Ms. Dominique

Ms. Dominique
Ms. Dominique

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

enter "The Bankrupt State"

There is a little known plan created by the Neo-conservative think tanks called "The Bankrupt State." The plan is to get control of the government, with a Republican President and Congress, and then spend the federal government into bankruptcy. It doesn't matter what they spend the money on--though of course they want to channel as much of the money as thay can into the pockets of their political supporters--it only matters that they essentially bankrupt the government by creating an enormous national debt. This plan was carried out under Reagan, Bush, & Bush II.

The point of this plan is to so hobble the federal government with debt that it will have to focus on essential functions of government. Other needs, like the environment, social services, oversight of corporations, social justice will not be funded. The big corporations--who support the Republicans--are especially concerned to stop investigations of corportate corruption. Recently it was disclosed that the Justice Dept. is actively investigating only 10% of major corporate crimes. Of that 10% only a tiny fraction will ever go to trial.

The administration of George W. Bush has pursued this plan with a vengence. This is the primary reason we went to war with Iraq. The quickest way to spend money is on a war. The Bush administration has squandered many billions in Iraq and much of this money went into the pockets of Defense contractors and Bush's (and especially Chaney's) political friends. It is in the best interests of Bush's friends to prolong the war in Iraq for as long as possible, in order to squeeze every last nickel out of the war contracts. So don't look for an end to the war anytime soon. If the Democrats do get control of the House or Senate, look for Bush to block any investigation of war profiteering in the name of "national security."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Men of God ?

Dallas police described a 56-year-old substitute teacher as incapacitated when they arrested him at a Richardson Independent School District middle school.

According to the police report, Thomas Brownlee had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and alcohol on his breath. In fact, the report stated that Brownlee was "a danger to himself and others."

The substitute teacher was arrested for being drunk in the classroom. Evidently he was sooooo... drunk that the police didn't give him a sobriety test for fear he would fall and hurt himself. The teacher was a minister.

A reporter asked Rev. Brownlee about his car's vanity license plate, "IMBLZT" -- is that supposed to mean "I'm blitzed" (drunk)? No, Brownlee said--he's also a minister, he explained, and to him it means "I'm blessed."
--Dallas Morning News)

Christianity, or any religion for that matter, is not what people think and do. It is the product of an idealized notion of how the universe works. We can talk all we want to about Liturgies, Prayers, Devotions, and Charities, but these are just the end product of a concept. People are devoted to their religions—each one has a specific set of beliefs—and they are willing to make major sacrifices and devote all their personal resources to supporting this concept. And they do this even when the leaders of the church turn out to be abusive thugs, thieves and even child-molesters. For The Religious, the real world is a separate category kept in a seperate mental box, and their life experiences do not connect with The Belief, which is often maintained and upheld in spite of the evidence.

For example, on a daily basis ministers are found to stealing church funds, seducing sons and daughters, manipulating elderly members into giving their life savings to the church, etc, etc, etc. But rarely are these criminals caught and punished by the church. Often it is the intervention of others—meaning non-believers or believers in some other church—who investigate and prosecute criminal acts. I know of several cases where a local minister was caught stealing from the church. In some cases the church asks for the money to be returned, but the thief is never prosecuted—mainly because that would reflect badly on the idealized notion of Christianity. Most church members are willing to “forgive and forget” rather than create a public scandal. The usual excuse is that they do not want to create a “stumbling block” for new recruits—those who are still “weak” in their belief and commitment to the faith. Most congregations are willing to take the long view: that it is better to suck in a batch of new recruits (and their money) rather than punish wrongdoing in the church and risk losing membership. Some churches will put up with ministers who exhibit truly bizarre behavior: drug addiction, addiction to pornography, alcoholism. The Catholic Church protected child molestors for decades, and they even defended them from criminal investigations. And these “men of God” are to be admired and respected?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And the National Book Award goes to...

Here is another case in point on the growing Stupification of the American reading public. Richard Power's The Echo Maker received the National Book Award, one of the country's most prestigious writing awards. Unfortunately, this novel is little more than mediocre shlock. On the other hand, it does have angels-- which seems to be the growing trend in fiction today.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Last week I attended a performance of a Beethoven symphony. I arrived at the auditorium and sat in a seat near the front. Just as the performance began, two old trolls walked in and sat in the seats directly in front of me. In a few minutes the scent of hairspray wafted over me and I could feel an allergic reaction in my nose and throat. As soon as I could, I moved further down the row.

Not good enough. The smell was still overwhelming. How much hairspray do you have to put on for crying out loud!

I then moved to the far side of the room.

Why do people feel they have the right to douse themselves with perfume, cologne, hairspray and other loud scents and then go into a public place? Don't they know that many people have strong reactions to that crap?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Christian Bookstores-- a contradiction

The current issue of Christianity Today (April 2008) has an article "How to Save the Christian Bookstore" which suggests that Christians make bookstores more friendly and less obviously religious. Some bookstores (mainly the independently-owned stores, which are in decline) might be able to pull this off. If the focus is truly on using the bookstore as a forum forum for recruiting and indoctrination, this might happen.

But in reality Christian bookstores are primarily in it to make a buck.

I often visit the mall in Joplin, Missouri, which includes a religious bookstore. I've often beem surprised by the staff of the bookstore. Invariably they are very tightly-wound creepy characters, exactly the kind of people you see on The X-Files as running cults in rural towns and practicing cannibalism, child molesting, and other such rituals.

From the expressions on their faces and the twisted body-language it is clear that they are very, very unhappy people who have been trapped in dead-end jobs. Since the owners of the Christian bookstore are probably Christians, we can also be fairly sure that these people are working for minimum wage with no benefits ("they can always rely on God for help") and no hope to escape their taskmasters.

How could you make this place "friendly" when the workers are so miserable and unhappy?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pandering to the Religious

When you work at a university in the Bible Belt, this is the kind of stuff you have to deal with. The university plays the host for this show:

“AFTERdark,” an evening of music, motivation, and evangelism geared toward college students, will begin at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, in the Weede Physical Education Building. The event will include music from country group Blue County, and will feature national guest speaker and author Joe White.

"White, who lives in Branson, Mo., tours the country with “AFTERdark,” speaking to millions of people about Christianity. He has founded 19 schools and an orphanage in Haiti, and is the founder of Kanakuk Kamps, which has hosted more than 20,000 campers from all over the world.

"The free event is open to the public and is being sponsored by PSU’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Cross Quest, and Campus Christians."

A bulk email was sent out to all faculty, and it suggested that faculty could give out "extra credit" to students for attending this religious service. Several days later, and probably because of complaints, the university sent out another email. This email stated that faculty at a state university should probably not be giving extra credit for attending an evagelical Christian religious service.


Of course, by the time the second email went out, all the Religious faculty had probably already promised to give extra credit. So the contrary email sent out several days later probably had litte effect. The damage was already done.

After the event, the local newspaper reported that over 1,000 people attended. These 1,000 attendees were, no doubt, students and local ministers and their congregations who had supported and promoted the event. This kind of event, held on a university campus, gives local ministers a chance to prey on young people, usually when they are away from home and at their most vulnerable. This is why religious cults always hang around colleges and universities. It's a good place to find new cult members. One of the very earliest groups to be labelled a "cult" was based on a college campus in Boston.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Who Murdered Socrates?

The Rise of the Mediocracy as a Social Theory

"No reports are more readily believed
than those which disparage genius,
and soothe the envy of conscious
mediocrity." -- Macaulay (1837)

There is probably no social force more completely overlooked and ignored that the role of mediocrities in shaping human history. From the collapse of the Greek city-states to the collapse of the Soviet Empire, no particular human failing has played a greater role in our history than the mediocrity of the popular opinion makers--"the media elite" and their envy of the accomplished, the able, and the achiever. They not only engage in character assassination, but sometimes go for the real thing.
From the assassination of Julius Caesar to those of Trotsky and Malcolm X, from the forced "suicide" of Socrates to that of Rommel.

In a very real sense, human history is the record of leaders who build empires, only to be destroyed by the envy of their followers, and the resulting decay and collapse as the mediocrities fight among themselves for control of the empire. In a very real sense, human history is largely the record of lions being brought down by jackals, and the resulting disaster as the jackals fight among themselves for the scraps of power and pieces of empire.

This idea will go towards explaining how, after taking the nomination, Barak Obama will be mercilessly ripped apart by Joe Scarborough, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter,.....

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jumper -- the movie

I went to see the new film, Jumper, a hight-tech sci-fi wonder with tons of special effects and (the usual) poor writing that we have all come to expect from Hollywood. I am amazed that Hollywood studios are willing to invest tens of millions to make a film, but aren't willing to shell out a few grand extra to get good writers.

Every writer I talk to wants to go to Hollywood and write for films. There should be hundreds, if not thousands, of good writers who would like to do a screenplay. Then why is it that we get this horrid, crappy plots and lousy dialog... over and over and over again?

The Sci-Fi Channel movies are clearly the worst offenders in this area. Their films are horribly written.

I think the culprits are the producers and directors who think that, just because they can talk people into investing in a film and green-lighting its production, that they also have the talent to write. Eddie Murphy's _Vampire in Brooklyn_ is a case in point. According to the newspapers, Eddie and his brothers sat around a kitchen table, drinking beer and writing the screenplay.

It shows just how little regard Hollywood has for good writing. The recent writer's strike is proof (as if we needed any) that movie companies think of writers as noisy pests that they can do without.

And, as if that was bad enough, I had to sit through the entire film near an old woman who had some serious hygiene problem--as least I assume she had a serious hygiene problem since she obviously poured a whole bottle of perfume on herself before she left the house.

We had a Russian exchange student stay with us for three months (some years ago) and he did the same thing. Except that he used Old Spice cologne.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And the Pulitzer goes to....

Any time you go to a bookstore, you can see dozens of novels that have won one prize or another. One of the most coveted prizes is the Pulitzer, but there are many lesser-known prizes, too. Some are legitimate awards and others are phony cocked-up awards created to promote a magazine. And then there are the awards created by publishers for the sole purpose of feeding the ego of a favorite writer. For example, recently a group of publishers got together and created a phony award to give to Stephen King. God knows that King would never win an award based on actual talent, so these guys decided to create an award for him. Nice!

The problem with many of these awards is that they are given to mediocrities by a committee made up of literary mediocrities. For example, giving the Pulitzer to _Middlesex_ is a case in point. The author of _Middlesex_ is an accomplished mediocrity--his writing is at a high level of mediocrity--but it is, nonetheless mediocre. His character of Callie is supposed to be female, but never actually escapes from his male viewpoint.

This is a problem when you set out to reward merit, but rely on mediocrities to select merit. There is always the Scalieri Factor, where the mediocrities conspire together against the truly talented and present an award to one of their own.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Gay Marriage and Polygamy

Some right-wingers have unfairly (I think) attacked Mitt Romney for supporting gay marriage back when he was governor of Massachusetts. Personally, I think he only supported gay marriage because he saw it as a possible doorway to supporting the legalization of polygamy. Mitt's grandpa was a big-time polygamist who escaped into Mexico when polygamy was outlawed in Utah.

Now that Mitt is out of the race, the anti-gay marriage faction in the Republican Party can rest easy. No back-door legalization of gay marriage or polygamy.

By the way, I've heard that the License plate on Romney's truck has the number:


I'm not sure what that means... I guess it's a vanity plate.

Maybe it's a hispanic thing, since Mitt's grandpa moved here from Mexico.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Worst TV Show of All Time: Medium

What to do, What to do....

With so many bad television shows, this choice will be a difficult one. I suppose it should be limited to currently running shows, which eliminates _Scooby Do_ and _Fraiser_. It should also be a show that is not just stupid and silly, but also a program that does actual harm to the viewer's mind.

A good choice would be any of the shows that deal with "ghosts." Certainly _Ghost Hunters_ on the Sci-Fi Channel would top the list, as would _The Ghost Whisperer_ (and any other show with the word "Whisperer" in the title).

But the absolute worst show on TV would have to be _Medium_ on NBC. The main character is played by actress Patricia Arquette as the ghost-whispering medium. Frankly, so much of this show offends me that it's hard to know where to start.

First, the medium's husband Joe Dubois, played by actor Jake Weber (a competent actor, which makes it hard to explain why he took this gig) has a tone of voice, when he speaks to his wife, that is grating and annoying to listen to. If anyone were to use that tone of voice with me, I'd punch him in the nose. How does "the medium" stand listening to this? Doesn't her alleged "6th sense" tell her that her husband is a jerk and that he talks to her like she's an idiot (not that she isn't an idiot-- but it shouldn't be thrown in her face that way). If she really had extra-sensory perception she would read his mind and dumped him a long time ago.

The same thing goes for her funny-looking kids (and especially the chubby-faced daughter). If "Allison" really had an ability at all to see into the future, then she would have avoided having kids. Or, at least, she would have begged off having marital relations with her husband on the night this kid was conceived. If she was really psychic, she would have seen just how funny-looking her kid would be in the future.

I could go on, but why? This show is a big-time stinker.