Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A new whipping defendant

The teacher we wrote about earlier in the week has now been formally charged in the Sudan with the crime of allowing her class teddy bear to be named "Mohammed". The name, suggested by her seven year old students (in what may have been an attempt to get a substitute for a few days) carries a sentence of 40 lashes.Now comes word this morning that an appeals court in Saudi Arabia has increased the sentence of a 19 year old married girl from 100 to 200 lashes for the crime of meeting with a man (alone) who was not related to her. This particular young lady was raped by this man, as well as six others. To be fair, the rapists were convicted of rape, but it stuns the conscience that the girl is to get 200 lashes (up from the original 100 imposed by the trial judge). What centery are we living in ? Hell, what planet are we living on ? There could never have been a time in history where a woman and man meeting alone, doing nothing else, deserved a punishment of 200 lashes. And who is applying these lashes anyway ? Does Saudi Arabia have a flogger like they had on HMS Bounty ? ("all out for punishment"). Is it done in public ?

The real quetion is how much will this country stand to avoid losing the Saudis as friends ? If Islamic law is interpreted to mean that women can be bought and sold in the market place, will we just register our "astonishment" (the carefully chosen word used by the Bush administration) and go on about our business like we are dealing with civilized human beings ? We are not. Any society and any religion which imposes 200 lashes on a woman who meets with a man, by herself, is simply evil. We should no longer hide behind "tolerance" if it means that we have to put up with a world or a religion like that.

Frankly, I doubt seriously that Islam really requires such an absurd result. I think that one of the world's great religions is being dragged into the mud by the same type of garden variety fundamentalists we have running around over here. This is what happens when religious nuts run the court system. Especially when the law is not codified, but "interpreted" from something like the Koran or the Bible.

Beore I get two high handed, there are a number of things that are done in life which I think support a sentence of 200 lashes. But most of them don't happen in the Middle East. They are as follows:

1.Phone Solicitors who call during the dinner hour or after nine o'clock p.m.
2. Restaraunt owners who weasel out of a coupon through the use of a "fine print" technicality (offer not good on Tuesdays)
3. Writers who would strike during the television season
4. College football coaches who sign a multi-year contract with one school and leave the next year for another school.
5.The President of any company who installs an answering system which leaves you wandering around in telephone hell.
6.Airline employees who lie about flight delays
7.Delivery Trucks which double park during rush hour traffic, blocking one of two lanes.
8.Any Mullah who turns the Holy Koran into a mysoginstic tract to be used to enforce patriarchal domination on any society.

I will not be vacationing in Mecca any time soon.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Crucifixion of a Bear

The longer I am around religion the more I begin to understand, and even apreciate those dunderheaded atheists. Here in my home town, a baptist church would not allow an ecumenical Thanksgiving service to go on on property they own because followers of Islam would have been among those worshiping. This is an embarrasment to Southern Baptists as well as Austin,Texas. The service was moved to another location, a synagouge, where it is assumed that the tennant religion there gets along better with Mohammadens than Baptists do.

Having thoroughly embarrased Christianity, the Islamic governemnt of the Sudan then proceeded to arrest a 54 year old teacher in an English school over there, because her class of seven year olds had named the class mascot, a teddy bear, Mohammed. The teacher, who no one is hearing from, is potentially liable for 40 lashes under Sharia law.

Why the teacher , and not the children, who were responsible for the blasphemey , was arrested is not detailed in the reports I have read. From what I know about the government in the Sudan, they are fully capable of tying those kids to a stake and dispensing forty of the best to each of them. I mean, the law is the law. Calling a Teddy Bear Mohammed is a crime up with which no one should have to put. I know that more than 50% of Islamic male children have Mohammed as one of their names, but we are not dealing with a child here, we are dealing with a child's toy.

I think that the Austin Hyde Park Baptist church can learn from this. They should have allowed the ecumenical service to start and then rounded up the Islamics and dispensed forty lashes. That would show them that we mean business.They can't come into our churches and worship their God, even though it is the same as our God, we just can't have that ! Jesus, himself, in the Sermon on the Mount said, "blessed are those who whip members of other religions for praying in our some day to be formed Baptist churches. " I can't find anything he said about teddy bears, since they had not been invented yet, but you can be sure that he would have been pro teddy bear, no matter what the name, had he lived long enough.

It is well that all of this took place as we are entering the holy season of Christmas. I certainly would not want any "peace on earth nonsense" to get in anyone's way this time of year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

deja vuless

Some years ago, Monty Python did a skit about deja vu. The skit was predictable, the announcer kept introducing the topic, and defining the word deja vu. He did this over and over again. It was hilarious.This was long before I discovered that there was no such thing as deja vu.
Deja vu (a french word with a bunch of accents which I do not know how to type) means "already seen". It comes from the Greek, "parallel memory". The was not defined until the 19th century and so, as a phenomena is fairly new. The reason that no one defined it before the 19th century, is because it does not exist.

I came to the realization, some years ago, that deja vu did not exist during, what I thought at the time was, a deja vu experience. It was a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and one of the talking heads on a national morning news show was warning America that the Department of Transportation was saying that we should make extra time for plane delays during Thanksgiving because 60 million of us, or about one in five, would be traveling this Thanksgiving season. A creepy sense of deja vu swept over me. I think I have heard this before ! Maybe it was in a dream. I seem to recall these very words being said by this very person at about this same time of year. How weird.

I put the feeling aside,as I always had such feelings, until I was watching T.V. the next year, and lo and behold, the same talking head said the same thing and then followed up with the same five tips on how to deal with the issue ( It began with "give yourself extra time" and ended with "maintain your sense of humor"). Then it hit me. The reason I seemed to remember all of these things is not because I dreamed that they happened, but because they really happened. Again and again and again. I had heard this same bullshit story every years for over thirty years. After a few more years I noticed that they were interviewing the same idiot passengers in the same Atlanta and Chicago airports every year. I thought at first that these people just traveled every year, until I noticed that they never aged. some had stayed infants for years ! Some of the elderly, by my reckoning, were over 125 years old and still flying, or rather, waiting to fly.

It was not long after that I began to notice the repetitive nature, not only of morning television, but of the entire medium. Shows I only "felt like" I had seen before, I now realized were shows that I had seen before.Over and Over. As near as I can tell, there has been nothing brand new on television since sometime in the 1970s.Apparently, T.V. depends on showing us so much, so fast, that they have given up trying to do anything new and are simply depending on our memories laspsing, or, in a pinch, us believing in the concept of deja vu.Don't take my word for it. Watch the six o'clock news (anywhere in the country) on this coming Thursday night. If there is not a eerily familair story about some church or institution feeding the homeless (hundreds of them) then I will pay for your family's Thanksgiving meal. Which, by the way, someone on the same show, will tell you consists of about 5,000 calories per person.While you are at it, take a look at those homeless, look familair ? I guess so, you have been seeing them every year since the 70s. It is NOT deja vu.

We can stop this nonsense this year. Let's all focus on what we see. We don't want to fall under the spell of the T.V. networks, and for all we know, the government, who want us to forget.Did that invasion of Iraq really happen ? Didn't you have the strangest feeling that you had seen it before ? maybe tou dreamed it ?No folks, it really did happen, the govnment just wants you to think that the last five years have been deja vu ecperiences. Well we are going to stop this, before someone gets hurt.Staring this year, we are going to, in the words of the old song "forget to remember to forget". Please join me.

Some years ago, Monty Python did a skit abourt deja vu...... Caught ya ! Now what did I just say ?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Best Thanksgiving

Six days after John Kennedy was killed in Dallas, a large group of my father's relatives came to our house for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite Holiday, probably because, unlike other holidays, there was no pressure associated with it. I would show up at my mother's house (which was really easy when I lived there) watch Football and stuff myself with more food than a family in most parts of the world saw in a month.

In 1963, the country was still shattered by the JFK assaination. For years, there was nothing comparable to it . After 9/11, people know what I mean when I say that the country was in a sort of group shock. The Monday before Thanksgiving had been a national day of mourning. Thus, the work week that year was only two days.The weekend before had passed in such a blur, that I am surprised that anyone remembered Thanksgivng in time to do anything about it. The amazing thing is that I recall vividly what happened from the moment I heard that Kennedy was dead (Clay Puryear had told me at about 2:15 that a lone gun men had snuck up the fire escape of his hotel and shot him while he was at work on a speech) until I went to bed six days later. I remember very little of the rest of that year, but I have a vivid recall of those six days.

The Thanksgiving that year was wonderful. It started with one of my heroes, Captain Kangaroo,hosting three different Thanksgiving Day parades from the Treasure House.One was from New York, one Detroit and, in my memory, one is from Toronto. I can't see how one could have been from Toronto, since they have a different Thanksgiving in Canada, but there it is in my memory, Toronto.

The Captain was a great host that day. Indeed, it was the last time I ever enjoyed the Thanksgiving Day parades,now hosted by morning show talk hosts, and losers of all stripes. But that day, ah, the Captain, his erstwhile pal Mr Greenjeans, the mute Bunny Rabbit, and my personal favorite, Mr Moose, were all really on their game.I was amazed as we bounced from New York to Detroit and back to New York and then Toronto (?). Television did not do stuff like that in those days and it is impossible for anyone under 50 to understand what a big deal that was.It was touching to see the whole Treasure House gang bow their heads in prayer over their Turkey as they signed off. Years later, my brother would assure me that the old Captain was quite the prima dona asshole on the set.But I bet not that day. Then, after the parade ended in Detroit, came the first true highlight of the day, the Detroit Lion/Green Bay Packer football game. Back before John Madden got involved with it, the Lion Thanksgiving game was a lot of fun. It seemed to me that the Lions were always playing the Packers at Tiger Stadium, and that it was always snowing. I looked it up. The Lions did play the Packers on that day for 15 years in a row. I had seen them beat the Packers the year before, which may have been the only game the Packers lost that year, and could not wait to see it again. I was not disappointed. The Lions and the Pack struggled to a 13-13 tie. What a great game.The Pack was so distraught that they did not win another NFL Championship for two reasons.Fuck Lombardi.

Sometime during the first half of the game, my family started wandering in. My dad's two sisters were there with their broods and my favorite uncle, Mike and his wife Ella, primed for the annual A&M/Texas game. If Texas won that day, they would clinch the national Championship for the first time. Ella was delirious, Mike, who I believe could have cared less about the Aggies, rooted hard for them that day, as did my two cousins Bobby and Phillip (hicks from Temple, I thought).Another of my cousins, for some reason, showed up in a full baseball uniform and paid little attention to the game.

The game was one for the ages.Texas trailed until the end when they put in a second string quarterback who could actually throw the ball.Colleges did not pass in those days.Texas eked out a narrow victory that today might have been reversed by a replay official. In those days, before instatnt replay, all you could do was argue about it until the film was shown on the Six O'Clock news.

Sometime during all of that, I ate a huge meal at the "kid's table"which, when you are a kid, is the best place to be. As God is my witness I recall eating Pumpkin and Pecan pie that year. Of coure, I do that every year, so that memory may be jumbled in with about 25,000 other pie calories from other Thanksgivings.Following all of this, I continued to snack on left overs for the balance of the day and then fall into a kind of Thanksgiving food induced slumber of a nap which I have since learned has to do with the triptophane in the Turkey. I stayed up late that night and when I went to bed, slept the sleep of the blessed. That is, one with three more days off before facing the fifth grade again. My memory fades there. I recall little until my fifth grade Chridmas party, but then, what could have compared with all of that ? TWO football games and a feast in one day. If someone had told me that in 45 years each and every Saturday would offer at least eight-ten games a day, I would have never have believed them. How could they have fit all those games on only three channels ? But more is not necessarily better, just like HD can never compare with what I saw on my folk's old black and white set that day. I pity those who missed it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Sleepwalking Defense

Sleepwalking, sleepdriving and even sleepcooking have been in the news a lot recently. Apparently, a couple of sleep medications have,as a side effect, sleepwalking. Stories abound about people driving in their sleep, cooking in their sleep and myriad other things while on Ambien. The latest story is the most interesting of all, sex while asleep, and not just sex,rape.

Dexter Ford, a fifty two year old homless man in Cincinnati is charged with the rape of a 23 year old University of Cincinnati student. Ford, who has had his share of problems with aggravated arson, breaking and entering and some drug related incidents(he is HIV positive to boot) was seen near a White Castle off of I-71 on top of the alleged victim. When the police arrived at the scene, the young student was sound asleep. It turns out that she has a sleep disorder problem and the heart of the defense of Mr Ford is that the young lady consented in her sleep.Now a consent while you are asleep is not really a consent. But then again, when someone says yes to sex, you very seldom think to ask her if she is sleepwalking, so Mr Ford may walk this thing, especially if the victim does not recall any of the events before waking up at the White Castle.

I used to sleepwalk a little as a child. I think most kids do. My friend Eric once pretended to sleepwalk onto the stage of a comedy club, where he disrupted the act of a hypnotist who was opening for Rosie O'Donnell. He was quickly shown the door.I bet that most people do some sleepwalking at some time in their lives. The fact of the matter is, there is probably a good deal of sleep sex going on. It would explain a lot of things that I have seen in life. But at some point don't you wake up ? I mean, what are the odds of you leaving your dorm room and wandering out the highway to a White Castle, having sex with a homeless person thirty years older than yourself and then going back into active sleep until the police arrive ? This seems like a fairly remote possibility. A better sleepwalking defense would be for Ford to say that he was sleepwalking and can't be held responsible for what he was doing. If he was taking Ambien, this would give both parties a deep pocket to shoot at in a law suit. Now we would be getting somewhere.

At any rate, sleepwalking is about to make a comeback. When I was a kid , you could not watch a cartoon or a situation comedy that at some point did not involve sleepwalking. It has been years since that has been a standard story line.People always walked with their arms extended. No one who sleep walks ever really does that. I don't know how that got started, maybe just to clue in the audience that the character was sleep walking. But there are thousdands of comedic possibilities with sleepwalking and now that people really are sleepwalking in large numbers, I expect that television and the movies will exploit them (the comedic possibilities, not the sleepwalkers). We would be seeing them now if it were not for this damn writer's strike.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Saints Day

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas was ordered to pay $10.9 million to the parents of an American Marine who died in the middle east. The picketers were telling American that their sons and duaghters would continue to die as long as we tolerate homosexuality. This story falls under the category of the unbearably repulsive. You ask yourself, are there really people who would picket a funeral ? of a dead soldier ? because they hate homosexuality ? I googled the church and pulled up the web site (believe me, no one could make this up) The site had a long biblical diatribe against sodomites. It also had such interesting links to memorials, as one proclaiming that Matthew Shepard has been in hell for 3077 days.The memorial has a picture of the late Mr Shepard surrounded by flames. How can there be such hate in the world ? The pastor is a yahoo named Fred Phelps who dropped out of West Point in the 50s after a "religious experience" and finished his education (?) at Bob Jones University. I have not read enough of the web site (I keep throwing up) to know what set Pastor Fred off against homosexuals.

I don't know much about God, but I know this, God allowed a homosexual to create one of the greatest of all Christian religious monuments, the Sistine Chapel. That is good enough evidence for me as to what God thinks of homosexuals. I am fairly certain that Pastor Bob Phelps is not going to be remembered as longs as Michaelangelo.

This is a real test for me. The Jesus I have read about tells us to love our enemies. Believe me, if a Christian can love Pastor Bob, he/she is going way beyond what Jesus had in mind when he said that. But, for Christ's sake, I'll give it a try. I am going to love Pastor Bob. I am going to try to turn him around on this issue by e-mailing him daily. If I get any replies I'll print them. As I tend to be a bit sarcastic, he might not take me too seriously.But I am going to try.