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Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

My description of the 1950’s apparently touched a few nerves. Comments and emails pointed out that the 1950’s were not as wonderful as I described. I’m aware of this. I described the decade as I did for a reason. I may have been too subtle for my own good.  An explanation of what I intended is in the comments section. //Jim

 


 

It’s a beautiful day here in the Alaskan Mastsu.

It’s perfect day for grilling out or just working in the yard or maybe taking nice hike – and I may do all three.

It’s also nearly ten years now since those terrible days of 2001.

A full decade of war and death and sacrifice.  For some of our children, the most recent generation and the ones just now reaching the age of reason and awareness, they have never known an America not at war.  Think about that.  Their grandparents came of age in the 1950s, and if you were white and of the new middleclass, what a wondrous peaceful golden age it was – unless you happened to be one of those who went off to the Forgotten War. Those few years of the 1950s are last truly peaceful decade our country has known. The so-called Greatest Generation will always have that, the 1950’s. That nostalgic oasis in a desert of conflict.  Those of us born in the 1960’s, we grew up under the shadow of Vietnam and the tie-dyed nuclear chaos of that decade.  Those who came after us lived with the constant churning uncertainty of the collapsing Cold War and one brushfire conflict after another and now the results of 9/11.  For all of us born since the start of Vietnam, we will never have such a time as the 1950’s to look back upon. Never. Imagine that.

Sixty years now we’ve been at war in one form or another,

Today there are those who instead of picnicking  with their familiars, instead of working in their yards or enjoying the day, will be patrolling the dark and dangerous parts of this world.  They’re out there, right now, walking the bitter broken mountains of Pakistan, patrolling the terrible destroyed streets of Iraq, standing the long watch on and below and above the seas, in the fetid festering jungles of South America, in the dry dusty deserts of Africa, in the deadly skies over Libya, in cold airless orbit far above the Earth, on local bases in their own states and in places so remote you’ve never even heard of them – and wouldn’t believe the descriptions of such places if you did.  Some of these men and women will not live out today. Some will most certainly come home to Dover Air Force Base in a cold steel box beneath the draped colors of the Stars and Stripes, their war over, their dreams fled.

And yet, most would have it no other way.

And there are those who wear the uniform, but can no longer serve – their duty stations are the rehabilitation wards of military hospitals around the world. They won’t be working in the yard or hiking today either. Some will spend the day with family, even if they are unaware of it.  Soon too their last battle will be over.

And there are those who no longer serve, no longer wear the uniform, but they still fight. They fight the demons of Vietnam and Beirut and Mosul and Firebase Alpha and a thousand other battles you have never heard of.   Many are already dead, killed in action, only they no longer have the wit to know it and so they haunt the streets of America, the forgotten ghosts of war and conflict, slowly fading away.

And there are those who no longer fight, no longer struggle, no longer remember.  They lay entombed in the soil of foreign nations, at Normandy, at Tunis, at the Ardennes, at Brookwood and Cambridge, at Flanders and Lorraine, at Manila, Mexico City, in the Netherlands, and the Somme and many other places whose names most Americans no longer remember or never knew. One hundred and twenty four thousand, nine hundred and nine American servicemen lay interred forever in twenty four cemeteries on foreign shores and there they will stay, never to return to America.  They were the lucky ones, if you can call it luck, found and honored and laid to rest by their fellows.  Others, well, their bones are myriad and they litter the sea floor beneath all the oceans of the world or are lost in the jungles and deserts on all the world’s continents, their resting places unknown and unremembered. Here, within the boundaries of the United States, there are one hundred and forty six national military cemeteries, and more than a million Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Guardsmen lie beneath the cold white granite.  Their battles are long, long over, even if the war still rages on.

They, all of them, came when called and did their duty and no one can ask any more of them.

For them, for all of them, for those who have fallen or will fall in this lousy war, and for all those who have fallen in all the conflicts we’ve fought lo these many years, today raise a glass and give a nod towards the flag.

Remember them, if only for a moment.

Then enjoy your day, because that’s why they do what they do.

 

 

 


Additional thoughts from previous years:

The last safe stereotype

The Danger of putting your military on a pedestal

December 7th

America, Land That I Love

Things that Chap My Ass About Memorial Day

Tripoli

The Alaska Territorial Guard, A Debt of Honor Unpaid

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Talkeetna

We spent the day in Talkeetna, a little tourist town a couple hours north of here.

 

This first picture is a panorama stitched together from seven shots taken along Main Street. I thought the colors were interesting. If you click on the picture, you can see a larger image in my PicasaWeb Alaska album.

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The menu outside Nagley’s Store

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Note: Did you ever notice that in a candid picture of ten or more random tourists, at least one will be picking his nose?

 

The ATV/Walkway along the Alaska Railroad bridge over the Susitna River just outside of town.  I thought the shot looked more interesting in Black and White.

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You can tell an Alaskan bush plane from its oversized tires.  Talkeetna is the gateway to interior Alaska, all expeditions to Denali start here.

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The Great One itself, Denali, the highest peak in North America, and one of the most deadly in the world.  Four people have already died on its flanks this climbing season.

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Hope your Saturday was as enjoyable as ours. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Final Thoughts on the Rapture That Wasn’t

Addendum at the end of the post


You sir are why I don’t read the internet. Your mocking GOD is hateful and you are a poor excuse for a CHRSITIAN. When you judgement comes you will not be so funny then and your are not funny now your just think you are [Sic].

It’s been a week since Harold Camping’s non-Rapture.

It’s been, what? four days since I wrote the rapture posts?

The hate mail is now down to a trickle, but for a while there it was a torrent.

Rather predictably, none of the faithful – like the fuzzy rapture monkey above, who wrote me a long lovely note about how I can burn in Hell forever, Praise Gawd! – were sucked into outer space by Zombie Jesus.

Frankly, I’m a little disappointed, but I guess I can live with that. 

It might actually be for the best. Perhaps there’s a lesson there. For the faithful.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I think it would have been hysterically funny if these glassy-eyed simpletons actually did get sucked up into the sky like dustbunnies in a vacuum cleaner.  The world would be a better place without these chowderheaded genetic failures.  But, the fact that The Big Moment failed to materialize, yet again, is even better.  Did it dent their belief? Only momentarily, then Harold Camping had yet another divine epiphany and told his legions of gullible followers, “Good news, Lemmings! Spoke to Righteous Jesus Dude, I was totally correct, the Rapture did actually happen just like I said it would, but it was a sort of an invisible spiritual deal because merciful happy forgiving God wants to spare the unsaved five months of torture (so he can torture them for all of eternity later apparently. How five months makes a difference compared to, oh, forever wasn’t explained – but never mind that!) and for absolutely sure the world is going to end on October 21st. Send money!” Camping didn’t explain if the actual no-foolin October 21st end of the world will be invisible too, but I suppose he just assumed that was a given.

A more perfect example of the human mind’s ability to rationalize complete bullshit into shiny fairy dust there never was.

The people who believe in this crap are drooling idiots, and these idiots deserve every single bit of mockery and derision currently being directed at them. Ridicule is entirely the correct response and I laugh in their bewildered sobbing faces, fuck ‘em and the Winnebago of Doom they rode in on.

Now hang on, Jim, I hear you say in that tone you reserve for greeting uninvited Jehovah’s Witnesses at the front door when they show up just as you sit down to dinner, that’s pretty cold hearted. Don’t you have any sympathy for the poor deluded fools who left their families, quit their jobs, and spent their life savings on posters of doom in anticipation of Launch Day? Do you feel nothing for their disappointment, their crushing despair, their confusion and the dashing of their dreams like small helpless puppies dropped from a height onto concrete like little water balloons full of chunky spaghetti sauce?

Have you no empathy, man?

No.

I don’t.

What I’d actually like to do is grab these silly bobbleheads by the lapels and shake them until I’ve shaken every last bit of stupid right out of their empty skulls. And make no mistake at all, stupidity is exactly what this is. The worst kind of stupid: deliberate stupidity.  Selfish stupidity. And I do not, ever, have sympathy for those who engage in willful foolishness. 

I simply cannot and will not suffer fools gladly.

Sounds harsh, I know. And it sounds like I’m coming down hard on religion.

That’s because I am.

Or rather I’m coming down hard on a particular kind of religion. 

See, what these people are engaged in is not faith, but rather selfishness.

Selfishness.

That is the fundamental principle of their belief. Selfishness. Pure and simple. 

Selfishness. I’m pretty sure that’s a sin.

This childish belief system is literally escapism.  This Rapture horseshit is nothing more than a wish fulfillment fantasy, a little daydream where Happy Smiling Bearded Tanned Chiseled-Chest Jesus Man comes down from the sky in a beam of pure white awesome surrounded by sparkly angel farts in a spotlessly white robe to hold their hands and rub their shoulders in a totally non-homoerotic way and tell them how wonderful they are and how they were right all along about everything and how God loves them best of all and how all the mean people that they don’t like are assholes who are finally going to get what’s coming to them and then the Soap Opera Savior will take them away from all their earthly woes by flying them up into the sky to a wonderful magical place of crispy shining clouds and Roman fountains and fluffy kittens and white marble where they’ll be skinny and healthy and happy and young and rich and glamorous and talented and fabulous and surrounded by skinny, healthy, happy, young, rich, glamorously talented fabulous people who believe everything that they do and nothing that they don’t and where there are no ugly disagreeable stinky fat dirty people who are smarter than they are and who make them feel bad about themselves and there will be no bills to pay or shitty jobs to go to or ungrateful kids to raise or unshaven horny husbands with morning breath or frigid wives with fat asses or houses to clean or crowded highways or poor people to feed or sick people to care for or indeed any responsibilities at all and they can spend all of eternity thinking happy thoughts and having earth shaking bang bang sex with angels on cottony clouds without guilt or having to sleep in the wet spot and the rest of the time doing exactly what they want to do without any kind of consequences ever – and the icing on the big God cake is all the people that they don’t like will burn in lakes of fire while wrapped in chains of ice hidden away from God’s sight forever and ever and ever exactly as they deserve and the Saved will get to say Ha HA! Fuckers, told you so, nyah nyah! Amen.

That is exactly what The Rapture is, and it’s why I got a ton of hate mail this week – people get very upset when you mock their little fantasies, especially a selfish little bit of escapism that they’ve spent so much time and effort on, polishing it and adding little embellishments, worrying it around over and over like an ingrown nail. 

But here’s the sad part, if these people really believed that they were going up into the sky to live with the Cloud People, they wouldn’t give a fig as to what I think, after all, I’m just one of trillions of souls who will finally get what I so justly deserve, right? That’s right, trillions, all the graves will open up and all the people who ever lived, ever, will walk the earth and a whole lot of us aren’t going to get to go.  So why in the hell would they bother to send me hate mail?

Unless, of course, they’re afraid that their little Rapture balloon will pop and then they’ll be stuck dealing with, you know, actual life. Here. Now. Today.

And, man, dealing with real life is such a bummer.  What if the whole purpose of life is to do the best you can with what you got?

Oh hell no, there’s got to be more than that! Why, we’re special! Sure we are.

It’s selfishness. 

It’s selfish and conceited to an extraordinary degree to believe that you’ll be saved and others won’t - and you’re OK with that.

Yeah, so?  Big deal, so they believe in The Rapture and Magic Eight Ball Jesus and Heaven, what’s the harm? Why does it matter? They’re not hurting anybody.

Wrong.

Selfishness has consequences.  Conceit has consequences.  Always.

Real consequences, in the real world.

A number of these stupid bastards abandoned their families, husbands left wives, wives left husbands, parents left children, they left jobs and homes and responsibilities and waited for Jesus to come along and rapture them away to happy magic land where the bunnies fart sunshine and rainbows and taste just like Grandma’s fried chicken.

Think about that.

No, really think about that. Think about the consequences. Think about what kind of person it takes to believe in this crap, to want it, to hope for it.

When you think like this, there are consequences.

The people who allow themselves to believe in this nonsense, who willingly embrace this garbage, are the kind of selfish self-involved self-centered sons of bitches who would abandon their own children in order to save themselves.   These are the kind of sorry pusillanimous assholes who, given the choice last Saturday (Remember, it was real to them), when they believed that The Question was actually being put to them for real, made a conscious and deliberate decision to sacrifice their own families.  Families?  Hell, they intended to abandon the whole human race, they intended to sell out the whole Goddamned planet – every person who ever lived all the way back to the very beginning.

That’s what they intended.

Not one, not a single one, of these sorry pathetic sacks of shit looked up into the sky and said, Hey! You up there, you son of a bitch, kiss my ass! Take us all, or don’t take any of us.  If my children are going to Hell, then I’m going with them.  If my wife is going to hell, she’s not going without me, asshole! Have and to hold, better or worse, richer or poorer, that’s the deal. You want my family? My friends? My world? You’re going to have to come through me to get them! Tell Jesus to bring help, because he’s gonna need it.

That’s right.

No, instead they stood in parking lots and on mountain tops and in churches and said, Hey, psssst, Jesus, screw them, no really screw them forever and ever, you can have my kids, my wife, my husband, just take me to happy land, Baby, so I can dance naked among the clouds!

Sympathy? You must be joking. I have nothing but utter contempt for these cowards.

Harold Campings [sic] isn’t a real Christian!

Yeah, yeah. I hear you.  I got a couple hundred emails from real Christians quoting The Book of Mathew.  There were a bunch of comments to that effect too, but I deleted them because I don’t want them stinking up my blog. These “real” Christians tell me that Jesus will “come like a thief in the night” and no man can knoweth the day or hour of His return

Gotcha. I’d have probably gone with a different metaphor, if I was writing the Holy Book, but that’s not even close to the most significant changes I’d make (Ten Commandments? Bah. How about only one: Don’t be a dick. There, done, now go and be happy and shit will work out).  

I’ve got bad news for you: you don’t get to disown Harold Camping or the rest of these bozos on a technicality.  They believe in Jesus, ipso facto, they’re Christians.  They might not believe like your particular branch of Christianity but don’t go getting all smug here because Camping doesn’t have the corner on selfishness.  Sure, Harold Camping put an expiration date on his version of the Bible (and granted, his expiration date is like the expiration date on a box of MRE’s, more of a guideline than what you’d call an actual rule), but other than that, his beliefs really aren’t distinguishable from one hell of a lot of people in this country who are going to be listening to pretty much the same exact message come this Sunday.  A lot of them think that some day they’re going to fly up into the sky with Jesus, even if they don’t pretend to know the exact date, and everybody else is going to burn, burn, burn, forever, and they can’t wait for that to happen because it’s going to be awesome. Hallelujah!  And sure, there’s a whole lot of folks who, while they don’t exactly buy into the Rapture Rocket thing, are still convinced that someday they and their best friends are going to be partying in the clouds with Jesus while everybody else gets to attend Satan’s BBQ.  Every single one of these people, from snake handling Evangelicals to Unreconstructed Catholics who recite the Mass in Latin are firmly convinced that they’re right and everybody else is damned to eternal torment.

A lot of these folks might claim to respect other’s beliefs, or lack of belief, but they don’t. In their minds, respect of other’s beliefs means, Hey, I didn’t burn your ass at the stake, what else do you want? Now, don’t be gay, don’t choose, don’t think, don’t question, don’t be uppity, don’t be different from me – now bend over and I’ll respect you in the morning.

This colors how people think.

And there are consequences.

Jesus said feed the hungry, but really why should we? They’re all just going to burn anyway – if they don’t believe like us.

Jesus said clothe the poor, but again, that would be a waste of good clothing. Wouldn’t it?

Jesus said heal the sick, but they wouldn’t be sick in the first place … if they believed like we do.

The only thing we need to know about the world is: God did it. Don’t ask. Don’t think. Don’t strive to know. God did it, that’s it and that’s all.

No need to conserve resources, they’re ours. God will either make more or blow the earth up before we run out.

No need to take care of the planet, it’s disposable anyway. Pollution? Climate change? Extinction? Fuck it, Jesus has that covered.

No need for respect of others, by definition they are damned to fire and torture and eternal hellfire anyway. Fuck them too.

Peace in the Middle East? Now why would we want that? War in the Holy Land is one of the signs, man!

Selfishness, that’s what this worldview fosters. Selfishness.

Ask yourself this, how many abortions could have been avoided if the Catholic Church spent as much on correcting the causes of unwanted pregnancy as they did on preventing the teaching of birth control around the world?  Tell me again, which is the lesser sin? Which one could you live with? Sex without conception for pleasure or abortion? Seems fairly obvious to me, but then again I’m not Catholic.

How many many battered spouses could have gotten help last year if the Church of Latter Day Saints spent the same amount on shelters and counselors as they did defending the sanctity of marriage by opposing same sex unions in California? Seems to me Mormons should be the very last people telling others how to be married, but then again I’m not a Mormon. 

How many homeless could have been fed, clothed, and sheltered if those megachurch TV evangelicals had spent even a fraction of their tax free billions on doing what Jesus rather specifically enjoined Christians to do instead of glorifying themselves?  Seems to me if the world is going to end, there’s not much point in a huge glass and steel cathedral complete with TV studio and holy casino, but then again I’m not born again either.

How many angry young Muslim men would be less angry, more patriotic, and less likely to fear and distrust their neighbors here in the United States if the Southern Baptist Convention had spent its money helping to build an interfaith center near Ground Zero instead of fighting it tooth and nail?  Jesus said something about turning the other cheek, something or other about forgiveness and humility, something about hubris and something about judgment being reserved for God, but I don’t recall the specifics because I’m not a Baptist either.

How many sons, daughters, wives, husbands, how many families, could have been saved if Harold Camping’s followers had spent their money on taking care of others instead of going off to save themselves?  How many baseball lots and family recreational parks, how many classroom improvements in New York’s impoverished schools, how many after school programs could the eighteen million dollars Harold Camping’s Family Radio raked in from selfish listeners last year paid for? I don’t know, but then again I don’t believe in The Rapture.

How much of the National Debt could have been paid down if these various churches rendered unto Caesar as they were directed to do by Jesus?  Enough to pay for our schools? Enough to fund college grants for our kids? Enough to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, shelter the needy? Fix Medicare so old people don’t have to split pills and do without? Could we fund mental health programs so crazy people could get help and maybe get better and not spend their lives on the street or shooting Congress women in the head? Would we have enough to keep funding alcohol and drug rehab programs to help addicts get better and maybe get jobs and maybe stop being homeless?  Beats me, but then again I’m not exactly what you’d call a Christian.

Someday you will watch people raise up to meet your GOD but you will be left behind. You will be sorry then.

Perhaps so, but in the mean time, I’ll make the best of this world and do my part to leave it, when the time comes, a little better than I found it.

And you?

Since you live here too, how about you stop acting the asshole and lend a hand?

I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus would do.

 

 


Addendum:

As expected, this morning the inbox has some nice feedback from the faithful.  I’ll paraphrase the common themes:

 

WHY DO YOU HATE GOD?!!!!

Well, you know, should the Christian God actually exist, it’s not as if the guy is particularly likable.  I suppose the best I could manage in that case is the kind of regard a rat might have for the scientist running the experiment, “Thanks for the food pellet and this nice exotic disease, Poindexter, but you should know the first chance I get I’m going over the wall.”   Face it, most of the “love” believers feel for “God” is the kind of love a battered wife feels for her abuser – just ask the folks in Joplin, Missouri this morning, “He totally fucking destroyed the town and killed our families and neighbors and sucked little Billy right through the goddamned wall and turned his body into Jell-O, but man He spared me so He sure must be awesome! Whatever you do, don’t question it, He doesn’t like that.”  But here’s the thing, I don’t hate your God, any more than I hate a volcano or an earthquake or snow, just because somebody points out the fallacies of your belief system doesn’t mean they hate God, Jesus, or America.  You’re using “Why do you hate God” as a set of earplugs so you don’t have to deal with the logical fallacies of your silly belief system.  That’s your problem, don’t make it mine, i.e. you look to the beam in your eye first then get back to me.

 

WHY DO YOU HATE CHRISTIANS?!!!!

I don’t hate Christians, or Muslims, or Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or those gomers who hang out on street corners with the fist full of flowers and the dazed looks on their faces.  And I actually dig the Jews (I hate to show favoritism, but they’ve got just totally awesome food).  Repeat, I don’t hate them.  Most of the time I don’t care, however, when you start demanding that I live my life in accordance with your beliefs, then you’re getting on my nerves. When you use your beliefs as an excuse to act like a dick, then we’re going to have a problem.  I refer you to a devoutly religious man, Ghandi: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

 

I’M A CHRISTIAN AND I AGREE WITH THE BASIC PREMISE OF THIS POST, BUT YOU DON’T NEED TO BE SO HATEFUL (OBNOXIOUS, ARROGANT, MEAN, SARCASTIC, FOUL MOUTHED, and so on and so forth).

Eye for an Eye, Sparky.  Couple of points, when you tell people that they’re going to burn forever along with their kids and friends and neighbors and etcetera because they don’t believe like you do, well then you are being an obnoxious dick.  When you claim to have all the answers, when you claim that you’re special and exceptional and saved, you’re being a prideful dick.  It’s OK for you to express blind faith without a shred of proof, but if I’m confident in my beliefs then I’m “arrogant” –  that makes you a hypocritical dick. When you attempt to force your religious beliefs on others, and especially if you whore it up as “intelligent design” or “morality” or “It’s a Christian Nation” or some other euphemistic bullshit, then you are being an insulting selfish dick.  Yes, insulting, because recasting religion as science says very clearly that the rest of us are so fucking stupid we can’t see what you’re up to.  When you come to my door and tell me I’m going to burn forever in a lake of fire because you’ve got all the answers, you’re telling me that my experience and education and worldview is completely invalid and you can kiss my ass.  When you use your religion to deny others their basic civil rights of life, liberty, and happiness, then I’m going to punch you right square in the mouth. When you tell people that “it’s a Christian Nation” you’re telling all the rest of us that we don’t count, that we’re second class citizens, that we don’t belong and then we’re going to have a problem, you and me.  You reap what you sow, so said Jesus. You’d like me to be more polite with posts like the one above?  Fine, you go first. 

 

WHEN THE RAPTURE REALLY DOES COME, YOU’LL BE SORRY

Couple things: First, you should know right up front that I don’t respond well to threats, from you, from your preacher, or from Jesus. Really.  Second, why do you care if I’m sorry or not? Ask yourself that, then ask yourself if the emotion behind your childish little threat is the kind of thing that will get you in the front door of Heaven when your time comes.  If you’re right, you shouldn’t have to threaten people. Think about that.

 

MATHEW 24:36 BUT OF THAT DAY AND HOUR KNOWETH NO MAN, NO, NOT THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN, BUT MY FATHER ONLY. HE’S COMING BITCH.

Here’s a thought:  According to Christians, God is big on tests. He supposedly gave you free will, but you’re not supposed to use it.  He gave you the ability to disbelieve and numerous reasons to disbelieve up to and including putting dinosaur fossils in the ground and manipulating the decay of Carbon-14, but you should believe anyway.  In point of fact, there is one hell of a lot of proof that God does not exist, and exactly none that He does, but you should believe anyway. That’s why they call it faith, right? The Christian God is big on tests of faith and character, the bible is full of such tests.  Ever ask yourself, what if?  What if this whole rapture thing is a test?  Given free will, when you thought it was the end, you choose to abandon your children, your spouse, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your nations, your world, your people for a free ride to paradise.  What’s that say about your character?  Do you really think that’s the kind of person Jesus wants to spend eternity with?  How about the rest of you believers? Are you really living your life as if you believe the Rapture is coming? Really? Or are you just using it to make other people do what you want? Do as I say or you’ll be sorry. Remember, according to your belief, Jesus knows what’s in your heart.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s no rapture at all, maybe it’s just a test to separate the selfish assholes from the worthy. Think about that.

You can stop writing me now, I’m not the one you need to convince.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Small Stuff

I usually turn and carve large bowls.  As some of you know, in addition to bowls and vases I also turn decorative birdhouses.

These are Eastern Red Cedar and polished Alaskan Birch.

Red Cedar Birdhouses 1

 

Lately, instead of turning larger and larger bowls, I’ve been going in the other direction, i.e. small, making doll house bowls and tiny little vases.

For an artist, it’s always a good thing to stretch a bit.  Stretch and squint… 

Since I was turning small bowls, I thought I would try some tiny doll house sized bird houses as well – which unlike the bowls require very, very exacting workmanship so that the pieces fit together.  I know a jeweler who makes small carved pendent earrings from exotic hardwoods (we’re not talking Kraft Korner here, his stuff sells for hundreds of dollars).  The meticulous skill behind this intrigues me.  I wondered if I could combine that particular art-form with turning.  

Here’s the first result (that I actually completed, there were other attempts, the pieces are scattered around the shop floor – entertainment for ShopKat).

Epe & Copper Ear Rings

These are Epe, a hardwood from South America.  The little roofs are rosewood, gilded In copper, as are the bases.  They are turned on my Midi lathe using little tiny turning tools and a great big magnifying glass. 

For something so small, they are a huge pain.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ten Reasons Why The Rapture Didn’t Happen

Well, that figures.

No Rapture.

Jesus is scheduled to work, what? one lousy day in 2,000 years ... and he couldn’t make it in?   I guess he went fishing.  Frankly, this guy gives carpenters a bad name.

So now what?

Are we going to Rapture or not?

Do we reschedule?

Its there a backup date?

Honestly, you’d think what with email and the internet and 24/7 news and megachurch pastors with a direct line to God there’d be better communication on this, after all look how much salvation costs each month.  Is there a money back guarantee? Has anybody lodged a complaint with the Better Business Bureau?

If we are going to reschedule, I’d like to mention that next weekend is not good for me, Rapture wise, I’ve got an Ultimate Paintball match against Zombie space aliens at Area 51 with Big Foot and Amelia Earhart (What? You don’t believe in Amelia Earhart? Ooookay. But Rapture, flying naked up into space with Jesus, you’re good with that? Right. No. No. I totally respect your beliefs. Totally).

Frankly, I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that the Rapture didn’t happen. 

Harold Camping seemed so sure – not at all like a doddering crazy old coot high on sugar-free pudding and Alzheimer’s medication.  I mean, sure, all those other prophets were wrong, but Harold, boy, I really thought he might be the one. 

So, how could this be? How could Rapture not happen? There must be a reason.

 

As you might guess, I have a few ideas.

 

Here’s ten possible reasons why God didn’t call the faithful home last night:

1. Turns out God finds smug born-again evangelicals as just about as irritating as the rest of us and doesn’t want them stinking up his house either.

2. It did happen, but it turns out nobody qualified for Rapture.  Heaven is all ready. Big banners, “Grand Opening! Welcome Saved– thanks for a lifetime of not being a selfish dick and for doing what Jesus actually said.”  Staff all turned out in bright shining white coats.  Granite polished.  Fresh coffee. Harps playing. And nobody shows up. Turns out they had a shitty business model. Did you know that nine out of ten new businesses fail in the first year? Bummer.

3. TSA wouldn’t let naked people through security screening. “Look pal, I don’t care if you are travelling with Jesus, you cover that thing up right now or I’m putting you on the no-Rapture-fly list.”

4. Jesus overslept.  “What? 2:30? In the afternoon. Fuck! Worse hangover EVAH! Whose idea was it, doing Rapture on a Saturday anyway?”

5. Daylight savings time.  The Rapture will go on as scheduled – it’s just going to be an hour later is all.

6. Jesus is a jerk – he’s like Lucy and the football.  “This friggin’ kills me! Watch, no matter how many times I pull this gag, they still don’t get it! Watch, watch.  Haaaaaaarollllddd, Rapture is now scheduled for 2:15AM, November 2nd…  Ha Ha! Look at ‘em go! Like little ants!”

7. What God actually said was, “I may end the world on the 21st, if you assholes don’t start behaving. Don’t make me pull this car over, because I will, I mean it this time.”

8. It happened, but only married Gay people got to go. The Rapture was small, but it was fabulous!

9. Turns out Heaven is a place where nobody works, everybody is equal, you don’t need money, food’s free, and nobody gets sick. It’s a socialist hell! The Rapture is on hold until it can be privatized.  You’ll be issued a voucher which can be redeemed for redemption at a later date.

and

10. Harold Camping used Creationism Math.  “Let’s see, take (((The Great Deluge) x (The Crucifixion) – (burning bush)) Jesus /  (Jews) + the Square Root(Valley of Death)) / (Leap Year x 7000)… Satan cancels out … carry the 1 … should equal May 21st, 2011!  Wait, what the hell, no rapture?  Oh maaaaan, Goddamnit! The Jews are supposed to be negative. Crap. How about giving me a fucking sign here, Jesus!

 

Bottom line: What have we learned, Children?

Right, never listen to crazy people who tell you the world is going to end if you don’t send them money.

Save your money.

So, you can buy my book about how the Mayans were totally right about 2012.

 

 


Previous Post: Ten Reasons Why Doomsday Will Be Awesome!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ten Reasons Why Doomsday Will Be Awesome!

This is it folks.

Doomsday. Judgment Day.  The End Times. Going out of Business.

We’ve got about 48 hours before the shit hits the fan.

It will begin with the faithful suddenly shooting up into the sky like fleshy little bottle rockets, whooooosh! called Home in a divine act of rapturous levitation. After the Saved arrive in Heaven, the gates will be locked and no more souls will be admitted. Ever. Then Zuul Jesus will descend upon the Earth to wage unrestricted Armageddon on the Left Behind in the Final Battle (this is apparently just out of sadistic cussedness since by definition the Left Behind are damned anyway no matter what happens at this point, Heaven being a private party and all) and five or maybe six months later the Big Guy will pull the plug and turn off the lights.

There’s a few questions about the precise order of events and some rather specific logical fallacies, but this charming scenario is believed, more or less, by one hell of a lot of people and none more so than by followers of Christian radio and one Harold Camping – who predicts that The Rapture will begin precisely at 6PM in New Zealand this coming Saturday (the evening of May 21st, which, as I’m sure you all know is the 7000th anniversary of the Great Flood.  Which reminds me, does anybody know if Hallmark has a card for that? I’m sorry to hear about the death of every member of the vile human race except for you and the seven members of your immediate family, good luck with the inbreeding).

We know without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen," said the 94 year old Camping. He’s been broadcasting this message for years on Family Radio, a Christian network owned by Camping and broadcast domestically and internationally to 140 countries and in more than 30 languages.   In the last few months, as May 21st draws ever closer, his predictions have reached a fevered pitch.  Now, any other old geezer starts spouting pudding fuelled gibberish and the nurses will double up on his meds and hide his TV remote just to screw with him, but you throw in God and suddenly people are nodding their heads.  End Times, ooooohhhh, yes, yes tell us more, wise man. Believers have sent Camping millions since he started this song and dance routine – you know, back in the 90’s when he predicted the earth would end in September of 1994 (note that it didn’t, however the Happy Campers remain undeterred).  Camping’s supporters have posted more than 2,200 billboards around the US, and a bunch of them are driving across the country in a convoy of RV’s like some kind of Crazy Train of Jesus spreading The Word of the coming apocalypse – which this time is absolutely going to happen. Absolutely. It’s not like Prophet Harold could be wrong twice.  A disturbingly large number of these people have abandoned their families, given up their possessions (one chowderhead spent his entire life savings, $140,000, putting up signs in NYC telling people about Camping’s prediction), incurred huge debts that they don’t think they’ll have to pay off, and fully expect to meet Jesus personally this coming weekend.

I’ve encountered a few of these folks. 

A couple came to my door a while back.  A man and woman, presumably husband and wife, with strange vacant expressions, glazed eyes, and knowing little smiles. Frankly, they looked like victims of a botched lobotomy … or maybe a bad bag of weed. When I opened the door they began burbling enthusiastically about the coming apocalypse and waved a glossy tract with what I can only presume was either a picture of Harold Camping or one of those desiccated beef-jerky like mummies they’ve been finding in the Andes.  I stood there in amazement for a minute, the way you would if your shrubs spontaneously burst into flame and started speaking in Charlton Heston’s voice, while they built up steam.  I was stunned that any adult capable of standing erect and dressing themselves could buy into such ridiculous hocus pocus. When they hit the part about people suddenly flying naked up into space I sent them packing. I was obnoxious about it, but not nearly as obnoxious as I would have liked (seriously, people suddenly flying up into space? Where is Heaven, exactly? Low Earth orbit? Near the Moon? Do you need to bring a lunch for the trip? How about an oxygen mask?).  My wife chewed me out for being rude and she was right, but I just cannot abide these people.  I don’t respect their beliefs and I’m not going to pretend that I do.

I’d have no problem if they’d just leave the rest of us alone, but they just can’t seem to do that.  And when they thrust their goofy bullshit into my face, into my house, well, I get irritable. 

These people have nobody to blame but themselves for what happens next.

I’m looking forward to this.

I really am. 

And not for the Sunday morning schadenfreude either – well, OK, not just for the schadenfreude.

 

See, here’s what we do

- Buy a couple of those blow-up dolls (unless, of course, you already have a couple, as a joke, for bachelor parties and shit. Sure. Nobody is judging you. Loser). Fill them with helium. Saturday evening about 6PM, let them go.  From a couple of hundred feet, who will be able to tell vinyl from the Saved? See how many people you can get to jump off the ledge. Fly! Fly! Be free!  Or alternatively, fill the inflate-A-date with hydrogen, attach a fuse, let them go, exploding rapture! Oh God, the humanity!

- Saturday night, leave notes on doors, Dear Saved Damned Soul, we waited for over an hour, where were you? - God

- Nobody post anything on Sunday morning.  Stay inside with the lights off – or better yet sneak outside, start your car and leave it running with the sunroof open and the radio tuned to the Gospel Channel.  Arrange a couple of suits of empty clothing on the front lawn.  Don’t answer your phone.  All the believers will think they got left behind. Then, about noon or so, right about the time despair is setting in, we’ll all jump out and yell Surprise!

- Dress up as Jesus. On Sunday morning, knock on Harold Camping’s door and explain why he won’t be joining the others in Heaven. Then kick his ass*.

 

Of course, my plan presumes that Harold is wrong.

What if he’s right?

What if the Rapture really is this Saturday evening?

Won’t I feel stupid? 

Hell no I won’t feel stupid. Because that’s even better. That would be great.  Don’t fear the reaper, kids.  Here’s ten reasons why Doomsday will be awesome:

1) Hell Finally Freezes Over: I.e. if the world ends now, the Cleveland Indians go out on a winning streak!

2)  Free Shit:  I call dibs on Kirk Cameron’s house, let’s go see if he left behind any cool Growing Pains memorabilia.  Also, you find a car with a Jesus Fish on it, it’s yours – of course you’ll have to peel off the Bush/Cheney stickers, but what the heck, right?

3) Rapture Balloons:   Get yourself some stout string. Cut it into six-foot lengths.  Make a slip knot on one end.  As soon as you see somebody starting to lift off, slip the loop around their ankle and hook the other end to something heavy.  Rapture balloon.  Collect the whole set.

4) Free Space Program: Lash a bunch of Rapture Balloons together like a raft.  Add cargo.  What? They’re going right past the International Space Station anyway, it’s not like it’s out of the way.

5) Funniest Home Videos:  You’ve got to expect that a bunch of screaming naked people getting sucked up into space is going to be pretty damned hysterical.  Word of advice though, try not to stand underneath them – seagulls are bad enough, just saying, and you know, a lot of these people are afraid of heights.

6) Mini Golf:  By definition everybody left behind is damned.  Heaven is closed. Period.  Not much point in keeping all those churches then, is there?  That’s a lot of prime real estate.  What do we do with it? Mini Golf. Jesus loves the Giant Windmill, just saying.

7) Equality for all:  Monday morning we’ll be issuing all the gay marriage licenses you like.  No bitching. No bullshit. Be happy and congratulations.

8) Improved Education: We can finally teach biology in school without interruption. 

9) Skeet Shooting:  Yes, that’s right, skeet shooting.  I live on a hill. I’ve got a shotgun and a couple of cases of buckshot.  All I need is a lawn-chair and a cooler of beer.  The rest of Saturday should pretty much take care of itself.   What? It’s not like you can hurt them, they’re saved right? Send up another Rapture Balloon!

and finally,

10) Fewer Selfish Assholes. Less crowed highways. There’ll be a bunch of job openings. Less trolls on the Science forums.  You can sleep in on the weekends without some Evangelical Rapture Monkey banging on your door at 8Am to sell you The Jesus. 

Oh, and best of all?

With all the pious godly people all gone up to the Holy Ghost’s house and out of the way, we should have enough extra money and resources to finally feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and heal the sick without having to hear about socialism, communism, Nazis or how lazy people make Jesus cry.

 

 

Follow up post: Ten Reasons Why The Rapture Didn’t Happen

 


* No, I’m not really suggesting anybody go kick a 94 year old man’s ass.  However, should Jesus actually show up and decide to bitch-slap this idiot, I’ll hold his robe.

 

Notice of Compliance: In accordance with the sarcasm provisions of the Patriot Act, International Agreement, and the Ancient Code of The Internet (to whose patron, Saint Don Rickles, all bloggers must pay homage), Stonekettle Station is required by law and custom to publically ridicule, make light of, heckle, mock, and otherwise poke fun at any and all predications of the imminent Return of Jesus, The End Times, Judgment Day, Doomsday, and/or Armageddon due to Rapture, Rupture, or Raptors. Also, zombies.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Mud Between Your Toes

 

Ugh.

No, listen to me, ugh, emphasis on the first syllable.

It’s the sound you make when you’ve unavoidably stepped yet again into something filthy and disgusting.

You stand there on one foot, holding an ankle, poking with a stick at the mess on the bottom of your shoe and you think, “Ugh! Goddamn, not this shit again.”

Yes, like that. Ugh.

As an American, little makes me soggy and hard to light like the thought of yet another eighteen endless months of poisoned foam, outrageous accusations, obnoxious bloviating, empty promises, bald faced lies, vicious stupidity, vacuous intellects, vainglorious hate mongering, hysterical doomsaying, enormously inflated egotism, jingoistic nationalism, Nazi tossing, terrorist juggling, staggering ignorance, shameless pandering, history washing, fact manipulating, abject graft, blatant corruption, self-righteous moralizing, shallow patriotism, drum beating, bugle blowing, baby kissing, glad handing, ass grabbing, crotch jiggling, money laundering, swift boating, intestinal parasites, cramps, gas, and bloating.

I am, of course, talking about yet another presidential election cycle.

Yes, exactly. Ugh! Goddamn, not this shit again.

Frankly, as an American, I’m about democracied out.

There’s an old saw that goes something like, “You know X would be a great place … if it wasn’t for all the X-ians!”  Substitute whatever you like for X.  The Greeks probably told this joke about Rome: you know Rome would be an awesome place – if it wasn’t for all those stupid Romans!   Americans tell this joke about the French – and everybody else tells this joke about Americans.  Me? Personally, I think Texas would be a great place…  Heh, I’m just joshing you, Texas is actually a hot desolate godforsaken tumbleweed infested shithole, Texans belong there like pointy-toed sinners in Hell, but for the sake of the narrative, just go with me on this one (I’m kidding. Kidding. You know I love you, Texas, in your own special way).  That’s sort of how I feel about democracy, it would be great if it wasn’t for all the stinkin’ democrats.  Ditto the republic, love the place, except for the all the friggin’ republicans. 

Man, nothing makes me long for the simplicity of our centuries lost monarchy like the American electoral process. 

Yes, yes, I know. I know.

With a monarchy, sooner or later, you end up with a bunch of atrophied inbred weak-chinned parasitic dolts in goofy hats. I know. But, here’s the thing, with a monarchy, at least you don’t have to put up with this ever churning campaign bullshit. In a monarchy you know who the next goofy hat wearing drooler on throne is going to be.  There’s no real question, there’s the Heir and there’s the Spare.  The old guy dies, everybody gets out their goofy hat, there’s a big party, you crown the new guy and everybody else moves up a notch on the royal waiting list. There’s tea and some tasty scones. There’s politely restrained conversation. They adjourn to the pub. Everybody gets laid. Done. Life goes on pretty much as always. Simple. No surprises. No eighteen months of attack ads.

A republic? A democracy? Sure those sound good, in theory – let the people choose the best and brightest to lead them. No inbreeding, no giant hats (still seems to be plenty of drooling however).

Right.  Much better.

But, man, sometimes it’s just so goddamned painful.

As an American, the beginning of the next election cycle thrills me about as much as a chronic case of infected rectum boils.

 

As a political writer, however, well, you know, I live for this shit.

 

Unfortunately, so far this pre-election season is pretty lame.

Frankly I was really hoping for some fun candidates.  You know, a couple of genuinely crazy types, some religious extremists, and maybe one complete moron.  I don't think it’s too much to ask for a few good sports, a couple of politicians willing to play along, willing to ham it up and clown around for our amusement.  Take some pratfalls, that’s what I’m talking about. You never see those royals doing that, hell no you don’t. Monarchies have no sense of humor, it’s all dignity this and dignity that. Nothing is more undignified than democracy. Democracy is the clown shoes of political systems. Like when in the last election Dennis Kucinich suddenly blurted out his belief in UFO’s (space aliens are the glory-hole of blogging material) or when that sweet little old lady accidently repeated John McCain’s racist scaremongering to his face on live TV – honestly, I can watch that clip over and over, McCain’s facial expression is priceless, I’ve never seen anybody go so pale so fast (Wave off! Wave off! Abort landing!) or, you know, pretty much any time they turned the mic on Ron Paul (I swear, that crazy doddering old bastard and his kid remind me of Statler and Waldorf, the two obnoxious asshole Muppets who used to heckler Kermit and Company from the balcony. Seriously, John Boehner, Sam the Eagle? It’s just me, right?).

We had a hell of starting line-up last time around.

So far, this election season is a big fat zero.

Trump was beaten before he even got started. I mean, honestly, politics is the ultimate reality show, you’d think this guy would have the chops to hang. The hair, the birther bit, the goatshit crazy rhetoric, the fact that he is the spitting image of Rigel, the self-centered obnoxious Frog King from Farscape

Donald Trump  

I mean, come on! Seriously  I can’t tell you how pissed I am that Trump folded up early. I could have gotten a least a dozen great blog posts out of this guy – and probably another dozen shitty ones.  If Trump was a chick, people would be calling him a cock-tease about now – they’d also be throwing up in their mouth over that mental image (hey, I’m not letting him go without a parting shot. You’re welcome).

Fast on the heels of the Trump disappointment (You know, you have to wonder how many times his ex-wives have used that exact phrase), the Huckleberry bows out. I can’t believe Hucklebone isn’t going to run. Goddamn it, that should be against the law.  What the hell is a Presidential race without The Huckster?  Hell, I could make an entire blog post doing nothing but mocking his name and it would have been hysterical (yes, I’m a child. I’d probably throw in a fart joke too, sue me).  Birther, conspiracy nut, religious loon, bigot, what’s not to heart about Huckabee? He’s the blogging mother load!

So, anyway, what have we got so far?

Gingrich?

Bah.  Where’s the fun in Gingrich? (You know, you have to wonder how many times his ex-wives have used that exact phrase), I mean, sure I’ll do him, but it’s going to feel like work (You know you have to wonder how many times… OK, Ok, I’ll stop).  Guess I’d better bookmark FactCheck.org.

Romney?  Yeah, that will be loads of fun.  How many Donny Osmond Hair jokes you think I can squeeze out of Romney? One? Two?  Political Satire involving Mitt Romney is the internet equivalent of Dogs Barking Jingle Bells. It’s sort of funny once. Once. Then it just makes you want to punch small kittens in the face until their tiny skulls shatter.

Hey, I know, maybe Ralph Nader will run again! Because there’s nothing more fun than writing a pillory of Ralph Nader… unless it’s having the SEALs kick in your door and double-tap you in the forehead.

Now I know what you’re thinking: buck up, Jim, just wait until Palin declares her candidacy!  Then we’ll have some blogging material, you betcha! There’ll be Russia jokes! Nazis! Death panels! Pregnant daughters! Guns! It’ll be glorious!

Can I be honest with you? Remember how when you saw Robin Williams for the first time and you laughed hysterically? But the second time you saw his manic insanity, you didn’t laugh quite so hard and after the show you realized he was mostly just babbling cocaine fueled gibberish? And the next time you saw him you didn’t laugh much at all and you just sort of wondered what the hell was wrong with that lunatic? And after a while when you heard somebody doing a lame-assed Mork impression you just wanted to reach into their throat and pull their intestines out through their nose? (Oh, right, that was just me. Sure). That’s where I am with Palin.  I don’t ever want to hear some random lackwit on the street doing an impression of Tina Fey doing an impression of Palin again, ever. Every single time somebody leaves a comment on Stonekettle Station where they think they’re the first person to ask me if I can see Russia from my house makes me want to light an endangered species on fire and dance naked around the flames while toasting marshmallows. I don’t want to have to spend another eighteen months thinking up variations on “Caribou Barbie.” For me, the Palin tit is dry (Yeah, good luck getting that image out of your brain. Serves you right for bringing up Palin in the first place).

We need fresh meat.

Here’s a few suggestions:

Charlie Sheen. No really. Charlie Sheen. He’s looking for a job. He’s a legacy, his dad was already President! He’s an endless source of fresh material! Winning!

Levi Johnston. I love this kid. Sure he’s too young – but, hell, that isn’t even close to his most interesting disqualification. Plus, think of how much fun this would be.  You know, really think about it.  Huh? Huh?

Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yeah, yeah, he’s not a natural born citizen.  Blah blah. So?  Seriously? An Austrian body builder who became a popular actor turned Conservative governor of California estranged from the Kennedy family with an out of wedlock love child? For fuck sake, it’s perfect!  My God, if he could work in a gay prostitute The Terminator could play the entire Republican line-up all by himself!

 

Politics, it’s great fun – except for all the politicians.

Now, watch where you step.

Monday, May 16, 2011

River Valley Panorama

On the way back from Anchorage yesterday we took the scenic old road out around the Palmer Hay Flats instead of the usual (and faster) Glenn Highway.

I snapped a few pictures of the valley along the way.  This is the Matanuska River Valley, taken from the bridge on the Old Glenn Highway outside of Palmer.

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The pictures were taken with a Nikon D5000 and a Nikkor 55mm DX lens. This pan is made from three pictures stitched together using Corel Paintshop Photo Pro X3.  Clicking of the image will take you to the Alaska panorama directory of my Picassa album, you can see a larger and more detailed version of the picture there.

Friday, May 13, 2011

One Trick Pony

You know, starting your presidential campaign off with a sullen excuse laden concession speech isn’t a good sign.

I’m just saying.

“If you are a conservative, you have to start with an assumption that you’re not going to get an even break from the elite media”

So said Newt Gingrich on Fox News’ Sean Hannity last night (Personally, the highlight of the interview for me was the unchallenged and explicit implication that Hannity and Fox are not part of the media’s elite, heh heh, but I digress).  Gingrich then petulantly explained how President Obama,

“can’t afford to run a fair election, if he was on an equal playing field, he’d lose.” 

According to Newt, Obama has the home court advantage of the presidency, support from the “left-wing media,” the labor unions love him, and so do billionaires like George Soros.  Jobs are coming back, the economy is recovering, Obama’s popularity is on the rise and there is no longer any doubt that the black man in the White House is as American as General Motors – a company which, you know, is profitable again for the first time in decades, and that’s two million jobs directly saved by the Obama administration just in case you need help with the math (Yes, yes, you got me, if you cut at your own flesh and feast upon your own excrement while waiting for the comet people to arrive on the mother ship, there’s still some nagging doubt about Obama’s citizenship. But for actual not crazy-stupid people, we’re good, thanks).

Left loudly unspoken, of course, was that fact that President Obama also has the “unfair” advantage of having command when Osama Bin Laden was brought to ground. 

Newt just doesn’t think that’s fair at all.

According to Newt, the game is rigged.

The message being: Obama will win reelection. But only because he cheats.

Newt didn’t actually use the term affirmative action, but then he didn’t actually have to, did he?

“I know how to get the whole country to resemble Texas, President Obama knows how to get the whole country to resemble Detroit.”

No, he didn’t actually have to say it at all.  His meaning – spoken and implied – is quite clear. And so is the target Newt was directing his comments at.

Newt Gingrich is the first Republican to formally declare a 2012 bid for the White House and it’s a pretty good bet that he’s setting the tone for what comes next.

What? Newt’s not the first? Who? Oh, him, the buffoon. Right. Look, I don’t count Trump.  Trump never actually declared, he’s still “exploring” his options (sort of how he does marriage too, apparently).  Besides he’s only a sort-of conservative and not a Republican per se.  He’s clearly engaged in an elaborate publicity stunt and not an actual presidential campaign.  Any day now, I expect Trump to don a red, white, and blue spandex suit complete with star-spangled cape and knee-high white vinyl boots and attempt a rocket-powered leap over the Trump Towers on a motorcycle trailing a banner promoting “The Apprentice in its new time slot!” The guy is not serious and never has been. How do I know this? Easy. He’d have to give up controlling interest in Trump Enterprises, start watching his big fat mouth, and make his private records public.  Think about that, really think about what that means.   Trump crowed about “forcing Obama to produce his birth certificate,” so he clearly understands exactly what he would have to make public if he were to actually declare for office. You really think he wants the public looking at, oh say, his construction development and casino dealings? His taxes? I mean, really? With Birther-like intensity? Yeah, there’s a reason why business leaders generally don’t run for the White House, hell, even Lee Iacocca didn’t do it and he actually had a pretty good chance of winning.   Trump is simply engaged in his usual bombastic chicanery, if people vote for him he sure won’t mind but he’s not serious about the White House (which is not to say that his ego won’t eventually force him into announcing a show campaign, just so he doesn’t have to admit that people like me are right. And just like the birth certificate “triumph,” he’ll declare that a victory when if he loses).

So, anyway, Newt Gingrich kicked off the first official challenge to Obama by laying the groundwork for failure.  

Not really what you’d call an auspicious start.  You’d think The Newt, of all people, would have better handlers.

Newt set up camp deep in the same hostile territory scouted by the likes of Sarah Palin and Joe Miller and Sharon Angle and Christine O’Donnell. Funny isn’t it, how when a Democrat wins office it’s only because voters were tricked by the liberal media, the unions, and George Soros, but when a Republican wins it has nothing to do with Fox News, Wall Street executives, and the Koch Bothers? (The lesson being that conservative billionaires are good and liberal billionaires are bad – bad, of course, because according to conservative doctrine and all the those bumper-stickers there aren’t supposed to be any liberal billionaires)

Gingrich deftly dodged questions about his personal life and instead focused on his Clinton Era victories like some aging florid-faced paunchy combover trotting out, yet again, those dusty fading pictures of himself back when he was the high school football squad captain.  What Newt fails to mention is that his political victories, like his shutdown of the US Government in 1995 and 1996, cost Americans billions – because when Newt wins, the rest of us get handed the tab for his victory celebration. And the really funny, and rather sad, part is that Newt’s big victory ended with Bill Clinton winning a second term, Newt’s team getting voted off the island, and old Newton himself quitting in dejection.  But, just like that old has-been jock, Newt can’t stop talking about that one time he threw the perfect long pass at homecoming, sure they lost the game and he never played again and he lost his scholarship and his sweetheart left him to date the entire chess club, but man wasn’t that something?

Now, it would be disingenuous to call Gingrich an idiot. He’s anything but – and there’s a fine bit of irony for a millionaire history professor and author with a doctorate from Tulane to be accusing other people of elitism, but again I digress.  He certainly knows his way around Washington, he’s the consummate Washington insider – note that he’s still in the middle of power more than a full decade after he resigned from office.  Conservatives deplore Obama’s supposed arrogance, but flock to a guy like Newt who has yet to take personal responsibility for his own actions – note that he blames his repeated inability to keep his pants zipped on the fact that he just loved America too much.  Personally I don’t care if Newt and the babysitter are playing senior division rodeo clown with the baloney pony, but I heard this exact same bullshit during the Clinton Administration.  And if the stress of office back then couldn’t keep him off the Hypocrisy Express what makes anybody think that the job of President is going to straighten him out? 

It’s a pattern, a well worn groove Newt is well set in, and if he loses this latest bid for power it sure won’t be his fault – he’s got his excuses all lined up and ready to go. 

If American conservatives are truly afraid of “change,” then Newt is their opportunity to get a great big second helping of the 1990’s – and the recently threatened government deadlock and shutdown is something every American better get used to in a Gingrich administration because it’s the only trick this pony knows.

If Newt does win the presidency, maybe he can get John Fogerty to perform Déjà Vu (All Over Again) at the inaugural ball.

But frankly, it sure sounds to me like he thinks he’s already lost.

And We're Back

Looks like Blogger is back up.

For those of you who don't follow along on Facebook: Blogger, which is the platform Stonekettle Station rides on top of, has been down for a couple of days due to a software upgrade that went bad.  The outage has affected various blogs in a number of different ways depending on how they are hosted.  Some blogs went offline completely, some lost data. Stonekettle Station is hosted on its own domain and remained up and readable, but with new posts and commenting disabled.

So, if you tried to make a comment over the last two or three days and were rejected, it's not you, it's me (OK, that's not true, it's really you, you, you and all you).

According to the Blogger website, the system is now mostly restored and stable. Stonekettle Station appears no worse for wear, posting and commenting are again operational.

I'm going to wait a bit before posting anything significant, just to make sure. If things remain stable, there will be a new post up later this evening on recently declared Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich.

See you in a bit.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bullwinkle In The House

Thought you all might dig a bit of Alaska.

 

Big cow moose next to my shop this morning. She’s a regular visitor around here.

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Reader Links and Open Thread

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Scooby-Logic

 

Now that we got Osama bin Laden, we need to do something about Obama bin Hussein!

(It’s cold and raining and shitty the way only spring in Alaska can be.  I’m standing on the concrete apron in front of a huge old hanger with the roar of military jets echoing periodically off the towering doors. They say the screaming roar of jet  fighters is the sound of freedom, but the Raptors are grounded today and these are cargo planes so the sound is more like the Delivery Trucks of Freedom instead.  There’s cold water dripping down my back and every broken bone, sprain, and injury I’ve ever had is clamoring for attention in the damp chill – this tends to make me even more irritable than usual. I’m waiting for a guy. He’s late. While I wait, I’m stuck talking to a couple of maintenance types I shall henceforth refer to as Blowhard and Dude)

Me: Say what now? (Argh! Brain to mouth, what the hell are you doing? Are you mad? Don’t encourage him! Disengage! Disengage!)

Blowhard: The terrorist in the White House, Barry bin Hussein. (Ah. Yes. At this point a wise man would have faked a phone call and gone to sit in the car, or maybe thrown himself into one of the huge roaring turbines of a taxiing C-17. I am not a wise man. Alas)

Me: Ah, I see. Well at least you got his name correct. More or less. (Insert eye roll, derisive head shake, and mocking grimace).

Blowhard: Heh heh. Yeah that’s … wait, what? (He suddenly realizes that I’m mocking him and not agreeing with his assessment of the President)

Me: Bin, from the Persian root ibin, means “son of.”  Barry bin Hussein therefore would be “Barack, son of Hussein.” (I tend to drop into lecture mode when confronted with booger eaters, mouth breathers, and people who haunt abandoned amusement parks. Sue me)

Blowhard: Whatever. More like “son of a bitch” if you ask me. (See, that’s just it, I didn’t ask (except, of course, I sort of did. Stupid mouth). I was looking to do a hanger survey and got sucked into this conversation. I wish I’d have gotten sucked into an airplane engine instead)

Dude:  Well, at least they got bin Laden.  (Unlike the pessimistic Blowhard, Dude is a glass half full kind of guy)

Blowhard: Yeah, and fucking Barry’s taking credit for it! (Hmmm, maybe instead of throwing myself into a turbine… Say is that Sarah Palin naked? Shove! It could work)

Me: Let me ask you a question, if the mission had gone all Jimmy Carter, you know crashed and burned in the desert with the SEALs dead instead of heroes, would that have been Obama’s fault?

Dude: Uh…

Blowhard: Oh fu-uck. (He makes this kind of shuddery dismissive gesture. He reminds me of somebody, but I can’t quite put my finger on it)

Me: Come on, it’s not a trick question.  If the mission failed and bin Laden had escaped, you would have blamed Obama. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t. Right? (It’s right on the tip of my tongue. I think it’s his little shitty goatee)

Blowhard: No. Maybe. Well, okay, but it is his responsibility! (Ah. I’ve got it. Blowhard sort of reminds me of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, only not as bright).

Dude: Exactly!   (If Blowhard is Scooby, and if you squint your eyes in the pouring rain, Dude might be Daphne. Maybe I’ll get lucky and somebody will kidnap him)

Me: Yes. It is his responsibility as president. He could have ordered an airstrike. The Air Force could have nuked the place from orbit, or the Navy could have dropped a Tomahawk on it.  Obama could have backed off, and asked the Pakistanis to do it.  Bin Laden was hiding within their sovereign territory and by law that’s what the President should have done. Going in we violated a couple of treaties and our status of forces agreement.  If the mission had gone bad, the team would have been caught red handed in clear violation of international law. If you win, well, nobody argues with success. If you screw the pooch, well, then we’ve committed an act of naked aggression within the borders of a foreign ally and we’ve got to ask pretty please for the bodies of our people and our classified equipment back. But the risk is much worse than that. See, the SEALs went into that compound on the orders of the President. An operation that big, there’d be absolutely no way to deny that the President was involved.  If it goes bad it’s an act of war. On an ally. 

Blowhard: Fuck ‘em. Fuck Pakistan. (honestly, I don’t know why Shaggy isn’t working high up in the State Department as a diplomat instead of wasting his international policy acumen as a low-level wrench turner in remote Alaska)

Me: You’re just not getting it.  Obama, Instead of playing it safe, instead of taking the conservative approach, he chose the high risk mission – the one with the biggest payoff for the United States.  We could have bombed the compound without risking a single American life – but we would have never known if we got bin Laden for certain.  Then Al Qaeda could have claimed that bin Laden was still alive and we couldn’t have proven otherwise. They could have also said the house was nothing but a daycare center full of fat happy babies or kitten factory or some such.  And dropping HE on a target has side effects. Remember, it was a residential neighborhood, we’d have probably killed a lot of innocents in the surrounding houses.

Dude:  Yeah, but…

Me: If you finish that sentence with “…they’re just towel-heads” I’m going to toss you into a jet engine.  We’re the good guys. Blowing people up in their sleep and not giving a fuck about killing innocents and non-combatants and women and kids is what people like bin Laden do.  If you remember right, that’s exactly how this thing started. (I shouldn’t have to keep explaining this to Americans)

Blowhard: Okay. Fine. But it’s not like Obama was out there with the SEALs. The guy never even served.

Me: What’s that got to do with it? If the Founders thought that was important, they’d have put it in the Constitution. Look, you were in the Army, what? One tour?  Long enough to know that the senior man is responsible. Period.  Obama, as President, assumed the risk of command.  He assumes the risk, it’s his responsibility. This isn’t just some bullshit idea, it’s the law as defined by the Constitution.  As Commander in Chief, he decided how the mission would be carried out and he assumed the risk for it.  He gets the blame if it goes wrong, but that also means he gets credit if it goes right. 

Blowhard: Then Bush should get credit too.  He did more to find bin Laden than Obama.

Dude: Yeah! (No, not Daphne, more like Scrappy-Doo or maybe Scooby-Dum)

Me: Seriously?  Again, if the mission had failed, would you say that Bush shares the blame with Obama? Never mind, don’t hurt yourself thinking about it.  Bush deserved credit the same way the previous coach of a Championship football team deserves credit for when the team wins the Super Bowl.

Blowhard: I don’t follow you. (This? Yes, this is my surprised Velma face)

Me: Look, if a coach spends eight years building a team, but never goes to the championships, then retires and you take over and two years later you take the team all the way to the Super Bowl, who gets credit?  You might give the first guy a hat tip for leaving you a great team, but it was you who got them to the gold ring. It doesn’t matter how much the previous guy wanted it, or how much he cared.  He never went all the way. You’re the coach, it’s your victory.  Bush hasn’t been the coach for two years, this was Obama’s show.  If you’re going to give Bush credit, why not give credit to the frogmen in WWII from which the SEALs originated? Or the UDTs in Vietnam?  Or Kennedy for having the foresight to listen to Admiral Burke? (not that I’d actually expect either of these lugnuts to know who Arleigh Burke was)

Dude: I get what you’re saying, man. But they should give credit to the SEALs instead of Obama.  (No. What “they” should do is make a law that lets you taze stupid people. Repeatedly. Right in the Mystery Machine. Just sayin’)

Me: Look, if you give credit to the coach of a winning team, does that take credit away from the quarterback?

Dude: No, I guess not. (This guy’s brain is like a spawned-out salmon, gray and wet and rotten around the edges. Bludgeon it enough and it finally stops flopping)

Me: Same thing.  (Jesus Fucking Christ, where is the guy I’m waiting for? Did he get sucked into a jet engine? Scooby-Doo, where are you?)

Blowhard: Yeah. Whatever. We got him.  It only took twenty years, it’s time for Barry to quit grandstanding.  Gas is five dollars out in the Valley! (speaking of football, who just moved the goalposts? Zoinks! It’s weird old Mr Jenkins, the airport maintenance man!)

Dude: Exactly!  It’s five dollars! When’s Oblamo going to do something about that? (And I’d have gotten away with it to, if it wasn’t for you rotten kids!)

Me: So, you guys are communists then?

Dude: (looks at me like I said “gay” instead of “communist”)

Blowhard:  (looks at me like I just said “gay liberal vegetarian tree-hugging evolutionist who gives $5 hummers at the truck stop” instead of commie.”)

Me: Because, you know, that’s what it is when the government controls the price of stuff.  Marxism. (Rut roe, Shaggy!)

Blowhard: The president can lower the price of gas if he wants to!  He just doesn’t want to.

Me: Again, I don’t think you understand the concept of a free market. You’re saying that the president sets the price of commodities like gasoline?  I’m pretty sure that’s not how capitalism works. (Seriously, do they not teach this stuff in school anymore? Do they spend all day watching cartoons?)

Dude: Yeah, but he can do stuff to force the oil companies to lower their prices! (Scoooby Scooby Doooo!)

Me: Stuff? What kind of stuff? (It’s cartoon magic! All the problems solved in thirty minutes minus time for commercials and a Scooby-Snack!)

Blowhard: Hey, there’s your guy coming through the gate.

Me: Jinkies!

Blowhard: What?

Me: Nothing, it’s about time.

 

 

I was more of a Johnny Quest fan, love that science and logic stuff.

I never much cared for Scooby-Doo.

Now I remember why.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Handy Man Special

You need to fix everybody in your lives to be absolutely pro-gun, You need to talk guns all the time. You need to talk hunting all the time… If it was up to me, if you uttered the word 'gun control,' we'd put you in jail. Does anybody not know that the most dangerous place in the world is a gun-free zone?

The most dangerous place in the world is a gun-free zone.

If you mention gun control, you should go to jail.

The quote above was from the Motor City Madman himself, Ted “Bang Bang” Nugent, speaking to the National Rifle Association last Sunday night in Pittsburgh.  He got a standing ovation and then rocked out a heavy metal version of the Star Spangled Banner from a stage festooned with assault rifles, hunting bows, and the skulls of various big game.

You mention gun control, we put you in jail, because the most dangerous place in the world is a place free of guns.

Interesting.

This is a common theme of late, reaching a fevered pitch in the last two years for some odd unidentifiable reason (see what I did there? Bam! Sarcasm!).  The gun ownership and control issue is a subset of a larger libertarian ideal.  Folks like Ted Nugent and the Tea Party speak passionately for their vision of a perfect country. A perfect country of small government and large men. Large men with guns. Lots and lots of guns.

What, I wondered, would such a land look like and does such exist today?

Surprisingly I found that such a place does indeed exist, and this conservative libertarian utopia didn’t take long to find either.  Frankly I’m shocked, shocked that such a land of freedom and opportunity is still on the market. 

Where did I find such a paradise?

Why, on Craigslist, of course:

 

Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware any deal involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, cashier check, money order, shipping, escrow, or any promise of transaction protection/certification/guarantee

Libertarian Paradise! – $200


Date: 2011-05-03, 8:17PM AKDT
Reply to: sale-nuge-catscratchfever@craigslist.wtf


  • Location: Motor City
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

     

Now you too can own your very own slice of heaven!

Beautiful ocean front property, priced to sell. A truly unique fixer-upper opportunity for the liberty-lovin’ gun-nut who is handy with a few basic tools. 

Features:

Small (practically nonexistent) Government: Never be bothered by government again. Extremely limited central authority. Hate  politicians? You’ll never see one.  Hate those pesky bureaucrats always telling you what to do? Never again!  Can stand those over-educated elitists? That’s not a problem here.  This property features absolutely no entitlement programs whatsoever. None. No government run retirement, no socialized medicine, no welfare, no handouts, no bailouts, AND NO TAXES!

Fortified Borders:  No illegal aliens, in fact, no immigration of any kind! Why put up with filthy foreign invaders when you don’t have to?  This property comes with comprehensive border security including concertina wire and mine fields.

Pure Capitalism:  No socialist nonsense here. No Fed.  No Wall Street. No minimum wage. No labor laws (including child labor laws). No worker’s comp. And NO unions! Work or starve! This property features an absolutely pure hands-off old-fashioned market driven laissez-faire economy.  No safety or environmental restrictions on your manufacturing and commerce. There is no affirmative action telling you who you can hire and no political correctness telling you who you can fire.  Say and do as you please!  Take as much as you like, God will make more! Fish as much as you want. Drill for oil any damned place you feel like. Strip mine, nobody will get in your way.  EPA? Never heard of it! Pollute!  Waste! Get Rich! Take what’s yours, seize the moment. Because, really, don’t you deserve it?

Morality! This property comes with God built right in! None of that silly separation of church and state stuff you find in other countries. No pandering to other, inferior, beliefs.  No godless evolution! No global climate change! No radio carbon dating! And even though this property is less than 6000 years old the owners have made numerous upgrades since the Great Deluge!

No Coddling of Criminals: No liberal judges legislating from the bench here. No tax dollars spent on country clubs for criminals or “rehabilitation.”  Murder? It’s the death sentence. Theft? Death! Infidelity? Death! Parking violation? Death!  And no waiting around for appeal after appeal either, every citizen is judge, jury, and executioner! 

Absolutely Unrestricted Gun Ownership: Gun ownership here is not only encouraged, it’s mandatory!  A true gun owner’s paradise.  No restrictions on handguns. No restrictions on automatic weapons. No restrictions on ammo. No limits on how many guns you can own. No permits. No license for concealed or open carry. No waiting period! No background check! No registration! No age limit! If you want to own a fully operational Soviet Tank or a Stinger Missile, this property is for you!

Too many other features to name – including fully privatized education, ocean front access, private beach, free of queers, feminists, hippies, tree huggers, and those DAMNED LIBERALS!

 

Make me an offer! A deal this good won’t stay on the market for more than a few decades at best.  No reasonable offer refused! Will consider trade for truck (Ford only) or big screen TV. 

Don’t miss out on your very own Nugentopia! - If you lived here, you’d be living in the safest country in the world!

 

Call after 555-FREEDOM! Ask for Horn Of Africa Real Estate, Somalia Desk!