Sunday, April 27, 2008

The question of personhood

This gets a little grody, but it's 200-proof distilled truth.
Personhood is an excuse. If one wishes to work one's will upon the weak and helpless, one first removes their humanity in thought. Call the Jews sons of Pigs. Call the Negroes sub-human. Call the worthless old folk bread gobblers or vegetables. Called the unborn any name by what they are: human offspring. Babies.

Tell me honestly. If I said I had a mare who was carrying a foal in her womb, do you think anyone (anyone not deliberately arguing about abortion) could correct my language, and tell me my mare cannot be carrying a foal, because an embryo is not a member of the species 'horse'?

Does anyone talk that way? Does anyone say a horse is not a horse just because it is still in the womb?

Let us take this hypothetical one step further. Suppose I were an faithful Hindu, forbidden by my laws to eat beef. Could I eat the veal from an unborn calf on the grounds that he was not a cow, not a member of the species, cattle? Suppose I were an observant Jew, forbidden by my laws to eat pork. Could I eat the bacon from an unborn piglet on the grounds that he was not a swine, not a member of the species, pig?

Would anyone be persuaded by the beef-eating Hindu or the pork-eating Jew if their diet consisted only of animals taken half a second before birth from their mother's wombs?

Let us take the hypothetical one step further. Suppose I live in a country where unborn homo sapiens are not considered human. Suppose my laws forbid the eating of human flesh, on the ground that it is cannibalism. I go to an abortionist, find a baby who is only halfway out of the womb, coming out feet first. The abortionist drives a pair of scissors into the babies fragile skull, and suctions out this brains. I take the rest of the flesh home and cook it up for a meat sandwich. Michael Valentine Smith and Hannibal Lector come by and eat with me. A little tiny perfectly formed baby hand sticks out of one side of my sandwich as I wolf it down.

Is my action legally not an act of cannibalism, on the grounds that what I ate was not a human?

If anyone can think of a pro-abortion answer that holds water, I'd be interested in hearing it. I can't come up with one.

Akubra tip to Paragraph Farmer.

All you need is bodily fluids and an insane desire for attention

As usual, Iowahawk has the best take on the Yale abortion-art hooraw.

Lord, hear our prayer

Or for Protestant readers, can I get an "amen?"
Dear Jesus,

Please do not create any more stupid people. We are full up, here.



Saturday, April 26, 2008

No contest whatsoever

In an immediate compromise of the post below, I have to pass this on. You've probably seen it already, but I can't stop chortling over it.
A comment from Denmark on the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections

'We in Denmark cannot figure out why you are even bothering to hold an election.

On one side, you have a b*tch who is a lawyer, married to a lawyer, and a lawyer who is married to a b*tch who is a lawyer.

On the other side, you have a true war hero married to a woman with a large chest who owns a beer distributorship.

Is there a contest here?'

I'll go along with it

Back in the 90s, when conservatives were finding conspiracy theories in every corner of the Clinton White House, and finding no charge so ludicrous that they wouldn't level it against him, I went unheard in saying that it would come back to bite us in the butt when a Republican was elected. I turned out to be right, as the frequent outbreaks of Bush Derangement Syndrome demonstrate. So I'm pleased to see this relayed by A Boy Named Sous:
The Conservative Non-Derangement Pact

If Obama is elected:
1. We won’t convert the conservative blogosphere into a shrill, psychotic echo chamber consisting primarily of profanity-laced invective.
2. If anyone kills themselves in the White House, we will assume it isn’t murder until proven otherwise.
3. We won’t be so strident in our hatred of Obama that we push moderates into his corner.
4. We won’t start up another raft of conspiracy theories involving the Illuminati.
5. We WILL fight our political battles red of tooth and claw, but smile while doing it.

I'll sign. One side has to be gentlemen, and it should be the side that can say the word without spitting.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today she's on the plane.

Of the entire cast of the greatest movie ever made, there is now only one cast member still alive. Joy Page, who played the sweet young thing Annina Brandel, now travels in elephants.

Annina was the sweet young bride who is prepared to sacrifice her wifely virtue to the slimy Renneau for exit visas for her and her husband. Rick, we all know, intervenes and lets him win a bundle at roulette, so the girl can leave Casablanca without her husband ever knowing what she was ready to do for him. It's one of the best scenes in the film, a counterpoint to the cynicism and drama that surrounds Rick himself. It also shows that the idea of women in the 40s as decorative but passive is hooey. Annina is (as she puts it) older than her husband, even though she's presumably got fewer years. (In fact, the actor who played Jan was seven years older; he died in 1982.) It also gives Rick a chance to show that he's not as hard-bitten as he comes across. It's kind of a build-up to the drunk-and-weeeping scene, where we see his pain poured out into a glass. Women, it says, can indeed be good people; it's only Rick's bad luck that he was so badly burned. (Show em a divorced or otherwise dumped man who doesn't immediately identify with that scene, and I'll show you onne who was never really in love.)

Joy Page makes you want to smile sweetly the first time she comes on camera, looking up at the plane to Lisbon and saying, "Maybe tomorrow we'll be on that plane." There's an innocence about her that shines like an aura. In this crazy world, people like her are the ones that do matter a hill of beans. They're the reason a war should be fought.

So the last surviving cast member (that IMDb can verify) is the aptly-if-ungrammatically-named Madeleine LeBeau, who plays Yvonne the French trollop. If Annina was a wistful smile, Yvonne was a lecherous and slightly indulgent grin. Watching her at the bar with the Boche, and then with tears on her face singing La Marseillaise at the top of her lungs, shows the sort of balancing act people had to do in wartime.

Joy Page, interestingly enough, was one of only three American-born actors in the cast. Many of the others were actual refugees from either the war or Nazi-controlled countries. She was cast to begin with because she was Jack Warner's stepdaughter, but she was the perfect choice.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Good idea, bad application

This guy's promise to speak to any group sounds like an excellent one ... in theory. Alas, his mileage varied:
U.S. Congressional candidate Tony Zirkle is facing criticism from one of his primary opponents, and a host of people on the Internet, for speaking at an event over the weekend that celebrated Adolf Hitler's birthday...

The Crown Point Republican spoke in front of about 56 "white activists" at an event honoring the birth of Hitler. The German leader was responsible for the genocide of millions of Jews and others during World War II.

Zirkle said the group asked him to speak to discuss the effect of pornography and prostitution on young, white women and girls.

Zirkle is running against Republican Luke Puckett of Goshen and Joseph Roush of Plymouth in the May primary. He lost twice before in primaries to former U.S. Rep. Chris Chocola and has made doing away with pornography and prostitution his top campaign plank.

"I told (Channel 16, WNDU in South Bend) in the beginning that I'd speak to any group that wanted me to speak," Zirkle said Monday. He said he's also recently spoken on the subject to a pair of black journalists.

"I'm keeping my promise. I'll speak to any group. (The National Socialist Workers Party) was interested in the targeting of white people for prostitution."

He says he'll address the Black Panthers or the Jewish Zionists the same way, although something tells me they won't be inviting him to anytime soon. It's a good concept - treating all groups equally whether you agree with them or not. A good concept that just guaranteed that a retarded possum could beat him in the primary.

And they say Republicans aren't inclusive.

A tip of the Akubra to Kathy Shaidle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Unspeakable bastards

There is no scaffold high enough to string up these vermin.
A company that offered rescue services to homeowners struggling with their mortgages will refund about $75,000 to 200 Washington consumers under a settlement announced Monday by the state Attorney General's Office.

Homeowners paid between $1,200 and $1,500 to Foreclosure Assistance LLC, of Clearwater, Fla., hoping the company could help save their homes from foreclosure. The state alleged that the company pocketed homeowners' money but did little or nothing to help them save their homes.

More than 70 percent of homeowners who signed up for the services ended up losing their homes, anyway, the state said.

"We believe Foreclosure Assistance Solutions used coercive tactics to pressure consumers into paying for a service they really couldn't afford and then doing little or nothing to actually help those consumers save their homes," Attorney General Rob McKenna said in a statement.

Having recently squeaked out of a foreclosure, I can easily picture the desperation with which these predators' victims seized on the bait, only to be cheated out of the very thing they were trying so frantically to hold on to. I'm ashamed to have the same number of chromosomes as anyone who would do a thing like that.

There are no words vile enough for such scum. May their mothers be lured into crack prostitution. May their children repudiate them and change their names. May their accountants and lawyers fleece them and leave them destitute. May their internal organs fail, one by one. And at the end, when they are hauled screaming into the eternal furnace that no doubt awaits them, may they do so in the dark, alone and unmourned. If anyone can think of heavier curses, I'd like to see those applied as well.

(Incidentally, did the Clearwater address ring any bells? Yup. Turns out they're Scientologists. Unsurprisingly, the layers of sleaze just keep piling up.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

The most patronizing thing I've read in a long time

File under "Just enough of me, way too much of you:"

Shorter Buzz Thomas: Religions that cling to outmoded "tenets" and won't get on board with the current trends should damn well be made to change their doctrines. Screw the immortal soul; this is important!

All the depth of a puddle in July.

Friday, April 18, 2008

How ironic

Weren't we warned we'd need this eventually if we kept doing that? I'm surprised nobody thought of this sooner.

Bye bye, Seattle!

Write if you get work! And don't let the door hit you in your sorry, drizzly, latte-stained ass!
Frustrated by the state and federal gridlock on solving Seattle's transportation problems, Mayor Greg Nickels suggested secession at a Thursday luncheon.

"Our region should declare its independence," Nickels said.

The Puget Sound regional economy makes up 67 percent of the state's economic activity, he said. "If we were a country, [our economy] would be just a little smaller than Thailand. We would be larger than Colombia, Venezuela. We are held back because our state and federal government still believe our economies are driven by wheat farms and timber logging."

Somewhere between Colombia and Thailand, huh? Seattle ought to feel right at home sandwiched in between countries that make their money from drug dealers and child prostitution. In case Nickels hasn't looked lately, wheat is a lot more essential than, say, more copies of Windows. Those laser discs don't digest very well. And who is it that sucked all the prosperity out of the logging counties? Hint: it wasn't the people who actually lived there. It was Seattle pseudo-intellectuals who never met a logger they didn't yearn to see unemployed.

I envision a state shaped like the one above, made up of those counties in Washington that grow food instead of luxuries, have air you can actually see through, and believe that generating electricity is a good thing. The Coasties are even welcome to keep the name Washington if they want; we'll pick another one. Then they can vote themselves in all the Kleptocratic administrations they want without having to cheat, and we'll have an actual franchise. We'll raise taters and wheat, and I hope the Coasties find their airplanes tasty.

Free the Brownside!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rest in peace, Uncle Larry

I don't know how far you can judge a man by his obituary, but my uncle got a pretty impressive one in the local paper today. He died yesterday morning in his sleep, after a very short bout with a brain tumor. (CCFOAD, by the way, for those readers who also hang out at the Pint Place.) If you didn't know, you'd never have guessed that he was 80. When my folks moved to town about ten years ago, he was the one who kept lugging furniture long after his juniors had collapsed on the floor.

Larry is also a large part of the reason that this area isn't depressed like so many other rural counties in the west. When the air base closed in 1964, he was one of the guys who jumped on the chance to make an international airport out of it and attract industries that otherwise wouldn't have even thought about coming to Moses Lake. He supposedly retired 25 years ago, but that was just for show. I never saw a man as involved as Larry. Everything he turned his hand to seemed to prosper, to the benefit of everyone around him.

But all that is secondary. Larry was first and foremost one hell of a nice guy. He's my great-uncle; his sister was my grandmother. Thing is, there are no genes connecting us, because it's actually my stepfather's family. From them, though, I learned that "step" is a null concept in families. The moment my mom married his nephew, my sister and I were family. And that applied retroactively; we had always been family. My grandparents set that precedent at the wedding, and everybody else followed suit. We belonged, period. By extension, they kind of adopted my kids, some of whom are also "steps." There were no such technicalities in the Peterson/Fitzgerald family.

As you can see from the article, a lot of other people liked him, too. The funeral will be held at our church, which is just about the biggest in town, and I'll bet it's still overflowing. I sort of wonder what my aunt will do now that he's gone, as her health isn't very good. She's sharp as a tack - nothing wrong with her mind - but she doesn't get around as well as she used to. Still, there's no shortage of people who love her, me included. She'll be well cared for.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Sorry, fella

I know it was unprofessional of those doctors, but I would have laughed, too. Maybe you should be more careful of the company you keep.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Memo to parents:

The kids belong to the state, not to you.

There are so many things about this whole case that stink like a waterfront brothel the day after payday that I don't even know where to begin. As much as I loathe the FLDS, I don't think a whole lot more of CPS. I'd rather see children looked after by religious psychos who love them than state professionals who simply want to file their cases.

I'd be very, very interested in knowing some of the financial details of this operation. If CPS is going to be getting money to deal with this huge kid seizure, I'd like to know how much and whether they knew about it before the alleged phone call came. My prediction is that the girl who made the initial call will never be found, any criminal charges that are filed will be sporadic and serendipitous, and the vast majority of the parents will never hear from their kids again. Because when you deal with CPS, you're guilty even if proven innocent, simply because you have kids that the agency can get grants for taking away.

This stuck out at me like a bee-stung nose:
ELDORADO, Texas (AP) — State officials Tuesday defended their decision to suddenly separate mothers from many of the children taken in a raid on a polygamist ranch in West Texas.
Texas Children's Protective Services spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said the separation was made Monday after they decided that children are more truthful in interviews about possible abuse if their parents are not around.

Where have we heard that before?

The last of his kind

Ollie Johnston, the last of Disney's incredible team of "Nine Old Men," travels in elephants. There's a wonderful article here, from someone who knew him.

You know, my kids don't know what it's like to watch hand-drawn cartoons. The older ones were weaned on Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, Disney's 90s renaissance, so they've seen a shadow of the artistry, at least. The younger ones don't remember at all a time when animation didn't come from computers.

The year I was born, Disney put out what would be its last successful animated feature until my first child was old enough to be watching them. The gap between the two marks another generational shift at Disney: The old artists giving way to the younger executives. More than seven decades after the first Disney feature was released, the art is still staggering in its simplicity, its detail, and its ability to turn distinctions between child and grown-up into irrelevancies for an hour and a half.

Your assignment: If you cried when Bambi lost his mother in the fire, say a prayer for Ollie's soul. If you still cry, go to the nearest church and light a candle for him. Be honest.

And then go home and show your kids what animation looked like when it was young.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Doesn't it figure?

Back in the dark days before Tim Eyman's car-tab initiative, the cost of registering a car was so prohibitive in Washington that anyone who lived close enough would license their cars in Oregon instead, even if it meant having family who lived in Oregon do it for you. In response, the Washington State Patrol took to sitting on the bridges leading from Vancouver into Portland, taking down license numbers of commuters with Oregon plates and checking them against utility bills and such. (I figure the excise tax must have been paying their salaries, since Lord knows it wasn't being used to maintain I-5 through that area.)

Ironic that The Woman who Would Be Governor should be doing her campaigning in an Oregon-registered vehicle. Maybe her followers could hide enough ballots in Salem to get her a mansion there, too.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Red in tooth and claw

The folks who are shocked that a polar bear would kill carp for fun are probably the same ones who think milk comes from the organic co-op and tofu grows on vines already wrapped in plastic. Some people, you just have to pat them on the head and smile.

Let me get this straight:

Weird religious group lies to authorities and helps groom young girls for sexual exploitation: Bad.

Government-funded agency lies to authorities and helps groom young girls for sexual exploitation: Good.

All clear?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Kosher shrimp?

Psych! (I'd love to know the story behind this one.)

Akubra tip to Damian.

Coming soon to a post office wall near you

Between work, second job and the stomach flu, I haven't had time or energy to post anything actually interesting, so I thought I'd put up a picture I found on my wife's camera. I'm pretty sure it was Number Three Daughter that snapped it. Here, for all the world to see, are our three youngest.

On the left, we have four-year-old Dai, the Visigoth. Those of you who follow my Lovely and Brilliant Wife's "Notes to Hypertot" will recognize him at once. He's the undisputed ringleader, the one that someday the others will be telling their therapists all about.

The one on the other end is Mona, the Ostrogoth. (Monkeytot, in Christina's parlance.) She's two, and has a long future ahead of her getting by on cuteness and charm. (Don't laugh; I know lots of adults who manage that.)

The little nipple-nibbler in the middle is Pete. (I ran out of Germanic tribes after Mona.) He's three months old today.

The picture is a little blurry, but this is as close as any of them get to sitting still. And I want to make absolutely clear that we do so clothe them. Unfortunately, short of stapling the clothing in place, we can't keep them that way.

So now you know what they look like.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pastor Mike on sorrow, stupidity, and God's grace

Our friend Pastor Mike Barrett went on the 700 Club a while back to talk about some of the same things he discussed in his book, The Danger Habit. (Which, BTW, I highly recommend, especially for anyone with an adrenaline jones.)

(I couldn't get the video to embed, but you can see it here.)

One thing that struck me was when Mike was very honest about an incident in his life in which he was narrowly averted from something both sinful and stupid - and I mean on a hand-in-the-meat-grinder level. We've all been there, although as he does with everything else, Mike took it to an extreme. (Not that I've failed to be equally stupid and sinful on a frequent basis, mind you.) One of the silly memes that follows Christianity around is the idea that once you're "born again" or "saved," you automatically know better than to commit self-destructive (or other-destructive) sins. And only a hypocrite ever stumbles after that point.

So we're led to believe. But in real life, the Christian life is a slow, frustrating stagger toward the perfection that the Lord promises at the end of our lives.

God uses people who trip over their own feet, and He uses people who take chances that make my hair curl, and He even uses timid, unexciting people like me. He uses us as we are, because He made us as we are.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No Doubt!

A seriously cool article on my favorite apostle.

You know, I've wondered why we think of Thomas as "doubting," too. Yeah, I know he wanted proof of the Resurrection before he believed the rumors, but absent hindsight, wouldn't you? That misunderstanding aside, I tend to think of Thomas having stronger faith than any of the others.

Consider the two other spots in the Gospels where he has something to say. Right after he checks out Jesus' hands and side, he falls to his knees and says, "My Lord and my God." Not "Gosh, Master, what does this mean?" Not "Hey! You look almost like you could be God. Maybe you were the Messiah!"

No. It's "my Lord and my God." Period. For a supposed skeptic, Thomas absorbed the entire doctrine of the Incarnation, awfully quickly and without blinking. Once he knows the Jesus he's heard about is the same one he already knew, he's willing to believe anything that Jesus says. As Paul said later, "I know whom I have believed." That's faith in a Person, not merely in a set of doctrines.

The other one makes me embarrassed of my lack of faith. When Jesus is fixing to go to Bethany to see Lazarus and his sisters (and carry out a really spectacular miracle), the disciples try to talk Him out of it. All except Thomas. He shrugs and says, "Let us go also, that we may die with him."

Wow. He's certain the Jews are going to kill them, and he probably thinks Jesus is making a terrible mistake. But that's beside the point to Thomas. He's going to follow, even though he's pretty sure that it will all end badly. I think I would have at least looked for ways to stall Him a little.

That kind of puts the stories of Thomas' evangelism in India in perspective. Even if we slough off the more spectacular miracle stories as legend (and that's not always safe to do when you're talking about apostles), Thomas carried the Gospel farther and into more alien territory than any of the other disciples. In fact, just off the top of my head, I think he's the only one who carried the word outside the bounds of the Roman Empire. The church he founded in India is still there, despite being in decidedly Christian-unfriendly territory for two millennia.