Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Have you ever noticed that you can pretty much pull any quote out of your ass, attribute it to Ben Franklin, and people will believe you? It's true. Try it some time. Here's a script that works for me everytime. It does help if your audience has been drinking.

"People suck. You know who first said that? Ben Franklin. True story. Some idiot spilled ink all over the first draft of the Articles of Confederation and he lost his mind. Yelled at Jefferson. Swung around and knocked Adams' wig clean off. It was quite a scene. And then, right toward the end of his expletive session, he just sighed and said 'people suck.' History sure is amazing, isn't it?"

Anyhow, my good buddy Ben is back - and in rare form. His sharp, amusing tirades can be accessed by using the Voice of America link in my left sidebar. Turns out I'm not the only monkey with a typewriter. This week Ben hammered out something truly wonderful and I have asked his permission to share it here because, well, I haven't afforded you people much substance of late and figured if I had more time, I would want to say something like this.

So without further ado, I give you Ben Franklin...on George Bush's ridiculous veto of stem cell research.

*************** FROM VOICE OF AMERICA ******************

George Bush recently enacted his first veto. Unless you've been hiding under a rock, or bombed out by the Israeli war machine, you know that the veto was in response to legislation that proposed increased federal assistance to support stem cell research. If you failed to read beyond the first two sentences of the articles about this veto, you may not know that his reasoning for enacting the veto was to prevent the destruction of human life. I'm paraphrasing here, but essentially George stated that the destruction of human life is never acceptable, not even if the end result is the potential benefit to other existing lives. And so, veto it was.

Now the paradox here, naturally, is that we've invaded Iraq, and, in the process, killed nearly 2,500 US combat personnel, as well as nearly 40,000 Iraqi's, both insurgent, and innocent civilians. The impetus for that invasion, as you well, know, was to promote democracy and peace in the middle east. Further, you've probably heard that President Bush has failed to denounce Israel's invasion of Lebanon, as Israel has a right, in Bush's words, to defend herself and protect her citizens. The result of Israel's invasion has been the slaughter of nearly 600 Lebanese, mostly innocent civilians, many of them children.

So, let's recap, and be very clear on this point. It's never acceptable to destroy human life, even if the result is potentially stunning medical advances, but it IS okay to destroy human life, if the result is potentially increasing American hegemony abroad. So, in short, if the vocal minority of the religious right condemns it, it's a BAD way to kill humans (even if they aren't legally protected by the constitution), but if the religious right is quiet on the subject, it's a GOOD way to kill humans (and also get to sell more offensive weapons to Israel! woohoo!)

Are you confused? I sure am. Remember, this is a guy who professes to be born again - one would think that would allow for a fairly clear understanding of "thou shalt not kill" - unless, of course, it's darker skin folk half-way around the world. If they don't worship the same God, then they don't really count, it would seem. It also sure as heck doesn't help that they can't vote here (though, to be fair, neither can zygotes).

What I REALLY want to know is, what will Ralph Reed think of stem cell research if he's struck with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, or any number of cancers? Well, I can't say what Ralphie boy will do, but I'll grin. Couldn't happen to a nicer racist. Well, it COULD happen to Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, but they assure me that their direct lines to God would preclude anything like that happening to them. Also, Strom Thurmond is already dead, so there's that.


I think I've got it all figured out. You know how self-cleaning ovens clean themselves by baking everything inside to a wafery crisp so that, afterward, they can be wiped out with a moist rag? God noticed a lot of filth was building up inside his beautiful blue oven and decided it was time to clean it out. So He's got the earth on broil right now. And when He's done baking everything, He'll send a bunch of moist hurricanes and tsunamis through to sponge out all the crumbs.

Our fine oven should be sparkling clean shortly so the good Lord can get to work on firing up a whole new human stew...from scratch.

This batch didn't quite turn out the way He had hoped.

Monday, July 31, 2006


KFYE-FM in Fresno was jamming Christian music, broadcasting sermons, and sharing Bible stories until about a week ago.

Then came a radical format change.

Now it’s "Porn Radio — all sex radio, all the time." No joke. They actually switched from Christian broadcasting to pump and grind, suggesting people under 21 not listen because of the sexual nature of the content. What exactly is porno radio? Basically, it's little more than songs with suggestive titles, such as "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" by The Beatles, "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye, and "Nasty" by Janet Jackson. And if the song isn't porno enough, they'll spice it up with recorded moans and groans. Nice.

Imagine the poor sap tuning in for an inspirational lift and hearing “Oh God!”

That's a religious experience of a different kind.


Somehow I managed to go for a jog this morning. I usually just keep rolling over and rolling over until I’m late enough for work I end up brushing my teeth in the shower. Today I spontaneously swung my legs to the floor, stretched my arms out, yawned wide, blinked my eyes a number of times to lubricate the contact lenses I never take out, and swayed forward to stand. Yes, today I decided to start things off with a jog on the lakefront.

The first thing I noticed when I pushed through the revolving door downstairs was the heat. Seems the scientists are onto something here – it definitely feels hotter than normal these days. Here it was in the mid 80’s at 7am – and oppressively humid. Yes, temperatures have been fluctuating cyclically for millenia...but scientists say current trends are unprecedented in over 650,000 years according to measurable data on the global climate. But the oil lobby spends a lot of money and spins a lot of bullshit to keep doubt circulating in the mainstream media, so it's unlikely anyone will take these record highs seriously.

I loped down the steps and hopped into a slow trot, pushing play on my MP3 player and picking up the pace as the Dandy Warhols fired up Bohemian Like You.

I normally don’t think a whole lot when I’m jogging – it’s my Zen time. I like to clear my mind of everything and everyone and just jog. I usually concentrate on breathing, or the pressure of my soles beating the concrete over and over again. Sometimes I’ll stare at the lake, a shimmering sea of diamonds dancing below the early morning sun. Or I’ll follow the yellow line on the edge of the bike path like it's a rope pulling me to safety. But for some reason I wasn’t able to zone out today. I was noticing things.

The first thing I noticed was the trash. Everywhere I turned there were mounds of garbage - refuse people leave in the sand when they come to the beach. It actually disgusted me to think of the thousands of people enjoying the beach without throwing away their plastic cups, paper plates, and barbecue rib bones. Seagulls fluttered about noisily, pecking at the mess and shitting all over the sand where people would be spreading out their towels later in the afternoon. There ought to be a law against littering, I thought...before remembering that there ARE laws against littering. People just don’t care enough to obey them, and the result is a filthy public beach.

I noticed park district workers in jeans and work boots climbing off their trucks to begin a long day in the sun. I suddenly remembered back to when I worked for the park district, and later the highway department. We were always the first ones to work in the morning, our trucks and tractors rambling down paved park paths in search of a little shade. The whole day was spent mowing, weeding, painting, and cleaning up after people whose parents never taught them how. It was a thankless job that paid okay for a kid in college trying to scrape together some cash over the summer. These guys were clearly full-timers and I wondered how they made ends meet.

I noticed a woman hugging a massive tree. She was in her late fifties and wore purple sweats, a blue visor and broad black sunglasses. As I jogged past her I tried not to stare, but had to look to be sure she was actually doing what I thought she was doing. And she was. Her arms only made it half way around the cracked bark of this giant, with her cheek pressed lovingly against its side. This was no environmentalist, I thought. This was someone who had lost someone special…someone clinging to a past she refused let go, likely visiting a place she and a loved one had spent time together. I felt sad for her – but happy for the tree.

I noticed a homeless man slumped forward on a park bench in the shade. His head hung forward and he appeared to be sleeping. He’d positioned himself carefully in this manner to avoid being roused by officers on bike patrol. A bottle in a paper bag peered up at him from the ground between his feet – waiting for him to wake and welcome another hot day with a warm gulp of cheap poison.

I noticed the thick black discharge from the exhaust of a city bus and wondered how this kind of pollution was tolerated. The soot was so thick I thought I could see it fall and settle on nearby park benches. A rancid smell cloaked everyone and everything within 50 yards as it hissed and sputtered slowly down the street toward its next stop. This made me notice all of the other cars on the road and I thought of how each one was emitting similarly noxious fumes – most of which were just as harmful to the environment, only less visible.

I made the turn at Fullerton and jogged back home, my eyes to the path so I wouldn’t notice anything else. But it wasn’t long before I was looking around again. I noticed more trash, pollution, homelessness, and human suffering. People sleeping on the ground. Bottles, wrappers, and glass every ten feet. A soft gray haze oozing like a bubble of dirt around Chicago’s majestic skyline. A woman crying in a parked car. Here I was in one of the richest neighborhoods of one of the largest cities in one of the greatest nations in the history of civilization – and I felt surrounded by filth and misery.

Life has always been a struggle. From our earliest days, we've been fighting the elements, disease, pollution, poverty, and one another to make it. And those of us here today have made it. We are the result of thousands and thousands of years of people making it - somehow. But now we're making it a mess. A sting lyric buzzed into my head: "What good is a used up world and how can it be worth having?" In fact, my whole morning experience felt vaguely familiar, so when I got home I looked up the song:

All This Time

I looked out across the river today
I saw a city in the fog and an old church tower
Where the seagulls play
I saw the sad shire horses walking home
In the sodium light
I saw two priests on the ferry
October geese on a cold winter's night
And all this time, the river flowed
Endlessly to the sea.

Two priests came round our house tonight
One young, one old, to offer prayers for the dying
To serve the final rite
One to learn, one to teach
Which way the cold wind blows
Fussing and flapping in priestly black
Like a murder of crows

And all this time, the river flowed
Endlessly to the sea
If I had my way
I'd take a boat from the river and I'd bury the old man
I'd bury him at sea

Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth
Better to be poor than a fat man in the eye of a needle
And as these words were spoken I swear I hear The old man laughing
'What good is a used up world, and how could it be worth having'

And all this time the river flowed
Endlessly like a silent tear
And all this time the river flowed
Father, if Jesus exists, then how come he never lived here.

The teacher told us, the Romans built this place
They built a wall and a temple, an edge of the empire Garrison town
They lived and they died, they prayed to their gods
But the stone gods did not make a sound
And their empire crumbled, 'til all that was left
Were the stones the workmen found

And all this time the river flowed
In the falling light of a northern sun
If I had my way I'd take a boat from the river
Men go crazy in congregations
But they only get better
One by one One by one...


There is truth in history. Feels like we have ignored it long enough.


What's in a name? This dude apparently wants a new one and is willing to pay for a good one. He'll even pay YOU if you can recommend a name he likes.

Is it worth $25,000 to submit a name? I'd say so. He's going to narrow the list down to his 10 favorites and let the public vote. whichever one they choose will become his new legal name. Not sure what exactly he's going for here, but it's certainly worth a couple minutes of your time. And I thought naming my left nut was hard...


Here’s a short movie clip that goes a long way toward explaining what the hell is going on in the White House.

It's in German, but hilarious.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


At a glance.

China 1,306,313,800
India 1,080,264,400
USA 295,734,100
Indonesia 241,973,900
Brazil 186,112,800
Pakistan 162,419,900
Bangladesh 144,319,600
Russia 143,420,300
Nigeria 128,772,000
Japan 127,417,200
Mexico 106,202,900
Philippines 87,857,500
Vietnam 83,535,600
Germany 82,431,400
Egypt 77,505,800
Ethiopia 73,053,300
Turkey 69,660,600
Iran 68,017,900
Thailand 65,444,400
France 60,656,200
UK 60,441,500

Looks like we've got a lot of fucking to do to catch up. Tell the bartender to keep the beers coming...


Would the war on terror end if America bombed Israel?

I know it's unlikely that this would ever happen, but think about it. We'd instantly become best friends with every single country in the Middle East. Islamists, Arabs, Muslims, Sunni, Shia, blah blah blah - all the religious and ethnic groups in the region would be completely in love with us. They'd probably give us all the oil we want for as long as we want it.

I don't advocate this, of course, just thinking out loud. Seems in many ways our curious allegiance to Israel hurts us more than it helps. If we weren't in their back pocket (and they in ours), we could take the 3 BILLION dollars a year that we GIVE them for no good reason and do something nice here at home - like get some new curtains, cure cancer, or teach little Johnny to fucking read.