Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Defacing the Bible

In Glasgow, some 100 people gathered in front of the Gallery of Modern Art to protest the defacement of a Bible that was featured in a recent art exhibition.According to this article,

Artist Jane Clarke, a minister at the Metropolitan Community Church, asked visitors to annotate the Bible with stories and reflections, as a way of making it more inclusive. But visitors to the gallery took the invitation a bit further than she had anticipated.

"This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all," wrote one person, while another described the Bible as "the biggest lie in human history" and a third wrote: "Mick Jagger and David Bowie belong in here." On the first page of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, someone had written: "I am Bi, Female and Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this."

"Writing our names in the margins of a Bible was to show how we have been marginalised by many Christian churches, and also our desire to be included in God's love.
"As a young Christian I was encouraged by my church to write my own insights in the margins of the Bible I used for my daily devotions -- this was an extension of that idea."

To be fair, the artist did express that she was "saddened that some people have chosen to write offensive messages." Still, it's hard to imagine her exhibiting the Koran to show how homosexuals or proud bi-females have been "marginalized" in Islam. Somehow that concept never entered her mind.

Why is that? Is it somehow "edgier" to dissect Christianity? Such a brave, envelope-pushing work, indeed.


I somehow doubt that we will see Christian riots, or fanatical crowds of Methodists rampaging through the streets of our major cities, or Baptists flying planes into skyscrapers.

And until we do, don't talk to me about the moral equivalence between Islam and Christianity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One would have thought that as of January 20th, 2009, our country had entered a New Age of politics, led by President Obama--or certainly so it seemed if you went by most of the major news media outlets.

So, I am continually amazed at how well our new government does things now. How about that stimulus bill? something like 1400 pages, and of course no one knew what the hell was in it. Apparently the pending health care reform bill is the same way. And don't try and call it "government-run health care" or Congress will get mad at you.

Does anyone have anything to say about this? You know, like "we're trying to change things for the better?" Not exactly. Here's John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan:
“I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Conyers. “What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”


Obama promised in his campaign that his administration was going to be so transparent, and specifically, there would be 5 days of public display of any legislation before he signed it into law. This promise was quickly discarded early in his Administration.

Yet what did Obama once carp about the Bush presidency? Here he is on "Air America" (remember those guys?) with Randi Rhodes (another "whatever happened to her" entry--did she get mugged again, or what?) from November of 2004:
BARACK OBAMA: ...When you rush these budgets that are a foot high and nobody has any idea what's in them and nobody has read them.
RANDI RHODES: 14 pounds it was!
BARACK OBAMA: Yeah. And it gets rushed through without any clear deliberation or debate then these kinds of things happen. And I think that this is in some ways what happened to the Patriot Act. I mean you remember that there was no real debate about that. It was so quick after 9/11 that it was introduced that people felt very intimidated by the administration.

No word from the White House about this failed aspect of hope and change.

Probably too busy drinking beer with Skip Gates and that stupid rogue cop.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prof. Gates

I wasn't going to touch this one at all, but now that the President has deemed it important enough to speak about, I'll throw in my two cents.

Briefly, Prof. Henry Gates is a well-known professor at Harvard, specializing in African-American studies. He was arrested at his home in Cambridge a few days ago when he was attempting to forcefully enter his own home and ended up in a scuffle with police. At least some of the media is reporting that Gates was arrested for breaking into his own home. There are questions being raised about racial profiling. And, of course, the charge of racism is being loudly trumpeted by Gates himself as well as many others. But is this an example of racism?

According to the police reports (which were mysteriously removed from The Boston Globe's website), police were called to Gates' house by a neighbor who witnessed two men trying to break in. As I mentioned, Gates had just returned from an out-of-town trip and found the door to his house was jammed and was forcing his way in with the aid of his driver. The police apparently arrived as he entered the house, and not being aware of his identity, demanded that he show his ID. Again according to the police report, Gates initially refused to show ID, and became increasingly agitated, yelling at the police and saying things like "This is what happens to a black man in America." He did show the police identification, but continued to shout at the officers. When he was asked to step outside on the porch, he continued to yell (now in front of a growing crowd of onlookers), and was arrested for disorderly conduct.

So where's the racism?

The police were called about a break-in in progress, and came upon Gates in his house. Not knowing who he was, they were right to demand his ID. I don't see how this is an example of profiling. How should the police have responded to an apparently increasingly agitated Gates? Everything I have been taught about dealing with the police suggests that this kind of behavior will not endear you to the officer on the scene, and this is often the charge that will be used to cuff you as one way to defuse the situation.

Of course, the Professor's version of the events is somewhat different than the officers--he claims that he was very cooperative, and that the officers refused to give him their names or badge numbers. This does not seem very plausible, given that uniformed officers most often have their names and badges prominently displayed, this being confirmed by the pictures of the officers arresting Gates on his porch; I can clearly see three badges in the picture.

My guess is that the true version of events lies much closer to the officer's version than to that of Gates'.

It is unfortunate that the charge of racism was almost immediately vomited all over the place. I mean, I thought racism was a redneck, fly-over red State kind of thing, and certainly not to be found in the progressive bounds of Cambridge, Massachusetts. People who are familiar with the officer so labeled are in disagreement with this rash assessment. I am not aware that his record indicates any kind of racist problems in the past. But perhaps because he is a cop who is white this is the default assumption.

I'm not sure why Obama decided to wade into all of this, which essentially amounts to a local police incident. His claim that the police "acted stupidly" is premature at best, given that not all of the facts appear to be in. From what I can read, the police acted quite appropriately, and without obvious bias.

I will admit that this whole thing could have been handled differently by all concerned--cops and professors both.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How old?

Much has been made recently of Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen, who was captured in a video clip quite adamantly stating that the Earth is only 6000 years old. She says it not once, but twice during the clip, so you can't attribute it to a slip of the tongue.

People can believe what they want, but I remain baffled by the Young Earth Creationists. There simply is no scientific basis for their claims; it flies in the face of most of what we know about the world and how it works. What is particularly galling is that she is talking about a uranium mine. Uranium-238, one of the more common isotopes of the metal, has a half-life of 4.47 billion years, which doesn't really fit with Sen. Allen's version of reality. I am surprised that the cognitive dissonance doesn't just make her little head explode.

Oh yes--she's a Republican. I'm not sure why there are so many of these folks in the GOP these days, but if this party is to survive, it's going to have to jettison this kind of anti-science thinking. Again, believe what you want, but when you interject these beliefs into a scientific discussion or a science class in school, you have crossed the line.

So, MSNBC trots out Ed Schultz, host of The Ed Show on its failing news channel. Maybe he's supposed to be the voice of reason as a counterpoint to Sen. Allen, but he's just as wrong as she is:
" . . . and it's through the radioactive decay of uranium that we know that the Earth is a billion years old.

Sorry, Ed, not even close. Try 4.5 billion years old. Don't send out someone to poke fun at the anti-science Republicans who doesn't even know the science themselves.

Psycho Talk indeed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Truly Random Thoughts

A few personal notes:

Light blogging these days. I think the summer heat takes it out of me. Or maybe I'm just being lazy. Or maybe it's both.

Actually, I'm not as lazy as I have been. For the last 2 weeks, I have been getting up about 6:45 am and walking--briskly, I might add--a little over a mile through the streets of Rockettown. Well--as briskly as the temperature-humidity index will allow. One almost needs a pair of gills to gulp in the oversaturated air. It helps to wear a sweat shirt, too--I easily sweat off what I hope are some of the extra pounds I am carrying. What with this and the AbCircle Pro that Anya bought about the same time I started walking, I hope to be able to fit into one of those cool, Borat thong-things by August, so I can look hot on the beach at Caye Caulker. High five!

I have made some new book acquisitions recently. I am waiting to begin The Angel's Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I really liked his The Shadow Of The Wind, with its underlying old books and the surrealism of post-war Barcelona (dude, I so sound like an English major!!!), so I am hoping that the sophomore effort is worth it. Speaking of Spain, I am also dipping into Ghosts Of Spain, by Giles Tremlett. I have not really read much about modern Spain, and the time around the Spanish Civil War; it is fascinating to read how a country that once ruled most of the New World had, by the 19th century, been largely relegated to the sidelines of world politics, burdened by superstition and an incredible depth of poverty.

I also picked up two science fiction novels. The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers I acquired from some random review on the Web. An interesting time travel story, encompassing a dizzying collection of famous literary characters, it's a little too much all over the map for me, but I am almost done, so I will finish it out.

The other book is The City & The City, by China Mieville. It is truly interesting, and Mieville has a really great imagination, sharp and bizarre at the same time. I have only begun to read it, though; sometimes I read too many books at the same time, and my neurons get cross-wired with my glial cells.

We had a wonderful 4 day weekend here, including some rather impressive smoke bombs (these suckers blew smoke for like 3 or 4 minutes) and other assorted backyard detonations. We even had a nice trip to Lake St. John, courtesy of the Blackwells (thanks, Sarah and John). It's an old ox-bow lake, cut off from the Mississippi a long time ago, about 60 miles south of here. Nice boating and swimming and grilling.

July 1st means a lot of different things (as I blogged about last year). To me, it marks a kind of summer midpoint--the days are actually already getting shorter, the baseball All-Star break is just around the corner, and at least for the kids of Rockettown, school is only about six weeks away. Those prescient folks at WalMart were already setting up the back-to-school displays this weekend, hehehe. If I were a schoolkid, this premature display of your intentions, sir, would be an act tantamount to war.

Also--check out Eric's new art blog for Northeast Louisiana, artnela--I've linked it over there on the side. It is a great place to get some great writing about the arts in this area; I really admire Eric's personal blog, so you should check that out as well.

For those of you who haven't noticed, Anya has begun some new works in the last few weeks--I really like them, and I think you will too. She has some pictures posted on facebook and on her blog.

I am probably going to be tweaking the appearance around here a little, so you may notice a few changes (like this layout, for example).

Okay--enough rambling. Haven't forgotten about politics, nosirree, but with the McMahonFawcettJacksonMaysMalden demises piling up, perhaps a certain amount of reverence is called for, yes?

That was snarky sarcasm, in case you missed it . . .