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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti (SNIP) DOH!

Gimme that ol' time religion. Pope (Eggs) Benedict has purged the church of Rome of "Modern" music. When he says modern, he means any chorals written after 1900 AD. We should remember that that sort of music can't be properly preformed without the castrato boy singers. In the eyes of the holy bachelors of old those "altered" boys made the best singers. It almost makes priestly molestation seem benign. This pope is a stickler for tradition, so watch out kids. Benny is the same guy who wants to "correct" other religions.

I don't know what appeal a religion offers that seems to be centrally concerned with access to young males for perverted purposes when they aren't smuggling SS Nazis to South America.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Apple Cup

For 100 years Washington State University and the University of Washington have played a football game that is now known as The Apple Cup. This year both teams are 2-7 and wretched, but equally wretched and inspired to salvage some scrap of dignity from the '07 season. A game between two mediocre (generous assessment) teams should make for thin gruel in this blog, but it explains a lot about Washington State. Folks from Washington always have to tack on "State" when traveling and have to tell people where they come from. Only citizens of New York State are subject to such an indignity. When was the last time you heard anyone talk about Oklahoma State or Georgia State when not referring to a university? I digress.

Washington is split by the Cascade range in a 1/3 - 2/3 arrangement. The East side of the State is dry, and agricultural, and much larger than the coastal area. The Western part of the State is industrial, wet and cosmopolitan. You could compare the two to the North and South before WWII. I currently live on the West side, but put in fifteen years in the East.

The East was good to me. I was welcomed, and had the opportunity to genuinely participate in public life. It was my most creative part of my life and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. I made friends there who persevere to this day. My children were born 'or yonder. I love Eastern Washington, but it's a tough place to make a living or educate children. Eastern Washington is poor, well perhaps not so much poor but extremely economically stratified. Right next to the poorest (per-capita) county in the state, is the richest in family income. The rich county is also a land of huge wheat ranches and few people, hence wealthy families. The economy of Eastern Washington is a creation of the depression era Works Progress Administration that brought water and cheap electricity to pump it to the farms and orchards. Aluminum and defense (nuclear weapons) devoured all the excess power from FDR's Columbia River dams. The fact that Eastern Washington was a creation of federal subsidy made that side of the state solid Democratic. In the 60's things began to turn Republican. For the first time, much like the American South, the area was making enough money to start paying real taxes, and hated it. The Republicans built on this resentment. The only thing that keeps Washington from becoming another Mississippi is the fact that only about 30% of the State's population lives East of the Cascades.

Western Washington was Boeing for the longest time with the ensuing industrial unionization. From 1938 to the early '70s the aircraft boom seemed unstoppable. Then came the crash. By the mid 70's even with the problems in aerospace the West side still outpaced the dry siders in personal income, so paid the lion's share of State taxes. Today the disparity is even worse. Most West-siders don't spend a lot of time thinking about Eastern Washington, and this comes across as arrogant. Microsoft has made the urban sensibilities of the West even more cerebral and academic.

The University of Washington reflects the personality of its side of the State. Creative, huge and self centered. Washington State University originated as what was called a "Normal" college, more directed to training teachers and agricultural science. Time passed, UW got the State medical school, WSU got the veterinary school. UW got the law school, WSU got the school of dentistry. The agricultural extension services are run out of WSU while the scientific research is mostly done at UW. UW has almost half again as many students as WSU. Generally UW fields better football teams than the perennial Washington State's plucky contenders. The Dawgs are arrogant and the Cougs are hicks.

The tensions of rivalry can become palpable, and I'm not talking about football. With a 2/3 Democratic majority in both houses of the State legislature the minority Republicans have become irrelevant. This has driven the oft ignored East side absolutely nuts. The heartland of Republican politics has been nominating and electing stranger and stranger State legislators, making them more and more powerless. This is not healthy.

Don't misunderstand. I want the Democrats, and more specifically, liberal Democrats to succeed. In the city of Seattle proper politics can get pretty strange. I think it comes of spending months at a time in a dreary atmosphere of slow drizzle. Some folk have too much time on their hands, and spend their days working up petitions in support of undocumented alien trans-species Jello and ball bearing fetishists. I mean we've had hours of city council meetings regarding minorities that don't even exist as far as I can tell. This nonsense makes the paper, and drives our Eastern brothers and sisters absolutely nuts. In the East there are county commissioners who are stuck in 1953 Red Scare mode. That stuff also makes the papers. There is building resentment on the wet side over the fact that so much of their tax money goes East to counties who don't appreciate the subsidy.

The dysfunctional personality of our State makes us charming in a way, but inefficient as hell. We almost need ambassadors and trade missions to each other. The West side needs a place to dry out and take vacations, and the East side needs the money and medical facilities of the West. The UW/WSU Apple Cup serves as an outlet for some of the hostility, but we can do better.

My Call? WSU by five in a high scoring game.

Blowing Up Buddhas. . . . Again.

Gary Leupp, writing with the good folks over at ( ) has an extensive article about the defacing of the giant Buddhist monuments in the Swat Valley with explosives. This sounds like an old story from 2000 Afghanistan, but it happened two months ago in Pakistan. The bearded jackasses of Islam are busy dynamiting the fifteen hundred year old statues of Buddha, without a thought of the tourist dollars they are costing their fellow Pasthun. The Middle Eastern monotheistic religions have this thing about idolatry, and the two sand encrusted sects, Judaism and Islam, pretty much take this as orders on high to ban any depiction of animals, especially Humans. The Roman practitioners of nominal monotheism love their statuary. Can you imagine the cultural horror that would descend on Europe if these Islamists had their way with this great cultural heritage. Ok. That last bit was right out of the xenophobe's playbook, but I would expect the Islamists to start hitting premiere heritage sites in accessible (compared to US targets) Europe or Southeast Asia.

Now I don't care if they eat goats, think I'm going to hell for drinking a beer, want to spend their days reading the same book over and over or even prefer the fourteenth century to the twenty-first. So long as they stop enslaving children and women and blowing up antiquarian art that offends their Qur'an, it's live and let live in my book. Those Buddhas don't belong to them. The statuary is the property of the world's culture. The UN must do everything it can to preserve our treasures from these religious barbarians.

While we have our own religious barbarians, they are wussy wimps when compared to even "moderate" Islam. I think it's great that they don't have a drunk driving problem in Saudi Arabia, but the trade-off is unacceptable. Our religious barbarians would have forced prayer in public schools. The Islamic religious barbarians seem to restrict education for most followers to recitation of their holy book in Arabic, even when the students don't understand a word. The Church of Rome did this with Latin, but that was obsolete with the Reformation and eventual Enlightenment.

Perhaps South Asia is a special case. Pakistan and Afghanistan have been a horror show since the 1940s with the coming of Wahhabist missionary Imams with fistfuls of petro-dollars. It seems like every evil in this part of the world has a trail back to Saudi Arabia. Ignorant hicks with modern weapons and explosives is a horror that defies solution. In my darker moments I imagine the Christian snake handlers getting jealous of the Moslem whack jobs' zeal and taking up arms to enforce their version of god's will on earth. Tell me I'm wrong.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

1.6 Tera-Bucks

A tera-buck is one trillion dollars. A little over one and a half trillion dollars have gone down the Iraq war rat hole, and bought us nothing but new enemies and less security. Even the most enthusiastic sane (REPEAT! SANE!) war booster has come to this conclusion, at least in private. The sad fact is that after this war, no program can be rejected out of hand as too expensive. One Iraq War (IW) equals one National Health Care Program. Half an IW = free college tuition for all qualified students. Both desirable expenditure for benefit programs. Maintaining the national transportation infrastructure would be a bargain at a quarter IW. There are thousands of projects in each state that will slip in under congressional doors as amendments, and that cannot be withdrawn because they would each be only a day or two of the IW. Anyone who thinks these expenditures would be liberal pork hasn't been paying attention. For every day care subsidy there will be dozens of pet projects, stadiums, bridges to nowhere, Osprey tilt rotor Marine Killers, etc.

I hear the gravy train bell ringing, and our dour Republican friends are totally bankrupt and incapable of raising the financial stop sign. They brought it on themselves, and can go cry in their rooms. Nobody cares anymore.

The new Rethuglican rising star is the snake handler Mike Huckabee. The wingnut magazine Weekly Standard is tearing into him, just as I predicted about a month ago. Besides handling snakes, drinking poison, denying science and speaking in tongue he has embraced the heresy of Global Climate Change. Fixing the American part of the problem could easily cost one IW. I don't really expects the Rethuglicans to nominate Huckabee, but he will make the next six months interesting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What Are The Implications?

The Associated Press issued this article that I find highly disturbing.

"RIPON, Calif. (AP) -- Six cheerleaders are fighting suspensions after they flashed football fans a message on their underpants. Vice Principal Ken Goeken ordered the girls to serve suspensions Tuesday and Wednesday for defying their coach and going ahead with a special cheer they choreographed for the last day of the football season.

At the end of the cheer, the girls bent over, lifted their skirts and showed the crowd the words "Indians No. 1" on their bloomers.

The girls - who missed reading scenes from William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and fear their grades will suffer - are asking to make up coursework and instead be banned from cheering at an upcoming basketball game."

Now each and every high school and university will have to appoint a Cheerleader Underwear Inspector. The paperwork sorting the applicants for this position will force the entire educational system to crash.

Think these things through before you pull these pranks, Kids.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Political Dilemma

The Democratic Party (That's Democrat Party to you Rethuglicans) has been destroying its electoral base. For more than sixty years the Democrats have been promoting programs that move voters from poverty into the middle class, and the middle class into prosperity. This upward mobility generally makes a change in the voter's affiliation, and they start to vote Rethuglican. The Rethuglicans win, begin to destroy those programs and the populace slips into poverty. Class divide becomes acute, and few ultra wealthy begin to dominate. At this point the Rethuglicans are turning their former voters into Democrats. This process repeats every two generations.

Now the Rethuglican pros are trying to take eyes off economics, and rely on The Forever War and religious bigotry to recruit votes. It won't work. The political wilderness awaits, so they better get their resumes off to the Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute. Of course there are always spots in upper management oil and insurance companies, but those aren't as much fun for a true political hack.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article it was noted that the financial upper 5% is, in obvious fear of a new French style revolution, abandoning the Rethuglican Party. According to the Journal, these defectors were also being turned off by the gang of snake handlers that have taken over their GOP.

On a personal note, it is the time of the year when football coaches begin to lose their jobs. So far SMU and Baylor have shown the coach the door. Perhaps more have. UW's hire out of the Notre Dame staff isn't doing the job, nor is his replacement at ND. No Summer Camp for you boys. Oregon, even with a loss or two impresses. Texas Tech whupped up on #5 OU in what has got to have been the best game of the weekend. The Apple Cup cometh.