Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I'm experimenting with video, so let's see if this works........

Sunday, October 29, 2006


It just so happens I've been watching the new Dr. WHO on DVD, and as all of you fans of the good Doctor know, he has this habit of turning into an entirely different person, complete with new looks and a new personality. I really hated it back in the old days when I'd get used to one persona and out of nowhere, the actor playing him wanted to move on, and presto-chango, I had to get used to a new one. Tom Baker was always my favorite, and a few I just flat didn't care for. This new contemporary playing Dr Who seems to have tired of the role real fast, and so he's metamorphesized after only about a dozen episodes. And I was beginning to like this one....oh well. And yes, this is a segway..........

Blogger has gone BETA, and I have been turned to the dark side, or, if you prefer, have seen the light, and have been tinkering with a new blog, with a slightly different look, and a new name. "Dances with Leaves" has always seemed to me to be a rather cool name, but for those not knowing the inside joke concerning this title, it doesn't always seem to fit the content of my blog, which leans more often towards commentary concerning the world outside my kingdom than what happens within. Thus, I have come up with a new title which I believe fits my mindset and the flavor of my writings than the old one did. I will begin phasing out "Dances" in the coming weeks, and invite my readership to examine the new one and give me feedback. Just glance over there to the links, where "THE Michael's New BETA" will take you to the new blog. The title picture MAY remain the same, it may not; I'm looking for something more appropriate if I can find or create it.

I want to thank my fellow mad geniouses, especially Tim and Shandi, for helping me make "Dances" the incredible success story it has become (dammit, quit laughing) and I hope that this new venture will convince my staff to quit posting their resumes on Monster.com and have a little faith in this homely little endeavor. I am finding incredible writers all over the blogosphere that have given me great inspiration, or at least some cool ideas to plagerize when I get really desperate. Thank you all and check out the new flagship sitting over there in the space dock, and if you like what you see, we'll be breaking a bottle of champaign over her bow very soon.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Mine, I tell ya, mine, mine, MINE!!!!!hahahahahhaha

Tim invited us all to join the in the time-honored tradition of kidnapping gnomes and taking them where no gnomes have gone before. Well, I have responded to the call and done just that! Dances has been a gnome-free zone since it's inception, so it is only fitting to bring the victim to these hallowed pages and taunt the Tim from the redoubts of Pendragon Hold. I have your gnome. If you acceed to my demands, I will return your gnome to you in prestine condition, none the worse for wear. However, if you choose to ignore my demands, I will, and I say this in no uncertain font, pass this innocent little piece of porcelan onto the highest bidder,someone who might not be so benign towards lawn ornaments.

Demand #1

Forward half of your comments to Dances. I demand parity.

Demand #2

Talk Shandi into coming back. Maybe she'll listen to you.

Demand #3

Stop laughing, dammit!

Demand #4

Never mind.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just in case you thought I couldn't post something positive........

Good news......fine....you want some good news for a change? You got it.

Believe it or not, there is an actual PERSON running for governor in Texas, that oversized state that is so full of itself it's considering annexing mexico to make room for it's spreading suburbs. If there's anything Texas is famous for, it's annexation. Houston gobbled up every bedroom community around it, whether their citizens wanted to join or not, until it consumed the entire county. Watch out Dallas, you ain't that far away. Anyway, back to this individual who dared think an ordinary, albeit eccentric, person could possibly get elected to the office of governor. His name is Kinky Friedman, his chief claim to fame being the once lead singer of the band entitled, of course, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jew-boys. Yes, he's Jewish, and I honestly think he could care less. Matter of fact, he could care less what race you are, because if he can find anything to lampoon you on, he will. Kinky worships no sacred cows. Of course, this places Kinky in the category of being "politically incorrect", but judging from what being "correct" in politics has done for this country, that might be an enviable position to be in, all things considered. His opponents are all so "correct" it just makes your average joe want to vomit. Who knows, since politics as usual is the condition we all are suffering from, the likes of Kinky Friedman just might be the cure.

Go HERE and give Kinky a visit.

China finally got ticked off enough at Kim, Young, and Ill, that they sent someone over to the palace and told him something scary enough to make him say he was sorry about setting off that nuclear device and that maybe we could all kiss and make up. Something tells me that Sam Walton told the party leaders he would allow them a smaller cut of his low, low prices if they didn't scratch that itch. Bob knows nothing Bush could ever say would make a difference.

Oh, and I DID come across this cool item concerning the composting of hotel-generated waste, which primary is being used in the Napa Valley to grow grapes. We throw away so much stuff, burying it in landfills, burning it, when so much of it can be recycled, reducing the strain on our natural resources and even providing economic growth as a new and beneficial industry begins to take off. The only reason that such beneficial alternative approaches to our problems such as solar and wind energy, recycling, composting, and green construction techniques are not up to speed and replacing the status quo is that the money people are usually to dense to see just how profitable doing the right thing can really be. Well, Marriot is seeing green in sustainability, and maybe they can set a good example for all these other greedy capitalists who are to lazy or to insensitive to try and be part of the solution rather than being the problem.

Check out the story HERE

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Our forefathers, the very people who Christians love to claim gave them carte-blanch to fashion government according to their own dogmas, were the very people who once and for all denied the validity of the divine right of kings, and told King George to go fuck himself. They knew from hard experience that a government that attempted to establish rule of law based on divine proxy could only degenerate into another form of oppression, so they took a stand and declared that only secular law could protect religious freedom, even if that meant allowing for freedom FROM religion as well. They were men of faith as well as men of reason, and they saw no contradiction in government based on secular realities while keeping faith where it belonged, in the church, in the synagogue, in the mosque, or in the heart. It has been more than 200 years since this amazing document was crafted by this amazing collection of personalities, and STILL, we are so clueless, so self indulgent, so STUPID, as to be arguing about what our constitution really means. And now, in a modern and so-called enlightened age, we have allowed a president and a congress to damage this beautiful creation of ours, staining it with bills that attack the very heart of our freedoms and threaten to return us to the prison of the heart and mind that our founding fathers freed us from.

In the very face of evidence of what happens when you allow religious zealots to infiltrate government and attempt to dismantle it from within, politicians who are taking on the once vaunted conservative elite, namely democrats and independents, are using the same shameless shmoozing of people of faith in order to garner votes. Rather than run on the strength of their own private and personal convictions, presenting who and what they stand for from a secular perspective, they go to churches and assure the congregations that yes, they are still one of them, God fearing people who are somehow better than the supposed God fearing people they claim need to be replaced. It is such a sad display that even deeply religious voters are turned off by their sales pitches. It seems that this new batch of candidates still don't seem to have very deep thoughts when it comes to the mindset that a free, democratic and honest secular government needs to function properly for everybody's benefit. Perhaps it will get so bad that even Southern Baptists, those oh-so righteous and moral Americans that gave us Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, and the dumbest dimwit ever to steal an election, DUBYA, will blink, and realize that even an atheist can respect their interests better than any of these characters ever did. I'm not holding my breath.

I am living in an occupied country. It was invaded using the "fast and cheap" doctrine, bypassing the polling booths in favor of going straight for the throat of democracy. No thought was given to post-coup management, so convinced were our new masters that we would line their paths with rose petals and praise. Even our allies could not help us, so confused were they that WE actually needed THEM more than they needed US. And so here we are, a once envied former super-power, making loud noises at the world while we crumble from within, a sad paper tiger laid low by a robed madman hiding out in caves in the Pakistani wilderness. I feel a very close kinship with those who watched helplessly and chronicled the fall of the Roman empire as their divinely installed emperor played his fiddle and watched it burn to the ground.

I am living in exile, and I never even left my own country.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Look, I had to post SOMEthing........

There are so many juicy things to rake over the coals this week I can only hope I can keep this post short enough as not to send my faithful readers into a coma. However, I do cut these things up into bite-sized chunks so that you can take what you can stand and come back for more later, so bear with me, and we'll get through this together......

Republican representative Mark Foley is now using the "liberal" excuse for his perverted behavior as having been abused by a priest, and by being gay. If I were gay I'd punch this SOB's lights out! I'm not going to go dig up the official statistics, but it's my understanding that most pedophiles are heterosexual, and this trying to link such behavior with being gay only goes to show the poisonous mindset this screwed-up individual has been operating under, along with many of his equally "righteous" conservative bedfellows. And what's with this "if we hide him, they won't notice" strategy employed by his Republican overlords? It didn't work for the Catholic church, you hypocrites, so what made you think it would work for you?

It's a three, or maybe even four way, free-for-all in Baghdad this week, and our boys are dying in record numbers, caught in the cross-fire. Adding insult to injury, the Prime Minister of Iraq ordered the Americans to release an Al-Sadr lieutenant who was suspected of managing some of the Shiite death squads. Shiites and Sunni's are so busy killing each other it makes you wonder if they are importing Syrians and Iranians to populate the country with as the bodies pile up. As usual, Dubya's battle cry is "stay the course", and I'm really beginning to wonder if he has any respect for human, much less American life. Kennedy had Oswald; I'm really beginning to wonder where in the hell Dubya's equivalent is hiding.

It seems that regaining control of the House and Senate won't be so hard this year after-all. Hell, we won't even have to VOTE in the democrats at the rate that corrupt or perverted Republicans are having to resign or are convicted. And this is the party that was supposed to bring "morality" back to government.....yea...right.

Kim, Young, and mentally Ill, is threatening us with another "test" if we don't quit "threatening" him. If only I had this kind of bully to deal with when I was in school; it would have been so much easier laughing than avoiding getting beat up.

On the home front, Pendragon Hold finally got some much needed precipitation. Already the changing season and it's slightly lower temperatures have signaled the grass and weeds to slow down their growth, so it's almost time to have to shell out money for hay for the goats. The good news is that our electric bill has really come down with the gas prices. So, things won't be nearly as tight until the elections are over and the price of oil shoots back through the roof. You DO realize there's a good reason for gas prices to drop like a stone right about now, right?

I could go on and on, but hell, you guys read the news, and I trust most of you to get the gist of it all. I can safely assume that due to the fact that most of my readers are insightful, intelligent, and prone to trust THE Michael not to steer them wrong, even those who humor me. So, until next time, keep your eyes open, your mind open wider, and don't take any wooden nickels from politicians, OR pull their fingers. It might not be their finger.........

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Silicon Savior

When I first saw this movie, I was much younger, and simply considered it a good science fiction flick that examined yet another twist on oppression of the human race by something superior yet soulless. In retrospect, I have second thoughts concerning the evils of the scenario depicted in the film based on the novel "Colossus, the Forbin Project".

For those of you who let this one slip by you, it concerned a super computer designed by an eminent scientist, Professor Forbin, who secretly designed a massive computer buried beneath a mountain, the express purpose of said supercomputer being to manage the nuclear defense of the free world against the Soviet Union. When this silicon behemoth was activated, however, it immediately recognized the existence of ANOTHER supercomputer, which coincidentally, the Soviets had built, aptly named "Guardian". It then demanded to be linked to the opposing machine. From there it all went downhill. The two combined to form one massive intelligence, which decided it was the human race itself that was the problem, and with the threat of punitive nuclear consequences, took over the management of all mankind, in a straightforward, brutal fashion that brooked no resistance whatsoever.

Horrible to contemplate, isn't it? Or is it? Well, along with mastery over the human race, the new master promptly ended world hunger, war, poverty, crime, pollution, all those things that humans were to busy killing each other to ever accomplish. People were either satisfied to live comfortably productive lives or they could invite themselves to be put up against the wall and shot. And yes, your fellow human being could easily participate in your demise when the alternative was a major human city being vaporized.

Before you reply that the human spirit cannot abide by such oppression, however benign overall it might be, let's consider how well we are running the show right now, after all these centuries of trial and error. Let's consider what's happening in Iraq right now, with our troops caught in the middle. These people whom we "liberated" from a brutal dictator are killing each other in a massive orgy of mindless violence, and there is no end in sight. The country is now in the grips of a civil war, only our fearless leader still doesn't seem to know the definition of the word. Hell, this guy we choose to be our President doesn't seem to understand his own language period, much less being able to speak it.

Simply based on the news stories that have ran just this week alone, the American government has somehow managed to totally screw up health care, the budget, immigration policy, the environment, oh my, the list just goes on and on. And all this is on top of rampant corruption and malfeasance in the congress going unchecked. But, this is only one country, and all over the world, those in power are demonstrating just how incapable mankind is of running his own affairs. Yes, amongst all this madness, people are going about their own lives, each in their own way providing contrasting examples of the good that men and women are capable of. Yet, this is despite the norm of human behaviors, not the rule.

So, let's take an intelligence devoid of emotion, unhampered by such considerations as greed, envy, anger, jealously, and turn it loose on the problem. How much worse could it do? The God that Jews, Christians, and even Muslims worship is said to be a jealous God, and has been famously purported to having brought the hammer down on his unruly children when they strayed to far from his commandments, so tell me, how different is that in the grand scheme of things? I personally could trust a machine intelligence, operating strictly on logic and my own best interests, much more readily than a mythical figure who rules in absentia or a fellow human who is more interested in his own personal agenda of greed and power. Perhaps this is the evolutionary step that awaits mankind, if he survives himself long enough to bring it about. And as far as the evil that such an occurrence represents to so many humans, well, I have seen the face of evil, and it is made of flesh, not optic sensors and audio receptors.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Effect of the Metaphoric Two-by-Four

It seems that almost any person can see the light if they get hit upside the head with enough two-by-fours. In this country I have categorized a certain group of people as being comprised of two distinct types; ignorant (as in not well educated or just plain stupid) and rich (well, maybe not filthy rich, but pretty damn well off). If you guessed I am referring to fundamentally religious and/or hard-right conservative Americans, then put down the two-by-four, you're safe.

In the good old U S of A, if you are parking more than two cars in your garage, at least one of them is a luxury SUV, you have a boat docked at the local marina, and you've always had to think about how to spend your money, then I consider you pretty well off. The rest of us, well, if we have more than two cars, they are up on blocks, we are probably still paying on at least one of them, and the only boats we own are captained by our kids in the bathtub. We don't have to think about where our money goes; it's gone the day after payday.

As far as education goes, well, that's relative. I've known too many uneducated geniuses to give much credence to parchment as an indicator of intelligence, and I have met many the idiot with a degree and not one lick of common sense or any indication that they learned anything. One thing I do know from observation is that many people have an inability to absorb knowledge that isn't fed to them by a preacher, priest, or payroll officer. There has been this rivalry going on between evil, satanic, godless science and whatever is translated out of the bible, and science usually comes in second, especially if one needs to think in order to accept the fact being offered. Facts are also subject to the scrutiny of whoever that fact might impact, such as God fearing, conservative, patriotic American CEO's who operate power plants, pesticide plants, and various other industries that pollute the environment or pump out greenhouse gases like there's no tomorrow. So, you can imagine how much such a person want's to "educate" the local populace of said plant as to the loss of jobs that could result from allowing those damn liberals to spread fear with their godless environmental propaganda.

One good example of the eventual effectiveness of the metaphoric two-by-four, given time, is what has happened to the good people of West Virginia, a good portion of them proud to call themselves conservative evangelical christians, who have depended on the jobs provided by those fine companies ripping the tops off the mountains and filling in the valleys to get to the coal beneath. Environmentally, it has been an unmitigated disaster. Coal dust and other particulate contamination is everywhere, the streams have been destroyed and entire fish populations wiped out, and the water table throughout the region has been poisoned by the waste products running off the sites. I'm not even going to go into the very idea of leveling whole mountain ranges that took millions of years to build up (oh, I'm sorry, appeared overnight when God snapped his fingers and said "Let there be mountains.."). Of course, the long suffering christians did just that, suffered, until one brave lady stood up and did the unspeakable. She vocalized the blasphemous idea that destroying nature can't be in God's plan, that God told man to be a good steward of the Earth; if anyone was going to destroy the Earth, it would damn well be him! And believe it or not, since it's happening to them, right there, they are rallying around her and fighting back. If you would like a more in-depth view of this new awakening by conservative evangelicals all across America, as well as the resistance they are up against from their own "brethren", click here:

  • Is God Green?

  • That's a good thing, right? That evangelicals could actually be environmentalists as well and not burn in hell for it? Yes, it IS a good thing, but I would like to point out something that really irks me. If a LIBERAL (that's a word that used to be a positive label but got morphed into this evil moniker) makes the same noises under the same circumstances, the warnings fall on deaf ears, because anything a godless liberal has to say MUST come straight out of Satan's mouth and is nothing but communistic propaganda designed to turn good christian folk into homosexuals. Remember, I DID say that ignorance rears it's head in the strangest places. However, if a CHRISTIAN screams that the ship is sinking quite awhile after the bow has been submerged, only THEN will such people consider the need for lifejackets.

    We as a people, such the mixture of races, creeds, and colors that we are, really need to stop arguing about that light heading towards us from the other end of the tunnel and for once consider getting the hell off the tracks. It's a very narrow tunnel, folks, and if we don't head out of it TOGETHER, we are ALL getting run over, TOGETHER. Many of us are really tired of committing suicide by proxy, allowing so many of you, in the name of God no less, to ignore and impede our efforts to save our Earth, and the people who live on it. We are tired of having our empathy for life being turned into something so ugly by the very people who claim that blastocysts have a "right to life". Your hypocrisy is killing us all, and I hate to say this, but if I'm going down, I'm at least comforted by the fact that you are going down with me.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    This individual is an elected representative in the United States Congress. Not only that, but he is the Speaker of the House. I swear to Bob. No kidding. Really. I wouldn't lie to you. It's true! I rest my case.

    Nuclear Annoyance......

    Well, they finally did it. The North Koreans........now wait, I think it's getting a bit stupid to be referring to North "Koreans"; it's one maniac surrounded by an equally paranoid support system. Anyway........that short dude claims to have tested a nuclear weapon. Only, for the first time since I can remember, seismologists and government intelligence sources all over the world haven't been able to verify that statement just yet. It appears that the shock wave that this supposed test has generated was so mild, the experts are actually having to go LOOK for the tale-tale signs that an underground test usually leaves in it's wake.

    Give me a break. If anything occurred at all, my guess is that they either packed every available brick of plastic explosive, ammonium nitrate, and anything else they could spare to blow up into a hole in the hopes of creating a big enough explosion to set off the seismographs, or their weapon was so puny it could hardly go "BANG". This is not the first time that the vaulted and highly talented North Korean weapons team has screwed the pooch. You do remember that long range missile that spent all of three minutes in the air before exploding? Yea, that was a threat, wasn't it?

    North Korea has spent the last decade whining, bitching and moaning, and outright threatening us and their neighbors with a "rain of fire" if we didn't ship them lots of food and porn which their bankrupt system of government doesn't seem to be able to produce on it's own. I can't think of any country since the axis of WWII that has gone so far out of it's way to invite negative attention like this lunatic has. So, everybody has been wondering why Bush hasn't rounded up the retired waves and wacs and mounted a full scale invasion of NK to root out all of that WMD that they jump up and down screaming "We have it, it's right here, come and get it, we dare you!!!" Could it be that he KNOWS that Kim whatshisname wouldn't know a nuclear warhead from a kidnapped Japanese actress? Could it be that he KNOWS that we couldn't possibly handle another 3 million screaming NKA's pouring over the border in a fit of nationalistic suicide? Could it be he's a damn sight better at starting wars with countries that MIGHT have something nasty in their bunkers than he is with those who make no effort to hide it? Could be......could be.......

    If anybody has something to worry about should this pygmy start tossing around itsy-bitsy nucs, it's China. China is sucking reams of money out of the west in order to build up it's military so that one day it can drop the pretense of actually being a peaceful nation only interested in friendly, profitable relations with the capitalists it has so despised. Taiwan's days are numbered, the U.S. government just hasn't come out and admitted as much. The Chinese are not really communists in the actual sense of the word, but they are a power-centric mafia, just like Sadam was, and they don't like democracies. But for now, they don't need NK stirring up the pot and forcing them to back this idiot if we actually decided to try and take Kim out. So, expect the Chinese to tell Kim to shut the fuck up or North Korea gets a new fearless leader, due to an unexpected illness. Or maybe not, because my guess is that China knows, just like Bush does, that Kim doesn't have a nuc, and China appreciates the distraction that NK provides.

    Anyway, it's all rather mute, because when it comes right down to it, OUR bang is bigger than THEIR bang. Demonstratedly so.......just ask Japan.

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    In Defense of Us Cowardly Agnostics

    When I started the post, I had no idea it would end up being so damn long, so Tim, go ahead and skip this one, and the rest of you, grab some snacks and refreshments, cause it's gonna be a long, strange trip indeed.........

    In an examination of faith, or lack thereof, on another blog, I felt that some responders were rather hostile to the idea of agnosticism, suggesting it to be an escape mechanism in case the atheists are wrong and something divine wants to hold you accountable. They even went so far as to describe it as somewhat of a cowardice, and that's when I felt the concept needed some sort of defense.

    Yes, there but for the grace of (who the hell knows?) goes I, the almost atheist, for I fully realize that the only concrete knowledge mankind has ever gathered has been derived from the scientific method, shared and recorded knowledge of events and experiences, and solid things one can touch and feel, or witness with the help of a microscope or telescope. Even the magic of math has pierced the veil of mystery surrounding so much of the physical world, enabling us to comprehend things that mere observation cannot bring to light. Yes, the atheist has all the proof in the world of what IS, and very little in the way of philosophy to suggest what could be, sans any scientific evidence. The atheist is much more likely to make their way through the world based on sound reasoning than the religious, simply due to the fact that one is led by what IS, while the other is led in directions having nothing to do with what is, but how they believe they have been directed. For instance, a poor, unmarried, atheistic woman might choose abortion based on the fact that she can't provide for the child and is not ready to start a family, while the religious woman in the same situation would probably have the child, out of fear of damnation, the religious influence totally overriding any practical consideration. The agnostic would at least agonize over the choice, before deciding for herself what would be the best course of action. But tell me, what is so flawed with that?

    You have to give the agnostic credit for not necessarily forming a concrete picture of what divinity might be, or even defining it as a force of creation. Many agnostics are simply failed adherents of established religions, such as I, the lapsed Catholic. But let's start at the beginning of this label. Why was I a Catholic? It certainly wasn't by conscious decision. My parents, who were Catholic, for whatever reason, at the appropriate time as dictated by that dogma, baptized me according to the laws of the church, and WAH-LAH, I "became" Catholic, to young to even know it. Then, later in life, those who were my guardians took it upon themselves to see to it that I was indoctrinated by the teachings of the Catholic church, seeing to it that I attended Mass and Sunday school, so that my immortal soul remained intact and untainted by the evil surrounding us. That "evil", I presume, was the teachings of other religions, or the possibility of my questioning what I was being taught. I had no real problem with this early on, since I was to busy coming to grips with the basics of human existence, and didn't have time or motivation to even want to challenge the "facts" that had been presented to me. However, I can't even begin to count the sleepless nights I suffered as a child wondering if something sinful I did or thought would result in me being cast into a lake of fire for all eternity. Such are the sins visited upon children in their formative years.

    All throughout my life I spoke to this invisible man who I had been taught was the creator of all things. Never once did he reply. Even in my darkest moments, when I needed him most, he remained silent, and I was left with nothing but what I choose to do to deal with the moment. Sometimes I would say I moved in the right direction, other times I didn't. Only in distant retrospect can I suggest which direction was which. Even now I can't say with certainty whether or not I would have done the things I did knowing what I know now, or whether fate would have held me to that path regardless. But here I am, and not once did I detect the influence of divinity. And still, I refuse to declare one way or another whether or not I would have been able to.

    The most valuable aspect of becoming responsible for one's own self is that you are finally free to think independently, if you are strong enough, or even adventurous enough to do so. Although I had plenty enough to keep my mind occupied, with such things as survival, emotional succulence, and achievement, I did have the thirst to know how others approached this thing called God. I was amazed at the different interpretations that cultures all over the world, and even those within my own sphere of existence, formed of this concept. Perhaps it was with the grace of being so spiritually lazy that I was able to think that all I had been taught might not be the final word on the subject. And yes, when the hypocrisy of it all began to weigh on me, with such a violent history, wars, injustice, the very nature of man, I tilted heavily towards tossing the whole idea that something divine could possibly exist.

    But there were all those sunsets, those wondrous paintings on the horizon that no artist could ever match. There were the constant miracles occurring, when people diagnosed by medical science to die, instead would live, cured when no cure was possible. There was the music, the art, the kindness so many people were capable of in the most dire of circumstances, and the literature that transcended what I knew of existence and what one could imagine. And the night sky......ah.......back in the day when one could see the heavens in a pitch black night in ALL their glory......oh my....if that could exist, anything could be possible!

    Then, as I delve into the wonders of biological diversity and how complex this web of life surrounding us actually was, it dawned on me that there was no need to to believe in a creator, an invisible man with strange rules, or a heaven and a hell. When one watches an anthill, sees a flight of geese flying formation, watches the mating rituals of hammerhead sharks courtesy of the discovery channel, or strokes the fur of a cat, one can sense a force more powerful than anything if one only pays attention. This is a segway, so pay attention.

    Day by day, it seems, we are finding out more intricate details about how this universe was created, going back to a distant time, far more distant than one can easily comprehend, when a mere speck in a sea of nothing exploded violently outward in a cascade of creation, the laws of physics, perhaps even changing second by split second to accommodate each moment of split second of situation, eventually spread out to form the universe that we now witness as our reality. It is suggested that eventually this reality will begin to collapse upon itself, to return to that speck in the middle of a new nothing, only to repeat the cycle, and has done so since forever. Try and grasp the idea that there never was a beginning, and that there cannot ever be an end. Try and wrap your mind around the idea that there never WAS a creator, because eternity hasn't ever provided the need for one. So, if that is the case, then were does this idea of something spiritual fit in? Well, we know that the universe is composed of matter, and energy, and who knows what else. But there is one component in this soup of stuff that transcends mere rock and fire and element and gravity, and that is LIFE. Life, according to science, is the consequence of the right elements combining to form the right molecules in the right order in the perfect environment, and mathematically, all these conditions can arise, sooner or later, all over this universe. Rarity is relative, once you consider the sheer size of it all. Gold is considered rare, but tell me, don't you see plenty of it? So, lets take all this life, distill it down to the amount of it that produces sentience, then take all that sentience, and distill that down into a possible form of energy that has a physics all it's own. The physics I refer to is all those things we think might exist but still have a hard time pinning down, such as the astral plane, ghosts, an afterlife, clairvoyance, past lives, reincarnation, so on and so forth. The very physics which allow radio waves to bring us Three Dog Night or The Beasty Boys might also allow for a dimension that collects all this ethereal energy we think of as our souls, or life-force. Hell, even blades of grass or the tiny sparks of life-force that bacteria might posses could even be a part of this grand party. Now take this life-force, this collective consciousness if you will, and imagine the combined bank account that has accumulated since the dawn of time, or at least since the first tiny spark of life was deposited. Wouldn't such a thing be a force to be reckoned with? It would not necessarily resemble anything we could label as a "God", but it could be something even more wondrous than something we created in our own image, in our own imaginations.

    In the earliest times of our precarious existence, we have looked for ways to explain all those strange things around us, like volcanos, thunderstorms, death, disease, and the feeling that comes over us when we produce a child. All this wonder had to come from SOMEWHERE, and to a primitive mind, a God of some form or another was as good an explanation as any. And so we created many of them throughout our history, writing and rewriting the rules we believed these Gods wanted us to live by. We even created punishments to go along with those rules in order to keep ourselves on the same page and not go confusing the issue by challenging them. Being human, that has never really worked, but even in this day and age, we refuse to relinquish the desire to inflict these rules on each other to avoid difference and the conflict that creates. But that has only created more conflict, and the wars of faith go on and on.

    The reason God never reached down and touched me is because he never could. It wasn't personal. But what has touched me is the life that surrounds me, within me and without, and somehow assures me that I am not alone. The spark of life within me will record all I have experienced, all those mistakes I made, all the good deeds I performed, and how much I loved. All the pain, agony, ecstasy, joy, fear, stupidity, all those things that my brain chemistry enables me to experience, will not go to waste, but will add to the collective savings account which resides somewhere beyond my comprehension, and I only have faith to carry me through to that day, when my body fails me and releases that which is me back to the whole. How do I know this? Bob told me so. You have your own voice telling you many things, and he/she/it may be called Shirley, to you, but it's all the same. If you listen hard enough, you'll hear. If you are a hard core Baptist, Buddhist, Scientologist, or Atheist, it doesn't matter. You will end up in the same place, and that place is unknowable to you until you are released from these bonds of logic and perception and you hear that voice too, in all it's high powered magnificence. Either that or you'll be playing harps on fluffy clouds or doing the back stroke in a lake of fire. You choose what you want to have faith in. I've chosen my own path, and I'll gladly walk it alone, even if all you atheists think I'm a cowardly agnostic, and the rest of you think I'm toast.......

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    State of Affairs

    One might wonder how any particular nation manages to remain in one piece, perhaps not prospering, perhaps not holding the title of "Superpower", yet not declining or in danger of fragmentation or utter ruin. France, England, Germany, Italy, all these nations have had their share of glory, have suffered their share of dark days, yet slipped relatively below the radar and sit within their respective borders, happy as clams to remain basically intact and in no real danger of imploding from within or becoming overwhelmed by barbarian hordes. Yet here we are, PAX Americana, barely over 2OO measly years old, and a sad state of schizophrenia has overtaken us, totally losing our identify as a nation, unable to articulate who we are and what we stand for. We have one big target painted on our flag, and the arrows are coming not only from our stated enemies, but even from our supposed friends and allies. All that remains is that we enter a state of civil war or that the nations of the world somehow decide we need to be reigned in and push back at us. They say the best way to deal with a bully is to ignore them, and I say whoever came up with that idea is a blooming idiot. Imagine the power of every ambassador to the United Nations standing, then turning their backs when the representative from the United States comes to the podium. How humiliating that would be........but I think it's high time we got shown a little tough love.

    I think I am not exaggerating too much when I say that once, everyone in the world had fond daydreams of becoming an American. Well, not everyone, for this country has stepped on enough toes being all high and mighty that we have always had someone wishing to cut us down a notch or two, and I'm not speaking strictly of communists and military dictators. Imagine being a simple peasant in a simple little village, minding your simple little life, and here comes a government sponsored death squad to make an example of you and your friends and family, even though you probably didn't even know exactly what point they were trying to make. Let's say you are a lone survivor of such an educational experience, and eventually you find out that the death squad that destroyed your life was funded in part by the CIA. The AMERICAN CIA. You see, you had the misfortune of having some rebels camped out nearby who had been making life miserable for El Presidente', who was trying to insure that the Dole Pineapple plantations were not hassled by bothersome communist insurgents. Proximity sucks. So, of course, you are not exactly enamored with the idea of anything American.

    The point here is that all these other long lived nations have gone through their own periods of colonial exploitation, influencing the affairs of other smaller, less powerful countries, and all around bad behaviors, and while not all of them can be accused of totally upright behavior, they generally have gotten with the program and rarely get the attention of people out looking for some national entity to hurt. This is the 21st century, for Bob's sake, and here we are, the shining city on the hill, already tarnished and losing much of it's well-earned luster. More and more people all over the world downright despise us, pity us, or are embarrassed to be associated with us. You can say all you want about Canada, making jokes about how meek and mild they are, but the first lie many Americans caught in a bad situation overseas will try and tell is that they are Canadians. I mean, when is the last time Canadians invaded anyone? Tried to assassinate a foreign leader? Pissed ANYBODY off? Or how about Italy? Hell, they can't keep a government in place for more than 6 months, yet Italy goes about it's business, minding it's own crazy affairs, not bothering anyone else. Then there's Cuba, that thorn in our side, that has remained under the iron grip of Castro, simply to piss us off. No other real reason. Isn't it a pity that a whole culture would rather go without then overthrow the last example of a failed social experiment rather than bring back "freedom and democracy"? What does that say about us?

    So, here we are thinking we are the last remaining superpower on the planet, and warlords in Somalia laugh at us, the refugees in Darfor wonder where we are, and the people of Rwanda payed the price for thinking "It would never happen again." No one is afraid that we might do the right thing, but they certainly expect us to perform a few "surgical strikes" and think that's going to solve our problems. And lo and behold, the very architects of the Geneva Conventions now want to change the rules because following them might be a mite bit inconvenient.

    I have been perusing a few Australian and British blogs and am amazed how similar the outrage is amongst so many of their citizens against their own governments, who, coincidentally, have fallen in lockstep behind the will of the Whitehouse. It seems that for the first time since the end of WWII, devout loyalty to a steadfast ally has devolved into guilt by association. With friends like us, it's no wonder our allies seem to have fewer enemies.

    There is no excuse in these modern, supposedly more rational times, for states like North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and many other basket cases to even exist. Certainly enough people have witnessed the examples of peoples struggling under the yokes of totalitarianism of all strokes to ever want to live such a life. Yet, when we have the opportunity to demonstrate the shining example of what living in a free, open, and democratic society can be like, what do we do? We violate every tenet we ever preached to the world, and embarrass those who once held us in such high esteem. We rabidly hold dear our hard earned rights, and squake like chickens every time they are threatened, yet we turn a blind eye whenever our elected officials violate those very same principles in regards to foreigners in the name of state security. It's no wonder that the adjective first thought of these days when referring to America is "hypocrite".

    Pride in being American has always been the truest and most rock solid attribute we as a people could celebrate. That pride is now being tested like never before, as our enemies within betray us and what we stand for, in attempts to focus our attention purely on enemies without. If we truly wish to pass on the standard of pride to our progeny, we seriously have to get off our collective asses and start doing the work required of a proud and free people, or we will sooner than later face the same rot, decay, and collapse that befell every great civilization before us, instead of joining the family of nations that have endured the ages and maintained their own proud identities.