Friday, October 30, 2009

The Beginning Of Sorrows, part 1...

The last six weeks have been quite an adventure. Patty and I started the day of our 10th wedding anniversary getting our van checked out. It checked out to the tune of $329.00, because it needed a new alternator. But this is only the beginning of the story...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm no Trekkie, but...

...maybe Star Trek IV was on to something.

Nasa scientists recently released this amazing picture of the aptly titled Whale Galaxy.

Click on photo to enlarge.
For more info, go here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Sheesh... The way people are freakin' out, you'd think it was the end of the world.

I mean, yeah, it's loud, fast, and rambunctious -- but still, it's only a One Bad Pig album!

Sure, it's infectious, but it won't kill you.

Everybody should get it. And give it to your friends, too -- they'll be glad to have it (no matter what Dr. Sanjay Gupta says).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

From the Florida Bored of Tourism.

Concerned that the dangers posed by lightning, undertow, alligators, and sharks were possibly becoming passé in the estimation of some of the annual invaders visitors to God's favorite state, Florida officials have upped the ante considerably by recently introducing...

Killer Whales!

And into the Gulf of Mexico at that! (Talk about a pulling a fast one -- even most marine biologists were caught off guard.)

One can only marvel at the ingenuity, and wonder what they'll come up with next.

A Defence of Baby-Worship

As we await the news of the imminent arrival of Patty's great-niece (Patty is humorously freaked out by the prospect of being a 'great-aunt'), I thought about the following G. K. Chesterton essay, and thought I'd share it. It's one of those pieces that you get something new out of every time you read it. I hope you enjoy it.

(And, lest anyone be put off by the title, he's not talking about the blasphemous kind of worship -- so relax.)


The two facts which attract almost every normal person to children are, first, that they are very serious, and, secondly, that they are in consequence very happy. They are jolly with the completeness which is possible only in the absence of humour. The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby of three months old. It is the gravity of astonishment at the universe—and astonishment at the universe is not mysticism, but a transcendent common-sense. The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial. As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea.

There is always in the healthy mind an obscure prompting that religion teaches us rather to dig than to climb; that if we could once understand the common clay of earth we should understand everything. Similarly, we have the sentiment that if we could destroy custom at a blow and see the stars as a child sees them, we should need no other apocalypse. This is the great truth which has always lain at the back of baby-worship, and which will support it to the end. Maturity, with its endless energies and aspirations, may easily be convinced that it will find new things to appreciate; but it will never be convinced, at bottom, that it has properly appreciated what it has got. We may scale the heavens and find new stars innumerable, but there is still the new star we have not found—that on which we were born.

But the influence of children goes further than its first trifling effort of remaking heaven and earth. It forces us actually to remodel our conduct in accordance with this revolutionary theory of the marvellousness of all things. We do (even when we are perfectly simple or ignorant)—we do actually treat talking in children as marvellous, walking in children as marvellous, common intelligence in children as marvellous. The cynical philosopher fancies he has a victory in this matter—that he can laugh when he shows that the words or antics of the child, so much admired by its worshippers, are common enough. The fact is that this is precisely where baby-worship is so profoundly right. Any words and any antics in a lump of clay are wonderful, the child's words and antics are wonderful, and it is only fair to say that the philosopher's words and antics are equally wonderful.

The truth is that it is our attitude towards children that is right, and our attitude towards grown-up people that is wrong. Our attitude towards our equals in age consists in a servile solemnity, overlying a considerable degree of indifference or disdain. Our attitude towards children consists in a condescending indulgence, overlying an unfathomable respect. We bow to grown people, take off our hats to them, refrain from contradicting them flatly, but we do not appreciate them properly. We make puppets of children, lecture them, pull their hair, and reverence, love, and fear them. When we reverence anything in the mature, it is their virtues or their wisdom, and this is an easy matter. But we reverence the faults and follies of children.

We should probably come considerably nearer to the true conception of things if we treated all grown-up persons, of all titles and types, with precisely that dark affection and dazed respect with which we treat the infantile limitations. A child has a difficulty in achieving the miracle of speech, consequently we find his blunders almost as marvellous as his accuracy. If we only adopted the same attitude towards Premiers and Chancellors of the Exchequer, if we genially encouraged their stammering and delightful attempts at human speech, we should be in a far more wise and tolerant temper. A child has a knack of making experiments in life, generally healthy in motive, but often intolerable in a domestic commonwealth. If we only treated all commercial buccaneers and bumptious tyrants on the same terms, if we gently chided their brutalities as rather quaint mistakes in the conduct of life, if we simply told them that they would 'understand when they were older,' we should probably be adopting the best and most crushing attitude towards the weaknesses of humanity. In our relations to children we prove that the paradox is entirely true, that it is possible to combine an amnesty that verges on contempt with a worship that verges upon terror. We forgive children with the same kind of blasphemous gentleness with which Omar Khayyam forgave the Omnipotent.*

The essential rectitude of our view of children lies in the fact that we feel them and their ways to be supernatural while, for some mysterious reason, we do not feel ourselves or our own ways to be supernatural. The very smallness of children makes it possible to regard them as marvels; we seem to be dealing with a new race, only to be seen through a microscope. I doubt if anyone of any tenderness or imagination can see the hand of a child and not be a little frightened of it. It is awful to think of the essential human energy moving so tiny a thing; it is like imagining that human nature could live in the wing of a butterfly or the leaf of a tree. When we look upon lives so human and yet so small, we feel as if we ourselves were enlarged to an embarrassing bigness of stature. We feel the same kind of obligation to these creatures that a deity might feel if he had created something that he could not understand.

But the humorous look of children is perhaps the most endearing of all the bonds that hold the Cosmos together. Their top-heavy dignity is more touching than any humility; their solemnity gives us more hope for all things than a thousand carnivals of optimism; their large and lustrous eyes seem to hold all the stars in their astonishment; their fascinating absence of nose seems to give to us the most perfect hint of the humour that awaits us in the kingdom of heaven.


Oh, Thou who Man of baser Earth didst make,
And ev'n with Paradise devise the Snake:
For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken'd--Man's forgiveness give--and take!

--The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam

[The essay is from The Defendant, by G. K. Chesterton -- available for free legal download at Project Gutenberg]

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You Don't Know, Jack.

In a recent Commentary at, professional curmudgeon Jack Cafferty wrote a piece entitled “Obama a leader who actually leads” that I couldn't let go unchallenged. So here's my Comments on his Commentary.

"What a welcome change to feel like someone is running the country instead of running it into the ground."

Since when is using a bigger, more expensive, bulldozer to dig your way out of a hole not running something into the ground??

"President Obama has done more in eight weeks than George W. Bush did in eight years -- unless you include starting a couple of wars."

A.) Doing "more" doesn't necessarily mean doing better. And...

B.) Waging an undeclared war against the U.S. economy is hardly something to be proud of. ("Ahhhh, I love the smell of bail-outs in the morning."--from Obamalypse Now*)

"While the armchair quarterbacks second guess the new president, he gets up every day and does things, lots of things."

But are they good things? Are they the right things?? And not all of the critics are "armchair quarterbacks" -- some are quarterbacks for other teams. And some are more capable quarterbacks from his own team (they're the Kurt Warners to his Matt Leinart). He just happens to be the quarterback for the team with the ball at the moment.

"Whether it's creating commissions for women and girls, ordering the investigation of President Bush's use of signing statements, or jamming a huge stimulus package through Congress, the man is working his tail off. And he seems to be loving every minute of it. It's almost as though our president was born to do exactly what he's doing. He's leading, and boy, is that refreshing."

One hardly knows where to begin with this one:

A) Yaaaaay, more government commissions -- like the ones that looked into the artificially inflated prices of music CDs and cable TV. They found that both industries lied to keep prices artificially high, and many 'experts' predicted the prices of both would then come down -- but they only went up. (I can't wait to see what awesome things they'll spend a lot of money on not being able to do for women and girls.)

B) Man, they just can't let Bush alone, can they? Wonder how much they're spending on this witch hunt? (I can only imagine what they're paying for pitchforks and torches.)

C) Remember the movie Deliverance? Remember what the in-bred rednecks did to
Ned Beatty? That should be your mental image whenever anyone mentions the Pres. "jamming a huge stimulus package through Congress". (Let the squealing begin.)

D) The man may be "working his tail off", but that's hardly encouraging if he's going the wrong way! Jack Cafferty may have worked his tail off on his commentary, but that just made it an even bigger load of crap than it would have been otherwise.

E) So Barack Obama was born to be the
Casey Jones of the nation's economic locomotive? That's hardly comforting. And what Jack sees as "leading", looks more like driving to me (and driving recklessly at that). If Jack finds it "refreshing", maybe it's because he's chosen to mindlessly stick his head out the window like a big dumb dog.

"I remember many times when Bush was in office wondering who the hell was running the country. Then he would appear somewhere in front of a handpicked audience to utter some banalities or say something utterly stupid and I would be reminded. I don't miss him."

Yeah, Obama never appears at staged events; never babbles incoherently when speaking without a teleprompter; has never uttered anything remotely banal or stupid. Good call, Jack. Glad to know you're really paying attention. (And how much does CNN pay you?**)

"That's not to say President Obama hasn't stubbed his toe here and there. Signing that omnibus spending bill with all those earmarks in it after campaigning so hard against pork was probably a mistake. The opportunity was right there to send that bill back to Congress with a note that read, "I told you I am against earmarks and I meant it. Now do it over and send me something clean." Nancy Pelosi's head would have probably exploded, but the American people would have been ready to crown him king."

Stubbed his toe?!?! It's more like: shot himself in the foot, and now he's trying to amputate his own leg.

First of all, he already seems to think the American people have crowned him king. And as for signing the Porkulus Bill -- EVERYTHING about how it was handled violated a campaign promise. If G. W. Bush had done a similar thing within his first couple of months in office, you'd still be howling about it.

"There are serious questions about whether Tim Geithner has what it takes to solve the banking crisis. Either nationalize the big ones in trouble or let them fail. It doesn't seem that just continuing to hand them money is working."

You think? Wow,... Thanks for the keen insights into the obvious there, Jack. Sheesh. And how drunk does one have to be to think that nationalizing banks is a good idea?

"Better background checks on some of his appointees would have saved him some embarrassment. There's no excuse for asking someone like Tom Daschle with his problems to do anything."

An inexperienced Walmart manager making such inexcusably bad decisions would probably be fired on the spot. Some of the new administration's screw-ups are beyond embarrassing -- in fact, they're actually kind of frightening in the level of casual incompetence they display. (And you've got the nerve to imply that 'W' was stoopid?)

"But the point, I guess, is this: President Obama is attacking our country's problems on several fronts. He's got ambitious ideas on how to solve them, and he communicates a sense of calm and confidence to the rest of us as he goes about his business. Will all his ideas work? Of course not. But if you throw enough stuff at the wall, some of it will stick."

That's the point of the whole piece? Seriously?!? Such ridiculously cavalier sentiments about something so serious is appalling (obviously, conservatives didn't corner the market on shallowness).

Ambitious ideas (even when communicated with "a sense of calm and confidence") aren't worth squat if they're the wrong ideas. If your doctor scheduled you for a heart transplant, when all you needed was a tonsillectomy, then all the "sense of calm and confidence" in the world wouldn't make it a good course of action -- no matter how "ambitious".

And the throwing stuff at the wall approach is A) insane -- when it's already pretty obvious what the problems are, and B) worse than worthless, when all you're throwing is shit (whether any of it sticks, or not).

"And at least I don't go to bed at night worried that I'll wake up in the morning to find out we're about to invade someone."

Of course not, because we're the ones being invaded. And now it's simply a matter of trying to consolidate power. And like most political true-believers (of all stripes), you think once the revolution comes, you'll be among the blessed chosen who won't be negatively impacted by the ensuing chaos.

"The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jack Cafferty."

Oh, if only such nonsense were limited only to Jack.

[*Obamalypse Now is only a movie in my head.]
[**To CNN: I'll work for a third of Jack's salary, and only be half as stupid (at the most).]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Everybody Must Get Stoned... (part 1)

Over at the Internet Monk site, Michael Spencer recently posted a piece entitled: You Tell Me…Why Does Red Envelope Day Bother Me? And the usual disdain for the shallowness of conservative Evangelicals followed in the comments section, which got me to thinking about some things that have bothered me for some time.

For one thing, the cynically broad-brushed comments – that assume the participants in Red Envelope Day will be lazy, suburban, do-nothings, who are unwilling to carry their Pro-Life convictions beyond the mailbox – are so edifyingly Christ-like that, when I read them, I almost got up out of my wheelchair and walked. Thank God for self-righteous non-Evangelicals!!! (Cue the 'Hallelujah Chorus'.)

Why is it that at the same time they're chastising Pro-Lifers, for not being sensitive enough to those who may be faced with an unexpected/unwanted pregnancy, the critics show no sensitivity for those they're chastising? Why is hypocrisy so often used to condemn hypocrisy? Are they unaware – or do they just not care??

It seems the height of hypocrisy to bash Conservatives for being superficial, when so many of the criticisms are based on the most outwardly obvious manifestations of sin. And while the more 'progressive/sophisticated' critics are always quick to profess an awareness that they themselves are “far from perfect” and “the worst of sinners”, the stones they're casting would seem to indicate they don't really believe that at all.

Jesus said that the world will know we're his disciples by the fact that we love one another (you know, by attacking one another in public)? He also had strong words for those who would judge others hypocritically (and the words weren't 'blessed are you when...'). So why do critics think it's okay to show more respect for unbelievers than for fellow believers?

I wonder if part of the reason is because they usually don't know the unbeliever well enough to despise them, yet? Or perhaps there is a sense of smug superiority when around those who are still so obviously entangled in sin. Also, unbelievers are less likely to expect you to behave in a Christ-like way. And why is it always assumed that the troubled person is an unbeliever? Maybe they're as much of a believer as the critic – only their sins are a little harder to hide than intellectual pride.

Why does it never seem to occur to the 'critics-in-Christ', that people like those Red Envelope mailers may be just as in need of understanding and compassion as the pregnant teen, homeless wino, or battered wife?? Conservative Christians are often no more or less likely to have their acts together than anyone else. And you know what really stinks? They're your brothers and sisters in Christ (if your faith is in Jesus). They're your family – the unbelievers are not. Those annoying Evangelicals have been called to dine at the same table as you have – and by the same Host.

It's not that criticism is wrong in and of itself. Far from it. There is plenty to criticize about all branches of modern Churchianity. But the “I know I'm not perfect, but at least I'm not like those idiots” brand of criticism is something for which Jesus had less than positive words.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Well, they've finally decided on the communion wafer to be used along with the kool-aid being drunk by the worshipers of the new messiah.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

On Valentine's Day...

Once upon a long ago, a girl named Patty fell in love with an unemployed, progressively disabled dude, who was ten years her senior and had nothing of any worldly value to offer her. And, as if that weren't insane enough, he was in a rock band with his disabled brother!!! And as if to prove just how outrageous love can be: when he was crazy enough to ask her to marry him -- she was crazy enough to say "Yes"!!! And they've lived happily ever after, ever since.

To many people in this world, that story would just seem ridiculous. But, in reality, it's just the kind of crazy that love delights in.

Patty and I recently celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary. I cannot even begin to fathom the incredible love and grace she blesses me with on a daily basis (I'm certainly not worthy of such devotion.)

So, to celebrate Valentine's Day, I've added four songs I wrote for her (from three of our albums) onto my Imeem account. It's just my pathetic attempt to shout from the rooftop that I love her more than I can ever fully express (but, undoubtedly, far less than she truly deserves). She is a daily example to me of unconditional love and amazing grace.

Happy Valentine's Day. If you're even half as blessed as I am, you are blessed indeed.

(To hear the songs, just go to
and listen to the songs:
"Love Like This"
"Cinnamon Days"
"Almost Too Real"
"You'll Be The One".


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Well, That's A Relief!

Turns out it was all a big goof-up. Michael Phelps (gold medal Oympic swimmer) apparently thought the apparatus he's pictured with was a heated snorkel, and he was just trying to keep the pilot light lit. Boy, was he embarrassed!*

*Surely no one really believes he would intentionally smoke dope. I mean, that would be as unthinkably lame as the media turning it into an international front-page news story (and we all know that could never happen.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ghosts and Spirits (a review)

In 1945, C. S. Lewis wrote a book entitled The Great Divorce. The story was about a group of people who were given a bus ride from Hell to Heaven. Once there, they had only to express the desire to stay, and they would have received all the blessings Heaven can offer. The fascinating thing about The Great Divorce, besides how few of the passengers choose to stay, is how familiar their excuses sound for not staying. I daresay that anyone who's ever been part of, or privy to, conversations about the Gospel has undoubtedly heard many (if not all) of the excuses offered by the book's characters (and many of us may have used or still use them ourselves). It is a wonderfully written, thought-provoking book.

In August 2007, Seattle native Phil Woodward released Ghosts and Spirits – a concept album based on The Great Divorce. Each of the songs is sung from the perspective of one or more characters from the book. The songwriting, arrangements, and performances are all first rate. The production is immaculate. The lyrics are intelligent, literate, and thought-provoking, yet very accessible. The music is deceptively laid-back (which is to say: there's a lot more going on than may, at first, appear to be the case) – there is an understated urgency and energy that makes for a compelling listening experience.

The album's title refers to the state of the various characters in the book. The passengers are thin and insubstantial (like ghosts) – everything in Heaven causes them some kind of pain or discomfort, because they aren't real enough to experience it as anything other than unbearable. The inhabitants of Heaven have spiritual bodies, and are able to experience Heaven as it really is.

After leaving some comments at the album website, I realized that (with a little tweaking) I could cobble them together into something resembling a review. This is that something.

The Grey Town:
Great lead-off song. It's got a deceptively bouncy beat (matching the character's deceptively upbeat initial description of the town), but there's just enough repetitiveness to the melody of the last verse to convey the bureaucratic malaise that permeates this place from where the passengers depart (where you can have anything you want – except JOY). Well done.

A lilting waltz, this time, as the character dances around Heaven's offer to make him fully alive. I love how the song captures the sense of the passenger's desperate belief that an autonomous delusion is preferable to any Divine JOY that requires a surrender of the lies he tells himself (even if he knows they are lies). As the character says, “I know it's not real, but it's safe.” For some people, God's love is scarier than Hell (perhaps, for them, it is Hell).

The Bleeding Charity:
One passenger (a ghost) encounters a former co-worker (a spirit), and doesn't like it one bit. I like how the guitar tone is a little grittier on this one, capturing the working-class background (if memory serves) of the characters. And there is a looseness to the playing that gives the sense that the ghost's reasons for resisting the 'Bleeding Charity' aren't terribly sophisticated. (I'm very impressed with the care taken to make the components of each song work together to paint a fuller picture of the character being portrayed.)

Thirst for Water, Inquiry for Truth:
As a fan of the old Moody Blues albums of the late '60s/early '70s, this one brought a smile and a chuckle. I've always been a fan of spoken-word pieces on albums (when they're done well), and I think this one is great. Backed by only a string quartet, it's a striking contrast to the previous song's grittier tone and characters. The smug intellectual dismissal of anything meaningful or Divine; thinking himself wise, and all that.

Trust In A Sigh:
Another deceptively happy sounding song – but there is a wistfulness to the melody that belies that happiness. Cynicism is, too often, a coward's refuge. And like most cynics, the character in this song thinks he's that way because he's seen too much. But the truth is: he's seen too little. Still, he's content to coast along – secure in the conceit that he sees the world as it really is. Nicely and subtly done.

The Teacher:
There's a playfully funky vibe to this one. Guitarist Myron Marston's ebullient fret-work really carries the song as it dances and shines – unfolding, with a barely contained exuberance, the invitation to open our eyes and see the glorious offer that Grace extends. The interplay between the musicians really starts to percolate towards the end. And Ann Edwards' backing-vocals are a delight.

First Love:
Here we encounter an artist who has lost touch with why he started painting in the first place. I love how the melody and vocal on the primary verses convey the artist's weariness. I think every artist, who's tried to balance making a living with being true to their art, has felt the pressure to compromise to the point of selling out – and it's amazing how it can kill the JOY of creating.

I also love how the secondary verses, where he remembers the JOY of inspiration (or was JOY the inspiration?), express that JOY so well. They just seem to come bursting to life (does the music shift from minor to major chords there?) – but then it's back to his lament over what he's lost. Like everything on this album, it's incredibly well done.

(Only) A Mother:
This has to be one of the most powerful songs on the album. It's beautiful – but chilling. A mother won't see how misguided her professed love for her son is, and rejects the glorious bliss of Heaven, rather than admit that her “love” for (and control of) her son has become her god. It is hauntingly tragic.

The Lizard and the Stallion:
It's a little hard to describe this one – but not because I don't like it. The lyrics are kind of darkly abstract (which is always cool with me), and the music is heavy with weariness. For the first part of the song, you really get a sense of the depth of the character's struggle with his lust. It's as if you can feel his inner turmoil.

But when the second part of the song starts to take off, as the character is transformed, the music vividly expresses the sense of liberation being described. The way the music and vocal build up perfectly captures the celebratory praise of the new man he's become. The simple, ringing guitar lead makes this part of the song dance with JOY. I hope people don't skip past this one because the first part is so dark and serious (which it has to be), because they'll miss the euphoric second part. Good stuff.

Saint Sarah:
Keeping the music kind of simple really brings out the lyrics, and captures the graceful simplicity of the song's character. She's so full of Grace and Love that everyone, and everything, around her is transformed (isn't that kind of what Christians are supposed to be like?). She was seemingly a nobody on Earth – but in Heaven she's celebrated like royalty. Beautifully done.

Vetoing Heaven:
This is probably my favorite song on the album (although I really, REALLY like them all). Maybe it's some of the proggier touches, but this one really gets me. The way it takes off and jams, about half-way into the song, is an exhilarating little kick in the pants. Then – about 2/3 of the way into the song – it skids to a halt (great guitar note there), and transitions into a beautifully orchestrated final movement (honestly, it's one of the most moving pieces of music I've ever heard – I listen to it over and over). Then the last two verses – as the character realizes he can no longer manipulate people in Heaven as he did on Earth – are so pathetic it's devastating. Wow! A very moving and powerful (albeit sad) song. Amazing job. (I can only imagine how it would sound live!)

The Sunrise:
I love how the music builds slowly on this one, like the breaking of a new day. The lyrics are spare, but have a praise-like intensity. JOY seems to bubble up and overflow from some deep holy place. I also love how it breaks off unexpectedly – as if awakened suddenly from a beautiful dream – leaving only the pipe organ playing, like the haunting after-glow of a Divine encounter. What a wonderful finish to a wonderful album.

One needn't have read The Great Divorce to enjoy Ghosts and Spirits. But if you have read the book, I think you'll have an even greater appreciation of the songs.

You can can listen to the entire album at Please do.

There is also info about where you can purchase the CD or download it directly (I downloaded mine from

If you love great, thoughtful music – that can be listened to again and again without ever wearing out it's welcome – then please give Ghosts and Spirits a chance. This is the kind of album that deserves to be heard by a much wider audience. It just gets better with each listen.

The words "Rode Hard And Put Up Wet" come to mind.

The problem with being a 'Material Girl' is that the material tends to wear out - leaving only a soulless, decrepit husk.

But I guess it's hard to grow old gracefully, when you haven't lived any of your life that way up until then.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Gates of Hell?

Why isn't Bill Gates in prison? Seriously. How do you get away with knowingly selling an inferior product to the public (Vista), doing seemingly next to nothing to really fix the problems, discontinuing a product (XP) that a lot of people preferred to the new product, and then announcing that you'll be releasing a newer product (currently code-named Windows 7) within a year, but before you've even straightened out the problems with the current product? WHY ISN'T HE IN PRISON???

Why keep coming out with new operating systems? Why not just develope one that works, then keep improving and expanding it?

I bet I know why. Money. You don't get that rich just from selling the public something that works like it's supposed to, and then continually improving it. You've got to have an angle – something that guarantees not just profits, but obscene profits. Sell your soul to the Devil profits.

"Oh, but Bill Gates is a great philanthropist."

Says who? He's worth $50,000,000,000 (that's 50 BILLION DOLLARS). He could, literally, give away 90% of his fortune to charity and he'd still be worth 5 BILLION DOLLARS!!! Think about how insane that is.

Funny thing about billionaires: you really have to watch them, when they start talking about giving big chunks of their money away. Remember the big deal made out of Ted Turner giving a billion dollars to the U.N., back in the '90s? Everybody oohed and ahhed about how generous ol' Ted was (and he soaked up the accolades). But it turned out that it was a total of a billion dollars, to be paid out over 10 years (in other words, he didn't just write out a check for $1,000,000,000). And then, when the economy slowed down (around the turn of the millennium), he set out to renegotiate the terms to 15 years.

You'll occasionally hear someone recite the old platitude that "a man should spend the first half of his life acquiring as much wealth as he can, and the second half giving it all away" – as if the second half's charity will make up for the first half's greed. The problem, however, is that both are driven by self-centered motives: greed is obviously self-centered – but charity which is done to try to compensate for previous sins is also self-centered, because you're still doing it for your own benefit. (Such charity would still be better than greed – because you're, at least, giving rather than taking – but your motivation is still self-centered.)

Bill Gates has got more money than some countries. And, yet, he nickles and dimes his customers for every bit of help they need when trying to figure out what's wrong with a product that he knew was screwed-up when he released it in the first place. How is that even legal?? (Ooh, let me guess: Lawyers. With $60,000,000,000 he's probably got a legal 'dream team' that makes O.J.'s look like the Three Stooges.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

I've Got A Question.

What is the big deal about Facebook? I checked it out - I don't get the attraction. Maybe I missed something. Why is it preferable to MySpace?

Oh, and the answer, "It's MySpace for grown-ups", only proves it isn't.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Well, not wanting to waste any of the new year on ridiculously pointless nonsense, PETA (yes, that PETA) has come up with a sure-fire strategy to get us to stop eating our aquatic neighbors.

They've started a campaign to rename fish: 'sea kittens'.

I kid you not. (There's even a petition you can sign to "Ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop promoting sea kitten hunting.")

Take a couple of minutes to let the sublime genius of such a strategy sink in. Seriously. I'll wait.

Brilliant, isn't it? And, yet, so simple. I don't know why someone didn't think of it years ago.

Their website claims that: "Nobody would hurt a kitten...People don't seem to like fish." Which, of course, is patently false to anyone not taking whatever drugs the folks at PETA are ingesting. But why let a little reality spoil a blatantly preposterous publicity stunt?

The truth is, people hurt kittens all the time (not all the idiots are in PETA, you know). And people LOVE fish: broiled, fried, baked, or raw (been to a Captain D's or sushi bar lately?).

On the other hand (the one not leaving trails), people don't seem to hesitate eating hush puppies, or chili cheese pups, or corn dogs, or hot dogs, or catfish. And people don't like to eat hair, but they'll eat a fish called a mullet. Also, people tend to dislike the taste of steel, but they'll still eat swordfish.

Hmmmm, that I think about it, perhaps associating something delicious with something cute or inedible won't be such a deterrent after all. Maybe PETA's latest stroke of genius is really just a...stroke. Period. I mean, if that campaign isn't a sign of seriously diminished brain function, I don't know what is.

But, you know, recent studies have shown that eating fish can help fight cognitive decline and depression. So maybe what all those PETA people really need is to eat more sea kittens! (Hey, it's just a thought – assuming they still remember what one of those is.)