Monday, November 28, 2005


From Who Gives A $%&t? in Mother Jones magazine:

*** On average, Americans think that 24% of the federal budget goes toward foreign aid. Only 0.9% actually does.

Last fall, the U.N. requested aid for Niger and got almost no response. At that time, $1 per day per person would have solved Niger’s food crisis. Now $80 is needed.

Americans spend $8 billion on Christmas decorations, almost 4 times what they give to protect animals and the environment.

If the estate tax is repealed, charities stand to lose about $10 billion a year.

52% OF individual giving goes to religious institutions. Schools get 7%.

Campus Crusade for Christ raised $380 million last year—more than PBS, the Boy Scouts, and Easter Seals combined.

U.S. donations made thus far per victim of 9/11, Katrina, and the tsunami, respectively: $736,771; $2,827; $1,173.

Focus on the Family’s $2.2 million in tsunami aid included 1 million copies of Dr. Dobson’s When God Doesn’t Make Sense.

FEMA’S website listed Operation Blessing, Pat Robertson’s faith-based organization, second on its list of charities that would speed relief to Katrina victims.

Last year, Operation Blessing gave half its donations—$885,000—to the Christian Broadcasting Network, of which Robertson is chairman. ***

What does all of this mean?

  • Americans think they are more charitable than they really are
  • Nationalism drives where charity goes more than anything
  • Faith-based charity, while obviously doing great good, receives more than its fair share of the pie
  • Too much of faith-based charity goes towards political and idealogical ends, instead of altruistic ones
  • Buying one's way into heaven is apparently more important than educating your children. It's better to keep them stupid and compliant.

"You cannot hope to build a better world without improving individuals. We all must work for our own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity." -- Marie Curie

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Political Songs of the Day

Today, you get a two-fer today of political (in this case environmental) songs. The first one from REM and my college days and the second one from an artist recommended to me when I was on my Sierra Club trip, John Prine:

John Prine photographed by © Marc Marnie of STAGEFRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
January 20, 2000 by Marc Marnie
taken at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow Scotland

REM -- Fall on Me
There’s a problem, feathers iron
Bargain buildings, weights and pullies
Feathers hit the ground before the weight can leave the air
Buy the sky and sell the sky and tell the sky and tell the sky

Fall on me (what is it up in the air for) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (if it’s there for long) (it’s gonna fall)
Fall on me (it’s over it’s over me) (it’s gonna fall)

There’s the progress we have found (when the rain)
A way to talk around the problem (when the children reign)
Building towered foresight (keep your conscience in the dark)
Isn’t anything at all (melt the statues in the park)
Buy the sky and sell the sky and bleed the sky and tell the sky

(repeat chorus)

Fall on me

Well I could keep it above
But then it wouldn’t be sky anymore
So if I send it to you you’ve got to promise to keep it whole

Buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky
And ask the sky and ask the sky

(repeat chorus 2x)

Fall on me

(repeat chorus)

Fall on me

(repeat chorus)

John Prine -- Paradise
When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Repeat Chorus:

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

Repeat Chorus:

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

Repeat Chorus:

We are shitting on this earth and our government rolls blissfully and ignorantly on:

The Big Thaw: Global Disaster Will Follow If the Ice Cap on Greenland Melts

Bush Administration Shuns Conference On Strategies to Build on Kyoto Pact

Saturday, November 19, 2005


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds." -- Theodore Roosevelt

7 Shallow Things I am Thankful For

A DVR. Live television is boring.

My digital camera and digital video camera. The revolution will be televised, baby!

Being able to wander around the Valley, goofing around with customers' computers, enjoy doing it, and get paid for it.

Being able to wear shorts and a t-shirt for 11 months of the year.

Air America Radio. It weened me off of my addiction to sports talk radio. I think that's an upgrade?!

2008 is only 3 years away.

Blogging. Never has so much been said about so little. But it sure beats ranting to people on the street ... and safer.

7 Genuine Things I am Thankful For

A son that reminds me daily that I'm at least pretty good at one thing ... being a dad.

A wife that supports me in whatever I do ... no matter how nutty.

Great friends (E & J) that have always been there.

A family that despite our differences would help at the drop of a hat.

I'm in my 8th year of not working for the "man". And doing a great job on my own.

My blog friends. I truly value the discussions we have. I learn something new from you guys every day.

Going on the Sierra Club service trip. One of the best vacations that I've ever had. Learned a lot and made some friendships that hopefully I will have for a long time.

And on a lighter note ...

"Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for - annually, not oftener - if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments." -- Mark Twain

"I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land." -- Jon Stewart

Friday, November 18, 2005

Are we good?

"America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." -- Alexis de Tocqueville

"I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my lifetime." -- Albert Einstein

Are we truly a great country any more? Are we doing good? Are these the hallmarks of a great country:

  • Encouraging freedom internationally (Iraq) while suppressing it at home (Patriot Act)
  • Deposing a leader because he used torture ... then advocating it for our own use
  • Citing that same leader's use of chemical weapons as another reason for going to war ... while not being forthright about our use of phosphorus as an incendiary weapon

When did we stop being good? Has it been a steady decline over decades or a recent development?

Did it start with Reagan and the encouragement of the "ownership society"? Gordon Gekko's character in Wall Street that said, "Greed is good". But it was actually famous insider trader Ivan Boesky that inspired the quote with his own, "Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself." It's the trickle down that never actually trickles down.

Making the most money should not be the pinnacle of human achievement. Making sure that everyone can share in the prosperity should be. Call it socialist if you want. That word doesn't scare me. The perfect society is a mixture of styles.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Phoenix New Times 10K

For some unknown reason, I chose to punish myself this last weekend and ran in the Phoenix New Times 10K with no real prep (short of some bike riding). This is the 4th or 5th time I've ran the New Times. It was the 30th annual running of this great race and it benefitted the Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

While I was an embarrasment to my gender, family, friends, you name it, our friend Joanie Burley kicked butt, finishing a good 12 minutes ahead of me. My accomplishments were more modest: not stopping to walk, not puking, not coughing up a lung. (I'm #4079 near the center of the picture)

The kids (Alex and Julianna) ran in the Kids Dash and had a blast and were much more entertaining than us old fogeys:


"The newspaper reader says: this party will ruin itself if it makes errors like this. My higher politics says: a party which makes errors like this is already finished - it is no longer secure in its instincts." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Republican poster boy, Senator Rick Santorum, must have forgotten to read the talking points. He accidentally let slip some wisdom:

From the Beaver County Times: U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Saturday that he doesn't believe that intelligent design belongs in the science classroom.

Santorum's comments to The Times are a shift from his position of several years ago, when he wrote in a Washington Times editorial that intelligent design is a "legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in the classroom."

But on Saturday, the Republican said that, "Science leads you where it leads you."

... Though Santorum said he believes that intelligent design is "a legitimate issue," he doesn't believe it should be taught in the classroom, adding that he had concerns about some parts of the theory.

And directly countering comments made by Pat Robertson a few days ago that suggested that God would abandon the people of Dover for voting out pro-Intelligent Design board members, Santorum said:

"I disagree. I don't believe God abandons people,"

You have to wonder if Santorum and other Republican congressmen are taking the lesson of Jerry Kilgore to heart. Maybe it's time to throw Bush under the bus. In a sign of some kind of progress (it's debatable how much), the Senate passed a statement calling for a greater accounting of the White House's Iraq policy. Non-binding and significantly weaker than a Democratic-proposed version, it's still a sign that the Right is feeling the heat a bit to not follow lock-step with whatever Bush does.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


On Laura of Sarchasm's cue, I'm doing this silly survey. Feel free to continue the chain if you're up to it.

1. What color are your kitchen plates? White w/ silly flowers (I think)

2. What book(s) are you reading now? The Truth (w/ Jokes)(Al Franken), God's Politics(Jim Wallis)

3. What or who is on your mouse pad? no mousepad

4. What's your favorite board game? Trivial Pursuit

5. Favorite magazine? Mother Jones, Rolling Stone

6. Baked Goods? Brownies, Strawberry/Rhubarb Cobbler

7. Least favorite smell? street tar

8. What's the first thing you think of in the morning? Shit, gotta go to work

9. Favorite color?(s) green, brown

10. Least favorite color? chartreuse

11. How many rings before you answer the phone? Depends on who's calling

12. Future children's names? Haven't thought about

14. What is your sign and birthday? Aries, Apr 2

15. Do you eat the stems of broccoli? yes

16. If you could have any job what would it be? writer

17. If you could have any color hair what would it be? I'm cool with brown

18. Is the glass half full or half empty? half full

19. Favorite movie? La Vita e Bella, Shawshank Redemption, Schindler's List, This is Spinal Tap

20. Do you type with the right fingers on the keys? Yes

21. What's under your bed? books

22. What is your favorite number? 3

23. What is your single biggest fear? James Dobson

24. Person(s) most likely to respond? GWB, Cyberkitten

25. Who is least likely to respond? nobody, you're all fairly game for these type of things

26. Favorite CD? Police's Synchronicity, Peter Gabriel's So, Jane's Addition's Nothing's Shocking, Faith No More's Angel Dust

27. Favorite TV show? Alias, CSI, any cooking show

28. Ketchup or mustard? ketchup, but I usually take mustard because it has less sugar (sad, I know)

29. Hamburgers or Hot dogs? Hamburger

30. Favorite soft drink? diet Dr. Pepper

31. The best place you have ever been? Monument Valley

32. The most amazing sight? standing at the base of any of the "monuments" in Monument Valley

33. What screen saver is on your computer right now? Windows default

34. FAVORITE BURGER: Blue cheese burger at Island's

35. Favorite pet? Duchess, my pug

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pat Robertson

I'm tired of being politically correct about it. Pat Robertson is a moron ... and a dangerous one:

Robertson warns Pennsylvania voters of God's wrath

Some words of wisdom from Pat:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

These statements were in response to the school board members in this town being voted out for supporting teaching of Intelligent Design.

Pat Robertson is living proof that there is not a God. If there was, he surely would have struck Robertson down by now for being so monumentally stupid.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Gay Marriage

Not too big of a surprise, but tonight,Texas Voters Approve Ban on Gay Marriage. During the 2004 election, there were 11 similar ballot initiatives. Many people, myself included, felt this pandering to the religious right helped to swing the election in Bush's favor. But since that time, I've read and heard many arguments that have convinced me otherwise. One of the most compelling is in Al Franken's new book The Truth (with Jokes). He writes:

"... the eleven anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives didn't help Bush at all, and possibly worked against him. Only four of them were in battleground states: Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Oregon. By my calculations, Bush won in precisely one half of those four states. ... Comparing 2000 to 2004, Bush improved less in battleground states with anti-gay marriage referenda than he did in battleground states without them." Looking at all the states with the initiatives, "red counties got redder and blue counties got bluer, with a net advantage of 2.6 for Kerry. Whereas in states without the referenda, Bush gained about 3 percent overall. So the intiatives seemed to polarize people, and actually hurt Bush."

This polarization, I believe, is hurting the Republican party. If tonight is any indication, with Democrats holding both the governorships, the trend is going to continue. They need to figure out that kissing the boot of the Religious Right is not actually getting them any votes.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Are churches beginning to see the light? Have they realized that to deny science is not only logically wrong but also detrimental to their own faith? We can only hope. A couple of recent stories:

When Cleaner Air Is a Biblical Obligation
Some Evangelicals - always quick to misinterpret or misquote Scripture -- have interpreted Genesis 2:15:

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it."

to mean that we should be better stewards of the Earth. It has made them strange bedfellows with environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council. I'd be encouraged by this if they hadn't already had many dubious positions in the past ... like opposing gay and abortion rights.

Vatican: Faithful Should Listen to Science

"A Vatican cardinal said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason." Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, director of the Vatican project STOQ, or Science, Theology and Ontological Quest, reaffirmed John Paul's 1996 statement that evolution was "more than just a hypothesis." "A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false," he said. "(Evolution) is more than a hypothesis because there is proof."

If the Vatican thinks Intelligent Design is bunk, then Christians that believe in ID are really on the fringe.


One of the most glaring examples of politicizing religion that I've seen recently occurred when a liberal California church was contacted by the IRS and threatened with losing their tax-exempt status. This happened because they delivered an anti-war sermon two days prior to the 2004 election. The sermon did not endorse either candidate but did criticize the Iraq war. That a liberal church was singled out is an incredible hypocrisy. Practically every Evangelical, conservative Lutheran and Catholic church in the country actively lobbied against Kerry prior to the election. One could argue that it was the single-most important thing that swung the election in Bush's favor.

Antiwar Sermon Brings IRS Warning

Saturday, November 05, 2005


We had a great Saturday. Started off by Alex's kickball game at 9:00, we headed straight from there to Prescott and to the Gurley St. Grill to have lunch with my friends from my Sierra Club trip, Cat and Ralph. Very good food ... I recommend the lettuce wraps.

But the true highlight of the day was the opportunity presented to us by Cat's husband, Hal, to go flying. Hal has been flying since he was 14 and owns a couple of his own planes. We took off from the Prescott airport in their Beechcraft:

We flew north to Chino Valley and Paulden and then headed east to Sedona:

Anyone that has been to Sedona realizes how beautiful it is there ... but you do not realize how much you are missing. Flying over the red cliffs at about 1000 feet gives you an even greater appreciation and allows you to see views that you just cannot get driving.

Alex had a blast but all the excitement eventually caught up with him:

Many thanks to Hal and Cat for taking us up.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Not a banner day for cronies. First, Brownie's unflattering e-mail comments came to light:

  • "I got it at Nordstroms...Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?"
  • "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god."
  • advice on ordering at Sonic: "Order a #2, tater tots, large diet cherry limeade."

Then Republican hack, Ken Tomlinson, resigned his post at the Center for Public Broadcasting. As Free Press executive director Josh Silver was quoted: “It’s time to clean house at CPB. We need to get the politics out and put the public back in public broadcasting.” Amen, brother.

And all this after Harriet Miers getting shot down last week. It's time for the ultimate cronies, Cheney and Rove, to be shown the door. Is it too much to ask that people be hired because they are the most qualified and the smartest? And not because they are big fundraisers or because they've been carrying the water for your family since the dawn of time.