanded tactic. They are not shy about showing their contempt for democracy. They get and stay in power by manipulation of everything they can manipulate -- gerrymandering of districts to get their guys in and powerful opponents out, being one the main methods. They hit snags from time to time, but they ignore them, come back, and win by any means necessary. They are zealots, fanatics.
Democrats, and reasonable people in general, are incapable of coping with these tactics. They do not comprehend the fanaticism of this bunch. After 30 years of these people undermining and gradually destroying this country and indeed the world economy, people still don't get it.
By the way, if there were an actual government in this country instead of a clown car towing a broken-down oxcart, fixing at least part of the Voting Rights Act would be simple enough. Polling places must be based on population. Race, economic status doesn't enter into it. All areas must have equal access to polling places based entirely on population density, and waiting times to vote must be equal throughout the state. If there is a delay during an election, somebody has to get in there and fix it pronto. This would be entirely doable, of course.
Of course, theoretically population is how congressional districts are allocated, too, isn't it. Ho ho.
And if local governments want people to have identity cards to vote, then those must be issued automatically by the government for free, based on minimal ID records with broad criteria -- i.e., they are easy to get and inclusive. In fact, they should just be sent out along with those notices they send out of polling places and times (or do they not send those out in Southern states?) Better yet, just have a computerized database of voters in a district at the polling places themselves and accept any sort of evidence of identity, if there is any question of a person's identity when they come in to vote. Only if the same person tried to vote twice, even different locations, would it trigger the notification that some sort of error or hanky panky was going on, since the record of that person already having voted would be in the database. It's not hard to do. It is a lot easier to do than it apparently is to make electronic voting machines work properly.
Of course, the only reason for such laws is not to stop those who are not qualified to vote from voting -- a vanishingly minuscule problem -- but rather to weed out potential Democratic voters and to suppress turnout in general, which is always a factor favourable to Republicans.
Without a genuine legislative intention for fairness, of course, fairness doesn't happen. That is why democracy is dead in this country unless an awful lot more people smarten up. And, as Texas showed last night, even when they do smarten up they have a hell of a fight before them just to restore basic rights. (I'm surprised the Texas legislature didn't arrest all those protestors as "terrorists," as the Occupy people and other peaceniks always get labelled, but that will come soon enough if such insurrections of democracy continue.)
I’m relieved Obama won the election so handily without needing Florida, which took a few more days to sort out its votes. I’m overjoyed the whole thing was settled so quickly on election night -- when I think few of us, on either side, would have been surprised by a long, drawn-out, screaming litigious slugfest post-election.
All the same, I am upset at the statements I’ve seen on some political sites talking down Florida as if it was some kind of third-world country and didn’t matter. I want to celebrate the voters there, the people who fought back against suppression, forced polls to re-open when they arbitrarily closed, stood in enormously long lines for hours, up to 9 hours for some people. Some of them were still standing in line to vote at 2 a.m. when the President gave his acceptance speech. These are people who insisted on their right to play their part in their democracy, and who realized the importance of their votes even if, as it happened, this particular time, the Presidential election didn’t turn on them. They are all heroes to me, every one of them, they deserve a Medal of Valor. Many people in Ohio had to deal with similar suppression too.
And they should never have to go through that again. Elections are a horrifying, undemocratic, untrustworthy mess in this country. State governors apparently are petty dictators who can arbitrarily set whatever voting rules they want, and in certain states, that means stop the Democrats at all costs. There should be at least a minimum national standard all the states have to live up to, in every precinct, regarding the times polls are open, the length of wait time for voting, the quality of the voting equipment, the training of poll workers, and the counting of votes, among other points. And of course there must be an untamperable, verifiable paper trail for all votes, and voting machine software cannot be proprietary. (What on earth kind of mentality would create a voting machine that can easily be tampered with, that can’t be inspected by the people it’s supposed to serve, and which has no voter-verified hard-copy paper trail? Gee... the honesty of a system like that is right out there on the surface, isn’t it.)
Yet with all the efforts at skewing the vote, Obama still won a second term and both the House and Senate added more Democratic seats. If it weren’t for the gerrymandering of districts, he might have had a Democratic majority House as well – there were more Democratic votes given in total in all the House races, but they still added up to a considerable majority of Republicans.
And they are not of any mind to listen to the will of the country, and will keep trying to stuff their reactionary agenda down all of our throats (to use an expression they’re so fond of applying to the rest of us).
I just hope Obama remembers this time that he won and why he won, and doesn’t piddle away his victory in destructive compromises, again. Well, I do have hope.
Thank God I don't watch TV and I live in California, where the Republicans apparently aren't throwing away their money on robocalls, or maybe I'm just not on the right list. I don't know how people are keeping any shreds of sanity during these last days before this horrendous, hateful election. How many hundreds of millions of dollars are the political parties spending on ads? And thanks to Citzens United, this tsunami of electoral waste will likely be the norm from now on, just like gigantic "fluke" storms coming from climate change.
Next election cycle (which I suppose begins the day after the election and any subsequent turmoil is resolved), how about we ban ads altogether? The parties can still spend their billions of PAC dollars, but instead of swirling it all down the toilet in ads, force them to compete by investing that money in new technologies, thus creating real jobs, and on improving infrastructure. Whoever does the best job of making a spanking new, cleaned-up, refreshed, prosperous America will win! Talk about positive campaigning!
Isn't that how the parties once used to try to win elections, by actually doing something constructive for the country while they were in office? Back in the 1930s or something? When people used to think government had a rational function?
(Dwarrow, ridiculous affectation of some people just to avoid honest discussion. Some sort of irregular archaic plural for "dwarf" that probably died out in 1205, if it even existed outside of some tiny hamlet in Northumbria.)
I see with a sort of shock yet no real surprise that Dictionary dot com and Merriam-Webster dot com both give "dwarves" as an acceptable plural for "dwarf." Some commenters even seem to think that Disney committed an inexplicable error in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." (Not to mention all books in English written up until -- well, now.)
No, people. Until a few years ago "Dwarves" existed only as a fantasy race in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Now all of a sudden they've taken over. When did that happen?
I know language changes all the time, but I hate being in the middle of it.
I don't use this account for anything to speak of, and nobody reads it, so it is a perfect place for me to flex a few brain muscles and see if I can get this moribund mentality of mine to come back to life.
When I was young I used to write long entries in my diaries practically every day, and I was working feverishly on fiction (and when even younger, poetry) in every available moment. I had a tremendous flow of ideas - good, bad, or ridiculous, but at least they kept coming, and everything I learned or encountered appeared to me mostly as "How can I write about/with this?" I was in a state of enthusiasm. And utter egotism, which is inseparable from being an artist, at least while you're actually doing the artist stuff.
Now I had personal physical and mental stuff going on that slowly eroded that enthusiasm. But the last ten years or so, the horror of living under the Bush administration killed it dead.
There may be those who object to my calling it horror, but I really don't give a damn. If it wasn't horrible for them, fine. It was horrible to me. I never used to be a political person. When I first moved to the US I couldn't have told you which party was in power, which party Reagan (who was president at the time), Lincoln, Kennedy or anybody else belonged to, what their platforms were, and so on. Nor was I interested. I paid no attention to the Clinton "scandals" or any of the other screechy idiocy coming out of Washington in the 90's. I didn't care about any of that. Still, it was around that time that the astonishing idiocy of the screeching did begin to set off a sort of vague alarm, just because it was so off the wall, so over the top and unaccountable. And even more than that, how incredibly mean-spirited and counterproductive it all was. But I had no idea of how fearsomely corrupt and vicious politicians and their resulting actions could become.
That Bush (or Cheney and his gang) started a war after 9-11 was appalling to me. How much worse an idea could there be than going and murdering a bunch of civilians after a bunch of civilians in this country had been murdered apparently by a gang of thugs? Yeah, way to show the world how much better we were than the thugs. You don't start a war over the actions of a handful of criminals. You bring the criminals to justice. (As Clinton did after some other thug bombed the Twin Towers in the 90s.) To go to war was exactly the wrong thing to do. Going into Iraq later on obviously had nothing to do with 9-11 at all, it was just Bush and Cheney taking advantage of the moment to start an unrelated war Bush was on the record about wanting to start even before he came into office. Watching large chunks of this country respond with wild enthusiasm to blatantly stupid and lying war propaganda was even more disgusting and depressing.
Well, I've seen a lot more of the same since then and things have only gotten worse. The right wing in this country went over the cliff a long time ago, and at this moment, even as more and more relatively sensible people begin to object to them, they seem to be gathering momentum in their plunge to the bottom. The problem is that as they plunge they are dragging the rest of the country along. I don't know how this is all going to play out. It is very uncomfortably reminiscent of Weimar Germany, and also of ancient Rome in the violent, chaotic days before it gave up on being a republic. Whether we are in for some kind of Hitler or Mussolini, a final implosion of what little remains of democracy in this country, or just the self-immolation of the Republican party (or some combination thereof), I have no idea. I do think things are going to get worse before they get better, if they do get better. The sound and fury and general idiocy, anyway, are mostly smokescreens to distract from the actions of the plutocracy which is the real power trying to overturn the 20th century here, in Canada, in Europe and other wealthy nations, and doing its very effective best to prevent most of the rest of the world from even arriving at the Industrial Revolution.
All of which is sort of my worst nightmare. I grew up in a peaceful country at a relatively peaceful time. The US was at war back then too, but Canada wasn't involved, and war seemed an archaic remnant of the uncivilized past that only primitives and extremists would still indulge in. Well, I still think that's true. The very difficult education I've had to undergo in the past ten years or so consisted of watching what little civilization the West has managed to accumulate being systematically undone by a bunch of primitives and extremists in this country, and how shockingly easily they have managed to do it, and to systematically destroy the economy as part of the same process.
The part that I think really wrecked me, though, was not so much how easily fooled many people are, but much, much, worse, with what vitriolic glee so many of them seize any offered opportunity to blame and hate, and attack verbally or physically; how strangely uninterested they are in facts, reason, or fairness. This has been utterly bizarre to me, because I think the dominant theme of my life has always been to bend over backwards, even to the point of self-damage, in the effort to be fair and see the other's point of view. That has always been a reflex, just automatic, compulsive even. It has come as a tremendous shock to me that so many people simply have no impulse whatever to do that. Just none. They want to be right all the time, and lambaste anyone they disagree with as wrong -- without first taking the trouble to carefully research and establish with as much impartiality as possible, whether in fact they ARE right about whatever they are asserting.
Seeing that, for a long time, shattered my faith in humanity and ultimately even in myself. It took a number of years for that to happen, and all while my faith and love for humanity was eroding, I was writing less and less. It's stupid, really. It's not that I ever thought mankind was all sweetness and light, hell no. But I guess I never really could believe that so many of them were just so goddam petty, willfully stupid, and mean. That seems that to have depressed me far more than it had any right to. It got to the point that I couldn't get much interested in my own thoughts or ideas any more, because, you know, what the hell does it matter? Nothing matters, because mankind is beyond hope. Even though I know that there are many wonderful people, many people I love and admire. But it's the yahoos who carry the day, the reflexively smug who are impervious to years and years of presented facts, the Big-Endians who fight to the death with Little-Endians -- unconcerned that there might be some actual problems that need solving, like possibly the fact that the planet is being ripped apart for short-term profit without the least thought to long-term survival, stuff like that.
Well, the planet is being violated daily, and the yahoos are having their wars, and the Big-Endians are squawking at the Little-Endians, and there are a lot of very mean, loud, nasty, complacent and irresponsible people out there, and they couldn't be more proud of themselves for it. It's taken many years for all of that to percolate through my head, and the final result has been some very black sludge I couldn't stomach at all (talk about a messed-up metaphor!) However, after throwing away that horrid old coffee, another thought has finally occurred to me.
So freakingwhat? Yeah, there's maybe 20% of humanity that is vile or clings to others who are vile in order to amplify its own shaky self-importance. So what?
The truth is that, depressing as that might be, it's always been the case. Always. What I'm seeing isn't new. It's stupid, wasteful, depressing, all that, sure. But it is not new. This sort of thing has always gone on, and there have been many previous times when stupidity, credulousness, and the manipulations of plutocracy underwent big spurts of power. The medieval era in Europe being one example. That followed a time in which pagan knowledge was systematically destroyed, and it didn't end until some surviving bits of that knowledge began to be recovered, at which point there was the Renaissance and people began to consider being a bit rational again, at least from time to time, and there was a revival of art, science, medicine, hygiene, and eventually the modern era (which I hope has not ended, although I really have to wonder sometimes). I hope we are not going to enter another medieval age (of which the plutocratically-controlled police state, I think, is just a modern and even worse incarnation). There is nothing for the average person to gain from that. Being a peasant or slave is not a lot of fun, and neither is having your intelligence and individuality stultified in the name of conformity and obedience.
Even so, and despite the lesser, meaner spirits among them, human beings as a species are an infinite well of creativity. I think the idea that the rich and educated are "genetically" superior to the poor and uneducated (an idea I see being tossed around these days to reinforce the plutocracy) is not merely wrong, but absolutely and intentionally vicious. The richer classes have more opportunities to express and develop their abilities (whether they take advantage of them or not); but the latent brilliance and goodness of mankind is distributed throughout all races, classes, and nations. Despite propaganda to the contrary, there is no doubt that if the entire educated ruling class of the world was eliminated in one sweep, within a generation and probably much sooner than that, all kinds of talent would emerge from "below" that showed the same intelligence and competence, and the same mental varieties both good and bad. (That's a whole story in itself, come to think of it -- the eventual corruption and complacency of the vibrant new generation that had so much originality and promise at first.)
So yeah, we are stuck being a bunch of very ingenious monkeys who at least in some cultures, much like chimpanzees, are unable to control our tempers and throw screaming tantrums and initiate battles at the slightest affront, and who also tinker up machinery and politics that can be fun but are sometimes quite capable of ending our species -- as they have already ended so many others. We may just be stuck with that, despite the lifelong struggles of many, many great men and women to drag our species into a realm beyond it. We should be capable of living decent, happy, reasonably prosperous and productive lives, making the world a more fun, beautiful, healthful, and friendly place to live. We have the intellectual ability to create that kind of world. There is no real reason why we don't. But maybe after all there is: that, ingenious and clever monkeys though we be, in the end we are just too blasted irrational, selfish, and complacent.
But well. Fine. That may all be true. But I have realized finally that I don't need to apologize for the fact that I freaking hate complacency and mean-spiritedness, and above all that combination of the two that creates that weird pride in being a selfish, knee-jerk-reactive, ignorant bastard that seems to define a certain type of American at this point in history. I have, in this lifetime and every other lifetime, been one of those yearning for the Renaissance. For democracy, not oligarchy. For a fair chance in life for every human being, and in fact for all life forms and the planet as a living whole. I think it's immoral that hundreds of thousands of humans are sacrificed working themselves to death for virtually no pay in factories so that a handful of opportunists can make vast fortunes. I think it is insanely immoral that we continue to pollute this planet when for the past 40 or 50 years we could just as easily have been cleaning it up and finding ways to have a civilization without wrecking the place where we live. I think it is criminal that people in this country are milked every way they turn by "health" insurance companies, banks, and employers, and that they have to start their careers, if they want to get educated, with a crushing debt load which I suppose will ensure their peasant-like compliance for the rest of their lives. I could (and I suppose I do) go on and on and on about all the unfairness and exploitation and general nastiness perpetually perpetrated in this world. But damn it. I can have fun YELLING about it! I can fight back, even if it is only in my own little personal way by writing stuff that at least expresses my faith in the essential decency of human beings, despite all the yammering from the minority who prefer to be indecent. So you wanna fight? You want a row? I’m ready, yeah, finally I’m ready, if only in my own mind. Which is important, since that’s where I was being defeated.
Frankly, if you don’t fight for what you believe in, you have just right there and then done yourself in. The “enemy” doesn’t have to do a thing. I couldn’t write, not because the world was so ugly and bad, but because I let myself be discouraged by it. It’s as dumb as that, just that dumb and clichéd. I gave in to all the ugliness and lost hold of the joy and fun and soaring expansiveness that is the quintessential expression of life, of oneself.
Upon consideration, I think it is a hell of a lot more fun to fight than to give up. It is more fun, also (although I do think this statement borders on the immoral), to work at creating a perfect world than to be in one. Not that there’s much danger of our being inundated with perfection anytime soon.
In short... as Mehitabel, that much abused, much abusing, and eminently unvirtuous and rowdy feline used to say, "There's a dance in the old dame yet!"
Okay, this is how to stop war. The right-wingers care violently about the fetus, though not at all about the infant (a.k.a. the post-born). (Which is evidenced by their frenzied hatred of abortion and simultaneous virulence against sex education and birth control, much less any government support for housing, health care, or even education of the child.) Well then, they should care even more violently about the not yet fertilized. All those fighting men, and women too, who get killed in war will never be able to create any children – all those potential fetuses pre-aborted! Surely this must be stopped!
At the very least, anyone who goes into battle should have all their gametes removed for storage. But then who would bear all the pre-snowflake embryos?
But protecting the children of the fighters doesn't make war acceptable. What about all the civilians who are killed? They have gametes, too! What about them, eh? Think of the children! I mean the pre-fertilized, not the post-born, of course.
Okay, maybe this is more snark than inspiration, but ... Man, I want to live in a sane world.
Harold Camping lets out a hearty chuckle when he considers the people who believe the world will end in 2012.
"That date has not one stitch of biblical authority," Camping says from the Oakland office where he runs Family Radio, an evangelical station that reaches listeners around the world. "It's like a fairy tale."
The Mayans were telling a fairy tale.
The article gets even funnier after that.
Camping, 88, has scrutinized the Bible for almost 70 years and says he has developed a mathematical system to interpret prophecies hidden within the Good Book. One night a few years ago, Camping, a civil engineer by trade, crunched the numbers and was stunned at what he'd found: The world will end May 21, 2011.
This is not the first time Camping has made a bold prediction about Judgment Day.
On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping's believers gathered inside Alameda's Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven.
When the earth failed to end, Camping attributed it to an error in his mathematics. Fortunately for Camping, his followers were completely unshaken by his calculatory peccadilloes and have even more conviction that he is right this time.
"Evidently, he was wrong," [a follower] allowed, "but this time it is going to happen. There was some doubt last time, but we didn't have any proofs. This time we do."
(Did anyone consider that maybe it was Jesus who miscalculated the date last time?Maybe he showed up six hours later, but everybody had already gone home.Then he was too embarrassed to say anything about it.)
I don't mean to come down too hard on any one nut in this fruitcake of a world, but ... Does this guy actually build bridges and things? Now that scares me.
... No, really. I must have missed something. Maybe this was from The Onion.
I never thought I would live through a time as vile as the past ten years have been in the U.S. (and promise to continue being for a while yet), but then I never thought that so many people were as dumb as they apparently are. So, live and learn I guess.
I'm happy to see a new decade, even though as a "change" it's completely meaningless and arbitrary - I mean, a decade is a completely artificial construct - but right now I'm not being picky. Symbolism will do.
I'm not even going to consider the new catastrophes awaiting us in the 2010's. I'm just sort of amazed that I'm still here to see them. Living in L.A. puts you in a happy-go-lucky state of mind, anyway - yeah, there could be a devastating earthquake at any moment, but heck, usually they're just little shivers, so why worry? We'll all be fine!
Seriously, I do feel pretty free at the moment, having just recovered from some unknown illness, and I can apply that to the new year and, hurray, new decade! I wish us all well, and especially our ailing planet Earth - maybe we'll wake up and start realizing that our survival actually is dependent on the way we treat this thing. It'll do all right without us, but our range of tolerance is maybe not as great as we think.
But heck, I don't want to talk about that right now. Happy New Year.
I'm so delighted that Barack Obama won the election. Partly because it means the U.S. is going to return to the 21st century instead of racing as fast as possible back towards the 19th - if not the 14th, as it seemed sometimes. We're going to have a government that at least tries to be based on something like reason, as opposed to sound bites, backroom deals with corporations, drunken-sailor style spending, and imperialistic thuggery. I don't necessarily agree with Obama about all his policies, and I don't think he is flawless (or entirely free of corporate ties) by any means, but he is a thoughtful, intelligent, knowledgeable, and well-meaning person, he listens to opposing viewpoints, and he knows how to motivate people in a civilized, positive way. Can there be a more absolute change from the last eight years?
More than anything, I'm ecstatic that for once there is no doubt at all - the American public has spoken, and the guy they wanted won. There was voter turnout at the 80% level, as opposed to the usual 50%. Whatever election irregularities or glitches existed were overwhelmed by the sheer tide of determination and enthusiasm. It was an inspiring thing to see. There hasn't been turnout like this in an American election since 1908.
Should be interesting now to see what develops. He has a mandate, let's see if he can live up to it. At least we don't have to be embarrassed by our president any more.
(I would probably sound more excited if I weren't so freaking exhausted after about 24 hours straight of being glued to the radio and internet following this race. :D)
I love this silly creature. She literally can't kill a fly, but she's convinced she's the most lethal thing that ever lived. Never quits, never discouraged, and always purring. Half the size of our other cat and even he can't cope with her.
Also very, very furry. :D
(Also trying out this "share the picture" function. XD)
This is for fanatics only. They just released all the Fleischer Popeye cartoons on DVD! Beautifully restored from the original negatives!! Plus a bunch of other early sound and silent Fleischer cartoons, including some of the Out of the Inkwell series!
*fans herself* Whew! I just read a book about the Fleischer studio, and like magic this DVD appeared!
I'm glad I dithered so long about which Popeyes to buy on DVD, now I can get the real thing. I think the Max Fleischer cartoons are my favourite of any era, all of them. Except maybe "Gulliver's Travels," which is pretty tame by comparison to the shorts. And I've been a Popeye fangirl since I was three or so. The Fleischers were my favourites back then too except I didn't know that that was what they were. The old black-and-white ones. With the weird, fascinating, stretchy loopy animation.
Okay, enough of that. Except - Amazon.com seems to be having a sale on The Simpsons DVDs - $17.98 each for the first six seasons! Finally I can justify buying on DVD what I've seen a thousand times taped from TV. Who says people won't pay to see what they can see for free on television? Well, I won't pay $35, but I will pay 18. Not that I'm a cheapskate so much... just broke as usual. :D
Oh yeah, and I saw the Simpsons Movie, like everybody else in the country (at least). Lots of fun. I was pleasantly surprised not to be horribly disappointed. I have a few little cavils, but it certainly made me laugh, that was worthwhile. And I didn't instantly forget it, the way I do the Harry Potter and Spiderman movies, heh.
There are many worse tragedies happening around the world today, but that doesn't make it any less sad for me to see the great park of Los Angeles on fire. I first saw a huge brown-white plume of smoke coming up from the forested hills north of my home yesterday afternoon. I checked on the internet (where I get nearly all my news) and found out that it was the park on fire, and what an awful fire! As of this morning, some 600 acres of forest have burned. With the nearly 100 degree temperatures, the winds, and the bone-dry conditions, the forest just exploded into flame and the fire has been very hard to contain.
Griffith Park was endowed by a wealthy man, Griffith J. Griffith, back around the turn of the last century. He also left money to have the Griffith Park Observatory built, apparently for no other reason than to give the average person a chance to share his own excitement at looking through a telescope. In the 1930's, the Observatory, the Greek Ampitheater, and various other landmarks were constructed in the 4000-acre park. Both the park and the Observatory have been used in innumerable movies and TV shows since the 20s, and the Observatory was just reopened this year after a massive renovation costing millions.
There have been many fires in the park, but this is the biggest in some 50 years. For a while it looked like the Los Angeles Zoo might have to be evacuated, which would have been an interesting problem. However, they've managed to keep the fire from invading the Zoo or any of the many other landmarks and institutions in the park - except for a beautiful terraced garden. Nobody's been hurt, and none of the residential communities around the park have been damaged. There are a lot of animals in the woods, though, and a lot of people go through it every day.
I wonder how long it will be before the signs of this fire are erased by new growth in the forest. The exceptional dryness and the exceptional heat, though, are not good indicators for the future. Los Angeles lives on the edge of nature's tolerance - using more water than the area can supply, and, despite efforts to reduce smog, contributing more than its share to the pollution that's pushing global warming along and aggravating the changes in rainfall and temperature patterns.
A view of a tiny bit of the fire, and the Griffith Observatory, from the street near my apartment - 6:00 a.m. this morning.
I ran across the infamous "Archy and Mehitabel" poems by Don Marquis at a young age, maybe 12 or 14, and fell in love with them immediately. I'm sure they influenced my thinking more than I've ever realized. I haven't owned a copy of them in years, but I still remember many, many lines from them.