Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Work In Progress.

That's me. I am a WIP.

I started meditating earlier this year, and I think it's helped. I haven't written much about it because I don't have patience for people who wear their beliefs on their sleeves, especially if they're a novice like myself.

The way you get through this life is no one's business but your own.

In Monday's post I lamented, with my usual snark, that a few supposed Christians chose this season to be publicly unChristian, not realizing the irony in their behavior. It was, I hope, entertaining.

In the post I linked to a site called Applied Buddhism by the teacher J Sumitta Hudson. Mr. Hudson kindly responded with the following:

"There is always a bit of pleasure in indulging in negative emotion. It allows us to feel superior to others and exalt ourselves towards what we perceive as ignorance.

We cannot hope to uncondition these emotions by ignoring them. But we cannot indulge these emotions by validating them. See them and understand them, and navigate the waters mindfully.

Who is hurt by craving and clinging to negative emotions other than ourselves. How can we diminish the negative energy of others if we give credence and power to them, by responding in kind?"

In typical Buddhist fashion, the purpose of Mr. Hudson's comment is enigmatic. Was he agreeing with me, encouraging me, or admonishing me?
Or was it all three?

It all depends on how I choose to read it.

I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. But this time of year we naturally look inward and find room for improvement. So, as we begin this, our 5th year (!?) here at The Planet, I don't know where this blog will go or what it is we'll talk about. I only hope it's worth your time and attention.

I am a Work in Progress. I know you are, too. Let us work together to make this a kinder, better place.

Happy New Year.

I asked my friend, painter and fellow blogster, GC Myers to choose one of his paintings that best illustrated this post. This is what he sent. I think it's perfect. Thanks for the loan, Gary.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How well do you remember 2009?

Take this New Yorker quiz and find out.

I scored a 21 out of 29, a barely passing grade of around 72%. Surely you can do better than that.

A Reason to Sympathize with the Workers of the TSA.

If you fly you've been annoyed, at least once, by a TSA worker at the airport.

I had a woman in Boston take my goddam toothpaste and roll her eyes while she did it. A TSA guy in Raleigh pulled my 80-year-old mother, in her wheelchair, out of line for a more intensive search.

No, Grandma couldn't get through our vigilant Homeland Security, but a Nigerian on the watch list named Umar Farouk Fucking Abdulmutallab could sail through with a bomb strapped to his junk.

Which leads me to the reason we should now feel some sympathy for the poor bastards who screen passengers. I just saw a report on CNN that said the full body imaging machines will be fine tuned in order to pick up "more detail in the groin area."

Jesus, I don't care how much your job sucks. Try spending all day, every day, looking at finely detailed images of Umar Farouk's pecker.

My hat (and my shoes) are off to you, TSA workers. I'll never try to smuggle a large tube of toothpaste past you again.

Christmas in the Corps.

I think Full Metal Jacket is the only movie that got basic training right. At least the basic of my day, circa 1969. Here's a holiday favorite.

For civilians: Magic show = church service

Monday, December 28, 2009

I'm trying to be the shepherd.

I spent all last week taking it easy. It was nice. The family had a good Christmas and there were only a few rough spots and I take the blame for those.

As I've spent the last few months...years...decades...hell, since the Nixon administration being angry, I'm trying to follow teacher J Sumitta Hudson's advice to practice happiness as a daily routine. I'm trying.

Then I see this.

Every Monday morning over at First Draft, Tommy wades into the Free Republic pool (it's quite shallow, so no diving) to see what sludge lies beneath the oily surface. Last week he found the Freepers celebrating the season in a truly Christian mood.

"If I see some Arab/Muslim-looking folks I go out of my way to wish them “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” A very small minority return the greeting (Catholics, I presume) but most just look at me with hostility. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

"I tell everyone Merry Christmas. It makes the right people happy and pisses off the libtards and other assorted scum."

"I have been going out of my way to say Merry Christmas. Let the atheists, mooselimbs, and demoncraps burn in hell."

It's the spirit of the season among the victimized American class. Hostility, assorted scum, burn in in hell, (mooselimbs?).

Yep, it's Christmas in America, complete with rancor, unprovoked rudeness and manufactured strawmen to decorate the nativity.

If the Arab/Muslim-looking Wise Men showed up today these people would shoot them at the border.

On a healthier note, if I missed you last week, I hope you had a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, a Joyous Solstice or whatever it is you celebrate. What you believe is no one's business but yours.

Now, let us practice happiness.

There, I feel better already.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fat Bastard Blues Band

A few pictures of the Fat Bastard Blues Band's show last Saturday.

The picture above is Tim Collins on lead guitar and Jason Simon on bass. Who you can't see is our amazing drummer, Gary Mitchell.

This is Carl Wetter, the front man of FBBB. Carl leads the bastards with enough energy to get people off their ass and onto the dance floor.

The man behind Carl is easily the least talented person in the band. Easily.

What I like about any picture of me playing harp is that half of my face is covered which is a blessing for all concerned.

Photos by Sarah Stockton Howell. Thanks, Sarah.

You can see more here.

A Christmas Cartoon

This was to be our Christmas card this year but Kinko's really fucked up the printing. So this is what you would have received in the mail if we'd have mailed a card this year.

Next year I'll print them myself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why you and I don't stand a chance.

The health care reform fiasco was everything we feared it would be.

A period of behavior foul enough to make a dung beetle turn away in disgust. From the uninformed teabaggers of the summer, to the dishonest posturing of Republicans. From the spinelessness of the Democrats to the noodle-armed lack of muscle from the White House. It was a morality play whose last act was the venal slouch towards Bethlehem that was Joe Lieberman making his way to the microphone with words as shamelessly untrue as his claim to decency and principle.

Health care reform is dead, keeping us the only industrialized nation that cares for the sick and injured based on what they can pay.

We will continue to pay twice as much for half the service. We will continue to create insurance millionaires by driving families into the street, bankrupting 2 million Americans every year, including 700,000 children.

Will this crippled, barely-breathing infant of compromise that's been pushed onto the stage fix any of this? No. It will only make the insurance companies richer and the rest of us poorer.

So I say kill the bill. Obama should take this feeble mutt out back and put a bullet in its head.

I know others disagree. Even my old friend, Dusty Rhoades says:

"Do I want any health care reform AT ALL killed because I don't get everything I want in this bill? No. I realize that politics is the art of the possible. If you can't get everything you want, you get everything you can get, and regroup to fight another day."

I say, move on to things we can change. We've wasted enough time on this rigged game. The corporations, with all the rights of people and none of the responsibilities, own the dice. We were suckers to believe otherwise.

But I do agree with Dusty about one thing. I'm sick of following these ugly actors in this ill-scripted bit of rancid dinner theater.

Aside from a few Christmas cartoons and other hopefully funny posts, I'm taking the rest of the year off. Maybe if I ignore people like Glenn Beck and Joe Lieberman they will cease to exist, at least for a little while.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm ashamed I voted for this asshole, part 2.

Well, Joe Lieberman's most important constituent, Joe Lieberman, is happy as a little girl today. He made sure you and I will never get any option for health care other than the insurance weasels who make it a company policy to skull fuck as many innocent people as they can.

Oh, and they also give Joe a buttwad of cash, which I'm sure has nothing to do with his opposition to reform.

With no public option and no Medicare buy-in for younger people, something Holy Joe was all for a few months ago, all the new health reform bill would do is deliver, by mandate, 30 million new suckers into the same insurance maw that chews up millions in order to fatten up the few.

Thanks, Joe. You are one heck of a guy. And if you were here now, I'd happily raise that Droopy Dawg voice of yours a few fucking octaves.

You can thank Joe, too, for ignoring the wishes of the majority of people in Connecticut and in America, by calling him at 202-224-4041. But good luck getting through. Joe's number seems to be very busy today.

Probably all those people calling to express their gratitude.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Photoshop Funnies

I love Photoshop.
And I freely admit that I suck at Photoshop.
But I can do this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's that time of year.

When right wing warriors go off in search of a war.

And surprisingly, they've discovered the War on Christmas.


So, what do the brave men and women of the GOP do? They write this resolution. This'll show those secular bastards who want to ban Santa, kick elves in the crotch and piss in everyone's eggnog.

I wish I was making this up, but here's their resolution:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of
religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;
(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and
(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.
Goddamn, that takes courage. It's enough to make a strong man weep.

This is John Boehner, House Minority Leader, getting all weepy over the defense of misteltoe and holly. And just 6 weekes ago, Weeping John said this about "symbolic" reolutions:

"These are your hard-earned tax dollars at work: with millions of Americans looking for jobs and the nation's unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, the U.S. House of Representatives today will take up a grand total of four non-controversial ... bills. Four. It's unacceptable for Congress to take it easy at a time when out-of-work families struggling to make ends meet are asking 'where are the jobs?"

But it's a war out there. So passing a resolution saying you're all for Christmas is breathtakingly brave. That is, if you don't count the fact that all those heathen soldiers on the other side are just stick figures stuffed with straw.

Go get 'em, GOP.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The day a stranger shot my youth in the ass.

Twenty nine years ago, Jenny was pregnant and had gone to bed early. I stayed up, watching TV.

Then a man came on and said John Lennon had been shot and killed.

A month later I would be a father. My life would change forever, catapulted into responsible adulthood, ready or not.

But that night it felt like my youth, or what was left of it at age 30, was gunned down on that New York City sidewalk with John Lennon.

It's a sad anniversary.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Selective Service System.

The draft. I've been thinking a lot about the draft ever since we went into Iraq. If more sons and daughters had been called up, that war would have never happened. I guarantee it. Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver weren't about to let Beaver march off to war in Iraq, not without a good reason.

Ah, who am I kidding? The same people drafted in my day would be the same people drafted today: the poor, the unconnected, the ones who think this nation is a communal experiment that calls on all of us to give something to our country.

I was in that last group and Jesus, were we morons. If only we'd waited until the Ayn Rand school of take-all-you-can-get-and-fuck-everyone-else zeitgeist had become the popular currency, then we wouldn't have been duped by the call to be our brother's keeper.

Today, it's easy for Americans to support a foreign war. So few of them know anyone in it. Hell, Americans don't even want to skip a day at Walmart to to fund the war.

A war tax? That's so Great Generation-y. Today we're hip, we're modern. We agree with Milton Friedman who taught us that the Kennedy "what you can do for your country" stuff was wrong-headed piffle, hardly befitting a free nation.

Why pay taxes for things we don't use, like clinics? Why fund a war we can easily ignore? And serve? Please. Call us when it's time for the victory party.

Yesterday, Bob Herbert of the NYT wrote a great column on this. In it he says:

"The idea that fewer than 1 percent of Americans are being called on to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq and that we’re sending them into combat again and again and again — for three tours, four tours, five tours, six tours — is obscene. All decent people should object."

Oh, Bob, that's so quaint. Why should any American get off his larger-than-ever ass to protest sending volunteers he doesn't know off to fight a war in a place he can't find on a map?

A draft. That would suggest we're all in this together. When everyone knows that it's every man for himself.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

May I suggest something in a 9mm.

According to this article, the rich white guys of Goldman Sachs, the guys who took our money, paid themselves bonuses that would make an oil sheik blush, then shoved ahead of pregnant women to get the swine flu vaccine are wondering if "Eat the Rich" may be less of a slogan and more of a dining recommendation.

For the first time, they've raised their snouts from the trough long enough to recognize that they've got a little PR problem.

As the article reports, "...senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank."

The self-titled Masters of the Universe are getting shaky. And that's bound to throw off their aim.

Even Lloyd Blankfein, the one who claimed Goldman Sachs was doing God's work, has walked back his claims of partnership with the Almighty. He confessed, while trying on a new pair of Asian baby slippers, that he had participated in some things that were "clearly wrong."

He then unhinged his jaw and swallowed a kitten.

I'm kind of relieved to see that the people of Goldman Sachs are scared. It shows they have some sense, after all.