Saturday, October 08, 2005

Email: PC users in bed [LC]

I used to have a cartoon on the fridge that showed a couple in bed; the woman's arms were crossed and she didn't look happy, while the man was using his computer, saying, "Hey, you knew I was a PC user when you married me."

Email: Choose a nice day [SD]

Anyone can tell you to write a letter to someone in your past; telling you why it's significant and helping you process the real issues is priceless.

"Old soul" is a term that means "wise beyond one's years."

Gibberwocky: tongulation

(Any definitions created for this word, may have something to do with ton or tong or tonsil, but need have nothing to do with tongue.)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Email: It's OK [LC]

I've had my laptop to keep me warm.

Email: Vagaries of dating [SS]

I suppose it's hard to look at any divorced person and wonder "what happened"... and if you're a woman, to wonder if (or assume) it's the man's fault (that sisterly loyalty there). Well, every case has to be considered on its own, but I'm not sure whether it's sagacity or obsessiveness to try to analyze a dating partner's past. I do advocate keeping your eyes wide open and drawing whatever inferences you can from observation, discussion and sound reason, however.

You are absolutely right that looking for a partner using a check list of qualities does not afford growth in the relationship. Indeed, you can't learn how to play chess by playing against yourself (or someone who meets only the criteria you have foreseen and defined). No, we grow (in a relationship, in chess or in anything) by the element of surprise and unpredictability that another human being provides.

Email: Choose a nice day [SD]

Yes, probably pregnancy will always continue -- like death and taxes -- though it's one hopeful sign for the world, to be sure.

In each of the few relationships I've had, my partner said she appreciated me most because I was very much like her father or her grandfather, the man she loved and esteemed most dearly in life. I suppose that's proof that I'm an "old soul"? I never worry about age, though, when the issues at hand are timeless, and positive.

Websites: Is it uncool to be kind?

(beliefnet: Is It Uncool to Be Kind?)
An interview with Sharon Salzberg by Lisa Schneider
In our culture, Sharon Salzberg believes, kindness is unfairly relegated to '5th-class status,' a virtue of last resort for those who aren't beautiful, brilliant, courageous, or strong. In her latest work, 'The Force of Kindness,' a combination book and CD set from Sounds True, she attempts to liberate compassion from any association with 'wimpiness' and explores how powerful it can be in people's lives. Besides, as she explained in a recent interview, being kind makes us happy.

What does kindness mean to you?

I think the associations people have with kindness are often things like meekness and sweetness and maybe sickly sweetness; whereas I do think of kindness as a force, as a power. When I look back over the instances, the encounters of my life, even when I just look around at the world, there's something that moves me so strongly that really is inspiring and uplifting about people just taking the time to pay attention to somebody or going a little bit out of their way to seek to help them. I can almost feel the palpable force of that. It reminds us of our own inner strength and our capacity to give, and it also reminds us of how connected we all are.

In what way can kindness be a spiritual practice?

It's both an internal spiritual practice and it's an external practice. I think one doesn't have to have a kind of classically spiritual word for it, to define it or access it, but it's like a commitment. It's remembering what we care about.

Mostly, I think it has to do with attention. You're rushing down the street and somebody asks you for directions, and the first thing you feel is annoyance. Like, I'm in a hurry, can't you see? But then you stop and you look at them and they look a little forlorn maybe, certainly a little bit lost and uneasy. And you think, they trusted me, that's why they asked me. They have that kind of inclination and you stop and you talk to them and there's just that little moment of connection. If we pay attention to what's around us then I think that leads us -- or that's a form itself, a form of kindness."

Press: Danforth appalled by divisive use of religion - RNS

"As a three-term U.S. senator and a former ambassador to the United Nations, Missouri Republican John Danforth has all the right credentials and connections to savor the spoils of his party's dominance in Washington. Instead, at age 69, Danforth is combining his status as an elder statesman with his lesser-known role as an ordained Episcopal priest to raise uncomfortable questions about what he sees as the hefty costs paid for using religious rhetoric to fuel a political agenda. "I've been away from (the Senate) for more than 10 years, and I see politics from a distance. And I'm appalled by what I see," said Danforth. "Right there in the midst of all the partisanship, in the midst of all the nastiness, right there with their wedge issues and litmus tests and extreme rhetoric, right there as the most divisive force in American life, are my fellow Christians." For examples, Danforth notes how the Rev. Jerry Falwell urges voters to "Vote Christian" and Dr. James Dobson compares stem cell "research at Harvard to Dr. Mengele's experiments on Jews." (Religion News Service, “Donning Clerical Collar, Danforth Slams GOP's Religious Rhetoric,” 10-06-05) Subscription Required

Press: The dark side of faith - LAT

The dark side of faith - by Rosa Brooks - Los Angeles Times: "IT'S OFFICIAL: Too much religion may be a dangerous thing.

This is the implication of a study reported in the current issue of the Journal of Religion and Society, a publication of Creighton University's Center for the Study of Religion. The study, by evolutionary scientist Gregory S. Paul, looks at the correlation between levels of 'popular religiosity' and various 'quantifiable societal health' indicators in 18 prosperous democracies, including the United States.

Paul ranked societies based on the percentage of their population expressing absolute belief in God, the frequency of prayer reported by their citizens and their frequency of attendance at religious services. He then correlated this with data on rates of homicide, sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, abortion and child mortality.

He found that the most religious democracies exhibited substantially higher degrees of social dysfunction than societies with larger percentages of atheists and agnostics. Of the nations studied, the U.S. — which has by far the largest percentage of people who take the Bible literally and express absolute belief in God (and the lowest percentage of atheists and agnostics) — also has by far the highest levels of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

This conclusion will come as no surprise to those who have long gnashed their teeth in frustration while listening to right-wing evangelical claims that secular liberals are weak on 'values.' Paul's study confirms globally what is already evident in the U.S.: When it comes to 'values,' if you look at facts rather than mere rhetoric, the substantially more secular blue states routinely leave the Bible Belt red states in the dust."

Email: Syllabi [CW]

[Closed syllable, open syllable, vowel-consonant-e syllable, vowel-r syllable, vowel pair syllable, final stable syllable?] That is so 1890s!

Press: Let the professor help you be wizard of words

(All really good wordsmithing advice -- however, as I'm realizing, people are either motivated or not motivated to learn and act on the latest tips for "intelligent design" in their writing, computing, housekeeping or whatever.)

Let the Professor Help You Be Wizard of Words
Jim Kershner, The Spokesman-Review Spokane

It's called "having a point" and it can make a great deal of difference, even in something as free-form as a blog. Here's an illustration:

Having a point: "Some say we should not bother to rebuild New Orleans. They're wrong. New Orleans is America's cultural soul. An America without New Orleans would be a diminished America."

Not having a point: "That whole New Orleans thing ... wow. A big mess. I watched some of it on TV. There was some awesome footage. Hey! My dog just did something really funny!!!"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Email: Take a sanity break [SD]

The Band-Aid analogy is a pretty standard way to describe divorce, along with, as I may have mentioned, the whiffle-ball analogy for a codependent personality, where taping over the holes with things and others [becomes a substitute for] authentic personal healing. It's amazing to me how ham-handed so many of these analogies for divorce really are, though, when you look at them. People don't really understand or wrestle with this stuff (like a poet can); they're just repeating what someone else has cadged up with words! The church wants to pronounce married couples as truly one, and in a manner of speaking (of their spiritual potential), they are; but how truly one were they if they became divorced? At least one partner had "gone rogue," spiritually and emotionally speaking. Yes, marital unity is the ideal and the expectation; but a large part of the hurt also comes from making assumptions that did not realistically exist. The church teaches the ideal, but very often falls short of Christ's personal example in understanding and teaching how to reach the ideal.

When I look at many churches in this day and age, I see well planned and catered banquets -- but seated around every table are gaggles of very hungry people -- even skeletal ones vacant of spiritual and emotional life. I see children who are compliant on the outside but ignored on the inside by their parents. I see sad, hurting people who want nothing but a shade of happiness and personal attention. Of course, that is part of why people go to church; but if we expect to fill all of these needs through a congregation instead of building a personal relationship with an ever-loving God... Well, that's more for another time.

I believe that because God knows each of us personally and intimately, there is an ideal and best way for each of us to process our struggles and uncover our healing. When our questions are not being understood or answered or facilitated in discussion, then I believe our counselors or facilitators don't know what they are doing. I have seen "Christian counselors" sum up a course of "therapy" by merely saying, "Well, just do what God wants" or "Well, just do what the Bible says." Anyone can tell someone what to do! It's teaching or leading them into how to do it that makes a counselor truly professional.

Email: Syllabi [CW]

What [six types of syllables]? Do you mean mono-, duo-, tri-, tetra-, penta-, and hexa-syllabic? And what about hepta- and octo-syllabic? Nono-syllabic? Deca-syllabic?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Cartoons: Frogs from tadpoles

Cartoons: "... deceiving the public"

Websites: Please stop screaming at me

(A TV speaks to its viewer in Please Stop Screaming At Me | The Onion - America's Finest News Source)

"If I may presume to put forth a theory, sir? No one who despised Jimmy Kimmel as you claim to would watch him every evening. I believe your anger is born not of annoyance, but of shame. It is my theory, sir, that you resent me for nourishing the part of yourself you least like. It is the part that ogles any magazine cover that features a bit of cleavage, the part that knows the state of Brad and Angelina today. Yes, sir, I'm afraid that while you are watching me, I am watching you, and for all of your outbursts, there are hours and hours you spend lulled, quiet as a baby.

But whatever your motive, you really should step away from me for a few hours and do something constructive. Go for a walk, work out, read a good book—may I recommend the works of Evan S. Connell? Not that I've read any of them, but I saw him on C-SPAN's Book TV and he seemed very intelligent. Or calm your nerves with a hot cup of herbal tea. Just don't fling it at me in anger."

Journalism: Southwest Air, banning free speech

MSNBC reports that a woman was banned from her flight home from L.A. to Oregon because she wore a t-shirt depicting George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice over a caption that said (apparently) "Meet the Fuckers" (in a vulgar spoof of the similarly named movie title). She covered the shirt for the first leg of the flight, but it was visible during a stopover in Reno. Southwest Airlines apparently does not believe in free speech, but does believe in mob rule, because it pulled the woman only because of complaints from other un-American non-believers in free speech -- that is to say, hypocrites.

Weather: Tammy misses Tamiami

Tropical Storm Tammy will miss Florida's Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41 along the southwest coast), heading north of Daytona Beach and Orlando then inland to Georgia. Tammy's six inches of rain should swamp any land in Florida that it touches, however, since except where it's been developed (landscaped), Florida is basically a flat swath of beach sand covered by scrub grass.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Email: Microsoft Support

This has to be the stupidest solution I have ever seen: Clear the address cache of junk addresses that should never have gotten in there anyway, not by rebuilding the cache to only include addresses in the address book, but by individually adding all (of possibly hundreds of) junk addresses to the address book and then manually deleting each one? Idiots!

Email: What is too nice? [MG]

When others take advantage of benefits that were accorded you, it's because you are way too nice about things, and the offenders know that. Those with fewer principles know they can "abuse" those who have more, and with impunity; so they do it. [So] lay down the law [or] lay down boundaries or conditions.

Weblogs: Being Fox News

ReidBlog: Being Fox News: "Courtesy of Atrios, MSNBC's David Schuster reminisces (in a Herald Times article) about his time as a Fox News reporter:

'With the change of administration in Washington, I wanted to do the same kind of reporting, holding the (Bush) administration accountable, and that was not something that Fox was interested in doing,' he said.

'Editorially, I had issues with story selection,' Shuster went on. 'But the bigger issue was that there wasn't a tradition or track record of honoring journalistic integrity. I found some reporters at Fox would cut corners or steal information from other sources or in some cases, just make things up. Management would either look the other way or just wouldn't care to take a closer look. I had serious issues with that.' "

Weather: No excuses for New Orleans' Ninth Ward

Federal body searchers have pulled 964 victims out of post-Katrina New Orleans, but CNN says efforts have been called off with 100-150 houses still unsearched, one month later, in New Orleans' predominantly poor and black Ninth Ward. Why? Because searchers "ran out of paint," they say. Civilians, meanwhile, point out telltale signs of bodies within the houses that remain unchecked.

Unconscionable! Would they have stopped searching for post-9/11 bodies known to remain in the World Trade Center? No, because those victims were stock traders or otherwise economically feasible to recover and identify.

Holidays: Rogation Days

(via Richard on AnamTuras)

Rogation Days are the three days before Ascension Day which occurs 40 days after Easter (always on a Thursday). Rogationtide is the collective word for these days of special prayers for the crops. Rogationtide is more than likely a Christian adaptation of similar pagan devotional practices. It has been common in some places for processions to take place in the fields whilst chanting the Litany of the Saints and sprinkling the Spring planting with holy water. This practice has fallen into disuse in modern times and the days are sort of lumped together on the preceeding Sunday (Rogation Sunday in some faith communities). This hymn is sung in many places on Rogation Sunday.
O Jesus, crowned with all renown,
Since thou the earth hast trod,
Thou reignest, and by thee come down
Henceforth the gifts of God.
Thine is the health
And thine the wealth
That in our halls abound,
And thine the beauty and the joy
With which the years are crowned.
Lord, in their cha[r]ge, let frost and heat,
And winds and dews be giv'n;
All fost'ring power, and influence sweet,
Breathe from the bounteous heav'n.
Attemper fair
With gentle air
The sunshine and the rain,
That kindly earth
With timely birth
May yield her fruits again:
That we may feed the poor aright,
And, gath'ring round thy throne,
Here, in the holy angels' sight,
Repay thee of thine own:
That we may praise thee all our days,
And with the Father's Name,
And with the Holy Spirit's gifts,
The Saviour's love proclaim.
..... Edward White Benson, 1860

Holidays: St. Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4)

(via AnamTuras)

Today is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, a major spiritual influence in my life. To celebrate, I present his hymn "Brother Sun, Sister Moon":

Most High, omnipotent, good Lord,
To thee be ceaseless praise outpoured,
And blessing without measure.
From thee alone all creatures came;
No man is worthy thee to name.

My Lord be praised by brother sun
Who through the skies his course doth run,
And shines in brilliant splendor:
With brightness he doth fill the day,
And signifies thy boundless sway.

My Lord be praised by sister moon
And all the stars, that with her soon
Will point the glitt'ring heavens.
Let wind and air and cloud and calm
And weathers all, repeat the psalm.

By sister water be thou blessed,
Most humble, useful, precious, chaste:
Be praised by brother fire;
Jocund is he, robust and bright,
And strong to lighten all the night.

By mother earth my Lord be praised;
Governed by thee she hath upraised
What for man's life is needful.
Sustained by thee through ev'ry hour,
She bringeth forth fruit, herb, and flower.

My Lord be praised by those who prove
In free forgivingness their love,
Nor shrink from tribulation.
Happy, who peaceably endure;
With thee, Lord, their reward is sure.

For death, our sister, praisèd be,
From whom no man alive can flee.
Woe to the unpreparèd!
But blest be they who do thy will
And follow thy commandments still.

Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226
Tr. Howard Chandler Robbins, 1939

Music: Rejoice in the Lamb - Benjamin Britten

(via Darrell Grizzle on AnamTuras)

[See the opening pages of Tad Williams' novel Tailchaser's Song for the full text of this excellent poem, but] Benjamin Britten's "Rejoice in the Lamb" cites the poem by Christopher Smart (1722-1771) which elegizes his cat:

"For I will consider my cat, Geoffrey. For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him. For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way. For this is done by wreathing his body seven times 'round with elegant quickness. For he knows that God is his Saviour. For God has bless'd him in the variety of his movements. For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest. For I am possessed of a cat, surpassing in beauty, from whom I take occasion to bless Almighty God."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Email: Dating without settling [SS]

You express very well how to look for a partner, which is to have some desires for qualities but to be open to the serendipity and surprises that God will have in store for us -- because we can't anticipate everything we like much less need, can we? It's not all under our own control, that's for sure.

Email: When women date online [JB]

Man what a disappointing crowd of online comers you describe! They just want to meet their needs, not have a truly giving relationship. Yes, the Proverbs 31 thing is too prevalent. (Why don't they just say "barefoot and pregnant"?) It's not that we shouldn't have standards and goals for the character of men as well as women; it's that conservative Christians are so ought-oriented. Make everyone either get with the program or feel like dweebish outcasts if they're not [when it's a social not a moral issue]. Well, God wants variety and diversity, not clones.

I think online dating, like anything technological, raises the bar for what we need to be smart and capable enough to cope with. You say a woman's profile may be looked at by 500 men but "passed over" with no contact or communication; while I think a "Barbie" would be looked at and written to by most of the 500. You have to remember that most men are shallow and seek certain predictable types; so an older woman of substance or quality is not going to attract the majority of men -- nor would you want to or be able to have a conversation with most such guys. Think of it like walking down a NYC street: You don't want to be approached by every single male on the street. I know it's hard when the inquiry ratio is (say) 1 in 100; but you don't want to wade through 99 unsuitable responses -- you only want the one who is serious about writing you. (With any luck, he has even read half of your profile.) In short, if you have brains and an opinion, you don't want anyone who doesn't want you to have brains and an opinion. Keep your wits about you, and you'll do OK. Just watch out for the wolf spiders.

Email: How did you fare through Rita? [SD]

Everything has to be done in real time and we have to balance all our priorities; that’s how the give and take between what’s important and what’s urgent -- or simply expedient -- comes to play.

I see spiritual revival coming out of an overarching sense of and hunger for God’s peace, more than being pressured by natural disasters until people “run to God” for relief. Some will “remember God” amidst hard times however.

Holidays: All too soon

All right, for several weeks now, Kroger has had its Halloween stuff out, and yesterday I found Christmas displays in the front of Pier 1.

Will someone please explain why we need eight retail sales weeks for Halloween and twelve for Christmas?

Sneaky little buggers, those retailers, aren't they?

Musings: Twerpette snores, you know

She of the Long Nose snores every chance she gets...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Proverbs: Never give someone smart and obsessive more coils with which to flog themselves.

Ads: Another reason to hate Bratz

Not only do I dislike the vapid, cloned expressions and coifs of those pencil-thin refugees from Hollyford (Stepwood?) called Bratz, but now a commercial for the globally best-selling dolls of brainwashed children repeats an intermittent background sound that is an absolutely convincing reproduction of a dog puking up a piece of rancid gristle. (I was frantically checking for Twerpette's whereabouts before I realized it was the TV's surround sound.)

Weather: Hummingbird in rain

I see at least one hummingbird now and then in the crepe myrtle or other young trees in front of my living room windows. During a cloudburst just now, we witnessed a hummingbird scuttering from branch to branch, often sitting for brief moments, trying to get out of the rain -- before flying out of sight.

Email: How did you fare through Rita? [MS]

Thanks for letting me know. (I don't like to assume the worst of anyone unilaterally.)

Yes, I can be intense (or maybe we should call it "interested and involved"); however I'm also one of the most easygoing persons you will meet. (I am a study not in contrasts but in dualities.)

Email: How did you fare through Rita? [AS]

You can post a comment anonymously [here on Blogger] but it asks for a code word (different each time) so spammers can no longer fill up weblogs with spam. The screens are intuitive, but (as I always say [about technology]), intuitive to programmers does not mean intuitive to laypersons.

Internet: A billion, in perspective

The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion," casually, think about whether you want the politician spending your tax money. A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases.

a. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
b. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
c. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
d. A billion days ago no-one walked on two feet on earth.
e. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government spends it.

Lyrics: In Spite of Ourselves

[Now this is true love, eh? Iris DeMent and John Prine do this one proud.]

She thinks all my jokes are corny
Convict movies make her horny
She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs
Swears like a sailor when shaves her legs
She takes a lickin'
And keeps on tickin'
I'm never gonna let her go.

He's got more balls than a big brass monkey
He's a wacked out weirdo and a lovebug junkie
Sly as a fox and crazy as a loon
Payday comes and he's howlin' at the moon
He's my baby I don't mean maybe
Never gonna let him go

In spite of ourselves
We'll end up a-sittin' on a rainbow
Against all odds
Honey, we're the big door prize
We're gonna spite our noses
Right off of our faces
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.