Memo to the Christian Right

TO: Militant Loonies on the “Christian Right”
FR: ACME Calendar Company
RE: Incorrect Calendars

CC: Family First Foundation; Dr. James Dobson; the Republican Party; Rev. Jerry Falwell; etc.


In a review of our files, we discovered that due to an oversight on our part, you were recently sent calendars that indicated the incorrect date. It is not 1305 A.D., but rather 2005 A.D. Please forgive our mistake.

In case this has caused some confusion on your part, please allow me to bring you up to date on the changes that have occurred over the last 700 years. My hope is that this information will be of use to you:

1. There was a major intellectual movement called “The Reformation” that began c. 1517. This movement, led by a German monk named Martin Luther, sought to make a person’s religious beliefs a private matter. It was a very successful movement.

2. In the 17th and 18th Centuries, another intellectual movement swept the educated classes in both Europe and America (North America was at that time colonized by Great Britain and France). This movement has come to be known as the “Enlightenment.” Great figures of this movement, like Voltaire, Montesquieue, Kant, D’Alembert, and others, advanced the theory that religion had no place in the public life of the state. A radical notion, I admit, but one that found popularity with many intelligent people. These people further argued that the rights and responsibilities of a nation’s citizens came from a written constitution based on reason and logic, and not The Bible. [Shocking, I know!]

3. There were two (yes, two!) revolutions that broke out in the wake of the Enlightenment, and were in fact guided by Enlightenment principles: the American Revolution (1775-1783), and the French Revolution (1789-1799; 1830; 1848). The leaders of these revolutions made the (scary!) decision to separate Church and State. I know this will come as news to you, but I hope that you are able to come to grips with this as soon as possible. What this meant was the citizens of the United States and France were allowed to believe in any religion – or NO religion! — that they saw fit. These revolutionaries believed that human beings had the right to decide for themselves the nature of “God”. A stunning change, but — trust me on this — an important one.

4. One other significant scientific advance that appeared in the 19th century was something called “evolution.” Now, this might sound crazy, but this well-supported theory argues that life on earth developed over millions of years. The Earth is not, as you might believe, 6,000 years old. It is far older. Although never mentioned in The Bible, there were in fact very large creatures called dinosaurs that once roamed the Earth. Unfortunately, they did not survive. The good news is that creatures called mammals did, and all signs point to the fact that human beings evolved from early mammals. Oh, and it seems that a lot of The Bible is, in fact, allegorical and not literal. Sorry. I think it even won a fiction award once, although I’ll have to check on that.

5. There is a growing body of evidence that homosexuality is biological and not a “choice made by sinners.” Just FYI.

I hope that this letter has cleared up any confusion brought on by our company sending you incorrect calendars. The Middle Ages have in fact ended. I hope that you are able to forgive our oversight on this matter.

With warmest regards for a very happy 21st Century,
The ACME Calendar Company.

P.S. Please shut the fuck up and stop bothering us with your radical, retro agenda! Thanks!

Advice From A Public Defender

Follow this link to read a fascinating article by a public defender that offers sincere advice to her clients... well worth the read!

Yes, I know it's alomst 3am--- I'm watching North By Northwest!


A Link for My Friends on the Left

For a good counterpoint to the Drudge Report, check out:



Reflections on "Revenge of the Sith" and American Democracy

Many commentators have rushed to find paralells between Revenge of the Sith and the Bush Administration. While there are one or two (rather painful) lines of dialogue for which that comparison could be made, I believe that most of these commentators are missing a much more obvious and important political paralell: the role of the Galactic Senate.

I would assume that the members of the Galactic Senate are either (a) directly elected by the citizens of their planets or (b) chosen as Senators by a democratically-elected government (which the state legislatures used to do in the United States before a constitutional amendment provided for direct election of senators).

Throughout the movie, Chancellor Palpatine talks often of the fear that those with power have of losing that power. He is of course the prime example of this, and his desire to transform the Republic into an Empire is a direct outgrowth of this fear.

But is Palpatine solely to blame for this transformation and the loss of democracy? Hardly. Let us look to the Galactic Senate. In Episode II, the Republic is shaken to its core by the growth of the Separatist Movement (a movement begun by Palpatine's alter-ego, Darth Sidious). Threatened with war and possible dissolution of the Republic, the Senate virtually immediately votes the creation of a Clone Army, and grants extended powers to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to fight the Separatists — powers which he, naturally, offers to lay down when the "crisis" has passed. In Episode III, [spoiler alert!] after the war has dragged on for some time, and Palpatine's prediction that the Jedi Order would try to "overthrow" him and the Senate seems to have come to pass, the Senators consent to the destruction of the Jedi and the transformation of Republic into an Empire.

In other words, Palpatine becomes the Emperor through legal means. The democratically-elected members of the Republic's legislature consent to Palpatine's elevation and the destruction of democracy in the galaxy. Remember what Ben Kenobi said to Han Solo in Episode IV: "Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?" The paralells to our own history are obvious: in 1933, for example, the democratically-elected Reichstag in Germany voted to hand all of its authority to Chancellor Hitler following the Reichstag fire, which Hitler blamed on Communists. Three European dictators of the 20th Century came to power legally, in fact: Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, either through the collussion or cowardice of parliament or the people.

Why would the Galactic Senate consent to this? I think that one reason is the desperate desire for peace, stability and order, which they evidently believed could not be secured through debate. But there is another reason, I think, a more sinister reason: the security of their own position and power. Consider this: the Senate remained a branch of the Imperial government for the next 19 years, until the Emperor disbanded the Senate permenantly in Episode IV. I would presume that no more elections were held in those 19 years, and the membership of the Senate had become frozen.

Therefore, by handing over power the Emperor, the sitting members of the Senate guarenteed that they, too, would stay in office and retain the status, privileges, and perks such office granted to them.

The significance of this in my mind is more important than any connections to George Bush. Both Democratic and Republican members of most state legislatures have begun openly redrawing congressional districts in order to insure the re-election of incumbents. Rather than create districts that cover roughly the same geographic area, or areas with roughly the same population, the Republicrats (as I call them) are seeking only to secure the re-election of their party fellows and eliminate competitive congressional races.

This is an anti-democratic policy, and no one seems to know about it, or care. Disgusting. It is time that we realize that we are living not in a democracy, but rather a self-perpetuating oligarchy. We have not two parties, but one party with two wings, both owned by the corporations and the wealthy. They have secured their dominance not only by "redistricting," but by making it nearly impossible for third parties to get on the ballot. The Republicrats have managed to erase from American elections the cornerstone of capitalist democracy: choice.

Why isn't anyone angry?


The Future... I'm sure of it!

Check this out:


Thanks to albinoblacksheep.com -- a chilling vision of our future!


Reflections on "Revenge of the Sith"

I was away from Thursday until Monday (and recovering Tuesday) for my friend Jamie's wedding to his lovely bride Brandee in North Carolina. I was sans iBook (G4 1.07gHz 10.3.9) and so wasn't able to post. I was too busy having fun anyway! Congratulations to Jamie and Brandee, and thanks for a wonderful time!

I have seen Revenge of the Sith twice now, and I am working on distilling the experience of the end of the most important cinematic saga in my life down to something significant.

Watch this space.

By the way: For me, three stars out of four --- but not better than Episode IV or V.


If you have seen it, and would like to comment while I am formulating my thoughts, please click the "comments" link below this post and let me know! I will use the best quotes in my post.

Take care!

Paris Hilton Update

From my new favorite weekly magazine, The Week:

"...Pamela Anderson revealed that she was dining with Paris Hilton in a restaurant when the hotel heiress slammed down the menu, shouted 'I hate reading!' and demanded to have the entire menu read to her by a waiter. 'I mean I'm blonde,' said Anderson, 'but c'mon.'"

All that wasted oxygen ...


Tax Cheats

I believe that the early round of tax cuts in 2001 most likely helped to lift the economy out of recession, at least in the short term. To maintain these deep cuts in the wake of September 11th, the Afghan war, and the Iraq war is absurd and self-destructive.

What I fail to understand is why the Democratic Party has abdicated its responsibility to the challenge the Republicans on this issue. Since the 1980s, the Republicans have very cleverly managed to disassociate "taxes" from "public services." Instead, they have created the myth in the minds of many that taxes represent only "government oppression."

This is a flat-out distortion of the truth. If I ran the Democratic Party (and this means YOU, Governor Dean), I would be on the airwaves and the internet every single day working to change this distorted picture. I would explain that if Americans want better schools, better roads, better healthcare and hospitals, better childcare, better public transportation, more good teachers, more policemen and women, more firemen and women, a more effective military, and better border and Homeland security, then we have to pay for it. I would argue that Americans would get back so much more in improved services than they actual pay in taxes.

It seems to me that because both parties have accepted the myth of taxation, the greatest industrial power in the history of the world does not have national healthcare. That is a crime against humanity.

I suppose that at this point the Democrats are too cowed, too scared, too dispirited, too chaotic to accomplish much. The party has been disoriented since being swept from the control of Congress in 1994. Democrats need to either get their act together and start playing the role of a true "Liberal" party, or disband and let some other party take its place that has the guts to fight back.


Paris Hilton is a Waste of Oxygen

There are two people in public life for whom I harbor an admittedly irrational hatred: Bill Clinton and Paris Hilton. I say irrational because neither has done anything to me personally, of course. I agreed with most of Clinton's domestic policies (although as noted in my previous post, I would characterize his foreign policy as one of utter cowardice and capitulation). That being said, I found him to be such a reprehensible person I couldn't listen to him on television at the end of his presidency.

He clearly hated women. Hated them. Probably because his mother married an alcoholic and he resented her for it. I do not believe that any sane man could treat his wife (even if it is Hillary) and his daughter the way he did without some underlying rage. I once "debated" a woman at a party, whose arguement in favor of Clinton was that it all balanced out because he pursued pro-woman policies. That is utter nonsense. That is tantamount to praising a man for working at a battered womans' shelter even though he beats his wife every night.

I would have been perfectly happy never to hear the name Lewinsky. But Clinton's compulsions put the entire country in a position that prevented us from avoiding her name. That is his fault.

My other irrational hatred is for Paris Hilton. Although I would certainly like to have her wealth, my hatred has nothing to do with jealously over simply that. What offends me so greatly is that she was born into a life of immense privilege and with that she has chosen a souless life of self-aggrandizement. Her television show is the worst kind of pornography, that of wasted opportunity. She has said that she has no need to go to college because she doesn't need to be productive, no matter what kind of PR propaganda she's been pushing lately.

Think of what an intelligent, caring, compassionate person could have done with her privilege: medical school, charity work, law school. The oportunities would be limitless to make life better for those not born into such obscene wealth.

She is, of course, representative of a major flaw in American society. In many European countries, the "aristocracy" (however you want to define it) is usually born into a world that still upholds nobless oblige: the obligation of the upper classes to work for the betterment of those below them on the social scale. I'm not suggesting that every European aristrocrat does this, but many do.

There is virtually no social pressure on wealthy Americans to seek the same goal. Many do, it is true, but many, many more waste there lives in heedless conspicuous consumption, driving up the cost of gasoline in their SUVs and covering their walls with gold in a vain effort to show they world their "worth."

But what if we restored some sort of aristoracy in this country? One that rewarded a social conscience? One that bestowed honor on someone — anyone — who worked to make our society better? The pursuit of wealth might not seem as important. I would gladly nod in deference to an American knight, lord, lady, countess or duke that had earned the title due to their compassion for our fellow Americans.

People like Paris Hilton are simply a waste of oxygen. There must be a better way to make use of those tiny atoms than in the support of a selfish narcisist who is truly an ugly person in every sense of the word. She and her sickening ilk make me give serious consideration to Communism. And I hate Communism.

NEWSWEEK and Treason

Speaking of bile, Newsweek certainly brought up quite a bit of it this week. After it published an article about American troops desecrating the Quran at Guantanamo Bay as a way to coerce terrorists into talking, riots broke out in several Islamic countries, including Afghanistan. Fifteen people were killed. Now, of course, they have retracted the story and said "sorry!"


I believe in freedom of speech, even in wartime, but it seems to me that in a rush to discredit the Bush administration, Newsweek fell into the same trap that ensnared Dan Rather like a starving rabbit: rushing to publish a weak story in order to score points against a president that the authors don't like. Rather destroyed his career; Newsweek cost lives and probably put American troops in danger. Well done, idiots. To my mind this amounts to treason plain and simple.

I don't like President Bush much either. His domestic policy is horrid, and he has helped hand over the Republican Party to the militant loonies of the "Christian Right," leaving the nation without a true Conservative party. I agree with much of his foreign policy, however -- although his adminstration has mishandled Iraq. At the very least he represents a move away from the policy of cowardice pursued during the Clinton years (guided by the worst Secretary of State of the 20th Century, Madeline Albright).

There is plenty to attack President Bush on. Media outlets like Newsweek have a responsibility to get the story correct, especially when such a story could put American (and other) lives in danger. To hear the editor of Newsweek explain that he's not entirely convinced that this story caused the riots that claimed 17 lives and injured dozens of others is representative of the media's evasion of responsibility. I would encourage the Afghan government to sue Newsweek for damages.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from responsibility, as the editors would have it.



I created the fantastical world of Zalandria in my first full-length novel [unpublished], "Dawn of the Darkness." I don't know where the name came from, but I always liked it. The novel is okay, but I have written better -- most recently, "The Forgetting." That particular novel [also unpublished as yet] was simply a way to exorcise some old demons. It worked pretty well, actually, and the select few that have read it have reacted positively. It is unrelentingly dark and depressing, but putting all my foibles and fears down on paper (well, in Word anyway) really did help me move passed a very long period of depression.

I used "Zalandria" in that novel, too. The main character used it to escape his desultory life by pretending to be King, and casting him self as the flawed but loveable hero. A lot of people do something like that, I would imagine. It is good to be the King, to quote Mel Brooks in "History of the World."

So I created a digital Zalandria here, in hopes of expelling whatever bile might rise in my throat on any particular day, or whenever the mood strikes me. The mood usually strikes every weekday, and usually late at night while I'm watching reruns of poor-quality sitcoms that somehow made it to 100 episodes (e.g. "Just Shoot Me").

Always remember: "A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist."
(from one of my very favorite British comedies, "Yes, Minister.)