Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Visual Aids

I'm especially missing my camera this week, since we're just starting to recover from Winter Storm '09 (yes, they named it). We got a lot of ice, followed by more snow than we've gotten for the past three years. It started on Monday night, and by Wednesday night the combination of sleet, ice and snow was at least a foot thick. It was inconvenient for a few days, but absolutely gorgeous. Since I can't take any new pictures, I'll stick up a couple for last year. Just imagine about six inches more white stuff on top of the ice.

The dogs have been romping and eating snow, I made my first ever batch of snow ice cream (it's even better if you mix it with chocolate milk) and we had lots of days off work due to being unable to extricate our vehicles. Ev finally got her truck loose and was able to go to work yesterday, but my car wouldn't budge until late this afternoon. It took until yesterday for things to melt enough just to pry the six inch thick block of ice loose from my convertible top. That can't be good for it.

Now we're having a race to see whether our LP gas will hold out long enough for the gas man to be able to get his tanker up the driveway. We're hedging our bets by turning off the heater and keeping the fireplace going, thereby saving what gas we do have for cooking. I'm pretty sure we can at least make it through Super Bowl Sunday. Wish us luck!

The ducks don't know what to make of all this. They haven't ventured far from the dome and their little pen all week, but where would they go? There's so much snow you can't even see where the pond used to be. They do a lot of puffing themselves up, sitting in the snow and bitching loudly ... and their oviducts are on strike until Spring.

Cooper is enjoying her new home. She's eaten two bars of soap, two leather watchbands, a collection of assorted paper products (used Kleenex are her favorite) and some sticks. I'm not sure what her diet is lacking that she feels she's correcting with soap and fiber, but those seem to be the things she craves the most. She's also proven to be an incorrigible roamer. The snow has kept her in check a little, because it's damned cold out there when you have short hair, but once the sun came out she got that "I gotta be free!" gleam in her eye again.

I guess that's about all the home town news from Nowhere.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Party's Over

President Obama's been in office for one week and, according to ABC News, the quality of life is already plummeting for one sector of the populace. The ridiculously fucking rich are crying in their Remy Martin’s Louis XIII’s Black Pearl.

The high-flying execs at Citigroup caved under pressure from President
Obama and decided today to abandon plans for a luxurious new $50 million corporate jet from France.

The decision
came 24 hours after the banking giant, which was rescued by a $45 billion
taxpayer lifeline, defended buying the state-of-the-art Dassault Falcon 7X -- one of nine to be flying in U.S. skies
-- as a smart business deal.

This particularly warms my heart:

ousted Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain said he would personally cough up the
$1 million he spent on remodeling his office after his brokerage was rescued
with billions in taxpayer cash.

I like shopping as much as the next person, but how in the holy hell do you spend a million dollars remodeling an office??? Furnish it in gold bullion?

Welcome to the world the rest of us live in, where paychecks are stretched thin, working for a living means actually working for a living, we put gas in our cars instead of fuel in our private jets, kids go to school in perfectly good second-hand clothes instead of designer fashions, towns are dying and Americans in one village in Alaska are having to choose between milk for their children or heating their shacks.

You had a nice long run at our expense, guys, but the party's over.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Too Scary for Primetime

Much has been said in both the public and private LGBT community since the announcement was made that vehemently anti-gay Rick Warren had been invited to open the Inaugural ceremony with an Invocation prayer. I don't have to tell you that most of it has been less than complimentary of the choice. In fact, it's cast a dark cloud over the occasion for more than a few of us.

One of the very public voices speaking out against this invitation of Rick Warren belongs to Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of the Anglican Church in New Hampshire.

Bishop Robinson, perhaps in an effort to provide some semblance of balance in these proceedings, was susequently invited to give the Invocation to open the first major public event of the Inauguration -- the concert at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday afternoon. With over 400,000 people in attendance, the theme of the concert was reflected in its title -- "We Are One."

I tuned in a little late to the program and missed Bishop Robinson's Invocation, which I was looking forward to hearing. I was disappointed to have missed it, but since HBO re-ran the concert a couple of hours later, I tuned in again to catch the few opening minutes I'd missed. Hmm. Somehow I still managed to miss the Invocation.

Apparently, so did the 400,000 people gathered on the Mall, as it was not broadcast over the loudspeakers, either. I heard Bishop Robinson on NPR this afternoon explaining that he arrived quite early in the morning to prepare, and was given a schedule shortly before the program began. His prayer was scheduled for 2:25. The concert was scheduled to go live at 2:30.

Bishop Robinson wasn't aware that the prayer he had worked so hard to prepare would go unheard by the people gathered there, nor be included in the HBO broadcast, but said he was satisfied that the President-Elect, the Vice-President Elect, their families and God had heard it.

I wasn't as satisfied as the good Bishop, so I went looking for it. I'm not a religious person, but it's a damn fine prayer, so I'm reprinting it here, as many are doing. There's also video of the Invocation available here, which (with any luck) will go viral and reach more people than it otherwise would have. Should I ever again decide to fork over some extravagant sum of money to purchase cable television, I'll go out of my way not to include HBO in that package.

Here it is ... the dangerous prayer of a gay priest that was Too Scary for Primetime:

"O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears - tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger - anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for all people.Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen."



A source with Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration Committe (PIC) has confirmed to that a rebroadcast of HBO's We Are One concert will be shown on Jumbotron screens on the National Mall as part of tomorrow's inauguration and will also include the invocation given by Rt. Reverend Gene Robinson. The invocation was originally not included in the HBO broadcast, an omission that struck many in the gay community as another example of the Obama administration's insensitivity toward and mishandling of gay issues.

The source also clarified PIC's earlier statement — "We regret the error in executing this plan" — which struck some as pointing the blame back at HBO. In fact, the PIC source says that even though it was always their intention to include Reverend Robinson, it was their mistake it didn't get done and the blame is entirely theirs.

Even though millions of viewers will now see Rev. Robinson, the nation's only gay Episcopalian bishop, speak during Obama's inauguration, it is hard to imagine it having that much of an impact. Nonetheless, the reaction of the gay community to this, as with the passage of Prop 8 and the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the prayer during Obama's swearing in, once again shows we're fed up and not taking anything sitting down.

The blogosphere is abuzz over this. I'll just close by saying that I'd be satisfied if Rick Warren's invocation was "inadvertantly" blacked out tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Modest Mideast Proposal

Okay, so I've been listening to all sides of this question on NPR almost daily, and here's what I think about the Israeli/Palestinian situation:

Back in 1947, Britain took the country of Palestine, which they controlled, divided it up unequally, "relocated" the Arabs to a tiny little strip of land, gave the rest to the expatriated Jews from all over the world and called it Israel. Within a year, the Israeli's invaded the tiny little strip of land and occupied that, too. Ever since then (and for millenia before that) the Arabs and the Jews have been engaged in a struggle to reclaim their respective "homelands" and wipe each other off the map.

The Israeli's have the Palestinians in a choke-hold. The Gazans can't move, they can't purchase goods, they can't even get goods into their country to purchase because of the embargoes, and they can't protest or push back because their puny little weapons are no match for the Israeli army and their advanced weaponry.

A couple of weeks ago the cease-fire they've been under expired and the Palestinians fired some piddly half-assed short-range missiles at Israel and killed sixteen people. Israel retaliated with air strikes and a ground invasion, killing thousands of Palestinian civilians ... men, women and children. Israel's position is that they have a right to defend themselves. However, their "defense" doesn't seem (to me) to be a reasonable response to the offending behavior.

The US is complicit in this, because we've supported Israel, and because we're a bad fucking example. We taught Israel by example how to round up indigenous people and stick them on little bits of land where they could be "managed" and cut off from their homelands and the things they needed to survive and thrive. We've rattled our nuclear sabers and permitted, supported and contributed to the development of Israel's arsenal, while threatening or actually going to war (most recently with Iraq) on the pretense that our enemies might be thinking about possibly developing or buying or building or using weapons of mass destruction, which only our allies are supposed to have. We've taught the world, by our own actions, that might makes right and that some people aren't as valuable as others. We taught the world that it's only bullying if someone else does it. When the "good guys" do it, it's advancing democracy.

Israel says they only want to crush Hamas, not the Palestinian people. They also said they only wanted to crush Hezbollah, the PLO and Fatah. It looks (to me) as if Israel wants to crush any organized leadership in Gaza just as bad as the Palestinians want the Israelis drowned in the sea. I think that powerful nations like Israel and the US ought to be able to employ diplomacy better than they do. I think that doing otherwise in this global age only leads to more enmity, more hatred of the US and it's allies and a greater threat that some hothead is finally going to start pushing those buttons and waging all-out nuclear war. But since we don't do diplomacy anymore, we should employ a parenting trick known as "separate the squabbling siblings."

I think that if the US is so invested in the Nation of Israel we ought to cede Montana to the Jews.

We're barely using it anyway. It's plenty big enough and we've even got some old missile silos and stockpiled weapons up there we could throw in cheap. We could create much-needed American jobs by recreating Jerusalem on a site of the Israeli's choosing. Helena, for example. We recreated Paris, New York City, the Pyramids, Treasure Island and Camelot on the Las Vegas strip. We could totally recreate Jerusalem ... and maybe even put in some thrill rides and slots for the hell of it. I'd offer to give them Alaska, but Governor Palin has really stunk it up.

Moving Israel to Montana would be good for everyone. The Palestinians could spread out a little, American Jews wouldn't have to pay exorbitant international airfare to visit family, we wouldn't have to send troops halfway around the world to protect Israel's interests in the mideast -- soldiers could just hop in their own cars and drive up there for a weekend -- and we could LEAVE THE BROWN PEOPLE THE FUCK ALONE.

I'm sure the people who currently call Montana home would be happy to relocate ... perhaps to that narrow strip of land at the top of Idaho, strategically wedged between Israeltana and Washington, so Pastor Mark Driscoll and his New Calvinists could keep an eye on the western border of the Idaho strip. Israeltana could invade it periodically just for old time's sake.

So that's my plan. I'll be contacting President-Elect Obama and offering it to him next week in exchange for a financial bailout. We only need enough to get out from under Ev's student loan debt and buy a nice piece of rural property. Considering the current plunge in the housing market, a half million should be plenty.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Where does the time go?

I've been getting friendly little nudges letting me know that we have once again fallen down on the job here in Nowhere and ceased blogging. These little nudges generally come in the form of, "Post something, damnit!"

It's not that nothing happens around here, it's just that, aside from the occasional dwarf hitch-hiker or almost dead guy in the car, it's mostly the same stuff over and over again. We're creatures of habit for the most part.

Christmas and New Years have come and gone, the ornaments and decorations are packed away for another year and Cooper has settled in and made herself at home. I love her awful. The kids got "Guitar Hero - World Tour" from their dad for Christmas and I've been sneaking around playing it ... woohoo!

The lab is short-staffed so Ev's been working grueling long hours covering extra half shifts into the wee small hours, and she's pooped.

It's cold and muddy with no end in sight for awhile and life here in Nowhere is about par for the bleak mid-winter course. We're short on sunshine and short on humorous stories. I promise that if anything interesting happens we'll let you know.