Thursday, December 29, 2005

Counting Christmas's Cost

Now that we're well enough past Christmas (That's it's name. No matter its true origins. Get over it.) it has become time to look at what it cost. More to the point, all my gifts and what they cost.
  • Pads of Paper.

    Okay, you're saying "What?" Well, in one of my first postings on this blog, I talked about some expensive pads of paper that nevertheless were perfect gifts for those who write. I ended up buying a grand total of 18 booklets (both Anvil almost-blanks and Oh Boy Lined) for those who appreciate good writing and good paper to write on. Easy giving for me, but costly.

    Cost: $200.00

  • The Muppet Show: Season One

    Two families with kids are able to appreciate the humor (although some of stuff I've seen in the first two selected episodes is actually rather racy. I mean, "Temptation" for a glee-club singalong? And what's (an admittedly mild case of) cleavage doing on the Muppet Show ending?), and a third one for another friend for whom the Muppets were one of the fondest memories of a sad marriage.

    Cost: $100.00

  • A Camera.

    Okay, this was a regift. The reason this counts is because I'd bought a better camera, and instead of selling it, I chose to give it to my brother. The idea being he had complained about his needing a special battery and mine just needed regular AA's.

    Cost: $180.00

Total cost: $480.00. About what I net for a week and a half of work. A sizeable amount, actually, and probably way above what I should have done.

But I have no regrets. This even counts for a triad of booklets I sent to someone I no longer see (nor hope to see, let me add).

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pac-Man -- The Movie??????

Movie Rights to Pac-Man Gobbled Up


I played Pac-Man as a teenager. Those who knew me then knew me as a Pac-Man wizard, as I worked hard and long and finally mastered a Ninth Key Pattern (For those of you wondering, that's the hardest Pac-Man gets in the easy setting. Energizers only reverse the Ghosts (they DON'T turn blue), they run faster than your Pac-Man, and the Red Guy REALLY goes fast towards the end of the rack.) and was actually able to earn back some of the money spent on that game with "Free" Pizzas during college.

The thing about the game is, you do the same thing every rack -- eat dots, avoid ghosts, eat prizes in middel of screen, eat energizers, eat ghosts (if you're allowed to), finish last dots. There's no stupid quest thing involved in it.

I'm sure I'll have to see the film, if only to confirm my suspicions that it will suck so bad as to be unnoticable. But I'm already severely down on the film, and it's only in the conception stage.

That's right, friends, not everything conceived should be brought to full term.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Is Oprah the new God?

Maybe it's because David Letterman's growing old.
Maybe it's because of his quadruple bypass surgery.
Maybe because he's grown too comfy in his "late night job."
Maybe because he's growing tired of fighting.
Maybe because people have found out his weak spots.

Or maybe now there's a new God in town, and her name is Oprah.

Think of it: who else would make a struggling car company give away a bunch of oversized automobiles? Who else would show up at a store after it had closed and tar and feather the proprietor in front of National TV (and have him like it?) Who else COULD have Scientologists make fools of themsleves?

And who else would show up on David Letterman and say about a public feud: "There was no feud. THERE! WAS! NO! FEUD!"?

Only someone who won the feud and was remaking the event to further humiliate the defeated one.

Remember, this was the same woman who fully remade the bookselling market into what it is today: A haven for female writers and a few males who cater to pro-feminist beliefs. She took the Phil Donahue format and opened it up to everyone from Maury Povich to Jerry Springer to The View.

And now it seems that anyone who's anyone in Hollywood either is a friend of Oprah (which explains the Scientologists making fools of themsleves on her shows) or makes a point not to say anything about her. Seems she can't do anything wrong, an image which has gone so far as to make the comics.

Meanwhile, L, Ron Hubbard is chruning in his grave seeing someone take on the mantle of power he long wanted. Meanwhile, Miscivage's favored son (??) has made a fool of himself. But then...maybe I'm the fool for thinking this; after all we're talking America, where noise is more valued than content.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Peotone DOES Threaten Midway!

Sorry for the sodapop fans, more serious topics pick up here.

You have to really know your stuff to land at Midway

Midway airport is one of the tightest packed airport in the world. Major roads ring the airport on all four sides, and important rail lines surround it slightly further out. There's a rail yard to the south, and an El line to the east; further compounding the ring around Midway. Even if you were to expand the airport by merely cannibalizing houses, you don't get THAT MUCH breathing room. You'd have to move some rail lines to get enough space to make a safe zone around the airport.

That airport is so tightly packed in that airplanes have to hit these things called "Reverse Thrusters" to stop the planes within the airport layout. I've landed there a couple times, you can always tell the landing here from elsewhere -- most airports don't have its customers feeling pressed towards the front of the airplane as the plane strains to stop like they do at Midway.

An airport out in Peotone would make more sense, especially if they targeted it towards the budget market Midway does now. While there would be no possibility of EL service to Peotone, the Metra Electric could run (complete with express service) between Peotone and Downtown with relatively little track work, and access to the newly-planned Star Line could be made for quick, freight-traffic-free access to Joliet and from there to suburban Chicagoland. Long, well-bordered runways would allow planes to land in a leisurely fashion, extending lifespan and easing stresses on the people. Plus a properly-designed airport would be the safest in the world outside of Israel (where they've done everything to make sure Terrorists can't do their dirty work).

While it's possible that Peotone could become a transfer-type airport, chances are that would take a lot of traffic from Midway (and O'Hare) simply by being a quick, easy, safe place for planes to land. While O'Hare would finally have enough breathing room to expand properly, Midway would have to readjust itself to the new status. And it may not do so. Considering that properly there's only two directions a plane can safely land (O'Hare impinges on the other two directions) and the limits to safety development, maybe one can say Goodbye to Midway.

(Reagan National suffers from the same problems. Maybe that place can be closed, as well. And no, I don't care if Mr. Dulles was the leader of the CIA -- I'm not suffering from what HE did. Reagan, on the other hand, harms me more today than ever, and his actions grow greater with time.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Closer Look At The "OK Manifesto"

Okay, so I thought I was done with the sodapop topic. But you know how things work out -- try to get the mind off a topic, and sometimes it doesn't want to get off.

Anyway, I felt the need to take a closer look at the "OK Manifesto" to see what (if anything) was okay about it. Here's what I came up with:
1: What's the point of OK? Well, what's the point of anything?
Well, many things have points, and the points are often different. Conservatives and Liberals have a point of overcoming the opposite side and instituting their view of things. A man on a date does things with the point of seducing a woman, whereas sometimes a woman does things with a point of judging whether a man is worth more than a few yards of wasted cloth. Some websites's point is to persuade you to a point of view, whereas others are just to inform and still others try to make you laugh.

And OK Cola's point would seem to merely level things out to an apathetic whole.

2: OK Soda emphatically rejects anything that is not OK, and fully supports anything that is.
I didn't know a soda could act in that manner. Is your caffeinated bubbly sugar-water now alive? And what does it consider OK and NOT OK?

Needs clarity. Badly.

3: The better you understand something, the more OK it turns out to be.
A definite lie. I can think of quite a few things not OK with me; the 2000 Presidential Election (Not only that Bush Jr. Won, but Gore chose losing the election over owing Blacks for electoral victory), my present situation (although that's improving slowly), the city of Gary (A grocery store reopens, then burns down within a month. What's up with that?). And the more I think of these things (except my present situation, where there's some hope in the way), the less OK they are.

So NO, not everything becomes okay with knowledge. Indeed, some things become LESS OK.

4: OK Soda says, "Don't be fooled into thinking there has to be a reason for everything."
Fair enough, although there's few things that exist without reason.

5: OK Soda reveals the surprising truth about people and situations.
You know, if it did I'd hunt me down some remaining cases of this stuff, hunt down some women I had had crushes on in the past, and feed them this stuff. Who knows, I might find some woman who, having held an unrequited crush on me since I was an undeserving callow youth, is still willing to abandon her hubby, give herself to me and let me live off her for free. :) :) :)

Of course, since OK Soda doesn't exist...and one can dream...

6: OK Soda does not subscribe to any religion, or endorse any political party, or do anything other than feel OK.
So what if it doesn't feel OK? What does it do to get back to feeling OK? Does it bow down to the God of OKness? Does it act in some odd way to regain OKness? Does it seek out some new beats to feel OK with? Or does it go back to the old beats that soothed it during its salad days?

7: There is no real secret to feeling OK.
Fair enough, although getting to that feeling may be harder for some than others.

8: OK Soda may be the preferred drink of other people such as yourself.
May be. Maybe if there was a better, more stable flaver to the soda then maybe it could be a preferred drink for someone like me. After all, I DO like to mix Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper together.

9: Never overestimate the remarkable abilities of "OK" brand soda.
Weird. Can I underestimate the abilities? Why would a soda want to be considered "Mediocre?"

Maybe because mediocrity would have been a vast improvement in its actual abilities? Or maybe because it wants to hide. Remember, there are articles and web sites dedicated to OK Soda being a successful attitude adjustment attempted by Neocons than a failed soda.

10: Please wake up every morning knowing that things are going to be OK.
Right. Let's say you're about to be kicked out, with all your stuff thrown out for the local leeches to pick over. You don't have a safe haven to escape to, and you can see the eyes waiting for the pickens to show up outside your door. Are things okay now? (this has happened to a friend of mine)

Let's say you've suffered a stroke, and are in the hospital. You can't even make your hand touch your nose, and you're not sure what you're going to do. Can you honestly say things will be OK?

You're living in a trailer park that just got bought up by some development company, and you (with all your neighbors) have been kicked out. Nobody within one hundred miles of you is willing to take your trailer in, and you can't sell that box. Is everything going to be okay now?

I could add a few other situations. Situations that happen in real life. Even if they're self-caused, they're still not "OK" and it's likely they'll never be "OK" as they are.

(And don't take the Pollyannic view that "things work out in the end." Sometimes they don't. And sometimes they work out in ways that make things worse.)
So we got two affirmatives, five negatives, and three items which yeilded to smart-ass analysis. Not really that good, if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

When Sodas Jump The Shark

Okay, I'm going beyond useless, but here's a listing (at least in my mind) of times certain sodas jumped the shark:

  • Coke: With this new "Coke Blak." Coke and COFFEE?
  • Pepsi: Pepsi Half. A rush job, whereas Coke C2 actually looked at balancing the sweetners with some sugar, Pepsi hung its hat on one artificial sweetner (with some sugar). Taste definitely suffered.
  • Dr Pepper: Cherry-Vanilla Dr. Pepper. New Clothes for an old failure.
  • RC Cola: Diet Right gains eighteen different flavors. All because it outlasted saccharine.

I'm sure there's others...

It's Xmas; in time I'll start posting more "issue-oriented" items.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Surge, Vault, and MDX -- Sodas in the News?

Save Surge Soda
Vault Kicks

Yes, friends, TWO (count them, two) web sites on some odd side soda in the Coca-Cola universe. One of them a (mostly) dead brand, the other a brand about to be released nationally.

I remember Surge. I actually liked it when it came out; as it was a less sweet version of Mountain Dew. Not only that, but the taste was a bit stronger. In fact, it has a slight peppery taste that popped up towards the back of the tongue. It wasn't bitter, but it definitely had a spicy taste to it.

In the end, I believe it was that spicy taste -- and the fact that people tend to look for what is familiar over what is new -- that doomed Surge. And also its bizarre dayglo green color. After all, we're talking about a soda that Coke held high hopes for -- high enough that I saw it at fountain sites (7-11 in Downtown East Lansing, amongst other places) and in One Liter sizes (one that is saved for high-sale products, like Colas, Mountain Dew and Doctor Pepper). Then it failed.

Now we have Vault. It's Surge, but with a better coloring (yellowish instead of dayglo green) and without that peppery back-taste. I'm looking forward to it, as I still love the Surge Taste and Vault Has it.

BTW...Mountain Dew MDX sucks! It's "power pack" is definitely powerless. I've tried it, definitely did nothing to keep me from sleeping on my job.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

OK Soda: So What WAS The Real Deal?

OK Soda was a strange soda. Test marketed on college campuses all over the nation, the resulting mix did not test well. Every review I read up on it talked about "Suicide Soda;" a concoction in which the average drinker would get any number of different sodas and, as they drank up their glasses, mix up what was left until what remained was a nondiscript liquid of a nondiscript color and low carbonation with a taste that could best be described as "nodiscript" (you get the idea, I hope). I once joked (after doing the final mix of my favorite version of Suicide Soda involving Mello Yello, Fanta Orange, Fanta Cherry and Caffeine Free Coke -- don't ask why, but only the Caffeine Free Coke would do.) that mixing all the stuff together would create some sort of superchemical that would destroy your brain, freeze your heart mid-beat and turn your testicals into a pair of oily puddles.

I remember liking the soda for the first two bottles, but after the fifth bottle I unable to finish the bottle. The unstable taste (You'd go from "nothing" to "yuck" to "most perfect soft drink ever" to "nothing" halfway through a twenty ounce bottle) eventually settled down on "yuck" and I'd eventually avoid the poor student employees trying to give out the stuff to others.

The soda disappeared from everywhere but the net soon after.

Good, you say? Maybe not...

Mr. Dolce (my guess: he's probably gone on to a career in Middle Management by now) has it that the CIA hired Coca-Cola to try out a little experiment in behavior control. Throw out an odd soda with oddly hip graphics complete with text that worked with each other to instill a certain mind-set that was more congenial with a government out to control people's actions, and maybe people will buy it. Even if the soda sucks -- heck, maybe the soda was supposed to suck; disappear the soda before people figure out what's going on and maybe the kids will change without them even thinking of what's going on with them.

Joshua Glenn goes a bit further. In The Baffler, he creates a theory where William Kristol (Chief of Staff for Dan Quayle back in 1992) creates a soda whose sole purpose was to drug a generation staring down a barrel of reduced expectations into accepting that this was okay. The students would open the bottle or can, drink a couple of gulps down, read the generic piece of the "OK Manifesto" on the can or bottle, and as the stuff was drunk down their minds would be receptive to the words of OKness. Then, after a few weeks of tasting great, the stuff would suddenly become crappy and die a disgraceful death before entering the marketplace; while the ideas and beliefs would just find themselves embeded in one's head, unable to be removed because one doesn't believe them in the first place or know how they got there.

This would explain a few things:
  1. Like why the stuff went from great tasting to yucky. Most sodas that die on the vine don't suck (Pepsi Blue being the prime exception), but pretty much outstay their welcome. Those of us who like the pop eventually grow tired of the novel taste and eventually they go back to the old stalwarts. It's rare that flavors change, never mind in such a disasterous way; but that's what happened to OK soda.

  2. Why it only appeared on college campuses.

  3. Why it went through an extended "try me" period (with lots of free samples, let me add), only to disappear.

Then there is the "OK Manifesto:"
  1. What's the point of OK? Well, what's the point of anything?
  2. OK Soda emphatically rejects anything that is not OK, and fully supports anything that is.
  3. The better you understand something, the more OK it turns out to be.
  4. OK Soda says, "Don't be fooled into thinking there has to be a reason for everything."
  5. OK Soda reveals the surprising truth about people and situations.
  6. OK Soda does not subscribe to any religion, or endorse any political party, or do anything other than feel OK.
  7. There is no real secret to feeling OK.
  8. OK Soda may be the preferred drink of other people such as yourself.
  9. Never overestimate the remarkable abilities of "OK" brand soda.
  10. Please wake up every morning knowing that things are going to be OK.

Remember: all this for a soda that didn't even make it to the marketplace.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sodas That Sucked From The Beginning

As I've said before, usually when a new soda is introduced, it has a period of time when people will like it. Then, as time goes on, they'll switch back to their favorites. You'll try out the newest Orange soda, but eventually you'll return to Sunkist, while the newest twist on the Coke franchise will bring you back to the original and Citra will forever live in the shadow of Sunkist.

But sometimes there will be a soda (like OK Soda) that basically sucks to high heaven almost immediately. You may not know it immediately, but in a few weeks you'll actually find yourself unable to finish a bottle of the stuff.

One such soda is Pepsi Blue Fusion. Placed into stores as an attempt to expand the market for Pepsi, it failed miserably. This was one of the few sodas I've tried that I was unable to finish off a bottle of.

Dr Pepper Red Fusion is another soda like this. Almost a carbon copy of OK Soda (even down to the translucent appearance of the soda itself), my reaction to it was almost the same: Like, followed by a slow development of dislike. I never got to where I couldn't finish a bottle, but then it's not like I found free samples being given away by hapless students hoping to earn $7/hr giving out bubbly water. Another version of this soda is Dr Pepper Cherry Vanilla Soda, which differs in the liquid being opaque.

So, what causes a soda to suck almost immediately? Simple: have it succeed in taste tests that focuses on immediate impressions to the point of ignoring the "drink this case" test, then market it nationwide on the bases of such a flawed testing.

Surely there must be a reason everyone uses such a flawed form of testing, right? More on that tomorrow, and what finally set things right.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Remember The Pepsi Challenge? I Do...

You know the whole story: Pepsi finds itself in a market that it's outsold by store brands of cola. Pepsi, free of the "Brand X" advertisement rules that had ruled the airwaves until then, does a taste-test comparison between it and Coke. Lo and Behold, Pepsi beats Coke in the taste tests (complete with testimonials) both there (in Dr Pepper Country, let me add) and nationwide. Eventually, they stare Coke down and Coke changes its formula -- only to find it has to return to the "old" formula which was getting beaten by Pepsi. But now the rules have changed -- Pepsi can't do their taste test anymore, and Coke goes on (as Coca-Cola Classic) to redevelope itself as America's Cola.

Now, here's the rest of the story:

  1. I remember finally doing the "Pepsi Taste Challenge" back one July 4th in the early eighties, when it still had power. Thing is, I also remember that the Pepsi had just come out of a cooler and the Coke was about body temperature. Needless to say, I chose Pepsi and thought nothing about that selection.

    I have to wonder how many others got a similar taste test: Cold Pepsi vs Lukewarm Coke? And how many people let themselves get snookered by this?

  2. I remember the reaction to the change with some distance, as I had started drinking a mix of Mountain Dew and Doctor Pepper from a nearby Seven Eleven by that time. I thought it odd, after all it was just a soda pop.

    This despite -- no, probably because, having heard for a year and a half (and finally succumbing to the whining) about how we should boycott Coke to get them to divest from South Africa, I no longer drank Coke. I (and probably a lot of others) commented about how it would be picking one company over another, as everyone's probably invested in South Africa; soon we heard how Pepsi started divesting.

    Soon enough, Coke came up with a way of divesting directly in South Africa without losing the market -- sell the company to the employees. Some of the more shrill boycotters declared the boycott not over, most of us stopped listening. After all, did Pepsi REALLY disinvest in South Africa? And besides, while there was some good done (ownership given to a wider group), it was an accidental benefit, not something intended.

  3. What the Coke Bruhaha did was expose what a farce the Taste test was. After all, if there was a nationwide rebellion against Coke "bettering their beverage," then was it really that bad? And, more to the point, can you say Pepsi is even better than Coke?

    Of course, Pepsi fans will say "of course Pepsi is better than Coke" and Coke fans will say "Never! Coke is better than Pepsi always!" Thing is, there isn't really enough of a difference to matter to most people.

    That's right; most people pick pops because of other reasons.

    Maybe it's because of Micheal Jackson shilling for Pepsi back in the early eighties (Pepsi Drinker). Mabye it's because of what Michael Jackson became later on (Coke Drinker). Maybe it's because it's what you dad drank (Depends on him and his drink) Maybe because you thought their version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was better than the original (Mountain Dew). Maybe you like different labels every time you grab a pop (Jones Soda).

    Thing is, taste is not a major factor. Never will be.

Oh, so what was I drinking back then? A mix of Dr Pepper and Mountain Dew. Had what I thought was a better flaver than either Pepper or Dew. And besides, it's not like anyone was about to try and reproduce that flavor.

Or so I thought...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Has Mountain Dew Jumped The Shark?

Remember when Mountain Dew only had two versions, regular and Diet? I do. This was, of course, back when Coca-Cola was afraid of confusing their customers with a diet version.

Then came the "Caffeine Free Mountain Dew" and "Caffeine Free Diet Mountain Dew." Nobody every took the Caffeine Free brands seriously -- after all, they had to answer to the cries of people worried that that compound may be addictive (true) and dangerous (only in excess)

Then, in 2001 (or thereabouts) came Mountain Dew Code Red. One would almost have to say this was when the Dew Franchise Jumped The Shark, but I thought it was an actual good expansion of the franchise. Especially since it was a different enough color to differentiate (sp?) from the original.

The next version to make it big was Live Wire (Orange). Had this been originally been considered a permenant version, the shark would have been jumped; but it ended up being voted into permenance by a bunch of overcaffeinated teenagers.

But not to worry...Then came Baja Blast and Blue Shock Slurpees Items intended for nitch markets, yet hitching a ride on the famous "Dew" name.

Sad thing is, I actually like the alternative versions. While the Cherry Dew is not necessarily the best tasting pop on the planet, I did find myself drinking lots of it. Not only that, but the Pepsi people figured out a way to make their flavored pops taste better than the averaged flavored soda: Not as much sugar. Look at the Cherry, the Grape and the (older ) Orange Dews, and you'll see 110 calories per serving. Then look at the Fantas, the Slices (or whatever it is nowadays), the Faygos, and you'll see calorie listings up to 130-140 per same sized servings, sometimes more. It's this dryness that I like about the Dew Flavors.

Now if they'd know when to stop trying out new stuff...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Banished Words: 2005

Banished Words Website for 2005

That's right, friends, probably one of the most useful web pages you'll ever see come from a university has showed up again, just in time for your Xmas or New Years Parties. All the words that have gone through their fifteen minutes of fame and have now outlived what little usefulness they have.

The site even has archived lists going all the way back to 1976 Some of the words from back then:
  • Scenario (last heard repeatedly during "The Greatest American Hero," a show about a klutzy guy in orange superhero tights. The show jumped the shark when the guy was able to fly competently -- the premise was a guy trying out a suit without a manual, and klutzing along.

  • Detante. Enough said.

  • Input. Unfortunately the word mutated and still exists.

Look through and have some laughs. Or sighs....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Beginning Of Life: Opinions, Views and Such

Eric, of Quixtar Blog said:

"The abortion issue is quite simple from my perspective, and I've been accused of siding with the religious right. The issue hinges on the understanding of when life begins. If life is scientifically proven to begin at conception then abortion is pretty much murder. If life begins only after birth, then it's just a procedure of choice.

The question that needs to definitively be answered is when does life begin? What day? What's the criteria?"

First, it's not so much a question of "upon fertilization of egg with sperm" or "upon the expelling of the fetus out of the body by the host." Science has defined the start of life as when the fertilized egg implants in the uteres -- a seemingly random designation but important as many fertilized eggs don't implant, or implant but are rejected (and not by a chemically altered environment -- sometimes the egg kills itself, other times there's other circumstances (stress, starvation, the body attacks the cell (it happens) and other factors). A legal definition (at least as instituted by the Supreme Court in 1973 with Roe v Wade) would be at what point would the human fetus would be able to survive (with or without help) outside the womb. And there's many groups that claim that life starts upon fertilization but when pressed have no problem with life actually starting upon the ejaculation of sperm (the "Every Sperm Is Sacred" reference I joke about often, but which has had a long tradition within Christianity and even affects thinking today.

Then there's the personal belief systems. While it's easiest to believe the extreme points, the majority in the United States are willing to split hairs. They're willing to grant that the fetus in them is indeed a human being, but aren't willing to go as far as to state that they therefore have more rights than the woman carrying them (i.e. if they endanger the woman, the fetus goes, not the mother). Some societies have even gone so far as to allow women to mourn their abortions (something the US steadfastly avoids, the pro-abortion because of what mourning would mean, the anti-abortion because mouring would mean peace to those who have aborted AND THAT'S THE LAST THING THEY WANT TO SEE HAPPEN); and many who go to abortion clinics definitely view their action as killing, and express regret even as they prepare to go through the procedure.

Personlly, I hold to the present Legal view (No state can ban abortions, but they can set reasonable controls on them) but I admit discomfort with this viewpoint. I doubt that I'll feel fully at peace with it anytime soon. I also choose to live with this discomfort.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

At What Point is Forgiveness An Impossible Concept?

Williams Still Set To Die December 13th

The question this begs is this: At what point does one's actions become unforgiveable?

The founder of the Crips gang, Stanley "Tookie" Williams has gone on (in prison, admittedly) to become a prolithic writer and a strong voice against gangs. Needless to say, many are working on the hope that he can live out the rest of his natural life, even if in San Quentin.

Standing against that are the courts, a huge background of silent public opinion (maybe not caring, as the rulings now seem pre-ordained?) -- and The remembrance of what his actions have caused to the communities, either directly or indirectly.

So the question is: Can a man's past make forgiveness impossible?

I'm not talking to the ya-hoos who say "the guy is the same as he always was;" what I wonder is whether certain actions in the past can make it impossible for a man to be rehabilitated?

In short, can you honestly say about someone:
Yes, judge, I know the man has done his work. He has repented of his act and begged for forgiveness. He has also used his time in Jail to make himself an intelligent, useful person to society. I (or the people whom this had begged forgiveness to) have indeed forgiven him for the crime, understanding that sometimes people can change for the better.

However, I cannot allow him to be set free. For you see, the actions this person did were so heinous that the proper punishment is to keep him away from society forever. Look over the judgement, you will agree with me that his past action(s) preclude any other choice.

That comment about having forgiven the person was included for a good reason. I'm trying to remove all traces of hatred in the person's judgement, the point being that: Is the past stronger than the present?

Now, in the case of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, that case is possible. After all, his dressing the gangs in Blue allowed for alliances of gangs across the city and nation; add in the drug trade and you have developed a massive power for evil. One that, even unplanned and unforseen, seems to be enough to damn the man who started the whole thing.

Yes, I know: an extreme example. With other cases, I have to wonder. After all, the prison system is supposed to be about rehabilitation, isn't it? Otherwise, you might as well grease the wheels to the electric chair and make of it an assembly-line type of contraption (Kill the guy, clean up in half-an-hour, ready for the next sap -- er, guilty villian) because if we're going to keep people behind bars for life, what's the use of having them there for their natural life?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Problem: Are Unions Even Helpful Today?

News Item: GM, unions agree to cut back benefits

Things are tough for workers today, and are bound to get tougher. More and more, benefit companies are increasing their costs to cut out more and more workers, and companies are loading more of the benefits costs on the remaining workers who have them. 401K are becoming more and more the retirement benefit of choice, and that's when the company becomes generous (which is "becoming harder and harder for them to do"). Temporary workers have long become the largest group of workers (Manpower "hires" more people than any other company in the United States).

Since August 5th, 1981, unions have been playing a defensive struggle, often punctuated by strong, radical actions by corporations to clear them from their workforce. Worse, where Unions have remained reasonably strong have been in old-line, declining industries which have been unable to respond; or places where Management seems not to be as cruel towards their workers as they can get away with. There are exceptions, of course (UPS, Costco are the one that come to my mind) but they stand alone as such.

Also working against the union are the new markets in China and India, the United States Government's hellbent desire to open markets and export jobs to these two places, and the general defeatism of the workers' today. Not only that, but younger workers today have become used to the idea that they'll be jumping from job to job with little or no safety net should they be unable to finish that jump.

Could the union movement even make a dent in this?

Unions were created in an era of steady, settled work with men working for families and a social structure that worked to support and watch over neighbors. Todays it's as likely that a man or woman is working for himself or herself alone, the work is known to jump around (if it doesn't run overseas) and neighborhoods are less a cohesive whole and more a number of families who happen to pay taxes (and complain about it) for a specific street/governing unit.

Under these conditions, can unions even exist? Necessary, more so; but can they come about in a society where the only things able to work as a whole are corporatistas and their allies?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What's In A Word?

So what's in a word? Depends on what you mean; and sometimes whether a word exists or not can delineate what you mean.

As an example on what words mean and how they frame debates, here's an example of three words that basically mean the same thing but lead to different interpretations of what's going on:

1) Urban Renewal
A term which has fallen on hard times for good reason: This term for rebuilding of blighted areas has the idea of misguided urbanism which overlooks the locals for the mirage of a bejeweled downtown that nobody uses. This term was big in the sixties and seventies, but has seen little use sense then. It also has the connotation of government action, which today connotes a scarlet letter more damning than anything Hester Prynne ever wore.

2) Yuppification
This negative term means the rebuilding of blighted areas, but with it carries the negative connotation of latecomers taking over an interesting neighborhood and making it lame, overbuilt, overtrafficed and overpriced for anything but poseurs with more money than sense. A bit off, but it remembers the folks who would have appreciated what came along with the yuppies (good food, fashionable good art and the finer things in life) but were forced out by the people profiting off those latecomers who'll pay too much for a shadow of what the neighborhood supposedly had beforehand.

Needless to say, you almost never hear this term uttered by the media. Instead, they bless what happens with this term:

3) Gentrification
Again, we're talking about the rebuilding of blighted areas. But now the term has positive connotations -- after all, why not have a neighborhood that feels safe? What's wrong with tearing down old, decayed buildings to build new, updated buildings with spaces for cars? What's wrong with tearing down dark, winding firetraps for brightly lit, spacious firesafe buildilngs?

This term, while used to remind of the poor being displaced without anything being built for them, has no reference to said folks. It also doesn't refer to the fact that there's less public space left by these houses (by dint of their sheer size and the fact that they tend to act like fortresses rather than housing). It just refers to Gentlemen (which is the root word for gentrification) and harkens to an ideal of people living safe in their houses.

And that's why you constantly hear that term used disparingly and yet everything is done to accelerate it. That's why you see the Circle Line promoted over the Mid-City Transitway (serves a mix of people, including undesirables) and the Gray Line (Undesirables up and down the line), and why the Mid-City Transitway is dead and the Gray Line is merely the idea of "some crank living in a dumpy area." That's why poetry gigs have been in a severe decline in the Chicago area for the past five years.

I live for the day when the Media is forced to use the word "Yuppification." I long for another term coming up, one which damns those who profit off the pushing aside of the poor and the segregating of all the city services to the rich and beautiful. A term that reminds people that EVERY ONE -- rich and poor, black white and hispanic, officeworker and shopworker -- shoud have access to everything that makes for good cities. A term that reminds people that pushing them off to a bunch of newly-impovershed suburban dukedoms is not the way for anyone.

You know, the proper term for what's been happening inside Chicago (and all other major cities not dying like Detroit or Flint), instead of the term used to make it look good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why I Still Identify as a Democrat

For me it's a matter of economics.

While one could make the case that the Democratic party has taken the economic side of its platform for granted and tried to get the "ideological" vote, the Republican Party has not changed its stripes. And those stripes are:
  1. The corporatization of rights; i.e. rights will be held by corporations; individuals will not have rights as indviduals.
  2. Limitation of rights to economic; all other rights don't matter.
  3. Rights measured by wealth. More money, more rights, less money, less rights.
  4. Unions will be illegal, as workers will be unable to unite to protect their interests.
  5. All protections that are aimed towards people will disappear. Watch the smokestacks turn black with pollution (at least we'll be able to combat Global Warming) and food become poisonous. Watch health care places suddenly put a bar on who can be welcomed in -- based on ability to pay, of course.
  6. "Intellectual Property Rights" will be used to overturn the 13th Amendment (you know, the one banning private slavery). Laws will, of course, "bar" color-based enslavement activity, not that the laws will have any effect...

Note that I said nothing about Abortion. I think Abortion is just a distraction, and I believe that if the Democrats were to decide to stand with the Right in banning Abortion itself you'd see the Republicans reduced to a rump party unable to get a majority even in the South.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The 60 Minutes Report on "Plan B"

Heard the 60 minutes report on "Plan B," the pill that prevents pregnancies by stopping ovulation and making the womb unable to accept a fertilized egg. Not the best of reports.

Probably the worst part of the report was their attempt to portray the radical right (those against the pill) as having no idea of why they stand the way they stand. While they got to the "This would result in an abortion" concept, they made a point of going no further to the belief that stands behind this.

And that belief is this: Life begins upon conception, and anything that keeps the egg from becoming a human being is an abortificant.

Too many liberals don't understand this, and other related items about the radical right's reactions to sex and sexual pleasure (they tend not to understand a lot of things). The radical right could care less about freedom, and with to see sex linked to pain, suffering and the DUTY of reproduction. Hence, amongst other things, their opposition to the Hepititas B vaccine -- one less source of suffering from sex, one less reason to view sex as evil.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mass Transit in South Chicago, Indiana (Vol. 1)

1: The Problem:

The Metra Electric does a good job at bringing people in from the south side, and it does double duty for the South Shore Line.

However, the line also does service for a couple of branches which could use greater service, but which are stuck with once-an-hour travel (if that much) because of the fact that they're branches of Metra and not the CTA. Not only that, but the mainline itself has a bunch of stations within Chicago itself that are desperately underserved.

Not only that, but Metra has no reason to increase service for locals along the Electric. It's main service is commuter and longer-distance travel between city and suburb (and maybe suburb to suburb if the "STAR Line" gets some legs); indeed with the turf wars going on between the CTA and Metra, such service wouldn't make sense. Hence the multitude of Express bus lines along where the Metra Electric runs.

Not only that, but there's now an active prospect of increased service in Indiana. Where that is going to be able to fit in is anyone's guess; right now NICTD is only allowed three trains per hour during Rush Hour and there's no more room for more. There's studies on how to overcome the bottleneck south of Kesington, but docking and storage of the trains is another question.

2: One Man's Solution:

Mike Payne has come up with an intriguing idea (and probably the one that would be accepted in today's tight-wad world) called the Gray Line. His idea boils down to this:
  1. Retrofit some of the Electric cars with CTA decals, put CTA turnstiles in many of the underused stations
  2. Lease usage of the lines to CTA
  3. Run the Local Mainline tracks, the South Chicago branch and the Blue Island branch as the CTA Gray Line

A good idea. He claims it would be the cheapest line the CTA would get (as we're talking about a retooling of what's already there), plus service would be increased in places where it's most needed.

I do see a couple problems with this service, however:

  1. No integration with the rest of the CTA rail lines. The Gray Line would stay in its own area, with no real way (outside of buses or walking) to connect with the rest of the CTA network.

  2. No space for the South Shore trains to fit in. With the Electric trains now doing more runs, the Kensington bottleneck becomes more of a bottleneck, plus docking space becomes more of a premium (storage may be better, as now there'd be a few fewer cars at the Metra yard).

    In short, the Gray Line blocks out Indiana for growth; indeed even for access. And while I'm sure there's plenty in NW Indiana who would like to see the South Shore Line disappear ("Just think what we could do with that extra $9.33 a year! A weekend's worth of cheap beer by the 24-pack!"), many others would like the convenience, ease and comfort a train into downtown Chicago or South Bend (or Valpo or Lowell) would give them.

  3. Why would we need the equivalent of six CTA cars running over an area that would actually be better served by a two-car train during certain times of the day or night? Think of it: Five hundred seats running four-six times over the period of an hour when a smaller train would give better, more comfortable service over that time -- while at the same time giving a more flexible connection that the present service could provide.

I think we can do better. I think we can integrate the Electric (even if just by a transfer point) into the CTA rail system. I think we can give better service without getting in the way of Metra's goal of Commuter/Travel service. And I think we can improve service without overusing trains meant for heavy loads and long hauls over short periods.

Next Entry: My Plan for transforming the Metra Electric into a true mass transit line

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mass Transit in South Chicago, Indiana (Vol. 2)

I've had a plan in my head for a while (inspired by the Gray Line idea) on improving service along the Metra Electric. However, my service would seek to integrate the Electric local lines with the CTA lines. More expensive, I agree, but worth it (in my mind, anyway):

1: Extend the south Chicago Green Line (Dark Green) down the Metra Electric's South Shore branch (via Light Green Line).

The Metra Electric's South Shore Branch gets three trains an hour during rush hours, one train an hour otherwise. Hooking up the South Shore Line with the Green Line would allow for an increase in service at least to three-four trains per hour during regular times, up to eight trains during rush hour, improving and integrating that area into the CTA rail system. Plus the additioin of the transfer station between the new green line and the Metra Electric allows for further integration of the system in a way that actually improves access on the south side. Plus you get three new docking spaces for South Shore service.

2: Extend the Red Line (dark red line) down the Metra Electric Main Line Local and Blue Island Line (via Light Red Line).

For this, I would rebuild the west two tracks of the Metra Electric into CTA tracks, complete with separate entrances and paying mechanisms. You'd also have to fill in space from the 111th street station to where the Blue Island Line turns off and build a transfer station system either at the 111th or 115th street station. However, such a system would improve Mass Transit Access to the Pullman areas and other areas south AND add three more lines for South Shore Service, should it be needed.

and finally:

3: Rebuild the rest of the Metra Electric for separate local and express service, with the locals run by CTA equipment (the Gray Line -- which continues north past this map towards downtown).

While there are questions which will need answering for the North End of this service, the portion from 95th Street north can be shifted over to CTA-type service. While I'd prefer the locals shifted over to the west tracks and the express kept of the east 2 tracks, the present alignment can be used as long as one can create a way to keep people from jumping services without paying. The express tracks can be made one-way boarding and unboarding (like King Drive on the Green Line's East 63rd Street branch). And unless the Gray Line ends (or continues through) the "Millenium Station" (formerly Randolph/Water Street), even more docking and parking spaces will be created for both the South Shore and Electric Lines to use.

Next Posting: Drawbacks, Problems and other Considerations

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mass Transit in South Chicago, Indiana (Vol. 3)

Drawbacks, Problems and other Considerations

First drawback for this plan is the sheer amount of money it's bound to cost. From adusting the rails (and adding in third rails) so that the CTA El vehicles would be able to make it down rail lines made for Metra Superliner vehiclies to the rebuilding of a number of stops to make them ADA compliant (among other laws), the cost would be high, maybe prohibative. Even the mere extension of the Green Line down the South Chicago Branch would include the following charges:
  • adjusting rails, including third rail
  • removal of cantinary for entire length
  • placing overpasses in places where road traffic is heavy (Stoney Island is one that comes to mind)
  • connecting Green Line with the South Shore Branch
  • a Transfer station between the Green line and the Metra Electric
  • dealing with the now-useless connection between the Main Line and the South Chicago Branch
  • dealing with the two present southern endpoints of the Green Line

And, of course, there's the problem of whether Metra would give up the South Chicago branch, and for how much.

All this, in an era where the keyword is not so much expansion but maximization. You have a system who plans a route based not so much on usability or expansion of service but instead on using what they have. Ergo, the Circle Line, an idea feasible only because of the maximum punch for the minimum amount of money or disturbance.

Second Drawback: Everything I've proposed is on land owned by Metra. Right now, there is precious little cooperation between Metra and the CTA, and I doubt that Metra would want to give up land and responsibility to another. Shared responsibility (Main Line, part of the Red Line extension) would be another can of worms entierely.

Third Drawback: What to do with the two southern ends of the Green Line? It may be possible to extend to the South Chicago branch via 63rd, either via a quick turnoff or directly to the Electric Mainline and down the present access. Whatever way you do the connection presents problems (down 63rd would bring down the wrath of churches and other groups grousing over "the darkness an EL line would bring;" other connections have thier problems.).

The west branch is another problem. Do we do another "stub line" like the lines which had dotted the El line for years? Many of them drained the systems for years, others worked only to be abandoned by the customers in the end. No matter what, the stub lines ended being a drain and a curse on the Chicago system of Els, and their disappearance (outside of the Skokie Swift, built as an express line for commuters) has pretty much been unmourned except by railfans. While it would be nice to extend it, the question remains: where to? And why? Plus you can't tear it down, the CTA would have to repay the Federal Government millions of dollars of money if they were to tear down that stretch of rail.

A consideration:

I could easily see a combination of the first phase of my plan combined with an activation of the Gray Line, concept down the mainline and the Blue Island branch. The transfer station would allow for movement from the Electric to the Green Line and the rest of the El System, and while the South Chicago line would be costly the rest of the service could be implemented as cheaply as possible.

It's also probably the best I can hope for, increasing service to the south so that the South Shore System will have space at "Millenium" station.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Women Having Sex With Boys, And the Men Who Envy Them

Debra LaFave is Free, according to the web site

Once again, a female "Sex Offender" was on the news. And once again, some male talking head (who will remain nameless here) was whining about how she got away with her crime. And once again, the guy's jealousy spews forth (since chances are he had once wanted to have sex with his female teachers while in high school, and now wants to have sex with as many adolescent girls as he can get away with).

And always the complaint: "Why do women 'sex offenders' get lighter sentances than men 'sex offenders'?"

Well, I have a few answer to those questions:
  1. The boys are usually eager to get seduced by the women, whereas most of the time the girls get themselves forced on by the men. There is a difference. After all, a girl has to deal with something inside her, plus the threat of pregnancy and shame.

  2. In relation to the above point, since it's the older woman who's taking the risk, it must be assumed there is some willingness on both sides. No need to coerce, especially extra-horny male teens (fourteen and already their sexual powers can only go down).

  3. Usually it's just one or two boys who are taken by the women, whereas there's usually a trail of girls taken by the men. This translates to a possibility of rehabilitation for the woman, versus a need for speed in getting rid of the man. The correlation to this is that you should see more severe penalties laid on repeat offenders -- like, say, Mary Kay LaTourneau, or the Mom who hosted parties so she could seduce teenaged boys.

  4. The women are rarely in a position of adequate control, whereas the men usually are in positions of control.

    Think about it: A teacher usually deals with tens of students in a class, hundreds of students every day. The student wanting intimate time with the teacher will have to show enough initiative so that a willing teacher can start the seduction. Now, a coach or religious leader has a stick which he can coerce the other, as the child (can be male or female) FEELS A NEED to please the other (usually a man). Take away enough scruples, and you can guess the outcome.

  5. Girls are more likely to keep silent than boys. Especially the type of boys who are likely to be seduced by teachers. We're talking alpha-males-in-training; why should they keep quiet about their overaged conquest?
If you're wondering about the difference, consider this: Mary Kay LaTourneau seduced ONE (count them -- one) man, and stuck with him through that whole time. One story I heard had a male high school coach being so brazen as to have a girl show up clothed with only a towel at an appointed time, and at that time the coach would come out fo the shower with the girl he had taken five minutes ago. And this guy had twelve girls under him, and for quite a few years. A changing roster of girls, may I add.

One vs hundreds.

No comparison, really. And full reason for the lack of severity for first time female 'offenders' (compared to their male counterparts).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Prayer In School: What Gives?

I remember when I was younger and a True Believer in the Fundamentalist view of Christianity (what I'd probably be if I were a believer today is a topic for later...) and probably the biggest thing I always heard about was Prayer In School. It was always "The Supreme Court took away Prayer In School, then came pot and drugs and disobedience and crime and the evil known as liberalism (with their evil minions known as liberals). Return prayer in school, and the nation turns out right.

Now, I find it strange. First off, why would God take revenge on a ruling by a body of nine august men (and women) on the rest of the nation is beyond me.

Second, what is the mechanism behind Prayer In School (tm) making things right in schools. Surely things weren't so perfect in America before 1962 because of School Prayer. Nor could things have been so proper in the rest of society because teachers in school were busy making kids bow down their heads for fifteen seconds before hand. And most certainly the blacks in their "Seperate-But-Equal" schools were getting educated because they too had to bow their heads down for fifteen seconds every day.

The only thing I can think of to make sense of things is "Social Control." When kids prayed, they were made aware that behind that old crusty woman at the head of the class stood their parents, their friends's parents, the neighborhood adults, their pastor/priest, and the police. Plus possibly the armies of angels, saints and God himself.

Now the schools are gleefully dissed by society. Neighborhoods are dissolved, with privacy rights paramount. Neighbors don't really know each other, and too many of them are two-check families, meaning there's no army of mothers watching over everyone.

And I doubt that "Prayer In Public Schools" (not that the Christian right wants it back, having decided to abandon public schools and pray for their dessolution) would make the world better. I just can't see it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Today in Big Ten Play

Today I'm playing "Big Ten Patriot." For those wondering what it means, it's this: My team (Michigan State Spartans) is bad enough that I have to root for the good teams in the conference my team is in. In other words, my conference patriotism is a refuge from the disaster of a season this has become for the Spartans (no bowl, no second half appearances, and no respect deserved).

So what's up? Well, the following:

Ohio State beat Michigan. Good because the higher-ranked team beat a lower-ranked team, and tOSU has a better chance of making it to a BCS bowl as an at-large team. That Michigan lost is a bonus, but were Michigan ranked higher I would have rooted for them to win.

Penn State beat Michigan State. Hurts, but Penn State is a possibility for the Championship game (now with them #3 in the BCS after Miami losing). Sure they'll probably lose to the Longhorns, but I'd rather have the chance -- if they were to play and win that game, who knows? Joe Pa would truly become untouchable.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Michigan/Ohio State: My Fondest Memory

While not necessarily the biggest game now, definitely one that has held onto its marquee for a long time. Those of you in your late forties and up probably remember the 1968 game which put Michigan back on the map (by taking a "gift trip to the Rose Bowl" and making it an earned trip); I remember the missed field goal, the vote and Woody punching out the camera man. After that, I was an MSU fan so the game receeded from memory.

Then came 1996.

Michigan was aiming for its first end-of-year #1 ranking in almost fifty years, and Ohio State was in the middle of its near-domination of the Big Ten (just couldn't get Michigan out of its hair...). I was following along, especially after MSU did its usual nose-dive by losing to both Michigan and Ohio State.

The week before the game I called Radio Talking Book at WKAR to see if I could volunteer to read. I lucked out -- they had the Saturday Morning reading of the Detroit News/Free Press open. I jumped on it.

Saturday comes, I ride the bus to campus and walk in to read. Sadly, the regular reader has the sports section to read. Happily, it's an old woman and she begs off the Sports to me.

As I look through the paper, I not only notice the Michigan and Ohio state articles (both big and front-page) but also articles for the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Red Wings and Spartan Football. I break up the fifteen minute reading into three sections -- The first section covers the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, Red Wings and Spartan Football, the middle section is dedicated to Michigan, and the final section is for Ohio State.

My sports time comes, I sit behind the mike.

The first five minutes pass by. I butcher my usual number of words (not the names of the Russians playing for the Red Wings, thank goodness), moving an eye on the time clock to make sure I'm not taking too much time on these unimportant items.

Then I move on to the Michigan article. As I read it, I find myself getting keyed up as I try to guage equal time between this and the Ohio State Article. Three minutes, then four, then five minutes finally pass by.

I move on to the Ohio State article.

Now I'm reading with one eye on the article and the other on the clock. Time ticks slowly, but steadily, as I work my way through the Ohio State Article. A pattern to the paragraphs, noticed in the Michigan article, ingrains itself throughout the Ohio State Article: One paragraph discussion, one paragraph supporting quote, repeat until the end.

Again, the time runs out. I'm sure I've given equal time, and I know I've done justice to everything -- both the important game and the rest of the sports news. I feel good.

Now, I'm sure I'd have done it differently. I'd have done the first seven minutes to Michigan, the next seven minutes to Ohio State, and passed on headlines and other stuff in the last minute. Even the MSU game (they would win their game that day and get slaughtered in the bowl game they played -- Thank You For That Slaughter, Nick Saban). It would have been a nerve-racking effort, but worth it for that day as #1 was fighting a worthy opponent.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Don't You Just Love Modern-Day Planning...

...with its inability to plan ahead for growth?

The key for me is the bottom article, with its focus on the South Shore:
The problem is, according to Parsons, the number of riders during rush hour is near capacity, about 97 percent of the NICTD fleet is in use every day, and the time frame for purchasing new equipment is two years.

"We really don't have much room to handle additional people and provide everyone a seat," Parsons said. "(The Skyway construction) is just going to exacerbate our capacity problems."

In other words, they have no space to add on cars or trains.

Isn't Metra Electric Getting some new cars? With potties? Why don't they loan us a couple of trains while we go through this problem?

Heck, I can see an addition to a couple of CTA lines which would free up plenty of space on the Electric for South Shore Service.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a resident, I don't know enough to be an expert...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Anti-Semitism Returns to America

Listening to the Mike North Show on WSCR, I heard two people comment on the firing of an employee. Normally I would just notice nothing, especially if it's the usual "we'll miss him/her" type of comments.

Sadly, these two callers called in to complain, and each complaint hit on the immediate supervisor for being Jewish!

Now I don't know why the firing took place. I know North defended the man immediately above him, saying the action came from further above. But it's sad that the one thing that separated the United States from most of the rest of the world was its opposition to Anti-Semitism.

Of course, the hatred never died out. You usually found it buried in some off-space readily dismissed and looked down upon, or a website which busied itself with conspiracy theories upon conspiracy theories. And, of course, some oddball would get on the subject of races and expound on the Jews. But they were usually silenced by the stares of others, or had to hide their beliefs under the rubric of Dislocated Palestinians.

But now, they've started getting into the open. Peeking out as callers in a sports show, no less.

Now I've read of plenty of websites which dissect the American Christian wish for Jews to establish themselves in Palestine as a way to bring Christ to the world (and remove themselves from it in time to watch it go to hell). This view recasts historical anti-Semitism into a "Move Away From Us And Die" movement, with the idea that when the Jews (unwittingly) fulfill their part in the grand scheme of things, the Christians disappear from the earth (and presumably watch "innocently" from afar as the rest of the world takes care of the Jews.

If that is true, then maybe this anti-semitism is the stick behind this movement, with the Carrot being support for them moving to Palestine and clearing the area of Arabs? If nothing else, it's an intriguing way to rid the United States of Jews: "We Love you, go to your land, we'll support you even."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

An Open Letter to Pat Robertson

Okay, so I know you have to damn people sometimes, in times where unrepentent sin pops its ugly head.

I know you had to do it in Orlando, Florida, when they welcomed Faggots instead of using them to kindle their fires. Even though the hurricanes that came through ended up making the rest of the state suffer more than Orlando.

I know you had to take heart in what happened in New Orleans when Ellen DeGeneres hosted a gala in Hollywood. Even though an earthquake forcing the building where the gala was at to collapse would have been a better punishment than a ton of water aimed at people who had no way of escaping what was going on all around them.

And I understand that you had to damn the people in Dover, Pennsylvania, for revolting against a bunch of people who wanted Intelligent Design taught as Revealed Truth shown as Scientific Fact (instead of the Belief that it more properly is).

Now, if I may ask a more radical concept of you: how about some healing power to people?

I live with a woman whose left leg and arm have never recovered from the stroke she suffered seven years ago. Not only that, but her left hipbone broke recently; causing more trouble in her left side. Maybe you should pray for the total healing of her left leg and left arm.

Okay, want to give a blessing to a believer? How about this one: A woman I know who suffers from umpteen unknown diseases that once made her grossly fat. She's able to control her weight, but with numerous pills and not really as well as she needs to. Maybe you should ask God to heal her from the diseases that make her both sick and strongly obsessive-compulsive to the degree that she is.

There's two people there who could use God's healling power; instead of a Damning God looking for people to punish. I'm sure you could find more, but these are the two I can imagine at the moment.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What I Dislike About Wal-Mart:

What I dislike about Wal-Mart:
They targeted the downtowns of many small towns and gutted them.
Now while the people shopping there are the reason the downtowns closed down, I don't blame the shoppers. After all, we city dwellers have always had K-Marts and Meijers and Hudson's and many other stores; small towns had pretty much had to depend on the Sears Catalog or the occasional trip to the big city to get stuff. Now, we got this big box in some rural setting that offered everything you could ever want, and they worked like the devil to keep the prices low (so it seemed). Is it any wonder the local five-and dime descendant store couldn't survive?

The twenty-eight hour workweek.
Believe it or not, this was an idea brought about by the Great Depression (1929-1942) as an attempt to get more people hired. The idea was that workers would be eligible for overtime once they worked thirty hours in a week. The bill actually passed the senate back in the 1930's.

Now here's Wal-Mart, with their spin: 28 hours is all you work if you're starting, and you have a family to support we'll give you food stamp applications for you to fill out. That's right, friends: Wal-Mart, instead of hiring a few workers who can afford food from their jobs, makes it a point to have its employees leach off the Government.

Now: a forty hour week isn't too much for a company. It should be able to have its employees able to afford to live off whatever wage it pays their employees, even if that wage is as close to Minimum as they can get away with. And Wal-Mart makes a point of avoiding that (remember the Hispanic cleaners they lock in their stores?).

Dependance on China for their products.
When Mr. Sam Walton was alive, Wal-Mart may have been a bully to American small town business, but you knew the stuff was built where it was bought. He even made them fill out forms saying so. But when Sam died, the siblings turned around and said "To Hell with the US worker, Chinese workers are cheaper." So they shifted their purchasing office to Beijing and bought boats to import the stuff.

Sure, they buy stuff from farms. They ain't figured out how to import Quik chocolate Milk and Quisp Cereal yet.

The Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla Effect
Remember when the Government would tell a corporation "You're too big, time to split into six different parts?" Not anymore, nowadays it's "You're not big enough, grow or die."

And while it's nice to know that the people who have a choice are making a point of ignoring Wal-Mart and its noise machine, the fact that that noise machine deafens by mere dint of its low-level hum of silence bigs me.

Think of it -- why else would country music become the most popular music in the country except that there were suddenly thousands and thousands of outlets in country-listening parts of the United States? While record stores in Collegetowns all over were closing up, Wal-Marts were opening up all over, bringing Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, and Patty Loveless to places where they were listened to but not really bought in mass before. So now, while Athens and Minneapolis and Tin Pan Alley begs for new blood, Nashville kicks people out because there's too many people begging for a spot at the base of the Country Music Pyramid.

Like I said, the Eight Hundred Pound Gorilla Effect...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Does the Right Wing WANT Roe v Wade Overturned - or Changed?

The Roe Effect (and how it benefits the Republican Party)

Think of it: If I were a Republican:
  1. I would not want Roe v Wade overturned and left to the states. This would mean states would be subject to the populace, most of whom want SOME access to abortion. They'd have to admit to their "God" base that they don't want to put together a total ban.
  2. Nor would I want Roe v Wade reinterpreted to mean the courts could BAN abortion (it is a possibility -- after all, the precedent is that the courts decided the issue, not that abortion was now a right). That would turn the Democrats -- presently the conservative party on this (as in "we must conserve the right to abortion") into the radical party with the overweaning support.

No, if I were the GOP, I would do nothing to let the "God" group out of my sight. After all, it wouldn't be the first time Businessmen rode on the coattails of another group to political power, and it wouldn't be the first time the second group was taken for granted.

And's not like moderates are wanted anymore. When a proposal to remove redistricting from the hands of people already in power in the districts gets voted down by the people, it becomes obvious what people want: Extreme Change, and a prayer that they don't get made illegal by the changes not matter what they are.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

In Insightful Times, The Cato Institute Could Learn from America

In Scandalous Times, Bush Could Learn from Clinton

And so the Cato Institute (and Fox News) bemoans the fact that their chosen champion hasn't continued his popularity despite the troubles he's going through with various things. They're especially bemoaning the fact that Clinton didn't get hung (literally) back when Monica Lewinsky was the big news.

Now they're making a point of linking the Clinton Halo to economics. As if President Bush Jr. was having bad luck because the economy wasn't appearing to go gangbusters. Kind of amazing when you think of it -- an army of voters trained to ignore what the economy is doing in lieu of commands from the pulpit carries the president to victory, yet this group magically disappears when there's a need to complain about why America doesn't genuflect in front of Bush and his Cronys.

Of course, they're busy trying to make us forget was that Clinton's "scandal" was about sex with an unpaid employee -- criminal to be sure, but let's not forget this WAS consentual during most of the affair. Bush's troubles seem to stem from a deep-seated incompetence for the office (and appearance of malfeance against enemies, both active and inactive). Merely consummating one's lusts (again, consentually -- had he been shown as an active rapist in office, there wouldn't have been a need for an impeachment as there would have been a lynching, a resignation and actual jail time) is hardly equal to using the government to actively oppress opponents real or imagined, nor is it similar to cynical profiteering masquerading as incompetence coasting through a play job.

Maybe that's why Clinton was able to keep support for his presidency even after the majority became convinced of the Radical Right's distaste for the man. They could see he did a good job despite being unable to keep his zipper up.

In other words: Sometimes Competence Is Rewarded! Try that on for size...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Bus History in Playthings

A look at how buses were viewed by their toys

Interesting how opinions end up getting passed via the toys people play with.

While the bus he saw probably was waiting for its new paint job, the paint job now on the buses is quite shadowy. I know they're trying to look striking in thier almost-invisible depiction of the Greyhound, but it almost looks like they're trying to disappear the image itself, as if they're embarassed to say they haul people around.

Maybe that would make sense, as they've been removing themselves from large parts of America. Already there's three states fully abandoned, four states mostly abandoned and probably another couple states Greyhound probably wishes they could abandon but are stuck with serving. How long before Greyhound becomes known as a Nationwide service only in reputation, a scattered service area and a couple of connections across the plains and mountains?

Two routes I remember fondly, having traveled over them -- I-80 through Pennsylvania and the DC-Cleveland-Detroit route -- no longer exist as such. There go two direct connections which probably added a number of rides over the years; and all because a company wishes to squeeze out another dime of profit from what remains before another round of cuts is needed.

How bad is it? Already some cities have decided to cast Greyhound out, knowing other companies (or their mass-transit authority) could do better service (or that no service is better than shitty service funded by them). Think I'm joking: Look at some of the notes near the bottom.

Again, I must ask: how long before Greyhound declares bankruptcy -- and to the cheers of the nation?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Another Oddity About the Human Female (From an Evolutionary Point of View)


Jennifer Love Hewitt, not nude but naked enough underneatht her top :) While looking at the picture to the left (and, just so you know, you can find the full picture of Mrs. Hewitt with some other gal here. I just decided to edit out the more plastic one and keep the (reasonably) real hottie for my blog.) I'm reminded of another reason why Humans are so odd as a species.

First off, again it's something for men to look at. Most other species would have them things on a male's body simply because the male would be the one looking for the partner. Instead, we humans have placed the onus of selection on females, with the result that they have things like the above.

Second, breasts on females are actually the perfect example of sexual selection in action. They don't really do much of anything for the female (milk production -- the reason breasts exist in the first place -- is not affected by breast size) outside of attract male eyes, they can get too big for the woman's health (Over 2,000,000 hits for "breast reduction surgery" with ther term "breast reduction" as a single item to look for) and they tend to sag as they grow older.

So why would they come to develop on females?

My guess would be that it started as an abberation in some early African savannah. A woman developed breasts, and the alpha males of the group ignored her for her flatter-chested sisters. Other men found her welcoming, soon she found herself the mother of multiple children whereas the women hanging out with the alpha males probably had one or two -- maybe three tops. If most of the breasted woman's kids were girls, chances are they were spread around neighboring groups (to ally them, or at least make peace), and other men would vie for these girls, knowing they were safe from the Alpha Males. Eventually even the alpha males would notice -- especially when it turned out the breasts became signs of a woman's ability to survive a drought (they shrink, she's less able to bear children).

As for me, while breasts of all sizes (except maybe utterly flat) are nice to peek at, I find the smaller sized items more attractive. Sagging affects them less, plus nipples tend to disappear into bigger breasts. Plus your eye moves to other aspects of the woman, insuring you get a fuller picture.

But that's just me. Me, and a bit of experience affecting my view.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Intercity Mass Transit is Dying in The U.S.

Greyhound service cut off list.

And people wonder why nobody rides the bus anymore.

Actually, I can tell you what's been happening.

First off, we build all these expressways and keep the taxes low on gas and stuff, then expect mass transit to pay itself. Most places subsidize transit to a greater degree than us, or keep gas prices high enough to insure most people use mass transit to at least make it to work.

The Greyhound bought out Trailways LInes of Oklahoma City, thereby destroying the competition that kept things interesting.

Then Greyhound decided that the best thing for their service was to remove many of their city stops from downtowns and stick them off to the city edge, preferrably next to an expressway so their drivers didn't have to worry about city traffic. They also decided that the best thing to do to the terminals they couldn't justify shifting to a suburban location was to shrink them down so that you couldn't help but feel clausterphobic and endangered in them.

Now...they're cutting off service to as many small towns as they can get away with cutting off service to. Never mind that many of these places, with their 2-5 people per day, give the system all the people that actually ride on their buses.

And people wonder why everyone flies and drives anymore. At least you can justify the crappy service at the airports by dint of sheer numbers of passengers and archaic airport runway design in many places. And airports are SUPPOSED to be at the edges of cities; where else were you able to find enough empty space to take off in?

As for driving, if you're going to be inconvenienced by the traffic and other people, you might as well be inconvenienced in the comfort of your own space. Plus you're on your own schedule (a favorite phrase of a friend of mine, in reference to why he loved autos).

Just don't be surprised to find Greyhound declaring bankruptcy in five to ten years and threatening to close down. Also don't be surprised if you only hear the occasional cheer and the cry to destroy Amtrak as well (why not knock out everything in one blow?).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Men Talk, Women SING?

"Why Men [Can't] Listen to Women?" (FINALLY -- I HIT THIS SUBJECT!)

Yes, the quotations and question mark are my interpretation. The article says, in short:
  1. Men hear women's voices as music, not words (at least at first)
  2. Women's voices are more complex than men's voices
  3. Men's voices don't use as much of the brain to understand as women's voices

Almost sounds like sexual selection has developed in women.

In most species, it's the male that develops sexual characteristics. Whether it's the tail feathers on Pheasants or Manes on Lions or Croaking in Frogs, it's usually the male that expends the energy to attract a mate. Usually it's the female of the species that decides what's attractive, and the male works like crazy to fit in with that definition of beauty.

Not so with humans. While one can see the pendulum swinging with the terms "Metrosexual" and "Ubersexual," much of what is beautiful is still defined by men towards women, and it appears that it has taken on a genetic tinge. The female voice may have taken on a multitonality with which to catch the male, or some alpha male may have found himself entranced by some odd talk he heard, and followed his instincts.

It may also be that women's voices tend to be higher, which allows them to be heard above the background. And our ears are made to catch higher sounds a little better than lower sounds, which tend to blend into the background. Also, higher sounds can separate themselves better than lower sounds, which tend to meld into a similar-sounding sludge.

Whatever happened, women's voices today seem more and more linked to music than speaking. And men get accused of not listneing, when on occasion their minds are running overtime to figure out what's being said while fighting the tendency to interpret the sounds as music.

Like I said: Humans are strange. Only we would let the men choose what's beautiful.

(more later)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Chicago? Why?

I haven't been to Chicago for anything outside of a worktime dropoff in nearly three weeks.

And righ tnow, I don't miss it.

Part of it is, of course, I have more important things to tend to right now. A friend breaks her hip, I'm not about to let her go.

But there's also the disassociation I've been having with Chicago over the past year and a half.

That started with a wedding I went to of a friends, when I commented that I was the only one I knew amongst family and friends who wasn't married. While I considered the people I knew in Chicago as friends until then, I didn't count them at that moment.

Then the poetry scene, long falling apart, started really collapsing then. Venues I had known had closed up, people I knew moved out of town, and some venues that should have shut down didn't. Worse yet, outside of Jameson/Porter, the remaining people in the scene were the crazy ones -- the saner ones left as soon as they could.

Then work interrupted. While I needed the money, I sure didn't need the loss of time. Not only that, but whatever time I had for writing was suddenly eaten up.

A couple other things happened...then the friend broke her hip...

And now, I have to ask myself whether I'd even want to return.

It's not like I'm in the middle of a creative storm. In fact, I've been unable to write for eight months or so. I'd read some old stuff, but that gets a bit old without new stuff to follow up with. And besides, constantly traveling over 40 miles each way gets tiring, especially when you're not there more than two hours.

So...when things cool down and I'm able to relax a bit, I'll have to ask a question:

Do I care about Chicago anymore?

Seriously. While Northwest Indiana isn't any place to live, I'm sure even I could make a go here. After all, I've been out here over seven years, and while I'm not necessarily what I was when I moved here, age could easily account for whatever changes happened.

And besides, I've spent 15 years writing to an audience. Maybe now it's time for me to try writing to publish. Maybe I should change my audience.

Maybe I should trust myself.

After all, what will last longer, a voice or text on a page? I've yet to hear Socrates' voice, or Virgil's, yet I've read some of their works. And in the end, they (or those who wrote for them) had to write for themselves, to trust themselves.

Think about it...

Monday, October 31, 2005

Revisiting Porter/Jameson: Thoughts and Questions

Note: This has been edited to include stuff not in this before. Scroll down to questions if you've already read this before.
In an earlier posting I had about JJ/Norman, I stated my four thoughts on his situation. They were:
  1. He had rehabilitated himself,
  2. He may not have repaid his debt to society,
  3. Who's to say he didn't turn himself in, and
  4. Some people are better off behind bars. He may be one of these people.
As for the first point, while I still stand by that viewpoint I've narrowed the scope of that to the killing part. The basic soul and spirit behind the man seems to have been stubbornly unchanged, while he himself kept a running total of how much of his old self was still alive, I would bet that remaining part was the basic foundation -- the portion of himself that he couldn't destroy no matter how hard he tried.

While the guy who wrote this article is, I believe, a bit nuts (as is the majority of the Chicago poetry and arts community, IMHO), the article is, I believe, an accurate reflection of Mr. Porter/Jameson. It seems the guy is loyal to his friends (to a fault?) and distrustful (if not hateful) to the rest. Maybe it's because of his being an escapee, but there's definitely a stain on this guy's name.

As for the idea of paying off his debt to society, there's still the ghost of the two killed men. Not only that, but it's obvious that the American public has supported the idea that more should be paid for the crime -- both in prison and afterwards. While the idea of the death penalty has yet to become a nationwide, active cause, there will eventually be a need for it if the trends continue -- after all, Americans are cheap and keeping people in jail year after year (even without trying to make them into future upstanding citizens) is DAMN expensive. And not the 20 years of making sure we got the right guy we have now, either; if it comes back in vogue there will be a strong drive for it to be immediate, unimpeded and active. Texas will only be the shadow of things to come.

As for him turning himself in, I don't think it happened that way. I also doubt that he was found via the FBI; as all they would have done is melded the Porter and Jameson files into a single computer file with two identities in case either one came in. I think someone called the FBI -- remember, he was Poet of the Month when he was arrested -- and they matched up the fingerprints as a matter of making sure. Wouldn't surprise me if someone, knowing he wrote poetry in jail, looked through various poetry websites and found what he was looking for.

Remember, we're talking about Public Enemy Number one here, not a two-bit shoplifter. Two dead, twenty-two escapes from prison and two famillies who've built their whole world around making one man suffer for his crimes against them (Never mind their so-called claims at having lived their whole life; one of the ladies considers his "confession" as her most prized posession) makes for a lot of heat aimed at someone. It didn't surprise me that the moment his face got nationwide exposure was the moment his freedom came to an end.

Not that I blame him for escaping. I still don't. After all, we're talking about a place no one should want to be in. I know a few nations that don't consider escaping from prison as a crime for this reason alone. Besides, as Detective Lieutenant Kevin Horton said on Boston's version of America's Most Wanted, "He saw the handwriting on the wall. That the system was [becoming more punitive]." (yes, I did change the quote. Made it less PC, more accurate to what he wanted to say. And more to the way many in the US want it to be, at its most kindest).

And finally, I have a couple questions. Not very king towards Porter/Jameson, but stuff he needs to answer to, IMHO:
  1. Would the families have wanted to persecute him so much if he had apologized to the families years before?

    The fact that it took him months to finally admit that he did do some murdering and apologize to the families AFTER HE WAS FOUND AGAIN AND TAKEN BACK TO PRISON leads me to ask that question. Plus there seemed to be nothing about him having apologized before his jailbreak (had he done so, the press would have brought it up. The press did this when I talked about the guy in Indiana). I have to wonder: if he apologized to them before he walked away from jail, would they still be out for his blood? Indeed, would he have needed to break away -- after all, if there's no family members demanding he stay behind bars, the guy would probably have gotten a job at a Boston University and have taught generations of poets how to write in his style.

  2. What other crimes may he have committed during his years away from prison?

    Let's face it, this guy may be smart and strangely manipulative (remember, he held his friends close and everyone else in severe contempt), but it seems his basic personality was static throughout the years. Four arrests between 1989 and 1994 under the Jameson name -- how many more, and where else? The people looking for him were looking in the wrong places -- Southeastern U.S., Canada and Europe. Are there people in the Chicago River with his handprints around their neck? Maybe the poet shot in 1997 was shot by him (I can hear the families of the murdered now, praying for this to have happened, and badgering God why more of the Chicago poets didn't get such a "present" from him). Maybe elsewhere -- he WAS in Washington State at one time.

    Besides, who does petty crimes at the age of fifty? Only someone who hasn't reformed; IMHO.

Flash: Alito Gets Nominated (Constitutional Option Week, Vol. 4

Alito Nominated for Supreme Court Seat

Darn. This is more like it.

A strong KNOWN conservative (especially on Abortion Limitations), he has spent his time as the dissenter in a liberal circuit court. Now he gets a chance to say how law is applied nationwide.

I still say this is how the Republicans ban the Democratic Party and set themselves up as sole legislators in this country. Remember, many are still itching to destroy the Fillibuster rules in the Senate, and should certain Dems try to ban things you'll see a vote on the floor allowing for majority rule in stopping debate. After that...

(Thing is, the Republican leadership has done a wonderful job in declawing and deteething the Democratic party. They've gone from fuming over how people could pick some actor over a man with experience (Reagan) to accepting that they're going to be Ghettoized ("red states/blue states") and cheated against (Florida, Ohio, possibly others) and sabotaged (Dean, post-Iowa). At some point it wouldn't surprise me to find the Democratic Party withdraw from certain states (Tennessee, Texas, Montana, etc) because of money woes, leaving the Repubs as the only national party).

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Intelligent Design -- My Take

As everyone who's paid attention to the "beginning of the world" wars, there has been a lot of talk about "Intelligent Design."

A few thing you should understand about this:
  1. What we're talking about is the "Watchmaker God" concept revived for a more scientific age.

    Thing is, there's nothing wrong with that. Sure, Genesis says "days," but the word actually used refers to "times." And besides, if a day can be a thousand years and a thousand years can be a day, why not a million? a billion? Two and a third billion years equal to a day? Remember, we're talking about God.

    And besides, using a range of billions of years allows for God to exist in a world that develops in the time frame that we observe in the world around us. Otherwise, we make of God a liar (how else do you expect billions of years in the Cosmos when you only give God six days to make everything and six thousand years to bring you into the world?) -- or a prankster at best -- for giving the world and the cosmos a thick patina of lies and misleading information.

  2. A pair of lies is being used to make this theory sound scientific.

    • First, there is the mistake of assuming that "NonZero" is equal to "Zero."

      (To understand the term "NonZero," consider the chance of me putting my fist through the table my computer is on. If you consider that both the table surface and the hand surface is not solid but a mass of negatively charged ions which repulses each other AND that the area underneath is not so much solid flesh but space with small dots of matter (electron microscope level of reality), then you will understand that, given the right circumstances, the hand can go through the table cleanly. Such a chance, however, is so remote that the term "Nonzero" would fit it. Not "Zero," but Nonzero. The difference is miniscule, but important).

      Much of the case for Intelligent Design involves the extremely narrow confines of the relations that the various aspects of the universe much fit into to allow itself to exist as it is, never mind us. Stars, galaxies, the Earth, even Humans cannot exist without the forces, their relationships, or other items existing in such narrow margins of error that one must concede that it's extremely unlikely (to state it mildly) for what we see to have come about randomly. The numbers have exponential levels high enough to implicate impossibility (one number is 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 400!!!).

      And we're to jump to the conclusion that these extremely low chances equal zero chance. Sorry, but I don't bite.

    • Then there's the idea that "if there is not enough evidence to point towards one answer, then it must be the other."

      Probably the best thing about the scientific method is that it allows the answer "I don't know" to be uttered honestly and as a sign of proper knowledge. While saying "I don't know if Carbon has the ability to bond to four different atoms" is stupid, "I don't know" makes sense for areas where doubt exists -- i.e. how our universe came about, what will happen tomorrow, etc.

  3. Intelligent Design is a decent belief. It makes sense at Sunday School, in Humanities, in Philosophy, in Religion.


    The fact is, Intelligent Design invokes the concept of "God." "God" is, logically, immeasurable and therefore outside science.

    1. If God can be proven to exist, it means He can be measured
    2. if He can be measured, He can be controlled (or reacted consciously to)
    3. if he can be controlled, he is no longer "God," but a "god." (We become gods ourselves under such a logical outcome, but that's another ball of heretical wax)

    Scientific theory, on the other hand, needs a cause and effect to decipher what's happening. It may be strict almost to the point of the word "alwaysL (acidic items burn through other items) or weak and subject to ready change (Sociology), but there's a cause and an effect invoked. Plus that cause cannot be some "Deus Ex Machina" (something brought in to fix things up) like a "God" (Pure wave universe plus "God" equals a Galaxy-filled universe made specifically for us), but somthing that was the effect of another cause.

    And, again, the term "I Don't Know" is acceptable, as it does not imply ignorance but lack of knowledge. If the knowledge is easily gotten, there remains the responsibility to find it -- not knowing is not a fault, NOT CARING TO KNOW is.

  4. Does anyone remember the "Creation Science" movement? That's where a bunch of scientists tried to fit scientific knowledge into a six-day creation event. "Creation Science" failed because the idea that billions of years of observation was in actually 6,000 years (give or take a few) and six days was too stupid for anyone to accept as anything but a belief. there's this new, shiny (and acceptable as a belief AND AS A BELIEF ONLY) theory which allows for scientific observation to stand "unchallenged." It's called "Intelligent Design," and while you need a god to believe it, you don't have the baggage of six days of work making the world, faking the past and making fools of the intelligent.

    Is it me, or does this sound like a Trojan Horse brought in to destroy science:
    1. Belief in Intelligent Design implies the existence of God (or of the Gods).
    2. Belief in God (or Gods) implies a special creation of Man (by dint of consciousness). Thus Evolution goes by the wayside, since one case of special creation implies the rest of the world made FOR man -- as do the social sciences, as it becomes impossible to study humans through animal behavior.
    3. Special creation implies a young earth built quickly, since it makes more sense for a God (or the Gods) to make the world quickly rather than spend their time making things "JUST SO." After all, why waste billions of years for a being you can make NOW? A whole slew of scientific disciplines (both hard and social) goes out the window, as time becomes suspect and impossible to trust.

    The biggest thing? Simply put, the above lineup is logical. Each step makes sense from the last. But you get to the end, and nothing makes sense.