Wednesday, April 30, 2008


You know it's really ended
when you get de-friended.

Maybe Ben Stein "Misspoke"

"Science leads you to killing people."

Words of unwisdom from Ben Stein.

Somehow a lack of reliance
on science
(a lack like that seen in most of recorded time)
prevents homicidal crime.

Berlioz Hits All The Notes

I'm sure it's been said before...

The Symphonie Fantastique
is unique.

It's A Rain Forest Out There

There's a book entitled: It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.

As if to prove the title true, the author is in trouble... for racially insensitive illustrations. Story, with pictures, here.

The publishers promise to change the illustrations, and add:
As an organization, we need to look seriously at the effects of white privilege. We will be looking for anti-racist trainings offered here in the Bay Area.
They should have had me look
at the book.

"It's a jungle"?
How incorrect - a terminological bungle.

"Rain forest"
is the proper phrase.

The connotations are wrong, of course,
but that is just the price one pays
for verbal progress.

As for the pictures of natives, chasing grrrls in distress,
let's mention that much less.

Chuck those illustrations in the trash!

(They didn't really intend to bash
anyone, but they possess
white privilege, which means
they didn't notice the half-naked black men charging through those scenes.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

No Cheatin' At Wheaton

If you teach at Wheaton College, and you get divorced...

An explanation is required,
or you'll be fired.

And if the explanation isn't good, you'll be fired for that, too.

All of which is bad for Prof. Kent Gramm, who for some reason wants to keep his divorce details private.

So he's quitting
instead of submitting
the story of him and the Mrs.
going from kisses to hisses.

Taken Aback

They seem surprised that people care
who his friends are (how unfair!)
and hadn't bothered to prepare
coherent answers to disarm
such challenges. Perhaps his charm,
too much relied on, led to harm.

Descriptive not Divisive

Jeremiah Wright explains some more.
"I am not one of the most divisive" black spiritual leaders, he said. "I'm one of the most descriptive."
He's descriptive, all right. "God damn" descriptive.

Maybe he could just take back the "God damn America" thing? It doesn't really sound descriptive exactly.

I think apologizing, just for that, would go a long way,
but sorry is the hardest thing to say.

If he can't do that, and he's really on Obama's side,
maybe for a while he could hide?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Politician Associates with Socialist Radicals

Tony Zirkle wants to run for Congress as a Republican in Indiana.

He recently attended a commemorative birthday party for Hitler, here in Illinois, held by the American National Socialist Workers Party.
He said he did not know much about the neo-Nazi group and that his intention was to talk on his concern about "the targeting of young white women and for pornography and prostitution."
Note that it's just the white women he's worried about.

Here's the youtube video of him, speaking at a lectern with a huge Hitler photo behind him.

He's an Annapolis grad, and a lawyer. But he says he didn't know much about the neo-Nazi group.

When seeking election, it's normally best
not to speak at Nazi Fest.

Boomer Bombers

Brenda Kilianski, in a morally discerning piece on the legacy of the Weather Underground:
Even after 9/11, Ayers and Dohrn weren't under the same media scrutiny as now. How is it that a guy who says, "I don't regret setting bombs," or gloats after being released on a technicality about being "guilty as hell, free as a bird" has been more of a media darling than a pariah? Imagine Eric Rudolph or Timothy McVeigh saying the same things.
Bombers from the left
get treatment light and deft.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Always Up For Renewal

Sonya Ross trots out the idea that Bill Clinton was our "first black president," but then sounds a warning:
The problem is, nobody bothered to tell Clinton that honorary blackness is also temporary. No matter how much he's done on the subject of race, his brother privileges are always up for renewal.
Cute. Except it's not just true for white dudes like Clinton. It's true for black dudes too - they can be labeled as Oreos - white on the inside - if they dare to show up on the wrong side of the political table, or even if they just "talk white" too much.

You can be attacked as "white"
if your behavior isn't right.

Trouble with Our Persian Friends?

Nuts. We're talking about taking military action against Iran. You could see it coming, of course.

The good news is that we have forces on 2 of Iran's borders.

The bad news is that Iran is full of irate Iranians!

To keep Americans from getting killed,
this time please don't nation-build!

If we really must attack,
just do it quickly, and come back.

Path To Progress Run

I ran a 5k today devoted to the cause of the American Brain Tumor Association. They do good work, a mix of funding research and providing information to the afflicted.

It was a run/walk, so I went back and re-walked some of it, this time with a friend who was just doing the walk.

He's about my age. He has a brain tumor that wasn't completely removable. He has lived a lot longer than his doctors initially predicted, and he walked his 5k just fine. His attitude seemed great. But I know he's hurting, too.

Cancer's an ancient ill
that very often
stymies us still.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fostering Chaos

The authorities in that Texas polygamy case have been doing the craziest things. Things that look illegal to me. Why did they put all these kids in foster homes, apparently with no hard evidence of child abuse?

It seems to me that informal polygamy is now legal in most places - it's just sex between consenting adults, as long as you don't try to formalize multiple relationships legally.

Unless, of course, some of the partners haven't reached the age of consent. But what does that have to do with separating all of the children from all of the parents? Did they consider that this might be psychologically traumatic for some of those kids?

The state is playing fast and loose,
bordering on child abuse.

No XX at the PX!

Thank goodness:
Concerned that the military is selling pornography in exchange stores in spite of a ban, one lawmaker has introduced a bill to clean up the matter.

“Our troops should not see their honor sullied so that the moguls behind magazines like Playboy and Penthouse can profit,” said Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., unveiling his House bill April 16.
Rachel Lucas, for some reason, thinks this is a bad idea.

God forbid our soldiers feast their eyes
on nakedness between shoulders and thighs.

UPDATE: Reportedly what's actually at issue is Maxim and FHM at stateside bases.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Snipes Slammed

Wesley Snipes was convicted of 3 misdemeanors - and has now been sentenced to serve 3 years.
Prosecutors said Snipes' case was important to send a message to would-be tax protesters not to test the government.
That's kind of stiff for 3 misdemeanor offenses.

Officials start swinging the axe,
highly annoyed,
when you declare the income tax
is null and void.


I hate to lose, but a Darwin award
is one I really can't afford.

Though a highly publicized prize,
the poor recipient always dies.

Priest Tied To Balloons

Priest tied to balloons disappears

They hooked up all these balloons to a priest,
and into the air the priest was released.

Ascending toward heaven on party balloons,
a fund-raising stunt based on classic cartoons!

It seemed like great fun, until the wind blew
out toward the ocean - out, out of view.

So far, no word. Yes, it's cause for concern.
But let's all keep faith that he'll someday return.

Not So Slight Philosophy

I'm very pleased to see that Liberty ran a rave review of Quee Nelson's book, The Slightest Philosophy.

The piece, by Warren Gibson, is titled "Expanding on Rand," and it's in the May 2008 issue.

I loved this paragraph of Gibson's review:
Now, self-publishing is the road taken by incompetents and idlers. But a little page-flipping through "The Slightest Philosophy" suggests a well-organized work with lots of citations. Then you settle down to read, and wonder of wonders: it's easy and pleasant. You have in your hands - well, let me just say it - a masterpiece.
There is something very catchy about the book. I've even been thinking of reading it again. I'm not sure I completely absorbed its lessons on my first breakneck tear through its pages.

What puzzles me in the book
is how clear she made things look.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Aquinas and Natural Virtue

I was thinking about Aquinas' theory of natural virtue. He had the idea that reason, unaided by revelation, was perfectly adequate to construct a lot of ethical truth.
Aquinas thinks that some virtues are aimed at the limited human happiness achievable in this life through our natural capacities. He calls these "natural virtues" and follows Aristotle and Plato in his account of them.
Thomas Aquinas
thought happiness a universal goal.

Without divine guidance,
setting reason in the ruling role,

The mind defines virtue,
building habits for a happy soul.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Congrats, ISU Paintball Team

Congratulations, ISU Redbirds! They just won the Class-A College Paintball championship.

My nephew is field captain of the team. You can see a funny interview with him here.

Nice going, Mike.

He's got a great aim
and his head's in the game.


just hit a bump
in Pennsylvania.

Rezko and RICO

"Ex-director of Illinois Finance Authority admits getting post after paying Rezko"

Rezko's lawyer did a pretty good job of painting the Feds' big star witness, Stuart Levine, as unscrupulous and unreliable. But the Feds keep bringing on more witnesses to testify that Rezko was a corrupt fixer.

The Feds kill you with small cuts in these RICO cases, where they get to bring in separate incidents as part of a broad "racketeering conspiracy".

RICO was designed to prosecute criminal "enterprises."
"Enterprise" is defined to include "any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity."
Note that an enterprise can just be... one enterprising guy.

RICO was aimed at "organized crime"
but now it's routinely used all the time
for individual white-collar crooks
who siphoned off dollars by cooking the books.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, the guy in the first story doesn't seem to have testified in the Rezko trial itself yet, but I think we can expect him to make an appearance.

Monday, April 21, 2008

John Adams Concluded

The John Adams HBO mini-series ended with a voiceover from Adams:
Well, posterity, you will never know what it cost us to preserve your freedom. I only hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.
I'm not sure that's an actual quotation. Maybe it's the writer. But it captures one of the "morals" of the show, namely that those of us who live in the States are the inheritors of people who risked all to be free.

You do wonder what he would think if he could be here today.

I hope he would not feel an urge to repent
of the nation he helped to invent.

Hillary the Hawk

Hillary goes all out when asked a hypothetical about Iran nuked Israel:
"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."
You know, it was McCain who sang "Bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann" (the old Beach Boys hit).

Maybe she's angling to be
McCain's VP.

Save the Earth

Many who are environmental
worry over incidental
damage to the planet
and even wish to ban it.

But few seem worried or annoyed
about wayward asteroids
even though one solid hit
means habitats blasted to bits.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Shock and Relief

We went to a concert tonight and they announced that they had a specially commissioned new work to play.

I'm in favor of new work but for some reason I never seem to like the new works they play at most concerts. So imagine my shock and relief when I liked the new piece, American Rhapsody, by Peter Boyer.

The secret, as it turns out, is that Boyer is a professional film and TV composer. So he's willing to write in what lots of critics take to be an old-fashioned idiom.

I like the old stuff, but, you see
the current idiom's Greek to me.

The Case of the Busted Bus

Don't place too much trust
in your GPS,
or you may drive your bus
(with just partial success)
under a bridge with a clearance too low
for buses to go.

Indiana - Home To Oldest Human "On Planet"

The front page of Yahoo featured this sub-head today:
Edna Parker, the oldest human on the planet, celebrates her birthday in Indiana.
I wondered if there were older people off-planet. Maybe low-gravity moon colonies were extending longevity? But when I clicked on the story itself there was no mention of the "planet" angle.

Either "on the planet" is a trendy hype-phrase beloved by teaser headline writers... or else the government is trying to suppress news of their lunar colony project.

On the moon they all live to 120,
which seems like plenty.

Somehow the marigolds-on-the-moon project leaked out this week. So at least they're keeping it pretty up there.

Lacking the bucks for a trip to the moon,
I'm moving to Indiana real soon.

The Muddle of Monozygotic Moms

They're trying to figure out who all those kids are descended from at the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) Ranch.
Families that include half brothers and sisters, and those that include reportedly married first cousins, can be particularly challenging to unravel. Dr. Arthur Beaudet, chairman of the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said DNA testing can easily deal with these types of complexities.
Sure, those are easy. It's identical twins that DNA flops on. Do you think any of the moms could have been identical twins?
Justice Doyle is one of the few townspeople ever allowed into one of the buildings at the YFZ ranch. One of Jeffs' wives, Barbara, died there of breast cancer in July 2004. Doyle had to issue the death certificate. "Her twin sister was with her," he said. From his own research on the sect, he learned that Jeffs likes to marry twins because they're compatible.
The leader liked twins. Did he care which kind?
Would he marry all twins he happened to find?

If he favored identical over fraternal,
maternal uncertainty could be eternal.

DNA, alas, won't show
which goes with which. But the moms will still know.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Digging For Truth

I have a question - is it explainable
how exactly "growth that's sustainable"
will ever include a mine?
After all, by its very design,
you dig and take stuff out of the earth,
then market it for whatever it's worth.

Eventually, beyond a doubt,
the hole will be completely played out,
and the whole operation will halt.
You can't even say it's the owner's fault,
but people will be out of work,
with no one to blame for being a jerk.

Does this somehow mean we should never dig?
Even though the earth is big,
and minerals in fact abound,
must we leave them underground?
Shall all that's deep be unattainable
just because mining is unsustainable?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Obama Bird?

Youtube video here.

When Obama scratches his face
do you think it's truly the case
that he's letting Hillary know
how deep his feelings go?

Langston Hughes

I was looking at the Collected Poems of Langston Hughes,
and the editors were singing the blues:
To a substantial number of readers and, especially, scholar-critics, Hughes's approach to poetry was far too simple and unlearned. To them, his verse fails lamentably to satisfy their desire for a modernist literature attuned to the complexities of modern life.
One of the problems is that he was writing for someone other than scholar-critics:
...he wished to write no verse that was beyond the ability of the masses of people to understand...
He also was in a hurry:
...he believed that the full range of his poetry should reach print as soon as possible; poetry is a form of social action.
I think he would have been tempted to blog.

I admire his writing a lot. I learned from him. I'm not really into his communist poems, and some of his black power poems don't speak to me, but Freedom Train, Dream Deferred, and Still Here, for example, still blow me away.

He thought it was ineffectual
to write for intellectual
scholar critics
who craved analytic
grist to grind
inside their minds:
puzzles to solve.

He had not time for that;
he felt the world revolving
and he had so much
to say;
never would he have touched
most reader's souls if he'd written that way.

To sum it up, he lacked respect
for the elect,
and now his reputation's wrecked.

But his verse was so alive.
I suppose that's why his books survive.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

But Feeling Better

All day long my tummy was upset.
Will I be blogging? Nyet.
Well, to be technical, those two lines and this one are all you're going to get.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Out of Africa

We read Out of Africa, by Isak Dineson, for book club.

Isak Dineson was the pen name of Karen Blixen.

Out of Africa
is her memoir about her days in colonial Kenya, trying to make a living by running a coffee farm, while having a lot of fun with a certain big game hunter. Eventually the coffee venture goes belly up, and she has to leave.

It's not in the book, but she came back to Europe and became a famous writer. Writing sentences like this:
There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne - bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive.
Some of the book club members didn't like her imperious attitude, and perhaps distrusted her wild ways. But all agreed she wrote like a dream.

Karen Blixen,
arrogant vixen,
lost her land
but turned her hand
to cultivating prose
that flows
like song.

April 15

All year long the money disappears from your check,
but it's cash you never had, so you don't feel the pain.

But then you have to file, and it finally hits your brain,
and you think long and hard, and you ask what the heck,
how did all those dollars go swirling down the drain?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cougar Killed in Chicago

In breaking news, a 150 pound cougar was shot by police tonight inside the city limits of Chicago. It was killed in an alley at 5:30 pm.

Best line from the Tribune: "the animal was not wearing a collar or an ID tag."

Best line from the Sun-Times: "...a cougar was spotted in the 300 block of 3rd Street near the CTA’s Linden station on Sunday."

Just a reminder, our municipal motto is Urbs In Horto - City in a Garden.

The beast is in the garden
and he's getting on the El.

Perhaps it's time to harden
the walls wherein I dwell.

ADDED - advice to my dogs:

puppies, if
you happen to sniff
the trail of a cat...
just leave it at that

Graffiti-Induced Shutdown

Several schools shut down today because of scrawled "4/14" threats.

5 schools in my neighborhood were closed - one college, 2 high schools, and 2 elementary schools. They're all on one big grassy campus.

It's the 2 month anniversary of the killings at the Northern Illinois. But, really, scrawled threats don't seem to fit the pattern. When someone decides to shoot up a school they mostly seem to do it without warning. Which, in its own twisted disgusting way, makes sense.

I have a nephew who attends one of the closed elementary schools. He said his plan for today was to play football on the grass at the closed campus.

I suspect he was assigning the correct level of threat,
especially since the day is done and nothing's happened yet.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Monozygotic Peril

Some people have an identical twin and don't know it.

It usually happens because they were adopted by separate families. Makes for cool scientific studies, and great human interest stories when they find out.


What if don't know you have
An evil identical twin
Who leaves DNA at crime scenes -
Think of the trouble you're in!

With luck your twin will be gloveless.
That's your best hope, since,
Despite identical DNA
You've different fingerprints.

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson

Gen LaGreca has a great column wishing Happy Birthday to Thomas Jefferson in today's OC Register. Here's a snippet that struck me:
Life requires productive work and effort to sustain it, a fact that Jefferson considered to be our glory. When his Monticello farm fell on hard times, he began producing nails and did so proudly because "every honest employment is deemed honorable [in America]. … My new trade of nail-making is to me in this country what an additional title of nobility … [is]in Europe."
How could he stoop
to churning nails out?

Clearly he needed
a government bail out!

Extinction Distinctions

I love this headline:

"Extinct" plants found in remote Australia.

If it weren't for those scare quotes, this would be a miracle.

We only thinked
they were extinct.

Hmm. Suppose some plants became extinct... but we still had some seeds on hand. Would they be extinct in that case?

One extinction no one knocks
Is small pox.

I just hope there aren't any little hibernating copies of the smallpox virus around, sitting forgotten in some lab drawer.

Pox, big or small
Is no fun at all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Clinging to Religion

Obama explains small town America to the San Francisco rich:
Talking about how the loss of jobs over 25 years has sapped the hope of small-town Pennsylvania residents, Obama said at the Sunday fund-raiser, "they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
That's quite a statement. It smacks a bit of economic determinism. And it's hilariously faulty history. Small town Americans don't cling to religion, or guns, because they're having trouble getting work. They cling to religion and guns in good times and in bad. It's their culture!

It does make you wonder how he views the people at his own church. Are they just clinging to religion as a way to explain their frustrations?

I'm not religious, but you have to give religion its due. It's not just an opiate of the people. It offers explanations for both frustration and joy.

For both funerals and weddings,
They lift their eyes to the sky,
And ask their God's blessings
For all who make a solid try.

To think it's just about money -
To me that's more sad than funny.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Arcadia Played

Tonight I went to see a lively production of Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard. The play is amazingly clever. It's set partly in the Romantic Era and partly in contemporary times. Some of the contemporary people are trying to reconstruct what happened back in the early 1800's.

Underneath the cleverness and comedy and magic
the story's horribly sad, even tragic.

Siccing the Narcs on Mama

My friend, Deb Ross, alerted me to this dismaying story about a teenage boy who called the cops on his mom.

Seems she was growing marijuana in the house.

The kid was mad because his mother had been trying to crack down on his truant ways.

When she found out that he'd been skipping class,
She threatened him with military school -
Expecting that a life of iron rule
Would straighten out his character. Alas,
He thought her plan of punishment was cruel,
And called the cops about her leaves of grass,
Proving that even a kid can be uncool.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shred Fest

There's an old humorous poem, by Eugene Field, about a fight between 2 stuffed animals, a fight that ends like this:

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole the pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!

What made me think of this? Why the Obama vs. Hillary battle, of course. They're just shredding each others' reputations. I saw news today that McCain had pulled up even in the polls with Obama. Well I don't think that's McCain's doing. I think that's Hillary's doing.

When the convention rolls around.
What if neither can be found?

Could Have Been A Different Story

The school bus driver stops at a gas station and goes to the bathroom. He leaves the engine running.

The bus starts rolling downhill with 27 kids inside. An 11-year-old intervenes:
David said he looked up and saw the truck approaching. "I hurried up and turned the wheel so I could get out of the truck's way," David said.

After dodging the truck he aimed the bus for the last pillar on a bridge to avoid going farther down the steep hill. "There was nothing good down there," he said.

I say fire the regular driver,
And hire the kid. He's a survivor.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Big Black Dog Syndrome

I have 2 big black dogs. Labs - more or less.

Now it turns out they're scary... just because they're big and black:
According to animal shelter officials, big, black dogs like Gozer have more trouble finding a happy home than do other dogs. Some shelters even have a name for it: "Big black dog syndrome."
I hope my dogs are grateful.
People think they're hateful,
but I feed them anyway,
even twice a day!

Polygyny Problems

If your religious beliefs mandate that men should have multiple wives, such as in the case of the FLDS in Texas, you have an automatic problem.

The problem is that bundles of joy
come 50/50 as girl or boy.

Not enough women to go around!
Search the compound - they can't be found.

So to satisfy your scriptural hunger
you marry the girls off younger and younger.

As for the boys, well, after a while,
banish them, vanish them, into exile.

But He Looked So Cute

The BBC reports a grisly development:

Germany's celebrity polar bear Knut has triggered a new controversy by fishing out 10 live carp from his moat and killing them in front of visitors.

It's almost like he enjoys it.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine news website reports that Knut "senselessly murdered the carp", fishing them out, playing with them and then leaving the remains.

Against our deepest wishes
He murdered shiny fishes.

What's worse, his ideal meal
Involves a baby seal.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Microbes Made Me Do It!

You may have thought that individualism and collectivism had something to do with philosophy... But no! It has to do with germs!
Societies that evolved in places with an abundance of pathogens, they argue, had to adopt behaviors that add up to collectivism, for reasons of sheer preservation. Societies that arose in places with fewer pathogens had the luxury of individualism, which is less effective at limiting the spread of disease but brings with it other social benefits, such as innovation.
On the other hand, maybe collectivists, huddled into a mob, are naturally germy.
Just the thought of all that breathing all over each other makes me feel squirmy.

Unchain My Neck

Firefighters rescued a man today from a burning house in Crystal Lake, IL.

They needed to cut him loose. He was "locked to a post with a chain around his neck."

This was a voluntary thing. Ahem. He was treated for smoke inhalation and released.

If you've got a great desire
to get serious with chains
be sure someone remains
at home in case of fire.

Nudge Till They Budge

Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, both from Chicago, have a new book out: Nudge.

D. Stuart gives a nice summary:
They call their viewpoint `libertarian paternalism' and what they argue is that it would be a good thing for some gentle nudging of the citizenry in the right direction. As Thaler said recently in the New York Times: "In light of human limitations, Cass Sunstein and I argue for policies that we call libertarian paternalism. Although the phrase sounds like an oxymoron, we contend that it is often possible to design policies, in both the public and private sector, that make people better off -- as judged by themselves -- without coercion. We oppose bans; instead, we favor nudges."
"Libertarian paternalism." The mind boggles.

"In light of human limitations..." Ah. So my mind is boggling because it suffers from human limitations!

Somehow I'm reminded of a phrase from Ayn Rand: "Have Gun, Will Nudge".

Human reason's faulty -
It's been proven in a test!

So people fail to follow
What I know is best.

We need to nudge them gently
So they don't feel too oppressed.

We'll keep the guns well hidden,
But they'll do as we suggest.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Dangerous for Our Children

My state rep, Monique Davis, addressing noted local atheist Rob Sherman:
And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! ... I am fed up! Get out of that seat!
Hmm. Sounds very religious. I wonder where she goes to church. Somewhere local, no doubt. Could it be the church Obama belongs to? Yes it can!
Illinois State Rep. Monique Davis (D-27th) is a member of Wright's former congregation.
As for protecting young minds
from beliefs that are truly sinister,
she ought to review the kinds
of things said by her minister.

Visiting the Land of Sprung

Out of the plants emerge delicate tissues,

"Flowers" they call them, oddly entrancing,
almost ecstatic.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Give It All Back

You've probably seen that Mexican Absolut ad, where a lot of the U.S. goes back to Mexico.

But shouldn't they also run a Canadian version, where all the northern parts of the US go back to Canada?

Was our revolution really legal?
Bring back the Queen and get rid of the eagle!


On further reflection, I see that there's much
logic for yielding New York to the Dutch.

Blog Till You're Dead As A Dog?

The NY Times has a scary story about bloggers who have heart attacks,
working 24/7 under so much stress they only eat junk food snacks.
To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic.
Instapundit has a roundup of amusing remarks.

Sooner or later, I'll have to die,
and when that comes, I plan to try
to blame it on blogging, and then sue
my ISP for damages due.

On the other hand, maybe they're not really worried about blogger health.

Maybe they're worried about the diminishing wealth
of their own paper, which seems to be bleeding
money away
because fewer are reading
their paper today.

And so, perhaps, they mean to frighten
bloggers who think they can better enlighten
as to the meaning of current events,
and are thereby threatening to put the Times in the past tense.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Ascension of Carlotta

Tonight I went to see a very enjoyable new play, The Ascension of Carlotta, by Will Dunne, directed by Ann Filmer.

As the play opens, Carlotta has a new boyfriend, and she is shocked to learn of his unusual ambition: to rob convenience stores.

Not that he has actually robbed any, so far. But it's his dream.

This may sound either absurdly silly or like a tragedy in the making, but it ends up making for a very touching night of theater. The playwright spins an engaging story from this offbeat premise.

I know the director, Ann Filmer, just enough to say hello to her. I've seen her work before, and it has always been first rate. She gets the most amazing performances out of her actors. I have no idea how she does it, but she has done it again.

I suppose that Desmin Borges, who plays the aspiring robber, has the hardest role, in the sense that he has to win the sympathy of the audience while making them believe that he dreams of robbing stores. He manages to pull this off.

But the central character of the play is Carlotta, played exquisitely by Janna Sobel. As the story opens, Carlotta feels that she is never going to make anything of her life - she has always been a disappointment to her parents, and she feels trapped by her background. But, as the title suggests, this is the story of how she struggles to rise above her pessimism.

If you happen to live in the Chicago area, I recommend this production. At 16 bucks a seat, it's a real professional live-theater bargain. The venue is in the Berwyn Cultural Center, which I had never heard of, but which has a great theater space in the basement.

Nothing can beat
being glued to your seat
by actors just twelve feet

Friday, April 04, 2008

You Never Can Tell

I went to see a production of Shaw's play, You Never Can Tell.

It was in "previews" - which means it was at a reduced rate but not quite ready for reviews - so I won't review it.

But let me say that Calliope Tsoukalas and Steve Peebles did a fine job playing the young couple at the center of the story. She plays a modern young woman who does not believe in marriage.

He plays a dentist who charges 5 shillings
for every kind of service.

One day they kiss and she finds herself willing...
and that makes her nervous.

Increased Stature

If the world is getting smaller,
why are people taller?

The height of today's youth
borders on the uncouth.

Powers of Recall

Unlike the residents of California, Illinois citizens have never possessed recall powers. We have to put up with our governors - for their complete 4 year terms.

Sometimes it's enough to make us squirm.

But maybe that's about to change. Lawmakers are upset with our current governor - so upset that they working on putting a constitutional amendment before the voters.

Strangely, the legislators are exempting themselves, and judges, from the provisions.

Which proves they're smart guys,
since otherwise
we might recall
them all.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Why should getting in a twist
offer bliss?

Is it like wearing a shoe that fits too tight
and when you take it off you feel delight?

Whence derives this joy of flexing?
Isn't it really quite perplexing?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Myth Down The Drain?

A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania says the whole thing about drinking a lot of water is a myth.
"Drinking extra water doesn't appear to increase the kidney excretion of any toxins, and in fact, most of us don't walk around with toxins accumulating in our body anyhow," Goldfarb said.
For years I heard I oughter
drink 8 glasses of water.

But now this guy says "no" -
no need for so much H2O.

It doesn't even help my kidney?
C'mon doc, you gotta be kidd'n me!

Rubber, Glue

Often a baseless verbal attack
upon a good person comes bouncing back,
since everyone figures out the attacker was wack.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Media Whiners

Media Matters is an organization devoted to watching TV and then making big stinks. Okay, they listen to radio too. They're the ones who got Imus in trouble.

Anyway, they're complaining that: "McCain hyping time in Vietnam."

Exactly what type of "hype"
is their gripe?

Is he exaggerating his time in some way?
Too critical of the accommodations from his Hanoi Hilton stay?

Probably they think it would be best
if he'd give this whole decorated hero thing a complete rest.

No Accident

This repair van was stuck for a few hours after naughtily backing up onto the lawn of a certain city park. You can see that in this picture the van is already sunk halfway down on its back wheel. (A lot like this truck last week.)

Later, the van had disappeared. I assumed that someone had towed it out. But now, I fear for the worst, after finding this old poem on the dusty shelves of the library next door:

Venus Fly Park, by Avril Fowles

Deep in the swamp of Pritzker Park,
Something waits in the cold and dark,
Something that looks like tire marks!

You count the marks out - three, four, five.
You think it must be safe to drive.
Never again are you seen alive!

It may look like a soggy lawn,
But what you're really driving on
Is a carnivorous - oops - you're gone!