Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

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Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Remember how WW2 started? The Germans felt "compelled" to mount a military response to the dastardly, unprovoked "attack" by the Polish army on a radio station just over the German-Polish border. Shortly thereafter we were treated to scenes of mounted Polish cavalry riding with lances poised into the teeth of Nazi panzer units and machine guns.

Remember the Maine?

How about the Turner Joy?


Warmongers have occasionally felt the need for a pretext. They have never wanted for one, even if it had to be manufactured out of whole cloth.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Christian Coaches

It can hardly have escaped most people's attention that both of the coaches in the Super Bowl, Tony Dungy of the winning Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the losing Chicago Bears, were not only black men but overtly and unabashedly Christian.

Some have considered their frequent PDR (public display of religiosity) to be unseemly, as if they really expected God to choose sides. (Sorry, Lovie, must not have prayed hard enuf.)

Not me.

Football coaches aren't government officials. They don't speak for the government, and nobody should take their words as being endorsed by the government. As private individuals, Dungy and Smith have a 1st Amendment right to say anything they damn well please, and expressions of religion are PARTICULARLY protected. No harm, no foul. Ya still gotta play the game.

I can't get worked up very much about what athletes say motivates them. I've long since reconciled myself to the fact that being a pro athlete (or a coach, for that matter) requires not just physical talent but long hours, high tolerance for pain and suffering, and a respect for authority (so as to fit into a team structure) that borders on fascism. The rules are rigid, and you get scorn rather than praise for ignoring or forgetting them, let alone flouting them.

During the last presidential campaign, John Dean (of Watergate fame) wrote a book which, among other things, reported what psychologists had deduced about the personalities of people on the Religious Right. They called them "authoritarian personalities" and said they came in 2 main varieties:
  (1) authoritarian leaders, who wanted to run the whole show and boss people around and who generally didn't play well with other authoritarian leaders; and
  (2) authoritarian followers, who wanted to be told what right, what was wrong, what to think, and how to behave. This group outnumbered the authoritarian leaders by thousands to one.

In short, the sort of authoritarian personality that's a natural fit for the Religious Right is also a natural fit for a pro athlete.

Contrast this with its opposite number, the Hollywood Limousine Liberal. These folks get rewarded not for conformity but for originality and creativity. Consequently, their minds are open to all sorts of wild ideas, like colonic irrigation, ESP, alien abduction, and Scientology. But this same openness and empathy leads them to be very sympathetic to liberal social causes, especially any featuring small mammals with big eyes.

So my sports heroes are mainly fascists, and my favorite movie stars are mainly flakes.

Fortunately, I don't make my decisions based on role models.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Nose Tampons

In the last couple of days, I’ve learned that the human body does indeed comprise mainly water — enuf water, in fact, to soggify an entire box of 2-ply tissues as it’s continually excreted from the nose and eyes.

Yes, it’s the dreaded winter cold. And I’m reminded of the old medical maxim that a cold, aggressively treated with the latest developments in modern medicine, will go away in only a week; whereas, if it’s left to run its natural course, it will linger on as long as 7 days.

But my continual recourse to boxes of tissues — sometimes just barely in time to catch a sudden runnel, sometimes just a tad too late — finally made me think that there had to be a better way. “How else could one staunch a slow, steady flow of bodily fluids?” I wondered.

And then it hit me: nose tampons.

Why hasn’t anyone come up with this before?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. People would look silly walking around with 2 little strings dangling down across their upper lips. Not to worry. Nose tampons would come in pairs, so they could be strung together like idiot mittens and form a little loop from nostril to nostril. Then they’d look vaguely like the white cord that leads from your iPod to your earbuds, and you could pretend you were cool. Who knows, somebody might actually buy it.

Some people might object that regular tampons are effective in part because they don’t interfere with the vital process of breathing. But this is inconsequential. Face it (as I’ve done of late): You weren’t breathing thru your stopped-up nose anyway, you were breathing thru your mouth. No dif.

Now, I myself am not an entrepreneur. Somebody else is gonna have to take up the challenge of implementing this idea, coming up with a brand name (Notex? Naspax?), manufacturing the critters, and marketing them. All I ask is a small royalty, say a penny a pair. And a lifetime supply of the product.

I figure I’ll make enuf money in the 1st year alone to move to Hawaii, where I’ll never have to use my own brainstorm again.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Let's HAVE That Filibuster!

Currently the US Senate is considering a range of different possible reactions to El Presidente Bush's plan for a troop surge in Iraq. Most of these are in the nature of non-binding resolutions, which the White House has promised to ignore. Even so, senators are writhing thru the agonies of the damned trying to craft language that isn't unduly critical of the Administration's policies so far, lest they inadvertently wound the tender sensibilities of the arrogant, megalomaniacal butchers responsible for said policies.

Another class of proposals are those that would actually accomplish something, like cutting off the funding for the war. The chances for these are dismissed out of hand because, it is pointed out, Republicans have 49 seats in the Senate, and they need only 41 to be able to forestall a cloture attempt.

(For those of you who never had the benefit of a civics course -- something which, alas, has gone the way of the passenger pigeon in most of today's high schools -- "cloture" is when the Senate votes to close off debate. This is viewed as unsporting and therefore requires a super-majority of 3/5 of the 100 senators to adopt. Otherwise, any given senator can just go on talking as long as he or she wants about something. And if that "something" involves a bill the senator is trying to keep from coming to a vote, the prolonged debate is called a "filibuster", from the Spanish word for "freebooter" or pirate.)

OK, fine, say I. HAVE that filibuster.

It's damn well about time we had an open national debate on this war, and what better place than the floor of the United States Senate?

Advance a motion to cut off funding for the war in Iraq as of, say, the 4th of July, then see who can possibly find something to say against it. Take down their names and use videos of their comments during their next bids for re-election.

Meanwhile, senators on the rational, compassionate, fiscally responsible side of the issue can lay out all of the many, many, many reasons why we should bail out of the black hole that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld lied us into.

And don't let up. Don't let the Senate take up any other business at all until this issue is resolved. Let the government grind to a halt, if need be, while the filibusterers rail on in their defense of the First Moron. Let's see how long they're willing to keep it up.

People are dying in Iraq, the federal treasury is being looted by the kleptocrats in charge of the Executive Branch, the Bill of Rights is being shredded, and the poor, wussy members of the US Senate are afraid that they're going to have to listen to each other TALK for a while. Awwww, poor BAbies!

= = = = = =
Jaw-jaw is better than war-war.
-- Winston Churchill