Sunday, December 30, 2007
The Commerce Clause has been interpreted and liberally extended by Liberals to hold states hostage for their own money in many ways that violate the 10th Ammendment.
Congress uses lobbyists to write law, and the lot of them (Lawmakers and Lobbyists) should be indicted for bribery.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We pay because of fear of being audited, jailed or fined; and if you don’t believe that you are either an IRS employee, a liberal elite who is drinking the kool-aid and thinks that we should all live on a government stipend, or you are a fool.
The tax system is backward. My money should go to my county and city and then to the state and the feds should have to ask my state for money.
Why should I have to hope that my representatives “bring home the bacon” and thus contribute to the vast corrupt beaurocracy of it all? My damn bacon should stay right here!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Regarding the Christmas Season as it is, not as it should be:
Let's stop chucking The Baby under the chin and bow before The Savior of mankind.
And on a kinder, gentler, amazed at the Grace of Our God note:
Like a stone on the surface of a still river
Driving the ripples on forever
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe
- Bruce Cockburn
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"... When we're all working at Wendy's, Wal-Mart, and Big Lots, who's going to be able to afford to shop at Wal-Mart and Big Lots and eat at Wendy's?"
"There is no such thing as a service based economy."
Bush has "... set the Presidential bar so low that we are considering people like Hillary, who wouldn't normally have a chance. Most of us would vote for a goat with a necktie right now."
-- Ben Bryant
Ben recently ran and lost a City Council race here in Lancaster. He is a young man, and hopefully will continue to rage against the machine.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I like it when my favorite music is all a non-mention in the year-end lists of your more hoity-toity music mags (Re.: Paste Magazine).
It's a sign of an almost "Bushian" combination of ignorance and self-confidence that these non-mentions make me feel both superior and privileged to the rewards of a secret knowledge that makes the highest audit level of Scientology seem a cheap investment.
In short, it makes me look down on you critics like I look at Amway salespeople.
My listening habits, like our President's reading habits, are a tad narrow, and actually spending time telling these people what I like would be self-defecateding my superioritedness.
Sufjanifice it to say that although Mr. Henry is a hell of a writer, and though you did blind squirrel it through to the everybodyfields pick, Tommy Womack's "There, I Said It" is the best record of 2007.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The Mitchell Report on use of HGH and Steroids.
Nothing to say here on the details.
One observation that is hardly original:
Baseball is America's Sport. It is a microcosm of our society, and as such the mirror tells the tale.
Nothing will change. We'll keep on making money. We'll keep on breaking records that shouldn't be able to be broken. We'll do it because we have to. Otherwise the Americans who watch us will no longer watch us, pay the freight and propel the economy of the American Sport.
America has sold whatever soul it had. This is just another fall-out.
Maybe I'll watch baseball again someday. I doubt it, but maybe when players start looking like humans again, I'll think about it.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
Flag on the wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing, both hands free
No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's stretched so thin
And there's more comin' home from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore
That big ol' building was the textile mill
It fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
We can't make it here anymore
See the pallets piled on the loading dock
Just gonna set there 'til they rot
'Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts 'round the square
There's a needle in the gutter - glass everywhere
Don't come down here 'less you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore
The bar's still open, but man it's slow
Tip jar's light and the register's low
Bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day
Some maxed out their credit cards
Some 're working two jobs and livin' in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof,
Won't pay for a drink if you gotta have proof
Just try it yourself Mr. CEO
See how far $5.15 an hour'll go
Take a part time job at one of your stores
Bet you can't make it here anymore
Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
'Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today
No, I hate the men who sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their sh@# don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in the a f***in' little war
And we can't make it here anymore
Will work for food, will die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
As the working poor fall through the cracks
Let 'em eat jellybeans, let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat sh$%, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore
And that's how it is, that's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper, read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind if you're listenin' at all
Get out of that limo, look us in the eye
Call us on the phone, tell us all why
In Dayton, Ohio or Portland, Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That done closed down along with the school,
The hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley
And trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it here anymore
Music and lyrics © 2004 by James McMurtry
Thursday, December 6, 2007
My company has decided to "restructure" salaries throughout -- although I am sure that "throughout" is a very subjective term.
I'll find out tomorrow whether this is something I can live with.
The problem is that when you voluntarily accept a pay cut and the company lets you go a few weeks later, any Unemployment Compensation is figured on the lower salary.
Maybe I can get them to agree to a better release package (extended health insurance?) for signing on with the lower salary.
Not holding out much hope, though.
This comes at an inconvenient time, as I am learning to cope with a larger group of responsibilities than I have ever had in my life. Now it looks like I'll be learning to cope on a much lower salary.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Actually, in my neighborhood, drug prices seem to be very reasonable. Now the quality ain't so good, but with a dealer in every rental in a four-block area, the competition is driving prices down.
They're almost as easy to pick up as the Mickey D's bags scattered over the lawns by the white-trashers across the street.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I had to link this. Here it is:
Sunday, November 25, 2007
I'm still waiting on my copy of "Poo" - The magazine for Stupid Pessimists.
But as usual, I'm not holding out much hope....
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
And yes, I know it is technically NOT a review of the Amendment itself, but if the Court upholds community gun bans, the practical effect will be the SAME.
Combined with the ever-expanding Patriot Act influence and interpretations and the SCOTUS 2nd Amendment review scheduled for this spring (the Pro-Gun Rights Lobby will be sooooo surprised with the ruling), it is all setting up for a take-away of every single American right. The one-world Federalists in the guise of the Neocons (and this includes the HC Democrats) might as well say "welcome to the EU".
After the 2nd falls, there will be no need to "review" the 1st Amendment.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Joseph Henry Nuxhall
July 30, 1928 - November 15, 2007
As a child in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, I grew up listening to Marty and Joe.
Here is a part of the only piece of writing I have that references Joe Nuxhall.
Go on Joe, "Get up! Get up! Get outta here!".
Depression Era (Ref. Robert Herrick)
South, out of Zanesville
Down Route 13
What I do Saturday,
Sneaking beer from the cooler
Hot stove league on the radio
Marty and it used to be Joe
I don’t collect myself
and don’t know much
But find what I can
and take it home to my Sweetie
.... (the rest at www.jackscrow.com)
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The SCHIP veto in a wide-screen view:
You know, if this President had any history at all of vetoing spending bills and trying to hold down budget overruns and debt, I wouldn't react to his veto here....
In reality, President Bush is just obeying his masters. Corporate healthcare and Big Tobacco supported Senators are the ones pulling his strings.
So taxes ARE bad... so is overspending Government, which Bush has been cheering on for seven years now, and you can't have a spending spree without taxes to match -- Well, you evidently can, but at the cost of our economy and any smoke-and-mirrors value the dollar might still have.
Am I to believe that it's ok to tax the middle class (what there are left) and not tax tobacco OR more importantly, hedge fund managers?
This Administration has been nothing but stupid-bad choices. If we survive it, it may still be the death of any chance at anything resembling a National consensus among Conservatives. Conservatives may survive on a local level, but from now on every time a Real Conservative runs for National office, all the Libs will have to say is "Bush".
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
"You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time," Bush said, describing a telephone call with Gen. Pervez Musharraf. "I had a very frank discussion with him."
Wait-a-sec... isn't our President the Commander-In-Chief?
So he's telling Musharraf that a double-standard is ok?
Is somebody in his speechwriting corps handing him bad lines on purpose, or is it just totally out of control?
One of the MANY things our President needs to start doing is checking his notes before he talks....
Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address - May 21, 2005
(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I'd advise you to go ahead, because I'm sure going to. In fact I'm gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings ["parents"?] and congratulations to Kenyon's graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"
This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story ["thing"] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you're worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don't be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.
Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I'd ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.
Here's another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."
It's easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people's two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy's interpretation is true and the other guy's is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person's most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there's the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They're probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists' problem is exactly the same as the story's unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up.
The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.
Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive.
But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.
Please don't worry that I'm getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being "well-adjusted", which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.
Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education -- least in my own case -- is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.
As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.
Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.
This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.
And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.
By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.
But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.
Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn't yet been part of you graduates' actual life routine, day after week after month after year.
But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.
Or, of course, if I'm in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, forty-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on.
You get the idea.
If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn't have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It's the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities.
The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way.
Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.
Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it's hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat out won't want to.
But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.
This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.
Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.
They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.
And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.
I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don't just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.
The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.
It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
"This is water."
"This is water."
It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.
I wish you way more than luck.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
The Electoral College is A Good Idea. It's part of the Federal design of the government, and means that the States, not the people, elect the President.
Here's a good expose' on the matter.
Messing With The Electoral College.
Messing With America-
You may have heard earlier this year about plans to change the way California (and other states) award their Electors to the Electoral College. California, with its 55 Electoral Votes, went 54% for Kerry and 45% for Bush. And all 55 Electors were awarded to Kerry. The same goes for nearly every other state. It's winner-take-all. It encourages Risk-inspired conversations like, "we're gonna take Wisconsin this year, which will leave the Democrats vulnerable and force them to defend Oregon and Washington."
In Nebraska and Maine, however, Electoral Votes are awarded based on a district-by-district basis. That's their prerogative. It was also once the prerogative of Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Let's just say that every state adopted the district-by-district plan. How would that have impacted elections over the past half century, and how would it impact future elections?
Generally, the winner, regardless of party, would do worse:
President Bush, interestingly, did much better in "blue state" Congressional districts than Senator Kerry did in "red state" Congressional districts.
Now, clearly, campaign tactics might have been different under these plans. There are plenty of toss-up districts in solidly partisan states (like California and Texas) that would have seen advertisements, volunteers, and other campaign resources considered a complete waste under the winner-take-all rules. Who knows what could have happened under a national district-by-district system.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in California over the next year. It has certainly been declared dead emphatically enough by lefties, and resuscitated by serious enough people on the right, to warrant some attention. In 2004, California would have been worth more than the equivalent of Illinois, Ohio, or Pennsylvania to President Bush under the Congressional District plan:
If California wants a more "progressive" system of awarding Electors, more power to them. If a handful of other states want to join them, fantastic. If anyone wants to impose this on every state or otherwise undermine the Electoral College and replace it with a direct vote, however, they are crossing the line.
The Electoral College actually prevents a lot of election fraud, number one. Imagine how much more meaningful those dead and other fraudulent voters in Chicago and in other political machine cities would be to a national popular vote. Instead of a few hanging chads in Florida, we would have had "missing" votes suddenly found all over the country in 2000.
Secondly, the Electoral College helps maintain America's federalist nature. Ultimately, we're a nation of states. While the states have ceded quite a bit of power and responsibility to the national government (the Civil War had a lot to do with that), there's a reason the Founders established this nation as a Federal Republic. Indeed, there is a big reason why Federal Republics protect liberties better than direct democracies. The Electoral College is a safeguard against the tyranny of the mob.
The Electoral College also forces candidates to have more than mere regional appeal; it demands some consensus-building.
As candidates assert their cross-partisan appeal and pundits debate the merits of reforming the Electoral College, one can't help but laugh at some of the transparent partisan reasons people support or oppose these changes.
Ultimately, as long as the rules in place before the election are adhered to after the election, and as long as each state determines how it will award its own Electors to the Electoral College, I am not sure that the California plan, applied nationally, would have significant consequences one partisan way or another over the long run. Indeed, in 2012, solid "red states" will gain Electoral Votes at the expense of solid "blue states" due to reapportionment following the 2010 Census. Regions change. Suburbs change. Inner cities change. Political realities change, domestically and internationally. Crises happen. Economies boom and bust. Parties change.
Projecting out to 2012, 2016, 2020, and beyond, it's difficult to imagine a national district-by-district plan helping either party. In 2008, however, California making the move alone would give the GOP nominee a bit of breathing room in his cruise to victory.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Yeah, and we didn't buy 'em at auction, either; we went to South America, rounded up our own damn Pygmies, took their little blowguns away, and then trudged through the Rainforest, loaded 'em on boats and brought 'em back to the farm!
Then we put 'em in a pen, fed 'em real good and then put 'em in the pickup, took 'em to the Fairfield County Fair, and showed 'em. Then, of course, we were sad, 'cause dad had'ta kill 'em. But that's what they're for!
Heck, one time, I showed my Pygmies at the Ohio State Fair! Yeah, and Governor Gilligan slept overnight with MY Pygmies!** He said that MaryAnn and Ginger couldn't make it, so in their honor; I renamed two of my Pygmies "MaryAnn" and "Ginger".
They tasted good.
** It's a long-standing tradition in Ohio that the Governor sleeps over in a stall at the stockbarns one night during the run of the State Fair.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I don't know.
I use'ta think I didn't have anger issues that went past the norm, but....
I just got back from walking over to Krogers East and back to my house on East Chestnut, and every time I see a young jerk in a beater, driving too fast thru my neighborhood, revving it up and pealing out at corners, all-the-while polluting the air with hip-hop junk, I just wanna grab the nearest 2x4, tear the crap outta his car and him too, if he dares get out.
Now, am I reasonable, or do I have issues?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Off the top of my head I replied, "Every glass with anything in it at all eventually gets drunk, spilled, or thrown away. So what do you think?"
So the company I work for is getting rid of "dead wood".
And, it's not that they are doing it, it is the chickens**t way they are doing it.
When your company fires one of the original seven employees and the boss tells his lackey to do it by phone, it just brings to light the reality of how firing is usually done by the wrong person.
I think the person making the decision should do the firing. What do you think?
I've had to fire people before, and I've done it face to face, every time.
Most owners or final arbiters talk a good game of "fair", but don't play it....
Three steps to lowering the salary burden at your company.
-Change the job requirements by adding things that your salaried employee has no experience doing.
-Track their performance and then renegotiate their salary down when the new expectations are not met.
-If they refuse to accept a lower salary for more work – fire them for incompetence and fight their unemployment.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
Here's the first pronouncement:
The Neo-Cons will start a war (Yes, I said "start".) with Iran before the 2008 Election. Probably by next June-July, if not earlier.
That is, if Our Lord does not come first.
It's all setting up, folks....
Sunday, September 30, 2007
"... When you ask some student why he is majoring in journalism, he smugly and proudly responds, "To make a difference," and college journalism professors encourage that rather than teach ethics. If an accounting student gave that answer, he wouldn't have a future in providing objective information on companies. No one should call journalism a profession until it has an ethics code and lives by it."
Why not a code of ethics for Journalism?
Too much to hope for, I know, but there are so many so-called Journalists trying to make news, instead of report it. And there seem to be any number of professional (paid) "bloggers" out here that are in the biz of spinning for one side or another.
Friday, September 28, 2007
There are three reasons often given to allow just about anyone into America. The first is that people should have the right to go where they please. The second is that multiculturalism and diversity is good for a country. The third is that even foreigners with widely divergent beliefs and attitudes will be converted by the American way of life and embrace freedom, openness, and tolerance.
Regarding the right of anyone to go where they please: Let's say there's a Marxist rebel army in Mexico. Are we saying that, if they are on the run with the Mexican army in pursuit, they have a right to retreat into America? Can this rebel army cross back into Mexico for guerrilla raids, and then retreat back to their new base in the United States?
Should they be allowed to stay and establish their desired communist dictatorship within the United States itself?
Don't we have a right to keep out not only criminals, but also dissidents with anti-liberal views? Don't we have a right to keep out those who would overthrow our political system and our laws if they could?
On to multiculturalism. There is mounting evidence that the more diverse a neighborhood, the more crime and less community involvment – but let us leave that point aside. Let's instead imagine that a German neo-Nazi is fleeing Europe's hate-speech laws and seeks asylum in the U.S.
Is another neo-Nazi voice something we really need? We may want cultural diversity and differing viewpoints, but must we presume different viewpoints are equal to each other? If so, why not let the neo-Nazi in? Are we to say he can broaden our perspective and enlighten us? While we tolerate intolerant opinions expressed by Americans exercising their free speech rights, how is it helpful to add to their number?
As to converting immigrants to the American way of life. Let's say members of an apocalyptic cult from Japan, India, England, or wherever seek to enter America with the intention of winning more converts before embarking on a campaign to get their leader, who they call the Messiah, crowned King. Would the United States have a moral obligation to welcome in such nut-jobs? Should we assume that, once here, they will see the benefits of liberal democracy and give up their cult?
Such an assumption would be an unfounded faith in the ability of liberal democracy to turn everyone into liberal democrats. All too often, what we see as prosperity and freedom, others see as decadence and blasphemy. Liberal democracy isn't a religion, and "faith" in its laws, systems, and culture won't save it from its enemies.
An English-speaking, highly-skilled immigrant with a clear criminal record may want to become a permanent resident of the United States. Just the same, if his beliefs are hostile to our social systems and our laws – if he would overturn them if he could - it makes little sense to admit him, or others with the same beliefs.
Which brings us to the problem of Islam. Islam is not just a religion, it is a political ideology. As Muslim immigration and birth rates increase their numbers, they are more likely to insist on enforcing their laws amongst themselves. Over time, their numbers could turn into majorities in certain neighborhoods, then cities. With increasing political power, there is an increased likelihood of Islamic law, or Islam-inspired law being enforced upon everyone.
If Islam is a threat to the United States and Western world, the threat comes not from terrorist attacks, because terrorism is not a means of conquest. Indeed, terrorism on U.S. soil is strategic folly, because it would probably create a backlash against Muslims already here and cause a crackdown on further Muslim immigration. It is more likely that if Islam prevails, it will through demographics, through population growth – first in Europe, then in North America.
If Western countries want to keep that from happening, they shouldn't let Muslims move into their lands.
Monday, September 24, 2007
My dad won a Bronze Star and served two tours in WWII.
He taught anti-aircraft accuracy to crews all the way from North Africa, up through Italy and France, to Germany. He invented a remote, automatic firing switch that was used on anti-aircraft guns up through Vietnam. Dad was finally promoted in May.
The young man wore a t-shirt
That said he had "No Fear"
We bumped, I said "Excuse me son"
And sat down to drink my beer
And I saw the beach at Normandy
The trench at Guadalcanal
The jungle just outside Da Nang
And I wondered how
He don’t know fear
'til you feel the knife hit bone
And know the blood is all your own
'til you're starin' down the barrel
Four-thousand miles from home
And you think about your family
And you see them oh-so-clear
You don't know fear
Oh, you won't find it on the weight-room floor
Or on the football field
Pills and booze might by you some
But you need the thought they steal
'til the doctor said she's got bad news
And winter's hand comes callin' near
You don't know fear
'til you feel the knife hit bone
And know the blood is all your own
'til you're starin' down the barrel
Four-thousand miles from home
And you think about the one you love
And you see her oh-so-clear
You don't know fear
You don't know fear
The young man wore a t-shirt
It said he had "No Fear"
© D. Dain, 1997.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Neil would be proud. He needs the pub (not).
I have only driven through a couple of times, but on first impression I am not so sure that Mr. Young, as we alt.country guys refer to him, was wrong, as Skynyrd supposes.
I'll leave that statement by itself, and wait for Chuck's rebuttal -- BUT, in my defense, when confronted by two opposing songs, I'll always go with the one which has the best lyrics, and there is no debate on that....
I know people who will never own their houses free-and-clear, and will be paying student loans, etc... well into their 70s.
This is the norm now, and I don't think you can convince me it is a good thing. Especially when the collective personal debt of Americans continues to grow, the dollar continues to fall, and the Fed prints more backed-by-nothing money by screwing with rates over and over.
Of course, in these times, I really don't think we need to worry 'bout that, do we....
Sunday, September 9, 2007
And I just have to repost this comment from a guy in Kentucky....
"Someone suggested that the murder rate in the US is ten times the murder rate in the UK. This is false. The murder rate in the US is three times the murder rate in the UK. That is a change from nine times higher forty years ago, when the gun laws of the UK were less stringent and the US had far fewer states that allowed citizen concealed carry. In the time since, the US murder rate has gone down, while the UK murder rate has gone up, narrowing the gap between homicide rates.
Banning guns or allowing guns does not noticeably affect the crime rate. Crime is a problem of culture. The only statistically significant result of gun bans are a reduced ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves against criminals who have no concern what weapons are legal or illegal." -- Keenan, Louisville, KY.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
But first, his wife will have to learn how to throw a good party and write insipid pop lyrics.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
On the UofM upset:
I was driving into Athens for Shrimp to make a salad for supper (goes really good with Bloody Mary), and I heard that Mike Hart had run them ahead. Then about five minutes later I heard that ASU had blocked the field-goal to win....
Gotta admit, I really loved it. Almost put my fist through the dash-board of the ol' jeep. Gave a whoop or two. Maybe three.
Then I had two thoughts, admittedly a lot for a Buckeye:
First, I hope Lloyd doesn't have a heart attack or stroke. And second, this can't be good for the Big-10.
On the Buckeyes, I was very disappointed with the O-Line and running game. The Power-O formation is about 10 years past it's prime. The running plays take way too long to hit the hole, and they have for several years. Even in the 2002 Championship year, we wouldn't have had any success, were it not for MC's ability to make the first man miss.
Additionally, when we can't push around a 1-AA team's defensive line, we are in trouble.
This worries me.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Over a lifetime of idiotic statements (and really, really bad-bad-bad lead guitar), "Mr." Nugent has done more to harm the choices of hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and personal protection promotion than any crazed gunman....
I hold to the theory that he has been taking pay-offs from Handgun Control INC. for years, just to BE the caricature of every gun-toting redneck that every sensible person fears.
Smart move on their part.
Worth every penny.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
It will cause the Feds to step in and make a National Primary Day.
The greediness of the states will end up costing them their rights....
The bad thing about early primaries, is that they keep all of the early advantage that the big corporation-backed, mainstream candidates have in name recognition and available money intact.
Unfortunately, the big corporations own our two-party system as it is... why make it easier on them?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
He runs a good forum.
"The Hermit" said: "We Americans are a funny bunch. We demand good wages, health insurance from employers, clean and safe work environments, and so on, but by golly, we sure won’t pay for products produced under those conditions. They’re just too darned expensive."
Basically, we won't work in a sweat shop, but we don't have a problem buying the stuff.
... And screw them furrenurs, anyway. Oh, it's us gettin' screwed? Well, go-ollee, Andy....
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
As "Mr. Sushi", my shtick will be to throw rotten fish at the other wrasslers and spray soy sauce at the crowd.
My signature trick will be to rub wasabi in my opponent's eyes and then whip him with a live eel.
Monday, August 6, 2007
"We" have been giving loans to people who could not afford to buy homes for about 15 years, now. AND, "we" have been building crap housing for these people. In 5-6 months, maybe sooner, the stock market is going to be about a third to half down!
(Just my prediction, get expert advice before jumping.)
Now, I'm not sure what you should do, but I do believe that those of you who have access to a financial planner that you TRUST, should take advantage of any advice that gives you investment in REAL property without incurring further debt or any extra tax burden.
Consider this a public service announcement.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
And, when you combine it with the up-and-down of pot and the occasional crack hit, it turns your ordinary low-life criminal into a paranoid, manic depressive criminal.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
... and a whole rainbow worth of racist coalitions get excited.
I may be starting a new line of posts here, called "Predictions of the Day".
Anyway, here's the first one:
When the tapes (Yep, they got tapes.) come out, it will probably prove what the witnesses have confirmed: the police report is accurate. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. followed Sgt. James Crowley out onto Professor Gates' front porch, verbally abused him and was arrested.
Speaking from personal experience, verbally abusing a cop is an automatic free guided tour of the vomit-sour back seat of a cruiser and the accompanying ride downtown. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, green, purple, or a DQ swirl-cone with cherry dip. And despite what you would think, at the times things like this happen, "right" or "wrong" and nuanced thought on possible public opinion ramifications don't come into it....
It's also a Twilight-Zoney coincidence that the cop teaches a class in racial profiling avoidance techniques.
Some predictions? Why not?
Sgt. Crowley will be demonized by many and will be defended by many, and both camps will be doing so for the wrong reasons: they have their political axe to grind or their own racial bias to promote.
He will eventually retire to a small town and star in his own TV show, complete with his very own deputy sidekick and a whole slew of funny-townie characters, all of them white, but none of them racist.
Professor Gates will continue the talk-show rounds, the pictures with Al Sharpton and Spike Lee, and in the process becoming a universally revered Black Culture Icon, kinda the anti-Bill Cosby.
He will write a best-selling book on the Profiling of Black Males in America - no "publish or perish" for this guy. He'll also be able to afford to buy a bigger summer home on Martha's Vineyard. This is so he can shout an even louder "Do you know who I am?" to cops who really don't give a crap.
He will also get a self-explanatory Tommie Smith-John Carlos tattoo on his forehead, so that he doesn't have to pose like that all the time. Plus, the tat will be the shizzle at his sold-out Harvard lectures.
Our President, the esteemed 0-Man, who surprised many by jumping the traces of his Teleprompter and jamming both feet into his mouth (just like he puts his pants on), will have very little else to say. However his press secretary and other minions will be making multiple rounds of the bloviating talking-head shows, back-tracking, obfuscating, and generally trying to smoke screen the 0-Man's way out of a predicament he should never have been in; but it makes a helluva distraction from the Health Care debacle.
Women in Cambridge will still call the cops when they see two guys breaking down the door of a house.
There you go. As you can see, I've taken some real risks here. I just know you appreciate it.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
There is nothing wrong (outside of their normal differences) with all the other churches in town -- the problem is that FCC has stepped outside the Biblical norm for New Testament Churches.
You hardly ever hear of my church in the LEG or elsewhere, but we are a fully developed New Testament Church, with all the (non)requisite programs, ministries, and missions.
BUT... we choose (Biblically, I believe) to not get involved in politics or business.
It is sad that these "mega-churches" cast their Un-Biblical shadow over honest, Evangelical, true to the Word of God Churches. But they do -- simply because of human nature. We gravitate toward the flamboyant, and the public showmanship and the politically connected social networking such "churches" have to offer.
Unfortunately, the public loves the TV preaching, fadist type of Church. I think that it is because it poses no CHALLENGE -- Ministers that can double as car salesmen, that have virtually no education, cannot read Greek or Hebrew - much less write it, are easier to discount. Indeed, the whole thing makes Unbelievers, simply because of the "association", more easily discount the offer of Salvation.
And that's the shame. And pity.
Watch the overstated earnings and returns as they roll in over the next two quarters.
Gas is over 3 again and there are fast food jobs everywhere you look.
The banking crisis will only get worse and the housing market is dying and except for custom builders will be dead within a year.
Neo-Cons and their corporations are every bit as much on the teat of big government as their Liberal counterparts and Government spending continues to increase, outstripping revenue even while tax breaks for large corporate holdings fail to generate the famed trickle down (which really means piss on you).
Save our country, ditch the empire. Vote for Ron Paul for President.
Monday, July 9, 2007
He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.
He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.
Congressman Paul introduces numerous pieces of substantive legislation each year, probably more than any single member of Congress.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Fred Thompson reeks of integrity ... of "gravitas".
"The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." - Jean Giraudoux
Taken from sTiVo's comment on http://www.maxspeak.org/
"... When hacks like Chris Matthews prattle on about authenticity, what they mean is the kind of authenticity Giraudoux was talking about. Someone able to fool enough of the people enough of the time to get over. The LAST thing they want is an authentic populist. Thompson fills the bill."
Fred not only has fake sincerity, he has that kind of dignified air that might actually be stupidity. Unfortunately it is mistaken for what is called "gravitas".
Why not something REAL -- why not RON PAUL?
Now I'm sure that this can be torn to pieces, logically, but Faith allows me the privilege of believing that. And you have Faith too... in your ability to understand the evidence presented to you. And you believe that the result of your decision is that you can choose to discount God from any effect on your life and any possible personal responsibility that may entail.
I believe in a personal and loving God. I believe in the Sin Nature of Man, and because of that Sin Nature, the inability to save one's self.
I choose to believe that God allowed me to choose Jesus as my personal Savior.
Friday, July 6, 2007
"Now personally, I don't really care about what religion one is or isn't or how ridiculous that religion is. My concern is how this certitude that comes with deep religious fervor affects our govt and society."
My reply: The threat of Sharia Law concerns me too.
And Bill the Cat said, "Thbbbt!".
Everybody else says "Amen".
President Ahmedinejad chose his words carefully. Announcing the release of the 15 British Servicemen whom he held hostage, he said that Iran "forgave" them, because it was the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed and also of "the passing of Christ".
The word "passing" was deliberately vague. He used this phrase for what Christians call the Passion, because Muslims, although they revere Jesus as a prophet, deny that he was crucified. Another was substituted in Jesus's place, they believe. It is strange that the Koran, which explicitly accepts the virgin birth of Jesus, fastens on the most historical bit of the New Testament as being untrue. But of course it is helpful for Muslims if there was no Crucifixion, because then there could have been no Resurrection. And if there was no Resurrection, then the field is clear for Mohammed as the final Prophet of God.
So the President of Iran, well attuned to how propaganda works with different audiences, was trying to fool us in the West that he was being kind, while telling his people at home that he had the nation of infidels at his mercy.
Last week, I attended a debate organised by Intelligence Squared, an organisation devoted to high-level public argument. The subject was so popular that, instead of the usual venue, the Methodist Central Hall in London had to be hired. More than 2,000 people crammed in. The motion was "We'd be better off without religion".
The anti-God party was represented by Professor Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. Christopher Hitchens, the English polemicist who has long made his living in America, and Professor A. C. Grayling, who has that big mane of swept-back hair which says "philosopher" just as clearly as a pinstripe suit used until recently to say "Tory".
Against the motion were the archaeologist Nigel Spivey, Rabbi Julia Neuberger, and Professor Roger Scruton. Intelligence Squared has a good custom of taking votes before and after the debate.
The idea is to see how much the speeches have swayed the audience. On this occasion, at the beginning of the evening, there were 826 votes for the motion, 681 against, and 364 don't knows. At the end, there were 1,205 for, 778 against and 103 don't knows.
Although I voted against the motion both times, I think the shift of votes was justified, on the basis of the speeches. All six spoke well, but the opponents of religion were more eloquent, more passionate, more - odd though it sounds to say it - believing. By a curious reversal, it is now the atheists who thump the tub for their non-faith, as if it were they who were the preachers.
Matthew Parris, who writes a distinguished column in another newspaper, is normally notable for the subtlety of his argument and his sympathetic tone of voice. But this week, he was so angry at religion, particularly at the idea that the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II had cured a nun of cancer, that he was quite beside himself.
Parris wants faith and reason to part forever and for people to "choose your side". To the question, "But how can you be sure," he employs assertion, rather than reason, to answer: "Oh boy, am I sure. Oh great quivering mountains of pious mumbo-jumbo, am I sure. Oh fathomless oceans of sanctified babble, am I sure." Matthew sounded just like those people who say, "I KNOW God exists, because He speaks to me" - only the other way round.
I feel that atheism may be acquiring precisely those characteristics that atheists so dislike about religion - intolerance, dogmatism, righteousness, moral contempt for one's opponents.
When you hear or read people like Richard Dawkins, you have to admit the force of many of their arguments. Religious people do often say extraordinarily indefensible things about their faith, and can be astonishingly evasive or confused. Very few of us (certainly not I) can competently maintain the standard arguments for the existence of God against a determined onslaught.
And yet the Dawkinses and Graylings, the Hitchenses and the Parrises, seem somehow to be missing the point. What they say is dry and unnourishing. I think one reason for this lies in their underlying conception of what it is to be human - they think that the highest quality is to be clever.
I hasten to say that I am not arguing against cleverness. Intelligence is a great gift, and should be cultivated, if possessed, by all possible means. All these atheist thinkers I have mentioned are conscious of possessing big, bulging brains and I share their admiration for them. They are the mental equivalent of bronzed body-builders on the beach, kicking sand in the face of us seven-stone weaklings.
But what are we to make of Richard Dawkins's point, in The God Delusion, that Mensa, the society for people with high IQs, has published an article concluding that, of 43 studies of the relationship between intelligence and religious belief since 1927, all but four have found an inverse relation? Or of his statistic that only 3.3 per cent of the Fellows of the Royal Society believe that a personal God exists?
You probably know some people with high IQs. You may even have met members of the Royal Society. Does it strike you, brilliant though they are, that they have a deeper understanding of truth, beauty and all that you need to know about life than the rest of us?
Dawkins also tells us that "there are very few atheists in prison". He suggests that "atheism is correlated with higher education, intelligence or reflectiveness, which might counteract criminal impulses". What begins to emerge - and it lurked strongly behind the anti-religion side of the Intelligence Squared debate - is the idea that atheism is an elite state, a superior order of being, a plane of enlightenment denied to thickoes.
This seems to me to present certain problems. A religious faith is not, primarily, a set of propositions, although it will contain such propositions and must use all human intellectual resources to understand and explain them. It is a belief about what governs the whole of life, indeed the whole existence of everything.
It therefore matters not only how we reason, but how we feel, how we act towards others, how we speak, sing, dance, laugh, cry, eat and wash, how we die, how we pray and how we love.
Does anything in our actual human experience tell us that clever people do these things better than anyone else? It is surely what people call "clever-silly" to argue that they do. In fact, in all this I hear the voices of a university high table - and almost invariably male voices at that - proving something to their own satisfaction while other people cook the lunch.
The Victorian Prime Minister Lord Salisbury once criticised Roman Catholicism for being "an excellent religion for peasants and women". But what sort of a religion would it be which was not excellent for peasants or women (who made up about 90 per cent of the world's population in Salisbury's day)?
And what sort of a belief system is it that asserts the superiority of Richard Dawkins, Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, over the woman who toils in paddy fields, or the child who begs in the dirt, or the prisoner in his chains?
The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are just as distasteful for Richard Dawkins as for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, because they subvert the idea that man is at his greatest when he is most strong, masterful and clever: " 'Tis the old history - Truth without a home, Despised and slain; then, rising from the tomb."