Friday, February 29, 2008

Orphan no more

My Common Ties submission found an artist to render it and is an orphan no more. It went live this morning in their new 20 questions format. Just to preface, I didn't lie but the guy who chased me down and held a gun on me thought I had.

The question: What was the most terrifying moment in your life? The answer.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spring's busting to burst

You can tell when spring is near because men lose their minds -- and so do some women. I've not lost mine yet but I think a couple men may drive me in that direction.

I decided to do a bit of spring cleaning early this year and get rid of some pernicious suitors, specifically some men who have lately come out of the woodwork, so to speak, to change my mind and my heart. I also cleared the way of a man who wouldn't make up his mind. I have little patience with fools and schmucks. But to think one guy would think my brush-off feisty and a come-on is proof he's either lost his mind or is deep in spring rut before the rut begins. Ye gods!

On Saturday, one year ago, my father died and as the time gets closer I feel sad and miss him. I also feel that I don't want to waste any more time because I may die tomorrow or on Saturday or some day soon with fools and schmucks sucking the very life and excitement out of me. That's why I decided to make my feelings known. There's nothing like remembering a loved one's death to remind you how much there is still to be lived.

So today I went to the east side of town, a place I venture to visit only once a month when I pick up the ham club newsletter at the printer's, and met a few guys for an afternoon of ham radio exams, cookies, and coffee (I don't eat cookies and I don't drink coffee). Out of the group, only one failed to get their license and I met a gentleman from Columbus, Ohio, my hometown, who graduated from Eastmoor High School. He wouldn't tell me which year, but I'll bet it was at least 1960 or thereabouts. His name is Rick (just what I need, another Rick in my life) and the corporation he works for offered him twenty thousand dollars to put together a radio station and ham radio classes for licensing. Now that's what I call corporate intelligence. The radio station is state of the art and not quite done yet, but I did get pictures and a bit of video. Of the two women there, one got her license and plans to go on to get her General license now that she has her Technician's license. We definitely need more women in amateur radio and I'm glad they're both determined to keep going.

It was a beautiful day today full of good friends, pleasant acquaintances and even a lovely drive -- even if it was to the east side of town -- with the air freshened by a cool breeze and full of clear Colorado blue skies and sheepish clouds meandering across the sky in front of Pike's Peak's snowy face, the kind of day that reminds me what it's like when the sap begins to rise and makes me glad I live here. Can the forsythia be far behind?

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wired for sound

For my birthday Beanie sent me her old iPod since Ants gave her a brand new one for Xmas. I asked for it and I got it. I finally got around to getting a battery (she sent it with a dead battery) and ear buds (no ear phones either) and last weekend I plugged it into the laptop (she did include the USB cord), figured out what was on there, what I wanted to keep and then downloaded some audiobooks and music and copied them onto the iPod. I'm ready to rock and roll and I figured out what has been missing for so long -- music. Music motivates me to move and dance and even clean house. That's my line and I'm sticking to it. Music lifts my spirits and makes me feel as energetic as watching a movie with dancing when for a few minutes (or several hours) I feel like I did when I used to go out dancing during the disco years and before when I danced in musicals. And all this time the only thing wrong was that I needed a soundtrack. Go figure.

In this morning's emails (I took the day off so I'm taking it slow and easy today) I received my usual fare from AltReligions and was surprised to find out that The Golden Compass bombed at the theaters and the other two movies in the trilogy will not be made and all because of right wing Christians who conducted a smear campaign. An article that cites Mike Nichols disgust and dismay at the mob censorship and misinformation on the Internet was an eye opener. On the one hand, as a democratic country (less so as time goes on) we all should support free speech even if the speech is counter to our desires and beliefs. It's the exercise of free speech that keeps us marginally democratic. But does that mean anyone has to right to ruin the chances of a good children's adventure movie just because it might show religion in a bad light? Yes.

What is really specious is the claim that the film "...was a covert plot to advance the cause of Satanism..." Give me a break. Satan is a Christian idea and construct and not part of most of the world's religions and the movie is a very toned down version of the books. The books do not espouse Satan in any way. It's like the furor over a scene in the third book, The Amber Spyglass that supposedly promoted adolescent sex. Of course the woman who made the complaint had never read the passage she was complaining about and decrying. Sound familiar? It's another case of misinformation like the woman who wanted the Harry Potter books banned from the library because they promoted Satanism and taught children witchcraft. It's amazing how these religious zealots see Satan everywhere undermining their plans to spread the message of Christianity and Jesus to the darkest corners of the earth. Too bad they don't turn the lights on in the dark corners of their minds, especially when it comes to politicians like Mike Huckabee.

As an American I have a big problem with anyone who wants to lead this country and puts their personal religious agendas ahead of their job as head of a country founded on religious freedom. Just like a have a problem with any candidate that uses their sex or color as a platform or a stick to bash their opponents. For instance, Hillary's new campaign slogans: "'We Want Experience, Not An Experiment and The White House Is No Place for Training Wheels." I've got news for Hillary. Some of the best presidents have had little or no experience in politics wheeling and dealing and undercutting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Anyone ever hear of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?

Both men were failures. Washington fought in the French and Indian War and failed miserably, losing nearly his entire company in a battle that he should have won. The first few engagements of the Revolutionary War were also big losers with Washington leading. The tide did turn and he came out victorious, but not without a lot of help. As for being President, he didn't have a clue but he wanted to do a good job and lead the people of the nation that had put their hearts and trust in him. Lincoln was a failure at many businesses before he ran for office. When he was elected President, he had no experience, but he led this country through the difficult years of the Civil War and paved the way to heal the wounds of the war that split our country and families apart.

Right now, in this political climate, I think we'd do better to elect someone who doesn't have the stench of political glad handing and power brokering on them. We might get a fresh perspective and a better deal with someone who is willing to work for us instead of for themselves. Come to that, we should abolish the electoral college and the two-party system. Then we'd see changes and people who will work for us and not against us instead of millionaires who want to feather their own nests and push their own agendas. We might get another Washington or Lincoln or someone even better. Or I may be a dreamer who still believes in a Republic and a nation of the people, by the people and for the people and I should just eat my poisoned mushrooms.

In the meantime, music take me away and bring me peace and life.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is that all there is?

After seeing The Golden Compass I had to get the books and read them, especially when there was such furor over the way the movie changed the basic themes of the books. Now I get it and I wonder why the trilogy were sold as children's books, other than that the main character, Lyra Belacqua, is a young girl. The themes are much deeper and more complex than a simple fantasy or adventure story, which is not to say that children wouldn't enjoy the books simply for the story. In a way, it's ironic that such a weighty subject is classified as children's literature when the basic theme is that religion, Christianity, and the Catholic Church specifically, is based on the belief that we should remain children in order to be rewarded with heaven.

I read two of the interviews referenced on Philip Pullman's website and Christianity Today focused on the subject of Dust and the religious themes in His Dark Materials. One thing that Pullman brought out is that Christianity is based on the idea that the only good comes from being Christian and that the idea of morality, generosity, sacrifice, honesty, happiness, and ethics can only come through the church and thus through God. All other instances of virtue are tainted by the association of humanity unsanctioned by belief and faith. So what did humanity do before God came and made all virtues holy? How did humanity exist, prosper or even act morally and ethically until they were "saved"?

More and more it seems to me that religion seeks to put humanity back into the Garden of Eden naked and dependent on a Master to feed and house them and that to religious leaders free will is another name for giving up sovereignty over existence. You have a mind, but unless you allow God or the church to tell you how to use it you will misuse it. You will question and that isn't allowed. And look where that kind of thinking got western civilization during the Dark Ages. It's like Svengali has grown to infinite size and proportions with an infinite appetite for control. The very idea demeans the whole of human existence. Are we merely puppets?

There has been a rise in movies and on television of the idea that this existence, this mundane, sometimes banal existence is something to be cherished and enjoyed, but religion would have it otherwise. Build up your treasures in heaven not on earth where moth and rust corrupt. Give up your life destroying another religion or people and you will live in Paradise waited on hand and foot by virgins. Sublimate your desires, your pleasure in life, your very mind and you will be rewarded. (Isn't that just another name for slacker?) If that is the case, then why are we here? What purpose do we serve except to exalt a disembodied Creator whose roller coaster moods seem more bipolar than holy? Why bother to exist at all if our only function is to worship and turn our energies, our minds, our very souls over to the church and God so they can enjoy living on this earth in their bodies? Are we slaves or are we missing the point? Have we been led down the garden path blindfolded to be slaughtered so that it is as if we never existed?

Is that all there is?