Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lynrd & the Skynrds

Yep, Supreme Court ruled everybody can have a gun. Well, John Hinckley will be paroled soon, but it's all right. It's OK to limit the constitutional rights of felons & the crazy people. John's outta luck on two counts. The High Court held Chicago may not 'unreasonably' limit handgun ownership.

This is because of the Supremacy clause. I did extensive research of this 'Supremacy clause' and according to Wikipedia? It's got nothing to with Diana Ross. And that there is a topic on everybody's mind; these stupid '& the' bands.

First, it's bound to cause bad feelings in the ranks. One day you're the News, next thing there's a Huey Lewis in front. Obviously all the groupies are gonna gravitate his way, right?

Second, one's membership in '& the' groups will always negatively impact name recognition. Well, how many Supremes can you name, besides Ms. Ross? I'm pretty sure about Mary Wells, but who the other one was, no idea! Maybe Whitney Houston. So this practice robs talented musicians of their rightful notoriety. Had it been Mick Jagger & the Stones, nobody would know Keith Richards' name. He'd be stuck with
'the Stoned Stone' as his only ID. That's just not right.

If the Pips and the Blowfish ever get together and start talking, there's going to be trouble. They'll all have guns; Supreme Court said so. Uh, what was I talking about? Oh yeah! Supremacy clause!

No state can have laws that violate federal law or the Constitution. Which is weird, cause it's going on everywhere you look. State medical marijuana laws violate federal law. Cities declaring themselves 'sanctuary' and refusing to cooperate with immigration agents are in defiance of federal law.

What would happen if Wyoming replaced all the 70mph signs with "Eh, Whatever" signs? Probably nothing except a nasty letter from the Transportation Secretary, whoever that is. What would happen if Texas made welfare benefits conditional to random drug tests? Probably a whole lot. The former offers very little lawyer traffic, while the latter would be pay day!!!

My theory, the Supreme Court exists so attorneys will never run out of work. On this gun ruling? Gun control lawyers and NRA lawyers will be eating off that for years. When that starts trickling out, they'll litigate about ammunition. Because there's nothing in the Bill of Rights about bullets, get right down to it.

Lynrd & the Skynrds had a song about that very subject.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Yes, I actually have a negative 'bucket list.' It's all the things I mean NEVER to do before I pass. One item is, I'll never hear a Lady Gaga song. Doing splendidly with that one so far. I am gonna have to lay off Bruce Springsteen songs for a while though; got a jumbled up dance mix running in my head. Caught myself other day, singing "tramps like us, baby we was born in the USA."

I'm not sorry about it though. Which brings me to the subject of contrition...

Our culture has a strange relationship with expressions of remorse. Examples of that abound in the news this week. You got Congressman Barton, apologizing to BP, therefore demonstrating, sometimes saying "I'm sorry" can create anger. There was a decent point to be made there about not rushing to demonize biz, but Barton flubbed it. Then he had to apologize for apologizing.

And one can even behave in ways seemingly unapologetic, thereby ratcheting up anger. That CEO of BP, Tony Haywire I think? He's in a weekend yacht race, and Gulf Coasters don't like it. Doesn't seem very remorseful. I understand his position too though; he must be saying, "What, what? I don't tell them not to enjoy their yachts do I? Why don't they stop picking on me?"

Get right down to it, apologizing has become an anger management/damage control tactic. It's largely meaningless. Pretty much means "I regret having been caught."

Other examples abound; seems like a General, athlete, movie star or politician is apologizing every time you turn around. It's very boring.

I'm actually starting to like people who AREN'T sorry. I find them quite refreshing. Australian bloke Paul Nigel Sniddon for instance? After a string of personal reverses, Paul embarked on a four day drunk. Ended abruptly after missing a curve, and blammo! He's upside down in car, unable to open door, waiting for jaws of life to arrive. So he decides to have another beer in the meantime.

How exactly one manages to drink beer while upside down, I don't really know. Perhaps he had a flexible straw handy? Either way, there IS a third McKenzie brother you hosers! When EMT's arrived, the obligatory 'have you been drinking' question was answered with "Oh yeah, a bunch!"

Sure, Paul could've broke his fool neck driving drunk. Could've done a vehicular homicide, depending what part of Australia he was rampaging through. But? Upon reaching the logical outcome of his bad choices, Paul just relaxed and opened another brewski; waiting to own his choices with a lighthearted shrug.

There's something refreshing about that attitude. Or, as a great songwriter once sang... "There's a darkness on the girls in their summer clothes racing in the streets tonight in Atlantic City."

I just hope those girls aren't racing yachts, that's all I'm sayin'.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Same Old Rut

Well, sometimes you should follow the breadcrumbs... This week I hear NPR segment on a guy who's professing Christian and also self-taught fossil brainiac. Tone he was treated with was decidedly 'loveable crackpot' I thought.

Then today, I read an article claiming that 'theistic evolutionists' are making stumbling blocks for unbelievers. Never heard that term before. In a beautifully written piece, the author lays out several points, this being the main one:

Christians who accept that Darwin was right about some things are therefore acknowledging some of the Old Testament is allegorical. That's a slippery slope, with denying the Virgin birth at logical other end.

These two seeming 'coincidental' data points are my breadcrumbs, so I'll write about it. God is in the news, God is always in the news! Wish I could say that's due to the worshipful behavior of believers, but nope, not so much really.

One bunch that keeps God in the news is Atheists. Those people talk about God way more than Christians do, you betcha! I've no idea what it must feel like to spend one's energy on something they claim doesn't exist. Must be a strange life. Kinda like being a nudist fashion designer.

But back to this central semi-Talmudic dialogue, about whether Christians who accept some of Darwin's work aren't serving the Cross? Since I guess that sorta describes me, this is where I launch a defense of my positions, huh?

Naw! Had you going for a minute there though, right?

What this debate shows is we're still the same impudent children as Adam & Eve were. Yep, put us in togas or spacesuits, but human nature never changes.

Example? Early in Christ's ministry, there's a passage in John, speaks about a controversy. Some listeners said 'Could this be the Messiah?' Others said 'Scripture says the Messiah will come from Bethlehem, and this man's from Galilee.'

And there ya go! That's how we impudent brats roll.
Either side, whether Bible literalists or 'theistic evolutionists' we're doing it again!!! Whether claiming confidently that Noah's Flood made the Great Canyon, or asserting confidently that the Cambrian explosion was part of God's plan...

From where does our confidence about such trivia arise? How about this? It stems from our impudence that we as a species have EVER demonstrated faithfulness that would justify the Creator's full revelation to us. It stems from our pride in believing we're able to understand the mind of God. It stems from a heart unwillingness to acknowledge that God is greater than we can ever imagine.

Again, as usual, and forever, our eyes are looking somewhere else than where the action is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Allegedly Construed Funny Things

Just heard from my legal counsel. The folks at Leibovitz, Leibovtiz, Leibovitz & O'Brien believe I'm risking a future lawsuit by not being precise enough, well in their words? Let's see, got the letter right here, hang on a sec?

"Said client, hereafter referred to as Hillbilly of the first part, frequently and casually slanders famous and powerful personages by not drawing a sufficiently clear distinction when parody, satire, etc. is the rather ambiguous intent. We hereby strongly encourage Hillbilly of the first part to cease & desist immediately, and forthwith endeavor to press upon readers with due diligence in all instances where assertions are total fabrications. That'll be $1500."

Wow, what an impressive letter! I hit Leibovitz, Leibovitz, Leibovitz & O'Brein back, explaining to them whole point of the Blog is challenging comfortable assumptions, but you know those Irish Catholics.

In compliance with advice of counsel, we'll try this experiment...

Pirates invented the concept of Worker's Comp insurance.

Drinking coffee was once punishable by death in Turkey, because when men gathered to drink coffee, they discussed government.

In Death Valley, CA there are rocks that move by themselves, and nobody has yet delivered an acceptable theory explaining that.

An experiment done in UK revealed that a Robin with one eye removed can still navigate long distances perfectly. Take instead the other eye out, the birds fly in big confused circles until they're exhausted.

No one has yet been able to explain what the Scientists do with the removed eyes, but I think it's ingredient in some Chinese delicacy. Also? Researchers are confounded why the test group Robins have taken to wearing eye patches, and going "Arr, Arr" all the time.

OK, I made up that last bit. Get off my back O'Brien!!!

Elton John isn't homosexual. He just uses that as excuse for horrible fashion sense.

Seven out of ten people surveyed think statistics are made up by bald hillbillys.

The wind tunnel, where airplane prototypes and automobiles are tested, that partially empowered the Apollo program success? It was invented by a couple of bicycle mechanics. They used dangling bits of thread and had to calculate dozens of pages of handwritten math to approximate actual forces and scale up. Oh wait? That one is true. DAMN YOU O'BRIEN!!!

Note to self: Fire Leibovitz, Leibovitz, Leibovitz & O'Brien at soonest chance. They're legalistic constrainers of all you hold sacred. Keep Leibovitz though; he's a nice guy.

This experiment in legal compliance has been a total snoozer. Henceforth I will continue to slander, malign, libel and otherwise engage in calumny with an attitude bordering on careless abandon, if not exceeding it. WOW! That's good lawyer talk! Maybe I should start billing people!

I should close with something else that's absolutely true, as Bruce starts singing "Born 2 Run" on radio. Hmmm... OK!

As DeGaulle was retiring from office, he & wife got visit from some diplomat. The Ambassador's wife asked Mrs. DeGaulle what she was most looking forward to about Chucko's retirement. Lady DeGaulle smiled broadly and said, "A Penis."

After about five seconds of utter silence (I LIVE for those 5 seconds in all human encounters!) Charles DeGaulle patted his wife's hand and said, "Cherie? In the English, they pronounce it like the 'appiness, you see?"

Not about Oil Leaks

There's no need to write on front page topics. I'll just say on that... see the picture there? Big log jam, Grand Rapids, MI 1883. What happened is this. Loggers upstream got the Grand River constipated, and everything was stuck tight for weeks. When it started to move, WOW! A thirty feet tall pile of logs, seven miles long, with all that hydraulic pressure behind it. Took out two railroad bridges, horrible mess. Point being, whenever humans exploit natural resources, "OH POOPIE!" is a regular consequence. Only the scope varies.

The big news is that World Cup Soccer is real popular for some reason. They're having it right now, and South African fans like to blow on annoying horns during the games. Steps are being taken to filter it out of broadcasts. I wonder if they tried anti-noise technology. Yeah, that's fascinating science. Was discovered back in the 1980's I believe. A sound is a wave, with amplitude and phase. So if you add a sound of same amplitude and inverse phase, the noise is cancelled. Yeah, how 'bout that? Two really loud noises aimed at each other, result is quiet. Might not work in stadiums though, complex secondary and tertiary acoustics bouncing around.

What else... oh yeah! A creature named Perez Hilton is in trouble, like maybe big trouble. I didn't even know there was such a thing as Perez Hilton, until he gained my attention in the noteriety of Ms. USA contest. Why anybody would have a gay guy judge a beauty contest, I dunno, but that's just Donald Trump. He's the PT Barnum of our generation.

So, turns out this Perez Hilton 'earns' a living by talking bad about famous people. Nope, this is not a recent development of a culture in decline, but I'll get back to that. Mr. Hilton's landed in hot water over posting a picture of Miley Cyrus exiting a vehicle, allegedly not wearing underpants. Well she's 17, so technically Mr. Hilton is now a child porno purveyor. Should be a fun trial.

Perez is not a trailblazer, earning money by trashing others. When I was a kid, there was a guy named Mr. Blackwell. I wouldn't have picked Blackwell to judge a beauty contest, if ya know what I mean? But Blackwell's source of income was annual list of famous woman fashion train wrecks. He'd go on Carson show and make catty comments, stuff like that.

So Perez Hilton is nothing new, not in concept. He's just coming in a different format, in a different era where the culture is more coarse. There's usually historic equiv for most human activities. Yeah, Donald Trump really is a lot like PT Barnum. Perez Hilton really is a lot like Mr. Blackwell.

But one shouldn't strain for historic comparisons; it's more a Zen contemplation, best arrived at by seeking harmony with the life force. Kinda like a revelation that forms organically in minds that say, "Grasshopper, snatch the pebble from my hand." And on that topic, this explains why I could never be a Kung Fu master; some things I just don't get. Like, what would I want with a crummy pebble?

Historic comparisons in fidgety, greasy hands are trite and meaningless. They're annoying, like horns at a Soccer match. All these news people saying "Is the Oil Leak Obama's Katrina?" they sound like that to me. First time I hear a news person say "Is the Oil Leak Obama's 1883 Grand Rapids log jam?" I'll respect that. That'd be a pebble worth snatching there!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Well, how about that!

President speaking on 'Today' show said "I have meetings with experts so I know whose ass to kick"... boy, they have experts for everything now! Wonder if there's a separate think tank that advises President on which foot to use.

Of course, that's not a natural speech pattern for Mr. Obama, so the whole thing came off somewhere between disingenuous and 'Now, see here Biff!' but I understand why he thought he needed to talk like that.

He's been getting criticized for insufficient emotionality about the Gulf Coast oil tragedy. Hmmm... we sure have become an addled, adolescent culture, knocking our leaders for something like that. We're all about style now? We'll feel better about millions of gallons of crude in the Gulf, if our President would just be angrier about it??? Y'know, that guy has nuclear launch codes. It's fine with me if he's rather calmish by temperament.

And what else is going on... oh yeah! Some people in Africa smoke vulture brains. Yeah, there is a belief in southern Africa, smoking buzzard brains gives one ESP. I'm glad nobody does that in the US; how we'd keep the Surgeon General's warning labels on all those birds, I just don't know. It'd be very expensive.

Besides, I don't even think it works. After all, nobody predicted what happened in Gambia today. Police there busted a EU bound cocaine shipment, street value $1 Billion dollars! Yeah, I know! I'm shocked too! Who knew there are honest cops in Gambia!!!

But the Gambian authorities and Interpol are quite happy, saying this will strike a blow to the newest major transport route from South America to Europe.

However, I'm sure there are some guys in Colombia aren't very happy about it. They're probably meeting with experts right now about whose ass to kick.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Back to the News...

I'll admit things don't look too bright at the moment, after all...
Stock market keeps boomerangin' back to 10,000... EU, Greece is tip of the iceberg there... Israeli commandos botched the boarding of blockade running ship... and the oil leak of course.

Lots of frustrating things are going on, no doubt about that. Simply requires us to look harder for the magical absurdity that's still all around.

Botanists have announced discovery; a strain of Walnut trees with estrogen. This has lots of scientists scratching their heads. Per orthodoxy, a plant's not supposed to have any use for estrogen, yet there it is any way. And the Darwinists are quite peeved too. Plants with estrogen pushes the timeline way out of kilter, and means estrogen dates back to nearly the beginnings of life on Earth.

Now, over in England, they've this thing called the royal family. It's tough to get into, but it's a fine vocation. One can behave a total jackass with zero consequences. That was demonstrated again recently, with Lady Sarah Ferguson caught on tape offering 'total access' to Prince Andrew for $750,000. She now claims she was inebriated at the time, and I certainly believe her. A person would have to be stoned to think 'total access' to Andrew is worth $500 even.

From the scary stupid to the scary smart, there's this Russian mathematician named Perelman. He was awarded a $1 million dollar prize a while back, for solving the Poincare Conjecture. That little riddle has befuddled some of the best and brightest brains for a century. The posit goes like this...

'Topologically speaking, any two dimensional object that is compact and loosely connected must be a sphere'

Me, I don't even understand the question. But Perelman does, and provided the mathematical proofs to validate the posit. And for that he gets $1 million bucks. Except... it now appears clear what some predicted from the outset; Perelman won't be showing up to accept the money.

Not like he's wealthy. He's a very reclusive figure, info about Perelman is sketchy. Appears he lives in a small St. Petersburg apartment with his elderly mom, and it's a very spartan existence.

It's useless to speculate why Perelman won't show up and take the money. Some people are so frighteningly smart, it's like there is a muse that speaks only to them. Any real world applications for their brilliance are mostly accidental. They partially inhabit a strange, beautiful world that kinda ain't the planet Earth. In the customs of that world, Perelman doesn't need a million dollars.

Kind of a pity though. I'm sure a million dollars would make life in St. Petersburg more comfortable. And, also? With that kind of money, Perelman could afford 'total access' to Prince Andrew!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Atticus Golden Jubilee

Yes it was fifty years ago "To Kill a Mockingbird" was published. This is a big deal in the literary world.

It's a darned well written novel, very controversial subject in its day.

So yeah, the golden jubilee of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is subject of discussion in the literary world. Bunch of smart folks are saying very interesting things. Here's what they're missing...

By 1960, US culture wasn't any more a place where books had big impact. If one wants to see TKM's real legacy in the culture, got to look at the movie version. Very few films can rightly be called flawless, but screen treatment of TKM belongs on that list. Millions of people who'd never purchased a book in their lives saw that movie in 1962, and it changed our culture in a very real way.

See? Lots of regions in the nation were far removed geographically or demographically from the South, and issues of race. Those people just couldn't relate; they saw the news, but they didn't feel empathy. Watching Harper Lee's story play out on a movie screen gave a lot of Americans, well, skin in the game.

That's about exactly what happened with "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in 1852. In a very real way, that book helped start the War Between Brothers. Northerners internalized a well crafted fiction, and began to empathize with people far away, in very different lives.

So the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" was a big part in a culture change. It made people all over the US more favorable on the Civil Rights legislation of 1964.

Interesting ripples in the cinema world too. Gregory Peck won best actor Oscar for his performance as Atticus. Well, who won the following year? Sidney Poitier, for "Lilies of the Field." First black performer to ever win best actor.

So TKM is a work that challenges one to empathize, and empathize they did. In part, it led to societal rifts being healed.

Thank you Harper Lee, thank you Atticus, thank you Tom Robinson.

I gotta get back to hard news now. Starting to sound like 'New Yorker' magazine or something!!!